Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Fog


Sulfate aerosols exert profound impacts on human and ecosystem health, weather, and climate, but their formation mechanism remains uncertain. Atmospheric models consistently underpredict sulfate levels under diverse environmental conditions. From atmospheric measurements in two Chinese megacities and complementary laboratory experiments, we show that the aqueous oxidation of SO2 by NO2 is key to efficient sulfate formation but is only feasible under two atmospheric conditions: on fine aerosols with high relative humidity and NH3 neutralization or under cloud conditions. Under polluted environments, this SO2 oxidation process leads to large sulfate production rates and promotes formation of nitrate and organic matter on aqueous particles, exacerbating severe haze development. Effective haze mitigation is achievable by intervening in the sulfate formation process with enforced NH3 and NO2 control measures. In addition to explaining the polluted episodes currently occurring in China and during the 1952 London Fog, this sulfate production mechanism is widespread, and our results suggest a way to tackle this growing problem in China and much of the developing world.

Concepts: Precipitation, Climate, Humidity, Relative humidity, Particulate, Smog, Psychrometrics, Fog


Several studies have analyzed the effects of weather on factors associated with weight loss. In this study, we directly analyzed the effect of weather on intentional weight loss using global-scale data provided by smartphone applications. Through Weather Underground API and the Noom Coach application, we extracted information on weather and body weight for each user located in each of several geographic areas on all login days. We identified meteorological information (pressure, precipitation, wind speed, dew point, and temperature) and self-monitored body weight data simultaneously. A linear mixed-effects model was performed analyzing 3274 subjects. Subjects in North America had higher initial BMIs than those of subjects in Eastern Asia. During the study period, most subjects who used the smartphone application experienced weight loss in a significant way (80.39%, p-value < 0.001). Subjects who infrequently recorded information about dinner had smaller variations than those of other subjects (βfreq.users dinner*time = 0.007, p-value < 0.001). Colder temperature, lower dew point, and higher values for wind speed and precipitation were significantly associated with weight loss. In conclusion, we found a direct and independent impact of meteorological conditions on intentional weight loss efforts on a global scale (not only on a local level).

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Humidity, Meteorology, North America, Wind, Monsoon, Fog


The evolution of terrestrial vertebrates, starting around 385 million years ago, is an iconic moment in evolution that brings to mind images of fish transforming into four-legged animals. Here, we show that this radical change in body shape was preceded by an equally dramatic change in sensory abilities akin to transitioning from seeing over short distances in a dense fog to seeing over long distances on a clear day. Measurements of eye sockets and simulations of their evolution show that eyes nearly tripled in size just before vertebrates began living on land. Computational simulations of these animal’s visual ecology show that for viewing objects through water, the increase in eye size provided a negligible increase in performance. However, when viewing objects through air, the increase in eye size provided a large increase in performance. The jump in eye size was, therefore, unlikely to have arisen for seeing through water and instead points to an unexpected hybrid of seeing through air while still primarily inhabiting water. Our results and several anatomical innovations arising at the same time suggest lifestyle similarity to crocodiles. The consequent combination of the increase in eye size and vision through air would have conferred a 1 million-fold increase in the amount of space within which objects could be seen. The “buena vista” hypothesis that our data suggest is that seeing opportunities from afar played a role in the subsequent evolution of fully terrestrial limbs as well as the emergence of elaborated action sequences through planning circuits in the nervous system.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Brain, Animal, Eye, Visual perception, Visual system, Fog


Deep groundwater aquifers are poorly characterized but could yield important sources of water in California and elsewhere. Deep aquifers have been developed for oil and gas extraction, and this activity has created both valuable data and risks to groundwater quality. Assessing groundwater quantity and quality requires baseline data and a monitoring framework for evaluating impacts. We analyze 938 chemical, geological, and depth data points from 360 oil/gas fields across eight counties in California and depth data from 34,392 oil and gas wells. By expanding previous groundwater volume estimates from depths of 305 m to 3,000 m in California’s Central Valley, an important agricultural region with growing groundwater demands, fresh [<3,000 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS)] groundwater volume is almost tripled to 2,700 km(3), most of it found shallower than 1,000 m. The 3,000-m depth zone also provides 3,900 km(3) of fresh and saline water, not previously estimated, that can be categorized as underground sources of drinking water (USDWs; <10,000 ppm TDS). Up to 19% and 35% of oil/gas activities have occurred directly in freshwater zones and USDWs, respectively, in the eight counties. Deeper activities, such as wastewater injection, may also pose a potential threat to groundwater, especially USDWs. Our findings indicate that California's Central Valley alone has close to three times the volume of fresh groundwater and four times the volume of USDWs than previous estimates suggest. Therefore, efforts to monitor and protect deeper, saline groundwater resources are needed in California and beyond.

Concepts: Water, Aquifer, Groundwater, California, Seawater, Total dissolved solids, Fog, Central Valley Project


Weather conditions are commonly believed to influence musculoskeletal pain, however the evidence for this is mixed. This study aimed to examine the relationship between local meteorological conditions and online search trends for terms related to knee pain, hip pain, and arthritis. Five years of relative online search volumes for these terms were obtained for the 50 most populous cities in the contiguous United States, along with corresponding local weather data for temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, and precipitation. Methods from the climate econometrics literature were used to assess the casual impact of these meteorological variables on the relative volumes of searches for pain. For temperatures between -5°C and 30°C, search volumes for hip pain increased by 12 index points, and knee pain increased by 18 index points. Precipitation had a negative effect on search volumes for these terms. At temperatures >30°C, search volumes for arthritis related pain decreased by 7 index points. These patterns were not seen for pain searches unrelated to the musculoskeletal system. In summary, selected local weather conditions are significantly associated with online search volumes for specific musculoskeletal pain symptoms. We believe the predominate driver for this to be the relative changes in physical activity levels associated with meteorological conditions.

