Earth

For many, the word "aerosol" might conjure thoughts of hairspray or spray paint. More accurately, though, aerosols are simply particles found in the atmosphere. They can be human-made, like from car exhaust or biomass burning, or naturally occurring, from sources such as volcanic eruptions or sea spray.

Aerosols account for one of the greater uncertainties in understanding the Earth's climate and, through a cooling effect, mask a significant portion of the warming caused by the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

Scientists who are trying to save species at the brink of extinction are finding help in an unexpected place.

Heather Farrington, curator of zoology for the Cincinnati Museum Center, is using DNA from specimens collected more than 100 years ago to help understand the evolution and stresses faced by today's animals.

Farrington runs the museum's new state-of-the-art genetics laboratory, which helps researchers study populations of animals over time.

About 450 nonnative, plant-eating insect species live in North American forests. Most of these critters are harmless, but a handful wreak havoc on their new environment, attacking trees and each year causing more than $70 billion in damage.

The problem is, scientists often don't know which insect will emerge as the next harmful invader.

PITTSBURGH--A new study by University of Pittsburgh researchers indicates animals that seek mates and fight rivals that resemble their parents could be behaving in ways that lead to the formation of new species.

The study by Yusan Yang, a graduate student in the Richards-Zawacki Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences and associate professor Corinne Richards-Zawacki, examines behavioral imprinting--the phenomenon of offspring learning a parent's appearance to choose future mates or distinguish rivals--in the strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio).

Human medicines that act on important signal systems in the brain make fish bolder, shows a new study on three-spined sticklebacks by researchers at Linköping University. The results reinforce that the signal substances serotonin and dopamine play important roles in behavioural differences between individuals. Further, it shows that drugs that end up in the natural environment may have consequences for animal life. The study has been published in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

During Earth's last glacial period, temperatures on the planet periodically spiked dramatically and rapidly. Data in layers of ice of Greenland and Antarctica show that these warming events - called Dansgaard-Oeschger and Antarctic Isotope Maximum events -- occurred at least 25 times. Each time, in a matter of decades, temperatures climbed 5-10 degrees Celsius, then cooled again, gradually.

When clouds loft tropical air masses higher in the atmosphere, that air can carry up gases that form into tiny particles, starting a process that may end up brightening lower-level clouds, according to a CIRES-led study published today in Nature. Clouds alter Earth's radiative balance, and ultimately climate, depending on how bright they are. And the new paper describes a process that may occur over 40 percent of the Earth's surface, which may mean today's climate models underestimate the cooling impact of some clouds.

An international research team led by scientists from McMaster University has unearthed new evidence in Greece proving that the island of Naxos was inhabited by Neanderthals and earlier humans at least 200,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

ANN ARBOR--University of Michigan biologists have documented, for the first time, the widespread presence of the notorious chytrid fungus in 80 species of frogs from lowland rain forest sites in the Peruvian Amazon.

The chytrid fungus causes a deadly skin disease and has been linked to dramatic amphibian declines worldwide over the past 40 years, most notably in moderate- and high-elevation frog communities--where the climate is cool--in mountainous regions of western North America, Central America, South America and eastern Australia.

What The Study Did: A national sample of high school students in the United States in 1960 was used in this observational study to assess whether personality traits measured in high school were associated with dementia diagnoses more than 50 years later using Medicare records.

Authors: Benjamin P. Chapman, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S., of the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, is the corresponding author.

(doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2914)

What The Study Did: Researchers recruited 126 college football players from two programs in Georgia and South Carolina to examine over three years how cardiovascular risk factors emerged and changed, including weight, blood pressure and heart structure and function.

To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ 

What The Study Did: To examine if breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of maternal diabetes or hypertension, six studies with more than 200,000 participants were combined in this systematic review and meta-analysis.

To access the embargoed study:  Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/

Authors: Haitham M. Ahmed, M.D., M.P.H., of AdvantageCare Physicians in New York, is the corresponding author.

(doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13401)

The power conversion efficiencies of organic solar cells (OSCs) based on blends of electron donor (D) and acceptor (A) semiconducting materials now exceed 16%. However, it is still lower than that of highly efficient inorganic SCs such as GaAs. The charge generation efficiency in OSCs nowadays is nearly 100%, thus reducing the energy loss in output voltage is critically important for further enhancing the efficiency of organic solar cells.

BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) should establish more networks of researchers dedicated to invasion science if they wish to curb the spread of invasive species within and outside of their borders.

This is one of the major recommendations of an international study published in the Journal PLoS Biology recently.

As climate change continues to cause temperatures to rise, the breeding patterns of birds such as blue tits are being altered as evenings in spring get warmer, researchers say.

Previous research has shown that warmer springs have led birds to begin breeding earlier. However, until now, scientists had not identified the key factors that cause this behaviour.

With increasing spring warming, chicks may begin hatching after periods when caterpillars - their main food source - are most plentiful, scientists say.