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Astronomers observe a dying red giant star's final act

March 17, 2017 - 11:06am
Using a powerful telescope, scientists view spiral pattern of gaseous emissions around LL Pegasi and its companion star.

Stanford scientists reveal how grass developed a better way to breathe

March 17, 2017 - 11:01am
Grasses are better able to withstand drought or high temperatures than many other plants in large part due to changes in their pores, called stomata. Stanford scientists have discovered how grasses produce these altered pores, which could someday lead to crops that can better survive climate change.

Why water splashes: new theory reveals secrets

March 17, 2017 - 10:52am
New research from the University of Warwick generates fresh insight into how a raindrop or spilt coffee splashes.

Earth's first example of recycling -- its own crust!

March 17, 2017 - 8:22am
Rock samples from northeastern Canada retain chemical signals that help explain what Earth’s crust was like more than 4 billion years ago, reveals new work from Carnegie’s Richard Carlson and Jonathan O’Neil of the University of Ottawa. Their work is published by Science.  

NASA Satellite Identifies Global Ammonia "Hotspots"

March 16, 2017 - 3:22pm
The first global, long-term satellite study of airborne ammonia gas has revealed “hotspots” of the pollutant over four of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. The results of the study, conducted using data from NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite, could inform the development of strategies to control pollution from ammonia and ammonia byproducts in Earth’s agricultural areas.A University of Maryland-led team discovered steadily increasing ammonia concentrations from 2002 to 2016 over agricultural centers in the United States, Europe, China and India. Increased concentrations of atmospheric ammonia are linked to poor air and water quality.  

Natural measures to prevent floods are not a 'silver bullet'

March 16, 2017 - 1:07pm
Measures such as river restoration and tree planting aim to restore processes that have been affected by human activities like farming, land management and house-building. Natural flood management is an area of increasing interest for policy makers, but its implementation can present a complex balancing act between the needs of different groups, including the public, farmers and land owners. Mixed messages about their effectiveness and the scale needed to implement natural flood management measures successfully add to the uncertainty surrounding their benefits. Now a team of experts, led by Dr Simon Dadson of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, has compiled evidence on natural flood management to inform policy decision-making and show where there are still crucial gaps in knowledge. The article shines a light on the scientific evidence available from a variety of sources, ranging from field data to model projections and expert opinion.

Outwitting climate change with a plant 'dimmer'?

March 16, 2017 - 11:59am
Plants possess molecular mechanisms that prevent them from blooming in winter. Once the cold of win-ter has passed, they are deactivated. However, if it is still too cold in spring, plants adapt their blooming behavior accordingly. Scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have discovered genetic changes for this adaptive behavior. In light of the temperature changes resulting from climate change, this may come in useful for securing the production of food in the future.

NASA Study Confirms Biofuels Reduce Jet Engine Pollution

March 16, 2017 - 10:01am
Using biofuels to help power jet engines reduces particle emissions in their exhaust by as much as 50 to 70 percent, in a new study conclusion that bodes well for airline economics and Earth’s environment.The findings are the result of a cooperative international research program led by NASA and involving agencies from Germany and Canada, and are detailed in a study published in the journal Nature.

NSF awards $5.6 million to establish new arctic Long-Term Ecological Research site

March 16, 2017 - 9:15am
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a $5.6 million, five-year grant to establish a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site along the northern Alaskan coast that will focus on the interactions between land and ocean that shape coastal ecosystems in the Arctic over different time scales.Researchers at the Beaufort Sea Lagoons LTER site will study food webs, which support large-scale coastal fisheries and more than 150 species of migratory birds and waterfowl. Long-term changes along the northern Alaska coast have already affected the types of fish and other creatures that live in the lagoons, and are expected to continue to do so. The LTER research team will collaborate with members of local communities, including the Iñupiat, and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  

NASA Spots Sub-Tropical Storm 11S Still Swirling

March 15, 2017 - 3:57pm
Once a tropical storm, now a sub-tropical storm, the remnants of the tropical low pressure area formerly known as 11S was spotted by NASA's Aqua satellite, still spinning in the Southern Indian Ocean.On March 14 at 2230 UTC (6:30 p.m. EST) the remnants of Tropical Cyclone 11S were located near 29.8 degrees south latitude and 52.4 degrees east longitude, about 530 nautical miles south-southwest of La Reunion Island.

