SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY
Arctic Methane: 'The Warming Will Feed the Warming'
There are thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere. The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts. Researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change.
In other environmental news, Los Angeles has become the largest city in the U.S. to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines. The City Council voted to phase out plastic bags over the next 16 months at an estimated 7,500 stores, meaning shoppers will need to bring reusable bags or purchase paper bags for 10 cents each.
Periodic increases in the flow of Colorado River water through the Grand Canyon are designed to alleviate the environmental disruption caused by the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona in the 1960s. By mimicking the river's original dynamics, federal officials said, the flows could help restore the backwater ecosystems in which native fish are most at home.
A pan-European project has devised a much-anticipated way to differentiate marine populations of the same species with up to 100% accuracy. It will help managers tell the difference between, for example, an illegally harvested Northeast Arctic cod and a perfectly legal Eastern Baltic cod. The new approach relies on genetic variants called single-nucleotide polymorphisms.
An autonomous robotic fish designed to sense marine pollution is lurking in the waters of the port of Gijon, Spain. The robots will continuously monitor the water, letting the port respond immediately to the causes of pollution, such as a leaking boat or industrial spillage, and work to mitigate its effects.
Scientists have concluded that fresh water demand is driving sea-level rise faster than glacier melt. The massive impact of the global population's growing need for water on rising sea levels is revealed in a comprehensive assessment of all the ways in which people use water.
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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays
Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.
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