ScienceDaily: Top Environment News: Superstorm Sandy shook the U. S., literally

Jay Owen Earth Systems Science

Superstorm Sandy shook the U. S., literally

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 06:39 PM PDT

When superstorm Sandy turned and took aim at New York City and Long Island last October, ocean waves hitting each other and the shore rattled the seafloor and much of the United States – shaking detected by seismometers across the country, researchers found.

New understanding of rare white shark movement around Hawai’i

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 01:23 PM PDT

A new study sheds light on the relatively rare but occasionally recorded presence of white sharks in waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, and suggests a new method to help distinguish between white sharks and close relatives, such as mako sharks.

‘First step’ in addressing effects of climate change

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 12:44 PM PDT

A new report on potential effects of climate change uses existing observations and science-based expectations to identify how climate change could affect habitats, plants and animals within the sanctuary and adjacent coastal areas.

Weeding out ineffective biocontrol agents

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 12:44 PM PDT

Biocontrol programs use an invasive plant’s natural enemies (insects and pathogens) to reduce its population. Most biocontrol programs combine many different enemies. Some combinations of enemy species can actually end up competing or interfering with each other, instead of attacking the weed.

Remote-sensing study quantifies permafrost degradation in Arctic Alaskan wetlands

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 12:44 PM PDT

Geoscientists has achieved unprecedented detail in quantifying subtle, long-period changes in the water levels of shallow lakes and ponds in hard-to-reach Arctic wetlands.

New solar-cell coating could enable a major boost in efficiency

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 11:23 AM PDT

Throughout decades of research on solar cells, one formula has been considered an absolute limit to the efficiency of such devices in converting sunlight into electricity: Called the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit, it posits that the ultimate conversion efficiency can never exceed 34 percent for a single optimized semiconductor junction. Now, researchers have shown that there is a way to blow past that limit as easily as today’s jet fighters zoom through the sound barrier — which was also once seen as an ultimate limit.

Sea-ice ecosystem possibly triggered evolution of baleen whales and penguins

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 11:23 AM PDT

The origin of the unique plankton ecosystem of the circum-Antarctic Southern Ocean can be traced back to the emergence of the Antarctic ice sheets approximately 33.6 million years ago. This discovery shows that the development of the sea-ice ecosystem possibly triggered further adaptation and evolution of larger organisms such as baleen whales and penguins.

Neural activity in bats measured in-flight

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 11:23 AM PDT

Scientists have, for the first time, measured the activity of place cells in the brains of bats as they navigated in three-dimensional space.

When it comes to survival of the fittest, stress is a good thing, squirrel study shows

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 11:23 AM PDT

Researchers have shown for the first time how females’ use social cues to correctly prepare their offspring for life outside the nest. The results confirm that red squirrel mothers boosted stress hormone production during pregnancy, which increased the size and the chances of survival of their pups.

Rats’ and bats’ brains work differently on the move

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 11:22 AM PDT

A new study of brain rhythms in bats and rats challenges a widely-used model — based on rodent studies — of how animals navigate their environment. To get a clearer picture of processes in the mammal brain during spatial navigation, neuroscientists must study more species, say scientists involved in the study.

First steps of synapse building is captured in live zebra fish embryos

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 10:41 AM PDT

Using spinning disk microscopy on barely day-old zebra fish embryos, scientists have gained a new window on how synapse-building components move to worksites in the central nervous system.

Evolving genes lead to evolving genes: Selection in European populations of genes regulated by FOXP2

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 09:49 AM PDT

Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

Scientists throw new light on DNA copying process

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 07:43 AM PDT

Scientists have thrown new light on the way breakdowns in the DNA copying process inside cells can contribute to cancer and other diseases.

Age matters to Antarctic clams: Age matters when it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 07:43 AM PDT

A new study of Antarctic clams reveals that age matters when it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change. The research provides new insight and understanding of the likely impact of predicted environmental change on future ocean biodiversity.

Dinosaur egg study supports evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs: How Troodon likely hatched its young

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 07:43 AM PDT

A small, bird-like North American dinosaur incubated its eggs in a similar way to brooding birds — bolstering the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs, researchers have found.

Pollution plumes in Paris air are richer in gaseous aromatic compounds than in Los Angeles

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 07:42 AM PDT

What is the origin of the volatile hydrocarbons, other than methane, present in city air? Mainly gasoline-powered vehicles, according to a new study. The study also shows that the proportion of gaseous aromatic compounds in hydrocarbon emissions is two to three times greater in pollution plumes in Paris than in Los Angeles, even though the total quantity of hydrocarbons emitted in Los Angeles remains considerably greater than in Paris.

Student tracks Asian bird’s migration patterns; recommends conservation strategies

Posted: 18 Apr 2013 07:01 AM PDT

Biologists have found that the Asian subspecies of great bustard, one of the heaviest birds capable of flight, covers migratory routes of more than 2,000 miles. The research study is the first of its kind to monitor the movement of this rarely studied subspecies through satellite telemetry and to connect a breeding population of Asian great bustards to their wintering grounds.