Pipe: Climate and Health

Cutting the cloud computing carbon cost

Fri, 2014-09-12 11:24
Researchers have investigated how cloud computing systems might be optimized for energy use and to reduce their carbon footprint.

Where's the atmosphere's self-cleaning power?

Thu, 2014-09-11 20:50
Tracking the atmosphere's cleanserDominant atmospheric “detergent” may be equally abundant in northern, southern hemispheres In a surprising finding, a research team concludes that the dominant "detergent" in the atmosphere is equally abundant in the northern and southern hemispheres.Yes

September 12, 2014 | In a finding that could alter how scientists quantify emissions of certain pollutants, a new study in Nature concludes that the self-cleaning power of the atmosphere does not differ substantially between the northern and southern hemispheres. The finding was surprising, as model simulations generally show that the hydroxyl molecule (OH)—the dominant “detergent” of the atmosphere that removes many pollutants by oxidizing them—is more common in the Northern Hemisphere.

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15 years of carbon dioxide emissions on Earth mapped

Thu, 2014-09-11 15:18
Scientists have developed a new approach to estimate carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels -- one that provides crucial information to policymakers. Called the 'Fossil Fuel Data Assimilation System,' this system was used to quantify 15 years of carbon dioxide emissions, every hour, for the entire planet -- down to the city scale. Until now, scientists have estimated greenhouse gas emissions at courser scales or used less reliable techniques.

Ebola: Fast-tracking treatments

Thu, 2014-09-11 10:54

THE lucky ones are admitted to a health centre. They arrive bleeding, in taxis, on foot, in wheelbarrows and sometimes in ambulances. Mostly there is little help available and patients are dying alone, lying on the ground and lucky to receive even palliative care. Médecins Sans Frontières, a medical charity that has treated more than two-thirds of the known patients, says its centres are overwhelmed.The death toll from the Ebola virus is continuing to grow alarmingly. On September 9th the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it had recorded 4,293 cases in five west African countries, of which at least 2,296 people had died (see map below). But even the WHO’s experts believe that is an underestimate as many people are suspected to be dying at home. By some estimates 12,000 people have been infected with Ebola so far.In Liberia the disease is spreading quickly. The country’s existence is now “seriously threatened” as the functions of state are disrupted, Brownie Samukai, Liberia’s minister of national defence, said this week. The health system, already weak, is breaking down. At least 160 Liberian health-care workers have contracted the disease and half of them have...

Sex and back pain: Assume the position

Thu, 2014-09-11 10:54

PEOPLE with back pain are known for their grouchiness, and it is not helped if they are also starved for sex. Although sex makes serious demands on the spine, no one has taken the time to study how different sexual positions can accommodate different back problems.But Stuart McGill and Natalie Sidorkewicz of the University of Waterloo in Canada rose to the challenge. They brought ten heterosexual couples with healthy spines into the lab and asked them to have sex using five randomly assigned intercourse positions. These included two variations of the “missionary position”, where the man is on top of the woman and facing her; two variations of the “doggy” position, where the man is behind the woman on all-fours, and the “spoon”, which involves both participants lying cupped together on their sides. The last of these is often recommended by family doctors as the safest for sore backs.Most back problems in younger folk are triggered by bending forward, a movement called flexion. But as people age, reaching up and back, known as extension, becomes a more common cause. The researchers wanted to see how various sexual positions differentially taxed the spine, so people would know what to avoid.They used eight infra-red motion-capture cameras to track the movements of reflective dots placed strategically on the participants’ bodies. The cameras monitored the movements for 20...

Can Humans Get Used to Having a Two-Way Relationship with Earth's Climate?

Wed, 2014-09-10 10:29
Can humans get used to having a two-way relationship with Earth’s climate?

Federal Report Describes Trouble for Some Birds

Wed, 2014-09-10 00:00
After the National Audubon Society released a report saying 650 bird species will be threatened by climate change, a report released by other agencies concluded that nearly one-third of American birds are in trouble.

Carbon dioxide concentration surges: Record greenhouse gas levels impact atmosphere and oceans, WMO report finds

Tue, 2014-09-09 12:17
The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide. This is according to the World Meteorological Organization's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which injected even greater urgency into the need for concerted international action against accelerating and potentially devastating climate change.

Sharks in acidic waters avoid smell of food

Tue, 2014-09-09 09:21
The increasing acidification of ocean waters caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could rob sharks of their ability to sense the smell of food, a new study suggests.

