news 2011



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Environment - Chemistry - 23.12.2011
Go to work on a Christmas card: UK’s wrapping paper and festive cards could provide energy to send a bus to the moon more than 20 times
If all the UK's discarded wrapping paper and Christmas cards were collected and fermented, they could make enough biofuel to run a double-decker bus to the moon and back more than 20 times, according to the researchers behind a new scientific study. The study, by scientists at Imperial College London, demonstrates that industrial quantities of waste paper could be turned into high grade biofuel, to power motor vehicles, by fermenting the paper using microorganisms.

Life Sciences - Environment - 13.12.2011
Insight could help develop new crops
Crops that can cope with sudden changes in the weather could be developed, thanks to fresh discoveries about plants. University scientists have studied how tiny algae survive by renewing old or damaged cell proteins. They say their findings could be useful in developing crops suited to climates in which weather changes quickly.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 07.12.2011
Global sea surface temperature dataset provides new measure of climate sensitivity over the last half million years
Global sea surface temperature dataset provides new measure of climate sensitivity over the last half million years
Scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Southampton have developed important new insight into climate sensitivity - the sensitivity of global temperature to changes in the Earth's radiation balance - over the last half million years. Climate sensitivity is a key parameter for understanding past natural climate changes as well as potential future climate change.

Environment - Life Sciences - 02.12.2011
Study of wolves will help scientists predict climate effects on endangered animals
Scientists studying populations of gray wolves in the USA's Yellowstone National Park have developed a way to predict how changes in the environment will impact on the animals' number, body size and genetics, amongst other biological traits. Writing in the journal Science , the researchers say they now have a way to predict the extent to which climate change could simultaneously impact animal numbers and the ways in which animals are likely to evolve.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 26.11.2011
Discoveries provide evidence of a celestial procession at Stonehenge
Discoveries provide evidence of a celestial procession at Stonehenge
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of two huge pits positioned on celestial alignment at Stonehenge. Shedding new light on the significant association of the monument with the sun, these pits may have contained tall stones, wooden posts or even fires to mark its rising and setting and could have defined a processional route used by agriculturalists to celebrate the passage of the sun across the sky at the summer solstice.

Environment - Life Sciences - 23.11.2011
Seals show different levels of parenting skills
Seals show different levels of parenting skills Grey seals have different types of personality that affect the extent to which they guard and care for their young, according to new research. Researchers from Durham University and the University of St Andrews, looking at seal colonies in Scotland, found that seal mothers are often unpredictable and adopt a wide variation of mothering styles when it comes to checking on their pups.

Environment - 10.11.2011
Antarctic rocks help predict sea levels
Ancient rocks embedded in the West Antarctic ice sheet could help University scientists improve sea level predictions. Researchers will determine how long Antarctic rocks at the ice surface have been exposed to cosmic radiation - energy from exploding stars in space - during their lifetime. They will use use sensor technology and chemical analysis to analyse the rocks.

Environment - Life Sciences - 01.11.2011
Roads are detrimental to Europe’s protected bats
New study suggests major roads significantly reduce bat numbers, activity and diversity - raising serious issues for how road construction projects mitigate their impact on these protected species. The findings - published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology - show that the negative impact of a major road stretches a considerable distance, with bat activity three times lower at the roadside than 1.6km away.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 10.10.2011
Solar variability helps explain cold winters
Solar variability helps explain cold winters
Monday 10 October 2011 Adapted from a press release issued by the UK Met Office Watch a video of Professor Joanna Haigh explaining solar variability Research led by the Met Office has shed new light on a link between decadal solar variability and winter climate in the UK, northern Europe and parts of America.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 25.09.2011
Plant Body Clock Observed in Tropical Forest Research
Predictions of the ground-level pollutant ozone will be more accurate in future according to research published today (25 September) by environment scientists at research centres including the University of Birmingham Geoscience. Ozone is formed in the atmosphere when volatile organic compounds like isoprene - which is emitted by some plants - react with nitrogen oxides from car engines or industry.

