Drones and satellite imaging to make forest protection pay

Image credit - lubasi, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Every year 7 million hectares of forest are cut down, chipping away at the 485 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) stored in trees around the world, but low-cost drones and new satellite imaging could soon protect these carbon stocks and help developing countries get paid for protecting their trees. ‘If you can measure the biomass you can … Read more

Arctic permafrost might contain ‘sleeping giant’ of world’s carbon emissions

Image credit - Prof. Igor Semiletov.

As temperatures rise in the Arctic, permafrost, or frozen ground, is thawing. As it does, greenhouse gases trapped within it are being released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, leading to previously underestimated problems with ocean acidification and potential mercury poisoning. About one quarter of the region is covered in permafrost, which … Read more

Governments at COP24 should focus on building a global electricity grid – Prof. Damien Ernst

Image credit - Kenueone, licensed under CC0 1.0

Governments at the COP24 climate change conference in Katowice, Poland, which ends on 14 December, should tackle fossil-fuel reliance by building a global energy grid that connects renewable energy from all around the world – and the best place to start is with a giant wind farm in Greenland, says Professor Damien Ernst, an energy scientist from … Read more

Why we may be able to save the Greenland ice sheet

Dr Teodóra Pados

Studies of ice melt in the Arctic suggest that world may have a fighting chance of preventing huge sea level changes that would result from the dramatic collapse of the vast ice sheets that cover Greenland, but that more work is needed to understand the wider effects. Greenland has more than two trillion tonnes of … Read more

Earth’s magnetic poles could start to flip. What happens then?

The magnetic field protecting our planet originates deep in the Earth's core but fluctuates in strength over time.

by Jonathan O’Callaghan As Earth’s magnetic shield fails, so do its satellites. First, our communications satellites in the highest orbits go down. Next, astronauts in low-Earth orbit can no longer phone home. And finally, cosmic rays start to bombard every human on Earth. This is a possibility that we may start to face not in … Read more

Extended napping could cause cognitive decline in older people

Image credit: Silver Santé Study

Regular naps may be one of the privileges of retirement but research is pointing to napping as a contributor to cognitive decline. Scientists are now testing the idea that older people should instead meditate or learn a language to preserve brainpower and wellbeing. Sleep serves a crucial function in brain health and maintenance, but regular, … Read more