Top Stories

Plant roots may accelerate carbon loss from soils
April 3, 2015 02:33 PM - Oregon State University

Soil, long thought to be a semi-permanent storehouse for ancient carbon, may be releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than anyone thought, according to Oregon State University soil scientists. In a study published in this week’s online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers showed that chemicals emitted by plant roots act on carbon that is bonded to minerals in the soil, breaking the bonds and exposing previously protected carbon to decomposition by microbes.

Maryland Crab Cake Fraud
April 3, 2015 10:38 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Maryland crab cakes are as important to Baltimore’s heritage as Hairspray, the Star Spangled Banner and Orioles baseball. In fact, many would say a visit to Maryland would be lacking without sampling them, whether you are vacationing on the Eastern Shore or in the DC area for a business meeting. Restaurants such as Phillips Seafood, Obryckis and Faidley’s have built an enduring business thanks to this local specialty. However, according to a new study almost 40 percent of crab cakes tested in a survey revealed DNA evidence of fraud in the crab industry.

Ice melt endangers Arctic mammals
April 2, 2015 02:47 PM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Three kinds of whale, six varieties of seal, the walrus and the polar bear all have these five things in common: they are marine mammals; they depend on the Arctic for their survival as species; they are vulnerable; and biologists know surprisingly little about them. And since the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, their future could become even more threatened as climate change increases habitat loss.

Carbon storage in world's biomass is increasing
April 2, 2015 02:08 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

The threat of deforestation is understood as one of the major problems in the world today, but a new study suggests that the total amount of vegetation in the world appears to have increased in the past decade, suggesting a rare ray of light in conservation and climate change news.

The study, which was published late last month in the journal Nature Climate Change, saw researchers from Australia assess the amount of carbon stored in living plant mass, also known as biomass, stored above ground. This is one established way that we can measure not just how much carbon is stored but also the density of biomass in any given area and so provides us with an interesting way of assessing regional and global forest densities.

Plowing prairies for grains
April 2, 2015 09:08 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison via EurekAlert!

Clearing grasslands to make way for biofuels may seem counterproductive, but University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers show in a study today (April 2, 2015) that crops, including the corn and soy commonly used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.

New California water restrictions mandated
April 2, 2015 06:56 AM - , Triple Pundit

This year California has seen the lowest snowpack ever recorded, which was a disaster for the winter ski tourism industry and poses dangers of wildfires this summer and fall. But the dry winter has also exacerbated the state’s ongoing drought crisis. To that end, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order that he said is necessary in order to make California drought resistant.

The governor made the announcement while visiting a California Department of Water Resources snow survey in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Phillips Station, located in El Dorado County near the Nevada border. “Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” Gov. Brown said.

Polar Bears Won't be Satisfied by Terrestrial Foods Alone
April 1, 2015 01:48 PM - USGS Newsroom

A team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey found that polar bears, increasingly forced on shore due to sea ice loss, may be eating terrestrial foods including berries, birds and eggs, but any nutritional gains are limited to a few individuals and likely cannot compensate for lost opportunities to consume their traditional, lipid-rich prey—ice seals.

The advantages of being a morning person
April 1, 2015 01:40 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

There are many advantages of getting a good nights sleep.  Turns out, the advantages are less if you are a night owl instead of a morning person.

Night owls are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome and sarcopenia than early risers, even when they get the same amount of sleep, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study examined the difference between night and morning chronotypes, or a person's natural sleep-wake cycle. Staying awake later at night is likely to cause sleep loss, poor sleep quality, and eating at inappropriate times, which might eventually lead to metabolic change.

Agricultural contaminant impacts fish reproductive behavior
April 1, 2015 09:40 AM - Monash University

A common growth-promoting hormone used worldwide in the cattle industry has been found to affect the sexual behaviours of fish at a very low concentration in waterways – with potentially serious ecological and evolutionary consequences. Researchers from Monash University, in collaboration with researchers from Åbo Akademi University in Finland,  have found that the steroid 17β-trenbolone – used on livestock to increase muscle growth – alters male reproductive behaviour in guppy fish (Poecilia reticulata).

Why is Mars so different from Earth?
April 1, 2015 07:40 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Did Mars ever support life of any sort?  Why is Mars so different from Earth? Can we deduce its history from current conditions?

NASA's Curiosity rover is using a new experiment to better understand the history of the Martian atmosphere by analyzing xenon. 

While NASA's Curiosity rover concluded its detailed examination of the rock layers of the "Pahrump Hills" in Gale Crater on Mars this winter, some members of the rover team were busy analyzing the Martian atmosphere for xenon, a heavy noble gas. 

Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment analyzed xenon in the planet's atmosphere. Since noble gases are chemically inert and do not react with other substances in the air or on the ground, they are excellent tracers of the history of the atmosphere. Xenon is present in the Martian atmosphere at a challengingly low quantity and can be directly measured only with on-site experiments such as SAM.

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