Soil Erosion Rates Rose More Than 100-Fold In The US Following Colonization Via Deforestation & Industrial Agriculture, Research Finds (+American Indian Forest Management Practices Explained)

January 21, 2015 in Geology & Climate, Humans, Plants

Soil erosion rates increased more than a 100-fold in the southeastern US after European colonization via the large-scale deforestation and industrial agriculture that accompanied it, according to new research from the University of Vermont.

Previous to European colonization, the region had seen rates of hill-slope erosion of around an inch every 2500-years — after colonization these rates skyrocketed to an inch every 25-years (with a peak in the late-1800s/early-1900s).

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Desertification Effects, Causes, And Examples : Top 10 List

January 5, 2015 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate, Humans, Plants

Desertification is a process of land-degradation by which a region becomes progressively drier and drier — eventually becoming desert. Or, to put it another way — desertification is the process by which previously biologically productive land is transformed into wasteland.

There’s actually currently something of a debate over the use of the term though. As it stands, the most widely accepted definition is probably the one that’s now printed in the Princeton University Dictionary — which defines it thusly: “The process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought, or improper/inappropriate agriculture”

Desertification

There are a number of different causes/mechanisms behind the process, such as deflation (the loss of stabilizing vegetation, and of top soil); erosion; and soil-salinity-rise (via irrigation mostly). Read the rest of this entry →

Tamu Massif — Undersea Volcano The Size Of The British Isles Discovered In The Pacific, One Of The Largest Known Volcanoes In The Solar System

September 9, 2013 in Geology & Climate

Tamu Massif — a volcano the size of the British Isles — was recently discovered by researchers from the University of Houston. The enormous volcano is not only the largest yet discovered on the Earth, but is also one of the largest volcanoes in the whole of the known solar system — in the same size-range as the giant volcanoes of Mars.

The country-sized undersea volcano is located about 1,000 miles east of Japan, and compromises the largest feature of Shatsky Rise — an underwater mountain range that formed sometime between 130-145 million years ago, as a result of the eruption of several large underwater volcanoes.

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Did Life Originate In Brinicles? Icy Sea Stalactites Provide Environment Conducive To Emergence Of Life

May 3, 2013 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate

Did life on Earth originate in the almost otherworldly environments of brinicles — the icy sea stalactites that grow near the Earth’s poles? These rather strange looking tubes of ice could very possibly have been where life on the Earth originated, according to new research published in the journal Langmuir.

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Massive Arctic Greening Within Only A Few Decades? Transformation Could Make The Arctic The Center Of Human Activity

April 2, 2013 in Geology & Climate, Plants

The Arctic will experience a massive “greening” in the coming decades as a result of rising temperatures and climate change, new research from the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation has found. The research shows that rising temperatures will cause total plant cover area in the Arctic to increase significantly, with wooded areas increasing in size by as much as 50% in only a few decades. This rapid increase in vegetation will result in accelerated warming within the region and also globally.

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“Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson, primary author of the paper and a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.

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