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Researchers calculate size of particles in Martian clouds of CO2 snow

June 19, 2012 3:44 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the dead of a Martian winter, clouds of snow blanket the Red Planet's poles—but unlike our water-based snow, the particles on Mars are frozen crystals of carbon dioxide. Most of the Martian atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, and in the winter, the poles get so cold—cold enough to freeze alcohol—that the gas condenses, forming tiny particles of snow. Now researchers have calculated the size of snow particles in clouds at both Martian poles from data gathered by orbiting spacecraft.

Carbon is key for getting algae to pump out more oil

June 18, 2012 4:06 am | News | Comments

Overturning two long-held misconceptions about oil production in algae, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that ramping up the microbes' overall metabolism by feeding them more carbon increases oil production as the organisms continue to grow. The findings may point to new ways to turn photosynthetic green algae into tiny "green factories" for producing raw materials for alternative fuels.

Carbon emissions: U.S. fares better when considering climate

June 14, 2012 11:02 am | News | Comments

The U.S. has long been among the world's worst emitters of carbon dioxide, but when accounting for climate in addition to GDP, it is nowhere near the bottom of that list, according to University of Michigan researchers.


Potential carbon capture role for new carbon dioxide-absorbing material

June 12, 2012 4:03 am | News | Comments

A novel porous material that has unique carbon dioxide retention properties has been developed through research led by The University of Nottingham. The findings form part of ongoing efforts to develop new materials for gas storage applications could have an impact in the advancement of new carbon capture products for reducing emissions from fossil fuel processes.

Study finds new evidence supporting impact theory

June 11, 2012 10:21 pm | News | Comments

An 18-member international team of researchers has discovered melt-glass material in a thin layer of sedimentary rock in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Syria. According to the researchers, the material—which dates back nearly 13,000 years—was formed at temperatures of 1,700 to 2,200 C, and is the result of a cosmic body impacting Earth.

Mobile technology to fix hand pumps in Africa

June 11, 2012 6:24 am | News | Comments

Thousands of families affected by the ongoing drought in East Africa are set to benefit from improved water supplies thanks to innovative mobile technology designed by Oxford University.

Study: Humans are primary cause of global ocean warming

June 11, 2012 3:59 am | News | Comments

New research by a team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and international collaborators shows that the observed ocean warming over the last 50 years is consistent with climate models only if the models include the impacts of observed increases in greenhouse gas during the 20th century.

Study: Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated

June 10, 2012 12:20 pm | News | Comments

A recent study by two scientists reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information about carbon dioxide and nitrogen emissions that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels. They claim the life cycle analysis models of bioenergy production are flawed as a result.


Extreme microbes found on South American volcanoes

June 10, 2012 12:11 pm | News | Comments

Life gets little encouragement on the incredibly dry volcanic slopes of the Atacama region, where sparse snow is quickly sublimated and nitrogen is so scant it is below detection limits. Yet, researchers recently found life here, including bacteria, fungi, and archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.

Scientists: Earth faces impending tipping point

June 7, 2012 5:42 am | by Robert Sanders | News | Comments

A recently published review paper by 22 internationally known scientists contains data that suggests that within just a few human generations there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life. Part of their research gauges how plants and animals respond to major shifts in the atmosphere, oceans, and climate.

Latin American, Asian cities lead way in planning for global warming

June 6, 2012 9:37 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey shows that 95% of major cities in Latin America are planning for climate change, compared to only 59% of such cities in the United States.

New research leads to sensors that detect contaminants in water

June 6, 2012 3:51 am | News | Comments

Many organic contaminants in the air and in drinking water need to be detected at very low-level concentrations. Research published by the Kamat laboratory at the University of Notre Dame could be beneficial in detecting those contaminants. The Kamat laboratory uses surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to make use of silver nanoparticles to increase the sensitivity limit of chemical detection.

Researchers learn how populations collapse

June 5, 2012 5:47 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the early 1990s, overfishing led to the collapse of one of the most bountiful cod fisheries in the world, off the coast of Newfoundland. Twenty years later, the cod population still has not recovered. To explain this kind of collapse, ecologists have long theorized that populations suffering a decline in environmental conditions appear stable until they reach a tipping point where the population plummets. Recovery from such collapses is nearly impossible. Now a study has offered the first experimental validation of this theory.


