Top Stories

Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth's crust
March 28, 2017 08:28 AM - University of Washington

Stock traders have long used specialized trackers to decide when to buy or sell a stock, or when the market is beginning to make a sudden swing.

Disappearing Beaches: Modeling Shoreline Change in Southern California
March 28, 2017 08:00 AM - United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Using a newly-developed computer model called “CoSMoS-COAST” (Coastal Storm Modeling System – Coastal One-line Assimilated Simulation Tool) scientists predict that with limited human intervention, 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded (up to existing coastal infrastructure or sea-cliffs) by the year 2100 under scenarios of sea-level rise of one to two meters.

Tiny bacterium provides window into whole ecosystems
March 28, 2017 08:00 AM - MIT

William Blake may have seen a world in a grain of sand, but for scientists at MIT the smallest of all photosynthetic bacteria holds clues to the evolution of entire ecosystems, and perhaps even the whole biosphere.

Chance find has big implications for water treatment's costs and carbon footprint
March 27, 2017 01:15 PM - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

A type of bacteria accidentally discovered during research supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) could fundamentally re-shape efforts to cut the huge amount of electricity consumed during wastewater clean-up.

The discovery has upended a century of conventional thinking. The microorganisms - 'comammox' (complete ammonia oxidising) bacteria - can completely turn ammonia into nitrates. Traditionally, this vital step in removing nitrogen from wastewater has involved using two different microorganisms in a two-step approach: ammonia is oxidised into nitrites that are then oxidised into nitrates, which are turned into nitrogen gas and flared off harmlessly.

Litter is present throughout the world's oceans: 1,220 species affected
March 27, 2017 01:06 PM - Alfred Wegener Institute - Helmholtz Centre For Polar and Marine Research

Where is marine litter concentrated, and which species and ecosystems does it affect? Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have for the first time compiled all scientific data published on marine litter in a single, comprehensive database, now accessible from the online portal AWI Litterbase (www.litterbase.org). Here, both the distribution of litter and its interactions with organisms are presented in global maps. In addition, the regularly updated datasets are fed into graphic analyses, which show e.g. that seabirds and fish are particularly affected by litter. The latest interaction analysis shows that 34 per cent of the species monitored ingest litter, 31 per cent colonise it, and 30 per cent get entangled or otherwise trapped in it (for all figures: valid as of 23 March 2017). The total number of affected species is rising steadily and is currently at 1,220 – more than twice the number reported in the last review article. These numbers will change as the database is being updated regularly.

This is how green algae assemble their enzymes
March 27, 2017 12:48 PM - Ruhr-University Bochum

For almost a decade, researchers from Bochum have been developing biotechnological methods for hydrogen production. Green algae might be the key.

Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have analysed how green algae manufacture complex components of a hydrogen-producing enzyme. The enzyme, known as the hydrogenase, may be relevant for the biotechnological production of hydrogen.

To date, little is known about the way organisms form this type of hydrogenases under natural conditions. Using novel synthetic biology methods, the team around Dr Anne Sawyer, PhD student Yu Bai, assistant professor Dr Anja Hemschemeier and Prof Dr Thomas Happe from the Bochum-based research group Photobiotechnology, discovered that a specific protein machinery in the green algal chloroplasts is required for the production of a functional hydrogenase. The researchers published their findings in “The Plant Journal”.

Farming becoming riskier under climate change
March 27, 2017 12:10 PM - University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Scientists the world over are working to predict how climate change will affect our planet. It is an extremely complex puzzle with many moving parts, but a few patterns have been consistent, including the prediction that farming as we know it will become more difficult.

Scientists infer the impact on agriculture based on predictions of rainfall, drought intensity, and weather volatility. Until now, however, the average farmer may not have been able to put predictions like these into practice. A new University of Illinois study puts climate change predictions in terms that farmers are used to: field working days.

Another Study Points to Climate Change's Direct Role in Fueling Extreme Weather
March 27, 2017 12:02 PM - Yale Environment 360

Climate change is impacting major air currents that control extreme weather events, helping to power natural disasters like heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods in North America, Europe, and Asia, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Spiral of doom: hotter world increases cattle methane emissions
March 27, 2017 10:33 AM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist

A vicious cycle of climate change, cattle diet and rising methane has been revealed in a new scientific study: as temperatures rise, forage plants get tougher and harder to digest, and cause more methane to be produced in bovine stomachs. And with cattle numbers rising and methane 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas over 20 years, that spells trouble.

Scientists Discover Mechanism That Causes Cancer Cells to Self-destruct
March 27, 2017 10:27 AM - American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Many cancer patients struggle with the adverse effects of chemotherapy, still the most prescribed cancer treatment. For patients with pancreatic cancer and other aggressive cancers, the forecast is more grim: there is no known effective therapy.

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