Top Stories

Reducing ammonia pollution from cattle

Agriculture is responsible for 90% of all ammonia pollution in Europe, a considerable part of which comes from cattle manure management: a new study shows what steps to take to reduce this pollution.

Improved barn design, cleaning processes, and manure treatment could reduce ammonia emissions from commercial dairy cattle barns by 17 to 50%, according to a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study provides a list of techniques and technologies that could provide the greatest reductions in ammonia emissions.

>> Read the Full Article

Reforesting Kilimanjaro could ease East Africa's severe water shortages

There is a need to reforest Africa’s highest mountain to help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa, a UN Environment report urged today.

The loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s forests could trigger water crisis as rivers begin to dry up, notes the report, entitled Sustainable Mountain Development in East Africa in a Changing Climate, which was launched at the World Mountain Forum in Uganda today.

>> Read the Full Article

Discovery of Carbon Storage Signaling Mechanism in Algae Offers New Potential for Sustainable Biofuel Production

James Umen, Ph.D., associate member at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and colleagues have discovered a way to make algae better oil producers without sacrificing growth. The findings were published September 6, in a paper titled, “Synergism between inositol polyphosphates and TOR kinase signaling in nutrient sensing, growth control and lipid metabolism in Chlamydomonas,” in The Plant Cell. Umen and his team including lead author Inmaculada Couso, Ph.D., and collaborators Bradley Evans Ph.D., director, Proteomics & Mass Spectrometry and Doug Allen, Ph.D., USDA Research Scientist at the Danforth Center identified a mutation in the green alga Chlamydomonas which substantially removes a constraint that is widely observed in micro-algae where the highest yields of oil can only be obtained from starving cultures.

>> Read the Full Article

MIT to neutralize 17 percent of carbon emissions through purchase of solar energy

MIT, Boston Medical Center, and Post Office Square Redevelopment Corporation have formed an alliance to buy electricity from a large new solar power installation, adding carbon-free energy to the grid and demonstrating a partnership model for other organizations in climate-change mitigation efforts.

The agreement will enable the construction of a roughly 650-acre, 60-megawatt solar farm on farmland in North Carolina. Called Summit Farms, the facility, the largest renewable-energy project ever built in the U.S. through an alliance of diverse buyers, is expected to be completed and to begin delivering power into the grid by the end of this year.

>> Read the Full Article

Unraveling the Science Behind Biomass Breakdown

Lignocellulosic biomass—plant matter such as cornstalks, straw, and woody plants—is a sustainable source for production of bio-based fuels and chemicals. However, the deconstruction of biomass is one of the most complex processes in bioenergy technologies. Although researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) had already uncovered information about how woody plants and waste biomass can be converted into biofuel more easily, they have now discovered the chemical details behind that process.

>> Read the Full Article

Researchers use 'robomussels' to monitor climate change

Tiny robots have been helping researchers study how cli­mate change affects bio­di­ver­sity. Devel­oped by North­eastern Uni­ver­sity sci­en­tist Brian Hel­muth, the “robo­mus­sels” have the shape, size, and color of actual mus­sels, with minia­ture built-in sen­sors that track tem­per­a­tures inside the mussel beds.

>> Read the Full Article

Modeling Floods That Formed Canyons on Earth and Mars

Geomorphologists who study Earth’s surface features and the processes that formed them have long been interested in how floods, in particular catastrophic outbursts that occur when a glacial lake ice dam bursts, for example, can change a planet’s surface, not only on Earth but on Mars. Now geoscience researchers Isaac Larsen at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Michael Lamb at the California Institute of Technology have proposed and tested a new model of canyon-forming floods which suggests that deep canyons can be formed in bedrock by significantly less water than previously thought.

>> Read the Full Article

Salty snow could affect air pollution in the Arctic

In pictures, the Arctic appears pristine and timeless with its barren lands and icy landscape. In reality, the area is rapidly changing.  Scientists are working to understand the chemistry behind these changes to better predict what could happen to the region in the future. One team reports in ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry A that sea salt could play a larger role in the formation of local atmospheric pollutants than previously thought.

>> Read the Full Article

Scientists creating super grass to cut methane emissions from cows

Danish scientists are developing a grass that will cut down how often cows burp and pass gas — reducing the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, they release into the atmosphere.

>> Read the Full Article

Stanford researchers capture Central Asia's 'de-greening' over millions of years into a modern-day desert

A new study chronicles how central Asia dried out over the last 23 million years into one of the most arid regions on the planet. The findings illustrate the dramatic climatic shifts wrought by the ponderous rise of new mountain ranges over geologic time.

Researchers have long cited the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayan Mountains around 50 million years ago for blocking rain clouds’ entry into central Asia from the south, killing off much of the region’s plant life.

>> Read the Full Article