Winds Carve Away Antarctic Snow

A new study has found that powerful winds are removing massive amounts of snow from parts of Antarctica, potentially boosting estimates of how much the continent might contribute to sea level. Up to now, scientists had thought that most snow scoured from parts of the continent was simply redeposited elsewhere on the surface. However, the new study shows that in certain parts, called scour zones, some 90 percent—an estimated 80 billion tons per year—is instead being vaporized, and removed altogether. 

Nearly 1/3 of world's cacti species facing extinction

Thirty-one percent of cactus species are threatened with extinction, according to the first comprehensive, global assessment of the species group by IUCN and partners, published today in the journal Nature Plants. This places cacti among the most threatened taxonomic groups assessed on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ - more threatened than mammals and birds.

Another benefit of beet juice discovered

Ever since human beings first began climbing the world's tallest mountains, they have struggled with a basic problem: altitude sickness, caused by lower air pressures which affect the ability of our bodies to take up oxygen. Or, as actor Jason Clarke says in his role as the climbing guide Rob Hall in the recently released movie, Everest, "Human beings simply aren't built to function at the cruising altitude of a 747." 

Swedish sand lizards like climate change

Higher temperatures result in Swedish sand lizards laying their eggs earlier, which leads to better fitness and survival in their offspring, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.The findings indicate that climate change could have positive effects on this population of high-latitude lizard, but the authors warn that climate change is likely to affect a whole suite of traits, in addition to egg-laying date, which together would have an unknown combined effect on survival and reproductive success.

The relationship between carbon cycles and climate

Making predictions about climate variability often means looking to the past to find trends. Now paleoclimate researchers from the University of Missouri have found clues in exposed bedrock alongside an Alabama highway that could help forecast climate variability. In their study, the researchers verified evidence suggesting carbon dioxide decreased significantly at the end of the Ordovician Period, 450 million years ago, preceding an ice age and eventual mass extinction. These results will help climatologists better predict future environmental changes.The Ordovician geologic period included a climate characterized by high atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, warm average temperatures and flourishing life. Near the end of the period, CO2 levels dropped significantly but precisely when and how fast is poorly known. Kenneth MacLeod, a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science, directed a research team studying the climate changes 450 million years ago to better understand the interactions among the biosphere, the oceans, atmospheric CO2 levels, and temperature.

Ecotourism can put wild animals at risk

Ecotourism, in which travelers visit natural environments with an eye toward funding conservation efforts or boosting local economies, has become increasingly popular in recent years. In many cases it involves close observation of or interaction with wildlife, such as when tourists swim with marine animals. Now, life scientists have analyzed more than 100 research studies on how ecotourism affects wild animals and concluded that such trips can be harmful to the animals, whose behaviors may be altered in ways that put them at risk.

Study of China's Yellow River yields unexpected information about the Earth's climate history

By meticulously examining sediments in China's Yellow River, a Swedish-Chinese research group are showing that the history of tectonic and climate evolution on Earth may need to be rewritten. Their findings are published today in the highly reputed journal Nature Communications.

Mars once supported lakes of liquid water

A new study from the team behind NASA's Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity has confirmed that Mars was once, billions of years ago, capable of storing water in lakes over an extended period of time.Using data from the Curiosity rover, the team has determined that, long ago, water helped deposit sediment into Gale Crater, where the rover landed more than three years ago. The sediment deposited as layers that formed the foundation for Mount Sharp, the mountain found in the middle of the crater today.

Why Elephants Rarely Get Cancer

Why elephants rarely get cancer is a mystery that has stumped scientists for decades. A study led by researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah and Arizona State University, and including researchers from the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, may have found the answer.

Chernobyl considered unlikely nature reserve for some species

When you think of Chernobyl you probably think along the lines of “nuclear disaster” and a “no-go” area, but new research shows that with humans now absent from the region, several mammal species including wild boar and wolves, are increasing in number in this most unlikely nature reserve.