Top Stories

New Camera Takes Better Pictures of Snowflakes

Winter may be over for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and hopefully we will not be expecting any more snowfall, but that doesn't mean we still can't marvel at the intricacies of the snowflake. A team of researchers at the University of Utah have developed a new high-speed camera system that records 3-D images of these snowflakes in hopes of improving radar for weather and snowpack forecasting. Funded in part by NASA and the US Army, the team studied falling snow and how it interacts with radar in order to improve computer simulations. As a result, the research has revealed more about how snowy weather can degrade microwave (radar) communications. >> Read the Full Article

Britain's love affair with bottled water

Leading academic brands industry a "scam" as campaigners condemn our growing thirst for bottled water. The UK bottled water industry releases 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. One of Britain's leading authorities on water supplies has branded the bottled water industry a scam, backing campaigners' claims of wasted millions and environmental pollution at a time when tap water standards have never been higher. Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, has highlighted growing fears that our increasing consumption of bottled water is damaging the environment while raising huge profits for the big brands, despite Britain having one of the best mains water supplies in the world. >> Read the Full Article

Norwegian Pinot Noir?: Global Warming to Drastically Shift Wine Regions

In less than 40 years, drinking wine could have a major toll on the environment and wildlife, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study finds that climate change will likely force many vineyards to move either north or to higher altitudes, leading to habitat loss, biodiversity declines, and increased pressure for freshwater. Some famous wine-growing areas could be lost, including in the Mediterranean, while development of new wine areas—such as those in the Rocky Mountains and northern Europe—could lead to what the scientists describe as "conservation conflicts." >> Read the Full Article

Charged Saturnian Rain

There is more interaction than one would think between interplanetary bodies. In this case a new study tracks the "rain" of charged water particles into the atmosphere of Saturn and finds there is more of it and it falls across larger areas of the planet than previously thought. The study, whose observations were funded by NASA and whose analysis was led by the University of Leicester, England, reveals that the rain influences the composition and temperature structure of parts of Saturn's upper atmosphere. The paper appears in this week's issue of the journal Nature. >> Read the Full Article

EU Looking Favorably on Shale Gas Development

The EU’s chief scientific advisor has said that evidence allows the go-ahead for extracting shale gas, the energy source at the centre of a European policy tug-of-war. The EU executive launched a green paper on 27 March, setting out Europe's energy and climate aims for 2030, with Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger taking a favourable position on shale gas. "I am in favour of producing shale gas, particularly for safety reasons, and to reduce gas prices," he said. "In the United States, which is a big producer of shale gas, the price of gas is four times less than in Europe." >> Read the Full Article

Statins and Diabetes

Statins are a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the production of cholesterol in the liver. Statins may slightly increase the risk of diabetes, with higher doses appearing to have a larger effect. A laboratory study has shown for the first time that coenzyme Q10 offsets cellular changes that may be linked to a side-effect of some statin drugs - an increased risk of adult-onset diabetes. Statins are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, able to reduce LDL, or bad cholesterol levels, and the risk of heart attacks or other cardiovascular events. However, their role in raising the risk of diabetes has only been observed and studied in recent years. >> Read the Full Article

Amur Leopard Population Increases

The Amur leopard, considered to be one of the world’s most threatened big cats, is showing signs of a population recovery, according to the results of a new survey. >> Read the Full Article

Tumbling Urchins

Sea urchins or urchins are small, spiny, globular animals. There are about 950 species inhabiting all oceans from the intertidal to 5000 meters deep. Tumbling in the waves as they hit a rocky shore tells some purple sea urchin larvae it's time to settle down and look for a spot to grow into an adult, researchers at the University of California, Davis, Bodega Marine Laboratory have found. The work is published April 8 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "How these animals find their way to the right habitat is a fascinating problem," said Brian Gaylord, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and a researcher at the Bodega Marine Lab. "The turbulence response allows them to tell that they're in the right neighborhood." >> Read the Full Article

mHealth 'could save a million African lives by 2017'

Mobile health (mHealth) applications such as text messages could save more than a million lives in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years, according to a report. The report, produced by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) India, says that mobile phone interventions to ensure patients comply with treatment, medical stock is available and healthcare workers stick to treatment guidelines could save some of the three million lives lost each year across Africa to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and pregnancy-related conditions. >> Read the Full Article

Global Forest Watch 2.0 will help monitor our forests

World Resources Institute (WRI) today unveiled a long-awaited tool that could revolutionize global forest monitoring, reports the UN Forum on Forests, which is meeting this week in Istanbul, Turkey. Global Forest Watch 2.0 is a platform that combines near-real time satellite data, forestry data, and user-submitted information to provide the most complete picture of the world's forests ever assembled. The system has been developed over the last several years as a collaborative effort between WRI and other partners, including Google, the University of Maryland and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). >> Read the Full Article