ENN: Top Stories

It's Not Too Late to Conserve Water Resources in Rapidly Urbanizing Areas of Eastern Massachusetts

As climate change and population pressure both intensify in suburban areas northwest of Boston in th­e coming decades, a new study bywatershed scientist Timothy Randhir of the University of Massachusetts Amherstsuggests that threats to the area’s watershed such as water shortages and poor quality can be met if managers begin to act now.


World Meteorological Organization retires storm names Matthew and Otto

You’ve heard the last of Matthew and Otto – at least as Atlantic storm names.

These two storms ravaged the Caribbean so much last year their names have been retired by the World Meteorological Organization’s Region IV Hurricane Committee, of which NOAA's National Hurricane Center is a member.


As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

New research from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa reveals a large part of the the heavily urbanized area of Honolulu and Waikīkī is at risk of groundwater inundation—flooding that occurs as groundwater is lifted above the ground surface due to sea level rise. Shellie Habel, lead author of the study and doctoral student in the Department of Geology and GeophysicsSchool of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and colleagues developed a computer model that combines ground elevation, groundwater location, monitoring data, estimates of tidal influence and numerical groundwater-flow modeling to simulate future flood scenarios in the urban core as sea level rises three feet, as is projected for this century under certain climate change scenarios.


Forests fight global warming in ways more important than previously understood

Forests play a complex role in keeping the planet cool, one that goes far beyond the absorption of carbon dioxide, new research has found.

Trees also impact climate by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere, an important influence that should be considered as policymakers contemplate efforts to conserve forested land, said the authors of an international study that appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.


Flow battery based on PNNL chemistry commissioned

Officials are celebrating the installation of the world's largest containerized vanadium flow battery storage system by capacity, which uses electrolyte chemistry developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Dust contributes valuable nutrients to Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems

Collecting dust isn't usually considered a good thing.

But dust from as close as California's Central Valley and as far away as Asia's Gobi Desert provides nutrients, especially phosphorus, to vegetation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a team of scientists has found. Their study, published in the journal Nature Communications, highlights the importance of dust and the phosphorus it carries in sustaining plant life.


New Report Finds EPA's Controlled Human Exposure Studies of Air Pollution Are Warranted

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carries out experiments in which volunteer participants agree to be intentionally exposed by inhalation to specific pollutants at restricted concentrations over short periods to obtain important information about the effects of outdoor air pollution on human health.  A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds these studies are warranted and recommends that they continue under ­­two conditions: when they provide additional knowledge that informs policy decisions and regulation of pollutants that cannot be obtained by other means, and when it is reasonably predictable that the risks for study participants will not exceed biomarker or physiologic responses that are of short duration and reversible.


Mustard seeds without mustard flavor: new robust oilseed crop can resist global warming

BREAKTHROUGH - University of Copenhagen and the global player Bayer CropScience have successfully developed a new oilseed crop that is much more resistant to heat, drought and diseases than oilseed rape. The breakthrough is so big that it will feature as cover story of the April issue of Nature Biotechnology, the most prestigious journal for biotechnology research.


The Economic Case for Wind and Solar Energy in Africa

To meet skyrocketing demand for electricity, African countries may have to triple their energy output by 2030. While hydropower and fossil fuel power plants are favored approaches in some quarters, a new assessment by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has found that wind and solar can be economically and environmentally competitive options and can contribute significantly to the rising demand.


The Decarbonization of the Global Energy System

Climate change has dominated the news over the past 15 months. First, nearly 200 nations signed a historic accord in Paris during the COP21 climate talks in December 2015. The signatories to the accord, including the United States, the countries of the European Union, China and India, agreed to do their part to cut carbon emissions, and the Paris agreement entered into force months ahead of schedule


The Race to Rule the High-Flying Business of Satellite Imagery

In November 2016, satellites captured a curious change in the Tereneyskoe Forest farm in Primorsky Krai, Russia. Images showed the area transformed, from nice and leafy to stark and stumpy. An Earth-monitoring company called Astro Digital noticed the change first—and right away, it informed the World Wildlife Federation. Pixels of evidence in hand, the federation could start legal action to stop the deforestation.


Tetris used to prevent post-traumatic stress symptoms

Researchers have been able to demonstrate how the survivors of motor vehicle accidents have fewer such symptoms if they play Tetris in hospital within six hours of admission after also having been asked to recall their memory of the accident. The results of the study, which was conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet with colleagues at Oxford University and elsewhere, are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth's crust

Stock traders have long used specialized trackers to decide when to buy or sell a stock, or when the market is beginning to make a sudden swing.


Disappearing Beaches: Modeling Shoreline Change in Southern California

Using a newly-developed computer model called “CoSMoS-COAST” (Coastal Storm Modeling System – Coastal One-line Assimilated Simulation Tool) scientists predict that with limited human intervention, 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded (up to existing coastal infrastructure or sea-cliffs) by the year 2100 under scenarios of sea-level rise of one to two meters.


