Πέμπτη, 26 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Earlier snowmelt prompting earlier breeding of Arctic birds

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:12 PM PDT

Biologists have found that migratory birds that breed in Arctic Alaska are initiating nests earlier in the spring, and that snowmelt occurring earlier in the season is a big reason why.

Vegetarian diets produce fewer greenhouse gases and increase longevity, say new studies

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Consuming a plant-based diet results in a more sustainable environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while improving longevity, according to new research. Based on findings that identified food systems as a significant contributor to global warming, the study focuses on the dietary patterns of vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians to quantify and compare greenhouse gas emissions, as well as assess total mortality.

Shifting land won't stop your journey: Using satellites to watch for land hazards

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Subsidence, rockfalls and landslides threaten potentially devastating human and economic consequences across Europe -- but satellites can help. Traditional monitoring such as photographic mapping to measure changes in the landscape works well for specific locations but is labor intensive and costly. Now, the European Space Agency has looked at using satellites to watch for hazards across broad areas that could affect road and rail networks.

Whale of a target: Harpooning space debris

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:28 AM PDT

Faced with the challenge of capturing tumbling satellites to clear key orbits, the European Space Agency is considering turning to an ancient terrestrial technology: the harpoon.

Origin of life: Stanley Miller's forgotten experiments, analyzed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Stanley Miller, the chemist whose landmark experiment published in 1953 showed how some of the molecules of life could have formed on a young Earth, left behind boxes of experimental samples that he never analyzed. The first-ever analysis of some of Miller's old samples has revealed another way that important molecules could have formed on early Earth.

Scientists create new battery that's cheap, clean, rechargeable ... and organic

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a rechargeable battery that is all organic and could be scaled up easily for use in power plants where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed. The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation's energy generation.

Using math to analyze movement of cells, organisms, disease

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Math has been used by researchers to analyze movement of organisms and cells and transmission of disease in populations. Three recent articles have been published that focus on these issues.

New study quantifies the effects of climate change in Europe

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

If no further action is taken and global temperature increases by 3.5°C, climate damages in the EU could amount to at least €190 billion, a net welfare loss of 1.8 percent of its current GDP. Several weather-related extremes could roughly double their average frequency. As a consequence, heat-related deaths could reach about 200,000.

Carbon monoxide hazards on houseboats highlighted by study

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Boaters and marina workers should exercise caution this summer before taking to the seas. A study outlines hazards posed by carbon monoxide levels on houseboats that use gasoline-powered generators without emission controls, along with controls that are available to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide from the generators.

Scientists unearth what may be secret weapon against antibiotic resistance

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat. Seeking an answer to the riddle of resistance in the natural environment is a far more promising approach than trying to discover new antibiotics, a challenge which has perplexed scientists for decades. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since the late 1980s, leaving physicians with very few tools to fight life-threatening infections.

For the next generation: Democracy ensures we don't take it all with us

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Given the chance to vote, people will leave behind a legacy of resources that ensures the survival of the next generation, a series of experiments by psychologists show. However, when people are left to their own devices, the next generation isn't so lucky.

Study links Greenland ice sheet collapse, sea level rise 400,000 years ago

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:19 AM PDT

A new study suggests that a warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold, resulting in a nearly complete deglaciation of southern Greenland and raising global sea levels some 4-6 meters.

Fracking flowback could pollute groundwater with heavy metals

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:18 AM PDT

The chemical makeup of wastewater generated by "hydrofracking" could cause the release of tiny particles in soils that often strongly bind heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating the environmental risks during accidental spills, Cornell University researchers have found.

Fruits, vegetables: Good for health, not necessarily a weight loss method

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:18 AM PDT

People trying to lose weight are often told to eat more fruits and vegetables, but new research shows this bit of advice may not be true. "Across the board, all studies we reviewed showed a near-zero effect on weight loss," the lead author said. "So I don't think eating more alone is necessarily an effective approach for weight loss because just adding them on top of whatever foods a person may be eating is not likely to cause weight change."

A new view: NASA/NOAA water vapor animations over oceans

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:31 AM PDT

Knowing where water vapor is in the atmosphere is one of many factors forecasters use to identify weather features. The NASA/NOAA GOES Project has now created two new types of animations based on satellite data that indicate where water vapor is moving over the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific oceans.

