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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Global sea ice diminishing, despite Antarctic gains

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 01:01 PM PST

Sea ice increases in Antarctica do not make up for the accelerated Arctic sea ice loss of the last decades, a new study finds. As a whole, the planet has been shedding sea ice at an average annual rate of 13,500 square miles (35,000 square kilometers) since 1979, the equivalent of losing an area of sea ice larger than the state of Maryland every year.

Significant link between cannabis use and onset of mania symptoms

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 01:01 PM PST

Researchers have found evidence to suggest a significant relationship between cannabis use and the onset and exacerbation of mania symptoms.

Geoengineering report: Scientists urge more research on climate intervention

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 12:59 PM PST

Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while necessary, may not happen soon enough to stave off climate catastrophe. So, in addition, the world may need to resort to so-called geoengineering approaches that aim to deliberately control the planet's climate.

Mesothelioma in southern Nevada likely result of asbestos in environment

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 12:59 PM PST

Malignant mesothelioma has been found at higher than expected levels in women and in individuals younger than 55 years old in the southern Nevada counties of Clark and Nye, likewise in the same region carcinogenic mineral fibers including actinolite asbestos, erionite, winchite, magnesioriebeckite and richterite were discovered. These data suggest that these elevated numbers of malignant mesothelioma cases are linked to environmental exposure of carcinogenic mineral fibers.

Earthquake activity linked to injection wells may vary by region

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 12:59 PM PST

The Williston Basin in north central US produced fewer earthquakes caused by wastewater injection than in Texas, suggesting the link between seismicity and production activities may vary by region, according to a new study.

Listeria pathogen is prevalent, persistent in retail delis

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 11:20 AM PST

New research shows that standard cleaning procedures in retail delis may not eradicate Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which can cause a potentially fatal disease in people with vulnerable immune systems.

Engineers put the 'squeeze' on human stem cells

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 11:20 AM PST

After using optical tweezers to squeeze a tiny bead attached to the outside of a human stem cell, researchers now know how mechanical forces can trigger a key signaling pathway in the cells.The squeeze helps to release calcium ions stored inside the cells and opens up channels in the cell membrane that allow the ions to flow into the cells, according to a new study.

Epigenetic breakthrough: A first of its kind tool to study the histone code

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 11:20 AM PST

Scientists have created a new research tool, based on the fruit fly, to help crack the histone code. This research tool can be used to better understand the function of histone proteins, which play critical roles in the regulation of gene expression in animals and plants.

Too much of a good thing: Extra genes make bacteria lethal

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 11:18 AM PST

We, as most animals, host many different beneficial bacteria. Being beneficial to the host often pays off for the bacteria, as success of the host determines the survival and spread of the microbe. But if bacteria grow too much they may become deadly. Scientists have found that a single genomic change can turn beneficial bacteria into pathogenic bacteria, by boosting bacterial density inside the host.

The Princess and the Pea: Cells' ultra-sensitivity for strong molecular forces in adhesion processes

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 11:17 AM PST

Knowing how cells exert force and sense mechanical feedback in their microenvironment is crucial to understanding how they activate a wide range of cellular functions, such as cell reproduction, differentiation and adhesion. Now a more fine-grained picture of adhesion mechanics is emerging, thanks to a new tool developed in recent years called a "tension gauge tether," which allows scientists to measure cell mechanics at the single-molecule level.

Arachnid Rapunzel: Researchers Spin Spider Silk Proteins Into Artificial Silk

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 11:17 AM PST

Incredibly tough, slightly stretchy spider silk is a lightweight, biodegradable wonder material with numerous potential biomedical applications. But although humans have been colonizing relatively placid silkworms for thousands of years, harvesting silk from territorial and sometimes cannibalistic spiders has proven impractical. Instead, labs hoping to harness spider silk's mechanical properties are using its molecular structure as a template for their own biomimetic silks.

Studying microscopic phytoplankton: Prototype ready for the open ocean

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:32 AM PST

Its name refers to one of the biggest animals in the sea, but ORCA, the Ocean Radiometer for Carbon Assessment instrument, will be observing the smallest. If selected for a flight mission, ORCA will study microscopic phytoplankton, tiny green plants that float in the upper layer of the ocean and make up the base of the marine food chain.

Coral reef symbiosis: Paying rent with sugar and fat

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:31 AM PST

Scientists have revealed how coral-dwelling microalgae harvest nutrients from the surrounding seawater and shuttle them out to their coral hosts, sustaining a fragile ecosystem that is under threat.

