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Azimuth
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Scientists and engineers helping save the planet.
Scientists and engineers helping save the planet.

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"Every mouthful of food eaten by virtually every creature on Earth depends ultimately on the sun. But it can do much more than nurture the crops that feed us − and humans are starting to exploit this potential in striking new ways.
Farmers are now using solar energy to do far more than simply enable their crops to grow. Already it’s helping them to irrigate their fields and to clean their dairy equipment.
Only about 5% of Africa’s cultivated land is irrigated, compared with Asia’s 41%. Until recently, the other available methods have been manual irrigation, which is time-consuming and laborious, or petrol or diesel pumps, which are too expensive for many farmers and also add to greenhouse gas emissions.
But now there’s another way – solar-powered irrigation pumps. One pioneer of this technology is Futurepump, based in Kenya but importing the pumps from India. Its top-of-the-range SF1 pump costs about US$650, but the company says it pays for itself in one to two years and will enable farmers to save $100-200 a year".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"The winter habits of Britain's basking sharks have been revealed for the first time. Scientists have discovered some spend their winters off Portugal and North Africa, some head to the Bay of Biscay and others choose a staycation around the UK and Ireland".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"It is being billed as the biggest single Arctic research expedition ever planned.
Germany is going to sail its 120m-long research vessel, the Polarstern, into the sea-ice at the top of the world and just let it get stuck so it can drift across the north pole.
The 2,500km (1,550-mile) trip, to begin in 2019, is likely to take a year.
Researchers hope to gather valuable new insights on the region where Earth's climate is changing fastest.
Last month the extent of Arctic sea-ice was the lowest ever recorded for a January (during the satellite era), with temperatures several degrees above the long-term average.
Prof Markus Rex will lead the so-called MOSAiC project:
"The decline of Arctic sea-ice is much faster than the climate models can reproduce and we need better climate models to make better predictions for the future.
"There is a potential that in a few decades the Arctic will be ice free in summer. That would be a different world and we need to know about that in advance; we need to know is that going to happen or will that not happen?
"Prof Rex outlined the plan for the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The German scientist, who is affiliated to the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, said the €63m (£54m; $67m) expedition was very nearly all funded, and would have key contributions from international partners".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"The first-ever study to map US wild bees suggests they are disappearing in the country's most important farmlands".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"A new model released today at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by UConn ecologist Jamie Vaudrey pinpoints sources of nitrogen pollution along Long Island Sound, and shows municipalities what they might do to alleviate it.
Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean bordered by Connecticut to the north, New York City to the west, and Long Island to the south. The Sound is home to dozens of species of birds, 170 species of fish, and more than 1,200 species of invertebrates. Historically it has supported rich recreational and commercial fisheries for lobster, oysters, blue crabs, scallops, striped bass, flounder, and bluefish.
In recent decades however, those fisheries have suffered from excess nitrogen in the water. The extra nitrogen feeds seaweed and algae blooms that use up oxygen, killing fish, and changing the ecology in ways that make it less suited to shellfish. This is called eutrophication.
But the nitrogen pollution - and subsequent fish kills and habitat degradation - isn't distributed evenly throughout Long Island Sound. There are 116 rivers, estuaries, harbors, and bays along Long Island Sound, and the amount of nitrogen runoff varies enormously from one to another. Major sources of nitrogen include septic tanks and sewers, fertilizer from lawns and parks, agricultural practices, and atmospheric deposition from dust, rain, and snow.
There are lots of actions that citizens and towns can take to minimize the runoff. But they can only reduce it if they know it's there in the first place".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"Katharine Mach, who served as co-director of science on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will present her most recent findings on the trials and triumphs of achieving a consensus on climate science.
"There's been a huge amount of attention to the IPCC being a politicized process," said Mach, a senior research scientist at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. "We see the final product of assessment in our understanding of the climate challenge, but it's pretty rare that we lift up the hood and say, 'How does this process happen?' and 'How could it happen better?'"
Mach's position with the IPCC gave her "immersive exposure to the entirety of that process," she said. Mach will discuss her experience and her current research on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. ET, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston. She will speak at a symposium titled, "Global Environmental Assessments and the Bridge to Environmental Policy," at the Hynes Convention Center, Room 202.
Assessment analysis confronts complex issues, ranging from government regulations and corruption to the ethics of publicity, including how to inform media of something like the global warming slowdown, which may not have actually happened. Assessment practitioners must grapple with the ethical dimensions of making sure important assumptions are transparent, especially when one generation is "kicking the can of the climate challenge on to the next," she said".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"Climate change has already begun to take its toll on mammals and birds, creating conditions that could lead ultimately to an outright extinction threat.
A closer look at the outcomes of 130 separate studies has revealed that subtle and insidious shifts in local climates could be having “negative effects” on species already threatened by other pressures.
Conservationists have repeatedly warned that climate change could affect biodiversity for the worse and create conditions for extinction.
But even while they were issuing such warnings, the process seems already to have begun, according to new research in Nature Climate Change.
Biologists from Italy, the UK, Australia and the US performed what scientists like to call a meta-analysis. They systematically looked again at all the studies they could find that suggest that climate change may affect an animal, for better or for worse.
Seventy of these studies assessed 120 mammal species, and 66 delivered evidence about 569 bird species. They then used the findings to make estimates of the consequences for species already threatened".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"Advances in genomic research are helping scientists to reveal how corals and algae cooperate to combat environmental stresses. KAUST researchers have sequenced and compared the genomes of three strains of Symbiodinium, a member of the dinoflagellate algae family, to show their genomes have several features that promote a prosperous symbiotic relationship with corals1.
Dinoflagellates are among the most prolific organisms on the planet, forming the basis of the oceanic food chain, and their close symbiotic relationships with corals help maintain healthy reefs. However, because dinoflagellates have unusually large genomes, very few species have been sequenced, leaving the exact nature of their symbiosis with corals elusive.
"We had access to two Symbiodinium genomes, S.minutum and S.kawagutii, and we decided to sequence a third, S. microadriaticum," said Assistant Professor of Marine Science Manuel Aranda at the University's Red Sea Research Center, who led the project with his Center colleague Associate Professor of Marine Science Christian Voolstra and colleagues from the University's Computational Bioscience Research Center and Environmental Epigenetics Program. "This allowed us to compare the three genomes for common and disparate features and functions and hopefully to show how the species evolved to become symbionts to specific corals."
The unusual makeup of the three Symbiodinium genomes meant that the team had to adjust their software to read the genomes correctly. Ultimately, their research revealed that Symbiodinium has evolved a rich array of bicarbonate and ammonium transporters. These proteins are used to harvest two important nutrients involved in coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis: carbon, which is needed for photosynthesis, and nitrogen, which is essential for growth and proliferation".

