Melting summer ice in Antarctica
February 28, 2014 01:53 PM - , ClickGreen
Antarctica's Ross Sea is one of the few Polar Regions where summer sea-ice coverage has increased during the last few decades, bucking a global trend of drastic declines in summer sea ice across the Arctic Ocean and in two adjacent embayments of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. But now, a modeling study led by Professor Walker Smith of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science suggests that the Ross Sea's recent observed increase in summer sea-ice cover is likely short-lived, with the area projected to lose more than half its summer sea ice by 2050 and more than three quarters by 2100.
Scientists advocate protective deep-sea treaty
February 28, 2014 10:00 AM - Nick Kennedy, SciDevNet
A new international agreement is needed to police the exploitation of the deep ocean because of the rising threats of deep-sea mining and bottom trawling for fish, say scientists. Speakers at a symposium this month (16 February) urged the UN to negotiate a new treaty for the deep ocean to supplement the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Electric cars and the grid
February 28, 2014 07:31 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen
Car owners in the United States last year bought more than 96,000 plug-in electric cars, a year-on-year increase of 84 percent from 2012. However, this growing fleet will put a lot of new strain on the nation’s aging electrical distribution systems, like transformers and underground cables, especially at times of peak demand — in the evening when people come home from work.
Potential new source of renewable energy found in humidity
February 27, 2014 12:15 PM - Kristin Kusek, Harvard University
A new type of electrical generator uses bacterial spores to harness the untapped power of evaporating water, according to research conducted at the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Its developers foresee electrical generators driven by changes in humidity from sun-warmed ponds and harbors.
One state addresses potholes through a new pothole alert system
February 27, 2014 10:43 AM - ENN Staff
As much of the northern hemisphere looks forward to the second half of the winter season, municipalities and regional governments are faced with rudimentary task of repairing potholes. Rutgers University instructor Wansoo Im, no doubt frustrated with the infrastructure meltdown himself, launched an app and website to map the biggest ones in his own home state of New Jersey. Aptly called NJPothole, the website plots potholes on maps to alert motorists (and maybe even municipal departments of public works dispatchers) of impending undercarriage attack.
Sizing up early birds
February 27, 2014 08:37 AM - University of Bristol News Room
According to new research from the Universities of Bristol and Sheffield into the Paraves, the key characteristics that allow birds to fly, their wings and small size, arose much earlier than previously thought. The first birds and their closest dinosaurian relatives lived 160 to 120 million years ago.
Forest recovery following natural disaster
February 27, 2014 08:06 AM - Sue Nichols, Michigan State University
Recovering from natural disasters usually means rebuilding infrastructure and reassembling human lives. Yet ecologically sensitive areas need to heal, too, and scientists are pioneering new methods to assess nature's recovery and guide human intervention. The epicenter of China's devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 was in the Wolong Nature Reserve, a globally important valuable biodiversity hotspot and home to the beloved and endangered giant pandas. Not only did the quake devastate villages and roads, but also the earth split open and swallowed sections of the forests and bamboo groves that shelter and feed pandas and other endangered wildlife. Persistent landslides and erosion exacerbated the devastation.
Greener chemical cleanups
February 26, 2014 12:14 PM - Marianne English Spoon, University of Wisconsin
Cleaning up oil spills and metal contaminants in a low-impact, sustainable and inexpensive manner remains a challenge for companies and governments globally. But a group of researchers at UW—Madison is examining alternative materials that can be modified to absorb oil and chemicals. If further developed, the technology may offer a cheaper and "greener" method to absorb oil and heavy metals from water and other surfaces.
Passing the baton in oil spill research on the Gulf Coast
February 26, 2014 09:30 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Media Relations Office
As part of on-going research nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will team up with a group of high school students in Florida to collect remnants of oil from Gulf Coast beaches this week. Marine chemist Chris Reddy studies how the many compounds that compose petroleum hydrocarbon, or oil, behave and change over time after an oil spill. He and his researchers have collected and analyzed about 1,000 oil samples from the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Bats Combine Echolocation And Vision to Rule the Skies
February 26, 2014 08:54 AM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels
Blessed with the power of echolocation — reflected sound — bats rule the night skies. There are more than 1,000 species of these echolocating night creatures, compared with just 80 species of non-echolocating nocturnal birds. And while it is believed that echolocation works alongside normal vision to give bats an evolutionary edge, nobody knows exactly how. Now Doctor Arjan Boonman and Doctor Yossi Yovel of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology suggest that bats use regular vision to keep track of where they're going and echolocation to hunt tiny insects that most nocturnal predators can't see.