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Was there ever life on Mars?
March 25, 2015 08:05 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Did Mars ever support life?  This question has intrigued us for centuries!  We have had spacecraft on Mars for quite a while poking and analyzing soil and rocks and taking photos.  Now NASA has new data which help answer these questions.

A team using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA's Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of Martian sediments. 

The nitrogen was detected in the form of nitric oxide, and could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating. Nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form that can be used by living organisms. The discovery adds to the evidence that ancient Mars was habitable for life.

Are you getting enough Zinc in your diet?
March 24, 2015 09:14 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Zinc is an important part of the human diet. You get it in Cashews, spinach, beef, shrimp, flax seed, Oysters, garlic, lima beans peanuts, turkey, Salmon, Pork, Brown rice and other foods. These are not listed in any particular order.

Zinc, is an important mineral in human health, that appears to affect how the immune system responds to stimulation, especially inflammation, new research from Oregon State University shows.

Zinc deficiency could play a role in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes   that involve inflammation. Such diseases often show up in older adults, who are more at risk for zinc deficiency.

“When you take away zinc, the cells that control inflammation appear to activate and respond differently; this causes the cells to promote more inflammation,” said Emily Ho, a professor and director of the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and lead author of the study.

NASA using space radar to track groundwater pollution risks
March 20, 2015 05:25 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Water is our most precious natural resource.  Without clean water to drink human populations cannot exist.  But our water supplies are under constant assault from anthropogenic pollution.

When pollutants get into groundwater, they can stay there for decades. Cleanup efforts are difficult, expensive and not always successful. It would be better to protect groundwater from contamination in the first place, but risks to groundwater are moving targets. Although unchanging factors such as porous soil or shallow aquifer depth play a role, the greatest risk comes from the source of the pollutants: people. And people are always moving. A growing city, in particular, usually means a growing threat to groundwater quality. To lock on to the moving target of groundwater risk, planners worldwide need up-to-date information on how people are changing the land surface.

Arctic sea ice continues to shrink
March 19, 2015 02:20 PM - World Wildlife Foundation

Arctic sea ice shrank to the lowest winter extent ever recorded, according to data released today by the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. The record-low ice level follows earlier news that 2014 was the warmest year since record keeping began.
 
An unusually warm February in parts of Alaska and Russia contributed to the record ice low. The winter reach of Arctic ice decreased 1.1 million square kilometres compared to the average maximum from 1981 to 2010. This represents an area more than twice the size of Sweden.
 
"This is not a record to be proud of. Low sea ice can create a series of reactions that further threaten the Arctic and the rest of the globe," said Alexander Shestakov, Director, WWF Global Arctic Programme.

Electric Vehicles are Cool, Literally.
March 19, 2015 02:02 PM - Michigan State University

A study in this week’s Scientific Report by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and in China add more fuel to the already hot debate about whether electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than conventional vehicles by uncovering two hidden benefits.

They show that the cool factor is real – in that electric vehicles emit significantly less heat.  That difference could mitigate the urban heat island effect, the phenomenon that helps turn big cities like Beijing into pressure cookers in warm months.

Amazon forest trees dying younger, reducing carbon uptake
March 18, 2015 05:54 PM - University of Leeds

From a peak of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in the 1990s, the net uptake by the forest has halved and is now for the first time being overtaken by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America.  

The results of this monumental 30-year survey of the South American rainforest, which involved an international team of almost 100 researchers and was led by the University of Leeds, are published today in the journal Nature.

When whales roamed in what is now Africa
March 17, 2015 04:30 PM - Southern Methodist University

Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained.”

Now paleontologists have tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world - and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent - to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa's mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the beaked Ziphiidae whale family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at an elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya's harsh desert region, said vertebrate paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

The impact of increasing snowfall in Antarctica on sea level rise
March 17, 2015 07:12 AM - Oregon State University

A new study confirms that snowfall in Antarctica will increase significantly as the planet warms, offsetting future sea level rise from other sources – but the effect will not be nearly as strong as many scientists previously anticipated because of other, physical processes.

That means that many computer models may be underestimating the amount and rate of sea level rise if they had projected more significant impact from Antarctic snow.

Results of the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, were reported this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

How the Gecko keeps itself so clean in a dusty habitat
March 16, 2015 07:54 AM - JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY via EurekAlert.

In a world first, a research team including James Cook University scientists has discovered how geckos manage to stay clean, even in dusty deserts. 

The process, described in Interface, the prestigious journal of the Royal Society, may also turn out to have important human applications. 

JCU's Professor Lin Schwarzkopf said the group found that tiny droplets of water on geckos, for instance from condensing dew, come into contact with hundreds of thousands of extremely small hair-like spines that cover the animals' bodies. 

Renewable energy sources really making a difference!
March 15, 2015 07:12 AM - Click Green staff, ClickGreen

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn, according to new data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

"This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today," said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, recently named to take over from Maria van der Hoeven as the next IEA Executive Director.
 

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