Climate Change Will Disrupt Half of North America’s Bird Species, Study Says

Tue, 2014-09-09 00:00
The National Audubon Society foresees danger for more than half of the 650 species of birds in North America.

Charges Dropped Against Climate Activists

Tue, 2014-09-09 00:00
A Massachusetts district attorney said he shared two defendants’ concern about the hazards of climate change.

Live fast, die young: Soil microbes in a warmer world

Mon, 2014-09-08 20:43
The mortality of soil microbes in warmer temperatures may affect soil carbon storage, scientists say. Soil microbes consume organic carbon compounds in soil, use some of it to make more microbes and release the rest to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The efficiency with which microbes use their food to make new microbes affects how much carbon remains in soil, and how much is released back to the atmosphere. The accepted idea before this study was that microbes would become less efficient at warmer temperatures.

New 'green growth' report shows how U.S. can cut carbon pollution by 40 percent while creating 2. 7 million new jobs

Mon, 2014-09-08 20:43
The United States can cut its carbon pollution by 40 percent from 2005 levels and create a net increase of 2.7 million clean energy jobs in the process, reducing the unemployment rate by 1.5 percentage points, a recent report suggests.

Ground-level ozone's toll in India

Mon, 2014-09-08 18:09
Ground-level ozone's toll in IndiaPollutant damages crops that could feed tens of millionsOzone pollution in India is damaging millions of tons of the country’s major crops, according to a new study by an international team of researchers. The pollution caused losses of more than $1 billion in a single year, destroying enough food to feed an estimated 94 million people.Yes

September 9, 2014 | Ozone pollution in India is damaging millions of tons of the country’s major crops, according to a new study by an international team of researchers. The pollution caused losses of more than $1 billion in a single year, destroying enough food to feed tens of millions of people living in poverty in the country.

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Agricultural revolution in Africa could increase global carbon emissions

Mon, 2014-09-08 16:24
Productivity-boosting agricultural innovations in Africa could lead to an increase in global deforestation rates and carbon emissions, a study finds. "Increasing productivity in Africa -- a carbon-rich region with low agricultural yields -- could have negative effects on the environment, especially if agricultural markets are highly integrated," a researcher said. "This study highlights the importance of understanding the interplay between globalization and the environmental impacts of agricultural technology. They are deeply intertwined."

New NASA probe will study Earth's forests in 3-D

Mon, 2014-09-08 12:58
A laser-based instrument being developed for the International Space Station will provide a unique 3-D view of Earth's forests, helping to fill in missing information about their role in the carbon cycle.

Progress on decadal climate prediction

Mon, 2014-09-08 12:43
Progress on decadal predictionToday's tools would have foreseen warming slowdownIf today’s tools for multiyear climate forecasting had been available in the 1990s, they would have revealed that a slowdown in global warming was likely on the way, according to new research.Yes

September 8, 2014 | If today’s tools for multiyear climate forecasting had been available in the 1990s, they would have revealed that a slowdown in global warming was likely on the way, according to new research.

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Study puts some mussels into Chesapeake Bay restoration

Mon, 2014-09-08 12:15
Research in Chesapeake Bay shows that the mussels that typically colonize a restored oyster reef can more than double the reef's overall filtration capacity. Filtering plankton helps improve water quality because these tiny drifting organisms thrive on the excess nitrogen and other nutrients that humans release into the Bay and its tributaries through farming, wastewater outflow, and the burning of fossil fuels.

Air pollution may affect levels of obesity-related hormone

Mon, 2014-09-08 12:00
Higher exposure to one measure of traffic-related air pollution is associated with higher levels of the obesity-related hormone leptin in older adults, reports a study. The results showed a significant association between exposure to black carbon -- a measure of fine-particle air pollution from traffic sources -- and leptin levels.

Microalgae: Factories of the future

Mon, 2014-09-08 08:35
A biology professor is making microalgae fit for industry. The microorganisms could produce a variety of products from carbon dioxide and light, he says. These potential saviors of the world's climate are just a few micrometers in size and should not be confused with their larger cousins, the macroalgae, which we find in our sushi. Microalgae can be found nearly everywhere: "From the North Pole to the South Pole, and even in deserts." According to estimates, there are over 100,000 species, but not even a hundred have been studied in detail.