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Bryant C.,Scottish Universities
Planet Earth | Year: 2012

Charlotte Bryant explains how bat and bird droppings helped scientists reconstruct 40,000 years of climate history and species evolution in south-east Asia. Researchers Chris Wurster and Michael Bird have spent many years sampling guano deposits in the caves of south-east Asia, and tales of their fieldwork are enough to put anyone off joining them. Fortunately, given the less-than-savory conditions, the sampling process simply involves digging a pit. But you could be forgiven for asking why anyone would willingly venture into such an environment more than once. One particular conundrum that guano has proved invaluable in solving involves the biodiversity of south-east Asia. This region is characterized by many small and some very large islands, separated by shallow continental seas or deep oceanic trenches. Changes in sea level have produced the many different sizes of these islands and affected the way they are connected together and to mainland Asia. Source


Garnett M.,Scottish Universities
Planet Earth | Year: 2010

Researchers at the NERC Radiocarbon Facility (Environment) in East Kilbride, Scotland, have developed an innovative kit to sample carbon dioxide using a clay sieve. Carbon dioxide is important to many processes that occur on Earth, a component of our planet's atmosphere and, in terms of climate change, one of the most important greenhouse gases. The rate that carbon cycles through these various routes before returning to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide has a critical influence on its concentration in the atmosphere. This is because the amount of carbon in the Earth's atmosphere is small compared to that in the oceans and on land. Zeolite is a rather unimpressive looking clay material which has remarkable properties. Firstly, it contains a uniform network of tiny pores which allow small molecules including carbon dioxide to pass through but exclude larger molecules. Source


Boyce A.,Scottish Universities | Parnell J.,University of Aberdeen
Planet Earth | Year: 2010

Adrian Boyce and John Parnell examine whether traces of life be found in the harshest conditions on Mars. The Haughton impact crater lies in the wilderness of the Canadian High Arctic on Devon Island - the largest uninhabited island on Earth. Nearly 40 million years ago, a meteorite two kilometers across crashed into Earth, leaving behind a 23km-wide crater in the bedrock and causing serious damage over an area of 50km 2. The rocks the meteorite encountered were mainly ancient carbonates, around 470 million years old, but they also contained thick beds of sulphate salts, called gypsum. These are the remnants of ancient seas and lakes that dried up, of which there are many examples through geological time. The occurrence of sulphate also sparks an intriguing possibility. Sulphate is at the heart of one of the oldest and most important biological metabolic functions on Earth - bacterial sulphate reduction. Source


News Article | October 9, 2015
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/tags/global-warming.xml

Researchers from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) found a new way to determine the outcome of stored carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The increasing levels of global warming continue to pose risks such as massive wildfires and extensive droughts. CO2 byproduct from coal burning and other energy generation processes add to the accumulative global warming rate and its effects. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) refers to the process of storing CO2 in abandoned gas and oil fields. Deep aquifers - water-bearing rocks found underground - were also identified as an alternative storage unit. Trapping CO2 emissions underground will help prevent the greenhouse gas from getting to the atmosphere. Scientists claim that a general usage of CCS in the next few years will help in the reduction of CO2 emission levels and, ultimately, slow down global warming. The research team used gas samples from the wells at the Cranfield enhanced oil recovery field in Mississippi in southern America. They focused on samples taken in 2009 and 2012. A 'fingerprinting' process enables the scientists to study 'unique signatures' from noble gasses such as neon, helium and argon to monitor potential CO2 movement. The paper's co-author, Professor Finlay Stuart from SUERC University of Glasgow, expressed that the research proved how the noble gases in the injected CO2 can be used as fingerprints. The finding is first of its kind. By looking at the gases' unique signatures, scientists can then monitor the CO2 and how it was disposed. Stuart explained the huge potentials of CCS as a CO2 mitigation method. However, before CCS can develop into a widespread CO2 storage process, further research is needed to determine the effectivity of stowing the greenhouse gas underground. Noble gases such as neon, helium and argon are chemically inactive. Its interaction with water and rocks will have no effect in its activity. This level of inactivity can help identify the physical procedures that altered CO2 and determine its fate. The study's co-author Dr. Stuart Gilfillan from the University of Edinburgh, expressed that the findings is beneficial to large-scale fingerprints in future CCS projects. "This study now shows that these fingerprints can be used to track the movement and fate of injected CO₂ over much shorter periods relevant to CCS," said Gilfillan. The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the United Kingdom. Researchers published their paper in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control on Sep. 29, 2015. The University of Glasgow released the study findings online on Oct. 5, 2015.


Quillfeldt P.,Justus Liebig University | Quillfeldt P.,CNRS Chize Center for Biological Studies | Cherel Y.,CNRS Chize Center for Biological Studies | Masello J.F.,Justus Liebig University | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Distant populations of animals may share their non-breeding grounds or migrate to distinct areas, and this may have important consequences for population differentiation and dynamics. Small burrow-nesting seabirds provide a suitable case study, as they are often restricted to safe breeding sites on islands, resulting in a patchy breeding distribution. For example, Thin-billed prions Pachyptila belcheri have two major breeding colonies more than 8,000 km apart, on the Falkland Islands in the south-western Atlantic and in the Kerguelen Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. We used geolocators and stable isotopes to compare at-sea movements and trophic levels of these two populations during their nonbreeding season, and applied ecological niche models to compare environmental conditions in the habitat. Over three winters, birds breeding in the Atlantic showed a high consistency in their migration routes. Most individuals migrated more than 3000 km eastwards, while very few remained over the Patagonian Shelf. In contrast, all Indian Ocean birds migrated westwards, resulting in an overlapping nonbreeding area in the eastern Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Geolocators and isotopic signature of feathers indicated that prions from the Falklands moulted at slightly higher latitudes than those from Kerguelen Islands. All birds fed on low trophic level prey, most probably crustaceans. The phenology differed notably between the two populations. Falkland birds returned to the Patagonian Shelf after 2-3 months, while Kerguelen birds remained in the nonbreeding area for seven months, before returning to nesting grounds highly synchronously and at high speed. Habitat models identified sea surface temperature and chlorophyll a concentration as important environmental parameters. In summary, we show that even though the two very distant populations migrate to roughly the same area to moult, they have distinct wintering strategies: They had significantly different realized niches and timing which may contribute to spatial niche partitioning. © 2015 Quillfeldt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

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