Environment !

vijaykumar12

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#1
[h=3]Breath of fresh air, finally? Crop burning down 30% in Punjab govt to NGT[/h]


As the
pollution in Delhi-NCR threatens to increase in the coming days, the Punjab state government in a statement to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said that crop burning in the state has dropped by 30 percent this year in comparison to last year.

Earlier this month, the Punjab government was slammed by the green body for not incentivising the farmers or assisting them to manage the crop residue, estimated to be around 35 million tonne, which is consistently being set ablaze by farmers to make up for the short window between winter and summer crops.


"There were 14,432 cases of stubble burning this year, while in 2016 there were 22,269 cases," the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) told the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar.


The Tribunal has also sought clarity from the central government over incentivising the farmers against crop burning.


Earlier this month, the Punjab government sought Rs 2,000 crore as financial help from the central government to support its farmers by removing paddy straw from the fields to avoid its burning.


The NGT had earlier fixed the environment penalty amount per incident of crop burning to be paid by small land owners having less than two acres of land at Rs 2,500, medium land owners holding over two acres and less than five acres at Rs 5,000 and those owning over five acres at Rs 15,000.


Crop burning in neighbouring states directly impacts Delhi's air quality that continues to deteriorate.


The NGT had in 2015 asked Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to curb this practice and later asked them to incentivise small farmers to manage the stubble.




 

vijaykumar12

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#2
[h=1]Compound in Jamun seeds can remove fluoride from groundwater: IIT scientists[/h]


Jamun trees are found in abundance in India and the fruit carries numerous health benefits too.

Now, researchers say that a compound found in Jamun seeds can help remove excess fluoride from groundwater.


A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, led by Chandra Shekhar Sharma, assistant professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, has succeeded in reducing fluoride level in water using `activated carbon' obtained from Jamun seeds.
Excess fluoride in groundwater is a major problem in several states as it causes health problems.


The findings of the IIT team were published recently in the Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering.


The researchers converted Jamun seed powder into a highly porous carbon material. It was then processed further at high temperatures to improve its efficiency.


The material was first used in trials carried out on synthetic fluoride solutions prepared in laboratory, Sharma said in a release here.


Later, tests were conducted using groundwater samples collected from the Nalgonda district of Telangana, known to be one of the worst fluoride-affected areas in India.


Results showed that it reduced the fluoride concentration to less than 1.5 mg/litre, the acceptable limit as per the World Health Organisation.


As many as 17 states in India face the problem of higher-than-recommended fluoride levels in groundwater, Sharma said, adding that it creates a major problem for safe drinking water supply.


"Although there is a long way to go before successful commercialisation of this idea, the IIT Hyderabad Research Team has demonstrated a potential for a bio-based waste material like Jamun seed for fluoride removal from drinking water," he said.


"The performance of Jamun Seed Derived Carbon was found to be superior to most other biomass-derived carbons which were reported earlier (in research papers)," he said.


Ramya Araga, lead author of the study, said the team is now working on finding ways to remove various water pollutants using the Jamun Seed-Derived Carbon.
 

vijaykumar12

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#3
[h=1]Is air pollution linked to cancer? Study says yes[/h]


With air pollution wreaking havoc in countries across the globe, health concerns have risen considerably.

While numerous studies have associated pollution with heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest and even death, a new large-scale prospective study has linked it with cancer mortality beyond lung cancer.


The study, led by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, observed an association between some air pollutants and mortality from kidney, bladder and colorectal cancer.


The study included more than 600,000 adults in the US who participated in the Cancer Prevention Study II and who were followed for 22 years (from 1982 to 2004). The scientific team examined associations of mortality from cancer at 29 sites with long-term residential exposure to three ambient pollutants: PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3).
Over 43,000 non-lung cancer deaths were registered among the participants. PM2,5was associated with mortality from kidney and bladder cancer, with a 14 and 13% increase, respectively, for each 4.4 µg/m3 increase in exposure. In turn, exposure to NO2 was associated with colorectal cancer death, with a 6% increase per each 6.5 ppb increment. No significant associations were observed with cancer at other sites.


