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Monday, October 31, 2011

NORTH DAKOTA GETS $403.9 MILLION IN SPRING FLOODING DISASTER

The following excerpt is from the FEMA website:

BISMARCK, N.D. -- A total of $403.9 million in federal and state disaster assistance has now been obligated to North Dakotans for this year’s spring flooding, and thus far, 1,234 Temporary Housing Units (THUs) have been occupied on private and group sites by residents working toward permanent housing plans.

By Oct. 30 close of business, 10,224 individuals in North Dakota had registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $238,796,300 in low-interest disaster loans to residents and businesses. The deadline for applying for FEMA assistance and SBA loans is Nov. 21.

FEMA's Public Assistance program has awarded more than $67.5 million for 1,253 approved infrastructure projects, including emergency services, debris removal and school repairs. Individual assistance funds approved are more than $94.8 million for repairs, rental assistance and other needs.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), funded by FEMA and administered by Job Service North Dakota, has provided more than $2 million to residents who are unemployed because of the flood disaster.

Additionally, $817,611 has been allocated for a state-managed crisis counseling program to help individuals and communities cope with after-effects of the disaster.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.”

Sunday, October 30, 2011

TWO BUSINESSMEN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR CONSPIRING TO DEFRAUD RYAN AIRLINES

The following is an excerpt from the Department of Justice antitrust website:

“WASHINGTON — A former owner and operator of a Florida-based airline fuel supply service company and a former owner and operator of an Indiana-based flight management services company were sentenced today to serve prison time and to pay restitution for conspiring to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud in separate schemes to defraud Ryan International Airlines, a charter airline company located in Rockford, Ill., the Department of Justice announced today.
James E. Murphy, the former owner and operator of a Florida aviation fuel supply company, was sentenced to 23 months in prison and to pay $42,500 in restitution. David A. Chaisson, the former owner and operator of an Indiana flight management services company, was sentenced to 16 months in prison and to pay $50,742.48 in restitution.
On Aug. 12, 2011, Murphy and Chaisson pleaded guilty in separate two-count felony charges in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for participating in different conspiracies with co-conspirators to defraud Ryan by making kickback payments to Wayne E. Kepple, a former vice president of ground operations for Ryan, in exchange for Kepple awarding their respective companies business.
Ryan provides air passenger and cargo services for corporations, private individuals, professional sports teams and the U.S. government, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service.
According to court documents, Murphy paid more than $130,000 in kickbacks to Kepple, who was responsible for procuring jet fuel for Ryan flights, in exchange for Kepple providing aviation fuel contracts to Murphy’s company and to two other aviation fuel supply companies where Murphy worked as a corporate bookkeeper. In a separate conspiracy, according to court documents, Chaisson paid Kepple more than $60,000 in kickbacks, including payments based on fabricated invoices submitted by Chaisson’s company to Ryan. Chaisson’s company was responsible for managing the ground operations for Ryan flights.
On Sept. 29, 2011, Kepple was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud in three separate kickback schemes to defraud Ryan involving Murphy, Chaisson, Robert Riddell, the former owner and operator of an airline security and ground service company, and others. On Oct. 17, 2011, Riddell pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla., for conspiring with Kepple to defraud Ryan. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 20, 2011.”

Saturday, October 29, 2011

GETTING AFFORDABLE FLOOD INSURANCE

The following excerpt is from the FEMA website:


"Release Date: October 28, 2011
WESTFIELD, Mass -- Flooding can happen anytime in Massachusetts, especially during hurricane season, from June 1 to December 1. Individuals and business owners in the western part of the Commonwealth can attest to this as they continue to clean up after Tropical Storm Irene that struck in late August. Hurricanes, tropical storms and winter coastal storms, known as “Nor'easters”, have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage in the state, much of it from flooding.

Property owners should not be lulled into a false sense of security because they do not live next to a body of water. Some 20 percent of flooding insurance claims are outside of mapped flood hazard areas. The public should also be aware that only flood insurance provides coverage for water damage due to flooding. A standard homeowner insurance policy does not include flood coverage.

