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  • February 17, 2016
  • 01:25 AM

What Spanish stalagmites can tell us about European climate

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Scientists have been decoding the climate information locked away in 12,000-year-old stalagmites from Spanish caves.... Read more »

  • February 2, 2016
  • 12:35 PM

Weird small holes in the woods

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Within the ground beneath our feet lie dark cavities of various shapes and sizes. They're home to pale and eyeless creatures living a midnight existence. Natural holes in the ground, filled with air and/or water, can be roughly categorized into three types based on the particular habitat they provide for subterranean organisms:(1) Caves are large, deep, and tend not to contain much organic matter for organisms to munch on. They're often found in karst and volcanic areas prone to developing big h........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2015
  • 08:50 AM

A Gift Worth Its Weight In Gold

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Gold is not considered a dietary micronutrient, and is the one of the most inert metals. But this is not to say it has no role in living systems; in fact, this metal is a veritable gold mine of biology. New research has led to a greater understanding of how gold can down-regulate inflammatory processes and gold complexes are being used in cancer and infectious disease treatments.... Read more »

  • July 30, 2015
  • 01:10 PM

A tough bacterium that lives in poisoned soils and pulls gold out of water

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Cupriavidus metallidurans (roughly translated: lover of copper, enduring metal) is a bacterium of the class Betaproteobacteria known for its ability to withstand high concentrations of numerous metals that would be toxic to most other living things. These metals, which include Ag, Au, Bi, Cd, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Sr, Tl, U, and Zn, tend to cause problems for bacterial cells by binding to DNA or proteins, which can disrupt important stuff like obtaining energy or reproducing.The bacterium ........ Read more »

  • July 13, 2015
  • 07:05 AM

Tropical wetlands releasing more carbon than previously thought

by Cath Jex in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Scientists report southeast Asian tropical peatlands are emitting almost double the about of carbon officially estimated in the last IPCC report.... Read more »

  • June 17, 2015
  • 11:11 AM

Using bacteria to look for oil and gas

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

In 1938, a Russian scientist by the name of Mogilewskii published a paper describing the use of methane-oxidizing bacteria as a means of prospecting for natural gas fields. Several patents were subsequently issued to oil companies in the 1940s based on this paper and others by American researchers.The idea is that smaller gaseous hydrocarbons (e.g. methane, propane, butane) tend to escape in small amounts from underground oil and gas deposits and rise to the surface. The continuous seepage of th........ Read more »

Rasheed, M., Hasan, S., Rao, P., Boruah, A., Sudarshan, V., Kumar, B., & Harinarayana, T. (2014) Application of geo-microbial prospecting method for finding oil and gas reservoirs. Frontiers of Earth Science, 9(1), 40-50. DOI: 10.1007/s11707-014-0448-5  

  • December 8, 2014
  • 08:02 AM

Climate Change: Heatwaves and Poverty in Pakistan

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

In the summer of 2010, over 20 million people were affected by the summer floods in Pakistan. Millions lost access to shelter and clean water, and became dependent on aid in the form of food, drinking water, tents, clothes and medical supplies in order to survive this humanitarian disaster. It is estimated that at least $1.5 billion to $2 billion were provided as aid by governments, NGOs, charity organizations and private individuals from all around the world, and helped contain the devastating ........ Read more »

  • June 15, 2014
  • 01:00 PM

Can We Really Count on Plants to Slow Down Global Warming?

by Spiderxbass in Spiderxbass

The idea is simple. Fact 1:Plants reduce CO2 in the atmosphere trough photosynthesis. Fact 2: Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere stimulates plants growth. Thus fact 1 fact 2 is the perfect scenario. If there is more CO2 in the atmosphere and plants are growing more because of that, the solution to global warming is to plant more trees right? Well not really. There is a missing piece called Carbon cycle.... Read more »

van Groenigen KJ, Qi X, Osenberg CW, Luo Y, & Hungate BA. (2014) Faster decomposition under increased atmospheric CO₂ limits soil carbon storage. Science (New York, N.Y.), 344(6183), 508-9. PMID: 24762538  

  • February 26, 2014
  • 08:10 AM

Strange Insects Taste

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

New research is describing the ways that arthropods use gustatory receptors. Drosophila use a muscular reflex to extend or retract the proboscis, based on the sweet or bitter taste they experience. In silica studies are showing that female behaviors are driving gene duplication and evolution of taste receptor genes, while specific taste receptors are responsible for male female interactions in fruit fly courtship rituals.
... Read more »

