ENN: Top Stories http://www.enn.com/ ENN RSS News Chance find has big implications for water treatment&#39;s costs and carbon footprint http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/50901 <p>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.</p><p>The discovery has upended a century of conventional thinking. The microorganisms - &#39;comammox&#39; (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.</p> Litter is present throughout the world&#39;s oceans: 1,220 species affected http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/50900 <p>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.</p> This is how green algae assemble their enzymes http://www.enn.com/energy/article/50899 <p>For almost a decade, researchers from Bochum have been developing biotechnological methods for hydrogen production. Green algae might be the key.</p><p>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.</p><p>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”.</p> Farming becoming riskier under climate change http://www.enn.com/agriculture/article/50898 <p>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.</p><p>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.</p> Another Study Points to Climate Change&#39;s Direct Role in Fueling Extreme Weather http://www.enn.com/climate/article/50897 <p>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 href="http://www.nature.com/articles/srep45242">a new study</a> published in the journal Scientific Reports.</p> Spiral of doom: hotter world increases cattle methane emissions http://www.enn.com/agriculture/article/50896 <p>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.</p> Scientists Discover Mechanism That Causes Cancer Cells to Self-destruct http://www.enn.com/health/article/50895 <p>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.</p> Mobile Gold Fingers: Travelling-wave ion mobility mass spectrometry elucidates structures of gold fingers http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/50894 <p>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 <em>Angewandte Chemie</em>, they identified the exact gold binding sites.</p> Extreme weather events linked to climate change impact on the jet stream http://www.enn.com/climate/article/50892 <p>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.</p> Rising Flood Insurance Costs a Growing Burden to Communities and Homeowners in New York City http://www.enn.com/business/article/50891 <p>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 <a href="http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1776.html">study</a> by the RAND Corporation.</p> The skin cancer screening paradigm: reviewing current guidelines for detecting melanoma in the US http://www.enn.com/health/article/50890 <p>The Future Science Group (FSG) journal <em>Melanoma Management</em>, today announces the publication of a new perspective article, in which over 50 leaders in the dermatology field critically assess current screening practice for melanoma.</p> Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/50889 <p>At the same time the pH of the surface waters in these oceans decreased, making them more acidic. Both of these findings imply changes in ocean circulation and primary productivity as a result of natural climate changes of the time. The findings were <a href="http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14498">recently published in Nature Communications.</a></p><p><strong>Oceans changed function</strong></p><p>Today the cold Arctic and Nordic Seas are especially <a href="https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/icelights/2014/07/arctic-ocean-carbon-sink">efficient areas for uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere</a>. The oceans have been capable of mitigating some of the increase in greenhouse gas release resulting from human activities such as combustion of fossil fuels, by absorbing about 40% of the emitted CO2</p><p>“Our research shows that areas in Norwegian Sea had changed their function on  several occasions through the past 135 000 years: Instead of absorbing CO2 from the air, they released more of the greenhouse gas into it.” says first author of the study Mohamed Ezat from Centre of Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE), Department of Geosciences at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.</p> Veterinary Medicine researchers explain One Health concept http://www.enn.com/health/article/50888 <p>If you’re bewildered by the term "One Health," you’re not alone. While the use of One Health approaches to solve complex health issues isn’t new, disagreement over a definition has, at times, complicated the concept’s development.</p> NOAA study shows as US drilling surged, methane emissions didn&#39;t http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/50887 <p>A new NOAA study shows that methane emissions from the United States did not grow significantly from 2000 to 2013 and are not likely to have been an important driver of the increase in atmospheric methane levels observed worldwide after 2007, as other studies have suggested.</p> Artificial photosynthesis steps into the light http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/50886 <p>Rice University scientists have created an efficient, simple-to-manufacture oxygen-evolution catalyst that pairs well with semiconductors for solar water splitting, the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy in the form of hydrogen and oxygen. </p> NASA Examines Peru&#39;s Deadly Rainfall http://www.enn.com/climate/article/50885 <p>The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM constellation of satellites provide data on precipitation rates and totals. Recently the GPM core observatory measured the heavy rainfall that caused extensive flooding and loss of life in Peru.