Adaptive potential of hybridization in mosquito species

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:48 AM PDT

A natural experiment created by insecticidal pressure to determine how the most important malaria vectors -- A. gambiae s.s. and A. coluzzii -- respond rapidly to environmental change has been conducted by researchers. Researchers sequenced the genomes of individual wild mosquitoes of each species from southern Ghana. The results reveal that transfer of a major insecticide resistance mutation resulted in replacement of over 3 million surrounding DNA bases of one to the other. This is especially significant because the two species are very closely related and the region replaced is one of relatively few areas of their genomes that are substantially different.

Diet or exercise? 'Energy balance' real key to disease prevention

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:46 AM PDT

A majority of Americans are overweight or obese, a factor in the rapid rise in common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. According to research, energy balance is a viable public health solution to address the obesity epidemic. A new paper outlines steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health outreach in the U.S.

Alternative energy evaluation: Net energy analysis should become a standard policy tool, scientists say

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

To be viable, wind farms, power plants and other energy technologies should deliver more energy than they consume. Net energy analysis allows researchers to evaluate the long-term sustainability of a technology by comparing how much energy it produces over its lifetime with the energy required to build and maintain it, say scientists.

New device could improve biomarker analyses

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

A new devise could offer a more reliable alternative for detecting biomarkers in patients facing such illnesses as cancer or malaria. Whether to extract circulating tumor cells from the blood of a cancer patient, or to measure the elasticity of red blood cells due to malaria infection, the physical attributes of cells are important biomarkers in medicine.

Nanoscale ruler reveals organization of cell membrane

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

After a ten-year effort, biologists have developed a method to investigate the cell surface's organization on a nanometer scale. This allows them to monitor how the antigen receptor, which B cells of the immune system use to recognize foreign substances, changes after activation. This study shows that the receptor components dissociate from each other- rather than assemble, as previously assumed.

Eco-friendly versatile nanocapsules developed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

This new technology suggests a possible application of eco-friendly solvents that can address environmental, safety and economic issues all at once. Since various kinds of metal nanoparticles can be employed on the surface of polymer nanocapsules, it is also potentially useful for other applications in the field of nano-medicine and bioimaging.

Nanoscale velcro used for molecule transport

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Biological membranes are like a guarded border. They separate the cell from the environment and at the same time control the import and export of molecules. The nuclear membrane can be crossed via many tiny pores. Scientists have now discovered that proteins found within the nuclear pore function similar to a velcro. They report how these proteins can be used for controlled and selective transport of particles.

Invisibility cloak for immune cells keeps system healthy

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

The human immune system is very complex. A large number of different cells with various functions ensure that invading microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria can quickly be rendered innocuous and the entire organism stays healthy. Researchers have now discovered what keeps certain cells of the immune system healthy: concealing their stress with a camouflage cloak that renders them invisible to the "killer" cells.

Insects as the food of the future: Locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, silk moth pupae, and beetle and moth larvae

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:12 AM PDT

As the human population grows, it is critical that the drain on the planet's resources be lessened by decreasing consumption of animal protein. Insects are a promising, economically viable alternative source of high quality protein that leave a substantially smaller environmental footprint.

Animal testing methods for some chemicals should change, experts urge

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Challenging risk assessment methods used for decades by toxicologists, a new review of the literature suggests that oral gavage, the most widely accepted method of dosing lab animals to test chemical toxicity, does not accurately mimic how humans are exposed to chemicals in everyday life. Oral gavage refers to the way researchers give chemicals to animals by putting a tube down their throats to deliver substances directly to the stomach. It has been used for decades and is the dosing scheme preferred for assessing potential toxicity of endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Carrots as effective as sticks for slowing Amazon deforestation

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Positive incentives for farmers, counties, and states can do as much to preserve forests as public policies that call for penalties. This is the conclusion of an international team of scientists that reviewed published research. Suggestions include simplified regulatory requirements or discounts on environmental licensing procedures, better terms on pre-harvest packages from commodity suppliers, and lower interest rates or better terms on loans from banks for legally compliant landholders.

Young researcher discovers source of disco clams' light show

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:00 PM PDT

The disco clam was named for the rhythmic, pulsing light that ripples along the lips of its mantle. A graduate student was fascinated the first time she saw the clam, and set out to investigate the reflective material on its lips and why it flashes. She reports that the mirror is actually a highly reflective, densely packed layer of silica spheres a mere 340 nanometers across never before seen in animals.

