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.
02/22/2017 06:15 PM
From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the planets in our solar system behave in their orbits around the sun. The finding is important because it provides the first hard proof for what scientists call the ''chaotic solar system.'
02/22/2017 06:15 PM
'Quartz' crystals at Earth's core power its magnetic field
Scientists at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology report in Nature (Fen. 22, 2017) unexpected discoveries about the Earth's core. The findings include insights into the source of energy driving the Earth's magnetic field, factors governing the cooling of the core and its chemical composition, and conditions that existed during the formation of the Earth.
02/22/2017 06:14 PM
Scientists discover how essential methane catalyst is made
New ways to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into methane gas for energy use are a step closer after scientists discovered how bacteria make a component that facilitates the process. Recycling CO2 into energy has immense potential for making these emissions useful rather than a major factor in global warming. However, because the bacteria that can convert CO2 into methane, methanogens, are notoriously difficult to grow, their use in gas production remains limited.
02/22/2017 03:52 PM
Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate, misleading
'Food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population.' This truism has been repeated so often in recent years that it has become widely accepted among academics, policymakers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the future of agriculture. New research suggests that production likely will need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand.
02/22/2017 03:25 AM
Forests worldwide threatened by drought
Forests around the world are at risk of death due to widespread drought, researchers have found. An analysis suggests that forests are at risk globally from the increased frequency and severity of droughts.
02/21/2017 04:07 PM
Anyone can be backyard scientist, mole study shows
Scientific findings are awaiting discovery in your backyard. The requirement? A keen sense of observation and patience. A researcher recently completed a study on moles' behavior that proves the concept. His laboratory? A molehill-dotted city lawn in downtown Chico, California.
02/21/2017 03:10 PM
Fifth of world's food lost to over-eating and waste, study finds
Almost 20 per cent of the food made available to consumers is lost through over-eating or waste, a study suggests. The world population consumes around 10 per cent more food than it needs, while almost nine per cent is thrown away or left to spoil, researchers say.
02/21/2017 02:56 PM
The secret of scientists who impact policy
Researchers analyzed 15 policy decisions worldwide, with outcomes ranging from new coastal preservation laws to improved species protections, to produce the first quantitative analysis of how environmental knowledge impacts the attitudes and decisions of conservation policymakers.
02/21/2017 12:06 AM
Selenium deficiency promoted by climate change
As a result of climate change, concentrations of the trace element selenium in soils are likely to decrease. Because the selenium content of crops may also be reduced, the risk of selenium deficiency could be increased in many regions of the world. This was shown by a recent study which used data-mining to model the global distribution of selenium.
02/20/2017 01:51 PM
Fluorescence method detects mercury contamination in fish
Researchers have developed a fluorescent polymer that lights up in contact with mercury that may be present in fish. High levels of the metal were detected in samples of swordfish and tuna. According to the conclusions of another study, mercury exposure is linked to reduced fetal and placental growth in pregnant women.
02/19/2017 09:51 PM
Tool for a cleaner Long Island Sound
Ecologists have pinpointed sources of nitrogen pollution along Long Island Sound, and shows municipalities what they might do to alleviate it.
02/17/2017 09:09 PM
Using historical herbarium specimens to track heavy metal pollution in the eastern United States
Plant specimens stored in herbaria are being used to explore important ecological questions. Researchers have now shown the effectiveness of herbarium specimens of herbaceous plants to track changes in heavy metal concentrations over time. The study compares concentrations of copper, lead, and zinc in specimens collected around Providence, RI, from 1846 to 1916, and compares these levels to plants collected from the same areas in 2015.
02/17/2017 09:09 PM
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations. A recent study presents extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that fully incorporates the feedbacks between Earth systems and human systems.
02/17/2017 03:01 PM
Avalanches: A force more deadly than polar bears
You might think that polar bears — and the potential for attack — are the biggest danger the Norwegian arctic island archipelago of Svalbard. But avalanches kill far more people on Svalbard than polar bears ever have. Researchers are working on ways to improve avalanche prediction and protection in the Arctic.
02/16/2017 07:39 PM
Underwater seagrass beds dial back polluted seawater
Seagrass meadows -- bountiful underwater gardens that nestle close to shore and are the most common coastal ecosystem on Earth -- can reduce bacterial exposure for corals, other sea creatures and humans, according to new research.
02/16/2017 07:28 PM
Printable solar cells just got a little closer
A new innovation could make printing solar cells as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper. Researchers have cleared a critical manufacturing hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices called perovskite solar cells. This alternative solar technology could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.
