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The Lead

Most Ammonium in Ocean Didn't Come from Humans

October 30, 2014 7:00 am | by Brown Univ. | News | Comments

To understand the extent to which human activities are polluting Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, it’s important to distinguish human-made pollutants from compounds that occur naturally. New research, based on two years of rainwater samples taken in Bermuda, suggests that ammonium deposited over the open ocean comes almost entirely from natural marine sources.

LEDs Boost Profits, Productivity in Factories

October 30, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Switching to LED lights in factories not only saves energy, it boosts productivity and increases...

California's Drought May Impact Sushi Prices

October 29, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Terence Chea | News | Comments

California's deepening drought is shrinking its rice harvest, and that's bad news for...

Using Premium Gas May Save Fuel, Money

October 28, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

If the majority of light-duty vehicles in the U.S. ran on higher-octane gasoline, the automotive...

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Two M Barrels of Oil Rest on Seafloor

October 28, 2014 7:00 am | by UC Santa Barbara | News | Comments

Because of the environmental disaster’s unprecedented scope, assessing the damage caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been a challenge. One unsolved puzzle is the location of two million barrels of submerged oil thought to be trapped in the deep ocean.

Lower Population Won't Be 'Quick Fix' for Nature

October 28, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Adelaide | News | Comments

New multi-scenario modeling of world human population has concluded that even stringent fertility restrictions or a catastrophic mass mortality would not bring about large enough change this century to solve issues of global sustainability.

Global Hydropower Boom Underway

October 24, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Copenhagen | News | Comments

An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity.

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Cars Are Exceeding Fuel Economy Standards

October 22, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

In the three years since a new standard for gas mileage has been in effect, automakers have surpassed it each year, improving new vehicle fuel economy by about a mile per gallon annually.

Aquaponic Systems Can Be Sustainable

October 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service | Videos | Comments

If growing vegetables in a box with no soil and out of direct sunlight sounds a little fishy, well, it is. Aquaponics is a relatively new way of intensified farming that combines aquaculture and hydroponics, according to a vegetable specialist.

Electrodialysis Removes Salt from Fracked Wells

October 21, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, David Chandler | News | Comments

One byproduct of fracking is millions of gallons of water that’s much saltier than seawater, after leaching salts from rocks deep below the surface. Now, researchers say they have found an economical solution for removing the salt from this water.

Tracers Spot Fracking Fluids in Nature

October 21, 2014 8:55 am | by NSF | News | Comments

Scientists have developed new geochemical tracers that can identify hydraulic fracturing flow back fluids that have been spilled or released into the environment. The tracers have been field-tested at a spill site in West Virginia and downstream from an oil and gas brine wastewater treatment plant in Pennsylvania.

Electricity Access Doesn’t Impact Climate

October 20, 2014 7:00 am | by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis | News | Comments

Improving household electricity access in India over the last 30 years contributed only marginally to the nation's total carbon emissions growth during that time, according to a new study.

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Brighter, Energy-saving Flat Lights Based on Nanotubes

October 15, 2014 7:00 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Electronics based on carbon, especially carbon nanotubes, are emerging as successors to silicon for making semiconductor materials. They may enable a new generation of brighter, low-power, low-cost lighting devices that could challenge the dominance of LEDs in the future and help meet society's ever-escalating demand for greener bulbs.

Electric Vehicle Tech Packs Punch in Small Package

October 15, 2014 7:00 am | by Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Using 3-D printing and novel semiconductors, researchers have created a power inverter that could make electric vehicles lighter, more powerful and more efficient. At the core of this development is wide band gap material made of silicon carbide with qualities superior to standard semiconductor materials.

Slurry-based Process is Cheap, Green Approach to Carbon Capture

October 14, 2014 7:00 am | by EPFL | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a slurry-based process that can revolutionize carbon capture. The slurry, consisting of a porous powder suspended in glycol, offers the efficient large-scale implementation of a liquid while maintaining the lower costs and energy efficiency of solid carbon-capturing materials.

Satellite Sees Methane Hot Spot in U.S.

