It is not unusual for swarms of small earthquakes to precede a volcanic eruption. They can create a signal called harmonic tremor, which resembles that generated by musical instruments but at a much lower frequency. A new analysis of an eruption sequence at Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano in March 2009 shows that the harmonic tremor glided to substantially higher frequencies and then stopped abruptly just before erupting.
The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study. Sheets are losing are about 300 billion tons of ice each year, but no consensus has emerged about the cause of this recent increase in mass loss.
Despite warnings to the contrary, many people continue to operate portable generators indoors or close to open windows, resulting in more than 500 deaths since 2005. And each year, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of carbon monoxide. A new computer modeling study scrutinizes the deadly relationship between carbon monoxide emissions and occupant exposure.
The powerful earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011 set off tremors around a West Texas oil field, according to new research that suggests oil and gas drilling operations may make fault zones sensitive to shock waves from distant big quakes. Large quakes have been known to trigger minor jolts thousands of miles from the epicenter, but less is known about the influence of remote quakes on faults that have been weakened by man-made activity.
Studies have long predicted that plants would begin to use water more efficiently, that is, lose less water during photosynthesis, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose. However, an international research team doing work at the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site has found that forests across the globe are losing less water than expected and becoming even more efficient at using it for growth.
A new study links heavy air pollution from coal burning to shorter lives in northern China. Researchers estimate that the half-billion people alive there in the 1990s will live an average of 5½ years less than their southern counterparts because they breathed dirtier air.
Univ. of Adelaide researchers have developed a new nanomaterial that could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations. The new nanomaterial efficiently separates the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from nitrogen, the other significant component of the waste gas released by coal-fired power stations. This would allow the carbon dioxide to be separated before being stored, rather than released to the atmosphere.
Although researchers had tested NASA’s new polar rover at a beach in Maryland and in the snow in Idaho, the May 6 to June 8, 2013 testing at Summit Camp, the highest spot in Greenland, was the rover’s first polar experience. Equipped with ground-penetrating radar, the robot defed 30 mph gusts and temperatures down to -22 F, demonstrating that it could operate completely autonomously in one of Earth’s harshest environments.
Introducing R&D Magazine's 2013 R&D 100 Award winners. The 2013 R&D 100 Award Winners are listed below in alphabetical order by the name of the primary developer company.
President Barack Obama's push to fight global warming has triggered condemnation from the coal industry across the industrial Midwest, where state and local economies depend on the health of an energy sector facing strict new pollution limits. But such concerns stretch even to New England, an environmentally focused region that long has felt the effects of drifting emissions from Rust Belt states.
A new study has provided the first conclusive proof of the existence of a space wind first proposed theoretically over 20 years ago. By analyzing data from the European Space Agency’s Cluster spacecraft, researchers have the plasmaspheric wind, so-called because it contributes to the loss of material from the plasmasphere, a donut-shaped region extending above the Earth’s atmosphere.
On Monday, the National Academy of Sciences announced a three-year grant to chemist Vincent Rotello at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to develop, test and deploy new, sensitive, reliable and affordable inkjet-printed, nanoparticle-based test strips for detecting disease-causing bacteria in drinking water.
There are a lot of small molecules people would like to convert to something useful. The current process for reducing nitrogen to ammonia is done under extreme conditions, and there is an enormous barrier to overcome to get a final product. Breaching that barrier more efficiently and reducing the huge amounts of energy used to convert nitrogen to ammonia has been a grail for the agricultural chemical industry, until now.
Hydrogenation is a chemical process used in a wide range of industrial applications, from food products to petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. The process typically involves the use of heavy metals, such as palladium or platinum, which, though efficient, are expensive and can be toxic. However, researchers have discovered way to use iron as a catalyst for hydrogenation.
Hospitals have fretted for years over how to make sure doctors, nurses and staff keep their hands clean, but with only limited success. Now, some are turning to technology—beepers, buzzers, lights and tracking systems that remind workers to sanitize, and chart those who don't.
In a recently published study, scientists say they have found a diverse multitude of microbes colonizing and thriving on flecks of plastic that have polluted the oceans—a vast new human-made flotilla of microbial communities that they have dubbed the “plastisphere.” Using scanning electron microscopy and gene sequencing techniques, they found at least 1,000 different types of bacterial cells, some of them new species yet to be identified.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to recent research. Hydroelectric dams are controlled by guide curves that account for drinking water and droughts. They cannot simply release water to meet some electricity demand or hold back water when electricity is in low demand.
Earth’s atmosphere did not always contain oxygen, and one of science's greatest mysteries is how and when oxygenic photosynthesis—the process responsible for producing oxygen on Earth through the splitting of water molecules—first began. A team has now found evidence of a precursor photosystem involving manganese that predates cyanobacteria, the first group of organisms to release oxygen into the environment via photosynthesis.
The energy people use to power their homes and to satisfy their mobility needs accounts for more than 70% of emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas involved in global climate change. Recent research suggests that energy conservation in a small number of households could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
University of Colorado meteorologist David Noone and his team are working to understand how water moves around the planet. The measurements are made using an optical measurement technology which has only recently become available, and which allows continuous in situ observations to be made on a practical basis.
Following a meeting between top scientists, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Israeli President Shimon Peres, the University of Chicago and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced they will begin funding a series of ambitious research collaborations that will apply nanotechnology to make clean, fresh drinking water more plentiful and less expensive by 2020.
Many researchers are seeking ways to “scrub” carbon dioxide from the emissions of fossil-fuel power plants as a way of curbing the gas that is considered most responsible for global climate change. Now, researchers have developed a scrubbing system that requires no steam connection, can operate at lower temperatures and would essentially be a “plug-and-play” solution that could be added relatively easily to any existing power plant.
In a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University, Barack Obama is expected to announce he's issuing a presidential memorandum to launch the first-ever federal regulations on carbon dioxide emitted by existing power plants, moving to curb the gases blamed for global warming despite adamant opposition from Republicans and some energy producers.
Univ. of Delaware chemist Joel Rosenthal is driven to succeed in the renewable energy arena. Rosenthal and his team have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into synthetic fuels for powering cars, homes and businesses.
Univ. of Alberta researchers have shown that a simple glass surface can be made to repel oil underwater. This has huge implications for development of a chemical repellent technology for use in cleaning up oil spills. At the time of spills, marine flora and fauna may come into contact with the oil, wreaking major damage. Underwater oil-repellent technology can potentially prevent the toxic effect of oil on marine ecosystems.