Rabu, 23 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Environment Headlines

for Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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Texas leafcutter ants aided, but also limited, by cold-tolerant fungus crops, research shows (February 23, 2011) -- Texas leafcutter ants farm crops of fungus that evolved cold tolerance to Texas winters, just as northern farmers cultivate cold weather crops, researchers show. ... > full story

'Climategate' undermined belief in global warming among many TV meteorologists, study shows (February 23, 2011) -- 'Climategate' -- the unauthorized release in late 2009 of stolen e-mails between climate scientists in the US and United Kingdom -- undermined belief in global warming and possibly also trust in climate scientists among TV meteorologists in the United States, at least temporarily. Doubts were most pronounced among politically conservative weathercasters and those who either do not believe in global warming or do not yet know. ... > full story

Old folk remedy revived: How tansy may be a treatment for herpes (February 23, 2011) -- For centuries, tansy has been used as a folk remedy, but now scientists from Britain and Spain believe the plant may have medical benefits after all, as a treatment for herpes. The team's findings are the result of joint work between two teams to established scientific evidence for traditional medicines. ... > full story

Proteins find their way with address label and guide (February 23, 2011) -- Most newly produced proteins in a cell need to be transported to the proper place before they can be put to work. For proteins to find their way, they have a built-in signal linked to them, a kind of address label. Moreover, they are helped by a particle that guides them to the cell membrane. In a new study, researchers in Sweden show how this interaction works. ... > full story

Transitioning to organic farming (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists conducted a four-year study examining the impact of reduced-tillage and cover crops managed for hay and forage production on the agronomic and economic performance of feed grain production. ... > full story

Even in a crowd, individuals remain unique, rodent vocalization study finds (February 22, 2011) -- Paradoxically, being part of a crowd is what makes you unique, life scientists report. Researchers examined the evolution of individuality -- personal uniqueness -- by recording alarm-call vocalizations in eight species of rodents that live in social groups of various sizes. They found that the size of the groups strongly predicted the individual uniqueness in the animals' voices: The bigger the group, the more unique each animal's voice typically was and the easier it was to tell individuals apart. ... > full story

Cold winters mean more pollution, Swedish study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- Differences in air pressure over the North Atlantic have meant that the last two winters in Gothenburg, Sweden, have been extremely cold. This has led to the air in Gothenburg being more polluted with nitrogen oxides than ever before. A new study shows that there is a strong link between climate and air pollution. ... > full story

Satellite to examine how sun's brightness impacts climate change (February 22, 2011) -- A new instrument developed to study changes in the sun's brightness and its impact on Earth's climate is one of two primary payloads on NASA's Glory mission set to launch on Feb. 23. ... > full story

Researchers map out ice sheets shrinking during Ice Age (February 22, 2011) -- A set of maps has illustrated, for the first time, how the last British ice sheet shrunk during the Ice Age. Experts developed the maps to understand what effect the current shrinking of ice sheets in parts of the Antarctic and Greenland will have on the speed of sea level rise. ... > full story

Earth's core rotation faster than rest of the planet, but slower than previously believed (February 22, 2011) -- New research gives the first accurate estimate of how much faster Earth's core is rotating compared to the rest of the planet. Previous research had shown that Earth's core rotates faster than the rest of the planet. However, scientists have discovered that earlier estimates of 1 degree every year were inaccurate and that the core is actually moving much slower than previously believed -- approximately 1 degree every million years. ... > full story

First identification of endocrine disruptors in algae blooms (February 22, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting for the first time that previously unrecognized substances released by algae blooms have the potential to act as endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the normal activity of reproductive hormones. The effect is not caused by microcystin toxins, long recognized as potentially harmful to humans and aquatic animals, but as yet unidentified substances. As a result, the scientists are calling for a revision of environmental monitoring programs to watch for these new substances. ... > full story

New Zealand earthquake damage illustrates risks posed by shallow crustal faults (February 22, 2011) -- The terribly destructive earthquake that just hit Christchurch, New Zealand, was only a moderate 6.3 magnitude, but had certain characteristics that offer an important lesson to cities up and down the West Coast of North America that face similar risks, experts say. ... > full story

T. rex more hyena than lion: Tyrannosaurus rex was opportunistic feeder, not top predator, paleontologists say (February 22, 2011) -- Was T. rex really the king of the forest? A new census of dinosaurs in Montana's Hell Creek Formation shows that T. rex was far too abundant to be a top predator. Paleontologists argue that T. rex probably subsisted on a broad variety of dead as well as live animals, much like today's hyena. ... > full story

Unraveling how prion proteins move along axons in the brain (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers have identified the motors that move non-infectious prion proteins -- found within many mammalian cells -- up and down long, neuronal transport pathways. Identifying normal movement mechanisms of PrPC may help researchers understand the spread of infectious prions within and between neurons to reach the brain, and aid in development of therapies to halt the transport. ... > full story

What a rat can tell us about touch (February 22, 2011) -- One scientist uses the rat whisker system as a model to understand how the brain seamlessly integrates the sense of touch with movement. ... > full story

