Strickland: Scientists zero in on biological diversity in ‘poor man’s rainforest’

From VT News

The soil beneath our feet is not as biologically diverse as scientists previously thought, according to a research team that includes a Virginia Tech soil microbial ecologist.

Leftover DNA from dead organisms — known as “relic DNA” — has historically thrown a wrench into estimates, causing scientists to overestimate microbial diversity by as much as 55 percent. Understanding microbial diversity in soil is crucial for understanding how environmental processes like atmospheric nitrogen fixation and climate change occur.

But a ...

Read More →
0

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

From CNN

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think. In all of Earth’s history, there have been five mass extinction events. You can see them charted here. Now, we’re on the verge of the sixth extinction. And three-quarters of all species could vanish. Imagine three out of four species that were common are gone. This is the first time humans have caused anything like this.

Experience this interactive report at CNN

Read More →
0

Tackling Nature’s Most Wicked Problems

From Virginia Tech Magazine

By Mason Adams

Virginia Tech’s new Global Systems Science Destination Area grows from roots that extend back to the university’s founding as a land-grant college, to branches that include the globe’s most urgent and complicated challenges.

One of five new Destination Areas — sites of interdisciplinary collaboration where experts are positioned to address the full complexities of pressing problems worldwide — Global Systems Science targets the interface between society and the environment.

“The heart of the ...

Read More →
0

Every relevant federal agency to be led by climate change skeptics

From The Guardian

December 12, 2016 | The heads of Donald Trump’s transition teams for Nasa, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy, as well as his nominees to lead the EPA and the Department of the Interior, all question the science of human-caused climate change, in a signal of the president-elect’s determination to embark upon an aggressively pro-fossil fuels agenda.

Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine ...

Read More →
0

Surge in methane emissions threatens efforts to slow climate change

Global Methane Budget Released

Global concentrations of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and cause of climate change, are now growing faster in the atmosphere than at any other time in the past two decades.

That is the message of a team of international scientists in an editorial to be published 12 December in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The group reports that methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015. In that two-year period, ...

Read More →
0

General Mills, USDA & Xerces Society: $4 million effort aims to stop the death of honeybees

From The Guardian

On the 33-acre Prairie Drifter Farm in central Minnesota, farmers Joan and Nick Olson are cultivating more than just organic vegetables. Alongside their seven acres of crops – including tomatoes, cucumbers and onions – they’ve also planted flowering plants, dogwood and elderberry hedgerows to accommodate species of bees and butterflies essential for the health of the crops.

The Olsons are not beekeepers, but they are part of a movement to reconnect sustainable farming to a healthy environment. As ...

Read More →
0

Sterling Nesbitt sizes-up early dinosaurs

From VT News

Look out your window, and you may see people of all ages and sizes roaming the street: a 6-foot-5-inch man walking beside a 4-foot-6-inch boy, for example, or a sprouting teenager who is much taller than a full-grown adult.

Virginia Tech geoscientists Christopher Griffin and Sterling Nesbitt discovered that this sort of variation in growth patterns in people despite their ages also occurred among early dinosaurs, and ...

Read More →
0

Extreme rains could increase 400% by end of century

From The Guardian

When the skies open up and deluge an area, the results can be catastrophic, with roads washed out and homes destroyed by the resulting flash floods. Such extreme downpours are already occurring more often across the US, but a new study finds that as global temperatures rise, storms could dump considerably more rain and skyrocket in frequency.

The study, in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that storms that now occur ...

Read More →
0