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Draft National Climate Assessment Released

The United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released its draft National Climate Assessment this week, just a week after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the United States experienced its warmest year on record. The report is the flagship climate change assessment for the United States, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "This could help restart a national conversation about climate change," said Todd Sanford, a UCS climate scientist. "It gives us a road map for climate change. And the road is much bumpier if we continue along a higher emissions pathway." >> Read the Full Article

Pinwheel Galxy Distortion

The Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as Messier 101 is a face-on spiral galaxy distanced 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Peering deep into the dim edges of a distorted pinwheel galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major, astronomers at Case Western Reserve University and their colleagues have discovered a faint dwarf galaxy and another possible young dwarf caught before it had a chance to form any stars. Within the faint trails of intergalactic traffic, the researchers also found more evidence pointing to two already known dwarf galaxies as probable forces that pulled the pinwheel-shaped disk galaxy known as M101 out of shape. >> Read the Full Article

Why Does Fat Go to a Man's Belly and a Women's Hips and Thighs?

In general, men tend to become apple-shaped, storing their fat in the abdominal areas, but maintain normal hips and thighs. Women on the other hand, tend to become pear-shaped, storing their fat lower down in their hips and thighs. Why is this? For research Steven R. Smith, M.D., director at the Sanford-Burnham Translation Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes, this simple truth was worth investigating. He found that the placement of fat storage in the body is genetic. Furthermore, belly fat is associated with higher risks of heart disease and diabetes, while hip and thigh fat is not. >> Read the Full Article

El Salvador Prioritizes Geothermal Energy Development

During the last two decades, the global installed capacity for geothermal electricity has nearly doubled. Despite this recent expansion, geothermal energy is not getting the same level of attention as other renewable energy resources, and it remains heavily underutilized. If the world were able to tap just a small portion of the Earth's heat, we could provide everyone with clean and safe energy for centuries. Current estimates of our global potential for geothermal energy range from 35 gigawatts (GW) to 2,000 GW. However, simple technological improvements could greatly increase these projections. >> Read the Full Article

Marrriage and Midlife

To marry or not to marry? There are many pros and cons. Could marriage, and associated companionship, be a key to a longer life? According to new research, not having a permanent partner, or significant other, during midlife is linked to a higher risk of premature death during those midlife years. The work, by Dr. Ilene Siegler and colleagues from Duke University Medical Center in the US, is published online in Springer's journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine. >> Read the Full Article

In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer

As well as being home to 3,000 reindeer, the island of South Georgia has many endemic species of fauna and flora that evolved in the absence of grazing pressures. These species are now struggling to survive in the reindeer's overbearing presence, and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has announced plans to eradicate the population in an effort to save the island's unique species. >> Read the Full Article

Why is SO Much Food Wasted?

A new report titled "Global food, waste not, want not" published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has found that 30 to 50 percent of all food produced in the world never reaches a stomach. The authors of the study warn that these figures are quite conservative. The large amounts of land, energy, fertilizers and water that are wasted in the food production have not been accounted for. >> Read the Full Article

2012 Weather in Review

From tropical storms and hurricanes like Sandy, to extended heat waves and detrimental summer droughts, to unprecedented wildfire outbreaks in the American West, 2012 marked a historic year for extreme weather events in the United States. In fact, 2012 takes the prize for the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous US thus allowing the year to break some other climate and weather related records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center reports the State of the Climate and offers some of last year’s highlights. - 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year. Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average annual temperature for 2012. - The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. This was also the driest year for the nation since 1988. - Each season of 2012 had precipitation totals below the 20th century average. >> Read the Full Article

Invasive Aquarium Fish

Home tropical fish aquariums are home to a number of pretty fish and seaweeds. Perfectly harmless right? Not in the wrong environment. It is surprising how hardy some of them can be if let loose in the wild. In a report released today to the California Ocean Protection Council, lead author Susan Williams, an evolution and ecology professor with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, found that more than 11 million non-native ornamental marine individuals — such as tropical fish, seaweed and snails bound for aquariums — representing at least 102 species are being imported annually through California’s ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines. And 13 of those species have been introduced to California marine waters — presumably after being released from aquariums. >> Read the Full Article

Study suggests magma forms deeper than previously thought

A group led by Rajdeep Dasgupta, geologist and assistant professor of Earth science at Rice University, put samples of peridotite, a dense igneous rock, under pressure in a Rice University laboratory and found that rock can and will liquefy, as deep as 250 kilometers in the mantle beneath the ocean floor. These recent findings provide new evidence that magma can form at a depth much deeper than scientists once thought. >> Read the Full Article