Plankton key to origin of Earth's first breathable atmosphere (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers studying the origin of Earth's first breathable atmosphere have zeroed in on the major role played by some very unassuming creatures: plankton. Scientists have now shown how plankton provided a critical link between the atmosphere and chemical isotopes stored in rocks 500 million years ago. ... > full story

How disordered proteins spread from cell to cell, potentially spreading disease (February 22, 2011) -- Misfolded proteins can get into cells and form large aggregates by recruiting normal proteins. These aggregates are associated with neurodegenerative diseases. A new study finds that the protein linked to Huntington's can spread from one cell to another. The research may explain how these diseases spread through our brains, an understanding that might lead to the development of drugs to target the misfolded proteins. ... > full story

Reprogrammed stem cells hit a roadblock: Reprogramming cells leads to genomic aberrations (February 22, 2011) -- Is there a future for stem cell therapies that don't use embryonic stem cells? An international study has raised doubts, by showing that "reprogramming" adult stem cells leads to genetic aberrations. ... > full story

Pollution with antibiotics leads to resistant bacteria, scientists find (February 22, 2011) -- Many of the substances in our most common medicines are manufactured in India. Some of these factories release huge quantities of drugs to the environment. Swedish scientists now show that bacteria in polluted rivers become resistant to a range of antibiotics. International experts fear that this may contribute to the development of untreatable infectious diseases worldwide. ... > full story

Brown tide culprit sequenced: Genome of the first of algal bloom species (February 22, 2011) -- Some algal species can bloom and discolor coastal waters and reduce the amount of light and oxygen available in the ecosystem. Previously known as "red tide," the term "harmful algal blooms" now denotes accumulation of algal biomass that can sometimes turn the ocean waters brown or green and disrupt an ecosystem. The first species of these algae has now been sequenced, analyzed and published. ... > full story

Dry copper kills bacteria on contact (February 22, 2011) -- Metallic copper surfaces kill microbes on contact, decimating their populations, according to new research. They do so literally in minutes, by causing massive membrane damage after about a minute's exposure, says the study's corresponding author, Gregor Grass of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This is the first study to demonstrate this mechanism of bacteriocide. ... > full story

Carbon sink at South Pole has grown recently, historical collections reveal (February 22, 2011) -- By studying collections of a marine bryozoan that date back to a famous 1901 expedition to the South Pole, researchers have found that those organisms were growing steadily up until 1990, when their growth more than doubled. The data provide the highest-latitude record of a century of growth and some of the first evidence that polar carbon sinks may be increasing. ... > full story

Careful cleaning of children's skin wounds key to healing, regardless of antibiotic choice (February 22, 2011) -- When it comes to curing skin infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), timely and proper wound cleaning and draining may be more important than the choice of antibiotic, according to a new study. ... > full story

Antifungal compound found on tropical seaweed has promising antimalarial properties (February 22, 2011) -- A group of chemical compounds used by a species of tropical seaweed to ward off fungus attacks may have promising antimalarial properties for humans. The compounds are part of a unique chemical signaling system that seaweeds use to battle enemies -- and that may provide a wealth of potential new pharmaceutical compounds. ... > full story

Poor park planning drives kids indoors (February 22, 2011) -- What does it take to keep children active when they get home from school? It seems that what your neighborhood offers in terms of parks and playgrounds has a lot to do with it. In a study looking at the links between the quality of outdoor public spaces, parents' perception of them, and children's sedentary behavior, researchers in Australia, show that neighborhood features do influence whether or not children watch less television and play fewer computer games after school. ... > full story

Climate and aerosols: NASA's Glory satellite promises new view of perplexing particles (February 22, 2011) -- Climatologists have known for decades that airborne particles called aerosols can have a powerful impact on the climate. However, pinpointing the magnitude of the effect has proven challenging because of difficulties associated with measuring the particles on a global scale. Soon a new NASA satellite -- Glory -- should help scientists collect the data needed to provide firmer answers about the important particles. In California, engineers and technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base are currently prepping Glory for a Feb. 23 launch. ... > full story

Climate change affecting food safety (February 22, 2011) -- Climate change is already having an effect on the safety of the world's food supplies and unless action is taken it's only going to get worse, a group of experts has warned. ... > full story

Capacity of developing country NRAs key to accelerated introduction of upcoming dengue vaccines (February 22, 2011) -- At least one dengue vaccine could be licensed within the next 4 years, as manufacturers are speeding up the development process for multiple dengue vaccine candidates in collaboration with health authorities and developing countries to expedite the necessary testing, clinical trial design, and licensure, a team of leading scientists said. ... > full story

New face of sleeping sickness epidemiology highlights need for new tools (February 22, 2011) -- Recent developments have rekindled hopes of eliminating human African trypanosomiasis, more familiarly known as sleeping sickness, as a public health problem in those areas of sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is endemic. ... > full story

Plants cloned as seeds: Hybrids that breed true would be major advance for crop plants (February 21, 2011) -- Plants have for the first time been cloned as seeds. The research is a major step towards making hybrid crop plants that can retain favorable traits from generation to generation. ... > full story

