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Plants use circadian rhythms to prepare for battle with insects

February 14, 2012 9:45 am | News | Comments

According to a recent Rice University study, plants make predawn preparations to fend off hungry caterpillars. Using powerful genetic analysis tools that allow them to monitor precisely the accumulation of certain hormones, researchers found that plant can anticipate events and respond to them with the help of circadian-regulated genes.

Laser maps show before and after of quake zone in 3D

February 13, 2012 1:57 pm | News | Comments

A team of scientists from the United States, Mexico, and China reports the most comprehensive before-and-after picture yet of an earthquake zone, using data from the magnitude 7.2 event that struck near Mexicali, Mexico, in April 2010. Enabled by LIDAR equipment, the imaging tool can track landscape changes down to a few inches.

Advanced power-grid model finds low-cost, low-carbon future in West

February 13, 2012 8:08 am | News | Comments

The least expensive way for the Western United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to help prevent the worst consequences of global warming is to replace coal with renewable and other sources of energy that may include nuclear power, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley researchers.

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China's pollution puts a dent in its economy

February 13, 2012 6:54 am | by Vicki Ekstrom, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change | News | Comments

Although China has made substantial progress in cleaning up its air pollution, a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study shows that the economic impact from ozone and particulates in its air has increased dramatically.

Life in Antarctic lake? It's everywhere else

February 9, 2012 7:28 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Researchers who broke through the world’s thickest ice cap to access a the long-hidden Lake Vostok will have to wait until December (Antarctic summer) to determine whether their frozen sample contains ice. If it does—and like already exists in challenging situations on Earth—it will offer hope that life exists beyond our world.

Russian scientists reach lake under Antarctica

February 8, 2012 7:06 am | by Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press | News | Comments

After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, a team of scientists have finished boring 3.8 km to the surface of Lake Vostok, a body of water that has remained in isolation at the bottom of the Antarctic ice cap for more than 20 million years.

Getting the fluoride out

February 7, 2012 2:54 am | by Miles O'Brien and Marsha Walton | News | Comments

In the United States, fluoride is often added to drinking water and toothpaste to help strengthen teeth. But too much naturally occurring fluoride can cause fluorosis, a darkening of the teeth and sometimes debilitating skeletal effects. Efforts are underway to use aluminum-coated bone char to filter water in Africa, but overcoming local stigmas is a challenge.

More environmental rules needed for shale gas

February 6, 2012 10:22 am | by Mark Golden, Stanford University | News | Comments

Obama's new rule is only one step toward ensuring the safety of hydraulic fracturing, the booming technology that offers economic and environmental benefits, according to Stanford University geophysicist and DOE adviser Mark Zoback.

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Consumers willing to buy sustainable U.S. cotton

February 6, 2012 8:39 am | News | Comments

As the interest in environmentally responsible business practices grows globally, researchers are interested in how that interest translates into consumer sales. Researchers from the University of Missouri have found that U.S. consumers are more willing to buy clothing made from sustainably grown U.S. cotton than apparel produced using conventional practices in an unknown location.

Genetic information can jump from plant to plant

February 3, 2012 6:08 am | News | Comments

Sometimes, DNA extracted from a plant’s green chloroplasts show great similarities with related species that grow in the same area. The phenomenon has confounded scientists, who have assumed the sexually incompatible species somehow cross-bred. Now, researchers say they have the answer, and that cross-breeding isn’t even necessary for this “chloroplast capture” to occur.

Google Earth’s ocean terrain gets major update

February 3, 2012 3:05 am | News | Comments

Data from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, NOAA, and the University of California, San Diego has been used by Google experts this week to sharpen the resolution of seafloor maps in the popular Google Earth application. The original version of the program, according to a Scripps geophysicist, had high resolution but was full of thousands of blunders from old data.

IBM to help oil and gas companies monitor, reduce environmental impact

February 2, 2012 10:08 am | News | Comments

IBM has been selected for a global research project to develop the world's first integrated environmental monitoring system aimed at helping oil and gas companies minimize the environmental impact of their operations.

