New analysis counters claims that solar activity is linked to global warming: It has been one of the central claims of those who challenge the idea that human activities are to blame for global warming. The planet’s climate has long fluctuated, say the climate sceptics, and current warming is just part of that natural cycle – the result of variation in the sun’s output and not carbon dioxide emissions. But a new analysis of data on the sun’s output in the last 25 years of the 20th century has firmly put the notion to rest. The data shows that even though the sun’s activity has been decreasing since 1985, global temperatures have continued to rise at an accelerating rate. Guardian

Clouds that rival auroras now bigger and brighter :They’re gorgeous, and there are more of them now than before,” says James Russell, principal investigator of NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission, about noctilucent (literally, “night-shining”) clouds. Floating at an altitude of around 50 miles, they are only seen well after sunset on summer nights above 50 degrees latitude in either hemisphere and have been increasing in frequency and brilliance with each passing year. Their origin is a mystery as is the reason for their growing quantity and brightness. But new data from the AIM satellite, launched April 25, may help shed light on these enigmatic bodies as well as answer questions that have arisen about their possible link to global warming. Scientific American

Buttongrass global warming warning: An ecology professor from the University of Tasmania has warned the World Heritage Area in the state’s south is under extreme threat from climate change. Professor David Bowman says the soil in South West Tasmania can be easily parched and exposed to fires, and that the problem is compounded because the local buttongrass vegetation is also incredibly flammable. ABC News

Mangroves more threatened than rainforests: Destruction of mangrove forests could leave the world deprived of their important ecological services by the end of a century, warns an international team of scientists writing in the July 6th issue of the journal Science. Mangrove forests, which once covered more than 200,000 square kilometers of coastline, have been diminished by 35-86 percent in extent in locations around the world, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and are critically endangered or approaching extinction in 26 out of the 120 countries in which they are found. Monga Bay

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Peter Fray
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