quote:In field tests, device harvests water from desert air
The system, based on relatively new high-surface-area materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), can extract potable water from even the driest of desert air, the researchers say, with relative humidities as low as 10 percent. Current methods for extracting water from air require much higher levels - 100 percent humidity for fog-harvesting methods, and above 50 percent for dew-harvesting refrigeration-based systems, which also require large amounts of energy for cooling. So the new system could potentially fill an unmet need for water even in the world's driest regions.
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quote:Flying insects tell tales of long-distance migrations
“Trillions of insects around the world migrate every year, and we’re just beginning to understand their connections to ecosystems and human life,” says Dara Satterfield, an ecologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Scientists like Menz are fanning out across the globe to track butterflies, moths, hoverflies and other insects on their great journeys. Among the new discoveries: Painted lady butterflies time their round trips between Africa and Europe to coincide within days of their favorite flowers’ first blossoms. Hoverflies navigate unerringly across Europe for more than 100 kilometers per day, chowing down on aphids that suck the juice out of greening shoots. What’s more, some agricultural pests that ravage crops in Texas and other U.S. farmlands are now visible using ordinary weather radar, giving farmers a better chance of fighting off the pests.
Until now, most studies of animal migration have focused on large, easy-to-study birds and mammals. But entomologists say that insects can also illuminate the phenomenon of mass movement. “How are these animals finding their way across such large scales? Why do they do it?” asks Menz. “It’s really quite fantastic.”