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The Lead

Study backs seaweed’s carbon capture potential

May 19, 2015 8:30 am | by Univ. of Technology, Sydney | News | Comments

There are great hopes for the potential of coastal plants and seaweeds to store carbon and help counter the effects of climate change and a new study is backing that potential. Scientists have carried out the first investigation of how a diverse range of coastal plants and seaweed can contribute to "blue carbon" stocks, the carbon in leaves, sediments and roots that's naturally captured, or sequestered, by plants in coastal habitats.

Artificial enzymes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

May 19, 2015 8:14 am | by Univ. of Nottingham Malaysia Campus | News | Comments

Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions, such as the conversion of...

New link between ocean microbes, atmosphere uncovered

May 18, 2015 8:07 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Few things are more refreshing than the kiss of sea spray on your face. You may not realize it,...

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

May 14, 2015 8:09 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and various industries could play a...

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Nano-policing pollution

May 13, 2015 11:27 am | by Kaoru Natori, OIST | News | Comments

Pollutants emitted by factories and car exhausts affect humans who breathe in these harmful gases and also aggravate climate change up in the atmosphere. Being able to detect such emissions is a critically needed measure. New research has developed an efficient way to improve methods for detecting polluting emissions using a sensor at the nanoscale.

“Breaking waves” perturb Earth’s magnetic field

May 11, 2015 11:37 am | by David Sims, Univ. of New Hampshire | News | Comments

The underlying physical process that creates striking "breaking wave" cloud patterns in our atmosphere also frequently opens the gates to high-energy solar wind plasma that perturbs Earth's magnetic field, or magnetosphere, which protects us from cosmic radiation. The discovery was made by two Univ. of New Hampshire space physicists.

Improved way to assess cancer risk of pollutants

May 11, 2015 9:16 am | by Gail Wells, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists at Oregon State Univ. have developed a faster, more accurate method to assess cancer risk from certain common environmental pollutants. Researchers found that they could analyze the immediate genetic responses of the skin cells of exposed mice and apply statistical approaches to determine whether or not those cells would eventually become cancerous.

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China’s thriving export industry comes with a high cost

April 17, 2015 8:35 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

China has become the world’s largest exporter, leading to the country’s rapid economic development, and notorious pollution that’s harmful to human health. For the first time, scientists have estimated this trend’s health cost. They report in Environmental Science & Technology that in 2007, export-related emissions in China led to almost 160,000 deaths.

Ordinary clay can save the day

April 9, 2015 11:12 am | by Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology | News | Comments

Carbon capture will play a central role in helping the nations of the world manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Many materials are being tested for the purpose of capturing carbon dioxide. But now researchers led by the Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology have found that ordinary clay can work just as effectively as more advanced materials.

Scientists seek source of giant methane mass over Southwest

April 9, 2015 2:05 am | by Colleen Slevin, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are working to pinpoint the source of a giant mass of methane hanging over the southwestern U.S., which a study found to be the country's largest concentration of the greenhouse gas. The report that revealed the methane hot spot over the Four Corners region, where Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona meet, was released last year.

Scientist seeks new insights to study lightning

April 6, 2015 11:06 am | by Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville | News | Comments

Can old data provide new insights about lightning and the physics of severe weather? A scientist at The Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) thinks it can. Supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, UAH's Dr. Philip Bitzer will spend the next two years studying 17 years of data from NASA's Lightning Imaging Sensor, and breaking lightning flashes into their smallest pieces.

Secondhand smog

April 1, 2015 2:37 pm | by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Approximately 10% of ozone pollution in California’s San Joaquin Valley is estimated to be coming from outside of the state’s borders, particularly from Asia, according to preliminary research presented by the Univ. of California, Davis. Secondhand smog from Asia and other international sources is finding its way into one of the nation’s most polluted air basins, the San Joaquin Valley.

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Better traffic signals can cut greenhouse gas emissions

March 31, 2015 7:34 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Sitting in traffic during rush hour is not just frustrating for drivers; it also adds unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Now a study by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could lead to better ways of programming a city’s stoplights to reduce delays, improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

Air pollutants could boost potency of common airborne allergens

March 23, 2015 11:43 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

A pair of air pollutants linked to climate change could also be a major contributor to the unparalleled rise in the number of people sneezing and wheezing during allergy season. The gases, nitrogen dioxide and ground-level ozone, appear to provoke chemical changes in certain airborne allergens that could increase their potency. That, in combination with changes in global climate, could explain why airborne allergies are more common.

Carbon emissions stabilize despite growing economy

March 13, 2015 1:48 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Global energy emissions stayed stable last year even though the economy grew, according to data released Friday that could boost chances for a landmark climate accord later this year. The rising use of renewable energy, particularly in China, played a role in keeping emissions from the energy sector to 32.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide last year, the same as in 2013, the International Energy Agency said.

