news 2015



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Environment - Life Sciences - 21.12.2015
Arctic cold season methane emissions much higher than predicted
New study finds amount of methane escaping the Arctic tundra is higher than estimated by current climate models Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which accelerates atmospheric warming The Arctic tundra is releasing at least as much methane during its cold season as it does during the summer, a new study has found.

Life Sciences - Environment - 18.12.2015
Life exploded on Earth after slow rise of oxygen
Life exploded on Earth after slow rise of oxygen
It took 100 million years for oxygen levels in the oceans and atmosphere to increase to the level that allowed the explosion of animal life on Earth about 600 million years ago, according to research carried out at the University of Bristol and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. Before now it was not known how quickly Earth's oceans and atmosphere became oxygenated and if animal life expanded before or after oxygen levels rose.

Environment - Life Sciences - 14.12.2015
Enhanced rock weathering could help counter fossil-fuel emissions and protect our oceans
Scientists have discovered enhanced weathering of rock could counter man-made fossil fuel CO2 emissions and help to protect our oceans. An international team, led by researchers from the University of Sheffield, found that speeding up the naturally occurring process of the weathering of rock to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere could help to significantly stabilise the climate and avert ocean acidification caused by humans burning fossil fuels.

Environment - Mechanical Engineering - 27.11.2015
Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought, study finds
Earth’s first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought, study finds
Computer simulations have allowed scientists to work out how a puzzling 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed, revealing that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought. The international team of researchers from Canada, the UK and the USA, including Dr Imran Rahman from the University of Bristol, studied fossils of an extinct organism called Tribrachidium , which lived in the oceans some 555 million years ago.

Health - Environment - 24.11.2015
Passive smoking is associated with earlier delivery and lower birth weight
Passive smoking is associated with earlier delivery and lower birth weight
It has been known for more than 50 years that a mother who smokes whilst pregnant is more likely to give birth to her baby prematurely. But what if a mother doesn't smoke but lives with someone who does? New research by academics from the University of Bristol has found women exposed to passive smoking, on average, deliver their babies earlier and with lower birth weights compared to unexposed women.

Environment - 24.11.2015
No substantive evidence for 'pause' in global warming
No substantive evidence for ’pause’ in global warming
There is no substantive evidence for a 'pause' or 'hiatus' in global warming and the use of those terms is therefore inaccurate, new research from the University of Bristol has found. The researchers, led by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky of Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology and the Cabot Institute, examined 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles published between 2009 and 2014 that specifically addressed the presumed 'hiatus' and found no consistent or agreed definition of such a 'hiatus', when it began and how long it lasted.

Environment - 24.11.2015
Neonicotinoid pesticides linked to butterfly declines in the UK
Neonicotinoid pesticides linked to butterfly declines in the UK
Neonicotinoid pesticides linked to butterfly declines in the UK The use of neonicotinoid pesticides may be contributing to the decline of butterflies in the UK, according to a new study involving the University of Sussex. Previous studies have demonstrated that these chemicals appear to be harming bees, birds and other wildlife.

Environment - 18.11.2015
Sea-level rise from Antarctic collapse
Sea-level rise from Antarctic collapse
A new study by scientists in the UK and France, including researchers at the University of Bristol, has found that Antarctic ice sheet collapse will have serious consequences for sea level rise over the next two hundred years, though not as much as some have suggested. This study, published today , uses an ice-sheet model to predict the consequences of unstable retreat of the ice which recent studies suggest has begun in West Antarctica.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 18.11.2015
When did the Andes mountains form?
When did the Andes mountains form?
The Andes have been a mountain chain for much longer than previously thought, new research from the University of Bristol suggests. The Andes were formed by tectonic activity whereby earth is uplifted as one plate (oceanic crust) subducts under another plate (continental crust). To get such a high mountain chain in a subduction zone setting is unusual which adds to the importance of trying to figure out when and how it happened.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 17.11.2015
Fast-moving rivers ’breathe’ like humans
Scientists have discovered a surprising similarity between rivers and humans: both release more carbon dioxide when they work hard. When people are physically active, their lungs release more carbon dioxide gas than when they are at rest. Now, researchers from the University of Glasgow have found for the first time that fast-moving rivers work in a similar manner, releasing more gas than slower streams.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 16.11.2015
Hidden earthquake discovery challenges tsunami early-warning systems
Hidden earthquake discovery challenges tsunami early-warning systems
Seismologists at the University of Liverpool studying the 2011 Chile earthquake have discovered a previously undetected earthquake which took place seconds after the initial rupture. This newly discovered phenomena which they haveácalled a `closely-spaced doublet' presents a challenge to earthquake and tsunami early warning systems as it increases the risk of larger-than-expected tsunamis in the aftermath of a typical subduction earthquake.

