ENN: Top Stories http://www.enn.com/ ENN RSS News Extinction Risk for Many Species Vastly Underestimated, Study Suggests http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51112 <p>The study appears in the journal Biological Conservation.</p><p>The maps describing species’ geographic ranges, which are used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to determine threat status, appear to systematically overestimate the size of the habitat in which species can thrive, said <a target="_blank" href="http://e3b.columbia.edu/faculty/don-j-melnick/">Don Melnick</a>, senior investigator on the study and the Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology in the <a href="http://e3b.columbia.edu/">Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B)</a>.</p> Stanford scientists test links between extreme weather and climate change http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51111 <p>After an unusually intense heat wave, downpour or drought, <a href="https://profiles.stanford.edu/noah-diffenbaugh">Noah Diffenbaugh</a> and his research group inevitably receive phone calls and emails asking whether human-caused climate change played a role.</p><p>“The question is being asked by the general public and by people trying to make decisions about how to manage the risks of a changing climate,” said Diffenbaugh, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford’s <a href="https://earth.stanford.edu/">School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences</a>. “Getting an accurate answer is important for everything from farming to insurance premiums, to international supply chains, to infrastructure planning.”</p> UTHealth School of Public Health researchers find cold weather linked to mortality risks in Texas http://www.enn.com/health/article/51110 <p>Cold weather increases the risk of mortality in Texas residents, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health. The findings were recently published in the journal <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749116317213">Environmental Pollution</a>.</p> Heavy Precipitation Speeds Carbon Exchange in Tropics http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51109 <p>New research by the University of Montana and its partner institutions gives insight into how forests globally will respond to long-term climate change.</p><p>Cory Cleveland, a UM professor of terrestrial ecosystem ecology, said that previous research in the wet tropics – where much of global forest productivity occurs – indicates that the increased rainfall that may occur with climate change would cause declines in plant growth.</p> As government delays pollution plan, study shows how killer nanoparticles cause heart disease http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51108 <p>A new study explains for the first time how nanoparticles like those in diesel exhaust fumes cause heart disease by lodging in inflamed blood vessels, writes Oliver Tickell. The study, published as the UK government is ordered before the High Court to justify its refusal to publish plans to tackle illegal air pollution which afflicts 38 million people, also raises wider fears about &#39;engineered nanoparticles&#39; in the environment.</p> Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlements: Where the money went http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51106 <p>On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Gulf Coast, killing 11 people and injuring 17. So began an 87-day oil spill that spewed 3.19 million barrels, or nearly 134 million gallons, into the Gulf of Mexico. It fouled the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas and launched a six-year long environmental and legal battle.</p> International team of researchers release status report on changing Arctic http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51107 <p>The latest SWIPA Report, an international scientific assessment of what has changed in the Arctic and the consequences of those changes, will be released today.</p> UCF Professor Invents Way to Trigger Artificial Photosynthesis to Clean Air, Produce Energy http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51104 <p>A chemistry professor has just found a way to trigger the process of photosynthesis in a synthetic material, turning greenhouse gases into clean air and producing energy all at the same time.</p><p>The process has great potential for creating a technology that could significantly reduce greenhouse gases linked to climate change, while also creating a clean way to produce energy.</p><p>“This work is a breakthrough,” said UCF Assistant Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo. “Tailoring materials that will absorb a specific color of light is very difficult from the scientific point of view, but from the societal point of view we are contributing to the development of a technology that can help reduce greenhouse gases.”</p> New Study Suggests Overfishing in One of World&#39;s Most Productive Fishing Regions http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51103 <p>A new study suggests that more small-scale fishing boats are operating in the Gulf of California than is economically and ecologically sustainable, suggesting that local fishermen are spending more time and money to catch fewer fish.  </p> NASA Examines Newly Formed Tropical Depression 3W in 3-D http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51102 <p>Tropical Depression 03W formed in the Pacific Ocean west of Guam on April 24, 2017, and data from the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission or GPM core satellite was used to look at the storm in 3-D.</p><p>Tropical Depression 03W formed on April 24 at 2100 UTC (5 p.m. EDT) about 201 nautical miles north-northwest of Yap.</p><p>The GPM core observatory satellite had an excellent view of Tropical Depression 03W or TD03W when it flew over on April 14, 2017 at 1901 UTC (3:01 p.m. EDT). The GPM satellite found that the newly formed tropical depression contained some very powerful convective storms. Intense storms in the middle of the organizing convective cluster were dropping precipitation at extreme rates. GPM&#39;s Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instruments unveiled tall convective storm towers on the eastern side of this cluster of storms that were dropping rain at a rate of over 215 mm (8.5 inches) per hour.</p> India&#39;s outsized coal plans would wipe out Paris climate goals http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51101 <p>India will not be able to meet its Paris climate agreement commitments in the coming years if it carries through with plans to construct nearly 370 coal-fired power plants, according to <a href="http://uci.edu/">University of California, Irvine</a> and <a href="http://coalswarm.org/">CoalSwarm</a> researchers.