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.

03/28/2017 07:53 PM
Tiny bacterium provides window into whole ecosystems
Research on Prochlorococcus, the most abundant life form in the oceans, shows the bacteria's metabolism evolved in a way that may have helped trigger the rise of other organisms, to form a more complex marine ecosystem with overall greater biomass.

03/28/2017 06:55 PM
Can intergenerational cooperation defeat climate change?
Older adults are powerful allies in addressing climate change, say researchers. Research shows that older adults are at risk for the effects of extreme weather events and climate change; but they are also a potential resource for climate action.

03/28/2017 05:02 PM
Forests fight global warming in ways more important than previously understood
Trees impact climate by regulating the exchange of water and energy between Earth's surface and the atmosphere, an important influence that should be considered as policymakers contemplate efforts to conserve forested land, said the authors of an international study.

03/28/2017 04:40 PM
EPA's controlled human exposure studies of air pollution are warranted
A new report finds these studies are warranted and recommends that they continue under two conditions: when they provide additional knowledge that informs policy decisions and regulation of pollutants that cannot be obtained by other means, and when it is reasonably predictable that the risks for study participants will not exceed biomarker or physiologic responses that are of short duration and reversible.

03/28/2017 02:24 PM
Secret of nanomaterial that makes harvesting sunlight easier
Using sunlight to drive chemical reactions, such as artificial photosynthesis, could soon become much more efficient thanks to nanomaterials.

03/28/2017 01:31 PM
Air could be the world's next battery
Wind and sun, two unpredictable resources, are becoming ever more important as sources of energy in Europe. This means that we face a growing need for energy storage facilities, because if energy cannot be used immediately when it is generated, it needs to be stored until it is needed.

03/28/2017 01:29 PM
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
Dust from as far away as the Gobi Desert in Asia is providing more nutrients than previously thought for plants, including giant sequoias, in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, a team of scientists have found.

03/28/2017 01:29 PM
Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth's crust
An indicator for stock prices can be used with GPS data to automatically detect slow-slip earthquakes from a single station's observations, offering a new way to monitor seismic activity.

03/27/2017 10:28 PM
The economic case for wind, solar energy in Africa
To meet skyrocketing demand for electricity, African countries may have to triple their energy output by 2030. While hydropower and fossil fuel power plants are favored approaches in some quarters, a new assessment has found that wind and solar can be economically and environmentally competitive options and can contribute significantly to the rising demand.

03/27/2017 04:46 PM
Local cooling value of forests affirms need for greater forest conservation, protection
Forests take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. At the same time, forests promote the turbulent mixing of air near the surface and transpire large amounts of moisture to the atmosphere. A new study exposes the importance of these processes in keeping much of the planet’s surface cool.

03/27/2017 04:42 PM
Rocks that tell our industrial history
Researchers have published a study in which they analyze beachrocks, cemented sand formations that have industrial waste, produced as a result of metallurgical activities, trapped inside them. These strange rocks bear witness to the impact of industrial development and its influence on the coastal environment.

03/27/2017 03:06 PM
Scientists overcome inaccessibility of caves through molecular genetic approach
An international group of scientists has used a novel highly sensitive method for detection of environmental DNA in groundwater to extend the poorly known range of the rare subterranean amphibian from the Dinaric Karst. With this highly sensitive non-invasive method they discovered 12 new localities of the olm (Proteus anguinus).

03/27/2017 01:32 PM
Northern oceans used to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
Norwegian Sea acted as carbon dioxide source in the past. It pumped the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere instead of absorbing it, as it does today, report scientists.

03/27/2017 01:31 PM
Extreme weather events linked to climate change impact on the jet stream
Unprecedented summer warmth and flooding, forest fires, drought and torrential rain -- extreme weather events are occurring more and more often, but now an international team of climate scientists has found a connection between many extreme weather events and the impact climate change is having on the jet stream.

03/24/2017 02:54 PM
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
The striking North Face of the Bernese Alps is the result of a steep rise of rocks from the depths following a collision of two tectonic plates. This steep rise gives new insight into the final stage of mountain building and provides important knowledge with regard to active natural hazards and geothermal energy.

03/24/2017 02:49 PM
Experts successfully test a novel oil spill cleanup technology
Tests of a novel technology that can accelerate the combustion of crude oil floating on water demonstrated its potential to become an effective tool for minimizing the environmental impact of oil spills. The Flame Refluxer, developed by fire protection engineering researchers, could make it possible to burn off spilled oil quickly while producing relatively low levels of air pollutants.

