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News from Technical Sciences

[Translate to English:] I fremtiden kan rådnende tang blive værdifuld for fiskeopdræt. Nyt projekt vil undersøge mulighederne (Foto: Colourbox)
Enchytraeus albidus bliver op mod fire cm. lang, og kan vise sig en guldgrube for fiskeopdræt i fremtiden. (Foto: Martin Holmstrup)

2018.12.06 | Public / media

Rotten gold?

Over the next three years, a project run from Denmark will investigate how to create value based on a foul-smelling nuisance on beaches: rotting seaweed. It turns out that seaweed is home to a small worm which may be of great value for fish farming if the optimal living conditions for the worm can be identified. The project recently received a DKK…

Maize is a crop that will find things more and more difficult as climate change gives us more drought during the summer. Here is a Danish maize field from July 2018. Photo: Janne Hansen

2018.10.16 | Public / media

Climate changes require better adaptation to drought

Europe’s future climate will be characterised by more frequent heat waves and more widespread drought. Heat and drought will both challenge crop production, but drought in particular will be a problem – especially for spring sown crops such as maize.

A hoverfly (marked with a red square) pollinating white dryas in southern Greenland. The original idea is to use cameras with automatic insect recognition to register how climate change is affecting the interaction between plants and pollinating insects. Photo: Toke Thomas Høye
Toke Thomas Høye, senior researcher. Photo: Aarhus University

2018.10.11 | Public / media, Staff

Climate researcher from Aarhus University honoured for the original research idea of the year

Toke Thomas Høye, a senior researcher at the Department of Bioscience, becomes the first recipient of a new award from the Independent Research Fund Denmark for this year's original research idea.

In some areas, killer whales feed primarily on sea mammals and big fish like tuna and sharks and are then threatened by PCBs. In areas where the killer whales primarily feed on small fish like herring, they are less threatened. Photo: Audun Rikardsen – www.audunrikardsen.com
In areas where the killer whales primarily feed on small fish like herring, they are less threatened. Photo: Audun Rikardsen – www.audunrikardsen.com
Killer whales hunt together to gather fish in big, isolated schools. Photo: Audun Rikardsen – www.audunrikardsen.com
PCB transport in the food chains: When foreign hazardous substances enter the marine environment, they are assimilated into the first link in the food chain, phytoplankton. The phytoplankton is consumed by zooplankton, which in turn is consumed by smaller fish, etc. The chemicals accumulate in each link of the food chain, and this means that killer whales that feed on large animals in contaminated areas may contain concentrations of PCBs so high that the survival of the species is threatened. Killer whales that primarily feed on smaller fish are not threatened in the same way. 
Population development: By collecting data from around the world and loading them into population models, the researchers can see that 10 out of 19 populations of killer whales are affected by high levels of PCBs in their body. PCBs particularly affect the reproduction and immune system of the whales. The situation is worst in the oceans around Brazil and the UK where the model predicts that populations have been cut in half over the first decades since the use of PCBs became widespread. Here, the models predict a high risk that the species will disappear within a 30-40-year period. The line indicates median values, while the shaded field shows the variation.

2018.11.01 | Research

PCB pollution threatens to wipe out killer whales

More than forty years after the first initiatives were taken to ban the use of PCBs, the chemical pollutants remain a deadly threat to animals at the top of the food chain. A new study, just published in the journal Science, shows that the current concentrations of PCBs can lead to the disappearance of half of the world’s populations of killer…

You have to go against the flow and turn ideas upside down if you want to attract the attention of the VILLUM Experiment programme. Eight AU researchers have been able to do just this, and together they will be receiving DKK 15.3 million. (Ill: Colourbox)

2018.09.18 | Public / media, Staff

Experiments worth millions

The Villum Foundation is supporting bold technical and scientific research ideas for the second time. Researchers from Aarhus University are again on the list of recipients, with eight daring ideas totalling DKK 15.3 million.

There are plenty of cod around a sunken oil rig. Photo: Jon Svendsen
A brittle star has occupied a subsea installation less than one year old. Photo: D. Jones.
Fishing vessels cannot trawl the seabed in areas with oil rigs. This creates higher biodiversity in areas with artificial structures. Photo: Jonas Teilmann.

