November 17, 2019

    When LESS is MORE
    Instead of buying ‘Green’, just buy Less - short science news and articles

    One of the leading contributors towards global climate change is human overconsumption of resources making it imperative to understand consumer choices, which could affect the planet’s health in the long run.

    Individuals who reported lesser materialistic values resorted to decreased consumption, which also was linked to higher personal well-being as well as lesser psychological distress.

    On the other hand, ‘Green Buying’ even though had small environmental implications did not reduced consumption and also did not improve consumer well being. Thus having less and buying lesser could actually help both the planet and us.

    Read the full story: The University of Arizona (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Young Consumers


    High-resolution mapping of the distribution of elements in a sample from the 2000-year-old Temple Scroll, as shown by the colors at the right of this image, is providing valuable insight into its ancient fabrication methods and modern conservation strategies. Image: James Weaver
    Dead Sea Scroll made with lost ancient parchment-making technology - history short science news

    The Temple Scroll is one of 900 historic and theological invaluable documents written on parchment over 2,000 years ago and found in 1947 in caves in the Judea desert near the Dead Sea in Israel.

    New research methodology has now revealed that the parchment has been manufactured by using a particular type of salt that contains sulphate. This method was only used in antiquity, as one of several different technologies.

    The salt used to manufacture the parchment is not found in the Dead Sea, raising questions as to the location where the Scrolls were actually written. Also the results can be applied directly to optimize the storage conditions of the Scrolls.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    The atmosphere now has a water-deficit: more evaporation and less water available to plants
    Dry air inhibits greening of the earth; the world is getting browner - climate change short science news

    A period in which the earth became increasingly green seems to have come to an end. The cause is the dry air, says an international research team led by Chinese scientists.

    In the 1980s, satellite images showed that the earth became greener - more plants, more trees. The greening was related to the increased CO2 emissions, which stimulate the growth of plants. Climate skeptics often use it as an argument to put the adverse effects of this greenhouse gas in perspective.

    A trend break occurred at the end of the 1990s, the new study reports. Satellite measurements show that since then large parts of the world have slowed down the growth of plants, that more trees are dying than before and that the canopy has become thinner. The world is getting browner, and this is caused by the increasing difference between the actual amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can contain. This increased "atmospheric drought" makes more water evaporating from the soil, leaving less water for plants to grow.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    For the first time in history, warming of the Earth is global, excessive, and linked to greenhouse gas emissions
    Current global warming is unique in history, and parallels greenhouse gas emissions - global warming short science news

    The average temperature on earth has risen faster than ever in the last 150 years. This is apparent from three new studies, recently published in the scientific journals Nature Geoscience and Nature. The researchers call the current warming unusual.

    The scientists reconstructed the climate of the last 2000 years. The data showed that the average temperature on earth increased by 1 degree since 1850.

    For the reconstruction all available climate data were collected from the beginning of our era to the present. The researchers used not only direct measurements for this, but also corals, old ice layers, shells, annual rings and sediment. On the basis of tree growth rings, for example, you can also see whether a certain period has been dry, hot, wet or cold.

    Before 1850, cold and warm peaks were mainly at the regional level. But the new research shows that the temperature rise has since 1850 applies to 98 percent of the world. It is for the first time in history that it is getting warmer almost everywhere.

    Read the full story: Sciencebriefss
    Scientific publication: Nature Geoscience
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Total land available that can support trees across the globe (total of current forested areas and forest cover potential available for restoration). Image: ETH Zurich / Crowther Lab
    Planting trees to save the climate - climate change short science news

    Researchers have calculated that 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide could be used for reforestation to capture two thirds of human-made carbone missions. This would make reforestation the most effecive method in the battle against climate change.

    Most of the land suitable for reforestation are found in Russia, the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China.

    Reforestation should commence as soon as possible according to the researchers, as it takes decades for the forests to mature and capture enough carbon dioxide.

    Read the full story: ETH Zürich
    Scientific publication: Science


    New DNA technology has shed light on the origin of ancient bones burried in water in western Finland. The DNA shows that the ancient people living here 300 – 700 AD were Sami people, who nowadays live far away from the aquatic burrial site.

    Later the Sami people were replaced by others, as seems to have occurred throughout northern countries.

    The reason why the ancient Sami burried their deads in water remains a mystery.

