Category: Beauty Of Nature


WOOD PILE

Nutrient-rich forests absorb more carbon


by Staff Writers
Laxenburg, Austria (SPX) Apr 17, 2014


File image.

The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers, including IIASA.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that forests growing in fertile soils with ample nutrients are able to sequester about 30% of the carbon that they take up during photosynthesis. In contrast, forests growing in nutrient-poor soils may retain only 6% of that carbon. The rest is returned to the atmosphere as respiration.

“This paper produces the first evidence that to really understand the carbon cycle, you have to look into issues of nutrient cycling within the soil,” says IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program Director Michael Obersteiner, who worked on the study as part of a new international research project sponsored by the European Research Council.

Marcos Fernandez-Martinez, first author of the paper and researcher at the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) says, “In general, nutrient-poor forests spend a lot of energy-carbon-through mechanisms to acquire nutrients from the soil, whereas nutrient-rich forests can use that carbon to enhance biomass production.”

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Research: Arid areas absorb unexpected amounts of carbon

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

PULLMAN, Wash. – Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found that arid areas, among the biggest ecosystems on the planet, take up an unexpectedly large amount of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere. The findings give scientists a better handle on the earth’s carbon budget – how much carbon remains in the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming, and how much gets stored in the land or ocean in other carbon-containing forms.


“It has pointed out the importance of these arid ecosystems,” said R. Dave Evans, a WSU professor of biological sciences specializing in ecology and global change. “They are a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, so as CO2 levels go up, they’ll increase their uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. They’ll help take up some of that excess CO2 going into the atmosphere. They can’t take it all up, but they’ll help.”

Published in Nature Climate Change

The findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, come after a novel 10-year experiment in which researchers exposed plots in the Mojave Desert to elevated carbon-dioxide levels similar to those expected in 2050. The researchers then removed soil and plants down to a meter deep and measured how much carbon was absorbed.

“We just dug up the whole site and measured everything,” said Evans.

The idea for the experiment originated with scientists at Nevada’s universities in Reno and Las Vegas and the Desert Research Institute. Evans was brought in for his expertise in nutrient cycling and deserts, while researchers at the University of Idaho, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and Colorado State University also contributed.

Funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Terrestrial Carbon Processes Program and the National Science Foundation’s Ecosystem Studies Program.

Vast lands play significant role

The work addresses one of the big unknowns of global warming: the degree to which land-based ecosystems absorb or release carbon dioxide as it increases in the atmosphere.

Receiving less than 10 inches of rain a year, arid areas run in a wide band at 30 degrees north and south latitude. Along with semi-arid areas, which receive less than 20 inches of rain a year, they account for nearly half the earth’s land surface.

 

Read More Here

…..

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

 

04 Mar 2014: Analysis

Soil as Carbon Storehouse:
New Weapon in Climate Fight?

The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change.

by judith d. schwartz

In the 19th century, as land-hungry pioneers steered their wagon trains westward across the United States, they encountered a vast landscape of towering grasses that nurtured deep, fertile soils.

Today, just three percent of North America’s tallgrass prairie remains. Its disappearance has had a dramatic impact on the landscape and ecology of

The world’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stock.

the U.S., but a key consequence of that transformation has largely been overlooked: a massive loss of soil carbon into the atmosphere. The importance of soil carbon — how it is leached from the earth and how that process can be reversed — is the subject of intensifying scientific investigation, with important implications for the effort to slow the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

According to Rattan Lal, director of Ohio State University’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, the world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70 percent of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air to become CO2. Now, armed with rapidly expanding knowledge about carbon sequestration in soils, researchers are studying how land restoration programs in places like the

polar jet stream

Rattan Lal
Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).

former North American prairie, the North China Plain, and even the parched interior of Australia might help put carbon back into the soil.

Absent carbon and critical microbes, soil becomes mere dirt, a process of deterioration that’s been rampant around the globe. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought. Such regenerative techniques include planting fields year-round in crops or other cover, and agroforestry that combines crops, trees, and animal husbandry.

