Here are some of the more interesting research papers that appeared in top scientific journals in the last week.
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Missing piece in the Martian climate puzzle
About four billion years ago, Mars had a water-rich environment. Although it only receives 30% of Earth’s current sunshine, how did Mars have rivers flowing? A new study using a computer model shows that Mars may have had a thin layer of high altitude icy clouds that caused a greenhouse effect.
Global Glacier Retreat
An international team that has studied all of the world’s glaciers – around 2,200,000 in total – found that over the past two decades, glaciers have rapidly lost their thickness and mass. “The situation in the Himalayas is particularly worrying,” explains lead author Romain Hugonnet in a press release. “During the dry season, glacial meltwater is an important source that supplies major waterways such as the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Indus. At present, this increased melting is acting as a buffer for people living in the region, but if the shrinkage of the Himalayan glaciers continues to accelerate, populated countries like India and Bangladesh could face shortages. of water or food in a few decades. “
The molecules of nitrogen, oxygen and water vapor are broken down by lightning and the associated weaker electric shocks, generating the reactive gases NO, O3, HO2 and the cleanser of the atmosphere, OH. Credit: JENA JENKINS
Lightning increases the atmosphere’s ability to purify itself or break down greenhouse gases, a team of researchers has found. The team noted that extreme amounts of hydroxyl radical (OH) and hydroperoxyl radical (HO2) were discharged during lightning events. This OH initiates chemical reactions and breaks down molecules such as methane, a greenhouse gas.
How red corals survive heat stress
Corals in the Gulf of Aqaba, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, are known to be resistant to higher temperatures. By studying them in the lab, researchers have now decoded the full molecular mechanism behind this resistance. Stylophora pistillata coral has a rapid gene expression response and recovery pattern when exposed to heat stress. The team noted that the algae and the bacteria they live in symbiosis with coral can also withstand average temperatures 5 ° C higher than they typically experience.
Schematic illustration of metal mining from an underground ore body. Credit: Martens et al., Sci. Adv. 2021
A team of international researchers has developed a new method to extract metals directly from the original ore deep in the earth. In the new technique, electrodes are drilled into an ore body and an electric current is applied. The team says it can transport electrically charged metal ions, such as copper, through rock through a process called electromigration.