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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Cost of cloud brightening for cooler planet revealed

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 05:30 PM PST

Scientists have identified the most energy-efficient way to make clouds more reflective to the sun in a bid to combat climate change. Marine Cloud Brightening is a reversible geoengineering method proposed to mitigate rising global temperatures. It relies on propelling a fine mist of salt particles high into the atmosphere to increase the albedo of clouds -- the amount of sunlight they reflect back into space.

Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 03:53 PM PST

Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent. This finding comes from a new life cycle analysis of conventional and alternative vehicles and their air pollution-related public health impacts. The study also shows that switching to vehicles powered by electricity made using natural gas yields large health benefits.

Dental plaque reveals key plant in prehistoric Easter Island diet

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 03:53 PM PST

A student analyzing dental calculus from ancient teeth is helping resolve the question of what plant foods Easter Islanders relied on before European contact.

Research on farmers' markets shows presence of Salmonella, E. coli

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 03:51 PM PST

A study on the presence of Salmonella and E. coli on certain herbs sold at farmers' markets has been published. Of the 133 samples tested from 13 farmers' markets, 24.1 percent tested positive for E. coli and one sample tested positive for Salmonella.

Back to future with Roman architectural concrete: Advanced light source reveals key to longevity of imperial Roman monuments

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 03:50 PM PST

A key discovery to understanding Roman architectural concrete that has stood the test of time and the elements for nearly two thousand years has been made by researchers using beams of X-rays.

Evidence of Viking/Norse metalworking in Arctic Canada

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 12:48 PM PST

A small stone container found by archaeologists a half-century ago has now been recognized as further evidence of a Viking or Medieval Norse presence in Arctic Canada during the centuries around 1000 A.D.

NASA's Fermi Mission brings deeper focus to thunderstorm gamma rays

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 12:47 PM PST

Each day, thunderstorms around the world produce about a thousand quick bursts of gamma rays, some of the highest-energy light naturally found on Earth. By merging records of events seen by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope with data from ground-based radar and lightning detectors, scientists have completed the most detailed analysis to date of the types of thunderstorms involved.

Seeing the forest for the trees: Youngest trees in a forest tell the biggest story

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 12:46 PM PST

The largest trees in a forest may command the most attention, but the smallest seedlings and youngest saplings are the ones that are most critical to the composition and diversity of the forest overall.

Reshaping the horse through millennia: Sequencing reveals genes selected by humans in domestication

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 12:46 PM PST

Whole genome sequencing of modern and ancient horses unveils the genes that have been selected by humans in the process of domestication through the last 5,500 years, but also reveals the cost of this domestication. An international research group reports that a significant part of the genetic variation in modern domesticated horses could be attributed to interbreeding with the descendants of a now extinct population of wild horses. This population was distinct from the only surviving wild horse population.

Massive study provides first detailed look at how Greenland's ice is vanishing

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 12:45 PM PST

Scientists used NASA satellite and aerial data to reconstruct how the ice sheet changed at nearly 100,000 locations over many years.

New algorithm a Christmas gift to 3-D printing, and the environment

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 11:09 AM PST

A computer science professor reveals how to print a 3-D Christmas tree efficiently and with zero material waste, using the world's first algorithm for automatically decomposing a 3-D object into what are called pyramidal parts.

Far from powerless: Ant larvae cannibalize eggs, are influenced by relatedness, sex

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 11:08 AM PST

By exploring the evolutionary causes and consequences of selfish larvae behavior, a new study sheds new light on the evolutionary constraints of competition in social insect colonies, and demonstrates how in complex societies, even the youngest individuals are potential players in social conflict.

Hazy road to Mecca

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 09:30 AM PST

Dangerously high levels of air pollutants are being released in Mecca during the hajj, the annual holy pilgrimage in which millions of Muslims on foot and in vehicles converge on the Saudi Arabian city, according to new findings.

Linguistic methods uncover sophisticated meanings, monkey dialects

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:48 AM PST

The same species of monkeys located in separate geographic regions use their alarm calls differently to warn of approaching predators, a linguistic analysis by a team of scientists reveals. The study reveals that monkey calls have a more sophisticated structure than was commonly thought.

Squid supplies blueprint for printable thermoplastics

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:45 AM PST

Squid, what is it good for? You can eat it and you can make ink or dye from it, and now a team of researchers is using it to make a thermoplastic that can be used in 3-D printing.

Stunning zinc fireworks when egg meets sperm

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:45 AM PST

Sparks literally fly when a sperm and an egg hit it off. The fertilized mammalian egg releases from its surface billions of zinc atoms in 'zinc sparks,' one wave after another, scientists have found. Using cutting-edge technology they developed, the researchers are the first to capture images of these molecular fireworks and pinpoint the zinc sparks' origin: tiny zinc-rich packages just below the egg's surface. The findings should be useful in improving in vitro fertilization methods.

