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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.
 

Europe focuses on food safety on World Health Day
April 7, 2015 07:07 AM - EurActiv

On World Health Day (7 April), European Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis and Neven Mimica highlight the importance of food safety, malnutrition, and fighting health threats both in the Union and in developing countries.

2015 is the European year for development (EYD). It is an opportunity to show how EU assistance is improving the lives of millions in developing countries; but also in Europe. Food safety, which is the theme of this year’s World Health Day, is a clear example of this.

Too often in Europe we take for granted that the food on our plates is safe. Europe should be proud that its 500 million consumers benefit from the highest food safety and health protection standards in the world, and that many other countries take them as the norm to be followed. However, we must not become complacent.

White fat, brown fat, now beige fat and obesity
April 4, 2015 08:58 AM - Universtiy of California San Francisco

Those extra pounds around your belly that no amount of exercise seems to shake off? That's not just fat; it's what scientists call white fat – unhealthy, energy-storing fat.

Brown fat, however, has been known to contain energy-burning, heat-producing qualities that could be key to helping people lose weight. The key is finding a way to increase brown fat in the body and reduce the white fat.

Hibernating mammals have brown fat, and human babies are born with it to help them keep warm outside the womb. Adults also have varying amounts of brown fat, but researchers weren't sure if it’s the same kind babies are born with, and if not, where it comes from.

The advantages of being a morning person
April 1, 2015 01:40 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

There are many advantages of getting a good nights sleep.  Turns out, the advantages are less if you are a night owl instead of a morning person.

Night owls are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome and sarcopenia than early risers, even when they get the same amount of sleep, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study examined the difference between night and morning chronotypes, or a person's natural sleep-wake cycle. Staying awake later at night is likely to cause sleep loss, poor sleep quality, and eating at inappropriate times, which might eventually lead to metabolic change.

Why is Mars so different from Earth?
April 1, 2015 07:40 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Did Mars ever support life of any sort?  Why is Mars so different from Earth? Can we deduce its history from current conditions?

NASA's Curiosity rover is using a new experiment to better understand the history of the Martian atmosphere by analyzing xenon. 

While NASA's Curiosity rover concluded its detailed examination of the rock layers of the "Pahrump Hills" in Gale Crater on Mars this winter, some members of the rover team were busy analyzing the Martian atmosphere for xenon, a heavy noble gas. 

Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment analyzed xenon in the planet's atmosphere. Since noble gases are chemically inert and do not react with other substances in the air or on the ground, they are excellent tracers of the history of the atmosphere. Xenon is present in the Martian atmosphere at a challengingly low quantity and can be directly measured only with on-site experiments such as SAM.

New deep-water methane reservoir found deep in the Arctic Ocean
March 31, 2015 07:57 AM - University of New Hampshire via EurekAlert.

Research led by a University of New Hampshire professor has identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates -- ice-like substances found in sediment that trap methane within the crystal structure of frozen water -- in the Arctic Ocean. The findings, published online now in the May 2015 journal Geology, point to a previously undiscovered, stable reservoir for abiotic methane -- methane not generated by decomposing carbon -- that is "locked" away from the atmosphere, where it could impact global climate change.

"We've found an example where methane produced at a mid-ocean ridge is locked up in stable, deep water gas hydrate, preventing it from possibly getting out of the seafloor," says lead author Joel Johnson, associate professor of geology at UNH and guest researcher at the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Johnson notes that the findings, which pinpointed a source of abiotic methane ¬produced in seafloor crust, indicate gas hydrates throughout the Arctic may be supplied by a significant portion of abiotic gas.

Lunch apparently not that appealing to children anymore
March 30, 2015 07:32 AM - Nestle via EurekAlert.

According to new analysis of data from the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that evaluated eating patterns of 3,647 children ages 4-13 years, skipping lunch is a common practice among children and adolescents, with 13% of younger children and 17% of 9-13 year olds skipping lunch on a given day. The study found that the behavior persisted throughout the week with nearly a quarter (approximately 23%) of 9-13 year olds skipping lunch on the weekends. These findings, part of Nestlé's new Kids Nutrition & Health Study (KNHS), were presented today at a poster session entitled "What Happened to Lunch? Dietary Intakes of 4-13 Year Old Lunch Consumers and Non-Consumers in the United States" at the American Society of Nutrition conference.

These findings are of particular concern given that lunch skippers had lower intakes of nutrients, including calcium and fiber, than lunch consumers. In addition, the data show that for some children, the lunch meal was primarily responsible for the higher essential nutrient intakes of vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, as well as a nutrient of concern, sodium. 

NASA captures best images yet of a dwarf planet
March 29, 2015 08:14 AM - NASA JPL

As NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on Ceres, new images show the dwarf planet at 27 pixels across, about three times better than the calibration images taken in early December. These are the first in a series of images that will be taken for navigation purposes during the approach to Ceres.

Over the next several weeks, Dawn will deliver increasingly better and better images of the dwarf planet, leading up to the spacecraft's capture into orbit around Ceres on March 6. The images will continue to improve as the spacecraft spirals closer to the surface during its 16-month study of the dwarf planet.

Climate change doesn't cause severe winters after all
March 28, 2015 06:59 AM - ETH Zurich via ScienceDaily

Cold snaps like the ones that hit the eastern United States in the past winters are not a consequence of climate change. Scientists at ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology have shown that global warming actually tends to reduce temperature variability.

Repeated cold snaps led to temperatures far below freezing across the eastern United States in the past two winters. Parts of the Niagara Falls froze, and ice floes formed on Lake Michigan. Such low temperatures had become rare in recent years. Pictures of icy, snow-covered cities made their way around the world, raising the question of whether climate change could be responsible for these extreme events

Antarctic ice loss is accelerating
March 27, 2015 07:08 AM - British Antarctic Survey

New research published this week in the journal Science Express describes how the ice shelves around Antarctica are thinning and therefore allowing more of the ice sheet behind them to flow into the sea. 

Using nearly two decades of satellite data, the team of international researchers observed an acceleration of ice loss from the continent’s ice shelves, with an increase in loss of 70% in West Antarctica over the last decade. In the Amundsen and Bellingshausen regions, some ice shelves have lost up to 18% of their thickness in less than two decades. 

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