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  • richardmitnick 2:55 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Water trapped in star dust", Astrophysicists prove that dust particles in space are mixed with ice., Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena DE, The matter between the stars in a galaxy – called the interstellar medium – consists not only of gas but also of a great deal of dust., There has to be water for important chemical processes to take place on these particles from which complex organic – possibly even prebiotic – molecules emerge.   

    From Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena DE: “Water trapped in star dust” 

    Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena DE.

    From Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena DE

    Astrophysicists prove that dust particles in space are mixed with ice.

    Clouds of interstellar dust and gas, here in the region “Cygnus-X” in the Swan constellation.
    Image: ESA/PACS/SPIRE/Martin Hennemann & Frédérique Motte, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/Irfu – CNRS/INSU – Univ. Paris Diderot, France.

    22 September 2020
    Sebastian Hollstein

    The matter between the stars in a galaxy – called the interstellar medium – consists not only of gas, but also of a great deal of dust. At some point in time, stars and planets originated in such an environment, because the dust particles can clump together and merge into celestial bodies. Important chemical processes also take place on these particles, from which complex organic – possibly even prebiotic – molecules emerge. However, for these processes to be possible, there has to be water. In particularly cold cosmic environments, water occurs in the form of ice. Until now, however, the connection between ice and dust in these regions of space was unclear. A research team from Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has now proven that the dust particles and the ice are mixed. They report their findings in the current issue of the research journal “Nature Astronomy”.

    Better modelling of physico-chemical processes in space

    “Until now, we didn’t know whether ice is physically separated from the dust or mixed with individual dust moieties,” explains Dr Alexey Potapov of the University of Jena. “We compared the spectra of laboratory-made silicates, water ice and their mixtures with astronomical spectra of protostellar envelopes and protoplanetary disks. We established that the spectra are congruent if silicate dust and water ice are mixed in these environments.”

    Astrophysicists can gain valuable information from this data. “We need to understand different physical conditions in different astronomical environments, in order to improve the modelling of physico-chemical processes in space,” says Potapov. This result would enable researchers to better estimate the amount of material and to make more accurate statements about the temperatures in different regions of the interstellar and circumstellar media.

    Comparing the absorption spectra of a laboratory sample (of silicates, water ice and organic compounds) and the diffuse interstellar medium from the Cygnus X star formation region (circled region in the right-hand picture). Both the laboratory sample (red line) and the interstellar dust (white dots) show bands (blue bars) indicating the presence of solid-state water. Graphic: Axel M. Quetz/Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie.

    Water trapped in dust

    Through experiments and comparisons, scientists at the University of Jena also observed what happens with water when the temperatures increase and the ice leaves the solid body to which it is bound and passes into the gas phase at about 180 Kelvin (-93 degrees Celsius).

    “Some water molecules are so strongly bound to the silicate that they remain on the surface or inside dust particles,” says Potapov. “We suspect that such ‘trapped water’ also exists on or in dust particles in space. At least that is what is suggested by the comparison between the spectra obtained from the laboratory experiments and those in what is called the diffuse interstellar medium. We found clear indications that trapped water molecules exist there.”

    The existence of such solid-state water suggests that complex molecules may also be present on the dust particles in the diffuse interstellar medium. If water is present on such particles, it is not a very long way to complex organic molecules, for example. This is because the dust particles usually consist of carbon, among other things, which, in combination with water and under the influence of ultraviolet radiation such as that found in the environment, promotes the formation of methanol, for example. Organic compounds have already been observed in these regions of the interstellar medium, but until now it has not been known where they originated.

    The presence of solid-state water can also answer questions about another element: although we know the amount of oxygen in the interstellar medium, we previously had no information about where exactly around a third of it is located. The new research results suggest that the solid-state water in silicates is a hidden reservoir of oxygen.

    Does solid-state water help in the formation of planets?

    In addition, the “trapped water” can help in understanding how the dust accumulates, as it could promote the sticking together of smaller particles to form larger particles. This effect may even work in planet formation. “If we succeed in proving that ‘trapped water’ existed – or could exist – in building blocks of the Earth, there might possibly even be new answers to the question of how water came to Earth,” says Alexey Potapov. But as yet, these are only suppositions that the Jena researchers want to pursue in the future.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena DE campus

    Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena DE, abbreviated FSU, shortened form Uni Jena) is a public research university located in Jena, Thuringia, Germany.

