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.
06/23/2017 08:55 PM
Genes, ozone, and autism
Exposure to ozone in the environment puts individuals with high levels of genetic variation at an even higher risk for developing autism than would be expected just by adding the two risk factors together, a new analysis shows. The study is the first to look at the combined effects of genome-wide genetic change and environmental risk factors for autism.
06/22/2017 07:29 PM
New efficient, low-temperature catalyst for hydrogen production
Scientists have developed a new low-temperature catalyst for producing high-purity hydrogen gas while simultaneously using up carbon monoxide (CO). The discovery could improve the performance of fuel cells that run on hydrogen fuel but can be poisoned by CO.
06/21/2017 07:51 PM
New research leverages big data to predict severe weather
Every year, severe weather endangers millions of people and causes billions of dollars in damage worldwide. But new research has found a way to better predict some of these threats by harnessing the power of big data.
06/21/2017 06:34 PM
Mystery of unexplained 'bright nights' solved
Dating back to the first century, scientists, philosophers and reporters have noted the occasional occurrence of 'bright nights,' when an unexplained glow in the night sky lets observers see distant mountains, read a newspaper or check their watch. A new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, uses satellite data to present a possible explanation for these puzzling historical phenomena.
06/21/2017 04:40 PM
Flooding risk: America's most vulnerable communities
Floods are the natural disaster that kill the most people. They are also the most common natural disaster. As the threat of flooding increases worldwide, a group of scientists have gathered valuable information on flood hazard, exposure and vulnerability in counties throughout the US.
06/21/2017 03:31 PM
Accelerating rate of temperature rise in the Pyrenees
The Iberian Peninsula is undergoing climate change, with temperatures on the rise, and mountain ranges are not exempt from this trend. A team of scientists has analyzed regional climate series from the Central Pyrenees for 1910 to 2013 (the most extensive climate records to date for the area), concluding that temperatures have risen at an increasing rate since 1970, particularly in spring and summer.
06/21/2017 03:31 PM
New catalyst paves way for carbon neutral fuel
Scientists have paved the way for carbon neutral fuel with the development of a new efficient catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air into synthetic natural gas in a 'clean' process using solar energy.
06/21/2017 03:04 PM
The rise of giant viruses
Giant viruses acquire genes piecemeal from others, researchers have found. The discovery has implications for bioenergy production and environmental cleanup.
06/20/2017 07:30 PM
How phytoplankton rule the oceans
Photosynthesis is a unique biological process that has permitted the colonization of land and sea by plants and phytoplankton respectively. While the mechanisms of photosynthesis in plants are well understood, scientists are only now beginning to elucidate how the process developed in phytoplankton.
06/20/2017 07:29 PM
Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds
Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.
06/20/2017 05:11 PM
Making waves with the hot electrons within Earth's radiation belts
An international team of scientists recently discovered the role that hot electrons may play in the waves and fluctuations detected by satellites. The results are based on data collected by the Van Allen Probes, twin robotic spacecraft launched by NASA in 2012 to help scientists better understand these belt regions.
06/20/2017 02:32 PM
Wet and stormy weather lashed California coast... 8,200 years ago
An analysis of stalagmite records from White Moon Cave in the Santa Cruz Mountains shows that 8200 years ago the California coast underwent 150 years of exceptionally wet and stormy weather. This is the first high resolution record of how the Holocene cold snap affected the California climate.
06/19/2017 09:54 PM
Freshwater from salt water using only solar energy
A federally funded research effort to revolutionize water treatment has yielded a direct solar desalination technology that uses energy from sunlight alone to heat salt water for membrane distillation. The technology could provide off-grid water treatment for some of the 1 billion people who lack access to clean water.
06/19/2017 09:54 PM
Sustainable ethanol from carbon dioxide? A possible path
A recent discovery could lead to a new, more sustainable way to make ethanol without corn or other crops. This promising technology has three basic components: water, carbon dioxide and electricity delivered through a copper catalyst.
06/19/2017 08:22 PM
Fighting global warming and climate change requires a broad energy portfolio
Can the continental United States make a rapid, reliable and low-cost transition to an energy system that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar and hydroelectric power? While there is growing excitement for this vision, a new study describes a more complicated reality. Researchers argue that achieving net-zero carbon emissions requires the incorporation of a much broader suite of energy sources and approaches.
06/19/2017 08:15 PM
Volcanic eruptions triggered dawn of the dinosaurs
Huge pulses of volcanic activity are likely to have played a key role in triggering the end Triassic mass extinction, which set the scene for the rise and age of the dinosaurs, new research has found.
06/19/2017 06:29 PM
Keeping California's natural gas system safe
The massive natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon shined a light on California’s aging natural gas infrastructure. And five years of extreme drought also exacted its toll on transmission pipelines. Now the researchers have been awarded millions by the California Energy Commission for two projects aimed at improving the safety and reliability of the state’s natural gas system.
