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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Satellite measurements reveal gravity dip from ice loss in West Antarctica

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:54 PM PDT

Although not designed to map changes in Earth's gravity over time, ESA's GOCE satellite has shown that the ice lost from West Antarctica over the last few years has left its signature. More than doubling its planned life in orbit, GOCE spent four years measuring Earth's gravity in unprecedented detail. Researchers have found that the decrease in the mass of ice during this period was mirrored in GOCE's measurements.

U.S., India to collaborate on Mars exploration, Earth-observing mission

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:49 PM PDT

In a meeting Sept. 30, 2014 in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed two documents to launch a NASA-ISRO satellite mission to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint missions to explore Mars.

Aral Sea loses its eastern lobe -- first time in modern history, NASA's Terra satellite shows

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:33 PM PDT

Summer 2014 marked another milestone for the Aral Sea, the once-extensive lake in Central Asia that has been shrinking markedly since the 1960s. For the first time in modern history, the eastern basin of the South Aral Sea has completely dried.

CDC and Texas Health Department confirm first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S.

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:09 PM PDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed today, through laboratory tests, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:42 AM PDT

Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.

Study shows how chimpanzees share skills: Evidence of new behavior being transmitted socially

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:41 AM PDT

Biologists have found evidence of new behavior being adopted and transmitted socially from one individual to another within a wild chimpanzee community. This is the first instance of social learning recorded in the wild.

How dinosaur arms turned into bird wings

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:41 AM PDT

Although we now appreciate that birds evolved from a branch of the dinosaur family tree, a crucial adaptation for flight has continued to puzzle evolutionary biologists. During the millions of years that elapsed, wrists went from straight to bent and hyperflexible, allowing birds to fold their wings neatly against their bodies when not flying. A resolution to this impasse is now provided by an exciting new study.

High-speed drug screen developed

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:27 AM PDT

Engineers have devised a way to rapidly test hundreds of different drug-delivery vehicles in living animals, making it easier to discover promising new ways to deliver a class of drugs called biologics, which includes antibodies, peptides, RNA, and DNA, to human patients.

NASA support key to glacier mapping efforts

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:34 AM PDT

Thanks in part to support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, scientists have produced the first-ever detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This new data will help researchers better project future changes to glaciers and ice sheets, and ultimately, sea level.

Pollution linked to lethal sea turtle tumors

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:33 AM PDT

Polluted urban and farm runoff in Hawaii has been linked to lethal tumors in endangered sea turtles. A new study finds that excess nitrogen in the runoff accumulates in algae that the turtles eat and can cause the disease Fibropapillomatosis which is the leading known cause of death in endangered green sea turtles. The disease causes the formation of tumors on the animals' eyes, flippers, and internal organs.

How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a solar cell that can tap the sun's full radiation spectrum. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.

How to beat monk parakeets at their own game: Scientists prevent nests on utility poles

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:32 AM PDT

Researchers have announced they have found a way to prevent Monk Parakeets from building huge nests on utility poles by blocking access to the electric lines that are the gateway to their nesting sites.

Adolescent exposure to THC may cause immune systems to go up in smoke

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

When it comes to using marijuana, new research involving mice suggests that just because you can do it, doesn't mean that you should. That's because a team of scientists have found that using marijuana in adolescence may do serious long-term damage to the immune system.

High metabolic rates and low temperatures were associated with high risk-taking behavior in birds

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

A long-term study on different populations of great tits has shown that risk-taking behavior correlates with both metabolic rate and ambient temperature. High metabolic rates and low temperatures were associated with high risk-taking behavior, as in these scenarios birds were more likely to approach potential predators.

Bacteria may have ability to reduce impact of diazepam on UK river environments

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

A reaction pathway that could reduce the potentially harmful impact of diazepam and similar chemicals on the UK's freshwater environment has been discovered by researchers. Diazepam -- used to treat anxiety and other similar conditions -- has been detected in rivers across the UK and Europe, having been released from waste water treatment plants. At the levels recorded, it has the potential to produce harmful ecological effects in surface waters, including changing the behavior of fish shoals and their ability to sense danger from predators.

Breakthrough study discovers six changing faces of 'global killer' bacteria

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:19 AM PDT

Every ten seconds a human being dies from pneumococcus infection, making it the leading cause of serious illness across the globe. New research discovers six unique states of pneumococcus, which may help in the development of tailored vaccines.

