ScienceDaily: Top Environment News: A warming world will further intensify extreme precipitation events, research shows

Jay Owen Earth Systems Science

A warming world will further intensify extreme precipitation events, research shows

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 04:09 PM PDT

As the globe warms from rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, more moisture in a warmer atmosphere will make the most extreme precipitation events more intense, new research shows.

Researchers uncover new pathways in bacterial intercellular competition

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 03:47 PM PDT

There’s an epic battle taking place that’s not on the national radar: intercellular competition. While it’s not an Olympic event, new research demonstrates that this microscopic rivalry can be just as fierce as humans going for the gold.

The ethics of resurrecting extinct species

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 01:59 PM PDT

At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

‘Pharmaceutical’ approach boosts oil production from algae

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 12:29 PM PDT

Taking an approach similar to that used for discovering new therapeutic drugs, chemists have found several compounds that can boost oil production by green microscopic algae, a potential source of biodiesel and other “green” fuels.

How carbon moves within planet plays big role in planetary atmosphere formation

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 12:29 PM PDT

A new study suggests that the way carbon moves from within a planet to the surface plays a big role in the evolution of a planet’s atmosphere. Mars, which likely released much of its carbon as methane, might have been warm enough to support liquid water.

No map, no problems for monarchs

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 12:29 PM PDT

Monarch butterflies have long been admired for their sense of direction, as they migrate from Canada and the United States to Mexico. According to new findings from a team of scientists, the winged insects fly without a map, and use basic orientation and landmarks to find their way to their wintering sites, thousands of miles away.

Surprising predictor of ecosystem chemistry

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 12:28 PM PDT

Scientists have found that the plant species making up an ecosystem are better predictors of ecosystem chemistry than environmental conditions such as terrain, geology, or altitude. This is the first study using a new, high-resolution airborne, chemical-detecting instrument to map multiple ecosystem chemicals.

Carbon dioxide released from burning fuel today goes back into new fuels tomorrow

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 12:28 PM PDT

The search for ways to use megatons of carbon dioxide that may be removed from industrial smokestacks during efforts to curb global warming has led to a process for converting that major greenhouse gas back into the fuel that released it in the first place.

Gulf of Mexico has greater-than-believed ability to self-cleanse oil spills

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 12:27 PM PDT

The Gulf of Mexico may have a much greater natural ability to self-clean oil spills than previously believed, an expert in bioremediation has said.

Byrd came oh-so-close, but probably didn’t reach North Pole

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 11:26 AM PDT

When renowned explorer Richard E. Byrd returned from the first-ever flight to the North Pole in 1926, he sparked a controversy that remains today. Studying supercomputer simulations of atmospheric conditions on the day of the flight and double-checking Byrd’s navigation techniques, a researcher has determined that Byrd indeed neared the Pole, but likely only flew within 80 miles of it before turning back.

Population boom poses interconnected challenges of energy, food, water

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 11:26 AM PDT

Mention great challenges in feeding a soaring world population, and thoughts turn to providing a bare subsistence diet for poverty-stricken people in developing countries. But an expert described a parallel and often-overlooked challenge of feeding a larger middle class.

High salt levels in Saharan groundwater endanger oases farming

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 10:38 AM PDT

For more than 40 years, snowmelt and runoff from Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains has been dammed and redirected hundreds of kilometers to the south to irrigate oases farms in the arid, sub-Saharan Draa Basin. But a new study finds that far from alleviating water woes for the six farm oases in the basin, the inflow of imported water has exacerbated problems by dramatically increasing the natural saltiness of their groundwater.

Rapid climate change and the role of the Southern Ocean

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 10:37 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered new clues about past rapid climate change. The research concludes that oceanographic reorganizations and biological processes are linked to the supply of airborne dust in the Southern Ocean and this connection played a key role in past rapid fluctuations of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, an important component in the climate system.

New evidence dinosaurs were strong swimmers

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 09:35 AM PDT

A researcher has identified some of the strongest evidence ever found that dinosaurs could paddle long distances. He examined unusual claw marks left on a river bottom in China that is known to have been a major travel-way for dinosaurs.

Dramatic retreat of the Andean glaciers over the last 30 years

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 09:28 AM PDT

The glaciers in the tropical Andes shrunk between 30 and 50% in 30 years, which represents the highest rate observed over the last three centuries. Scientists have recently published a summary which chronicles the history of these glaciers since their maximum extension, reached between 1650 and 1730 of our era, in the middle of the Little Ice Age. The faster melting is due to the rapid climate change which has occurred in the tropics since the 1950s, and in particular since the end of the 1970s, leading to an average temperature rise of 0.7°C in this part of the Andes. At the current pace of their retreat, small glaciers could disappear within the next 10 to 15 years, affecting water supply for the populations.

Natural soil bacteria pump new life into exhausted oil wells

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 09:22 AM PDT

Technology that enlists natural soil bacteria as 21st century roughnecks now is commercially available and poised to recover precious oil remaining in thousands of exhausted oil wells. The process has been termed microbially enhanced oil recovery (MEOR).

Sweet success: Catalyzing more sugars from biomass

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 07:33 AM PDT

Using an ultrahigh-precision microscopy technique, researchers have uncovered a way to improve the collective catalytic activity of enzyme cocktails on cellulosic biomass, boosting the yields of sugars for the production of advanced biofuels.

Birds find ways to avoid raising cuckoos’ young

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 07:33 AM PDT

A new study suggests swallows and martins breed indoors and close to humans to avoid having to rear cuckoos. Some species of birds reproduce not by rearing their own young, but by handing that task on to adults of other species. Known as brood parasitism, this habit has been most thoroughly researched in the cuckoo. Previous research has found, however, that the nests of martins and swallows in Europe are rarely parasitized by cuckoos.

Bird flu mutation study offers vaccine clue

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 05:50 AM PDT

Scientists have described small genetic changes that enable the H5N1 bird flu virus to replicate more easily in the noses of mammals.

New mechanism for cell membrane fission proposed

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 05:50 AM PDT

Scientists have characterized the functioning of a protein responsible for cell membrane splitting. The results of the study make it possible to see the basic mechanisms of cell life from a fresh perspective, like the fusion and splitting of cell membranes. What is more, the methodology developed will allow various neuromuscular disorders to be diagnosed.