</p><p>“India is facing a dilemma of its own making,” said UCI associate professor of Earth system science Steven Davis, co-author of a study published today in the American Geophysical Union journal <a href="http://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/hub/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)2328-4277/">Earth’s Future</a>. “The country has vowed to curtail its use of fossil fuels in electricity generation, but it has also put itself on a path to building hundreds of coal-burning power plants to feed its growing industrial economy.”</p> Thought Antarctica&#39;s Biodiversity Was Doing Well? Think Again http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51100 <p>Twenty-three experts involved in the study “Antarctica and the strategic plan for biodiversity,” recently published in <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.2001656">PLoS Biology</a>, debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in a better environmental shape than the rest of the world. In fact, the difference between the status of biodiversity in the region and planet Earth as a whole is negligible.</p> Toronto&#39;s subways expose passengers to more air pollution than Montreal, Vancouver systems http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51097 <p>Airborne particulates on subway platforms and trains are up to 10 times higher than outside air, around three times higher than levels in Montreal’s Metro</p><p>A new study co-authored by U of T Engineering Professor<strong> </strong>Greg Evans shows that subways increase our personal exposure to certain pollutants, even as they decrease overall emissions – and that Toronto has the highest levels in Canada.</p> Drug created from malaria parasite shows promise as bladder cancer treatment http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51098 <p>A drug created from a malaria protein stopped tumour growth of chemotherapy-resistant bladder cancer, offering hope for cancer patients not responding to standard treatments.</p> Global Warming Making Oceans More Toxic, Research Shows http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51096 <p>Ocean warming since the 1980s is linked to the spread of toxic algae, according to a newly published study led by Dr. Christopher Gobler, marine science professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University.</p> New strategy produces stronger polymers http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51095 <p>Plastic, rubber, and many other useful materials are made of polymers — long chains arranged in a cross-linked network. At the molecular level, these polymer networks contain structural flaws that weaken them.</p><p>Several years ago, MIT researchers were the first to measure certain types of these defects, called “loops,” which are caused when a chain in the polymer network binds to itself instead of another chain. Now, the same researchers have found a simple way to reduce the number of loops in a polymer network and thus strengthen materials made from polymers.</p> Caterpillar found to eat shopping bags, suggesting biodegradable solution to plastic pollution http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51094 <p>Scientists have found that a caterpillar commercially bred for fishing bait has the ability to biodegrade polyethylene: one of the toughest and most used plastics, frequently found clogging up landfill sites in the form of plastic shopping bags.</p> Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51093 <p>Brown University researchers have developed a new composite catalyst that can perform four separate chemical reactions in sequential order and in one container to produce compounds useful in making a wide range of pharmaceutical products.</p> New Approach to Improve Detection of Landfill-Related Pollution http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51092 <p>Numerous hazardous substances seep from landfills into soil and groundwater, threatening human health and the environment. However, current methods for monitoring these substances are cumbersome and can create additional hazardous chemicals. </p> NASA&#39;s Fermi Catches Gamma-ray Flashes from Tropical Storms http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51091 <p>About a thousand times a day, thunderstorms fire off fleeting bursts of some of the highest-energy light naturally found on Earth. These events, called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), last less than a millisecond and produce gamma rays with tens of millions of times the energy of visible light. Since its launch in 2008, NASA&#39;s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has recorded more than 4,000 TGFs, which scientists are studying to better understand how the phenomenon relates to lightning activity, storm strength and the life cycle of storms.</p> First-ever direct observation of chiral currents in quantum Hall atomic simulation http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51090 <p>Using an atomic quantum simulator, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have achieved the first-ever direct observation of chiral currents in the model topological insulator, the 2-D integer quantum Hall system.</p><p>Topological Insulators (TIs) are arguably the most promising class of materials discovered in recent years, with many potential applications theorized. That’s because TIs exhibit a special quality: the surface of the material conducts electricity, while the bulk acts as an insulator. Over the last decade, scientists have extensively probed the microscopic properties of TIs, to better understand the fundamental physics that govern their peculiar behavior.</p> Nile faces greater variability http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51089 <p>The unpredictable annual flow of the Nile River is legendary, as evidenced by the story of Joseph and the Pharaoh, whose dream foretold seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine in a land whose agriculture was, and still is, utterly dependent on that flow. Now, researchers at MIT have found that climate change may drastically increase the variability in Nile’s annual output.</p> Sea Floor Erosion in Coral Reef Ecosystems Leaves Coastal Communities at Risk http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51086 <p>In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.</p> Sea Floor Erosion in Coral Reef Ecosystems Leaves Coastal Communities at Risk http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51086 <p>In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.</p> Study: Global plant growth surging alongside carbon dioxide http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51087 <p>A trace gas present in the atmosphere in miniscule amounts is helping scientists answer one of the biggest questions out there: Has plant growth increased alongside rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?</p>