Recognition of the vital role played by soil carbon could mark an important if subtle shift in the discussion about global warming, which has been

A look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks.

heavily focused on curbing emissions of fossil fuels. But a look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks. Reducing emissions is crucial, but soil carbon sequestration needs to be part of the picture as well, says Lal. The top priorities, he says, are restoring degraded and eroded lands, as well as avoiding deforestation and the farming of peatlands, which are a major reservoir of carbon and are easily decomposed upon drainage and cultivation.

He adds that bringing carbon back into soils has to be done not only to offset fossil fuels, but also to feed our growing global population. “We cannot feed people if soil is degraded,” he says.

“Supply-side approaches, centered on CO2 sources, amount to reshuffling the Titanic deck chairs if we overlook demand-side solutions: where that carbon can and should go,” says Thomas J. Goreau, a biogeochemist and expert on carbon and nitrogen cycles who now serves as president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Goreau says we need to seek opportunities to increase soil carbon in all ecosystems — from tropical forests to pasture to wetlands — by replanting degraded areas, increased mulching of biomass instead of burning, large-scale use of biochar, improved pasture management, effective erosion control, and restoration of mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grasses.

“CO2 cannot be reduced to safe levels in time to avoid serious long-term impacts unless the other side of atmospheric CO2 balance is included,” Goreau says.

Scientists say that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life. And compared to many proposed geoengineering fixes, storing carbon in soil is simple: It’s a matter of returning carbon where it belongs.

Through photosynthesis, a plant draws carbon out of the air to form carbon compounds. What the plant doesn’t need for growth is exuded through the roots to feed soil organisms, whereby the carbon is humified, or rendered stable. Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its water-retention capacity, its structure, and its fertility. According to Lal, some pools of carbon housed in soil aggregates are so stable that they can last thousands of years. This is in contrast to “active” soil carbon,

‘If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,’ says an expert.

which resides in topsoil and is in continual flux between microbial hosts and the atmosphere.

“If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,” says Goreau. “When we have erosion, we lose soil, which carries with it organic carbon, into waterways. When soil is exposed, it oxidizes, essentially burning the soil carbon. We can take an alternate trajectory.”

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta
About these ads

File:Boomstronken.jpg

Description  :  Boomstronken; foto door Fruggo, juni 2003.

Attribution: Fruggo from nl

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

…..

New Research Shows Tree Roots Regulate CO2, Keep Climate Stable

Climate News Network | February 19, 2014 8:30 am

The argument, put forward by a team from Oxford and Sheffield Universities in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, begins with temperature. Warmer climates mean more vigorous tree growth and more leaf litter, and more organic content in the soil. So the tree’s roots grow more vigorously, said Dr. Christopher Doughty of Oxford and colleagues.

They get into the bedrock, and break up the rock into its constituent minerals. Once that happens, the rock starts to weather, combining with carbon dioxide. This weathering draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and in the process cools the planet down a little. So mountain ecosystems—mountain forests are usually wet and on conspicuous layers of rock—are in effect part of the global thermostat, preventing catastrophic overheating.

The tree is more than just a sink for carbon, it is an agency for chemical weathering that removes carbon from the air and locks it up in carbonate rock.

That mountain weathering and forest growth are part of the climate system has never been in much doubt: the questions have always been about how big a forest’s role might be, and how to calculate its contribution.

Keeping climate stable

U.S. scientists recently studied the rainy slopes of New Zealand’s Southern Alps to begin to put a value on mountain ecosystem processes. Dr. Doughty and his colleagues measured tree roots at varying altitudes in the tropical rain forests of Peru, from the Amazon lowlands to 3,000 meters of altitude in the higher Andes.

They measured the growth to 30 cm below the surface every three months and did so for a period of years. They recorded the thickness of the soil’s organic layer, and they matched their observations with local temperatures, and began to calculate the rate at which tree roots might turn Andean granite into soil.

