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The Village of Indian Hill, United States
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As a PhD student, Laura Syron was helping her advisor with workplace safety research focused on the Pacific Northwest commercial fishing industry. The project got her thinking about worker safety throughout the seafood supply chain, from the boat to the processing plant. So she decided to do a study of her own. The result is likely the first to examine occupational health and safety inside Oregon’s seafood processing industry. Along with her co-authors, Syron, a doctoral student at Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences, examined data from workers’ compensation disabling claims at the Oregon Health Authority. That dataset offers information on industry, occupation, worker gender and age, incident circumstances, medical costs, fatality, and temporary disability days paid. A “disabling” claim includes missing three or more days of work as well as hospitalization and long-term disability. The big takeaway: Oregon’s seafood processing workers experience injuries at a higher rate than the statewide average. “I wasn’t sure what we would find — I was just curious if this was an industry that merited more research,” Syron told me. “And we found that it does.” Published this month in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, the study found 188 disabling claims in Oregon’s seafood processing sector between 2007 and 2013. No worker fatalities were reported in the dataset. In that time period, the average annual claim rate in the seafood processing industry was 24 claims per 1,000 workers. Both claim frequency and the claim rate for such workers increased during the years studied, though there were slight drops in 2009 and 2013. In comparison, the disabling claim rate for all industries in Oregon was 11.9 per 1,000 workers in 2007, dropping to 8 per 1,000 by 2013. Most of the seafood processing claims were among men, with workers ages 25 to 34 experiencing the highest frequency and rate of disabling claims. Oregon’s seafood processing industry disabling claim rate was nearly two and a half times higher than the all-industry rate. Additionally, while the disabling claim rate for all industries in Oregon decreased over the study period, the rate in the seafood processing industry increased. Potentially, a contributing factor for the increasing trend in the seafood processing industry claim rate over the study period could have been the increased demand for seafood preparation and packaging. During 2007-2013, Oregon seafood landings (i.e., the amount of seafood that is harvested and brought to shore for processing) experienced a 22% increase, from 271,062,716 pounds in 2007 to 349,434,448 pounds in 2013. Additional research is necessary to identify causes for the increase in disabling claims in the seafood processing industry. “It was encouraging that there were no occupational fatalities in the industry during the study period — that’s the great news,” Syron said. “But the musculoskeletal injuries are a big concern.” On that issue, the study found that about half of the seafood processing claims involved traumatic injuries, with the most common being injury to a worker’s muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. More than half of claims involved worker overexertion and bodily reaction, and about one-third were due to contact with objects or equipment. Nearly all the musculoskeletal injuries were due to overexertion and bodily reaction. More than half the claims involved workers who did tasks such as cutting and trimming fish or batching food. About a quarter of claims were among workers involved in transportation and moving. Among both groups of workers, injuries to muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments were most common. The authors noted that their findings align with previous research on seafood processing in the Pacific Northwest that also found high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. For example, a study on Washington state workers’ comp data from 1987 to 1995 found that seafood cannery workers experienced some of the highest rates of carpel tunnel syndrome. On the issue of prevention — which averts injuries to workers and lowers workers’ comp costs for employers — the study said fellow animal product manufacturing sectors, such as poultry processing, could likely offer some valuable safety insights to seafood processors. “I hope that researchers and public health practitioners can partner with industry to think about how they can work together to prevent these injuries,” Syron told me. “Hopefully, these findings can start a discussion and help workers and industry reach that goal of keeping everyone safe and healthy.” For a copy of the seafood worker study, visit the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