06/19/2017 05:05 PM
Deadly heatwaves expected to continue to rise
Seventy-four percent of the world's population will be exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2100 if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, according to a new study. Even if emissions are aggressively reduced, the percent of the world's human population affected is expected to reach 48 percent.
06/19/2017 03:18 PM
Spineless creature studied in DC swamp
Its name is Stygobromus hayi, the Hay's Spring amphipod. It is spineless. It lacks vision. It is an opportunistic feeder, consuming whatever resources are available -- perhaps including the remains of its own kind. That is where its similarities to some of Washington, D.C.'s more notorious megafauna end. Researchers report on a way to survey it without threatening its existence, as other studies had done.
06/19/2017 02:21 PM
Biofuel for conventional diesel engines created
In accordance with an EU directive, conventional automotive diesel is supplemented with seven percent biodiesel. This proportion is set to rise to ten percent by 2020. However, this presents a significant technical challenge: biodiesel vaporises at higher temperatures, which can lead to problems with electronic fuel injection systems and particulate filters. Researchers have developed a method for producing a petroleum diesel-like fuel from conventional biodiesel at low temperatures.
06/16/2017 02:32 AM
Global diet and farming methods 'must change for environment's sake'
Reducing meat consumption and using more efficient farming methods globally are essential to stave off irreversible damage to the environmental, a new study says. The research also found that future increases in agricultural sustainability are likely to be driven by dietary shifts and increases in efficiency, rather than changes between food production systems.
06/15/2017 08:50 PM
Like a moth to a flame: The spread of the spruce budworm
In the last decade, 7 million hectares of boreal forest in Eastern Canada have been destroyed by the voracious insect known as the spruce budworm. And the outbreak is heading south again this spring. And the outbreak is heading south again this spring, leaving devastation and fires in its wake, warn researchers.
06/15/2017 07:27 PM
Japanese slow earthquakes could shed light on tsunami generation
Understanding slow-slip earthquakes in subduction zone areas may help researchers understand large earthquakes and the creation of tsunamis, according to researchers who used data from instruments placed on the seafloor and in boreholes east of the Japanese coast.
06/15/2017 05:06 PM
'Magic' alloy could spur next generation of solar cells
In what could be a major step forward for a new generation of solar cells called 'concentrator photovoltaics,' researchers have developed a new semiconductor alloy that can capture the near-infrared light located on the leading edge of the visible light spectrum.
06/15/2017 03:06 PM
Taking circular economy to the next level
While principles of a circular economy have been adopted by businesses, governments and NGOs, leading researchers say it's time to take the discussion and analysis to the next level.
06/15/2017 03:06 PM
New map highlights sinking Louisiana coast
A subsidence map of coastal Louisiana has now been created, putting the rate at which this region is sinking at just over one third of an inch per year.
06/14/2017 06:37 PM
Hydroelectric dams may jeopardize the Amazon's future
Hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon by trapping the flow of rich nutrients and modifying the climate from Central America to the Gulf of Mexico, experts report.
06/14/2017 04:28 PM
Wildfires pollute much more than previously thought
Wildfires are major polluters. Their plumes are three times as dense with aerosol-forming fine particles as previously believed. For the first time, researchers have flown an orchestra of modern instruments through brutishly turbulent wildfire plumes to measure their emissions in real time. They have also exposed other never before measured toxins.
06/14/2017 02:27 PM
Energy-efficient cleaning robot
State-of-the-art solar cells are efficient -- but are even more so when they are kept clean. A cleaning robot enables solar panels to deliver at full capacity.
06/14/2017 02:18 PM
Polar bears' declining mercury levels likely due to climate-related shifts
To understand how human activities are affecting the planet, scientists often study the health of animals in the wild. Now a new study finds that the levels of mercury in some polar bears are declining. But rather than heralding a drop in mercury in the environment, the decrease could indicate how climate change has led the animals to shift foraging habits, which has affected their diets and weight.
06/12/2017 10:09 PM
Winning climate strategy demands details
Examining the daily minutia of climate, not just temperature, but also sunshine, precipitation and soil moisture simultaneously all over a country gives a better understanding of how variable a land's climate can be. That information is crucial when countries are setting policies aimed at growing food, protecting water supplies and the environment and stemming disease outbreaks.
06/12/2017 08:36 PM
Peatlands, already dwindling, could face further losses
Tropical peatlands have been disappearing fast due to clear-cutting and drainage projects. Now, new research shows peatlands face another threat, as climate change alters rainfall patterns, potentially destroying much of what remains and turning these carbon sinks into net carbon sources.
06/12/2017 08:35 PM
Lab on a chip could monitor health, germs and pollutants
Imagine wearing a device that continuously analyzes your sweat or blood for different types of biomarkers, such as proteins that show you may have breast cancer or lung cancer. Engineers have invented biosensor technology -- known as a lab on a chip -- that could be used in hand-held or wearable devices to monitor your health and exposure to dangerous bacteria, viruses and pollutants.