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Environment

Rising ocean acid levels skew predator/prey relationship

The rising tide (no pun intended) of acid in the Earth's oceans could cause a major disruption in the delicate balance of its ecosystem. A new study suggests that changes in the ocean's acidic levels due to atmospheric carbon dioxide could also change the predator-prey relationship of ocean life by tipping the scales in favor of the predator. Read More

Ozone hole on the mend 30 years after global pact

In the mid 1980s the world made an important judgement call. CFCs, the chemical compounds in fridges, aerosols and dry cleaning products, had been boring a hole in the Earth's ozone layer over the polar regions which, if left unchecked, could cause grave public health and environmental problems. So pretty much every country signed up to ban the use of CFCs, a decision that is now paying big dividends with scientists reporting significant shrinkage of the hole and evidence of what looks to be a path to recovery. Read More

Emerging strain of honeybee virus proves even more deadly

Viral infections have been identified as a major factor in the continued decline of bee colonies, including the devastating, parasite-transmitted Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). Now, European researchers have shown that a recently-identified second strain of DWV is even more virulent than the established type, and the study calls for a better understanding of the genetic diversity of pathogens to help fight them.Read More

Pig manure may pave the way to sustainable road building

Researchers from North Carolina A&T State University have developed a process that uses pig manure as a low-cost replacement for petroleum in the production of road asphalt. In searching for bio alternatives, the group discovered that swine waste is especially rich in oils very similar to petroleum, at a grade too low to make gasoline but suited for asphalt.Read More

Phenocart puts plant health-monitoring on wheels

Breeding plants is a time-consuming process, and monitoring changes in crops can be as tedious as – well, watching grass grow. But the age-old method of walking around a farm and examining thousands of plants by hand could soon be replaced by the Phenocart, a device that automatically reads the vital signs of plants and uses a software package and GPS to organize the collected data.Read More

Acoustic buoy lets scientists eavesdrop on whales in real-time

Whales inhabiting the waters off of New York and New Jersey can now be heard in real-time thanks to an acoustic monitoring buoy created by a consortium of marine scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) New York Aquarium and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The hi-tech device allows the group to track – and better study and protect – several species of endangered baleen whales found year-round in the busy waters of the New York Bight.Read More

Ocean Cleanup Project's trash-catching prototype takes to the angry Dutch seas

Its been a few years since Boyan Slat first revealed his bold concept to clean up the world's oceans, and now we're set to see how his trash-catching barriers fare in the real world. The Dutch entrepreneur's Ocean Cleanup Project has successfully deployed its debut prototype off the coast of the Netherlands, which will serve as a first test-case ahead of a much larger installation planned to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2020.Read More

Venice's water taxis may be going green

Although most people likely associate Venice with gondoliers quietly poling their boats along the canals, the city is also home to approximately 550 motorized water taxis. These watercraft are all equipped with diesel engines that spew exhaust and make a racket, creating both air and noise pollution. With this situation in mind, engineers from University of Southampton spin-off company REAPsystems are developing hybrid engines that could be swapped in.Read More

Looking to the past to learn more about a warming planet's possible future

Expectations of what a warmer planet might mean range from the inconsequential to the much more dire, but researchers are working to bring more scientific data to the debate. For geologists at Florida State University (FSU), one way to learn more about the future is by visiting the past, 94 million years ago to be exact. By studying a major warming event at that point in the Earth's history, the researchers have found that it caused changes in ocean chemistry that were incompatible with vital nutrients needed to support life.Read More

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