“Whether you live along the coast, by a river or stream, or far inland, a tropical storm or hurricane can lead to serious flooding,” said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz, Director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). “Many smaller storms also cause floods. I urge all residents to evaluate their flood risk and purchase flood insurance to protect their investment -- and to do it now, because coverage does not begin until 30 days after you buy your policy.”

In 2010, Massachusetts ranked fourth in the nation with 1,936 flood insurance claims filed. The Commonwealth also ranked seventh nationwide with $25,599,747 paid out for flood insurance claims.

While flooding itself is usually not preventable, the financial and emotional toll can be greatly lessened when there is insurance to cover the damage. For those who do not have flood insurance, the results of flooding can be so severe that this results in the household having to take on a heavy debt load.

“Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Mark H. Landry with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the NFIP. “Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, a property owner in a floodplain is four times more likely to have flood losses as a fire loss. Flood insurance provides financial protection at a reasonable cost.”

As with other types of insurance, the policy premium is based on the degree of risk and the amount of coverage. A coastal property or one on the bank of a river has a higher risk of flooding and, therefore, a higher insurance premium than one that is further inland and on higher ground.

Homeowners may buy insurance for their houses and personal property and renters may buy personal property coverage. Businesses may buy coverage for their buildings and contents. Consumers and businesses can find a list of agents in their area who sell the coverage on the www.FloodSmart.gov Web site or by calling 1-800-427-4661.

To find out what the premium would be for various amounts of coverage, the www.FloodSmart.gov Web site, a one-stop resource created by the NFIP to help people buy flood insurance, has a calculator function that automatically provides this information when an address and zip code are entered.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Modified: Friday, 28-Oct-2011 15:35:38"

Friday, October 28, 2011

WATER DISCOVERED IN DISK AROUND FORMING STAR

The following excerpt is from the NASA website:

“WASHINGTON -- Using data from the Herschel Space Observatory, astronomers have detected for the first time cold water vapor enveloping a dusty disk around a young star. The findings suggest that this disk, which is poised to develop into a solar system, contains great quantities of water, suggesting that water-covered planets like Earth may be common in the universe. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Scientists previously found warm water vapor in planet-forming disks close to a central star. Evidence for vast quantities of water extending out into the cooler, far reaches of disks where comets take shape had not been seen until now. The more water available in disks for icy comets to form, the greater the chances that large amounts eventually will reach new planets through impacts.

"Our observations of this cold vapor indicate enough water exists in the disk to fill thousands of Earth oceans," said astronomer Michiel Hogerheijde of Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands. Hogerheijde is the lead author of a paper describing these findings in the Oct. 21 issue of the journal Science.

The star with this water-logged disk, called TW Hydrae, is 10 million years old and located about 175 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Hydra. The frigid watery haze detected by Hogerheijde and his team is thought to originate from ice-coated grains of dust near the disk's surface. Ultraviolet light from the star causes some water molecules to break free of this ice, creating a thin layer of gas with a light signature detected by Herschel's Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared, or HIFI.

"These are the most sensitive HIFI observations to-date," said Paul Goldsmith, NASA project scientist for the Herschel Space Observatory at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It is a testament to the instrument-builders that such weak signals can be detected."

TW Hydrae is an orange dwarf star, somewhat smaller and cooler than our yellow-white sun. The giant disk of material that encircles the star has a size nearly 200 times the distance between Earth and the sun. Over the next few million years, astronomers believe matter within the disk will collide and grow into planets, asteroids and other cosmic bodies. Dust and ice particles will assemble as comets.

As the new solar system evolves, icy comets are likely to deposit much of the water they contain on freshly created worlds through impacts, giving rise to oceans. Astronomers believe TW Hydrae and its icy disk may be representative of many other young star systems, providing new insights on how planets with abundant water could form throughout the universe.