(Posted by +rasha kamel)

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"New Research finds that climate change will cause dramatic impacts in the world's fisheries, but with effective management most fisheries could yield more fish and more prosperity, even with a changing climate.
Relative to today, this preliminary research illustrates that effective management reforms can lead, globally, to a nearly 90 percent increase in profits, a third more fish in the water and a more than 10 percent increase in harvest by 2100 in the face of climate change.
The research also shows the effect is even more pronounced compared to doing nothing: where implementing effective management can yield nearly triple the profits, lead to a more than 50 percent increase in the amount of fish in the water and over a third more fish for harvest.
Scientists and economists at the University of California Santa Barbara, Oregon State University and Environmental Defense Fund previewed their preliminary results from this new research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, Massachusetts".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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"A novel way to reduce the UK’s emissions of greenhouse gases has been proposed by researchers: simply raise the water table in agricultural peatland.
A third of greenhouse gases (GHGs) released by humans come from agriculture, and at the same time the UK’s remaining peatland is being lost rapidly. This new approach promises to tackle both problems.
Research led by scientists from the University of Sheffield found that increasing by 20 centimetres the level below which the ground is saturated with water – the water table – in radish fields yields several benefits.
Not only does it cut soil CO2 emissions, it also improves crop growth, and helps to reduce the rate of loss of peat soils converted into agricultural fields.
Although cutting the GHG contribution from agriculture is essential to slow climate change, the world’s growing population needs more food − and the farmland to grow it".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)
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