Booming electric vehicle sales have spurred a growing demand for lithium. But the light metal, which is essential for making power-packed rechargeable batteries, isn't abundant. Now, researchers report a major step toward tapping a virtually limitless lithium supply: pulling it straight out of seawater. "This represents substantial progress" for the field, says Jang Wook Choi, a chemical engineer at Seoul National University who was not involved with the work. He adds that the approach might also prove useful for reclaiming lithium from used batteries. Lithium is prized for rechargeables because it stores more energy by weight than other battery materials. Manufacturers use more than 160,000 tons of the material every year, a number expected to grow nearly 10-fold over the next decade. But lithium supplies are limited and concentrated in a handful of countries, where the metal is either mined or extracted from briny water.- Science
By 2100, we could be heading towards a loss of life in our oceans that rivals some of the largest extinction events in Earth's history if we don't continue to tackle the climate catastrophe, new modeling warns. But "it is not too late to enact the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to avoid a major extinction event," Princeton geoscientists Justin Penn and Curtis Deutsch explain in their paper. Using modeling calibrated against ancient fossil records, they predict the consequences of runaway climate change on marine animals and provide a plausible explanation for an enduring ocean mystery in the process. - Science Alert
A fridge, toilet seats, and more than 63,000 pounds of trash. That's what a cleanup team recovered in a monthslong effort to chip away at the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive collection of marine debris plaguing the Pacific Ocean. A half-mile long trash-trapping system named "Jenny" was sen out in late July to collect waste, pulling out many items that came from humans like toothbrushes, VHS tapes, golf balls, shoes and fishing gear. Jenny made nine trash extractions over the 12-week cleanup phase, with one extraction netting nearly 20,000 pounds of debris by itself. The mountain of recovered waste arrived in British Columbia, Canada, this month, with much of it set to be recycled. - USA Today
The melting of polar ice is not only shifting the levels of our oceans, it is changing the planet Earth itself. Newly minted Ph.D. Sophie Coulson and her colleagues explained in a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters that as glacial ice from Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic Islands melts, Earth's crust beneath these land masses warps, an impact that can be measured hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles away. "Scientists have done a lot of work directly beneath ice sheets and glaciers," said Coulson, who did her work in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and received her doctorate in May from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. "So they knew that it would define the region where the glaciers are, but they hadn't realized that it was global in scale." By analyzing satellite data on melt from 2003 to 2018 and studying changes in Earth's crust, Coulson and her colleagues were able to measure the shifting of the crust horizontally. Their research, which was highlighted in Nature, found that in some places the crust was moving more horizontally than it was lifting. In addition to the surprising extent of its reach, the Nature brief pointed out, this research provides a potentially new way to monitor modern ice mass changes. - Phys.Org
For centuries, humans have relied on the oceans for resources and food... but even the deepest sea has its limits. This hour, TED speakers discuss how we can save our seas to save our planet. Guests include marine biologists Asha de Vos, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, and Alasdair Harris, and oceanographer Sylvia Earle. - NPR
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