Archives for September 2014

New research in Thailand finds birds and bats key to reforestation efforts

Tropical forest restoration projects are exciting research sites for scientists studying factors that affect ecosystem recovery. Here, scientists are trying to understand plant community succession, i.e. the process of recovery after cleared lands are abandoned and allowed to regrow naturally. One of the most important components of this recovery process is seed dispersal, since seeds from nearby forests allow a deforested habitat to become populated again by native plants and trees.
ENN: Top Stories

Like Google, Facebook, responsible corporates must ditch climate-change denying ALEC

Google and Facebook have both recently quit ALEC, the corporate-funded climate change-denying US body that drafts right-wing laws for adoption by state legislatures. In a letter to Google, ALEC claims it does not deny climate change – an assertion strongly challenged by campaign group Forecast the Facts.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Powerful Gene-Mutating Tech Needs More Debate

Gene drives allow scientists to edit the DNA in wild organisms and could have global consequences.
Discovery News

Recovery of Japan volcano victims suspended amid signs of rising activity

TOKYO (Reuters) – Search and recovery efforts for at least two dozen victims of Japan’s worst volcanic eruption in decades were called off on Tuesday due to worries about rising volcanic activity, including the chance of another steam explosion.

Reuters: Environment

It’s important to ventilate if you are cooking with gas!

Cooking with gas is preferred by many cooks to alternatives. The popularity of “professional” stoves and cooktops with high-output burners makes cooking more fun perhaps, but those high-output burners also put out more contaminants. It is important to recognize this and to properly ventilate the cooking area with a hood that vents to the outside, or even a fan through the kitchen wall, or even a window. A new study by Oregon State University recommends that parents with children at home should use ventilation when cooking with a gas stove, after a new study showed an association between gas kitchen stove ventilation and asthma, asthma symptoms and chronic bronchitis. “In homes where a gas stove was used without venting, the prevalence of asthma and wheezing is higher than in homes where a gas stove was used with ventilation,” said Ellen Smit, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and one of the study’s authors. “Parents of all children should use ventilation while using a gas stove.”
ENN: Top Stories

A local coastal adaptation pathway

A project to develop an approach to adaptation to sea-level rise with a local community is described. The result is a theoretically informed, empirically tested and locally supported adaptation pathway.

Nature Climate Change doi: 10.1038/nclimate2383

Nature Climate Change – AOP – science feeds

Radioactive spikes from nuclear plants – a likely cause of childhood leukemia

When nuclear reactors are refueled, a 12-hour spike in radioactive emissions exposes local people to levels of radioactivity up to 500 times greater than during normal operation, writes Ian Fairlie. The spikes may explain infant leukemia increases near nuclear plants – but operators provide no warnings and take no measures to reduce exposures.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Alvin 50th Celebration Highlights Essential Research

Senator Ed Markey, one of the key supporters of the WHOI contingent’s activities in Washington, D.C., spoke during a reception in Alvin's honor.  “Alvin is a national scientific treasure, and I am proud that it calls Massachusetts and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution home,” he said.  Sen. Markey also detailed Alvin’s contributions of historical and scientific significance in comments published in the Congressional Record. (Credit: Danielle Fino, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

(Click to enlarge) Senator Ed Markey, one of the key supporters of the WHOI contingent’s activities in Washington, D.C., spoke during a reception in Alvin’s honor. “Alvin is a national scientific treasure, and I am proud that it calls Massachusetts and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution home,” he said. Sen. Markey also detailed Alvin’s contributions of historical and scientific significance in comments published in the Congressional Record. (Credit: Danielle Fino, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The human-occupied sub Alvin was the “guest of honor” last week at House and Senate staff briefings and a reception at the U.S. Capitol, commemorating 50 years of service as our nation’s deepest diving research submersible.

(From The Maritime Executive / by MAREX)–A contingent of scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the developer and operator of the vehicle, were on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers and their staff about the value of ocean science research and engineering and its importance to our economy, health, welfare, and national competitiveness and security.

“We are here on Capitol Hill today to mark the 50th year of operations by the nation’s deep-diving research sub Alvin,” said WHOI President and Director Susan Avery. “But we are also here to raise awareness of a much broader issue: America’s need to invest in research and new technologies, including those that would help us explore the ocean and better understand the natural systems that make our planet livable and our society viable.”

Avery was joined by Executive Vice President Larry Madin, Ocean and Climate Change Institute Director Carol Anne Clayson, and Special Projects Director David Gallo.  Together the WHOI scientists stressed that the ocean is vital to life on Earth, and that it is now changing rapidly in response to human activities, with consequences that are hard to determine without sufficient data.  They underscored the need for a strong and sustained national commitment to understand how the ocean will affect human society in the coming century.

Key funders of this research are the National Science Foundation, the Navy’s Office of Naval Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  Leaders from these agencies attended the reception in Alvin’s honor, along with agency and Hill staffers, and heard remarks honoring Alvin from Senator Ed Markey and Representative William Keating.

