Top Stories

Urbanization affects diets of butterflies
August 18, 2016 11:34 AM - National University of Singapore via EurekAlert!

A study led by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that most tropical butterflies feed on a variety of flower types, but those that are 'picky' about their flower diets tend to prefer native plants and are more dependent on forests. These 'picky' butterflies also have wings that are more conspicuous and shorter proboscis. The reduction in native plants due to urbanisation affects the diet of such butterflies, and researchers suggest that intervention may be needed to manage their preferred flower resources.

Venus-like exoplanet might have oxygen atmosphere, but not life
August 18, 2016 10:36 AM - Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics via EurekAlert!

The distant planet GJ 1132b intrigued astronomers when it was discovered last year. Located just 39 light-years from Earth, it might have an atmosphere despite being baked to a temperature of around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. But would that atmosphere be thick and soupy or thin and wispy? New research suggests the latter is much more likely.

Harvard astronomer Laura Schaefer (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, or CfA) and her colleagues examined the question of what would happen to GJ 1132b over time if it began with a steamy, water-rich atmosphere.

Researchers discover a special power in wheat
August 17, 2016 05:15 PM - University of Queensland via EurekAlert!

A new photosynthesis discovery at The University of Queensland may help breed faster-growing wheat crops that are better adapted to hotter, drier climates.

A research team led by Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation researcher Professor Robert Henry has today published a paper in Scientific Reports, showing that photosynthesis occurs in wheat seeds as well as in plant leaves.

"This discovery turns half a century of plant biology on its head," Professor Henry said.

"Wheat covers more of the earth than any other crop, so the ramifications of this discovery could be huge. It may lead to better, faster-growing, better-yielding wheat crops in geographical areas where wheat currently cannot be grown."

 

Can't stand the heat? Study reveals how we work out if we're too hot
August 17, 2016 04:38 PM - KCL via EurekAlert!

With temperatures soaring across the UK, our ability to detect and avoid places that are too warm is vital for regulating our body temperature. However, until now, little was known about the molecular mechanisms responsible for detecting warmth in the sensory neurons of our skin.

A new King's College London study, published today in Nature, reveals that a gene called TRPM2 initiates a 'warm' signal in mice that drives them to seek cooler environments. When this gene is removed, the mice are unable to distinguish between cool and warm temperatures.

NASA Graphic Shows Severity of Rainstorm That Caused Louisiana Flooding
August 17, 2016 03:34 PM - Yale Environment 360

A new graphic created by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency illustrates the severity of a recent rainstorm that caused widespread flooding in Louisiana this week, killing 11 people and forcing tens of thousands of residents from their homes. 

Flowering meadows benefit humankind
August 17, 2016 03:16 PM - Technical University of Munich (TUM) via EurekAlert!

The more it swarms, crawls and flies the better it is for humans. This is the finding of a study published in "Nature". More than 60 researchers from a number of universities were involved, including the Technical University of Munich, the Institute of Plant Sciences at the University of Bern and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt. A diverse ecosystem populated by many species from all levels of the food chain provides higher levels of ecosystem services, the team reports. Even rather unpopular insects and invisible soil-dwelling organisms are important in maintaining a wide range of ecosystem services. The results underline the necessity of maintaining species-rich ecosystems for the good of humanity.

Sea ice strongly linked to climate change in past 90,000 years
August 17, 2016 03:03 PM - Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment via ScienceDaily

"The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean." says first author Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).

Sea ice amplifies the climate changes that are occurring at any given time. Its growth and melting has profound effects on climate, the marine environment and ocean circulation.

"The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean." says first author Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).

Slower snowmelt affects downstream water availability in western mountains
August 17, 2016 09:32 AM - UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO via EurekAlert!

Western communities are facing effects of a warming climate with slower and earlier snowmelt reducing streamflows and possibly the amount of water reaching reservoirs used for drinking water and agriculture, according to a study published in July.

"As the climate warms, there is actually a slower snowmelt - both in timing and rates, which makes for a less efficient streamflow," Adrian Harpold, ecohydrologist at the University of Nevada, Reno said. Harpold, who initiated the study two years ago at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a co-author of the paper published in AGU publications Geophysical Research Letters.

Solid batteries improve safety
August 16, 2016 05:03 PM - ETH ZURICH via EurekAlert!

Lithium-ion batteries store a lot of energy in a small space, making them the energy source of choice for mobile electronic devices. Today, mobile phones, laptops, e-bikes and electric cars are all powered by such batteries. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now developed a type of battery that, unlike conventional ones, consists entirely of solid chemical compounds and is non-flammable.

Conventional lithium-ion batteries are not without their dangers: mobile phone batteries have exploded several times in the past, resulting in injuries, and only six months ago an entire row of houses burned down in the old town of Steckborn on Lake Constance. The blaze was caused by a model-making battery that allegedly caught fire due to being charged improperly.

Offshore Wind Moves a Step Closer for North Carolina
August 16, 2016 03:39 PM - Sami Grover, Care2

While we’re a long way behind countries like the UK, there seems to be a growing momentum behind US offshore wind development—suggesting we might finally get serious about the incredible potential for this increasingly competitive technology. The latest such signal is an announcement from the Department of Interior proposing a lease sale for the 122,405-Acre Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area.

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