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission launched in 2009, carrying science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes. NASA's Herschel Project Office based at JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the U.S. astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TWO PASSING GALAXIES MIGHT RAPIDLY CREATE SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE

The following excerpt is from the NASA website:

“Astronomers have used a large survey to test a prediction that close encounters between galaxies can trigger the rapid growth of supermassive black holes. Key to this work was Chandra's unique ability to pinpoint actively growing black holes through the X-rays they generate.

The researchers looked at 562 pairs of galaxies ranging in distances from about 3 billion to 8 billion light years from Earth. They found that the galaxies in the early stages of an encounter with another were more likely than isolated, or "lonelier" galaxies to have actively growing black holes in their cores.

These two composite images show a sample of the pairs of galaxies that are undergoing close encounters in the survey. In these images, the data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory are shown in purple and Hubble Space Telescope data are in gold. In both images, the point-like X-ray source near the center is generated by gas that has been heated to millions of degrees as it falls toward a supermassive black hole located in the middle of its host galaxy. The other faint X-ray emission may be caused by hot gas associated with the pair of galaxies.

The authors of the study estimate that nearly one-fifth of all moderately active black holes are found in galaxies undergoing the early stages of an interaction. This leaves open the question of what events are responsible for fueling the remaining 80% of growing black holes. Some of these may involve the late stages of mergers between two galaxies. Less violent events such as gas falling in from the halo of the galaxy, or the disruption of small satellite galaxies are also likely to play an important role.

The survey used in this research is called the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS), which covers two square degrees on the sky with observations from several major space-based observatories including Chandra and Hubble. Accurate distance information about the galaxies was also derived from optical observations with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The researchers compared a sample of 562 galaxies in pairs with 2726 solo galaxies to come to their conclusions.

A paper describing this work has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. The study was led by John Silverman from the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) at the University of Tokyo in Japan. There are 54 co-authors from various institutions around the world.

Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/IPMU/J.Silverman et al; Optical: NASA/STScI/Caltech/N.Scoville et al."

Monday, October 24, 2011

REVELATIONS ON HOW FIRST RECORDED SUPER NOVA OCCURRED

The following is from the NASA website:

NASA Telescopes Help Solve Ancient Supernova Mystery WASHINGTON -- A mystery that began nearly 2,000 years ago, when Chinese astronomers witnessed what would turn out to be an exploding star in the sky, has been solved. New infrared observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, reveal how the first supernova ever recorded occurred and how its shattered remains ultimately spread out to great distances.

The findings show that the stellar explosion took place in a hollowed-out cavity, allowing material expelled by the star to travel much faster and farther than it would have otherwise.

"This supernova remnant got really big, really fast," said Brian J. Williams, an astronomer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Williams is lead author of a new study detailing the findings online in the Astrophysical Journal. "It's two to three times bigger than we would expect for a supernova that was witnessed exploding nearly 2,000 years ago. Now, we've been able to finally pinpoint the cause."

In 185 A.D., Chinese astronomers noted a "guest star" that mysteriously appeared in the sky and stayed for about 8 months. By the 1960s, scientists had determined that the mysterious object was the first documented supernova. Later, they pinpointed RCW 86 as a supernova remnant located about 8,000 light-years away. But a puzzle persisted. The star's spherical remains are larger than expected. If they could be seen in the sky today in infrared light, they'd take up more space than our full moon.

The solution arrived through new infrared observations made with Spitzer and WISE, and previous data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory.

The findings reveal that the event is a "Type Ia" supernova, created by the relatively peaceful death of a star like our sun, which then shrank into a dense star called a white dwarf. The white dwarf is thought to have later blown up in a supernova after siphoning matter, or fuel, from a nearby star.

"A white dwarf is like a smoking cinder from a burnt-out fire," Williams said. "If you pour gasoline on it, it will explode."

The observations also show for the first time that a white dwarf can create a cavity around it before blowing up in a Type Ia event. A cavity would explain why the remains of RCW 86 are so big. When the explosion occurred, the ejected material would have traveled unimpeded by gas and dust and spread out quickly.

