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A Different Look at Energy Harvesting Roadways

Over fifty percent of the United States energy comes from coal and petroleum based fuels. Powering a nation in which the average person uses the amount of energy in 15,370 lbs of coal or 165,033 sticks of dynamite in a year is not sustainable. When thinking of a solution, the well-known renewable energy source that most likely comes to mind is solar power.

Solar panels are an impervious surface. Impervious surfaces already take up 32,868.61 square miles of roads, parking lots, driveways, and more. These surfaces displace rainwater to surrounding areas and have great impacts on the water table and soil quality. Utilizing already cleared land rather than clearing more would be beneficial to the environment, as solar fields require large amounts of cleared land.

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Squid populations on the rise

Unlike the declining populations of many fish species, the number of cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish and squid) has increased in the world's oceans over the past 60 years, a University of Adelaide study has found.

The international team, led by researchers from the University's Environment Institute, compiled a global database of cephalopod catch rates to investigate long-term trends in abundance, published in Cell Press journal Current Biology.

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Bristol University study shows how immune cells become activated

Immune cells play essential roles in the maintenance and repair of our bodies.  When we injure ourselves, immune cells mount a rapid inflammatory response to protect us against infection and help heal the damaged tissue. 

Lead researcher Dr Helen Weavers, from the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences said: “While this immune response is beneficial for human health, many human diseases (including atheroscelerosis, cancer and arthritis) are caused or aggravated by an overzealous immune response. A greater understanding of what activates the immune response is therefore crucial for the design of novel therapies to treat these inflammatory disorders.

“Our study found that immune cells must first become ‘activated’ by eating a dying neighbouring cell before they are able to respond to wounds or infection. In this way, immune cells build a molecular memory of this meal, which shapes their inflammatory behaviour.”

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GMOs May Be Safe to Eat, But Some Are Still Bad for the Planet

For years, one of the major arguments that has been made against genetically engineered crops is the fear that, by tampering with a plant’s DNA, it could potentially cause health issues for consumers. It’s an understandable worry, however, the scientific consensus now seems to be undeniable: Whatever faults GMO crops may have, they are safe for human consumption.

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How do trees sleep?

Most living organisms adapt their behavior to the rhythm of day and night. Plants are no exception: flowers open in the morning, some tree leaves close during the night. Researchers have been studying the day and night cycle in plants for a long time: Linnaeus observed that flowers in a dark cellar continued to open and close, and Darwin recorded the overnight movement of plant leaves and stalks and called it "sleep". But even to this day, such studies have only been done with small plants grown in pots, and nobody knew whether trees sleep as well. Now, a team of researchers from Austria, Finland and Hungary measured the sleep movement of fully grown trees using a time series of laser scanning point clouds consisting of millions of points each.

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Anthropogenic dust found to have long-rangimg impacts to oceans

As climatologists closely monitor the impact of human activity on the world's oceans, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found yet another worrying trend impacting the health of the Pacific Ocean.

A new modeling study conducted by researchers in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences shows that for decades, air pollution drifting from East Asia out over the world's largest ocean has kicked off a chain reaction that contributed to oxygen levels falling in tropical waters thousands of miles away.

"There's a growing awareness that oxygen levels in the ocean may be changing over time," said Taka Ito, an associate professor at Georgia Tech. "One reason for that is the warming environment -- warm water holds less gas. But in the tropical Pacific, the oxygen level has been falling at a much faster rate than the temperature change can explain."

The study, which was published May 16 in Nature Geoscience, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, a Georgia Power Faculty Scholar Chair and a Cullen-Peck Faculty Fellowship.

In the report, the researchers describe how air pollution from industrial activities had raised levels of iron and nitrogen -- key nutrients for marine life -- in the ocean off the coast of East Asia. Ocean currents then carried the nutrients to tropical regions, where they were consumed by photosynthesizing phytoplankton.

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Ocean bacteria are programmed to alter climate gases

SAR11, the most abundant plankton in the world's oceans, are pumping out massive amounts of two sulfur gases that play important roles in the Earth's atmosphere, researchers announced today in the journal Nature Microbiology.

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Happy 'Love a Tree Day'!

What’s not to love about trees? May 16 marks National Love a Tree Day, which gives everyone a chance to get out and appreciate the

You probably know about the largest living tree: situated in the Giant Forest in California’s Sequoia National Park, the General Sherman tree, a giant sequoia, is the largest living organism, by volume, on our planet. It is 2,100 years old, weighs an estimated 2.7 million pounds, stands 275 feet tall and is 100 feet wide at its trunk. Pretty impressive!

But you don’t have to travel to California to appreciate trees – in fact, they are everywhere!

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The Great Green Wall of Africa

Though a border wall with Mexico is currently a matter of serious discussion in the United States, the aim of which is to prevent the physical movement of people (with few other apparent “benefits”), some walls can actually bring together and preserve communities, rather than divide them.

In only five years, the UN says, around 60 million Africans may be displaced as their land ceases to be arable, a potential humanitarian disaster the scale of which would be unprecedented. This would be devastating to a huge portion of the African continent not only ecologically and economically but socially as well.

That’s where Africa’s ingenious Great Green Wall comes in.

Experts at the United Nations say without action, desertification may claim two-thirds of Africa’s farmlands in under a decade. The Great Green Wall, however, was conceived as a wide-reaching strategy to halt Northern Africa’s rapidly advancing Sahara Desert.

The Great Green Wall, once complete, will stretch an incredible 4,400 miles from Senegal in West Africa to the East African nation of Djibouti. Instead of bricks and mortar, the wall will be made of trees and other vegetation, including plants that can be eaten or used to create medicine.

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Should the National Parks allow corporations to put their name and logo on buildings and other features?

Home Depot’s Yellowstone National Park. Merrill Lynch’s Yosemite National Park. Exxon Mobil’s Grand Canyon National Park. You’re probably shuddering at the thought of these national treasures being linked to corporate sponsors, but thanks to new federal rule changes, this possibility is closer than you think.

Since it was established, the National Park Service has thwarted attempts to commercialize these nature preserves. In the past, the parks have limited commemorations of large donations to modest, easy-to-overlook plaques. Now, during the park service’s centennial celebration, the organization is deciding to court corporate money by offering up a lot of opportunities for naming rights.

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