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Sci/Tech
 

Drought's lasting impact on forests

In the virtual worlds of climate modeling, forests and other vegetation are assumed to bounce back quickly from extreme drought. But that assumption is far off the mark, according to a new study of drought impacts at forest sites worldwide. Living trees took an average of two to four years to recover and resume normal growth rates after droughts ended, researchers report today in the journal Science.

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James Hansen paper, "Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms," Published Online

The paper “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2°C global warming is highly dangerous” has been published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion and is freely available here.

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NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

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Dire Climate Warning from NASA's Former Climate Chief Raises Questions, Not Answers

NASA’s former climate chief has issued a stark new study that finds that the world’s current climate goal could be inadequate and may not prevent catastrophic losses from rising seas, ocean temperatures and changes in global weather. But the extreme nature of his projections has some scientists questioning the methods he used and the results he reached.

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Why we live on Earth and not Venus

Compared to its celestial neighbours Venus and Mars, Earth is a pretty habitable place. So how did we get so lucky? A new study sheds light on the improbable evolutionary path that enabled Earth to sustain life.

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Genome analysis pins down arrival and spread of first Americans

The original Americans came from Siberia in a single wave no more than 23,000 years ago, at the height of the last Ice Age, and apparently hung out in the north - perhaps for thousands of years - before spreading in two distinct populations throughout North and South America, according to a new genomic analysis.

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Changing Climate Lengthens Forest Fire Season

Over a 35-year period, the length of forest fire seasons worldwide increased by 18.7 percent due to more rain-free days and hotter temperatures, according to South Dakota State University professor Mark Cochrane, a senior scientist at the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence. The wildfire expert is part of a team of researchers led by W. Matt Jolly of the U.S. Forest Service Fire Science Laboratory that examined weather data from 1979 through 2013 to determine how a changing climate impacts forest ecosystems.

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Fossil fuel emissions will complicate radiocarbon dating, warns scientist

Fossil fuel emissions could soon make it impossible for radiocarbon dating to distinguish new materials from artefacts that are hundreds of years old.

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NASA satellite camera provides 'EPIC' view of Earth

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.

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Bilinguals of 2 spoken languages have more gray matter than monolinguals

A new study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex suggests people who speak two languages have more gray matter in the executive control region of the brain.

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Mosquitoes use smell to see their hosts

On summer evenings, we try our best to avoid mosquito bites by dousing our skin with bug repellents and lighting citronella candles. These efforts may keep the mosquitoes at bay for a while, but no solution is perfect because the pests have evolved to use a triple threat of visual, olfactory, and thermal cues to home in on their human targets, a new Caltech study suggests.

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Oceans slowed global temperature rise, scientists report

A new study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the subsurface waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, thus accounting for the slowdown in the global surface temperature increase observed during the past decade, researchers say.

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Fire Season 2015 in Alaska Set to Break Records

Fires have raged throughout Alaska in 2015. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image on July 14, 2015. Actively burning areas, detected by the thermal bands on MODIS, are outlined in red.

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Human-wrought environmental changes impacting crops, pollinators could harm millions

Changing environmental conditions around the globe caused by human activity could negatively impact the health of millions of people by altering the amount and quality of key crops, according to two new studies from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One study found that decreasing numbers of food pollinators such as bees--falling in part due to pesticide use and destruction of habitats--could lead to declines in nutrient-rich crops that have been linked with staving off disease. A second study found that increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) could lead to lower levels of zinc in food and thus to greatly expanded zinc deficiency.

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Feathered cousin of 'Jurassic Park' star unearthed in China

A newly identified species of feathered dinosaur is the largest ever discovered to have a well-preserved set of bird-like wings, research suggests.

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More Precise Estimate of Avogadro's Number to Help Redefine Kilogram

An ongoing international effort to redefine the kilogram by 2018 has been helped by recent efforts from a team researchers from Italy, Japan and Germany to correlate two of the most precise measurements of Avogadro's number and obtain one averaged value that can be used for future calculations. Their results are published this week in the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data, from AIP Publishing.

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Continued destruction of Earth's plant life places humans in jeopardy, says UGA research

Unless humans slow the destruction of Earth's declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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NASA's Three-Billion-Mile Journey to Pluto Reaches Historic Encounter

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is at Pluto.

