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Thursday, November 13, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Latest supercomputers enable high-resolution climate models, truer simulation of extreme weather

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 11:48 AM PST

Not long ago, it would have taken several years to run a high-resolution simulation on a global climate model. But using some of the most powerful supercomputers now available, scientists were able to complete a run in just three months. What they found was that not only were the simulations much closer to actual observations, but the high-resolution models were far better at reproducing intense storms, such as hurricanes and cyclones.

Major class of fracking chemicals no more toxic than common household substances, analysis finds

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 10:21 AM PST

The 'surfactant' chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis.

China's old-growth forests vanishing despite government policies

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 10:21 AM PST

China's anti-logging, conservation and ecotourism policies are accelerating the loss of old-growth forests in one of the world's most ecologically fragile places, according to studies. The findings shed new light on the complex interactions between China's development and conservation policies and their impact on the most diverse temperate forests in the world, in "Shangri-La" in northwest Yunnan Province.

Software models more detailed evolutionary networks from genetic data

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 10:21 AM PST

Computer scientists have developed software to build more accurate evolutionary networks from genomic data sets. A "maximum likelihood" method allows PhyloNet to infer network models that better describe the evolution of certain groups of species than do tree models.

HIV virulence depends on where virus inserts itself in host DNA

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 10:21 AM PST

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can insert itself at different locations in the DNA of its human host -- and this specific integration site determines how quickly the disease progresses, report researchers.

Live longer? Save the planet? Better diet could nail both

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 10:20 AM PST

A new study shows how a shift away from this trajectory and toward healthier traditional Mediterranean, pescatarian or vegetarian diets could not only boost human lifespan and quality of life, but also slash greenhouse gas emissions and save habitat for endangered species.

Research suggests how mosquitoes evolved an attraction to human scent

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 10:20 AM PST

The female mosquitoes that spread dengue and yellow fever didn't always rely on human blood to nourish their eggs. Their ancestors fed on furrier animals. But then, thousands of years ago, some of these bloodsuckers made a smart switch: They began biting humans and hitchhiked all over the globe, spreading disease in their wake. To understand the evolutionary basis of this attraction, a research team examined the genes that drive some mosquitoes to prefer humans.

A tale of two seas: Last Ice Age has shaped sharks across Europe

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 09:02 AM PST

Shark populations in the Mediterranean are highly divided, an international team of scientists has shown. The study used genetic techniques to investigate the population structure of the small-spotted shark, Scyliorhinus canicula. The species is common throughout Europe and has been eaten since ancient times, as documented in Roman mosaics.

Stock market models help researchers predict animal behavior

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 09:01 AM PST

Modeling used to forecast fluctuations in the stock market has been discovered to predict aspects of animal behavior. The movement of zebrafish when mapped is very similar to the stochastic jump process, a mathematical model used by financial engineers. The model could improve the effectiveness of experiments, minimize the number of fish used, and allow researchers to make better use of their data following experiments.

Moderate consumption of sugary drinks has little impact on adolescents' metabolic health

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 09:01 AM PST

Short-term, moderate consumption of high-fructose and high-glucose beverages has little impact on the metabolic health of weight-stable, physically active adolescents, scientists have found. The study measured several aspects of metabolic health, including insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels, after participants had consumed moderate amounts of either high-glucose or high-fructose beverages every day for two weeks.

Marked benefits found for cancer prevention with a higher intake of fatty fish

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 09:01 AM PST

A new research review will once again have people asking for a second helping of wild Alaskan salmon at the dinner table. While several other studies have recently challenged the long-held belief of the benefits of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, this new study cites compelling evidence that eating the right kinds of fatty fish, in the right quantity, and prepared the right way, can in fact help prevent the body's development of adenocarcinomas, a common type of cancerous tumor.

Non-genetic changes can help parents or offspring, not both, researchers say

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 07:26 AM PST

A new study challenges current theory about how an organism changes physical characteristics because of its environment. Current theory says similar conditions will favor phenotype changes within and across generations of organisms. This experiment, which involved about 25 lineages of Daphnia, contradicts that thought.

Electronic 'tongue' to ensure food quality

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 07:26 AM PST

An electronic 'tongue' could one day sample food and drinks as a quality check before they hit store shelves. Or it could someday monitor water for pollutants or test blood for signs of disease. With an eye toward these applications, scientists are reporting the development of a new, inexpensive and highly sensitive version of such a device.

Single-dose, needle-free ebola vaccine provides long-term protection in macaques

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 07:25 AM PST

Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that a single-dose, needleless Ebola vaccine given to primates through their noses and lungs protected them against infection for at least 21 weeks.

Ant inhabitants of New York City: High diversity underfoot in urban environments

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 06:31 AM PST

Cities have more species diversity than you'd expect. A study of ants in Manhattan found not only a wide range of species, but also significant differences in the levels of biodiversity in different urban areas.

Insights into plant growth could curb need for fertilizers

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 06:31 AM PST

New insights into how plants regulate their absorption of an essential nutrient could help avoid pollution caused by excess use of fertilizer, experts say. The findings could lead to the development of crop varieties that need less of the primary nutrient -- nitrogen -- than conventional crops. It could also inform how much nitrogen should be added to plant feed.

