Top Stories

Against the Tide: A Fish Adapts Quickly to Lethal Levels of Pollution
December 9, 2016 07:24 AM - Kat Kerlin, UC Davis

Evolution is working hard to rescue some urban fish from a lethal, human-altered environment, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis, and published Dec. 9 in the journal Science. 

While environmental change is outpacing the rate of evolution for many other species, Atlantic killifish living in four polluted East Coast estuaries turn out to be remarkably resilient. These fish have adapted to levels of highly toxic industrial pollutants that would normally kill them.

How Tracking Product Sources May Help Save World's Forests
December 8, 2016 02:04 PM - Yale Environment 360

Global businesses are increasingly pledging to obtain key commodities only from sources that do not contribute to deforestation. Now, nonprofit groups are deploying data tools that help hold these companies to their promises by tracing the origins of everything from soy to timber to beef.

NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone 05B Form
December 8, 2016 10:01 AM - NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

An area of tropical low pressure designated System 99B has consolidated and developed into Tropical Cyclone 05B. On Dec. 7 the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Cyclone 05B over the Anadaman and Nicobar Islands. The VIIRS image showed bands of thunderstorms wrapping around the center from the northern to the eastern quadrants over the Anadaman Islands.

East Greenland ice sheet has responded to climate change for the last 7.5 million years
December 8, 2016 09:42 AM - Anne M Stark via DOE / Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Using marine sediment cores containing isotopes of aluminum and beryllium, a group of international researchers has discovered that East Greenland experienced deep, ongoing glacial erosion over the past 7.5 million years.

The research reconstructs ice sheet erosion dynamics in that region during the past 7.5 million years and has potential implications for how much the ice sheet will respond to future interglacial warming.

The team, made up of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Vermont, Boston College and Imperial College London, analyzed sediments eroded from the continent and deposited in the ocean off the coast, which are like a time capsule preserving records of glacial processes. The research appears in the Dec. 8 edition of the journal, Nature.

2017 Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal Winner: Ing. César A. Portocarrero Rodríguez
December 7, 2016 02:56 PM - Mountain Legacy

Nepalese NGO Mountain Legacy has just announced that Peruvian engineer César Augusto Portocarrero Rodríguez will receive the Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal in a public ceremony at Hotel Tibet International in Kathmandu on December 11 (International Mountain Day). César Portocarrero has directed projects to mitigate the danger of outburst floods from numerous glacial lakes in the Andes, saving thousands of lives and many millions of dollars, and he is now sharing his expertise with members of the High Mountain Adaptation Partnership (HiMAP), including Nepal, Bhutan, and several Central Asian nations

Sea ice hit record lows in November
December 7, 2016 11:41 AM - University of Colorado at Boulder

Unusually high air temperatures and a warm ocean have led to a record low Arctic sea ice extent for November, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. In the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice extent also hit a record low for the month, caused by moderately warm temperatures and a rapid shift in circumpolar winds.

“It looks like a triple whammy—a warm ocean, a warm atmosphere, and a wind pattern all working against the ice in the Arctic,” said NSIDC director Mark Serreze.

Sandia Labs, Singapore join forces to develop energy storage
December 6, 2016 09:30 AM - Sandia Labs

Sandia National Laboratories has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the government of Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) that will tap into the labs’ expertise in energy storage.

EMA is the statutory body in Singapore responsible for ensuring a reliable and secure energy supply, promoting competition in the energy market and developing a dynamic energy sector. Last year, EMA invited Sandia to organize a workshop on the latest developments in storage technologies. The two-day event in the Southeast Asian island city-state led to a CRADA under which Sandia will help set up Singapore’s first grid energy storage test-bed.

“Sandia will collaboratively develop an energy storage test-bed to better understand the feasibility of deploying energy storage systems [ESS] in Singapore,” said Dan Borneo, Sandia team lead on the project.


When Permafrost Melts, What Happens to All That Stored Carbon?
December 6, 2016 08:55 AM - Stacy Morford via The Earth Institute at Columbia University

The Arctic’s frozen ground contains large stores of organic carbon that have been locked in the permafrost for thousands of years. As global temperatures rise, that permafrost is starting to melt, raising concerns about the impact on the climate as organic carbon becomes exposed. A new study is shedding light on what that could mean for the future by providing the first direct physical evidence of a massive release of carbon from permafrost during a warming spike at the end of the last ice age.

The study, published this week in the journal Nature Communications, documents how Siberian soil once locked in permafrost was carried into the Arctic Ocean during that period at a rate about seven times higher than today.

Game Changer for Organic Solar Cells
December 5, 2016 03:13 PM - Julie Cohen via University of California - Santa Barbara

With a new technique for manufacturing single-layer organic polymer solar cells, scientists at UC Santa Barbara and three other universities might very well move organic photovoltaics into a whole new generation of wearable devices and enable small-scale distributed power generation.

The simple doping solution-based process involves briefly immersing organic semiconductor films in a solution at room temperature. This technique, which could replace a more complex approach that requires vacuum processing, has the potential to affect many device platforms, including organic printed electronics, sensors, photodetectors and light-emitting diodes. The researchers’ findings appear in the journal Nature Materials.

First Detection of Ammonia in the Upper Troposphere
December 5, 2016 01:59 PM - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Population is growing, climate is warming – hence, emission of ammonia (NH3) trace gas from e.g. agriculture will increase worldwide. Recently, scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) for the first time detected NH3 in the upper troposphere. Together with researchers from Colorado/USA and Mexico, they analyzed satellite measurements by the MIPAS infrared spectrometer and found increased amounts of NH3 between 12 and 15 km height in the area of the Asian monsoon. This suggests that the gas is responsible for the formation of aerosols, smallest particles that might contribute to cloud formation. The researchers present their work in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal. (DOI: 10.5194/acp-16-14357-2016)

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