02/16/2017 06:03 PM
Snow science supporting our nation's water supply
Researchers have completed the first flights of a NASA-led field campaign that is targeting one of the biggest gaps in scientists' understanding of Earth's water resources: snow.
02/16/2017 04:00 PM
Biodiversity can promote ecosystem efficiency
Humans influence evolution. In the case of whitefish in Swiss lakes, one consequence of this is replacement of a diversity of specialized species by fewer generalists. A recent analysis now suggests that communities of diverse specialists utilize trophic resources more efficiently.
02/16/2017 03:59 PM
Outdoor air pollution tied to millions of preterm births
Outdoor air pollution has been linked to 2.7 million preterm births per year, a major study has concluded. When a baby is born preterm (at less than 37 weeks of gestation), there is an increased risk of death or long-term physical and neurological disabilities.
02/15/2017 07:59 PM
Laissez-faire is not good enough for reforestation
If degraded and logged areas of tropical forests are left to nature, the populations of certain endangered tree species are not able to recover. This applies in particular to trees with large fruit where the seeds are distributed by birds, as scientists have shown in a rainforest in India.
02/15/2017 06:15 PM
Global ocean de-oxygenation quantified
The ongoing global change causes rising ocean temperatures and changes the ocean circulation. Therefore less oxygen is dissolved in surface waters and less oxygen is transported into the deep sea. This reduction of oceanic oxygen supply has major consequences for the organisms in the ocean. Scientists have now published the most comprehensive analysis on oxygen loss in the world's oceans and their cause so far.
02/15/2017 05:10 PM
New pathway for Greenland meltwater to reach ocean
Cracks in the Greenland Ice Sheet let one of its aquifers drain to the ocean, new NASA research finds. The aquifers, discovered only recently, are unusual in that they trap large amounts of liquid water within the ice sheet. Until now, scientists did not know what happened to the water stored away in this reservoir -- the discovery will help fine tune computer models of Greenland's contribution to sea level rise.
02/15/2017 02:28 PM
Extreme waves caught with higher-resolution modeling
A new study shows that high-resolution models captured hurricanes and big waves that low-resolution ones missed. Better extreme wave forecasts are important for coastal cities, the military, the shipping industry, and surfers.
02/14/2017 09:28 PM
Long-term eelgrass loss due to joint effects of shade, heat
A new study links a long-term decline in Chesapeake Bay's eelgrass beds to both deteriorating water quality and rising summertime temperatures. It also shows that loss of the habitat and other benefits that eelgrass provides comes at a staggering ecological and economic cost.
02/14/2017 06:05 PM
Beach bashing: Last year's El Niño resulted in unprecedented erosion of Pacific coastline
Last winter's El Niño might have felt weak to residents of Southern California, but it was in fact one of the most powerful climate events of the past 145 years. If such severe El Niño events become more common in the future as some studies suggest they might, the California coast -- home to more than 25 million people -- may become increasingly vulnerable to coastal hazards. And that's independent of projected sea level rise.
02/13/2017 08:12 PM
Desert songbirds may face expanding threat of lethal dehydration
A new study of songbird dehydration and survival risk during heat waves in the desert Southwest suggests that some birds are at risk of lethal dehydration and mass die-offs when water is scarce, and the risk is expected to increase as climate change advances. Using physiological data, hourly temperature maps and modeling, researchers investigated how rates of evaporative water loss varied in five bird species with varied body mass.
02/13/2017 06:14 PM
Marine bacteria produce an environmentally important molecule with links to climate
Scientists have discovered that tiny marine bacteria can synthesize one of Earth's most abundant sulfur molecules, which affects atmospheric chemistry and potentially climate. This molecule, dimethylsulfoniopropionate is an important nutrient for marine microorganisms and is the major precursor for the climate-cooling gas, dimethyl sulfide.
02/13/2017 06:14 PM
Impact of climate change on mammals and birds 'greatly underestimated'
Large numbers of threatened species have already been impacted by climate change, new research concludes. Alarmingly, this team of international researchers found evidence of observed responses to recent climate changes in almost 700 birds and mammal species.
02/13/2017 06:13 PM
Are drones disturbing marine mammals?
Marine researchers have made sure that their research drones aren't disturbing their research subjects, shows a new report. And they're hoping that others will follow their example to help protect wildlife in the future.
02/13/2017 06:11 PM
How garbage patches form in world's oceans
A new study on how ocean currents transport floating marine debris is helping to explain how garbage patches form in the world's oceans. Researchers developed a mathematical model that simulates the motion of small spherical objects floating at the ocean surface.