Τετάρτη, 2 Απριλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Natural variation: Warm North Atlantic Ocean promotes extreme winters in US and Europe

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 06:04 PM PDT

The extreme cold weather observed across Europe and the east coast of the US in recent winters could be partly down to natural, long-term variations in sea surface temperatures, according to a new study. Researchers have shown that a phenomenon known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) -- a natural pattern of variation in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures that switches between a positive and negative phase every 60-70 years -- can affect an atmospheric circulation pattern, known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), that influences the temperature and precipitation over the Northern Hemisphere in winter.

'Touched' female cockroaches reproduce faster

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 06:02 PM PDT

To speed up reproduction, there's no substitute for the tender touch of a live roach. That's the takeaway from a study examining whether artificial antennae can mimic a cockroach antenna's capacity to hasten reproduction in cockroach females.

Deforestation of sandy soils a greater climate threat

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 01:22 PM PDT

A new study finds that tree removal has far greater consequences for climate change in some soils than in others, a finding that could provide key insights into which ecosystems should be managed with extra care. In a comprehensive analysis of soil collected from 11 distinct U.S. regions, from Hawaii to northern Alaska, researchers found that the extent to which deforestation disturbs underground microbial communities that regulate the loss of carbon into the atmosphere depends almost exclusively on the texture of the soil.

Common molecular defect offers treatment hope for group of rare disorders

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:23 AM PDT

Researchers studying tiny, antennae-like structures called cilia have found a potential way to ease some of the physical damage of numerous genetic disorders that result when these essential cellular components are defective. Different genetic defects cause dysfunction of the cilia, which often act as sensory organs that receive signals from other cells. Individually, disorders involving cilia are rare, but collectively the more than 100 diseases in the category known as ciliopathies affect as many as one in 1,000 people.

Breast milk and diet up to two years old: A means of preventing the risk of child obesity

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 08:21 AM PDT

Scientists have shown that breast-feeding has a protective effect on the risk of obesity at 20 years of age. Researchers also emphasize that nutritional intake at the age of 2 years are critical in providing this beneficial effect.

Human 'hairless' gene identified: One form of baldness explained

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 08:21 AM PDT

It's not a hair-brained idea: A new research report explains why people with a rare balding condition called 'atrichia with papular lesions' lose their hair, and it identifies a strategy for reversing this hair loss. "Identification of hairless as a histone demethylase may shed new insights into its mechanism of action in regulating skin and hair disorders," said the lead author.

Scientists solve the riddle of zebras' stripes: Those pesky bugs

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 08:21 AM PDT

Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. Scientists now examined this riddle systematically.

Humans and saber-toothed tiger met in Germany 300,000 years ago

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 08:20 AM PDT

Scientists excavating at the Schöningen open-cast coal mine in north-central Germany have discovered the remains of a saber-toothed cat preserved in a layer some 300,000 years old -- the same stratum in which wooden spears were found, indicating that early humans also inhabited the area, which at that time was the bank of a shallow lake.

Wind energy: New insight into best arrangement of wind turbines on large installations

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 08:19 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a new way to study wake effects that includes the airflow both within and around a wind farm and challenges the conventional belief that turbines arrayed in checker board patterns produce the highest power output. Their study provides insight into factors that determine the most favorable positioning.

Monkey caloric restriction study shows big benefit; contradicts earlier study

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 08:19 AM PDT

The latest results from a 25-year study of diet and aging in monkeys shows a significant reduction in mortality and in age-associated diseases among those with calorie-restricted diets. The study, begun in 1989, is one of two ongoing, long-term U.S. efforts to examine the effects of a reduced-calorie diet on nonhuman primates.

Jamaican iguana: Sobering update on Jamaica's largest vertebrate

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:30 AM PDT

The Jamaican iguana continues to be critically endangered, with only a single location left for the recovering population in the Portland Bight Protected Area. A recent proposal by Jamaican government officials to allow extensive development in this area is causing concern among conservationists who have been working to save this species and the wealth of biodiversity in the area.

Better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:29 AM PDT

Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Customers prefer restaurants that offer nutrition facts, healthful foods

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:29 AM PDT

Customers are more likely to frequent restaurants that provide both healthful foods and nutrition information, according to researchers. "The Affordable Care Act has mandated that chain restaurants provide nutrition information to customers," said an author. "Many restaurants had been fighting this legislation because they thought they would lose customers if the customers knew how unhealthy their food was. We found that customers perceive restaurants to be socially responsible when they are provided with nutrition facts and healthful options and, therefore, are more likely to patronize those restaurants."

New yeast species travelled the globe with a little help from the beetles

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:27 AM PDT

A new globe-trotting yeast species that lives on tree-associated beetles has been discovered by scientists. This new species demonstrates the importance of preserving biodiversity, as yeasts like this may help efforts to develop renewable fuel sources in the future. "This new species is a real globetrotter," said an author. "It's possible the yeast originated in Asia, and was subsequently brought to the USA by these insects."