How conditions of spaceflight affect living organisms: New research headed to space station

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:27 AM PST

New research will be heading to the International Space Station to help NASA understand how the conditions of spaceflight affect living organisms. This work is helping the agency develop the resources and measures necessary to ensure astronauts remain healthy as we venture beyond low-Earth orbit and head out to study an asteroid and eventually Mars.

Scientist to gather greenhouse gas emissions from melting permafrost

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:08 AM PST

A NASA scientist who has developed a novel suitcase-size instrument to measure column carbon dioxide and methane is taking her recently patented instrument on the road this summer to comprehensively measure emissions of these important greenhouse gases from Alaska's melting permafrost.

NASA scientist advances methane sounder to measure another greenhouse gas

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 09:57 AM PST

A NASA scientist who has played a key role developing and demonstrating a new technique for gathering around-the-clock global carbon-dioxide measurements is applying the same general principles to develop a new laser instrument sensitive to another greenhouse gas -- methane.

Historic Indian sword was masterfully crafted

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 07:33 AM PST

The master craftsmanship behind Indian swords was highlighted when scientists and conservationists from Italy and the UK joined forces to study a curved single-edged sword called a shamsheer. The 75-centimeter-long sword from the Wallace Collection in London was made in India in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The design is of Persian origin, from where it spread across Asia and eventually gave rise to a family of similar weapons called scimitars being forged in various Southeast Asian countries. Two different approaches were used to examine the shamsheer: the classical one (metallography) and a non-destructive technique (neutron diffraction).

Damage from obesity passed to offspring, but impact of obesity on fertility can be reversed, mouse study finds

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 05:35 AM PST

In a breakthrough discovery, researchers have revealed how damage from obesity in mice is passed from a mother to her children, and also how that damage can be reversed.

Historic US and UK dietary advice on fats 'should not have been introduced'

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 02:09 AM PST

National dietary advice on fat consumption issued to millions of US and UK citizens in 1977 and 1983, to cut coronary heart disease incidence, lacked any solid trial evidence to back it up, and 'should not have been introduced,' concludes new research.

Exposure to mercury, seafood associated with risk factor for autoimmune disease

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 02:04 AM PST

One of the greatest risk factors for autoimmunity among women of childbearing age may be associated with exposure to mercury such as through seafood, a new study says. Mercury -- even at low levels generally considered safe -- was associated with autoimmunity. Autoimmune disorders, which cause the body's immune system to attack healthy cells by mistake, affects nearly 50 million Americans and predominately women.

Bionic leaf: Researchers use bacteria to convert solar energy into liquid fuel

Posted: 09 Feb 2015 01:14 PM PST

Solar energy can be harnessed using electricity from photovoltaic cells to yield hydrogen that can be stored in fuel cells. But hydrogen has failed to catch on as a practical fuel for cars or for power. Converting solar energy into liquid fuel could accelerate its adoption as a power source.

'Stressed' young bees could be the cause of colony collapse

Posted: 09 Feb 2015 01:12 PM PST

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a major threat to bee colonies around the world and affects their ability to perform vital human food crop pollination. It has been a cause of urgent concern for scientists and farmers around the world for at least a decade but a specific cause for the phenomenon has yet to be conclusively identified. Pressure on young bees to grow up too fast could be a major factor in explaining the disastrous declines in bee populations seen worldwide.

Flooding in U.S. Midwest more frequent, study finds; Research covered more than 50 years of data in 14 states

Posted: 09 Feb 2015 01:11 PM PST

The U.S. Midwest and surrounding states have endured increasingly more frequent flood episodes over the past half-century, according to a new study.

Earliest evidence of large-scale human-produced air pollution in South America found

Posted: 09 Feb 2015 01:11 PM PST

Researchers have uncovered the earliest evidence of widespread, human-produced air pollution in South America -- from the Spanish conquest of the Inca.

A centimeter of time: Cool clocks pave the way to new measurements of Earth

Posted: 09 Feb 2015 08:30 AM PST

Two cryogenically cooled optical lattice clocks that can be synchronized to a tremendous one part in 2.0 x 10-18--meaning that they would only go out of synch by a second in 16 billion years. This is nearly 1,000 times more precise than the current international timekeeping standard cesium atomic clock.

Industrial aerosol emissions has changed relationship between temperature and precipitation in northern tropics

Posted: 09 Feb 2015 08:30 AM PST

An international team of scientists has found that human-made aerosol emissions from industrial processes have changed the relationship between temperature and precipitation in the northing tropics. The findings may help to indicate the shifts in seasonal rainfall in Central America, which is critical for agriculture in the region.

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