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In oceanography studies, the iron needed to fertilize infrequent plankton blooms in High Nutrient, Low Chlorophyll (HNLC) regions was assumed to come almost entirely from wind-blown dust.

That's not the case in the North Pacific, say Phoebe Lam and James Bishop of the Earth Sciences Division at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

They report that the key source of iron in the Western North Pacific is not dust but the volcanic continental margins of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands.

From a site at 47 degrees north latitude and 160 degrees east longitude in the Western North Pacific (marked X), iron and manganese found at depths of 100-200 meters originated hundreds of miles away, from the continental shelves of the Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands. Particulate and dissolved iron and manganese hydroxides came from the upper shelf, and, after further processing, more iron (now poor in manganese) came from deeper on the slopes.

The Arctic - pristine natural wilderness, unmolested by human touch? Not really. While early explorers claimed they could see 200 KM mountain peaks that certainly isn't the case today. In winter months, the Arctic actually has some of the dirtiest air in the world. It turns out even those early explorers may have been romanticizing the cleanliness a bit.

Scientists know that air pollution particles from mid-latitude cities migrate to the Arctic and form an ugly haze, but a new University of Utah study finds surprising evidence that polar explorers saw the same phenomenon as early as 1870.

“The reaction from some colleagues – when we first mentioned that people had seen haze in the late 1800s – was that it was crazy,” says Tim Garrett, assistant professor of meteorology and senior author of the study. “Who would have thought the Arctic could be so polluted back then? Our instinctive reaction is to believe the world was a cleaner place 130 years ago.”

Arctic haze. The most visible sign of Arctic pollution was documented over a century ago by both explorers and natives. Source: unknown. Credit: Columbia university

Fuel cells are commonly used in such settings as satellites, submarines or remote weather stations because they have no moving parts, do not require combustion and can run unattended for long periods of time. However, current fuel cells lose efficiency as the temperature rises and the humidity falls.

Researchers at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering have developed a membrane that allows fuel cells to operate at low humidity and theoretically to operate at higher temperatures. They reported their findings online in the Journal of Membrane Science.

While there are many types of fuel cells, in general they generate electricity as the result of chemical reactions between an external fuel -- most commonly hydrogen -- and an agent that reacts with it. The membrane that separates the two parts of the cell and facilitates the reaction is a key factor in determining the efficiency of the cell.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 19 -- Professor John Anthony Allan from King's College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies, a pioneer of concepts key to the understanding and communication of water issues and how they are linked to agriculture, climate change, economics and politics, was named the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate.

Genetic modification holds the promise of bringing locally grown food crops to climates where farming has been traditionally difficult. Doing that means optimizing the genetics of crops in some ways without impacting them in others.

A new tool for rice genetics has made that a little bit easier. It allows rice breeders to surgically inactivate genes that confer unwanted properties.

There are many different strains of rice grown in different parts of the world and they have thrived because they are adapted to the region they grow in. In the past, introducing a gene with a beneficial modification would require years and years of breeding so that the other genes responsible for the target strains being so well adapted to their local environment were not impacted.

China’s growing participation in international trade has been one of the most prominent features of its economic reform. It is the world’s third-largest exporter, and the fastest growing exporter among members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which it joined in December 2001.

The secret of China’s exporting success may lie in unfair production subsidies, according to new research presented at the Royal Economics Society annual conference by a team from The University of Nottingham’s Globalisation and Economic Policy Centre (GEP).

The economists behind the research say it raises serious questions about whether China is being fair with its trading partners.