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Designing less odorous latrines

May 28, 2015 11:37 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

About 2.5 billion people worldwide don’t have access to sanitary toilets. Latrines are an option for many of those people, but these facilities’ overwhelming odors can deter users, who then defecate outdoors instead. To improve this situation, fragrance scientists paired experts’ noses and analytical instruments to determine the odor profiles of latrines with the aim of countering the offensive stench.

New technique to understand cloud behavior

May 28, 2015 7:53 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

With two off-the-shelf digital cameras situated about 1 km apart facing Miami’s Biscayne Bay, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists are collecting 3-D data on cloud behavior that have never been possible to collect before. The photos allow the team to measure how fast the clouds rise, which in turn can shed light on a wide range of areas, ranging from lightning rates to extreme precipitation to the ozone hole.

EPA plans temporary pesticide restrictions while bees feed

May 28, 2015 12:04 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

If honeybees are busy pollinating large, blooming croplands, farmers wanting to spray toxic pesticides will soon have to buzz off, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing. A federal rule to be proposed Thursday would create temporary pesticide-free zones when certain plants are in bloom around bees that are trucked from farm to farm by professional beekeepers, which are the majority of honeybees in the U.S.

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Glancing at greenery can boost concentration levels

May 26, 2015 11:20 am | by Univ. of Melbourne | News | Comments

A Univ. of Melbourne study shows that glancing at a grassy green roof for only 40 sec markedly boosts concentration. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, gave 150 students a boring, attention-sapping task. The students were asked to press a key as a series of numbers repeatedly flashed on a computer screen, unless that number was three.

Anti-pollution rules have uncertain effects

May 26, 2015 10:38 am | by Indiana Univ. | News | Comments

Air pollution regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are estimated to save thousands of lives annually. A new study by researchers at Indiana Univ. says these estimates are more uncertain than commonly believed. Researchers analyzed the costs and expected lifesavings of nine regulations issued between 2011 and 2013. The bulk of these regulations require national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants.

Study: Europeans to suffer more ragweed with global warming

May 25, 2015 12:04 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Global warming will bring much more sneezing and wheezing to Europe by mid-century, a new study says. Ragweed pollen levels are likely to quadruple for much of Europe because warmer temperatures will allow the plants to take root more, and carbon dioxide will make them grow more. Other factors not related to man-made climate change will also contribute.

Natural gas versus diesel

May 20, 2015 8:24 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Some major trucking companies are turning to natural gas to fuel their fleets, and to earn “green” credit among customers. But celebrating lower emissions could be premature. Researchers have found that converting heavy-duty trucks to run on natural gas could lead to negative climate impacts if steps are not taken to improve engine efficiency and reduce methane emissions from the fuel’s supply chain.

To fight bee decline, Obama proposes more land to feed bees

May 19, 2015 2:04 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new federal plan aims to reverse America's declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making millions of acres of federal land more bee-friendly, spending millions of dollars more on research and considering the use of fewer pesticides. While putting different type of landscapes along highways, federal housing projects and elsewhere may not sound like much in terms of action.

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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 gaseous carbon dioxide into carbonates. Carbonates are the basic component of coral reefs, mollusc shells and kidney stones. Although naturally occurring enzymes would be ideal for converting human-generated carbon dioxide emissions into carbonates, they are generally incapable of coping with the extreme conditions of industrial plants.

Future for warming U.S.: Not just the heat but the humanity

May 18, 2015 12:11 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The combination of global warming and shifting population means that by mid-century, there will be a huge increase in the number of Americans sweating through days that are extremely hot, a new study says. People are migrating into areas—especially in the South—where the heat is likely to increase more, said the authors of a study published Monday by Nature Climate Change.

How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

May 18, 2015 10:57 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

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, but that cool, moist air influences our climate by affecting how clouds are formed and how sunlight is scattered over the oceans. In ACS Central Science, researchers demonstrate that microbes in seawater can control the chemistry of sea spray ejected into the atmosphere.

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How rivers regulate global carbon cycle

May 14, 2015 10:01 am | by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | News | Comments

Humans concerned about climate change are working to find ways of capturing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the Earth. But nature has its own methods for the removal and long-term storage of carbon, including the world's river systems, which transport decaying organic material and eroded rock from land to the ocean.

Climate scientists confirm elusive tropospheric hot spot

May 14, 2015 9:48 am | by Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Researchers have published results in Environmental Research Letters confirming strong warming in the upper troposphere, known colloquially as the tropospheric hot spot. The hot has been long expected as part of global warming theory and appears in many global climate models.

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 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.

NRC wants more research on earthquake risk at nuke plants

May 13, 2015 10:04 pm | by Michael R. Blood, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal regulators Wednesday directed nuclear power plants in California and Washington state to conduct additional, in-depth research into earthquake risks by June 2017, part of a broad review of seismic threats following Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster.

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.

Using microbial communities to assess environmental contamination

May 13, 2015 7:58 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

First there were canaries in coal mines, now there are microbes at nuclear waste sites, oil spills and other contaminated environments. A multi-institutional team of more than 30 scientists has found that statistical analysis of DNA from natural microbial communities can be used to accurately identify environmental contaminants and serve as quantitative geochemical biosensors.

Climate signal in global distribution of copper deposits

May 11, 2015 11:47 am | by Jim Erickson, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Climate helps drive the erosion process that exposes economically valuable copper deposits and shapes the pattern of their global distribution, according to a new study. Nearly three-quarters of the world's copper production comes from large deposits that form about 2 km beneath the Earth's surface, known as porphyry copper deposits.

“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.

EPA suggests guidelines to spot algae in drinking water

May 7, 2015 2:00 pm | by John Flesher, AP Environmental Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The EPA is proposing guidelines to help state and local officials detect dangerous levels of algal toxins in drinking water. EPA officials have released suggested thresholds that should prompt actions, such as issuing do-not-drink warnings or taking steps to quickly reduce levels of two types of algal toxins. One set of trigger points was recommended for young children and another for the rest of the population.

Measuring “internal waves” that help regulate climate

May 7, 2015 8:42 am | by Mark Floyd, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Once a day, a wave as tall as the Empire State Building and as much as a hundred miles wide forms in the waters between Taiwan and the Philippines and rolls across the South China Sea. But on the surface, it is hardly noticed. These daily monstrosities are called “internal waves” because they are beneath the ocean surface and though scientists have known about them for years, they weren’t really sure how significant they were.

UN climate chief says technology has changed carbon politics

May 7, 2015 4:04 am | by Rod Mcguirk, Associated Press | News | Comments

Technological advances that have reduced prices and improved efficiency of renewable energy have helped transform the politics around climate change since 2009 when an attempt to forge a global deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions crashed in Copenhagen, the United Nations climate chief said Thursday.

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