Briscoe AD, Macias-Muñoz A, Kozak KM, Walters JR, Yuan F, Jamie GA, Martin SH, Dasmahapatra KK, Ferguson LC, Mallet J.... (2013) Female behaviour drives expression and evolution of gustatory receptors in butterflies. PLoS genetics, 9(7). PMID: 23950722  

  • January 17, 2014
  • 05:16 PM

“Predicting pre-Columbian anthropogenic soils in Amazonia”

by Umberto in Up and Down in Moxos

“Predicting pre-Columbian anthropogenic soils in Amazonia” is the title of a recent paper by McMichael et al. published in Proceeding of the Royal Society B. It is not open access but you can read the abstract here. In this paper McMichael et al. present a predictive model for the presence of Terra Preta in Amazonia.  The model predicts the likelihood of finding Terra Preta sites in any given spot within Amazonia.  In general, I liked the idea behind the paper. These models gi........ Read more »

McMichael CH, Palace MW, Bush MB, Braswell B, Hagen S, Neves EG, Silman MR, Tamanaha EK, & Czarnecki C. (2014) Predicting pre-Columbian anthropogenic soils in Amazonia. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 281(1777), 20132475. PMID: 24403329  

Erickson, C.L. (2008) Amazonia: the historical ecology of a domesticated landscape. In: H. Silverman, W.H. Isbell (Eds.), Handbook of South American archaeology. Springer, Berlin, pp. 157-183. DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-74907-5_11  

Neves, E.G., & Petersen, J.B. (2006) Political economy and pre-Columbian landscape transformations in Central Amazonia. In: W. Balée . info:/

  • October 12, 2013
  • 06:55 AM

If we pass safe climate limits, it’s a long way back

by Andy Extance in Simple Climate

If we want to get back to pre-warming levels once greenhouse gases and temperatures have peaked, we’d have to take more CO2 out of the air than we originally emitted, Andrew MacDougall from the University of Victoria, Canada, has shown. ... Read more »

  • September 3, 2013
  • 05:58 AM

The rectangular and oriented lakes in the Bolivian Amazon are not tectonic, and now what?

by Umberto in Up and Down in Moxos

Our latest paper has been published a few days ago in Geomorphology. The title is: "The origin of oriented lakes: Evidence from the Bolivian Amazon". Here goes a very short version of it.The presence of hundreds of rectangular and oriented lakes is one of the most striking characteristics of the Llanos de Moxos landscape (Fig. 1). Many different mechanisms have been proposed for their formation, including subsidence resulting from the propagation of bedrock faults through the foreland sediments,........ Read more »

  • July 3, 2013
  • 01:00 PM

Extra climate targets urge faster CO2 cuts

by Andy Extance in Simple Climate

Avoiding damage from climate change needs multiple goals that would mean even lower carbon emissions than for temperature limits alone, Marco Steinacher and his team from the University of Bern, Switzerland, have found. ... Read more »

  • January 7, 2013
  • 11:20 AM

The diffusion of unsuccessful innovations: the myth of raised field agriculture

by Umberto in Up and Down in Moxos

Pre-Columbian raised field agriculture is an extremely interesting topic that we have discussed in this blog before, here, here and here. We call raised fields “any prepared land involving the transfer and elevation of soil above the natural surface of the earth in order to improve cultivating conditions”  ADDIN EN.CITE Denevan19741025(Denevan and Turner, 1974)1025102517Denevan, William M.Turner, B. L.Forms, functions and associations of raised fields in the old world tropicsJournal of tro........ Read more »

Baveye, Philippe C. (2013) Comment on “Ecological engineers ahead of their time: The functioning of pre-Columbian raised-field agriculture and its potential contributions to sustainability today” by Dephine Renard et al. Ecological Engineering. info:/

  • December 15, 2012
  • 11:32 AM

(Very) early life on land: Just who is this Dickinsonia character, anyway?

