Genetic Signatures May Help Predictive Climate Models
One aspect of the climate change models researchers have been developing looks at how plant ranges might shift, and how factors such as temperature, water availability and light levels might come into play. Forests creeping steadily north and becoming established in the thawing Arctic is just one of the predicted effects of rising global temperatures.
A recent study published in Nature Genetics offers a more in-depth, population-based approach to identifying such mechanisms for adaptation, and describes a method that could be harnessed for developing more accurate predictive climate change models. For the U.S. Department of Energy, which is developing biomass crops for biofuels production, this knowledge could determine which genotypes – genetic makeup of an organism – of biomass crop may thrive better than others in certain environments.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/genetic-signatures-may-help-predictive-climate-models
Ibuprofen May Pose Threat to Fish
WikimediaUsing a new modeling approach, the researchers at the Univ. of York estimated the levels of 12 pharmaceutical compounds in rivers across the UK. They found that while most of the compounds were likely to cause only a low risk to aquatic life, ibuprofen might be having an adverse effect in nearly 50 percent of the stretches of river studied.
In what is believed to be the first study to establish the level of risk posed by ibuprofen at the country scale, the researchers examined 3,112 stretches of river that together receive inputs from 21 million people.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/ibuprofen-may-pose-threat-fish
GPS Stations See Huge Water Loss in Western U.S.
About 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost to drought in the western U.S., enough to blanket the region with four inches of water, according to a study.
Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, arrived at the conclusion by measuring the level of the earth’s crust with a network of GPS stations that is normally used to predict earthquakes.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/gps-stations-see-huge-water-loss-western-us
China’s Energy Plan Holds Climate Risks
Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble of this power plant echoes across the ancient steppe, and its acrid stench travels dozens of miles away.
This is the first of more than 60 coal-to-gas plants China wants to build, mostly in remote parts of the country where ethnic minorities have farmed and herded for centuries. Fired up in December, the multibillion-dollar plant bombards millions of tons of coal with water and heat to produce methane, which is piped to Beijing to generate electricity.
It’s part of a controversial energy revolution China hopes will help it churn out desperately needed natural gas and electricity while cleaning up the toxic skies above the country’s eastern cities. However, the plants will also release vast amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, even as the world struggles to curb greenhouse gas emissions and stave off global warming.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/chinas-energy-plan-holds-climate-risks
Sunlight Controls Fate of Permafrost’s Released Carbon
Just how much Arctic permafrost will thaw in the future and how fast heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be released from those warming soils is a topic of lively debate among climate scientists.
To answer those questions, scientists need to understand the mechanisms that control the conversion of organic soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas. Until now, researchers believed that bacteria were largely responsible.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/sunlight-controls-fate-permafrosts-released-carbon
Algae might seem easy to ignore, but they are the ultimate source of all organic matter that marine animals depend upon. Humans are increasingly dependent on algae, too, to suck up climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sink it to the bottom of the ocean. Now, by using a combination of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, researchers have evidence showing that viruses infecting those algae are driving the life-and-death dynamics of the algae’s blooms, even when all else stays essentially the same, and this has important implications for our climate.
According to results, reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology today, a single North Atlantic algal bloom, about 30 kilometers in radius, converted 24,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into organic carbon via a process known as carbon fixation. Two-thirds of that carbon turned over within a week as that bloom grew at a very rapid rate and then quickly met its demise. A closer look at those algae revealed high levels of specific viruses infecting their cells.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/viruses-can-destroy-massive-algal-blooms
Sunblock is Possible Hazard to Sea Life
The sweet and salty aroma of sunscreen and seawater signals a relaxing trip to the shore. But, scientists are now reporting that the idyllic beach vacation comes with an environmental hitch. When certain sunblock ingredients wash off skin and into the sea, they can become toxic to some of the ocean’s tiniest inhabitants, which are the main course for many other marine animals. Their study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/sunblock-possible-hazard-sea-life
Unanticipated economic benefits from the shale oil and gas boom could help offset the costs of substantially reducing the U.S.’s carbon footprint, Purdue agricultural economists say. Wally Tyner and Farzad Taheripour estimate that shale technologies annually provide an extra $302 billion to the U.S. economy relative to 2007, a yearly “dividend” that could continue for at least the next two decades, Tyner said.
