Can virtual reality help us prevent falls in the elderly and others?

Every year, falls lead to hospitalization or death for hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans. Standard clinical techniques generally cannot diagnose balance impairments before they lead to falls. But researchers have found evidence that virtual reality (VR) could be a big help – not only for detecting balance impairments early, but perhaps also for reversing those impairments and preventing falls.

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Coral reefs struggle to keep up with rising seas, leave coastal communities at risk

In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.

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Recovering species must be celebrated or we risk reversing progress

A failure to celebrate conservation successes means we miss vital opportunities to convince the public of ‘real and practical solutions’ they can engage with. Conservationists across the globe see the need to champion environmental victories and show there is cause for hope — the decisive component in the fight to save disappearing biodiversity.

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Seven years later: BP oil spill settlement funding new way to manage fish populations

Understanding the severity of the BP oil spill has led researchers to a barcoding fish eggs. This will help them to determine where fish are spawning, hopefully leading toward the creation of protected areas and a baseline should another oil spill occur.

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A better way to manage phosphorus?

A new project proposes a restructured index to build on phosphorus management efforts in farm fields in New York state and beyond. The new index structure improves upon previous approaches. It focuses on the existing risk of phosphorus runoff from a field based on the location.

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EPA methane emission policy likely to cost less, miss 2025 targets

Research shows plugging methane leaks will cost about a third less than the EPA estimates, further underscoring the cost-effectiveness of emissions mitigation — but the agency will also likely fall short of its 2025 reduction targets.

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Volcanic eruptions examiner

Volcanologists spent two weeks collecting samples from Yasur, a continuously erupting volcano on Tanna, an island in the remote South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu, to study its chemical composition and determine how the gasses it produces may be affecting people who live nearby.

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Chesapeake Bay pollution extends to early 19th century

Humans began measurably and negatively impacting water quality in the Chesapeake Bay in the first half of the 19th century, according to a study of eastern oysters.

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Canary in the kelp forest: Sea creature dissolves in today’s warming, acidic waters

The one-two punch of warming waters and ocean acidification is predisposing some marine animals to dissolving quickly under conditions already occurring off the Northern California coast, according to a new study.

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Water is streaming across Antarctica

In the first such continent-wide survey, scientists have found extensive drainages of meltwater flowing over parts of Antarctica’s ice during the brief summer.

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New method to create the next fuel-efficient renewable energy developed

The fossil fuel fight goes on for scientists as they develop a new method for creating reversible hydrogen storage based on methanol, with no carbon emissions, in the last major paper co-authored by USC’s first Nobel laureate, the late George Olah.

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In new paper, scientists explain climate change using before/after photographic evidence

A group of scientists offers photographic proof of climate change using images of retreating glaciers.

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Under-studied boreal habitat key for North America’s ducks

Knowing where migrating birds came from and where they’re headed is essential for their conservation and management. A new study tackles this challenge using stable isotope ratios, which reflect where birds were living while growing their feathers, and reveals that the northern reaches of Canada may have underappreciated importance for North America’s waterfowl.

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Shale gas threat to forests can be eased by consolidating infrastructure

Fragmentation of ecologically important core forests within the northern Appalachians — driven by pipeline and access road construction — is the major threat posed by shale-gas development, according to researchers, who recommend a change in infrastructure-siting policies to head off loss of this critical habitat.

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Making oil from algae: Towards more efficient biofuels

The mechanism behind oil synthesis within microalgae cells has now been revealed by a research team. This discovery could contribute to the development of biofuels, they say.

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Time-lapse cameras provide a unique peek at penguins’ winter behavior

Not even the most intrepid researcher wants to spend winter in Antarctica, so how can you learn what penguins are doing during those cold, dark months? Simple: Leave behind some cameras.

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The tale teeth tell about the legendary man-eating lions of Tsavo

Analysis of the microscopic wear on the teeth of the legendary man-eating lions of Tsavo reveals that shortage of normal prey did not drive them to begin killing and eating people.

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Grasslands’ carbon storage value now quantified

Grasslands that feature diverse plant species have more carbon storage capacity than less-diverse grasslands, largely because the former produce more biomass, the researchers say. They found that increasing the number of plant species from one to 10 had twice the value of increasing from one to two species, from the standpoint of carbon storage capacity.

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Can barnacle geese predict the climate?

The breeding grounds of Arctic migratory birds such as the barnacle goose are changing rapidly due to accelerated warming in the polar regions. They won’t be able to keep up with this climate change unless they can somehow anticipate it. A research team employed computer models to assess the future of the geese and their young.

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Prescribed forest fire frequency should be based on land management goals

Researchers have studied forests subjected to different frequencies of fires to determine what effects fire can have on oak forests over long periods of time. They found that the frequency of prescribed forest fires should be determined based on the long-term goals of land managers.

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Tracking down water pollution through DNA of algae

The degree of pollution of rivers resulting from human activities is assessed using different biotic indices. The latter reflect the ecological status of a river based on the quantity and diversity of organisms selected as bioindicators, due to their ecological preferences and tolerance to pollution. This is the case of diatoms, algae consisting of a single cell surrounded by a silica skeleton, recommended by researchers as one of the ideal bioindicators for rivers and lakes.

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Study on impact of climate change on snowpack loss in Western U.S.

There has been up to 20 percent loss in the annual maximum amount of water contained in the Western United States’ mountain snowpack in the last three decades is due to human influences, an international team of scientists has found.

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Arctic river ice deposits rapidly disappearing

Climate change is causing thick ice deposits that form along Arctic rivers to melt nearly a month earlier than they did 15 years ago, a new study finds.

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Birds sing shorter songs in response to traffic noise

Birds sing differently in response to traffic noise, which potentially affects their ability to attract mates and defend their territory, according to research published in Bioacoustics.

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Air pollution may directly cause those year-round runny noses, according to a mouse study

Although human population studies have linked air pollution to chronic inflammation of nasal and sinus tissues, direct biological and molecular evidence for cause and effect has been scant. Now, researchers report that experiments in mice continually exposed to dirty air have revealed that direct biological effect.

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New era of Western wildfire demands new ways of protecting people, ecosystems

Current wildfire policy can’t adequately protect people, homes and ecosystems from the longer, hotter fire seasons climate change is causing, according to a new article.

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Banned industrial solvent sheds new light on methane mystery

Since 2007, scientists have been searching to find the cause of a sudden and unexpected global rise in atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas, following almost a decade in which concentrations had stayed relatively constant. A new paper investigates one possibility: a rise and fall in the concentration of the substance that destroys methane in the atmosphere, the hydroxyl radical.

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