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15 January 2020

Crowdsourcing pollution data could benefit public health

Low-cost sensors provide localized air quality data By Jerimiah Oetting Wildfire smoke regularly threatens air quality over vast regions of places like California. But a new study finds a network of low-cost sensors placed in private homes could paint a more detailed picture of localized pollution, especially in areas where data on air quality is limited. “[The low cost sensors are] unlikely to replace our reliable regulatory monitoring networks,” said …

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Nearly barren Icelandic landscapes guide search for extraterrestrial life

New research on microbial lifeforms living in nearly barren volcanic landscapes in Iceland may help scientists understand how best to search for life on other planets. Researchers with NASA’s FELDSPAR project are studying the distribution of life in these harsh Icelandic environments to inform the search for hidden life signs on planets like Mars. So far, they have found that microbes at their study sites are often isolated in “hot spots” and that microbial communities are distributed differently in areas subjected to different geological processes, such as wind or glaciation.

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14 January 2020

Microbes endure a variety of inhospitable conditions in California’s Mono Lake

Microbes found across distinct layers in California’s Mono Lake may be surviving by using a variety of carbohydrates for energy, according to a recent study. New research presented last month describes bacteria that thrive in the inhospitable lake across a variety of nutrient conditions. Researchers predict that these bacteria, which express more carbohydrate utilization genes than their competitors, succeed by being able to adapt to use available energy sources. The research helps scientists understand how bacteria survive in extreme environments as well as how bacterial communities shift following changes in nutrient levels.

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13 January 2020

Board game educates Japan about new energy source

A three-dimensional box that mimics an underwater ocean scene teaches players about an underwater fossil fuel resource in a new Japanese board game. Methane hydrate is a natural energy resource buried deep below the ocean floor surrounding Japan. This mixture of methane and ice, once extracted, can be converted into methane gas, a viable energy source. Chiharu Aoyama, an ocean resources professor at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, suspects Japan’s citizens do not know about this natural resource. In 2016, Aoyama worked with Daiki Aoyama, a family member and game hobbyist, to design a board game to raise awareness about methane hydrate among Japanese people of all ages.

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17 December 2019

Wildfire residue may contribute to climate change

Wildfires leave behind large swathes of blackened earth when they raze a landscape. That charred material contains a host of molecules that could continue to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere days and weeks after the fire has gone out, according to new research.

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12 December 2019

One of Europe’s worst famines likely caused by devastating floods

Europe’s Great Famine of 1315–1317 is considered one of the worst population collapses in the continent’s history. Historical records tell of unrelenting rain accompanied by mass crop failure…Now, new research using tree ring records confirms the historical data, showing the years of the Great Famine were some of Europe’s wettest.

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11 December 2019

Scientists use night vision to help save bats’ lives

High-resolution radar and night vision cameras may help scientists protect bats from untimely deaths at wind farms, according to new research. Researchers are using these technologies to provide more specific details about the number of bats killed by wind turbines in Iowa.

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10 December 2019

Property values plummeted and stayed down after Hurricane Ike

Texas homes that took the biggest hit in value after 2008’s Hurricane Ike were, surprisingly, not those within historic flood zones, new research finds. Instead, they were homes just outside these zones, where damage affected whole neighborhoods, driving property value down for years, according to a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who presented the findings this week at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019 in San Francisco.

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NASA’s treasure map for water ice on Mars

NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land? A new paper published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as one inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

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6 December 2019

Peatlands release more methane when disturbed by roads

Roads built through acidic wetlands may make greenhouse gas emissions from the wetlands spike by damming natural water flow, according to a new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.

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