Then they scaled up the process, and extended it through long periods of time. Their conclusion: that forests served to moderate temperatures in a much hotter world 65 million years ago.

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

European Geosciences Union (EGU)

23 January 2014

Mineral weathering by fungi
Mineral weathering by fungi (Credit: Joe Quirk)

UK researchers have identified a biological mechanism that could explain how the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate were stabilised over the past 24 million years. When CO2 levels became too low for plants to grow properly, forests appear to have kept the climate in check by slowing down the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The results are now published in Biogeosciences, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

“As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere fall, the Earth loses its greenhouse effect, which can lead to glacial conditions,” explains lead-author Joe Quirk from the University of Sheffield. “Over the last 24 million years, the geologic conditions were such that atmospheric CO2 could have fallen to very low levels – but it did not drop below a minimum concentration of about 180 to 200 parts per million. Why?”

Before fossil fuels, natural processes kept atmospheric carbon dioxide in check. Volcanic eruptions, for example, release CO2, while weathering on the continents removes it from the atmosphere over millions of years. Weathering is the breakdown of minerals within rocks and soils, many of which include silicates. Silicate minerals weather in contact with carbonic acid (rain and atmospheric CO2) in a process that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Further, the products of these reactions are transported to the oceans in rivers where they ultimately form carbonate rocks like limestone that lock away carbon on the seafloor for millions of years, preventing it from forming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Forests increase weathering rates because trees, and the fungi associated with their roots, break down rocks and minerals in the soil to get nutrients for growth. The Sheffield team found that when the CO2 concentration was low – at about 200 parts per million (ppm) – trees and fungi were far less effective at breaking down silicate minerals, which could have reduced the rate of CO2 removal from the atmosphere.

“We recreated past environmental conditions by growing trees at low, present-day and high levels of CO2 in controlled-environment growth chambers,” says Quirk. “We used high-resolution digital imaging techniques to map the surfaces of mineral grains and assess how they were broken down and weathered by the fungi associated with the roots of the trees.”

As reported in Biogeosciences, the researchers found that low atmospheric CO2 acts as a ‘carbon starvation’ brake. When the concentration of carbon dioxide falls from 1500 ppm to 200 ppm, weathering rates drop by a third, diminishing the capacity of forests to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The weathering rates by trees and fungi drop because low CO2 reduces plants’ ability to perform photosynthesis, meaning less carbon-energy is supplied to the roots and their fungi. This, in turn, means there is less nutrient uptake from minerals in the soil, which slows down weathering rates over millions of years.

“The last 24 million years saw significant mountain building in the Andes and Himalayas, which increased the amount of silicate rocks and minerals on the land that could be weathered over time. This increased weathering of silicate rocks in certain parts of the world is likely to have caused global CO2 levels to fall,” Quirk explains. But the concentration of CO2 never fell below 180-200 ppm because trees and fungi broke down minerals at low rates at those concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

“It is important that we understand the processes that affect and regulate climates of the past and our study makes an important step forward in understanding how Earth’s complex plant life has regulated and modified the climate we know on Earth today,” concludes Quirk.

Press Release Page Link

More information

This research is presented in the paper ‘Weathering by tree root-associating fungi diminishes under simulated Cenozoic atmospheric CO2 decline’ published in the EGU open access journal Biogeosciences on 23 January 2014.

Full citation: Quirk, J., Leake, J. R., Banwart, S. A., Taylor, L. L., and Beerling, D. J.: Weathering by tree-root-associating fungi diminishes under simulated Cenozoic atmospheric CO2 decline, Biogeosciences, 11, 321-331, doi:10.5194/bg-11-321-2014, 2014.

The team is composed of J. Quirk, J. R. Leake, S. A. Banwart, L. L. Taylor and D. J. Beerling, from the University of Sheffield, UK.

