December 2012, Vol. 24, No.12


U.S. EPA helps U.S. cities become green

Five U.S. cities won a national competition to receive funds for green development projects. Through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greening America’s Capitals program, Frankfort, Ky.; Des Moines, Iowa; Baton Rouge, La.; Helena, Mont.; and Indianapolis will receive assistance for green projects designed to stimulate economic development, provide more housing and transportation, and reduce infrastructure and energy costs, according to an EPA news release.

EPA will provide design assistance from private-sector experts to help these cities demonstrate sustainable development, the news release says. Plans in Frankfort, Baton Rouge, Helena, and Indianapolis include enhancing walkways and bike trails, and connecting downtown and historic areas in the cities to educational, business, and public areas using trails and green space. And Des Moines plans to incorporate green infrastructure into a proposed streetscape, the news release says.

The program, which is in its third year, is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a federal government initiative. Other cities that have won the competition include Boston; Charleston, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Jackson, Miss.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Lincoln, Neb.; Little Rock, Ark.; Montgomery, Ala.; Phoenix; and Washington, D.C.


Scientific expedition travels to Arctic

On Aug. 25, scientists set sail to study ocean acidification in the Arctic. Scientists onboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy spent 4 weeks collecting water and ice samples to better understand acidification patterns. The work will help scientists understand, forecast, and potentially mitigate acidification’s effects on the Arctic ecosystem, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) news release.

Oceans absorb about 25% of greenhouse gas contained in the atmosphere, so as atmospheric concentrations increase, so do water concentrations, the news release says. Absorbing carbon dioxide causes acidification. The Arctic Ocean’s cold surface waters absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more rapidly than warmer oceans.

“This important expedition focuses on polar latitudes where the acidification effects can cascade from microscopic organisms up to our economy, as the organisms at risk form the base of the food chain for some of the world’s most productive fisheries,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt in the news release.

As the third consecutive year for this expedition, the scientists were able to collect many samples over a large span of the Arctic Ocean. In 2010 and 2011, they collected more than 30,000 water samples, the news release says.

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