Rabu, 25 November 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Carbon content of temperate forests overestimated, study suggests

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 02:02 PM PST

Digital measurements of millions of trees indicate that previous studies likely overestimate the amount of carbon stored by temperate US forests, according to a new study.

Volcanic rocks hold clues to Earth's interior

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 02:02 PM PST

Earth's deep interior transport system explains volcanic island lava complexities, report scientists. Studies of rocks found on certain volcanic islands, known as ocean island basalts, have revealed that although these erupted rocks originate from Earth's interior, they are not the same chemically.

Algae could be a new green power source

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 11:36 AM PST

To limit climate change, experts say that we need to reach carbon neutrality by the end of this century at the latest. To achieve that goal, our dependence on fossil fuels must be reversed. But what energy source will take its place? Researchers report that they just might have the answer: algae.

Winter season reverses outcome of fruit fly reproduction

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 11:36 AM PST

Male fruit flies could find their chances of fathering offspring radically reduced if they are last in the queue to mate with promiscuous females before winter arrives, according to new research.

Army ants' 'living' bridges span collective intelligence, 'swarm' robotics

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 11:35 AM PST

Researchers report for the first time that the 'living' bridges army ants of the species Eciton hamatum build with their bodies are more sophisticated than scientists knew. The ants automatically assemble with a level of collective intelligence that could provide new insights into animal behavior and even help in the development of intuitive robots that can cooperate as a group.

Decarbonizing tourism: Would you pay US$11 for a carbon-free holiday?

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 11:33 AM PST

The damaging effects of carbon dioxide emissions from tourism could eventually be eliminated if travelers paid just US$11 per trip, according to a new study. Global tourism is largely dependent on fossil fuel energy, and emits more carbon dioxide than than all but five countries of the world. Recent estimates conclude that tourism, including transport, accommodation, and leisure activities contributed close to 5 percent of total human-made emissions of carbon dioxide worldwide.

Gut microbes signal to the brain when they're full

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 11:33 AM PST

Don't have room for dessert? The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something. Twenty minutes after a meal, gut microbes produce proteins that can suppress food intake in animals, reports a study. The researchers also show how these proteins injected into mice and rats act on the brain reducing appetite, suggesting that gut bacteria may help control when and how much we eat.

A flounder's disappearing act explained

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 09:26 AM PST

Simply oscillating its fins is all a flounder, a flat fish, needs to do to resuspend sand and quickly disappear beneath it to hide. By discovering the physics at play, researchers are hoping to provide a new flounder-inspired solution to a common technological challenge: the resuspension of granular material within a fluid.

Big data reveals glorious animation of bottom water

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 09:20 AM PST

A remarkably detailed animation of the movement of the densest and coldest water in the world around Antarctica has been produced using data generated on Australia's most powerful supercomputer, Raijin.

How Earth's Pacific plates collapsed

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 09:20 AM PST

Scientists drilling into the ocean floor have, for the first time, found out what happens when one tectonic plate first gets pushed under another. The international expedition drilled into the Pacific ocean floor and found distinctive rocks formed when the Pacific tectonic plate changed direction and began to plunge under the Philippine Sea Plate about 50 million years ago.

Biologists induce flatworms to grow heads and brains of other species

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 08:30 AM PST

Biologists have succeeded in inducing one species of flatworm to grow heads and brains characteristic of another species of flatworm without altering genomic sequence. The work reveals physiological circuits as a new kind of epigenetics -- information existing outside of genomic sequence -- that determines large-scale anatomy.

Leatherback sea turtles choose nest sites carefully, study finds

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 08:30 AM PST

The enormous, solitary leatherback sea turtle spends most of its long life at sea. After hatching and dispersing across the world's oceans, only the female leatherbacks return to their natal beaches to lay clutches of eggs in the sand. A new study offers fresh insights into their nesting choices and will help efforts to prevent the extinction of this globally endangered giant of the sea, researchers said.

