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Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused months-long ‘dirty blizzard’

Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Pollution from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill rained down on the seafloor for months after the leak was patched, new research shows.

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A “dirty blizzard” bombarded the Gulf of Mexico seafloor with pollution from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill for months after workers sealed the leak, new research shows.

Marine snow, an organic material that floats down from the ocean’s upper layers, carried the pollution to the seafloor, researchers report the week of May 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Monitoring accumulating ocean sediment 7.4 kilometers away from the spill site, the researchers discovered that soot from burning oil slicks continued sinking onto the ocean floor for two months after the fires were extinguished. Other contaminants, such as drilling fluid, precipitated for around five months after the well was sealed, researchers report. In total, the spill dumped an estimated 16,000 to 26,000 metric tons of oil pollution to the deep ocean.

This pollution snowstorm could help explain the spill’s unexpectedly large impact on fish and deep-sea corals, the researchers propose.

Climate,, Anthropology

Climate probably stopped Mongols cold in Hungary

By Helen Thompson 2:51pm, May 26, 2016
Mongol cavalry was no match for cold, wet climate in medieval Hungary, researchers think.
Animals,, Microbes,, Climate

Antibiotics in cattle leave their mark in dung

By Helen Thompson 7:05pm, May 24, 2016
Treating cattle with antibiotics may have side effects for dung beetles, microbes and greenhouse gases.
Animals,, Biophysics

Snot could be crucial to dolphin echolocation

By Helen Thompson 5:17pm, May 24, 2016
An acoustic model reveals that echolocation relies on mucus lined tissue lumps in the animal’s nasal passage.
Archaeology

Evidence of 5,000-year-old beer recipe found in China

By Helen Thompson 4:47pm, May 23, 2016
Ancient brewer’s toolkits put barley on tap in China as early as 3400 B.C.
Health,, Microbiology

CDC tracking 279 U.S. pregnant women with possible Zika infections

By Meghan Rosen 1:10pm, May 20, 2016
The number of U.S. pregnant women with evidence of Zika infection has climbed to nearly 300, and includes both women with and without symptoms.
Genetics,, Anthropology

Some Stone Age humans returned to Africa

By Bruce Bower 9:00am, May 19, 2016
DNA from an ancient woman suggests some humans trekked back to Africa.
Animals,, Physiology

Hornbills join toucans in the cool beak club

By Helen Thompson 4:56pm, May 18, 2016
Like toucans, southern yellow-billed hornbills keep things chill with cool beaks.
Agriculture,, Genetics,, Science & Society

New analysis: Genetically engineered foods not a health risk

By Meghan Rosen 6:16pm, May 17, 2016
No real evidence for health or environmental dangers of GE crops.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: First mouse study proof that Zika causes microcephaly

By Meghan Rosen 1:00pm, May 11, 2016
Three new studies in mice shore up the link between microcephaly and Zika virus infection.
Neuroscience

Social area of the brain sets threat level of animals

By Laura Sanders 5:00pm, May 10, 2016
How people perceive an animal’s danger level is encoded in a particular wrinkle of cortex, a brain scan study suggests.
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