Environmental Protection

Research and Technology


Study: Microbes Consumed Surprisingly Large Amount of Oil in Gulf Spill Slick

Researchers found that bacterial microbes inside the slick degraded the oil at a rate five times faster than microbes outside the slick—accounting in large part for the disappearance of the slick some three weeks after Deepwater Horizon's Macondo well was shut off.

New Research Suggests Radioactive Decay is Key Ingredient Behind Earth's Heat

New research suggests that nearly half the Earth's heat comes from the radioactive decay of materials beneath the surface, according to a large international research collaboration that includes a Kansas State University physicist.

Round-the-Clock Solar Power May Be the Stuff of Dreams No Longer

The biggest hurdle to widespread implementation of solar power is the fact that the sun doesn't shine constantly in any given place, so backup power systems are needed for nights and cloudy days. But a novel system designed by researchers at MIT could finally overcome that problem, delivering steady power 24/7.

Researchers Discover Catalyst That Could Help Replace Petroleum-Derived Products

Researchers in the Pacific Northwest have developed a new catalyst material that could replace chemicals currently derived from petroleum and be the basis for more environmentally friendly products, including octane-boosting gas and fuel additives, bio-based rubber for tires and a safer solvent for the chemicals industry.

Researchers: Energy Balance Is Key to Disparity Between Climate Models And Observed Temperatures

The previously unexplained differences between model-based forecasts of rapid global warming and meteorological data showing a slower rate of warming have been the source of often contentious debate and controversy for more than two decades.

Geographic Analysis Offers New Insight Into Coral Disease Spread

In the last 30 years, more than 90 percent of the reef-building coral responsible for maintaining major marine habitats and providing a natural barrier against hurricanes in the Caribbean has disappeared because of a disease of unknown origin.

Bacteria Can Fertilize Copper Polluted Soil

When miners abandoned Michigan’s Copper Country, they left a lot of the red metal behind, and not in a good way. Waste from the mining operations still contains a high fraction of copper, so high that almost nothing can grow on it—and hasn’t for decades, leaving behind moonscape expanses that can stretch for acres.

A Geological View of Global Erosion

Erosion happens. But for the modern geologist a vexing question remains: how fast does this erosion happen? For more than a century, scientists have looked for ways to measure and compare erosion rates across differing landscapes around the globe—but with limited success.

How Light-colored Roads, Rooftops Can Help Cool the Planet

New Berkeley Lab study investigates climate consequences of cool roofs and large-scale solar panel deployment.

Climate Change to Potentially Increase Yellowstone Wildfires

An increase in wildfires due to climate change could rapidly and profoundly alter the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, according to a new study authored by environmental engineering and geography Professor Anthony Westerling of the University of California, Merced.

Researchers Float Framework for Relocating Species Threatened by Climate Change

In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers from CSIRO, University of Queensland and United States Geological Survey present a pragmatic decision framework for determining when, if ever, to move species in the face of climate change.

Study: Increase in Aerosols Has Offset Some Recent Climate Warming

A recent increase in the abundance of particles high in the atmosphere has offset about a third of the current climate warming influence of carbon dioxide (CO2) change during the past decade, according to a new study led by NOAA and published today in the online edition of Science.

Wildfires Ignite Issues of Land Management and Public Trust in Agencies

The wildfires currently raging in the southwestern United States bring issues of land management into the public eye. Land management actions, such as prescribed fire, grazing, herbicides, felling trees and mowing, can restore native plants and reduce wildfire. However, the public’s view of land management and their trust in land management agencies can pose another obstacle.

Farms of the Future: Bio-Oil, Biochar from Biomass

Rural landscapes of the future might have pyrolysis plants instead of grain elevators on every horizon —processing centers where farmers would bring bulky crops such as switchgrass to be made into crude oil.

Scientists Examine Behavior of Gulf Oil Spill Plume

Taking another major step in sleuthing the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a research team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has determined what chemicals were contained in a deep, hydrocarbon-containing plume at least 22 miles long that WHOI scientists mapped and sampled last summer in the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Earthquake Soil Effects Study Could Improve Buildings

The findings were reported in a special issue of the Earth, Planets and Space (EPS) journal. The research was sponsored the National Science Foundation (NSF) and by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

Graphite and Water: The Battery of the Future

A combination of two ordinary materials – graphite and water – could produce energy storage systems that perform on par with lithium ion batteries, but recharge in a matter of seconds and have an almost indefinite lifespan.

Loss of Top Animal Predators Has Massive Ecological Effects

In the Science journal, a review paper titled, “Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth,” concludes that the decline of large predators and herbivores in all regions of the world is causing substantial changes to Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Tsunami Airglow Signature Could Lead to Early Detection System

Researchers at the University of Illinois have recorded an airglow signature in the upper atmosphere produced by a tsunami using a camera system based in Maui, Hawaii.

Protein Complex Found to Regulate Plant Growth

Farmers and other astute observers of nature have long known that crops like corn and sorghum grow taller at night. But the biochemical mechanisms that control this nightly stem elongation, common to most plants, have been something of a mystery to biologists—until now.

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