ENN: Top Stories http://www.enn.com/ ENN RSS News New robotic lab tracking toxicity of Lake Erie algal bloom http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51938 <p>A new research tool to safeguard drinking water is now keeping a watchful eye on Lake Erie. This week, a robotic lake-bottom laboratory began tracking the levels of dangerous toxins produced by cyanobacteria that bloom each summer in the lake&#39;s western basin.</p><p>The goal is to provide advance warning to municipal drinking water managers and thereby prevent a recurrence of the water crisis that left more than 400,000 Toledo-area residents without safe drinking water for about two days in early August 2014 due to high levels of microcystin toxins.</p> Coral Reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba May Survive Global Warming, New Study Finds http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51937 <p>Coral reefs in the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba can resist rising water temperatures. If they survive local pollution, these corals may one day be used to re-seed parts of the world where reefs are dying. The scientists urge governments to protect the Gulf of Aqaba Reefs.</p><p>Coral reefs are dying on a massive scale around the world, and global warming is driving this extinction. The planet’s largest reef, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is currently experiencing enormous coral bleaching for the second year in a row, while last year left only a third of its 2300-km ecosystem unbleached. The demise of coral reefs heralds the loss of some of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems.</p> Rare discovery of three new toad species in Nevada&#39;s Great Basin by College of Science http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51936 <p>Three new species of toads have been discovered living in Nevada&#39;s Great Basin in an expansive survey of the 190,000 square mile ancient lake bottom. Discoveries of new amphibians are extremely rare in the United States with only three new frog species discovered since 1985 - and toad species are even more rare, with the last species discovered north of Mexico, the now extinct Wyoming toad, in 1968.</p><p>"We&#39;ve found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations," Dick Tracy, a renowned biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lead scientist on the project, said. "These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years."</p> Shifting storms to bring extreme waves, damage to once placid areas http://www.enn.com/lifestyle/article/51935 <p>The world’s most extensive study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before.</p><p>The study, led by engineers at University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, was published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Scientific Reports.</p> GOES Satellite Sees Tropical Depression 09E Form http://www.enn.com/climate/article/51933 <p>The Eastern Pacific Ocean has been recently generating a lot of tropical cyclones. Tropical Depression 09E just formed off the southern coast of Mexico and was captured in imagery from NOAA’s GOES-East satellite.</p><p>Tropical Storm Fernanda has moved into the Central Pacific Ocean, while Tropical Storm Greg, which just absorbed the remnants of Tropical Depression 8E continues to strengthen in the Eastern Pacific.</p> NASA Notes 9th Northwestern Pacific Tropical Cyclone http://www.enn.com/climate/article/51932 <p>The ninth tropical depression of the Northwestern Pacific Ocean has formed and developed into a tropical storm. Tropical Storm Kulap was spotted by NASA’s Terra satellite far to the west of Midway Island.</p> Rush Hour Pollution May Be More Dangerous Than You Think http://www.enn.com/business/article/51931 <p>The first in-car measurements of exposure to pollutants that cause oxidative stress during rush hour commutes has turned up potentially alarming results. The levels of some forms of harmful particulate matter inside car cabins was found to be twice as high as previously believed.</p><p>Most traffic pollution sensors are placed on the ground alongside the road and take continuous samples for a 24-hour period. Exhaust composition, however, changes rapidly enough for drivers to experience different conditions inside their vehicles than these roadside sensors. Long-term sampling also misses nuanced variabilities caused by road congestion and environmental conditions.</p> Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51930 <p>Imagine slipping into a jacket, shirt or skirt that powers your cell phone, fitness tracker and other personal electronic devices as you walk, wave and even when you are sitting down.</p><p>A new, ultrathin energy harvesting system developed at Vanderbilt University’s <a target="_blank" href="https://my.vanderbilt.edu/pintlab/">Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory</a> has the potential to do just that. Based on battery technology and made from layers of black phosphorus that are only a few atoms thick, the new device generates small amounts of electricity when it is bent or pressed even at the extremely low frequencies characteristic of human motion.