Sci/tech

Canary in a coal mine: Survey captures global picture of air pollution's effects on birds
August 11, 2017 11:17 AM - University of Wisconsin–Madison

Famously, the use of caged birds to alert miners to the invisible dangers of gases such as carbon monoxide gave rise to the cautionary metaphor “canary in a coal mine.”

But other than the fact that exposure to toxic gases in a confined space kills caged birds before affecting humans — providing a timely warning to miners — what do we know about the effects of air pollution on birds?

Not as much as you’d think, according to researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

NASA Sees Formation of Comma-Shaped Tropical Storm 14W
August 11, 2017 11:03 AM - NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

The fourteenth tropical cyclone of the Northwestern Pacific Ocean hurricane season formed about 200 miles away from Wake Island and a NASA-NOAA satellite saw it take on a comma-shape.  

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite passed over Tropical Storm 14W on August 11 at 0118 UTC (Aug. 10 at 9:18 p.m. EDT) shortly after it formed. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard took a visible light picture of the storm that showed thunderstorms around the low-level center and a thick band wrapping from the east to south to west, forming a comma-shape.

How goldfish make alcohol to survive without oxygen
August 11, 2017 10:48 AM - University of Liverpool

Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Oslo have uncovered the secret behind a goldfish’s remarkable ability to produce alcohol as a way of surviving harsh winters beneath frozen lakes.

Humans and most other vertebrate animals die within a few minutes without oxygen. Yet goldfish and their wild relatives, crucian carp, can survive for days, even months, in oxygen-free water at the bottom of ice-covered ponds.

During this time, the fish are able to convert anaerobically produced lactic acid into ethanol, which then diffuses across their gills into the surrounding water and avoids a dangerous build-up of lactic acid in the body.

Jackdaws flap their wings to save energy
August 11, 2017 10:05 AM - Lund University

For the first time, researchers have observed that birds that fly actively and flap their wings save energy. Biologists at Lund University in Sweden have now shown that jackdaws minimise their energy consumption when they lift off and fly, because the feathers on their wing tips create several small vortices instead of a single large one. The discovery could potentially be applied within the aeronautical industry.

Night vision for bird- & bat-friendly offshore wind power
August 11, 2017 09:55 AM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The same technology that enables soldiers to see in the dark can also help protect birds and bats near offshore wind turbines.

Night vision goggles use thermal imaging, which captures infrared light that's invisible to the human eye. Now, researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are using thermal imaging to help birds and bats near offshore wind farms. PNNL is developing software called ThermalTracker to automatically categorize birds and bats in thermal video. Birds and bats fly over offshore waters, but they're difficult to track in such remote locations.

OSC helps researchers unveil most accurate map of the invisible universe
August 10, 2017 01:43 PM - Ohio Supercomputer Center

The Ohio Supercomputer Center played a critical role in helping researchers reach a milestone mapping the growth of the universe from its infancy to present day.

OSC helps researchers unveil most accurate map of the invisible universe
August 10, 2017 01:43 PM - Ohio Supercomputer Center

The Ohio Supercomputer Center played a critical role in helping researchers reach a milestone mapping the growth of the universe from its infancy to present day.

NASA Analyzed Intensifying Franklin's Rains Before Landfall
August 10, 2017 01:06 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Before Tropical Storm Franklin made landfall in east-central Mexico, the storm was intensifying. Two NASA satellites provided a look at the storm's cloud heights and extent and rainfall within.

Portland State laser mapping project shows global warming effects in Antarctica
August 10, 2017 12:57 PM - Portland State University

Portland State University researchers and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have publically released high-resolution maps of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, a globally unique Antarctic polar desert.

Human-Caused Warming Likely Led to Recent Streak of Record-Breaking Temperatures, New Study Finds
August 10, 2017 12:42 PM - American Geophysical Union

It is “extremely unlikely” 2014, 2015 and 2016 would have been the warmest consecutive years on record without the influence of human-caused climate change, according to the authors of a new study.

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