Top Stories

Manmade Hillslopes will Improve Global Climate Models

What has six-hundred tons of volcanic rocks sitting in a giant steel tub, thousands of gallons of water spouting from a network of pipes, and 1,800 sensors scattering three identical hillslopes collecting information? If you guessed the world's only and largest manmade experimental watershed, then you're correct! Recently completed at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, the Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) is an engineering masterpiece where three 100 feet by 40 feet hillslopes will provide results used to improve global climate models and make predictions more realistic and reliable. >> Read the Full Article

Gorilla Success Story in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

With all the stories of the struggles of mountain gorillas and the illegal poaching they are suffering, it is a welcome relief to hear some good news. That news has come from a recent survey supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society of the great apes in one of Uganda's national parks. The survey revealed that their population has actually risen since the last count in 2006, an increase of roughly 33 percent to a minimum total of 400. When added to the famous mountain gorilla population of the Virunga Volcanoes to the south (the only other place where they exist), the entire global population of mountain gorillas now stands at 880. >> Read the Full Article

Accurate flood forecasting gets closer

Heavy rainfall and the problems of flooding in towns have never been far from peoples' minds or the news headlines over the past few weeks. Now scientists say that new research will help to accurately pinpoint which individual streets are most at risk from flooding during severe rainstorms. >> Read the Full Article

Milling Chemicals with no Solvents

Traditionally new chemicals are made within a solvent solution. This aids in the active chemicals reaching one another. Solvents are flammable and often pose other hazards, For the first time, scientists have studied a milling reaction in real time, using highly penetrating X-rays to observe the surprisingly rapid transformations as the mill mixed, ground, and transformed simple ingredients into a complex product. This research, reported Dec. 2 in Nature Chemistry, promises to advance scientists' understanding of processes central to the pharmaceutical, metallurgical, cement and mineral industries – and could open new opportunities in green chemistry and environmentally friendly chemical synthesis. >> Read the Full Article

Magnetic Fields from Antarctic research stations a potential problem

Antarctic research stations could be adversely affecting the local environment by emitting magnetic pollution, a new study has found. A new aerial survey is the first to research and assess the possible impact of a research station in Antarctica on magnetic fields. Estimations indicated that the station generated a magnetic field that extends up to 650 metres from the station with a peak strength of 2800 nanotesla (nT) within 100 metres from the station on the ground. This may have implications for organisms in Antarctica that are negatively affected by magnetic fields but the report's authors say further research is needed to investigate this. >> Read the Full Article

Can’t Quit? Smoking Less Will Also Improve Your Health

Countless studies demonstrate the benefits of quitting smoking altogether, benefits which include lowered risk of disease, increased life expectancy, and an overall improvement in quality of life. But health professionals acknowledge that quitting altogether can be a long and difficult road, and only a small percentage succeed. A recent study at Tel Aviv University has shown that even reducing the quantity of cigarettes smoked daily has many health benefits. >> Read the Full Article

Date Palm Leaves Could Improve Water Treatment Across the Middle East

Date palm leaves — currently a waste product of date farming — could be used to remove pharmaceutical chemicals and dyes from hospital wastewater, say researchers from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman. The first hospital wastewater treatment pilot project is due to start in Oman early next year, and scientists are working to use this technology in both drinking water filters and for industrial wastewater treatment. >> Read the Full Article

Shale Oil and How It Changes the World

Oil shale, also known as kerogen shale, is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons called shale oil can be produced. Shale oil is a substitute for conventional crude oil and the USA has a lot of it. The global energy map is changing, with potentially far-reaching consequences for energy markets and trade. It is being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States due to shale and could be further reshaped by a retreat from nuclear power in some countries, continued rapid growth in the use of wind and solar technologies and by the global spread of unconventional gas production. >> Read the Full Article

CO2 Output Hits Record High

Around the world, we are emitting more carbon dioxide than ever. For 2012, according to new projections by the Global Carbon Project, there is likely to be a 2.6 percent rise in global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels compared to the year before. That puts emissions of the gas at 58 percent higher than 1990 levels. >> Read the Full Article

Planning for Climate Change

The Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island recently held the second in series of seminars on climate change. Here are a few noteworthy points that were offered Nov. 30 by 15 scientists, engineers, planners and other experts: Snowpack in the Northeast has decreased its annual volume by 11 percent since 1900. Sea level is projected to rise between 2.5 and 6 feet by 2100. "If you want to see what 5 feet of sea level rise will look like, you look at Hurricane Sandy," said Bryan Oakley, a URI researcher and professor of earth sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University. >> Read the Full Article