03/24/2017 02:49 PM
Chance find has big implications for water treatment's costs and carbon footprint
A type of bacteria accidentally discovered during research could fundamentally reshape efforts to cut the huge amount of electricity consumed during wastewater clean-up. The discovery has upended a century of conventional thinking. The microorganisms -- 'comammox' (complete ammonia oxidizing) bacteria -- can completely turn ammonia into nitrates.

03/24/2017 12:30 PM
Building a market for renewable thermal technologies
Renewable thermal technologies have significant market potential in the state if supported by appropriate public policy and financing tools, a new analysis concludes.

03/24/2017 12:30 PM
Artificial photosynthesis steps into the light
A new project aims to create an efficient, simple-to-manufacture oxygen-evolution catalyst that pairs well with semiconductors for advanced solar cells. The technique could lead to unique catalysts for other applications.

03/23/2017 07:02 PM
New study calls for US solar policy reform
Researchers suggest reforming US solar policies and encourage closer collaboration between the United States and China on solar energy in a new report.

03/23/2017 06:13 PM
A 'carbon law' offers pathway to halve emissions every decade
On the eve of this year's Earth hour (March 25), researchers propose a solution in the journal Science for the global economy to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. The authors argue a carbon roadmap, driven by a simple rule of thumb or 'carbon law' of halving emissions every decade, could catalyze disruptive innovation.

03/23/2017 04:55 PM
Climate change and an 'overlooked' nutrient: Silica
Sugar maples may have far greater silica pumping power than expected, and also may be more profoundly affected by climate change as warmer winters damage their vulnerable roots.

03/23/2017 02:58 PM
Corals die as global warming collides with local weather in the South China Sea
In the South China Sea, a 2°C rise in the sea surface temperature in June 2015 was amplified to produce a 6°C rise on Dongsha Atoll, a shallow coral reef ecosystem, killing approximately 40 percent of the resident coral community within weeks, according to a study.

03/23/2017 02:57 PM
Strong interaction between herbivores and plants
Important findings have been revealed on the interaction between nutrient availability and the diversity of consumer species in freshwater environments. A better understanding of this interaction will contribute to developing possibilities to maintain biodiversity in all kinds of ecosystems.

03/23/2017 12:41 PM
When air pollution is bad, know how to protect yourself
There are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our families from air pollution, which has well-documented negative consequences for childhood asthma, birth outcomes, pregnancy risks, cardiovascular health, and other diseases.

03/22/2017 07:27 PM
Tracing aromatic molecules in the early Universe
A molecule found in car engine exhaust fumes that is thought to have contributed to the origin of life on Earth has made astronomers heavily underestimate the amount of stars that were forming in the early Universe, a study has found. That molecule is called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. On Earth it is also found in coal and tar. In space, it is a component of dust.

03/22/2017 06:32 PM
Study of non-rainfall water in Namib Desert reveals unexpected origins
In a study conducted in one of the world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts, scientists explore the origins of water other than rainfall and are identifying multiple origins. The study is the first to report that the ocean is not the sole source of life-sustaining fog and dew for numerous plants and animals living in the Namib Desert.

03/22/2017 04:26 PM
Making 'mulch' ado of ant hills
Ants are hardworking and beneficial insects, research reveals. In the activities of their daily lives, ants help increase air, water flow, and organic matter in soil. The work done by ants even forms a type of mulch that helps hold water in the soil.

03/22/2017 03:09 PM
'Super sponge' promises effective toxic clean-up of lakes and more
Mercury is very toxic and can cause long-term health damage, but removing it from water is challenging. To address this growing problem scientists have created a sponge that can absorb mercury from a polluted water source within seconds.

03/22/2017 02:37 PM
The Cerberus Groundsnake is a Critically Endangered new species from Ecuador
The snake fauna of Central and South America seems largely under-researched, since as many as thirty-three species of a single genus have been discovered in the last ten years only. Recently, a team of scientists have studied the hereditary molecular differences in this genus and described three new colubrid species. Among the new reptiles, there is a species which is to be known under the common name Cerberus Groundsnake.

