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New California water restrictions mandated

This year California has seen the lowest snowpack ever recorded, which was a disaster for the winter ski tourism industry and poses dangers of wildfires this summer and fall. But the dry winter has also exacerbated the state’s ongoing drought crisis. To that end, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order that he said is necessary in order to make California drought resistant.

The governor made the announcement while visiting a California Department of Water Resources snow survey in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Phillips Station, located in El Dorado County near the Nevada border. “Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” Gov. Brown said.

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Polar Bears Won't be Satisfied by Terrestrial Foods Alone

A team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey found that polar bears, increasingly forced on shore due to sea ice loss, may be eating terrestrial foods including berries, birds and eggs, but any nutritional gains are limited to a few individuals and likely cannot compensate for lost opportunities to consume their traditional, lipid-rich prey—ice seals.

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The advantages of being a morning person

There are many advantages of getting a good nights sleep.  Turns out, the advantages are less if you are a night owl instead of a morning person.

Night owls are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome and sarcopenia than early risers, even when they get the same amount of sleep, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study examined the difference between night and morning chronotypes, or a person's natural sleep-wake cycle. Staying awake later at night is likely to cause sleep loss, poor sleep quality, and eating at inappropriate times, which might eventually lead to metabolic change.

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Agricultural contaminant impacts fish reproductive behavior

A common growth-promoting hormone used worldwide in the cattle industry has been found to affect the sexual behaviours of fish at a very low concentration in waterways – with potentially serious ecological and evolutionary consequences. Researchers from Monash University, in collaboration with researchers from Åbo Akademi University in Finland,  have found that the steroid 17β-trenbolone – used on livestock to increase muscle growth – alters male reproductive behaviour in guppy fish (Poecilia reticulata).

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Why is Mars so different from Earth?

Did Mars ever support life of any sort?  Why is Mars so different from Earth? Can we deduce its history from current conditions?

NASA's Curiosity rover is using a new experiment to better understand the history of the Martian atmosphere by analyzing xenon. 

While NASA's Curiosity rover concluded its detailed examination of the rock layers of the "Pahrump Hills" in Gale Crater on Mars this winter, some members of the rover team were busy analyzing the Martian atmosphere for xenon, a heavy noble gas. 

Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment analyzed xenon in the planet's atmosphere. Since noble gases are chemically inert and do not react with other substances in the air or on the ground, they are excellent tracers of the history of the atmosphere. Xenon is present in the Martian atmosphere at a challengingly low quantity and can be directly measured only with on-site experiments such as SAM.

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Study suggests methane in drinking water is unrelated to fracking

Fracking doesn’t appear to be allowing methane to seriously contaminate drinking water in Pennsylvania, a new study finds—contrary to some earlier, much publicized research that suggested a stronger link. But the lead authors of the two bodies of research are sparring over the validity of the new results.

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Large animals are needed to regenerate tropical forests

Nearly two-thirds of tropical forests in Southeast Asia have been degraded by logging, agriculture and other human uses, and their fauna have been decimated by hunting and the bushmeat trade. But if those degraded tropical forests are to recover naturally, they will need to rely on their remaining large wild animals to disperse large tree seeds, according to a new study. The study published in mongabay.org's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science examined the importance of large mammals such as wild primates, deer, civets, wild pigs, and tapirs to the dispersion of large seeds throughout the Harapan Rainforest of Sumatra, which has been degraded by logging and agriculture. 

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New deep-water methane reservoir found deep in the Arctic Ocean

Research led by a University of New Hampshire professor has identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates -- ice-like substances found in sediment that trap methane within the crystal structure of frozen water -- in the Arctic Ocean. The findings, published online now in the May 2015 journal Geology, point to a previously undiscovered, stable reservoir for abiotic methane -- methane not generated by decomposing carbon -- that is "locked" away from the atmosphere, where it could impact global climate change.

"We've found an example where methane produced at a mid-ocean ridge is locked up in stable, deep water gas hydrate, preventing it from possibly getting out of the seafloor," says lead author Joel Johnson, associate professor of geology at UNH and guest researcher at the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Johnson notes that the findings, which pinpointed a source of abiotic methane ¬produced in seafloor crust, indicate gas hydrates throughout the Arctic may be supplied by a significant portion of abiotic gas.

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Its a fact: animals can predict earthquakes.

The Amazon rainforest teems with animal activity throughout the day and night. When animals suddenly withdraw and go silent, however, something unusual is going on. Many believe that this reaction can mean an earthquake is imminent.

Scientists now say they’ve got proof this belief is true. They’ve published their study’s findings in the journal Physics and Chemistry of the Earth.

Researchers set up a series of motion-activated camera traps in Peru’s Yanachanga National Park to observe animal activity at ground level. They filmed rodents and other ground dwellers as they went about their busy forest lives.

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Study finds electric vehicles will travel further than drivers expect

Electric vehicles (EVs) will meet the daily travel needs of drivers longer than commonly assumed, according to the first study of its kind carried out by scientists at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Many drivers and much prior literature on the retirement of EV batteries have assumed that EV batteries will be retired after the battery has lost 20 percent of its energy storage or power delivery capability. This study shows that the daily travel needs of drivers continue to be met well beyond these levels of battery degradation.

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