Urban nature: What kinds of plants and wildlife flourish in cities?

Biodiversity refers to the variety of all living things on Earth, but people often have very specific ideas of what it means. If you run an online search for images of biodiversity, you are likely to find lots of photos of tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Those ecosystems are invaluable, but biodiversity also exists in many other places. More than half of the people on Earth live in cities, and…

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Could this strategy bring high-speed communications to the deep sea?

A new strategy for sending acoustic waves through water could potentially open up the world of high-speed communications to divers, marine research vessels, remote ocean monitors, deep sea robots, and submarines. By taking advantage of the dynamic rotation generated as the acoustic wave travels, also known as its orbital angular momentum, researchers were able to pack more channels onto a single frequency, effectively increasing the amount of information capable of being transmitted.

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Microbe mystery solved: What happened to the Deepwater Horizon oil plume?

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 is one of the most studied spills in history, yet scientists haven’t agreed on the role of microbes in eating up the oil. Now a research team has identified all of the principal oil-degrading bacteria as well as their mechanisms for chewing up the many different components that make up the released crude oil.

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Air pollution casts shadow over solar energy production

Global solar energy production is taking a major hit due to air pollution and dust. The first study of its kind shows airborne particles and their accumulation on solar cells is cutting energy output by more than 25 percent in certain parts of the world. The regions hardest hit are also those investing the most in solar energy installations — China, India and the Arabian Peninsula.

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Biodiversity loss from deep-sea mining will be unavoidable

Biodiversity losses from deep-sea mining are unavoidable and possibly irrevocable, an international team of scientists, economists and lawyers argue. They say the International Seabed Authority, which is responsible for regulating undersea mining in areas outside national jurisdictions, must recognize the risk and communicate it clearly to member states and the public to spur discussions as to whether deep-seabed mining should proceed, and if so, what safeguards are needed to minimize biodiversity loss.

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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.

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Tipping points are real: Gradual changes in CO2 levels can induce abrupt climate changes

During the last glacial period, within only a few decades the influence of atmospheric CO2 on the North Atlantic circulation resulted in temperature increases of up to 10 degrees Celsius in Greenland — as indicated by new climate calculations.

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Energy wonks have a meltdown over the US going 100 percent renewable. Why?

Science is messy, but it doesn’t have to be dirty. On June 19, a group of respected energy researchers released a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that critiqued a widely cited study on how to power the U.S. using only renewable energy sources. This new paper, authored by former NOAA researcher Christopher Clack and a small army of academics, said that the initial…

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Catalyst mimics the z-scheme of photosynthesis

A new study demonstrates a process with great potential for developing technologies for reducing CO2 levels.

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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.

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Satellite data to map endangered monkey populations on Earth

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, a research team can map multiple indicators of monkey distribution, including human activity zones as inferred from roads and settlements, direct detections from mosquito-derived iDNA, animal sound recordings, plus detections of other species that are usually found when monkeys are present, such as other large vertebrates.

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Look inside your own pantry or fridge to find the top culprit of food waste

Did you know you throw out about 20 pounds of food every month? Nearly 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. goes to waste. Experts have tips for reducing waste at home, and look at how the food service industry is working to do the same.

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Can animal diet mitigate greenhouse emissions?

The inclusion of agroindustrial by-products in pig feed can reduce the nitrous oxide emissions (N2O) of the slurry used as manures up to 65%, suggests new research.

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Government action isn’t enough for climate change. The private sector can cut billions of tons of carbon

With President Trump’s announcement to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, many other countries around the world – and cities and states within the U.S. – are stepping up their commitments to address climate change. But one thing is clear: Even if all the remaining participating nations do their part, governments alone can’t substantially reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change. We’ve studied the role of the…

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Even ugly animals can win hearts and dollars to save them from extinction

The Earth is home to millions of species, but you wouldn’t know it from the media’s obsession with only a few dozen animals like tigers and gorillas. This narrow focus makes the most of popular fascination with large and cute creatures. Conservationists take advantage of these nonhuman celebrities to raise awareness about important issues and to seek donations to help save endangered animals. Given the multi-billion-dollar funding shortfall for nature…

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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.

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Role aerosols play in climate change unlocked by spectacular Icelandic volcanic eruption

A spectacular six-month Icelandic lava field eruption could provide the crucial key for scientists to unlock the role aerosols play in climate change, through their interactions with clouds.

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Fish mercury levels after burns: Burn without concern

Forest services can continue to use controlled burns without worrying about fish health in associated watersheds, new research suggests.

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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.

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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.

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Hot summer frequents Europe-west Asia and northeast Asia after the mid-1990s

A recent research identifies a nonuniform warming pattern in summer after the mid-1990s over the Eurasian continent, with a predominant amplified warming over Europe-West Asia and Northeast Asia but much weaker warming over Central Asia. The study also implies that there will still be a strong warming over Europe-West Asia and Northeast Asia in the coming decade.

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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.

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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.

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Wave beams mix and stir the ocean to create climate

Waves deep within the ocean play an important role in establishing ocean circulation, arising when tidal currents oscillate over an uneven ocean bottom. The internal waves generated by this process stir and mix the ocean, bringing cold, deep water to the surface to be warmed by the sun. Investigators now explain how to tell which way internal waves will go. The proposed theory unifies several previously understood explanations of wave propagation.

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Solar heating could cover over 80 percent of domestic heating requirements in Nordic countries

By using suitable systems, more than 80 percent of heating energy for Finnish households could be produced using solar energy with competitive prices. This result is also valid for Sweden, Norway, Alaska, northern Canada and other locations at the same latitudes.

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Great opportunities for marine research with new underwater vehicle

An autonomous underwater vehicle offers promise for advanced marine research use. This will make it possible to conduct detailed studies of the seabed at great depths and track the climate thousands of years back in time, say researchers.

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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.

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