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Irrigation may offset climate change effects

Expanded irrigation might mitigate the effects of climate change in some areas, a new study has revealed.

But some major groundwater aquifers, a source of irrigation water, are projected to dry up in coming decades from continuing overuse, and when they do, people may face the double whammy of food shortages and higher temperatures.

“An important question for the future is what happens to the climate if the water goes dry and the cooling disappears? How much warming is being hidden by irrigation?” asked Michael Puma, Columbia University.

On one hand, earth’s oceans and vegetation have been absorbing a growing share of emissions with declining rates of absorption. But humans are also cooling the planet to some degree, by releasing air-polluting particles that lower temperatures by reflecting the sun’s energy back into space.

Puma and his coauthor, Benjamin Cook found that irrigation-linked cooling grew noticeably in the 1950s as irrigation rates exploded, and that more rain is now falling downstream of these heavily watered regions.

Drying hands after washing key to stop spread of bacteria

A new study has found that not drying your hands thoroughly after washing them, could increase the spread of bacteria and rubbing your hands whilst using a conventional electric hand dryer could be a contributing factor.

The study by researchers at the University of Bradford looked at different methods of hand drying, and their effect on transfer of bacteria from the hands to other surfaces. The different methods included paper towels, traditional hand dryers, which rely on evaporation, and a new model of hand dryer, which rapidly strips water off the hands using high velocity air jets.

Our bodies naturally have bacteria called commensals all over them. However, bacteria from other sources, such as raw meat, can also survive on hands, and can be easily transferred to other surfaces, increasing the risk of cross-contamination. When hands are washed the number of bacteria on the surface of the skin decreases, but they are not necessarily eliminated. If the hands are still damp then these bacteria are more readily transferred to other surfaces.

Allergies may not be cause of asthma in kids

A new research in Australia has questioned the long-held belief that allergies cause asthma in children. The study, conducted at Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital, suggests that cell abnormalities in the airways may be the cause of asthma.

Research programme head Stephen Stick and colleagues are studying epithelial cells, which line the airways in the lung, and comparing them in children with and without asthma and allergy.

Stick said the epithelial cells in kids with asthma behaved differently, especially in the way they responded to injury.

“All the surfaces of the body are subject to wear and tear and the lining of the airways is no exception. It appears however, that the lining of the airways in asthma are defective in the way they repair,” he said.

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