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Sustainable phosphorus recovery from wastewater

May 6, 2015 11:12 am | by Ken Doyle, American Society of Argonomy | News | Comments

A new approach to wastewater treatment may be key in efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Moreover, it can be profitable. Phosphorus is an essential element for human nutrition. It plays multiple roles in the human body, including the development of bones and teeth. Fertilizer with phosphorus, applied to crops or lawns, enables healthy growth. Without it, the basic cells of plants and animals, and life itself, would not exist.

New climate projections paint bleak future for tropical coral reefs

May 5, 2015 8:50 am | by Vasyl Kacapyr, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

As greater atmospheric carbon dioxide boosts sea temperatures, tropical corals face a bleak future. New climate model projections show that conditions are likely to increase the frequency and severity of coral disease outbreaks, reports a team of researchers led by Cornell Univ. scientists.

Tracking photosynthesis from space

May 5, 2015 7:55 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Watching plants perform photosynthesis from space sounds like a futuristic proposal, but a new application of data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite may enable scientists to do just that. The new technique, which allows researchers to analyze plant productivity from far above Earth, will provide a clearer picture of the global carbon cycle.

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Seafloor sensors record possible eruption of underwater volcano

May 4, 2015 8:41 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

If a volcano erupts at the bottom of the sea, does anybody see it? If that volcano is Axial Seamount, about 300 miles offshore and 1 mile deep, the answer is now: yes. Thanks to a set of high-tech instruments installed last summer by the Univ. of Washington to bring the deep sea online, what appears to be an eruption of Axial Volcano on April 23 was observed in real time by scientists on shore.

Gravity data show that Antarctic ice sheet is melting increasingly faster

May 1, 2015 9:09 am | by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

During the past decade, Antarctica's massive ice sheet lost twice the amount of ice in its western portion compared with what it accumulated in the east, according to Princeton Univ. researchers who came to one overall conclusion: The southern continent's ice cap is melting ever faster.

Dull glow of forest yields orbital tracking of photosynthesis

May 1, 2015 8:59 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

A research team has provided some crucial ground-truth for a method of measuring plant photosynthesis on a global scale from low-Earth orbit. The researchers have shown that chlorophyll fluorescence, a faint glow produced by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis, is a strong proxy for photosynthetic activity in the canopy of a deciduous forest.

Study: Global warming to push 1 in 13 species to extinction

April 30, 2015 2:04 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Global warming will eventually push 1 out of every 13 species on Earth into extinction, a new study projects. It won't quite be as bad in North America, where only 1 in 20 species will be killed off because of climate change or Europe where the extinction rate is nearly as small. But in South America, that forecasted heat-caused extinction rate soars to 23%, the worst for any continent.

Converter Accepts Different Power Sources

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Arkansas | News | Comments

Engineering researchers have invented a novel electrical power converter system that simultaneously accepts power from a variety of energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system. Innovations in this field are critical as the U.S. moves toward integration of renewable energy sources to the national power grid.

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Factors Impact Fate of Sinking Carbon

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | News | Comments

The researchers found that sinking particles of stressed and dying phytoplankton release chemicals that have a jolting, steroid-like effect on marine bacteria feeding on the particles. The chemicals juice up the bacteria’s metabolism causing them to more rapidly convert organic carbon in the particles back into CO2 before they can sink to the deep ocean.

Flight is Greener than Driving

April 27, 2015 11:20 am | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Flying in a plane is not only safer than driving a car, it's also better for the environment. In follow-up research from last year, a study found that it takes twice as much energy to drive than to fly.

Soy: It’s good for eating, baking and cleaning up crude oil spills

April 23, 2015 9:11 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

If you've studied ingredient labels on food packaging, you've probably noticed that soy lecithin is in a lot of products, ranging from buttery spreads to chocolate cake. Scientists have now found a potential new role for this all-purpose substance: dispersing crude oil spills. Their study, which could lead to a less toxic way to clean up these environmental messes, appears in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

Study links swarm of quakes in Texas to natural gas drilling

April 21, 2015 12:05 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

With real-time monitors, scientists have linked a swarm of small earthquakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater injection. In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, the area around Azle, Texas, shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes, while scientists at Southern Methodist Univ. and the U.S. Geological Survey monitored the shaking.

