Research Briefing

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  • Comparison of bird populations in areas with low and high levels of genetically modified (GM) crop adoption in the United States reveals heterogeneous effects of GM crops on different groups of birds. GM crop adoption has a slight positive effect on the abundance and diversity of insectivorous birds, probably due to a reduction in insecticide use, whereas herbivorous birds are weakly negatively affected.

    Research Briefing
  • We present a sea urchin aquaculture method called raking. Unlike traditional methods in which the entire gonad is the final product, thereby requiring sea urchin killing, eggs are the final product in raking. As killing of sea urchins is not necessary, several production cycles are possible with this method, enabling sustainable echinoculture.

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  • The development of electrocatalysts with high activity, selectivity and stability for seawater electrolysis remains a challenge. Through engineering of the host layer, interlayer gallery and surface, CoFe-based layered double hydroxides are shown to achieve stable seawater electrolysis for more than 2,800 h at a high current density.

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  • Although carboxylated cellulose nanofibres (C-CNFs) hold promise for numerous applications, current production methods are associated with environmental concerns. A type of deep eutectic solvent, comprising citric acid, choline chloride and water, has now been developed for the sustainable and scalable production of ultrafine and long C-CNFs.

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  • Air quality improvement has benefitted large portions of forests in the USA over the past 20 years. However, although terrestrial ecosystems are now better protected, sensitive species still experience harmful impacts, which could lead to biodiversity loss through shifts in forest composition.

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  • A data-driven framework has been developed to assess the carbon emissions of mobile networks in China, revealing that the launch of 5G networks leads to a decline in carbon efficiency. A deep reinforcement learning algorithm, DeepEnergy, is proposed to increase the carbon efficiency of mobile networks and reduce carbon emissions.

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  • A scalable fabrication method using a green solvent, γ-valerolactone, is developed to prepare high-quality formamidinium lead iodide perovskite films. Interactions between the solvent and precursor materials stabilize the perovskite ink, which has a long shelf life and wide processing window. Passivation of the films with tributylmethylammonium enables the realization of a high-efficiency perovskite solar module.

    Research Briefing
  • Changes in driving behaviour could offer solutions to reducing transport emissions. Classification of driver aggressiveness based on vehicle trajectory data is used to estimate transport emissions associated with differences in car-following behaviour in China from 2013 to 2050. This analysis reveals that a trend towards more aggressive driving could increase transport emissions.

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  • Primary human exposure to large wildfires more than doubled in the contiguous United States from 2000 to 2019, largely occurring in the western United States. This increase is attributable to an increase in the burned area, as well as to wildfires impacting more people and infrastructure per unit burned area, particularly in California.

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  • Nitrogen requirements and usage vary across maize, wheat and rice systems in Ethiopia, Malawi and India. Analysis of these systems indicates that targeted nutrient management strategies could increase the efficiency of nitrogen usage, helping to address fertilizer shortages and reduce the negative environmental impacts of excess nitrogen.

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  • Pb leakage from damaged perovskite solar cells exposed to water is minimized by applying a TiO2 sponge to sequester Pb ions. The sponge can be deposited on ready-to-use devices using a scalable and solvent-free process. As TiO2 is already used in perovskite solar cells, this approach promises environmental benefits without substantial investment costs.

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  • Providing a basic income to individuals living in areas important for global biodiversity is one way to support conservation. Our calculation shows how the gross cost can vary, depending on prioritization, eligibility and payment scenarios, and will support discussions about the implementation of basic income as a global conservation policy.

    Research Briefing
  • Understanding how community-based initiatives work is crucial for effective environmental management, but robust evaluations of these efforts are rare. A study of a national network of locally managed marine areas in Fiji shows that, aside from an improvement in marine governance, there have been few tangible conservation outcomes.

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  • Biocrusts are crucial for soil health and sustainability in arid lands; however, human activities are degrading these biocrusts. This study explores the use of solar farms for a low-cost, low-impact and high-capacity approach to regenerate biocrusts. This technique could be used to expand current soil restoration approaches to regional scales.

    Research Briefing
  • The Russia–Ukraine armed conflict has caused far-reaching damage to freshwater resources and water infrastructure, with immediate and long-term consequences for the environment and human health. This analysis of the type, distribution and potential consequences of the water-related impacts of the conflict provides a basis for future rebuilding and restoration.

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  • A durable, two-layer coating has been developed for nylon fabrics. The coating’s low coefficient of friction reduces the amount of microplastic fibres released from nylon fabrics during laundering by up to 93%. The coating’s efficacy, and other fabric properties, are maintained after at least nine laundering cycles.

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  • An aqueous electrochromic device has been developed that enables reversible tuning of its thermal emissivity with minimal electrical power input. The device allows for all-season radiative thermoregulation, leading towards year-round energy savings for buildings.

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  • In a warming climate, more than 90% of the global population and gross domestic product might be exposed to increasing risks of compound drought–heatwave events, with more severe effects in poor and rural areas. Furthermore, relative to the current climate, future compound events would disproportionally affect the global terrestrial carbon sink.

    Research Briefing