Sci/tech

Climate warming may not drive net losses of soil carbon from tropical forests
July 23, 2014 12:16 PM - Carnegie Institute for Science

The planet's soil releases about 60 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, which is far more than that released by burning fossil fuels. This happens through a process called soil respiration. This enormous release of carbon is balanced by carbon coming into the soil system from falling leaves and other plant matter, as well as by the underground activities of plant roots.

Wooly Mammoths and Mastodons loved Cincinnati!
July 22, 2014 04:47 PM - University of Cincinnati via ScienceDaily

Their scruffy beards weren't ironic, but there are reasons mammoths and mastodons could have been the hipsters of the Ice Age. According to research from the University of Cincinnati, the famously fuzzy relatives of elephants liked living in Greater Cincinnati long before it was trendy -- at the end of the last ice age. A study led by Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology, shows the ancient proboscideans enjoyed the area so much they likely were year-round residents and not nomadic migrants as previously thought.

Size and Age of Plants Impact Their Productivity More Than Climate
July 22, 2014 12:27 PM - University of Arizona

The size and age of plants have more of an impact on their productivity than temperature and precipitation, according to a landmark study by University of Arizona researchers. UA professor Brian Enquist and postdoctoral researcher Sean Michaletz, along with collaborators Dongliang Cheng from Fujian Normal University in China and Drew Kerkhoff from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, have combined a new mathematical theory with data from more than 1,000 forests across the world to show that climate has a relatively minor direct effect on net primary productivity, or the amount of biomass — wood or any other plant materials — that plants produce by harvesting sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

NASA getting ready to test engines for Space Launch System rocket
July 22, 2014 07:32 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Since the end of the Space Shuttle flights, NASA has been relying on help from Russia to launch men and women into space. The agency has been planning on replacement rockets to take humans into space and now engineers have taken a crucial step in preparing to test parts of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will send humans to new destinations in the solar system. They installed on Thursday an RS-25 engine on the A-1 Test Stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

What do volcanos look like deep underground?
July 20, 2014 08:11 AM - Editor ENN

By measuring how fast Earth conducts electricity and seismic waves, a University of Utah researcher and colleagues made a detailed picture of Mount Rainier's deep volcanic plumbing and partly molten rock that will erupt again someday. "This is the most direct image yet capturing the melting process that feeds magma into a crustal reservoir that eventually is tapped for eruptions," says geophysicist Phil Wannamaker, of the university's Energy & Geoscience Institute and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "But it does not provide any information on the timing of future eruptions from Mount Rainier or other Cascade Range volcanoes."

The mystery behind starling flocks explained
July 18, 2014 11:51 AM - University of Warwick

The mystery behind the movements of flocking starlings could be explained by the areas of light and dark created as they fly, new research suggests. The research, conducted by the University of Warwick and published in the journal PNAS, found that flocking starlings aim to maintain an optimum density at which they can gather data on their surroundings. This occurs when they can see light through the flock at many angles, a state known as marginal opacity. The subsequent pattern of light and dark, formed as the birds attempt to achieve the necessary density, is what provides vital information to individual birds within the flock.

Aura's Ten Year Mission Improves our Understanding of Ozone
July 17, 2014 06:57 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

This week, on July 15, NASA's Aura satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary. Happy belated, Aura! The mission of Aura, which is Latin for breeze, centers on obtaining measurements of ozone, aerosols and key gases throughout the atmosphere. And after one decade in space, the satellite has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants.

Where are America's Greenest Buildings?
July 16, 2014 04:59 PM - Elisa Wood, Clean Techies

Ok, no surprise to see Washington, D.C. or San Francisco ranked high in a list of the cities with America's greenest buildings. But Atlanta? Georgia's capital was the only southern state to make the top ten in the 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, released July 15 by Clean Edge. The cleantech research firm tracks the cleantech progress of the 50 largest metro areas and the 50 states.

Rainwater discovered below the Earth's fractured upper crust
July 16, 2014 06:40 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

When it rains, where does the water go? Well for one, a lot of rainwater will funnel its way off roads and impermeable surfaces and will make its way into storm sewers. Another path might be directly into rivers and lakes. Or, rainwater might get soaked up by soil where it will then infiltrate into the ground and replenish aquifers. But just how deep does this rainwater infiltrate? According to new research, rainwater can penetrate below the Earth's fractured upper crust - which is at least eight miles below the Earth's surface!

Sand Power: A Better Battery
July 15, 2014 11:32 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Technology of the future is hard to see coming — sometimes because you can't see it. Advances in nanotechnology are the driving force behind longer lasting Lithium-ion batteries. Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are used to power every-day technologies like cell phones, computers, cameras and cars. Their energy source is a carbon-based graphite anode, which is nothing short of polarizing. Battery life has always been a major concern with Li-ion batteries. The solution is the most abundant compound in the earth's crust: SiO2, - or — more commonly — sand. The next generation of battery technology is using sand as a source for the production of nano-silicon, an anode material for Li-ion batteries.

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