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Environmental science

Environmental science

The interdisciplinary field that studies human interaction with the environment.

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field studying human interactions with the environment involving both science and engineering. It studies the relationships between physical, chemical, and biological components of the environment and how they all interact with each other. Environmental science is a multidisciplinary field of science because it draws upon knowledge from many other scientific fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, geology, natural science, economics, social science, political science, philosophy, humanities, and ethics. There are three primary purposes of environmental science which are understanding the natural environment, understanding how human activity is altering the environment, and discovering methods of reducing or improving the role human activity is playing in relation to the environment.

History

Environmental science first gained wide public attention in the 1980s after the U.S Congress passed the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other environmentally focused legislation. The legislation acknowledged the need to prevent further environmental degradation from pollution and begin minimizing the volume and types of of toxins released by human activity into the environment.

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Science X staff
May 11, 2021
phys.org
A newly described horned dinosaur that lived in New Mexico 82 million years ago is one of the earliest known ceratopsid species, a group known as horned or frilled dinosaurs. Researchers reported their find in a publication in the journal PalZ (Paläontologische Zeitschrift).
Brandie Jefferson
May 10, 2021
phys.org
Whether wastewater is full of "waste" is a matter of perspective.
Anne M Stark
May 6, 2021
phys.org
Uranium contamination of soils and groundwater in the United States represents a significant health risk and will require multiple remediation approaches.
Science X staff
May 4, 2021
phys.org
Mangroves and seagrasses grow in many places along the coasts of the world, and these 'blue forests' constitute an important environment for a large number of animals. Here, juvenile fish can hide until they are big enough to take care of themselves; crabs and mussels live on the bottom; and birds come to feed on the plants.
Nogue, S., Santos, A. M. C., Birks, H. J. B., Björck, S., Castilla-Beltran, A., Connor, S., de Boer, E. J., de Nascimento, L., Felde, V. A., Fernandez-Palacios, J. M., Froyd, C. A., Haberle, S. G., Hooghiemstra, H., Ljung, K., Norder, S. J., Penuelas, J., Prebble, M., Stevenson, J., Whittaker, R. J., Willis, K. J., Wilmshurst, J. M., Steinbauer, M. J.
April 30, 2021
Science
Oceanic islands are among the most recent areas on Earth to have been colonized by humans, in many cases in just the past few thousand years. Therefore, they are important laboratories for the study of human impacts on natural vegetation and biodiversity. Nogué et al. provide a quantitative palaeoecological study of 27 islands around the world, focusing on pollen records of vegetation composition before and after human arrival. The authors found a consistent pattern of acceleration of vegetation turnover after human invasion, with median rates of change increasing by a factor of six. These changes occurred regardless of geographical and ecological features of the island and show how rapidly ecosystems can change and how island ecosystems are set on new trajectories. Science , this issue p. [488][1] Islands are among the last regions on Earth settled and transformed by human activities, and they provide replicated model systems for analysis of how people affect ecological functions. By analyzing 27 representative fossil pollen sequences encompassing the past 5000 years from islands globally, we quantified the rates of vegetation compositional change before and after human arrival. After human arrival, rates of turnover accelerate by a median factor of 11, with faster rates on islands colonized in the past 1500 years than for those colonized earlier. This global anthropogenic acceleration in turnover suggests that islands are on trajectories of continuing change. Strategies for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration must acknowledge the long duration of human impacts and the degree to which ecological changes today differ from prehuman dynamics. [1]: /lookup/doi/10.1126/science.abd6706
Jasechko, S., Perrone, D.
April 23, 2021
Science
Groundwater provides nearly half of the water used for agricultural irrigation and most of the drinking water for billions of people. It is essential, then, for this resource to remain secure. Jasechko and Perrone examined data from approximately 39 million wells in 40 countries worldwide to investigate their vulnerability to declining water levels (see the Perspective by Famiglietti and Ferguson). The authors found that construction of deeper wells is not occurring in some areas that are experiencing groundwater decline, a disconnect that poses risks for people who rely on well water. Science , this issue p. [418][1]; see also p. [344][2] Groundwater wells supply water to billions of people, but they can run dry when water tables decline. Here, we analyzed construction records for ~39 million globally distributed wells. We show that 6 to 20% of wells are no more than 5 meters deeper than the water table, implying that millions of wells are at risk of running dry if groundwater levels decline by only a few meters. Further, newer wells are not being constructed deeper than older wells in some of the places experiencing significant groundwater level declines, suggesting that newer wells are at least as likely to run dry as older wells if groundwater levels continue to decline. Poor water quality in deep aquifers and the high costs of well construction limit the effectiveness of tapping deep groundwater to stave off the loss of access to water as wells run dry. [1]: /lookup/doi/10.1126/science.abc2755 [2]: /lookup/doi/10.1126/science.abh2867