Florida's climate boosts soil-carbon storage, cuts greenhouse emissions

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:16 AM PDT

Sequestration helps mitigate carbon-based gases from getting into the atmosphere. A new study shows Florida's warm, wet climate helps keep carbon in the soil. Soil-stored carbon can slow the build-up of carbon-based gases in the atmosphere, a phenomenon believed to be a cause of global climate change.

More waters may deserve federal protection, study suggests

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:14 AM PDT

Geographically isolated wetlands can be connected in ways that are largely ignored, but that may be critically important for watershed storage and stabilizing downstream flows, researchers say. The connection between wetlands and federally protected waters should not be limited to those with direct surface connections, they add.

Ebola: New therapies to combat virus

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:14 AM PDT

New human antibody therapies have been developed for people exposed to the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses, researchers report. Researchers are using a high-efficiency method to isolate and generate large quantities of human antibodies from the blood of people who have survived Ebola and Marburg infections and who are now healthy. No live virus is used, they say.

Laser-guided herds of sea monkeys show how zooplankton migrations may affect global ocean currents

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:14 AM PDT

Sea monkeys have captured the popular attention of both children and aquarium hobbyists because of their easily observable life cycle. Physicists are interested in a shorter-term pattern: Like other zooplankton, brine shrimp vertically migrate in large groups throughout the day in response to changing light conditions. New research suggests that the collective movement of small marine organisms could affect global ocean circulation patterns on a level comparable to the wind and the tides.

Gene doubling shapes the world: Instant speciation, biodiversity, and the root of our existence

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Researchers emphasize that polyploidy and the important role it has played, especially in plant evolution, would not have gained the recognition it deserves would it not have been for its staunch proponent, G. L. Stebbins. In the mid-20th century Stebbins synthesized what was known at that time about polyploidy, classifying different types of ploidy, discussing ancient polyploidy events, and investigating hybridizing species and polyploid derivatives.

Gut bacteria promote obesity in mice

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

A species of gut bacteria called Clostridium ramosum, coupled with a high-fat diet, may cause animals to gain weight, researchers report. They observed that mice harboring human gut bacteria including C. ramosum gained weight when fed a high-fat diet. Mice that did not have C. ramosum were less obese even when consuming a high-fat diet, and mice that had C. ramosum but consumed a low-fat diet also stayed lean.

Coral's best defender against an army of sea stars: Crabs

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Coral reefs face a suite of perilous threats in today's ocean. From overfishing and pollution to coastal development and climate change, fragile coral ecosystems are disappearing at unprecedented rates. Despite this trend, some species of corals surrounding the island of Moorea in French Polynesia have a natural protector in their tropical environment: coral guard-crabs. New research has helped unravel the complex symbiotic relationship between these crabs and the coral reefs they live in and defend.

Where humans, animals and robots meet

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

To meet our everyday needs in an increasingly multifaceted technological world is a challenge that pushes researchers to find innovative tools using a multidisciplinary approach. We inhabit a globalized planet, made up of complex systems, where domains such as communications, business, healthcare, energy or transportation converge, interact and integrate. In this context, a thriving technology trend applies the concept of animal swarms or swarming to the development of complex systems that bridge the gap amongst disciplines as dissimilar as biology, robotics or networking.

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, a recent study has found. The sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids include fish, vegetable oils, and nuts. The present study shows, in line with earlier research, that the risk of cardiovascular diseases can be reduced by replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats.

Space debris expert warns of increasing small satellite collision risk

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

The increasing number of small 'CubeSat' satellites being launched combined with a relaxed attitude to debris mitigation could lead to hazards for all space users unless preventative measures are taken, warns a leading space debris expert.

Fish need time to adjust to new environmental conditions

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

Fish can live in almost any aquatic environment on Earth, but when the climate changes and temperatures go up many species are pushed to the limit. The amount of time needed to adjust to new conditions could prove critical for how different species cope in the future, reveals a new study.

First evidence that reptiles can learn through imitation

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

New research has for the first time provided evidence that reptiles could be capable of social learning through imitation. The ability to acquire new skills through the 'true imitation' of others' behavior is thought to be unique to humans and advanced primates, such as chimpanzees.  

Biodiversity does not always improve resistance of forest ecosystems to drought

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:04 AM PDT

The resistance of forests to drought has been studied, with a focus on the diversity of tree species. This study shows that mixed species forests are more resistant to drought stress than monocultures in some regions only: tree diversity may afford resistance to drought stress only in drought-prone areas, i.e. in regions where the frequency and severity of drought during the growing season is high.