In August 2015, University of Delaware oceanographer Andreas Muenchow and colleagues deployed the first UD ocean sensors underneath Petermann Glacier in North Greenland, which connects the great Greenland ice sheet directly with the ocean. Petermann Glacier is the second largest floating ice shelf in the northern hemisphere. Located approximately 16 to 2,300 feet below the glacier, the five ocean sensors are connected to a weather station at the surface, creating the first cabled observatory on a floating, moving, and rapidly melting Greenland glacier. The researchers recently reported in the journal Oceanography that sensor data from August 2015 to February 2016 confirms that that the floating ice shelf is strongly coupled, or tied, to the ocean below and to Nares Strait, and temperatures vary with the tides and seasons. Specifically, the paper found that the same water that has been measured in the fjord is under the glacier, lending credence to the idea that the continuity of the glacier depends on the conditions outside the glacier in the fjord. This water is warming an average of 0.03 degrees Celsius per year, with temperatures at the deepest ocean sensors sometimes exceeding 0.3 degrees Celsius or 33 degrees Fahrenheit, Muenchow said. These temperature values are consistent at various water depths, and match data from a 2003-09 study in adjacent Nares Strait, which connects to both the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. "This correlation tells us this is the same water and that this is what's causing the melting of the glacier, which could influence sea level rise," said Muenchow, an associate professor of oceanography in UD's School of Marine Science and Policy, which is housed in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE). The scientists theorize that warmer Atlantic water will continue to arrive inside Petermann Fjord and below the ice shelf from Nares Strait in the next one-to-two years. Co-authors on the paper include Keith W. Nicholls, an oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey; Peter Washam, a UD doctoral student; and Laurie Padman, a senior scientist at Oregon State University.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that a subset of genes involved in daily circadian rhythms, or the "biological clock," only become active late in life or during periods of intense stress when they are most needed to help protect critical life functions. The findings, made in research done with fruit flies and published today in Nature Communications, are part of a unique stress response mechanism that was previously unknown. These genes may help to combat serious stresses associated with age, disease or environmental challenges, and help explain why aging is often accelerated when the biological clock is disrupted. This group of genes, whose rhythmic activity late in life had not previously been understood, were named "late-life cyclers," or LLCs, by former OSU graduate student and lead author of the study, Rachael Kuintzle. At least 25 such genes become rhythmic with age, and the function of some of them remains unclear. "This class of LLC genes appear to become active and respond to some of the stresses most common in aging, such as cellular and molecular damage, oxidative stress, or even some disease states," said Jadwiga Giebultowicz, a professor in the OSU College of Science, co-senior author on the study and international expert on the mechanisms and function of the biological clock. "Aging is associated with neural degeneration, loss of memory and other problems, which are exacerbated if clock function is experimentally disrupted. The LLC genes are part of the natural response to that, and do what they can to help protect the nervous system." The increased, rhythmic expression of these genes during times of stress, scientists said, are another example of just how biologically important circadian rhythms are, as they help to regulate the activity of hundreds of genes essential to the processes of life. And as aging brings with it a host of new problems, the LLC genes become more and more active. According to David Hendrix, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Science and College of Engineering, and co-senior author on the study, some LLC genes are known to play roles in sequestering improperly "folded" proteins or helping them refold. This could help prevent formation of protein aggregates that can lead to age-related neurodegeneration. "Discovery of LLC genes may provide a missing link, the answer to why the disruption of circadian clocks accelerates aging symptoms," Hendrix said. The study also showed that intense stress at any point in life can cause some of the LLC genes to spring into action. "In experiments where we created artificial oxidative stress in young fruit flies, the LLC genes were rhythmically activated," said Eileen Chow, an OSU faculty research assistant and co-author. "Some of these same genes are known to be more active in people who have cancer. They appear to be a double-edged sword, necessary during times of stress but possibly harmful if activated all the time." Circadian rhythms, which are natural to an organism but synchronized by the light/dark cycle of a 24-hour day, are so important to life that the same genes controlling biological processes have been traced from fruit flies to humans, retained through millions of years of evolution. These genes are found throughout the nervous system and peripheral organs, and affect everything from sleep to stress reaction, feeding patterns, DNA repair, fertility and even the effectiveness of medications. People with routine disruptions of their circadian rhythms and sleep patterns have been found to have a shorter lifespan and be more prone to cancer. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

