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E.g., 02/21/2018
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  • It's Alive

    The flowers that give us chocolate are ridiculously hard to pollinate

    It’s a wonder we have chocolate at all. Talk about persnickety, difficult flowers.

    Arguably some of the most important seeds on the planet — they give us candy bars and hot cocoa, after all — come from pods created by dime-sized flowers on cacao trees. Yet those flowers make pollination just barely possible.

    Growers of commercial fruit crops expect 50 to 60 percent of flowers to...

    02/20/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Animals, Agriculture
  • News in Brief

    Strong winds send migrating seal pups on lengthier trips

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Native American fishermen in Alaska have long said that seal pups go with the wind rather than struggle against it. Now, a new study confirms that wisdom. Migrating northern fur seal pups travel hundreds of kilometers farther in blustery years than in milder years, researchers reported February 14 at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences meeting. Those epic journeys...

    02/15/2018 - 16:32 Animals, Earth, Climate
  • News

    Household products make surprisingly large contributions to air pollution

    AUSTIN, Texas — To reduce your impact on air quality, you might expect to trade in your gas-guzzling clunker of a car — but you can also unplug those air fresheners. 

    In urban areas, emissions from consumer goods such as paint, cleaning supplies and personal care products now contribute as much to ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere as do emissions from burning gasoline...

    02/15/2018 - 14:00 Chemistry, Pollution
  • News

    Look to penguins to track Antarctic changes

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Penguins preserve records of Antarctic environmental change. The birds’ feathers and eggshells contain the chemical fingerprints of variations in diet, food web structure and even climate, researchers reported February 12 at the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting.

    The Antarctic environment has changed dramatically in recent decades. Overfishing has...

    02/14/2018 - 17:16 Climate, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Shipping noise can disturb porpoises and disrupt their mealtime

    Harbor porpoises are frequently exposed to sounds from shipping vessels that register at around 100 decibels, about as loud as a lawnmower, scientists report February 14 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Sounds this loud can cause porpoises to stop echolocation, which they use to catch food.

    While high-frequency submarine sonar has been found to harm whales (SN: 4/23/11, p. 16), low...

    02/13/2018 - 19:05 Conservation, Animals, Pollution
  • News in Brief

    Ancient ozone holes may have sterilized forests 252 million years ago

    Volcano-fueled holes in Earth’s ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world’s largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees’ abilities to make seeds, researchers report...

    02/12/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Earth, Ecosystems
  • Science Stats

    Humans are overloading the world’s freshwater bodies with phosphorus

    Human activities are driving phosphorus levels in the world’s lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies to a critical point. The freshwater bodies on 38 percent of Earth’s land area (not including Antarctica) are overly enriched with phosphorus, leading to potentially toxic algal blooms and less available drinking water, researchers report January 24 in Water Resources Research.

    Sewage,...

    02/07/2018 - 11:00 Ecosystems, Pollution
  • News

    A peek into polar bears’ lives reveals revved-up metabolisms

    View the video

    Female polar bears prowling springtime sea ice have extreme weight swings, some losing more than 10 percent of their body mass in just over a week. And the beginnings of bear video blogging help explain why.

    An ambitious study of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in Alaska has found that their overall metabolic rate is 1.6 times greater than thought, says wildlife...

    02/01/2018 - 15:24 Animals, Physiology, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Grapevines are more drought-tolerant than thought

    The latest word on the grapevine is promising.

    During more than a decade of observation, grapevines in Napa, Calif., and Bordeaux, France, never reached lethal levels of dehydration from seasonal drought, researchers report online January 31 in Science Advances. Plant ecophysiologist Guillaume Charrier, at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris, and colleagues...

    01/31/2018 - 17:33 Agriculture, Climate, Sustainability
  • News

    Gassy farm soils are a shockingly large source of these air pollutants

    California’s crops are creating some noxious air.

    The Golden State is at the vanguard in the United States in reducing auto emissions of nitrogen oxide gases, which help produce toxic smog and acid rain. But the NOx pollution problem isn’t limited to auto exhaust. California’s vast agricultural lands — particularly soils heavily treated with nitrogen fertilizers — are now responsible for...

    01/31/2018 - 14:13 Earth, Pollution, Agriculture