Friday, May 29, 2015

Tall trees sucked dry by global warming

Nathan McDowell takes measurements on a tree’s water content.  LANL image.

Plants’ vascular systems can be likened to bunches of straws, explained lead author Nathan McDowell, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, meaning water moves from the roots to the branches through tension.

The atmosphere pulls water through plants’ systems, and “the warmer and drier the air is—which is what climate change is doing—it’s increasing the evaporative demand,” said McDowell. (Full Story)

Mars Rover’s laser-zapping instrument gets sharper vision

"Yellowjacket" the first rock target for ChemCam after autonomous focusing. NASA/JPL

Work by the instrument's team members at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and in France has yielded an alternative auto-focus method following loss of use of a small laser that served for focusing the instrument during Curiosity's first two years on Mars.

"Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." (Full Story)

Also from R&D

Uncovering the mysteries of cosmic explosions

A Los Alamos National Laboratory simulation of an exploding white dwarf. LANL image.

An automated software system developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory played a key role in the discovery of supernova iPTF 14atg and could provide insight, a virtual Rosetta stone, into future supernovae and their underlying physics.

"Over the past decade, rapid advances in imaging and computing technology have completely transformed time-domain astronomy," said LANL's Przemek Wozniak. (Full Story)

Also from PhysOrg

Lab scientists earn major award

Christopher Fryer (left) and Eric Dors. LANL image.

Los Alamos scientists Eric Dors and Christopher Fryer receive E.O. Lawrence Awards from the Department of Energy.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a select list of U.S. scientists and engineers as recipients of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award.

The honor is conferred for their contributions in research and development that supports the Energy Department’s science, energy and national security missions. (Full Story)

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