Tag Archives: urbanization

Changes in language and word use reflect our shifting values, UCLA psychologist reports

Study analyzes more than 1 million books published over 200 years

A new UCLA analysis of words used in more than 1.5 million American and British books published between 1800 and 2000 shows how our cultural values have changed.

The increase or decrease in the use of certain words over the past two centuries — a period marked by growing urbanization, greater reliance on technology and the widespread availability of formal education — reveals how human psychology has evolved in response to major historical shifts, said Patricia Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA and the author of the study. (more…)

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UA Climate Scientists Put Predictions to the Test

A new study has found that climate-prediction models are good at predicting long-term climate patterns on a global scale but lose their edge when applied to time frames shorter than three decades and on sub-continental scales.

Climate-prediction models show skills in forecasting climate trends over time spans of greater than 30 years and at the geographical scale of continents, but they deteriorate when applied to shorter time frames and smaller geographical regions, a new study has found.

Published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, the study is one of the first to systematically address a longstanding, fundamental question asked not only by climate scientists and weather forecasters, but the public as well: How good are Earth system models at predicting the surface air temperature trend at different geographical and time scales? (more…)

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Practical Tool Can ‘Take Pulse’ of Blue-Green Algae Status in Lakes

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists have designed a screening tool that provides a fast, easy and relatively inexpensive way to predict levels of a specific toxin in lakes that are prone to blue-green algal blooms.

Blue-green algae is not your average pond scum – rather than consisting of plant-like organisms, blue-green algae actually are cyanobacteria, and some species are linked to the production and release of the toxin microcystin into the water. Human exposure to the toxin through drinking or recreational water contact can threaten public health by causing liver damage, neurological problems and gastrointestinal illness in humans. (more…)

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Sediment Chemicals in Coastal Rivers Overall Lower in U.S. than Worldwide Averages

Almost all the sediment-associated chemical concentrations found in 131 of the nation’s rivers that drain to the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts are lower than worldwide averages, according to a new study by the USGS. These coastal rivers are a significant pathway for the delivery of sediment-associated chemicals to the world’s coastal zones and oceans.

“I hope that the results of this new study will remind everyone that it is not only river water that can transport chemicals and pollutants, but also the associated sediment load,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Our citizens expect high environmental quality as compared with worldwide averages, but clean water alone will not suffice if river sediments are host to toxic heavy metals and concentrated organics that can produce dead zones.” (more…)

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China’s Urbanization Unlikely To Lead To Fast Growth of Middle Class: UW Geographer

The number of people living in China’s cities, which last year for the first time surpassed 50 percent of the national population, is considered a boon for the consumer goods market. That is based on the assumption that there will be more families with more disposable income when poor farmers from China’s countryside move to cities and become middle-class industrial and office workers.

But the assumption overlooks a policy from the era of Chinese leader Mao Zedong that restricts the upward mobility of its rural citizens, says a University of Washington geographer. (more…)

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Rising Air Pollution Worsens Drought, Flooding UMD-Led Study Shows

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Increases in air pollution and other particulate matter in the atmosphere can strongly affect cloud development in ways that reduce precipitation in dry regions or seasons, while increasing rain, snowfall and the intensity of severe storms in wet regions or seasons, says a new study by a University of Maryland-led team of researchers.

The research provides the first clear evidence of how aerosols — soot, dust and other small particles in the atmosphere — can affect weather and climate; and the findings have important implications for the availability, management and use of water resources in regions across the United States and around the world, say the researchers and other scientists. (more…)

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Air Quality Worsened by Paved Surfaces

*Widespread urban development alters weather patterns*

New research focusing on the Houston area suggests that widespread urban development alters weather patterns in a way that can make it easier for pollutants to accumulate during warm summer weather instead of being blown out to sea.

The international study, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), could have implications for the air quality of fast-growing coastal cities in the United States and other mid-latitude regions overseas. (more…)

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Saving Wildlife with Forensic Genetics

*Using forensic genetics techniques, the UA’s Conservation Genetics Lab is working to protect wild animals and catch the criminals in cases of wildlife crime.*

Wildlife face many threats with spreading urbanization, including habitat loss and inbreeding when populations become fragmented and isolated. It doesn’t help that there is a billion-dollar international industry dedicated to the illegal trafficking of wild animals or wild animal parts.

The Conservation Genetics Lab at the University of Arizona is working to conserve and protect wild animals around the world. (more…)

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