Global warming more moderate than worst-case models

April 21, 2015 11:15 am | by Tim Lucas, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

A new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records suggests global warming is not progressing as fast as it would under the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Duke-led study shows that natural variability in surface temperatures can account for observed changes in the recent rates of warming from decade to decade.

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3D-printed blossoms a growing tool for ecology

April 17, 2015 10:36 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

3D printing has been used to make everything from cars to medical implants. Now, Univ. of Washington ecologists are using the technology to make artificial flowers, which they say could revolutionize our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions.

Gulf health five years after BP spill: Resilient yet scarred

April 17, 2015 10:05 am | by Seth Borenstein And Cain Burdeau, Associated Press | News | Comments

From above, five years after the BP well explosion, the Gulf of Mexico looks clean, green and whole again, teeming with life: a testament to the resilience of nature. But there's more than surface shimmering blue and emerald to the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill. And it's not as pretty a picture, nor is it as clear.

China’s thriving export industry comes with a high cost

April 17, 2015 8:35 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

China has become the world’s largest exporter, leading to the country’s rapid economic development, and notorious pollution that’s harmful to human health. For the first time, scientists have estimated this trend’s health cost. They report in Environmental Science & Technology that in 2007, export-related emissions in China led to almost 160,000 deaths.

How climate affects biodiversity

April 17, 2015 8:22 am | by Uppsala Univ. | News | Comments

How does climate change affect the occurrence and distribution of species? This is a key question in the climate debate, and one that is hard to answer without information about natural variation in species abundance. Now researchers from Uppsala Univ. can, for the first time, give us a detailed picture of natural variation through study published in Current Biology.

Flourishing faster

April 17, 2015 8:16 am | by Univ. of Manchester | News | Comments

Scientists at The Univ. of Manchester have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster, which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with the effects of climate change. In the study, published in Current Biology, the team successfully manipulated two genes in poplar trees in order to make them grow larger and more quickly than usual.

Sensors detect spoiled meat

April 15, 2015 11:32 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The researchers have filed for a patent on the technology and hope to license it for commercial development.

Fragment of continental crust found under south east Iceland

April 13, 2015 10:32 am | by Univ. of Liverpool | News | Comments

A team has shown that south east Iceland is underlain by continental crust. The team found that the accepted theory, that Iceland consists only of very thick oceanic crust, is incorrect. Maps of crustal thickness produced from satellite gravity data, together with geochemical, plate tectonic reconstruction and mantle plume track analysis, were used to show south east Iceland is underlain by continental crust.

Researchers say permafrost carbon release will be gradual

April 10, 2015 8:05 pm | by Dan Joling, Associated Press | News | Comments

Frozen Arctic and sub-Arctic soil that thaws from global warming will add substantial amounts of carbon to the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases, accelerating climate change the rest of the century, but it won't come in a sudden burst, researchers say in a new paper.

Ordinary clay can save the day

April 9, 2015 11:12 am | by Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology | News | Comments

Carbon capture will play a central role in helping the nations of the world manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Many materials are being tested for the purpose of capturing carbon dioxide. But now researchers led by the Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology have found that ordinary clay can work just as effectively as more advanced materials.

Turning to freshwater sources to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis

April 9, 2015 8:17 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The discovery of antibiotics produced by soil fungi and bacteria gave the world life-saving medicine. But new antimicrobials from this resource have become scarce as the threat of drug resistance grows. Now, scientists have started mining lakes and rivers for potential pathogen-fighters, and they’ve found one from Lake Michigan that is effective against drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Scientists seek source of giant methane mass over Southwest

April 9, 2015 2:05 am | by Colleen Slevin, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are working to pinpoint the source of a giant mass of methane hanging over the southwestern U.S., which a study found to be the country's largest concentration of the greenhouse gas. The report that revealed the methane hot spot over the Four Corners region, where Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona meet, was released last year.

How unwanted CDs and DVDs could help cut carbon emissions

April 8, 2015 1:45 pm | by ACS | News | Comments

Now that most consumers download and stream their movies and music, more and more CDs and DVDs will end up in landfills or be recycled. But soon these discarded discs could take on a different role: curbing the release of greenhouse gases. In ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, scientists report a way to turn the discs into a material that can capture carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, and other compounds

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