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Kilimanjaro’s ice cap continues retreat

The ice atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania has continued to retreat rapidly, declining 26 per cent since 2000, scientists say in a new report.

Yet the authors of the study reached no consensus on whether the melting could be attributed mainly to humanity’s role in warming the global climate. Eighty-five per cent of the ice cover that was present in 1912 has vanished, the scientists said.

To measure the recent pace of the retreat, researchers relied on data from aerial photographs taken of Kilimanjaro over time and from stakes and instruments installed on the mountaintop in 2000, said Douglas R Hardy, a geologist at the University of Massachusetts and one of the study’s authors.

The photographs measure horizontal shrinkage of the ice, and the stakes indicate the reduction in depth. Both are decreasing at the same rate, Hardy said.

Researchers studying the mountaintop, including those involved in this study, differ in their conclusions on how much of the melting could result from human activity or other climatological influences.

Indoor plants can save staff life

Not only do they brighten up the office, indoor plants could save an employee’s life too, say researchers.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, harmful indoor pollutants represent a serious health problem that is responsible for more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year.

Now, a new study has revealed that ornamental plants could drastically reduce levels of stress and ill health, and boost performance levels at work because they soak up harmful indoor air pollution.

Stanley Kays, University of Georgia, said some indoor plants have the ability to effectively remove harmful volatile organic compounds from the air and not only improve physical health, but also someone’s wellbeing.

Babies cry in their ‘mother tongue’

If you think a baby’s shriek has no language, think again, for a new study says that toddlers cry in their mother tongue.

Researchers in Germany have carried out the study and found that babies cry with regional accents copied from their mothers — in fact they pick up the traits in womb.

Newborn babies tend to have simple cries that rise and then fall. But as the days and weeks pass, their cries become more sophisticated — varying in pitch and length.

For their study, the researchers, led by Dr Kathleen Wermke of the University of Wurzburg, analysed the patterns of cries of some 30 German and French babies in the first five days of life.

The study found that the screams of a five-day-old French baby have a distinct Gallic twang, while German babies have a Teutonic quality to their yells. The French baby cries tended to start low and then rise in pitch. In contrast, the German baby cries tended to start high and then drop in pitch.

TV bombards kids with food ads

Wondering how TV exposure leads to obesity in children? Well, then pay closer attention to the commercials, suggests a new study.

Researchers at the University of California-Davis examined the types of food advertisements seen by children watching English- and Spanish-language American television programmes on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons, which are high viewing times for children.

Recordings were made of programmes on 12 networks including highly rated children’s cable channels.

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