Nitrous oxide emissions pose an increasing climate threat, study finds

emissions
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Rising nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are jeopardizing the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, according to a major new study by an international team of scientists.


The growing use of nitrogen fertilizers in the production of food worldwide is increasing atmospheric concentrations of N2O—a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) that remains in the atmosphere for more than 100 years.

Published today in the journal Nature, the study was led Auburn University, in the US, and involved scientists from 48 research institutions in 14 countries—including the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK—under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project and the International Nitrogen Initiative.

The aim was to produce the most comprehensive assessment to date of all global sources and sinks of N2O. Their findings show N2O emissions are

Read More

Wildfires May Pose Drinking Water Safety Issues

Two months after a wildfire burned through Paradise, Calif., in 2018, Kevin Phillips, then a manager for town’s irrigation district, walked from one destroyed home to another.

Burned out cars, the occasional chimney and the melted skeletons of washers and dryers were the only recognizable shapes.

“You started to actually be shocked when you saw a standing structure,” he said.

Mr. Phillips, now Paradise’s town manager, was following the team taking samples from intact water meters connected to homes that were now reduced to gray ash. He knew from the Tubbs Fire in 2017 that harmful toxins were likely in the water distribution system: Rapid action would be needed to protect people returning to the community from the dangers of toxins like benzene, which can cause nausea and vomiting in the short-term, or even cancer over time.

Wildfires, which turned skies a dim orange over cities from Seattle to Santa

Read More

Amber fossils offer a window into dinosaur times but pose ethical dilemmas

When it comes to dinosaurs, many of us think of towering skeletons dominating the atriums of the world’s great natural history museums.



The discovery of a dinosaur tail entombed in amber at a market in Myanmar near the Chinese border grabbed headlines in 2016.


© Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM/ R.C. McKellar)
The discovery of a dinosaur tail entombed in amber at a market in Myanmar near the Chinese border grabbed headlines in 2016.

But it’s the tiniest fossils that have transformed paleontology over the past five years.

Some of the field’s most extraordinary discoveries have come from amber: A dinosaur tail, parts of primitive birds, insects, lizards and flowers have all been found entombed in globs of 100 million-year-old tree resin.

They offer a tantalizing, three-dimensional look at dinosaur times. The vivid creatures and plants look like they just died yesterday with soft tissue in place and details like skin, coloring, feathers, teeth, leaves and petals exquisitely preserved — details that are often lost in the crush of fossils formed in rock.

Read More