Physical sciences, Earth sciences

Results from a large study of volunteer blood donors in Martinique during the 2016 Zika virus outbreak - which according to state health authorities affected 568 pregnant women - are now in. They provide a precise follow-up of incident cases and seroprevalence but also important insights into the management of blood donations and the natural history of ZIKV infection in adults.
It is one thing to know that Earth has already faced abrupt climate changes — also known as Dansgaard–Oeschger (DO) events — in the past. But finding out the reasons for these dramatic and rather short term changes is another story, one that Dr Rachael Rhodes from the University of Cambridge is reconstructing using chemistry records from ice cores taken from Greenland.
Ice-albedo feedback as a result of sea-ice melting, notably in the Arctic, is known to reinforce global warming. What is less known, however, is the impact of a no-summer ice scenario on the world’s ambition to maintain global warming below 2°C by 2100. A study conducted under the TRANSRISK project paints a rather dark picture, highlighting the need to better understand the impact of rapid climate change in the region.
Coping with climate change will already be difficult enough without worrying about Dansgaard-Oescheger (DO) events that could come on top of it. However, their possible occurrence cannot be dismissed: We need to know more about these events, how they impacted our planet in the past, and how they could continue to do so in the future. The world’s most well-preserved ice cores could provide all this information while allowing for improved climate models.
Organic photovoltaics (OPV) may cost less than their silicon counterparts, but their performance remains off-putting to this day. A consortium of European research groups and industries recently demonstrated free-form organic solar modules for three specific, indoor and outdoor applications that should help put such concerns to bed.
Supported through the EU-funded T-FORCES project, scientists have found that biodiverse forests did not boost carbon storage beyond a certain point.
Recently paleoclimatologist William Ruddiman suggested that humans may have had a significant impact on the Earth’s climate already thousands of years ago — through carbon and methane emissions originating from biomass burning and deforestation associated with early agriculture. The EARLYHUMANIMPACT project set out to verify this hypothesis.
By integrating energy management systems the EU funded BESOS project contributes to the efficiency and sustainability of ‘smart cities’, while further empowering citizens to make informed choices.
In the last Trending Science of 2016 (your writer will be ho ho home for the holidays by the time you read this), we’re reporting on three science-related Christmas stories that have hit the headlines this festive season.
Marmok-5, a new device using wave-powered turbines to generate up to 30kW of electricity, has recently been deployed at the BiMEP site, on the northern coast of Spain. The device produces enough energy to run a medium-sized business.
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Study in Poland