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Earth Science
Key: Meeting Journal Funder
Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
NASA satellites show drought may take toll on Congo rainforest
A new analysis of NASA satellite data shows Africa's Congo rainforest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, has undergone a large-scale decline in greenness over the past decade.

Contact: Kathryn Hansen
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Physical Review Letters
Atomic switcheroo explains origins of thin-film solar cell mystery
Treating cadmium-telluride solar cell materials with cadmium-chloride improves their efficiency, but researchers have not fully understood why.

Contact: Morgan McCorkle
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Conservation priorities released for several protected areas along US-Mexico border
The CEC releases its Conservation Assessment for the Big Bend-Río Bravo Region: A Binational Collaborative Approach to Conservation, which identifies 29 priority conservation areas in a region straddling the United States-Mexico border that includes 11 different protected areas in the states of Texas, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. This region features highly diverse arid and semi-arid habitats inhabited by endangered plants and animals, and provides a vital migratory stopping point for many species of birds and animals.
Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Contact: Megan Ainscow
Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Increased infrastructure required for effective oil spill response in US Arctic
A changing climate is increasing the accessibility of US Arctic waters to commercial activities such as shipping, oil and gas development, and tourism, raising concern about the risk of oil spills.

Contact: Lauren Rugani
National Academy of Sciences

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Angewandte Chemie International Edition
Halving hydrogen
Like a hungry diner ripping open a dinner roll, a fuel cell catalyst that converts hydrogen into electricity must tear open a hydrogen molecule. Now researchers have captured a view of such a catalyst holding onto the two halves of its hydrogen feast. The view confirms previous hypotheses and provides insight into how to make the catalyst work better for alternative energy uses, researchers reported in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
US Department of Energy

Contact: Mary Beckman
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Animal Behaviour
Picky male black widow spiders prefer well-fed virgins
New University of Toronto Scarborough research shows that male black widow spiders prefer their female mates to be well-fed virgins -- a rare example of mate preference by male spiders. The study found they can tell whether a potential mate is well-fed and unmated by pheromones released by females.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship

Contact: Don Campbell
University of Toronto

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
NASA sees last vestiges of Tropical Depression Jack
Tropical Cyclone Jack had weakened to a tropical depression when NASA and JAXA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite passed above on April 22, 2014.

Contact: Rob Gutro
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Biology Letters
Scientists identify source of mysterious sound in the Southern Ocean
Scientists have conclusive evidence that the source of a unique rhythmic sound, recorded for decades in the Southern Ocean and called the 'bio-duck,' is the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). First described and named by submarine personnel in the 1960s who thought it sounded like a duck, the bio-duck sound has been recorded at various locations in the Southern Ocean, but its source has remained a mystery, until now.
NOAA Fisheries, NSF/Office of Polar Programs, US Navy Environmental Readiness Division

Contact: Shelley Dawicki
NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Geophysical Research Letters
AGU: Odds of storm waters overflowing Manhattan seawall up 20-fold, new study shows
Maximum water levels in New York harbor during major storms have risen by nearly two and a half feet since the mid-1800s, making the chances of water overtopping the Manhattan seawall now at least 20 times greater than they were 170 years ago, according to a new study.

Contact: Nanci Bompey
American Geophysical Union

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Environmental Science & Technology
How to avoid water wars between 'fracking' industry and residents
The shale gas boom has transformed the energy landscape in the US, but in some drier locations, it could cause conflict among the energy industry, residents and agricultural interests over already-scarce water resources, say researchers. They add that degraded water quality is a potential risk unless there are adequate safeguards. The feature article appears in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
New discovery helps solve mystery source of African lava
Floods of molten lava may sound like the stuff of apocalyptic theorists, but history is littered with evidence of such past events where vast lava outpourings originating deep in the Earth accompany the breakup of continents.

Contact: Layne Cameron
Michigan State University

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Fires in the Primorsky Province of Russia
The uncontrolled method of managing agricultural areas each year turns the entire southern tip of Primorsky Province into an enormous firebed, enveloping up to 40 percent of the entire territory.

Contact: Rob Gutro
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Microbes provide insights into evolution of human language
Big brains do not explain why only humans use sophisticated language, according to researchers who have discovered that even a species of pond life communicates by similar methods.
Leverhulme Trust, Natural Environment Research Council

Contact: Dionne Hamil
Durham University

Public Release: 23-Apr-2014
Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks
Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools.

