Environment Correspondent
Deborah's Feed
Jan 21, 2011
via Environment Forum

Greenland ice melt sets a record — and could set the stage for sea level rise

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Greenland’s ice sheet melted at a record rate in 2010, and this could be a major contributor to sea level rise in coming decades.

The ice in Greenland melted so much last year that it formed rivers and lakes on top of the vast series of glaciers that covers much of the big Arctic island, with waterfalls flowing through cracks and holes toward the bottom of the ice sheet. Take a look at video from Marco Tedesco of City College of New York, who is leading a project to study what factors affect ice sheet melting. The photo at left shows a camp by the side of a stream flowing from a lake — all of it on top of the ice sheet.

Jan 20, 2011
via Tales from the Trail

Panda diplomacy: the remix

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The latest chapter in the long story of panda diplomacy was written at Washington’s National Zoo, where the Chinese government agreed to lengthen the “loan” of popular panda pair Mei Xiang and Tian Tian for another five years. Actually, the loan is conditioned on whether they produce a new heir or heiress to the cuteness of panda-dom in the next two years;  one or both could be exchanged for more fecund substitutes.

They have a good track record: Washington native Tai Shan, born in 2005, headed back to China last year.

Jan 19, 2011

China says 5 more years of U.S.-Sino panda diplomacy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China is extending its so-called panda diplomacy agreement with the United States, letting giant pandas stay at the Washington national zoo for another five years, a Chinese conservation official said on Wednesday.

“This is a great opportunity … to advance our friendship,” Zang Chunlin, secretary-general of the China Wildlife Conservation Association, told reporters.

Jan 12, 2011
via Environment Forum

Food for thought

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Feeling hungry? Maybe that’s because of all the news, from around the world, about food today — how much people produce, how much more they need, how much it’s going to cost, how much of an effect it will have on climate change, and vice versa.

Starting in Washington, the U.S. Agriculture Department reported that American stockpiles of corn and soybeans will shrink to surprisingly low levels this year, which sent grain prices soaring to 30-month highs. Bad weather in places like Australia and rising world demand led by China are partly responsible for cutting crop inventories around the globe.

Jan 11, 2011
via Tales from the Trail

White House commission wades into “Deep Water”

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The great thing about presidential commissions is that they can soberly consider complicated matters and then offer unvarnished reports on what to do. The tough part is when that information rockets around Washington, as occurred after a White House commission issued its final report on the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The “Deep Water” report, apparently titled in reference to the doomed BP Deepwater Horizon rig, blames the deadly blowout and oil spill on government and industry complacency, and recommends more regulation of offshore drilling and a new independent safety agency. But as my colleague Ayesha Rascoe reports, the commission lacks the authority to establish drilling policies or punish companies.

Jan 6, 2011

Bacteria gobbled methane from BP spill -scientists

WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Bacteria ate nearly all the
potentially climate-warming methane that spewed from BP’s
(BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) broken wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico last year,
scientists reported on Thursday.

Nearly 200,000 tons of methane — more than any other
single hydrocarbon emitted in the accident — were released
from the wellhead, and nearly all of it went into the deep
water of the Gulf, researcher David Valentine of the University
of California-Santa Barbara said in a telephone interview.

Dec 16, 2010
via Environment Forum

Polar bears, sure. But grolar bears?

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Most people have seen a polar bear, usually at the local zoo. And most zoo-goers know that wildlife advocates worry about the big white bears’ future as their icy Arctic habitat literally melts away as a result of global climate change. But apparently more than the climate is changing above the Arctic Circle.

The new mammal around the North Pole is the grolar bear, a hybrid created when a polar bear and a grizzly bear mate. Then there’s the narluga, a hybrid of the narwhal and beluga whale. The presence of these two new creatures and others produced by cross-breeding may be caused when melting sea ice allows them to mingle in ways they couldn’t before, according to a comment in the journal Nature.

Dec 5, 2010

Climate change fans deep-burning fires in Alaska

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Climate change is fanning longer- and deeper-burning fires in interior Alaska, changing the area from a carbon sink — where planet-warming gases are stored naturally in the soil — to a carbon emitter, scientists reported on Sunday.

The shift has occurred within the last 10 years and is due in large part to a longer burning season, according to a study published in Nature Geosciences.

Nov 30, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Lady Gaga, WikiLeaks and :’(

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Washington has been buzzing for days about Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst at the heart of the investigation into the leak of a quarter-million State Department diplomatic cables by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

And then there’s the Lady Gaga connection.

Manning said he listened to the flamboyantly-dressed singer’s “Telephone” as he pulled the documents off a military server in Baghdad, according to a transcript of online chats Manning had with a former hacker, Adrian Lamo. The chats, which occurred earlier this year, were posted by Wired.com on June 10. Lamo confirmed details of the chats to Reuters.

Nov 16, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

The Lunchbox Index

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The Dow, the FTSE, the Hang Seng — all these are economic indices of a sort. But in Washington, there’s another index that might offer a more intimate picture of people under economic pressure, and it’s as near as the office fridge. Let’s call it the Lunchbox Index.

Decades ago, lunching out used to be an integral part of the Washington working day, with expense account palaces like the long-gone Sans Souci filled to capacity with the great, the good, the powerful and, yes, journalists pumping their sources.

    • About Deborah

      "I started with Reuters in 1986 in New York City, moving to Washington DC two years later. I've covered the Winter Olympics in Calgary and Salt Lake City, a couple wars, the State Department, White House, Pentagon, several long trials and a presidential sex scandal. Since 2006, I've been reporting on the environment and climate change."
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