CORVALLIS, Ore. - A new study about the overwhelming importance of "superspreaders" in some infectious disease epidemics has shown that in the catastrophic 2014-15 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, about 3 percent of the people infected were ultimately responsible for infecting 61 percent of all cases. The issue of superspreaders is so significant, scientists say, that it's important to put a better face on just who these people are. It might then be possible to better reach them with public health measures designed to control the spread of infectious disease during epidemics. Findings were reported this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers concluded that Ebola superspreaders often fit into certain age groups and were based more in the community than in health care facilities. They also continued to spread the disease after many of the people first infected had been placed in care facilities, where transmission was much better controlled. If superspreading had been completely controlled, almost two thirds of the infections might have been prevented, scientists said in the study. The researchers also noted that their findings were conservative, since they only focused on people who had been buried safely. This suggests that the role of superspreaders may have been even more profound than this research indicates. The research was led by Princeton University, in collaboration with scientists from Oregon State University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Imperial College London, and the National Institutes of Health. The concept of superspreaders is not new, researchers say, and it has evolved during the 2000s as scientists increasingly appreciate that not all individuals play an equal role in spreading an infectious disease. Superspreaders, for instance, have also been implicated in the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003; and the more recent Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012. But there's less understanding of who and how important these superspreaders are. "In the recent Ebola outbreak it's now clear that superspreaders were an important component in driving the epidemic," said Benjamin Dalziel, an assistant professor of population biology in the College of Science at Oregon State University, and co-author of the study. "We now see the role of superspreaders as larger than initially suspected. There wasn't a lot of transmission once people reached hospitals and care centers. Because case counts during the epidemic relied heavily on hospital data, those hospitalized cases tended to be the cases we 'saw.' "However, it was the cases you didn't see that really drove the epidemic, particularly people who died at home, without making it to a care center. In our analysis we were able to see a web of transmission that would often track back to a community-based superspreader." Superspreading has already been cited in many first-hand narratives of Ebola transmission. This study, however, created a new statistical framework that allowed scientists to measure how important the phenomenon was in driving the epidemic. It also allowed them to measure how superspreading changed over time, as the epidemic progressed, and as control measures were implemented. The outbreak size of the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Africa was unprecedented, and early control measures failed. Scientists believe that a better understanding of superspreading might allow more targeted, and effective interventions, instead of focusing on whole populations. "As we can learn more about these infection pathways, we should be better able to focus on the types of individual behavior and demographics that are at highest risk for becoming infected, and transmitting infection," Dalziel said. Researchers pointed out, for instance, that millions of dollars were spent implementing message strategies about Ebola prevention and control across entire countries. They suggest that messages tailored to individuals with higher risk and certain types of behavior may have been more successful, and prevented the epidemic from being so persistent. Lead author on the study was Max Lau at Princeton University. Support and funding was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the UK Medical Research Council.


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that a subset of genes involved in daily circadian rhythms, or the "biological clock," only become active late in life or during periods of intense stress when they are most needed to help protect critical life functions. The findings, made in research done with fruit flies and published in Nature Communications, are part of a unique stress response mechanism that was previously unknown. These genes may help to combat serious stresses associated with age, disease or environmental challenges, and help explain why aging is often accelerated when the biological clock is disrupted. This group of genes, whose rhythmic activity late in life had not previously been understood, were named "late-life cyclers," or LLCs, by former OSU graduate student and lead author of the study, Rachael Kuintzle. At least 25 such genes become rhythmic with age, and the function of some of them remains unclear. "This class of LLC genes appear to become active and respond to some of the stresses most common in aging, such as cellular and molecular damage, oxidative stress, or even some disease states," said Jadwiga Giebultowicz, a professor in the OSU College of Science, co-senior author on the study and international expert on the mechanisms and function of the biological clock. "Aging is associated with neural degeneration, loss of memory and other problems, which are exacerbated if clock function is experimentally disrupted. The LLC genes are part of the natural response to that, and do what they can to help protect the nervous system." The increased, rhythmic expression of these genes during