Climate Ecology Geology 

Fossil pollen holds clues to past

By Mackenzie Myers What if, instead of ancient treasure and tombs, Indiana Jones researched ancient pollen and soil?  Beyond just a seasonal nuisance or a crucial component of agriculture, pollen can be a key to understanding the past. It clues researchers in to how land was used thousands of years ago, as well as what the climate conditions were like at that time. And according to a new study from North Carolina State University, this tool may be available in more areas than previously thought.  Painting the past with fossil…

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mass extinction events Environment 

Anthropocene mass extinction: are we there yet?

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) In the last few decades, scientific observations have highlighted that we are now facing a mass extinction, caused in major part by human activity: habitat fragmentation, invasive species, spread of pathogens and diseases, climate changes leading to global warming, and, of course, direct killing of endangered species. However, this is still a debated topic among scientists. Some say that we are not in a mass extinction event, and that if we were, conservation biology and all the efforts we have been putting into conserving animal species…

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Ecology Science Debate Science Policy 

Could Agriculture Save US Water Supply?

By Mackenzie Myers This article is part of a series about key science policy issues. Please use these articles to become an informed voter, ask political candidates about the issues, and put every candidate on record about science. This time of year in California’s Central Valley, it’s easy to see where the Golden State gets its nickname. Golden sun shines on golden grasses of rolling golden hills, parched after so many months without rain, which is unlikely to return for at least several more weeks. Even so, there are signs…

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Environment 

Mapping the Urban Heat Island Effect with Wicked Hot Boston

by Emily Hostetler, Sara Benson, and Roxanne Lee It’s not just in your head; Boston really is hotter in the summer. When urban areas are warmer than surrounding non-urban environments, we experience a phenomenon called the urban heat island (UHI) effect.  Cities are filled with large amounts of artificial materials, such as concrete and asphalt, that absorb heat throughout the day and release heat at night. Living materials like trees, flowers, and grass tend to make areas feel cooler due to the shade they create and the water they release…

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Environment Science Debate Science Policy 

The Unfortunate Withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) This article is part of a series about key science policy issues. Please use these articles to become an informed voter, ask political candidates about the issues, and put every candidate on record about science. In December 2015, parties of the UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change) gathered at the twenty-first Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris to create a new international deal to mitigate climate change, called the Paris Agreement. Its ultimate goal was to keep the rise in average surface temperature below…

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Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog 

Help Audubon Protect Threatened Birds

Audubon’s Climate Watch Program needs volunteers to help it spot 12 birds threatened by climate change. Are you in? “Hope is the thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul,” Emily Dickinson wrote. Is there hope for our feathered friends in the era of climate change? Yes, but they need our help. More than 300 North American birds will likely lose over 50 percent of their current geographical range by 2080, according to Audubon’s 2014 Birds and Climate Change Report. This means that the areas with the climate conditions these…

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Biology Citizen Science Connected Blog Oceanography 

Why Citizen Scientists Study Phytoplankton in Antarctica

By Allison Cusick and Verena Meraldi Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography are working with Antarctic tour operators like Hurtigurten to enable vacationers to serve as citizen scientists with the FjordPhyto citizen science project. Travelers collect samples of phytoplankton from Antarctic fjords in an effort to understand the base of the food web, helping scientists learn how one of the most fertile ocean regions in the world may be changing. Human Impact in Remote Areas You would think that the most remote continent on Earth, Antarctica, would be the least…

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Book Reviews Citizen Science Connected Blog Ecology Oceanography 

Book Review: a World Without Fish and Unraveling Ocean Life

by Patricia Balbon Day-to-day encounters of fish—at the grocery store, visiting an aquarium—passively reinforce a notion of triviality about aquatic life until we are prompted to take a pause and spare a thought for a breathtaking world beyond the shore. This month’s selection in our ongoing book review series, World Without Fish, prompts such reflection; however, as the pages turn, we witness the marine world’s vulnerability alongside its majesty.  Through Mark Kurlansky’s words and Frank Stockton’s art, we are challenged by the crisis of disappearing biodiversity in our oceans.  This…

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Ecology Environment Science Policy 

Forest Restoration, Not Plantations, Will Curb Warming

By Neha Jain (@lifesciexplore) Forests are our best natural weapon against climate change. By sucking up large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, forests can store about a quarter of the carbon necessary to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. So, it is not surprising that boosting forest area through restoration has been one of the main goals of international organizations tackling rising global temperatures. Encouragingly, 43 countries concentrated around the tropics, where trees grow fast, have pledged to restore 292 million hectares of forest…

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Do Humans Influence Jellyfish Populations along Coasts? Animals Environment Oceanography 

Do Humans Influence Jellyfish Coastal Populations?

By Laura Treible @aqua_belle Jellyfish are a common nuisance to beachgoers in the summertime, but why certain years have massive jellyfish blooms while others do not is often a mystery. In recent years, some areas appear to have larger and more frequent blooms, so it is important to determine the causes of blooms in general, as well as whether jellyfish blooms are increasing. How humans impact jellyfish Human activities such as changing our global climate, fishing, and increasing pollution or nutrients entering waterways influence the oceans in many ways. Some…

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