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Lower Ozone levels in Houston linked to climate change
May 17, 2015 07:48 AM - Universtiy of Houston via ScienceDaily

Researchers at the University of Houston have determined that climate change -- in the form of a stronger sea breeze, the result of warmer soil temperatures -- contributed to the drop in high-ozone days in the Houston area.

Robert Talbot, professor of atmospheric chemistry, said that also should be true for coastal regions globally.

The researchers describe their findings in a paper published this week in the journal Atmosphere. In addition to Talbot, they include first author Lei Liu, a doctoral student, and post-doctoral fellow Xin Lan.

Antarctic Ice Shelves found to be thinning from the top AND the bottom
May 13, 2015 06:57 AM - British Antarctic Survey

A decade-long scientific debate about what’s causing the thinning of one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves is settled this week (Wednesday 13 May) with the publication of an international study in the journal The Cryosphere.

The Larsen C Ice Shelf — whose neighbours Larsen A and B, collapsed in 1995 and 2002 — is thinning from both its surface and beneath. For years scientists have been unable to determine whether it is warming air temperatures or warmer ocean currents that were causing the Antarctic Peninsula’s floating ice shelves to lose volume and become more vulnerable to collapse. This new study takes an important step forward in assessing Antarctica’s likely contribution to future sea-level rise.

Cycling vs. Car Transportation
May 12, 2015 01:19 PM - ENN Editor

What's more expensive? Owning a car or a bicycle? Answer seems obvious doesn't it? But how much more expensive are cars compared to bicycles? First, we need to consider not only the actual cost of the vehicle, but the hidden costs which can be related to air pollution, climate change, travel routes, noise, road wear, health, congestion, and time. Lucky for us, researchers have compared the costs and according to a Lund University study, traveling by car is six times more expensive for society and individuals.

No Sunscreen Needed
May 12, 2015 08:47 AM - ENN Editor

With summer sun right around the corner, it is important to be prepared and protect our skin from those potentially harmful rays. Whether you use sunscreen or set up an umbrella for shade at the beach, we should be proactive so we don't get sun-burn.

For us, we take precautions, but how do the rest of the animal kingdom fare? How can animal species spend their whole lives outdoors with no apparent concern about high levels of solar exposure?

According to researchers from Oregon State University, animals make their own sunscreen.

The findings, published in the journal eLife, found that many fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds can naturally produce a compound called gadusol, which among other biologic activities provides protection from the ultraviolet, or sun-burning component of sunlight.

The researchers also believe that this ability may have been obtained through some prehistoric, natural genetic engineering.

How to help your brain age more slowly
April 25, 2015 08:16 AM - Laura Kurtzman, University of California San Francisco

Brains age, just like the rest of the body, even for those don't get neurological disease, according to an Institute of Medicine.

"Some of the changes that one observes doesn't mean that it's all over, gloom and doom," the committee’s vice chair, Kristine Yaffe, MD, told the Washington Post.

”‹While aging does more damage to some than others, most people can take steps to improve their health, according to Yaffe, the Roy and Marie Scola Endowed Chair and professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology at UCSF and chief of geriatric psychiatry and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

On Earth Day, Give Fiber Its Due...
April 22, 2015 02:14 PM - Guest Contributor, James Gowen, Verizon Chief Sustainability Officer

There's a touch of green associated with receiving phone service, using the Internet and streaming video over an all-fiber-optic network. It's not the color of laser-generated light that carries massive amounts of data through all-glass cables directly into homes and businesses. It's green in the sense of how much more environmentally friendly today’s fiber-based telecommunications networks are compared to copper wire and coaxial cable networks. Whether it's energy efficiency or reduced demand for raw materials and other resources, all-fiber networks are a winning strategy on many fronts — including environmental sustainability. As we approach the 45th celebration of Earth Day on April 22, it's a good time to reflect on how network and technology decisions made by major telecommunications companies don't just result in advanced, more reliable services. These decisions can also pay handsome dividends on the sustainability front.

Energy-tracking app encourages sustainable behaviors
April 22, 2015 01:33 PM - Editor, ENN

We've all heard of fitness trackers and apps that help us stay on track with our daily nutrition and exercise, but what about an app to monitor our personal energy usage and carbon footprint? Just in time for Earth Day, a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has created an energy-tracking app to make reducing day-to-day energy usage more accessible.

The importance of oceanic phytoplankton
April 14, 2015 07:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Do you have any idea just how many organizims are in seawater?  Not the fish you can see, but the microscopic organizims you cant see?

Dip a beaker into any portion of the world’s oceans, and you’re likely to pull up a swirling mix of planktonic inhabitants. The oceans are teeming with more than 5,000 species of phytoplankton — microscopic plants in a kaleidoscope of shapes and sizes. Together, phytoplankton anchor the ocean’s food chain, supplying nutrients to everything from single-celled organisms on up to fish and whales.

Through photosynthesis, these tiny organisms supply more than half the world’s oxygen. When these plants die, they drift to the ocean bottom, or evaporate into the air as carbon — a process that generates more than half the world’s cycling carbon.

Fungi thrived in flooded Colorado homes months after waters receded
April 13, 2015 08:53 AM - University of Colorado Boulder

Basements that flooded after heavy rains deluged the Colorado Front Range in September 2013 had higher levels of airborne mold and other fungi months after the waters receded compared with basements that didn’t flood, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

What is the source of mysterious methane emissions at Four Corners?
April 8, 2015 08:20 AM - University of Colorado Boulder

A team of scientific investigators is now in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane hotspot detected from space by a European satellite. The joint project is working to solve the mystery from the air, on the ground, and with mobile laboratories. 

“If we can verify the methane emissions found by the satellite, and identify the various sources, then decision makers will have critical information for any actions they are considering,” says Gabrielle Pétron, a scientist from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, working in NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) and one of the mission’s investigators. Part of President Obama’s recent Climate Action Plan calls for reductions in U.S. methane emissions. NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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