Earth

As the cut flower industry hits one of its busiest periods, new research has shown that the water-absorbing green floral foam used by florists is contributing to the world's microplastic problem.

A study by RMIT University published in Science of the Total Environment found the plastic foam, which breaks into tiny pieces, can be ingested by a range of freshwater and marine animals and affect their health.

The picture of sea otters frolicking among kelp beds and rocky shoals has become an iconic image of the California coastline. But it may be drawing attention away from the value of other habitat that could truly help the endangered species in its recovery - estuaries.

In fact, a new study released today concludes that California could more than triple its population of southern sea otters, from an estimated 3,000 to nearly 10,000, by repopulating the largest estuary on the coast - the San Francisco Bay.

Snowstorms can wreak havoc across the United States, but especially on the East Coast. Snow is the least-understood form of precipitation, with major snowstorms among the most difficult weather events to forecast. Yet people rely on these forecasts to stay safe, plan travel routes and decide whether to close schools or businesses.

Millions of people in China depend on the rainfall brought by the monsoon during summer for their livelihoods and water supplies. Although there have been recent studies demonstrating that monsoon rainfall over the summer as a whole can be predicted, skilful predictions on shorter time scales have not yet been demonstrated. A recent study, published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, suggests that such predictions may now be possible.

The Arctic region is heating up faster than any other place on Earth, and as more and more sea ice is lost every year, we are already feeling the impacts. IIASA researchers explored strategies for cooling down the oceans in a world without this important cooling mechanism.

Satellite remote sensing has widely been used to monitor and characterize the spatial and temporal changes of the Earth's vegetative cover. Satellites used in these analyses have conventionally been polar-orbiting satellites, which orbit from "pole to pole" and obtain only one to two images of the Earth per day. The utility of these polar-orbiting satellites has, however, often been limited because frequently occurring clouds block their view of the land surface.

Understanding what influences the amount of methane in the atmosphere has been identified by the American Geophysical Union to be one of the foremost challenges in the earth sciences in the coming decades because of methane's hugely important role in meeting climate warming targets.

Methane is the second most important human-made greenhouse gas and is rising in the atmosphere more rapidly than predicted for reasons that are not well-understood. It is roughly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide for warming the Earth over a century timescale.

The identification of natural carbon sinks and understanding how they work is critical if humans are to mitigate global climate change. Tropical coastal wetlands are considered important but, so far, there is little data to show the benefits. This study, led by the University of Göttingen with the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen, and the University of Bremen showed that mangrove ecosystems need to be conserved and restored as part of the battle against rising carbon levels in the atmosphere. The research was published in Global Change Biology.

Convergent origins of new mechanisms to supply oxygen to the retina were directly linked to concurrent enhancements in the functional anatomy of the eye.

In his "On the Origin of Species", Darwin used the complexity of the eye to argue his theory of natural selection and the eye has continued to fascinate and trouble evolutionary biologists ever since.

Worcester, Mass. - Dec. 10, 2019 - A study by researchers in the United States and India has shown that probiotic yeasts derived from food are able to reduce the virulence of, and even prevent infections by, several types of fungi that are responsible for life-threatening infections in hospitalized and immune-compromised individuals, including the multi-drug resistant Candida auris, which was recently listed as an urgent threat by the U.S.

SASKATOON - Chemicals commonly used in smartphone, television, and computer displays were found to be potentially toxic and present in nearly half of dozens of samples of household dust collected by a team of toxicologists led by the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

The international research team, led by USask environmental toxicologist John Giesy, is sounding the alarm about liquid crystal monomers--the chemical building blocks of everything from flat screen TVs to solar panels--and the potential threat they pose to humans and the environment.

Cold cloud top temperatures can tell forecasters if a tropical cyclone has the potential to generate heavy rainfall, and that is exactly what NASA's Aqua satellite found when it observed the temperatures in Tropical Cyclone Belna over northwestern Madagascar.

One of the ways NASA researches tropical cyclones is using infrared data that provides temperature information. The AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured a look at those temperatures in Belna and gave insight into the storm's strength.

LA JOLLA--(December 10, 2019) In mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, the investigational drug candidates known as CMS121 and J147 improve memory and slow the degeneration of brain cells. Now, Salk researchers have shown how these compounds can also slow aging in healthy older mice, blocking the damage to brain cells that normally occurs during aging and restoring the levels of specific molecules to those seen in younger brains.

London: As opposed to making you happy, eating ice cream may cause you a headache.

University of Otago researchers have discovered how viruses that specifically kill bacteria can outwit bacteria by hiding from their defences, findings which are important for the development of new antimicrobials based on viruses and provide a significant advance in biological knowledge.