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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

West Antarctic melt rate has tripled in last decade

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 03:33 PM PST

A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade.

Unlike people, monkeys aren't fooled by expensive brands

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 03:33 PM PST

In at least one respect, Capuchin monkeys are smarter than humans -- they don't assume a higher price tag means better quality, according to a new study.

New path of genetic research: Scientists uncover four-stranded elements of maize DNA

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 03:32 PM PST

Researchers have identified DNA elements in maize that could affect the expression of hundreds or thousands of genes. The general public thinks of DNA as two connected strands known as the double helix. But scientists also discovered over the years that those strands regularly separate so they can replicate the genetic material. That material can also twist into different shapes such as a G-quadruplex.

Preference for gravid females makes rare iguana consumption unsustainable

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 01:15 PM PST

The Valle de Aguán spiny-tailed iguana is a critically endangered species found in Honduras. A recent survey of people living in the region shows that, although residents are aware of the endangered status of the species, the iguana continues to be hunted for food. Of particular concern is the preference for the consumption of female iguanas that are gravid (carrying eggs in their body).

Logging destabilizes forest soil carbon over time

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 01:15 PM PST

Logging doesn't immediately jettison carbon stored in a forest's mineral soils into the atmosphere but triggers a gradual release that may contribute to climate change over decades, a new study finds.

On environment, Republicans closer to Independents than Tea Party

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 01:13 PM PST

Environmentalists dispirited by the Republicans' dominance of the recent midterm elections can take heart: non-Tea Party Republicans' views on science and environmental issues are closer to those of Independents than to Tea Party supporters.

Fear and caring are what's at the core of divisive wolf debate

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 11:48 AM PST

To hunt or not hunt: Wolves can't be quantified as simply as men vs. women, hunters vs. anti-hunters, Democrats vs. Republicans or city vs. rural.

Novel technique for gene insertion by genome editing

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 11:48 AM PST

Using a novel gene knock-in technique, effective insertion of an exogenous gene was demonstrated in human cells and in animal models, including silkworms and frogs. This strategy universally enables gene knock-in not only in cultured cells, but also in various organisms. This technique will enhance the usefulness of genome editing techniques in a variety of cells and organisms, especially in those in which gene knock-in is hindered by low homologous recombination efficiency.

55 percent of carbon in Amazonian indigenous territories and protected lands may be at risk

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 11:48 AM PST

A new peer-reviewed study reveals the unprecedented amount of carbon stored within the nine-nation network of Amazonian indigenous territories and protected natural areas. The article suggests that protecting the vast amount of carbon stored above ground in the forests of indigenous and protected lands is critical to the stability of the global climate.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide used for energy storage products

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 11:06 AM PST

Researchers have discovered a fascinating new way to take some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that's causing the greenhouse effect and use it to make an advanced, high-value material for use in energy storage products.

In a rapidly changing north, new diseases travel on the wings of birds

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 10:55 AM PST

When wild birds are a big part of your diet, opening a freshly shot bird to find worms squirming around under the skin is a disconcerting sight. That was exactly what Victoria Kotongan saw in October, 2012, when she set to cleaning two of four spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) she had taken near her home in Unalakleet, on the northwest coast of Alaska. The next day, she shot four grouse and all four harbored the long, white worms. In two birds, the worms appeared to be emerging from the meat.

Chemists identify role of soil in pollution control

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 10:24 AM PST

Scientists have long known that air pollution caused by cars and trucks, solvent use and even plants, is reduced when broken down by naturally occurring compounds that act like detergents of the atmosphere. What has not been well understood until now are the relative contributions of all the processes producing such compounds. A new study shows a key component of the process is the soil beneath our feet.

Missing ingredient in energy-efficient buildings: Trained people

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 10:24 AM PST

More than one-third of new commercial building space includes energy-saving features, but without training or an operator's manual many occupants are in the dark about how to use them.

Losing air: Barrage of small impacts likely erased much of the Earth’s primordial atmosphere

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 10:23 AM PST

Researchers believe a blitz of small space rocks, or planetesimals, may have bombarded Earth around the time the moon was formed, kicking up clouds of gas with enough force to permanently eject small portions of the atmosphere into space.

New techniques for estimating Atlantic bluefin tuna reproduction

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:38 AM PST

A fisheries oceanographer and colleagues introduce a new endocrine-based approach to determine timing of sexual maturation in one of the most important commercial tuna species in the Atlantic.

Vitamin supplement successfully prevents noise-induced hearing loss

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:38 AM PST

A way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss has been found in a mouse using a simple chemical compound that is a precursor to vitamin B3. This discovery has important implications not only for preventing hearing loss, but also potentially for treating some aging-related conditions that are linked to the same protein.

