Archive | Environment

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Wireless charging proposed for electric cars

An innovative wireless system that charges electric cars while they are on the road could also be used to control driverless electric vehicles, say the Stanford University team who designed the system. While the new technology has the potential to dramatically increase the driving range of electric vehicles, the researchers concede that large-scale deployment of […]

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Tropical storms may be triggering earthquakes

University of Miami scientist Shimon Wdowinski (pictured) says that earthquakes – including the recent seismic events in Haiti and Taiwan – may be triggered by severe tropical storms (cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons). Wdowinski is presenting his, er, groundbreaking study at the 2011 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, in San Francisco. “Very wet rain events are […]

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Fine-particle air pollution causing more severe storms

Climatologists say that aerosols (fine-particle air pollution) in the atmosphere dramatically affect cloud development to reduce precipitation in dry regions while increasing the severity of storms. Aerosols come from the combustion of fossil fuels, industrial and agricultural processes, and the accidental or deliberate burning of fields and forests. The University of Maryland-led team of researchers […]

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Flood-tolerant crop breakthrough

Scientists from The University of Nottingham and the University of California, Riverside, have identified the molecular mechanism plants use to sense low oxygen levels, a discovery that could lead to the production of high-yielding, flood-tolerant crops. With recent catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Australia, Thailand, the UK and America, engineering crop tolerance to partial […]

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Atmospheric analysis yields dog poop surprise

Microbiologists from the University of Colorado Boulder were surprised to find that the dominant airborne bacterial communities of several American cities most closely resembled the microbial communities found in dog poop. The study showed that of the four Midwestern cities sampled in the experiment, Cleveland and Detroit had significant quantities of fecal bacteria in the […]

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Predator-prey dynamics used to model cloud systems

Mathematical formulae that describe the population dynamics of prey animals such as gazelles and their predators have been used to model the relationship between cloud systems and rain. Documented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the novel approach may help address the paucity of knowledge concerning cloud formation and the role that […]

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Bacteria make rain, bioprecipitation researchers say

Bioprecipitation researchers say that most precipitation events could depend on a type of bacterium whose outer membrane binds water molecules in an ordered arrangement, thus providing a very efficient nucleating template which greatly enhances ice crystal formation. The new evidence for airborne microorganisms influencing weather events was presented yesterday at the 111th General Meeting of […]

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Wildlife extinction rates hugely over-reported

Calculating species extinction rates is a tricky business at the best of times, but a new research paper in Nature suggests the most widely used methods are “fundamentally flawed” and overestimate extinction rates by as much as 160 percent. Paper co-author Stephen Hubbell, a distinguished professor of ecology at UCLA, explained why he believed extinction […]

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