Life expectancy at birth will continue to climb substantially for residents of industrialized nations — but not in the United States, where minimal gains will soon put life spans on par with those in Mexico and the Czech Republic, according to an extensive new analysis. South Korean women and Hungarian men are projected to make the largest overall gains. There is a better-than-even chance that South Korean women will live to an average of 90 years old by 2030, which would be the first time a population will break the 90-year barrier, according to the research in the Lancet. Americans will gain only a couple of years of life expectancy between 2010 and 2030, the study predicted, keeping life spans in the early 80s for women and late 70s for men.
Antarctic glacier loses another chunk of ice
One of Antarctica’s most rapidly melting glaciers has shed yet another large block of ice in an event that NASA scientists say is “further evidence of the ice shelf’s fragility.” Pine Island Glacier, located on the edge of increasingly unstable ice sheet of West Antarctica, is one of the region’s biggest potential contributors to global sea level rise. Currently, it’s pouring about 50 billion tons of ice into the ocean each year, and scientists believe this rate could continue to increase in the future. Altogether, the glacier has the potential to raise global sea levels by an estimated 2 feet. Pine Island Glacier has experienced several significant calving events — that’s when an iceberg breaks off from the ice shelf — in recent years. In 2015, the glacier lost a massive iceberg with an area of more than 200 square miles. Scientists estimate that the area of ice lost in the most recent incident only spans a square mile or so.
Number of manatees in Florida is climbing
The number of Florida manatees, both dead and alive, continues to climb. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released preliminary results of an annual count that recorded 6,620 manatees lumbering in the warm waters of Florida’s lagoons, springs and canals. The count comes a year after federal wildlife officials announced plans to remove manatees from the endangered species list and marks the third straight year that estimated population numbers have increased. But the aerial survey also reflects a growing trend by manatees to huddle in waters heated by power plants and a similar upward creep in the number of deaths.
New vaccine would target bugs’ saliva
Wanted: 60 people willing to be bitten by mosquitoes to test a new kind of vaccine — one that acts against the bugs’ saliva. Rather than separate vaccines against Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases, the new approach aims to protect against multiple infections by triggering the immune system to rev up in response to the bite itself. The National Institutes of Health is recruiting volunteers for a safety study of the experimental vaccine, being developed by two London companies.