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Harvey runoff is threatening coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico

Harvey runoff is threatening coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico

Science
Oct. 16 (UPI) -- New research suggests a massive plume of freshwater from Hurricane Harvey runoff is threatening coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.Last month, monitoring buoys measured a 10 percent drop in salinity at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, located 100 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas."The salinity at one buoy on the reef dropped from 36 to 32 on Sept. 28, but it rebounded to 36 by Oct. 4, and it has been between 35 and 36 since then," Rice marine biologist Adrienne Correa said in a news release. "We don't yet know what impact the low salinity had on the reef while it was there."Correa is one of several scientists preparing to take an expedition cruise to the sanctuary's coral reefs and survey the possible damage caused by dramatic swings in salinity.Rese...
Mimetic Martian water is highly pressurized, experiments show

Mimetic Martian water is highly pressurized, experiments show

Science
Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Mars is too cold to host flowing liquid water, but with the right mix of compounds, a water solution could be hiding on and below Mars' surface.New research suggests a solution dubbed "mimetic Martian water" could flow on and beneath the Red Planet's crust. Such a solution could explain the channeling, riveting and other evidence of weathering observed on the Martian surface.But the experiments also suggest such a water solution would be highly pressurized.Martian soil samples collected by NASA's Phoenix Lander in 2009 revealed the presence of calcium and magnesium perchlorate, a powerful oxidant."The discovery of significant amounts of different perchlorate salts in Martian soil gives new insight into the Martian 'riverbeds,'" Lorna Dougan, researcher at the University of...
As ice sheet melts, Greenland's fjords become less salty

As ice sheet melts, Greenland's fjords become less salty

Science
Oct. 13 (UPI) -- New data suggests the water around Greenland is becoming less salty as the island's ice sheet melts.Researchers with Denmark's Aarhus University detailed the impact of melting ice on Greenland's coastal waters in a new paper published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.The loss of ice in Greenland is relatively well documented. Over the last two decades, the island's ice has roughly doubled its melt rate. But few studies have looked at how the influx of freshwater is impacting coastal waters.Since 2003, Aarhus scientists have been analyzing water samples collected from Young Sound and from the sea joust outside the sound. Young Sound is located in northeast Greenland. Between 2003 and 2015, researchers recorded a four-fold increase in the amount of fresh water acc...
Penguins die in 'catastrophic' Antarctic breeding season

Penguins die in 'catastrophic' Antarctic breeding season

Science
All but two Adelie penguin chicks have starved to death in their east Antarctic colony, in a breeding season described as "catastrophic" by experts. It was caused by unusually high amounts of ice late in the season, meaning adults had to travel further for food.It is the second bad season in five years after no chicks survived in 2015.Conservation groups are calling for urgent action on a new marine protection area in the east Antarctic to protect the colony of about 36,000.WWF says a ban on krill fishing in the area would eliminate their competition and help to secure the survival of Antarctic species, including the Adelie penguins. WWF have been supporting research with French scientists in the region monitoring penguin numbers since 2010. The protection proposal will be discussed at a m...
Study reveals secrets of planet formation

Study reveals secrets of planet formation

Science
Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a new explanation for how young stars and their newborn planets avoid "radial drift," a phenomenon that can rob stellar systems of their planet-forming material.Most planets form as material coalesces in a star's circumstellar disk of dust and debris. But debris disks can also diffuse or be eaten up by their host star, and researchers have struggled to figure out why this doesn't happen more often.Gas in a circumstellar disk should exert a drag force on debris, pulling the dust inward where it is consumed by the host star. The process, called radial drift, can deplete the material a young stellar system needs to form and grow planets.But new images of the debris disk surrounding the star V1247 Orionis has offered scientists insights into how youn...