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U.K.'s space age Antarctic base can slide across ice

February 6, 2013 12:29 pm | by Rapahel Satter, Associated Press | News | Comments

British researchers have unveiled a futuristic Antarctic research base that can move, sliding across the frozen surface to beat the shifting ice and pounding snow that doomed its predecessors. Its builders hope that the Halley VI Research Station, the sixth facility to occupy the site on the Brunt Ice Shelf, can adapt to the unpredictable ice conditions.

EPA: Decline in carbon pollution from power plants

February 5, 2013 6:29 pm | by MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Heat-trapping gases from U.S. power plants fell 4.6% in 2011 from the previous year as plants burned less coal, the biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution, according to a new government report. The report, released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, said power plants remain the largest stationary source of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that trigger global warming.

Antarctic ice core contains unrivaled detail of past climate

February 5, 2013 2:37 pm | News | Comments

A team of U.S. ice-coring scientists and engineers in Antarctica, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), have recovered from the ice sheet a record of past climate and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that extends back 68,000 years.

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Study: Gases work with particles to promote cloud formation

February 5, 2013 8:02 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Columbia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have published a study showing, for the first time, that certain volatile organic gases can promote cloud formation in a way never considered before by atmospheric scientists.

Affordable sensor could detect a single molecule of carbon dioxide

February 4, 2013 9:20 am | News | Comments

Current sensors used to detect CO2 at surface sites are either very expensive or they use a lot of energy. And they’re not as accurate as they could be. Researchers in Canada are working on single nanowire transistors that could bring sensor technology up to speed with other technologies required for carbon capture and storage.

Study: Hydraulic fracturing produces less wastewater per unit of gas

February 1, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

Hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are producing less wastewater per unit of gas recovered than conventional wells would. But the scale of fracking operations in the Marcellus shale region is so vast that the wastewater it produces threatens to overwhelm the region's wastewater disposal capacity, according to new analysis by researchers at Duke and Kent State universities.

Study finds substantial microorganism populations in the troposphere

January 29, 2013 7:57 am | News | Comments

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers used genomic techniques to document the presence of significant numbers of living microorganisms—principally bacteria—in the middle and upper troposphere, that section of the atmosphere approximately four to six miles above the Earth's surface.

Study explores the potential benefits, threats of nanotechnology research

January 28, 2013 10:49 am | News | Comments

Every day scientists learn more about how the world works at the smallest scales. While this knowledge has the potential to help others, it's possible that the same discoveries can also be used in ways that cause widespread harm. A new article tackles this complex "dual-use" aspect of nanotechnology research.

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Team samples Antarctic lake 2,600 feet below ice sheet surface

January 28, 2013 10:41 am | News | Comments

In a first-of-its-kind feat of science and engineering, a research team has successfully drilled through 800 m (2,600 feet) of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and retrieve water and sediment samples that have been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years. The samples may contain microbes from an ecosystem isolated for thousands of years, with implications for the search for life elsewhere in extreme environments.

Analysis of Greenland ice cores may provide glimpse into climate’s future

January 25, 2013 11:10 am | News | Comments

A new study that provides surprising details on changes in Earth's climate from more than 100,000 years ago indicates that the last interglacial—the period between "ice ages"—was warmer than previously thought and may be a good analog for future climate, as greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere and global temperatures rise.

Some carbon nanotubes deplete beneficial microbes in certain soils

January 24, 2013 1:53 pm | News | Comments

Some types of carbon nanotubes used for strengthening plastics and other materials may have an adverse effect on soil microbiology and soil microbial processes, a Purdue University study shows. Specifically, these raw, non-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes were shown to damage the active microbiology in low-organic soil.

The “rebound” effect of energy-efficient cars overplayed

January 24, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

The argument that those who have fuel-efficient cars drive them more and hence use more energy is overplayed and inaccurate, a University of California, Davis economist and his co-authors say in a comment article published in Nature.

In perceiving climate change, feeling the heat counts

January 23, 2013 11:24 am | News | Comments

Human beings around the world are observing and accurately detecting changes in their local climates, according to a new study led by Yale University researchers. The finding provides the first global evidence for the phenomenon and could have meaningful implications for attempts to combat climate change, they say.

