• The Effect of Forests on Climate

    Once there were vast forests covering North America and Europe. What happens to the climate if they were returned? Planting trees in an area where there are no trees now, can reduce the effect of climate change by cooling temperate regions finds a study in BioMed Central's open access journal Carbon Balance and Management. Afforestation could lead to cooler and wetter summers by the end of this century if it was done now. Of course doing it now is a problem not only of resources of what it replaces and the effects that may have elsewhere. >> Read the Full Article
  • Costa Rican scientists trial aquatic agriculture to boost food security

    Costa Rican researchers are pioneering 'aquatic agriculture' — the method of growing crops on freshwater lakes and reservoirs — to boost food security in the developing world. The technique involves creating floating rafts on which vegetables, grains and flowers can be grown. Terrestrial crops such as grains and vegetables have their roots directly in the water or can be potted, with water being drawn up into their soil from the lake by capillary wicks, Ricardo Radulovich, a professor at the University of Costa Rica's Department of Agricultural Engineering, explains. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Cells Communicate

    Scientists at UCLA and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science have discovered a possible method by which cancer cells and dying cells communicate with nearby normal nerve cells without being physically connected to them. Normal communication is done by chemical, hormonal or other physical connection. What this implies is unclear but it is certainly intriguing. >> Read the Full Article
  • Peatland Forest Loss and Climate Change

    The destruction of tropical peatland forests is causing them to haemorrhage carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, scientists say. The research, published in Nature, suggests peatland contributions to climate change have been badly underestimated. 'If you don't consider carbon lost through drainage then you underestimate the carbon losses from these deforested sites by 22 per cent,' says Dr Vincent Gauci of the Open University, one of the study's authors. 'And that's a conservative estimate; it could be much higher.' >> Read the Full Article
  • 'Biotic Pump' Theory Suggests Forests Drive Wind and Rain

    It took over two-and-a-half-years for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics to finally accept a paper outlining a new meteorological hypothesis in which condensation, not temperature, drives winds. If proven correct, the hypothesis could have massive ramifications on global policy—not to mention meteorology—as essentially the hypothesis means that the world's forest play a major role in driving precipitation from the coast into a continent's interior. The theory, known as the biotic pump, was first developed in 2006 by two Russian scientists, Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva of the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics, but the two have faced major pushback and delays in their attempt to put the theory before the greater scientific community. >> Read the Full Article
  • Water from an Antarctica Lake

    In an amazing feat of science and engineering, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research team has successfully drilled through 2,600 feet of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and retrieve water and sediment samples that have been isolated from direct contact with the outside world for many thousands of years. Scientists and drillers with the interdisciplinary Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling project (WISSARD) announced January 28th that they had used a customized clean hot-water drill to directly obtain samples from the waters and sediments of subglacial Lake Whillans. Upon study this may reveal an unique perspective on life and how it evolves. >> Read the Full Article
  • Spring Leaves Expected to Sprout Sooner in North American Forests

    This year the spring equinox falls on March 20th, marking the first day of spring. But regardless of the date, it feels like spring when the temperature warms and we start to see new green leaves and flowers bloom after a dormant winter. According to new research, trees in the continental U.S. could send out new spring leaves up to 17 days earlier than expected in the coming century as global temperatures start to rise. Researchers at Princeton University suggest that these climate-driven changes could lead to composition changes of northeastern forests and give a boost to their ability to take up carbon dioxide. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Great Stink Bug

    Oregon State University is studying how to use bug-on-bug warfare to stop this crop-damaging pest. The insect arrived in the eastern United States in the late 1990s and has since spread to more than 30 states. This non-native bug was found in Portland in 2004 and has since shown up in 13 Oregon counties, including all of the Willamette Valley. The pest has caused major commercial crop damage in many eastern states but so far it has had minimal impact on Northwest crops. >> Read the Full Article
  • Medicinal Plants Being Studied to Fight Malaria

    Traditional healers in Benin possess sophisticated knowledge regarding the treatment of malaria with medicinal plants, and strategies should be developed to exploit this and promote the plants' conservation, says a study. Researchers at the University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, documented more than 80 plants, which are believed to be antimalarial and used by traditional healers in southern Benin's Allada plateau, to evaluate traditional knowledge and techniques for treating malaria. >> Read the Full Article
  • Livestock falling ill in fracking regions, raising concerns about food

    While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or "fracking") operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil. Last year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals. >> Read the Full Article