    The university was established in 1558 and is counted among the ten oldest universities in Germany. It is affiliated with six Nobel Prize winners, most recently in 2000 when Jena graduate Herbert Kroemer won the Nobel Prize for physics. It was renamed after the poet Friedrich Schiller who was teaching as professor of philosophy when Jena attracted some of the most influential minds at the turn of the 19th century. With Karl Leonhard Reinhold, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, G. W. F. Hegel, F. W. J. Schelling and Friedrich von Schlegel on its teaching staff, the university was at the centre of the emergence of German idealism and early Romanticism.

    As of 2014, the university has around 19,000 students enrolled and 375 professors. Its current president, Walter Rosenthal [de], was elected in 2014 for a six-year term.

  • richardmitnick 1:08 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "JPL Meets Unique Challenge; Delivers Radar Hardware for Jupiter Mission", , NASA JPL-Caltech/Italian Space Agency (ASI) RIME, NASA's Europa Clipper mission to collect complementary science as it performs multiple flybys of Europa., RIME-Radar for Icy Moon Exploration   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “JPL Meets Unique Challenge, Delivers Radar Hardware for Jupiter Mission” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    September 21, 2020

    Gretchen McCartney
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    Grey Hautaluoma
    NASA Headquarters, Washington

    Alana Johnson
    NASA Headquarters, Washington

    NASA JPL radar hardware for ESA JUICE mission.

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built and shipped the receiver, transmitter, and electronics necessary to complete the radar instrument for JUICE, the ESA (European Space Agency) mission to explore Jupiter and its three large icy moons. Here the transmitter undergoes vibration testing at JPL. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Despite COVID-19-related hurdles, crucial NASA instrument components for the European-led JUICE spacecraft have been delivered.

    Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory met a significant milestone recently by delivering key elements of an ice-penetrating radar instrument for an ESA (European Space Agency) mission to explore Jupiter and its three large icy moons.

    While following the laboratory’s stringent COVID-19 Safe-at-Work precautions, JPL teams managed to build and ship the receiver, transmitter, and electronics necessary to complete the radar instrument for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission.

    Set to launch in 2022, JUICE will orbit Jupiter for three years, perform multiple flybys of moons Callisto and Europa, then orbit Ganymede. The spacecraft will observe Jupiter’s atmosphere up close as well as analyze the surfaces and interiors of the three moons, which are believed to harbor liquid water under their icy crusts.

    One of 10 instruments, the radar is key to exploring those moons. Called Radar for Icy Moon Exploration, or RIME, it sends out radio waves that can penetrate the surface up to 6 or 7 miles (10 kilometers) and collects data on how the waves bounce back. Some of the waves penetrate the crust and reflect off subsurface features – and the watery interiors – enabling scientists to “see” underneath.

    In the case of Europa, which is believed to have a global ocean beneath its crust, the radar data will help gauge the thickness of the ice. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, set to launch in the mid-2020s, will arrive around the same time as JUICE and collect complementary science as it performs multiple flybys of Europa.

    NASA/Europa Clipper annotated.

    Building RIME During a Pandemic

    A collaboration between JPL in Southern California and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), JUICE’s RIME is led by Principal Investigator Lorenzo Bruzzone of the University of Trento in Italy. JPL’s responsibility was to make and deliver the transmitter and receiver – the pieces that send out and pull in radio signals – as well as the electronics that help those pieces communicate with RIME’s antenna. Now that the components have been delivered to ASI in Rome, the next steps are to test and integrate them before assembling the instrument.

    “I’m really impressed that the engineers working on this project were able to pull this off,” said JPL’s Jeffrey Plaut, co-principal investigator of RIME. “We are so proud of them, because it was incredibly challenging. We had a commitment to our partners overseas, and we met that – which is very gratifying.”

    NASA JPL engineers and technicians follow COVID-19 Safe-at-Work guidelines on Aug. 19, 2020, as they ship hardware for a radar instrument that will fly aboard JUICE, ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) mission to Jupiter. From front: Jeremy Steinert, Jordan Tanabe, Glenn Jeffery and Robert Johnson. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    In mid-March, engineers had just finished building the transmitter and its corresponding set of electronics. They were about to run an exhaustive regimen of tests to ensure the equipment would survive deep space – including vibration, shock, and thermal vacuum testing, which simulates the vacuum and extreme temperatures of space.

