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Multi-layer Superconductivity

Superconductivity is a phenomenon of zero electrical resistance, and expulsion of magnetic fields occurring in certain materials when cooled below a characteristic critical temperature. The usual temperature is very close to absolute zero and far from room conditions. So the key is finding a ways to increase that temperature as high as one can. A multi-university team of researchers has artificially engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications. The researchers can tailor the material, which seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, to achieve extraordinary superconducting properties—in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials. >> Read the Full Article

In the News: 100 million sharks killed each year by commercial fishing

Ahead of the 16th meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species that runs from the 3rd to the 15th of March this year, researchers are again warning that sharks are in need of better protection. A new report, published in the journal Marine Policy, estimates the annual number of sharks killed by commercial fishing to be around 100 million, although the actual number could be anywhere between 63 million and 273 million. >> Read the Full Article

EU Hopes to Make Progress with Fishing Industry Reforms

Overfishing has been an important environmental issue recently as catching too many fish in one area can lead to food chain imbalances and the overall degradation of that system. Christian Schwagerl for YaleEnvironment360 discusses Europe’s over-subsidized fishing industry and what members of the European Union (EU) are doing to change and protect Europe’s marine environment. >> Read the Full Article

An Antarctica Sub

Submersible vessels have been around since the 19th century. However, none is more likely to go a stranger place than this one. Called the Micro-Submersible Lake Exploration Device, the instrument was a small robotic sub about the size and shape of a baseball bat. Designed to expand the range of extreme environments accessible by humans while minimally disturbing the environment, the sub was equipped with hydrological chemical sensors and a high-resolution imaging system. The instruments and cameras characterize the geology, hydrology and chemical characteristics of the sub's surroundings. Behar supervised a team of students from Arizona State University, Tempe, in designing, developing, testing and operating the first-of-its-kind submarine vessel. >> Read the Full Article

Predicting Malaria Outbreaks will help India prepare for them

Researchers have developed a model that allows malaria epidemics in arid northwest India to be predicted four months in advance, helping authorities prepare for them much earlier than before. The seasonal malaria outbreaks in the region are known to be driven by higher rainfall, which allows the mosquitoes that transmit the disease to breed, and can currently be forecasted up to around a month in advance. But a study published today (3 March) in Nature Climate Change has found a strong association between malaria outbreaks in the desert fringe of northwest India and sea surface temperatures in the tropical South Atlantic Ocean. >> Read the Full Article

Thailand Prime Minister Pledges to Take Steps to End Ivory Trade

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today pledged to end ivory trade in Thailand, seizing a key opportunity to stem global wildlife trafficking. Her statement came after the call of nearly 1.5 million WWF and Avaaz supporters. Prime Minister Shinawatra said at the opening of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok that Thailand would take steps to end ivory trade – the first time the Thai government has said this publicly. "As a next step we will forward amending the national legislation with the goal of putting an end on ivory trade and to be in line with international norms," Prime Minster Shinawatra said. "This will help protect all forms of elephants including Thailand's wild and domestic elephants and those from Africa." >> Read the Full Article

Global Warming Being Slowed by Volcanic Eruptions

Planet Earth did not warm as much in response to increases in green house gas emissions as expected. There appear to be other factors that influence global temperatures than green house gasses. A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder looking for clues about why Earth did not warm as much as scientists expected between 2000 and 2010 now thinks the culprits are hiding in plain sight -- dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide. The study results essentially exonerate Asia, including India and China, two countries that are estimated to have increased their industrial sulfur dioxide emissions by about 60 percent from 2000 to 2010 through coal burning, said lead study author Ryan Neely, who led the research as part of his CU-Boulder doctoral thesis. Small amounts of sulfur dioxide emissions from Earth’s surface eventually rise 12 to 20 miles into the stratospheric aerosol layer of the atmosphere, where chemical reactions create sulfuric acid and water particles that reflect sunlight back to space, cooling the planet. >> Read the Full Article

Renewable Sources Provide All New Generating Capacity in January – Three-Fold Increase From Same Period Last Year

The latest Energy Infrastructure Update released yesterday by the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports that the US had 1,231 megawatts (MW) of new in-service generating capacity come online in January of 2013 – all of it from renewable sources including wind, solar and biomass. The new capacity for January represents a three-fold increase from the 431 MW of new renewable generating capacity that came online in January of 2012. >> Read the Full Article

The Third Van Allen Belt

The Van Allen radiation belt is supposedly composed of two torus-shaped layers of energetic charged particles (plasma) around the planet Earth, held in place by its magnetic field. The belt extends from an altitude of about 1,000 to 60,000 kilometers above the surface, in which region radiation levels vary. On Aug. 30, NASA launched the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission, since renamed the Van Allen Probes mission, to learn more about the belts, which are known to be hazardous to satellites and astronauts. Each probe carries a Relativistic Electron-Proton Telescope, or REPT, designed and built at CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, known as LASP. When CU-Boulder scientists turned on the instruments, just a few days after launch, they were shocked by what they found: a third storage ring radiation belt. >> Read the Full Article

Cropland expansion the culprit in biodiversity loss, says study

Rapid cropland expansion is the main cause of biodiversity loss in tropical countries, a study by UNEP's (the UN Environment Programme) World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative has found. The study, published in PLOS ONE last month (9 January), highlights maize and soybean as the most expansive crops and as the main drivers of biodiversity loss in tropical regions. Other crops that pose a major threat to habitats and wildlife are beans, cassava, cowpea, groundnut, millet, oil palm, rice, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat, the study says. >> Read the Full Article