Top Stories

New Study Maps Space Dust in 3-D
March 22, 2017 05:08 PM - DOE / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Consider that the Earth is just a giant cosmic dust bunny—a big bundle of debris amassed from exploded stars. We Earthlings are essentially just little clumps of stardust, too, albeit with very complex chemistry.

And because outer space is a very dusty place, that makes things very difficult for astronomers and astrophysicists who are trying to peer farther across the universe or deep into the center of our own galaxy to learn more about their structure, formation and evolution.

Natural gas leaks from power plants, refineries, 100 times greater than thought
March 22, 2017 05:02 PM - Steve Horn , Ecologist

Natural gas is meant to be a far lower carbon fuel than coal, writes Steve Horn. But a new study shows that methane leaks from gas power plants and oil refineries are 20-120 times higher than thought. And with methane a greenhouse gas almost 100 times stronger than CO2 over 20 years, the leaks are equivalent to about a tenth of the US's CO2 emissions.

Salmon with side effects
March 22, 2017 04:53 PM - Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research - UFZ

Tasty, versatile, and rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids: salmon is one of the most popular edible fish of all. Shops sell fish caught in the wild, but their main produce is salmon from breeding farms which can pollute rivers, lakes and oceans. Just how big is the problem? German and Chilean scientists are working to answer this question under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). They examined the dissolved organic compounds which enter Chile's rivers from salmon farms, and have published a report in the journal Scientific Reports, warning that these substances are placing huge strain on ecosystems and are changing entire biological communities.

Under the Dead Sea, Warnings of Dire Drought
March 22, 2017 04:39 PM - The Earth Institute at Columbia University

Nearly 1,000 feet below the bed of the Dead Sea, scientists have found evidence that during past warm periods, the Mideast has suffered drought on scales never recorded by humans—a possible warning for current times. Thick layers of crystalline salt show that rainfall plummeted to as little as a fifth of modern levels some 120,000 years ago, and again about 10,000 years ago. Today, the region is drying again as climate warms, and scientists say it will get worse. The new findings may cause them to rethink how much worse, in this already thirsty and volatile part of the world.

The Cerberus Groundsnake is a Critically Endangered new species from Ecuador
March 22, 2017 12:06 PM - Pensoft Publishers

With as many as 140 species, Atractus is the most diverse snake genus in the world, even though it can be found exclusively in Central and South America. However, these colubrid ground snakes seem largely under-researched, since there have been thirty-three species discovered in the last ten years only.

Wastewater should be recognized as a valuable resource, UN says on World Water Day
March 22, 2017 12:00 PM - United Nations New Centre

In a world where the demand for water continues to grow and the resource is finite, a new United Nations report argues that wastewater, discarded into the environment every day, once treated, can help meet the needs for freshwater as well as for raw materials for energy and agriculture.

Wastewater should be recognized as a valuable resource, UN says on World Water Day
March 22, 2017 12:00 PM - United Nations New Centre

In a world where the demand for water continues to grow and the resource is finite, a new United Nations report argues that wastewater, discarded into the environment every day, once treated, can help meet the needs for freshwater as well as for raw materials for energy and agriculture.

How to fix the East Africa Crisis
March 22, 2017 11:53 AM - Joe Ware, The Ecologist

The world is seeing the human cost of climate disruption playing out across the Horn of Africa. Severe droughts, erratic rainfall and rising temperatures have tipped nations towards famine and left communities fighting for survival. But it's also a man-made crisis and one that we can address both in the short and long term reports Joe Ware.

Fledgling stars try to prevent their neighbours from birthing planets
March 22, 2017 11:48 AM - Imperial College London

Stars don't have to be massive to evaporate material from around nearby stars and affect their ability to form planets, a new study suggests.

"Super sponge" promises effective toxic clean-up of lakes and more
March 22, 2017 11:43 AM - University of Minnesota

Mercury is very toxic and can cause long-term health damage, but removing it from water is challenging. To address this growing problem, University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences (CFANS) Professor Abdennour Abbas and his lab team created a spongethat can absorb mercury from a polluted water source within seconds. Thanks to the application of nanotechnology, the team developed a sponge with outstanding mercury adsorption properties where mercury contaminations can be removed from tap, lake and industrial wastewater to below detectable limits in less than 5 seconds (or around 5 minutes for industrial wastewater). The sponge converts the contamination into a non-toxic complex so it can be disposed of in a landfill after use. The sponge also kills bacterial and fungal microbes.

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