news 2012



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Physics - Environment - 29.03.2012
Checking CryoSat reveals rising Antarctic blue ice
Checking CryoSat reveals rising Antarctic blue ice
Checking CryoSat reveals rising Antarctic blue ice Field measurements in the spectacular blue ice region of Antarctica not only provide confidence in the accuracy of ESA's CryoSat mission, but have also shown that this part of the ice sheet has increased in height. Making sure that CryoSat is delivering accurate data to work out precisely how the thickness of Earth's ice is changing is a continuing effort, and one that takes teams of scientists to some of the harshest environments on the planet.

Environment - Physics - 27.03.2012
Signs of thawing permafrost revealed from space
Signs of thawing permafrost revealed from space Satellite are seeing changes in land surfaces in high detail at northern latitudes, indicating thawing permafrost. This releases greenhouse gases into parts of the Arctic, exacerbating the effects of climate change. Permafrost is ground that remains at or below 0°C for at least two consecutive years and usually appears in areas at high latitudes such as Alaska, Siberia and Northern Scandinavia, or at high altitudes like the Andes, Himalayas and the Alps.

Physics - Environment - 26.03.2012
A new dimension for solar energy
Innovative 3-D designs from an MIT team can more than double the solar power generated from a given area. Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost. But very little attention has been paid to the best ways of arranging those cells, which are typically placed flat on a rooftop or other surface, or sometimes attached to motorized structures that keep the cells pointed toward the sun as it crosses the sky.

Environment - 26.03.2012
10,000 simulations show warming of 1.4-3ºC by 2050
10,000 simulations show warming of 1.4-3ºC by 2050
A project running almost 10,000 climate simulations on volunteers' home computers has found that a global warming of 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 is 'equally plausible' as a rise of 1.4 degrees. The study, the first to run so many simulations using a complex atmosphere-ocean climate model, addresses some of the uncertainties that previous forecasts, using simpler models or only a few dozen simulations, may have over-looked.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 22.03.2012
Plants may absorb more carbon dioxide than previously thought
By Simon Levey Thursday 22 March 2012 The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to absorb carbon dioxide emissions from human activity may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change , which looks at how plants react to environmental change. The authors say these results improve our ability to look into the planet's future and predict the magnitude of climate change before it happens.

Health - Environment - 22.03.2012
Cage or free range? Don't put too much stress on housing system
Cage or free range? Don’t put too much stress on housing system
Free range hens are not necessarily less stressed than cage or barn housed hens, a new study from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney has found. Researcher Jeff Downing , from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, said his study did not point to one particular housing system creating more stress than any other.

Life Sciences - Environment - 20.03.2012
Early spring drives down butterfly population, Stanford study shows
Early spring drives down butterfly population, Stanford study shows
Scientists say early snowmelt for two consecutive years explained more than four-fifths of the observed variation in Mormon fritillary butterfly population growth rate. Early snowmelt in the Colorado Rocky Mountains may drive down the population of Mormon fritillary butterflies by reducing their favored nectar supply and killing off caterpillars that die during early-season frosts.

Environment - 14.03.2012
Use a laser, save a tree
Use a laser, save a tree
Hand-held lasers that can remove ink from scrap paper so that it can be used again may be coming to an office near you, results from a new Cambridge study show. What we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype. Thanks to hand-held scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there." —Dr Julian Allwood Julian Allwood, Leader of the Low Carbon Materials Processing Group at the University of Cambridge, tested Toner-print removal from paper by employing a variety of lasers.

Life Sciences - Environment - 14.03.2012
Hiding in plain sight, a new frog species with a 'weird' croak is identified in New York City
Hiding in plain sight, a new frog species with a ’weird’ croak is identified in New York City
In the wilds of New York City — or as wild as you can get so close to skyscrapers — scientists have found a new leopard frog species that for years biologists mistook for a more widespread variety of leopard frog.

Environment - Economics - 12.03.2012
Global emissions surge back after GFC
Global emissions surge back after GFC
A recent spike in worldwide carbon emissions growth was caused by the rebound from the global financial crisis (GFC) and is likely to be a one-off, according to a new study from The Australian National University. The study found that global carbon emissions remain on a relentless upward trend, though efforts to shift to low-carbon energy and cut energy demand are bearing some fruit.