Dr. Joe Quirk
Post Doctoral Research Associate
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
University of Sheffield, UK
Tel: +44 (0)114 22 20093
Email: j.quirk@sheffield.ac.uk

Prof. David Beerling (Principal Investigator)
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
University of Sheffield, UK
Tel: +44 (0)114 22 24359
Email: d.j.beerling@sheffield.ac.uk

Bárbara Ferreira
EGU Media and Communications Manager
Munich, Germany
Tel: +49-89-2180-6703
Email: media@egu.eu

Enhanced by Zemanta

Jan 16, 2014 by Sci-News.com

By using the same experimental framework normally applied to test learnt behavioral responses in animals, biologists from Australia and Italy have successfully demonstrated that Mimosa pudica – an exotic herb native to South America and Central America – can learn and remember just as well as it would be expected of animals.

Mimosa pudica at the Botanical Garden KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany. Image credit: H. Zell / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Mimosa pudica at the Botanical Garden KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany. Image credit: H. Zell / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Mimosa pudica is known as the Sensitive plant or a touch-me-not. Dr Monica Gagliano from the University of Western Australia and her colleagues designed their experiments as if Mimosa was indeed an animal.

They trained Mimosa‘s short- and long-term memories under both high and low-light environments by repeatedly dropping water on them using a custom-designed apparatus.

The scientists show how Mimosa plants stopped closing their leaves when they learnt that the repeated disturbance had no real damaging consequence.

The plants were able to acquire the learnt behavior in a matter of seconds and as in animals, learning was faster in less favorable environment.

Most remarkably, these plants were able to remember what had been learned for several weeks, even after environmental conditions had changed.

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta
FARM NEWS

 

by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX) Oct 30, 2013

UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and California Trout researchers study salmon growth in seasonally flooded rice fields in the Yolo Bypass near Woodland, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2013. Scientists are investigating whether the Central Valley’s historical floodplains could be managed to help recover California’s populations of Chinook salmon. Credit: Carson Jeffres/UC Davis.


From a fish-eye view, rice fields in California’s Yolo Bypass provide an all-you-can-eat bug buffet for juvenile salmon seeking nourishment on their journey to the sea. That’s according to a new report detailing the scientific findings of an experiment that planted fish in harvested rice fields earlier this year, resulting in the fattest, fastest-growing salmon on record in the state’s rivers.

The report, provided to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, describes three concurrent studies from researchers at the University of California, Davis, nonprofit California Trout and the California Department of Water Resources. The scientists investigated whether rice fields on the floodplain of Yolo Bypass could be managed to help recover California’s populations of Chinook salmon, and if so, the ideal habitats and management approaches that could allow both fish and farms to thrive.

“We’re finding that land managers and regulatory agencies can use these agricultural fields to mimic natural processes,” said co-author Carson Jeffres, field and laboratory director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. “We still have some things to learn, but this report is a big step in understanding that.”

Researchers found that the fish did not have a preference among the three rice field types tested: stubble, plowed and fallow. The food supply was so plentiful that salmon had high growth rates across habitats and management methods.

“It’s like a dehydrated food web,” said Jeffres of the harvested rice fields. “Just add water. All of those habitats are very productive for fish.”

The salmon did demonstrate a preference for habitats with better water flow. Jeffres compared it to choosing among three good restaurants: Each offers good food with hearty portions, but one has better ambiance and so is chosen above the others. In this case, the better water flow was the ambiance the fish preferred.

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

File:Konza2.jpg

Konza Prairie Preserve.

  • A tall grass prairie in the Flint Hills, northeastern Kansas.

Image Source  :  Wikimedia. Org

2005 photo by Edwin Olson  PD

……….

 

First Look at Diverse Life Below Rare Tallgrass Prairies

Oct. 31, 2013 — America’s once-abundant tallgrass prairies — which have all but disappeared — were home to dozens of species of grasses that could grow to the height of a man, hundreds of species of flowers, and herds of roaming bison.

For the first time, a research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has gotten a peek at another vitally important but rarely considered community that also once called the tallgrass prairie home: the diverse assortment of microbes that thrived in the dark, rich soils beneath the grass.

