This Week in Science Policy: April 4.1 Edition

European Space AgencyAntarctica Loses Grip

Grounding Line
A depiction of what happens to Antarctica when underwater ice melts. Source:

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), Antarctica’s underwater land mass has decreased by 1,463 km, roughly the size of Greater London. The ice mass loss has been measured by the ESA’s CubeSAT, an orbital satellite that measures that ice sheet elevation. What’s disconcerting about this ice loss is that as it melts, it causes the ice to lose its grip on the bedrock, thus allowing the ice to melt faster and speed up the process. Why is this concerning? As sea levels continue to rise, cities close to the coast could be impacted by adverse weather conditions, and poor infrastructure planning, that could impact civilians in these metropolitan centers. What’s clear is that Antarctica is losing ice mass and that this trend could spell problems further down the line.

Department of Energy:ARPA-E Joins NASA in Hosting Energy Technology Competition

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has announced a partnership, with the National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA), to launch the NASA iTech challenge to encourage entrepreneurs to display their ideas on transformative energy. The competition will focus on themes such as:

  • Fuel Cells
  • High-Energy Batteries and Super-Capacitors
  • Solar Power Systems
  • Small Fission Power Systems
  • Power Management
  • New Technologies

For those interested in submitting a proposal, be sure to visit the iTech website!

National Institutes of Health: Elevated Blood Pressure Before Pregnancy 

According to NIH researchers, there is a link between high blood pressure and pregnancy loss among expected mothers. It was proposed that for every 10 mmHg increase in blood pressure, there was an 18 percent higher risk for pregnancy loss. Coupled with the fact that an increase in 10 mmHg arterial pressure leads to a 17 percent increase in pregnancy loss. This study adds to the consensus that heart disease is the number one disease in the United States. The fact that this disease affects expectant mothers goes to show how it not only affects this generation, but future generations to come.

Centers for Disease Control:Germs with Unusual Antibiotic Resistance Widespread in U.S.

This month, a new report was released highlighting 220 new instances of germs with “unusual” antibiotic resistance. This is of great concern to health professionals due to the fact that these strains of pathogens are immune to current treatments of antibiotics. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Containment Strategy focuses on initiatives such as:

  1. Rapid Identification of Resistance
  2. Infection Control Assessments
  3. Testing Patients without Symptoms
  4. Continued Infection Control Assessments

The strategy also calls for greater cooperation between federal, and state health centers, in the AR Lab Network. The AR Network, the hub for rapid detection, and planning among the community, has found that one in four germs sent to the lab has resistance genes that can be passed along to other strains and that 1 in 10 screening tests showed positive sign of antibiotic resistant germs. While it sounds troubling, the report highlights that we identified these germ strains and that the CDC has accounted for this increase in their planning strategies.

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