Climate policy pledges are an important step forward but fall short of 2°C

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

Pledges to reduce emissions in China, Europe and the US provide an important step forward for climate change action, but a more comprehensive effort is needed to stabilize the climate below critical thresholds. Climate finance can cover investment gaps and alleviate distributional tensions, a new study shows. The study looks into several key negotiation issues on the road from the climate summit in Lima to the one in Paris 2015.

Scientists observe the Earth grow a new layer under an Icelandic volcano

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:41 AM PST

New research into an Icelandic eruption has shed light on how the Earth's crust forms, according to a new article.

Migrating 'supraglacial' lakes could trigger future Greenland ice loss

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:40 AM PST

Predictions of Greenland ice loss and its impact on rising sea levels may have been greatly underestimated. Supraglacial lakes are darker than ice, so they absorb more of the Sun's heat, which leads to increased melting. When the lakes reach a critical size, they drain through ice fractures, allowing water to reach the ice sheet base which causes it to slide more quickly into the oceans. These changes can also trigger further melting.

Climate change could leave cities more in the dark

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:39 AM PST

Cities like Miami are all too familiar with hurricane-related power outages. But a new analysis finds climate change will give other major metro areas a lot to worry about in future storms.

Molecular 'hats' allow in vivo activation of disguised signaling peptides

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:39 AM PST

When someone you know is wearing an unfamiliar hat, you might not recognize them. Researchers are using just such a disguise to sneak biomaterials containing peptide signaling molecules into living animals.

Past global warming similar to today's: Size, duration were like modern climate shift, but in two pulses

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 08:39 AM PST

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers have found.

2011 Japan earthquake: Fault had been relieving stress at accelerating rate for years

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 07:17 AM PST

Scientists have found evidence that sections of the fault responsible for the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake that devastated northern Japan in 2011 were relieving seismic stress at a gradually accelerating rate for years before the quake.

Attitudes to climate change depend on people's sense of belonging to the planet

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 07:16 AM PST

People who have a stronger sense of place at the global than the national level are more likely to accept that climate change is caused by human activities. research has demonstrated.

Do you speak cow? Researchers listen in on 'conversations' between calves and their mothers

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 07:16 AM PST

Researchers have been eavesdropping on 'conversations' between calves and their mothers — measuring the process of how cows communicate using detailed acoustic analysis for the first time.

Show us how you play and it may tell us who you are

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 06:43 AM PST

The way in which toys are handled and combined with one another during object play can tell use a lot about the cognitive underpinnings of the actors. An international team of scientists studied parrot species, as well as crow species, with the same set of toys and found out that the birds willingly brought objects into complex spatial relationships: behaviors that occur in only a few species of primates.

Nuclear should be in the energy mix for biodiversity

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 06:41 AM PST

Leading conservation scientists from around the world have called for a substantial role for nuclear power in future energy-generating scenarios in order to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity.

Cell biologists discover on-off switch for key stem cell gene

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 05:49 AM PST

A new study by cell and systems biologists investigating stem cells in mice shows, for the first time, a relationship between the Sox2 gene which is critical for early development, and a region elsewhere on the genome that effectively regulates its activity. The discovery could mean a significant advance in the emerging field of human regenerative medicine, as the Sox2 gene is essential for maintaining embryonic stem cells that can develop into any cell type of a mature animal.

Images in Roman mosaics meant to dispel the envious

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 05:46 AM PST

Driving away bad luck, the evil eye and, in short, envious people—this was one of the purposes of mosaics in Ancient Rome, according to research which analyzed rituals and magic practices in these artistic representations.

Barbary macaques form male bonds, study reveals

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 05:44 AM PST

Male Barbary macaques form social bonds similar to human friendships to protect against disease and death, an international study has revealed. This study shows that changes in everyday stressors such as the amount of aggression received or cold weather can cause long-term elevated glucocorticoid levels in wild male Barbary macaques, but keeping a few close male associates will avoid that.

Hox cluster found in Crown of Thorns starfish a surprise

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 05:44 AM PST

New research reports an intact Hox cluster in the Crown of Thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci. This surprising result contrasts with the relatively disorganized Hox cluster found in sea urchins, which are also echinoderms, classification of animals including starfish, sea lilies, and sea cucumbers. "The translocation of the Hox cluster in echinoderms has been a major red herring for understanding their evolution. It's really good to have some hard data showing that some echinoderms exhibit some oddities that are not representative of all echinoderms," says one expert.

Control knob for fat?

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 04:02 PM PST

Researchers found a new function for a long-studied gene: it appears to regulate fat storage in C. elegans. A version of the protein, which exists in humans, also regulates protein production in the cell, raising the possibility that it too may control fat storage. A protein with such a function would offer a new target for pharmaceuticals to regulate fat, said the study's corresponding author.

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