times of stress, scientists said, are another example of just how biologically important circadian rhythms are, as they help to regulate the activity of hundreds of genes essential to the processes of life. And as aging brings with it a host of new problems, the LLC genes become more and more active. According to David Hendrix, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Science and College of Engineering, and co-senior author on the study, some LLC genes are known to play roles in sequestering improperly "folded" proteins or helping them refold. This could help prevent formation of protein aggregates that can lead to age-related neurodegeneration. "Discovery of LLC genes may provide a missing link, the answer to why the disruption of circadian clocks accelerates aging symptoms," Hendrix said. The study also showed that intense stress at any point in life can cause some of the LLC genes to spring into action. "In experiments where we created artificial oxidative stress in young fruit flies, the LLC genes were rhythmically activated," said Eileen Chow, an OSU faculty research assistant and co-author. "Some of these same genes are known to be more active in people who have cancer. They appear to be a double-edged sword, necessary during times of stress but possibly harmful if activated all the time." Circadian rhythms, which are natural to an organism but synchronized by the light/dark cycle of a 24-hour day, are so important to life that the same genes controlling biological processes have been traced from fruit flies to humans, retained through millions of years of evolution. These genes are found throughout the nervous system and peripheral organs, and affect everything from sleep to stress reaction, feeding patterns, DNA repair, fertility and even the effectiveness of medications. People with routine disruptions of their circadian rhythms and sleep patterns have been found to have a shorter lifespan and be more prone to cancer.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that a subset of genes involved in daily circadian rhythms, or the "biological clock," only become active late in life or during periods of intense stress when they are most needed to help protect critical life functions. The findings, made in research done with fruit flies and published today in Nature Communications, are part of a unique stress response mechanism that was previously unknown. These genes may help to combat serious stresses associated with age, disease or environmental challenges, and help explain why aging is often accelerated when the biological clock is disrupted. This group of genes, whose rhythmic activity late in life had not previously been understood, were named "late-life cyclers," or LLCs, by former OSU graduate student and lead author of the study, Rachael Kuintzle. At least 25 such genes become rhythmic with age, and the function of some of them remains unclear. "This class of LLC genes appear to become active and respond to some of the stresses most common in aging, such as cellular and molecular damage, oxidative stress, or even some disease states," said Jadwiga Giebultowicz, a professor in the OSU College of Science, co-senior author on the study and international expert on the mechanisms and function of the biological clock. "Aging is associated with neural degeneration, loss of memory and other problems, which are exacerbated if clock function is experimentally disrupted. The LLC genes are part of the natural response to that, and do what they can to help protect the nervous system." The increased, rhythmic expression of these genes during times of stress, scientists said, are another example of just how biologically important circadian rhythms are, as they help to regulate the activity of hundreds of genes essential to the processes of life. And as aging brings with it a host of new problems, the LLC genes become more and more active. According to David Hendrix, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Science and College of Engineering, and co-senior author on the study, some LLC genes are known to play roles in sequestering improperly "folded" proteins or helping them refold. This could help prevent formation of protein aggregates that can lead to age-related neurodegeneration. "Discovery of LLC genes may provide a missing link, the answer to why the disruption of circadian clocks accelerates aging symptoms," Hendrix said. The study also showed that intense stress at any point in life can cause some of the LLC genes to spring into action. "In experiments where we created artificial oxidative stress in young fruit flies, the LLC genes were rhythmically activated," said Eileen Chow, an OSU faculty research assistant and co-author. "Some of these same genes are known to be more active in people who have cancer. They appear to be a double-edged sword, necessary during times of stress but possibly harmful if activated all the time." Circadian rhythms, which are natural to an organism but synchronized by the light/dark cycle of a 24-hour day, are so important to life that the same genes controlling biological processes have been traced from fruit flies to humans, retained through millions of years of evolution. These genes are found throughout the nervous system and peripheral organs, and affect everything from sleep to stress reaction, feeding patterns, DNA repair, fertility and even the effectiveness of medications. People with routine disruptions of their circadian rhythms and sleep patterns have been found to have a shorter lifespan and be more prone to cancer.