Potential biological control for avocado-ravaging disease

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:37 AM PST

Redbay ambrosia beetles can bring the laurel wilt disease to avocado trees, ravaging the trees and crop. But UF/IFAS researchers may have found a biological control for the beetles.

Another case against the midnight snack: Researchers tinker with a time-restricted diet in mice and find that it's remarkably forgiving

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:37 AM PST

These days, with the abundance of artificial light, TV, tablets and smartphones, adults and children alike are burning the midnight oil. What they are not burning is calories: with later bedtimes comes the tendency to eat. A new study cautions against an extended period of snacking, suggesting instead that confining caloric consumption to an 8- to 12-hour period-as people did just a century ago-might stave off high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

Traces of Martian biological activity could be locked inside a meteorite

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:01 AM PST

Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. New research shows that Martian life is more probable than previously thought.

King Richard III: Case closed after 529 years

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:01 AM PST

King Richard III: a DNA and genealogical study confirms the identity of remains found in Leicester and uncovers new truths about his appearance and Plantagenet lineage.

Cory's shearwater is able to provide immune protection to its offspring up to six years after being vaccinated

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:00 AM PST

Cory's shearwater is able to provide immune protection to its offspring up to six years after being vaccinated against a pathogen, research shows. Cory's shearwater (Calonectris borealis) is a seabird that breeds annually in remote islets and islands. Characterized by long life expectancy, the species reaches sexual maturity after six years and its reproductive rate is very low (one chick per year).

Fighting air pollution in China with social media

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 09:00 AM PST

The serious air pollution problem in China has attracted the attention of online activists who want the government to take action, but their advocacy has had only limited success, a new study has revealed.

Cover crops can sequester soil organic carbon

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 08:06 AM PST

A 12-year study shows that, although the use of cover crops does not improve crop yields, the practice does increase the amount of sequestered soil organic carbon using three different soil management systems.

Turn back the molecular clock, say Argentina's plant fossils

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 07:36 AM PST

Molecular clocks -- based on changes in genetic material -- indicate much younger ages for a wide variety of plants found as fossils in southern Argentina than do the solid, geologic dates of those fossils, according to geoscientists who surveyed recent paleobotanical discoveries in Patagonia.

First study of 'Golden Age' mandolins unlocks secrets of their beauty

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 07:34 AM PST

Analyzing varnishes and decorations could provide a new way to identify mandolin "Old Masters." Some of the most elaborately decorated instruments in history were produced in 18th century Naples. The materials for varnishes and decorations used by individual mandolin masters, honed for wealthy clients in the ancient city's labyrinthine artisan quarter, have been kept secret for over 200 years.

Revealed: How bacteria drill into our cells and kill them

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 06:37 AM PST

A team of scientists has revealed how certain harmful bacteria drill into our cells to kill them. Their study shows how bacterial 'nanodrills' assemble themselves on the outer surfaces of our cells, and includes the first movie of how they then punch holes in the cells' outer membranes. The research supports the development of new drugs that target this mechanism, which is implicated in serious diseases.

Nutrition, safety key to consumer acceptance of nanotech, genetic modification in foods

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 06:36 AM PST

New research shows that the majority of consumers will accept the presence of nanotechnology or genetic modification (GM) technology in foods – but only if the technology enhances the nutrition or improves the safety of the food.

Why don't children belong to the clean plate club?

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 05:25 AM PST

New research aggregated six different studies of 326 elementary school-aged children. It showed that, if their parents are not around, the average child only eats about 60 percent of what they serve themselves. More than a third goes right in the trash.

Insects play important role in dealing with garbage on NYC streets

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 05:24 AM PST

In the city that never sleeps, it's easy to overlook the insects underfoot. But that doesn't mean they're not working hard. A new study shows that insects and other arthropods play a significant role in disposing of garbage on the streets of Manhattan.

Meteorology meets metrology: Climate research high up in the clouds

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 05:23 AM PST

Barely has the research aircraft HALO entered the kilometer-high clouds towering above the Brazilian rainforest than the researchers find themselves in a complete haze, but they can rely on the measuring instruments that are working at full capacity. HAI – a new, highly accurate hygrometer – is aboard. The shooting star among hygrometers has been developed only recently by metrologists (metrology = the science of measurement) especially for use on board aircraft and in the clouds, but it has already been used in four research campaigns and has already clocked up more than 300 hours of active use. It is the only device worldwide that can determine precisely and simultaneously how much of the water present in the atmosphere is in the form of vapour, condensation, droplets or ice.