Spitzer and WISE allowed the team to measure the temperature of the dust making up the RCW 86 remnant at about minus 325 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 200 degrees Celsius. They then calculated how much gas must be present within the remnant to heat the dust to those temperatures. The results point to a low-density environment for much of the life of the remnant, essentially a cavity.

Scientists initially suspected that RCW 86 was the result of a core-collapse supernova, the most powerful type of stellar blast. They had seen hints of a cavity around the remnant, and, at that time, such cavities were only associated with core-collapse supernovae. In those events, massive stars blow material away from them before they blow up, carving out holes around them.

But other evidence argued against a core-collapse supernova. X-ray data from Chandra and XMM-Newton indicated that the object consisted of high amounts of iron, a telltale sign of a Type Ia blast. Together with the infrared observations, a picture of a Type Ia explosion into a cavity emerged.

"Modern astronomers unveiled one secret of a two-millennia-old cosmic mystery only to reveal another," said Bill Danchi, Spitzer and WISE program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Now, with multiple observatories extending our senses in space, we can fully appreciate the remarkable physics behind this star's death throes, yet still be as in awe of the cosmos as the ancient astronomers."

Friday, October 21, 2011

PRESIDENT OBAMA E-MAIL MESSAGE ON BRINGING TROOPS HOME FROM IRAQ

The following excerpt is from an e-mail sent out by President Barack Obama on October 21, 2011:


Good evening,

I'm writing to tell you that all US troops will return home from Iraq by the end of December. After nearly nine years, the American war in Iraq will end. Our servicemen and women will be with their families for the holidays.

The war in Iraq came with tremendous cost. More than a million Americans served in Iraq, and nearly 4,500 gave their lives in service to the rest of us. Today, as always, we honor these patriots.

When I came into office, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. As Commander in Chief, I ended our combat mission last year and pledged to keep our commitment to remove all our troops by the end of 2011. To date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops from Iraq.

This is a significant moment in our history. For more information, including video, please visit WhiteHouse.gov/BringingTroopsHome.

The end of the war in Iraq reflects a larger trend. The wars of the past decade are drawing to a close.

As we have removed troops from Iraq, we have refocused our fight against al Qaeda and secured major victories in taking out its leadership–including Osama bin Laden. And we’ve begun a transition in Afghanistan.

On the first day of my Administration, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and we’ll continue to draw it down.

As we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll enlist their talents in meeting our greatest challenges as a nation—restoring our economic strength at home. Because after a decade of war, the nation that we need to build is our own.

Today the United States moves forward, from a position of strength.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DIVERSE TYPES OF ANIMALS LIVE IN SOILS AROUND THE EARTH

The following excerpt is from the National Science Foundations website:

October 17, 2011

Microscopic animals that live in soils are as diverse in the tropical forests of Costa Rica as they are in the arid grasslands of Kenya, or the tundra and boreal forests of Alaska and Sweden.

That conclusion is found in research results published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists have generally accepted that a wider range of species can be found above ground at the equator than at the Earth's poles.

But this study proves for the first time that the same rules don't apply to the nematodes, mites and springtails living underground.

The team of National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded ecologists includes Tiehang Wu and Jim Garey at the University of South Florida, Diana Wall at Colorado State University, Ed Ayres now at Neon Inc. in Colorado, and Richard Bardgett at the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom.

"Scientist E.O. Wilson noted that the key to understanding Earth's biodiversity lies in exploration of its smallest life forms," said Matt Kane, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"Important affirmation of this idea is provided in this global study of animals, in which the significance of belowground biodiversity is revealed."

This is the first comprehensive molecular analysis--at nearly a species resolution--of the global distribution of soil animals across a broad range of ecosystems from the tropics to the poles.

Soil samples were taken from 11 sites around the world, including tropical forest in Costa Rica, arid grassland in Kenya, warm temperate forest in New Zealand, shrub steppe of Argentina and tundra and boreal forest of Alaska and Sweden.

