Top Stories

Air pollution linked to life-threatening hardening of the arteries

Long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries", according to a University of Michigan public health researcher and colleagues from across the US. Sara Adar, the John Searle Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, and Joel Kaufman, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and medicine at the University of Washington, led the study that found that higher concentrations of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) were linked to a faster thickening of the inner two layers of the common carotid artery - an important blood vessel that provides blood to the head, neck and brain. >> Read the Full Article

Microbubbles

Microbubbles are bubbles generally smaller than one millimeter in diameter, but larger than one micrometer. They are often used in medical diagnostics as a contrast agent for ultrasound imaging. The microbubbles oscillate and vibrate when a sonic energy field is applied and may reflect ultrasound waves. This distinguishes the microbubbles from surrounding tissues. Microbubbles may also decrease the time and acoustic power of ultrasound required to heat and destroy an embedded target, finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound. If these results can be replicated in the clinic, microbubbles could improve the efficiency of high intensity ultrasound treatment of solid tumors. >> Read the Full Article

Arctic Snow Clears the Air

National Science Foundation-funded researchers at Purdue University have discovered that sunlit snow is the major source of atmospheric bromine in the Arctic, the key to unique chemical reactions that purge pollutants and destroy ozone. The new research also indicates that the surface snowpack above Arctic sea ice plays a previously unappreciated role in the bromine cycle and that loss of sea ice, which been occurring at an increasingly rapid pace in recent years, could have extremely disruptive effects in the balance of atmospheric chemistry in high latitudes. The team's findings suggest the rapidly changing Arctic climate--where surface temperatures are rising three times faster than the global average--could dramatically change its atmospheric chemistry, said Paul Shepson, an NSF-funded researcher who led the research team. The experiments were conducted by Kerri Pratt, a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Division of Polar Programs in NSF's Geosciences Directorate. >> Read the Full Article

Jovian Water Source

Water can be found most anywhere in the solar system planetary bodies. The question is amount and source. Astronomers have finally found direct proof that almost all water present in Jupiter's stratosphere was delivered by comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which famously struck the planet in 1994. The findings, based on new data from the Herschel space observatory, reveal more water in Jupiter's southern hemisphere, where the impacts occurred, than in the north. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. >> Read the Full Article

CO2 Record Highs

How high can the CO2 concentration in the air go? It is a bit like looking at the stock market except that the CO2 does not go down. For the first time in human history, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) could rise above 400 parts per million (ppm) for sustained lengths of time throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere as soon as May 2013. To provide a resource for understanding the implications of rising CO2 levels, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is providing daily updates of the Keeling Curve, the record of atmospheric CO2 measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. These iconic measurements, begun by Charles David (Dave) Keeling, a world-leading authority on atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation and Scripps climate science pioneer, comprise the longest continuous record of CO2 in the world, starting from 316 ppm in March 1958 and approaching 400 ppm today with a familiar saw-tooth pattern. For the past 800,000 years, CO2 levels never exceeded 300 parts per million. >> Read the Full Article

Malaysia may be home to more Asian tapirs than previously thought

You can't mistake an Asian tapir for anything else: for one thing, it's the only tapir on the continent; for another, it's distinct black-and-white blocky markings distinguishes it from any other tapir (or large mammal) on Earth. But still little is known about the Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus), including the number surviving. However, researchers in Malaysia are working to change that: a new study for the first time estimates population density for the neglected megafauna, while another predicts where populations may still be hiding in peninsular Malaysia, including selectively-logged areas. >> Read the Full Article

EV Range Anxiety Cure?

As an electric vehicle fan, I can appreciate the range anxiety concern. I am driving a Chevy Volt which is great since it has a range extending gasoline engine. Since I enjoy driving in in EV mode so much, and that range is only 35 - 40 miles for me, I decided to go all electric and ordered a Tesla Model S. This will be EV all the time, but with no on-board back up generator, will not be usable for really long trips until the charging infrastructure improves a lot. So I am keeping an older internal combustion engine car for use on long trips! ENN Affiliate TriplePundit reports on an approach to ending range anxiety for people who don't want, or can't keep an internal combustion engine back up car around. Fiat and BMW feel your pain and have come up with a solution of sorts that might boost their EV sales: They will give customers free access to conventional gas-powered cars when they need them for long trips. BMW's i3 electric car is entering the U.S. market this year, and will come with a free loaner conventional car for trips that exceed its 80- to 100-mile range. Customers also will have the option of adding a gasoline generator to the i3 for about $4,000, which would double its range. The retail price for the i3 is estimated at $42,000 to $48,000. >> Read the Full Article

Source of Organics and Water Quality

It is not unusual that when it rains, it will dissolve surface materials or carny it off as suspended materials into steams and such. Each time it rains, runoff carries an earthy tea steeped from leaf litter, crop residue, soil, and other organic materials into the storm drains and streams that feed Chesapeake Bay or many other bodies of water. Apparently some sources of organics are worse than others. A new study led by researchers at William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science reveals that land use in the watersheds from which this dissolved organic matter originates has important implications for Bay water quality, with the organic carbon in runoff from urbanized or heavily farmed landscapes more likely to persist as it is carried downstream, thus contributing energy to fuel low-oxygen dead zones in coastal waters. >> Read the Full Article

Kudzu Bugs May Be More Dangerous to Soybean Crops than Previously Thought

Many of us know kudzu as the invasive species that grows so rapidly it can destroy valuable forests by preventing trees from getting enough sunlight. Well now we have another "kudzu" species to be worried about – the kudzu bug. Also known as Megacopta cribraria, the kudzu bug is native to India and China, where it is an agricultural pest of beans and other legumes. After first being detected in Georgia in 2009, the kudzu bug has since expanded its territory as far north as Virginia. And according to new research from North Carolina State University, the kudzu bug may be able to expand to other parts of the country. >> Read the Full Article

Less Rain in Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands ecoregion includes one of the world's wettest places, the slopes of Mount Waiʻaleʻale, which average 460 in (12,000 mm) of rainfall per year. However, almost imperceptibly, rainfall over the Hawaiian Islands has been declining since 1978, and this trend is likely to continue with global warming through the end of this century, according to a team of scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) and the University of Colorado at Boulder. This latest Hawaii rainfall study, published in the March 13, 2013, early online issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, supports previous work conducted at the University of Hawaii. >> Read the Full Article