Why the World’s Rivers Are Losing Sediment and Why It Matters

Read the full story at E360.

Vast amounts of river-borne sediment are trapped behind the world’s large dams, depriving areas downstream of material that is badly needed to build up the marshes and wetlands that act as a buffer against rising seas.

Watchdog faults EPA’s chemical safety tools

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) internal watchdog wants it to better manage the ways it uses technology to help test the safety of chemicals.

The EPA’s inspector general said two offices in the agency — the research and development office and the chemical safety office — have successfully collaborated to build and use tools for risk analysis, finding safety data and other functions in the chemical testing process.

But the chemical safety office lacks a strong process for ensuring that the cooperation goes smoothly and can last and could benefit from better “management controls,” the inspector general wrote in a Friday report.

Scientists predict a Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ the size of New Jersey this summer

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

An oxygen-poor “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, which can prompt harmful algae blooms and threaten marine life, could approach the size of New Jersey this summer, federal scientists say — making it the third-largest the Gulf has seen. A new forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the annual dead zone will reach an area of nearly 8,200 square miles in July, more than 50 percent larger than its average size…

study published this year found that dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico can cause large shrimp to become scarce and smaller ones to become more abundant. As a result, the price of large shrimp climbs while the price of small ones drops, causing a disturbance in the market.

Eyes on Nature: How Satellite Imagery Is Transforming Conservation Science

Read the full story at E360.

High-resolution earth imagery has provided ecologists and conservationists with a dynamic new tool that is enabling everything from more accurate counting of wildlife populations to rapid detection of deforestation, illegal mining, and other changes in the landscape.

A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Scientists are engaged in an increasingly bitter and personal feud over how much power the United States can get from renewable sources, with a large group of researchers taking aim at a popular recent paper that claimed the country could move beyond fossil fuels entirely by 2055.

The Biggest, Strangest ‘Batteries’

Read the full story in the New York Times.

What if you need a battery? A really big one — big enough to run a city?

It’s a question that inventors have been tackling for decades. No one wants the fridge, or the hospital, going on the blink when demand surges or the power plant needs repairs.

It turns out to be a surprisingly tricky question to answer. Today, with the rise of green energy sources like solar and wind, the need for industrial-scale energy storage is becoming ever more vital to make sure there’s power even after the sun sets or the breeze dies down.

It’s usually (but not always) still too impractical to string together enough traditional batteries — those powered by chemical reactions, like the ones in smoke alarms and Teslas — to do the job. Instead, with remarkable ingenuity, technicians have relied on a host of physical forces and states such as temperature, friction, gravity and inertia to keep energy locked up for later release.

Recycling never looked so good: Luxury-quality materials made from waste

Read the full story from CNN Style.

Recycling is a concept as old as trash itself. By now, we’re used to seeing useful materials, such as glass and paper, reprocessed into lower-grade versions of themselves, and discarded products upcycled into entirely new designs. (Emeco’s 111 Navy chair, made from 111 used Coca-Cola bottles, is a good example.)

But today we’re witnessing the emergence of a new recycling trend, driven by the luxury design industry. These versatile materials, substitutes for conventional woods, plastics and stone, come in sheet or tile form, ready to be cut, shaped and manipulated by architects and fellow designers.