Environment News

Monday, February 18, 2013 - 15:53

Huge quantities of algae are growing on the underside of sea ice in the Central Arctic: in 2012 the ice algae Melosira arctica was responsible for almost half the primary production in this area. When the ice melts, as was the case during the ice minimum in 2012, these algae sink rapidly to the bottom of the sea at a depth of several thousands of metres. Deep sea animals such as sea cucumbers and brittle stars feed on the algae, and bacteria metabolise what’s left, consuming the oxygen in the sea bed.

 

Monday, February 18, 2013 - 11:32

A research team led by ASU senior sustainability scientist Ann Kinzig argues for a novel approach to climate change alleviation: target public values and behavior.

 

Friday, February 15, 2013 - 10:09

Digesting lignin, a highly stable polymer that accounts for up to a third of biomass, is a limiting step to producing a variety of biofuels. Researchers at Brown have figured out the microscopic chemical switch that allows Streptomyces bacteria to get to work, breaking lignin down into its constituent parts.

 

Friday, February 15, 2013 - 10:00

In our ongoing quest for alternative energy sources, researchers are looking more to plants that grow in the wild for use in biofuels, plants such as switchgrass. However, attempts to “domesticate” wild-growing plants have a downside, as it could make the plants more susceptible to any number of plant viruses.

 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 09:59

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany, recently investigated how light conditions in urban areas at night affect European blackbirds (Turdus merula). They found that animals exposed to low night-time light intensities, comparable to those found in cities, develop their reproductive system earlier: their testosterone levels rise and their testes mature earlier in the year. They also begin to sing and to moult earlier. The ever-present light pollution in cities may therefore exert a major influence on the seasonal rhythm of urban animals.

 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 12:02

A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.