Environmental Science News -- ScienceDaily

Environmental science news. Learn about current research into rainforest deforestation, sustainable development, energy use, air quality monitoring, mining processes and hazardous waste disposal. Updated daily.

04/20/2018 10:06 PM
Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle
A new study shows that nitrogen-feeding organisms exist all over the deep ocean, and not just in large oxygen-depleted 'dead zones,' changing the way we think about the delicate nitrogen cycle.

04/20/2018 06:14 PM
Grassland plants react unexpectedly to high levels of carbon dioxide
Plants are responding in unexpected ways to increased carbon dioxide in the air, according to a 20-year study.

04/20/2018 05:29 PM
Rare earth magnet recycling is a grind -- this new process takes a simpler approach
A new recycling process turns discarded hard disk drive magnets into new magnet material in a few steps, and tackles both the economic and environmental issues typically associated with mining e-waste for valuable materials.

04/20/2018 05:28 PM
Soil metals linked with cancer mortality
Epidemiologists and geologists have found associations between esophageal cancer and soils where lead is abundant, lung cancer and terrains with increased copper content, brain tumor with areas rich in arsenic, and bladder cancer with high cadmium levels. These statistical links do not indicate that there is a cause-effect relationship between soil type and cancer, but they suggest that the influence of metals from the earth's surface on the geographical distribution of tumors should be analyzed.

04/19/2018 07:14 PM
Squeezing more power out of solar cells
Physicists have published new research that could literally squeeze more power out of solar cells by physically deforming each of the crystals in the semiconductors used by photovoltaic cells.

04/19/2018 06:11 PM
New ant species from Borneo explodes to defend its colony
When their colony is threatened by an intruder, workers of a newly discovered species of ant can actually tear their own body apart, in order to release toxins and either kill or hold off the enemy. The new species is the first of the so-called 'exploding ants' to be described since 1935.

04/19/2018 06:09 PM
Small changes in rainforests cause big damage to fish ecosystems
Using lasers, researchers have connected, arranged and merged artificial cells, paving the way for networks of artificial cells acting as tissues.

04/18/2018 07:48 PM
Meteorite diamonds tell of a lost planet
Scientists have examined a slice from a meteorite that contains large diamonds formed at high pressure. The study shows that the parent body from which the meteorite came was a planetary embryo of a size between Mercury and Mars.

04/18/2018 07:14 PM
Efforts to develop water recycling technologies
Scientists are working to develop water recycling technologies that will transform waste from unconventional oil and gas development into reusable water.

04/18/2018 07:13 PM
Coal mining reduces abundance, richness of aquatic life
Coal mining, under current US regulations, has significantly reduced the abundance and variety of fish, invertebrates, salamanders, and other aquatic life in streams, according to a new study.

04/18/2018 07:13 PM
Republicans more persuasive than scientists on climate change
Regardless of political affiliation, people are more likely to believe facts about climate change when they come from Republicans speaking against what has become a partisan interest in this country, according to a new study.

04/18/2018 07:13 PM
Craigslist, other online exchanges, may be good for the environment
Online exchanges, such as Craigslist, may not just help consumers declutter and earn a few extra bucks -- a researcher suggests that using those exchanges may help inspire behavior that is good for the environment.

04/18/2018 07:13 PM
Cities and communities in the US losing 36 million trees a year
Nationally, urban/community tree cover declined from 42.9 percent to 42.2 percent between 2009-2014. This translates to losing an estimated 36 million trees or approximately 175,000 acres of tree cover annually.

04/18/2018 03:05 PM
Coho salmon die, chum salmon survive in stormwater runoff research
Scientists found that coho salmon became sick and nearly died, within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater. But chum salmon showed no signs of ill-effects after prolonged exposure to the same water.

04/18/2018 02:20 PM
Bugged out by climate change
Warmer summer and fall seasons and fewer winter freeze-thaw events have led to changes in the relative numbers of different types of bugs in the Arctic. The study relies on the longest-standing, most comprehensive data set on arctic arthropods in the world today: a catalogue of almost 600,000 flies, wasps, spiders and other creepy-crawlies collected at the Zackenberg field station on the northeast coast of Greenland from 1996-2014.

