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:: Due to landscape fragmentation, Brazil's rainforests are releasing more carbon dioxide than previously thought

Because of the deforestation of tropical rainforests in Brazil, significantly more carbon has been lost than was previously assumed. As scientists of the Hemholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) write in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the effect of the degradation has been underestimated in fragmented forest areas, since it was hitherto not possible to calculate the loss of the biomass at the forest edges and the higher emission of carbon dioxide. The UFZ scientists have now closed this knowledge gap. According to their calculations, the forest fragmentation results in up to a fifth more carbon dioxide being emitted by the vegetation.

:: Enormous Progress in Ocean Acidification Research: New Report Summarises Current State of Knowledge

Never before have so many scientists conducted research on what impacts the declining pH value of seawater has on animals and plants in the ocean. The experts have now compiled their results for the second report on ocean acidification of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which will be made public today at the twelfth conference of the Parties to the Convention. Major focus is placed on the consequences that also have an effect on us human beings.

:: Fraunhofer lighthouse project: »critical rare earths«

Mobility would be at a standstill without electric motors and their powerful permanent magnets. These owe their useful magnetic properties to the chemical elements neodymium and dysprosium, which belong to the group of rare earths. Sometimes called critical raw materials, nobody is sure whether the supply of rare earths will hold out in the medium and long term. But ensuring that these raw materials remain available on the world market is far from easy, and prices have been rising steadily for years.

:: Ethanol fireplaces: the underestimated risk

Ethanol fireplaces are becoming more and more popular. However, they are not only highly combustible – in the past, severe accents have occurred repeatedly with decorative fireplaces. The devices also pollute the air in the rooms. This has been proven by a recent Fraunhofer study. Wood-burning ovens are also on the testing block.

:: 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.

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