Study shows how air pollution fosters heart disease

Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but the biological process has not been understood. A major, decade-long study of thousands of Americans  found that people living in areas with more outdoor pollution —even at lower levels common in the United States — accumulate deposits in the arteries that supply the heart faster than do people living in less polluted areas.  The study was published May 24 online in The Lancet.

A Different Look at Energy Harvesting Roadways

Over fifty percent of the United States energy comes from coal and petroleum based fuels. Powering a nation in which the average person uses the amount of energy in 15,370 lbs of coal or 165,033 sticks of dynamite in a year is not sustainable. When thinking of a solution, the well-known renewable energy source that most likely comes to mind is solar power.Solar panels are an impervious surface. Impervious surfaces already take up 32,868.61 square miles of roads, parking lots, driveways, and more. These surfaces displace rainwater to surrounding areas and have great impacts on the water table and soil quality. Utilizing already cleared land rather than clearing more would be beneficial to the environment, as solar fields require large amounts of cleared land.

Squid populations on the rise

Unlike the declining populations of many fish species, the number of cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish and squid) has increased in the world's oceans over the past 60 years, a University of Adelaide study has found.The international team, led by researchers from the University's Environment Institute, compiled a global database of cephalopod catch rates to investigate long-term trends in abundance, published in Cell Press journal Current Biology.

UN Climate negotiations update – how to raise and allocate $100 billion

The UN intersessional negotiations on climate change (UNFCCC) which started in Bonn last week enter their second week with the big question - how to find and allocate by 2020 the $100bn as agreed in the Paris Agreement. Delegate Pavlos Georgiadis reports.The burning question for week two of these negotiations is how to raise and allocate the $100bn agreed as part of the Paris AgreementThe first week of the negotiations started slowly, and ended even slower. Negotiators look like they still have some sort of bad hangover, thanks to the fact they are still celebrating the Paris agreement. And while discussions take place inside the UN building in Bonn, Sri Lanka tries to recover from the worst floods in its history, India reports the hottest day every recorded in the countryand Carbon Brief warn that we only have five years until the 1,5°C carbon budget is blown.

Bristol University study shows how immune cells become activated

Immune cells play essential roles in the maintenance and repair of our bodies.  When we injure ourselves, immune cells mount a rapid inflammatory response to protect us against infection and help heal the damaged tissue. Lead researcher Dr Helen Weavers, from the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences said: “While this immune response is beneficial for human health, many human diseases (including atheroscelerosis, cancer and arthritis) are caused or aggravated by an overzealous immune response. A greater understanding of what activates the immune response is therefore crucial for the design of novel therapies to treat these inflammatory disorders.“Our study found that immune cells must first become ‘activated’ by eating a dying neighbouring cell before they are able to respond to wounds or infection. In this way, immune cells build a molecular memory of this meal, which shapes their inflammatory behaviour.”

GMOs May Be Safe to Eat, But Some Are Still Bad for the Planet

For years, one of the major arguments that has been made against genetically engineered crops is the fear that, by tampering with a plant’s DNA, it could potentially cause health issues for consumers. It’s an understandable worry, however, the scientific consensus now seems to be undeniable: Whatever faults GMO crops may have, they are safe for human consumption.

Increased vegetation in the Arctic region may counteract global warming

Climate change creates more shrub vegetation in barren, arctic ecosystems. A study at Lund University in Sweden shows that organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, are triggered to break down particularly nutritious dead parts of shrubbery. Meanwhile, the total amount of decomposition is reducing. This could have an inhibiting effect on global warming.

How fish adapt to warmer waters but not to extremes

Fish can adjust to warmer ocean temperatures, but heat waves can still kill them, a team of researchers from Sweden, Norway and Australia reports in an article published this week in Nature Communications. "A species might adapt and grow well (in warmer waters) but once you get strong heat spells, the water temperature might reach lethal temperatures and kill them," said Fredrik Jutfelt, an associate professor in biology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who was senior author of the study.Jutfelt and his colleagues studied European perch that live in a unique enclosed basin of warm water off the Swedish coast. The man-made basin, called the Forsmark Biotest Enclosure, was created three decades ago as a 1-km2 open-air laboratory by piping warm water from the nearby Forsmark nuclear power plant into an enclosed basin. 

How do trees sleep?

Most living organisms adapt their behavior to the rhythm of day and night. Plants are no exception: flowers open in the morning, some tree leaves close during the night. Researchers have been studying the day and night cycle in plants for a long time: Linnaeus observed that flowers in a dark cellar continued to open and close, and Darwin recorded the overnight movement of plant leaves and stalks and called it "sleep". But even to this day, such studies have only been done with small plants grown in pots, and nobody knew whether trees sleep as well. Now, a team of researchers from Austria, Finland and Hungary measured the sleep movement of fully grown trees using a time series of laser scanning point clouds consisting of millions of points each.

Anthropogenic dust found to have long-rangimg impacts to oceans

As climatologists closely monitor the impact of human activity on the world's oceans, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found yet another worrying trend impacting the health of the Pacific Ocean.A new modeling study conducted by researchers in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences shows that for decades, air pollution drifting from East Asia out over the world's largest ocean has kicked off a chain reaction that contributed to oxygen levels falling in tropical waters thousands of miles away."There's a growing awareness that oxygen levels in the ocean may be changing over time," said Taka Ito, an associate professor at Georgia Tech. "One reason for that is the warming environment -- warm water holds less gas. But in the tropical Pacific, the oxygen level has been falling at a much faster rate than the temperature change can explain."The study, which was published May 16 in Nature Geoscience, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, a Georgia Power Faculty Scholar Chair and a Cullen-Peck Faculty Fellowship.In the report, the researchers describe how air pollution from industrial activities had raised levels of iron and nitrogen -- key nutrients for marine life -- in the ocean off the coast of East Asia. Ocean currents then carried the nutrients to tropical regions, where they were consumed by photosynthesizing phytoplankton.