04/17/2018 06:01 PM
The 'bread basket' of the tropics? Study explores tropical grain production
Agricultural economists wanted to learn more about the productivity of grain production in the tropics. They examine input and output factors for several large-scale farms located in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil.

04/17/2018 04:57 PM
New type of 'opal' formed by common seaweed
Scientists have discovered a completely new type of opal formed by a common seaweed which harnesses natural technology by self-assembling a nanostructure of oil droplets to control how light reflects from its cells to display a shimmering array of colours that until now, has only been seen in the gem stone.

04/17/2018 04:57 PM
Carbon dioxide as a raw material
Researchers have found a way to turn climate-damaging CO2 into an alcohol that could serve as a raw material for the chemical industry - without producing large amounts of salt waste that usually arise.

04/16/2018 11:56 PM
Warming climate could speed forest regrowth in eastern US
Warming climate could speed the natural regrowth of forests on undeveloped or abandoned land in the eastern United States, according to a new study. Previous research has shown that the succession from field to forest can happen decades sooner in the southeastern US than in the Northeast. But it wasn't obvious why. A new study points to temperature as the major factor influencing the pace of reforestation.

04/16/2018 11:56 PM
General aviation pilots struggle to interpret weather forecast and observation displays
When tested on their knowledge of 23 types of weather information, from icing forecasts and turbulence reports to radar, 204 general aviation (GA) pilots were stumped by about 42 percent of the questions. The findings are worrisome.

04/16/2018 08:56 PM
Engineering a plastic-eating enzyme
Scientists have engineered an enzyme which can digest some of our most commonly polluting plastics, providing a potential solution to one of the world's biggest environmental problems.

04/16/2018 07:25 PM
Effects of climate change on communally managed water systems softened by shared effort
Shared fates and experiences in a community can help it withstand changes to water availability due to climate change, a recent study has found. The work paired a dynamic systems model of an acequia community and its water system with a hydrology model of an upland water source to study how the community responds to changes in water availability and flow.

04/16/2018 07:24 PM
Logging in tropical forests jeopardizing drinking water
Researchers have found that increasing land clearing for logging in Solomon Islands -- even with best management strategies in place -- will lead to unsustainable levels of soil erosion and significant impacts to downstream water quality.

04/16/2018 05:16 PM
What's in a niche? Time to rethink microbial ecology, say researchers
Scientists are looking to rewrite the textbook on microbial ecology. When it comes to microbe species, they argue, niche is much more important than names. In microbial systems, hundreds of species can co-exist and perform the same biochemical functions in one setting, and switch functions in a different setting, explain scientists.

04/16/2018 05:15 PM
Climate change mitigation project threatens local ecosystem resilience in Ethiopia
To increase forest cover in the Global South in order to mitigate climate change does not always have positive effects, as shown in a new study in southern Ethiopia. It can also threaten biodiversity and the survival of unique alpine plants.

04/16/2018 05:15 PM
Are the media all 'doom and gloom'? Not when it comes to coverage of our oceans
The news media are often accused by adopting a 'doom and gloom' tone, especially when it comes to coverage of the environment. However, a new study on how journalists report on the state of our oceans shows that view may be misguided.

04/16/2018 03:11 PM
Chemical sleuthing leads to detection of little-known flame retardant in the environment
Chemists have published research findings on their discovery of a new and relatively unknown flame retardant in the environment. Their study is the first to detect the potentially toxic chemical in North America.

04/16/2018 01:57 PM
Predicting which trees are at greatest risk of beetle invasion
This study shows that the composition of forests is more important than other factors when predicting where the destructive pest will strike next.

04/13/2018 08:52 PM
Evidence mounts for Alzheimer's, suicide risks among youth in polluted cities
Researchers have published a new study that reveals increased risks for Alzheimer's and suicide among children and young adults living in polluted megacities.

04/13/2018 06:36 PM
Nanoscale coating enables solar cells to absorb 20 percent more sunlight
Trapping light with an optical version of a whispering gallery, researchers have developed a nanoscale coating for solar cells that enables them to absorb about 20 percent more sunlight than uncoated devices.

04/13/2018 04:06 PM
Pulsed corona discharge removes pharmaceutical residues from wastewater
New research examines the removal of harmful organic substances, such as pharmaceutical residues, energy efficiently from wastewater using only electricity. According to practical tests, pulsed corona discharge (PCD) may significantly reduce the environmental burden of pharmaceutical residues.

