This website helps ordinary people collect data to save snakes

With a limited amount of time and money available for conservation efforts, it’s critical to know which species are the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, that assessment requires a virtually impossible amount of data. Citizen scientists from North and South Carolina have filled this critical gap by collecting 7,684 snake observations from every county in the two states over the course of eight years. Here’s what they found.

Read more

Why coastal flood maps are wrong: the tale of compound hazards

Coastal flooding is expected to increase in frequency due to future sea level rise and more extreme weather, but most coastal flood hazards maps do not portray the increase risk. We dive deeper into how these maps are made and uncover why the current flood hazard maps may be misleading.

Read more

It’s getting hotter in here: outlining strategies for protecting public health during heat waves

Heat waves, or prolonged periods of abnormally warm temperatures, have become increasingly common throughout the globe as a result of climate change. Since heat waves pose a risk to public health they have become a growing concern, particularly in urban environments. A recent analysis led by Gertrud Hatvani-Kovacs at the University of South Australia, outlines strategies for protecting public health during heat waves and mitigating the impacts of heat waves by instituting new policies. Among the suggestions of Hatvani-Kovacs and her colleagues are increasing the dissemination of information to the public regarding heat waves, providing guidelines for heat stress resistant building design, building public cool spaces, and introducing tariffs on water and electricity usage during peak demand.

Read more

Out to lunch or sticking with the worm diet? Food decisions of the Australian ibis

If you’ve been to a busy park during lunch hour, surely, you’ve noticed that many birds are on the prowl for some of your delicious lunch crumbs! Recently, urban ecologists have been interested in learning how much human food animals eat, and how it might affect them. Read on to learn more about how the Australian ibis decides whether to grab some human grub or stick to its natural diet.

Read more

One man’s waste water is another man’s “accidental” wetland: How urban wetlands can revolutionize restoration

After the Salt River passes through the metropolitan area of Phoenix, AZ about 90% of the original water has been removed for human and agriculture use. Because of reduced water connectivity, similar to many urban streamside areas, plant and wildlife diversity in the Phoenix area have taken a big hit. “Accidental” wetlands forming along the river may be the money-saving restoration solution Phoenix, and hundreds of other cities, are looking for.

Read more

It’s a nutrient, it’s a deicer, it’s polluting our environment.

Winter is over… Or at least according to the calendar. Yet, this morning I awoke to flurries in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These flurries turned into full-fledged snowfall by the time I got to work. Really? It’s April 2nd. The good thing is that hopefully the city will not see the need to salt the roads heavily because it should be warm enough to prevent ice patches from forming.

Read more

Salt marsh and mangroves are equally vulnerable to sea level rise

Mangroves have extended their range as a result of climate change and have established in areas that were previously salt marshes. Both mangrove stands and salt marshes act as buffers against coastal storms. Studies have suggested that mangroves and salt marshes have the ability to cope with global sea level rise by increasing local elevation through trapping soil and expanding their root structure. A recent study in the Mississippi River Delta reports that black mangroves and salt marsh plants have similar abilities to build sediment in coastal areas, but the rate of elevation increase is still lower than sea level rise. Therefore, both salt marsh and mangrove-dominated habitats of the Mississippi River Delta are at risk from sea level rise.

Read more

A Hazy Outlook over the North China Plain

Beijing, the cultural and political capital of China, is home to a massive population of almost 25 million people has long been known for its air pollution. A team of scientists at Peking University in Beijing looked at the chemistry of the city’s haze and found something surprising: the inorganic mass fraction, normally dependent on only human activities, increased with increasing relative humidity. That’s right: how bad anthropogenic emissions actually are depends on the weather. Exploring this trend will help us to understand how haze forms, which could help Beijing and other major cities to manage their air pollution problems more effectively.

Read more