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NASA Earthquake studies advance science
December 19, 2010 09:28 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Major advances in earthquake analyses using new technologies developed by NASA and are revealing surprising insights into a major earthquake that rocked parts of the American Southwest and Mexico in April, including increased potential for more large earthquakes in Southern California. At the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, scientists from NASA and other agencies presented the latest research on the magnitude 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake, that region's largest in nearly 120 years. Scientists have studied the earthquake's effects in unprecedented detail using data from GPS, advanced simulation tools and new remote sensing and image analysis techniques, including airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR), satellite synthetic aperture radar and NASA's airborne Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR).
December 17, 2010 03:24 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Traditionally one thinks of San Francisco as having quaint foggy mornings. Things change. Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. While fog is a type of a cloud, the term fog is typically distinguished from the more generic term cloud in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally (such as from a nearby body of water, like a lake or the ocean, or from nearby moist ground or marshes). Fog is a common feature along the West Coast during the summer, but a University of Washington scientist has found that summertime coastal fog has declined since 1950 while coastal temperatures have increased slightly. Fog formation appears to be controlled by a high-pressure system normally present off the West Coast throughout the summer, said James Johnstone, a postdoctoral researcher with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the UW.
Almonds May Lower Risks of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease
December 17, 2010 08:10 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
There are estimated to be 20 million people in the United States with either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes by the year 2020. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of heart disease, and half of all people with diabetes die from cardiovascular complications. A previous study has found the vitamin B1 to be an effective treatment for this affliction. Now, a new study from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey suggests that an almond-enriched diet can improve insulin sensitivity and lower LDL-cholesterol levels for people with prediabetes.
Ancient Arctic Forests
December 16, 2010 06:08 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
In the Arctic, trees and forests just do not happen. However, long ago they did when the area was warmer and then turned cooler. As it turns out there are many such northern forests that have been preserved by mineralization and similar processes. The northernmost mummified forest ever found in Canada is revealing how plants struggled to endure a long-ago global cooling. Researchers believe the trees -- buried by a landslide and exquisitely preserved 2 to 8 million years ago -- will help them predict how today’s Arctic will respond to global warming.
Polar Bears Have a Fighting Chance of Survival
December 16, 2010 09:27 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The plight of polar bears continues as the climate gradually becomes warmer in the Arctic. Warmer temperatures cause the melting of sea ice, which is essential for polar bears to reach their prey, primarily seals. However, according to a recent study published in the journal, Nature, polar bears have a good chance at survival if humans significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Which Should Live?
December 15, 2010 02:17 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Ecology is the branch of science that studies the distribution and abundance of living organisms, and the interactions between organisms and their environment. Any ecological group is always in a dynamic equilibrium. If you change one part, some other part will change in response to that change. Changes may come from man, climate, pollution or any other change. In this case conservationists have been so successful at protecting endangered birds in a Spanish nature reserve that the birds are now killing the reserve's ancient cork oak forest. This may mean some bird colonies will have to be moved to protect the trees, some of which date back to the seventeenth century. Move is one method. In other cases (for example New Jersey) bears and deers are periodically hunted and killed because the alternative is that they will starve because of a lack of natural predation and food supply as a result of burgeoning populations. In order for ecology to work, it must be balanced.
White House to Host First-Ever Forum on Environmental Justice
December 15, 2010 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Today, December 15, the Obama administration will be hosting the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice. Major members of the cabinet will be featured during the summit as well as environmental leaders from throughout the country. The forum can be watched live online and will be accepting questions from the public (see links below).
December 14, 2010 02:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. The first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) started operation in 1966. Harnessing the power of ocean tides has long been imagined, but countries are only now putting it into practice. A demonstration project planned for Puget Sound will be the first tidal energy project on the west coast of the United States, and the first array of large-scale turbines to feed power from ocean tides into an electrical grid. University of Washington researchers are devising ways to site the tidal turbines and measure their environmental effects. Brian Polagye, UW research assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will present recent findings this week in an invited talk at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco.
Humans Evolved to Hear Themselves Speak
December 14, 2010 09:52 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
When you tell a loud-mouth friend that they "really like the sound of their own voice," there may be more truth in that than you realize. According to a neuroscience study from the University of California (UC) Berkeley, the brain selectively hears one's own voice while dimming all surrounding sounds. In their own heads, people will silence other noises while amplifying themselves speak.
Wind Farm Update
December 13, 2010 04:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used for production of electric power. Individual turbines are interconnected with a medium voltage power collection system and communications network. At a substation, this medium-voltage electrical current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage transmission system. Two new large farms were announced recently. Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, one of the world’s largest bread makers, has broken ground on its $200 million Piedra Larga wind farm in Oaxaca, Mexico, which will generate almost 100% of the electrical power consumed by all of Bimbo’s operations in Mexico once completed in late 2011. Deepwater Wind announced that it has applied to federal authorities to build what it what is supposed to be the largest offshore wind farm in the U.S. The application was made in late October to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to lease a 270-square-mile area between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.