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Earth's Life Support Systems

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Boosting water table can curb climate risks, says study. Increasing the water table under the UK's arable peatland can help boost yields and the amount of carbon stored in the soil, a study has suggested.

Boosting water table can curb climate risks, says study

University of Sheffield researchers are encouraging farmers to increase the water table to 30cm under the surface, rather than the recommended 50cm. Under current practices, the nation's farmed peatlands could be lost by the end of the century, they add. The findings appear in the Science of the Total Environment journal. The team of researchers wanted to test the idea that increasing the water table underground would lead to an increase in the absorption of carbon dioxide from the air.

Thawing Arctic permafrost effects: Methane release, Siberian craters and anthrax. The Arctic permafrost is starting to thaw, releasing the ground from the frozen state it has been in for thousands of years.

Thawing Arctic permafrost effects: Methane release, Siberian craters and anthrax

At present, permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere covers an area spanning some 20 million square kilometres and is home to tens of millions of people. Regions covered include parts of the US, Canada and Russia. But what will happen when it defrosts? World's largest tropical peatland found in Congo basin. Scientists have discovered the world’s largest tropical peatland in the remote Congo swamps, estimated to store the equivalent of three year’s worth of the world’s total fossil fuel emissions.

World's largest tropical peatland found in Congo basin

Researchers mapped the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo basin and found they cover 145,500 sq km – an area larger than England. The swamps could lock in 30bn tonnes of carbon that was previously not known to exist, making the region one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth. Geogarific: Water and Carbon in the Amazon Rainforest. For the past 6 years teaching geography A-level I've had to choose between ecosystems and plate tectonics so sadly I haven't taught much on tropical rainforests for quite a while (you can guess which of the two aforementioned topics is more popular!). So I was excited to see the Amazon rainforest as one of the core case studies in the textbook for this new OCR spec. I hope your enjoy the lesson and resources I've prepared (click on the link below to download).

Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening. (iStock) At a time when a huge pulse of uncertainty has been injected into the global project to stop the planet’s warming, scientists have just raised the stakes even further.

Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening

In a massive new study published Wednesday in the influential journal Nature, no less than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades. That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon due to the plants and roots that have grown and died in them, in many cases over vast time periods (plants pull in carbon from the air through photosynthesis and use it to fuel their growth). It has long been feared that as warming increases, the microorganisms living in these soils would respond by very naturally upping their rate of respiration, a process that in turn releases carbon dioxide or methane, leading greenhouse gases. Giant icebergs play 'major role' in ocean carbon cycle.

Giant icebergs could be responsible for the processes that absorb up to 20% of the carbon in the Southern Ocean's carbon cycle, a study suggests.

Giant icebergs play 'major role' in ocean carbon cycle

Researchers say meltwater from these vast blocks of ice release nutrients into the surrounding waters, triggering plankton blooms that absorb the carbon. Described as the first study of its kind, the authors examined satellite data between 2003 and 2013. The results have been published in the journal Nature Geoscience. A team of scientists gathered data from 175 satellite images that tracked the passage of 17 giant icebergs (measuring more than 18km/11 miles in length) through the open waters of the ocean surrounding Antarctica. Writing in their paper, the team observed: "We detect substantially enhanced chlorophyll levels, typically over a radius at least 4-10 times the iceberg's length, which can persist for more than a month following passage of a giant iceberg.

" Is the boreal forest on the edge of a climate change tipping point? The boreal forest encircles the Earth around and just below the Arctic Circle like a big carbon-storing hug.

Is the boreal forest on the edge of a climate change tipping point?

It can mostly be found covering large swathes of Russia, Canada and Alaska, and some Scandinavian countries. In fact, the boreal – sometimes called by its Russian name ‘taiga’ or ‘Great Northern Forest’ – is perhaps the biggest terrestrial carbon store in the world. So it’s important to protect in a world where we’re aiming for 1.5 or – at worst – under two degrees celsius of global warming. “Our capacity to limit average global warming to less than 2 degrees is already highly improbable, so every possible mechanism to reduce emissions must be employed as early as possible. Maintaining and recovering our forests is part of that solution,” Professor Corey Bradshaw, a leading researcher into boreal forests based at the University of Adelaide, told Energydesk. Slow-motion wrecks: how thawing permafrost is destroying Arctic cities. At first, Yury Scherbakov thought the cracks appearing in a wall he had installed in his two-room flat were caused by shoddy workmanship.

Slow-motion wrecks: how thawing permafrost is destroying Arctic cities

But then other walls started cracking, and then the floor started to incline. “We sat on the couch and could feel it tilt,” says his wife, Nadezhda, as they carry furniture out of the flat. Yury wasn’t a poor craftsman, and Nadezhda wasn’t crazy: one corner of their five-storey building at 59 Talnakhskaya Street in the northern Russian city of Norilsk was sinking as the permafrost underneath it thawed and the foundation slowly disintegrated. BBC Taster - Bitesize Masterclass No.2. Globe Carbon Cycle. GLOBE Carbon Cycle is focused on bringing the most cutting edge research and research techniques in the field of terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycling into the classroom.

Globe Carbon Cycle

Students can collect data about their school field site through existing GLOBE protocols of phenology, land cover and soils as well as through new protocols focused on biomass and carbon stocks in vegetation. Students also participate in classroom activities to understand carbon cycling at local and global scales. These might include plant-a-plant classroom experiments, hands-on learning activities of various concepts, and analysis of collected data.

In addition, students have the opportunity to expand their scientific thinking through the use of systems models. This program design allows students to explore research questions from local to global scales with both present and future environmental conditions. CarbonCycleBackground. Ever wondered how #clouds form? Our video explains how in under two minutes! Surface water shifting around the Earth. Image copyright deltares Scientists have used satellite images to study how the water on the Earth's surface has changed over 30 years.

Surface water shifting around the Earth

They found that 115,000 sq km (44,000 sq miles) of land is now covered in water and 173,000 sq km (67,000 sq miles) of water has now become land. The largest increase in water has been on the Tibetan Plateau, while the Aral Sea has been the biggest conversion of water to land. The team said many coastal areas have also changed significantly. LowPerm - more than methane. Drought 'shuts down Amazon carbon sink' Image copyright Roel Brienen A recent drought shut down the Amazon Basin's carbon sink by killing trees and slowing trees' growth rates, a study has shown.

Drought 'shuts down Amazon carbon sink'

The term carbon sink refers to the ability of a natural zone to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. In the first basin-wide study of the impacts of the 2010 drought, data showed trees' mortality rate went up while growth rates declined. SCO WaterandCarbonCycling. Groundwater True/False Quiz: USGS Water Science School. Diagram of the water cycle, showing natural and human processes.