• Mapping Antarctica

    Described as being the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, it's no wonder why there are so many unknown mysteries of Antarctica. But now, for the first time scientists have begun mapping one of the "last frontiers" of the continent. The area, called the Recovery Catchment, sits around 400 km inland from the British Antarctic Survey's Halley VI Research Station in northeast Antarctica. It is important because it the vast area contains enough ice to raise sea-levels by up to 3 meters and the bedrock on which it sits is poorly understood. Another important aspect is that the rock hidden by the ice could hold the key to understanding how Antarctica was formed from the break-up of the supercontinents hundreds of millions of years ago. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rodent Study Questions Common Understanding of Evolution

    According to new research, studying the rodent family tree can shed some light on how species evolve after they move into a new area. Conducted in part by researchers at Florida State University, the study of the evolutionary history of rodents calls into doubt a generally held understanding that when a species colonizes a new region, evolution leads to a dramatic increase in the number and variety of species. >> Read the Full Article
  • Environment and genetics

    Interplay between genes and the environment has been pondered at least since the phrase "nature versus nurture" was coined in the mid-1800s. But until the arrival of modern genomic sequencing tools, it was hard to measure the extent that the environment had on a species' genetic makeup. Now, researchers with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech studying fruit flies that live on opposite slopes of a unique natural environment known as "Evolution Canyon" show that even with migration, cross-breeding, and sometimes the obliteration of the populations, the driving force in the gene pool is largely the environment. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Unintended Consequences of Reflective Pavements

    Among the most interesting exhibitors at the recent Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia may have been the Asphalt Pavement Alliance challenging what we thought we knew about urban heat island effect with new research from Arizona State University. >> Read the Full Article
  • Breakthrough in Hydrogen Production

    Scientists in Lyon, a French city famed for its cuisine, have discovered a quick-cook recipe for copious volumes of hydrogen (H2). The breakthrough suggests a better way of producing the hydrogen that propels rockets and energizes battery-like fuel cells. In a few decades, it could even help the world meet key energy needs -- without carbon emissions contributing to the greenhouse effect and climate change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Conventional satellite imagery may underestimate forest clearing for subsistence agriculture

    Analysis of forest cover using medium-scale satellite imagery may miss deforestation for small-scale subsistence agriculture, finds a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The study, which involved researchers from the University of Maryland, the State University of New York and Woods Hole Research Center, is based on change in forest cover in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which accounts for the bulk of the world's second largest tropical rainforest. >> Read the Full Article
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Lead Exposure

    Researchers striving to understand the origins of dementia are building the case against a possible culprit: lead exposure early in life. A study spanning 23 years has now revealed that monkeys who drank a lead-rich formula as infants later developed tangles of a key brain protein, called tau, linked to Alzheimer's disease. Though neuroscientists say more work is needed to confirm the connection, the research suggests that people exposed to lead as children—as many in America used to be before it was eliminated from paint, car emissions, water, and soil—could have an increased risk of the common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease. Even in small doses, lead can wreak havoc on the heart, intestines, kidneys, and nervous system. Children are especially prone to its pernicious effects, as it curbs brain development. Many studies have linked early lead exposure with lower IQs. Researchers estimate that one in 38 children in the United States still have harmful levels of the metal in their systems, but evidence linking this exposure to dementia later in life has been tenuous. >> Read the Full Article
  • UN shows how mobile-phone data can map human need

    Tracking people’s movements after the Haiti earthquake, mapping malaria spread in Kenya, evaluating Mexico’s government policies on flu outbreak, improving national census surveys in Latin America and Africa... These are just a few examples of how mobile-phone data has been used in development, as highlighted by a recent UN report. >> Read the Full Article
  • COLLEGIATE CORNER: State boundaries based on watersheds

    In 1872, John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the Colorado River to explore unknown canyons. In his report he spoke about potential for water resources development and stated that irrigation would be the key factor to settlement of the western U.S. He promoted the idea that the western state boundaries should be made around watersheds, preventing interstate water arguments. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ocean Crust Could Safely Lock Away CO2

    The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas has led to dramatically increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere causing climate change and ocean acidification. Although technologies are being developed to capture CO2 at major sources such as power stations, this will only work and help reduce the amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere if it is safely locked away. So how does one capture and sequester carbon, and where in the world should we put it? According to researchers from the University of Southampton, the answer lies beneath the oceans in the igneous rocks of the upper ocean crust. >> Read the Full Article