Top Stories

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.

 

Ocean temperatures predict U.S. heat waves
March 29, 2016 07:19 AM - National Science Foundation

The formation of a distinct pattern of sea surface temperatures in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean can predict an increased chance of summer heat waves in the eastern half of the U.S. up to 50 days in advance.

The pattern is a contrast of warmer-than-average water coming up against cooler-than-average seas. When it appears, the odds that extreme heat will strike during a particular week -- or even on a particular day -- can more than triple, depending on how well-formed the pattern is.

Sea level rise and its potential impact to Norfolk, Virginia studied by Sandia Labs
March 28, 2016 11:37 AM - Sandia Laboratories

In Norfolk, Virginia, an East Coast city that’s home to the world’s largest naval station and important seaports, catastrophic flooding could damage more than homes and roads. A new study from Sandia National Laboratories assesses how much the city, its region and the nation would suffer in damages to national assets and lost economic activity if it does nothing to address rising sea levels.

In partnership with the City of Norfolk’s Resilience Office and 100 Resilient Cities(100RC), pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, Sandia analyzed the risk to important assets, quantified their value and helped Norfolk prioritize the most effective ways to stay resilient in a natural or manmade disaster.

 

The past, present and future of African dust
March 28, 2016 07:19 AM - National Center for Scientific Research

So much dust is scattered across the planet by the winds of the Sahara that it alters the climate. However, the emission and transport of this dust, which can reach the poles, fluctuate considerably. Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain this phenomenon, no unambiguous relationship between this dust and the climate had been established until now. According to research carried out by a French-US team of researchers from LATMOS(CNRS/UVSQ/UPMC), CNRM(CNRS/Météo-France) and SIO3, meteorological events such as El Niño and rainfall in the Sahel have an impact on dust emission, by accelerating a Saharan wind downstream of the main mountain massifs of Northwest Africa. The scientists have also developed a new predictive model showing that emissions of Saharan dust will decline over the next hundred years. Their work is published in the 24 March 2016 issue of the journal Nature.

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