Sci/tech

Land surfaces are storing more water slowing sea level rise
February 12, 2016 08:07 AM - University of California, Irvine via ScienceDaily.

New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise.

A new study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, shows that while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth's continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.

The water gains over land were spread globally, but taken together they equal the volume of Lake Huron, the world's seventh largest lake. The study is published in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Carbon dioxide stored underground can find multiple ways to escape
February 12, 2016 06:57 AM - Liam Jackson, Penn State University

When carbon dioxide is stored underground in a process known as geological sequestration, it can find multiple escape pathways due to chemical reactions between carbon dioxide, water, rocks and cement from abandoned wells, according to Penn State researchers.

Sandia National Laboratories improves modeling of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
February 11, 2016 07:59 AM - Sandia National Laboratories

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to 21st century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior.

To better understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics. The team includes researchers Irina Demeshko, Mike Eldred, John Jakeman, Mauro Perego, Andy Salinger, Irina Tezaur and Ray Tuminaro.

Will you take part in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count?
February 11, 2016 07:11 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

This weekend bird enthusiasts from around the world will become citizen scientists for a few days during the 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which is happening this year February 12-15.

During this four-day event, which is organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, people will be headed outdoors to count their local birds in the name of science.

What does the Wolf say?
February 8, 2016 11:06 AM - UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE via EurekAlert

The largest ever study of howling in the 'canid' family of species -- which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs -- has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or "vocal fingerprints": different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species. 

Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling. 

They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used -- from flat to highly modulated -- corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf. 

Universtiy of Alaska studies how the melting Greenland glaciers are impacting sea levels
February 6, 2016 08:41 AM - University of Alaska Fairbanks via ScienceDaily

University of Alaska Fairbanks mathematicians and glaciologists have taken a first step toward understanding how glacier ice flowing off Greenland affects sea levels.

Andy Aschwanden, Martin Truffer and Mark Fahnestock used mathematical computer models and field tests to reproduce the flow of 29 inlet glaciers fed by the Greenland ice sheet. They compared their data with data from NASA's Operation IceBridge North aerial campaign.

The comparisons showed that the computer models accurately depicted current flow conditions in topographically complex Greenland.

UCLA solves the mystery of how Earth got its moon
January 29, 2016 12:37 PM - Stuart Wolpert, UCLA

The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a “planetary embryo” called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed, UCLA geochemists and colleagues report.

Scientists had already known about this high-speed crash, which occurred almost 4.5 billion years ago, but many thought the Earth collided with Theia (pronounced THAY-eh) at an angle of 45 degrees or more — a powerful side-swipe (simulated in this 2012 YouTube video). New evidence reported Jan. 29 in the journal Science substantially strengthens the case for a head-on assault.

The researchers analyzed seven rocks brought to the Earth from the moon by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from the Earth’s mantle — five from Hawaii and one from Arizona.

Hyperloop moving to full-scale testing
January 24, 2016 09:05 AM - Mary Mazzoni , Triple Pundit

Clean-tech visionary Elon Musk first unveiled his idea for a high-speed ground transport system called Hyperloop back in 2013. The concept — in which passengers are transported in magnet-propelled capsules at more than 750 miles per hour — was quickly dismissed by many as a pipe-dream.

But, while most of us weren’t paying attention, a handful of private companies have been quietly working to make Musk’s vision a reality. Now two of these firms (both unaffiliated with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO) say they are ready to begin testing the technology.

Is calling the current time Anthropocene helpful?
January 21, 2016 06:04 AM - James Scourse, Bangor University, The Ecologist

The just as policemen keep on getting younger, epochs keep on getting shorter, writes James Scourse. The Cretaceous endured for 80 million years, but our latest invention, the 'Anthropocene', will be lucky to last out the century. And humanity's vain preoccupation with the idea may, ironically, only bring forward its termination.

The adoption of the term 'Anthropocene' is misleading. Worse than that; it has stimulated a redundant, manufactured, debate that displaces more important scientific research and genuine discussion on climate and environmental change.

 

Pollution in Pacific tied to Africa and Asia
January 20, 2016 06:06 AM - Loretta Kuo/Shawn Honomichl, SciDevNet

Burning down forests in Africa and South-East Asia causes ozone pollution in the air as far as the western Pacific Ocean, researchers say, calling for revision of global climate models to reflect their findings.

In a paper published in Nature Communications last week (13 January), the scientists say their data contradicts earlier theories on the origins of ozone-rich air parcels above the tropical western Pacific, which were thought to descend naturally from a higher atmospheric layer.

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