2018.07.09 | Public / media, Press release

Oil rigs may end their days as valuable artificial reefs

A large group of international researchers have just published a scientific article in which they encourage environmental authorities across the globe to rethink the idea of removing oil rigs, wind turbines and other installations in the sea when they are worn out.

Photo:Ole Mortensen

2018.07.05 | Public / media, Business

Aarhus University enters into new partnership with Chinese hi-tech region

Science and Technology at Aarhus University and Viborg municipality have signed a cooperation agreement with the Chinese region, Wuhan East Lake National High-Tech Development Zone (WEHDZ). The aim is to establish a partnership based on the activities at Foulum.

For some hours last February, the magnificent view from the Physics cafeteria on the seventh floor was no match for the new insights into entrepreneurship being gained by engineering students. Photo: Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit.
ESHIP: Navigating Uncertainty is a board game for teams, with counters, cards, dice and everything. It may all sound a little old-fashioned, but it is also intuitive, like a computer game. Photo: Jeanette E. Møberg.

2018.05.16 | Public / media, Staff, Entrepreneurship

Yet another award for ESHIP

The entrepreneurship education game, ESHIP: Navigating Uncertainty, has received a silver medal at the International Serious Play Awards for its innovative approach to education through gaming – also called Gamification. The board game was developed by Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit, the head of SciTech Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and this is the…

Past oil disasters have shown that only 15 to 25% of the oil can be effectively removed from the marine environments. Photo: Janne Fritt-Rasmussen.
Greenland Oil Spill Response conducts training to be prepared for oil spills in the Arctic. Photo: Lonnie Bogø Wilms.
Leendert Vergeynst, Aarhus Universiet og Lorenz Meire, Grønlands Naturinstitut, samler havis fra Godthåbsfjord i Grønland for at studere olie-spisende bakterier i arktisk havvand. Foto: Wieter Boone.
Schematic diagram of Arctic-specific conditions that affect microbial degradation of oil spills: A) Sea ice and icebergs hamper wind/wave-induced mixing in the upper water column and cause a thicker oil slick, which, in combination with low temperature, reduces evaporation, dispersion and dissolution. All these effect result in larger oil droplets, which microbes cannot degrade. B) Most oil compounds are not soluble in water. Therefore, the bacteria form a biofilm on the oil droplets in order to be able to consume the oil compounds. A small fraction of the oil compounds is water-soluble and thus consumed by both biofilm and free-living bacteria. C) Oil-mineral and oil-phytoplankton aggregates, which may enhance oil sedimentation ('dirty blizzards'), are formed upon interaction with sediment plumes from glaciers and phytoplankton blooms, respectively. D) Photooxidation by ultraviolet radiation from sunlight can be important, especially during summer. Ultraviolet light helps degrading oil molecules, but at the same time, the oil toxicity towards marine organisms may increase. E) Deep mixing of the water column and upwelling cause nutrient replenishment. Oceanographical conditions may thus be important to provide fresh nutrients for oil-eating microbes. (Credit: Leendert Vergeynst)

2018.03.08 | Public / media

Oil-eating microbes are challenged in the Arctic

Bacteria play a major role in cleaning up oil spills and mitigating its environmental impacts. In a review published in ‘Science of the Total Environment’, researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, examine the major limiting factors for microbial degradation in Arctic environments.

Pink-footed geese foraging on arable land in West Jutland. (Photo: Kevin K. Clausen, AU)
Pink-footed geese are found in very large flocks in West Jutland. All the birds need food. (Photo: Jørgen Peter Kjeldsen, ornit.dk)
(A) The proportion of pink-footed geese wintering in Denmark. (B) Development in the area of maize in West and North Jutland where the geese winter, and (C) the proportion of pink-footed geese that continue their migration to the Netherlands. All figures are from the period 1990-2015. (Figure credit: Kevin K. Clausen, AU)

2018.02.28 | Public / media

Maize fields entice geese to winter in Denmark

More and more geese remain in Denmark for the winter. They forage in the growing number of maize fields all over the country. Researchers warn that, in the long term, the many geese may cause problems for agriculture.

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