Top Stories

Methane can naturally contaminate groundwater, researchers find

A team of researchers from the University of Windsor and the University of Saskatchewan have discovered that methane can naturally migrate upwards through shale over millions of years and reach groundwater without any industry influence.

“Upward migration of methane through low-porosity zones raises awareness that groundwater wells can be naturally contaminated by deeper sources of methane,” says Scott Mundle, an assistant professor of chemistry in the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research. “This is an important consideration when investigating potential causal links between fracking and an impacted water well.”

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Record-low salmon monitoring

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is not monitoring enough spawning streams to accurately assess the health of Pacific salmon, according to a new study led by Simon Fraser University researchers Michael Price and John Reynolds.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, reveals that the DFO does not have enough data to determine the status of 50 per cent of all managed salmon populations along B.C.’s north and central coasts.

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NASA Sees Tropical Storm Pakhar After Landfall

Just after Tropical Storm Pakhar made landfall in southeastern China and NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of the storm.

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Oil and gas wells as a strong source of greenhouse gases

The pictures went around the world. In April 2010, huge amounts of methane gas escaped from a well below the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico. This "blow-out" caused an explosion, in which eleven people died. For several weeks, oil spilled from the damaged well into the ocean. Fortunately, such catastrophic "blow-outs" are rather rare. Continuous discharges of smaller amounts of gas from active or old and abandoned wells occur more frequently.

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Strength of global stratospheric circulation measured for first time

When commercial airplanes break through the clouds to reach cruising altitude, they have typically arrived in the stratosphere, the second layer of Earth’s atmosphere. The air up there is dry and clear, and much calmer than the turbulent atmosphere we experience on the ground.

And yet, for all its seeming tranquility, the stratosphere can be a powerful conveyor belt, pulling air up from the Earth’s equatorial region and pushing it back down toward the poles in a continuously circulating pattern. The strength of this circulation can significantly impact the amount of water vapor, chemicals, and ozone transported around the planet.

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WPI Researchers Demonstrate New Membrane Technology That May Help Make Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Viable

While cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells offer clear advantages over the electric vehicles that are growing in popularity (including their longer range, their lower overall environmental impact, and the fact that they can be refueled in minutes, versus hours of charging time), they have yet to take off with consumers. One reason is the high cost and complexity of producing, distributing, and storing the pure hydrogen needed to power them, which has hindered the roll-out of hydrogen refueling stations.

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Dispersants Improved Air Quality for Responders at Deepwater Horizon

A study published Aug. 28, 2017, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesadds a new dimension to the controversial decision to inject large amounts of chemical dispersants immediately above the crippled oil well at the seafloor during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The dispersants likely reduced the amount of harmful gases in the air at the sea surface—diminishing health risks for emergency responders and allowing them to keep working to stop the uncontrolled spill and clean up the spilled oil sooner.

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Country's largest estuary facing increasing acidification risk

Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States and one of the largest in the world, is facing new risks from a layer of highly acidified water some 10 to 15 meters below the surface, a new study has found.

This “pH minimum zone” is 10 times more acidic than the bay’s surface waters and may pose a risk to a variety of economically and ecologically important marine species, including oysters, crabs and fish, the researchers say. A decline in the number of calcium carbonate-shelled organisms – particularly oysters – may be hampering the bay’s ability to deal with the increase in acidity, they add.

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Study identifies methods for preventing overcrowding in emergency rooms

No single solution exists for alleviating crowding in emergency rooms, but a new study identifies four key strategies that have reduced the problem.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, concludes that engaged executive leadership can alleviate the problem when combined with a data-driven approach and coordination across the hospital from housekeepers to the CEO. Crowding in emergency rooms has been associated with decreased patient satisfaction and even death.

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