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Study suggests methane in drinking water is unrelated to fracking
March 31, 2015 02:00 PM - Eric Hand, Science/AAAS

Fracking doesn’t appear to be allowing methane to seriously contaminate drinking water in Pennsylvania, a new study finds—contrary to some earlier, much publicized research that suggested a stronger link. But the lead authors of the two bodies of research are sparring over the validity of the new results.

Large animals are needed to regenerate tropical forests
March 31, 2015 08:51 AM - Alexander Montoro, MONGABAY.COM

Nearly two-thirds of tropical forests in Southeast Asia have been degraded by logging, agriculture and other human uses, and their fauna have been decimated by hunting and the bushmeat trade. But if those degraded tropical forests are to recover naturally, they will need to rely on their remaining large wild animals to disperse large tree seeds, according to a new study. The study published in mongabay.org's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science examined the importance of large mammals such as wild primates, deer, civets, wild pigs, and tapirs to the dispersion of large seeds throughout the Harapan Rainforest of Sumatra, which has been degraded by logging and agriculture. 

New deep-water methane reservoir found deep in the Arctic Ocean
March 31, 2015 07:57 AM - University of New Hampshire via EurekAlert.

Research led by a University of New Hampshire professor has identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates -- ice-like substances found in sediment that trap methane within the crystal structure of frozen water -- in the Arctic Ocean. The findings, published online now in the May 2015 journal Geology, point to a previously undiscovered, stable reservoir for abiotic methane -- methane not generated by decomposing carbon -- that is "locked" away from the atmosphere, where it could impact global climate change.

"We've found an example where methane produced at a mid-ocean ridge is locked up in stable, deep water gas hydrate, preventing it from possibly getting out of the seafloor," says lead author Joel Johnson, associate professor of geology at UNH and guest researcher at the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Johnson notes that the findings, which pinpointed a source of abiotic methane ¬produced in seafloor crust, indicate gas hydrates throughout the Arctic may be supplied by a significant portion of abiotic gas.

Its a fact: animals can predict earthquakes.
March 30, 2015 04:30 PM - Susan Bird, Care2

The Amazon rainforest teems with animal activity throughout the day and night. When animals suddenly withdraw and go silent, however, something unusual is going on. Many believe that this reaction can mean an earthquake is imminent.

Scientists now say they’ve got proof this belief is true. They’ve published their study’s findings in the journal Physics and Chemistry of the Earth.

Researchers set up a series of motion-activated camera traps in Peru’s Yanachanga National Park to observe animal activity at ground level. They filmed rodents and other ground dwellers as they went about their busy forest lives.

Study finds electric vehicles will travel further than drivers expect
March 30, 2015 04:19 PM - ClickGreen Staff

Electric vehicles (EVs) will meet the daily travel needs of drivers longer than commonly assumed, according to the first study of its kind carried out by scientists at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Many drivers and much prior literature on the retirement of EV batteries have assumed that EV batteries will be retired after the battery has lost 20 percent of its energy storage or power delivery capability. This study shows that the daily travel needs of drivers continue to be met well beyond these levels of battery degradation.

Oceans' heat-buffering ability may be weakening
March 30, 2015 10:23 AM - Cheryl Katz, Yale Environment 360

For decades, the earth’s oceans have soaked up more than nine-tenths of the atmosphere’s excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions. By stowing that extra energy in their depths, oceans have spared the planet from feeling the full effects of humanity’s carbon overindulgence. But as those gases build in the air, an energy overload is rising below the waves. A raft of recent research finds that the ocean has been heating faster and deeper than scientists had previously thought. And there are new signs that the oceans might be starting to release some of that pent-up thermal to significant global temperature increases in the coming years. 

Lunch apparently not that appealing to children anymore
March 30, 2015 07:32 AM - Nestle via EurekAlert.

According to new analysis of data from the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that evaluated eating patterns of 3,647 children ages 4-13 years, skipping lunch is a common practice among children and adolescents, with 13% of younger children and 17% of 9-13 year olds skipping lunch on a given day. The study found that the behavior persisted throughout the week with nearly a quarter (approximately 23%) of 9-13 year olds skipping lunch on the weekends. These findings, part of Nestlé's new Kids Nutrition & Health Study (KNHS), were presented today at a poster session entitled "What Happened to Lunch? Dietary Intakes of 4-13 Year Old Lunch Consumers and Non-Consumers in the United States" at the American Society of Nutrition conference.

These findings are of particular concern given that lunch skippers had lower intakes of nutrients, including calcium and fiber, than lunch consumers. In addition, the data show that for some children, the lunch meal was primarily responsible for the higher essential nutrient intakes of vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, as well as a nutrient of concern, sodium. 

NASA captures best images yet of a dwarf planet
March 29, 2015 08:14 AM - NASA JPL

As NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on Ceres, new images show the dwarf planet at 27 pixels across, about three times better than the calibration images taken in early December. These are the first in a series of images that will be taken for navigation purposes during the approach to Ceres.

Over the next several weeks, Dawn will deliver increasingly better and better images of the dwarf planet, leading up to the spacecraft's capture into orbit around Ceres on March 6. The images will continue to improve as the spacecraft spirals closer to the surface during its 16-month study of the dwarf planet.

Climate change doesn't cause severe winters after all
March 28, 2015 06:59 AM - ETH Zurich via ScienceDaily

Cold snaps like the ones that hit the eastern United States in the past winters are not a consequence of climate change. Scientists at ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology have shown that global warming actually tends to reduce temperature variability.

Repeated cold snaps led to temperatures far below freezing across the eastern United States in the past two winters. Parts of the Niagara Falls froze, and ice floes formed on Lake Michigan. Such low temperatures had become rare in recent years. Pictures of icy, snow-covered cities made their way around the world, raising the question of whether climate change could be responsible for these extreme events

Antioxidant Effects differ by Leaf Color
March 27, 2015 01:47 PM - University of the Basque Country

Lettuce, one of the indispensable vegetables in the Mediterranean diet, is a food that greatly benefits health, mainly because it is rich in antioxidants. But not all lettuce varieties have the same antioxidant effect. According to a study led by the researcher Usue Pérez-López of the Department of Plant Biology and Ecology of the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Science and Technology, the colour of the leaves of these vegetables determines the speed at which their compounds act. So lettuces with green leaves have antioxidants that react more slowly while red-leaf ones have a faster effect. The results of this study have been set out in a paper "Phenolic Composition and Related Antioxidant Properties in Differently Coloured Lettuces: A Study by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Kinetics" recently published by the ‘Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry'.

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