    Then the coronavirus pandemic forced most JPL’s employees to work remotely. The tests would have to wait.

    About a month later, RIME engineers and technicians came back on-site after JPL put in place its Safe-at-Work protocols, including – among other measures – social distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent hand-washing. Now the team had a schedule crunch, plus other new challenges. As one of the first teams to re-enter JPL (most employees continue to work remotely), they needed to figure out new ways to do things that used to be easy. Just finding screws and other fasteners, when the usual supply shop wasn’t open, became a puzzle to solve.

    Project Manager Don Heyer had new human challenges as well.

    “We needed to keep people not just safe – but comfortable being there,” Heyer said. “That was important, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to do the job successfully.”

    The key to moving forward was clearly defining next steps, he said. At the same time, they needed to make safety requirements thorough, but not too much of an additional burden for the staff. It was a learning experience, he said.

    “But we got there pretty quickly.”

    For more information about the JUICE mission, visit:

    For information about NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, visit:

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo

    NASA image

  • richardmitnick 12:24 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new NASA space mission to the far side of the Moon to investigate when the first stars began to form in the early universe., A team of scientists and engineers have decided to send a small spacecraft to lunar orbit and measure this signal while traversing the far side of the Moon which is radio-quiet., Astronomers are trying to catch energy produced by hydrogen clouds in the form of radio waves via the so-called 21-centimeter line., DAPPER will be designed to look for faint radio signals from the early universe while operating in a low lunar orbit., , NASA/NRAO Dark Ages Polarimetry Pathfinder DAPPER mission, NRAO will spend the coming two years designing and developing a prototype for the DAPPER receiver.,   

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory: “NRAO Joins Space Mission to the Far Side of the Moon to Explore the Early Universe” 

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    September 22, 2020
    Iris Nijman
    NRAO News and Public Information Manager
    +1 (434) 242 9584

    NASA/NRAO Dark Ages Polarimetry Pathfinder DAPPER depiction.

    Spacecraft DAPPER will study “dark ages” of the universe in radio waves.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has joined a new NASA space mission to the far side of the Moon to investigate when the first stars began to form in the early universe.

    The universe was dark and foggy during its “dark ages,” just 380 thousand years after the Big Bang. There were no light-producing structures yet like stars and galaxies, only large clouds of hydrogen gas. As the universe expanded and started to cool down, gravity drove the formation of the stars and black holes, which ended the dark ages and initiated the “cosmic dawn,” tens of millions of years later.

    To learn more about that dark period of the cosmos and understand how and when the first stars began to form, astronomers are trying to catch energy produced by these hydrogen clouds in the form of radio waves, via the so-called 21-centimeter line.

    But picking up signals from the early universe is extremely challenging. They are mostly blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere, or drowned out by human-generated radio transmissions. That’s why a team of scientists and engineers have decided to send a small spacecraft to lunar orbit and measure this signal while traversing the far side of the Moon, which is radio-quiet.

    The spacecraft, called the Dark Ages Polarimetry Pathfinder (DAPPER), will be designed to look for faint radio signals from the early universe while operating in a low lunar orbit. Its specialized radio receiver and high-frequency antenna are currently being developed by a team at the NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory (CDL) in Charlottesville, Virginia, led by senior research engineer Richard Bradley.

    “No radio telescope on Earth is currently able to definitively measure and confirm the very faint neutral hydrogen signal from the early universe, because there are so many other signals that are much brighter,” said Bradley. “At CDL we are developing specialized techniques that enhance the measurement process used by DAPPER to help us separate the faint signal from all the noise.” This project builds upon the work of Marian Pospieszalski who developed flight-ready low noise amplifiers at the CDL in the 1990s for the highly-successful Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), a spacecraft that gave the most precise figure yet for the age of the universe.

    DAPPER will be part of the NASA Artemis program with the goal of landing “the first woman and the next man” on the Moon by 2024. It will likely be launched from the vicinity of the Lunar Gateway, the planned space station in lunar orbit intended to serve as a communication hub and science laboratory. Because it is able to piggy-back off of the surging interest in sending humans to lunar soil, DAPPER will be much cheaper to build and more compact than a full-scale NASA mission.

    NRAO will spend the coming two years designing and developing a prototype for the DAPPER receiver, after which it will go to the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley for space environmental testing.

