Blooms of algae, like this growth in 2015 in Lake St. Clair between Michigan and Ontario, promote the formation of dead zones.
NASA Earth Observatory
Scientists have mapped a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Oman, without enough oxygen in the water to support life. This Speed Read explains why dead zones form in waters around the world.
Long’s Peak framed by rock outcrop, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Scientists have long thought most nitrogen in Earth's ecosystems comes from the air, but new research shows it also is released as rocks weather. This could boost plant growth and help sequester carbon – but not fast enough to avert climate change, as some pundits have claimed.
Six million people in Pennsylvania and neighboring states get their drinking water from the Susquehanna River. Major pollution sources include agriculture, urban development and industry.
Nicholas A. Tonelli
America's drinking water infrastructure is aging and needs billions of dollars in upgrades. Two extension educators urge consumers to monitor their water and have it tested if they suspect problems.
Pollution has increased carbon in our soils - which is good for climate change. But this carbon may not stay there for long.
Our food system depends on nitrogen fertilisers.
Nitrogen image from www.shutterstock.com
Somehow we need to grow more food to feed an expanding population while minimising the problems associated with nitrogen fertiliser use.
Diamonds are a data storers’ best friend?
Diamond image via www.shutterstock.com
With current modes up against their limits, we need new data storage solutions. Tiny defects in diamonds' atomic structure might turn them into a new medium for memory.
A farm employee walks through a soya bean field in northern Uganda.
Increasing legume production can turn the tide for African farmers who struggle with poor soils, declining farm yields and worsening nutrition in one fell swoop
Protecting the Great Barrier Reef’s water quality finally has a hard dollar price on it.
A groundbreaking new economic study has found that investing A$8.2 billion would get us very close to hitting targets to cut water pollution into the Great Barrier Reef by 2025.
Harmful algal bloom caused by nutrient pollution, Assateague island National Seashore, MD.
Eric Vance, U.S. EPA/Flickr
Excess nutrients from farm fields cause widespread water pollution across the U.S. Bioreactors -- essentially, ditches filled with wood chips -- are emerging as a way to reduce nutrient pollution.
A market that lets sugar cane farmers trade ‘nitrogen permits’ could help keep a cap on fertiliser use.
You've heard of cap-and-trade schemes for greenhouse gases. Perhaps we also need one to limit the amount of fertiliser runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef.
Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, which eat coral, have been linked to poor water quality.
Starfish image from www.shutterstock.com
To fix pollution on the Great Barrier Reef, some farming practices will have to change.
Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for soils and Africa doesn’t have enough.
Nitrogen inputs in African soil must be carefully used. If they're not, there will be unintended consequences for the environment and human health.
Nitrogen pollution is one of the factors driving outbreaks of crown-of-thorns - giant starfish that devour the reef.
Kenneth Taylor Jr/Flickr
The latest Great Barrier Reef report shows some improvements to water quality over the past five years, but there's still a lot to do on one particular problem: nitrogen.
How to trim agriculture’s global warming footprint?
About 10% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions come from farming. Researchers are working on ways to address this piece of the global warming puzzle.
Good for plants, bad for the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is the “face” of the greenhouse gases, but nitrous oxide (N2O) merits its own spotlight. The same “laughing gas” once used by dentists as an anaesthetic and used today by people looking…
Australian farmers apply nearly a million tonnes of nitrogen-based fertilisers every year.
When we talk about greenhouse gases we usually talk about carbon dioxide. When media reports depict climate change, we invariably see the cooling towers of a coal power station. Which is fair, because…
Enjoy the color while you can before climate change makes a mess of this too.
One of nature’s most spectacular events occurs every autumn, when the leaves of hardwood trees burst into brilliant color before falling to the ground. These autumnal displays in the eastern United States…
Excessive use of nitrogen-based fertilisers in agriculture is contributing to nitrous oxide emissions. Leftover nitrogen…
Removing wastewater pollution through wetlands is, in at least one scenario, more cost effective than upgrading a treatment…
Megafauna such as Glyptodon were muck-spreaders.
If Earth were like a human body, large animals might be its arteries, moving nutrients from where they’re abundant to where they’re needed. Currently the planet has large regions where life is limited…