Top Stories

Update on Ötzi the Iceman and the Spread of Agriculture

Ötzi the Iceman, an astonishingly well-preserved Neolithic mummy found in the Italian Alps in 1991, was a native of Central Europe, not a first-generation émigré from Sardinia, new research shows. And genetically, he looked a lot like other Stone Age farmers throughout Europe. The new findings, reported Thursday (Nov. 8) here at the American Society of Human Genetics conference, support the theory that farmers, and not just the technology of farming, spread during prehistoric times from the Middle East all the way to Finland. >> Read the Full Article

Seeing Storms Through the SMOS Eye

When millions of people are bracing themselves for the onslaught of extreme weather, as much information as possible is needed to predict the strength of any impending storm. As its name suggests, the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite was designed to measure how much moisture is held in soil and how much salt is held in the surface waters of the oceans. Since SMOS has the ability to see through clouds and it is little affected by rain, it can also provide reliable estimates of the surface wind speeds under intense storms. This can be quite useful in tracking a storm system remotely and accurately. >> Read the Full Article

Scientists Fear the Extinction of Arabica Coffee

Scientists in the United Kingdom recently completed a study suggesting that Arabica coffee, the species that makes up 75 percent of coffee beans sold, could become extinct in 70 years. Due to climate change and its symptoms including deforestation, a team at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens ran a series of computer simulations that indicate that wild Arabica coffee could become extinct by 2080. Such a development should worry everyone from growers to consumers. Coffee is the second most traded global commodity after petroleum and is an economic lifeline for many countries in Africa and Latin America. >> Read the Full Article

The Mystery of 49 Ceti

Just look up into the night sky and see all of the stars and then imagine all that you cannot see that is still up there. There are lots of mysteries up there and some we know of , some we suspect, and some we do not know. Every six seconds, for millions of years, comets have been colliding with one another near a star in the constellation Cetus called 49 CETI, which is visible to the naked eye. Over the past three decades, astronomers have discovered hundreds of dusty disks around stars, but only two — 49 CETI is one — have been found that also have large amounts of gas orbiting them. >> Read the Full Article

Planting Forests for Carbon Sequestration

Imagine a forest landscape where every tree is aligned and equally spaced apart. A forest where there are no sounds, no undergrowth and a distinct lack of species. Could this be the fate of our environment as carbon forestry becomes a common way to offset greenhouse gas emissions? Or, could it supplement reforestation programs and slowly ease the biodiversity crisis? Post-Kyoto there has been strong support for global emissions to be 'capped'. Key nations, including Australia, Norway and Japan, have already started to place a price on carbon, with internal stakeholders now having a legal obligation to pay for the greenhouse gasses they emit. One strategy that has been adopted by these 'compliance' markets – as well as many 'voluntary' markets – includes the purchasing of carbon credits that are linked with the forestry sector. >> Read the Full Article

New Emperor Penguin Colonies Found in Antarctica

While about 2500 chicks of emperor penguins were raised this year at the colony close to the French Dumont d'Urville Station, two new colonies totalling 6000 chicks have just been observed about 250 km away, near Mertz Glacier by the scientists Dr André Ancel and Dr Yvon Ancel, from the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien in Strasbourg (CNRS and Université de Strasbourg). Since a pair of emperor penguins may only successfully raise one chick a year, the population of breeding emperor penguins in this area of the Antarctic can therefore be estimated to more than about 8500 pairs, about three fold that previously thought. >> Read the Full Article

An Early Eco Disaster at the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 1,600 miles over an area of approximately 133,000 sq miles. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It is a fragile and immense ecosystem subject to continuing and increasing man made exposure hazards. Australian marine scientists have unearthed evidence of an historic coral collapse in Queensland’s Palm Islands following human development on the nearby mainland. Cores taken through the coral reef at Pelorus Island confirm a healthy community of branching Acropora corals flourished for centuries before European settlement of the area, despite frequent floods and cyclone events. Then, between 1920 and 1955, the branching Acropora failed to recover. >> Read the Full Article

Book Review: America's National Parks: An Insider's Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences

I love our National Parks! I live near two in New Jersey. Yes, in New Jersey. Jockey Hollow National Historical Park in Morristown preserves the locations where during our revolutionary war with England George Washington and the colonial army units camped out. When I travel to the American west, I often visit three national parks a reasonable drive from Las Vegas. Now armchair travelers can go on a photographic journey from the comfort of their own home, as Time Home Entertainment Inc. is releasing America's National Parks: An Insider’s Guide to Unforgettable Places and Experiences. From cover to cover, this book is the perfect collection for travel enthusiasts, photography aficionados, and American history buffs alike. America's National Parks captures the experience of touring some of the country's most notable places; whether it's hiking through the giants of the Redwoods, biking along the carriage roads of Acadia, standing before the Lincoln Memorial, or wandering the ruins of Mesa Verde. >> Read the Full Article

Scientists research plant-based insect repellent

What do the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense have in common? Besides being government departments, both want to improve technologies for killing pathogen-transmitting insects. Mosquitoes, sand flies, ticks, and other biting bugs can cause some of the most devastating diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. These arthropods pose a particular problem not only for native populations, but also for military troops that are located where these illnesses are endemic. >> Read the Full Article

Europe is exporting more waste than ever as illegal trade grows

As waste is increasingly moving across EU borders for recovery or disposal, the European Environment Agency (EEA) is warning of a big rise in the export of hazardous waste to countries outside of Europe. Increasingly stringent and harmonised waste policies in the EU have led countries to transport more waste material elsewhere, for example if they do not have the facilities to recycle or dispose of particular types of waste. >> Read the Full Article