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Bisphenol A substitute could spell trouble

January 23, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

In the same week that a team of researchers in France announced the harmful effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on hormone levels in human tissue, researchers in Texas have demonstrated through experiments that the BPA substitute bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity at an extremely low level of exposure, and in an even more problematic way.

Study: Harmful effects of bisphenol A proven

January 22, 2013 11:43 am | News | Comments

The compound bisphenol A, which is found in plastics and resins, has been under scrutiny as chemists attempt to determine whether it is a health hazard for humans. According to researchers in France, even weak concentrations of bisphenol A are sufficient to produce a negative reaction in human testicles, reducing the production of testosterone hormones.

Obama pledges to deal with climate change

January 21, 2013 2:53 pm | by MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Environmental groups hailed President Barack Obama's warning about climate change in his second inauguration speech, but said the president's words will soon be tested as he decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Obama pledged Monday to respond to what he called "the threat of climate change," saying the failure to do so would be a betrayal of the nation's children and future generations.

Study: Warmer soils release additional carbon dioxide into atmosphere

January 21, 2013 8:41 am | by Beth Potier, University of New Hampshire | News | Comments

Warmer temperatures due to climate change could cause soils to release additional carbon into the atmosphere, thereby enhancing climate change—but that effect diminishes over the long term. The new study sheds new light on how soil microorganisms respond to temperature and could improve predictions of how climate warming will affect the carbon dioxide flux from soils.

Treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions signed

January 19, 2013 4:35 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

U.N. officials say more than 130 nations have adopted the first legally binding international treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions. The U.N. Environment Program says the treaty was adopted Saturday morning, after all-night negotiations that capped a week of talks.

Experiment to reshape future of atmospheric science

January 17, 2013 8:38 am | by Kathryn Hansen, NASA | News | Comments

NASA scientists and engineers are working now to lay the groundwork for the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem (ACE) mission, which will change what we can learn about clouds and aerosols. To that end, the Polarimeter Definition Experiment (PODEX) in Southern California will soon commence, testing a new class of polarimeters that are especially suited for finding the type, shape, and size of particles in the upper atmosphere.

Marginal lands: Prime fuel source for alternative energy

January 16, 2013 2:21 pm | News | Comments

Marginal lands—those unsuited for food crops—can serve as prime real estate for meeting the nation's alternative energy production goals. In Nature, a team of researchers led by Michigan State University shows that marginal lands represent a huge untapped resource to grow mixed species cellulosic biomass, plants grown specifically for fuel production, which could annually produce up to 5.5 billion gallons of ethanol in the Midwest alone.

Reduce greenhouse gas by exporting coal?

January 16, 2013 9:36 am | News | Comments

Western U.S. coal companies looking to expand sales to China will likely succeed, according to Stanford University economist Frank Wolak. But, due to energy market dynamics in the United States, those coal exports are likely to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.

New effort to create green electronics, workforce

January 15, 2013 10:18 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue University | News | Comments

The world's love affair with gadgets—many of which contain hazardous materials—is generating millions of tons of electronic waste annually. Now, Purdue and Tuskegee universities are leading an international effort to replace conventional electronics with more sustainable technologies and train a workforce of specialists to make the transition possible.

Scientists find “bipolar” marine bacteria, refuting biological theory

January 15, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

In another blow to the "Everything is Everywhere" tenet of bacterial distribution in the ocean, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory have found "bipolar" species of bacteria that occur in the Arctic and Antarctic, but nowhere else. And, surprisingly, they found even fewer bipolar species than would turn up by chance if marine bacteria were randomly distributed everywhere.

Study reveals gas that triggers ozone destruction

January 14, 2013 9:28 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Universities of York and Leeds have made a significant discovery about the cause of the destruction of ozone over oceans. They have established that the majority of ozone-depleting iodine oxide observed over the remote ocean comes from a previously unknown marine source.

The high value of water

January 14, 2013 7:54 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

If you're reading this, odds are you've already used running water in your home today. But you're in a minority: Globally, at least a billion people have no nearby source of water, while of the remaining six billion or so, only 42% have running water in their homes or a tap in the yard, according to the World Health Organization. Now a new field experiment shows just how much access to clean water matters to people.

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