Optical fingerprints can reveal environmental gases

March 15, 2017 - 3:11pm
More efficient sensors are needed to be able to detect environmental pollution. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have proposed a new, sophisticated method of detecting molecules with sensors based on ultra-thin nanomaterials. The novel method could improve environmental sensing in the future. The results are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.“This could open up new possibilities for the detection of environmental gases. Our method is more robust than conventional sensors, which rely on small changes in optical properties”, says Maja Feierabend, PhD student at the Department of Physics and the main author of the article from Chalmers University of Technology and Technische Universität Berlin.

What makes farmers try new practices?

March 15, 2017 - 8:27am
Change is never easy. But when it comes to adopting new agricultural practices, some farmers are easier to convince than others.

Early Earth Had a Hazy, Methane-filled Atmosphere

March 14, 2017 - 4:21pm
More than 2.4 billion years ago, Earth’s atmosphere was inhospitable, filled with toxic gases that drove wildly fluctuating surface temperatures. Understanding how today’s world of mild climates and breathable air took shape is a fundamental question in Earth science.New research from the University of Maryland, the University of St. Andrews, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Leeds and the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science suggests that long ago, Earth’s atmosphere spent about a million years filled with a methane-rich haze. This haze drove a large amount of hydrogen out of the atmosphere, clearing the way for massive amounts of oxygen to fill the air. This transformation resulted in an atmosphere much like the one that sustains life on Earth today.

New Materials Could Turn Water into the Fuel of the Future

March 14, 2017 - 3:55pm
Researchers at Caltech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have—in just two years—nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels.They did so by developing a process that promises to speed the discovery of commercially viable solar fuels that could replace coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.

Scientists harness solar power to produce clean hydrogen from biomass

March 14, 2017 - 12:11pm
A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed a way of using solar power to generate a fuel that is both sustainable and relatively cheap to produce. It’s using natural light to generate hydrogen from biomass.One of the challenges facing modern society is what it does with its waste products. As natural resources decline in abundance, using waste for energy is becoming more pressing for both governments and business.

Humans Made the Banana Perfect—But Soon, It'll Be Gone

March 14, 2017 - 9:38am
On a plate, a single banana seems whimsical—yellow and sweet, contained in its own easy-to-open peel. It is a charming breakfast luxury as silly as it is delicious and ever-present. Yet when you eat a banana the flavor on your tongue has complex roots, equal parts sweetness and tragedy.

Doubts about whether internet filters protect teenagers online

March 14, 2017 - 9:33am
Internet filters are widely used in homes, schools and libraries throughout the UK to protect young people from unpleasant online experiences. However, a new study by Oxford casts doubt on whether such technologies shield young teenagers after finding no link between homes with internet filters and the likelihood of the teenagers in those households being better protected. 

Switzerland could generate more energy out of used wood

March 13, 2017 - 3:27pm
Switzerland is not fully exploiting a significant source of clean energy: 173,000 tonnes of used wood could be re-used producing valuable heat and power energy today, in addition to the 644,000 tonnes of used wood already being used. This was the conclusion reached by a nationwide survey conducted by the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) among 567 companies in the construction, waste management and transport sectors.

Star discovered in closest known orbit around black hole

March 13, 2017 - 3:01pm
Astronomers have found evidence for a star that whips around a black hole about twice an hour. This may be the tightest orbital dance ever witnessed for a black hole and a companion star.

Stanford scientists map seawater threat to California Central Coast aquifers

March 13, 2017 - 2:15pm
Researchers from Stanford and the University of Calgary have transformed pulses of electrical current sent 1,000 feet underground into a picture of where seawater has infiltrated freshwater aquifers along the Monterey Bay coastline.The findings, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Hydrology but are available online now, help explain factors controlling this phenomenon, called saltwater intrusion, and could help improve the groundwater models that local water managers use to make decisions about pumping groundwater to meet drinking or farming needs.

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