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Ancient animal urine provides insight into climate change

Scientists at the University of Leicester are using an unusual resource to investigate ancient climates– prehistoric animal urine.
The animal in question is the rock hyrax, a common species in countries such as Namibia and Botswana. They look like large guinea pigs but are actually related to the elephant.
Hyraxes use specific locations as communal toilets, some of which have been used by generations of animals for thousands of years. The urine crystallises and builds up in stratified accumulations known as ‘middens’, providing a previously untapped resource for studying long-term climate change.
Funding from the Leverhulme Trust and, more recently, the European Research Council has allowed the Leicester group to join an international team led by Dr Brian …

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Climate change complicates plant diseases of the future

Human-driven changes in the earth’s atmospheric composition are likely to alter plant diseases of the future. Researchers predict carbon dioxide will reach levels double those of the preindustrial era by the year 2050, complicating agriculture’s need to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population.
University of Illinois researchers are studying the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, elevated ozone and higher atmospheric temperatures on plant diseases that could challenge crops in these changing conditions.
Darin Eastburn, U of I associate professor of crop sciences, evaluated the effects of elevated carbon dioxide and ozone on three economically important soybean diseases under natural field conditions at the soybean-free air-concentrating enrichment (SoyFACE) facility in Urbana.
The diseases downy mildew, Septoria brown …

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Climate change poker: The barriers which are preventing a global agreement

As the world’s environment ministers, government officials, diplomats and campaigners prepare to attend the COP15 conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 to unite in the battle against climate change in one of the most complicated political deals the world has ever seen, the increasingly complex territory of climate negotiations is being revealed in an article published today, 5 August, 2009, in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters.
The paper ‘Tripping Points: Barriers and Bargaining Chips on the Road to Copenhagen’ lays bare the main tripping points – political barriers and bargaining chips – which need to be overcome for countries to reach a consensus on how to address global climate change.
One of the key issues delegates will …

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Consulting With Clouds: A Clear Role In Climate Change

Study in July 24 Science magazine shows strong evidence that cloud changes may exacerbate global warming
The role of clouds in climate change has been a major question for decades. As the earth warms under increasing greenhouse gases, it is not known whether clouds will dissipate, letting in more of the sun’s heat energy and making the earth warm even faster, or whether cloud cover will increase, blocking the Sun’s rays and actually slowing down global warming.
In a study published in the July 24 issue of Science, researchers Amy Clement and Robert Burgman from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Joel Norris from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San …

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As planet warms, poor nations face economic chill

Climate change may widen gap between rich and poor, study finds
A rising tide is said to lift all boats. Rising global temperatures, however, may lead to increased disparities between rich and poor countries, according to a recent MIT economic analysis of the impact of climate change on growth.
After examining worldwide climate and economic data from 1950 to 2003, Benjamin A. Olken, associate professor in the Department of Economics, concludes that a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature in a given year reduces economic growth by an average of 1.1 percentage points in the world’s poor countries but has no measurable effect in rich countries.
Olken says his research suggests higher temperatures will be disproportionately bad for …

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