High doses of antibiotics may have potential to promote increased cross-resistance

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:00 PM PDT

An experimental evolution approach has been used by researchers to evolve 88 different E. coli populations against 22 antibiotics, under 'strong' and 'mild' selection conditions. Results demonstrate that the evolution of cross-resistance depends on selection strength. Overall, they found evidence for higher cross-resistance in the strongly selected strains and higher numbers of pathway-specific mutations.

New technologies will bring health benefits of oats and barley to a greater number of foods

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:51 PM PDT

New technologies may help food manufacturers more broadly utilize the many healthful benefits of oats and barley in a greater range of food products.

Monarch butterflies employ a magnetic compass during migration

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:23 PM PDT

Scientists have identified a new component of the complex navigational system that allows monarch butterflies to transverse the 2,000 miles to their overwintering habitat each year. Monarchs use a light-dependent, inclination magnetic compass to help them orient southward during migration.

Can coral save our oceans? Soft coral tissue may help protect reefs against the hazardous effects of climate change

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:23 PM PDT

New research has uncovered the protective properties of soft coral tissue, which proved resilient when exposed to declining oceanic pH levels. The study provides insight into the changing face of coral reefs threatened by dropping oceanic pH levels as a result of climate change and may provide a new approach toward preserving the harder, calcified reef foundations.

Collaboration of minds and metal leads to possible shortcut to new drugs

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:21 PM PDT

Researchers merged two powerful areas of research to enable an unprecedented chemical reaction that neither could broadly achieve on its own. The resulting bond formation could provide an excellent shortcut for chemists as they construct and test thousands of molecules to find new drugs.

Engineered muscle-mimic research: Technique uses living cells to build engineered muscle tissue

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:18 PM PDT

Biomedical engineers are designing and testing a biomaterial that regenerates damaged skeletal muscle. Living cells secrete fibrous proteins and polysaccharide gels called extracellular matrix, which support cell survival and tissue strength. Minor muscle injuries affect tissue cells but not the extracellular components. In severe injuries, however, the extracellular matrix does not function properly and cannot initiate the healing process. Engineered "muscle-mimics" provide the molecules necessary to cue regeneration.

New study uses blizzard to measure wind turbine airflow

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 11:24 AM PDT

A first-of-its-kind study using snow during a Minnesota blizzard is giving researchers new insight into the airflow around large wind turbines. This research is essential to improving wind energy efficiency, especially in wind farms where airflows from many large wind turbines interact with each other.

Quitting smokeless tobacco after heart attack may extend life expectancy

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 01:18 PM PDT

Quitting smokeless tobacco after a heart attack extends life expectancy similar to quitting smoking, researchers report. Study participants who stopped using the Swedish form of snuff after a heart attack reduced their risk of dying by nearly 50 percent.

Straw albedo mitigates extreme heat

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 01:17 PM PDT

Fields that are not tilled after crop harvesting reflect a greater amount of solar radiation than tilled fields. This phenomenon can reduce temperatures in heat waves by as much as 2 °C, as researchers have demonstrated in a recent study.

Habitat loss, not poison, better explains grassland bird decline

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:51 PM PDT

Contrary to recent well-publicized research, habitat loss, not insecticide use, continues to be the best explanation for the declines in grassland bird populations in the U.S. since the 1980s, according to a new study by ecologists. Last year, a pair of researchers linked the drop in the populations of grassland bird species to insecticide use, rather than to a rapid decline of grasslands, a more commonly accepted theory. However, after re-examining the data, researchers now believe that the loss of habitat continues to be the best explanation.

Vaccine made from complex of two malaria proteins protects mice from lethal infection

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:48 PM PDT

An experimental vaccine designed to spur production of antibodies against a key malaria parasite protein, AMA1, was developed more than decade ago. It showed promise in test-tube and animal experiments and in early-stage clinical trials, but returned disappointing results in recent human trials conducted in malaria-endemic countries.

Previously 'hidden diversity' of mouth bacteria revealed in study

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:47 PM PDT

A new computational method for analyzing bacterial communities has uncovered closely related, previously indistinguishable bacteria living in different parts of the human mouth. The technique provides high taxonomic resolution of bacterial communities and has the capacity to improve the understanding of microbial communities in health and disease.

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