</p> Link identified between continental breakup, volcanic carbon emissions and evolution http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51934 <p>Researchers have found that the formation and breakup of supercontinents over hundreds of millions of years controls volcanic carbon emissions. The results, reported in the journal Science, could lead to a reinterpretation of how the carbon cycle has evolved over Earth’s history, and how this has impacted the evolution of Earth’s habitability. </p> Sparkling springs aid quest for underground heat http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51929 <p>Analysis of natural sparkling mineral water has given scientists valuable clues on how to locate hot water springs.</p> Scientists Uncover Biogeochemical Controls on Occurrence and Distribution of PACs in Coals http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51928 <p>The organic matter in coal contains polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) of varying quantities in diverse soluble and insoluble forms. PACs in coal are of special interest for organic geochemical studies as they have been successfully used as biological marker compounds (biomarkers) and indicators of thermal maturity.</p><p>However, challenges exist when applying PACs in understanding the organic geochemistry of coal. For example, what are the sources of PACs in coals? How do they transform during the long-term coal-formation history? Is there any regular relationship between the PAC and macro-molecular structural changes? </p> To Shrink The Mosquito Population, Scientists Are Releasing 20 Million Of Them http://www.enn.com/health/article/51927 <p>This summer, scientists in California are releasing 20 million mosquitoes in an effort to shrink the population of mosquitoes that can carry diseases.</p> Cost of diabetes care in Africa could triple by 2030 http://www.enn.com/health/article/51926 <p>The costs and complications of diabetes could overwhelm healthcare systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and reach US$59.3 billion by 2030 if rates double, according to the <a href="http://press.thelancet.com/diabetesafrica.pdf">Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Commission</a>.</p> Holographic Imaging Could Be Used to Detect Signs of Life in Space http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51925 <p>We may be capable of finding microbes in space—but if we did, could we tell what they were, and that they were alive?</p> Native leech preys on invasive slug? http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51924 <p>The giant slug <em>Limax maximus</em> is native to Europe and Asia Minor but has spread widely, being found in North America, South America, North Africa, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other regions. The slug is recognized as a notorious pest because it eats agricultural and garden crops.</p> Mountain glaciers recharge vital aquifers http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51923 <p>Small mountain glaciers play a big role in recharging vital aquifers and in keeping rivers flowing during the winter, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.</p><p>The study also suggests that the accelerated melting of mountain glaciers in recent decades may explain a phenomenon that has long puzzled scientists — why Arctic and sub-Arctic rivers have increased their water flow during the winter even without a correlative increase in rain or snowfall.</p> Study predicts heart cells&#39; response to dwindling oxygen http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51922 <p>Time is of the essence when treating a patient undergoing a heart attack. Cardiac surgeons attempt to quickly stabilize the heart by applying reperfusion, a technique that restores oxygen to the heart by opening up blocked vessels with balloons and stents. While reperfusion can restore cardiac function, such sudden infusions of oxygen can also further injure severely depleted regions of the heart.</p><p>“It’s a double-edged sword,” says Anthony McDougal, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “The rapid return of oxygen is necessary for the heart to survive, but it could also overwhelm the heart.”</p> Power shift: University of Toronto researcher applies AI to monitor city&#39;s electrical grid http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51921 <p>From indoor lighting to outdoor street lamps, our world is made brighter by artificial light. But the light that we perceive to be constant, actually fluctuates.</p><p>A University of Toronto computer scientist and researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are studying electrical grids for cities, creating a camera that records the city&#39;s lights at a slower speed to get more accurate readings of changing voltages at particular locations.</p> Monsoon Storms Fewer but More Extreme http://www.enn.com/climate/article/51919 <p>Monsoon season now brings more extreme wind and rain to central and southwestern Arizona than in the past, according to new research led by the University of Arizona.