Use of antivirals in retrovirus-infected cats

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 08:28 AM PST

A number of antiviral drugs are licensed and widely used for the treatment of specific viral infections in humans. Potential new agents are also being investigated that it is hoped will overcome limitations of the current options, which include a narrow antiviral spectrum, ineffectiveness against latent virus infections, development of drug-resistance and toxic side effects.

Canuckosaur! First Canadian 'dinosaur' becomes Dimetrodon borealis

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 08:28 AM PST

A 'dinosaur' fossil originally discovered on Prince Edward Island, Canada, has been shown to have steak knife-like teeth, and researchers have changed its name to Dimetrodon borealis -- marking the first occurrence of a Dimetrodon fossil in Canada.

Cheesy products: Some online-purchased cheeses are of low quality

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 08:21 AM PST

Online shopping is booming. Scientists examined the microbiological safety, packaging and labeling of a variety of raw milk cheeses sold online. Of 108 cheeses from seven different European countries, only 19 fulfilled all European guideline requirements. More than half of the products were not cooled properly during delivery, and two products were contaminated with the major food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.

Storing solar energy underground for a cloudy day

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 08:21 AM PST

A common criticism of a total transition to wind, water and solar power is that the US electrical grid can't affordably store enough standby electricity to keep the system stable. Now a researcher proposes an underground solution to that problem.

'Traditional authority' linked to rates of deforestation in Africa

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:22 AM PST

New analysis reveals a strong correlation between precolonial institutions in Africa and current levels of deforestation. Researchers suggest that many of these structures still operate at a local level, controlling and exploiting natural resources under the radar of the state, and that such legacies of governance pose a major challenge for implementing conservation policies.

Electric mobility contributes decisively to climate protection

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:19 AM PST

The transportation sector has the capacity to nearly halve its carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and, hence, to contribute far more than previously thought to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Realizing this would require further efficiency improvement and, especially, promotion of public transport in cities, alongside with a large-scale shift to electric cars, concludes a recent study.

Taking care of old oil wells

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:19 AM PST

Thousands of old offshore oil wells will have to be plugged to prevent them leaking, an expensive exercise. Researchers are now proposing a solution that may offer some relief for what is a major headache.

Corn snake genome sequenced for the first time

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:19 AM PST

Among the 5,000 existing species of mammals, more than 100 have their genome sequenced, whereas the genomes of only 9 species of reptiles (among 10,000 species) are available to the scientific community. This is the reason why a team of researchers has produced a large database including, among others, the newly-sequenced genome of the corn snake, a species increasingly used to understand the evolution of reptiles. Within the same laboratory, the researchers have discovered the exact mutation that causes albinism in that species.

Understanding the fruit fly's nose

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:19 AM PST

New work on the fruit fly's sense of smell uses an interdisciplinary approach to learn how chemical signals control the behavior of insects. Understanding molecular mechanisms of the insect's sense of smell may give researchers clues on how to interfere and manipulate odour-evoked behaviours in the wild.

Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:15 AM PST

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fueled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research. Scientists say that a major step change, or 'regime shift,' in Earth's biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from the Arctic to Antarctica, was centered around 1987, and was sparked by the El Chichón volcanic eruption in Mexico five years earlier.

Liquid acoustics half way to the earth's core

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:15 AM PST

Scientists have succeeded in measuring the speed of sound in mixtures of liquid iron and carbon in extreme conditions, allowing limits to be set on the composition of the Earth's core.

No substantive evidence for 'pause' in global warming

Posted: 24 Nov 2015 05:15 AM PST

There is no substantive evidence for a 'pause' or 'hiatus' in global warming and the use of those terms is therefore inaccurate, new research has found.

Scientists create genetically modified malaria-blocking mosquitoes

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 06:02 PM PST

Using a groundbreaking gene editing technique, scientists have created a strain of mosquitoes capable of rapidly introducing malaria-blocking genes into a mosquito population through its progeny, ultimately eliminating the insects' ability to transmit the disease to humans. This new model represents a notable advance in the effort to establish an antimalarial mosquito population, which with further development could help eradicate a disease that sickens millions worldwide each year.

