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Carbon release from ocean helped end the ice age

February 13, 2015 9:20 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

New techniques are allowing scientists to understand how carbon dioxide, released from the deep ocean, helped to end the last ice age and create our current climate. An international team studied the shells of ancient marine organisms that lived in surface waters of the southern Atlantic and eastern equatorial Pacific oceans thousands of years ago.

Insight into how rubber is made could improve tires, reduce air pollution

February 13, 2015 8:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

People have been making rubber products from elastic bands to tires for centuries, but a key step in this process has remained a mystery. In a report, scientists have described this elusive part of rubber production that could have major implications for improving the material and its uses. Their findings, if used to improve tire performance, for example, could mean higher gas mileage for consumers and less air pollution.

Beavers Inspire Method to Aid Tooth Enamel

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Beavers don't brush their teeth, and they don't drink fluoridated water, but a new study reports beavers do have protection against tooth decay built into the chemical structure of their teeth: iron. This pigmented enamel, the researchers found, is both harder and more resistant to acid than regular enamel, including that treated with fluoride.

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Researcher Calculate Plastic Waste in Ocean

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by UC Santa Barbara | News | Comments

Ocean currents have been carrying floating debris into all five of the world’s major oceanic gyres for decades. However, exactly how much plastic is making its way into the world’s oceans and from where it originates has been a mystery— until now.  

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.

Dead Zones Aid Oyster Disease

February 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Smithsonian | News | Comments

In shallow waters around the world, where nutrient pollution runs high, oxygen levels can plummet to nearly zero at night. Oysters living in these zones are far more likely to pick up the lethal Dermo disease.

Robotic Garden Seeks Light to Grow Soybeans

February 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Professors have designed a robotic platform, soybot, which allows indoor plants to search for light to sustain nourishment. As each soybot moves, the robot transmits both sensor data and positional coordinates to a visualization window in its gallery space.

Paying rent with sugar and fat

February 11, 2015 12:44 pm | by Jan Overney, EPFL | News | Comments

Coral reefs are the jungles of the oceans, home to some of the planet’s most fertile fishing grounds, and hotspots of global tourism.                     

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Scientists urge more research on climate intervention

February 10, 2015 2:47 pm | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while necessary, may not happen soon enough to stave off climate catastrophe. So, in addition, the world may need to resort to so-called geoengineering approaches that aim to deliberately control the planet's climate. That's according to a National Research Council committee that released a pair of sweeping reports on climate intervention techniques.

New tool monitors effects of tidal, wave energy on marine habitat

February 6, 2015 12:07 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Videos | Comments

Researchers building a new underwater robot they’ve dubbed the “Millennium Falcon” certainly have reason to believe it will live up to its name. The robot will deploy instruments to gather information in unprecedented detail about how marine life interacts with underwater equipment used to harvest wave and tidal energy.

A closer look at flawed studies behind policies used to promote “low-carbon” biofuels

February 6, 2015 8:56 am | by Jim Erickson, University of Michigan | News | Comments

Nearly all studies used to promote biofuels as climate-friendly alternatives to petroleum fuels are flawed and need to be redone, according to a Univ. of Michigan researcher. Once the erroneous methodology is corrected, the results will likely show that policies used to promote biofuels actually make matters worse when it comes to limiting net emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide gas.

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.

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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.

New membrane permits cheaper, more efficient water purification

February 4, 2015 10:35 am | by Univ. of Twente | News | Comments

New selective membranes in the form of thin hollow straws can improve water purification. This emerges from research by Joris de Gooth from UT's MESA+ research institute. The membranes that De Grooth jointly developed make it possible to purify water in a single process step, while preliminary treatment is always required in existing water treatment plants.

Splash down

February 4, 2015 8:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Farmers have long noted a correlation between rainstorms and disease outbreaks among plants. Fungal parasites known as “rust” can grow particularly rampant following rain events, eating away at the leaves of wheat and potentially depleting crop harvests. While historical weather records suggest rainfall may scatter rust and other pathogens throughout a plant population, the mechanism by which this occurs has not been explored, until now.

Waves in the deep

February 3, 2015 9:03 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Acoustic-gravity waves can be generated by underwater earthquakes, explosions and landslides, as well as by surface waves and meteorites. A single one of these waves can stretch tens or hundreds of kilometers, and travel at depths of hundreds or thousands of meters below the ocean surface, transferring energy from the upper surface to the seafloor, and across the oceans. Acoustic-gravity waves often precede a tsunami or rogue wave.

Worms lead way to test nanoparticle toxicity

February 3, 2015 8:12 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

The lowly roundworm is the star of an ambitious Rice Univ. project to measure the toxicity of nanoparticles. The low-cost, high-output study measures the effects of many types of nanoparticles not only on individual organisms but also on entire populations. The researchers tested 20 types of nanoparticles and determined that five, including the carbon-60 molecules (“buckyballs”) discovered at Rice in 1985, showed little to no toxicity.

State drilling panel weighs disclosure of fracking chemicals

February 2, 2015 7:19 pm | by Dan Elliott, Associated Press | News | Comments

Gov. John Hickenlooper's task force on oil and gas discussed proposals Monday that would force energy companies to disclose all the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing and give local governments more of a say on where wells can be drilled. The task force is winnowing down a list of 56 suggestions from members before making its recommendations to Hickenlooper on ways to resolve disputes over local control and landowner rights.

Extreme oxygen loss in oceans accompanied past global climate change

January 29, 2015 11:58 am | by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Seafloor sediment cores reveal abrupt, extensive loss of oxygen in the ocean when ice sheets melted roughly 10,000 to 17,000 years ago, according to a study. The findings provide insight into similar changes observed in the ocean today. In the study, researchers analyzed marine sediment cores from different world regions to document the extent to which low oxygen zones in the ocean have expanded in the past, due to climate change.

Refineries challenge EPA plan to cut emissions

January 29, 2015 10:26 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

A rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to curb emissions from oil refineries and petrochemical manufacturers is causing tensions to flare between the agency and industry groups. The agency is reviewing a flood of public comments on the issue and is expected to finalize the rule by April 17, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News.

Gully patterns document Martian climate cycles

January 29, 2015 8:06 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Geologists from Brown Univ. have found new evidence that glacier-like ice deposits advanced and retreated multiple times in the mid-latitude regions of Mars in the relatively recent past. For the study, the researchers looked at hundreds of gully-like features found on the walls of impact craters throughout the Martian mid-latitudes.

Using ocean waves to monitor offshore oil and gas fields

January 29, 2015 7:54 am | by Ker Than, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

A technology developed by Stanford Univ. scientists for passively probing the seafloor using weak seismic waves generated by the ocean could revolutionize offshore oil and natural gas extraction by providing real-time monitoring of the subsurface while lessening the impact on marine life.

Early Mesoamericans affected by climate change

January 28, 2015 10:22 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Scientists have reconstructed the past climate for the region around Cantona, a large fortified city in highland Mexico, and found the population drastically declined in the past, at least in part because of climate change. The research appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Man trumps dog: Earlier assumption about BPA exposure confirmed

January 28, 2015 8:18 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Coating the mouth with BPA-containing food does not lead to higher than expected levels of BPA in blood, according to a new study. The study concludes that oral exposure does not create a risk for high exposures. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is used to make some plastics and to seal canned food containers against bacterial contamination. Food, which picks up trace amounts of BPA from packaging, is the major source of human exposure.

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