Most people worry about the quality of the air they breathe outdoors, while giving little thought to the contaminants that may be circulating in their own homes. Yet, with only a few exceptions, such as certain urban environments, "outdoor air is cleaner than indoor air," says Andrea Ferro, an ass. prof. in civil and environmental engineering at Clarkson Univ.
A new study on the feeding habits of ocean microbes calls into question the potential use of algal blooms to trap carbon dioxide and offset rising global levels. These blooms contain iron-eating microscopic phytoplankton that absorb C02 from the air. But one type of phytoplankton, a diatom, is using more iron that it needs, which is reducing the amount of iron left over to support the carbon-eating plankton.
Technology exists for removing heavy metals from drinking water, but often is too costly in developing countries. Scientists are now reporting the development of an inexpensive new material made of clay and papaya seeds removes harmful metals from water and could lower the cost of providing clean water to millions of people in the developing world.
Making cars more fuel-efficient is great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but rather than promoting sales of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles, policymakers should turn their focus to cutting emissions in other energy sectors—from oil wells and power plants to farms and forests affected by biofuels production—says a Univ. of Michigan researcher.
Humans began contributing to environmental lead pollution as early as 8,000 years ago, according to a Univ. of Pittsburgh research report. The Pitt research team detected the oldest-discovered remains of human-derived lead pollution in the world in the northernmost region of Michigan, suggesting metal pollution from mining and other human activities appeared far earlier in North America than in Europe, Asia and South America.
Are teeth the latest victims of bisphenol A (BPA)? Yes, according to the conclusions of a team lead by researchers in France. They have shown that the teeth of rats treated with low daily doses of BPA could be damaged the chemical.
An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population—projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century—in the face of climate change. The team recently unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake occurred 43 miles off the shore of Japan. It generated an unexpectedly massive tsunami that washed over eastern Japan roughly 30 minutes later. Scientists at Stanford University have identified key acoustic characteristics of this quake that indicated it would cause a large tsunami.
Surprisingly large amounts of discarded trash end up in the ocean. A recent paper by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) shows how trash is accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon. Inspired during a fisheries study, the researchers counted over 1,500 observations of deep-sea debris, the frequency of which surprised them.
Using the same devious mechanism that enables some bacteria to shrug off powerful antibiotics, scientists in Ohio have developed solar-powered nanofilters that remove antibiotics from the water in lakes and rivers twice as efficiently as the best existing technology. They say their “vesicle”-like technology is an improvement on existing activated carbon filters.
At the Advanced Light Source, scientists analyzed samples from a Roman breakwater that has been submerged in the Bay of Naples for over two millennia, revealing the secrets of crystal chemistry that allow Roman seawater concrete to resist chemical attack and wave action for centuries. The manufacture of extraordinarily durable Roman maritime concrete released much less carbon than most modern concrete does today.
Univ. of Calgary scientists are investigating how 'Alberta-grown' biomass—such as straw and wood left over from agricultural and forestry operations—could be used to clean up chemical contaminants in water from oilsands operations. This research project received $57,500 from the Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corp. though the Biological Greenhouse Gas Management Program.
Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and colleague Carl Young died Friday night when an EF3 tornado with winds up to 165 mph turned on them near El Reno, Okla. Respected tornado researchers who used scientific equipment to help gather storm data, and shared their dramatic videos with television viewers and weather researchers, the three men died chasing a storm that killed 13 in Oklahoma City and its suburbs.
In this video, Tim Samaras from the National Geographic Channel Storm Chasers talks about his passion for chasing and studying storm systems. He explains how he used National Instruments’ (NI) LabVIEW and CompactDAQ in a new instrument that is deployed on the ground in front of a tornado. After the storm he uses another NI application, DIAdem, to view the data that was collected.
If the climate continues to evolve as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United States stands little to no chance of satisfying its current biofuel goals, according to a new study by Rice Univ. and the Univ. of California, Davis. The recently published study suggests that in 40 years, a hotter planet would cut the yield of corn grown for ethanol in the U.S. by an average of 7%.
As ice sheets melted during the deglaciation of the last ice age and global oceans warmed, oceanic oxygen levels decreased and "denitrification" accelerated by 30 to 120%, a new international study shows, creating oxygen-poor marine regions and throwing the oceanic nitrogen cycle off balance. By the end of the deglaciation, however, the oceans had adjusted to their new warmer state and the nitrogen cycle had stabilized.
The European Union is urging its 27 member states to test certain wheat shipments from the United States after unauthorized genetically modified grains were found on a U.S. farm, officials said Friday. The move came after Japan halted imports Thursday of some types of wheat from the U.S. following the discovery of an experimental strain that was tested by Monsanto but was never approved.
Observations by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity have revealed areas with gravel and pebbles that are characteristic of a former riverbed. Researchers, including members of the Niels Bohr Institute, have analyzed their shapes and sizes and the rounded pebbles clearly show that there has been flowing water on Mars.
According to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder, a chemical reaction between iron-containing minerals and water may produce enough hydrogen "food" to sustain microbial communities living in pores and cracks within the enormous volume of rock below the ocean floor and parts of the continents.
Stromatolites (“layered rocks”) are structures made of calcium carbonate and shaped by the actions of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and other microbes that trapped and bound grains of coastal sediment into fine layers. According to recent research, the widespread and mysterious disappearance of stromatolites may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera.
From Virginia to Florida, there is a prehistoric shoreline that, in some parts, rests more than 280 feet above modern sea level. The shoreline was carved by waves more than 3 million years ago—possible evidence of a once higher sea level, triggered by ice-sheet melting. But new findings by a team of researchers reveal that the shoreline has been uplifted by more than 210 feet, meaning less ice melted than expected.
The temperature in the permafrost on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic is nearly as cold as that of the surface of Mars. So the recent discovery by a McGill University led team of scientists of a bacterium that is able to thrive at -15 C, the coldest temperature ever reported for bacterial growth, is exciting. The bacterium offers clues about some of the necessary preconditions for microbial life on Mars.
When a solar flare filled with charged particles erupts from the sun, its magnetic fields sometimes break a widely accepted rule of physics. The flux-freezing theorem dictates that the magnetic lines of force should flow away in lock-step with the particles, whole and unbroken. Instead, the lines sometimes break apart and quickly reconnect in a way that has mystified astrophysicists.
On Tuesday, the National Weather Service gave the recent Moore, Okla., tornado the top-of-the-scale rating of EF5 for wind speed and breadth, and severity of damage. Wind speeds were estimated at between 200 and 210 mph. Everything had to come together just perfectly to create this killer tornado: wind speed, moisture in the air, temperature, and timing.
A new analysis shows that the nation's land and water resources could likely support the growth of enough algae to produce up to 25 billion gallons of algae-based fuel a year in the United States, one-twelfth of the country's yearly needs. The findings come from an in-depth look at the water resources that would be needed to grow significant amounts of algae in large, specially built shallow ponds.