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Environment - 20.05.2024
Increasing drought puts the resilience of the Amazon rainforest to the test
Increasing drought puts the resilience of the Amazon rainforest to the test
Since 2015, the Amazon has been slower to recover from increasing drought events, but, overall, the rainforest still shows a remarkable resilience. New international research led by KU Leuven earth and environmental scientists shows that forest degradation due to drought has been most pronounced in the southern Amazon, where human impact is greatest.   Since the turn of the century, four extreme droughts have occurred in the Amazon rainforest.

Environment - 15.05.2024
Summers warm up faster than winters, fossil shells from Antwerp show
Summers warm up faster than winters, fossil shells from Antwerp show
In a warmer climate, summers warm much faster than winters. That is the conclusion of research into fossil shells by earth scientist Niels de Winter. With this knowledge we can better map the consequences of current global warming in the North Sea area. De Winter, affiliated with the Department of Earth Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the AMGC research group at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, measured alongside colleagues from institutions such as the Institute for Natural Sciences in Brussels the chemical composition of fossil shells from Antwerp, Belgium.

History / Archeology - Environment - 18.04.2024
Secrets of cave from the Early Upper Palaeolithic, when Neanderthals and the first Homo sapiens co-existed
Secrets of cave from the Early Upper Palaeolithic, when Neanderthals and the first Homo sapiens co-existed
VUB researcher reveals secrets of cave from the Early Upper Palaeolithic, when Neanderthals and the first Homo sapiens co-existed Mughr el-Hamamah, meaning "pigeon cave" in Arabic, is a site in northwestern Jordan, renowned for its prehistoric findings dating between 39,000 and 45,000 years old. Numerous stone tools, hearths, and animal and hominin bones have been excavated there.

Life Sciences - Environment - 06.12.2023
Arctic vs Antarctic lake microbes: new research reveals unique evolutionary tales
High Arctic (left) and Continental Antarctic (right) lake bottoms, covered by dense microbial mats. Credits: David Velazquez An international research team of scientists led by biologists from Ghent University investigated the biodiversity and evolutionary history of microorganisms in Arctic, sub-Antarctic and Antarctic lakes in the first large scale study using DNA.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 29.11.2023
Capturing water from the clouds to combat water shortages in deserts
Capturing water from the clouds to combat water shortages in deserts
Affordable, effective and sustainable "fog nets" to capture droplets and combat water scarcity in deserts. An article by Denis Terwagne, Professor and Chairman of the Centre de Recherche en Physique, Faculty of Science, in The Conversation. In 2022, 2.2 billion people still have no access to drinking water services.

Astronomy / Space - Environment - 15.11.2023
James Webb Space Telescope detects water vapour, sulfur dioxide and sand clouds in the atmosphere of a nearby exoplanet
James Webb Space Telescope detects water vapour, sulfur dioxide and sand clouds in the atmosphere of a nearby exoplanet
A team of European astronomers, co-led by researchers from the Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven, used recent observations made with the James Webb Space Telescope to study the atmosphere of the nearby exoplanet WASP-107b. Peering deep into the fluffy atmosphere of WASP-107b they discovered not only water vapour and sulfur dioxide, but even silicate sand clouds.

Paleontology - Environment - 31.10.2023
Fine particulates signalled the end of the dinosaurs
Fine particulates signalled the end of the dinosaurs
Fine dust from pulverised rock released by the impact of the Chicxulub meteorite 66 million years ago played a major role in climate cooling, disruption of photosynthesis and the mass extinction of dinosaurs, VUB researchers have found. Until now, the exact circumstances surrounding the mass extinction of the dinosaurs - such as the effect on the global climate of the material ejected by the meteorite's impact - have been unclear.

Paleontology - Environment - 30.10.2023
Fine particles heralded the end of the dinosaurs
Fine particles heralded the end of the dinosaurs
Fine dust from pulverized rock released by the Chicxulub meteorite impact 66 million years ago played a dominant role in the cooling of the climate, the disruption of photosynthesis and the mass extinction in which most dinosaurs went extinct. Until now, the precise circumstances of the mass extinction, such as the effect of the different types of impact material ejected from the crater on global climate were unclear .

Environment - 16.10.2023
Alaska: record degradation in just 5 years
While Europe has been hard hit by global warming (floods, forest fires), with temperatures still abnormally high for October, the phenomenon is also being observed in Alaska, where 3 researchers from UCLouvain are currently pursuing their research on permafrost (or permafrost) during the summer-winter transition.