    Read the full story: University of Helsinki
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Moon creation brought water to Earth
    How Moon helped bring water to Earth - interesting science news

    Earth is a pretty unique planet in our solar system since it is the only one with a large amount of water and also a relatively large moon. Now researchers claim that water came to earth due to formation of the moon.

    Earlier studies tell us that 4.5 billion years ago when the solar system was formed, the ‘dry’ material (which formed the Earth) was separated from the ‘wet’ material, the later being rich in water (which were the meteorites).

    Now scientists used the Molybdenum isotope to distinguish between dry and wet materials and found that the entire water on Earth came from the collision of the protoplanet Theia who’s collision on Earth 4.4 billion years ago formed the Moon. So, there would be no water if there would be no Moon.

    Read the full story: University of Münster
    Scientific publication: Nature Astronomy


    Loss of Antarctic ice has raised global sea level by 4.6 mm since 1992
    24% of West Antarctic ice has become unstable - climate short science news

    In only 25 years, ice thinning has spread across West Antarctica so rapidly that now 24% of its glacier ice has become unstable, a new study found.

    By analysing satellite images taken between 1992 and 2017, which include over 800 million measurements of the Antarctic ice sheet height, it appeared that snowfall changed ice thickness only to a small extent, and that the most pronounced changes in ice thickness are the result of longer term changes in climate, such as increasing ocean temperatures.

    The loss of Antarctic ice has raised the global sea level by 4.6 mm since 1992.

    Read the full story: American Geophysical Union
    Scientific publication: Geophysical Research Letters


    Plastics in the sea harm oxygen-producing bacteria
    Plastic pollution harms the bacteria that help us breathe - Earth short science news

    Plastic pollution in the oceans has been found not only to harm fish and marine mammals, but also the tiniest of organisms, bacteria.

    In particular, chemicals leaching from plastics reduce the growth, and impair the photosynthesis and hence oxygen production of Prochlorococcus, the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria. It has been estimated that these bacteria alone acount for 10% of the total oxygen production on Earth.

    Thus, plastic pollution threatens to reduce the oxygen that we breathe each and every day.

    Read the full story: Macquarie University
    Scientific publication: Communications Biology


    Tree rings collected from old-growth Dahurian larch trees. Trees grow one ring per year. Credit: Xianliang Zhang.
    Climate change triggering growth in old trees - interesting science news

    Larch trees, the northernmost tree species on Earth have grown more between 2005 and 2014 as compared to the previous 40 years and scientists put this on climate change.

    Further, it has been seen that the oldest trees have shown the biggest growth spurt i.e. trees older than 400 years have shown the most rapid growth.

    It has been seen that the soil warming due to global warming is behind this teenage like growth spurt in old trees. While this is good in the short term, it could spell a disaster in the long term, because slow-growing trees will ultimately degrade due to raising soil temperatures.

    Read the full story: American Geophysical Union
    Scientific publication: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences


    NASA reports that human-generated greenhouse gases increased global drought risk already 100 years ago.

    The study used observational data such as precipitation, and historical data reconstructed from tree rings.

    The researchers found that these data align with a human fingerprint on climate that was predicted by computer models within the first half of the 20th century.

    Read the full story: NASA
    Scientific publication: Nature


    The Denisovan Xiahe mandible, only represented by its right half, was found in 1980 in Baishiya Karst Cave in Tibet. Image: Dongju Zhang, Lanzhou University
    Extinct human species tens of thousands of years ago already on the roof of the world - human history short science news

    More than 160,000 years ago, people lived on the Tibetan plateau. This is evident from the discovery of a mandible of the extinct human species, known as Denisovans.

    So far, fragments of these ancient hominins had only been found in Denisova Cave in Siberia.

    Denisovans were adapted to the low oxygen environment of the Himalayas, long before our species, Homo sapiens, arrived in Tibet.

    Read the full story: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Hot oceans could mean hotter air
    Warm oceans could induce microbes to release more CO2 in air - interesting science news

    The oceans absorb more than 25% of the CO2 release by humans and are considered as a powerful break on the greenhouse effect. However, this might change due to rising ocean temperatures due to global warming.

    Most of the locked CO2 by the oceans is courtesy to the photosynthetic planktons and when they die, they go to the bottom of the ocean taking the CO2 with them. However, as the temperatures rise, bacteria are consuming more planktons at the surface and thereby release the CO2 back to the air.

