April 22, 2019

    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

    Waterbirds are disappearing from the Great Basin in the American west due to climate change
    Climate change threatens waterbirds in the American west - climate short science news

    A clear link has been found between increasing temperatures, and decreasing number of migrating and breeding waterbirds in the Great Basin in the American west.

    With increasing temperatures, especially over the last few decades, melted snow water arrives earlier in the Basin, and summers are warmer, dryer, and longer. As a consequence, availability of fresh water diminishes, and the remaining water becomes more salty. This is especially bad news for hatchlings, as they have still to develop their salt glands and do not support higher salinity.

    Thus, climate change has already a visible impact on wetland ecosystems in the west of the USA.

    Read the full story: Oregon State University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    A woman of local ancestry buried together with a men that had very recent ancestors from central Europe. The grave dates back tot he Bronze Age. Image: University of Huddersfield
    Ancient DNA analysis reveals early human history of Spain and Portugal - human history short science news

    The analysis of the DNA of the remains of ancient inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) shows an influx of Russian men around 4,500 BC.

    They came from a steppe region north of the Black Sea, and replaced the male Iberian population in about 500 years.

    This phenomenon of only male newcomers replacing the original male population is known as sex-bias, which had previously been found in India, where men from the very same region in Russia arrived at roughly the same time as they did in Spain and Portugal.

    Read the full story: University of Huddersfield
    Scientific publication: Science

    Researchers used computer models to understand how ichthyosaurs moved millions of years ago. Credit: Susana Gutarra, University of Bristol
    Virtual simulations help understand how ichthyosaurs swam - latest scientific news and research

    The ichthyosaurs, sea monsters of the Mesozoic era, changed their body shape during evolution in order to swim more efficiently. To better understand how this happened, a team of scientists used computer simulations and virtual environments.

    They created 3D models of several ichthyosaurs, but also of the bottlenose dolphin, a species that we know very well. This helped the researchers to understand that the bigger, more evolved animals moved more efficiently by beating their tails instead of using body movements as the earlier species did.

    The results offer precious insights into the ecology of the ichthyosaurs and enhance our understanding of their motion.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

    Moros intrepidus, the earliest known Tyrannosaur in North America living 96 million years ago. Image: Jorge Gonzalez
    Tiny Tyrannosaur discovered, the earliest in North America - dinosaur short science news

    In what is now Utah, scientists have found the fossil remains of a small tyrannosaur who lived about 96 million years ago.

    This new species, named Moros intrepidus, was up to four feet tall at the hip, and despite its relatively small size, must have been a formidable predator.

    When placing Moros in the Tyrannosaur family tree, scientists found that they are mostly related to Asian dinosaurs that migrated to North America. Also, the newly discovered species fills a gap in fossil records of 70 million years preceding the rise to power of Tyrannosaurs that apparently took less than 15 million years.

    Read the full story: North Carolina State University
    Scientific publication: Communications Biology

    An asteroid might not be the only responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs. Volcanic eruptions could have played a role too.
    The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs triggered one million years of volcanic eruptions - latest scientific news and research

    New data, just released by scientists, suggests that an asteroid impact 66 million years ago reignited massive volcanic eruptions in India. At a geological scale, the two events are almost simultaneous and they coincide with the mass extinction that removed the dinosaurs from Earth.

    The researchers concluded that volcanic activity continued for about one million years. Interestingly, most of the lava erupted after the asteroid impact, which contradicts previous studies.

    However, it is still unclear how the asteroid impact and the massive eruptions share the responsibility for the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs and many other life forms.

    Read the full story: University of California, Los Angeles
    Scientific publication: Science

    Fossil fuel burning is the main source of black carbon dispositions in the Arctic
    Black carbon in the Arctic mostly coming from fossil fuel combustion - climate change short science news

    A study in the Arctic of Canada, Sweden, Norway and Russia has show that 60% of the annual black carbon disposition is derived from fossil fuel combustion.

    Biomass burning, like wildfires, are more important in the summer.

    Black carbon absorbs sunlight and heat the atmosphere, and thus contributes to the increase of temperatures at the Arctic.

    Read the full story: Baylor
    Scientific publication: Science Advances

    This is the Stonehenge quarry. Image: UCL
    Quarrying of Stonehenge bluestones dated to 3000 BC - human history short science news

    While it was already known that two quarryies in Wales were the origin of the Stonehenge bluestones, now scientists have discovered the exact location of the quarries, and could date these to 3000 BC.

    Also, it appeared that the stones have likely been transported over land and not by sea as had been presumed before.

    This and the findings of tools take us one step closer to unravelling Stonehenge’s greatest mystery of why the stones came from so far (180 miles) away.

    Read the full story: UCL
    Scientific publication: Antiquity

    This leaf absorbs 10 times more CO2
    Artificial leaves to grab more CO2 more- interesting science news

    Artificial leaves work in the lab by mimicking how natural leaves work, they use water and CO2 from air to produce carbohydrates in the presence of sunlight. But there was one major drawback. These artificial leaves could use only pure pressurized CO2 from the tanks.

    Now, researchers have made a new artificial leaf, which is 10 times more efficient than natural leaves to use CO2. More importantly these artificial leaves work in real world conditions and not only in the labs.

