Pollution

Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Off West Coast
November 11, 2014 08:32 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Monitoring efforts along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada have detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles (150 km) due west of Eureka, California. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean.

MIT finds the missing piece of the climate modeling puzzle
November 10, 2014 02:58 PM - Genevieve Wanucha, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In classrooms and everyday conversation, explanations of global warming hinge on the greenhouse gas effect. In short, climate depends on the balance between two different kinds of radiation: The Earth absorbs incoming visible light from the sun, called “shortwave radiation,” and emits infrared light, or “longwave radiation,” into space.

Upsetting that energy balance are rising levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), that increasingly absorb some of the outgoing longwave radiation and trap it in the atmosphere. Energy accumulates in the climate system, and warming occurs. But in a paper out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT researchers show that this canonical view of global warming is only half the story.

Can ocean acidification have a positive effect on corals?
November 5, 2014 03:10 PM - Editor, ENN

A majority of recent reports highlights the negative effects of warmer water temperatures on corals. Because of increasing numbers of bleaching events, where corals become white resulting from a loss of their symbiotic algae, corals become stressed and can starve to death if the condition is prolonged. However, researchers from Northeastern University's Marine Science Center and the University of Chapel Hill have found some slightly positive effects that moderate ocean acidification and warming can have on coral.

The prevalence of naturally occurring asbestos in the environment
November 4, 2014 10:49 AM - Geological Society of America, via EurekAlert.

Naturally occurring asbestos minerals may be more widespread than previously thought, with newly discovered sources now identified within the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The asbestos-rich areas are in locations not previously considered to be at risk, according to new report that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday, 20 October.

"These minerals were found where one wouldn't expect or think to look," said Rodney Metcalf, associate professor of geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and co-researcher of the study. The naturally occurring asbestos was found in Boulder City, Nevada, in the path of a construction zone to build a multi-million dollar highway called the Boulder City Bypass, the first stage of an I-11 corridor planned between Las Vegas and Arizona.

Study links childhood leukemia and power lines
October 31, 2014 08:16 AM - Institute of Physics

Researchers from the UK have called into question a theory suggesting that a previously reported risk of leukemia among children born close to overhead power lines could be caused by an alteration to surrounding air pollution. In a study published today, 31 October, in the Journal of Radiological Protection (the official journal of The Society for Radiological Protection), the researchers have found little evidence to support the ‘corona-ion hypothesis’ which has been cited as a possible explanation for the excess of childhood leukemia cases close to high-voltage overhead power lines in the UK prior to the 1980s.

Study links childhood leukemia and power lines
October 31, 2014 08:16 AM - Institute of Physics

Researchers from the UK have called into question a theory suggesting that a previously reported risk of leukemia among children born close to overhead power lines could be caused by an alteration to surrounding air pollution. In a study published today, 31 October, in the Journal of Radiological Protection (the official journal of The Society for Radiological Protection), the researchers have found little evidence to support the ‘corona-ion hypothesis’ which has been cited as a possible explanation for the excess of childhood leukemia cases close to high-voltage overhead power lines in the UK prior to the 1980s.

Researchers Track Ammonium Source in Open Ocean
October 29, 2014 04:29 PM - Brown University

To understand the extent to which human activities are polluting Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, it’s important to distinguish human-made pollutants from compounds that occur naturally. A recent study co-authored by a Brown University professor does just that for ammonium, a compound that is produced by human activities like agriculture, as well as by natural processes that occur in the ocean. The research, based on two years of rainwater samples taken in Bermuda, suggests that ammonium deposited over the open ocean comes almost entirely from natural marine sources, not from anthropogenic sources.

MIT finds switching to higher octane fuel would reduce carbon emissions
October 28, 2014 07:15 AM - MIT News

If the majority of light-duty vehicles in the United States ran on higher-octane gasoline, the automotive industry as a whole would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 35 million tons per year, saving up to $6 billion in fuel costs, according to a new analysis by MIT researchers.

 

In a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team considered a scenario in which fuel is manufactured under a redefined octane rating — the measure of a gasoline’s ability to resist engine knocking during combustion.

MIT finds switching to higher octane fuel would reduce carbon emissions
October 28, 2014 07:15 AM - MIT News

If the majority of light-duty vehicles in the United States ran on higher-octane gasoline, the automotive industry as a whole would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 35 million tons per year, saving up to $6 billion in fuel costs, according to a new analysis by MIT researchers.

 

In a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team considered a scenario in which fuel is manufactured under a redefined octane rating — the measure of a gasoline’s ability to resist engine knocking during combustion.

Methane sink discovered in oceanic rock
October 15, 2014 06:35 AM - Oregon State University

Since the first undersea methane seep was discovered 30 years ago, scientists have meticulously analyzed and measured how microbes in the seafloor sediments consume the greenhouse gas methane as part of understanding how the Earth works. The sediment-based microbes form an important methane "sink," preventing much of the chemical from reaching the atmosphere and contributing to greenhouse gas accumulation. As a byproduct of this process, the microbes create a type of rock known as authigenic carbonate, which while interesting to scientists was not thought to be involved in the processing of methane.

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