Through DNA testing, researchers found that each location had a diversity of soil animals, but that each ecosystem is unique with its own soil animals--illustrating an "amazing diversity of species" that had never been discovered before, said Garey.

"On average, 96 percent of our identified soil animals were found at only a single location, suggesting that most soil animals have restricted distributions, or in other words, they are endemic," said Wall.

"This challenges the long-held view that these smaller animals are widely distributed. However, unlike most above-ground organisms, there was no indication that latitude made a difference in soil animal diversity."

"Mites and roundworms dominate soil ecology and contribute to the breakdown and cycling of nutrients in the soil," Garey said. "These animals are essential to the proper functioning of the soil ecosystem in natural and farmlands."

The researchers also examined how the global distribution of soil animals relates to factors such as climate, soil nutrient levels and aboveground biodiversity.

Results showed that sites with greater aboveground biodiversity appeared to have lower diversity beneath in soils.

The main factors explaining this low soil animal diversity at sites with high aboveground diversity were high levels of soil inorganic nitrogen availability and lower pH compared with other sites.

Some sites with high animal biodiversity, like the Kenyan grassland site, are considered more at risk due to land use and population increase.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

25TH ANNIVERSARY OF EPCRA (EMERGENCY PLANNING AND COMMUNITY RIGHT TO KNOW ACT) MARKED BY EPA

The following excerpt is from an EPA e-mail:

October 17, 2011
WASHINGTON - This year marks 25 years since the passage of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The act was passed in 1986 as a part of the reauthorization for Superfund. EPCRA has played a significant role in protecting people’s health and the environment by providing communities and emergency planners with area-specific information on toxic chemical releases.

“This law is important to safeguarding our communities from chemical emergencies,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Twenty-five years after EPCRA was made into law, EPA continues to improve and advance our community right-to-know programs, so that we can ensure the best possible chemical safety protection for every community across the country.”

Public demand for information about chemical releases skyrocketed in the mid-1980s after a deadly cloud of highly toxic pesticide killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India. Shortly thereafter, a serious chemical release at a plant in West Virginia hospitalized 100 people. These events led to the implementation of EPCRA in 1986.

Under EPCRA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects information on toxic releases through the Toxic Release Inventory program (TRI), a public database containing information regarding the industrial releases of over 600 toxic chemicals from more than 20,000 facilities throughout the nation. TRI was the first publicly available database in the world that contained information on pollutant releases. Many other countries have since followed EPA’s lead, recognizing the value of making toxic chemical data readily available to the public. TRI information enables every American to make informed decisions on the consequences of toxic releases and empowers communities to take action.

EPCRA has made the lives of every American safer from toxic emergencies by establishing emergency planning groups at the state, tribal, and local levels. EPCRA brings together emergency responders from fire and police departments, medical personnel, emergency planners, elected officials, environmental group representatives and local citizens to develop plans to respond to chemical emergencies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

NASA SURVEYS ANTARCTICA’S CHANGING ICE

“WASHINGTON -- Scientists with NASA's Operation IceBridge airborne research campaign began the mission's third year of surveys this week over the changing ice of Antarctica.

Researchers are flying a suite of scientific instruments on two planes from a base of operations in Punta Arenas, Chile: a DC-8 operated by NASA and a Gulfstream V (G-V) operated by the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The G-V will fly through early November. The DC-8, which completed its first science flight Oct. 12, will fly through mid-November.

Ninety-eight percent of Antarctica is covered in ice. Scientists are concerned about how quickly key features are thinning, such as Pine Island Glacier, which rests on bedrock below sea level. Better understanding this type of change is crucial to projecting impacts like sea-level rise.

"With a third year of data-gathering underway, we are starting to build our own record of change," said Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "With IceBridge, our aim is to understand what the world's major ice sheets could contribute to sea-level rise. To understand that you have to record how ice sheets and glaciers are changing over time."

