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Some Ice Sheets in Greenland slowing their movement
October 30, 2015 08:13 AM - ScienceDaily

In the face of decades of increasing temperatures and surface melting, the movement of the southwest portion of the Greenland Ice Sheet that terminates on land has been slowing down, according to a new study being published by the journal Nature on Oct. 29.

Researchers derived their results by tracking ice sheet movement through Landsat satellite images taken from 1985 to 2014 across a roughly 3,088-square-mile (8000-square-kilometer) region in southwest Greenland. They found that, between 2007 and 2014, ice movement slowed in 84 percent of the study area, during a period of high surface melt, compared to the years between 1985 and 1994. The average slowdown was 12 percent, or 32.8 feet (10 meters) per year.

The northern snakehead fish
October 30, 2015 07:42 AM - USGS Newsroom

The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

The team found that a group of adult northern snakehead collected from Virginia waters of the Potomac River south of Washington D.C. were infected with a species of Mycobacterium, a type of bacteria known to cause chronic disease among a wide range of animals.

"Mycobacterial infections are not unusual among fish, but they are nonetheless noteworthy because they can have an impact at the population level and potentially even affect other fish and wildlife," said lead author Christine Densmore, a veterinarian with the USGS.

2015 Antarctic Ozone Hole larger and formed later than previous holes
October 30, 2015 06:17 AM - NASA

The 2015 Antarctic ozone hole area was larger and formed later than in recent years, said scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Assessing the health and economic consequences of Dieselgate
October 29, 2015 08:01 AM - MIT News

Volkswagen’s use of software to evade emissions standards in more than 482,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. will directly contribute to 60 premature deaths across the country, a new MIT-led study finds.

In September, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the German automaker had developed and installed “defeat devices” (actually software) in light-duty diesel vehicles sold between 2008 and 2015. This software was designed to sense when a car was undergoing an emissions test, and only then engage the vehicle’s full emissions-control system, which would otherwise be disabled under normal driving conditions — a cheat that allows the vehicles to emit 40 times more emissions than permitted by the Clean Air Act.

That amount of excess pollution, multiplied by the number of affected vehicles sold in the U.S. and extrapolated over population distributions and health risk factors across the country, will have significant effects on public health, the study finds.

Historic Nitrate Levels Still Plague U.S. Rivers
October 29, 2015 06:16 AM - USGS Newsroom

During 1945 to 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold in intensively managed agricultural areas of the Midwest, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. In recent decades, nitrate changes have been smaller and levels have remained high in most of the rivers studied. 

VW Dieselgate and EV priorities in Europe
October 28, 2015 04:03 PM - EurActiv

The pollution-cheating scandal that has engulfed auto giant Volkswagen is turning up the heat on the German government to make more determined headway in its self-declared "electromobility" goals, analysts say.

The "bitter irony" of the scam that has rocked the automobile sector around the world and plunged the once-respected carmaker into a major crisis, is that the billions of euros VW could potentially face in fines"could have been used to finance an entire electric car programme," complained Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks recently.

Over the past six years, Berlin has put up €1.5 billion for research into an electric car, the minister pointed out. And her ministry is looking into a series of measures to promote the electric car, such as tax incentives and purchase subsidies.

Dancing makes you feel good and help bond with others
October 28, 2015 08:49 AM - Universtiy of Oxford

Dancing in time with others raises your pain threshold, Oxford University researchers have found.

A team from the University's Experimental Psychology and Anthropology Departments wanted to see whether our feelings of social closeness when dancing with others might be linked to endorphins – the body’s 'feel good' chemicals.

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that form part of the brain’s pain control system, but they are also implicated in social bonding. Dr Bronwyn Tarr explained: 'Dance is an important activity around the world, and it could be a way to connect with other people and feel socially bonded. We wanted to see the effect of high and low energy, and synchronised and unsynchronised dancing had on both pain threshold and the sense of bondedness to fellow group-members.'

Black Holes and their flares studied by NASA missions
October 27, 2015 07:48 PM - NASA JPL - California Institute of Technology

The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes have become somewhat less mysterious recently, with new observations from NASA's Explorer missions Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The two space telescopes caught a supermassive black hole in the midst of a giant eruption of X-ray light, helping astronomers address an ongoing puzzle: How do supermassive black holes flare?

The results suggest that supermassive black holes send out beams of X-rays when their surrounding coronas -- sources of extremely energetic particles -- shoot, or launch, away from the black holes.

"This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare," said Dan Wilkins of Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, lead author of a new paper on the results appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe."

New report addresses how we can slow climate change
October 27, 2015 06:44 PM - UCLA

Top environmental researchers from UCLA joined a team of 50 University of California experts in issuing a new report today with solutions to stabilize Earth’s climate this century. 

The report, Bending the Curve, was released Tuesday at the UC Climate Neutrality Initiative Summit in San Diego, and provides 10 scalable solutions to reduce global greenhouse emissions. 

Why are diesel cars so popular in Europe?
October 27, 2015 08:04 AM - EurActiv

An estimated annual 'tax gap' subsidy of some €16 billion for diesel over petrol has made Europe the world's largest market for diesel cars - but the Volkswagen scandal has put the national tax schemes supporting this industry at risk.

“There is no reason to keep subsidising this sector," Carlos Calvo, policy analyst at Transport & Environment, told EurActiv on Monday (26 October). The efficiency of petrol-fuelled cars has improved significantly in recent years, while the diesel industry has reduced its nitrogen-oxide emissions only very slowly.

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