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The important role of diatoms in the oceans
May 29, 2015 09:07 AM - University of Washington via ScienceDaily.

A glass of seawater is teeming with life, and recent research reveals more about what ocean water contains. Microscopic creatures in the world's oceans weigh more than all of the fish in the sea and produce about half of Earth's oxygen.

Yet the ecology of marine microbes, which are crucial for everything from absorbing carbon dioxide from the air to regulating the productivity of major fisheries, are only beginning to be understood.

Can Ice Loss Affect Gravity?
May 21, 2015 04:14 PM - University of Bristol

A group of scientists, led by a team from the University of Bristol, has observed a sudden increase of ice loss in a previously stable region of Antarctica. The research is published today in Science.

What are the bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres?
May 21, 2015 07:06 AM - NASA JPL

NASA's Dawn mission captured a sequence of images, taken for navigation purposes, of dwarf planet Ceres on May 16, 2015. The image showcases the group of the brightest spots on Ceres, which continue to mystify scientists. It was taken from a distance of 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) and has a resolution of 2,250 feet (700 meters) per pixel.

"Dawn scientists can now conclude that the intense brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice," Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission from the University of California, Los Angeles, said recently.

Renewable Energy Market Employs 7.7 Million People Worldwide
May 19, 2015 09:01 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

Renewable energy investment and deployment is paying off, and in spades, when it comes to addressing a basic issue plaguing developed and developing countries alike: an inability to generate jobs that pay a good living wage. Around the world, renewable energy job creation continues to far outpace that for economies overall. Some 7.7 million people are now employed across the global renewable energy value chain, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). That’s up 18 percent from 6.5 million in 2014, the agency noted in its 2015 Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review.

The Ozone hole is shrinking
May 18, 2015 07:14 AM - Steve Williams, Care2

New NASA satellite data confirms what other research has shown, namely that the hole in the ozone layer appears to be getting smaller.

The ozone is crucial for us here on Earth because it shields us from some of the Sun’s most damaging radiation. In the 1980s it was confirmed that a host of chemicals like CFCs that we had been using in manufacturing and, in particular in aerosols, had been breaking down that ozone layer, creating several holes including a worryingly large hole over the Arctic. In the long term our CFC use threatened to destroy this vital shield completely if we did not act.

New Research Identifies First Warm-Blooded Fish
May 14, 2015 02:53 PM - NOAA Fisheries

New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths. The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water.

Would you give up chocolate to save a friend?
May 13, 2015 12:06 PM - Emily Underwood, Science/AAAS

We’ve all heard how rats will abandon a sinking ship. But will the rodents attempt to save their companions in the process? A new study shows that rats will, indeed, rescue their distressed pals from the drink—even when they’re offered chocolate instead. They’re also more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy.

Antarctic Ice Shelves found to be thinning from the top AND the bottom
May 13, 2015 06:57 AM - British Antarctic Survey

A decade-long scientific debate about what’s causing the thinning of one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves is settled this week (Wednesday 13 May) with the publication of an international study in the journal The Cryosphere.

The Larsen C Ice Shelf — whose neighbours Larsen A and B, collapsed in 1995 and 2002 — is thinning from both its surface and beneath. For years scientists have been unable to determine whether it is warming air temperatures or warmer ocean currents that were causing the Antarctic Peninsula’s floating ice shelves to lose volume and become more vulnerable to collapse. This new study takes an important step forward in assessing Antarctica’s likely contribution to future sea-level rise.

Undersea robots plan missions autonomously
May 7, 2015 07:05 AM - Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

For the last decade, scientists have deployed increasingly capable underwater robots to map and monitor pockets of the ocean to track the health of fisheries, and survey marine habitats and species. In general, such robots are effective at carrying out low-level tasks, specifically assigned to them by human engineers — a tedious and time-consuming process for the engineers.

When deploying autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), much of an engineer’s time is spent writing scripts, or low-level commands, in order to direct a robot to carry out a mission plan. Now a new programming approach developed by MIT engineers gives robots more “cognitive” capabilities, enabling humans to specify high-level goals, while a robot performs high-level decision-making to figure out how to achieve these goals.

Birds abandon mating sites near wind turbines
May 6, 2015 03:24 PM - Central Ornithology Publication Office

Shifting to renewable energy sources has been widely touted as one of the best ways to fight climate change, but even renewable energy can have a downside, as in the case of wind turbines’ effects on bird populations.

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