Hunting for meteorites

March 10, 2015 1:52 pm | by Julia Evangelou Strait, WUSTL | News | Comments

Every austral summer, a group of volunteers heads off to a remote region of Antarctica to set up a field camp on the ice. For the next month, they search the ice and nearby debris piles left by glaciers for dark rocks that might be extraterrestrial in origin. The program is called the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET).

Environment Tops Issues at Meeting in China

March 9, 2015 9:34 am | by Associated Press, Jack Chang | News | Comments

China's severe environmental problems and government pledges to fix them have dominated the start of the country's annual legislative meeting, as leaders try to ease public worries about air, water and soil contamination that threaten to derail the country's economic rise and cast doubts on the ruling Communist Party.  

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Detector sniffs out origins of methane

March 6, 2015 7:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, second only to carbon dioxide in its capacity to trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere for a long time. The gas can originate from lakes and swamps, natural-gas pipelines, deep-sea vents and livestock. Understanding the sources of methane, and how the gas is formed, could give scientists a better understanding of its role in warming the planet.

Reducing emissions with more effective carbon capture method

March 5, 2015 8:39 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and various industries could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. But current materials that can collect carbon dioxide have low capacities or require very high temperatures to work. Scientists are making progress toward a more efficient alternative, described in Chemistry of Materials, that could help make carbon capture less energy intensive.

Models yield clearer picture of emissions’ true costs

March 5, 2015 7:06 am | by Duke Univ. | News | Comments

When its environmental and human health toll is factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs us about $3.80 more than the pump price, a new Duke Univ. study finds. The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles.

Water in smog may reveal pollution sources

March 3, 2015 11:14 am | by Lee Siegel, Senior Science Writer, Univ. of Utah Communications | News | Comments

The chemical signature of water vapor emitted by combustion sources such as vehicles and furnaces has been found in the smoggy winter inversions that often choke Salt Lake City. The discovery may give researchers a new tool to track down the sources of pollutants and climate-changing carbon dioxide gas.

Carbon dioxide’s increasing greenhouse effect at Earth’s surface

February 26, 2015 8:12 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect at the Earth’s surface for the first time. The researchers, led by scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface over an eleven-year period at two locations in North America.

Air Filter Could Help Beijing Breathe Easily

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

A professor and his students have turned a material commonly used in surgical gloves into a low-cost, highly efficient air filter. It could be used to improve facemasks and window screens, and maybe even scrub the exhaust from power plants.  

Slow-dissolving Particles Refute Air Quality Assumptions

February 12, 2015 8:32 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have tackled how the particles, called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), evaporate when the relative humidity is high. They found that these aerosols actually evaporate very slowly, sticking around for days. Models have persistently and significantly underestimated atmospheric loadings of SOA.

Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere

February 5, 2015 7:41 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A novel class of materials that enable a safer, cheaper and more energy-efficient process for removing greenhouse gas from power plant emissions has been developed by a multi-institution team of researchers. The approach could be an important advance in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Understanding air pollution from biomass burners used for heating

February 4, 2015 2:37 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As many places in the U.S. and Europe increasingly turn to biomass rather than fossil fuels for power and heat, scientists are focusing on what this trend might mean for air quality and people’s health. One study on wood-chip burners’ particulate emissions, which can cause heart and lung problems, appears in Energy & Fuels. The scientists say the findings could help manufacturers reduce the negative impact of this fuel in the future.

Norway to cut climate pollution by 40% by 2030

February 4, 2015 1:16 pm | by Karl Ritter, Associated Press | News | Comments

Norway will cut its emissions of global warming gases by at least 40% by 2030, aligning itself with the target set by the European Union, the government said Wednesday. The 40% reduction, compared to 1990 levels, will be Norway's pledge to the U.N. climate agreement that's supposed to be adopted in December in Paris, government officials said.

Humanity has exceeded four of nine “planetary boundaries”

January 16, 2015 7:53 am | by Adam Hinterthuer, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Videos | Comments

An international team of researchers says climate change, the loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change and altered biogeochemical cycles like phosphorus and nitrogen runoff have all passed beyond levels that put humanity in a “safe operating space.” Civilization has crossed four of nine so-called planetary boundaries as the result of human activity, according to a report published in Science by the 18-member research team.

Systems crucial to stability of planet compromised

January 15, 2015 3:47 pm | by Raphael Larocque-Cyr, Media Relations Office, McGill Univ. | News | Comments

Almost half of the processes that are crucial to maintaining the stability of the planet have become dangerously compromised by human activity. That is the view of an international team of 18 researchers who provide new evidence of significant changes in four of the nine systems which regulate the resilience of the Earth.

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