News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

CORVALLIS, Ore. - A new type of battery developed by scientists at Oregon State University shows promise for sustainable, high-power energy storage. It's the world's first battery to use only hydronium ions as the charge carrier. The new battery provides an additional option for researchers, particularly in the area of stationary storage. Stationary storage refers to batteries in a permanent location that store grid power - including power generated from alternative energy sources such as wind turbines or solar cells - for use on a standby or emergency basis. Hydronium, also known as H3O+, is a positively charged ion produced when a proton is added to a water molecule. Researchers in the OSU College of Science have demonstrated that hydronium ions can be reversibly stored in an electrode material consisting of perylenetetracarboxylic dianhydridem, or PTCDA. This material is an organic, crystalline, molecular solid. The battery, created in the Department of Chemistry at Oregon State, uses dilute sulfuric acid as the electrolyte. Graduate student Xingfeng Wang was the first author on the study, which has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a publication of the German Chemical Society. "This may provide a paradigm-shifting opportunity for more sustainable batteries," said Xiulei Ji, assistant professor of chemistry at OSU and the corresponding author on the research. "It doesn't use lithium or sodium or potassium to carry the charge, and just uses acid as the electrolyte. There's a huge natural abundance of acid so it's highly renewable and sustainable." Ji points out that until now, cations - ions with a positive charge - that have been used in batteries have been alkali metal, alkaline earth metals or aluminum. "No nonmetal cations were being considered seriously for batteries," he said. The study observed a big dilation of the PTCDA lattice structure during intercalation - the process of its receiving ions between the layers of its structure. That meant the electrode was being charged, and the PTCDA structure expanded, by hydronium ions, rather than extremely tiny protons, which are already used in some batteries. "Organic solids are not typically contemplated as crystalline electrode materials, but many are very crystalline, arranged in a very ordered structure," Ji said. "This PTCDA material has a lot of internal space between its molecule constituents so it provides an opportunity for storing big ions and good capacity." The hydronium ions also migrate through the electrode structure with comparatively low "friction," which translates to high power. "It's not going to power electric cars," Ji said. "But it does provide an opportunity for battery researchers to go in a new direction as they look for new alternatives for energy storage, particularly for stationary grid storage."


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon experienced very low snowpack levels in 2014 and historically low snowpack levels in 2015; now a new study suggests that these occurrences may not be anomalous in the future and could become much more common if average temperatures warm just two degrees (Celsius). The low snowpack levels were linked to warmer temperatures and not a lack of precipitation, the researchers say. Based on simulations of previous and predicted snowpack, the study suggests that by mid-century, years like 2015 may happen about once a decade, while snowpack levels similar to 2014 will take place every 4-5 years. Results of the study, which was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation, have just been published the journal The Cryosphere. "It is a cautionary tale," said lead author Eric Sproles, who conducted much of the research as a doctoral student at Oregon State University and has been working as a hydrologist in Chile. "California received a lot of attention for its drought, but the economic and environmental impacts from those two low-snowpack years were profound in the Pacific Northwest." "We set out to learn whether they were just off years, or if they would be likely to happen more often with increased warming. Unfortunately, the data show these will become more commonplace." The key, Sproles said, is what happened in the Cascade Mountains at an elevation of around 4,000 feet - a level that frequently is the boundary between rain and snow. In 2014, winter precipitation in the mountain region was 96 percent of normal and overall temperatures were 0.7 degrees (C) warmer than normal. But temperatures in that snow zone were 2.7 degrees (C) warmer than average. The winter of 2014 led to drier springtime conditions and moderate to severe drought throughout western Oregon. That pattern was even stronger in 2015. A fair amount of precipitation still fell - 78 percent of normal - but temperatures in the snow zone were 3.3 degrees (C), or 5.9 degrees (F) warmer than average. On March 1 of 2015, 47 percent of the snow monitoring sites in the Willamette River basin registered zero "snow water equivalent" - the amount of water stored in snowpack. "The result was a significantly reduced stream flow in the summer, water quality concerns in the Willamette Valley, an increase in wildfires, high fish mortality and a dreadful season for ski resorts," said Sproles, who worked with Anne Nolin and Travis Roth in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences on the project. "Hoodoo Ski Area was open for only a few weekends in 2013-14, and in 2015, they suspended operations in mid-January - the shortest season in their 77-year history." Detroit Reservoir in the adjacent Santiam basin had reservoir levels that were as much as 21 meters (or 68 feet) below capacity, and was plagued by high levels of harmful blue-green algae concentrations. The study focused on the McKenzie River basin, which has a major influence on the Willamette River - all the way to Portland. In fact, during summer months nearly 25 percent of the water in the Willamette at its confluence with the Columbia River originates from the McKenzie. As much as 60 to 80 percent of the volume of the Willamette River in the summer originates from precipitation that fell above 4,000 feet. "The study shows how incredibly sensitive the region's snowpack is to increasing temperatures," Sproles said. "The low snow years took place even though precipitation wasn't that bad. But when it falls as rain instead of snow, it loses that ability to function as a natural reservoir in the mountains." The typically consistent flow of the McKenzie River in the summer of 2015 was only at 63 percent of its median flow. "We don't really know yet the impact of the 2015 low snowpack because some of the water takes as long as seven years to percolate through the ground and end up in the Willamette River," Sproles said. A comparatively cold and wet winter has made many Oregonians forget about the low-snowpack years of 2014 and 2015, Sproles said, but the region has been in a La Niña cycle - which is typically colder and wetter - and is expected to move toward neutral conditions by the end of February. "It seems like much of the state has been socked with snow and ice this winter," Sproles said, "but despite that, snowpack for the Sandy and Hood River basins is only 110 percent of normal and the Willamette basin snowpack is 124 percent of normal. That is certainly positive, but it seems like those numbers would be a lot higher considering what kind of winter we've had in the valley."


