Category: The Planet – Enviroment

F

Forests go into growth ‘overdrive’ to recover from drought – new study

One in 12 people could face severe drought every year by 2100, according to a recent study. And water stored on two-thirds of the Earth’s land surface will shrink as the climate warms. As plant ecologists, we’re concerned with what…

Tree-Planting Update: Episode 28

Welcome to Tree Update 28! This time we answered all of your questions that you sent to us on our social media channels. The entire tree team and I sat down during the holidays to give you a better understanding…
C

Climate change: what would 4°C of global warming feel like?

Another year, another climate record broken. Globally, 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year ever recorded. This was all the more remarkable given that cool conditions in the Pacific Ocean – known as La Niña – began to emerge…

Vampire finches: how little birds in the Galápagos evolved to drink blood

For most people, the word “vampire” brings to mind Dracula or perhaps slayers such as Blade or Buffy; or maybe even the vampire bats of South America. Few will think of a small and rather lovely bird – the finch.…

Why a green electricity grid depends on weather forecasts improving

Boxing Day 2020 was so blustery that more than half of the UK’s daily electricity was met by wind power for the first time. Just over a week later, the wind died as a cold snap kicked off 2021 with…
O

Outdated carbon credits from old wind and solar farms are threatening climate change efforts

French global energy giant Total recently announced it had delivered its first shipment of “carbon neutral liquid natural gas”. Natural gas is, of course, a fossil fuel and so can’t itself be carbon neutral. Instead, emissions from transporting the cargo…

Dire wolves went extinct 13,000 years ago but thanks to new genetic analysis their true story can now be told

Thanks to the hit television series Game of Thrones, the dire wolf has gained a near-mythical status. But it was a real animal that roamed the Americas for at least 250,000 years, until it became extinct towards the end of…
S

Solar panels capture more sunlight with capsaicin – the chemical that makes chili peppers spicy

Here’s some news hot off the press. Researchers have found a secret ingredient for making solar panels that absorb the sun’s energy more efficiently. Depending on what you like to eat, there’s a good chance you can find it at…

How mapping the weather 12,000 years ago can help predict future climate change

The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas. Scandinavia was still mostly covered in ice, and across Europe the mountains had many more, and larger, glaciers…

Lake Poopó: why Bolivia’s second largest lake disappeared – and how to bring it back

A huge lake in Bolivia has almost entirely disappeared. Lake Poopó used to be the country’s second largest, after Lake Titicaca, and just a few decades ago in its wet season peak it would stretch almost 70km end to end…

Peat bogs: restoring them could slow climate change – and revive a forgotten world

Bogs, mires, fens and marshes – just their names seem to conjure myth and mystery. Though today, our interest in these waterlogged landscapes tends to be more prosaic. Because of a lack of oxygen, they can build up vast quantities…

Beast from the East 2? What ‘sudden stratospheric warming’ involves and why it can cause freezing surface weather

A “sudden stratospheric warming” event took place in early January 2021, according to the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service. These events are some of the most extreme of atmospheric phenomena, and I study them as part of my…

How city roads trap migrating fish

Greater London is crisscrossed by 14,800km of public roads, each with an average width of 8m. This network accounts for 8% of the metropolitan area, and motorways and A-roads alone cross the Thames and its tributaries at least 400 times.…