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The complicated relationship between ice sheets and climate

Heinrich events, in which large masses of icebergs rapidly broke free from ice sheets during the last ice age, are thought to have influenced global climate by interrupting ocean circulation patterns with a large influx of freshwater. However, new research from the University of Bristol suggests the variations in the height of the ice sheet that happen in these events might also influence global climate. 

In a study published today in PNAS, Dr William Roberts of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences and colleagues use computer models to simulate a Heinrich event in Hudson Bay, Canada, adjusting the models to consider freshwater influx only, changing ice sheet height only or both factors together. 

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Study links childhood leukemia and power lines

Researchers from the UK have called into question a theory suggesting that a previously reported risk of leukemia among children born close to overhead power lines could be caused by an alteration to surrounding air pollution. In a study published today, 31 October, in the Journal of Radiological Protection (the official journal of The Society for Radiological Protection), the researchers have found little evidence to support the ‘corona-ion hypothesis’ which has been cited as a possible explanation for the excess of childhood leukemia cases close to high-voltage overhead power lines in the UK prior to the 1980s.

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The Problem with Food Waste

Food waste is a horrendous problem in this country that no one seems to want to talk about. Yet food is the one product type that everyone consumes, and while a surprising number of people don’t have it, those that do are shockingly wasteful. As recently as 2012, close to 50 million people experienced food insecurity, not in Africa or Bangladesh, but right here in the USA. Worldwide, that number is over 1 billion people.

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Researchers Track Ammonium Source in Open Ocean

To understand the extent to which human activities are polluting Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, it’s important to distinguish human-made pollutants from compounds that occur naturally. A recent study co-authored by a Brown University professor does just that for ammonium, a compound that is produced by human activities like agriculture, as well as by natural processes that occur in the ocean. The research, based on two years of rainwater samples taken in Bermuda, suggests that ammonium deposited over the open ocean comes almost entirely from natural marine sources, not from anthropogenic sources.

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Canadian bats facing bleak future

With Halloween just days away, you’re undoubtedly seeing bat images everywhere, which is kind of perfect since it’s also National Bat Week. Too bad that in the real world, bats are suffering, sick and endangered, while governments can’t get their acts together to save bats from a truly monstrous disease: white-nose syndrome (WNS). Instead of fearing bats this holiday, we should be scared of a world without them.

Care2′s Alicia Graef let us know about the American bats that urgently need federal protection: the northern long-eared bat was hit hard by WNS. Our government hasn’t done anything to stop it, but that doesn’t mean that the disease will stop. After first appearing in New York in 2006, WNS has spread to our neighbors in Canada since 2010, and it’s devastating new bat species in its wake, like a real zombie apocalypse.

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"Shrinking goats" another indicator that climate change affects animal size

Alpine goats appear to be shrinking in size as they react to changes in climate, according to new research from Durham University. The researchers studied the impacts of changes in temperature on the body size of Alpine Chamois, a species of mountain goat, over the past 30 years.  To their surprise, they discovered that young Chamois now weigh about 25 per cent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s.

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Adélie penguin chick weights correlated to temperatures

Oceanographers have reported a connection between local weather conditions and the weight of Adélie penguin chicks. Adélie penguins are an indigenous species of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased 2 degrees Celsius on average, and 6 degrees Celsius during winter.

Adélie penguins are an indigenous species of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased 2 degrees Celsius on average, and 6 degrees Celsius during winter.

As the WAP climate warms, it is changing from a dry, polar system to a warmer, sub-polar system with more rain.

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MIT finds switching to higher octane fuel would reduce carbon emissions

If the majority of light-duty vehicles in the United States ran on higher-octane gasoline, the automotive industry as a whole would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 35 million tons per year, saving up to $6 billion in fuel costs, according to a new analysis by MIT researchers.

 

In a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team considered a scenario in which fuel is manufactured under a redefined octane rating — the measure of a gasoline’s ability to resist engine knocking during combustion.

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World losing 2,000 hectares of farm soil daily to salt damage

Salt-spoiled soils worldwide: 20% of all irrigated lands — an area equal to size of France; Extensive costs include $27 billion+ in lost crop value / year. UNU study identifies ways to reverse damage, says every hectare needed to feed world’s fast-growing population. Every day for more than 20 years, an average of 2,000 hectares of irrigated land in arid and semi-arid areas across 75 countries have been degraded by salt, according to a new study — Economics of Salt-induced Land Degradation and Restoration — published today by the UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).

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Using Microscopic Bugs to Save the Bees

For decades, honeybees have been battling a deadly disease that kills off their babies (larvae) and leads to hive collapse. It’s called American Foulbrood and its effects are so devastating and infectious, it often requires infected hives to be burned to the ground. Treating Foulbrood is complicated because the disease can evolve to resist antibiotics and other chemical treatments. Losing entire hives not only disrupts the honey industry, but reduces the number of bees for pollinating plants. Now an undergraduate student at BYU, funded by ORCA grants, has produced a natural way to eliminate the scourge, and it’s working: Using tiny killer bugs known as phages to protect baby bees from infection.

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