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Latest and Breaking Earth Science News

Single-atom gold catalysts may offer path to low-cost production of fuel and chemicals
(Tufts University) New catalysts designed and investigated by Tufts engineering researchers and collaborators have potential to greatly reduce processing costs in future fuels like hydrogen. The catalysts are composed of a unique structure of single gold atoms bound by oxygen to sodium or potassium atoms, supported on non-reactive silica materials. They demonstrate comparable activity and stability with catalysts comprising precious metal nanoparticles on rare earth and other reducible oxide supports when used in producing highly purified hydrogen.

Another human footprint in the ocean
(University of Hawaii at Manoa) Human-induced changes to Earth's carbon cycle -- for example, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean acidification -- have been observed for decades. However, a study published this week in Science showed human activities, in particular industrial and agricultural processes, have also had significant impacts on the upper ocean nitrogen cycle.

Mosquitoes and malaria: Scientists pinpoint how biting cousins have grown apart
(Virginia Tech) Sixteen mosquito species have varying capabilities for transmitting malaria and adapting to new environments. Researchers sequenced their genomes to better understand the evolutionary science behind the differences. The results, published in Science, may advance understanding about the biological differences between mosquitoes that transmit malaria, and ultimately, how species might be more precisely controlled to stop transmission.

Education is key to climate adaptation
(International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) According to new IIASA research, education makes people less vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and storms that are expected to intensify with climate change.

TGen-Luxembourg scientific team conducts unprecedented analysis of microbial ecosystem
(The Translational Genomics Research Institute) An international team of scientists from the Translational Genomics Research Institute and The Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine have completed a first-of-its-kind microbial analysis of a biological waste water treatment plant that has broad implications for protecting the environment, energy recovery and human health. The study, published Nov. 26 in the scientific journal Nature Communications, describes in unprecedented detail the complex relationships within a model ecosystem.

NASA's Van Allen Probes spot an impenetrable barrier in space
(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) Two donuts of seething radiation that surround Earth, called the Van Allen radiation belts, have been found to contain a nearly impenetrable barrier that prevents the fastest, most energetic electrons from reaching Earth.

Matched 'hybrid' systems may hold key to wider use of renewable energy
(Oregon State University) The use of renewable energy in the United States could take a significant leap forward with improved storage technologies or more efforts to 'match' different forms of alternative energy systems that provide an overall more steady flow of electricity, researchers say in a new report.

Tropical depression 21W forms, Philippines under warnings
(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite provided rainfall data as Tropical Depression 21W was making landfall in the southern Philippines on Nov. 26.

The influence of the Isthmus of Panama in the evolution of freshwater shrimps in America
(Pensoft Publishers) The molecular evolution of freshwater shrimps in America was studied based in the relationship between Pacific and Atlantic sister species that are separated by the Isthmus of Panama. Despite the high morphological similarities between each pair of species, it was concluded that all species are valid taxonomic entities, proving the efficiency of the Isthmus for the genetic isolation of the species. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Process converts human waste into rocket fuel
(University of Florida) Buck Rogers surely couldn't have seen this one coming, but at NASA's request, University of Florida researchers have figured out how to turn human waste -- yes, that kind -- into rocket fuel.

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