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

A new study on an ancient ice sheet may hold important clues about our planet's future. The research focuses on the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the massive expanse covering North America during the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. A team of scientists found that small spikes in the temperature of the ocean — not the air — likely caused periods of rapid melting and splintering of the ice. SEE ALSO: This 'GOT' star teamed up with Google to capture Greenland's melting ice Their findings add to a growing body of evidence that climate change could ultimately drive sea levels even higher than today's models predict, according to the study published Feb. 15 in the journal Nature. Glaciers in Greenland, Antarctica and other areas have been melting rapidly in recent years due in part to increasing ocean temperatures. "It is possible that modern-day glaciers ... are more sensitive to ocean warming than we previously thought," said Jeremy Bassis, the study's lead author and an associate professor of climate and space sciences at the University of Michigan. For the study, Bassis and his colleagues looked at so-called Heinrich events: the periods during which the Laurentide Ice Sheet would rapidly disintegrate. Roughly every 8,000 years, the ice sheet's edges would break off, sending a vast armada of icebergs flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. The icebergs carried sediment from around Canada's Hudson Bay and deposited the dirt on the ocean floor. They also boosted sea levels by more than 6 feet over the course of hundreds of years. What triggered these Heinrich events has largely befuddled scientists. The rapid melting periods occurred during the coldest times of the last Ice Age — exactly the opposite of what you'd expect during a major ice melt. To determine why the ice melted despite the cold air temperatures during these times, the University of Michigan team focused on the role the oceans played, studying ice core and ocean-floor sediment records to estimate how temperatures varied over thousands of years. They also used Bassis' mathematical model for describing how ice reacts to air and ocean temperatures, and the implications for sea level rise. The scientists next created simulations of the timing and size of the massive Laurentide melting events. They found that even small changes in sub-surface ocean temperatures — of just 1 degrees Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit — could lead to sea level-boosting Heinrich events. "Warm warm ocean water that's just tickling the edge of the ice sheets can trigger these catastrophic [ice] retreats that could last for centuries," Bassis said. The Nature study supports earlier findings that warmer North Atlantic water temperatures may have set the Heinrich events in motion.  A 2011 study led by Shaun Marcott of the University of Wisconsin proposed that, thousands of years ago, sub-surface warming likely destabilized the ice and caused ice shelves to collapse near the Hudson Strait, which links the Hudson Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. The Nature study also lends further credence to the idea that Heinrich events reflect what's happening today on the rapidly melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, said Richard Alley, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University, who was not involved in the new research. Alley co-authored a 2015 paper that concluded that — based on the Ice Age's events — changes in ocean temperatures could drive future sea level rise even before the air grows significantly warmer in Antarctica.  Unlike in the past, when air and ocean temperature shifts were natural in origin  today's oceans are warming largely due to human-driven climate change. More than half of the increase in global ocean heat content has occurred in the last two decades, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  "This new paper is a nice demonstration supporting earlier hypotheses that ice sheets are highly sensitive to warming in the surrounding water, as well as to warming in the air," Alley said.  It also shows "that predicting the future of the ice sheets will mean understanding the changes in the ocean and the air," he added. For Peter Clark, however, the fact that Wednesday's study only affirmed earlier conclusions meant the researchers didn't actually offer new evidence that future sea levels may be higher than we're predicting. "Current models may be underestimating future sea level rise, but the results of this new paper don't give us any reason to think that this is the case," said Clark, an earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences professor at Oregon State University. BONUS: Leonardo DiCaprio's new film 'Before the Flood' says we can fix global warming


