Wild Wheat Genome Sequencing Provides 'Time Tunnel' Capable of Boosting Future Food Production and Safety

A global team of researchers has published the first-ever Wild Emmer wheat genome sequence in Science magazine. Wild Emmer wheat is the original form of nearly all the domesticated wheat in the world, including durum (pasta) and bread wheat. Wild emmer is too low-yielding to be of use to farmers today, but it contains many attractive characteristics that are being used by plant breeders to improve wheat.

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Air Pollution Casts Shadow over Solar Energy Production

Global solar energy production is taking a major hit due to air pollution and dust.

According to a new study, airborne particles and their accumulation on solar cells are cutting energy output by more than 25 percent in certain parts of the world. The regions hardest hit are also those investing the most in solar energy installations: China, India and the Arabian Peninsula.

The study appears online June 23 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

“My colleagues in India were showing off some of their rooftop solar installations, and I was blown away by how dirty the panels were,” said Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University and lead author of the study. “I thought the dirt had to affect their efficiencies, but there weren't any studies out there estimating the losses. So we put together a comprehensive model to do just that.”

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Eco-label in exchange for less chemicals on rice fields

Money isn't always everything: Taiwanese rice farmers are willing to produce in a more environmentally friendly fashion if this would earn them an eco-label for their products. For such a label, they are even prepared to accept lower compensation payments for a reduction in the use of fertilizers. These were the findings of a study conducted by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) at the Chair Group for Agricultural Production and Resource Economics for agricultural enterprises. For this study, incentives for agri-environmental measures were investigated, such as more sustainable cultivation methods.

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Photocatalyst makes hydrogen production 10 times more efficient

Hydrogen is an alternative source of energy that can be produced from renewable sources of sunlight and water. A group of Japanese researchers has developed a photocatalyst that increases hydrogen production tenfold.

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Stanford researchers create a better way to predict the environmental impacts of agricultural production

Consumer goods companies often rely on life-cycle assessments (LCA) to figure out the potential consequences of how they design products and source ingredients. This kind of assessment, while sophisticated, often lacks detail about how the products affect natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity.

A team of researchers from Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, in a partnership called the Natural Capital Project, along with researchers from Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, developed a new kind of assessment to integrate these impacts in a more detailed way. They call it Land Use Change Improved Life Cycle Assessment, or LUCI-LCA. It’s designed to help researchers or companies more accurately predict impacts of new designs and sourcing.

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Emergent constraints on projections of declining primary production in the tropical oceans

Emergent constraints on tropical marine primary production increase confidence in a long-term decrease in primary productivity in response to rising sea surface temperatures. The most extreme projected declines in productivity are, however, unlikely.

Nature Climate Change doi: 10.1038/nclimate3265


Nature Climate Change – AOP – nature.com science feeds

Flipping the switch on ammonia production

Nearly a century ago, German chemist Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for a process to generate ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases. The process, still in use today, ushered in a revolution in agriculture, but now consumes around one percent of the world’s energy to achieve the high pressures and temperatures that drive the chemical reactions to produce ammonia.

Today, University of Utah chemists publish a different method, using enzymes derived from nature, that generates ammonia at room temperature. As a bonus, the reaction generates a small electrical current. The method is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

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Opportunity: Request For Proposals: Media Production For Pop-Up/Drill Down Science Portable Exhibit Centerpiece

Ocean Leadership ~

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is pleased to announce the Request for Proposals for media production to be used in a portable exhibit that will be the centerpiece of the National Science Foundation (NSF)- funded project, Pop-Up/Drill Down Science. 

Find the full RFP here: http://joidesresolution.org/node/4634.

Questions regarding this RFP, letters of intent, and proposals should be submitted to: popupinfo@oceanleadership.org.

Proposals are due February 21, 2017.

Additional information and updates can be found at: http://joidesresolution.org/node/4634.

The post Opportunity: Request For Proposals: Media Production For Pop-Up/Drill Down Science Portable Exhibit Centerpiece appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Frosts kill dozens in central Europe, smog forces production cuts

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Severe frosts and snow storms killed at least 25 people in central Europe over the weekend, mainly in Poland, as temperatures in the region dropped below -30 degrees Celsius in some places.


Reuters: Environment

Cement made from steel production by-product can lead to a huge CO2 reduction

Steel production generates some hundred million tons of steel slag worldwide each year. This giant mountain of leftovers is largely dumped. TU/e professor of building materials, Jos Brouwers, will be working with industrial partners to investigate whether he can make cement out of it. If he succeeds, more CO2 emissions can be cut than is produced yearly by all the traffic in the Netherlands.

Steel slag is produced by the conversion of raw iron into steel – around 125 million tons of it per year. Much of that is dumped and only a small portion used, in embankments. That’s a shame, professor Jos Brouwers says, because the mineralogical composition very closely resembles that of cement. It contains the same components, but in different ratios. And it is public knowledge that the cement industry emits a very high amount of CO2: five percent of the global total. A cement substitute with no extra CO2 emissions would, therefore, be most welcome.

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