Squeezing every drop of fresh water from waste brine

A new way to recover almost 100 percent of the water from highly concentrated salt solutions has now been developed by researchers. The system will alleviate water shortages in arid regions and reduce concerns surrounding high salinity brine disposal, such as hydraulic fracturing waste.

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Where rivers meet the sea: Harnessing energy generated when freshwater meets saltwater

A new hybrid technology has been created that produces unprecedented amounts of electrical power where seawater and freshwater combine at the coast.

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Losing sleep over climate change

A new study of US data suggests a sleep-deprived planet by century’s end. Researchers show that unusually warm nights can harm human sleep and that the poor and elderly are most affected. Rising temperatures will make sleep loss more severe.

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Government transparency limited when it comes to America’s conserved private lands

A new study examined why private-land conservation data is sometimes inaccessible and found that limited capacity within some federal agencies as well as laws prohibiting others from disclosing certain information are to blame.

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Tiny shells indicate big changes to global carbon cycle

Experiments with tiny, shelled organisms in the ocean suggest big changes to the global carbon cycle are underway, according to a new study.

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Why the Sumatra earthquake was so severe

An international team of scientists has found evidence suggesting the dehydration of minerals deep below the ocean floor influenced the severity of the Sumatra earthquake, which took place on Dec. 26, 2004.

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US nuclear regulators greatly underestimate potential for nuclear disaster

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission relied on faulty analysis to justify its refusal to adopt a critical measure for protecting Americans from nuclear-waste fires at dozens of reactor sites around the country, according to a recent article. Radioactivity from such a fire could force approximately 8 million people to relocate and result in $2 trillion in damages.

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Concrete for taller wind turbine towers passes tests, could help expand wind energy nationwide

An 18-month, $1 million study of concrete technology for taller wind turbine towers has just wrapped up, with results indicating that the taller towers could enable wind energy production in all 50 states.

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Landscape-scale erosion instabilities in the northern Gabilan Mesa, California

If you ever fly from L.A. to San Francisco, California, you may notice the Gabilan Mesa off to the east as you begin your descent into San Francisco International Airport. If you look carefully, you might notice two strange things: a series of bleach-white scars, where rock outcrops disrupt the smooth, grassy hillslopes, and a strong asymmetry in the orientation of tributaries, with many flowing south and few flowing north.

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Targeted conservation could protect more of Earth’s biodiversity

Major gains in global biodiversity can be achieved if an additional 5 percent of land is set aside to protect key species, say experts. Scientists report such an effort could triple the protected range of those species and safeguard their functional diversity. The findings underscore the need to look beyond species numbers when developing conservation strategies, the researchers said.

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South Sudan wildlife surviving civil war, but poaching and trafficking threats increase

The first aerial assessment of the impact of South Sudan’s current civil war on the country’s wildlife and other natural resources shows that significant wildlife populations have so far survived, but poaching and commercial wildlife trafficking are increasing, as well as illegal mining, timber harvesting and charcoal production.

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How do blind cavefish find their way? The answer could be in their bones.

Blind cavefish typically have skulls that bend slightly to the left. A study suggests this orientation might help them find food as they navigate in a perpetual counter-clockwise direction around a cave.

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The birth and death of a tectonic plate

A new technique to investigate the underwater volcanoes that produce Earth’s tectonic plates has been developed by a geophysicist.

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Metals from Bolivian mines affect crops and pose potential health risk, study suggests

Exposure to trace metals from potatoes grown in soil irrigated with waters from the Potosi mining region in Bolivia, home to the world’s largest silver deposit, may put residents at risk of non-cancer health illnesses, researchers warn.

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Are wolverines in the Arctic in the climate change crosshairs?

Will reductions in Arctic snow cover make tundra-dwelling wolverines more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought? That’s a question scientists hope an innovative method described in a new study will help answer.

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Natural gas facilities with no carbon dioxide emissions

How can we burn natural gas without releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air? This feat is achieved using a special combustion method: chemical looping combustion (CLC). In this process, CO2 can be isolated during combustion without having to use any additional energy, which means it can then go on to be stored. This prevents it from being released into the atmosphere.

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Wind blows young migrant birds to all corners of Africa

Migrant birds that breed in the same area in Europe spread out across all of Africa during the northern winter. A new satellite-tracking study shows that the destination of individual birds is largely determined by the wind conditions they encounter during their first migration.

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Going with the flow: The forces that affect species’ movements in a changing climate

Ocean currents affect how climate change impacts movements of species to cooler regions. A new study provides novel insight into how species’ distributions change from the interaction between climate change and ocean currents.

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Increasing aridity and land-use overlap have potential to cause social and economic conflict in dryland areas

Drylands are of environmental concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world’s human population, suggests new research.

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How X-rays helped to solve mystery of floating rocks in the ocean

Experiments have helped scientists to solve a mystery of why some rocks can float for years in the ocean, traveling thousands of miles before sinking.

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New chemical reaction could eventually yield new fuels and medications

Chemists have developed a new technique to convert carbon-hydrogen bonds into carbon-carbon bonds using catalysts made of silicon and boron, both abundant and inexpensive elements.

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Weather patterns’ influence on frost timing

The frost-free season in North America is approximately 10 days longer now than it was a century ago. In a new study researchers parse the factors contributing to the timing of frost in the United States. Atmospheric circulation patterns, they found, were the dominant influence on frost timing, although the trend of globally warming temperatures played a part as well.

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Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations

Wolves and other top predators need large ranges to be able to control smaller predators whose populations have expanded, according to a new study. The results were similar across three continents, showing that as top predators’ ranges were cut back and fragmented, they were no longer able to control smaller predators.

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Smoke from wildfires can have lasting climate impact

Researchers have found that carbon particles released into the air from burning trees and other organic matter are much more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere, where they can interfere with rays from the sun — sometimes cooling the air and at other times warming it.

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Hottest lavas that erupted in past 2.5 billion years revealed

Deep portions of Earth’s mantle might be as hot as it was more than 2.5 billion years ago, an international team of researchers has recently discovered.

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Rare tooth find reveals horned dinosaurs in eastern North America

A chance discovery in Mississippi provides the first evidence of an animal closely related to Triceratops in eastern North America. The fossil, a tooth from rocks between 68 and 66 million years old, shows that two halves of the continent previously thought to be separated by seaway were probably connected before the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

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Supercomputing helps researchers understand Earth’s interior

Geologists have created a computer model of tectonic activity so effective that they believe it has potential to predict where earthquakes and volcanoes will occur. Scientists focused on the deep mantle and its relationship to plate tectonics.

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