Tiny bacterium provides window into whole ecosystems

William Blake may have seen a world in a grain of sand, but for scientists at MIT the smallest of all photosynthetic bacteria holds clues to the evolution of entire ecosystems, and perhaps even the whole biosphere.


Chance find has big implications for water treatment's costs and carbon footprint

A type of bacteria accidentally discovered during research supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) could fundamentally re-shape efforts to cut the huge amount of electricity consumed during wastewater clean-up.

The discovery has upended a century of conventional thinking. The microorganisms - 'comammox' (complete ammonia oxidising) bacteria - can completely turn ammonia into nitrates. Traditionally, this vital step in removing nitrogen from wastewater has involved using two different microorganisms in a two-step approach: ammonia is oxidised into nitrites that are then oxidised into nitrates, which are turned into nitrogen gas and flared off harmlessly.


Litter is present throughout the world's oceans: 1,220 species affected

Where is marine litter concentrated, and which species and ecosystems does it affect? Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have for the first time compiled all scientific data published on marine litter in a single, comprehensive database, now accessible from the online portal AWI Litterbase (www.litterbase.org). Here, both the distribution of litter and its interactions with organisms are presented in global maps. In addition, the regularly updated datasets are fed into graphic analyses, which show e.g. that seabirds and fish are particularly affected by litter. The latest interaction analysis shows that 34 per cent of the species monitored ingest litter, 31 per cent colonise it, and 30 per cent get entangled or otherwise trapped in it (for all figures: valid as of 23 March 2017). The total number of affected species is rising steadily and is currently at 1,220 – more than twice the number reported in the last review article. These numbers will change as the database is being updated regularly.


This is how green algae assemble their enzymes

For almost a decade, researchers from Bochum have been developing biotechnological methods for hydrogen production. Green algae might be the key.

Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have analysed how green algae manufacture complex components of a hydrogen-producing enzyme. The enzyme, known as the hydrogenase, may be relevant for the biotechnological production of hydrogen.

To date, little is known about the way organisms form this type of hydrogenases under natural conditions. Using novel synthetic biology methods, the team around Dr Anne Sawyer, PhD student Yu Bai, assistant professor Dr Anja Hemschemeier and Prof Dr Thomas Happe from the Bochum-based research group Photobiotechnology, discovered that a specific protein machinery in the green algal chloroplasts is required for the production of a functional hydrogenase. The researchers published their findings in “The Plant Journal”.


Farming becoming riskier under climate change

Scientists the world over are working to predict how climate change will affect our planet. It is an extremely complex puzzle with many moving parts, but a few patterns have been consistent, including the prediction that farming as we know it will become more difficult.

Scientists infer the impact on agriculture based on predictions of rainfall, drought intensity, and weather volatility. Until now, however, the average farmer may not have been able to put predictions like these into practice. A new University of Illinois study puts climate change predictions in terms that farmers are used to: field working days.


Another Study Points to Climate Change's Direct Role in Fueling Extreme Weather

Climate change is impacting major air currents that control extreme weather events, helping to power natural disasters like heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods in North America, Europe, and Asia, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.


Spiral of doom: hotter world increases cattle methane emissions

A vicious cycle of climate change, cattle diet and rising methane has been revealed in a new scientific study: as temperatures rise, forage plants get tougher and harder to digest, and cause more methane to be produced in bovine stomachs. And with cattle numbers rising and methane 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas over 20 years, that spells trouble.


Scientists Discover Mechanism That Causes Cancer Cells to Self-destruct

Many cancer patients struggle with the adverse effects of chemotherapy, still the most prescribed cancer treatment. For patients with pancreatic cancer and other aggressive cancers, the forecast is more grim: there is no known effective therapy.


Mobile Gold Fingers: Travelling-wave ion mobility mass spectrometry elucidates structures of gold fingers

Drugs containing gold have been used for centuries to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, they might be effective against cancer and HIV. One mechanism by which they work could occur because gold ions force the zinc ions out of zinc fingers—looped, nucleic acid binding protein domains. American researchers have characterized such “gold fingers” using ion mobility mass spectrometry. As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they identified the exact gold binding sites.


Extreme weather events linked to climate change impact on the jet stream

Unprecedented summer warmth and flooding, forest fires, drought and torrential rain — extreme weather events are occurring more and more often, but now an international team of climate scientists has found a connection between many extreme weather events and the impact climate change is having on the jet stream.


Rising Flood Insurance Costs a Growing Burden to Communities and Homeowners in New York City

Flood insurance is already difficult to afford for many homeowners in New York City, and the situation will only worsen as flood maps are revised to reflect current risk and if the federal government continues to move toward risk-based rates, according to a first-of-its-kind study by the RAND Corporation.