Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Category Archives: Environmental Sciences

Forests fight drought, even from far away

Forests are said to be the lungs of the Earth—they also provide a moist breath that travels tens to thousands of miles. Dense stands of trees release foggy clouds of condensation. The water molecules from those clouds ride wind currents … Continue reading

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To predict the success of tree-planting schemes, look to villagers’ involvement

Tree-planting projects are sprouting up worldwide in an effort to sequester carbon. Acres of saplings are quick to plant but don’t necessarily have staying power: many die or are cut down before the trees grow to maturity. A recent study … Continue reading

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Satellite monitoring may help preserve the Chesapeake Bay by improving farming practices

  Restoring the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, has for decades proven to be a fraught enterprise, beset by the interests of researchers, farmers, anglers, multiple governments, and a host of others. A new approach, recently reported in Remote … Continue reading

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Country-level assessment hides big variations in soy’s carbon footprint

Analysts usually estimate a crop’s carbon footprint based on country-level factors. But that formulation isn’t adequate, according to a new analysis of soy exports from Brazil. Published in Global Environmental Change, the study tracked soy from specific production sites in … Continue reading

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Genome of “mile-a-minute weed” hints at the secrets to its invasive success

The weedy vine Mikania micrantha, originally from Central and South America, has become a worldwide menace. Thus far, it’s spread to tropical climes in China and Southeast Asia, Australia, and islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as … Continue reading

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Sweeping study finds big landscape changes on the fringes of Europe’s protected areas

Quaint cobblestone towns and green pastures dot the Pyrenees Mountains, at the gates of Catalonia’s Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. Hike a few miles into the park, though, and the Spanish landscape of trickling rivers and montane … Continue reading

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Climate disasters fuel only a small boost in green energy investments

  In the wake of devastating floods in Germany in 2013, some affected householders recognized the connection between extreme weather and climate change and sought out green energy sources, according to analyses of insurance payouts and Internet searches conducted by … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Carbon payments could prove more profitable than mining or logging for some nations

Logging, mining, and other activities plow through the tropical forests of developing countries, releasing 10 to 18 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. One proposed solution is for wealthy countries to pay developing nations to keep … Continue reading

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Journal club: A simple model to help identify which species might become invasive

Invasive species are a major driver of global biodiversity loss. Now researchers have developed a simple model that can quickly predict which species are likely to become established outside their native environment. The team recently reported in the Proceedings of … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Marine conservation move sparks a fishing frenzy

Initiatives to protect marine ecosystems could do more harm to marine life than good, according to a recent PNAS paper. The work suggests that the announcement of one of the world’s largest marine protected areas sparked a sudden uptick in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Protein vs protein, study comprehensively compares the environmental impacts of livestock and seafood

The most environmentally friendly protein sources include clams, sardines, and cod. Not surprisingly, beef has the worst environmental impact. Somewhat surprisingly, farmed salmon is relatively innocuous; but catfish is not. These are the conclusions of a recent study that compares … Continue reading

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