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18 February 2020

Whale cams track swimming efficiency of ocean giants (video)

Whale size comparison. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

The relatively squat and gangly humpback whale moves more efficiently through the water than its sleeker, larger cousin, the blue whale, according to new research that used devices attached to the animals to collect information about these large creatures.

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Mating squid don’t stop for loud noises

Loud hammering noises like pile driving disrupt the mating behavior of longfin squid, but the cephalopods seem to get acclimated to the incessant noise, according to new research. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Loud hammering noises like pile driving disrupt the mating behavior of longfin squid, but the cephalopods seem to get acclimated to the incessant noise, according to new research presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting this week. Hammering piles into the seafloor is a common technique used for building offshore structures like wind farms, but previous research shows the high-intensity noise can damage marine animals’ tissues when they are nearby or alter their behavior when the animals are further away.

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17 February 2020

Deep-sea footage helps researchers understand octopod real estate

A Graneledone octopus. Credit: NOAA.

Biologists are using footage from remotely operated vehicles to better understand where deep-sea octopuses prefer to live. Understanding an animal’s choice of habitat is crucial to understanding its life history. Abigail Pratt, a biologist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has been crawling through undersea video footage from the North Atlantic Ocean to better understand where deep-sea octopuses prefer to settle down. Pratt is hoping to find out what seafloor features make the best real estate – whether octopuses prefer hard ground or soft, or whether they tend to settle on specific geographical features like submarine canyons or continental shelves.

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11 February 2020

Climate change could trigger more landslides in High Mountain Asia

More frequent and intense rainfall events due to climate change could cause more landslides in the High Mountain Asia region of China, Tibet and Nepal, according to the first quantitative study of the link between precipitation and landslides in the region.

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7 February 2020

Surfing space dust bunnies spawn interplanetary magnetic fields

New research finds that fine dust from pulverized space rocks is riding the solar wind past multiple spacecrafts, which are detecting the clouds of fine debris as a temporary changes in the local magnetic field.

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31 January 2020

Small electrical charges could help airplanes avoid lightning strikes

There may be a way to make airplanes less prone to lightning strikes. The trick, surprisingly, might be to give airplanes a bit of an electrical charge when they are in the air, say scientists reporting their experimental work in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

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29 January 2020

Likelihood of space super-storms estimated from longest period of magnetic field observations

A ‘great’ space weather super-storm, large enough to cause significant disruption to our electronic and networked systems, occurred on average once in every 25 years according to a new study in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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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

FELDSPAR 2019 team discussing a plan for drone mapping at the Holuhraun volcanic eruption site. Pictured (right to left): Anna Simpson, Carlie Novak, and Amanda Stockton of Georgia Institute of Technology. Credit: Erika Rader.

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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Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Production Sites Visible from Space

Between 2007 and 2019, across much of the United States, nitrogen dioxide pollution levels dropped because of cleaner cars and power plants, the team found, confirming findings reported previously. The clean air trend in satellite data was most obvious in urban areas of California, Washington and Oregon and in the eastern half of the continental United States… However, several areas stuck out with increased emissions of nitrogen dioxide: The Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford oil and gas basins, in Texas and New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas, respectively.

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