First author Michelle Turner explained that although a number of studies associate lung cancer with air pollution, there is still little evidence for associations at other cancer sites. "This research suggests that air pollution was not associated with death from most non lung cancers, but the associations with kidney, bladder and colorectal cancer deserve further investigation," she added.


The study is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
 

vijaykumar12

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#4
[h=1]Plant respiration larger source of carbon emissions, says study[/h][h=1]
[/h]
A new study claims that carbon released by plant respiration may be around 30 percent higher than previously predicted.

The study suggests that as the mean global temperature increases, respiration will increase significantly.


Such increases may lower the future ability of global vegetation to offset carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.


"Plants both capture carbon dioxide and then release it by respiration. Changes to either of these processes in response to climate change have profound implications for how much ecosystems soak up carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels," said lead author Chris Huntingford of Britain's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.


"In fact, this study provides the most up-to-date accounting of respiratory carbon releases from plants in terrestrial systems," Peter Reich, Professor at University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences in the US, said.


The findings are based on the comprehensive GlobResp database, which is comprised of more than 10,000 measurements of carbon dioxide plant respiration from plant species around the globe.


Merging this data with existing computer models of global land carbon cycling showed plant respiration has been a potentially underestimated source of carbon dioxide release.


"Once we incorporate this data into state-of-the-art carbon cycling models, we are much closer to being able to accurately model carbon cycle feedbacks for climates across the globe," Reich said.
 

vijigermany

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#5
[h=1]Earthquakes won't hound us in future, they can be predicted beforehand[/h]


Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system to significantly improve the prediction of earthquakes.

This advancement may help us prepare for natural disasters in advance and potentially save many lives, claim researchers.


The study, identified a hidden signal leading up to earthquakes, and used this 'fingerprint' to train a machine learning algorithm to predict future earthquakes.


Researchers have studied the interactions among earthquakes, precursor quakes and faults, with the hope of developing a method to predict earthquakes.


Using a lab-based system that mimics real earthquakes, they used machine learning techniques to analyse the acoustic signals coming from the fault as it moved and search for patterns.


Researchers used steel blocks to closely mimic the physical forces at work in a real earthquake and also records the seismic signals and sounds that are emitted.


It was then followed by the use of machine learning which was used to find the relationship between the acoustic signal coming from the fault and how close it is to failúre.


The machine learning algorithm was able to identify a particular pattern in the sound, previously thought to be nothing more than noise, which occurs long before an earthquake, researchers said.


The characteristics of this sound pattern can be used to give a precise estimate of the stress on the fault and to estimate the time remaining before failure, which gets more and more precise as failure approaches, they said.


"This is the first time that machine learning has been used to analyse acoustic data to predict when an earthquake will occur, long before it does, so that plenty of warning time can be given - it is incredible what machine learning can do," said Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University.


Machine learning enables the analysis of datasets too large to handle manually and looks at data in an unbiased way that enables discoveries to be made, researchers said.
 

vijigermany

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#6
[h=1]Seeds hold hidden treasures for future food[/h]


More than 70,000 of the world's most precious seeds have been sent from the UK's Millennium Seed Bank to the Middle East, in its largest export to date.


The consignment contains more than 50 wild relatives of cultivated crops, such as wheat, barley and lentils.


The seeds will be used for food security research at a seed bank in Lebanon, which is recreating collections stranded in Syria.


The Millennium Seed Bank at Kew is the world's largest wild plant seed bank.


Seeds from the resilient, wild cousins of modern food crops are being collected and stored in an international effort.


The aim is to breed new crop varieties capable of withstanding threats such as climate change, drought, pests and diseases.


''The real importance of these crop wild relatives is that in order to survive in the world they've had to adapt to hostile environmental changes,'' said Oriole Wagstaff of the Crop Wild Relatives project at Kew's botanic garden at Wakehurst in Sussex.