Nuclear, coal-fired electrical plants vulnerable to climate change

June 4, 2012 7:03 am | News | Comments

Warmer water and reduced river flows in the United States and Europe in recent years have led to reduced production, or temporary shutdown, of several thermoelectric power plants. A study by European and University of Washington scientists projects that in the next 50 years warmer water and low flows will lead to more such power disruptions.

Nanoparticles seek, destroy groundwater toxins

June 4, 2012 4:25 am | News | Comments

Iron nanoparticles encapsulated in a rust-preventing polymer coating could hold potential for cleaning up groundwater contaminated with toxic chemicals, a leading water expert from the University of New South Wales says.

Study: Martian methane emerges from meteorites, not life

May 31, 2012 1:47 pm | News | Comments

On Earth, methane is produced predominantly by biological processes. So when scientists discovered methane in Mars’ atmosphere nine years ago, it raised an exciting possibility for some. Some researchers in Europe now believe they have found the cause of this previously undetermined methane source, and it has to do with radiation.

Study suggests super-eruptions may have a short fuse

May 31, 2012 7:59 am | News | Comments

More than 100 times the size of the volcanic explosion at Mount St. Helens, super-eruptions have been theorized to take place at giant pools of magma that form a couple of miles below the surface and simmer for up to 200,000 before exploding. But new research seems to show that these pools might exist for as little as a few hundred years before erupting.

Scientist: Evolution debate will soon be history

May 30, 2012 2:37 pm | by Frank Eltman, Associated Press | News | Comments

Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, says Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that "even the skeptics can accept” that evolution is the answer. A professor at Stony Brook University on Long Island, he recently spent several weeks in New York promoting the Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya.

Study finds emissions from cookstoves vary with use

May 30, 2012 10:05 am | News | Comments

The smoke rising from a cookstove fills the air with the tantalizing aroma of dinner—and a cloud of pollutants and particles that threaten both health and the environment. How families in developing countries use their cookstoves has a big effect on emissions from those stoves, and laboratory emission tests don't accurately reflect real-world operations, according to a study by University of Illinois researchers.

Nuisance seaweed found to produce compounds with biomedical potential

May 25, 2012 6:31 am | News | Comments

A seaweed considered a threat to the healthy growth of coral reefs in Hawaii may possess the ability to produce substances that could one day treat human diseases, a new study led by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego has revealed.

Forensics link crystal growth to volcano seismicity

May 25, 2012 6:08 am | News | Comments

Using forensic-style chemical analysis, scientists in the U.K. and Germany have directly linked seismic observations of the deadly 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption to crystal growth within the magma chamber, the large underground pool of liquid rock beneath the volcano. Building direct links between observations at the surface and processes occurring underground has been an ongoing problem for volcanologists.

Seagrasses can store as much carbon as forests

May 22, 2012 12:45 pm | News | Comments

The first global analysis of carbon stored in seagrasses has revealed a surprising figure. While a typical terrestrial forest stores about 30,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer, most of which is in the form of wood, coastal seagrasses can account for 83,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer. Their global impact is significant as well.

Research focused on underground solution to greenhouse gas challenges

May 18, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

While many are focusing on atmospheric solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, some researchers are setting their sights on the ground—deep underground. Li Li, an assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University, is investigating geologic carbon sequestration as a way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Coffee buzz: Study finds java drinkers live longer

May 17, 2012 4:52 am | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer | News | Comments

It doesn’t matter if it’s regular or decaf, a big new study find that coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. The results from the largest study ever done on the issue, comes after years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease.

Why volcanoes could be a girl’s best friend

May 17, 2012 4:35 am | News | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. have discovered a previously unrecognized volcanic process called “fluidized spray granulation”, which can occur during kimberlite eruptions to produce well-rounded particles containing mantle, most notably diamonds. This physical process is remarkable similar to the gas injection and spraying process used to form smooth coatings on chocolates.

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