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Free-swimming Ocean Gliders Help Scientists Understand Storm Intensity
September 13, 2016 10:52 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A regional team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Rutgers University, the University of Maine, the University of Maryland, and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute mobilized Friday in advance of post-Tropical Storm Hermine’s arrival in the Northeast to gather data from new ocean instruments that will help better predict the intensity and evolution of future tropical storms along the US East Coast.  

The team, part of the TEMPESTS program organized through the Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region, is funded by the NOAA office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

Air Pollution: The Billion Dollar Industry
September 13, 2016 07:21 AM - Steve Williams, Care2

The World Bank has released a new report highlighting the fact that air pollution costs world governments billions upon billions every year and ranks among the leading causes of death worldwide.

The estimates — drawn from a number of sources, including the World Health Organization’s most recently completed data sets compiled in 2013 — can for the first time begin to examine the overall welfare cost of air pollution.

Carbon-coated iron catalyst structure could lead to more-active fuel cells
September 12, 2016 04:46 PM - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via EurekAlert!

Fuel cells have long held promise as power sources, but low efficiency has created obstacles to realizing that promise. Researchers at the University of Illinois and collaborators have identified the active form of an iron-containing catalyst for the trickiest part of the process: reducing oxygen gas, which has two oxygen atoms, so that it can break apart and combine with ionized hydrogen to make water. The finding could help researchers refine better catalysts, making fuel cells a more energy- and cost-efficient option for powering vehicles and other applications.

Led by U. of I. chemistry professor Andrew Gewirth, the researchers published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Healthcare costs for infections linked to bacteria in water supply systems are rising
September 12, 2016 10:38 AM - Tufts University via EurekAlert!

A new analysis of 100 million Medicare records from U.S. adults aged 65 and older reveals rising healthcare costs for infections associated with opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens--disease-causing bacteria, such as Legionella--which can live inside drinking water distribution systems, including household and hospital water pipes.

A team led by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Tufts University School of Medicine found that between 1991 and 2006, more than 617,000 hospitalizations related to three common plumbing pathogens resulted in around $9 billion in Medicare payments--an average of $600 million a year. The costs may now exceed $2 billion for 80,000 cases per year, write the study authors. Antibiotic resistance, which can be exacerbated by aging public water infrastructure, was present in between one and two percent of hospitalizations and increased the cost per case by between 10 to 40 percent.

Calculating the role of lakes in global warming
September 9, 2016 05:01 PM - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) via ScienceDaily

As global temperatures rise, how will lake ecosystems respond? As they warm, will lakes -- which make up only 3 percent of the landscape, but bury more carbon than the world's oceans combined -- release more of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane? And might that create a feedback loop that leads to further warming?

To predict the effects of rising air temperatures on the carbon cycle of lakes, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers will link computer models of changing weather, water temperature, and emissions of carbon dioxide and methane for 2,000 lakes across the United States, including Lake George, through 2105. The project is supported with a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, and led by Kevin Rose, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Rensselaer and the Frederic R. Kolleck '52 Career Development Chair in Freshwater Ecology.

Scientists expect to calculate amount of fuel inside Earth by 2025
September 9, 2016 02:48 PM - University of Maryland via EurekAlert!

Earth requires fuel to drive plate tectonics, volcanoes and its magnetic field. Like a hybrid car, Earth taps two sources of energy to run its engine: primordial energy from assembling the planet and nuclear energy from the heat produced during natural radioactive decay. Scientists have developed numerous models to predict how much fuel remains inside Earth to drive its engines -- and estimates vary widely -- but the true amount remains unknown.

Study Discovers Air Pollution Particles in the Human Brain
September 9, 2016 07:21 AM - Julie Rodriguez, Care2

A new study from Lancaster University has discovered toxic nanoparticles from air pollution in large quantities in human brains. The researchers examined brain tissue from 37 people aged between 3 and 92 years old in the U.K. and Mexico. Magnetite, a type of iron oxide, was found in massive quantities in the samples – millions of particles per gram of brain tissue.

Increased ocean acidification is due to human activities, say scientists
September 8, 2016 05:24 PM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily

Oceanographers from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution report that the northeast Pacific Ocean has absorbed an increasing amount of anthropogenic carbon dioxide over the last decade, at a rate that mirrors the increase of carbon dioxide emissions pumped into the atmosphere.

The scientists, led by graduate student Sophie Chu, in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, found that most of the anthropogenic carbon (carbon arising from human activity) in the northeast Pacific has lingered in the upper layers, changing the chemistry of the ocean as a result. In the past 10 years, the region's average pH has dropped by 0.002 pH units per year, leading to more acidic waters. The increased uptake in carbon dioxide has also decreased the availability of aragonite -- an essential mineral for many marine species' shells.

Tropics told to ban coral-killing sunscreen
September 8, 2016 06:57 AM - Inga Vesper, SciDevNet

Tropical island nations should team up to ban coral-killing sunscreen products, following the example of Hawaii, a conference has heard. Chemical compounds in sunscreen lotions cause irreparable damage to reefs, which are crucial to the livelihoods of 500 million people in the tropics, scientist and policymakers said at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on 3 September. Hawaii is leading a legistlative effort to ban the use of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or similar harmful agents at its beaches.

Future fisheries can expect $10 billion revenue loss due to climate change
September 7, 2016 11:20 AM - University of British Columbia via EurekAlert!

Global fisheries stand to lose approximately $10 billion of their annual revenue by 2050 if climate change continues unchecked, and countries that are most dependent on fisheries for food will be the hardest hit, finds new UBC research.

Climate change impacts such as rising temperatures and changes in ocean salinity, acidity and oxygen levels are expected to result in decreased catches, as previous research from UBC's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries has found. In this study, the authors examined the financial impact of these projected losses for all fishing countries in 2050, compared to 2000.

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