A ‘carbon law’ offers pathway to halve emissions every decade

On the eve of this year’s Earth hour (March 25), researchers propose a solution in the journal Science for the global economy to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. The authors argue a carbon roadmap, driven by a simple rule of thumb or ‘carbon law’ of halving emissions every decade, could catalyze disruptive innovation.

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Tracing aromatic molecules in the early Universe

A molecule found in car engine exhaust fumes that is thought to have contributed to the origin of life on Earth has made astronomers heavily underestimate the amount of stars that were forming in the early Universe, a study has found. That molecule is called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. On Earth it is also found in coal and tar. In space, it is a component of dust.

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Lack of staffing, funds prevent marine protected areas from realizing full potential

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an increasingly popular strategy for protecting marine biodiversity, but a new global study demonstrates that widespread lack of personnel and funds are preventing MPAs from reaching their full potential. Only 9 percent of MPAs reported having adequate staff.

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Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

The Arctic sea ice maximum extent and Antarctic minimum extent are both record lows this year. Combined, sea ice numbers are at their lowest point since satellites began to continuously measure sea ice in 1979.

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Under the dead sea, warnings of dire drought

Nearly 1,000 feet below the bed of the Dead Sea, scientists have found evidence that during past warm periods, the Mideast has suffered drought on scales never recorded by humans — a possible warning for current times. Thick layers of crystalline salt show that rainfall plummeted to as little as a fifth of modern levels some 120,000 years ago, and again about 10,000 years ago.

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Making ‘mulch’ ado of ant hills

Ants are hardworking and beneficial insects, research reveals. In the activities of their daily lives, ants help increase air, water flow, and organic matter in soil. The work done by ants even forms a type of mulch that helps hold water in the soil.

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Sinking of seal beach wetlands tied to ancient quakes

When geologists went in search for evidence of ancient tsunamis along Southern California’s coastal wetlands, they found something else. Their discoveries have implications for seismic hazard and risk assessment in coastal Southern California.

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Visualizing nuclear radiation

Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan. The creation of total radioactivity maps is essential for thorough cleanup, but the most common methods do not ‘see’ enough ground-level radiation.

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Scientists follow seeds to solve ecological puzzle

A four-year study of one rare and one common lupine growing in coastal dunes showed that a native mouse steals most of the rare lupines seeds while they are still attached to the plant. The mouse is a ‘subsidized species,’ given cover for nocturnal forays by European beachgrass, originally planted to stabilize the dunes.

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A new model for capillary rise in nano-channels offers insights into improved hydraulic fracturing (fracking)

With fracking, scientists have calculated the expected level of capillary rise with the Lucas-Washburn equation, a mathematical model whose earliest parameters were first devised nearly a century ago. The challenge, however, is that that the equation has not been completely accurate in predicting the actual rise observed in nano-capillary laboratory experiments.

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Research: From Arctic to the Mediterranean

Lakes, rivers, estuaries and oceans are closely connected. Despite this, aquatic research is still divided in marine and freshwater sciences. Now, scientists from 19 leading research institutes and universities and two enterprises from 12 countries across Europe aim to change this and have joined forces in the project “AQUACOSM – Network of Leading European AQUAtic MesoCOSM Facilities Connecting Mountains to Oceans from the Arctic to the Mediterranean”. The network will perform the first systematic large-scale experiments in both freshwater and marine ecosystems.

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Amazon River no younger than 9 million years, new study shows

Researchers have determined the age of the formation of the Amazon River at 9.4 to 9 million years ago with data that convincingly refutes substantial younger estimates.

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Dead zones may threaten coral reefs worldwide

Dead zones affect dozens of coral reefs around the world and threaten hundreds more according to a new study. Watching a massive coral reef die-off on the Caribbean coast of Panama, they suspected it was caused by a dead zone — a low-oxygen area that snuffs out marine life — rather than by ocean warming or acidification.

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Mars volcano, Earth’s dinosaurs went extinct about the same time

Arsia Mons produced one new lava flow at its summit every 1 to 3 million years during the final peak of activity, about 50 million years ago. The last volcanic activity there ceased about 50 million years ago — around the time of Earth’s Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, when large numbers of our planet’s plant and animal species (including dinosaurs) went extinct.

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Last remnant of North American ice sheet on track to vanish

The last piece of the ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America is doomed to disappear in the next several centuries, says a new study.

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Warning of shortage of essential minerals for laptops, cell phones, wiring

Researchers say global resource governance and sharing of geoscience data is needed to address challenges facing future mineral supply. Specifically of concern are a range of technology minerals, which are an essential ingredient in everything from laptops and cell phones to hybrid or electric cars to solar panels and copper wiring for homes.

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Reconsider the impact of trees on water cycles and climate, scientists say

Forests and trees play a major role on water cycles and cooler temperatures, contributing to food security and climate change adaptation. In recent decades, the climate change discourse has looked at forests and trees mostly as carbon stocks and carbon sinks, but now scientists are calling for more attention on the relation between trees and water in climate change. A new publication and a symposium try to shed new light on the debate.

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Engineering team develops novel nanofibre solution for clean, fresh air

A research team has successfully concocted a novel nanofiber solution that creates thin, see-through air filters that can remove up to 90 per cent of PM2.5 particles and achieve high air flow of 2.5 times better than conventional air filters. As an added bonus, this eco-friendly air filter improves natural lighting and visibility while blocking harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

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Enormous swarms of midges teach about interconnected landscapes

Ecologists are trying to understand why the midge population at an Icelandic lake can fluctuate by 100,000-fold across a decade, and what impact these massive swarms have on the surrounding landscape.

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Extensive ice cap once covered sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia

The sub-antarctic island of South Georgia — famous for its wildlife — was covered by a massive ice cap during the last ice age, new research indicates.

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Big bat find in Alberta’s boreal forest

Biologists have announced the discovery last month of the largest Alberta bat hibernation site (based on estimated bat count) ever recorded outside of the Rocky Mountains.

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The carbon dioxide loop

Marine biologists quantify the carbon consumption of bacterioplankton to better understand the ocean carbon cycle.

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Earth’s first example of recycling — its own crust!

Rock samples from northeastern Canada retain chemical signals that help explain what Earth’s crust was like more than 4 billion years ago.

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Is spring getting longer? Lengthening ‘vernal window’

When spring arrives, temperatures begin to rise, ice is melts, and the world around us starts to blossom. Scientists sometimes refer to this transition from winter to the growing season as the ‘vernal window,’ and a new study shows this window may be opening earlier and possibly for longer.

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From space to the streets: New battery model also makes electric cars more reliable

Nano satellites weighing just a few kilograms orbit the Earth. Pivotal point of these miniature computers are their solar-powered batteries. Computer scientists have now developed a procedure that allows for better planning of solar battery operations.

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Multi-year study finds ‘hotspots’ of ammonia over world’s major agricultural areas

Fertilizers, animal waste, changes to atmospheric chemistry and warming soils are all tied to increased ammonia over US, Europe, China and India, say researchers as they reveal the first global, long-term satellite study of airborne ammonia.

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Only the tip of the iceberg: Monitoring programs underestimate human impact on biodiversity

Whether orchids or mammals, insects or slugs and snails: nowadays there are a large number of animals and plants under observation. Unfortunately, the collection of this data began only very recently. The fact that the human impact on biodiversity is likely to be greatly underestimated is the warning sent out by an international research team.

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