    This could accelerate the effects of climate change as the proverbial ‘powerful brakes’ fail over time due to raising ocean temperatures.

    Read the full story: Earth Institute at Columbia University
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch natural World Heritage site. Its glaciers will probably have disappeared by the end of this century. Image: IUCN/Martin Price
    Global warming: half of world heritage glaciers could have disappeared by 2100 - earth short science news

    Results of the first-ever global study of World Heritage glaciers indicate that under the current emission regime of greenhouse gases, almost half of the iconic glaciers in mountainous regions worldwide will have disappeared by 2100.

    The study, performed by scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), combines data from a global glacier inventory, research of existing literature and computer modeling.

    Global warming at its current pace is predicted to jeopardize the sites on the Worlds Heritage glacier list. The study illustrates that important changes await us that concern availability of water resources, sea level rise and weather patterns if no action will be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Read the full story: American Geophysical Union
    Scientific publication: Earth’s Future


    A steady flow of beer could keep a civilization alive.
    Want a stable society? Keep the beer flowing- intersting science news

    Archeologists are studying the Wari culture which lasted for 500 years from 600-11100 AD and this is a pretty long time for an empire to stay intact. A recently published study argues that one important factor that might have helped is a steady supply of beer.

    Studying an ancient Wari brewery tells us that the beer called ‘chicha’ used to be produced there but it could remain good for just a week and hence people had to come to the brewery to drink it. These festivals were central to the Wari culture and around 200 local political elites would attend. People would come to this site and to reaffirm their affiliation to the lords would bring tributes and pledge loyalty to Wari.

    The scientists state that this steady supply of beer kept the Wari society stable and engendered unity amongst all these populations.

    Read the full story: Field museum
    Scientific publication: Sustainability


    Hurricanes will increase in frequency due to climate change
    Hurricane Maria: Blame climate change - interesting science news

    Hurricane Maria released more rain on Puerto Rico than any recorded 129 storms that have hit the island since 1956. Now, new research finds that this is mostly due to the human caused climate warming.

    Researchers found that the peak rainfalls seen due to Maria (41 inches in a day), are more likely in the climates of 2017 than the early 50s. While storms like Maria could have happened once in 300 years earlier, their likelihood has increased to once every 100 years.

    With so much damage being done, it needs to be emphasized that we need to wake up to the effects of climate change.

    Read the full story: American Geophysical Union
    Scientific publication: Geophysical Research Letters


    Prof. Piper (ANU) examining the third metatarsal of a new hominin species, named Homo luzonensis. Image: Lannon Harley, ANU
    New early human species found in the Philippines - human history short science news

    An international team of researchers have found the remains of a new early human species on Luzon Island in the Philippines. The new species has been named Homo luzonensis.

    The fossils that have been found include adult finger and toe bones, teeth, and a child’s femur, and are dated to 67,000 years ago.

    This discovery shows that the island region in southeast Asia, including the Philippines, has played an important role in the history of hominin evolution.

    Read the full story: Australian National University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Global warming could lead to Alps losing their ice cover
    Alps could lose 90% of ice by 2100 - interesting science news

    Researchers from Switzerland indicate that between 2017 and 2050, 50% of the glacier volume will completely disappear. The sad part is, this will occur independently whether we cut our green house gas emissions or not.

    The scientists used new computer algorithms and recently observed data, which included ice-flow and melt processes of the Alpine glaciers.

    Under limited warming conditions, which mean keeping temperature rises to below 2 degrees since industrial age, the Alps will lose more than 66% of ice. However, if we continue the global warming at the same pace as today, the Alps will lose 90%of ice in total.

    Read the full story: European Geosciences Union
    Scientific publication: The Cryosphere


    The Yukon River winds through western interior Alaska in early April. Image: Todd Paris, UAF
    Unprecedented changes in the Arctic with far-reaching consequences - climate change short science news

    Climate change in the Arctic is unfolding at such a fast pace, that it is changing to an area completely different from the Arctic as seen in the 20th century, a new study shows.

    Data collected as from 1971 until now show that ice melting at unprecedented speed, and the Arctic is getting greener and wetter. Also, plants start to flower earlier, when insects are not yet around to pollinate them.

