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:: Thawing Permafrost: The speed of coastal erosion in Eastern Siberia has nearly doubled

The high cliffs of Eastern Siberia – which mainly consist of permafrost – continue to erode at an ever quickening pace. This is the conclusion which scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have reached after their evaluation of data and aerial photographs of the coastal regions for the last 40 years. According to the researchers, the reasons for this increasing erosion are rising summer temperatures in the Russian permafrost regions as well the retreat of the Arctic sea ice. This coastal protection recedes more and more on an annual basis. As a result, waves undermine the shores. At the same time, the land surface begins to sink. The small island of Muostakh east of the Lena Delta is especially affected by these changes. Experts fear that it might even disappear altogether should the loss of land continue.

:: Environment: Water pollution is decreasing but a lot remains to be done

Water pollution caused by nitrates has decreased in Europe over the past two decades, but agricultural pressures are still putting water resources under strain. The latest Report on the implementation of the Nitrates Directivereveals that nitrates concentrations are slightly decreasing in both surface and groundwater and sustainable agricultural practices are more widespread. Although the overall trend is positive, nitrates pollution and eutrophication – the excess growth of weeds and algae that suffocates life in rivers and seas – are still causing problems in many Member States and further action is needed to bring the waters in the European Union to a good status within a reasonable timescale.

:: Germany is able to become a (nearly) greenhouse gas-neutral country

Large industrialized countries can also reduce CO2 emissions by 95 percent until 2050. Can an industrialized country such as Germany avoid nearly all of its man-made greenhouse gas emissions? According to a study by the Federal Environment Agency, the answer is 'yes': "It is technically possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 100 per cent compared to 1990 levels – with technologies that are available today," says Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

:: New global treaty cuts mercury emissions and releases, sets up controls on products, mines and industrial plants

Japan, a country which has come to epitomize mercury poisoning in modern times,  became one of the first countries to sign a historic new international convention to reduce emissions and releases of the toxic metal into air, land and water and to phase out many products that contain mercury. The Minamata Convention on Mercury - a global, legally binding treaty which opened for signature today - was agreed to by governments in January and formally adopted as international law. The new treaty is the first new global convention on environment and health for close to a decade. Coming at a time when some multilateral negotiations have faced challenges, its successful negotiation, after a four-year process, provides a new momentum to intergovernmental cooperation on the environment.

:: Long-term data reveal: The deep Greenland Sea is warming faster than the World Ocean

Recent warming of the Greenland Sea Deep Water is about ten times higher than warming rates estimated for the global ocean. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research recently published these findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. For their study, they analysed  temperature data from 1950 to 2010 in the abyssal Greenland Sea, which is an ocean area located just to the south of the Arctic Ocean.

:: Study: Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths each year in the U.S.

New MIT study finds vehicle emissions are the biggest contributor to these premature deaths. Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have come out with some sobering new data on air pollution’s impact on Americans’ health.

:: Largest ice sheet in the world sensitive to global warming

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet seems to be more vulnerable to the effects of cli-mate change than previously thought. For the first time, an international re-search team from the Universities of Durham and Zurich has studied the long-term development of outlet glaciers using satellite images, revealing that the advance and retreat of the 175 glaciers studied are closely linked to climatic changes.

:: Scientists analyse the extent of ocean acidification

Ocean acidification could change the ecosystems of our seas even by the end of this century. Biologists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have therefore assessed the extent of this ominous change for the first time. In a new study they compiled and analysed all available data on the reaction of marine animals to ocean acidification. The scientists found that whilst the majority of animal species investigated are affected by ocean acidification, the respective impacts are very specific. The AWI-researchers present their results as an Advance Online Publication on Sunday 25 August 2013 in Nature Climate Change.

:: 80% of Europeans are concerned about the environmental impact of products

According to a new survey, most Europeans would be prepared to change their purchasing habits and buy more environmentally-friendly products, but many feel they lack information and distrust manufacturers' environmental claims. The survey on the "Attitudes of Europeans towards building the single market for green products" indicates that more than three-quarters of respondents are willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly products if they were confident that the products are truly environmentally-friendly (77%). However, only slightly more than half of EU citizens feel informed (55%) about the environmental impacts of the products they buy and use.

:: A Decade of Climate Extremes

The world experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes during the 2001-2010 decade, which was the warmest since the start of modern measurements in 1850 and continued an extended period of pronounced global warming. More national temperature records were reported broken than in any previous decade, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

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