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Saving a million acre-feet of water through conservation and efficiency in California

Pacific Institute study identifies key next steps for California water
 
A new analysis released today by the Pacific Institute recommends specific actions that can annually save a million acre-feet of water quickly and at a lower economic and ecological cost than developing new supplies. The assessment notes that new actions are immediately needed to reduce the growing tensions over the state’s water resources and to address California’s persistent water supply challenges.
This is a key time for California water: the California Water Bond has been tabled for at least two years and may be scrapped altogether. New reviews from around the state are calling for prompt efforts to use technology, economics, and institutional reform to address the …

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Forest Fires Help Power the Nitrogen Cycle

When fire burns down a forest, nitrate levels go up, and the effects are persistent, according to recent research from University of Montana scientists. They found that charcoal deposited during fire events has the potential to stimulate the conversion of ammonia to nitrates, an important step in the nitrogen cycle.
Led by Patrick Ball, the research team found that a type of bacteria that transforms ammonia into nitrates was found in greater abundance in recently burned sites, despite the fact that the “recent” fire was twelve years prior to the sampling period. In addition to the bacteria, the burned sites had greater rates of nitrification, meaning that nitrogen was being processed more quickly through the ecosystem …

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Solar power manufacturing makes good business sense for governments

Canadian and provincial governments could spend $2.4 billion to build a large scale solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant and then give it away for free and still earn a profit in the long run, according to a financial analysis conducted by the Queen’s University Applied Sustainability Research Group in Kingston, Canada.
Queen’s University Mechanical Engineering Professor Joshua Pearce conducted the study – to be published in the August edition of the academic journal Energy Policy – to find out if it makes economic sense for governments to support solar cell manufacturing in Canada. He was surprised to discover the answer is an overwhelming yes even in extreme situations and feels governments should be aggressively supporting this industry …

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Arctic climate may be more sensitive to warming than thought

A new study shows the Arctic climate system may be more sensitive to greenhouse warming than previously thought, and that current levels of Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide may be high enough to bring about significant, irreversible shifts in Arctic ecosystems.
Led by the University of Colorado at Boulder, the international study indicated that while the mean annual temperature on Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic during the Pliocene Epoch 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago was about 34 degrees Fahrenheit, or 19 degrees Celsius, warmer than today, CO2 levels were only slightly higher than present. The vast majority of climate scientists agree Earth is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping atmospheric gases generated primarily by …

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How Grazinglands Influence Greenhouse Gas

Study examines grasslands and grazing management impacts on global warming
Grazinglands represent one of the largest land resources in the world, yet their role as net sinks or sources of greenhouse gases is essentially unknown. Previous research has emphasized the role of grazing management on the sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide as soil organic carbon. However, there is a lack of information regarding how grazing management impacts the flux of two potent GHGs, nitrous oxide and methane.
A team of scientists lead by Mark Liebig at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory estimated net global warming potential for three grazing management systems located in central North Dakota. The grazing management systems represented two native vegetation pastures …

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