Need to regulate antimicrobial ingredients in consumer products, scientific evidence shows

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:25 AM PDT

Does the widespread and still proliferating use of antimicrobial household products cause more harm than good to consumers and the environment? Evidence compiled shows that decades of widespread use of antimicrobials has left consumers with no measurable benefits. Worse yet, lax regulation has caused widespread contamination of the environment, wildlife and human populations with compounds that appear more toxic than safe, according to recent scientific research.

Beer lovers tweet what they drink: Twitter maps show Americans' beer preferences

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:23 AM PDT

Researchers who mapped tweets revealed how "beer space" on Twitter reflects real-world preferences of brews and beer brands in the United States. For example, tweet preferences for Bud Light were found in the Eastern half of the US, while preferences for Coors Light originate in the Western half, particularly near Colorado and surrounding states. Other beer spaces included Miller Lite preferences in the Midwest and Great Plains, and brands like Corona and Dos Equis in the Southern border regions of the US.

Attention changes in the course of a dog's life mirror those of humans

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:22 AM PDT

Dogs are known to be 'Man's best friend'. No other pet has adjusted to human lifestyles as well as this four-legged animal. Scientists have been the first to investigate the evolution of dogs' attentiveness in the course of their lives and to what extent they resemble humans in this regard. The outcome: dogs' attentional and sensorimotor control developmental trajectories are very similar to those found in humans.

Switching brain cells with less light

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:22 AM PDT

Networked nerve cells are the control center of organisms. In a nematode, 300 nerve cells are sufficient to initiate complex behavior. To understand the properties of the networks, researchers switch cells on and off with light and observe the resulting behavior of the organism. Scientists now present a protein that facilitates the control of nerve cells by light. It might be used as a basis of studies of diseases of the nervous system.

Corals don’t lie: Centuries of rising sea levels and temperature data revealed

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:21 AM PDT

Scientists have analyzed coral cores from the eastern Indian Ocean to understand how the unique coral reefs of Western Australia are affected by changing ocean currents and water temperatures. The findings give new insights into how La Niña, a climate swing in the tropical Pacific, affects the Leeuwin current and how our oceans are changing.

Genes identified that could lead to tough, disease-resistant varieties of rice

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 07:14 AM PDT

A meta-data analysis has uncovered more than 1,000 genes in rice that may be key targets for developing new strains of super rice. In an era of climate change, pollution, a growing population and the global spread of pathogens, new grains must be able to handle stress. Now, researchers have identified a set of genes that could be key to the development of the next generation of super rice.

Fast food giants' ads for healthier kids meals don't send the right message

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 02:04 PM PDT

Children who viewed TV ads for Kids Meals were commonly unable to recall milk or apples, items added to make the meals healthier. Instead many kids thought apples were french fries. Researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald's and Burger King children's advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King's ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

Better management of parking ventilation systems

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 05:40 AM PDT

A recent study at an urban multiuse parking garage has demonstrated a new method that greatly reduces energy consumptions, carbon dioxide emissions and ventilation systems cost, all compared with to the systems currently used. The ventilation of an indoor parking garage consists of introducing acceptable air from outside and to filter the polluted air caused by car emissions, especially carbon monoxide (CO). The goal is to reduce all contaminants to reasonable healthy levels.

Biochar stimulates more plant growth but less plant defense, research shows

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 05:37 AM PDT

In the first study of its kind, research has cast significant doubt over the use of biochar to alleviate climate change. Biochar is produced when wood is combusted at high temperatures to make bio-oil and has been proposed as a method of geoengineering. When buried in the soil, this carbon rich substance could potentially lock-up carbon and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The global potential of biochar is considered to be large, with up to 12 percent of emissions reduced by biochar soil application.

Number of novel genetic defects that cause esophageal cancer discovered by scientists

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 05:37 AM PDT

The genomic landscape of esophageal squamous carcinoma has been revealed by a team of international scientists. In this study, the researchers comprehensively investigated a large variety of genetic lesions which arose from oesophageal squamous carcinoma. The results showed enrichment of genetic abnormalities that affect several important cellular process and pathways in human cells, which promote the development of this malignancy.

Erasing a genetic mutation by snipping mutated DNA

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 12:16 PM PDT

Liver disorder in mice has been reversed by correcting a mutated gene. The findings offer the first evidence that this gene-editing technique, known as CRISPR, can reverse disease symptoms in living animals. CRISPR, which offers an easy way to snip out mutated DNA and replace it with the correct sequence, holds potential for treating many genetic disorders, according to the research team. "What's exciting about this approach is that we can actually correct a defective gene in a living adult animal," says the team leader.

Genetic mutations warn of skin cancer risk: New high-risk cancer causing mutation identified for melanoma development

Posted: 30 Mar 2014 12:13 PM PDT

Mutations in a specific gene are responsible for a hereditary form of melanoma, researchers have discovered. Known genetic mutations account for approximately 40 per cent of all occurrences of inherited forms of melanoma. The team set out to identify the hereditary mutations that account for the other ~60 per cent by sequencing part of the genome of 184 patients with hereditary melanoma caused by unknown mutations.

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