    The changes in the Arctic may have important consequences in other regions on Earth because of changed rainfall patterns and rising sea water levels.

    Read the full story: University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Scientific publication: Environmental Research Letters


    Wolves face off with cow elk in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. While wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s resulted in a drop in Yellowstone elk numbers, it didn't necessarily restore the ecosystem to historical conditions, according to new research. Image: Daniel Stahler
    Reintroducing top predators: does it bring back historic ecosystems? - Biology short science news

    While it is generally believed that reintroducing top predators such as wolves brings an ecosystem back to natural conditions, this might not be necessarily the case. Indeed, the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park has decreased the numbers of elk, and improved vegetation, but has the Park returned to how it was before the wolves had disappeared in the 1920s?

    Researchers are now beginning to address this question, and the first results indicate that it is hard to predict what will happen exactly when the top predators return. The only consistent effect they found is that the number of small predators increased.

    Thus, more research is necessary to be able to predict how reintroduction programs of top predators will play out in an ecosystem.

    Read the full story: University of Wyoming
    Scientific publication: Biological Conservation


    Pollution has changed the air for ever
    Zipping through pristine air tells us how bad pollution is - interesting science news

    Researchers analyzed air samples captured over the Amazon rainforest and the city of Manaus by the Gulfsteam-1 research aircraft and the picture revealed the startling effect of man-made pollution on the air quality.

    The results indicate that the secondary organic aerosols produced by cars and power plants amongst others resulted in a marked increase in absorbed sunlight, create clouds and change rainfall patterns. These secondary aerosol particles are formed due to interaction between carbon emissions and nitrogen oxide.

    The results also indicate that several of the changes are irreversible and human activities have made permanent damage to the environment already.

    Read the full story: DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Nature Communicaton


    18-year-old naturally regenerating forest in Kibale National Park, Uganda. The forest already supports elephants and many species of monkey. Image: S. Lewis
    Restauration of forests to meet climate goals - climate change short science news

    A new study, published as a commentary in Nature, shows that international plans to restore forests to limit global warming are flawed.

    The reason is that many policy makers do not promote the bringing back of natural forest, but instead aim to create plantations.

    Such monocultures are much poorer at storing carbon than natural forests, so that the amount of carbon that needs to be captured to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celcius will be largely insufficient.

    Read the full story: Nature


    Climiate change could introduce mosquitoes in new regions
    Climate change could expose a billion new people to Dengue fever - interesting science news

    A new study that investigates temperature changes on a monthly basis worldwide indicates that at least a billion new people could be exposed to disease carrying mosquitoes by he end of this century due to global warming.

    This is harmful even in those areas which have only a minimal risk of having a climate suited for mosquito breeding since the Dengue virus is known for explosive outbreaks if it gets the right environment for even a brief time.

    The mosquito Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus can not only carry dengue, but also carry chikunguyna and Zika viruses as well as another dozen pathogens which could pose huge threats in the next 50 years.

    Read the full story: Georgetown University Medical Center
    Scientific publication: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases


    EU consumption plays a major role in tropical deforestation
    Tropical deforestation linked to consumption in the EU - Earth short science news

    Two new studies have revealed that food consumption in the EU can be directly linked to tropical deforestation.

    More than half of the deforestation can be attributed to the production of food and animal feed, such as beef, soy beans and palm oil. Many of these products are transported to the EU.

    Also, these practices (food production and export to the EU) lead to high carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, EU policy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to protect tropical forests should include measures that give alternatives for the food-producing tropical countries, and that include a price of deforestation in the food EU citizens buy, researchers argue.

    Read the full story: Chalmers University of Technology
    Scientific publication: Environmental Research Letters (Deforestation)
    Scientific publication: Global Environmental Change (Carbon dioxide emissions)


    The right number of trees in a city will help to lower temperatures on hot summer days
    Trees might be important for the future of our cities - climate change short science news

    While one tree provides shadow and a little relief from high temperatures in the future, a new study suggests that to obtain a profound cooling effect would require small groups of trees, or even a small forest.

    The right number of trees can lower the temperature in cities by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 6 degrees Celsius).

    Keeping temperatures more comfortable at hot summer days, which will occur more frequently due to global warming, can make a big difference for those working and living in the cities. Trees may thus appear to be very important for the future of our cities.

    Read the full story: University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


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