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: cleantechnica.com

A research team at Oregon State University is very excited over their new energy storage system, and not just because it is the world’s first hydronium-ion battery. They’re also excited because the new device provides a way forward to the next generation of grid scale stationary batteries that will enable the US grid to accommodate more solar and wind power. A hydronium ion (H3O+) is what happens when you add a proton to a water molecule. They have been the object of much study these days, partly because of their emerging importance in battery systems. Here’s an explainer from our friends over at Quirky Science: …the water molecule allows acids to ionize. This is possible because of the formation of the hydronium ion. This is of immense importance not only to the physical properties of the universe, but to life itself. Okay so that’s a little over the top but QS provides a hint why energy storage researchers are so interested in hydronium: While the hydronium ion contains the hydrogen ion in its structure, the hydronium ion itself is surrounded by yet more water molecules. This serves to spread the positive charge further, stabilizing the system to a greater extent. The number of molecules associated with a given hydronium ion can range from perhaps six to many more than a dozen. In the new energy storage breakthrough, the OSU team created a rechargeable battery with hydronium ions as the charge carriers. The break with conventional energy storage devices is a big one. Until now, positively charged ions that are used in batteries have belonged to the metals family. The electrode which stores the hydronium ions is made of PTCDA, short for perylenetetracarboxylic dianhydridem. That sounds exotic but it’s basically just a solid crystalline material with a lattice structure, in the class of organics (think: plastic, not metal). OSU explains why PTCDA was selected for the new battery: …PTCDA material has a lot of internal space between its molecule constituents so it provides an opportunity for storing big ions and good capacity. The hydronium ions also migrate through the electrode structure with comparatively low “friction,” which translates to high power. Here’s chemist Xiulei Ji of OSU enthusing over the potentials: “This may provide a paradigm-shifting opportunity for more sustainable batteries…It doesn’t use lithium or sodium or potassium to carry the charge, and just uses acid as the electrolyte. There’s a huge natural abundance of acid so it’s highly renewable and sustainable.” Okay, so don’t hold your breath to hang one of these hydronium batteries on your wall à la Tesla’s Powerwall. So far the OSU team has been able to confirm that the new energy storage system works in the lab by measuring the dilation of the PTCDA structure. On the bright side, foundational research does make it out of the lab, eventually, if everything works out. You can get more details from the German science journal Angewandte, which published the team’s study under the title “Hydronium-Ion Batteries with Perylenetetracarboxylic Dianhydride Crystals as an Electrode.” Here’s what “measuring the dilation of the PTCDA structure” looks like in the study’s abstract: …hydronium ions can be reversibly inserted into and extracted from 3,4,9,10-perylenetetracarboxylic dianhydride (PTCDA). The expansion and contraction of the PTCDA lattice correspond to H3O+ intercalation and deintercalation, respectively, as revealed by ex situ XRD studies and density functional calculations. Speaking of Tesla, the OSU team is pretty certain that the Tesla Gigafactory will not have to be retooled to churn out hydronium batteries for electric vehicles some day, but Tesla’s Elon Musk might want to start planning ahead when it comes to stationary energy storage. According to Ji, the new technology provides a way forward to develop sustainable energy storage alternatives, especially at the grid end of the scale. That’s a mighty help in this age of rapid climate change, which underscores the point of last Sunday’s Rally for Science in Boston: science is a good thing. If you’re keeping track of the numbers, the Rally for Science probably did not attract quite as big a crowd as President Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff rally (yes the 2020 campaign is a thing), which attracted 9,000 fans in the safety of an airplane hangar in Florida last Saturday night. However, when you consider the turnout for the Not My President’s Day rallies taking place all over the US just two days later, 9,000 is pretty small potatoes. And then there’s that whole thing going on regarding a presidential visit to London but hey, who’s counting? Follow me on Twitter and Google+. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

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