Ecosystems

How goldfish make alcohol to survive without oxygen
August 11, 2017 10:48 AM - University of Liverpool

Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Oslo have uncovered the secret behind a goldfish’s remarkable ability to produce alcohol as a way of surviving harsh winters beneath frozen lakes.

Humans and most other vertebrate animals die within a few minutes without oxygen. Yet goldfish and their wild relatives, crucian carp, can survive for days, even months, in oxygen-free water at the bottom of ice-covered ponds.

During this time, the fish are able to convert anaerobically produced lactic acid into ethanol, which then diffuses across their gills into the surrounding water and avoids a dangerous build-up of lactic acid in the body.

Night vision for bird- & bat-friendly offshore wind power
August 11, 2017 09:55 AM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The same technology that enables soldiers to see in the dark can also help protect birds and bats near offshore wind turbines.

Night vision goggles use thermal imaging, which captures infrared light that's invisible to the human eye. Now, researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are using thermal imaging to help birds and bats near offshore wind farms. PNNL is developing software called ThermalTracker to automatically categorize birds and bats in thermal video. Birds and bats fly over offshore waters, but they're difficult to track in such remote locations.

What it takes to recover from drought
August 10, 2017 10:53 AM - University of Utah

Drought-stricken areas anxiously await the arrival of rain. Full recovery of the ecosystem, however, can extend long past the first rain drops on thirsty ground.

According to a study published August 10 in Nature, the length of drought recovery depends on several factors, including the region of the world and the post-drought weather conditions. The authors, including William Anderegg of the University of Utah, warn that more frequent droughts in the future may not allow time for ecosystems to fully recover before the next drought hits.

Find a video abstract of this study here. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and by NASA.

East Coast's rapidly rising seas explained
August 10, 2017 10:04 AM - Stephenie Livingston, University of Florida

University of Florida scientists discover cause of Atlantic coastline’s sea level rise hot spots.

Underwater noise pollution stresses and confuses fish
August 10, 2017 09:26 AM - Newcastle University

Researchers at Newcastle University found that European sea bass experienced higher stress levels when exposed to the types of piling and drilling sounds made during the construction of offshore structures.

The fish also showed signs of being confused when they encountered a potential predator while exposed to these underwater noises. When researchers played recordings of piling sounds and mimicked an approaching predator, the seabass made more turns and failed to move away from the predator.  

When exposed to drilling sounds the sea bass actively avoided these areas, spending more time in what the research team called the ‘safe zone’. 

Pesticides Prevalent in Midwestern Streams
August 10, 2017 08:10 AM - USGS

One hundred small streams in the Midwest were tested for pesticides during the 2013 growing season and found to contain, on average, 52 pesticides per stream

More than 180 pesticides and their by-products were detected in small streams throughout 11 Midwestern states, some at concentrations likely to harm aquatic insects, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

New Technique Offers Clues to Measure Ocean Deoxygenation
August 9, 2017 02:54 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The living, breathing ocean may be slowly starting to suffocate. More than two percent of the ocean’s oxygen content has been depleted during the last half century, according to reports, and marine “dead zones” continue to expand throughout the global ocean. This deoxygenation, triggered mainly by more fertilizers and wastewater flowing into the ocean, pose a serious threat to marine life and ecosystems.

Yet despite the critical role of oxygen in the ocean, scientists haven’t had a way to measure how fast deoxygenation occurs—today, or in the past when so-called major “anoxic events” led to catastrophic extinction of marine life.

Phytoplankton and chips
August 9, 2017 08:53 AM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Microbes mediate the global marine cycles of elements, modulating atmospheric carbon dioxide and helping to maintain the oxygen we all breathe, yet there is much about them scientists still don’t understand. Now, an award from the Simons Foundation will give researchers from MIT's Darwin Project access to bigger, better computing resources to model these communities and probe how they work.

The simulations of plankton populations made by Darwin Project researchers have become increasingly computationally demanding. MIT Professor Michael "Mick" Follows and Principal Research Engineer Christopher Hill, both affiliates of the Darwin Project, were therefore delighted to learn of their recent Simons Foundation award, providing them with enhanced compute infrastructure to help execute the simulations of ocean circulation, biogeochemical cycles, and microbial population dynamics that are the bread and butter of their research.

Great Lakes scientists identify research challenges
August 9, 2017 08:10 AM - University of Windsor

The Great Lakes could be in hot water if the quality of the research and partnerships are not improved, warns a University of Windsor professor.

“Fresh water is arguably the most important issue for the world going forward to support the planet,” said University of Windsor professor Aaron Fisk, the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Changing Great Lakes Ecosystems. “But the amount of resources that are dedicated to the Great Lakes from the U.S. and Canada is only a fraction of what is funded for the oceans.”

Not all Glaciers in Antarctica Have Been Affected by Climate Change
August 8, 2017 04:27 PM - Geological Society of America

A new study by scientists at Portland State University and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder has found that the effects of climate change, which are apparent in other parts of the Antarctic continent, are not yet observed for glaciers in the western Ross Sea coast.

Published online ahead of print for the journal Geology, the study found that the pattern of glacier advance and retreat has not changed along the western Ross Sea coast, in contrast to the rapidly shrinking glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula.

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