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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

New model for snake venom evolution proposed

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 12:26 PM PST

Researchers have found genetic evidence that highly toxic venom proteins were evolutionarily 'born' from non-toxic genes, which have other ordinary jobs around the body, such as regulation of cellular functions or digestion of food.

Public servants are individually motivated to help environment, study suggests

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 12:26 PM PST

While on the job, public servants contribute not just to mandated sustainability but also to discretionary eco-friendly initiatives of their own, a study shows. "Some people are born with a higher intrinsic need to serve the public," said a study co-author. "They have a desire to help others and serve society. Government and nonprofit managers, for example, typically have higher levels of public service motivation than business managers."

Hummingbird's hover surprisingly easy to hack

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 12:25 PM PST

Hummingbirds' remarkable ability to hover in place is highly contingent on the tiny bird having a completely stationary visual field, according to new research.

Re-thinking Southern California earthquake scenarios in Coachella Valley, San Andreas Fault

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 11:57 AM PST

New 3-D numerical modeling that captures far more geometric complexity of an active fault segment in southern California than any other, suggests that the overall earthquake hazard for towns on the west side of the Coachella Valley such as Palm Springs and Palm Desert may be slightly lower than previously believed.

Visualizing DNA double-strand break process for the first time

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 11:57 AM PST

Scientists have developed a method for producing biological crystals that has allowed scientists to observe -- for the first time -- DNA double chain breaks. They have also developed a computer simulation that makes this process, which lasts in the order of millionths of a second, visible to the human eye.

Caribbean gorgonian corals are resistant to ocean acidification

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 11:57 AM PST

A new study on tropical shallow-water soft corals, known as gorgonians, found that the species were able to calcify and grow under elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. These results suggest that Caribbean gorgonian corals may be more resilient to the ocean acidification levels projected by the end of the 21st century than previously thought.

Chesapeake Bay region streams are warming

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 11:57 AM PST

The majority of streams in the Chesapeake Bay region are warming, and that increase appears to be driven largely by rising air temperatures, research has concluded. Researchers found an overall warming trend in air temperature of 0.023 C (0.041 F) per year, and in water temperature of 0.028 C (0.050 F) per year over 51 years. This means that air temperature has risen 1.1 C (1.98 F), and water temperature has risen 1.4 C (2.52 F) between 1960 and 2010 in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Wind farms to do not affect property values, study finds

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 11:56 AM PST

Wind turbine developments have no effect on property values of nearby homes and farms, according to new Canadian research. Researchers analyzed more than 7,000 home and farm sales in Melancthon Township and 10 surrounding townships in Dufferin, Grey, Simcoe and Wellington counties. Melancthon, located about 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto, is home to one of Ontario's first and largest wind farms; 133 wind turbines were erected between 2005 and 2008.

New insights into predicting future droughts in California: Natural cycles, sea surface temperatures found to be main drivers in ongoing event

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 11:56 AM PST

Natural oceanic and atmospheric patterns are the primary drivers behind California's ongoing drought. A high pressure ridge off the West Coast (typical of historic droughts) prevailed for three winters, blocking important wet season storms, with ocean surface temperature patterns making such a ridge much more likely.

Biomimetic dew harvesters: What the desert beetle could teach us about improving drinking water collection

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 07:53 AM PST

Insects are full of marvels - and this is certainly the case with a beetle from the Tenebrionind family, found in the extreme conditions of the Namib desert. Now, a team of scientists has demonstrated that such insects can collect dew on their backs - and not just fog as previously thought. This is made possible by the wax nanostructure on the surface of the beetle's elytra.

Major Viking hall identified in Sweden

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 06:31 AM PST

A Viking feasting hall measuring almost 50 meters in length has been identified near Vadstena in Sweden. Archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar, a non-invasive geophysical method, to locate and map the house foundation.

