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Using your own DNA against you: Bio-control of coral reef pest might be possible

Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) are decimating coral populations along the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists have sequenced COTS genomes in the hopes of turning their own biology against them. Researchers think they have found the peptides the COTS use to communicate with each other. These peptides are released into the water to help the starfish aggregate before spawning events. If true, it’s possible to use these peptides to build several mechanisms for controlling the COTS pests. Continue reading Using your own DNA against you: Bio-control of coral reef pest might be possible

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Why are hurricanes weakening? Possible reasons and the long term pattern

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy, the second costliest hurricane in United States history, caused the loss of 233 lives and assessed damage of 75 billion dollars. With Sandy still on the minds of many, it may surprise you that America’s Atlantic coast may actually be in the middle of a decades long lull in hurricane activity. Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published this surprising … Continue reading Why are hurricanes weakening? Possible reasons and the long term pattern

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Lakes formed from glacial melting may cause havoc on local communities

Glacier meltwater provides a steady source of water for communities that would otherwise lack access during the dry season, but melting glaciers can cause problems beyond raising the sea level and endangering coastal communities. Meltwater forms lakes below the glaciers, and this water is often held in place by natural dams. Rock slides or avalanches can weaken or destroy these dams, causing the lakes to … Continue reading Lakes formed from glacial melting may cause havoc on local communities

Prior to the year 2000, the Earth's spin axis was slowly drifting toward Canada (green arrow, left image). Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, as well as a drought in Eurasia, resulted in large changes to the mass composition of the surface of the Earth (center). As a result, the Earth's spin axis was pulled in an entirely new direction (right). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Obtained under Creative-Commons License)

Climate Change Makes the Earth Wobble

In the year 2000, the Earth’s spin axis made a sudden turn towards the east. While some shifts in the geographical pole occur regularly and are well understood, this sudden shift required a new explanation. According to teams from UT Austin and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), climate change is the driving force behind the north pole’s wayward path.   In 2013, the team from … Continue reading Climate Change Makes the Earth Wobble

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Solid-oxide Fuel Cells: Using familiar fuel in a new way

by Michael R. Gerhardt Our climate is rapidly changing, and many countries are beginning to take action. In the United States, President Barack Obama has announced the Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generation, while Chinese president Xi Jinping has announced economic incentives to reduce emissions [1,2]. Even oil companies have publicly acknowledged the challenges we face and have voiced … Continue reading Solid-oxide Fuel Cells: Using familiar fuel in a new way

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Innovating in a New Market: Challenges for Cleantech

by Greg Silverberg figures by Kaitlyn Choi Cleantech is a troubled sector Scientists know from geological data that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have been below 300 parts per million for nearly 1 million years.  However, for about a century, carbon dioxide concentrations have been rising at a rate unprecedented in these data and are now approaching 400 parts per million.  Carbon dioxide acts … Continue reading Innovating in a New Market: Challenges for Cleantech

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Why the EPA is Addressing Methane: the Other Greenhouse Gas

by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Brad Wierbowski The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a new wave of regulations, and they focus on one thing: methane. Due to the EPA’s recent proposal, we have been inundated with stories about methane, its connection to the fossil fuel industry, and its comparison to carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas [1,2]. However, the authors often leave out a … Continue reading Why the EPA is Addressing Methane: the Other Greenhouse Gas