</p><p>Although there are now fewer storms, the largest monsoon thunderstorms bring heavier rain and stronger winds than did the monsoon storms of 60 years ago, the scientists report.</p> Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51918 <p>Imagine rescuers searching for people in the rubble of a collapsed building. Instead of digging through the debris by hand or having dogs sniff for signs of life, they bring out a small, air-tight cylinder. They place the device at the entrance of the debris and flip a switch. From one end of the cylinder, a tendril extends into the mass of stones and dirt, like a fast-climbing vine. A camera at the tip of the tendril gives rescuers a view of the otherwise unreachable places beneath the rubble.</p> 3D imaging of surface chemistry in confinement http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51917 <p>EPFL researchers have developed an optical imaging tool to visualize surface chemistry in real time. They imaged the interfacial chemistry in the microscopically confined geometry of a simple glass micro-capillary. The glass is covered with hydroxyl (-OH) groups that can lose a proton – a much-studied chemical reaction that is important in geology, chemistry and technology. A 100-micron long capillary displayed a remarkable spread in surface OH bond dissociation constant of a factor of a billion. The research has been published in Science.</p> Stanford researchers discover biological hydraulic system in tuna fins http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51916 <p>Cutting through the ocean like a jet through the sky, giant bluefin tuna are built for performance, endurance and speed. Just as the fastest planes have carefully positioned wings and tail flaps to ensure precision maneuverability and fuel economy, bluefin tuna need the utmost control over their propulsive and stabilizing structures as they speed through the ocean. The outstanding maneuverability and precision locomotion of these powerful fish are supported by a vascular specialization that is unique among vertebrates, according to new research from Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium: pressurized hydraulic fin control.</p> Ancient Italian Fossils Reveal Risk of Parasitic Infections Due to Climate Change http://www.enn.com/health/article/51915 <p>In 2014, a team of researchers led by a paleobiologist from the University of Missouri found that clams from the Holocene Epoch (that began 11,700 years ago) contained clues about how sea level rise due to climate change could foreshadow a rise in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms. The team cautioned that the rise could lead to outbreaks in human infections if left unchecked. Now, an international team from Mizzou and the Universities of Bologna and Florida has found that rising seas could be detrimental to human health on a much shorter time scale. Findings from their study in northern Italy suggest that parasitic infections could increase in the next century, if history repeats itself.</p> NASA Looks to Solar Eclipse to Help Understand Earth&#39;s Energy System http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51914 <p>It was midafternoon, but it was dark in an area in Boulder, Colorado on Aug. 3, 1998. A thick cloud appeared overhead and dimmed the land below for more than 30 minutes. Well-calibrated radiometers showed that there were very low levels of light reaching the ground, sufficiently low that researchers decided to simulate this interesting event with computer models. Now in 2017, inspired by the event in Boulder, NASA scientists will explore the moon’s eclipse of the sun to learn more about Earth’s energy system.</p><p>On Aug. 21, 2017, scientists are looking to this year’s total solar eclipse passing across America to improve our modelling capabilities of Earth’s energy. Guoyong Wen, a NASA scientist working for Morgan State University in Baltimore, is leading a team to gather data from the ground and satellites before, during and after the eclipse so they can simulate this year’s eclipse using an advanced computer model, called a 3-D radiative transfer model. If successful, Wen and his team will help develop new calculations that improve our estimates of the amount of solar energy reaching the ground, and our understanding of one of the key players in regulating Earth’s energy system, clouds.</p> Shale gas development spurring spread of invasive plants in Pa. forests http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51913 <p>Vast swaths of Pennsylvania forests were clear-cut circa 1900 and regrowth has largely been from local native plant communities, but a team of researchers in Penn State&#39;s College of Agricultural Sciences has found that invasive, non-native plants are making significant inroads with unconventional natural gas development.</p><p>The spread of invasive non-native plants could have long-term negative consequences for the forest ecosystem in a region where the ubiquitous woods provide timbering revenue, wildlife habitat and ecotourism, warns team member <a href="http://plantscience.psu.edu/directory/dam37">David Mortensen</a>, professor of <a href="http://plantscience.psu.edu/">weed and applied plant ecology</a>.</p>