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
Electric Sparks May Alter Lunar Soil
The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by Univ. of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon’s coldest craters through the process of sparking. This find could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.
The study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon’s frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this “breakdown weathering” process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon’s polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system’s past, may be more active than previously thought.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/electric-sparks-may-alter-lunar-soil
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
Many Considerations Needed for Water Conservation Strategy
In April, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order asking residents to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent. That hasn’t happened. Since then, the state’s dry conditions have worsened, with more than 80 percent of California now in an extreme drought according to the National Weather Service.
As a result, officials are getting tough on water wasters: The State Water Resources Control Board recently adopted regulations giving local agencies the authority to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day. But efforts to hit Brown’s target might have unintended, and potentially harmful, consequences for the health of Californians and their communities.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/many-considerations-needed-water-conservation-strategy
Photosynthesis Inspires Better Fuels
Society’s energy supply problems could be solved in the future using a model adopted from nature. During photosynthesis, plants, algae and some species of bacteria produce sugars and other energy-rich substances (i.e. fuels) using solar energy. A team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion is currently developing experimental methods to ascertain how this process occur in nature.
The scientists are investigating a particularly important cofactor involved in photosysthesis, a manganese-calcium complex, which uses solar energy to split water into molecular oxygen. They have determined the exact structure of this complex at a crucial stage in this chemical reaction. This has led to a detailed suggestion as to how molecular oxygen, O2, is formed at this metal complex. Through these new insights into photosynthesis, the scientists have provided a blueprint for synthetic systems that could store sunlight energy in chemical energy carriers.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/photosynthesis-inspires-better-fuels
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
Drones Banned Over Appalachian Trail
The National Park Service has banned drones from flying over the Appalachian Trail. The Park Service said the interim rule prohibits launching, landing or operating unmanned aircraft from or on Appalachian National Scenic Trail lands.
The ban takes effect immediately and lasts until the Park Service can develop an appropriate policy. The Park Service says drones could affect resources and visitors in ways it has yet to analyze so more study is needed.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/drones-banned-over-appalachian-trail
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
Sun’s Activity Impacts Climate Change
A new study from Lund Univ. has, for the first time, reconstructed solar activity during the last ice age. The study shows that the regional climate is influenced by the sun and offers opportunities to better predict future climate conditions in certain regions.
For the first time, a research team has been able to reconstruct the solar activity at the end of the last ice age, around 20,000–10,000 years ago, by analyzing trace elements in ice cores in Greenland and cave formations from China. During the last glacial maximum, Sweden was covered in a thick ice sheet that stretched all the way down to northern Germany and sea levels were more than 100 meters lower than they are today, because the water was frozen in the extensive ice caps. The new study shows that the sun’s variation influences the climate in a similar way regardless of whether the climate is extreme, as during the Ice Age, or as it is today.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/sun%E2%80%99s-activity-impacts-climate-change
Model Predicts Water Scarcity, Climate Change in 2095
What will a global water scarcity map look like in 2095? Radically different, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, depending on the type and the stringency of the climate mitigation policies chosen to reduce carbon pollution.
In a first of its kind comprehensive analysis, the researchers, working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, used a unique modeling capability that links economic, energy, land-use and climate systems to show the effects of global change on water scarcity. When they incorporated water use and availability in this powerful engine and ran scenarios of possible climate mitigation policy targets, they found that without any climate policy to curb carbon emissions, half the world will be living under extreme water scarcity. Some climate mitigation policies, such as increasing growth of water-hungry biofuels, may exacerbate water scarcity.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/model-predicts-water-scarcity-climate-change-2095
Beetle Inspires Whiter Paper, Plastics, Paints
The physical properties of the ultra-white scales on certain species of beetle could be used to make whiter paper, plastics and paints, while using far less material than is used in current manufacturing methods.
The Cyphochilus beetle, which is native to South-East Asia, is whiter than paper, thanks to ultra-thin scales that cover its body. A new investigation of the optical properties of these scales has shown that they are able to scatter light more efficiently than any other biological tissue known, which is how they are able to achieve such a bright whiteness.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/beetle-inspires-whiter-paper-plastics-paints
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