IceBridge science flights put a variety of remote-sensing instruments above Antarctica's land and sea ice, and in some regions, above the ocean floor. The G-V carries one instrument: a laser-ranging topography mapper. The DC-8 carries seven instruments, including a laser altimeter to continue the crucial ice sheet elevation record begun by the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission, which ended in 2009. The flying laboratory also will carry radars that can distinguish how much snow sits on top of sea ice and map the terrain of bedrock below thick ice cover.

While scientists in recent years have produced newer, more detailed data about the ice sheet's surface, the topography of the rocky surface beneath the ice sheet remains unknown in many places. Without knowing the topography of the bedrock, it is impossible to know exactly how much ice sits on top of Antarctica.

A gravimeter aboard the DC-8 will detect subtle differences in gravity to map the ocean floor beneath floating ice shelves. Data on bathymetry, or ocean depth, and ocean circulation from previous IceBridge campaigns are helping explain why some glaciers are changing so quickly.

Flights take off from Punta Arenas and cross the Southern Ocean to reach destinations including West Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula and coastal areas. Each lasts 10 to 11 hours.

"We will be re-surveying our previous flight lines to see how much glaciers and ice sheets have changed, and we'll cover new areas to establish a baseline for future years and the ICESat-2 mission in 2016," Studinger said.

Early high-priority DC-8 flights include several flight lines over sea ice near the Antarctic Peninsula, before too much of the ice melts in the southern spring. IceBridge sea ice flights are designed to help scientists understand why sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is not following the steady decline of sea ice thickness and extent seen in the Arctic.

Other high priority flight lines follow ground traverses being made this year and next, during which NASA scientists will travel different sections of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, measuring snowfall accumulation and the characteristics of Pine Island Glacier.

Many flight lines will retrace either previous ICESat-1 tracks or future ICESat-2 tracks. Some also will align with current observations made by the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 satellite. The overlapping flight lines and satellite tracks ultimately will help scientists improve the accuracy of their data.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is responsible for IceBridge project management. The DC-8 is based at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.”

MORE CARBON DIOXIDE RELEASED FROM RIVERS AND STREAMS THEN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT

The following excerpt is from the National Science Foundation website:
October 16, 2011
“Rivers and streams in the United States are releasing substantially more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than previously thought.
This according to researchers publishing their results in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.
Their findings could change the way scientists model the movement of carbon among land, water and the atmosphere.
"Direct measurements of carbon dioxide concentrations and fluxes in streams and rivers are still extremely rare," said Henry Gholz, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.
"This study demonstrates that both are much higher than assumed. The research should enable more predictive and precise models of carbon cycling at regional to global scales."
The researchers found that a significant amount of carbon contained in land, which first is absorbed by plants and forests through the air, is leaking into streams and rivers and then released into the atmosphere before reaching coastal waterways.
"What we are able to show is that there is a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide from streams and rivers, and that it is significant enough for terrestrial modelers to take note of it," said David Butman, a co-author of the paper and scientist at the Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
He and his co-author, ecologist Peter Raymond also of Yale, analyzed data from samples of more than 4,000 rivers and streams throughout the United States, and incorporated detailed geospatial data to model the flux of carbon dioxide from water.
This release is equal to a car burning 40 billion gallons of gasoline, enough to drive back and forth to the moon 3.4 million times.
"These rivers breathe a lot of carbon," said Butman. "They are a source of carbon dioxide, just like we breathe out carbon dioxide and like smokestacks emit carbon dioxide.
"This has never been systematically estimated from a region as large as the United States."
The paper, titled "Significant Efflux of Carbon Dioxide from Streams and Rivers in the United States," also indicates that as the climate heats up there will be more rain and snow, and that an increase in precipitation will result in even more terrestrial carbon flowing into rivers and streams and being released into the atmosphere.
Any accurate estimate of carbon uptake vs. carbon released must include the carbon in streams and rivers, Butman said.
The researchers note that currently it's difficult to determine how to include this flux in regional carbon budgets, because the influence of human activity on the release of carbon dioxide into streams and rivers is still unknown.
The research was also funded by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship, a NASA Carbon & Ecosystems Program grant, and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.”
-NSF-