Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,)
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Nitrogen fixing trees help to quicken the pace of reforestation

Nitrogen fixing trees help to quicken the pace of reforestation | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

Researchers have discovered that trees can switch on their ability to fix Nitrogen from the atmosphere with a little help from the Rhizobium bacteria. This finding has a huge implication on the ongoing projects of reforestation on denuded lands.

 

A study was carried out on a square mile area of the Panama Canal watershed where the forest was recovering after clearing activities. Different land use options were studied and the carbon storage, runoff and biodiversity were carefully monitored. A comparison was made between mature tropical forests, native trees in forest restoration plots and abandoned pastureland.

 

Jefferson Hall, one of the researchers, said, “This is the first solid case showing how nitrogen fixation by tropical trees directly affects the rate of carbon recovery after agricultural fields are abandoned. Trees turn nitrogen fixation on and off according to the need for nitrogen in the system.”

 

It was observed that trees which were able to fix the atmospheric nitrogen were also able to add carbon nine times quicker than ordinary trees. In fact Nitrogen fixing trees were able to add 50,000 kilograms of carbon per hectare during the first 12 years of growth.

 

Tropical forests act as carbon sinks drawing away carbon from the air. As the scourge of the Global warming increases it is important that freed land which has been denuded by industrial or agricultural use be quickly repaired and reforested. Nitrogen fixing trees will help to quicken the pace of reforestation.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Aulde de Barbuat
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Biofuel rush is wiping out unique American grasslands

Biofuel rush is wiping out unique American grasslands | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

Say goodbye to the grass. The scramble for biofuels is rapidly killing off unique grasslands and pastures in the central US.

 

Christopher Wright and Michael Wimberly of South Dakota State University in Brookings analysed satellite images of five states in the western corn belt. They found that 530,000 hectares of grassland disappeared under blankets of maize and soya beans between 2006 and 2011. The rate was fastest in South Dakota and Iowa, with as much as 5 per cent of pasture becoming cropland each year.

 

The trend is being driven by rising demand for the crops, partly through incentives to use them as fuels instead of food. The switch from meadows to crops is causing a crash in populations of ground-nesting birds. One of the US's most important breeding grounds for wildfowl, an area called the Prairie Pothole Region, is also at risk, with South Dakota's crop fields now within 100 metres of the wetlands. "Half of North American ducks breed here," says Wright.

 

Bill Henwood of the Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative in Vancouver, Canada, says the results are distressing. "Exchanging real environmental impacts for the dubious benefits of biofuels is counterproductive," he says. "Last year's record drought in the corn belt all but wiped out the crops anyway."

 

More info: http://tinyurl.com/au236dr


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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James Lloyd's curator insight, November 5, 2013 1:30 AM

I can understand why biogas is getting caught up in the fuel debate when you see this - however, int he UK we must be careful we don't simply jump on coat tails.  It is far easier for us to protect conservation areas and in truth we simply don't have the wilderness to destroy that countries like canada and the USA do.

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Phinergy demonstrates aluminum-air battery capable of fueling an electric vehicle for 1000 miles

Phinergy demonstrates aluminum-air battery capable of fueling an electric vehicle for 1000 miles | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

Phinergy, an Israeli developer of metal-air energy systems, has demonstrated a new type of aluminum-air battery that is capable of providing enough energy to power an electric vehicle (EV) for up to 1000 miles at a time—with occasional stops to take on more water. The company claims they have developed new technology that prevents carbon dioxide from entering the system, which in the past, has led to breakdowns of the materials used in such batteries.

 

Metal-air batteries get their energy via interaction between oxygen and metals. In this new battery system, the aluminum serves as the anode and the oxygen in the air as a cathode. The system is made up of aluminum plates that give up their energy and must eventually be replaced (via recycling, the company says). Water is used as an electrolyte, and thus it too must be replenished on a regular basis. The company claims that each plate holds enough energy to carry an EV for approximately 20 miles and that their system currently holds 50 of the plates at one time, which together add up to a charge capacity of 1000 miles (the system needs a water fill-up every 200 miles). Once the plates are depleted they must be replaced.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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