''With increasing pressures such as pests, diseases and climate change, we need to turn to these wild relatives, which have a much greater genetic diversity.''

The seeds have been removed from stores at the Millennium Seed Bank and sent to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (Icarda), in Lebanon.


They include a wild wheat from Italy, a wild lentil plant from Cyprus, as well as wild relatives of the grass pea and faba bean.


At Icarda, the seeds will be used for research into improving their domesticated relatives against current and future threats such as climate change.
[h=2]Hidden treasures[/h]Scientists at Icarda are re-building what was once the largest collection of seeds from across the region, including thousands of varieties of wheat, barley, lentils and fava (broadbean).


These were kept at their former headquarters in Aleppo, where they are currently out of reach.


Back-up samples held at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, deep inside a mountain in Norway, have helped to recreate the seed bank.
The seeds from Kew will give researchers access to precious material from wild crops, enabling the genes of living crops to be compared with their wild ''cousins''.


''These wild ones contain hidden treasures that might one day solve the threats crops are facing at the moment,'' Oriole Wagstaff added.
The Crop Wild Relatives project is a global scheme that aims to collect, conserve and utilise the genetic diversity in the wild relatives of our domesticated crops to secure and improve food crops for the future.
Marie Haga, chief executive of the Crop Trust, said conserving the diversity of our food crops ultimately safeguards the future of food for everyone.


''Genebanks have a key role to play in this process,'' she said.
''They conserve crop diversity and make it available to farmers and breeders around the world, providing the materials they need to ensure our food is plentiful, affordable, nutritious and varied."
 

vijaykumar12

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#8
[h=1]Worldwide increase in methane bubbles due to climate change[/h]


Never before have such unequivocal, strong relationships between temperature and emissions of methane bubbles been shown on such a wide, continent-spanning scale.," says biologist Sarian Kosten of Radboud University.

The study focused on shallow lakes, ponds, rivers and wetlands. These aquatic environments are relevant in the context of climate change because they are responsible for much of global greenhouse gas emissions. An important part of these emissions is caused by bubbles filled with methane gas that develop in the sediment at the bottom of these water bodies. When the bubbles reach the surface, the gas enters the atmosphere

Higher methane emissions
For the current research, an international team of scientists studied existing literature and conducted a large experiment in close collaboration with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). First, existing research into methane bubbles was collected from various locations, ranging from a fishing pond in Malden (a town near Nijmegen) to postglacial lakes in northern Sweden and forest ponds in Canada. "Next, we simulated methane bubble production in 1000-litre 'mini-lakes' at the NIOO, where we could accurately control temperature and other conditions," explains Ralf Aben, biologist at Radboud University. "In this way we excluded causes other than the rise in temperature."


In open tanks filled with water and sediment, the researchers were able to mimic an annual cycle. Four tanks had a 'normal' Dutch climate, and in four other tanks the average temperature was 4 degrees Celsius higher. That led to 50percent higher emission of methane bubbles. The biologists predict that a temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius leads to 6-20 percent higher emission of methane bubbles, which in turn leads to additional greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and to an additional temperature increase.


What is next?
Nutrient-rich sediments produce more methane than nutrient-poor sediments. One possibility for reducing methane production is therefore to make sure that sediments have fewer nutrients, which means using less fertiliser!


The global rise in temperature will be difficult to reverse, but not impossible. "Every tonne of greenhouse gas that we emit leads to additional emissions from natural sources such as methane bubbles," says Kosten. "Luckily, the opposite is also true: if we emit less greenhouse gas and the temperature drops, we gain a bonus in the form of less methane production. This bonus from nature should be our motivation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even further."
 

vijaykumar12

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#9
[h=1]Species may appear deceptively resilient to climate change[/h]


Nature itself can be the best defense against climate change for many species -- at least in the short term -- according to a study published in the journal Ecology Letters from the University of California, Davis.

The study found that natural habitats play a vital role in helping other plants and animals resist heat stresses ramping up with climate change -- at least until the species they depend on to form those habitats become imperiled. This suggests a need to re-evaluate climate change predictions for many species, including predictions that species in the south will move north with global warming.