Alvin is a national scientific treasure, and I am proud that it calls Massachusetts and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution home,” said Sen. Markey, who detailed Alvin’s contributions of historical and scientific significance in comments published in the Congressional Record. “Alvin’s long and extraordinary history is a testament to the importance of ocean research and exploration. In its first 50 years it has transformed our view of life, responded to national emergencies and inspired us all. I look forward to the remarkable discoveries it will make in its next 50 years.”

Rep. Keating underscored Sen. Markey’s comments and praised the contributions to ocean science exploration made by WHOI, which is located in his Congressional district.  “As a country we take pride in the work this Institution has done. It is a Mecca for all of this important research,” he said.

In addition to Markey and Keating, the WHOI contingent’s activities in Washington, D.C., were supported by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson as well as Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who made time during the House briefing to comment, “The work that you all do goes to answer some of the most profound questions that humanity has yet to find a solution to,” said Kennedy.

Alvin recently emerged from a major three-year, NSF-funded upgrade, which improved numerous operating systems and included a new personnel sphere rated to 6500 meters. Additional improvements are required in a Phase II upgrade to enable the sub to reach that increased depth.

“For 50 years Alvin has taken scientists to places no human has ever been, and enabled discoveries that have changed our understanding of life on this planet,” says Debbie Bronk, director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences, the largest supporter of Alvin operations.  “NSF’s investment in making a bigger, better Alvin ensures that [it] will continue to enable great discoveries in the future.”

Throughout the day, Alvin’s accomplishments in its 50-year history were recounted along with its ongoing importance to the advancement of ocean sciences. “From discovering hydrothermal vents, to exploring RMS Titanic, to helping out with Deepwater Horizon, Alvin has been the U.S.’s go-to-guy for deep ocean research for decades,” said U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Committee on Appropriations, which hosted the briefing for Senate staff. “More than half of U.S. economic growth can be attributed to innovation that began with basic research, and work in the deep ocean is no exception.  Alvin has been a transformational building block for ocean engineering and ocean research – not only continuing to make new discoveries every year but also changing the way that scientists explore the ocean. Alvin is just as relevant to American competitiveness today as when it first dipped below the waves 50 years ago.”

Alvin is owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as part of the National Deep Submergence Facility for the benefit of the entire U.S. oceanographic science community.

 “Alvin’s contributions from finding the A-bomb off Palomares, Spain, to exploration of hydrothermal vents have been historic,” said Dr. Frank Herr, Office of Naval Research Director, Ocean Battlespace Sensing. “I am looking forward to Alvin’s new discoveries.”

As a celebration of Alvin’s accomplishments, the events in D.C. were as much an opportunity to look forward the next 50 years of ocean exploration and what it might hold.

“Today, we know the ocean is changing. It is warming; it is becoming more acid and there is an increase in regions that are starved of oxygen. It is becoming less oxygenated; it is losing sea ice; sea levels are rising; there are fewer fish in it; and it is becoming more polluted,” Avery said. “The future of the ocean is uncertain, which means our future is uncertain. It is up to us to reduce those uncertainties by expanding our scientific exploration of the ocean using the advances in observing and analysis – capabilities that are poised to help us learn about our changing ocean and our changing planet that sustains us.”

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Detection and impacts of leakage from sub-seafloor deep geological carbon dioxide storage

This study shows that the biological impact and footprint of a leakage from a controlled sub-seabed release of carbon dioxide is confined to a few tens of metres, and identifies monitoring strategies for full-scale carbon storage operations.

Nature Climate Change doi: 10.1038/nclimate2381

Nature Climate Change – AOP – science feeds

Opportunity: Earth Systems History, Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

OpportunityApplications are invited by the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

The position terms can be 9-month, 1.0 FTE (full time equivalent) faculty position, or 12-month position at 0.75 FTE. For either, grant funds can augment the university-provided salary.

Conduct research and teach in the area of sedimentary geology, focusing on the use of pre-Quaternary sedimentary records as a basis for investigation of solid earth, oceanic, atmospheric, and surficial processes and  interactions.

Areas of expertise may include: paleoclimatology, past ocean and atmospheric chemistry and circulation, and tectonic and/or geodynamic influences on earth surface processes.

Duties: teach undergraduate courses in earth  history, stratigraphy and sedimentology, geology field methods, and graduate courses in area of specialty; establish an externally funded program of scholarly research; and college/university service.

Requires a PhD geology, oceanography, or a closely related field; record of significant and innovative research that uses the sedimentary record to explore Earth Systems History; strong scholarly potential; potential for  establishing a research program; potential to contribute to the teaching excellence in the undergrad/graduate programs; potential for mentoring; and proficiency in English.

See job posting: #0012926.

For full consideration apply by 11/03/2014. Closing date: 12/15/2014.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership