Desalination: As If Corals Didn’t Have Enough to Worry About Already

Clean, safe drinking water is a basic human need. However, for many areas around the globe, freshwater is becoming scarce. Desalination is increasingly used to provide drinking water in some coastal regions, but the waste products – brine and antiscalants – are discharged back into the ocean with unknown consequences. A recent study by Karen Lykkebo Petersen (University of California Santa Cruz) and colleagues sought to simulate happens to coral reefs as they are increasingly exposed to desalination discharge.

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Feeling Salty About Climate Change? So Are Coastal Wetlands.

Coastal wetlands are disappearing fast – at a rate of >80,000 acres/year and rising. There are many threats to these ecosystems, one of which is “saltwater intrusion” – when saltwater is introduced into fresh bodies of water. A recent study looked at the effects of saltwater intrusion by mimicking the increased salinity experienced on a short-term basis (a hurricane) versus a long-term basis (sea level rise). The authors found that chronic saltwater intrusion had many impacts on water quality, microbial activity, greenhouse gas production, and vegetation in a tidal freshwater marsh in Georgia.

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What’s a Forest Without Trees?

Trees are one of the most important natural resources: they consume carbon dioxide and provide us with oxygen, building materials, and fuel. However, global forest degradation exceeds the total CO2 emissions in the US for both highway vehicles (1.7 Gt CO2e/year) and power generation (1.9 Gt CO2e/year)! A new study discusses the difference between deforestation and forest degradation and why it’s essential to account for both in greenhouse gas emissions management.

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Red Deer Takeover!

Most people would not think of red deer as powerful enough to take over farmers’ land. However, a recent increase of red deer population has devastated land in Slovakia and other European countries. A recent study determined the amount of forage red deer consume per season and the key elements affecting forage availability that determine the boom or bust of red deer.

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