WATER BUDGETS AND NUTRIENT BUDGETS
Although many of the world's major estuaries are polluted, there has not been a study that uniformly compares levels of nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus in separate bodies of water. Cornell University environmental biologists have now made it possible to directly compare, for example, the Chesapeake Bay in the United States to the Gulf of Gdansk in Poland. They have developed a uniform methodology to measure pollutants from runoff from industry and agriculture. According to the researchers, water volume and salt content in the estuaries and coastal water areas remain approximately constant over time, but nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are taken up, or released, by biological processes. As water flows through the system and mixes with adjacent systems, such as oceans or seas, the flows of water are described by scientists in terms of "water budgets" and the nutrients carried by these flows are described by "nutrient budgets." By examining discrepancies in nutrient budgets, scientists make inferences about biological productivity and other processes in estuaries around the globe. This data, obtained through the collaboration of hundreds of scientists, has been used to establish crude nutrient and water budgets for many sites around the globe. From that, the scientists can determine the relative health of these bodies of water.
WARMING TREND IN SOUTHERN OCEAN
An armada of autonomous marine "robots" deployed in the 1990s has helped produce new evidence that the Southern Ocean is warming faster than the rest of the world's oceans. Sarah Gille, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has uncovered a warming trend over the last 50 years through a comprehensive comparison of temperature points throughout the Antarctic Ocean. The study is published in the journal Science. The Southern Ocean, the body of water surrounding Antarctica, has long been known by ocean voyagers as a harsh seagoing destination. With no continental barriers, the Southern Ocean serves as a conveyor belt, transmitting climatic signals between the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. "It's a very climatically sensitive region," says Gille. "We can think of it as a canary in a coal mine for telling us what may happen to the global climate." Gille's comparison revealed no significant temperature changes between the 1930s and the 1950s and the most rapid warming in the 1950s and 1960s. Gille suggests that the cold ocean current that moves around Antarctica, called the Antarctic circumpolar current, may have shifted southward around the continent as part of the warming.
NEW EVIDENCE OF THE MOON'S SOFT MIDDLE
New calculations indicate the Moon's surface and interior react to the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun have providing further evidence that molten "slush" exists beneath the lunar surface, New Scientist reports. James Williams, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, calculated how the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun affects the Moon's crust. He used measurements from Earth that show how of the Moon's surface changes over time. Using formulas developed by British mathematician, Augustus Love, the researchers calculated that the way the Moon responds to these gravitational forces is partly due to a soft portion beneath its surface. "Since we can't go inside the Moon, we have to use indirect methods to learn its hidden secrets," says Williams. "In this case we were able to use the tidal distortion of the Moon." The first evidence of a soft region near the Moon's core was found using seismological equipment placed at different places on the surface during the Apollo missions. These found that moonquakes lost their energy when they traveled further than 1,000 kilometers below the Moon's surface.
POOR FARMERS BENEFIT THE MOST FROM GOING ORGANIC
"The Real Green Revolution" a report by Nicolas Parrott of Cardiff University in Britain shows the extent and success of organic and agroecological farming techniques being practiced in the developing world. The report analyzes the potential for new techniques and practices that work with nature, not against it, and generate food security and good yields, according to the researchers. Case studies show that: cotton yields increased 20 percent in India, rice yields tripled in Madagascar and in Brazil the use of green manures increased yields of maize by up to 250 percent. "The Real Green Revolution shows how organic and agroecological farming can significantly increase yields for resource poor farmers, improve food security and sustain and enhance the environmental resources on which agriculture in the South depends," says Parrott. "The report demonstrates in a convincing way how well adapted organic agriculture is for making a real difference for the poor of the world," says the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements.
(EDITOR: For more information, about WATER, call 607 255-3290; about WARMING, call 858 534-3624; about FARMERS, call 44-29-2087-4499.)