Top Stories

Weather anomalies accelerate the melting of sea ice
January 16, 2018 10:16 AM - Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich

ETH researchers reveal why Arctic sea ice began to melt in the middle of winter two years ago – and that the increased melting of ice in summer is linked to recurring periods of fair weather.

Asthma Costs the U.S. Economy More than $80 Billion Per Year
January 16, 2018 09:19 AM - American Thoracic Society

Asthma costs the U.S. economy more than $80 billion annually in medical expenses, missed work and school days and deaths, according to new research published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.


Warming Signs: How Diminished Snow Cover Puts Species in Peril
January 16, 2018 09:18 AM - Yale Environment 360

The wolverine is highly adapted to life in a snowy world. It has thick fur and snowshoe-like feet, and it dens high in the mountains as a way to avoid predators that aren’t as nimble in deep snow and to provide its kits with insulation from the bitter high-elevation cold.

Math Can Predict How Cancer Cells Evolve
January 16, 2018 09:12 AM - University of Waterloo

Applied mathematics can be a powerful tool in helping predict the genesis and evolution of different types of cancers, a study from the University of Waterloo has found.

Northern corn leaf blight genes identified in new study
January 16, 2018 08:36 AM - University of Illinois

Midwestern corn growers know the symptoms of northern corn leaf blight all too well: greenish-gray lesions on the leaves that can add up to major yield losses if not detected and treated early. Resistance genes have been identified in corn, but the fungal disease has found ways to sneak around corn’s defenses. Now, researchers have figured out how the fungus is outsmarting corn, and they may be able to use this information to help corn fight back.

“We were looking for genes in the fungus that trigger disease in corn. With this information, corn breeders could someday build more durable resistance in future hybrids,” says Santiago Mideros, plant pathologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Shale gas is one of the least sustainable ways to produce electricity
January 16, 2018 08:36 AM - University of Manchester

Shale gas is one of least sustainable options for producing electricity, according to new research from The University of Manchester.

The major study, which is the first of its kind, considered environmental, economic and social sustainability of shale gas in the UK and compared it to other electricity generating options. These were coal, nuclear, natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, hydro and biomass.

Europe's lost forests — study shows coverage has halved over six millennia
January 15, 2018 03:45 PM - Alan Williams, University of Plymouth

Academics in Sweden, Germany, France, Estonia and Switzerland sought to establish how the nature of Europe’s forests has changed over 11,000 years. More than half of Europe’s forests have disappeared over the past 6,000 years thanks to increasing demand for agricultural land and the use of wood as a source of fuel, new research led by the University of Plymouth suggests.

How Incurable Mitochondrial Diseases Strike Previously Unaffected Families
January 15, 2018 12:09 PM - Medical Research Council

Researchers have shown for the first time how children can inherit a severe – potentially fatal – mitochondrial disease from a healthy mother. The study, led by researchers from the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit at the University of Cambridge, reveals that healthy people harbour mutations in their mitochondrial DNA and explains how cases of severe mitochondrial disease can appear unexpectedly in previously unaffected families.

Discovery of a new source of world's deadliest toxin
January 15, 2018 11:04 AM - Quadram Institute

Researchers from the Quadram Institute have identified genes encoding a previously undiscovered version of the botulinum neurotoxin in bacteria from a cow’s gut.

This is the first time that an intact cluster of genes for making botulinum neurotoxin have been found outside of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum or its close relatives, and only the second report of a new botulinum toxin in the past 40 years.

Robots aid better understanding of phytoplankton blooms
January 15, 2018 10:43 AM - Centre national de la recherche scientifique

Phytoplankton blooms are one of the most important factors contributing to the efficiency of the carbon pump in the North Atlantic Ocean. To better understand this phenomenon, the ERC remOcean1 project, led by researchers at the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (CNRS/UPMC), has developed a new class of robots: biogeochemical profiling floats, the first robots able to collect data in the ocean throughout the year. Using these unparalleled data, the researchers have identified the starting point for the explosive spring phytoplankton bloom. Their results are the subject of two articles published in Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications.

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