Scientific news in small doses

A few milligrams of all the scientific news of the week.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

Eric-Pierre Champagne

Eric-Pierre Champagne
The Press

More electric cars, less corn

A faster transition to electric vehicles would reduce the need for new land to grow corn in the United States by 10%. This is the conclusion of a study recently published in Ecological Economics. According to its authors, the use of electric vehicles would correspondingly reduce the need for ethanol, a fuel derived mainly from corn production. The United States is the largest corn producer in the world, and a third of the production is destined to make ethanol. The expansion of ethanol production has also affected the quality of soils in the Corn Belt, making them less efficient for carbon sequestration.



The Sinabung Volcano in Indonesia

Could there be more volcanic eruptions caused by climate change?

This is the question that researchers have tried to answer in a study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. According to their models, climate change could lead to heavier rains over the majority of active volcanoes on the planet. However, these rains can cause eruptions when the colder water reaches the lava, which triggers a reaction inside the volcano. This is notably what happened with 174 volcanic eruptions, including those of Vesuvius and Mount St. Helens in Washington State. The study estimates that under a 3 degree warming scenario, 506 active volcanoes could be affected by significant rainfall in the future.

3 billions


Wildfires in Australia in 2019 and 2020 killed or displaced 1-3 billion animals.

Wildfires in Australia in 2019 and 2020 killed or displaced between 1 billion and 3 billion animals, a recent government report concluded. Remember that these fires had burned more than 8 million hectares of vegetation. The average temperature in Australia has increased by 1.4 degrees since the beginning of the XXe century.

The vicious cycle of climate change


Flooded fields in South Sudan

As the impacts of climate change become more severe in certain regions of the world, it will be more difficult for the poorest populations to move. This is the conclusion of a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The authors estimate that there will be a greater number of people living in areas threatened by climate change who will not be able to migrate elsewhere, due to a lack of resources to do so. In a moderate emissions scenario, the number of climate migrants would decline by 10% by the end of the century. This number could decrease by 35% in a more pessimistic scenario.

Moths and pollination

If bees, wasps and bumblebees play a crucial role in the pollination of plants in general, the contribution of moths should not be neglected, say Danish researchers from the University of Aarhus. In a study in the Swiss Alps, scientists found that moths accounted for one-third (34%) of visits to meadow clover plants (Trifolium pratense). Even if bumblebees accounted for 61% of visits, the contribution of moths would be greater than expected for this plant, concludes in particular the study published in Biology Letters. This leads researchers to believe that these butterflies could pollinate hundreds of other plant species.

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