Earth

Thanks to a new analytical method employed by researchers at the University of Delaware, scientists can now pinpoint, at the millisecond level, what happens as harmful environmental contaminants such as arsenic begin to react with soil and water under various conditions.

Quantifying the initial rates of such reactions is essential for modeling how contaminants are transported in the environment and predicting risks.

If the future warming trends that scientists have projected are realized, one of the country's most aggressive exotic plants will have the potential to invade more U.S. land area, according to a new study published in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management. The study found that tamarisk——prevalent today in some parts of the region, but generally limited to warm and dry environments——could expand its range into currently uninvaded areas.

URBANA - The composition of some of our nation's forests may be quite different 200 to 400 years from today according to a recent study at the University of Illinois. The study found that temperature and photosynthetic active radiation were the two most important variables in predicting what forest landscapes may look like in the future. The uncertainties became very high after the year 2200.

Ecologists have discovered that timber plantations in Hawaii use more than twice the amount of water to grow as native forests use. Especially for island ecosystems, these findings suggest that land management decisions can place ecosystems – and the people who depend on them – at high risk for water shortages.

TORONTO, ON – Physicists at the University of Toronto have discovered that changes in the Earth's ozone layer due to climate change will reduce the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in northern high latitude regions such as Siberia, Scandinavia and northern Canada. Other regions of the Earth, such as the tropics and Antarctica, will instead face increasing levels of UV radiation.

Like many mammals, carnivorous plants rely on animal prey for sustenance. Found in nature they are not dependent on a diet of human blood but rather are satisfied with the occasional fly or other insect.

Research conducted at Texas A&M University casts doubts on the notion that El Niño has been getting stronger because of global warming and raises interesting questions about the relationship between El Niño and a severe flu pandemic 91 years ago. The findings are based on analysis of the 1918 El Niño, which the new research shows to be one of the strongest of the 20th century.

If the climate is not quite right, birds will up and move rather than stick around and sweat it out, according to a new study led by biologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The findings, to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that 48 out of 53 bird species studied in California's Sierra Nevada mountains have adjusted to climate change over the last century by moving to sites with the temperature and precipitation conditions they favored.

A highly reactive plant hormone called Cis-OPDA (12-oxophytodienoic acid) has been shown to simultaneously serve as a precursor molecule of the metabolic "master switch" jasmonic acid. Both signal herbivory in leaves and shoots of plants and activate the plants' defense reaction against caterpillars. Cis-OPDA, when reaching the hemolymph of the caterpillar, has a negative effect on the animal, leading to premature pupation and, apparently, an impaired immune system.

Microwave imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite revealed extremely high thunderstorms in Typhoon Choi-Wan as it began passing the island of Sai-Pan in the Western Pacific Ocean. The U.S. National Weather Service has already issued a tropical storm warning and a typhoon watch for Tinian, Saipan and Agrihan in the Northern Mariana Islands.

The latest tropical storm in the western Pacific formed on Sunday (9/14/09), and is poised to make landfall in mainland China on Tuesday, near typhoon strength (74 mph winds). Two NASA satellites captured different views of its clouds.

CLIMATE CENTRAL, Princeton, NJ -- Many people worry about the link between rising bark-beetle infestations and an increase in western wildfires. But Dr. Susan Prichard, a Research Scientist at the University of Washington, adds another concern: what happens after the fires go out?

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over the remnants of Fred, September 13 and captured an infrared and visible image of the storm's clouds from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument. Both AIRS images showed Fred's clouds stretched from northeast to southwest and resembled a tilted exclamation mark.

Molecules of hydrogen are difficult to steer with electric fields because of the symmetrical way that charges are distributed within them. But now researchers at ETH Zurich have found a clever technique to get a grip on the molecules. Their findings are reported in Physical Review Letters and highlighted in the September 14 issue of Physics (http://physics.aps.org).