    “NRAO is very pleased to be working on this important initiative,” said Tony Beasley, director of the NRAO and Associated Universities Inc. vice president for Radio Astronomy Operations. “DAPPER’s contributions to the success of NASA’s ARTEMIS mission will build on the rapid growth of space-based radio astronomy research we’ve seen over the past decade. As the leading radio astronomy organization in the world, NRAO always looks for new horizons, and DAPPER is the start of an exciting field.”

    DAPPER is a collaboration between the universities of Colorado-Boulder and California-Berkeley, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Bradford Space Inc., and the NASA Ames Research Center. Jack Burns of the University of Colorado Boulder is Principal Investigator and Science Team Chair. Project website for DAPPER.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    NRAO ngVLA, located near the location of the VLA site on the plains of San Agustin, fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m) with additional mid-baseline stations currently spread over greater New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Mexico


    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

  • richardmitnick 11:33 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Supercooled Water Is a Stable Liquid Scientists Show for the First Time", First-ever measurements provide evidence that extremely cold liquid water exists in two distinct structures that co-exist and vary in proportion dependent on temperature., Pacific Northwest National Lab, Water resists freezing unless it has something to get it started like dust or some other solid to cling to.   

    From Pacific Northwest National Lab: “Supercooled Water Is a Stable Liquid, Scientists Show for the First Time” 

    From Pacific Northwest National Lab

    September 17, 2020
    Karyn Hede

    First-ever measurements provide evidence that extremely cold liquid water exists in two distinct structures that co-exist and vary in proportion dependent on temperature.


    Supercooled water is really two liquids in one. That’s the conclusion reached by a research team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory after making the first-ever measurements of liquid water at temperatures much colder than its typical freezing point.

    The finding, published today in the journal Science, provides long-sought experimental data to explain some of the bizarre behavior water exhibits at extremely cold temperatures found in outer space and at the far reaches of Earth’s own atmosphere. Until now, liquid water at the most extreme possible temperatures has been the subject of competing theories and conjecture. Some scientists have asked whether it is even possible for water to truly exist as a liquid at temperatures as low as -117.7 F (190 K) or whether the odd behavior is just water rearranging on its inevitable path to a solid.

    The argument matters because understanding water, which covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, is critical to understanding how it regulates our environment, our bodies and life itself.

    “We showed that liquid water at extremely cold temperatures is not only relatively stable, it exists in two structural motifs,” said Greg Kimmel, a chemical physicist at PNNL. “The findings explain a long-standing controversy over whether or not deeply supercooled water always crystallizes before it can equilibrate. The answer is: no.”

    Supercooled water: a tale of two liquids

    You’d think we understand water by now. It’s one of the most abundant and most studied substances on the planet. But despite its seeming simplicity—two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen per molecule—H2O is deceptively complicated.

    It is surprisingly difficult for water to freeze just below its melting point: water resists freezing unless it has something to get it started, like dust or some other solid to cling to. In pure water, it takes an energetic nudge to jostle the molecules into the special arrangement needed to freeze. And it expands when it freezes, which is weird behavior compared with other liquids. But that weirdness is what sustains life on Earth. If ice cubes sank or water vapor in the atmosphere didn’t retain warmth, life on Earth as we know it wouldn’t exist.

    Water’s weird behavior has kept chemical physicists Bruce Kay and Greg Kimmel occupied for more than 25 years. Now, they and postdoctoral scientists Loni Kringle and Wyatt Thornley have accomplished a milestone that they hope will expand our understanding of the contortions liquid water molecules can make.

    Various models have been proposed to explain water’s unusual properties. The new data obtained using a sort of stop-motion “snapshot” of supercooled water shows that it can condense into a high-density, liquid-like structure. This higher density form co-exists with a lower-density structure that is more in line with the typical bonding expected for water. The proportion of high-density liquid decreases rapidly as the temperature goes from -18.7 F (245 K) to -117.7 F (190 K), supporting predictions of “mixture” models for supercooled water.

    Kringle and Thornley used infrared spectroscopy to spy on the water molecules trapped in a kind of stop motion when a thin film of ice got zapped with a laser, creating a supercooled liquid water for a few fleeting nanoseconds.

    “A key observation is that all of the structural changes were reversible and reproducible,” said Kringle, who performed many of the experiments.

    Graupel: it’s supercooled water!

    Graupel forms when a snowflake encounters supercooled water in the outer atmosphere.
    Image: Mike_O | Shutterstock.

