Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Wetlands, gas hydrates, permafrost, termites, oceans, freshwater bodies, non-wetland soils, are all natural sources of atmospheric methane; however, the majority of methane presence ca n be accredited to human-related activities.
These activities include: such as fossil fuel production, biomass burning, waste management and animal husbandry. The release of methane into the atmosphere by cattle and other large grazing mammals is estimated to account for 12 to 17% of the total global methane release.
Recently, scientists developed a methane release measuring technique as way of tracking the discharge of the gas without disrupting the regular management of the herd. This is part of a collaborative research study conducted by researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Centre, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Cattle were fitted with global positioning devices to track their movements and wind speed and direction were constantly measured. Unlike previous studies in which a few cattle were handled daily and methane measurements were taken directly, this technique centered on using open-path lasers to obtain a short-term measurement of methane release from an entire grazing herd. For instance in one study, the technique was used to take repeated measurements of methane concentration every 10 minutes directly above the height of the 18 cattle in the paddock. According to the results, the technique developed so well it can account for 77% of methane release at a single point in a paddock.
Sean McGinn, the author of the study describes the technique as a "significant advancement in assessing greenhouse gas emissions from the cattle industry."
Collaborative research is continuing to further measure methane release from other agricultural sources. The full study is published in the January/February 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.
Sara Uttech | EurekAlert
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
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For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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