The work focused on the rocky shoreline stretching from California's Channel Islands to Washington's Olympic National Park, where low tides expose marine species to intense heat. It also has implications for habitats like grasslands and rainforests, which support millions of smaller species.


Ecological Air Conditionin
Similar to how trees support birds and chipmunks, species like mussels and seaweed form habitat for other coastal species. They can lower temperatures so much for those other species that there is ultimately no difference in heat stress for sea creatures living in southern California versus northern Washington. If those habitats become suddenly imperiled, however, the species relying on them have little time to adapt.
"We might take for granted some of the resilience of our ecosystems because we don't realize how much they depend on these habitats," said lead author Laura Jurgens, who was a Ph.D. candidate at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory at the time of the study and is currently a postdoctoral researcher with Temple University and Smithsonian Institution. "For creatures that live in mussel beds and seaweed beds, it's like having a house with air conditioning at low tide. You can tolerate a lot of what goes on outside if you have air conditioning. But if you're looking at a future with more intense heat waves, and you don't have air conditioning anymore, you wonder, 'Where can I go?' For these species, they could make a big move north, but it won't help -- they still need these habitats to keep the heat in a tolerable range."

The study indicates that plants and animals whose habitats serve as "ecological air conditioning" are not likely to move until the other species protecting them are threatened. This could make those species more vulnerable to sudden events like warm blobs of ocean water, disease, extreme storms or intense heat waves. These species may appear "deceptively resilient" to climate change until one event takes away their habitats.


Habitat More Important Than Latitude for Some
The study adds to the understanding of how different species respond to climate change. Scientists have observed some plants and animals under climate change are leaving lower latitudes for cooler ones. But this study shows that, for some species, habitat is more important than latitude in protecting them from the effects of climate change.


"If you're an octopus living in a mussel bed, the most important thing to keep your body temperature survivable is that mussel bed around you, not whether you live in Southern California, where it's warmer, or Washington," Jurgens said.


The study also reinforces the benefits of habitat conservation. It indicates that destroying habitat can reduce climate resilience, while restoring and conserving habitat can help maintain biodiversity as the climate warms.
"People are really big compared to most organisms on the planet," Jurgens said. "We're enormous, and it's hard for us to understand what it's like to be in these habitats unless you imagine yourself in a place like a forest you walk into on a hot day. If that temperature is what you need to survive, that forest better be there."
 

vijigermany

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#10
[h=1]Deep fat fryers may help form cooling clouds[/h]
Fatty acids released into the air from cooking may contribute to the formation of clouds that cool the climate, say scientists.


Fatty acid molecules comprise about 10% of fine particulates over London, and such particles help seed clouds.


But researchers dismiss the idea that cooking fats could be used as a geo-engineering tool to reduce warming.


Instead, the research is designed to help reduce uncertainties about the role of cooking fats on climate.


Researchers believe the fatty molecules arrange themselves into complex 3-D structures in atmospheric droplets.



These aerosols persist for longer than normal and can seed the formation of clouds which experts say can have a cooling effect on the climate.
The authors say the study will shed new light on the long term role of aerosols on temperatures.


Atmospheric aerosols are one of the areas of climate science where there are considerable uncertainties.

The description covers tiny particles that can be either solid or liquid, ranging from the dusts of the Saharan desert to soot to aerosols formed by chemical reaction.


These can have a variety of impacts, while most aerosols reflect sunlight back into space others absorb it.



Aerosols and the clouds seeded by them, are said to reflect about a quarter of the Sun's energy back into space.


Researchers have known for some time that the emissions of fatty acid molecules from chip pans and cookers may coat aerosol particles in the atmosphere - but this is the first time that scientists have looked at their role inside the droplets.


Using ultrasonic levitation to hold individual droplets of brine and oleic acid in position, the research team was able to make them float so they could analyse them with a laser beam and X-rays.
 

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