Enn Original News
High Atmospheric CO2 Levels May Cause Mass Extinctions in the Oceans
May 19, 2011 09:20 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
One of the greatest causes of global climate change is the human emissions of greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2). These emissions are released into the atmosphere, but much of it gets absorbed into the world's oceans. A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at prehistoric ocean sediment and found a disturbing trend. Periods of high CO2 concentrations have historically coincided with mass extinctions of marine organisms.
The Salty Seas of Earth
May 19, 2011 08:16 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Final preparations are under way for the June 9 launch of the international Aquarius/SAC-D observatory. The mission's primary instrument, Aquarius, will study interactions between ocean circulation, the water cycle and climate by measuring ocean surface salinity. On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5% (35 g/L). In addition to Aquarius, the observatory carries seven other instruments that will collect environmental data for a wide range of applications, including studies of natural hazards, air quality, land processes and epidemiology. Although the vast majority of seawater has a salinity of between 3.1% and 3.8%, seawater is not uniformly saline throughout the world. Where mixing occurs with fresh water runoff from river mouths or near melting glaciers, seawater can be substantially less saline. The most saline open sea is the Red Sea, where high rates of evaporation, low precipitation and river inflow, and confined circulation result in unusually salty water. The salinity in isolated bodies of water (for example, the Dead Sea) can be considerably greater still.
Heart Risk and Injury
May 18, 2011 07:54 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Nitric Oxide, a gas that occurs naturally in the body, may do more than any prescription drug to prevent heart attack and stroke. Nitric Oxide is essential for healthy circulation. It helps dilate blood vessels, prevent blood clots and regulate blood pressure. It also helps inhibit the accumulation of dangerous arterial plaque. Nitric Oxide helps prevent heart disease and stroke in the following ways: blood vessels expansion and protecting the blood vessels smooth muscle tissue from harmful constriction. This allows the flexibility necessary for blood to circulate with less pressure. Exercise reduces the risk of a heart attack and protects the heart from injury if a heart attack does occur. For years, doctors have been trying to dissect how this second benefit of exercise works, with the aim of finding ways to protect the heart after a heart attack.
Ancient Hawaiian Farms
May 17, 2011 02:36 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The original settlers of Polynesia migrated through South-East Asia and Indonesia across Melanesia, before settling the Polynesian islands beginning in 1000 BC. Hawaii was one of the last island groups to be settled. Archaeological evidence indicates the first Polynesians arrived in Hawaii from the Marquesas between 500 and 700 AD. Hawaii has often been thought of as an earthly paradise. Still people must live and eat. A pattern of earthen berms, spread across a northern peninsula of the big island of Hawaii, is providing archeologists with clues to exactly how residents farmed in paradise long before Europeans arrived at the islands.
The Great Lousiana Flood
May 16, 2011 01:34 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Mississippi River floods in April and May 2011 are among the largest and most damaging along the U.S. waterway in the past century, rivaling major floods in 1927 and 1993. In April 2011, two major storm systems dumped record rainfall on the Mississippi River watershed. Rising from springtime snowmelt, the river and many of its tributaries began to swell to record levels by the beginning of May. Following the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, much effort has been invested in building defenses to withstand a flood of three million cubic feet per second just upstream from the Old River Control Structure. The US Army Corps of Engineers refers to this design goal as the "project flood". As of 11 May 2011 the expected flow will be on the high side, but still within that maximum capacity, assuming everything works as expected. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Saturday opened two of the 125 floodgates at the Morganza Spillway 45 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, and opened two more on Sunday. Opening the floodgates - a move last taken in 1973 - will channel water away from the Mississippi River and into the Atchafalaya River basin. That will take the floodwaters toward homes, farms, a wildlife refuge and a small oil refinery but avoid inundating New Orleans and Louisiana's capital, Baton Rouge.
The Parakeet Invasion of England
May 16, 2011 09:45 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
This green and pleasant land is quickly becoming home to a green and not so pleasant bird. The Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), an exotic bird from India and sub-Saharan Africa is spreading like wildfire in London and its surrounding suburbs. Their population was estimated at 1,500 in 1995. Only a few years ago, their numbers have jumped to an estimated 30,000! At first they seemed like a new attractive bird in people's backyards. Now they are a pest, hogging bird feeders and causing a nuisance. However, the greatest fear is that they will spread to agricultural areas and threaten crops.
The Fantastic Fox, new from BBC Earth
May 13, 2011 05:09 PM - Editor, BBC Earth
In myth, the fox is better known for its cunning rather than its courage. Becoming a symbol of trickery, deceit and even having its name attributed to false prophets in the bible. Yet the bad press received is counter to the foxes natural strengths and abilities! Living on a diet of scavenged scraps while always remaining one step ahead of its many predators, are just two examples of this animals ability to adapt, and above all, survive. A member of the canine family, it is understandable to see how the fox has been able to colonize in so many parts of the world. As a relation of dogs, wolves and coyotes, this animal naturally sits on the boundaries of civilization. However this domestication has meant that while some species have thrived in the urban jungle, others have not. This species success story is therefore best seen out of the cities, and into the remote habitats where the variations in their biology can really be seen/appreciated. Although you may have to look hard, as these 'true foxes' of the deserts, mountains, tundra's and frozen worlds are kings of being coy. Of the 37 species referred to as foxes, only 12 actually belong to the Vulpes genus of true foxes; and one that fits into this category but also that of its own genus, is the Arctic fox. Surviving in a subzero temperatures, this compact fox has evolved to have short ears, short legs, and incredibly dense fur. This canine's unique physical development does not stop there. With its footpads also covered with thick hair, it enables this small creature to hunt all year round, by protecting it from the severe cold and even providing traction on ice.
Longer Life from Good Work Relationships
May 13, 2011 12:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
We all know how stressful work can be. The pounding headaches, the long hours, and the guilt adds up. Then we go home. People who have a good peer support system at work may live longer than people who don't have such a support system, according research published by the American Psychological Association. This effect of peer social support on the risk of mortality was most pronounced among those between the ages of 38 and 43. Yet similar support from workers' supervisors had no effect on mortality, the researchers found. In addition, men who felt like they had control and decision authority at work also experienced this protective effect, according to the study, published in the May issue of the APA journal Health Psychology. However, control and decision authority increased the risk of mortality among women in the sample.
Study Finds Breastfeeding Leads to Good Behavior in Childhood
May 13, 2011 09:34 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Breastfeeding, the act of feeding an infant directly from the human breast, is known to be good for children. There are formulas available which can simulate a mother's milk, but can never perfectly replicate the natural act of breastfeeding. In the past, studies have shown inconsistent results as to whether or not breastfeeding really improves childhood wellbeing in areas such as IQ, behavior, and obesity. However, a new study from the University of Oxford has put a firmer grip on this already well-known theory.
May 12, 2011 02:44 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Barred Owl is a large typical owl. It goes by many other names, including eight hooter, rain owl, wood owl, and striped owl, but is probably known best as the hoot owl. Barred owls may be more abundant in coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest than previously recognized, according to research published today in the Journal of Wildlife Management. This finding likely has implications for the recovery of the federally threatened northern spotted owl. Related studies about the competitive interactions between barred owls and spotted owls are under way, with results anticipated this summer.The research published today also emphasizes the need for species-specific survey methods to document and understand the interactions between the northern spotted owl and its close relative, the barred owl. Barred owls, which have gradually expanded their range into the Pacific Northwest over the past 30 years, are now thought to be competing with dwindling numbers of spotted owls for critical resources such as food and nesting habitat.