“These soils played a huge role in American history because they were so fertile and so incredibly productive,” said Noah Fierer, a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and lead author of the study published today in the journal Science. “They don’t exist anymore except in really small parcels. This is our first glimpse into what might have existed across the whole range.”

CIRES is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The remarkable fertility of soils beneath the tallgrass prairie — which once covered more than 150 million U.S. acres, from Minnesota south to Texas and from Illinois west to Nebraska — were also the prairie’s undoing. Attracted by the richness of the dirt, settlers began to plow up the prairie more than a century and a half ago, replacing the native plants with corn, wheat, soybeans and other crops. Today, only remnants of the tallgrass prairie remain, covering just a few percent of the ecosystem’s original range.

For the study, Fierer, an associate professor of microbial ecology, and his colleagues used samples of soil collected from 31 different sites spread out across the prairie’s historical range. The samples — which were collected by study co-author Rebecca McCulley, a grassland ecologist at the University of Kentucky — came largely from nature preserves and old cemeteries.

“It was very hard to find sites that we knew had never been tilled,” Fierer said. “As soon as you till a soil, it’s totally different. Most gardeners are familiar with that.”

The researchers used DNA sequencing to characterize the microbial community living in each soil sample. The results showed that a poorly understood phylum of bacteria, Verrucomicrobia, dominated the microbial communities in the soil.

“We have these soils that are dominated by this one group that we really don’t know anything about,” Fierer said. “Why is it so abundant in these soils? We don’t know.”

While Verrucomicrobia were dominant across the soil samples, the microbial makeup of each particular soil sample was unique. To get an idea of how soil microbial diversity might have varied across the tallgrass prairie when it was still an intact ecosystem, the researchers built a model based on climate information and the data from the samples.

“I am thrilled that we were able to accurately reconstruct the microbial component of prairie soils using statistical modeling and data from the few remaining snippets of this vanishing ecosystem,” said Katherine Pollard, an investigator at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and a co-author of the paper.

Fierer and his colleagues are already hard at work trying to grow Verrucomicrobia in the lab to better understand what it does and the conditions it favors. But even without a full understanding of the microbes, the research could bolster tallgrass prairie restoration efforts in the future.

“Here’s a group that’s really critical in the functioning of these soils. So if you’re trying to have effective prairie restoration, it may be useful to try and restore the below-ground diversity as well,” Fierer said.

Story Source:

 

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado at Boulder.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

 


 

Journal Reference:

N. Fierer, J. Ladau, J. C. Clemente, J. W. Leff, S. M. Owens, K. S. Pollard, R. Knight, J. A. Gilbert, R. L. McCulley. Reconstructing the Microbial Diversity and Function of Pre-Agricultural Tallgrass Prairie Soils in the United States. Science, 2013; 342 (6158): 621 DOI: 10.1126/science.1243768

Enhanced by Zemanta

File:Image-Pacific-Ocean -4.jpg
Image Source  :  Wikimedia Commons

Pacific-Ocean

Attribution: Brocken Inaglory  CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

…..

The ocean is broken

IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.

Not the absence of sound, exactly.

The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.

And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.

What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.

The birds were missing because the fish were missing.

Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.

“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.

But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.

No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.

“In years gone by I’d gotten used to all the birds and their noises,” he said.

“They’d be following the boat, sometimes resting on the mast before taking off again. You’d see flocks of them wheeling over the surface of the sea in the distance, feeding on pilchards.”

But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.

North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.

“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.

And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.

“Obviously I was worried. We were unarmed and pirates are a real worry in those waters. I thought, if these guys had weapons then we were in deep trouble.”

But they weren’t pirates, not in the conventional sense, at least. The speedboat came alongside and the Melanesian men aboard offered gifts of fruit and jars of jam and preserves.

“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.

“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.

“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.

“They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day’s by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing.”

Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.

