For David Johnston, drones are the perfect surveillance tool to spy on marine wildlife. Johnston and his team of ecologists, stationed at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, use unmanned aerial systems rigged with cameras and infrared sensors to map coastal habitats, like oyster reefs and seagrass, and to track ocean species like seals, sea turtles and sharks.
It takes a well-trained eye to spot an irregular heartbeat in the peaks and valleys of an electrocardiogram. The same goes for identifying an extinct ape from a single fossilized tooth, or telling an original van Gogh from a fake.
But in recent years, applied mathematician Ingrid Daubechies has been training computers to churn through ECG tracings, high-resolution scans of fossils, paintings and other complex digital data and work things out automatically.
DURHAM, N.C. – A legacy of acid rain has acidified forest soils throughout the northeastern United States, lowering the growth rate of trees. In an attempt to mitigate this trend, in 1999 scientists added calcium to an experimental forest in New Hampshire; tree growth recovered, but a decade later there was a major increase in the nitrogen content of stream water draining the site.
Researchers from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill are testing the ability of drones to detect sharks in coastal waterways.
In a collaborative study funded by North Carolina Aquariums, the researchers are examining whether drones can effectively pinpoint bonnethead sharks in different habitats and water conditions.
DURHAM, N.C. -- Allowing underwater seismic surveys for oil and gas to be conducted off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast coasts could pose a substantial threat to one of the world’s most critically endangered whale species, a group of leading marine scientists say.
Our piecemeal coastal policies are failing us, says Duke University economist Martin Smith. We're failing to consider a future of rising sea levels. Meanwhile, one beach town can make decisions that ripple down the coastline, affecting the shape of beaches miles away. "We're haphazardly geo-engineering a whole coast," Smith says.
Rising seas threaten coastal marshes worldwide, like this marsh just outside Venice, Italy pictured in a satellite image. But a new study by Marco Marani of the Nicholas School finds marshes are more resilient than previously believed. Elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 boost plant biomass production, allowing marshes to trap more sediment and generate more organic soil.
Pundits have reminded us that “all politics is local” since American newspaper columnist Byron Price first used the phrase in 1932 to explain how hometown issues and economics shape national elections.
Old as the adage may be, it still holds true—especially, Megan Mullin’s research suggests, when it comes to the politics of climate change.
“The evidence for the effect of local weather on public opinion regarding climate change is overwhelming,” says Mullin, associate professor of environmental politics at the Nicholas School.
From the beginning, graduate students of the Triangle Universities Nuclear Lab have been a resourceful lot. TUNL students have a tradition of developing new measurement techniques, designing and building equipment , and troubleshooting problems under research conditions. They’ve needed to hone their data analysis skills to find the important signals in a large background of data. After four or five years of this, graduates are prepared to work not only in universities, but in a wide variety of sectors, including government, government labs, industry, and medicine.
When the largest modern-day plant-eaters -- elephants -- are confined to too small an area, they devastate the vegetation. So 15,000 years ago, when the herbivores like the Columbian mammoth, mastodons and giant ground sloths were even larger, more numerous and more widely distributed, how did the landscape survive?
The answer was probably enormous predators, creatures called “hypercarnivores” by a team of evolutionary biologists appearing online the week of Oct. 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.