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:: Record decline of ice sheets

For the first time scientists map elevation changes of Greenlandic and Antarctic glaciers. Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have for the first time extensively mapped Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice sheets with the help of the ESA satellite CryoSat-2 and have thus been able to prove that the ice crusts of both regions momentarily decline at an unprecedented rate. In total the ice sheets are losing around 500 cubic kilometres of ice per year. This ice mass corresponds to a layer that is about 600 metres thick and would stretch out over the entire metropolitan area of Hamburg, Germany's second largest city. The maps and results of this study are published in The Cryosphere, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

:: Human Contribution to Glacier Mass Loss on the Increase

By combining climate and glacier models, scientists headed by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck have found unambiguous evidence for anthropogenic glacier mass loss in recent decades. In a paper published in Science, the researchers report that about one quarter of the global glacier mass loss during the period of 1851 to 2010 is attributable to anthropogenic causes.

:: Antarctica could raise sea level faster than previously thought

Ice discharge from Antarctica could contribute up to 37 centimeters to the global sea level rise within this century, a new study shows. For the first time, an international team of scientists provide a comprehensive estimate on the full range of Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise based on physical computer simulations. Led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the study combines a whole set of state-of-the-art climate models and observational data with various ice models. The results reproduce Antarctica’s recent contribution to sea level rise as observed by satellites in the last two decades and show that the ice continent could become the largest contributor to sea level rise much sooner than previously thought.

:: "Listen to the bees" to create healthy rural landscapes, says Sussex study

Honey bees’ foraging preferences can provide valuable information for governments about how to better manage rural landscapes, say University of Sussex researchers.

In the past two decades, the European Union has spent €41 billion on Agri-Environment Schemes (AES), which aim to improve the rural landscape health by implementing changes, such as the creation of areas for wildlife around crop fields. There are different levels of AESs, although few studies exist evaluating how wildlife responds to the schemes.

:: IUCN Red List raises more red flags for threatened species

Almost 80% of temperate slipper orchids and over 90% of lemurs are threatened with extinction, according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The newly assessed Japanese Eel has been listed as Endangered, while the Brazilian Three-banded Armadillo – the mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup – remains Vulnerable as its population continues to decline. The IUCN Red List, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, now includes 73,686 assessed species, of which 22,103 are threatened with extinction.

:: Dangerous nitrogen pollution could be halved

The most important fertilizer for producing food is, at the same time, one of the most important risks for human health: nitrogen. Chemical compounds containing reactive nitrogen are major drivers of air and water pollution worldwide, and hence of diseases like asthma or cancer. If no action is taken, nitrogen pollution could rise by 20 percent by 2050 in a middle-of-the-road scenario, according to a study now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Ambitious mitigation efforts, however, could decrease the pollution by 50 percent. The analysis is the very first to quantify this.

:: As well as its energy efficiency, do not lose sight of a building’s water efficiency

By using peripherally treated greywater with the help of GEP greywater systems, about 10% of all the operating costs can be saved, even in residential buildings with ultra-modern energy systems. Important building blocks in “green” building technology: Greywater usage. The topic of energy efficiency is on everyone’s lips and is rightly enjoying a high level of importance in the media, in politics and in society. Renewable energies and fossil fuels are being used efficiently together. The cooperation and coexistence of different energy sources and the peripheral usage often offer the most economic solutions.

:: Cultural world heritage threatened by climate change

From the Statue of Liberty in New York to the Tower of London or the Sydney Opera House – sea-level rise not only affects settlement areas for large parts of the world population but also numerous sites of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is shown in a new study by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

:: Turning the tide on Europe's Oceans and Seas

A new report published today paints a worrying picture of Europe's seas. The Commission's analysis, which will be presented at the "Healthy Oceans – Productive Ecosystems" (HOPE) conference in Brussels on 3-4 March, shows a marine environment that will require urgent efforts to reach good status by 2020. Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The message is clear: Europe's seas and oceans are not in good shape. But we depend on these seas, and we need to find a balance. That means finding ways to reap their economic potential without increasing the pressure on an already fragile environment, creating growth and jobs that are secure in the long term."

:: Pollen influences optical properties of the atmosphere

Laser measurements show: pollen has considerably influence on air qualityLeipzig, Germany. Pollen reflects more sunlight than previously known, and makes up to one third of the total amount of aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Aerosol particles influence optical depth which provides a measure of the opacity of the atmosphere. These results, reported by scientists of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in Korea and the Leibniz-Institute of Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), are published in the research journal Atmospheric Environment. This study is the first to investigate the optical properties of natural pollen with a laser operating at 532-nm emissionwavelength.

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