</p><p>Extreme flooding and frequent landslides that occurred in March have forced many from their homes. An El Niño-like condition with warm ocean waters developed near Peru&#39;s coast. This extremely warm water off Peru&#39;s western coast has been blamed for promoting the development of these storms. Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are about average elsewhere in the central and east central Pacific.</p> UTA biologist quantifying coral species&#39; disease susceptibility by examining immune traits http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/50884 <p>A biologist from The University of Texas at Arlington is leading a new study aimed at quantifying how susceptible coral species are to disease by examining their immunity through a series of novel experiments and approaches.</p><p>Laura Mydlarz, associate professor of biology, is principal investigator of the project, titled “Immunity to Community: Can Quantifying Immune Traits Inform Reef Community Structure?” and funded by a two-year, $220,331 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences. Co-principal investigators are Marilyn Brandt, research associate professor of marine and environmental science at the University of the Virgin Islands, and Erinn Muller, staff scientist at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Fla. </p> WPI, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the U.S. Coast Guard Successfully Test a Novel Oil Spill Cleanup Technology http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/50883 <p>Tests conducted this week of a novel technology that can greatly accelerate the combustion of crude oil floating on water demonstrated its potential to become an effective tool for minimizing the environmental impact of future oil spills. Called the Flame Refluxer, the technology, developed by fire protection engineering researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with funding from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), could make it possible to burn off spilled oil quickly while producing relatively low levels of air pollutants.</p><p>The tests of the Flame Refluxer were conducted this week by WPI and BSEE at the United States Coast Guard’s <a href="https://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/rdc/JMTF_081215.asp">Joint Maritime Test Facility</a> on Little Sand Island, located in Mobile Bay. WPI is the first university to work on research at the facility since it reopened in 2015. The tests involved controlled burns of oil in a specially designed test tank on the island.</p> Extreme space weather: protecting our critical infrastructure http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/50882 <p>Extreme space weather has a global footprint and the potential to damage critical infrastructure on the ground and in space. A new JRC report calls for bridging knowledge gaps and for better coordination at EU level to reduce the potential impact of space weather events.</p><p>The sun shapes the space environment around the Earth. This so-called space weather can affect space assets but also critical infrastructure on the ground, potentially causing service disruptions or infrastructure failures. Numerous space weather events affecting the power grid, aviation, communication, and navigation systems have already been documented.</p> NASA Sees System 91P Coming Together East of Queensland http://www.enn.com/climate/article/50881 <p>The area of tropical low pressure designated System 91P appears to be organizing in NASA satellite imagery on March 24. Visible imagery from NASA-NOAA&#39;s Suomi NPP satellite revealed that the tropical low is consolidating and strengthening in the Coral Sea, South Pacific Ocean.</p><p>On March 24, 2017, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/main/index.html">NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite</a> captured a visible image of developing System 91P. The image showed bands of thunderstorms spiraling into the low-level center of circulation.</p> Spread of ages is key to impact of disease http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/50880 <p>How a disease outbreak affects a group of animals depends on the breakdown of ages in the population, an animal study has shown.</p> Surprising culprit in nerve cell damage identified http://www.enn.com/health/article/50879 <p>Findings suggest ways to block nerve cell damage in neurodegenerative diseases.</p> Chance find has big implications for water treatment&#39;s costs and carbon footprint http://www.enn.com/energy/article/50878 <p>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.</p> In a sample of blood, researchers probe for cancer clues http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/50877 <p>One day, patients may be able to monitor their body’s response to cancer therapy just by having their blood drawn. A new study, led by bioengineers at UC Berkeley, has taken an important step in that direction by measuring a panel of cancer proteins in rare, individual tumor cells that float in the blood.</p> First Bumble Bee Finally Gets the Endangered Species Protection it Desperately Needs http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/50876 <p>A <a target="_blank" href="http://www.care2.com/causes/this-rare-bumble-bee-could-soon-be-the-first-to-get-endangered-species-protection.html">bumble bee</a> that is quickly disappearing will finally get the protection it needs under the Endangered Species Act.</p>