03/22/2017 01:45 PM
Salmon with side effects: Aquacultures are polluting Chile's rivers with a cocktail of dissolved organic substances
Tasty, versatile, and rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids: salmon is one of the most popular edible fish of all. Shops sell fish caught in the wild, but their main produce is salmon from breeding farms which can pollute rivers, lakes and oceans. Just how big is the problem? Scientists are working to answer this question by examining the dissolved organic compounds which enter Chile’s rivers from salmon farms. They warn that these substances are placing huge strain on ecosystems and are changing entire biological communities.

03/22/2017 01:23 PM
Visualizing nuclear radiation
Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan. The creation of total radioactivity maps is essential for thorough cleanup, but the most common methods do not 'see' enough ground-level radiation.

03/22/2017 01:21 PM
Google Street View cars are eyes on the ground for urban methane leaks
A set of Google Street View mapping cars, specially equipped with cutting-edge methane analyzers, are allowing researchers to 'see' invisible methane leaks from natural gas lines beneath our streets. The technical and computational challenges of measuring methane, and the complex methodologies used to collect, analyze and publicize the data, are detailed in a new article.

03/21/2017 04:40 PM
Revealing the microscopic mechanisms in perovskite solar cells
In just a few years, researchers have achieved remarkable power conversion efficiency with materials with perovskite crystal structure, comparable with the best photovoltaic materials available. Now, researchers have revealed the physics for how an important component of a perovskite solar cell works -- a finding that could lead to improved solar cells or even newer and better materials.

03/21/2017 04:39 PM
Cuantec: New force in the fight against food waste
CuanTec is a start-up company with a positive and practical solution to the disposal of seafood waste, which exacts a heavy cost, both financially and environmentally.

03/21/2017 04:38 PM
New species discovered: Protist parasites contribute to the stability of rainforest ecosystems
Tropical rainforests are one of the most species-rich areas on earth. Thousands of animal and plant species live there. The smaller microbial protists, which are not visible to the naked eye, are also native to these forests, where they live in the soils and elsewhere. A team of researchers has examined them more closely by analyzing their DNA. They discovered many unknown species, including many parasites, which may contribute to the stability of rainforest ecosystems.

03/21/2017 04:38 PM
World's most efficient, environment-friendly solar cells
In the future, solar cells can become twice as efficient by employing a few smart little nano-tricks, suggest investigators in a new report.

03/21/2017 04:24 PM
Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold
Milling electronic waste into nanoscale particles allows polymers, oxides and metals to be separated for recycling into new products. The process takes advantage of changes to the materials' properties in very cold conditions.

03/21/2017 03:03 PM
Foundation of aquatic life can rapidly adapt to global warming
Important microscopic creatures which produce half of the oxygen in the atmosphere can rapidly adapt to global warming, new research suggests.

03/20/2017 03:00 PM
Warning of shortage of essential minerals for laptops, cell phones, wiring
Researchers say global resource governance and sharing of geoscience data is needed to address challenges facing future mineral supply. Specifically of concern are a range of technology minerals, which are an essential ingredient in everything from laptops and cell phones to hybrid or electric cars to solar panels and copper wiring for homes.

03/20/2017 02:40 PM
Gardening worms, climate change undermine natural coastal protection
Dikes could be lower if they are protected against the waves by grassy marshes. But the protective salt marsh grass is struggling, not only due to increasingly stronger waves, but also to the superfood diet of ragworms. These sophisticated gardeners turn inedible, tough grass seeds into succulent, nutritious sprouts in their burrows. These cultivation techniques prevent many seeds from growing into salt marsh vegetation, thus undermining the use of salt marshes for 'natural' coastal protection.

03/20/2017 12:55 PM
Engineering team develops novel nanofibre solution for clean, fresh air
A research team has successfully concocted a novel nanofiber solution that creates thin, see-through air filters that can remove up to 90 per cent of PM2.5 particles and achieve high air flow of 2.5 times better than conventional air filters. As an added bonus, this eco-friendly air filter improves natural lighting and visibility while blocking harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

03/20/2017 12:54 PM
Liquid storage of solar energy: More effective than ever before
Researchers have demonstrated efficient solar energy storage in a chemical liquid. The stored energy can be transported and then released as heat whenever needed, they say.

03/20/2017 12:54 PM
Transport systems face disruption by extreme weather
Extreme weather conditions due to climate change pose a new threat to aging infrastructure, and authors of a new report, we need to be better prepared.

03/17/2017 02:24 PM
Children who play outside more likely to protect nature as adults
Protecting the environment can be as easy as telling your kids to go outdoors and play, according to a new study.

