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Could paint particles cool the planet?

May 15, 2012 8:47 am | News | Comments

A former U.K. government advisor and chemical engineer recently published an article that discussed how dispersing sub-micrometer light-scattering particles into the upper atmosphere could help to combat climate change. Author Peter Davidson says the effect would replicate the cooling that occurred after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

Climate scientists discover new weak point of the Antarctic ice sheet

May 15, 2012 6:37 am | News | Comments

According to predictions made by climate researchers with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea in Antarctica may start to melt rapidly in this century and no longer act as a barrier for ice streams draining the Antarctic Ice Sheet. They claim this finding refutes previous assumptions that climate change would not affect the Weddell Sea.

Microbe that can handle ionic liquids

May 15, 2012 3:28 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have identified a tropical rainforest microbe that can endure relatively high concentrations of an ionic liquid used to dissolve cellulosic biomass for the production of advanced biofuels. They've also determined how the microbe accomplishes this, a discovery that holds broad implications beyond biofuels.

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Discovery of plant proteins may boost agricultural yields, biofuel production

May 14, 2012 5:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Iowa State University discovered a family of plant proteins that play a role in the production of seed oils, substances important for animal and human nutrition, biorenewable chemicals, and biofuels.

Floating robots use GPS-enabled smartphones to track water flow

May 10, 2012 4:26 am | News | Comments

A fleet of 100 floating robots took a trip down the Sacramento River in a field test organized by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley. The smartphone-equipped floating robots demonstrated the next generation of water monitoring technology, promising to transform the way government agencies monitor one of the state's most precious resources.

Support for climate change action drops

May 9, 2012 10:22 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford University | News | Comments

Americans' support for government action on global warming remains high but has dropped during the past two years, according to a new survey by Stanford University researchers in collaboration with Ipsos Public Affairs. Political rhetoric and cooler-than-average weather appear to have influenced the shift, but economics doesn't appear to have played a role.

Researchers: Ocean garbage gyre impacting ea life

May 9, 2012 5:27 am | News | Comments

An increase in plastic debris floating in a zone between Hawaii and California is changing the environment of at least one marine critter, scientists recently reported. Over the past four decades, the amount of broken-down plastic has grown significantly in a region dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Most of the plastic pieces are the size of a fingernail.

New research brings satellite measurements, global climate models closer

May 8, 2012 4:23 am | News | Comments

One popular climate record that shows a slower atmospheric warming trend than other studies contains a data calibration problem, and when the problem is corrected the results fall in line with other records and climate models, according to a new University of Washington study.

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More precise look at cradle-to-grave greenhouse gas emissions for energy technology

May 7, 2012 10:19 am | News | Comments

A new approach to assessing greenhouse gas emissions from coal, wind, solar, and other energy technologies paints a much more precise picture of cradle-to-grave emissions and should help sharpen decisions on what new energy projects to build.

Researchers use stalagmites to study past climate change

May 3, 2012 11:23 am | News | Comments

Existing historical climate records are typically biased to the high latitudes, where polar ice and ocean sediments lock in the atmosphere’s past. Yet a main driver of climate variability today is El Niño, which is a completely tropical phenomenon. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology believe they have found the ice core of the tropics, however.

Data shows spring advancing faster than experiments suggest

May 3, 2012 9:13 am | News | Comments

To help predict the rate at which plants respond to changing climate conditions, researchers use experiments that manipulate the temperature surrounding small plots of plants to gauge how specific plants will react to higher temperatures. But wild plants are leafing out and flowering sooner each year than predicted by results from these experiments, according to data from a major new archive of historical observations.

Scientists launch nationwide study of thunderstorm effects on upper atmosphere

May 2, 2012 9:33 am | News | Comments

While past field projects have focused on thunderstorm details with only some chemistry information, or on chemistry with limited data on storms, the Deep Convective Clouds & Chemistry (DC3) Experiment, which begins later this month, will be the first to take a comprehensive look at both chemistry and thunderstorm details, including air movement, cloud physics, and electrical activity.

First microsubmarines designed to help clean up oil spills

May 2, 2012 9:22 am | News | Comments

Different versions of microengines have been developed, including devices that could transport medications through the bloodstream. But until now no one has ever shown that these devices—which are about 10 times smaller than the width of a human hair—could help clean up oil spills. Scientists are reporting successful testing of the first self-propelled “microsubmarines” designed to pick up droplets of oil and transport them.