    They could do this by encapsulating the older artificial leaves in a transparent capsule made of semi-permeable ammonium resin filled with water. The water as it evaporates makes way for CO2 to be pulled in. Could this help in our battle against the increasing level of CO2?

    Read the full story: University of Illinois at Chicago
    Scientific publication: ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering

    Under current high emissions the average urban dweller is going to have to drive more than 500 miles to the south to find a climate similar to their home city by 2080. Image: Matthew Fitzpatrick/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
    Making climate change visible with climate mapping - climate short science news

    Climate mapping shows that climates of North American cities will change dramatically in essentially one generation, such that New York will have the current climate of northern Arkansas, and Washington DC that of northern Mississippi in 2080.

    The climates of western cities are expected to become more like those of the current climates of the desert Southwest or southern California.

    The study not only takes temperature changes into account, but also other parameters such as expected rainfall. The results are presented in an app, so that the impact of climate change is easily visible.

    Read the full story: University of Maryland
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Earth's long-term warming trend, showing how the planet's temperatures are changing over time, compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980. Image: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Kathryn Mersmann
    2018 fourth warmest year in continued warming trend - climate short science news

    Earth’s global temperature in 2018 was the fourth warmest since 1880, according to NASA and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Global temperatures were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.83 degrees Celcius) higher than the 1951-1980 mean. The past five years were collectively the warmest in the modern temperature record.

    Temperatures are being measured across 6,300 weather stations worldwide, and together they clearly show that the warming trend continues, although some regional differences due to local weather dynamics exist.

    Read the full story: NASA

    Eruption column of Mount Pinatubo on Luzon Island in the Philippines on June 12, 1991. The eruption, the largest on Earth in the past 100 years, ejected particles into the stratosphere, and temporarily influenced temperatures on Earth. Image: Dave Harlow/USGS
    History of big, climate-altering volcanic eruptions rewritten - Earth short science news

    By applying a new method to measure sulfur isotopes in Antarctic icesheets, scientists have identified the largest of volcanic eruptions up to 2,600 years ago that had ejected particles into the stratosphere, before settling on, and being trapped in, the icesheets.

    The study confirmed previously reported eruptions, but also disqualified other reports, and added new eruptions.

    These large eruptions temporarily cool down the Earth due to the ejection of particles in the stratosphere, and are thus phenomena important enough to be included in climate change models, researchers say.

    Read the full story: University of Maryland
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Color changes of oceans, due to climate change, may not be visible to the human eye, but satellites can measure hue and provide an early warning sign of the consequences of climate change in marine ecosystems
    Ocean’s color will change by the end of this century due to climate change - climate short science news

    By the year 2100, the blue parts of the oceans will be a bit bluer and the green parts will be a bit greener. Scientists predict this on the basis of a new model describing absorption of light by phytoplankton in the oceans.

    Populations of phytoplankton will change with climate change. In the subtropics, phytoplankton will become less abundant so that not much color will be reflected, except for blue that is reflected by water. At the poles and the equator, more phytoplankton will start to bloom, which will reflect more green color.

    Scientists say that satellites could monitor changes in hue of the oceans, and use this as an early warning sign of climate change in marine environments.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Fearsome dinosaur-like animal liked eating the bones of its prey. Credit: Jakub Kowalski
    This Triassic T-rex like monster ate bones for breakfast - science news articles

    New evidence suggests that the archosaur Smok wawelski, that looked similar to the more popular T rex, had the habit of eating the bones of its prey. This dinosaur-like animal was 5-6 meters long and it lived 210 million years ago, in Late Triassic.

    Scientists studied the fossilized excrements (coprolites) of Smok walwelski and discovered that they contained up to 50% bones from prey animals. Very likely, this predator ate bones for their content in salt and marrow, a behavior often seen in mammals.

    Interestingly, the coprolites also contained several crouched teeth, probably belonging to the predator itself. This means that occasionally their teeth were crushed against the hard food and later replaced by new ones.

    Read the full story: Uppsala University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    A melting glacier in Antarctica is sounding the death knell for us
    A big cavity in Antarctica glacier detected - interesting science news

    A new NASA led study has shown disturbing evidence of a huge cavity at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier in the West Antarctica. This cavity is about 2/3rd the size of Manhattan and about 1000 feet tall indicating that the glacier is disintegrating.

    The researchers used a very high-resolution technique called radar interferometry to identify the ground surface below the ice sheets of the glacier.

    The Thwaites Glacier is responsible for 4% of the total sea level rise and has the capacity to raise the world ocean level to more than 2 feet if it melts altogether. The problem now is, as more heat and water will get under the glacier, it will start melting at an accelerated rate.

    Read the full story: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Sciences Advances

    Plastic particles can already be found in many sea and ocean animals
    Plastic found in dolphins, seals, and whales - top science news stories

    A research study provided scientists with a shocking discovery: microplastics were found in all the marine animals involved in the study!

    The scientists investigated dolphins, seals, and whales, from British waters, in total 50 different animals. All of them contained plastic particles in their bodies. The sources of the contaminants include clothes, fishing nets, toothbrushes, food packaging, and plastic bottles.

    “We don’t yet know what effects the microplastics, or the chemicals on and in them, might have on marine mammals,” the researchers said. However, one thing is certain: we must take action to reduce the amount of plastic waste released to our seas and maintain clean, oceans for future generations.

    Read the full story: University of Exeter
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

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