Ocean acidification affects predator-prey response

Ocean acidification makes it harder for sea snails to escape from their sea star predators, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B, suggest that by disturbing predator-prey interactions, ocean acidification could spur cascading consequences for food web systems in shoreline ecosystems.For instance, black turban snails graze on algae. If more snails are eaten by predators, algae densities could increase."Ocean acidification can affect individual marine organisms along the Pacific coast, by changing the chemistry of the seawater," said lead author Brittany Jellison, a Ph.D. student studying marine ecology at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Crucial peatlands carbon-sink vulnerable to rising sea levels

Rising sea-levels linked to global warming could pose a significant threat to the effectiveness of the world's peatland areas as carbon sinks, a new study has shown.The pioneering new study, carried out by Geographers at the University of Exeter, examined the impact that salt found in sea water has on how successfully peatland ecosystems accumulate carbon from the atmosphere.The researchers studied an area of blanket bog - a peat bog that forms in cool regions susceptible to high rainfall - at Kentra Moss, in Northwest Scotland.

Saved by the sun

A new twist on the use of renewable energy is saving children's lives in Africa. The innovation--a solar powered oxygen delivery system--is providing concentrated oxygen in hospital for children suffering from severe pneumonia.The device created by Dr. Michael Hawkes, an assistant professor in the University of Alberta's Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, is the focus of a recently published study in The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and is already in use in two hospitals in Uganda."Solar-powered oxygen is using freely available resources--the sun and air--to treat children with pneumonia in the most remote settings," says Hawkes. "It's very gratifying for a pediatrician doing research in a lower-resource setting to fill a clinical gap and save lives. It's what our work is all about."

Floating Solar: A Win-Win for Drought-Stricken Lakes in U.S.

The Colorado River’s two great reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are in retreat. Multi-year droughts and chronic overuse have taken their toll, to be sure, but vast quantities of water are also lost to evaporation. What if the same scorching sun that causes so much of this water loss were harnessed for electric power? Installing floating solar photovoltaic arrays, sometimes called “floatovoltaics,” on a portion of these two reservoirs in the southwestern United States could produce clean, renewable energy while shielding significant expandes of water from the hot desert sun. 

Humans artificially drive evolution of new species

Species across the world are rapidly going extinct due to human activities, but humans are also causing rapid evolution and the emergence of new species. A new study published today summarises the causes of manmade speciation, and discusses why newly evolved species cannot simply replace extinct wild species. The study was led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen. 

New study shows impact of man-made structures on Louisiana's coastal wetlands

As Louisiana's wetlands continue to disappear at an alarming rate, a new study has pinpointed the man-made structures that disrupt the natural water flow and threaten these important ecosystems. The findings have important implications for New Orleans and other coastal cities that rely on coastal wetlands to serve as buffer from destructive extreme weather events.Scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that man-made canals limit the natural tidal inundation process in roughly 45 percent of the state's coastline, and disruptions from levees accounted for 15 percent.

Building a better battery

Forget mousetraps -- today's scientists will get the cheese if they manage to build a better battery.An international team led by Texas A&M University chemist Sarbajit Banerjee is one step closer, thanks to new research published today (June 28) in the journal Nature Communications that has the potential to create more efficient batteries by shedding light on the cause of one of their biggest problems -- a "traffic jam" of ions that slows down their charging and discharging process.All batteries have three main components: two electrodes and an intervening electrolyte. Lithium ion batteries work under the so-called rocking-chair model. Imagine discharging and charging a battery as similar to the back-and-forth motion of a rocking chair. As the chair rocks one way, using its stored energy, lithium ions flow out of one electrode through the electrolyte and into the other electrode. Then as the chair rocks the other way, charging the battery after a day's use, the reverse happens, emptying the second electrode of lithium ions.

Pipelines affect health, fitness of salmon, study finds

Pipelines carrying crude oil to ports in British Columbia may spell bad news for salmon, according to a new University of Guelph-led study.Exposure to an oil sands product - diluted bitumen - impairs the swimming ability and changes the heart structures of young salmon.The research will be published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and is available online now.It's a timely finding, says U of G post-doctoral researcher and lead author Sarah Alderman.The National Energy Board (NEB) recently approved the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project; the federal government is expected to make a final decision by December.  

Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than African Crops Can Handle It

Crop yields in Africa will nosedive ten years from now unless we can develop varieties that can better deal with climate change. Unfortunately, we’re not breeding those hardier varieties fast enough.That’s the sobering conclusion of a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers from the University of Leeds. As temperatures rise, crop yields fall. This is particularly true for staple crops like corn, bananas and beans raised in hot tropical areas. 

Household fuels exceed power plants and cars as source of smog in Beijing

Beijing and surrounding areas of China often suffer from choking smog. The Chinese government has made commitments to improving air quality and has achieved notable results in reducing emissions from the power and transportation sectors. However, new research indicates that the government could achieve dramatic air quality improvements with more attention on an overlooked source of outdoor pollution -- residential cooking and heating."Coal and other dirty solid fuels are frequently used in homes for cooking and heating," said Denise Mauzerall, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs at Princeton University. "Because these emissions are essentially uncontrolled they emit a disproportionately large amount of air pollutants which contribute substantially to smog in Beijing and surrounding regions."