Month: August 2012

  • As Susquehanna Nears Sediment Capacity, Chesapeake Bay Likely to Suffer

    The Susquehanna is a mighty river in the northeastern United States which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The river meanders through the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania and into upstate New York. It is the longest river on the American east coast which drains into the Atlantic, and its watershed is the 16th largest in the country (27,500 square miles / 71,000 square km). The Susquehanna River carries sediment and runoff from the wilderness and farmlands of Pennsylvania and New York, and deposits them into the Chesapeake. However, too much nutrient runoff is a bad thing for the Bay ecosystem, so dams have been constructed to trap the sediment. A new report from the USGS found that the reservoirs behind those dams have reached their sediment capacity, with potentially disastrous consequence for the Bay.

  • Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists

    Water scarcity’s effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed a population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, warns Stockholm International Water Institute.

  • Small or Large Families

    There are many logical (and illogical) reasons to have a large or a small family. Scientists have taken a step closer to solving one of life’s mysteries – why family size generally falls as societies become richer. Evolutionary biologists have long puzzled over this because natural selection is expected to have selected for organisms that try to maximize their reproduction. But in industrialized societies around the world, increasing wealth coincides with people deliberately limiting their family size – the so-called demographic transition.

  • American Meteorological Society confirms Climate Change and Man’s Role

    Weathercasters in the U.S. not only tend to not ever mention climate change, but the majority of them do not even believe it is human-caused, as an article I recently wrote shows. However, that may change. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) released an official position statement on climate change this week which not only said that it is occurring, but it is human-caused. What is so great about the statement by the AMS is that it includes so much information about climate change, including that there is scientific consensus. The AMS makes it clear that the statement is “based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and is consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding.” The statement details how the climate is changing, both in the U.S. and around the world. The changes listed include increases in globally averaged air and ocean temperatures, the widespread melting of snow and ice, and the rising of globally averaged sea level. As the statement puts it, “Warming of the climate system now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence.” That is not good news for the world’s population, but it is good news that the AMS is acknowledging that climate change is real and is occurring.

  • Methane Under Antarctica Ice

    There is a lot of stored Methane in the environment and numerous natural sources. Well add a sort of new one that may be bigger than previously supposed. A new study demonstrates that old organic matter in sedimentary basins located beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet may have been converted to methane by micro-organisms living under oxygen-deprived conditions. The methane could be released to the atmosphere if the ice sheet shrinks and exposes these old sedimentary basins. The researchers estimate that 50 per cent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (1 million km2) and 25 per cent of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (2.5 million km2) overlies preglacial sedimentary basins, containing over 21,000 billion tons of organic carbon.

  • Study vs. Sleep: Which is more beneficial to your academic success?

    Studying is a key contributor to academic achievement, but after sports practice, then your music lesson, dinner with your family, and homework that is due tomorrow, it’s already 1 am and you are just starting to study for that US History midterm. But you’re exhausted. Should you go to sleep and hope that Roosevelt’s New Deal isn’t on the test, or stay up until you finish reading the last chapter on the Great Depression? This is a dilemma for many high school students as busy schedules and procrastination are pushing students into the late hours of the night to finish studying. However, according to researchers at UCLA, sacrificing sleep to cram for an exam is actually counterproductive.

  • Black Hole Bonanza

    A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping. There are none to see nearby but their effects are massive when they are found. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission has led to a bonanza of newfound supermassive black holes and extreme galaxies called hot DOGs, or dust-obscured galaxies. Images from the telescope have revealed millions of dusty black hole candidates across the universe and about 1,000 even dustier objects thought to be among the brightest galaxies ever found. These powerful galaxies, which burn brightly with infrared light, are nicknamed hot DOGs.

  • Wild Fires and Heat Trapping

    When the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Being scientists they then scrambled about to test what was happening. Within 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles.

  • More Bad News for Young Smokers: Arterial Damage

    Teen smokers have thicker artery walls, indicating the early development of atherosclerosis, which is a chronic condition that remains asymptomatic for decades. Advanced atherosclerosis can lead to catastrophic events such as the slowing or stopping of blood flow, which then leads to the death of whatever body tissue that artery is feeding. If that artery is feeding the heart, it will result in myocardial infarction (heart attack), and if it is feeding the brain, the result is a stroke. As an adolescent, catastrophes like these are highly unlikely. But if that individual is a smoker, they may have inadvertently put their arteries on the path that can lead to disaster in the future.

  • Methane Making An Appearance In Pa. Water Supplies

    Mike and Nancy Leighton’s problems began on May 19, just as Mike was settling in to watch the Preakness Stakes. A neighbor in Leroy Township, Pa., called Mike and told him to check the water well located just outside his front door. Typically, there’s between 80 to 100 feet of headspace between the top of the well and its water supply. But when Leighton went outside, the water was bubbling over the top.