04/13/2018 02:38 PM
Large wildfires bring increases in annual river flow
Large wildfires cause increases in stream flow that can last for years or even decades, according to a new analysis of 30 years of data from across the continental United States.

04/13/2018 02:35 PM
Brief exposure to tiny air pollution particles triggers childhood lung infections
Even the briefest increase in airborne fine particulate matter PM2.5, pollution-causing particles that are about 3 percent of the diameter of human hair, is associated with the development of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in young children, according to newly published research.

04/12/2018 08:45 PM
Algae-forestry, bioenergy mix could help make CO2 vanish from thin air
An unconventional mélange of algae, eucalyptus and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage appears to be a quirky ecological recipe. But, scientists have an idea that could use that recipe to help power and provide food protein to large regions of the world -- and simultaneously remove carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere.

04/12/2018 08:45 PM
Remnants of antibiotics persist in treated farm waste
Each year, farmers in the US purchase tens of millions of pounds of antibiotics approved for use in cows, pigs, fowl and other livestock. When the animals' manure is repurposed as fertilizer or bedding, traces of the medicines leach into the environment, raising concerns about how agriculture contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. New research holds troublesome insights with regard to the scope of this problem.

04/12/2018 07:10 PM
Mountain erosion may add CO2 to the atmosphere
Scientists have long known that steep mountain ranges can draw carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere -- as erosion exposes new rock, it also starts a chemical reaction between minerals on hill slopes and CO2 in the air, 'weathering' the rock and using CO2 to produce carbonate minerals like calcite.

04/12/2018 06:08 PM
Actual fossil fuel emissions checked with new technique
Researchers have measured CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use in California and compared them to reported emissions. This is the first time fossil fuel emissions have been independently checked for such a large area.

04/12/2018 06:08 PM
Faster, cheaper wastewater treatment through improved oxidation reactions
Researchers have discovered a method to dramatically improve the way pollutants are removed from wastewater using Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs).

04/12/2018 04:09 PM
Recycling experts hit milestone in quest for zero-waste phone
UBC researchers have perfected a process to efficiently separate fiberglass and resin -- two of the most commonly discarded parts of a cellphone -- bringing them closer to their goal of a zero-waste cellphone.

04/12/2018 03:29 PM
Nature-based solutions can prevent $50 billion in Gulf Coast flood damages
While coastal development and climate change are increasing the risk of flooding for communities along the US Gulf Coast, restoration of marshes and oyster reefs are among the most cost-effective solutions for reducing those risks, according to a new study.

04/12/2018 01:57 PM
New insight into how Giant's Causeway and Devils Postpile were formed
A new study by geoscientists has identified the temperature at which cooling magma cracks to form geometric columns such as those found at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland and Devils Postpile in the USA.

04/11/2018 10:41 PM
The changing chemistry of the Amazonian atmosphere
Researchers have been debating whether nitrogen oxides (NOx) can affect levels of OH radicals in a pristine atmosphere but quantifying that relationship has been difficult. Now, researchers have found that accompanying the increase of NOx concentration from urban pollution, daytime peak OH concentrations in the rainforest skyrocketed, increasing by at least 250 percent. These increased levels of OH concentrations in the Amazon atmosphere could lead to changes in atmospheric chemistry, cloud formation, and rainfall.

04/11/2018 09:13 PM
Swamp microbe has pollution-munching power
Sewage treatment may be an unglamorous job, but bacteria are happy to do it. Sewage plants rely on bacteria to remove environmental toxins from waste so that the processed water can be safely discharged into oceans and rivers. Now, a bacterium discovered in a New Jersey swamp may offer a more efficient method for treating toxins found in sewage, fertilizer runoff and other forms of water pollution.

04/11/2018 06:17 PM
Biologically inspired membrane purges coal-fired smoke of greenhouse gases
A series of nanoscopic membranes made of water saturated by an enzyme naturally developed over millions of years to clear CO2 empties coal smoke of the greenhouse gas more cheaply and efficiently than any known.

04/11/2018 06:16 PM
New driver of extinction: Adaptations for sexual selection
By analyzing thousands of fossilized ancient crustaceans, a team of scientists found that devoting a lot of energy to the competition for mates may compromise species' resilience to change and increase their risk of extinction.