Safer than silver: Antibacterial material made with algae

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:03 AM PDT

Consumers concerned about safety of silver ions in antibacterial and odor-free clothing will soon have a proven safe alternative thanks to ultra-thin thread and a substance found naturally in red algae.

Asthma symptoms kicking up? Check your exposure to air pollution

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:01 AM PDT

A woman who suffers from asthma has been the subject of a recent case study. She, along with her doctor, realized that by changing her bike route to and from work every day, she can cut down on the pollution to which she's exposed, thereby improving her asthma symptoms.

Chefs at schools can increase school meal participation, vegetable intake among students

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 03:04 PM PDT

Gourmet pizza in school? According to a new pilot study, chef-made meals can increase participation in the National School Lunch Program by 9 percent and overall selection and consumption of vegetables by 16 percent.

At the interface of math and science: Using mathematics to advance problems in the sciences

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 03:03 PM PDT

In popular culture, mathematics is often deemed inaccessible or esoteric. Yet in the modern world, it plays an ever more important role in our daily lives and a decisive role in the discovery and development of new ideas -- often behind the scenes. In new research, scientists have developed new mathematical approaches to gain insights into how proteins move around within lipid bilayer membranes.

Healthy fats help diseased heart muscle process, use fuel

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 03:00 PM PDT

Oleate, a common dietary fat found in olive oil, restored proper metabolism of fuel in an animal model of heart failure, researchers report. Heart failure affects nearly 5 million Americans, and more than half a million new cases are diagnosed each year. Heart failure is not the same as having a heart attack -- it is a chronic disease state where the heart becomes enlarged, or hypertrophic, in response to chronic high blood pressure which requires it to work harder to pump blood.

Use of broad-spectrum antibiotics before age 2 associated with obesity risk

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 03:00 PM PDT

The use of broad-spectrum antibiotics by children before the age of 24 months was associated with increased risk of obesity in early childhood, a study concludes. The authors used electronic health records spanning from 2001 to 2013 from a network of primary care clinics. All children with annual visits at ages 0 to 23 months, as well as one or more visit at ages 24 to 59 months were enrolled. The final group included 64,580 children. Children were followed-up until they were 5 years old.

Do we have time to save species from climate change?

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:35 AM PDT

Climate change is expected to result in heightened risk of extinction for many species. Many conservation scientists have concluded that current risk assessment protocols will fail to identify many species at risk from climate change. However, an international team of researchers counter that current assessment methods are able to identify such species.

New way to detox? 'Gold of Pleasure' oilseed boosts liver detoxification enzymes

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:40 AM PDT

Scientists have found compounds that boost liver detoxification enzymes nearly fivefold, and they've found them in a pretty unlikely place -- the crushed seeds left after oil extraction from an oilseed crop used in jet fuel. Oilseed crops, including rapeseed, canola, and camelina, contain some of the same bioactive ingredients -- namely, glucosinolates and flavonoids -- found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.

Unlocking enzyme synthesis of rare sugars to create drugs with fewer side effects

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:39 AM PDT

The enzymatic synthesis process of rare sugars, which are useful in developing drugs with low side effects using a process more friendly to the environment, has been unlocked by researchers. Rare sugars have important commercial and biomedical applications as precursors for the synthesis of different antiviral and anti-cancer drugs with fewer side effects.

Quest continues for peanut that won't cause allergic reaction

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:39 AM PDT

A food scientist has removed 80 percent of allergens from whole peanuts, moving him a step closer to eliminating 99.9 percent of peanut allergens. For the study, researchers used a pulsating light system to direct concentrated bursts of light to modify the peanut allergenic proteins. That way, they say, human antibodies can't recognize them as allergens and begin to release histamines.

New method to motivate students to reduce energy consumption

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 07:53 AM PDT

Energy consumption can be reduced significantly by students if they can see the amount of energy they are using in real-time and are motivated by their peers to save energy, a study has shown.

Molecular mechanism involved in cellular proliferation characterized

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 07:53 AM PDT

The molecular interaction between TACC3 and chTOG, key proteins in forming the internal cellular framework that enables and sustains cell division, has been uncovered by researchers. The observations may help to optimize current oncological therapies specifically designed to fight against this framework, named by the scientific community as microtubules.

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