Queen's scientists are involved in two international projects aimed to protect Northern Ireland's agri-food industry from Bird Flu and African Swine Fever, a disease which kills pigs.

Working with colleagues from other EU-member states and the Far East in the FLUTEST project they are providing improved diagnosis and early warning systems for bird flu.

A giant perennial grass used as a biofuels source has a much longer growing season than corn, and researchers think they've found the secret of its success. Their findings offer a promising avenue for developing cold-tolerant corn, an advance that would significantly boost per-acre yields.

The new study, from researchers at University of Illinois, appears this month in Plant Physiology Preview.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The recent dramatic melting and breakup of a few huge Greenland glaciers have fueled public concerns over the impact of global climate change, but that isn't the island's biggest problem.

A new study shows that the dozens of much smaller outflow glaciers dotting Greenland's coast together account for three times more loss from the island's ice sheet than the amount coming from their huge relatives.

The continued expansion of oil palm plantations will worsen the dual environmental crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, unless rainforests are better protected, warn scientists in the most comprehensive review of the subject to date.

Lead author, Emily Fitzherbert from the Zoological Society of London and University of East Anglia said: "There has been much debate over the role of palm oil production in tropical deforestation and its impacts on biodiversity. We wanted to put the discussion on a firm scientific footing."

Nanotechnology could be the answer to ensuring a safe supply of drinking water for regions of the world stricken by periodic drought or where water contamination is rife. Writing in the International Journal of Nuclear Desalination, researchers in India explain how carbon nanotubes could replace conventional materials in water-purification systems.

Researchers at the University of Bath are helping to develop new rechargeable batteries that could improve hybrid electric cars in the future. Transport is a major energy user and is estimated to be responsible for around 25% of the UK's total carbon emissions. As concern grows about climate change, a range of 'green technologies' are being developed to help reduce carbon emissions.

Hybrid petrol/electric cars that use conventional metal-hydride batteries are already available but they are heavy and the cars have limited power.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An analysis has been completed of the global carbon cycle and climate for a 70,000 year period in the most recent Ice Age, showing a remarkable correlation between carbon dioxide levels and surprisingly abrupt changes in climate.

The findings, to be published this week in the online edition of the journal Science, shed further light on the fluctuations in greenhouse gases and climate in Earth's past, and appear to confirm the validity of the types of computer models that are used to project a warmer climate in the future, researchers said.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Lake Tanganyika area, in southeast Africa, is home to nearly 130 million people living in four countries that bound the lake, the second deepest on Earth. Scientists have known that the region experiences dramatic wet and dry spells, and that rainfall profoundly affects the area's people, who depend on it for agriculture, drinking water and hydroelectric power.

Residents along the Gulf Coast are bracing for Hurricane Ike as it travels over the Gulf of Mexico after ripping through Cuba and Haiti. ESA's Envisat satellite is tracking the storm, which is forecast to make landfall on the Texas coast by 13 September.

Knowing the strength and path of hurricanes is critical for issuing timely warnings. Earth observation (EO) satellites are key means of providing synoptic data on the forces that power the storm, such as cloud structure, wind and wave fields, sea surface temperature and sea surface height.

Alexandria, VA – The American Geological Institute (AGI), in conjunction with its Member Societies, is announcing the release of "Critical Needs for the Twenty First Century: The Role of the Geosciences." This concise document suggests policy directions for the next President, his administration, federal agencies and the United States Congress. The document identifies seven national issues and the role geosciences can play in addressing them: energy and climate, water, waste disposal, natural hazards, infrastructure, raw materials, and workforce and education needs.