Environment - 09.10.2023
'Handbag ai funghi': VUB team creates first sustainable handbag from mycelium leather
’Handbag ai funghi’: VUB team creates first sustainable handbag from mycelium leather
A team of biologists, bioengineers, architects and product developers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has developed the first fully bio-based and biodegradable handbag based on mycelium. Mycelium is the root structure of fungus and forms a tight network of white filaments in the soil, on wood or other organic material.

Environment - 24.08.2023
The beginning of the end for hydropower in Africa?
Hydropower, traditionally one of Africa's most important sources of electricity, is expected to rapidly lose out in importance in favour of solar power in the coming years. The attractiveness of new hydropower stations is declining, due to increasing economic competition from solar panels and ongoing uncertainty over the effects of climate change on river flows.

Environment - 02.08.2023
Tree rings show that it's never been so hot in the last 1,200 years
Tree rings show that it’s never been so hot in the last 1,200 years
The Middle Ages were tumultuous in climatic terms. It saw a cold phase, the Little Ice Age, and a warming period, the Medieval Climatic Optimum. The latter, according to data reconstructed from tree rings, saw temperatures sometimes higher than today's in northern Europe. This is an enigma: physics cannot explain this period of exceptional warmth, and climate models calculate more moderate temperatures for the period between the 10th and 14th centuries.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 19.07.2023
Greenland's geological past provides clues to current global warming
Greenland’s geological past provides clues to current global warming
Sediments taken from beneath an ancient ice core reveal that at least 20% of Greenland was green 416,000 years ago, corresponding to a recent past on the geological scale. The study, published in the journal Science, was carried out by an international team of scientists, including the Laboratoire de Glaciologie of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Life Sciences - Environment - 04.04.2023
VUB PhD research: early microbial ancestor of humans loved extremes and can teach us about origin of life on Earth
Archaea, representing a group of primordial microbes which were recently found to be very related to humans, often grow best in extreme environments. While many bacteria (which are standing very far from us from a evolutionary point of view) can withstand only small fluctuations in temperature and acidity, Archaea are true survival champions.

Health - Environment - 04.04.2023
Researchers calculate evolution of brain tumours and sea levels
Researchers calculate evolution of brain tumours and sea levels
David Tewodrose and Harry Zekollari are two of 13 researchers to receive a prestigious Odysseus grant, a start-up fund from the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO). They will be based at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for the next five years to develop their research practice. Tewodrose focuses on geometric analysis that is used in medical applications, among other uses.

History / Archeology - Environment - 24.03.2023
Researchers aim for first in-depth study of historic and prehistoric terrace building
We all know the images of Southeast Asia's vast rice fields neatly terraced against the hills. In Europe too, there used to be terraces, mostly bordered by hedges, which have been overtaken as agricultural practices have been scaled up. Archaeologists and geomorphologists from VUB and KU Leuven are now studying the typology of those terraces.

Astronomy / Space - Environment - 28.02.2023
Capturing Shooting Stars
Capturing Shooting Stars
It is fascinating to see a streak of light across the sky, and never more so than those times of the year when the meteors fall to earth in such a multitude that they look like sparkling rain. The Geminid shower is such an event. Our researchers observed such -shooting stars- falling from the sky at their peak in mid-December thanks to cameras newly installed on top of one of the university buildings.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 03.02.2023
Antarctica by sailboat
Antarctica by sailboat
In a few weeks, Belgian researchers, led by Professor Bruno Danis (Laboratory of Marine Biology, Faculty of Science, ULB), will set sail for Antarctica. Their objective is to contribute to our understanding of the responses of ecosystems to the environmental changes underway in the Southern Ocean. Originality: the mission will take place on..

Environment - Research Management - 19.01.2023
Open Science for water research
For the launch of the new scientific journal Nature Water , researchers Emma and Stan Schymanski contributed an article about the future of water research. This opinion paper focuses on the importance of open science in a field where, due to its global societal relevance, knowledge and research results should be freely accessible by a wide range of stakeholders.

Materials Science - Environment - 03.01.2023
Efficiency of solar cells directly linked to R&D efforts
Efficiency of solar cells directly linked to R&D efforts
Professor Phillip Dale of the University of Luxembourg and Professor Mike Scarpulla of the University of Utah have discovered that researchers improve the efficiency of solar cells, the constituents of photovoltaic panels, at the same rate independently of the technology over the last decades.
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