Science Daily – several interesting summaries

Almost every day, I glance thru an email called, Science Daily. A daily update on latest research news derived mostly from peer reviewed or like-esteemed journals and agency reports. On a typical day, the post contains 20-25 items and I may read 1 or 2 of them, and I post ones less than weekly (it’s both a quality and interest filter). Today, however, wow … there were several and so rather than individually post, here’s the list:

Sea-level rise global observing system proposed: The next phase of the research will construct ocean buoys that record altitude

University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researcher Shane Elipot proposes a new approach to monitoring global sea-level rise. Using the existing NOAA Global Drifter Program array of roughly 1,200 buoys that drift freely with ocean currents, Elipot suggests adding additional instruments to record their height, or the “level of the sea” they ride on, to collect long-term data on the average sea levels across the world’s oceans. (Source)

Comment: Great to use what’s already deployed, right? – Reuse. Then, it just begs the question why was not this done long, long ago? Baffling.

US corn crop’s growing sensitivity to drought revealed

Like a baseball slugger whose home run totals rise despite missing more curveballs each season, the U.S. Corn Belt’s prodigious output conceals a growing vulnerability. A new Stanford study reveals that while yields have increased overall — likely due to new technologies and management approaches — the staple crop has become significantly more sensitive to drought conditions. The research, published Oct. 26 in┬áNature Food, uses a novel approach based on wide differences in the moisture-holding capabilities among soils. The analysis could help lay the groundwork for speeding development of approaches to increase agricultural resilience to climate change. (Source)

Comment: Unsurprising ask for ‘more data’ (joking). The nuance missed above in the summary is that one could infer that regardless of how well the plant is engineered to withstand drought, unless the soil can do the same (basically retain moisture), yields suffer. Interconnectedness of biodiverse systems too often gets forgotten.

Microplastics in groundwater (and our drinking water) present unknown risk: Presentation at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America

Microplastics (plastics <5mm) and their negative health impacts have been studied in oceans, rivers, and even soils, and scientists are beginning to grapple with the myriad human health impacts their presence might have. One understudied, but critical, link in the cycle is groundwater, which is often a source of drinking water. While microplastics in groundwater likely affect human health, only a handful of studies have examined the abundance and movement of microplastics in groundwater. This gap means the potential for adverse health effects remains largely unknown. (Source)

Comment: This has not already be done? Yikes!

Mythbusting: Five common misperceptions surrounding the environmental impacts of single-use plastics

Stand in the soda pop aisle at the supermarket, surrounded by rows of brightly colored plastic bottles and metal cans, and it’s easy to conclude that the main environmental problem here is an overabundance of single-use containers: If we simply recycled more of them, we’d go a long way toward minimizing impacts. In reality, most of the environmental impacts of many consumer products, including soft drinks, are tied to the products inside, not the packaging, according to University of Michigan environmental engineer Shelie Miller. (Source)

Comment: This one is complex. Of course, we all want the dialogue about reducing overall consumption as the key climate stressor reduction we humans can do immediately. But, if nobody is willing to really talk to you about it, it’s not a dialogue. Getting people to talk about single use plastic, reuse and recycling is a starting point, an on-ramp to that bigger discussion … we have enough time to use on-ramps? – probably not.

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