No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

EnergyFabricator EnergyFabricator

 

Published on Jan 22, 2013

Using Goethe’s Theory of Colours (Zur Farbenlehre) as point of departure, Light Darkness and Colours takes us on a fascinating journey through the universe of colours. In 1704, Sir Isaac Newton published *Light and Refraction*, his study of the interactions between sunlight and prisms. Newton was, as a good scientist, intent on achieving objectivity, which meant studying sunlight in isolation. He thought colours were contained solely in light, and found the spectrum he was looking for. When he reproduced this experiment, Goethe found another, hidden set of colours missed by Newton. Goethe found the hidden colours in the boundaries between light and darkness. He felt, as an artist, that one could not talk about light without including darkness. Calling it ‘the light-darkness polarity’, Goethe made this new scientific discovery using artistic methods in conjunction with science.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_W…

‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’ – drmullein :)

Enhanced by Zemanta

AlliantContent AlliantContent

Published on Feb 26, 2013

Erupting every 20 minutes, Stromboli is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Beneath the surface, a healthy population of common octopus thrives on its treacherous slopes. Discover what allows the octopus to survive in such extreme conditions.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Published on Mar 4, 2013

“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/translate

Follow TED news on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tednews
Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED

******************************************************************************

Could cows and sheep halt climate change and tackle rural poverty?

Agriculture is destructive, but doesn’t have to be. Livestock could help tackle climate change, desertification and rural poverty

Desertification in China

A herder leads her sheep in search of grazing grounds in Inner Mongolia, which is fighting severe desertification. Photograph: How Hwee Young/EPA

Holistic management, with its counterintuitive claim that more, rather than fewer, cattle can improve the land, has been around for decades – a kind of perennial cattleman’s quarrel, and a thorn in the hide of ranchers and anti-ranchers alike.

The use of livestock as a tool for restoration has been scoffed at by scientists, reviled by vegetarians and those who blame cows for climate change, and a flashpoint for tension over how to conserve land in the American West.

Reviving grasslands

But that was before Allan Savory, who developed holistic management, won the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge for a programme with “significant potential to solve one of humanity’s most pressing problems.” And before governmental agencies such as USAID and large NGOs like the Nature Conservancy teamed up with the Savory Institute on international projects after seeing the benefits on the ground. And, in an era when one viral video makes the difference between anonymity and renown, before Savory’s TED talk, How to Green the Desert and Reverse Climate Change, flew round the Internet with some 2m views.

At the end of June, I attended the first Savory Institute International Conference, Transforming Landscapes for Global Impact, in Boulder, Colorado. This two-day event, attended by 300 ranchers, scholars and investors from around the world, showed that holistic management is now launched as a global movement – one that’s positioned itself as a vehicle for addressing seemingly intractable problems of climate change, desertification, and rural poverty.

The impetus is to bolster the deployment of holistic planned grazing to revive the grasslands of the world. Grasslands, also known as prairie, savanna, steppes or pampas, represent 40% of the world’s land surface. Much of this land is desertifying, or losing the capacity to sustain life; more than 10m hectares of productive land succumb to desertification every year.

Deploying cows, sheep and yaks to fight desertification

Since I began exploring soil as a crucible for our many overlapping ecological and economic crises – and for solutions – I’ve been intrigued by holistic management’s use of the humble cow, sheep, goat or, more exotically, camel or yak to remake the land. The results are most dramatic on “brittle” landscapes, that are dry much of the year and need to sustain moisture from one rainy season to the next.

Savory’s insight is that grasslands and ungulates evolved together, so that the land needs animals in the same way that animals need the land. All domestic animals have an impact on land; this impact can be positive or negative, depending on how they are managed. Land can be overgrazed but it can also be undergrazed, meaning that it suffers from lack of animal impact.

This notion surprises many people, who assume that leaving land alone is always better. But when, say, cattle are moved in a planned way, their behaviour kickstarts key biological processes that might have stalled, a situation that could lead to desertification.

Read More Here

******************************************************************************

Enhanced by Zemanta
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,573 other followers