October 10, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

A surprising hot spot of the potent global warming gas methane hovers over part of the southwestern U.S., according to satellite data. That result hints that the EPA and other agencies considerably underestimate leaks of the natural gas.

Fusion Reactor Could Be Cheaper than Coal

October 9, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.

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Groundwater Cools Supercomputer

October 8, 2014 2:00 pm | by ScienceNetwork WA | News | Comments

More than 2.8 megaliters of water has been saved in just under a year using groundwater to cool the Pawsey Centre supercomputer. To make that happen, scientists have undertaken stringent tests to ensure that returning heated water to the Mullalloo aquifer has no adverse effects.

Small Bird Hampers Sandy Recovery

October 8, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Frank Eltman | News | Comments

A court fight to protect the piping plover is holding up a $207 million plan to replenish sand along a 19-mile stretch of shoreline on New York's Fire Island. The small bird that lives on the island is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and, elsewhere in the country, is listed as endangered.

Physics Models Can Improve Atmospheric Chemistry

October 6, 2014 2:00 pm | by Springer | News | Comments

New theoretical physics models could help us better grasp the atmospheric chemistry of ozone depletion. Understanding photoabsorption of nitrous oxide matters because a small fraction of N2O reacts with oxygen atoms in the stratosphere to produce nitric oxide, which participates in the catalytic destruction of ozone.

Cleaning Chesapeake Would Reap $22 B Reward

October 6, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Hope Yen | News | Comments

The Chesapeake Bay region would reap an additional $22.5 billion a year from improved hurricane protection, crab and fish production and climate stability if the Obama administration's contested plan to clean up the watershed proceeds, an environmental group says.

Air Quality Linked to River Flow

October 6, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

A study shows that air pollution has had a significant impact on the amount of water flowing through many rivers in the northern hemisphere. A paper on the work demonstrates how such pollution, known as aerosols, can have an impact on the natural environment and highlights the importance of considering these factors in assessments of future climate change.

California Air Getting Less Cancerous

October 3, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Justin Pritchard | News | Comments

Southern California's air is getting healthier. According to a major air quality study released this week, cancer-causing pollutants have dropped by more than 50 percent on average since 2005.

Bacteria Reduces Impact of Pharmaceuticals in Rivers

October 1, 2014 2:00 pm | by Plymouth Univ. | News | Comments

Diazepam– used to treat anxiety and other similar conditions– has been detected in rivers across the UK and Europe, having been released from waste water treatment plants. The natural photo degradation of diazepam and similar medicines– followed by bacterial breakdown– may reduce their potentially harmful impact on the UK’s freshwater environment, a team of researchers has said.

Fuel Cell-powered Lights Ready for Commercialization

October 1, 2014 2:00 pm | by Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Mobile lighting systems powered by hydrogen fuel cells are cleaner, quieter and now have a proven track record in applications such as nighttime construction, sports and entertainment events and airport operations, making them ready for commercialization and broader use.

California First to Ban Plastic Bags

October 1, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Fenit Nirappil | News | Comments

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, driven to action by a buildup of litter and damage to aquatic ecosystems. A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015.

Populations Plummet for 3,000 Wild Species

September 30, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, John Heilprin | News | Comments

About 3,000 species of wildlife around the world have seen their numbers plummet far worse than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the world's biggest environmental groups. The study largely blamed human threats to nature for a 52 percent decline in wildlife populations between 1970 and 2010.

Research Yields Recyclable Battery

September 29, 2014 2:00 pm | by Uppsala Univ. | News | Comments

Present-day lithium batteries are efficient but involve a range of resource and environmental problems. Now, using materials from alfalfa and pine resin and a clever recycling strategy, researchers have come up with an interesting alternative.

Climate to Blame for Most of 2013 Wild Weather

September 29, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

Scientists looking at 16 cases of wild weather around the world last year see the fingerprints of man-made global warming on more than half of them. Researchers found that climate change increased the odds of nine extremes: heat waves in Australia, Europe, China, Japan and Korea, intense rain in parts of the U.S. and India and severe droughts in California and New Zealand.

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