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 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.
04/18/2018 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 07:13 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 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 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 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.
04/13/2018 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.
04/12/2018 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.
04/11/2018 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 06:16 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
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
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.
04/10/2018 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.