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UN shows how mobile-phone data can map human need
December 9, 2013 01:00 PM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Tracking people’s movements after the Haiti earthquake, mapping malaria spread in Kenya, evaluating Mexico’s government policies on flu outbreak, improving national census surveys in Latin America and Africa... These are just a few examples of how mobile-phone data has been used in development, as highlighted by a recent UN report.
Developing technology for the developing world: Earthquake detection via smartphone
December 2, 2013 01:01 PM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet
Countries that do not have or cannot afford earthquake detection systems may soon have an alternative thanks to a new technology being developed in the United States and discussed last week at the 6th World Science Forum (WSF), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Quick tsunami sensors tested in Mediterranean
November 20, 2013 08:58 AM - Giovanni Sabato, SciDevNet
A new alert system could improve tsunami warnings in the Mediterranean, but most countries bordering the sea still lack evacuation plans, scientists have said ahead of a meeting of 20 countries in Italy this week (19-21 November). The tenth session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas, Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (NEAMTWS) will discuss establishing new national tsunami warning centres. It will also work towards organising the next tsunami exercise, a simulation of tsunami alerts following several different kinds of earthquakes, to evaluate the communication and response mechanisms throughout the NEATWS network.
Ocean acidification set to spiral out of control
November 15, 2013 06:57 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
The continued release of greenhouse gases into the air is set to bring about huge changes to land ecosystems as they are forced to adapt to rising temperatures. But the marine world — which is just as integral to human existence yet receives little attention during climate negotiations — will endure a similarly tumultuous time as emissions rise, scientists say. "Changing oceans will cause massive destruction of coral reefs, which, with their rich biodiversity, are the jungles of the sea," says Luis Valdes, the head of ocean science at UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), and co-author of a forthcoming report into ocean acidification.
Modern strains put Lake Victoria in critical condition
November 14, 2013 09:03 AM - George Achia, SciDevNet
Pollution and overfishing in Lake Victoria have become so severe that scientists believe they threaten the health and livelihoods of millions of East Africans. And researchers in the three countries bordering the world's largest tropical lake — Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda — largely blame governments and national agencies for failing to control the effluent and other waste that pours into the water every day.
Developing nations bear the brunt of extreme weather
November 13, 2013 09:40 AM - Bhrikuti Rai, SciDevNet
Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan were the countries that suffered the most due to extreme weather events in 2012, according to the Global Climate Risk Index released yesterday at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland.
Tiny islands with big climate change problems
November 12, 2013 02:25 PM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Tiny island states that speck the vast swathe of the Pacific Ocean have a far greater importance in understanding global climate change than their tiny populations would suggest. This was the message given to delegates during a side event of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's 19th annual meeting in Warsaw today.
Pollution detector designed to protect heritage sites
November 11, 2013 09:06 AM - Joshua Howgego, SciDevNet
A simple detector could help conservators at World Heritage sites in the developing world understand and protect against atmospheric pollutants that can damage valuable artifacts. The pollutant-measuring device has been prototyped by Henoc Agbota, an engineer at University College London, United Kingdom, and presented last week (30 October) at a conference marking the end of a five-year funding programme for heritage science run from the university.
Exploration urged to discover new rice species
November 8, 2013 08:50 AM - Lotuslei Dimagiba, SciDevNet
More exploration is needed to discover new wild varieties of rice, before they are lost to science forever, heard the 7th International Rice Genetics Symposium held this week (5-8 November) in Manila, the Philippines. There are still many unexplored places and a danger of losing undiscovered rice species that "might be very important for future rice" breakthroughs, said Robert Henry, director of the research institute Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation. Henry, who was speaking at the symposium organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said a lot of biodiversity is being lost because of the rapid pace of development. This means exploration is in a race with this biodiversity loss.
Scientists start to tap marine microbes for biotech use
November 5, 2013 10:36 AM - Michelle Dobrovolny, SciDevNet
[PARIS] The hot, brackish waters of French Polynesia’s lagoons in the Pacific could harbour microbes with huge commercial potential, including for drug creation or to produce alternatives to plastics, say researchers. The extreme conditions found in some Polynesian aquatic ecosystems, which are often characterised by high temperatures and salinity, mean that unique marine bacteria have evolved there.