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.

02/23/2017 05:43 PM
Air pollution may have masked mid-20th Century sea ice loss
Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century.

02/23/2017 04:47 PM
Last year's El Niño waves battered California shore to unprecedented degree
Last winter's El Niño may have felt weak to residents of Southern California, but it was one of the most powerful weather events of the last 145 years, scientists say.

02/23/2017 02:24 PM
Warming temperatures could trigger starvation, extinctions in deep oceans
Researchers from 20 of the world's leading oceanographic research centers today warned that the world's largest habitat -- the deep ocean floor -- may face starvation and sweeping ecological change by the year 2100.

02/23/2017 02:24 PM
Study targets warm water rings that fuel hurricane intensification in the Caribbean Sea
A new study deployed 55 aircraft ocean instruments from the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration's WP-3D aircraft. The purpose of the scientific mission was to measure ocean temperature, salinity, and currents to understand the structure of these warm-water eddies.

02/23/2017 02:53 AM
Low snowpacks of 2014, 2015 may become increasingly common with warmer conditions
Oregon experienced very low snowpack levels in 2014 and historically low snowpack levels in 2015. Now a new study suggests that these occurrences may not be anomalous in the future and could become much more common if average temperatures warm just two degrees (Celsius).

02/22/2017 08:27 PM
Hot spots of marine biodiversity most severely impacted by global warming
A new study aimed at identifying areas of highest conservation priority in the world's oceans found six 'hot spots of marine biodiversity' that are severely impacted by climate change and fishing pressures.

02/22/2017 06:20 PM
Study to focus on pollution potential of oil and gas wastewater spread on roadways
Understanding the environmental impact of using oil and gas wastewater as a road treatment may lead to safer water resources and stricter government regulations, according to researchers.

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 04:38 PM
Insight into a physical phenomenon that leads to earthquakes
Researchers provide insight into a phenomenon called ageing that leads to more powerful earthquakes.

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 01:26 PM
Reduction of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions: Promotion or steering?
Policy interventions to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions have a variety of effects on the economy and on households. A study has provided the first detailed impact assessment of the efficiency and social balance of the energy policy measures “steering” and “promotion.”

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 08:07 PM
Over time, nuisance flooding can cost more than extreme, infrequent events
Global climate change is being felt in many coastal communities of the United States, not always in the form of big weather disasters but as a steady drip, drip, drip of nuisance flooding. These smaller events can actually be more expensive overall, researchers report.

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 12:25 AM
Dream of energy-collecting windows is one step closer to reality
Researchers are bringing the dream of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy one step closer to reality thanks to high tech silicon nanoparticles.

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.

02/20/2017 01:42 PM
Unsung hero of science: Assessment
Assessment adds enormous value to the scientific landscape, creating foundations for government and society.

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 09:24 PM
There and back again: Catalyst mediates energy-efficient proton transport for reversibility
A complex with a proton pathway and stabilized by outer coordination sphere interactions is reversible for hydrogen production/oxidation at room temperature and pressure, researchers have found.

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.

02/17/2017 02:59 PM
Quest for climate-friendly refrigerants finds complicated choices
Researchers have just completed a multiyear study to identify the 'best' candidates for future use as air conditioning refrigerants that will have the lowest impact on the climate.

02/17/2017 06:24 AM
Roads are driving rapid evolutionary change in our environment
Roads are causing rapid evolutionary change in wild populations of plants and animals according to a new paper. The study looks at the evolutionary changes that are being caused by the way roads slice and dice our planet.

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 06:04 PM
Four-stroke engine cycle produces hydrogen from methane, captures carbon dioxide
When is an internal combustion engine not an internal combustion engine? When it's been transformed into a modular reforming reactor that could make hydrogen available to power fuel cells wherever there's a natural gas supply available.

02/16/2017 06:03 PM
'Resurrecting' tiny lake-dwelling animals to study evolutionary responses to pollution
A biologist combined the techniques of 'resurrection ecology' with the study of dated lake sediments to examine evolutionary responses to heavy-metal contamination over the past 75 years.

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 05:05 PM
Scientists find evidence of Alaskan ecosystem health in Harlequin ducks
Harlequin Ducks in coastal areas of Alaska’s Kodiak and Unalaska islands are exposed to environmental sources of mercury and that mercury concentrations in their blood are associated with their local food source, mainly blue mussels, research shows.

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.

02/16/2017 03:56 PM
Fish affected by Deepwater Horizon spill give clues to air pollution heart disease
A study into the effects on fish of a 2010 oil disaster could shed new light on how air pollution affects humans' hearts, report scientists.

02/15/2017 07:59 PM
Study associates proximity to oil and gas development and childhood leukemia
Young Coloradans diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia are more likely to live in areas of high-density oil and gas development compared to young Coloradans diagnosed with other types of cancer, according to researchers.

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
How an Ice Age paradox could inform sea level rise predictions
New research findings explain an Ice Age paradox and add to the mounting evidence that climate change could bring higher seas than most models predict.

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 03:14 PM
'The blob' of abnormal conditions boosted Western US ozone levels
Ozone levels in June 2015 were significantly higher than normal over a large swath of the Western US. Analysis ties this air quality pattern to the abnormal conditions in the northeast Pacific Ocean, nicknamed 'the blob.'

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.

02/15/2017 01:44 PM
Electronic sensor system to prevent mining explosions
A wireless network of sensors aimed at preventing explosions in mines is an innovation of worldwide significance that is being developed by a Norwegian-African cooperative project.

02/15/2017 01:41 PM
Canadian glaciers now major contributor to sea level change, study shows
Ice loss from Canada's Arctic glaciers has transformed them into a major contributor to sea level change, new research has found. From 2005 to 2015, surface melt off ice caps and glaciers of the Queen Elizabeth Islands grew by an astonishing 900 percent.

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.

02/14/2017 02:40 PM
Reactive lignin for reducing the environmental impacts of wood products
Technology known as "CatLignin" has been created to produce reactive lignin from pulp industry side streams to be used as a replacement for toxic phenol compounds in wood adhesives that are widely used in wood products and furniture.

02/14/2017 02:27 PM
New metalloid oxide reducing bacteria found in Manitoba's Nopiming gold mine tailings
Researchers have identified new toxic metalloid-reducing bacteria in highly polluted abandoned gold mine tailings in Manitoba's Nopiming Provincial Park. Uncovering new bacteria with high resistance to toxic waste in Canada's extreme environments has potential to contribute to future bioremediation technologies.

02/13/2017 08:26 PM
Sunlight or bacteria? Scientists investigate what breaks down permafrost carbon
Researchers found sunlight converted little if any permafrost thawed carbon to carbon dioxide, whereas microbes were shown to rapidly convert permafrost carbon to carbon dioxide.

02/13/2017 08:12 PM
Using high-resolution satellites to measure African farm yields
By using high-res images taken by the latest generation of compact satellites, scientists have developed a new capability for estimating crop yields from space.

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 06:15 PM
Banned chemicals from the '70s found in the deepest reaches of the ocean
Crustaceans from the deepest ocean trenches found to contain ten times the level of industrial pollution than the average earthworm, scientists have shown.

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.

02/13/2017 05:58 PM
How untreated water is making our kids sick: Researcher explores possible climate change link
A researcher has drawn a link between the impact of climate change and untreated drinking water on the rate of gastrointestinal illness in children.