Nitrogen: Blessing and curse

The chemical element nitrogen (N) is an essential building block of all life on Earth and represents the fourth most common element in biological organisms, including us. Because of its importance for plant growth and food production humans have doubled the natural input of available nitrogen to our ecosystems, with adverse effects on the environment and our health. This surplus of nitrogen led to the expansion of the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and Baltic Sea, the concentration of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide is increasing in the atmosphere and infants suffer from high nitrate concentration in the drinking water. Schlesinger describes in his article where all the nitrogen ends up that we humans produce for fertilising our fields. He also warns that our knowledge of the nitrogen cycle is still limited and that nitrogen accumulation in unexpected places will lead to environmental deterioration.

Read more

Can nanoparticles help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy manure?

Increasing greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to climate change. In the United States, livestock production is one sector contributing to the increase in emissions. This study looked at whether nanoparticles could be used to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from dairy cow manure.

Read more

Autonomous vehicle helps measure gases in coastal ecosystems

Coastal ecosystems play an important role in the cycling of carbon, an element essential for life. However, coastal ecosystems are complex making it difficult to determine their exact contribution to carbon cycling with single point measurements. In the study highlighted here, David Nicholson and his colleagues introduce an autonomous (driver-less) surface vehicle that will allow for a better understanding of carbon cycling in coastal ecosystems.

Read more

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Satellites have changed our ability to see the globe. We can now use satellite data is to monitor change in the amount of land covered by forests, and determine the reasons for that change. In this article, we discuss recent findings global forest monitoring and the impact of supply chain decisions by corporate actors.

Read more

Are your choices really climate friendly?

Emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are driving global climate change and increasing the occurrence of extreme weather events. Technological advances are not enough to reach the needed reduction in emissions to mitigate impacts of climate change. Households have to pull their weight by altering consumption patterns. Perhaps you already do – by choosing not to own a car and taking public transportation or walking. But have you thought about how you (re)-spend the money you saved by this choice? And how it affects the bottom line of green-house gases emissions.

Read more

Something to chew on: the environmental impacts of our food choices

Hamburger or fish sandwich? Which lunch option has the lowest environmental impact? Consumers and policy makers aiming to make informed choices about what animal protein food sources to support have a new resource available this month, thanks to a review led by University of Washington researchers.

Read more

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.

Read more