Image of the Week: There is No Biodiversity Crisis
A Univ. of St Andrews study has found that — despite fears of a biodiversity crisis — there has, in fact, not been a consistent drop in numbers of species found locally around the world.
Instead, in a study of 100 communities and a total of 35,000 species that span from trees to starfish, scientists found a consistent change in which species are found in any one place. The researchers, who were surprised by the findings, say that the study should not detract from the threat many of the world’s species are under, but that policy-makers should focus on changes in biodiversity composition as well as loss.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/image-week-there-no-biodiversity-crisis
Team Improves Understanding of Valley-wide Stream Chemistry
A geostatistical approach for studying environmental conditions in stream networks and landscapes has been successfully applied at a valley-wide scale to assess headwater stream chemistry at high resolution, revealing unexpected patterns in natural chemical components.
“Headwater streams make up the majority of stream and river length in watersheds, affecting regional water quality,” says Assistant Prof. Kevin McGuire, associate director of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. “However, the actual patterns and causes of variation of water quality in headwater streams are often unknown.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/team-improves-understanding-valley-wide-stream-chemistry
Krypton Accurately Dates Antarctic Ice
A team of scientists has successfully identified the age of 120,000-year-old Antarctic ice using radiometric krypton dating – a new technique that may allow them to locate and date ice that is more than a million years old.
The ability to discover ancient ice is critical, the researchers say, because it will allow them to reconstruct the climate much farther back into Earth’s history and potentially understand the mechanisms that have triggered the planet to shift into and out of ice ages.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/krypton-accurately-dates-antarctic-ice
Research Sheds Light on Formation of the Andes
Scientists have long been trying to understand how the Andes and other broad, high-elevation mountain ranges were formed. New research by Carmala Garzione, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the Univ. of Rochester, and colleagues sheds light on the mystery.
In a paper published in the latest Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Garzione explains that the Altiplano plateau in the central Andes — and most likely the entire mountain range — was formed through a series of rapid growth spurts.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/research-sheds-light-formation-andes
Ancient Landscape Exists Beneath Greenland’s Ice
Some of the landscape underlying the massive Greenland ice sheet may have been undisturbed for 2.7 million years, ever since the island became completely ice-covered, according to researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Basing their discovery on an analysis of the chemical composition of silts recovered from the bottom of an ice core more than 3,000 meters long, the researchers argue that the find suggests “pre-glacial landscapes can remain preserved for long periods under continental ice sheets.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/ancient-landscape-exists-beneath-greenlands-ice
'Dressed' Laser May Induce Rain, Lightning
The adage, “Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” may one day be obsolete if researchers at the Univ. of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the Univ. of Arizona further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.
The solution? Surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam refuels and helps prevent the dissipation of the high-intensity primary beam, which on its own would break down quickly.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/dressed-laser-may-induce-rain-lightning
Global Soundscapes Day to Record Sounds of Earth
A Purdue Univ. researcher is collaborating with partners around the globe for a special Earth Day experience on Tuesday, April 22, designed to capture up to 1 million natural sound recordings and upload them for preservation.
Global Soundscapes Day, led by Purdue ecologist Bryan Pijanowski, will shine the spotlight on the importance of natural soundscapes and the potential for growing research and encouraging middle school and high school students about the career potentials in this field.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/global-soundscapes-day-record-sounds-earth
Forensic Genomics Solves Case of the Red Abalone Die-off
In August 2011, thousands of dead red abalone washed up on the beaches of Sonoma County in Northern California. At the time, the cause was unknown. Now, scientists, including a biologist from UC Davis, have learned that a harmful algal bloom was to blame: the causative agent Yessotoxin.
While discovery of the cause itself is noteworthy, the method by which it was determined could have a profound effect on how wildlife mortality events are investigated in the future. Described in a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers call this new approach “forensic genomics.” It involves a combination of field surveys, toxin testing and genomic scans.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/forensic-genomics-solves-case-red-abalone-die
Puget Sound’s Waters Come from Deep Canyon
The headwaters for Puget Sound’s famously rich waters lie far below the surface, in a submarine canyon that draws nutrient-rich water up from the deep ocean. New measurements may explain how the Pacific Northwest’s inland waters are able to support so many shellfish, salmon runs and even the occasional pod of whales.
Univ. of Washington oceanographers made the first detailed measurements at the headwater’s source, a submarine canyon offshore from the strait that separates the U.S. and Canada. Observations show water surging up through the canyon and mixing at surprisingly high rates, according to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/puget-sound%E2%80%99s-waters-come-deep-canyon
Nutrient-rich Forests Store More Carbon
The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers, including the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
The study showed that forests growing in fertile soils, with ample nutrients, are able to sequester about 30 percent of the carbon that they take up during photosynthesis. In contrast, forests growing in nutrient-poor soils may retain only 6 percent of that carbon. The rest is returned to the atmosphere as respiration.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/nutrient-rich-forests-store-more-carbon
Statistics Rule out Natural-warming Hypothesis
An analysis of temperature data since 1500 all but rules out the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation in the earth’s climate, according to a new study by McGill Univ. physics professor Shaun Lovejoy.
The study, published in Climate Dynamics, represents a new approach to the question of whether global warming in the industrial era has been caused largely by man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Rather than using complex computer models to estimate the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions, Lovejoy examines historical data to assess the competing hypothesis: that warming over the past century is due to natural long-term variations in temperature.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/statistics-rule-out-natural-warming-hypothesis
Greenland’s Ice Holds Record of U.S. Clean Air Act’s Success
The rise and fall of acid rain is a global experiment whose results are preserved in the geologic record.
By analyzing samples from the Greenland ice sheet, Univ. of Washington atmospheric scientists found clear evidence of the U.S. Clean Air Act. They also discovered a link between air acidity and how nitrogen is preserved in layers of snow, according to a paper published in PNAS.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/greenlands-ice-holds-record-us-clean-air-act%E2%80%99s-success
U.N. to Consider Geoengineering
It’s Plan B in the fight against climate change: cooling the planet by sucking heat-trapping CO2 from the air or reflecting sunlight back into space.
Called geoengineering, it’s considered mad science by opponents. Supporters say it would be foolish to ignore it, since plan A — slashing carbon emissions from fossil fuels — is moving so slowly.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/un-consider-geoengineering
'Transition Zones' Appear to Be Tornado Hotspots
Areas where landscape shifts from urban to rural or forest to farmland may have a higher likelihood of severe weather and tornado touchdowns, a Purdue Univ. study says.
An examination of more than 60 years of Indiana tornado climatology data from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center showed that a majority of tornado touchdowns occurred near areas where dramatically different landscapes meet — for example, where a city fades into farmland or a forest meets a plain.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/transition-zones-appear-be-tornado-hotspots
Climate Change Slowdown Linked to Sea Surface Temp
The recent slowdown in the warming rate of the Northern Hemisphere may be a result of internal variability of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation — a natural phenomenon related to sea surface temperatures, according to Penn State researchers.
"Some researchers have in the past attributed a portion of Northern Hemispheric warming to a warm phase of the AMO," says Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology. "The true AMO signal, instead, appears likely to have been in a cooling phase in recent decades, offsetting some of the anthropogenic warming temporarily."
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/climate-change-slow-down-linked-sea-surface-temp