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We want to make cutting edge research in the environmental sciences accessible to all by highlighting recent studies and explaining how these advances shape the understanding of our world.

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Protecting Our Beaches From an Unlikely Foe.

Coastal areas are prone to pollution from fecal bacteria, which are known to be associated with viruses and disease. When it rains, roads and sidewalks wash pet and wildlife waste into storm drains, which end up in our waterways. This can endanger human health, and cause economic losses to shellfishing businesses and tourism. A study conducted before and after installation of stormwater filtration infrastructure showed tremendous success in reducing fecal bacteria loads in Wrightsville Beach, NC, and stands as an example for other coastal areas looking to address their fecal pollution issues.

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Ocean Acidification is in the Spotlight. How Can We Address Its Impacts?

The ocean has become 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. This continuing change in ocean pH, or ocean acidification, will likely impact the economies of coastal communities. The science community must work together with industry, policymakers, other science disciplines, and coastal communities to find practical and applicable solutions to address the environmental impacts of ocean acidification. This integrated approach is known as transdisciplinary science and seeks to understand the interactions among ocean acidification, the ecosystem, and society.

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Where Have All the Insects Gone?

Insect populations have been plummeting for some time due to habitat destruction, climate change, and other pressures caused by growing human population, but now scientists in Germany are finding that declines in flying insects may be even more extreme than previously thought. Where have all the flying insects flown off to?

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From bad to worse: nitrogen deposition amplifies negative impacts of drought in California’s biodiversity hotspots

The release of excess nitrogen into nature, for example through fossil fuel combustion, still gets relatively little attention in the public debate about biodiversity threats, especially compared to climate change and habitat destruction. But human-driven nitrogen increases in natural ecosystems demand our attention, as they can worsen the negative effects of climate change in biodiversity hotspots, and threaten some already endangered species.

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Can you see the forest for the trees?

From iconic redwoods, to tropical palm trees, to the small windblown trees of subalpine threshold forests are just about everywhere. We assume that the vast majority of people know what a forest is and what it does, but is that so? Forests are being looked at through a new lens using new methods. Researchers are trying to answer questions like: what services do forests provide, how much biodiversity do they have, and what can be done to protect them amidst so many human and environmental threats?

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Betcha won’t drink it! The natural chemicals hiding in water, and how a new technique hopes to remove them using an unlikely ally- bacteria

The amount of natural organic matter, or NOM, in water has been increasing for the past 20 years and is expected to increase. Higher amounts of NOM mean more expensive clean water- a high priority especially when considering communities at risk for clean water shortages due to storms. Environmental engineers work on ways to reduce NOM effectively in drinking water treatment plants, and sometimes, this means making unusual allies: bacteria.

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Connecting to nature and understanding ecosystem services: the urban perspective

Food and water – two resources vital for life on Earth. These are two prime examples of the products that arise from ecosystem services. There are four broad categories of ecosystem services: provisioning regulating, supporting, and cultural. Food and water are a form of ecosystem service provisioning – these are the products that directly benefit humans. Globalization and climate change are increasingly threatening food and water security, and other vital ecosystem services throughout the world.

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