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The great nutrient collapse

The great nutrient collapse
Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton. Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the world’s oceans and lakes, and for food they rely on algae, which are essentially tiny plants. Scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them—increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn’t work out that way. Loladze was technically in the math department, but he loved biology and couldn’t stop thinking about this. Loladze used his math training to help measure and explain the algae-zooplankton dynamic.

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A Coral Reef Revival - The Atlantic - The Atlantic David Vaughan works on the Florida Reef Tract, the third largest coral reef in the world and a vastly important ecosystem for sustaining underwater life. He and a team of scientists are working to combat the crisis in the world’s coral reefs—that is, that human beings have lost 25 to 40 percent of the world’s corals in recent decades due largely to seawater temperature rise and continued acidification of the ocean. Vaughan has developed a technique called “microfragmenting” that allows corals to grow more than 25 times faster than normal, which could rapidly restore the dwindling population of healthy coral reefs. The Atlantic went inside the Mote Tropical Research Laboratory in Summerland Key, Florida, where Vaughan is the executive director, to uncover how the process works and understand how much hope there is to reverse the damage caused by humans.

Growing food from mattresses: what experts can learn from working in refugee camps I am a scientist who has spent his career working with industry at the interface of science, engineering and medicine. I have served on many advisory boards on translating research into practice. But I never feel the flames of knowledge exchange burn as bright as when I’m at Za’atari refugee camp, in Jordan. Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists. Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society. The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

Meet the New Meat: PredicTED by OZY An editorial collaboration that celebrates the biggest ideas in our world. Join us every week for new stories and mind-bending video. Video by Tom Gorman As the world’s population barrels further into the billions, the need to feed all those hungry mouths will reach epic proportions as well. Climate Change Is Forcing Trees to Move Northwest - The Atlantic As the consequences of climate change strike across the United States, ecologists have a guiding principle about how they think plants will respond. Cold-adapted plants will survive if they move “up”—that is, as they move further north (away from the tropics) and higher in elevation (away from the warm ground). A new survey of how tree populations have shifted over the past three decades finds that this effect is already in action.

Graphene-based water filter produces drinkable water in just one step Scientists at Australian research centre CSIRO have used graphene to create a simple filtration system that could change the lives of millions in the developing world by making the process of purifying water faster and more effective. The team at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Sydney developed the system as an alternative to existing processes that they described as being time-consuming, expensive and unable to cope with common contaminants such as oil and detergents. "Conventional water-filter membranes used in water purification are made from polymers and cannot handle a diverse mix of contaminants," said the scientists. "They clog or allow contaminants to pass through, so they have to be separated out before the water is filtered. This technology can create clean drinking water, regardless of how dirty it is, in a single step."

Sea Turtles Under Threat as Climate Change Turns Most Babies Female In Brief Since sea turtle sex is influenced by the temperature at which the egg is incubated, climate change is ensuring that nearly all sea turtles in warm northern Australia are being born female. Engendered Species Using a new, non-invasive hormone test, the researchers from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Department and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection found that while 65 -69 percent of the turtles from the southern region were female, between 86.8 and 99.8 of turtles tested in the northern region were female, depending on age.

This indoor farm in New Jersey can grow 365 days a year and uses 95% less water than a typical farm Bowery Farming in Kearny, New Jersey can grow 365 days a year. Bowery CEO and founder Irving Fain: We grow indoors in big warehouse-scale farms that grow in a totally controlled environment, and we do stack LEDs vertically in that space. There's a number of issues with the traditional industrialized agricultural system that exist today, and Bowery's actually able to solve a number of those problems. We use 70% of the world's water supply in agriculture every single year, and just in the US alone, we put down about 700 million pounds of pesticides every year. And it’s on the food that we're actually eating. Half the Coral in the Great Barrier Reef Has Died Since 2016 Once upon a time, there was a city so dazzling and kaleidoscopic, so braided and water-rimmed, that it was often compared to single living body. It clustered around a glimmering emerald spine, which astronauts could glimpse from orbit. It hid warm nooks and crannies, each a nursery for new life. It opened into radiant, iris-colored avenues, which tourists crossed oceans to see.

The Trouble With Tuna Poke Bowls – Mother Jones Looking for news you can trust?Subscribe to our free newsletters. My first Thanksgiving in the Bay Area, a new friend invited me to share the holiday with her family. The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare It was the smell that really got to diver Richard Vevers. The smell of death on the reef. “I can’t even tell you how bad I smelt after the dive – the smell of millions of rotting animals.” Vevers is a former advertising executive and is now the chief executive of the Ocean Agency, a not-for-profit company he founded to raise awareness of environmental problems. After diving for 30 years in his spare time, he was compelled to combine his work and hobby when he was struck by the calamities faced by oceans around the world.

New solar still claims near-perfect efficiency in purifying water Access to clean water is one of the world's most pressing problems, but a team of University at Buffalo researchers has come up with a new take on an old technology that uses sunlight to purify water. Led by associate professor of electrical engineering Qiaoqiang Gan, the team has created a device that uses black, carbon-dipped paper to produce fresh water with what is claimed to be near-perfect efficiency. Solar stills have been around for thousands of years, with references to them going back to Aristotle. They're a common survival kit item, especially for life rafts, and a quick browse of YouTube quickly turns up a surprising number of videos about how to use bits of common rubbish littering a beach to create a sun-powered still that can turn seawater or dirty water into something more potable. Such stills work on the principle of evaporation. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Buffalo still is a surprising advance on previous devices.

what_an_invasive_species_in_nepal_tells_us_about_our_climate_future © 2009 Jeevan Jose/Wikimedia Commons Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, a stretch of grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the humid foothills of the Himalayas, is home to an enormous diversity of plants and animals. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park provides refuge to Bengal tigers and some of the last of the world’s single-horned Asiatic rhinoceroses, among other endangered species. Most people in the region scrape out a living through smallholder farming, almost fully dependent on the environment and its resources for their livelihoods. As that environment changes—because of land degradation, shifts in the monsoon, and groundwater depletion—their lives and livelihoods become more precarious.