Short Science, December 29, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 5:25am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 7:54am

Huge water wonder at Greenland icesheet

A vast store of water equivalent in area to Ireland lies beneath Greenland's icesheet, and it may provide answers to one of the big riddles of climate change, scientists report. In 2011, US scientists crossed the southern Greenland icesheet on an expedition to drill ice cores, a benchmark of annual snowfall. They were stunned when they drilled into a layer of compressed snow called firn and encountered liquid water and ice granules instead. Seeking an answer to the liquid mystery, a Nasa plane with terrain-mapping radar was brought in to fly over the zone, as well as ground-penetrating radar towed by a snowmobile. Radar returned bright reflections pointing to the presence of a vast reservoir of water beneath the ice. Extending down Greenland's southeastern flank, the hidden water covers a 70,000 square kilometres. AFP


Test may detect chronic sports brain condition

US researchers have developed a test that might identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neuro-degenerative condition most famously associated with dozens of professional American football players who suffered permanent brain injuries from the sport. The test, developed at the University of California, Los Angeles, involves injecting a biomarker compound that clings to proteins in the brain and shows up in brain scans to identify tau, a protein found among CTE sufferers. But other experts have questioned its feasibility and warn it would take years before it is approved for commercial use even if it works. They believe, until now, that a foolproof diagnosis is only possible by extracting brain tissues from CTE patients who are already dead. There is no cure for the disease. Staff Reporter


Patients kept in dark over diabetic disease

Less than half of people with diabetes-related eye disease have been told about it, which means they're also missing out on corrective treatment, US researchers say. In nationwide surveys of adults with diabetic macular edema, which can lead to blindness, just 45 per cent said they had been told by their doctor that diabetes had affected their eyes. Nearly 30 per cent already had vision loss. Reuters