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Discovery finds waste sulphur can boost electric car industry

A new chemical process can transform waste sulphur into a lightweight plastic that may improve batteries for electric cars, reports a University of Arizona-led team. The team has successfully used the new plastic to make lithium-sulphur batteries and discovered other potential applications, including optical uses. >> Read the Full Article

Selenium deficiency 'endemic' in Malawi

Low availability of selenium, an essential human micronutrient, in Malawian soils is responsible for its deficiency among the country's population, a study has found. Researchers from Malawi, New Zealand and the United Kingdom sought to establish both whether selenium content in different Malawian soils affects the mineral content of food crops grown in them, and its ultimate influence on the status of human health. >> Read the Full Article

Is Ice Loss by Glaciers Abnormal?

In the last few decades, glaciers at the edge of the icy continent of Antarctica have been thinning, and research has shown the rate of thinning has accelerated and contributed significantly to sea level rise. New ice core research suggests that, while the changes are dramatic, they cannot be attributed with confidence to human-caused global warming, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. Previous work by Steig has shown that rapid thinning of Antarctic glaciers was accompanied by rapid warming and changes in atmospheric circulation near the coast. His research with Qinghua Ding, a UW research associate, showed that the majority of Antarctic warming came during the 1990s in response to El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. >> Read the Full Article

How Fast is Global Climate Changing?

There's plenty of evidence that the climate has warmed up over the past century, and climate scientists know this has happened throughout the history of the planet. But they want to know more about how this warming is different. Now a research team says it has some new answers. It has put together a record of global temperatures going back to the end of the last ice age — about 11,000 years ago — when mammoths and saber-tooth cats roamed the planet. The study confirms that what we're seeing now is unprecedented. >> Read the Full Article

Silver Springs Becoming Florida State Park

Before Disney World, Silver Springs in Central Florida was for decades one of the state's most popular tourist destinations. Even if you've never visited Silver Springs, you might have seen it — if you're old enough. The 1960s television show Sea Hunt was filmed here, as were countless movies including Tarzan and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The crystal clear water of Silver Springs made it invaluable to Hollywood. Guy Marwick, the founder of the Silver River Museum, says it drew over a million visitors a year. "It was not an amusement park in the sense of Coney Island and the rides that one might associate with it," Marwick says. "It was kind of the natural Florida, and I think that's what people are hoping to see it go back to now." >> Read the Full Article

The Cicadas are Coming!

Remember seventeen years ago when those creepy looking orange and black insects covered nearly every tree and you could barely step outside without crunching on a molted shell or cringing when these winged creatures flew by? Maybe they weren’t in your neighborhood, but all along the eastern seaboard of the United States from New York to North Carolina, millions of these half-inch long cicadas swarmed around for nearly a month. And guess what? This spring, these little critters will emerge from the ground once again. In fact, the cicadas are probably starting to plan their escape right now, as several weeks before emerging, they start to build small cones that stick above the soil. >> Read the Full Article

Solar Natural Gas

Solar power or natural gas power? How about both? Natural gas power plants can use about 20 percent less fuel when the sun is shining by injecting solar energy into natural gas with a new system being developed by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The system converts natural gas and sunlight into a more energy-rich fuel called syngas, which power plants can burn to make electricity. >> Read the Full Article

Global Food Prices Continue to Rise

As both climate change and population growth continue to increase, there is reason to believe that food commodity prices will be both higher and more volatile in the decades to come. Continuing a decade-long increase, global food prices rose 2.7 percent in 2012, reaching levels not seen since the 1960s and 1970s but still well below the price spike of 1974. Between 2000 and 2012, the World Bank global food price index increased 104.5 percent, at an average annual rate of 6.5 percent. >> Read the Full Article

Bricks from Sahara Sand

Although the Sahara desert used to be a green retreat for giraffes and hippos 5,000 years ago, it is now a giant, sometimes rolling landscape of sand. A lot of sand. In fact, roughly two thirds of Algeria is made up of sand, according to the authors of a study published in the Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering. And they believe it can be used to produce a sustainable building material for a limping construction industry. That's right, they want to turn the dunes into bricks, and they already have a pretty good formula. Since Algeria possesses very little in the way of aggregate materials that can be used in the construction industry, researchers from the University of Kasdi Merbah and the Polytechnic School of Algiers developed a new kind of brick made with little more than water, sand sourced from their own backyard – so to speak – and a binder. >> Read the Full Article

Arctic Nutrient Balance

The first study of its kind to calculate the amount of nutrients entering and leaving the Arctic Ocean has been carried out by scientists based at the National Oceanography Center, Southampton. Their results, which are published this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research, show that there is a mismatch between what goes into the Arctic Ocean and what comes out. This is the first study to look at the transport of dissolved inorganic nutrients nitrate, phosphate and silicate together, all of which are essential for life in the ocean. The study combined measurements of nutrient concentrations with measurements of how much water was transported across the main Arctic gateways – Davis Strait, Fram Strait, the Barents Sea Opening and Bering Strait during the summer of 2005. >> Read the Full Article