Better way to diagnose pneumonia (February 21, 2011) -- Researchers have created a new sampling device that could prevent thousands of people worldwide from dying of pneumonia each year. ... > full story

Gorillas go green: Apes shed pounds while doubling calories on leafy diet, researcher finds (February 21, 2011) -- Gorillas in Cleveland Metroparks Zoo have dropped about 65 pounds after a year on a leafy green diet. The change is an effort to combat heart disease, the top killer of male gorillas in US zoos. ... > full story

New model for probing antidepressant actions (February 21, 2011) -- How antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work can be thoroughly explored with a new mouse model developed by neuroscientists. The mice express a serotonin transporter that has been genetically altered so that it does not respond to many SSRIs or cocaine. The new mouse model could also lead to the development of entirely new classes of antidepressant medications. ... > full story

The world’s oldest water? (February 21, 2011) -- New evidence bolsters the notion that deep saline groundwaters in South Africa's Witwatersrand Basin may have remained isolated for many thousands, perhaps even millions, of years. The study found the noble gas neon dissolved in water in three-kilometer deep crevices. ... > full story

Plants that can move inspire new adaptive structures (February 21, 2011) -- The Mimosa plant, which folds its leaves when they're touched, is inspiring a new class of adaptive structures designed to twist, bend, stiffen and even heal themselves. ... > full story

New technology for cheaper, more efficient solar cells (February 21, 2011) -- Applying an organic layer less than a nanometer thick improves the efficiency of certain solar cells three-fold. The technology could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels. ... > full story

Floating spores kill malaria mosquito larvae (February 21, 2011) -- There are over 200 million cases of malaria each year and, in 2009, malaria was responsible for 781,000 deaths worldwide. Malaria is spread by mosquitoes which breed in open water and spend much of their larval stage feeding on fungi and microorganisms at the water surface. New research presents a method of dispersing pathogenic fungi as a means of preventing the spread of malaria. ... > full story

Testing the limits of where humans can live (February 21, 2011) -- On an isolated segment of islands in the Pacific Ring of Fire, residents endure volcanoes, tsunamis, dense fog, steep cliffs and long and chilly winters. Researchers have studied the history of human settlement on the Kuril Islands. Understanding how residents survived the islands' severe environment could inform how we adapt to modern vulnerabilities, including climate change. The findings also have implications for how we rebound from contemporary catastrophes. ... > full story

Spent nuclear fuel is anything but waste (February 21, 2011) -- Failure to pursue a program for recycling spent nuclear fuel has put the US far behind other countries and represents a missed opportunity to enhance the nation's energy security and influence other countries. ... > full story

Trichinosis parasite gets DNA decoded (February 21, 2011) -- Scientists have decoded the DNA of the parasitic worm that causes trichinosis, a disease linked to eating raw or undercooked pork or carnivorous wild game animals, such as bear and walrus. ... > full story

New assessment of black carbon and tropospheric ozone's role in climate change (February 21, 2011) -- Specific measures could already have a positive impact on climate protection and public health. These measures do not replace those related to carbon dioxide, and their full implementation could reduce global warming by 0.5 degrees C. ... > full story

Pollution tax rebates little help for low-income workers, study finds (February 21, 2011) -- Using revenue from pollution taxes to lessen its regressiveness on low-wage workers is not enough to offset higher commodity prices and shrunken real wages, a finance professor argues. ... > full story

Sustainability solutions need the power of networks (February 21, 2011) -- The choices an individual makes about environmental issues are affected by family, friends and others in a person's social network. Scientists are studying how to harness the power of social networks to better communicate sustainability science. ... > full story

Mimicking photosynthesis path to solar-derived hydrogen fuel (February 20, 2011) -- Inexpensive hydrogen for automotive or jet fuel may be possible by mimicking photosynthesis, according to a materials chemist, but a number of problems need to be solved first. ... > full story

Universal flu vaccine study yields success in mice (February 20, 2011) -- Researchers have taken a step closer to the development of a universal flu vaccine, with results of a recent study showing that a vaccine delivered by a simple nasal spray could provide protection against influenza. ... > full story

Storm-chasing weather radar used to track bat populations (February 20, 2011) -- Scientists are using mobile storm-chasing radars to follow swarms of bats as they emerge from their caves each night to forage on insects. ... > full story

Climate projections show human health impacts possible within 30 years: Potential increases in waterborne toxins and microbes (February 20, 2011) -- A panel of scientists unveiled new research and models demonstrating how climate change could increase exposure and risk of human illness originating from ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems, with some studies projecting impacts to be felt within 30 years. ... > full story

Frequent, severe fires turn Alaskan forests into a carbon production line (February 20, 2011) -- Alaskan forests used to be important players in Mother Nature's game plan for regulating carbon dioxide levels in the air. It's elementary earth science: Trees take up carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. But now, American and Canadian researchers report that climate change is causing wildfires to burn larger swaths of Alaskan trees and to char the groundcover more severely, turning the black spruce forests of Alaska from repositories of carbon to generators of it. And the more carbon dioxide they release, the greater impact that may have in turn on future climate change. ... > full story

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