Legislative & Regulatory Update

Low snowpacks of 2014, 2015 may become increasingly common with warmer conditions

Climate Change News - ENN - February 23, 2017 - 10:10am
Oregon experienced very low snowpack levels in 2014 and historically low snowpack levels in 2015; now a new study suggests that these occurrences may not be anomalous in the future and could become much more common if average temperatures warm just two degrees (Celsius).The low snowpack levels were linked to warmer temperatures and not a lack of precipitation, the researchers say. Based on simulations of previous and predicted snowpack, the study suggests that by mid-century, years like 2015 may happen about once a decade, while snowpack levels similar to 2014 will take place every 4-5 years.

Study Targets Warm Water Rings that Fuel Hurricane Intensification in the Caribbean Sea

Climate Change News - ENN - February 23, 2017 - 10:05am
Last year’s devastating category-5 hurricane—Matthew—may be one of many past examples of a tropical storm fueled by massive rings of warm water that exist in the upper reaches of the Caribbean Sea.

What, You Can't Tell Two Lemurs Apart? Computers Can

The Centre Valbio research station, a modern building of stone and glass set in the jungled hills at the edge of Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park, was starting to look like the third season of The Wire. Big tackboards lined the walls, each one covered with dozens of pinned-up photographs. Some images were grouped together in families, while others floated alone, unconnected. It was 2012, and Rachel Jacobs was using Detective McNulty-style tactics to sort out the associations in a very different kind of crew: the park’s population of red-bellied lemurs.

Serendipity Uncovers Borophene's Potential

Almost one year ago, borophene didn’t even exist. Now, just months after a Northwestern Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory team discovered the material, another team led by Mark Hersam is already making strides toward understanding its complicated chemistry and realizing its electronic potential.

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a chaotic solar system

Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Northwestern University has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the planets in our solar system behave in their orbits around the sun.

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

Researchers Gain Insight Into a Physical Phenomenon That Leads to Earthquakes

Scientists have gotten better at predicting where earthquakes will occur, but they’re still in the dark about when they will strike and how devastating they will be.

Inside the Race to Build the Battery of Tomorrow

The battery might be the least sexy piece of technology ever invented. The lack of glamour is especially conspicuous on the lower floors of MIT’s materials science department, where one lab devoted to building and testing the next world-changing energy storage device could easily be mistaken for a storage closet.

Science vs. the sea lamprey

Of all the fishy predators in the Great Lakes, few are more destructive than the sea lamprey. There’s something of a horror movie in their approach: jawless, they attach to prey such as salmon, whitefish or trout with a sucker mouth and drain the victim of its blood and lymph.For years, scientists and policy-makers have been trying to devise strategies to curb this population, which first arrived from Europe through shipping channels in the early 20th century.

New studies quantify the impacts of water use on diversity of fish and aquatic insects in NC streams

The health of fish and aquatic insects could be significantly affected by withdrawals of fresh water from the rivers and streams across North Carolina according to a new scientific assessment.A series of studies were conducted by a team of researchers, led by Jennifer Phelan, Ph.D., a senior ecologist at RTI International, to understand the relationships between changes in streamflow and the diversity of fish and richness of aquatic insects.

Dream of energy-collecting windows is one step closer to reality

Discovery could lower cost and expand possibilities for building-integrated solar energy collectionResearchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca are bringing the dream of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy one step closer to reality thanks to high tech silicon nanoparticles.The researchers developed technology to embed the silicon nanoparticles into what they call efficient luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs). These LSCs are the key element of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy. When light shines through the surface, the useful frequencies of light are trapped inside and concentrated to the edges where small solar cells can be put in place to capture the energy.The research is published today in Nature Photonics, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.

OFFSHORE WIND PUSH

Researchers show US grid can handle more offshore wind power, cutting pollution and power costsInjecting large amounts of offshore wind power into the U.S. electrical grid is manageable, will cut electricity costs, and will reduce pollution compared to current fossil fuel sources, according to researchers from the University of Delaware and Princeton University who have completed a first-of-its-kind simulation with the electric power industry.

Transforming restaurant waste into fuel

When most people look at discarded vegetable oil—browned and gritty from frying food—they likely see nothing more than waste.But to Ajay Dalai, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, the cooking process creates a byproduct that has newfound potential as a source of fuel and biolubricant. 

The invisible clean-up crew: Engineering microbial cultures to destroy pollutants

University of Toronto engineering professor Elizabeth Edwards is internationally recognized for using biotechnology to clean up industrial solvents in soil and groundwater. Her technique earned her the prestigious Killam Prize in 2016 and has already been used to restore more than 500 sites around the world.

NASA's Fermi Finds Possible Dark Matter Ties in Andromeda Galaxy

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has found a signal at the center of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy that could indicate the presence of the mysterious stuff known as dark matter. The gamma-ray signal is similar to one seen by Fermi at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Winners, losers among fish when landscape undergoes change

Climate Change News - ENN - February 21, 2017 - 4:41pm
As humans build roads, construct buildings and develop land for agriculture, freshwater ecosystems respond - but not always in the ways one might expect.

Over time, nuisance flooding can cost more than extreme, infrequent events

Climate Change News - ENN - February 21, 2017 - 3:10pm
Global climate change is being felt in many coastal communities of the United States, not always in the form of big weather disasters but as a steady drip, drip, drip of nuisance flooding.

Colorado River Flows to Keep Shrinking as Climate Warms

Climate Change News - ENN - February 21, 2017 - 2:41pm
Warming in the 21st century reduced Colorado River flows by at least 0.5 million acre-feet, about the amount of water used by 2 million people for one year, according to new research from the University of Arizona and Colorado State University.

New URI professor examining effects of climate change on coral reefs, shellfish

Climate Change News - ENN - February 21, 2017 - 1:16pm
The newest professor in the University of Rhode Island’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences, Hollie Putnam, thinks some corals and shellfish might have good enough “memories” to buffer the changes in ocean chemistry that are resulting from global climate change.A native of Minnesota who earned a doctorate at the University of Hawaii, Putnam is studying how a wide variety of marine organisms are responding to changes in their environment. Focusing on reef-building corals and other shelled creatures that are threatened by increasing temperatures and ocean acidification, she is testing them to determine how species may acclimatize to the new circumstances.

Researcher Unveils Tool for Cleaner Long Island Sound

A new model released this week by UConn ecologist Jamie Vaudrey pinpoints sources of nitrogen pollution along Long Island Sound, and shows municipalities what they might do to alleviate it. Vaudrey presented her research Feb. 19 at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston.Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean bordered by Connecticut to the north, New York City to the west, and Long Island to the south. The Sound is home to dozens of species of birds, 170 species of fish, and more than 1,200 species of invertebrates. Historically it has supported rich recreational and commercial fisheries for lobster, oysters, blue crabs, scallops, striped bass, flounder, and bluefish.

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