Science X staff
April 21, 2021
phys.org
Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä highlight how the struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can guide us toward an equitable use of our shared environment and a transition toward sustainability.
Science X staff
April 14, 2021
phys.org
International scientists from around the world are warning that chemical pollutants in the environment have the potential to alter animal and human behavior.
OHara, C. C., Frazier, M., Halpern, B. S.
April 2, 2021
Science
Human activities are increasingly affecting the marine environment but understanding how much and in what ways is an extreme challenge given the vastness of this system. O'Hara et al. looked at a suite of human-induced stressors on >1000 marine species over the course of 13 years. They found that species are experiencing increasing levels of stress over more than half of their ranges, with some species having an even higher proportion of their ranges affected. Fishing has the largest impact, but other stressors, such as climate change, are also important and growing. Science , this issue p. [84][1] Human activities and climate change threaten marine biodiversity worldwide, though sensitivity to these stressors varies considerably by species and taxonomic group. Mapping the spatial distribution of 14 anthropogenic stressors from 2003 to 2013 onto the ranges of 1271 at-risk marine species sensitive to them, we found that, on average, species faced potential impacts across 57% of their ranges, that this footprint expanded over time, and that the impacts intensified across 37% of their ranges. Although fishing activity dominated the footprint of impacts in national waters, climate stressors drove the expansion and intensification of impacts. Mitigating impacts on at-risk biodiversity is critical to supporting resilient marine ecosystems, and identifying the co-occurrence of impacts across multiple taxonomic groups highlights opportunities to amplify the benefits of conservation management. [1]: /lookup/doi/10.1126/science.abe6731
Aswathi Pacha
January 2, 2021
The Hindu
Research showed Chennai was rainfall dominated and Mithi catchment was storm-tide dominated
Chubb Limited
December 21, 2020
www.prnewswire.com:443
/PRNewswire/ -- Chubb today announced that Alexandra Waldman has been appointed Climate Sustainability Manager. Formerly the company's Senior Environmental...
Paul Gabrielsen
December 17, 2020
phys.org
Research-grade air quality sensors are costly--around $40,000. For cities trying to monitor their greenhouse gas emissions, the cost may limit the number of sensors they can install and the data they can collect.
Science X staff
December 7, 2020
phys.org
Accurately identifying changes in community COVID-19 infections through wastewater surveillance is moving closer to reality. A new study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, identifies a method that not only detects the virus in wastewater samples but also tracks whether the infection rates are trending up or down.
Science X staff
December 1, 2020
phys.org
To meet the most ambitious 1.5o C climate goal requires a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and mass use of renewables. However, new international research by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) warns that green energy projects can be as socially and environmentally conflictive as fossil fuel projects. While renewable energies are often portrayed as being environmentally sustainable, this new study cautions about the risks associated with the green energy transition, arguing for an integrated approach that redesigns energy systems in favor of social equity and environmental sustainability. The research, which analyzes protests over 649 energy projects, has been recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Brandie Jefferson
November 25, 2020
phys.org
From the splendorous red hues in the Grand Canyon to the mundane rust attacking a neglected bicycle, iron hydroxides are all around us. As a matter of fact, they are just as common as quartz, which is the most widely distributed mineral on the planet.
Science X staff
November 18, 2020
phys.org
When Hurricane Maria made landfall, devastating Dominica, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico in September 2017, flooding and power outages wreaked havoc on the debilitated land, resulting in the contamination of waterways with untreated human waste and pathogenic microorganisms.
Kelley Christensen
November 7, 2020
phys.org
In late summer and autumn, millions of birds fly above our heads, often at night, winging their way toward their wintering grounds.
Science X staff
October 8, 2019
phys.org
Irrigation significantly exacerbated the earthquake-triggered landslides in Palu, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, in 2018, according to an international study led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) scientists.

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