Concepts: Precipitation, Climate, Weather, Thermodynamics, Humidity, Relative humidity, Atmospheric pressure, Fog


Antifogging coatings with hydrophilic or even superhydrophilic wetting behavior have received significant attention due to their ability to reduce light scattering by film-like condensation. However, under aggressive fogging conditions, these surfaces may exhibit frost formation or excess and non-uniform water condensation, which results in poor optical performance of the coating. In this paper, we show that a zwitter-wettable surface, a surface that has the ability to rapidly absorb molecular water from the environment while simultaneously appearing hydrophobic when probed with water droplets, can be prepared by using hydrogen-bonding assisted Layer-by-Layer (LbL) assembly of poly(vinyl alcohol)(PVA) and poly(acrylic acid)(PAA). An additional step of functionalizing the nano-blended PVA/PAA multilayer with poly(ethylene glycol methyl ether)(PEG) segments produced a significantly enhanced antifog and frost resistant behavior. The addition of the PEG segments was needed to further increase the non-freezing water capacity of the multilayer film. The desirable high optical quality of these thin films arises from the nanoscale control of the macromolecular complexation process that is afforded by the LbL processing scheme. An experimental protocol that not only allows for the exploration of a variety of aggressive antifogging challenges but also enables quantitative analysis of the antifogging performance via real-time monitoring of transmission levels as well as image distortion is also described.

Concepts: Optics, Molecule, Wetting, Surface tension, Titanium dioxide, Frost, Fog, Anti-fog


Background: Few studies were conducted to examine the effects of weather conditions on the incidence of measles. Methods: We used a distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM) to analyze the relationship between meteorological factors and measles incidence in Guangzhou, China. Results: Nonlinear effects of temperature and relative humidity on measles incidence were observed. The relative risk (RR) for the measles incidence associated with the 75th percentile of mean temperature (27.9 °C) relative to the median of mean temperature (24.7 °C) was 1.00 (0.86,1.16) for lags 0-10 days. The RR for the measles incidence associated with the 25th percentile of relative humidity (64%) relative to the median of relative humidity (73%) was 1.36 (1.01,1.82) for lags 0-30 days. The wet effects and dry effects were larger in females than in males. The wet effects were generally increased with ages. Significantly negative effects of cold spells on measles incidence were observed. Conclusion: Both hot and cold temperatures result in decreases in the incidence of measles, and low relative humidity is a risk factor of measles morbidity. An increased number of measles cases might occur before and after a cold spell. Our findings highlight the need to pay more attention to the weather transformation and improve the immunity of susceptible population for measles elimination. Catch-up vaccination campaigns should be initiated among young adults.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Medical statistics, Percentile, Climate, Temperature, Relative humidity, Cold, Fog


The ability to control drops and their movements on phobic surfaces is important in printing or patterning, microfluidic devices, and water-repellent materials. These materials are always micro-/nanotextured, and a natural limitation of repellency occurs when drops are small enough (as in a dew) to get trapped in the texture. This leads to sticky Wenzel states and destroys the superhydrophobicity of the material. Here, we show that droplets of volume ranging from femtoliter (fL) to microliter (μL) can be self-removed from the legs of water striders. These legs consist of arrays of inclined tapered setae decorated by quasi-helical nanogrooves. The different characteristics of this unique texture are successively exploited as water condenses, starting from self-penetration and sweeping effect along individual cones, to elastic expulsion between flexible setae, followed by removal at the anisotropic leg surface. We envision that this antifogging effect at a very small scale could inspire the design of novel applicable robust water-repellent materials for many practical applications.

Concepts: Water, Surface tension, Surface, Litre, Differential geometry, Dew point, Condensation, Fog


To quantify the risk of knee pain exacerbation associated with temperature, relative humidity, air pressure and precipitation in persons with knee osteoarthritis.

Concepts: Precipitation, Climate, Humidity, Water vapor, Relative humidity, Psychrometrics, Atmospheric thermodynamics, Fog


In recent years, severe haze events often occurred in China, causing serious environmental problems. The mechanisms responsible for the haze formation, however, are still not well understood, hindering the forecast and mitigation of haze pollution. Our study of the 2012-13 winter haze events in Beijing shows that atmospheric water vapour plays a critical role in enhancing the heavy haze events. Under weak solar radiation and stagnant moist meteorological conditions in winter, air pollutants and water vapour accumulate in a shallow planetary boundary layer (PBL). A positive feedback cycle is triggered resulting in the formation of heavy haze: (1) the dispersal of water vapour is constrained by the shallow PBL, leading to an increase in relative humidity (RH); (2) the high RH induces an increase of aerosol particle size by enhanced hygroscopic growth and multiphase reactions to increase particle size and mass, which results in (3) further dimming and decrease of PBL height, and thus further depressing of aerosol and water vapour in a very shallow PBL. This positive feedback constitutes a self-amplification mechanism in which water vapour leads to a trapping and massive increase of particulate matter in the near-surface air to which people are exposed with severe health hazards.

Concepts: Precipitation, Humidity, Water vapor, Relative humidity, Particulate, Smog, Air pollution, Fog