Sci/Tech

Astro Physics has a new mystery
July 26, 2014 07:54 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Astro Physicists love to look for reasons current theories are correct. When data are obtained that do not fit a current theory, the race is on to come up with an explanation! The Universe is a big place, full of unknowns. Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have just catalogued a new one. "I couldn't believe my eyes," says Esra Bulbul of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics. "What we found, at first glance, could not be explained by known physics."

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Record Radiation in South America
July 11, 2014 09:00 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters — or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) — that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.

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SPOTLIGHT

How forest debris affects freshwater food chains

Allison Winter, ENN
While one may think that forest and lake ecosystems are two separate networks, new research shows how forest debris is an important contributor to freshwater food chains. How? Debris in the form of organic carbon from trees washes into freshwater lakes, which consequently supplements the diets of microscopic zooplankton and the fish that feed on them. Researchers at the University of Cambridge conducted a study at Daisy Lake in Ontario, Canadian by observing Yellow Perch fish from different parts of the water body with varying degrees of surrounding forest cover. Carbon from forest debris has a different elemental mass than carbon produced by algae in the aquatic food chain. By analyzing the young Perch that had been born that year, scientists were able to determine that at least 34% of the fish biomass comes from vegetation, increasing to 66% in areas surrounded by rich forest. Essentially, the more forest around the edge of the lake, the fatter the fish in that part of the lake were. Similarly, the sparser the forest leaves, the smaller the fish.

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