Jumat, 06 Maret 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Elusive El Niño arrives: Forecasters predict it will stay weak, have little influence on weather and climate

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 12:27 PM PST

The long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived, according to forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. In their updated monthly outlook released today, forecasters issued an El Niño Advisory to declare the arrival of the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator.

How healthy is genetically modified soybean oil?

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 12:21 PM PST

Soybean oil accounts for more than 90 percent of all the seed oil production in the United States. Genetically modified soybean oil, made from seeds of GM soybean plants, was recently introduced into the food supply on the premise that it is healthier than conventional soybean oil. But is that premise true? Just barely, say scientists.

Snffing out origins of methane: instrument identifies methane's origins in mines, deep-sea vents, and cows

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 12:21 PM PST

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, second only to carbon dioxide in its capacity to trap heat in Earth's atmosphere for a long time. The gas can originate from lakes and swamps, natural-gas pipelines, deep-sea vents, and livestock. Understanding the sources of methane, and how the gas is formed, could give scientists a better understanding of its role in warming the planet.

Nutrient pollution damages streams in ways previously unknown, ecologists find

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 12:21 PM PST

An important food resource has been disappearing from streams without anyone noticing until now. Ecologists reports that nutrient pollution causes a significant loss of forest-derived carbon from stream ecosystems, reducing the ability of streams to support aquatic life.

Gut microbial mix relates to stages of blood sugar control

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 10:30 AM PST

The composition of intestinal bacteria and other micro-organisms -- called the gut microbiota -- changes over time in unhealthy ways in black men who are prediabetic, a new study finds.

Nine steps to survive 'most explosive era of infrastructure expansion in human history'

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:54 AM PST

A team of scientists call attention to nine issues that must be considered if there is to be any hope of limiting the environmental impacts of the ongoing expansion of new roads, road improvements, energy projects, and more now underway or 'coming soon' in countries all around the world.

Menopausal whales are influential and informative leaders

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:53 AM PST

Menopause is a downright bizarre trait among animals. It's also rare. Outside of the human species, only the female members of two whale species outlive their reproductive lives in such a major way. Female killer whales typically become mothers between the ages of 12 and 40, but they can live for more than 90 years. Males rarely make it past 50. Now, researchers have new evidence to explain why.

Molecule found in tree leaves helps female mice combat weight gain; males unaffected

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:53 AM PST

A small molecule that binds to a receptor found on muscle cells speeds up energy metabolism -- but only in female mice. Researchers have shown that female mice treated with a molecule found in tree leaves could indulge in high-fat foods without gaining weight or accumulating fat. Males did not enjoy similar benefits, highlighting the need to study both sexes while developing drugs.

Biomolecular force generation based on principle of a gas spring

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:52 AM PST

The mechanical basis of mitosis has only been understood in fragments so far. Now scientists have been able to add another piece to the puzzle of cell biological mechanisms.

Baby mantises harness mid-air 'spin' during jumps for precision landings

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:52 AM PST

High-speed videos reveal that, unlike other jumping insects, the juvenile praying mantis does not spin out of control when airborne. In fact, it both creates and controls angular momentum at extraordinary speeds to orient its body for precise landings.

Autistic features linked to prenatal exposure to commonly found fire retardants, phthalates

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:51 AM PST

Exposure during pregnancy to a combination of fire retardant chemicals and phthalate chemicals -- both present in the average home -- can contribute to autistic-like behaviors in the offspring, according to an animal study.

Exposure to endocrine disruptors during pregnancy affects the brain two generations later, rat study shows

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:51 AM PST

Prenatal exposure to low doses of the environmental contaminants polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, change the developing brain in an area involved in metabolism, and some effects are apparent even two generations later, a new study finds. Hereditary effects included increased body weight, but only in descendants of females -- and not males -- exposed to PCBs in the womb.

Flood and drought risk to cities on rise even with no climate change

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:51 AM PST

A heads-up to New York, Baltimore, Houston and Miami: a new study suggests that these metropolitan areas and others will increase their exposure to floods even in the absence of climate change.

