The world’s croplands could boost food available for people by 70% without clearing more land, according to research from the Univ. of Minnesota. This could be accomplished just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption, researchers say.
A study at the Univ. of Utah finds that more than 60% of antibiotic prescriptions are for types that kill multiple kinds of bacteria. Unfortunately, in more than 25% of cases such prescriptions are useless because the infection stems from a virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics. This overuse of antibiotics has a number of downsides.
It's well known that the dinosaurs were wiped out 66 million years ago when a meteor hit what is now southern Mexico; but evidence is accumulating that the biggest extinction of all, 252.3 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, was also triggered by an impact that changed the climate.
With the “green” reputation of large hydroelectric dams already in question, scientists are reporting that millions of smaller dams on rivers around the world make an important contribution to the greenhouse gases linked to global climate change. Their study shows that more methane than previously believed bubbles out of the water behind small dams.
Fluxes and turbulence caused by the interaction between the air and sea can significantly alter the path of electromagnetic waves in radar and communications systems. In effort to boost the U.S. navy’s communications performance at sea, researchers deployed Office of Naval Research unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in an effort to determine the ocean and atmospheric weather variations that can change the angle that radar and radio waves bend.
In the runaway greenhouse stage, a planet absorbs more solar energy than it can give off to retain equilibrium. As a result, the world overheats, boiling its oceans and filling its atmosphere with steam, which leaves the planet glowing-hot and forever uninhabitable, as Venus is now. Recent research shows this scenario might be more easily reached than previously thought.
This summer's "dead zone" at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where there's so little oxygen that starfish suffocate, is bigger than average but doesn't approach record size as scientists had predicted, according to findings released this week. The area of low oxygen covers 5,840 square miles of the Gulf floor—roughly the size of Connecticut.
In an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility to moderate travel restrictions in some areas or simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there’s little data to guide them. However, a new study comparing contagion rates may come in handy.
The ionosphere, one of the regions of the upper atmosphere, plays an important role in global communications. Now, researchers have discovered that the radio waves reflecting back to Earth from the ionosphere offer valuable news on climate change as well.
The George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), based at Purdue Univ., includes 14 laboratories for earthquake engineering and tsunami research, tied together to provide information technology for the network. A new study has found that online tools, access to experimental data and other services provided through this "cyberinfrastructure" are helping to accelerate progress in earthquake science.
The rate at which carbon dioxide is released from permafrost is poorly documented, and is a crucial uncertainty in current climate models. New findings by environmental scientists at the Univ. of Copenhagen, Denmark, document that permafrost during thawing may result in a substantial release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and that the future water content in the soil is crucial to predict the effect of permafrost thawing.
An injection of carbon dioxide has begun at a site in southeastern Washington to test deep geologic storage. Battelle researchers based at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are placing 1,000 tons of the gas one-half mile underground to see if the greenhouse gas can be stored safely and permanently in ancient basalt flows.
All plants need nitrogen to convert into ammonia, but only a small number of plants can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. The rest are helped by synthetic fertilizers, which have been blamed for nitrogen pollution. A scientist in the U.K., Edward Cocking, has found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonize all major crop plants. The technology is being commercialized.
Scientists are working to reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels by developing environmentally friendly and cost effective plastics from natural, sustainable and renewable materials, such as vegetable oils, starches, sugars—even recycled grass clippings. The Univ. of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Polymers has recruited more than 25 companies to help develop new materials and those already on the market, like polylactide.
As many as 10% of combat wounds result in life threatening infections that ultimately lead to septicemia and/or sepsis. Battelle, in partnership with NxStage Medical Inc. and Aethlon Medical, has won a nearly $23 million contract from DARPA to develop a new medical device that would holistically treat for sepsis by removing blood and cleaning it in a manner similar to dialysis.
Researchers have for the first time mapped the above ground carbon density of an entire country in high fidelity. They integrated field data with satellite imagery and high-resolution airborne LiDAR data to map the vegetation and to quantify carbon stocks throughout the Republic of Panama. Carbon stocks are now reported locally in areas as small as a hectare (2.5 acres).
In events that could exacerbate sea level rise over the coming decades, stretches of ice on the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland are at risk of rapidly cracking apart and falling into the ocean, according to new iceberg calving simulations from the Univ. of Michigan.
Rice Univ. nanotechnology researchers have unveiled a solar-powered sterilization system that could be a boon for more than 2.5 billion people who lack adequate sanitation. The “solar steam” sterilization system uses nanomaterials to convert as much as 80% of the energy in sunlight into germ-killing heat.
A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site. After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water
A family of molecules developed at Carnegie Mellon Univ. to break down pollutants in water is one step closer to commercial use. Recently published study results show that the molecules, which are aimed at removing hazardous endocrine disruptors from water sources, aren't endocrine disruptors themselves. They proved to be non-toxic to developing zebrafish embryos.
The measurements by the most advanced spacecraft to land on the red planet closely match what the twin Viking landers detected in the late 1970s and what scientists have gleaned from Martian meteorites. Mars' atmosphere is overwhelmingly dominated by carbon dioxide, unlike Earth's air, which is a mix of nitrogen and oxygen. But Curiosity’s measurements did yield one small surprise.
New findings from NASA's Curiosity rover provide clues to how Mars lost its original atmosphere, which scientists believe was much thicker than the one left today. The beauty of these measurements lies in the fact that these are the first really high-precision measurements of the composition of Mars' atmosphere.
GOJO Industries, a maker of hand hygiene and skin health and inventors of Purell Hand Sanitizer, conducted an independent research study at the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas to determine the impact on hand hygiene compliance rates when the hospital hand hygiene program included an electronic compliance activity monitoring system. The research showed a 92% hand hygiene improvement.
First reported to the U.S. Coast Guard by multinational oil and gas company BP in September 2012, newly found oil sheens raised public concern that the Macondo well, which was capped in July 2010, might be leaking. A chemical analysis now shows the source of oil sheens floating at the ocean's surface near the site of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill is pockets of oil trapped within the wreckage of the sunken rig.
Three weeks after giving an ambitious speech to outline his climate change proposal, President Obama begins the arduous task of executing it. His plan is a complicated mix of rulemaking and federal permitting that's tough to encapsulate in a neat sales pitch—and may be even tougher to put into action.