Studying butterfly flight to help build bug-size flying robots

February 2, 2012 6:44 am | News | Comments

To improve the next generation of insect-size flying machines, Johns Hopkins engineers have been aiming high-speed video cameras at some of the prettiest bugs on the planet. By figuring out how butterflies flutter among flowers with amazing grace and agility, the researchers hope to help small airborne robots mimic these maneuvers.

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Tool is new weapon in fight against climate change

February 2, 2012 4:22 am | News | Comments

A new service, developed by experts at the University of Manchester and the Mersey Forest, will provide vital information to help urban neighborhoods avoid the potentially dangerous effects of climate change.

What we don’t know about snow

February 1, 2012 5:33 pm | by Ellen Gray | News | Comments

In the last ten years, scientists have shown that it is possible to detect falling snow and measure surface snowpack information from the vantage point of space. But there remains much that is unknown about the fluffy white stuff. A team from NASA and Environment Canada are hoping their Global Precipitation Measurement satellite and ground mission will set new standards and bring global measurements every three hours.

First plants caused ice ages

February 1, 2012 4:56 am | News | Comments

New research reveals how the arrival of the first plants 470 million years ago triggered a series of ice ages. A team, led by the universities of Exeter and Oxford, set out to identify the effects that the first land plants had on the climate during the Ordovician Period, which ended 444 million years ago.

Despite low solar activity, Earth’s energy budget out of whack

January 31, 2012 3:26 am | News | Comments

A prolonged solar minimum left the sun's surface nearly free of sunspots from 2005 to 2010. Total solar irradiance declined slightly as a result, but according to a recent NASA study, the Earth continued to absorb more energy than it emitted throughout the minimum.

Nanoscale ion exchange particles show mega potential

January 30, 2012 11:07 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory have successfully shown that they can replace useful little particles of monosodium titanate (MST) with even tinier nano-sized particles, making them even more useful for a variety of applications.

Space Weather Center to add world's first ‘ensemble forecasting' capability

January 30, 2012 4:15 am | by Lori Keesey | News | Comments

Coinciding with a peak in solar activity, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Space Weather Laboratory will soon simultaneously produce as many as 100 computerized forecasts by calculating multiple possible parameters, improving our ability to predict the impact of solar storms. Currently, just one set of conditions is used to anticipate solar-storm activity.

Litigator publishes guide to nanotech health law

January 30, 2012 3:49 am | News | Comments

John Delaney, an attorney with experience in toxic and environmental torts and a founding member of the law firm Delany & O’Brien in Philadelphia, has recently published guide to the legal implications of nanotechnology. He pays particular attention to carbon nanotubes and nanometal oxides, and notably argues for tort reform in anticipation of potential legal actions.

New map for what to plant reflects global warming

January 26, 2012 8:27 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The color-coded map of planting zones often seen on the back of seed packets is being updated by the government, and it illustrates a hotter 21st century. It's the first time since 1990 since the official guide for the nation's 80 million gardeners has been updated, and nearly entire states are in warmer zones.

Ocean acidification study reveals effects of carbon dioxide

January 25, 2012 11:45 am | News | Comments

A team of 19 researchers have reported the results of the broadest worldwide study of ocean acidification to date. They were able to illustrate how parts of the world's oceans currently have different pH levels because of the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and how they might respond to climate changes in the future.

Stinky frogs are a treasure trove of antibiotic substances

January 25, 2012 11:34 am | News | Comments

Recent research in China on amphibians so smelly that scientists term them “odorous frogs” has revealed a potentially rich source of new antibiotics. They concluded that these frogs possess the greatest diversity of germ-killing peptides.

Decline in solar output unlikely to offset global warming

January 24, 2012 9:38 am | News | Comments

New research has found that solar output is likely to reduce over the next 90 years but that will not substantially delay expected increases in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gases. Carried out by the University of Reading and the Met Office, the study establishes the most likely changes in the sun's activity and looks at how this could affect near-surface temperatures on Earth.

New regression models to predict service life of wastewater pipelines

January 23, 2012 11:50 am | News | Comments

Civil engineers at Syracuse University have developed various statistical prediction models using data obtained from the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio, to generate deterioration models for wastewater pipes. The models, when adapted to a given system, is intended to facilitate a proactive approach to pipeline replacements and maintenance.

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