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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.

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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.

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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.

Climate models disagree on why temperature “wiggles” occur

January 26, 2015 11:06 am | by Duke Univ. | News | Comments

A new study finds that most climate models likely underestimate the degree of decade-to-decade variability occurring in mean surface temperatures as Earth's atmosphere warms. The models also provide inconsistent explanations of why this variability occurs in the first place. These discrepancies may undermine the models' reliability for projecting the short-term pace as well as the extent of future warming, the study's authors warn.

Arctic ice cap slides into the ocean

January 23, 2015 10:40 am | by Univ. of Leeds | News | Comments

Satellite images have revealed that a remote Arctic ice cap has thinned by more than 50 m since 2012 and that it’s now flowing 25 times faster. A team led by scientists from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the Univ. of Leeds combined observations from eight satellite missions, including Sentinel-1A and CryoSat, with results from regional climate models, to unravel the story of ice decline.

Atomic Scientists: We're getting even closer to doomsday

January 22, 2015 2:18 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says Earth is now closer to human-caused doomsday than it has been in more than 30 years because of global warming and nuclear weaponry. But other experts say that's way too gloomy. The advocacy group founded by the creators of the atomic bomb moved their famed "Doomsday Clock" ahead two minutes on Thursday.

Two lakes beneath Greenland’s ice gone within weeks

January 22, 2015 8:57 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers who are building the highest-resolution map of the Greenland Ice Sheet to date have made a surprising discovery: two lakes of meltwater that pooled beneath the ice and rapidly drained away. One lake once held billions of gallons of water and emptied to form a mile-wide crater in just a few weeks. The other lake has filled and emptied twice in the last two years.

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Senate says climate change real, but doesn't agree on cause

January 21, 2015 6:16 pm | by By Dina Cappiello - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Republican-controlled Senate acknowledged Wednesday that climate change is real but refused to say humans are to blame. The series of votes publicly tested Republicans' stance on global warming just days after two federal agencies declared 2014 the hottest year on record and hours after President Barack Obama called global warming one of the greatest threats to future generations.

Officials begin testing mystery gunk linked to bird deaths

January 21, 2015 2:18 pm | by By Kristin J. Bender - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

San Francisco Bay Area officials have begun laboratory tests and necropsies on dead seabirds found coated with a mysterious substance that looks and feels like dirty rubber cement. More than 125 dead birds have been found along the bay's shorelines, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Model explores location of future U.S. population growth

January 21, 2015 8:59 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a population distribution model that provides unprecedented county-level predictions of where people will live in the U.S. in the coming decades. Initially developed to assist in the siting of new energy infrastructure, the team’s model has a broad range of implications from urban planning to climate change adaptation.

X-rays shed light on scrolls buried by volcano

January 21, 2015 8:45 am | by Frank Jordans, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists have succeeded in reading parts of an ancient scroll that was buried in a volcanic eruption almost 2,000 years ago, holding out the promise that the world's oldest surviving library may one day reveal all of its secrets. The scroll is among hundreds retrieved from the remains of a lavish villa at Herculaneum that, along with Pompeii, was one of several Roman towns that were destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79.

Cancer-causing agent detected in water after pipeline spill

January 21, 2015 8:19 am | by By Matthew Brown - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Eastern Montana residents rushed to stock up on bottled water Tuesday after authorities detected a cancer-causing component of oil in public water supplies downstream of a Yellowstone River pipeline spill. Elevated levels of benzene were found in water samples from a treatment plant that serves about 6,000 people in the agricultural community of Glendive, near North Dakota.

Sequestration on shaky ground

January 21, 2015 7:46 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Carbon sequestration promises to address greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and injecting it deep below the Earth’s surface, where it would permanently solidify into rock. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that current carbon sequestration technologies may eliminate up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Melting glaciers have big carbon impact

January 20, 2015 11:21 am | by Kathleen Haughney, Florida State Univ. | News | Comments

As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt, researchers and public policy experts have focused largely on how all of that extra water will contribute to sea level rise. But another impact lurking in that inevitable scenario is carbon. More specifically, what happens to all of the organic carbon found in those glaciers when they melt?

Ocean floor dust gives new insight into supernovae

January 20, 2015 10:32 am | by Phil Dooley, The Australian National Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists plumbing the depths of the ocean have made a surprise finding that could change the way we understand supernovae, exploding stars way beyond our solar system. They have analyzed extraterrestrial dust thought to be from supernovae that has settled on ocean floors to determine the amount of heavy elements created by the massive explosions.

2014 warmest year on record

January 20, 2015 8:37 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

For the third time in a decade, the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record, federal scientists announced. Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world had its hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping. Earlier, the Japanese weather agency and an independent group out of UC Berkeley also measured 2014 as the hottest on record.

Wrangling over pesticide ingredients comes to a head in 2015

January 16, 2015 1:06 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Consumer advocates are fighting a new rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to address concerns over “inert” ingredients, including fragrances and dyes, in pesticides for non-food use. They say the proposal, which could become final this year, doesn’t go far enough to protect human health and the environment from the ingredients’ potential impacts.

Perovskites provide big boost to silicon solar cells

January 16, 2015 8:05 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stacking perovskites onto a conventional silicon solar cell dramatically improves the overall efficiency of the cell, according to a new study led by Stanford Univ. scientists. The researchers describe their novel perovskite-silicon solar cell in Energy & Environmental Science.

Humanity has exceeded four of nine “planetary boundaries”

January 16, 2015 7:53 am | by Adam Hinterthuer, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Videos | Comments

An international team of researchers says climate change, the loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change and altered biogeochemical cycles like phosphorus and nitrogen runoff have all passed beyond levels that put humanity in a “safe operating space.” Civilization has crossed four of nine so-called planetary boundaries as the result of human activity, according to a report published in Science by the 18-member research team.

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