Environment - Event - 06.11.2015
Exploring whether water shortages are due to climate change or local factors
The Jaguari Reservoir in Brazil. The left side image shows the area on August 3, 2014; the right side image shows the same area on August 16, 2013, before the recent drought began. Credit: NASA. Human-induced climate change plays a clear and significant role in some extreme weather events but understanding the other risks at a local level is also important, say research studies just published.

Environment - Astronomy / Space - 28.10.2015
Satellites shed light on Greenland ice sheet’s response to global warming
Small but beneficial impact on sea level forecasts detected by satellite images Research highlights the complexity of the effects of climate change on Greenland ice sheet Parts of Greenland's ice sheet have been found to be less vulnerable to climate warming than was previously thought - a discovery that could have a small but beneficial impact on sea level forecasts.

Environment - 26.10.2015
New study suggests half of lion populations will be lost in key regions of Africa
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America ( PNAS ), the study estimates that lion numbers in West and Central Africa are declining sharply and are projected to decline a further 50% in the next two decades without a major conservation effort. Lion numbers are also declining, albeit less dramatically, in East Africa, long considered the main stronghold of the species.

Environment - Life Sciences - 23.10.2015
Trees help protect river habitats
New research has prompted scientists to call on policymakers to plant more trees alongside upland rivers and streams, in an effort to save their habitats from the future harm of climate change Published today in the leading international journal Global Change Biology , experts from the University describe having discovered a previously unknown benefit of trees to the resilience of river ecosystems.

Environment - Life Sciences - 19.10.2015
Extra carbon dioxide good for plants but bad for our water supply
Extra carbon dioxide good for plants but bad for our water supply
Plants in semi-arid areas receive a boon from rising CO2 levels, but the extra plants use more water, meaning less reaches rivers. Professor Colin Prentice, AXA Chair in Biosphere and Climate Impacts from Imperial's Department of Life Sciences, and one of the study's authors, said that the results mean river flows will continue to decrease in regions that are already water-stressed.

Environment - Mathematics - 14.10.2015
Uncertainty makes action on climate change more – not less – urgent
Uncertainty about climate change can, counter-intuitively, produce actionable knowledge and thus should provide an impetus, rather than a hindrance, to addressing climate change, researchers from the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute argue in a special issue of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions A, published this week.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.10.2015
New insights into the dynamics of past climate change
A new study finds that changing climate in the polar regions can affect conditions in the rest of the world far quicker than previously thought. Other studies have shown that the overturning circulation in the Atlantic has faced a slowdown during the last few decades.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 13.10.2015
Climbing plants disturb carbon storage in tropical forests
Scientists have discovered that climbing vines are upsetting the carbon balance of tropical forests by crowding out and killing trees. Rainforests play a vital role in the global carbon cycle. We depend on the trees found in these tropical areas to take up some of the carbon dioxide that we are emitting, so not all of our emissions end up in the atmosphere.

Environment - 05.10.2015
Gas ’fingerprinting’ could help energy industry manage carbon dioxide storage
A new technique for monitoring carbon dioxide could help the energy industry's efforts to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions, scientists have found. In a new paper published in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control,researchers describe how they have used the unique signature from traces of the noble gases (helium, neon and argon) to monitor the fate of carbon dioxide stored underground.
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