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:: Major update to Europe's 'alien' species catalogue

The key catalogue of information on ‘alien’ (non-native) species in Europe has undergone a major update. The DAISIE (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventory for Europe) database allows the public and policymakers to get a comprehensive overview of which alien species are present in Europe, their impacts and consequences for the environment and society.

:: Protecting ecosystems brings benefits to society

A synthesis report for policy makers. Ecosystems are essential to our well-being and prosperity as they provide us with food, clean air and fresh water. Ecosystems also represent an exceptional source of outdoor recreation opportunities. The functions performed by ecosystems that increase our well-being are called ecosystem services.

:: Most coral reefs are at risk unless climate change is drastically limited

Coral reefs face severe challenges even if global warming is restricted to the 2 degrees Celsius commonly perceived as safe for many natural and man-made systems. Warmer sea surface temperatures are likely to trigger more frequent and more intense mass coral bleaching events. Only under a scenario with strong action on mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions and the assumption that corals can adapt at extremely rapid rates, could two thirds of them be safe, shows a study now published in Nature Climate Change. Otherwise all coral reefs are expected to be subject to severe degradation.

:: Lower natural catastrophe losses in the first half of 2012

Natural catastrophe losses were relatively moderate in the first six months of 2012. Overall global losses up to the end of June were in the order of US$ 26bn, of which approximately US$ 12bn was insured. The loss statistics were dominated by natural hazard events in the USA where, due to tornado outbreaks and wildfires, nearly 85% of total insured losses worldwide were incurred.

:: Rapid acidification of the Eastern Pacific Ocean

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is causing the acidity of the oceans to increase. Scientists at ETH Zurich have investigated how the acidity along the west coast of the USA will develop until the year 2050. They expect considerable changes in the ecosystem.

:: Significant sea-level rise in a 2-degree warming world

Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several metres in coming centuries, if global warming carries on. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, global-mean sea level could continue to rise, reaching between 1.5 and 4 metres above present-day levels by the year 2300, with the best estimate being at 2.7 metres, according to a study just published in Nature Climate Change. However, emissions reductions that allow warming to drop below 1.5 degrees Celsius could limit the rise strongly.

:: Geological record shows air up there came from below

The influence of the ground beneath us on the air around us could be greater than scientists had previously thought, according to new research that links the long-ago proliferation of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere to a sudden change in the inner workings of our planet.

:: Mechanisms of damage to corals exposed to sedimentation

We investigated the mechanisms leading to rapid death of corals when exposed to runoff and resuspended sediments, postulating that the killing was microbially mediated.

:: New insights in biodiversity and sustainability awareness around the world

The 2012 biodiversity barometer finds that 76% of all respondents from around the globe were aware of sustainable development, 64% of biodiversity. Of the top 100 beauty companies in the world, 54 mentioned sustainability in their reporting and website, while 31 referred to biodiversity.

:: Stanford scientists document fragile land-sea ecological chain

Intricate, often invisible chains of life are threatened with extinction around the world. A new study quantifies one of the longest such chains ever documented. By Rob Jordan

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