• Bird eggs may be shaped by the way their mother flies (24/06/2017)

    Huge survey reveals that bird species spending more time on the wing tend to have long or pointy eggs

  • Google’s multitasking neural net can juggle eight things at once (24/06/2017)

    Deep-learning systems can struggle to handle more than one task, but a fresh approach by Google Brain could turn neural networks into jacks of all trades

  • Weird orbits hint ‘Planet Ten’ might lurk at solar system edge (24/06/2017)

    Astronomers studying icy objects in a distant region called the Kuiper belt say an unconfirmed planet with similar mass to Mars could be responsible for tugging them out of alignment

  • Inland waters
  • Home styles linked to water use levels (24/06/2017)

    Affluent neighborhoods with lawns -- and occasionally swimming pools -- use up to 10 times more water than neighborhoods with higher density housing with less landscaping, according to a study.

  • Hydrological drought amplifies wildfires in Borneo’s humid tropics (24/06/2017)

    The area of wildfires in Borneo during drought years turns out to be ten times larger than during non-drought years, an international research team reports. The fires recurrently affecting Borneo's humid tropical ecosystems have negative influence on the biodiversity and lead to large carbon dioxide emissions, affecting atmospheric composition and regional climate processes. Future droughts in wet tropical regions will likely increase in frequency and severity, and consequently the fire risk, the team says.

  • Warmer temperatures cause decline in key runoff measure (24/06/2017)

    Since the mid-1980s, the percentage of precipitation that becomes streamflow in the Upper Rio Grande watershed has fallen more steeply than at any point in at least 445 years, according to a new study.

  • Waste and Littering
  • 6,600 spills from fracking in just four states (24/06/2017)

    Each year, 2 to 16 percent of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill hydrocarbons, chemical-laden water, hydraulic fracturing fluids and other substances, according to a new study. The analysis identified 6,648 spills reported across Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania during a 10-year period.

  • Finer raw cotton best for oil spill remediation, collaborative research shows (24/06/2017)

    Cotton, a longtime staple crop on the South Plains and major part of the region’s economy, is growing into a new sector: environmental cleanup following oil spills. Now a new study concludes that finer raw cotton in loose form performs best for absorbing oil.

  • Low-cost monitoring device uses light to quickly detect oil spills (24/06/2017)

    Researchers have developed a simple device that can detect an oil spill in water and then pinpoint the type of oil present on the surface. The device is designed to float on the water, where it could remotely monitor a small area susceptible to pollution or track the evolution of contamination at a particular location.

  • Biodiversity
  • Tiny bacterium provides window into whole ecosystems (24/06/2017)

    William Blake may have seen a world in a grain of sand, but for scientists at MIT the smallest of all photosynthetic bacteria holds clues to the evolution of entire ecosystems, and perhaps even the whole biosphere.

  • Litter is present throughout the world's oceans: 1,220 species affected (24/06/2017)

    Where is marine litter concentrated, and which species and ecosystems does it affect? Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have for the first time compiled all scientific data published on marine litter in a single, comprehensive database, now accessible from the online portal AWI Litterbase ( Here, both the distribution of litter and its interactions with organisms are presented in global maps. In addition, the regularly updated datasets are fed into graphic analyses, which show e.g. that seabirds and fish are particularly affected by litter. The latest interaction analysis shows that 34 per cent of the species monitored ingest litter, 31 per cent colonise it, and 30 per cent get entangled or otherwise trapped in it (for all figures: valid as of 23 March 2017). The total number of affected species is rising steadily and is currently at 1,220 – more than twice the number reported in the last review article. These numbers will change as the database is being updated regularly.

  • Dust contributes valuable nutrients to Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems (24/06/2017)

    Collecting dust isn't usually considered a good thing.But dust from as close as California's Central Valley and as far away as Asia's Gobi Desert provides nutrients, especially phosphorus, to vegetation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a team of scientists has found. Their study, published in the journal Nature Communications, highlights the importance of dust and the phosphorus it carries in sustaining plant life.

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