New properties of microbes that cause common eye infection discovered

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 05:45 AM PST

The power of new genomic technology has been used by scientists to discover that microbes that commonly infect the eye have special, previously unknown properties. These properties are predicted to allow the bacterium -- Streptococcus pneumoniae -- to specifically stick to the surface of the eye, grow, and cause damage and inflammation.

A previously unrecognized flame retardant found in Americans for the first time

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 05:45 AM PST

A new study has found the carcinogenic flame retardant TCEP in the bodies of Americans. The study evaluated urinary levels of several phosphate flame retardant metabolites, like TCEP, which have been largely under the radar. Six metabolites were found in urine samples from California residents. People with the highest metabolite levels of two carcinogenic flame retardants also had the highest levels in their house dust, which were previously tested.

Making a global action plan for antibiotics

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 05:43 AM PST

Every year, thousands of people die as a result of antimicrobial resistance. A global action plan against one of the greatest health threats of our time is the focus of recent conversation amongst experts and clinicians.

Furin: The answer to the ebola crises?

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 05:42 AM PST

With an estimated fatality rate of 52%, the need to discover a cure for Ebola has never been more urgent. New research suggests that scientists currently investigating potential cures for the Ebola virus should focus more attention on the protein furin. Furin is responsible for activating certain proteins and is involved in the processing and maturation of viral and bacterial preproteins.

Ethanol and heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel production

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 05:42 AM PST

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel to conventional fossil ones. The EU policies of boosting biodiesel have achieved its implementation in the transport fuels market and increasingly its sustainable nature is being taken into account. Thus, up to 86% of the biofuels used in the EU in 2013 achieved the certificate of sustainability, in accordance with the Community norms.

Understanding natural compounds when antibiotics no longer work

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 05:41 AM PST

Medicine is drifting towards a major problem. An increasing number of bacteria is no longer sensitive to known antibiotics. Doctors urgently need to find new ways of fighting these multi-resistant pathogens. To address the problem, pharmaceutical research is turning back to the source of most of our drugs: nature.

Oral cancer-causing HPV may spread through oral, genital routes

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 05:38 AM PST

Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infections were more common among men who had female partners with oral and/or genital HPV infection, suggesting that the transmission of HPV occurs via oral-oral and oral-genital routes, according to a study.

Tools and primates: Opportunity, not necessity, is the mother of invention

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 05:59 PM PST

When food is scarce, tool use among non-human primates does not increase. This counterintuitive finding leads researchers to suggest that the driving force behind tool use is ecological opportunity -- and that the environment shapes the development of culture.

Farmers, scientists divided over climate change

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 10:36 AM PST

Crop producers and scientists hold deeply different views on climate change and its possible causes, a study shows. Researchers surveyed 6,795 people in the agricultural sector in 2011-2012 to determine their beliefs about climate change and whether variation in the climate is triggered by human activities, natural causes or an equal combination of both.

Attitudes about knowledge, power drive Michigan's wolf debate

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 09:40 AM PST

With both wolf proposals shot down by Michigan voters on election day, the debate over managing and hunting wolves is far from over. A new study identifies the themes shaping the issue and offers some potential solutions as the debate moves forward.

Tracing the course of phosphorus pollution in Lake Pepin

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 09:37 AM PST

In recent years, many lakes in the upper Midwest have been experiencing unprecedented algae blooms. These blooms threaten fish and affect recreational activities. A key culprit implicated in overgrowth of algae in lakes is phosphorus (P). Lake Pepin, located on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, has seen increasing phosphorus concentrations over time. Researchers are now trying to identify upstream factors that could explain this increase.

Typhoid gene unravelled

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 07:51 AM PST

People who carry a particular type of gene have natural resistance against typhoid fever according to new research. Enteric fever, or typhoid fever as it more commonly known, is a considerable health burden to lower-income countries. This finding is important because this natural resistance represents one of the largest human gene effects on an infectious disease.

The Trojan horse burger: Do companies that 'do good' sell unhealthy food?

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 07:49 AM PST

When consumers see a company performing good deeds, they often assume that the company's products are healthy. According to a new study this may be far from true, and the company's socially responsible behavior may be creating a "health halo" over unhealthy foods.

Toxic mix of fast-food outlets in inner city neighborhoods fuelling diabetes, obesity epidemic

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 05:38 AM PST

There is twice the number of fast-food outlets in inner city neighborhoods with high density non-white ethnic minority groups and in socially deprived areas, a study shows. "The results are quite alarming and have major implications for public health interventions to limit the number of fast food outlets in more deprived areas," notes one researcher.

Legionella outbreaks of Alcoy may have multiple sources

Posted: 11 Nov 2014 05:38 AM PST

A genomic analysis has been carried out of Legionella pneumophila strains of 13 legionellosis outbreaks produced in Alcoy during the period from 1999 to 2010. Legionella pneumophila is a strictly environmental pathogen, an opportunistic bacterium that inhabits aquatic and soil environments, spreading through the air and that can infect humans with certain susceptibility characteristics, such as being over 65 years, with breathing problems or smokers, among others. L. pneumophila is the causative agent of Legionnaire's disease.

'Darting' mice may hold clues to ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder

Posted: 10 Nov 2014 08:07 AM PST

A darting mouse may hold an important clue in the development of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism and bipolar disorder, according to a study. The transgenic mouse, into which was inserted a rare human genetic variation in the dopamine transporter (DAT), could lead to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of these all-too-common brain disorders, said the report's senior author.

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