USGS Develops Tool to Help Track Oil Spills
February 7, 2014 10:57 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Each year, tons of oil can be spilled into the ocean. Whether it comes from an oil tank spill, a leak that occurs during offshore drilling, or even natural seeps that occur within the ocean, oil spills can cause grave environmental and economic damage to marine and coastal ecosystems. When an oil spill occurs, the oil that floats on water will usually spreads out rapidly across the water surface to form a thin layer called an oil slick. As the oil continues spreading, the layer becomes thinner and thinner, eventually turning into a thin layer called a sheen. Managing and predicting the spread and path of oil is often very difficult for first-responders and clean up crews, however, a newly developed computer model holds promise to helping scientists track a spill. U.S. Geological Survey scientists developed the model as a way of tracking the movement of sand and oil found along the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Submarine melting gives rise to sea levels by chewing away the Greenland Ice Sheet
February 6, 2014 11:22 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Over the past two decades, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise. However, the chain of events and physical processes that contributed to it has remained elusive. One likely trigger for the speed up and retreat of glaciers that contributed to this ice loss is ocean warming.
Gas company to drill in Manu National Park buffer zone, imperiling indigenous people
February 5, 2014 11:13 AM - David Hill, MONGABAY.COM
The Peruvian government has approved plans for gas company Pluspetrol to move deeper into a supposedly protected reserve for indigenous peoples and the buffer zone of the Manu National Park in the Amazon rainforest.
Achoo! Native Echinacea angustifolia plant is blown away
February 5, 2014 08:17 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Echinacea, a genus of flower in the daisy family is sold in many over-the-counter cold and flu remedies and sold in pharmacies and health and nutrition stores. Echinacea has nine wild species in eastern and central North America that grow in moist to dry prairies and in open wooded areas. The genus includes the purple coneflower, pale purple coneflower and narrow-leaved purple coneflower. All have large magenta petals that unfurl from early to late summer.
Honeybees Use Claw to Taste
February 5, 2014 08:13 AM - ENN Staff
Like many species in the animal kingdom, humans use their sense of smell and sight before they decide to taste something. These senses contribute to whether or not they personally will like what they are eating. As for the honeybee, the species relies on color vision, memory, and sense of smell to find nectar. But before they eat their next meal, new research shows that the species will "taste" with the claws on their forelegs before extending their tongue to the nectar.
24 fewer days of winter ice
February 4, 2014 09:09 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
The winter ice season is now 24 days shorter than it was in 1950 as Arctic lakes are freezing up later in the year and thawing earlier, according to a new study. The University of Waterloo research, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), also reveals that climate change has dramatically affected the thickness of lake ice at the coldest point in the season. In 2011, Arctic lake ice was up to 38 centimeters thinner than it was in 1950.
World's largest whale shark slaughterhouse uncovered
February 3, 2014 08:17 AM - Sophie Morlin-Yron, The Ecologist
The world's biggest slaughterhouse for endangered whale sharks has been uncovered in southeast China, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron. It's products are being traded across the world in health and cosmetic products. The largest slaughtering facility for Whale sharks ever seen has been uncovered in southeastern China by Hong Kong based WildLife Risk. The slaughterhouse, operated by China Wenzhou Yueqing Marine Organisms Health Protection Foods Co Ltd, is estimated to butcher over 600 Whale sharks - an internationally protected endangered species - every year.
Comets and Woolly Mammoths
January 31, 2014 09:42 AM - Julie Cohen, UC Santa Barbara
New evidence suggests that a comet collision might have been the trigger for the Younger Dryas, contributing to North America's megafauna extinction. UC Santa Barbara's James Kennett, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science, posits that such an extraterrestrial event did occur killing off woolly mammoths, giant ground sloths and saber-tooth tigers 12,900 years ago.
Yellowstone Grizzlies Under Threat
January 31, 2014 08:06 AM - Anna Taylor, The Ecologist
Yellowstone's Grizzly bears are facing multiple threats, writes Anna Taylor - from proposals to remove their protection under the US Endangered Species Act, and shortages of key foods caused by climate change. Grizzly bear trophy hunting in Yellowstone National Park may resume in 2014 if the proposal to remove the bears from the protection of the Endangered Species Act is approved later this year.
Panama’s sloths harbor potential drugs
January 30, 2014 09:29 AM - Fred Fertado, SciDevNet
Sloths may be slow, apparently boring animals, but their hair is fast becoming an intriguing avenue for scientists seeking new drugs, including antibiotics and cancer-fighting compounds. A paper published in PLOS One this month (15 January) shows that sloth hair harbors a rich diversity of fungi whose extracts may contain a treasure trove of compounds active against bacteria, breast cancer cells and the parasites that cause malaria and Chagas’ disease.