Environment - 22.09.2011
Our ability to model past climates does not guarantee future success
New research from the University of Leeds shows that past trends in climate must be very carefully understood before using them to model the future. Climate scientists found that models are generally good at seeing past trends - but that there are important differences that must be recognised when predicting future climate patterns.

Environment - Life Sciences - 20.09.2011
Spore Wars in the wild outdoors
Spore Wars in the wild outdoors
Common woodland invertebrates (including woodlice, millipedes and worms) can help ensure the survival of weaker species of woodland fungi, according to new research from the School of Biosciences. Huge fungal networks, often stretching over several hectares of woodland, compete with each other for space and resources and, now, findings have shown that invertebrates living on the woodland floor have the potential to govern the outcome of these battles.

Environment - 19.09.2011
Deforestation reduces rainfall in Africa
Deforestation reduces rainfall in Africa
Deforestation in the rainforests of West Africa reduces rainfall over the rest of the forest, according to new University of Leeds research published in Geophysical Research Letters. The study shows that changing land use from forest to crop land reduces rainfall over neighbouring trees by around 50% due to changes in the surface temperature which affects the formation of rain clouds.

Environment - 16.09.2011
Scientists air new views on how oxygenation affects aquatic life
Recent work at Plymouth University on how animals breathe underwater suggests that decreases in water quality and oxygenation will have an even greater impact on the diversity of aquatic life than was previously thought. These are the exciting findings of Wilco Verberk and colleagues from Plymouth University who have made a significant breakthrough in understanding how oxygen levels in water affect the diversity of life in the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 13.09.2011
SPICE project announced at British Science Festival
SPICE project announced at British Science Festival
Preparations are underway for a unique test of engineering technology that could open up new ways to reduce atmospheric temperatures caused by climate change, and complement conventional measures to reduce carbon emissions. The test, the first of its kind in the UK, is expected to take place in the next few months, it was announced today at the British Science Festival in Bradford.

Environment - History / Archeology - 13.09.2011
Seeing beneath the soil to uncover the past
Archaeology is no longer just about digging holes. New research by a team led from the University of Leeds promises to improve the investigation of our heritage from the air. The work should revolutionise the use of 'state-of-the-art' remote sensing technology, improving the 'hit rate' of aerial archaeology without physically disturbing sites of cultural heritage.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 09.09.2011
800,000 years of abrupt climate variability
800,000 years of abrupt climate variability
An international team of scientists, led by Stephen Barker of Cardiff University, has produced a prediction of what climate records from Greenland might look like over the last 800,000 years. Drill cores taken from Greenland's vast ice sheets provided the first clue that Earth's climate is capable of very rapid transitions and have led to vigorous scientific investigation into the possible causes of abrupt climate change.

Environment - History / Archeology - 23.08.2011
Ancient daddy long legs creep up in 3D: 300m year old harvestmen revealed in new virtual fossil
Ancient daddy long legs creep up in 3D: 300m year old harvestmen revealed in new virtual fossil
Two ancient types of harvestmen, or 'daddy long legs,' which skittered around forests more than 300 million years ago, are revealed in new three-dimensional virtual fossil models published today . An international team, led by researchers from Imperial College London, have created 3D models of two fossilised species of harvestmen, from the Dyspnoi and Eupnoi suborders.

Environment - Economics - 22.08.2011
Shell Shock! Damage to marine ecosystems revealed as CO2 emissions continue to rise
A team of marine experts is helping predict the future of coastal ecosystems after discovering that warming temperatures may exacerbate ocean acidification. In a paper published in full by Nature Climate Change magazine this month, the scientists warn that rapidly deteriorating Mediterranean coastal ecosystems are further threatened by increasing CO2 levels.

Environment - Chemistry - 05.08.2011
Molecular study shows unexpected effects of toxin
Scientists from the University of Birmingham studying the effects of the widely-used pesticide fenitrothion, have discovered unexpected cell damage in a common freshwater fish, roach, exposed to the toxin. With colleagues from the universities of Exeter and Sussex the researchers exposed male roach to the pesticide for 28 days then studied the metabolites in their cells.
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