    This research may help explain graupel, the fluffy pellets that sometimes fall during cool-weather storms. Graupel forms when a snowflake interacts with supercooled liquid water in the upper atmosphere.

    “Liquid water in the upper atmosphere is deeply cooled,” says Kay, a PNNL lab fellow and expert in the physics of water. “When it encounters a snowflake it rapidly freezes and then in the right conditions, falls to Earth. It’s really the only time most people will experience the effects of supercooled water.”

    These studies may also help understand how liquid water can exist on very cold planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune—in our solar system, and beyond. Supercooled water vapor also creates the beautiful tails that trail behind comets.

    Supercooled water creates the beautiful tails that trail behind comets. New insights into supercooled
    water may help explain how water can be liquid in outer space and our own frigid upper atmosphere.
    ​​​​​Image: Hao Wen | Unsplash.

    Water molecule gymnastics

    Here on Earth, a better understanding of the contortions water can perform when placed in a tight situation, such as a single water molecule wedged into a protein, could help scientists design new medicines.

    “There isn’t a lot of space for the water molecules that surround individual proteins,” said Kringle. “This research could shed light on how liquid water behaves in closely packed environments.”

    Thornley noted that “in future studies, we can use this new technique to follow the molecular rearrangements underlying a broad range of chemical reactions.”

    There is still much to be learned, and these measurements will help lead the way to a better understanding of the most abundant life-giving liquid on Earth.

    This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science. The pulsed laser and infrared spectroscopy measurements were performed at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE Office of Science user facility located at PNNL.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is one of the United States Department of Energy National Laboratories, managed by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The main campus of the laboratory is in Richland, Washington.

    PNNL scientists conduct basic and applied research and development to strengthen U.S. scientific foundations for fundamental research and innovation; prevent and counter acts of terrorism through applied research in information analysis, cyber security, and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; increase the U.S. energy capacity and reduce dependence on imported oil; and reduce the effects of human activity on the environment. PNNL has been operated by Battelle Memorial Institute since 1965.

  • richardmitnick 11:05 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Healthcare; minerals; energy; food: how adopting new tech could drive Australia’s economic recovery", Advanced healthcare, , Automating minerals processes, , Digital solutions, Green energy, High-tech manufacturing, Innovating with food and agribusiness, Over the next few years science and technology will have a vital role in supporting Australia’s economy as it strives to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.   

    From CSIROscope: “Healthcare, minerals, energy, food: how adopting new tech could drive Australia’s economic recovery” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    22 September 2020
    Katherine Wynn
    James Deverell
    Max Temminghoff
    Mingji Liu

    We examined how the pandemic has created or intensified opportunities for economic growth across six sectors benefiting from science and technology.

    Over the next few years, science and technology will have a vital role in supporting Australia’s economy as it strives to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

    At Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, we’ve identified opportunities that can help businesses drive economic recovery.

    We examined how the pandemic has created or intensified opportunities for economic growth across six sectors benefiting from science and technology. These are food and agribusiness, energy, health, mineral resources, digital and manufacturing.

    Advanced healthcare

    While some aspects of Australian healthcare are currently digitised, system-wide digital health integration could improve the quality of care and save money.

    Doctors caring for patients with chronic diseases or complex conditions could digitally coordinate care routines. This could streamline patient care by avoiding consultation double-ups and providing a more holistic view of patient health.

    We also see potential for more efficient healthcare delivery through medical diagnostic tests that are more portable and non-invasive. Such tests, supported by artificial intelligence and smart data storage approaches, would allow faster disease detection and monitoring.

    There’s also opportunity for developing specialised components such as 3D-printed prosthetics, dental and bone implants.

    Green energy

    Despite a short-term plateau in energy consumption caused by COVID-19 globally, the demand for energy will continue to grow.

    Through clean energy exports and energy initiatives aligned with decarbonisation goals, Australia can help meet global energy demands. Energy-efficient technologies offer immediate reduced energy costs, reduced carbon emissions and less demand on the energy grid. They also create local jobs.

    Australia could earn revenue from the local production and export of more sustainable proteins like farmed prawns. Image credit: Dwayne Klinkhamer.

    Innovating with food and agribusiness

    The food and agribusiness sector is a prominent contributor to Australia’s economy and supports regional and rural prosperity.

    Global population growth is driving an increased demand for protein. At the same time, consumers want more products that are sustainable and ethically sourced.

