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Envisioning the future of metal and mineral production

Metals and minerals form the base of our society, with diverse applications infiltrating all corners of our lives, including agriculture, infrastructure, transportation and information technology. As populations grow, and demand for metals and minerals rises, enhancing the sustainability of the sector is a goal for many companies, communities and policymakers.

To contribute to this, on May 11-12, MIT launched the Metals and Minerals for the Environment (MME) initiative with its first public symposium. MIT has long been home to research on myriad aspects of metals and minerals, and the MME Symposium serves to crystallize these efforts around the unique environmental and social challenges the sector faces.

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A Whole New Jupiter: First Science Results from NASA's Juno Mission

Early science results from NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter portray the largest planet in our solar system as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world, with Earth-sized polar cyclones, plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant, and a mammoth, lumpy magnetic field that may indicate it was generated closer to the planet's surface than previously thought.

"We are excited to share these early discoveries, which help us better understand what makes Jupiter so fascinating," said Diane Brown, Juno program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It was a long trip to get to Jupiter, but these first results already demonstrate it was well worth the journey."

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Tackling climate change: New options for BC's forest sector

British Columbia’s forestry sector can potentially make a major contribution to meeting the province’s climate targets through using a mix of regionally-specific harvest and stand management techniques, bioenergy investments and creating more long-lived wood products.

That’s a key message from a public presentation held this morning by the Forest Carbon Management Project, a multi-year collaborative effort created by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), involving scientists from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the University of British Columbia (UBC) and other agencies.

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Roaming Bison Get Caught in Crossfire

There’s safety in numbers for herd animals, but not if some members of the herd make poor decisions. That was one of the findings of research by  U of G integrative biology professor John Fryxell and U of G graduate Daniel Fortin, now a biology professor at Université Laval.

They studied the movement patterns of bison in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan and found that those animals that ventured outside the park into neighbouring farmland were hunted, which contributed to the herd’s population decline over a nine-year period from 2005 to 2013.

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Losing Sleep Over Climate Change

Climate change may keep you awake – and not just metaphorically. Nights that are warmer than normal can harm human sleep, researchers show in a new paper, with the poor and elderly most affected. According to their findings, if climate change is not addressed, temperatures in 2050 could cost people in the United States millions of additional nights of insufficient sleep per year. By 2099, the figure could rise by several hundred million more nights of lost sleep annually.

The study was led by Nick Obradovich, who conducted much of the research as a doctoral student in political science at the University of California San Diego. He was inspired to investigate the question by the heat wave that hit San Diego in October of 2015. Obradovich was having trouble sleeping. He tossed and he turned, the window AC in his North Park home providing little relief from the record-breaking temperatures. At school, he noticed that fellow students were also looking grumpy and bedraggled, and it got him thinking: Had anyone looked at what climate change might do to sleep?

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Marine Species Distribution Shifts Will Continue Under Ocean Warming

Scientists using a high-resolution global climate model and historical observations of species distributions on the Northeast U.S. Shelf have found that commercially important species will continue to shift their distribution as ocean waters warm two to three times faster than the global average through the end of this century. Projected increases in surface to bottom waters of  6.6 to 9 degrees F (3.7 to 5.0 degrees Celsius) from current conditions are expected.

The findings, reported in Progress in Oceanography, suggest ocean temperature will continue to play a major role in where commercially important species will find suitable habitat. Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have warmed faster than 99 percent of the global ocean over the past decade.  Northward shifts of many species are already happening, with major changes expected in the complex of species occurring in different regions on the shelf, and shifts from one management jurisdiction to another. These changes will directly affect fishing communities, as species now landed at those ports move out of range, and new species move in.

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Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter Survived 2014 Meteoroid Hit

On Oct.13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small natural object in space.   

LROC is a system of three cameras mounted on the LRO spacecraft. Two Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) capture high resolution black and white images. The third Wide Angle Camera captures moderate resolution images using filters to provide information about the properties and color of the lunar surface. 

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Changing climate could have devastating impact on forest carbon storage

New research from a multi-university team of biologists shows what could be a startling drop in the amount of carbon stored in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to projected climate change and wildfire events.

The study, “Potential decline in carbon carrying capacity under projected climate-wildfire interactions in the Sierra Nevada”, published this week in Scientific Reports, shows another facet of the impact current man-made carbon emissions will have on our world if big changes aren’t made.

“What we’ve been trying to do is really understand how changing climate, increases in temperatures and decreases in precipitation, will alter carbon uptake in forests,” said University of New Mexico Assistant Professor Matthew Hurteau, a co-author on the paper. “The other aspect of this work is looking at disturbance events like large scale wildfires. Those events volatilize a lot of carbon and can kill many trees, leaving fewer trees to continue to take up the carbon.”

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High Levels of PFOA Found in Mid-Ohio River Valley Residents 1991 to 2013

New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) reveals that residents of the Mid-Ohio River Valley (from Evansville, Indiana, north to Huntington, West Virginia) had higher than normal levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) based on blood samples collected over a 22-year span. The exposure source was likely from drinking water contaminated by industrial discharges upriver. 

The study, appearing in the latest publication of Environmental Pollution, looked at levels of PFOA and 10 other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in 931 Mid-Ohio River Valley residents, testing blood serum samples collected between 1991 and 2013, to determine whether the Ohio River and Ohio River Aquifer were sources of exposure. This is the first study of PFOA serum concentrations in U.S. residents in the 1990s.

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No Evidence That Brain-Stimulation Technique Boosts Cognitive Training

Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS)—a non-invasive technique for applying electric current to areas of the brain—may be growing in popularity, but new research suggests that it probably does not add any meaningful benefit to cognitive training. The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Our findings suggest that applying tDCS while older participants engaged in daily working memory training over four weeks did not result in improved cognitive ability,” explains researcher Martin Lövdén of Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.

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