Monday, October 26, 2015— Protected areas, such as nature reserves and national parks, play a crucial role in sheltering wildlife, such as African elephants, from hunting and habitat destruction. But it’s important that conservation managers understand how the vegetation in these natural protected zones is affected by the population growth that is spurred by this animal safeguarding. To this end, new work from a team led by Greg Asner examined the effect elephants have on the woody plant life in Kruger National Park, the largest protected area in South Africa, and showed that elephants are one of the preserve’s leading causes of fallen trees. more »
Monday, October 19, 2015 — With mounting vigor for combating global climate change, increasing the use of renewable energy resources such as solar, without compromising natural habitats, is a challenge to the traditional model of utility-scale solar energy installations. Such facilities use vast swaths of land for solar gathering and generating equipment. Until now, studies quantifying the effects on land-cover change and analyses of impacts on protected areas near solar facilities have been limited.
New work from Rebecca R. Hernandez (now at UC-Berkley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab), Madison K. Hoffacker (now at UC-Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology), and colleagues, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, assessed the siting impacts of 161 existing, under construction, and planned utility-scale solar energy facilities in California. more »
Friday, September 11, 2015 —New work from an international team including Ken Caldeira demonstrates that the planet’s remaining fossil fuel resources would be sufficient to melt nearly all of Antarctica if burned, leading to a 50- or 60-meter (160- to 200-foot) rise in sea level. Because so many major cities are at or near sea level, this would put many highly populated areas where more than a billion people live under water, including New York City and Washington, DC. It is published in Science Advances. more »
Tuesday, August 4, 2015—Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions will alter the way that Americans heat and cool their homes. By the end of this century, the number of days each year that heating and air conditioning are used will decrease in the Northern states, as winters get warmer, and increase in Southern states, as summers get hotter, according to a new study from a high school student, Yana Petri, working with DGE’s Ken Caldeira. It is published by Scientific Reports. more »