04/11/2018 06:16 PM
Snowfall patterns may provide clues to Greenland Ice Sheet
A new study describes a unique method involving cloud characteristics for measuring snowfall that could help answer some big questions about the Greenland Ice Sheet.

04/11/2018 06:16 PM
Formation of supercontinents and strength of ocean tides
The cyclic strengthening and weakening of ocean tides over tens of millions of years is likely linked to another, longer cycle: the formation of Earth's supercontinents every 400 to 600 million years, according a new study.

04/11/2018 04:10 PM
Scientists use carbon nanotube technology to develop robust water desalination membranes
A research team has developed robust reverse osmosis membranes that can endure large-scale water desalination. To meet the demand of potable water at low cost, more robust membranes capable of withstanding harsh conditions, while remaining chemically stable to tolerate cleaning treatments, are necessary. The key lays in carbon nanotechnology. A multi-walled carbon nanotube-polyamide nanocomposite membrane creates a protective effect that stabilized the linked molecules of the polyamide against chlorine.

04/11/2018 04:10 PM
Biodiversity: 3 new rainbow chameleon species discovered
Madagascar is a chameleon paradise. A team of researchers has now discovered three new species, among them a beautifully colored rainbow chameleon. These species are all restricted to very small ranges, and are probably highly threatened.

04/11/2018 04:10 PM
North-exposed ice cliffs accelerate glacier melt
Researchers have confirmed the suspicion that north-facing ice cliffs on debris-covered glaciers in the Himalayas accelerate ice melt.

04/11/2018 04:10 PM
Extensive seagrass meadows discovered in Indian Ocean through satellite tracking of green turtles
Biologists have discovered for the first time extensive deep-water seagrass meadows in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean through satellite tracking the movement of green sea turtles.

04/11/2018 04:10 PM
Greener way of making plastics
A new catalyst allows for the conversion of the green house gas carbon dioxide to an industrial precursor for many plastics as an alternative to using petroleum raw materials.

04/11/2018 04:09 PM
100th meridian: East-west divide between moist and arid parts of U.S. may be shifting
Nearly a century and a half after explorer John Wesley Powell zeroed in on the 100th meridian west as the dividing line between the humid east and arid west of the United States, researchers say he was right -- but that climate change is now moving the line eastward, into the traditionally fertile Midwest. The effects on U.S. farming and other pursuits could be huge.

04/11/2018 02:04 PM
Wildfire smoke associated with more ER visits for heart, stroke ailments among seniors
Exposure to smoke from wildfires was associated with increased rates of emergency room visits for heart- and stroke-related illness, especially among adults age 65 and older.

04/11/2018 02:04 PM
Baby fish led astray by high CO2 in oceans
Baby fish will find it harder to reach secure shelters in future acidified oceans -- putting fish populations at risk, new research has concluded.

04/10/2018 06:28 PM
Center of world's marine biodiversity is in danger
Researchers have found that the world's center of biodiversity is under widespread threat of losing a key marine resource.

04/10/2018 06:28 PM
Melting of Arctic mountain glaciers unprecedented in the past 400 years
Glaciers in Alaska's Denali National Park are melting faster than at any time in the past four centuries because of rising summer temperatures, a new study finds.

04/10/2018 04:21 PM
Disparities in coastal stream restoration in central California
Stream restoration efforts along the coast of Central California are unevenly distributed, with activity more likely to occur in areas that are more highly populated and dominated by residents who are 'whiter, wealthier, and more educated,' according to a new analysis.

04/10/2018 03:35 PM
Robust and inexpensive catalysts for hydrogen production
Scientists were able to observe the smallest details of hydrogen production with the synthetic mineral pentlandite. This makes it possible to develop strategies for the design of robust and cost-effective catalysts for hydrogen production.

04/10/2018 03:09 PM
Cheaper, less toxic and recyclable light absorbers for hydrogen production
Achieving artificial photosynthesis in solution remains limited by the use of costly and toxic metal-based compounds to harvest light. Researchers now propose an efficient alternative using semiconductor nanocrystals (also called quantum dots) based on cheaper and less toxic elements, such as copper, indium and sulfur.