    Australia could earn revenue from the local production and export of more sustainable proteins. This might include plant-based proteins such as pea and lupins, or aquaculture products such as farmed prawns and seaweed.

    We could also offer more high-value health and well-being foods. Examples include fortified foods and products free from gluten, lactose and other allergens.

    Automating minerals processes

    Even before COVID-19 struck, the mineral resources sector was facing rising costs and declining ore grades. It’s also dealing with climate change impacts such as droughts, bushfires, floods, and social pressures to reduce environmental harm.

    Several innovative solutions could help make the sector more productive and sustainable. For instance, increasing automation and remote mining (which Australia already excels in) could achieve improved safety for workers, more productivity and business continuity.

    Also, investing in advanced technologies that can generate higher quality data on mineral character and composition could improve yields and minimise environmental harm.

    High-tech manufacturing

    COVID-19 has escalated concerns around Australia’s supply chain fragility – take the toilet paper shortages earlier in the pandemic. Expanding local manufacturing efforts could create jobs and increase Australia’s earning potential.

    This is especially true for mineral processing and manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, space technology and defence. Our local manufacturing will need to adapt quickly to changes in supply needs, ideally through the use of advanced designs and technology.

    Digital solutions

    In April and May this year, Australian businesses made huge strides in adopting consumer and business digital technologies. One study estimated five years’ worth of progress occurred in those eight weeks. Hundreds of thousands of businesses moved their work online.

    Over the next two years, Australian businesses could become more efficient and adaptable by further monetising the data they already collect. For example, applying mobile sensors, robotics and machine learning techniques could help us make better resource decisions in agriculture.

    Similarly, businesses could share more data throughout the supply chain, including with customers and competitors. For instance, increased data sharing among renewable energy providers and customers could improve the monitoring, forecasting and reliability of energy supply.

    Making the right plans and investments now will determine Australia’s recovery and resilience in the future.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

  • richardmitnick 10:38 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Taking Stock of Backyard Worlds", , , , , , NSF’s NOIRLab, The citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, Y dwarfs are the coldest of substars.   

    From AAS NOVA: “Taking Stock of Backyard Worlds” 


    From AAS NOVA

    21 September 2020
    Susanna Kohler

    Artist’s impression of a Y-dwarf star, which are the coldest star-like bodies known. [NASA/JPL-Caltech]

    We’ve tallied up a lot of the stars and substars that lie within our solar neighborhood, but we’re missing a key population: the coolest, dimmest substar dwarfs that lurk nearby. A citizen science study is now filling in this gap with the discovery of 95 new “backyard worlds.”

    A Gap in the Census

    Three types of progressively cooler brown dwarfs and their characteristics. Y dwarfs are the coldest of substars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Backyard Worlds.

    Stellar classification roughly tracks with star temperature, ranging from the wildly hot and bright O-type stars (which burn at more than 30,000 K) all the way down to dim brown-dwarf substars of T and Y types (which can be nearly as cool as Earth, at just 300 K).

    To better understand how stars and substars are distributed across this range, we’ve attempted to take a census of the bodies in our local solar neighborhood and observe their characteristics. The challenge in this lies on the brown-dwarf end: we’ve observed very few of the smallest, coldest substars in our solar backyard, because they’re so dim and hard to spot.

    How to Spot a Hidden Substar

    The key to finding these lurkers is all-sky surveying at long infrared wavelengths. The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is an ideal telescope for the task: this spacecraft has surveyed the entire sky in infrared 14 times over the span of a decade, providing us with a wealth of archived data.

    NASA/Wise spacecraft.

    By searching for cool, dim objects that move quickly between successive images, we can identify the nearby brown dwarfs that we’ve been missing.

    The catch? WISE’s imaging archive contains over 30 trillion pixels! Identifying small, dim, moving objects requires human eyes — a lot of them. It’s definitely time for crowd-sourcing.

    A Job for 200,000 Eyes

    The citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 (which we’ve previously talked about) relies on more than a hundred thousand volunteers to examine WISE images and spot cool, nearby star and substar candidates — and after roughly three years of work, the project has now completed around 1.5 million classifications!

    In a recent publication, a team of scientists led by Aaron Meisner (NSF’s NOIRLab) describes the follow-up of some of the most likely nearby, cold brown dwarf candidates from Backyard Worlds with the Spitzer space telescope.


