• Humble microbes fighting harmful greenhouse gas

    The environment has a more formidable opponent than carbon dioxide; another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, is 300 times more potent and also destroys the ozone layer each time it is released into the atmosphere through agricultural practices, sewage treatment, and fossil fuel combustion; luckily, nature has a larger army than previously thought combating this greenhouse gas

  • Warming to shift heavy rainfall patterns across U.K.

    Researchers investigating the potential changes in extreme rainfall patterns across the United Kingdom as a result of global warming have found that in some regions of the country, the time of year when we see the heaviest rainfall is set to shift

  • Classroom of the future: next generation of school desks boost math skills

    Researchers designing and testing the classroom of the future have found that multi-touch, multi-user desks can boost skills in mathematics; new results from a 3-year project working with over 400 pupils, mostly 8-10 year olds, show that collaborative learning increases both fluency and flexibility in math; it also shows that using an interactive ‘smart’ desk can have benefits over doing mathematics on paper

  • Nanotech detection device emulates dog's nose to detect explosives

    Inspired by the biology of canine scent receptors, scientists develop a chip capable of quickly identifying trace amounts of vapor molecules; the chip is part of a device which is both highly sensitive to trace amounts of certain vapor molecules, and able to tell a specific substance apart from similar molecules

  • Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reach new record

    The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2011, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30 percent increase in radiative forcing — the warming effect on our climate — because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases; a new WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin highlights pivotal role of carbon sinks

  • Learning the lessons of the BP oil spill

    In an attempt to limit the harm of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, three million liters of dispersant were used to dissipate the oil; on the surface the damage seems limited, but the seabed is covered with a thick layer of gunk; scientist from around the world are now working on models that can be consulted by decision makers when there is another oil spill disaster

  • The challenge of securing food and water supplies in the twenty-first century

    Participants in the Food Security in Dry Lands (FSDL) conference, held last week in Qatar, agreed that the task of managing food and water resources more efficiently and improving the security of supply are set to become one of the biggest challenges for policy makers in the twenty-first century

  • Combining CO2 storage with enhanced oil recovery can aid U.K. economy

    Combining carbon storage with enhanced oil recovery techniques in key fields could generate up to 2.7 billion pounds in extra economic output; if a combination of carbon storage and enhanced recovery techniques is fully exploited, it is estimated that nineteen potentially suitable oil fields on the U.K. Continental Shelf (UKCS) could contribute 15 percent of all UKCS oil production by 2030

  • “Soft infrastructure” as storm surge defense alternatives

    The flooding in New York and New Jersey caused by Superstorm Sandy prompted calls from Governor Andrew Cuomo and other officials to consider building storm surge barriers to protect Lower Manhattan from future catastrophes. Such a strategy, however, could make things even worse for outlying areas that were hit hard by the hurricane, such as Staten Island, the New Jersey Shore, and Long Island’s South Shore, a City College of New York landscape architecture professor warns; landscapers and engineers say that environmentally friendly “soft infrastructure” would mitigate flood damage without sending harm elsewhere

  • Chemists convert greenhouse gas to fuel

    What if you could take greenhouse gas and convert it to fuel for an energy-hungry world? Scientists, using modern genetics, accomplished exactly this; the researchers’ findings are just a first step toward converting carbon dioxide, one of the most abundant emissions from fossil fuel use, into usable hydrocarbons

  • The world’s 300 000 glaciers are melting, causing sea level to rise

    Anthropogenic climate change leads to melting glaciers and rising sea level; between 1902 and 2009, melting glaciers contributed eleven centimeters to sea level rise; they were therefore the most important cause of sea level rise; the scientists numerically modeled the changes of each of the world’s 300 000 glaciers

  • How groundwater pumping affects streamflow

    Groundwater provides drinking water for millions of Americans and is the primary source of water to irrigate cropland in many of the nations most productive agricultural settings; although the benefits of groundwater development are many, groundwater pumping can reduce the flow of water in connected streams and rivers — a process called streamflow depletion by wells; new USGS report describes processes and misconceptions concerning the effects of groundwater pumping on streamflow

  • Sequestration will have a devastating impact on U.S. research enterprise

    Three organizations representing more than 200 of the U.S. leading academic research institutions yesterday launched a Web site that aims to inform policymakers and the public of the impact that the upcoming budget sequester would have on federal funding for university research; the Web site highlights the importance of federally funded university research to innovation, economy, an society

  • DARPA seeking surveillance technology to predict future behavior

    DARPA has teamed up with scientists from Carnegie Mellon University to create an artificial intelligence system that can watch and predict what a person will “likely” do in the future, using specially programmed software designed to analyze various real-time video surveillance feeds; the system can automatically identify and notify officials if it recognized that an action is not permitted, detecting what is described as anomalous behaviors

  • Snowpack, essential freshwater source for billions, threatened

    Snowpack, an essential source of drinking water and agricultural irrigation for billions of people, could shrink significantly within the next thirty years; the news is particularly troubling for snowpack-dependent California — the largest producer of agriculture products in the country and the sixth-largest agriculture exporter in the world; by filling reservoirs and watering crops when warmer, drier weather sets in, mountain snowpack has become vital to people and ecosystems in regions such as the Western United States, Alpine Europe, Central Asia, and downstream of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau — home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population