Top Stories

El NiƱo fuelled Zika outbreak, new study suggests
December 19, 2016 03:34 PM - University of Liverpool

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have shown that a change in weather patterns, brought on by the 'Godzilla' El Niño of 2015, fuelled the Zika outbreak in South America. The findings were revealed using a new epidemiological model that looked at how climate affects the spread of Zika virus by both of its major vectors, the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

The model can also be used to predict the risk of future outbreaks, and help public health officials tailor mosquito control measures and travel advice.

Millions exposed to mercury in urban Pakistan
December 16, 2016 07:24 AM - Saleem Shaikh, SciDevNet

More than 40 per cent of Pakistanis living in urban areas are exposed to mercury contamination through dust particles and bioaccumulation, says a new study.  

The study, published last month (November) in Science of the Total Environment, amassed hair samples from 22 sites in five zones in Pakistan — Swat Valley & Gilgit-Baltistan regions, Kashmir Valley, Lower Himalaya Mountains and Indus Plains.

Researchers Solve Mystery Of Historic 1952 London Fog And Current Chinese Haze
December 14, 2016 03:01 PM - Texas A&M University

Few Americans may be aware of it, but in 1952 a killer fog that contained pollutants covered London for five days, causing breathing problems and killing thousands of residents.  The exact cause and nature of the fog has remained mostly unknown for decades, but an international team of scientists that includes several Texas A&M University-affiliated researchers believes that the mystery has been solved and that the same air chemistry also happens in China and other locales.

Study: Maximizing grain yields won't meet future African needs
December 13, 2016 12:25 PM - University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Maximizing cereal crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa would still fail to meet the region’s skyrocketing grain demand by 2050, according to a new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Wageningen University and multiple African institutions.

Scientists devise new method to give 'most robust' estimate of Maasai Mara lion numbers
December 13, 2016 12:19 PM - Oxford University

Scientists based at Oxford University have created a new method for counting lions that they say is the most robust yet devised.

Using the Maasai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies in Kenya as a case study, they estimate there to be 420 lions over the age of one in this key territory. At almost 17 lions per 100 square kilometres, that represents one of the highest densities anywhere in Africa.

Warming global temperatures may not affect carbon stored deep in northern peatlands, study says
December 13, 2016 11:21 AM -

Deep stores of carbon in northern peatlands may be safe from rising temperatures, according to a team of researchers from several U.S.-based institutions.

And that is good news for now, the researchers said.

Florida State University research scientist Rachel Wilson and University of Oregon graduate student Anya Hopple are the first authors on a new study published today in Nature Communications. The study details experiments suggesting that carbon stored in peat—a highly organic material found in marsh or damp regions—may not succumb to the Earth's warming as easily as scientists thought.

How noise pollution impacts marine ecology
December 13, 2016 07:14 AM - Laura Briggs, The Ecologist

Marine ecologists have shown how noise pollution is changing the behaviour of marine animals - and how its elimination will significantly help build their resilience. Laura Briggs reports.

Building up a library of sound from marine creatures including cod, whelks and sea slugs is important to helping build resilience in species affected by noise pollution, according to Exeter University's Associate Professor in Marine Biology and Global Change Dr Steve Simpson.

Human noise factors including busy shipping lanes, wind farms and water tourism can all impact on the calls of various species - including cod which relies on sound for finding a mate with their "song".

Surge in methane emissions threatens efforts to slow climate change
December 13, 2016 07:08 AM - Future Earth

Global concentrations of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and cause of climate change, are now growing faster in the atmosphere than at any other time in the past two decades.

That is the message of a team of international scientists in an editorial published 12 December in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The group reports that methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015.

Flame Retardant Pollution in Great Lakes Is a Serious Matter, Commission Says
December 12, 2016 12:18 PM - Treehugger

The International Joint Commission has developed a strategy for how U.S. and Canadian governments can address this toxic problem.

Wind turbines may have beneficial effects for crops
December 9, 2016 05:15 PM - Iowa State University

A multi-year study led by an Iowa State University scientist suggests the turbines commonly used in the state to capture wind energy may have a positive effect on crops.

Gene Takle, a Distinguished Professor of agronomy and geological and atmospheric sciences, said tall wind turbines disbursed throughout a field create air turbulence that may help plants by affecting variables such as temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations.

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