    NASA/Spitzer Infrared telescope no longer in service.

    Discoveries in the Data

    Full-sky distribution of the 96 Backyard Worlds targets followed up with Spitzer. [Meisner et al. 2020.]

    Meisner and the Backyard Worlds team used Spitzer to confirm 75 objects as newly discovered members of the solar neighborhood. Their discoveries include:

    -A number of Y-dwarf candidates. These are the coldest of substars, of which there are only a handful known.
    -Two new worlds that lie within 30 light-years of the Sun.
    -Two sources moving faster than 2” per year — a potential indicator that they’re relatively old objects with low metallicity.
    -A T-dwarf substar that appears to be in a binary with a white dwarf.

    There’s still ~1,500 more Backyard Worlds candidates to be followed up, and many of the team’s discoveries will make excellent targets for future observations and characterization. The continued exploration of these coldest substellar neighbors will help us to bridge the gap between low-mass stars and massive planets, expanding our understanding of the worlds that lurk in our solar neighborhood.


    “Spitzer Follow-up of Extremely Cold Brown Dwarfs Discovered by the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Citizen Science Project,” Aaron M. Meisner et al 2020 ApJ 899 123.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    AAS Mission and Vision Statement

    The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe.

    The Society, through its publications, disseminates and archives the results of astronomical research. The Society also communicates and explains our understanding of the universe to the public.
    The Society facilitates and strengthens the interactions among members through professional meetings and other means. The Society supports member divisions representing specialized research and astronomical interests.
    The Society represents the goals of its community of members to the nation and the world. The Society also works with other scientific and educational societies to promote the advancement of science.
    The Society, through its members, trains, mentors and supports the next generation of astronomers. The Society supports and promotes increased participation of historically underrepresented groups in astronomy.
    The Society assists its members to develop their skills in the fields of education and public outreach at all levels. The Society promotes broad interest in astronomy, which enhances science literacy and leads many to careers in science and engineering.

    Adopted June 7, 2009

  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Plans underway for new polar ice and snow topography mission", , , ESA/Airbus Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter CRISTAL Mission,   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Plans underway for new polar ice and snow topography mission” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe


    Monitoring the cryosphere is essential to fully assess, predict and adapt to climate variability and change. Given the importance of this fragile component of the Earth system, today ESA, along with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space, have signed a contract to develop the Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter mission, known as CRISTAL.

    ESA/Airbus Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter CRISTAL Mission depiction.

    With a launch planned in 2027, the CRISTAL mission will carry, for the first time on a polar mission, a dual-frequency radar altimeter, and microwave radiometer, that will measure and monitor sea-ice thickness, overlying snow depth and ice-sheet elevations.

    These data will support maritime operations in the polar oceans and contribute to a better understanding of climate processes. CRISTAL will also support applications related to coastal and inland waters, as well as providing observations of ocean topography.

    CRISTAL in action

    The mission will ensure the long-term continuation of radar altimetry ice elevation and topographic change records, following on from previous missions such as ESA’s Earth Explorer CryoSat mission and other heritage missions.

    With a contract secured worth € 300 million, Airbus Defence and Space has been selected to develop and build the new CRISTAL mission, while Thales Alenia Space has been chosen as the prime contractor to develop its Interferometric Radar Altimeter for Ice and Snow (IRIS).

    ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, says, “I am extremely pleased to have the contract signed so we can continue the development of this crucial mission. It will be critical in monitoring climate indicators, including the variability of Arctic sea ice, and ice sheet and ice cap melting.”

    The contract for CRISTAL is the second out of the six new high-priority candidate missions to be signed – after the Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission (CO2M) in late-July. The CRISTAL mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of ESA, in partnership with the European Commission.

    The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data, as well as a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring and natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Researchers identify new type of superconductor", , , , G-wave superconductors proposed., No electrical resistance   

    From Cornell Chronicle: “Researchers identify new type of superconductor” 

    From Cornell Chronicle

    September 21, 2020
    David Nutt

    This illustration shows a crystal lattice of strontium ruthenate responding to various sound waves sent via resonant ultrasound spectroscopy as the material cools through its superconducting transition at 1.4 kelvin (minus 457 degrees Fahrenheit). The highlighted deformation suggests the material may be a new type of superconductor. Provided.

    Until now, the history of superconducting materials has been a tale of two types: s-wave and d-wave.

