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The Lead

Calcium Loss Causes 'Jellification' of Lakes

November 20, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Declining calcium levels in some North American lakes are causing major depletions of dominant plankton species, enabling the rapid rise of their ecological competitor: a small jelly-clad invertebrate. Scientists say increasing “jellification” will damage fish stocks and filtration systems that allow lakes to supply drinking water, and that lakes may have been pushed into an entirely new ecological state.

Tech Sheds New Light on Landslides

November 20, 2014 7:00 am | by Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Engineers have created a new way to use lidar technology to identify and classify landslides on...

Fossils Cast Doubt on Climate Change Predictions

November 19, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

Leave it to long-dead short-tailed shrew and flying squirrels to outfox climate modelers trying...

San Diego Reconsiders Recycling Water

November 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Elliot Spagat | News | Comments

Dismissed only a few years ago by residents of California's second-largest city, San Diego...

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Tests Find Water Clean After Energy Boom

November 18, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Matthew Brown | News | Comments

Random testing of shallow groundwater in the Northern Plains oil patch found no evidence of contamination from an energy boom that's already seen more than 8,500 wells drilled, federal scientists have said.

Will US-China Climate Agreement Ease Global Accord?

November 14, 2014 2:31 pm | by Chris Gorski, Senior Editor, Inside Science News | News | Comments

Despite an agreement between the world's two two polluting countries this week, a global agreement is still needed to limit future warming to levels that experts deem acceptable. Research on negotiations suggests that getting all countries to agree on an overall agreement is still a big job.

U.S. to Get More Lightning as Climate Changes

November 14, 2014 7:00 am | by UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Today’s climate models predict a 50 percent increase in lightning strikes across the U.S. during this century as a result of warming temperatures associated with climate change.


Supercomputers Enable High-res Climate Models

November 14, 2014 7:00 am | by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Not long ago, it would have taken several years to run a high-resolution simulation on a global climate model. But using some of the most powerful supercomputers now available, a climate scientist was able to complete a run in just three months.

Pigeons May Have an Internal Gyroscope

November 13, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Company of Biologists | News | Comments

How homing pigeons find their way home is still largely a mystery. Now, researchers have found that homing pigeons are affected by disturbances in the gravity field and suggest that the birds navigate using an internal gyroscope to guide themselves home.

What's Bad for the Seedling is Good for the Forest

November 12, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Plant diseases attack trees and crops and can hurt lumber and food production, but biologists have found that pathogens that kill tree seedlings actually can make forests more diverse.

Plants Can Regenerate by Copying Their DNA

November 12, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

When munched by grazing animals, some herbaceous plants overcompensate– producing more plant matter and becoming more fertile than they otherwise would. A new study is the first to show that a plant’s ability to dramatically rebound after being cut down relies on a process called genome duplication, in which individual cells make multiple copies of all of their genetic content.

Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Off U.S. Coast

November 11, 2014 2:00 pm | by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | News | Comments

Monitoring efforts along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada have detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles due west of Eureka, Calif. Scientists found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean.


Wine Owes Debt to 30 M-year-old Viruses

November 11, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Univ. of Queensland | News | Comments

Next time you pour a glass of wine, raise a toast to the 30-million-year-old viruses that have contributed to the genetic make-up of modern grapes. Viruses are usually a curse to farmers because of the damage they cause to crops, but this study also suggests they play a vital evolutionary role.

Groundwater is Warming Up

November 11, 2014 7:00 am | by ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Global warming stops at nothing– not even groundwater, as a new study reveals: the groundwater’s temperature profiles echo those of the atmosphere, albeit damped and delayed. Researchers used uninterrupted long-term temperature measurements of groundwater flows around the cities of Cologne and Karlsruhe, where the operators of the local waterworks have been measuring the temperature of the groundwater for 40 years.

Robot Gliders Help Study Melting Polar Ice

November 11, 2014 7:00 am | by Caltech | News | Comments

Using robotic ocean gliders, researchers have found that swirling ocean eddies, similar to atmospheric storms, play an important role in transporting warm waters to the Antarctic coast— a discovery that will help the scientific community determine how rapidly the ice is melting and, as a result, how quickly ocean levels will rise.

Climate Worsening Watery Dead Zones

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

Dead zones occur when fertilizer runoff clogs waterways with nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. That leads to an explosion of microbes and leaves the water depleted of oxygen, harming marine life. Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.

‘Pollen Vortex’ Didn’t Happen

November 7, 2014 2:00 pm | by American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology | News | Comments

Last year’s long, harsh winter was brutal, and caused some experts to predict the “polar vortex” would turn into the “pollen vortex,” and make allergy sufferers more miserable than ever before. But the pollen vortex didn’t happen– at least not everywhere.