Researchers control adhesion of E. coli bacteria

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 05:23 AM PST

Scientists have created a synthetic surface on which the adhesion of E. coli bacteria can be controlled. The layer, which is only approximately four nanometers thick, imitates the saccharide coating (glycocalyx) of cells onto which the bacteria adhere such as during an infection. This docking process can be switched on and off using light. This means that the scientists have now made an important step towards understanding the relationship between sugar (carbohydrates) and bacterial infections.

Better benefits and less smell from slurry with new technologies

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 05:21 AM PST

Usability and hygienic status of slurry can be considerably improved with new aeration based technologies, new study shows. Research scientists have developed methods of improving the recycling of manure nutrients, the hygienic status as well as methods of reducing the odor of slurry. A significant share of all manure consists of the slurry. In a global scale, however, only 20 to 40% of the nitrogen content of manure can be recycled. The recycling percentage of other nutrients is even lower.

Protein kinase R and dsRNAs, new regulators of mammalian cell division

Posted: 02 Dec 2014 05:21 AM PST

Scientists have revealed that the dsRNAs and Protein Kinase R (PKR) regulate division of mammalian cells. This finding will provide important clues to understanding the process of tumor formation and the mechanism for suppressing cancer since the abnormal cell division marks the early events of cancer development.

NASA's CATS eyes clouds, smoke and dust from the space station

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 04:14 PM PST

To investigate the layers and composition of clouds and tiny airborne particles like dust, smoke and other atmospheric aerosols, , scientists have developed an instrument called the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS.

Predators and isolation shape the evolution of 'island tameness,' providing conservation insights

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 04:12 PM PST

Charles Darwin noted more than 150 years ago that animals on the Galapagos Islands, including finches and marine iguanas, were more docile than mainland creatures. He attributed this tameness to the fact that there are fewer predators on remote islands.

Sweet smell of success: Researchers boost methyl ketone production in e. coli

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:35 PM PST

Researchers have engineered E. coli bacteria to convert glucose into significant quantities of methyl ketones, a class of chemical compounds primarily used for fragrances and flavors, but highly promising as clean, green and renewable blending agents for diesel fuel.

Most ancient pinworm yet found was infected with parasitic nematodes

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:33 PM PST

The discovery of a 240-million-year-old pinworm egg confirms that herbivorous cynodonts -- the ancestors of mammals -- were infected with the parasitic nematodes.

Ability of HIV to cause AIDS is slowing, research suggests

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:32 PM PST

The rapid evolution of HIV, which has allowed the virus to develop resistance to patients' natural immunity, is at the same time slowing the virus's ability to cause AIDS, according to new research. The study also indicates that people infected by HIV are likely to progress to AIDS more slowly -- in other words the virus becomes less 'virulent' -- because of widespread access to antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Mastodon fossils in Alaska and Yukon suggest local extinction long before human colonization

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:32 PM PST

Existing age estimates of American mastodon fossils indicate that these extinct relatives of elephants lived in the Arctic and Subarctic when the area was covered by ice caps -- a chronology that is at odds with what scientists know about the massive animals' preferred habitat: forests and wetlands abundant with leafy food. Now, scientists are revising fossil age estimates and suggesting that the north was only a temporary home to mastodons when the climate was warm.

Therapeutic bronchoscopy performed on a dolphin

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:30 PM PST

In a remarkable collaborative effort between human and veterinary clinicians, a 29-year-old bottlenose dolphin recently underwent therapeutic bronchoscopy to treat airway narrowing, or stenosis, that was interfering with her breathing. The dolphin, a therapy animal for mentally and physically challenged children at Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Florida, is doing well one year after the procedure.

Most of Earth's carbon may be hidden in the planet's inner core, new model suggests

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:11 PM PST

As much as two-thirds of Earth's carbon may be hidden in the inner core, making it the planet's largest carbon reservoir, according to a new model that even its backers acknowledge is "provocative and speculative."

Exploring a large, restless volcanic field in Chile

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 01:11 PM PST

For seven years, an area larger than the city of Madison has been rising by 10 inches per year. That rapid rise provides a major scientific opportunity: to explore a mega-volcano before it erupts. That effort, and the hazard posed by the restless magma reservoir beneath Laguna del Maule.

How are sea anemones so good at producing nerve cells?

Posted: 01 Dec 2014 06:05 AM PST

A research group has revealed how a seemingly simple animal is able to produce nerve cells throughout its entire body. The study shows that the stem cells that a sea anemone uses to generate its nervous system are more similar to those of humans than expected.

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