Warmer climate contributes to spread of the Zika virus

The Aedes mosquitos that carry the Zika virus and dengue fever are not just perfectly adapted to life in cities, writes Nadia Pontes. They are also being helped along by warming climates which increase their range. It's time to get serious about the health implications of a hotter planet.Global warming affects the abundance and distribution of disease vectors. As regions that used to be drier and colder start to register higher temperatures and more rain, mosquitoes expand their breeding areas, which increases the number of populations atThe explosion in the number of Latin American cases of microcephaly - a congenital condition associated with maldevelopment of the brain - has become an international emergency due its "strongly suspected"link with the rapidly spreading Zika virus, according to the World Health Organisation(WHO).

Climate change will delay transatlantic flights

Planes flying between Europe and North America will be spending more time in the air due to the effects of climate change, a new study has shown.By accelerating the jet stream – a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic – climate change will speed up eastbound flights but slow down westbound flights, the study found.  The findings could have implications for airlines, passengers, and airports.

Are we impacting the future of our planet for thousands of years?

The Earth may suffer irreversible damage that could last tens of thousands of years because of the rate humans are emitting carbon into the atmosphere.In a new study in Nature Climate Change, researchers at Oregon State University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and collaborating institutions found that the longer-term impacts of climate change go well past the 21st century.“Much of the carbon we are putting in the air from burning fossil fuels will stay there for thousands of years — and some of it will be there for more than 100,000 years,” said Peter Clark, an Oregon State University paleoclimatologist and lead author on the article. “People need to understand that the effects of climate change on the planet won’t go away, at least not for thousands of generations.”LLNL’s Benjamin Santer said the focus on climate change at the end of the 21st century needs to be shifted toward a much longer-term perspective.

Over 50 Percent of the World Breathes in Toxic Air

Everyone needs clean air to survive, yet somehow it is not an internationally recognized human right. That probably has something to do with the fact that over half of the world’s population live in areas where they breathe in toxic air. Altogether, that means there are more than 3.5 billion people inhaling dangerous air into their lungs on a daily basis.

What does the Wolf say?

The largest ever study of howling in the 'canid' family of species -- which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs -- has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or "vocal fingerprints": different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species. Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling. They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used -- from flat to highly modulated -- corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf. 

Disease may wipe out the world's bananas

Bananas are at the sharp end of industrial agriculture's chemical war on pests and pathogens, writes Angelina Sanderson Bellamy. But even 60 pesticide sprays a year isn't enough to keep the diseases at bay. It's time to seek new solutions with little or no use of chemicals, working with nature, growing diverse crops on the same land - and breaking the dominance of the banana multinationals.

The uneven impacts of climate change

A new study by University of Queensland and WCS shows a dramatic global mismatch between nations producing the most greenhouse gases and the ones most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.The study shows that the highest emitting countries are ironically the least vulnerable to climate change effects such as increased frequency of natural disasters, changing habitats, human health impacts, and industry stress.Those countries emitting the least amount of greenhouse gases are most vulnerable.

Universtiy of Alaska studies how the melting Greenland glaciers are impacting sea levels

University of Alaska Fairbanks mathematicians and glaciologists have taken a first step toward understanding how glacier ice flowing off Greenland affects sea levels.Andy Aschwanden, Martin Truffer and Mark Fahnestock used mathematical computer models and field tests to reproduce the flow of 29 inlet glaciers fed by the Greenland ice sheet. They compared their data with data from NASA's Operation IceBridge North aerial campaign.The comparisons showed that the computer models accurately depicted current flow conditions in topographically complex Greenland.

Who would have guessed this? Study finds vacations can lead to weight gains!

A week's vacation may leave many adults with a heavier midsection--extra weight that can hang around even six weeks post-vacation.A faculty member in the University of Georgia's College of Family and Consumer Sciences found that adults going on a one- to three-week vacation gained an average of nearly 1 pound during their trips. With the average American reportedly gaining 1-2 pounds a year, the study's findings suggest an alarming trend."If you're only gaining a pound or two a year and you gained three-quarters of that on a one- to three-week vacation, that's a pretty substantial weight gain during a short period of time," said Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the college's department of foods and nutrition.

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.The study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature, found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.