A Root of Change

Bracing for Impact

The harvest of wild American ginseng root has been a part of North American culture for 300 years, but this tradition is in peril. Is it possible to save both a species and a pastime?

An aged photograph, archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, shows the memorabilia once on display at the Sundial Tavern, near Naoma, W.Va. Photos of babies, teenaged girls … Read the rest

Caribou genetics reveal shadow of climate change

Nature

Ancient ice ages that shaped modern caribou populations may foretell animals’ fate in a warmer world.

When ice sheets marched across North America 20,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Maximum, they devoured liveable areas for caribou and isolated them from their Eurasian relatives for thousands of years.

Now researchers have evidence that such climatic events have sculpted the genetics of North American caribou, which may make the animals … Read the rest

Ozone-hole treaty slowed global warming

Montreal Protocol helped to curb climate change and so did world wars and the Great Depression.

Human actions that were not intended to limit the greenhouse effect have had large effects on slowing climate change. The two world wars, the Great Depression and a 1987 international treaty on ozone-depleting chemicals put a surprising dent in the rate at which the planet warmed, says research published today in Nature Geoscience1Read the rest

In carbon sequestration, money grows on trees

Guyana’s tropical rainforests protected under the REDD program provide not just natural resources but an income stream to the country.

Two hours south of Georgetown, Guyana, a paved highway recedes, giving way to a rutted red road gushing through thick rainforest. In its muddiest spots, the road swallows trucks and spits them out at dangerous angles. Many hours later, it leads to an area of protected land called Iwokrama, a … Read the rest

Arctic snow cover shows sharp decline

Earlier spring could spell trouble for permafrost

Arctic snow is fading fast. June snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has dropped by almost 18% per decade during the past 30 years, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters1.

The drop in snow extent will lower the amount of sunlight reflected away from the planet — a process that has a cooling effect — by exposing darker … Read the rest