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Friday, January 30, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Scientists investigate link between skyrocketing sea slug populations, warming seas

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 01:08 PM PST

A team of California scientists believes a far-flung Okenia rosacea bloom -- along with a slew of other marine species spotted north of their typical ranges -- may signal a much larger shift in ocean climate and a strong forthcoming El NiƱo.

Structure of world's largest single cell is reflected at the molecular level

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 01:07 PM PST

Biologists used the world's largest single-celled organism, an aquatic alga called Caulerpa taxifolia, to study the nature of structure and form in plants. It is a single cell that can grow to a length of six to twelve inches.

New technique for growing high-efficiency perovskite solar cells

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:16 PM PST

Researchers have revealed a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient and reproducible solar cells from large-area perovskite crystals. The researchers fabricated planar solar cells from pervoskite materials with large crystalline grains that had efficiencies approaching 18%.

Powerful tool promises to change the way scientists view proteins

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:16 PM PST

Life scientists now have access to a publicly available web resource that streamlines and simplifies the process of gleaning insight from 3-D protein structures. Aquaria, as it's known, is fast, easy-to-use and contains twice as many models as all other similar resources combined.

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:16 PM PST

Building a protein is a lot like a game of telephone: information is passed along from one messenger to another, creating the potential for errors. Enzymatic machines proofread at each step, and scientists have uncovered a new quality control mechanism along this path. But in a remarkable role reversal, the proofreading isn't done by an enzyme. Instead, one of the messengers itself has a built-in mechanism to prevent errors.

Where did the missing oil go? New study says some is sitting on the Gulf floor

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:15 PM PST

Some 6 million to 10 million gallons of oil from the BP oil spill are buried in the sediment on the Gulf floor, about 62 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta, researchers have discovered.

Global warming won't mean more storms: Big storms to get bigger, small storms to shrink, experts predict

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Atmospheric physicists predict that global warming will not lead to an overall increasingly stormy atmosphere, a topic debated by scientists for decades. Instead, strong storms will become stronger while weak storms become weaker, and the cumulative result of the number of storms will remain unchanged.

Baleen whales hear through their bones

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. Biologists reveal that the skulls of at least some baleen whales, specifically fin whales in their study, have acoustic properties that capture the energy of low frequencies and direct it to their ear bones.

Public and scientists express strikingly different views about science-related issues

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Despite similar views about the overall place of science in America, the general public and scientists often see science-related issues through a different lens, according to a new pair of surveys.

Research about unique cardinal revealed

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:29 AM PST

A biological sciences professor is receiving attention for his research and publication on a bilateral gynandromorph bird found in the wild. More specifically, the bird has the brownish-gray feathered appearance of a female cardinal on its right side and that of a male cardinal's red feathers on its left side.

Gobal patterns of specialized feeding in insect herbivores revealed

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:11 AM PST

After decades of field work from dozens of sites around the world, and after two years of combing through and analyzing data, researchers have reported on global patterns in the diets of insect herbivores. They report that most insect herbivores, such as caterpillars, find and feast on just one kind of plant in any one location, rather than eating everything in sight.

Bird watchers help federal agencies pinpoint conservation priorities

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:11 AM PST

Migratory birds are a little like college students moving from home to school and back over the year. With each move they switch landlords, encountering new rules and different living conditions. That's the finding of one of the most detailed assessments of bird ranges ever conducted, work begun as part of the State of the Birds 2011 report.

Canceled flights: For monarch butterflies, loss of migration means more disease

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:29 AM PST

Ecologists have found that sedentary winter-breeding monarch butterflies are at increased risk of disease, a discovery that could apply to other migratory species as well. But, for the monarchs, there may be a relatively simple solution: the monarchs' winter-breeding behavior is made possible by the presence of tropical milkweed, and the authors recommend that gardeners gradually replace it with native milkweeds as they become available.

Added fructose is a principal driver of type 2 diabetes, experts argue

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:29 AM PST

Recent studies have shown that added sugars, particularly those containing fructose, are a principal driver of diabetes and pre-diabetes, even more so than other carbohydrates. Clinical experts challenge current dietary guidelines that allow up to 25 percent of total daily calories as added sugars, and propose drastic reductions in the amount of added sugar, and especially added fructose, people consume.

Common pesticide may increase risk of ADHD

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

A new study provides strong evidence, using data from animal models and humans, that exposure to a common household pesticide may be a risk factor for ADHD.

Among gut microbes, strains, not just species, matter

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

Sophisticated genomic techniques now allow scientists to estimate the strains, not just the species, in samples of the human gut's microbe collection. Differences in the strains of microorganisms present might account for the variable influence the gut's microbe community has on human health and disease. Understanding the effects of various strain combinations on such functions as metabolism, immunity and drug reactions might suggest ways to manipulate the gut microbiome to improve health.

Ancient 'genomic parasites' spurred evolution of pregnancy in mammals

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

Large-scale genetic changes that marked the evolution of pregnancy in mammals have been identified by an international team of scientists. They found thousands of genes that evolved to be expressed in the uterus in early mammals. Surprisingly, these genes appear to have been recruited from other tissue types by transposons -- ancient mobile genetic elements sometimes thought of as genomic parasites. The study sheds light on how organisms evolve new morphological structures and functions.

Iceland rises as its glaciers melt from climate change

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

Earth's crust under Iceland is rebounding as global warming melts the island's great ice caps. In south-central Iceland some sites are moving upward as much as 1.4 inches (35 mm) per year. A new paper is the first to show the current fast uplift of the Icelandic crust is a result of accelerated melting of the island's glaciers and coincides with the onset of warming that began about 30 years ago, the researchers said.

Ancient skull shows modern humans colonized Eurasia 60-70,000 years ago

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

A skull provides direct anatomical evidence that fills a problematic time gap of modern human migration into Europe. It is also the first proof that anatomically modern humans existed at the same time as Neanderthals in the same geographical area.

Invasive species in the Great Lakes by 2063

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 08:35 AM PST

The vulnerability of the basin to future invaders has been demonstrated by a new study that calls for regulations to mitigate this threat. The Great Lakes have been invaded by more non-native species than any other freshwater ecosystem in the world. In spite of increasing efforts to stem the tide of invasion threats, the lakes remain vulnerable, according to scientists. If no new regulations are enforced, they predict new waves of invasions and identify some species that could invade the Lakes over the next 50 years.

Satellites can improve regional air quality forecasting

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:43 AM PST

Researchers found that data gathered from geo-stationary satellites -- satellites orbiting Earth at about 22,000 miles above the equator and commonly used for telecommunications and weather imaging -- can greatly improve air-quality forecasting.

Solar chip monitors windows

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:42 AM PST

A new kind of radio chip is intended to warn when windows are left open. This way, you can avoid having the heat go out the window on cold days. The sensor also detects break-in attempts early on. The key: This maintenance-free chip powers up with energy supplied by solar power.

Ebola leads to hunger in Africa's rice belt

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:41 AM PST

It was Christmas Eve, but the streets of Freetown – the capital of Sierra Leone – were eerily silent. Families and friends did not meet for the traditional dinner to feast on Jollof Rice, a national dish that is served in all the ceremonies across the country. In December 2014, the government of Sierra Leone banned all public celebrations to prevent the further spread of Ebola in the worst-affected country. But even before this drastic step was taken, people living in the countries hit hardest by the deadly virus – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea –had little to cheer about. Although there was a glimmer of hope for an end in sight to the Ebola epidemic, these countries were reported to be on the brink of a major food crisis.

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