by matt in Geodermatophilia

My first impression upon hearing the hypothesis that Dickinsonia (Fig. 1) may be a lichen was that it does not look like any lichen I’ve ever seen. To be fair, the more normal interpretation that it is a marine animal, a segmented worm, sparks the same response…it does not look like any animal I’ve ever seen or heard of. What it actually resembles is a giant diatom, but that is pretty silly. This uncertainty is exactly what has been nagging paleontologists since the 1940’s….what are th........ Read more »

Retallack, G. (2012) Ediacaran life on land. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11777  

  • December 15, 2012
  • 06:21 AM

Can we trust climate models?

by Andy Extance in Simple Climate

I’ve asked scientists I’ve spoken to for blog entries and articles published this year why we use models, how we know they’re accurate, and how to understand their projections. ... Read more »

Peduzzi, P., Chatenoux, B., Dao, H., De Bono, A., Herold, C., Kossin, J., Mouton, F., & Nordbeck, O. (2012) Global trends in tropical cyclone risk. Nature Climate Change, 2(4), 289-294. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1410  

Wei, T., Yang, S., Moore, J., Shi, P., Cui, X., Duan, Q., Xu, B., Dai, Y., Yuan, W., Wei, X.... (2012) Developed and developing world responsibilities for historical climate change and CO2 mitigation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(32), 12911-12915. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203282109  

Rowlands, D., Frame, D., Ackerley, D., Aina, T., Booth, B., Christensen, C., Collins, M., Faull, N., Forest, C., Grandey, B.... (2012) Broad range of 2050 warming from an observationally constrained large climate model ensemble. Nature Geoscience, 5(4), 256-260. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1430  

  • December 12, 2012
  • 08:20 AM

A Gift Worth Its Weight In Gold

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Gold is not considered a dietary micronutrient, and is the one of the most inert metals. But this is not to say it has no role in living systems; in fact, this metal is a veritable gold mine of biology. Recent studies have shown that at least one bacterium uses gold in the active site of a NADH oxidase enzyme, and several microorganisms can accumulate gold and precipitate out pure flakes of gold. Saprobic fungi are now used to survey the gold in an area and point the way to new gold mines. Most ........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2012
  • 05:43 AM

Carbon conundrum could push firmer emission action

by Andy Extance in Simple Climate

Climate models might be wrong in assuming plants and soil will absorb more CO2 as the world warms, meaning that more aggressive action might be needed to keep climate change at ‘safe levels’, finds Paul Higgins from the American Meteorological Society... Read more »

  • July 19, 2012
  • 10:42 AM

The Accretionary Wedge #48 - Atomic Geology

by Matt Herod in GeoSphere

This month the Accretionary Wedge is being hosted by Charles Carrigan at Earth-like Planet. It is the 48th edition of AW and the topic is "Geoscience and Technology". The technology used by geoscientists has matured over the centuries. It began simply, with compasses, maps, sketchpads and pencils. However, now it has entered into a digital world in which geology is practised with satellites, lasers and instruments with all sorts of fancy sounding acronyms such as ICP-MS, LA-I........ Read more »

Ragnar Hellborg and Goran Skog. (2008) Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. Mass Spectrometry Reviews, 398-427. DOI: 10.1002/mas.20172  

  • June 20, 2012
  • 09:39 AM

People and environment in pre-Columbian Amazonia: two new proxies

by Umberto in Up and Down in Moxos

What was the extent of human occupation and environmental impact in the pre-Columbian Amazonia?This question has been at the center of much of the research on pre-Columbian Amazonia since Betty Meggers published her paper ‘Environmental Limitation on the Development of Culture’ (1). The reconstruction of the Amazon’s past is based on evidence obtained from the study of the present landscape, sediments and archaeological remains. These ‘evidences’ are called proxies. Pollen is a proxy........ Read more »

B. J. Meggers. (1954) Environmental Limitation on the Development of Culture. American Anthropologist. info:/

McMichael CH, Piperno DR, Bush MB, Silman MR, Zimmerman AR, Raczka MF, & Lobato LC. (2012) Sparse pre-Columbian human habitation in western Amazonia. Science (New York, N.Y.), 336(6087), 1429-31. PMID: 22700926  

Heckenberger MJ, Kuikuro A, Kuikuro UT, Russell JC, Schmidt M, Fausto C, & Franchetto B. (2003) Amazonia 1492: pristine forest or cultural parkland?. Science (New York, N.Y.), 301(5640), 1710-4. PMID: 14500979  

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