• Molecular signature shows plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide

    Plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide according to a new study from the University of Southampton

    The research, published in the journal Global Change Biology, provides insight into the long-term impacts of rising CO2 and the implications for global food security and nature conservation.

    Lead author Professor Gail Taylor, from Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton, said: “Atmospheric CO2 is rising – emissions grew faster in the 2000s than the 1990s and the concentration of CO2 reached 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history in 2013.

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  • How Pollution Is Devastating an Indonesian Lake

    Uncontrolled fish farming, population growth, and logging have all taken a toll on Indonesia’s Lake Toba. Photographer Binsar Bakkara returns to his home region to chronicle the environmental destruction. 

    More than 1,500 tons of fish suddenly turned up dead in Indonesia’s largest lake earlier this year, a mass asphyxiation from a lack of oxygen in the water caused by high pollution levels. The event threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of fish farmers and the drinking water for thousands of people, and it shed light on the rapidly declining conditions in Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. 

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  • UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica

    Two new studies by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA have found the fastest ongoing rates of glacier retreat ever observed in West Antarctica and offer an unprecedented look at ice melting on the floating undersides of glaciers. The results highlight how the interaction between ocean conditions and the bedrock beneath a glacier can influence the frozen mass, helping scientists better predict future Antarctica ice loss and global sea level rise.

    The studies examined three neighboring glaciers that are melting and retreating at different rates. The Smith, Pope and Kohler glaciers flow into the Dotson and Crosson ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea embayment in West Antarctica, the part of the continent with the largest decline in ice.

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  • Better water splitting advances renewable energy conversion

    Washington State University researchers have found a way to more efficiently create hydrogen from water – an important key in making renewable energy production and storage viable.

    The researchers, led by professors Yuehe Lin and Scott Beckman in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, have developed a catalyst from low cost materials. It performs as well as or better than catalysts made from precious metals that are used for the process.

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  • The Methane Riddle: What Is Causing the Rise in Emissions?

    The stomachs of cattle, fermentation in rice fields, fracking for natural gas, coal mines, festering bogs, burning forests — they all produce methane, the second most important greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide. But how much? And how can we best cut these emissions? And is fracking frying the planet, or are bovine emissions more to blame? 

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  • Wildlife Farming: Does It Help Or Hurt Threatened Species?

    More than a decade ago, looking to slow the decimation of wildlife populations for the bushmeat trade, researchers in West Africa sought to establish an alternative protein supply. Brush-tailed porcupine was one of the most popular and high-priced meats, in rural and urban areas alike. Why not farm it? It turned out that the porcupines are generally solitary, and when put together, they tended to fight and didn't have sex. In any case, moms produce only one offspring per birth, hardly a recipe for commercial success. 

    Wildlife farming is like that — a tantalizing idea that is always fraught with challenges and often seriously flawed. And yet it is also growing both as a marketplace reality and in its appeal to a broad array of legitimate stakeholders as a potentially sustainable alternative to the helter-skelter exploitation of wild resources everywhere. 

    Food security consultants are promoting wildlife farming as a way to boost rural incomes and supply protein to a hungry world. So are public health experts who view properly managed captive breeding as a way to prevent emerging diseases in wildlife from spilling over into the human population.

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  • Amazon Study Reveals that Rainstorms Transport Atmospheric Particles Essential for Cloud Formation

    Understanding how tiny particles emitted by cars and factories affect Earth's climate requires accurate climate modeling and the ability to quantify the effects of these pollutant particles vs. particles naturally present in the atmosphere. One large uncertainty is what Earth was like before these industrial-era emissions began. In a paper just published in Nature, scientists collaborating on the GoAmazon study describe how they tracked particles in the largely pristine atmosphere over the Amazon rainforest, which has given them a way to effectively turn back the clock a few hundred years.  

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  • Climate Change Impairs the Survival Instincts of Fish and Can Make Them Swim Towards Predators

    Climate change is disrupting the sensory systems of fish and can even make them swim towards predators, instead of away from them, a paper by marine biologists at the University of Exeter says.

    Research into the impact of rising CO2 has shown it can disrupt the senses of fish including their smell, hearing and vision.

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  • New perovskite solar cell design could outperform existing commercial technologies, Stanford and Oxford scientists report

    A new design for solar cells that uses inexpensive, commonly available materials could rival and even outperform conventional cells made of silicon.

    Writing in the Oct. 21 edition of Science, researchers from Stanford and Oxford describe using tin and other abundant elements to create novel forms of perovskite – a photovoltaic crystalline material that’s thinner, more flexible and easier to manufacture than silicon crystals.

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  • New 13-year Study Tracks Impact of Changing Climate on a Key Marine Food Source

    A new multiyear study from scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has shown for the first time how changes in ocean temperature affect a key species of phytoplankton. The study, published in the October 21 issue of the journal Science, tracked levels of Synechococcus—a tiny bacterium common in marine ecosystems—near the coast of Massachusetts over a 13-year period. As ocean temperatures increased during that time, annual blooms of Synechococcus occurred up to four weeks earlier than usual because cells divided faster in warmer conditions, the study found.

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