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Student-devised process would prep shale gas for sale

May 2, 2012 3:01 am | News | Comments

A team of Rice University students accepted a challenge to turn shale gas produced in China into a range of useful, profitable, and environmentally friendly products and did so in a cost-effective manner.

Test strip rapidly finds bacterial contamination in swimming water

May 1, 2012 11:33 am | News | Comments

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in recreational water within minutes. The new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety.

Scientists find night-warming effect over Texas wind farms

April 30, 2012 9:32 am | News | Comments

According to recent research into how wind turbines affect local weather, large wind farms in certain areas in the United States appear to affect local land surface temperatures, especially at night. The warming trend was spatially matched to the locations of wind farms, and caused warming by nearly three-quarters of a degree Celsius.

Nanotechnology meets safety, ethics in medical community

April 30, 2012 3:50 am | News | Comments

Engineers are developing new and innovative ways of coating medical materials with nano-sized particles of silver, an element that has long been known for its antimicrobial properties. However, a recent paper from the University of Notre Dame highlights the fact that a vast majority of bacteria are actually neutral, or even beneficial. Overuse of nanosilver might harm their useful functions in daily life, the paper reports.

Atmospheric warming altering ocean salinity and the water cycle

April 27, 2012 8:54 am | News | Comments

A clear change in salinity has been detected in the world's oceans, signaling shifts and acceleration in the global rainfall and evaporation cycle tied directly to climate change, according to a recently published paper.

Student researcher spies odd lava spirals on Mars

April 27, 2012 3:24 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

For more than a decade, scientists debated whether a maze of valleys near the Martian equator was sculpted by ice or volcanic processes. Now, aresearcher reports finding lava flows shaped like coils of rope near the equator of Mars, the first time such geologic features have been discovered outside of Earth.

Ohio man's fossil find in Kentucky stumps experts

April 26, 2012 3:06 am | News | Comments

A 150-pound fossil recovered last year in northern Kentucky is more than 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. To the untrained eye, it looks like a bunch of rocks or a concrete blob. Experts are trying to determine whether it was an animal, mineral or a form of plant life from a time when the Cincinnati region was underwater. So far, it has everyone at a loss.

Geophysicists find sea-level fingerprints, identify sources sea level rise

April 25, 2012 8:33 am | News | Comments

Seeking out statistical techniques that had not previously been applied to finding the current rate of sea level rise and the rates of ice sheet melting, scientists in Canada have developed a new method to distinguish sea-level fingerprints. The technique relies on the fact that the historical pattern for each ice sheet is unique and is preserved.

Research estimates lifetime of Titan’s chemical factory

April 25, 2012 8:26 am | News | Comments

Titan’s atmosphere has bee likened to a highly productive "factory", cranking out hydrocarbons that rain down on Titan's icy surface, cloaking it in soot and, with a brutally cold surface. With the help of data collected by the Cassini spacecraft, NASA-funded scientists have attempted to determine how long this complex chemical environment has been operating.

Study: Fracking requires a minimum distance from sensitive rock strata

April 25, 2012 6:23 am | News | Comments

According to new research in the U.K. that looked at data from thousands of fracking operations in the United States, the chance of rogue fractures due to shale gas fracking operations decreases significantly beyond a certain distance from the injection source. This, the first analysis of its kind, could be used as a starting point for separating aquifers and fracking.

Compound from wild tomatoes is natural, effective herbicide

April 25, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

A naturally occurring compound derived from wild tomato plants is also a fast-acting, nontoxic herbicide, according to researchers at North Carolina State University. Previously working with the compound—known as 2-undecanone—as a natural replacement for the chemical DEET in insect repellents, the researchers decided to explore whether it could be used as an insecticide on plants, when they noticed an unexpected side effect: It killed the plants.

Company aims to strike it rich by mining asteroids

April 24, 2012 6:39 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A group of high-tech tycoons wants to mine nearby asteroids wants to use commercially built robotic ships to squeeze rocket fuel and valuable minerals like platinum and gold out of the lifeless rocks that routinely whiz by Earth. The inaugural step, to be achieved in the next 18 to 24 months, would be launching the first in a series of private telescopes that would search for rich asteroid targets.

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