Anyone can be backyard scientist, mole study shows

Scientific findings are awaiting discovery in your backyard. The requirement? A keen sense of observation and patience. A researcher recently completed a study on moles’ behavior that proves the concept. His laboratory? A molehill-dotted city lawn in downtown Chico, California.

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Experiments call origin of Earth’s iron into question

New research reveals that the Earth’s unique iron composition isn’t linked to the formation of the planet’s core, calling into question a prevailing theory about the events that shaped our planet during its earliest years.

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Fifth of world’s food lost to over-eating and waste, study finds

Almost 20 per cent of the food made available to consumers is lost through over-eating or waste, a study suggests. The world population consumes around 10 per cent more food than it needs, while almost nine per cent is thrown away or left to spoil, researchers say.

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The secret of scientists who impact policy

Researchers analyzed 15 policy decisions worldwide, with outcomes ranging from new coastal preservation laws to improved species protections, to produce the first quantitative analysis of how environmental knowledge impacts the attitudes and decisions of conservation policymakers.

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Professor examines effects of climate change on coral reefs, shellfish

Professor is studying how a variety of marine organisms are responding to changes in their environment. Focusing on reef-building corals and other shelled creatures that are threatened by increasing temperatures and ocean acidification, she is testing them to determine how species may acclimatize to the new circumstances.

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Seven new species of night frogs from India including four miniature forms

Scientists from India have discovered seven new frog species belonging to the genus Nyctibatrachus, commonly known as Night Frogs. This find is a result of five years of extensive explorations in the Western Ghats global biodiversity hotspot in India. Four out of seven of the new species are miniature-sized frogs (12.2-15.4 mm), which can comfortably sit on a coin or a thumbnail. These are among the smallest known frogs in the world.

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6,600 spills from fracking in just four states

Each year, 2 to 16 percent of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill hydrocarbons, chemical-laden water, hydraulic fracturing fluids and other substances, according to a new study. The analysis identified 6,648 spills reported across Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania during a 10-year period.

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Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

Warming seawaters, caused by climate change and extreme climatic events, threaten the stability of tropical coral reefs, with potentially devastating implications for many reef species and the human communities that reefs support.

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Fluorescence method detects mercury contamination in fish

Researchers have developed a fluorescent polymer that lights up in contact with mercury that may be present in fish. High levels of the metal were detected in samples of swordfish and tuna. According to the conclusions of another study, mercury exposure is linked to reduced fetal and placental growth in pregnant women.

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There and back again: Catalyst mediates energy-efficient proton transport for reversibility

A complex with a proton pathway and stabilized by outer coordination sphere interactions is reversible for hydrogen production/oxidation at room temperature and pressure, researchers have found.

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Climate-driven permafrost thaw

In bitter cold regions like northwestern Canada, permafrost has preserved relict ground-ice and vast glacial sedimentary stores in a quasi-stable state. These landscapes therefore retain a high potential for climate-driven transformation, say researchers.

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Congo River fish evolution shaped by intense rapids

New research provides compelling evidence that a group of strange-looking fish living near the mouth of the Congo River are evolving due to the intense hydraulics of the river’s rapids and deep canyons. The study reveals that fishes in this part of the river live in ‘neighborhoods’ that are separated from one another by the waters’ turbulent flow.

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Avalanches: A force more deadly than polar bears

You might think that polar bears — and the potential for attack — are the biggest danger the Norwegian arctic island archipelago of Svalbard. But avalanches kill far more people on Svalbard than polar bears ever have. Researchers are working on ways to improve avalanche prediction and protection in the Arctic.

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Study examines life history of imperiled rattlesnake

Researchers examine the life history of the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, revealing important local climate impacts on the snake that should be carefully weighed when developing conservation strategies. The Eastern Massasauga is a small North American rattler with a distribution centered around the Great Lakes. In 2016, the snake was listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act.

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Scarcity of resources led to violence in prehistoric central California

A longtime anthropology professor who studies violence among prehistoric people in California has published his work, outlining that there are two views related to the origins of violence and warfare in humans. One view suggests that humans in earlier times were peaceful and lived in harmony, and a second view that there has always been competition for resources, war and violence.

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Roads are driving rapid evolutionary change in our environment

Roads are causing rapid evolutionary change in wild populations of plants and animals according to a new paper. The study looks at the evolutionary changes that are being caused by the way roads slice and dice our planet.

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Underwater seagrass beds dial back polluted seawater

Seagrass meadows — bountiful underwater gardens that nestle close to shore and are the most common coastal ecosystem on Earth — can reduce bacterial exposure for corals, other sea creatures and humans, according to new research.

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Printable solar cells just got a little closer

A new innovation could make printing solar cells as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper. Researchers have cleared a critical manufacturing hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices called perovskite solar cells. This alternative solar technology could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.

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Four-stroke engine cycle produces hydrogen from methane, captures carbon dioxide

When is an internal combustion engine not an internal combustion engine? When it’s been transformed into a modular reforming reactor that could make hydrogen available to power fuel cells wherever there’s a natural gas supply available.

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Outdoor air pollution tied to millions of preterm births

Outdoor air pollution has been linked to 2.7 million preterm births per year, a major study has concluded. When a baby is born preterm (at less than 37 weeks of gestation), there is an increased risk of death or long-term physical and neurological disabilities.

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Laissez-faire is not good enough for reforestation

If degraded and logged areas of tropical forests are left to nature, the populations of certain endangered tree species are not able to recover. This applies in particular to trees with large fruit where the seeds are distributed by birds, as scientists have shown in a rainforest in India.

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Old rocks, biased data: Overcoming challenges studying the geodynamo

Bias introduced through analyzing the magnetism of old rocks may not be giving geophysicists an accurate idea of how Earth’s magnetic dynamo has functioned. A team has shown there is a way to improve the methodology to get a better understanding of the planet’s geodynamo.

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How temperature guides where species live, where they’ll go

A new study could prove significant in answering among the most enduring questions for ecologists: Why do species live where they do, and what are the factors that keep them there? The ranges of animals in the world’s temperate mountain areas — often presumed to be determined by competition — may actually be determined more by temperature and habitat. The findings indicate that species living in temperate mountain habitats could face even greater repercussions from climate change than previously thought.

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New pathway for Greenland meltwater to reach ocean

Cracks in the Greenland Ice Sheet let one of its aquifers drain to the ocean, new NASA research finds. The aquifers, discovered only recently, are unusual in that they trap large amounts of liquid water within the ice sheet. Until now, scientists did not know what happened to the water stored away in this reservoir — the discovery will help fine tune computer models of Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise.

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‘The blob’ of abnormal conditions boosted Western US ozone levels

Ozone levels in June 2015 were significantly higher than normal over a large swath of the Western US. Analysis ties this air quality pattern to the abnormal conditions in the northeast Pacific Ocean, nicknamed ‘the blob.’

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Canadian glaciers now major contributor to sea level change, study shows

Ice loss from Canada’s Arctic glaciers has transformed them into a major contributor to sea level change, new research has found. From 2005 to 2015, surface melt off ice caps and glaciers of the Queen Elizabeth Islands grew by an astonishing 900 percent.

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Beach bashing: Last year’s El Niño resulted in unprecedented erosion of Pacific coastline

Last winter’s El Niño might have felt weak to residents of Southern California, but it was in fact one of the most powerful climate events of the past 145 years. If such severe El Niño events become more common in the future as some studies suggest they might, the California coast — home to more than 25 million people — may become increasingly vulnerable to coastal hazards. And that’s independent of projected sea level rise.

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