Enn Original News
New large horned viper discovered, but biologists keep location quiet
December 16, 2011 01:05 PM - Jeremy Hance
In a remote forest fragment in Tanzania, scientists have made a remarkable discovery: a uniquely-colored horned viper extending over two feet long (643 millimeters) that evolved from its closest relative over two million years ago. Unfortunately, however, the new species—named Matilda's horned viper (Atheris matildae)—survives in a small degraded habitat and is believed to be Critically Endangered. Given its scarcity, its discoverers are working to preempt an insidious threat to the new species.
Healthy Food or Junk?
December 16, 2011 10:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Parents of some obese children could save up to £6.58 (about $10) each week by changing their shopping habits and opting for a healthier diet, according to research published in the latest issue of the British Journal of General Practice. The study on the theme of obesity shows that healthier eating does not have to be more expensive, challenging one of the commonly cited barriers to dietary change. The figures showed that healthier eating could cost no more than £2.31 ($4) extra a week, and that in some cases, savings of up to £6.58 ($10) a week could by made by switching.
Joint USA-Canada Arctic Ocean Survey Comes to an End
December 16, 2011 10:00 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Yesterday marked the completion of a five year collaboration between the United States and Canada to survey the Arctic Ocean. As the changing Arctic climate causes the ice to melt, this region will become more accessible to resource recovery. The project's goal was to delineate the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastline. According the Convention of the Law of the Sea, each nation has sovereign rights to natural resources on or above the seabed on the extended continental shelf (ECS).
Biochar Value to Glacial Soils and Green House Gases
December 15, 2011 04:22 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Adding a charred biomass material called biochar to glacial soils can help reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. Studies by scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are providing valuable information about how biochar-the charred biomass created from wood, plant material, and manure-interacts with soil and crops. As part of this effort, ARS scientists in St. Paul, Minn., are studying biochar activity in soils formed from glacial deposits. ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit in St. Paul, found that amending glacial soils with biochar made from macadamia nut shells reduced a range of greenhouse gas emissions.
Killer Claws and Flight
December 15, 2011 12:32 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
New research from Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies has revealed how dinosaurs like Velociraptor and Deinonychus used their famous killer claws, leading to a new hypothesis on the evolution of flight in birds. In a paper published Dec. 14 in PLoS ONE, MSU researchers Denver W. Fowler, Elizabeth A. Freedman, John B. Scannella and Robert E. Kambic, describe how comparing modern birds of prey helped develop a new behavior model for sickle-clawed carnivorous dinosaurs like Velociraptor.
Romanian Drought, Power, Crops and Survival
December 14, 2011 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Danube runs from Germany to the Black Sea. It is a long river with many countries on it. Now it is running low due to drought. It has run low before around 2007 most recently. It threatens people, crops, and even nuclear reactors. The nuclear power plant in Cernavodă is the only nuclear power plant in Romania. It produces around 20% of the country's electricity. It uses CANDU reactor technology using heavy water produced at Drobeta-Turnu Severin as its neutron moderator and water from the Danube — Black Sea Canal for cooling.
December 14, 2011 11:31 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Today, lungfish live only in Africa, South America and Australia. Lungfish are freshwater fish. Lungfish are best known for their ability to breathe air, and the presence of lobed fins with a well-developed internal skeleton. The eel-like body and scrawny limbs of the African lungfish would appear to make it an unlikely innovator for locomotion. But its improbable walking behavior, newly described by University of Chicago scientists, redraws the evolutionary route of life on Earth from water to land. Extensive video analysis, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that the African lungfish can use its thin pelvic limbs to not only lift its body off the bottom surface but also propel itself forward. Both abilities were previously thought to originate in the early tetrapods, the limbed original land-dwellers that appeared later than the lungfish's ancestors.
Vast Stores of Methane Are Released from under the Arctic
December 14, 2011 11:00 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Deep under the icy waters of the Arctic, Russian scientists have discovered the release of vast stores of methane, the potent greenhouse gas, far worse than CO2. The scientists sampled the waters along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, and discovered that the methane that was once dormant at the sea floor is starting bubble up to the surface in enormous plumes. As the climate warms in the Arctic, the sea ice retreats, the sunlight penetrates the water, and the frozen sea floor thaws, causing the release of methane in a gaseous state. The Russian team found over 100 sites where large quantities of methane were released, indicating accelerated Arctic warming into the future.
International Sustainability Standards: Pros and Cons
December 13, 2011 03:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Sustainability is an economic, social, and ecological concept. It is intended to be a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society and its members are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals indefinitely. Sustainability affects every level of organization, from the local neighborhood to the entire globe. With that said how do you specifically define what is sustainable? Economic needs are fairly easy to figure out; ultimately it is do you make a profit or not. Social needs will depend on the society involved and every society is different. There is a difference between urban and rural needs for example much less North Africa, China, and the US. Ecological standards will also vary because it is far from clear how much resilience that an ecosystem has and as a result there will be constant and shifting debate on those standards.
December 13, 2011 02:41 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Over the past 10 years, the death of forest trees due to drought and increased temperatures has been documented on all continents except Antarctica. This can in turn drive global warming by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by trees and by releasing carbon locked up in their wood. New research led by Carnegie researcher and Stanford University PhD student William Anderegg offers evidence for the physiological mechanism governing tree death in a drought. The work is published the week of December 12 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study concentrated on the aspen die-off, called Sudden Aspen Decline or SAD which began after severe droughts between 2000 and 2004 and affects about 17 percent of aspen forests in Colorado, as well as parts of the western United States and Canada. SAD continued through 2010, when the research was conducted.The aspens are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains. They are all medium-sized deciduous trees reaching (50—100 feet tall.