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NASA examines El Nino's impact on ocean's food source
April 4, 2016 07:46 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

El Niño years can have a big impact on the littlest plants in the ocean, and NASA scientists are studying the relationship between the two. In El Niño years, huge masses of warm water – equivalent to about half of the volume of the Mediterranean Sea – slosh east across the Pacific Ocean towards South America. While this warm water changes storm systems in the atmosphere, it also has an impact below the ocean’s surface. These impacts, which researchers can visualize with satellite data, can ripple up the food chain to fisheries and the livelihoods of fishermen.

Eat your walnuts today!
April 4, 2016 08:22 AM - EDELMAN SEATTLE via EurekAlert

Initial findings from the Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study presented at Experimental Biology 2016 (EB) indicate that daily walnut consumption positively impacts blood cholesterol levels without adverse effects on body weight among older adults. The WAHA study is a dual site two-year clinical trial conducted by researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University and is aimed at determining the effect of walnuts on age-related health issues. 

"Given walnuts are a high-energy food, a prevailing concern has been that their long term consumption might be associated with weight gain," said Dr. Emilio Ros, director of the Lipid Clinic, Endocrinology & Nutrition Service at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. "The preliminary results of the WAHA study demonstrate that daily consumption of walnuts for one year by a sizable cohort of aging free-living persons has no adverse effects on body weight. They also show that the well-known cholesterol-lowering effect of walnut diets works equally well in the elderly and is maintained in the long term. Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of aging adults. It's encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population." 

 

Scotland shuts down its last coal-fired electric power plant
April 2, 2016 08:16 AM - s.e. smith, Care2

After nearly 50 years of service, Scotland’s last coal-fired power plant — Longannet Power Station — has finally gone offline, putting an end to over 100 years of burning coal for electricity.

It’s an important moment for Scottish Power, which looks ahead to clean power initiatives with the goal of going all-renewable by 2020,

But it’s also a very symbolic action for the world. Hopefully other nations will follow suit, creating a domino effect as country by country eliminates its coal plants — like the one above — in favor of renewable alternatives.

Lower indoor temperatures in winter correlate with thinner waistlines
April 1, 2016 05:16 PM - THE ENDOCRINE SOCIETY via EurekAlert.

Elderly adults are bigger around the middle when they turn up the heat inside their homes during the cold season and have smaller waistlines when their homes stay cool, new research finds. Investigators from Japan will present their study results Friday at the Endocrine Society's 98th annual meeting in Boston.

"Although cold exposure may be a trigger of cardiovascular disease, our data suggest that safe and appropriate cold exposure may be an effective preventive measure against obesity," said the study's lead investigator, Keigo Saeki, MD, PhD, of Nara Medical University School of Medicine Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Nara, Japan.

Cold exposure activates thermogenesis, to generate body heat, in brown fat. This type of fat is the good calorie-burning fat that prior research found most humans have. However, Saeki said the association between the amount of cold exposure and obesity in real life remains unclear.

 

Commercial leases go green
April 1, 2016 07:09 AM - University of Oxford

New opportunities to fight climate change in these properties are coming from an unlikely source: the commercial property lease. A new study finds that in 2009, only 15% of all leases signed in Sydney’s central business district contained green clauses; by 2013, this had risen to over 60%.

Going vegetarian could save emissions and prevent 8 million deaths a year
March 31, 2016 06:51 PM - Marco Springmann, The Ecologist

Oxford researchers have quantified the benefits of the world becoming vegetarian, writes Marco Springmann. Their study shows that simple changes - like moving to diets low in meat and high in fruit and vegetables - could lead to significant reduction in mortality and health care costs, while cutting food sector greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds.

Snowshoe hare range moving northward following retreating snow cover
March 31, 2016 07:52 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison via ScienceDaily

If there is an animal emblematic of the northern winter, it is the snowshoe hare.

A forest dweller, the snowshoe hare is named for its big feet, which allow it to skitter over deep snow to escape lynx, coyotes and other predators. It changes color with the seasons, assuming a snow-white fur coat for winter camouflage.

But a changing climate and reduced snow cover across the north is squeezing the animal out of its historic range, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Writing in the current (March 30, 2016) Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the Wisconsin researchers report that the range of the hare in Wisconsin is creeping north by about five and a half miles per decade, closely tracking the diminishing snow cover the animal requires to be successful.

 

Severe water stress likely in Asia by 2050
March 30, 2016 05:51 PM - MIT News

Economic and population growth on top of climate change could lead to serious water shortages across a broad swath of Asia by the year 2050, a newly published study by MIT scientists has found.

The study deploys detailed modeling to produce what the researchers believe is a full range of scenarios involving water availability and use in the future. In the paper, the scientists conclude there is a “high risk of severe water stress” in much of an area that is home to roughly half the world’s population.

Should we be feeding food waste to livestock?
March 30, 2016 06:39 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman , Triple Pundit

Food waste is a huge global problem. About a third of the food produced globally for human consumption, approximately 1.3 billion tons each year, is wasted or lost, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Food losses in industrialized countries add up to roughly $680 billion, with $310 billion in losses in developing countries. Produce (fruits and vegetables plus roots and tubers) have the highest rates of waste. 

Taiwan has a simple solution to reduce food waste: Feed it to livestock. The Guardian reports that Taiwan is “one of a handful of countries that have institutionalized the practice” of feeding food scraps to livestock. About two-third’s of the country’s food waste is fed to its 5.5 million pigs. Pigs are Taiwan’s biggest source of meat.

“We realized there was a lot of kitchen waste and that if we put it in incinerators it would hamper incineration because it’s wet,” Chiang Tsu-nong, deputy inspector general with the government’s Bureau of Environmental Inspection, told the Guardian. “And Taiwan’s land is limited, so if you build a landfill or an incinerator people will protest.”

 

Shrinking Arctic ice is impacting Greenland melting
March 29, 2016 07:48 AM - Rutgers University via ScienceDaily

Vanishing Arctic sea ice. Dogged weather systems over Greenland. Far-flung surface ice melting on the massive island. 'Blocking-high' pressure systems spawn most of the warming that melts Greenland surface ice, Rutgers study says

These dramatic trends and global sea-level rise are linked, according to a study coauthored by Jennifer Francis, a research professor in Rutgers University's Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

During Greenland summers, melting Arctic sea ice favors stronger and more frequent "blocking-high" pressure systems, which spin clockwise, stay largely in place and can block cold, dry Canadian air from reaching the island. The highs tend to enhance the flow of warm, moist air over Greenland, contributing to increased extreme heat events and surface ice melting, according to the study.

 

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