Life Sciences - Environment - 09.03.2012
Insects offer clues on animal habitats
The long-term impact of climate change on communities of wild animals could be better understood thanks to a new study. The research will help predict how migration of animals or changes to their habitats associated with climate change could affect relationships between predators and their prey.

Environment - Life Sciences - 09.03.2012
A test of the senses in the search for a shoal mate
A test of the senses in the search for a shoal mate
Young coral reef fish use sounds, smells and visual cues to find their nursery grounds, according to new research from the University of Bristol, published today in Ecology. Ever had to find your friend in a crowd?  Imagine at a festival your mate saying: "I'll be wearing a yellow t-shirt by the hotdog stall behind the jazz stage." Using this information, you could walk around listening out for the romping double bass, and as you get closer and start to hear the trills of the trumpet, begin to sniff out the frying onions and sizzling sausages.

Chemistry - Environment - 08.03.2012
Scientists save energy by lubricating wood
By Simon Levey Thursday 8 March 2012 A little bit of lubrication could make a big energy saving when manufacturing sustainable biofuels and bio-chemicals from timber, according to research published in the journal Green Chemistry this month. Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated that a key part of biomass processing could be made 80 per cent more energy-efficient by taking advantage of the slippery properties of fluids called ionic solvents.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 06.03.2012
Running Hot and Cold in the Deep Sea: Scientists Explore Rare Environment
Among the many intriguing aspects of the deep sea, Earth's largest ecosystem, exist environments known as hydrothermal vent systems where hot water surges out from the seafloor. On the flipside the deep sea also features cold areas where methane rises from "seeps" on the ocean bottom. It's extremely rare to find both habitat types intersecting in one place, but that's what researchers found and explored during an expedition in 2010 off Costa Rica.

Environment - Life Sciences - 05.03.2012
Demise of large animals caused by both man and climate change
Demise of large animals caused by both man and climate change
Research provides new insights about what caused the extinction of many of the world's big animals over the last 100,000 years. Our research suggests that a combination of human pressure and climate change was able to cause the extinctions of many large animals in the past.

Health - Environment - 05.03.2012
In sub-Saharan Africa, a shorter walk to water saves lives, Stanford study finds
More than eight of every ten homes in sub-Saharan Africa lack running water. A new study by researchers at Stanford University shows that reducing the amount of time spent fetching water can improve the health of young children in this region. In the fight against child mortality in the developing world, simple things make a big difference.

Environment - Economics - 05.03.2012
Shortcuts costly when buying conservation from farmers
Shortcuts in the design of payment schemes to persuade farmers to undertake conservation works could be putting the potential environmental benefits at risk, a study involving researchers at The University of Nottingham has found. Farmers in the EU and US receive billions of dollars/pounds in government subsidies.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 05.03.2012
Study Links Dust to Increased Glacial Melting
Study Links Dust to Increased Glacial Melting
— Coral Gables — A University of Miami-led study has established a link between large dust storms on Iceland and glacial melting. The dust is both accelerating glacial melting and contributing important nutrients to the surrounding North Atlantic Ocean. The results provide new insights on the role of dust in climate change and high-latitude ocean ecosystems.

Environment - 05.03.2012
Berkeley Lab Quantifies Effect of Soot on Snow and Ice, Supporting Previous Climate Findings
Berkeley Lab Quantifies Effect of Soot on Snow and Ice, Supporting Previous Climate Findings
A new study from scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has quantitatively demonstrated that black carbon-also known as soot, a pollutant emitted from power plants, diesel engines and residential cooking and heating, as well as forest fires-reduces the reflectance of snow and ice, an effect that increases the rate of global climate change.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 05.03.2012
Natural levels of nitrogen in tropical forests may increase vulnerability to pollution
Waterways in remote, pristine tropical forests located in the Caribbean and Central America contain levels of nitrogen comparable to amounts found in streams and rivers flowing through polluted forests in the United States and Europe. This discovery by a Princeton University-led research team raises questions about how tropical forests might respond if they were to become exposed to additional nitrogen through water and air pollution.
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