We Must Coexist with Wildfires

November 6, 2014 2:00 pm | by UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Scientists advocate using tools like thinning and prescribed burns to manage the severity of wildfires while allowing them to play their natural role in ecosystems. But, new research says the debate over fuel-reduction techniques is only a small part of a much larger problem that will make society increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic losses unless it changes its approach from fighting fire to coexisting with fire as a natural process.

Chinese Officials Smuggled Ivory on State Visit

November 6, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Didi Tang | News | Comments

Chinese officials and businesspeople used a state trip by President Xi Jinping and other high-level visits to smuggle ivory out of Tanzania, an environmental watchdog said today, casting doubt over Beijing's efforts to end the illegal trade that has led to rampant elephant poaching throughout Africa.

Shape of Eggs Help Explain Evolution of Birds

November 6, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Lincoln | News | Comments

The eggs of amniotes— mammals, reptiles and birds— come in a remarkable variety of shapes and sizes. Now, evolutionary biologists have addressed shape variety in terrestrial vertebrates' eggs, pinpointing morphological differences between the eggs of birds and those of their extinct relatives, the theropod dinosaurs.

Expect Higher Grass Pollen, Exposure in Coming Century

November 6, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst | News | Comments

Results of a new study strongly suggest that there will be notable increases in grass pollen production and allergen exposure up to 202 percent in the next 100 years, leading to a significant, worldwide impact on humans. The predicted upsurge in pollen is because of increases in carbon dioxide and ozone due to climate change.

Human Impact Alters Fish Evolution in Under 50 Years

November 5, 2014 2:00 pm | by North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

The road that connects also divides. This dichotomy– half-century-old roads connecting portions of Bahamian islands while fragmenting the tidal waters below– leads to rapid and interesting changes in the fish living in those fragmented sections, according to a new study.

Database, Algorithm Help Monitor Stream Health

November 3, 2014 2:00 pm | by Michigan State Univ. | News | Comments

Today’s natural resource manager tending to the health of a stream in Louisiana needs to look upstream. Way upstream– like Montana. Now, scientists have invented a way to more easily manage the extensive nature of streams. A team has presented a new database and algorithm that allows other researchers and conservation managers to understand what’s coming downstream without being weighed down by data files.

Robot Penguin Can Study Shy Birds

November 3, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

Emperor penguins are notoriously shy. When researchers approach, these penguins normally back away and their heart rate goes up. That's not what the scientists need when they want to check heart rate, health and other penguin parameters. So, international scientists and filmmakers have created a remote control rover disguised as a chick to snuggle up to shy penguins.

Study Finds Structure that Affected Chilean Earthquake

November 3, 2014 6:00 am | by Univ. of Liverpool | News | Comments

Researchers have found an unusual mass of rock deep in the active fault line beneath Chile that influenced the rupture size of a massive earthquake that struck the region in 2010. The geological structure is unusually dense and large for this depth in the Earth's crust. The body was revealed using 3-D seismic images of Earth's interior based on the monitoring of vibrations on the Pacific seafloor.

Oxygen Levels Delayed the Appearance of Animals

October 31, 2014 2:00 pm | by UC Riverside | News | Comments

Researchers are reporting that oxygen levels during the billion or more years before the rise of animals were only 0.1 percent of what they are today. Earth’s atmosphere couldn’t have supported a diversity of creatures, regardless of other factors.

Toddlers Emulate Peers, Apes Don't

October 31, 2014 7:00 am | by Association for Psychological Science | News | Comments

From the playground to the board room, people often conform to the behavior of those around them as a way of fitting in. New research shows that this behavioral conformity appears early in human children, but isn’t evidenced by apes like chimpanzees and orangutans.

Bats Like to Hang Out with Friends

October 31, 2014 7:00 am | by Centre for Ecology & Hydrology | News | Comments

New research has shown that despite moving house frequently, bats choose to roost with the same social groups of “friends.” The study found that different social groups roost in separate, though adjacent, parts of woodland. The findings have important implications for conservation as bats may not be able to move to another area if a section of woodland is felled.

Air Around Oil, Gas Sites May Be Dangerous

October 30, 2014 2:00 pm | by BioMed Central | News | Comments

New research suggests air pollutants released by unconventional oil and gas production are well over recommended levels in the U.S. The study is the first to be based on community sampling by people who live near production sites and could be used to supplement official air-quality monitoring programs.

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