Two-headed salamander tadpole discovered

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 06:31 AM PST

Researchers have found a salamander tadpole which has two heads. Researchers noted that while they had observed an incidence of deformity, especially among the limbs of salamanders, in the past such cases of two heads were more rare. The reason for this deformity is unknown, but the chief theories are pollution of water sources, changes in radiation and the influence of a small population.

Early warning signals of abrupt climate change

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 04:45 AM PST

A new study has found early warning signals of a reorganization of the Atlantic ocean's circulation which could have a profound impact on the global climate system.

Fracking and pollution: Technology-dependent emissions of gas extraction in the US

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 04:43 AM PST

Not all boreholes are the same. Scientists used mobile measurement equipment to analyze gaseous compounds emitted by the extraction of oil and natural gas in the US. For the first time, organic pollutants emitted during a fracking process were measured at a high temporal resolution using a vapor capture system. The highest values measured by this process exceeded typical mean values in urban air by a factor of about one thousand.

Easy measurement of the effect of fine dust

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 04:43 AM PST

Fine dusts from industry, traffic, and households are omnipresent. Still, they are difficult to capture by reliable medical measurements. Researchers have now developed an exposure system, by means of which biological cells are exposed to fine dust-loaded air flows in an exact and reproducible manner. Using this system, it is possible to collect data on the adverse impact of fine dusts of variable sources in a rapid and inexpensive manner and without animal experiments being needed.

Physicist presents new observational solar weather model

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 04:41 AM PST

Scientists now have an observational framework to help predict solar weather. Being able to predict such events is important because a powerful direct hit by a coronal mass ejection (CME) is like a huge space hurricane that can deform Earth's magnetic field and fry the circuits of orbiting satellites, spacecraft and delicate terrestrial electronics.

Ancient horse DNA revealed human breeding preferences: Leopard complex spotting and congenital night blindness

Posted: 07 Dec 2014 07:27 PM PST

White coat with black spots: almost every child knows "Lilla Gubben" the horse of Pippi Longstocking. But what about the popularity of spotted and speckled horses (so called leopard complex spotting) during the last millennia? Researchers found out that the occurrence of these horses fluctuated considerably in the course of history.

Scientists reveal parchment's hidden stories

Posted: 07 Dec 2014 07:27 PM PST

Millions of documents stored in archives could provide scientists with the key to tracing the development of agriculture in the British Isles over the last 700 years, according to new research.

Researchers build searchable database of non-native plants

Posted: 05 Dec 2014 08:35 AM PST

Researchers have spent more than a year developing a searchable website and database to help Floridians assess problem— or just plain puzzling —non-native plants.

New insights on cellular nutrient supply in model organism baker's yeast

Posted: 05 Dec 2014 07:01 AM PST

Researchers have gained new insights on the function of a presenilin-related protein in the model organism baker's yeast with regard to the regulation of the cells' nutrient supply: This membrane protein is a protease called Ypf1. It regulates the amount of nutrient transporters making it to the cell surface and controls the absorption of nutrients from the cell's environment.

Natural selection is furthering mutations that are making skin paler

Posted: 05 Dec 2014 07:00 AM PST

Skin colour varies according to the latitude and, therefore, according to the intensity of incident ultraviolet light: individuals living at low latitudes have darker skin, whereas those living at high latitudes have pale pigmentation. One researcher has studied why this depigmentation has taken place, and has concluded that evolution is furthering mutations that are lightening the skin, probably owing to the need to synthesize vitamin D at latitudes where there is reduced solar irradiation (compared with Africa) although, in turn, this increases the probability of developing melanoma or skin cancer.

Intestinal immune system controls body weight, study shows

Posted: 05 Dec 2014 06:40 AM PST

A group of researchers has identified an unsuspected mechanism impacting the development of obesity and diabetes type 2 after following a diet with a high dose of fat nutrition. The important discovery is related to the essential role of the intestinal immune system regarding the control of the energy metabolism.

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