Dinosaur extinction theory: New research may draw 'curtain of fire' on theories

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:57 PM PST

The role volcanic activity played in mass extinction events in Earth's early history is likely to have been much less severe than previously thought, according to a study.

Bioart: An introduction

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:36 PM PST

Bioart ranges from bacterial manipulation to glowing rabbits, cellular sculptures, and -- in the case of artist Nina Sellars -- documentation of an ear prosthetic that was implanted onto fellow artist Stelarc's arm. In the pursuit of creating art, practitioners have generated tools and techniques that have aided researchers, while sometimes crossing into controversy, such as by releasing invasive species into the environment, blurring the lines between art and biology, and challenging scientific thinking.

Loss of mastodons aided domestication of pumpkins, squash

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:28 PM PST

If Pleistocene megafauna -- mastodons, mammoths, giant sloths and others -- had not become extinct, humans might not be eating pumpkin pie and squash for the holidays, according to an international team of anthropologists.

How the introduction of farming changed the human genome

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:26 PM PST

Genomic analysis of ancient human remains identifies specific genes that changed during and after the transition in Europe from hunting and gathering to farming about 8,500 years ago. Many of the genes are associated with height, immunity, lactose digestion, light skin pigmentation, blue eye color and celiac disease risk.

Stretchy slabs found in the deep Earth

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:26 PM PST

A new study suggests that the common belief that the Earth's rigid tectonic plates stay strong when they slide under another plate, known as subduction, may not be universal.

Ancient viral molecules essential for human development

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:25 PM PST

Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers.

New, inexpensive way to clean water from oil sands production found

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:23 PM PST

A process to remove contaminants from oil sands wastewater has been found by researchers, which uses only sunlight and nanoparticles. They report that the process is more effective and inexpensive than conventional treatment methods.

Trees created with enhanced resistance to greening

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:22 PM PST

After a decade of battling the highly destructive citrus greening bacterium, researchers have developed genetically modified citrus trees that show enhanced resistance to greening, and have the potential to resist canker and black spot, as well. However, the commercial availability of those trees is still several years away.

Earth not due for a geomagnetic flip in the near future

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:19 PM PST

According to a new study, the Earth's geomagnetic field is not in danger of flipping anytime soon: The researchers calculated Earth's average, stable field intensity over the last 5 million years, and found that today's intensity is about twice that of the historical average. This indicates that the current field intensity has a long way to fall before reaching an unstable level that would lead to a reversal.

Mountain ranges evolve, respond to Earth's climate, study shows

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:19 PM PST

Erosion caused by glaciation during ice ages can, in the right circumstances, wear down mountains faster than plate tectonics can build them, groundbreaking new research has shown.

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 05:19 PM PST

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first pocket bibles.

The anti-icing tricks of penguins

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 07:38 AM PST

Antarctic penguins live in a bitterly cold place, where the air temperature can drop to -40 degrees Celsius and the winds can hurtle at speeds of 40 meters per second. Although these birds routinely hop in and out of the water in sub-freezing temperatures, they manage to keep ice from coating their feathers. Now researchers have examined penguin feathers in extreme detail and think they know the penguins' anti-icing trick: a combination of nanostructures and a special oil make Antarctic penguin feathers ultra-water-repelling, or superhydrophobic.

How does fur keep animals warm in cold water?

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 07:38 AM PST

Rather than relying on a thick layer of body fat for insulation as many aquatic mammals do, some seabirds and semiaquatic mammals such as fur seals and otters trap a layer of air in their feathers and furs for thermal insulation against the ice cold drink. Now a team of researchers has experimentally studied the trapping of air in hairy surfaces and the water-repellent properties of undeformable hairy textures, which is key for animals' thermal regulation.

Solutions to reduce effect of wind power on digital communications

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 07:29 AM PST

Wind farms can now be designed to minimize their effects on television broadcasting and mobile communications. Methods and tools developed in a new research project allow an optimal location to be identified for wind turbines, where interference on television broadcasting and mobile connections is minimized, report investigators.
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