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Glimmer of hope for freshwater research site

This story was originally posted on the Nature News Blog.  The government of Ontario, Canada, has stepped in to keep open the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA). The freshwater research facility, located in northern Ontario, was closed in March by the government of Canada, despite protests from scientists. Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne announced today that the government of Ontario will provide support to keep the ELA running this year and in the future, as it works to transfer the facility to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a United Nations think tank based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “We have had many conversations with members of the public … Read more…

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As millions gather for Kumbh Mela, doctors are watching

When a cholera outbreak gripped a London neighbourhood in 1854, physician John Snow carefully mapped its deaths. The thin bars he traced under each address clustered around a water pump on Broad Street, which turned out to be the source of the bacteria. Snow’s studies of disease patterns won him recognition as the father of modern epidemiology—and crushed the prevailing theory that cholera was spread by bad air. Faced with the same challenge today, Snow might use a tablet computer. In mid-January, as the Indian city of Allahabad began ushering in millions of Hindu pilgrims for the religious festival Kumbh … Read more…

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Air pollution delivers smaller babies

Study of 3 million infants suggests connection between inhaled particles and birth weight. Pregnant women who have been exposed to higher levels of some types of air pollution are slightly more likely to give birth to underweight babies, a large international study has found. The results are published online today inEnvironmental Health Perspectives1. Low birth weight — defined as a newborn baby weighing less than 2.5 kilogrammes — increases the risk of infant mortality and childhood diseases, and has been associated with developmental and health problems later in life, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have looked at whether … Read more…

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Arctic snow cover shows sharp decline

Earlier spring could spell trouble for permafrost Arctic snow is fading fast. June snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has dropped by almost 18% per decade during the past 30 years, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters1. The drop in snow extent will lower the amount of sunlight reflected away from the planet — a process that has a cooling effect — by exposing darker and less reflective soil, shrubs and trees, which absorb solar radiation and re-emit the heat into the atmosphere. The change also stands to warm the permafrost, alter the timing of spring runoff into … Read more…