Using an economic model, they found that “spending” part of this dividend on slashing the nation’s carbon emissions by about 27 percent — about the same amount set forth in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed Clean Power Plan — would reduce the shale dividend by about half.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/shale-oil-dividend-could-pay-smaller-footprint
Study Blames Humans for Melting Glaciers
More than two-thirds of the recent rapid melting of the world’s glaciers can be blamed on humans, a new study finds.
Scientists looking at glacier melt since 1851 didn’t see a human fingerprint until about the middle of the 20th century. Even then only one-quarter of the warming wasn’t from natural causes. But since 1991, about 69 percent of the rapidly increasing melt was man-made, said Ben Marzeion, a climate scientist at the Univ. of Innsbruck.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/study-blames-humans-melting-glaciers
Look at What’s in Fracking Fluids Raises Red Flags
As the oil and gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing proliferates, a new study on the contents of the fluids involved in the process raises concerns about several ingredients. The scientists presenting the work this week at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) say that out of nearly 200 commonly used compounds, there’s very little known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals.
William Stringfellow says he conducted the review of fracking contents to help resolve the public debate over the controversial drilling practice. Fracking involves injecting water with a mix of chemical additives into rock formations deep underground to promote the release of oil and gas. It has led to a natural gas boom in the U.S., but it has also stimulated major opposition and troubling reports of contaminated well water, as well as increased air pollution near drill sites.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/look-what%E2%80%99s-fracking-fluids-raises-red-flags-%E2%80%A8
Spanish Forest Fires Have Evolved with Climate
A group from the Univ. of Alcalá in Spain has defined the landscape of forest fires on a nationwide scale over the course of 42 years. The research has found that the abandonment of agricultural land and higher temperatures have contributed to intensifying the fires.
For the very first time, research has shown how forest fires in Spain have evolved over recent years from 1968 to 2010. The research has been published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy.
The study’s main findings reflect the fact that, in broad terms, an increase in both the number of fires and the burned area was recorded in the 1970s. In 1990 there was a drop in the Mediterranean region that spread to the rest of the territory in the vegetative season, from May to November.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/spanish-forest-fires-have-evolved-climate
Oyster Numbers Still Suffering Since BP Spill
Gulf Coast oyster harvests have declined dramatically in the four years since a BP PLC oil well blew in the U.S.’s worst offshore oil disaster, spilling millions of gallons off Louisiana’s coast in 2010.
Fisherman Randy Slavich dragged a clunky metal net through an underwater oyster bed recently in Lake Machias, a brackish body opening into the Gulf of Mexico. For generations before the spill, this has been a bountiful lake for harvesting oysters. His cage-like net pulled up dozens of empty, lifeless oyster shells. “It’s not good,” he said, pushing the shells back into the water. “We’ve never seen it like this, not out here.”
Even after a modest rebound last year, thousands of acres of oyster beds where oil from the well washed ashore are producing less than a third of their pre-spill harvest.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/oyster-numbers-still-suffering-bp-spill
New Lab to Speed Michigan Water Testing
A new laboratory at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township aims to speed and improve the process of testing water at beaches in Michigan.
The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens and The Detroit News report the lab opened this week in Harrison Township following years of work to improve testing. The lab is part of a pilot project designed to help state officials plan for future water monitoring.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/new-lab-speed-michigan-water-testing
Town Would be First to Ban Fracking in Texas
Natural gas money has been good to the Texas city of Denton: it has new parks, a new golf course and miles of grassy soccer fields. The business district is getting a makeover, and the airport is bustling, too. For more than a decade, Denton has drawn its lifeblood from the huge gas reserves that lie beneath its streets. The gas fields have produced a billion dollars in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts.
But this former farming center north of Dallas is considering a revolt. Unlike other communities that have embraced the lucrative drilling boom made possible by hydraulic fracturing, leaders there have temporarily halted all fracking as they consider an ordinance that could make theirs the first city in the state to permanently ban the practice.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/town-would-be-first-ban-fracking-texas
Research Underscores the Importance of Species
UC Santa Barbara doctoral candidate Caitlin Fong travels to French Polynesia often but not for vacation. She goes there to study a coral reef ecosystem influenced by human impacts such as overfishing and nutrient pollution.
Her work focuses not only on biological changes but also methods scientists use to determine within-group group responses to ecological processes. The findings are published in ESA Ecology, a journal of the Ecological Society of America.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/research-underscores-importance-species