After a decade-long journey through our solar system, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto Tuesday, about 7,750 miles above the surface -- roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth.

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Global sea levels have risen 6 meters or more with just slight global warming

A new review analyzing three decades of research on the historic effects of melting polar ice sheets found that global sea levels have risen at least six meters, or about 20 feet, above present levels on multiple occasions over the past three million years.

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Fossils indicate human activities have disturbed ecosystem resilience

A collection of fossilized owl pellets in Utah suggests that when the Earth went through a period of rapid warming about 13,000 years ago, the small mammal community was stable and resilient, even as individual species changed along with the habitat and landscape.

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Where Does Water Go When It Doesn’t Flow?

More than a quarter of the rain and snow that falls on continents reaches the oceans as runoff. Now a new study helps show where the rest goes: two-thirds of the remaining water is released by plants, more than a quarter lands on leaves and evaporates and what’s left evaporates from soil and from lakes, rivers and streams.

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Environmentally Friendly Lignin Nanoparticle ‘Greens’ Silver Nanobullet to Battle Bacteria

North Carolina State University researchers have developed an effective and environmentally benign method to combat bacteria by engineering nanoscale particles that add the antimicrobial potency of silver to a core of lignin, a ubiquitous substance found in all plant cells. The findings introduce ideas for better, greener and safer nanotechnology and could lead to enhanced efficiency of antimicrobial products used in agriculture and personal care.

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Worms hitch rides on slugs when traveling to far flung places

Slugs and other invertebrates provide essential public transport for small worms in the search for food, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Ecology.

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Spotting the elephant not in the room

An automated thermal detection system that can discern wild elephants from background and other animals in infrared images could save lives in parts of the world where the animals roam free and often enter villages and other human habitation, according to research published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.

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Surprisingly high geothermal heating revealed beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet

The amount of heat flowing toward the base of the West Antarctic ice sheet from geothermal sources deep within the Earth is surprisingly high, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California (UC), Santa Cruz.

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New super-computer for climate science ranks among world’s top 400

The new high-performance computer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ranks among the 400 fastest world-wide. This was announced today at the beginning of the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The machine is able to do 212 trillion calculations per second – so called Teraflops. This allows simulations of the complex interactions between atmosphere, oceans, land and ice-sheets to a much larger extent than was hitherto possible on site. The computer’s waste heat is used – environmentally-friendly – to heat the new PIK research building.

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Space Coffee

Astronauts on the International Space Station give up many pleasures to take those giant leaps in the name of science. They leave behind fresh vegetables, relaxing hot showers, warm sunshine, gently misting rain, and much more.

One of the things astronauts say they miss most is a good cup of coffee. How would YOU like to start your morning sucking freeze dried coffee through a straw from a sealed plastic bag?

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A new wrinkle: Geometry of brain's outer surface correlates with genetic heritage

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the School of Medicine have found that the three-dimensional shape of the cerebral cortex - the wrinkled outer layer of the brain controlling many functions of thinking and sensation - strongly correlates with ancestral background. The study, published online July 9 in Current Biology, opens the door to more precise studies of brain anatomy going forward and could eventually lead to more personalized medicine approaches for diagnosing and treating brain diseases.

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NASA data shows surfer-shaped waves in near-Earth space

The universe overflows with repeating patterns. From the smallest cells to the largest galaxies, scientists are often rewarded by observing similar patterns in vastly different places. One such pattern is the iconic surfer's waves seen on the ocean - a series of curled hills moving steadily in one direction. The shape has a simple cause. A fast fluid, say wind, moving past a slower one, say water, naturally creates this classic shape. Named Kelvin-Helmholtz waves in the late 1800s after their discoverers, these waves have since been discovered all over the universe: in clouds, in the atmospheres of other planets, and on the sun. Now two recently published papers highlight these shapely waves at the boundaries of near-Earth space.

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Record-breaking heavy rainfall events increased under global warming

Heavy rainfall events setting ever new records have been increasing strikingly in the past thirty years. While before 1980, multi-decadal fluctuations in extreme rainfall events are explained by natural variability, a team of scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research detected a clear upward trend in the past few decades towards more unprecedented daily rainfall events. They find the worldwide increase to be consistent with rising global temperatures which are caused by greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Short-term torrential rains can lead to high-impact floodings

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