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Bumble bees make a beeline for larger flowers

Bumble bees create foraging routes by using their experience to select nectar-rich, high-rewarding flowers. A study by Shohei Tsujimoto and Hiroshi Ishii of the University of Toyama in Japan now suggests that bees actually forage more efficiently when flower sizes are large rather than small. This indicates that for these insect pollinators foraging quickly is more efficient than foraging accurately. The research is published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology and uses a laboratory-based experiment to investigate how aspects of associative learning influence how bumble bees find food among different-sized flowers. 

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Nationwide study of U.S. seniors strengthens link between air pollution and premature death

A new study of 60 million Americans—about 97% of people age 65 and older in the United States—shows that long-term exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone increases the risk of premature death, even when that exposure is at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) currently established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that men, blacks, and low-income populations had higher risk estimates from PM2.5 exposure compared with the national average, with blacks having mortality risks three times higher than the national average.

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New study explores plant adaptations to drought and cold stress

Recent advances in technology have allowed scientists to probe the molecular nature of life, analyzing thousands of genes at a time and recognizing patterns of gene interaction. In a recent paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, complexity scientist Samuel Scarpino and co-authors explore gene co-expression networks that have evolved to help plants withstand drought and cold. 

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Scientists build giant 'molecular cages' for energy conversion and drug delivery

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin and AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science research centre hosted in Trinity College Dublin, have created ‘molecular cages’ that can maximise the efficiency of converting molecules in chemical reactions, and that may in future also be used as sensors and drug-delivery agents. The cages can be packed with different molecules, many of which have a specific task or functionality.

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Oceans Are Warming Rapidly, Scientists say

More than 90% of the earth’s energy imbalance (EEI) in the climate system is sequestered in the ocean and consequently the ocean heat content (OHC) is increasing. Therefore, OHC is one of the most important indicators of global warming. During the past 30 years, many independent groups worked to estimate historical OHC changes. However, large uncertainty has been found among the published global OHC time series. For example, during the current surge of research on the so-called “hiatus” or “slowdown”, different scientific studies draw quite different conclusions on the key scientific question such as “Where is the heat redistributed in the ocean?” This motivates us to give a detailed analysis about global and basin OHC changes based on multiple ocean datasets.

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Climate change may cause expansion to ice-free areas across Antarctica

Ice-free areas in Antarctica could expand by close to 25 per cent by 2100 and drastically change the biodiversity of the continent, research published this week in Nature has shown.

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Running Dry: Seeking Solutions to South Asia's Looming Water Crisis

India and Pakistan are among the most heavily irrigated nations on earth, producing enough wheat, corn, and other crops to feed their combined populations of 1.5 billion. But in South Asia’s breadbasket, which includes the Punjab region, farmers have pumped water out of the ground so heedlessly for so long that scientists now estimate aquifers there could run dry by mid-century. Add to that the disruptive effects of climate change and it’s clear that South Asian agriculture is facing a perilous future.

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Ten million tonnes of fish wasted every year despite declining fish stocks

ndustrial fishing fleets dump nearly 10 million tonnes of good fish back into the ocean every year, according to new research.

The study by researchers with Sea Around Us, an initiative at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and the University of Western Australia, reveals that almost 10 per cent of the world’s total catch in the last decade was discarded due to poor fishing practices and inadequate management.  This is equivalent to throwing back enough fish to fill about 4,500 Olympic sized swimming pools every year.

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Canada +150: DNA Barcodes — Sci-Fi Tech to Safeguard Environment

A Canadian technology that can identify a substance by scanning it — as a character in Star Trek might — could become a crucial tool to capture DNA data in the environment and protect it.

DNA barcoding, developed at the University of Guelph by Professor Paul Hebert, uses genetic variations to identify different species. It’s similar to how a supermarket checkout scanner reads variations in a UPC barcode’s lines to identify a product you buy.

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Turning the Climate Tide by 2020

The world needs high-speed climate action for an immediate bending-down of the global greenhouse-gas emissions curve, leading experts caution. Aggressive reduction of fossil-fuel usage is the key to averting devastating heat extremes and unmanageable sea level rise, the authors argue in a comment published in the renowned scientific journal Nature this week. In the run-up to the G20 summit of the planet’s leading economies, the article sets six milestones for a clean industrial revolution. This call for strong short-term measures complements the longer-term 'carbon law' approach introduced earlier this year by some of the current co-authors, including the Potsdam Institute’s Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, in the equally eminent journal Science. Thus a full narrative of deep decarbonization emerges.

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