Hidden hazards found in 'green' products

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:06 AM PST

Common consumer products, including those marketed as 'green,' 'all-natural,' 'non-toxic' and 'organic' emit a range of compounds that could harm human health and air quality, researchers have found. But most of these ingredients are not disclosed to the public.

Yucatan Peninsula hit by tsunami 1,500 years ago, evidence indicates

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:05 AM PST

The eastern coastline of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, a mecca for tourists, may have been walloped by a tsunami between 1,500 and 900 years ago, says a new study. There are several lines of evidence for an ancient tsunami, foremost a large, wedge-shaped berm about 15 feet above sea level paved with washing machine-sized stones, said the researchers. Set back in places more than a quarter of a mile from shore, the berm stretches for at least 30 miles, alternating between rocky headlands and crescent beaches as it tracks the outline of the Caribbean coast near the plush resorts of Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

Turning a vole into a mighty rodent

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:05 AM PST

Take a wild, common forest-dwelling mouse-like rodent, known as a vole, and subject it to 13 rounds of selection for increased aerobic exercise metabolism, and what do you get? A mighty 'mouse' with a 48 percent higher peak rate of oxygen consumption and an increased basal metabolic rate, compared to unselected controls. Scientists have used an evolution technique that has gained popularity, dubbed 'evolve and resequence,' to measure the genetic changes that pushed the humble vole to Olympian levels of performance.

Significant facial variation in pre-Columbian South America

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:04 AM PST

A team of anthropology researchers has found significant differences in facial features between all seven pre-Columbian peoples they evaluated from what is now Peru -- disproving a longstanding perception that these groups were physically homogenous. The finding may lead scholars to revisit any hypotheses about human migration patterns that rested on the idea that there was little skeletal variation in pre-Columbian South America.

Semi-veggie diet effectively lowers heart disease, stroke risk

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:04 AM PST

A pro-vegetarian diet that emphasizes a higher proportion of plant-based foods compared to animal-based foods may help lower the risks of dying from heart disease and stroke by up to 20 percent, according to a large-scale study. Researchers suggest that substituting some of the meat in your diet with vegetables may be a simple way to lower the risk of heart-related death.

'Extinct' bird rediscovered: Last seen in 1941

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:02 AM PST

A scientific team has rediscovered a bird previously thought to be extinct. Jerdon's babbler (Chrysomma altirostre) had not been seen in Myanmar since July 1941, where it was last found in grasslands near the town of Myitkyo, Bago Region near the Sittaung River.

Protecting crops from radiation-contaminated soil

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 05:17 AM PST

A chemical compound that prevents plants from taking up cesium, thus protecting them -- and us -- from the harmful effects of soil contaminated with radiocesium, has been discovered by scientists.

Semi-artificial chloroplasts to manufacture biotechnologically relevant products

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 05:13 AM PST

An international research team wants to create semi-artificial chloroplasts for the manufacture of biotechnologically relevant products. For this purpose, they aim to modify the photosynthetic process of natural chloroplasts.

Space technology investigates large-scale changes to Africa's climate

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 05:11 AM PST

Researchers have mapped climate and human impacts on Africa's land resources using satellite mapping technology.

New flavors for lager beer: successful generation of hybrid yeasts

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 05:11 AM PST

Researchers have developed hybrid lager yeasts. For centuries the same few yeast strains have been used in the production of lager beer, in contrast to ale, whisky, wine and cider, for which there is a wide range of yeast strains available to produce different nuances of flavor. Researchers have been developing hybrid lager yeasts so as to impart new flavor to beer and accelerate the production process.

New protein booster may lead to better DNA vaccines and gene therapy

Posted: 04 Mar 2015 04:02 PM PST

Scientists have discovered a new way to manipulate how cells function, a finding that might help advance an experimental approach to improving public health: DNA vaccines, which could be more efficient, less expensive and easier to store than traditional vaccines. Their approach improves upon an existing laboratory technique, transfection, widely used to study how cells and viruses work.

L.A. story: Cleaner air, healthier kids

Posted: 04 Mar 2015 04:02 PM PST

A 20-year study shows that decreasing air pollution in Los Angeles has led to healthier lungs for millennials when compared to children in the '90s. The gains in lung function paralleled improving air quality in the communities studied, and across the Los Angeles basin, as policies to fight pollution took hold.
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