Top Stories

Weather extremes and trade policies were main drivers of wheat price peaks

Price peaks of wheat on the world market are mainly caused by production shocks such as induced for example by droughts, researchers found. These shocks get exacerbated by low storage levels as well as protective trade policies, the analysis of global data deriving from the US Department of Agriculture shows. In contrast to widespread assumptions, neither speculation across stock or commodity markets nor land-use for biofuel production were decisive for annual wheat price changes in the past four decades. This finding allows for better risk assessment. Soaring global crop prices in some years can contribute to local food crises, and climate change from burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases is increasing weather variability.

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Researchers discover safety feature in our perception of self motion

An international research collaboration between York University Faculty of Health Professor Laurence Harris and researchers in Japan has discovered that our perception of self motion has a previously unknown safety feature.

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Billions More Milkweeds Needed to Restore Monarchs

As many as 1.8 billion additional stems of milkweed plants may be needed in North America to return imperiled monarch butterflies to a sustainable population size, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.

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Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

Ice cores drilled from a glacier in a cave in Transylvania offer new evidence of how Europe's winter weather and climate patterns fluctuated during the last 10,000 years, known as the Holocene period.

The cores provide insights into how the region's climate has changed over time. The researchers' results, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, could help reveal how the climate of the North Atlantic region, which includes the U.S., varies on long time scales.

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Teaching Perovskites to Swim

Harvesting sunlight and using it to power our homes and devices is a reality today. Generally, most commercial solar cells are made of silicon. However, as highlighted previously, a type of material called perovskite halides are a potential competitor of silicon. Unfortunately, most perovskite halides are sensitive to moisture and high temperatures such that exposure to either will quickly degrade these materials — rendering them useless. Researchers at the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center (ANSER) have developed a way to protect perovskites from water and stabilize them against heat. By carefully growing an ultrathin layer of metal oxide on a carbon coating, the researchers made a perovskite device that worked even after dousing the device with a stream of water.

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Global warming accounts for tripling of extreme West African Sahel storms, study shows

The UK-based Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) has led an international team of scientists who reveal global warming is responsible for a tripling in the frequency of extreme West African Sahel storms observed in just the last 35 years.

Professor Christopher Taylor, a Meteorologist at CEH, and researchers from partner institutions including Universite? Grenoble Alpes in France, also suggest that climate change will see the Sahel experience many more instances of extreme rain in future.

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Mystery of the missing mercury at the great Salt Lake

Around 2010, the deep waters of Utah’s Great Salt Lake contained high levels of toxic methylmercury. Mercury measurements in waterfowl surrounding the lake led to a rare human consumption advisory for ducks.

But by 2015, 90 percent of the deep mercury was gone.

The disappearance of the mercury was not due to aggressive environmental policies or a wide-ranging cleanup effort. Instead, it’s part of a story involving a large-scale unplanned chemistry experiment, a sometimes-stinky lake, and ducks – in which the mercury did not disappear. The story is told in a paper published in Environmental Science & Technology.

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Asian Carp Would Have Adequate Food to Survive in Lake Michigan

If invasive bighead carp and silver carp spread into Lake Michigan, there would be enough food available for these particular species of Asian carp to survive, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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March and year to date were 2nd warmest on record for world

Hot on the heels of the second warmest winter in the 138-year record, March continued the global warm trend that could last well into this year — especially with increasing chances for the arrival of El Nino by late summer or fall.  

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Extinction Risk for Many Species Vastly Underestimated, Study Suggests

The study appears in the journal Biological Conservation.

The maps describing species’ geographic ranges, which are used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to determine threat status, appear to systematically overestimate the size of the habitat in which species can thrive, said Don Melnick, senior investigator on the study and the Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B).

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