Contact: Kayla Graham

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
NREL unlocking secrets of new solar material
A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have seen before -- and it is generating optimism that a less expensive way of using sunlight to generate electricity may be in our planet's future.
US Department of Energy

Contact: David Glickson
DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Global Ecology and Biogeography
Wildlife response to climate change is likely underestimated, experts warn
Analyzing thousands of breeding bird surveys sent in by citizen scientists over 35 years, wildlife researchers report that most of the 40 songbird species they studied shifted either northward or toward higher elevation in response to climate change, but did not necessarily do both. This means that most previous studies of potential climate change impacts on wildlife that looked only at one factor or the other have likely underestimated effects.
US Forest Service Northern Research Station

Contact: Janet Lathrop
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Brain size matters when it comes to animal self-control
Chimpanzees may throw tantrums like toddlers, but their total brain size suggests they have more self-control than, say, a gerbil or fox squirrel, according to a new study of 36 species of mammals and birds ranging from orangutans to zebra finches.

Contact: Yasmin Anwar
University of California - Berkeley

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
What gave us the advantage over extinct types of humans?
In parallel with modern man (Homo sapiens), there were other, extinct types of humans with whom we lived side-by-side, such as Neanderthals and the recently discovered Denisovans of Siberia. Yet only Homo sapiens survived. What was it in our genetic makeup that gave us the advantage?

Contact: Jerry Barach
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Methods in Ecology and Evolution
UV-radiation data to help ecological research
Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research have processed existing data on global UV-B radiation in such a way that scientists can use them to find answers to many ecological questions. According to the paper published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, an online journal of the British Ecological Society, this data set allows drawing new conclusions about the global distribution of animal and plant species.

Contact: Michael Beckmann
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
CeBIT 2014
New design for mobile phone masts could cut carbon emissions
A breakthrough in the design of signal amplifiers for mobile phone masts could deliver a massive 200MW cut in the load on UK power stations, reducing CO2 emissions by around 0.5 million tons a year. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the universities of Bristol and Cardiff have designed an amplifier that works at 50 percent efficiency compared with the 30 percent now typically achieved.

Contact: EPSRC Press Office
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Nature Materials
Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultrathin solar cells
'We want to make sure light spends more quality time inside a solar cell,' said Mark Brongersma, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford. He and two co-authors surveyed 109 scientific papers involving ways to maximize the collisions between photons and electrons in the thinnest possible layer of photovoltaic material. The goal is to reveal trends and best practices that will help lower solar energy costs.

Contact: Tom Abate
Stanford School of Engineering

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Local Solutions: Northeast Climate Change Preparedness Conference
Minnesota projects offer hope and practical help to communities facing more extreme storms
A 10-year-old program in the Midwest and New England works with communities to prepare for more extreme storms. The program is important because results are specific to each local community. It helps communities plan for the extreme storms that already are occurring more frequently, and shows how to manage the uncertainty of long-term projections. Portions of existing drainage systems are already undersized, and portions should be adequate even for pessimistic future conditions.

Contact: Latham Stack
Syntectic International LLC

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Biology Letters
Cougars' diverse diet helped them survive the Pleistocene mass extinction
Cougars may have survived the mass extinction that took place about 12,000 years ago because they were not particular about what they ate, unlike their more finicky cousins the saber-tooth cat and American lion who perished, according a new analysis of the microscopic wear marks on the teeth of fossil cougars, saber-tooth cats and American lions.
National Science Foundation

Contact: David Salisbury
Vanderbilt University

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Molecular Biology and Evolution
Getting at the root of the mountain pine beetle's rapid habitat expansion and forest
The mountain pine beetle has wreaked havoc in North America, across forests from the American Southwest to British Columbia and Alberta, with the potential to spread all the way to the Atlantic coast. Using a newly sequenced beetle genome, authors Janes, examined how the pine beetle could undergo such rapid habitat range expansion.

Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)

Public Release: 22-Apr-2014
Journal of Neuroscience
Pain curbs sex drive in female mice, but not in males
Researchers from McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal have investigated, possibly for the first time in any species, the direct impact of pain on sexual behavior in mice. Their study, published in the April 23 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, found that pain from inflammation greatly reduced sexual motivation in female mice in heat -- but had no such effect on male mice.
National Institutes of Health, Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation, Pfizer Canada

Contact: Jeffrey Mogil
McGill University