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Mississippi sand still abundant

Flood control measures along the Mississippi River have likely saved countless lives, but the effects of upstream dams and containment on the river’s delta have been ecologically catastrophic: In the past 80 years, more than 5,000 square kilometers of wetlands along the Louisiana coast have been starved of vital sediment and drowned. Now, researchers have found that the lower river contains a significant reservoir of the sand needed to mitigate land loss at the river’s mouth — if  it can be diverted downstream.
 

01 Sep 2014

Natural arsenic levels in Ohio soils exceed regulatory standards

A new study in which all 842 soil samples taken in Ohio had more arsenic than recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raises the question of what to do when natural background levels in the environment exceed limits set to protect ecosystems and human health.
 

31 Aug 2014

Floating nuclear plants may be safer from tsunamis

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake just off the coast of Tohoku, Japan, set off a devastating tsunami that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex on the coast northeast of Tokyo. Backup generators failed, triggering nuclear meltdowns in three reactors that could no longer be cooled.
 

30 Aug 2014

Sunken logs a delicacy for ocean bottom-feeders

Wood isn’t often on the menu for deep sea-dwelling critters, but for some species, there’s nothing like a tasty tree stump for dinner. Five years after leaving bundles of Acacia wood 3,200 meters deep at the bottom of Monterey Canyon off the central California coast, biologists retrieved the bundles with a remotely operated vehicle and found that some hosted diverse colonies of organisms.
 

29 Aug 2014

Volcanic ash feed southern ocean plankton

Ash plumes from volcanoes in South America and elsewhere may spur large blooms of plankton in otherwise barren parts of the Southern Ocean, but maybe not for the reason scientists have suspected, according to a new study. Such blooms are of interest because they consume atmospheric carbon dioxide, although their overall effect on climate remains far from clear.
 

28 Aug 2014

The subcontinent's sturdy mammals

India is home to some hardy mammals, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers reported that 20 of 21 mammalian taxa identified from fossils found in southern India have survived on the subcontinent over at least the last 100,000 years, with some lineages stretching back twice that long.
 

27 Aug 2014

Extra rib may be sign of mammoth decline

High rates of a congenital defect in woolly mammoths may offer evidence that inbreeding and environmental stress contributed to the animals’ demise during the Late Pleistocene, according to a new analysis of fossil mammoth neck bones.

26 Aug 2014

South American fossils offer revised view of Gondwana assembly

Fossils of a known age have been found for the first time in rocks in Brazil that, although long-studied, had previously eluded scientists’ attempts to pinpoint their age. The discovery of the marine animals dates the rocks to 550 million years ago, researchers say, offering important insights into the geological evolution and timing of the assembly of the former supercontinent Gondwana.
 

25 Aug 2014

Warm river water melted Arctic sea ice

In September 2012, the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice was the smallest on record since satellite monitoring began in 1979. Several factors are thought to have contributed to that summer’s diminished ice, including a large cyclone in August that brought warmer ocean waters into the area and broke up the ice and a longer-term trend of thinning and weakening sea ice. Now, researchers have found that at least one large burst of warm freshwater into the Arctic earlier in the summer probably played a role as well.
 

23 Aug 2014

Longer season for Rocky Mountain wildflowers

A nearly 40-year study of Rocky Mountain wildflower phenology has found that almost two-thirds of species have changed their blooming patterns in response to climate change. Flowers are blooming earlier each spring and lasting longer each fall, but not all species are reacting similarly.
 

23 Aug 2014

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