Increased efficiency of solar desalination

Researchers in Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) this week showed they could boost the efficiency of their solar-powered desalination system by more than 50% simply by adding inexpensive plastic lenses to concentrate sunlight into “hot spots.” The results are available online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The typical way to boost…

Fate of Antarctic species in  a changing climate is complex

Oxygen concentrations in both the open ocean and coastal waters have declined by 2-5% since at least the middle of the 20th century. This is one of the most important changes occurring in an ocean becoming increasingly modified by human activities, with raised water temperatures, carbon dioxide content and nutrient inputs. Through this, humans are…

Social structure is important to rewilding

“Understanding of the complexity of social behavior in both wild and captive populations has greatly expanded over recent years,” says Shifra Goldenberg, Ph.D., Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute ecologist and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research fellow. “This information offers valuable insight into the social processes underpinning species’ demography and behavior, and should be applied…

How much does climate change affect the risk of conflict?

Intensifying climate change will increase the future risk of violent armed conflict within countries, according to a study published today in the journal Nature. Synthesizing views across experts, the study estimates climate has influenced between 3% and 20% of armed conflict risk over the last century and that the influence will likely increase dramatically. In…

South American Monkeys face climate change extinction

Monkeys living in South America are highly vulnerable to climate change and face an “elevated risk of extinction”, according to a new University of Stirling-led study. The research, involving an international team of scientists, found that a large percentage of non-human primates – including monkeys, lemurs and apes – are facing substantial temperature increases and…

Tides can trigger earthquakes

Years ago, scientists realized that earthquakes along mid-ocean ridges — those underwater mountain ranges at the edges of the tectonic plates — are linked with the tides. But nobody could figure out why there’s an uptick in tremors during low tides. “Everyone was sort of stumped, because according to conventional theory, those earthquakes should occur…

Older forests less vulnerable to climate change

Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests – particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity – new University of Vermont research finds. The study, to be published in Global Change Biology’s June 12 edition, analyzed how climate change is expected to impact forests across the eastern…

Bees link symbols to numbers

We’ve learned bees can understand zero and do basic math, and now a new study shows their tiny insect brains may be capable of connecting symbols to numbers. Researchers have trained honeybees to match a character to a specific quantity, revealing they are able to learn that a symbol represents a numerical amount. It’s a…

The mechanics of how birds flock

Wildlife researchers have long tried to understand why birds fly in flocks and how different types of flocks work. A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explores the mechanics and benefits of the underlying flock structure used by four types of shorebirds. Understanding more about how these birds flock moves…

Climate change is already affecting global food production

The world’s top 10 crops — barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat — supply a combined 83 percent of all calories produced on cropland. Yields have long been projected to decrease in future climate conditions. Now, new research shows climate change has already affected production of these key energy…