• Discovering Lake Vostok: Antarctica's Largest Subglacial Lake

    Looking for a trip to the lake this summer? Thinking about Lake Powell, Lake George, or maybe Lake Tahoe? What about Lake Vostok? Heard of it? Maybe. But you're probably not going to plan your next vacation here - this sugblacial lake lies 4000 meters below the ice in East Antarctica! Confirmed in 1993 by satellite-based laser altimetry, this lake is not only the largest subglacial lake on the continent, but this body of water has been isolated underground with limited nutrients and complete darkness and has become an interesting topic for researchers and scientists worldwide. So here's the million-dollar question: is there life in Lake Vostok? First, it is important to note that scientists have only been able to gain access to the lake in the past year when a team of Russian scientists finally reached the surface of the lake after decades of drilling- a tedious and formidable engineering task. It will take the team about a year to analyze those samples collected earlier this yea, however, hints that there may be previously unidentified species of bacteria in the lake have leaked. >> Read the Full Article
  • Forests may be using less water as CO2 rises

    Forests may be becoming more efficient in their use of water as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, reports a new study in Nature. The findings are based on data from 300 canopy towers that measure carbon dioxide and water flux above forests at sites around the world, including temperate, tropical, and boreal regions. The researchers found that plants are becoming more water efficient as CO2 levels rise. While the findings are consistent with forecasts using models, the rate of efficiency gain is higher than expected. >> Read the Full Article
  • Eco Technology now and in the future

    As we march towards an "irreversible change" on our planet, scientists are urgently searching for alternatives to our unsustainable consumption of natural resources. Whilst a cultural and political overhaul is needed before any of these alternatives are considered a social priority, they display a scientific willingness to change and to live in harmony with nature. Yes, the technology for a number of the following ideas does not actually exist yet however, it's important to bear in mind that only a few hundred years ago we believed that man would never fly. >> Read the Full Article
  • How can glaciers calving make so much noise?

    Icebergs in situ make little noise, right? What about when the calve? There is growing concern about how much noise humans generate in marine environments through shipping, oil exploration and other developments, but a new study has found that naturally occurring phenomena could potentially affect some ocean dwellers. Nowhere is this concern greater than in the polar regions, where the effects of global warming often first manifest themselves. The breakup of ice sheets and the calving and grounding of icebergs can create enormous sound energy, scientists say. Now a new study has found that the mere drifting of an iceberg from near Antarctica to warmer ocean waters produces startling levels of noise. Results of the study are being published this month in Oceanography. A team led by Oregon State University researchers used an array of hydrophones to track the sound produced by an iceberg through its life cycle, from its origin in the Weddell Sea to its eventual demise in the open ocean. The goal of the project was to measure baseline levels of this kind of naturally occurring sound in the ocean, so it can be compared to anthropogenic noises. >> Read the Full Article
  • Politics of Climate Change: A Well-Oiled Machine

    The politics of climate change are a lot like the politics of gun control, at least in the sense that President Obama meant when he asked in April 2013 how Congress could fail to deliver gun control legislation when 90 percent of the American public wants it. Polling in 2013 shows that 87 percent of Americans would like their national government to make clean energy a priority; only 12 percent think that this should be a low priority. The same poll showed that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate policy should be a priority, and 59 percent think the US should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions even if other nations do not. Yet year after year, our national policy mechanisms have stalled efforts to do both. What’s holding us back? Special interests are, and more specifically, fossil fuel interests are. In the year leading up to President Obama's first election, expectations that Congress would pass some sort of bill limiting greenhouse gas emissions were high. The percentage of Americans who said in public opinion polls that they believed that climate change was happening and that something should be done about it was rising in the wake of two dreadful hurricane seasons. At least one global warming bill had gotten out of committee in 2007 in the Senate, and in 2009 the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security bill. Financial analysts were beginning to talk more about the costs of carbon emissions, often with the expectation that regulatory action was imminent. >> Read the Full Article
  • Autism Heredity

    Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs. Researchers who compared the DNA of patients with autism and intellectual disability to that of their unaffected siblings found that the affected siblings had significantly more “runs of homozygosity,” or blocks of DNA that are the same from both parents. The finding suggests a role for recessive inheritance in this autism subgroup and highlights homozygosity as a new approach to understanding genetic mechanisms in autism. >> Read the Full Article
  • Weather Extremes UN Report

    It is hard to tell how bad or good the weather really is. One has to look back over a period of time to perceive true changes. The world experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes between 2001 and 2010 and more national temperature records were broken during that period than in any other decade, according to a new United Nations report. The report (The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Extremes) says the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest for both hemispheres and for both land and ocean temperatures since measurements began in 1850. High temperatures were accompanied by a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice, and an accelerating loss of the ice sheets of the world's glaciers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Automobile Production Sets New Record in 2012

    World auto production set yet another record in 2012 and may rise even higher during 2013. According to London-based IHS Automotive, passenger-car production rose from 62.6 million in 2011 to 66.7 million in 2012, and it may reach 68.3 million in 2013. When cars are combined with light trucks, total light vehicle production rose from 76.9 million in 2011 to 81.5 million in 2012 and is projected to total 83.3 million in 2013. >> Read the Full Article
  • What Color was that Dinosaur?

    The past is in black and white. It is very hard to tell what color was a dinosaur from looking at its fossilized bones. In the past, experts have basically guessed what color ancient animals were as colors are rarely preserved in fossils. But recent discoveries of color-producing structures in fossil insects and feathers are helping scientists solve this mystery and learn about the evolution of color and its role in communication. The cutting-edge science and technology which has uncovered this new knowledge will be demonstrated at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which runs from 2 to 7 July in London and attracts 15,000 visitors each year. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cloudy Worlds Climate

    Clouds are pretty to see. They are also much more potent than previously perceived in modifying climate. This is particularly important when considering habitable planets near red dwarf stars. A new study that calculates the influence of cloud behavior on climate doubles the number of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, the most common type of stars in the universe. This finding means that in the Milky Way galaxy alone, 60 billion planets may be orbiting red dwarf stars in the habitable zone. Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University based their study, which appears in Astrophysical Journal Letters, on rigorous computer simulations of cloud behavior on alien planets. This cloud behavior dramatically expanded the estimated habitable zone of red dwarfs, which are much smaller and fainter than stars like the sun. >> Read the Full Article