delware environmental institute

IN THE NEWS

Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

06/25/2013 -

For around 450 million years, Horseshoe crabs have crawled ashore to spawn on moonlit nights – much like a recent one at Pickering Beach on the Delaware Bay.For around three decades, wildlife enthusiasts have gone out to survey them doing this. Stew Michels, program director for Delaware’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, is leading one of the numerous crab survey crews walking 23 beaches on both sides of the Delaware Bay the night WDDE joined them.

UDaily: UD scientists pioneer inexpensive catalyst to drive synthetic fuel production
06/25/2013 -

University of Delaware chemist Joel Rosenthal is driven to succeed in the renewable energy arena. Working in his lab in UD’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Rosenthal and doctoral student John DiMeglio have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into synthetic fuels for powering cars, homes and businesses. 

06/25/2013 -

Delaware’s beach replenishment program may help in the near term to protect shore homes and businesses from future storms like Hurricane Sandy, but critics say it’s an expensive and ultimately futile effort to defend the existing coastline against rising sea levels. This year’s program isn’t due to start until some time in July, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract. When it does, a total of 1.9 million cubic yards of sand – enough to fill about 1 million pickup trucks — will be dumped on beaches at Bethany and South Bethany, Rehoboth and Dewey, and Fenwick Island. In a separate operation, more sand will be pumped onto the north shore of Indian River Inlet south of Rehoboth Beach.

06/25/2013 -

Ocean waters melting the undersides of Antarctic ice shelves are responsible for most of the continent's ice shelf mass loss, a new study by NASA and university researchers has found. Scientists have studied the rates of basal melt, or the melting of the ice shelves from underneath, of individual ice shelves, the floating extensions of glaciers that empty into the sea. But this is the first comprehensive survey of all Antarctic ice shelves. The study found basal melt accounted for 55 percent of all Antarctic ice shelf mass loss from 2003 to 2008, an amount much higher than previously thought.

06/20/2013 -

In a suburban back­yard near Rehoboth Beach, Carlton Updyke’s colony of purple martins is thriving. The same is true of Chuck Fullmer’s colony – along a commercial strip off Del. 5 southeast of Georgetown. But for martin land­lords further north in Pennsylvania, the picture is less robust and some re­searchers believe that as we experience earlier springs – a possible im­pact from a changing cli­mate – there may be a mis­match between the time when insects hatch in huge numbers and the ar­rival of insect-eating birds like purple martins.

06/20/2013 -

A regional cap-and-trade program raised more money than expected in its most recent auction, meaning more money for state energy efficiency programs. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a nine-state program designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fund programs that promote energy efficiency and renewable power and lower electric bills. In its June 5 quarterly auction, it raised $124.5 million, a record amount for a three-month period. It was the first time since 2010 that all of the allowances were sold in two consecutive quarters.

UDaily: PTAC helps environmental company shift gears after recession
06/13/2013 -

It took awhile for the recession to catch up with BrightFields, Inc., an environmental services company in Wilmington, Del. Launched in 2003, BrightFields had a healthy backlog of business in 2008, much of it focused on transforming Wilmington’s waterfront from an industrial wasteland to a vital urban center.

UDaily: Active microbes discovered far beneath seafloor in ancient ocean sediment
06/13/2013 -

Microbes are living more than 500 feet beneath the seafloor in 5 million-year-old sediment, according to new findings by researchers at the University of Delaware and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Genetic material in mud from the bottom of the ocean — called the deep biosphere —revealed an ecosystem of active bacteria, fungi and other microscopic organisms at depths deeper than a skyscraper is high. The findings were published in Nature on June 12.

UDaily:  Policy internship at DNREC leads to new oil spill legislation for Delaware
06/13/2013 -

Nearly 42 million gallons of crude oil move through the Delaware River and Bay each day, carried by approximately 3,000 deep-draft vessels a year and off-loaded at the nation’s largest receiving port for very large tanker ships.

At this level of traffic, an occasional oil spill is virtually inevitable, even with the best safety practices in place. Large spills such as the Mystras spill (20,000 gallons) in 1997 and the Athos I spill (265,000 gallons) in 2004 have previously soiled Delaware shores.

06/12/2013 -

So much has changed in Delaware since 1983, the last time a team of volunteers set out to assess the state’s breeding bird population. There are fewer farms, fewer forests and many, many more bald eagles nesting in the state.