Enn Original News

The light-sensing molecules in plants came from ancient algae
July 28, 2015 06:40 AM - Duke University

The light-sensing molecules that tell plants whether to germinate, when to flower and which direction to grow were inherited millions of years ago from ancient algae, finds a new study from Duke University.

The findings are some of the strongest evidence yet refuting the prevailing idea that the ancestors of early plants got the red light sensors that helped them move from water to land by engulfing light-sensing bacteria, the researchers say.
 

Lake Tahoe's deep blue color explained
July 24, 2015 07:10 AM - UC Davis via NASA

Lake Tahoe's iconic blueness is more strongly related to the lake's algal concentration than to its clarity, according to research in "Tahoe: State of the Lake Report 2015," released today by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) of the University of California, Davis. The lower the algal concentration, the bluer the lake. 

Data from a research buoy in the lake, owned and operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, enabled Shohei Watanabe, a postdoctoral researcher at TERC, to create a Blueness Index that quantified Lake Tahoe's color for the first time.

The assumption that lake clarity is tied to blueness has driven advocacy and management efforts in the Lake Tahoe Basin for decades. But Watanabe's research showed that at times of the year when the lake's clarity increases, its blueness decreases, and vice versa. 

NASA finds Greenland glaciers melting faster than thought
July 22, 2015 06:49 AM - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Greenland's glaciers flowing into the ocean are grounded deeper below sea level than previously measured, allowing intruding ocean water to badly undercut the glacier faces. That process will raise sea levels around the world much faster than currently estimated, according to a team of researchers led by Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The researchers battled rough waters and an onslaught of icebergs for three summers to map the remote channels below Greenland's marine-terminating glaciers for the first time. Their results have been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and are now available online.

Warming impacting bird populations in Hawai'i
July 20, 2015 07:07 AM - USGS Newsroom

Hawai‘i, the name alone elicits images of rhythmic traditional dancing, breathtaking azure sea coasts and scenes of vibrant birds flitting through lush jungle canopy. Unfortunately, the future of many native Hawaiian birds looks grim as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

A new study published in Global Change Biology, by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assesses how global climate change will affect future malaria risk to native Hawaiian bird populations in the coming century.

Beijing growing explosively, impacting weather and climate
June 26, 2015 05:12 AM - JPL NASA

A new study by scientists using data from NASA's QuikScat satellite has demonstrated a novel technique to quantify urban growth based on observed changes in physical infrastructure. The researchers used the technique to study the rapid urban growth in Beijing, China, finding that its physical area quadrupled between 2000 and 2009. 

A team led by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, used data from QuikScat to measure the extent of infrastructure changes, such as new buildings and roads, in China's capital. They then quantified how urban growth has changed Beijing's wind patterns and pollution, using a computer model of climate and air quality developed by Jacobson. 

Why does the Earth's core appear to be so light?
June 17, 2015 08:36 AM - Sid Perkins, ScienceNOW.

”čThe old tales may be true: There is brimstone in the underworld, and lots of it. Brimstone, the biblical name for sulfur, is often found near hot springs and volcanic fissures on Earth’s surface (above). But scientists studying the formation of Earth’s core have shown that the lightweight nonmetal might also be present there in vast quantities, answering a question that has long troubled earth scientists: How could Earth’s core—predominantly made of the heavy elements iron and nickel—appear as light as it does when analyzed using seismic waves? 

Researchers report online today and in the July issue of Geochemical Perspectives Letters that the answer may be sulfur trapped deep within Earth. To come up with their results, the team compared the proportions of copper isotopes in ancient meteorites—the presumed building blocks of our planet—with the proportions of copper isotopes in rocks originating from the mantle—the deep layer of viscous rock beneath Earth’s crust.

Bad News for Groundwater Basins
June 17, 2015 07:02 AM - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

About one third of Earth's largest groundwater basins are being rapidly depleted by human consumption, despite having little accurate data about how much water remains in them, according to two new studies led by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. This means that significant segments of Earth's population are consuming groundwater quickly without knowing when it might run out, the researchers conclude. The findings are published today in Water Resources Research.

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.

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.

Early warning system to detect algal blooms being launched by EPA
April 7, 2015 03:24 PM - US EPA Newsroom

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it is developing an early warning indicator system using historical and current satellite data to detect algal blooms. EPA researchers will develop a mobile app to inform water quality managers of changes in water quality using satellite data on cyanobacteria algal blooms from three partnering agencies-- NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey. 

The multi-agency project will create a reliable, standard method for identifying cyanobacteria blooms in U.S. freshwater lakes and reservoirs using ocean color satellite data. Several satellite data sets will be evaluated against environmental data collected from these water bodies, which allows for more frequent observations over broader areas than can be achieved by taking traditional water samples.
 

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