03/17/2017 02:23 PM
Nanotube film may resolve longevity problem of challenger solar cells
Researchers have lengthened the lifetime of perovskite solar cells by using nanotube film to replace the gold used as the back contact and the organic material in the hole conductor.

03/17/2017 12:26 PM
From entanglement to invasions of alien species: the harm caused by marine litter
Marine litter is a threat to the marine ecosystem, human health and economic activities. A new report sheds light on the many effects of litter in our oceans, and highlights the severity and scale of the issue. The report confirms that plastic items have the highest direct and indirect damaging impact.

03/16/2017 06:11 PM
The carbon dioxide loop
Marine biologists quantify the carbon consumption of bacterioplankton to better understand the ocean carbon cycle.

03/16/2017 04:56 PM
Is spring getting longer? Lengthening 'vernal window'
When spring arrives, temperatures begin to rise, ice is melts, and the world around us starts to blossom. Scientists sometimes refer to this transition from winter to the growing season as the 'vernal window,' and a new study shows this window may be opening earlier and possibly for longer.

03/16/2017 04:56 PM
Preventing lead spread
While lead pipes were banned decades ago, they still supply millions of American households with water each day. A team of engineers has developed a new way to track where dangerous lead particles might be transported in the drinking water supply during a common abatement procedure.

03/16/2017 03:21 PM
From space to the streets: New battery model also makes electric cars more reliable
Nano satellites weighing just a few kilograms orbit the Earth. Pivotal point of these miniature computers are their solar-powered batteries. Computer scientists have now developed a procedure that allows for better planning of solar battery operations.

03/16/2017 03:21 PM
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
Fertilizers, animal waste, changes to atmospheric chemistry and warming soils are all tied to increased ammonia over US, Europe, China and India, say researchers as they reveal the first global, long-term satellite study of airborne ammonia.

03/16/2017 02:00 PM
Protecting ice memory
Collecting ice cores from high-mountain glaciers most at risk from climate change and storing them in Antarctica for future generations of scientists: that is the goal of ICE MEMORY, an international program aimed at preserving the memory of high-mountain glaciers.

03/16/2017 01:29 PM
Only the tip of the iceberg: Monitoring programs underestimate human impact on biodiversity
Whether orchids or mammals, insects or slugs and snails: nowadays there are a large number of animals and plants under observation. Unfortunately, the collection of this data began only very recently. The fact that the human impact on biodiversity is likely to be greatly underestimated is the warning sent out by an international research team.

03/15/2017 10:26 PM
Pattern of mammal dwarfing during global warming
More than 50 million years ago, when the Earth experienced a series of extreme global warming events, early mammals responded by shrinking in size. While this mammalian dwarfism has previously been linked to the largest of these events, new research has found that this evolutionary process can happen in smaller, so-called hyperthermals, indicating an important pattern that could help shape an understanding of underlying effects of current human-caused climate change.

03/15/2017 06:38 PM
Scientists mobilize as bleaching resumes on Great Barrier Reef
Coral researchers are remobilizing to conduct aerial and underwater surveys along the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere in Australia as coral bleaching reappears for the second year in a row. The decision coincides with the release today of a study in the journal Nature warning the Reef's resilience is rapidly waning.

03/15/2017 06:06 PM
China's severe winter haze tied to effects of global climate change
China's severe winter air pollution problems may be worsened by changes in atmospheric circulation prompted by Arctic sea ice loss and increased Eurasian snowfall -- both caused by global climate change.

03/15/2017 04:56 PM
With climate change, shrubs and trees expand northwards in the Subarctic
Shrubs expand in the tundra in northern Scandinavia. And it is known that fixation of nitrogen from the air is in the tundra to a high degree performed by cyanobacteria associated with mosses. Also enhanced nitrogen fixation stimulates plant growth. New research shows that as taller shrubs expand into the tundra, nutrients in their leaf litter will either promote or reduce the nitrogen fixation, depending upon which shrub species that will dominate.

03/15/2017 04:55 PM
Changing temperatures, precipitation may affect living skin of drylands
Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight, according to a new study.

03/15/2017 04:55 PM
Optical fingerprint can reveal pollutants in the air
More efficient sensors are needed to be able to detect environmental pollution. Researchers have proposed a new, sophisticated method of detecting molecules with sensors based on ultra-thin nanomaterials. The novel method could improve environmental sensing in the future, say investigators.