    Now, Cornell researchers – led by Brad Ramshaw, the Dick & Dale Reis Johnson Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences – have discovered a possible third type: g-wave.

    Their paper, Thermodynamic Evidence for a Two-Component Superconducting Order Parameter in Sr2RuO4, published Sept. 21 in Nature Physics. The lead author is doctoral student Sayak Ghosh, M.S. ’19.

    Electrons in superconductors move together in what are known as Cooper pairs. This “pairing” endows superconductors with their most famous property – no electrical resistance – because, in order to generate resistance, the Cooper pairs have to be broken apart, and this takes energy.

    In s-wave superconductors – generally conventional materials, such as lead, tin and mercury – the Cooper pairs are made of one electron pointing up and one pointing down, both moving head-on toward each other, with no net angular momentum. In recent decades, a new class of exotic materials has exhibited what’s called d-wave superconductivity, whereby the Cooper pairs have two quanta of angular momentum.

    Physicists have theorized the existence of a third type of superconductor between these two so-called “singlet” states: a p-wave superconductor, with one quanta of angular momentum and the electrons pairing with parallel rather than antiparallel spins. This spin-triplet superconductor would be a major breakthrough for quantum computing because it can be used to create Majorana fermions, a unique particle which is its own antiparticle.

    For more than 20 years, one of the leading candidates for a p-wave superconductor has been strontium ruthenate (Sr2RuO4­), although recent research has started to poke holes in the idea.

    Ramshaw and his team set out to determine once and for all whether strontium ruthenate is a highly desired p-wave superconductor. Using high-resolution resonant ultrasound spectroscopy, they discovered that the material is potentially an entirely new kind of superconductor altogether: g-wave.

    “This experiment really shows the possibility of this new type of superconductor that we had never thought about before,” Ramshaw said. “It really opens up the space of possibilities for what a superconductor can be and how it can manifest itself. If we’re ever going to get a handle on controlling superconductors and using them in technology with the kind of fine-tuned control we have with semiconductors, we really want to know how they work and what varieties and flavors they come in.”

    As with previous projects, Ramshaw and Ghosh used resonant ultrasound spectroscopy to study the symmetry properties of the superconductivity in a crystal of strontium ruthenate that was grown and precision-cut by collaborators at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Germany.

    However, unlike previous attempts, Ramshaw and Ghosh encountered a significant problem when trying to conduct the experiment.

    “Cooling down resonant ultrasound to 1 kelvin (minus 457.87 degrees Fahrenheit) is difficult, and we had to build a completely new apparatus to achieve this,” Ghosh said.

    With their new setup, the Cornell team measured the response of the crystal’s elastic constants – essentially the speed of sound in the material – to a variety of sound waves as the material cooled through its superconducting transition at 1.4 kelvin (minus 457 degrees Fahrenheit).

    “This is by far the highest-precision resonant ultrasound spectroscopy data ever taken at these low temperatures,” Ramshaw said.

    Based on the data, they determined that strontium ruthenate is what’s called a two-component superconductor, meaning the way electrons bind together is so complex, it can’t be described by a single number; it needs a direction as well.

    Previous studies [Science Advances] had used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to narrow the possibilities of what kind of wave material strontium ruthenate might be, effectively eliminating p-wave as an option.

    By determining that the material was two-component, Ramshaw’s team not only confirmed those findings, but also showed strontium ruthenate wasn’t a conventional s- or d-wave superconductor, either.

    “Resonant ultrasound really lets you go in and even if you can’t identify all the microscopic details, you can make broad statements about which ones are ruled out,” Ramshaw said. “So then the only things that the experiments are consistent with are these very, very weird things that nobody has ever seen before. One of which is g-wave, which means angular momentum 4. No one has ever even thought that there would be a g-wave superconductor.”

    Now the researchers can use the technique to examine other materials to find out if they are potential p-wave candidates.

    However, the work on strontium ruthenate isn’t finished.

    “This material is extremely well studied in a lot of different contexts, not just for its superconductivity,” Ramshaw said. “We understand what kind of metal it is, why it’s a metal, how it behaves when you change temperature, how it behaves when you change the magnetic field. So you should be able to construct a theory of why it becomes a superconductor better here than just about anywhere else.”

    Co-authors include researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids; the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University; and the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan.

    The Cornell research was supported by U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences and the Cornell Center for Materials Research, which is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center program.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

  • richardmitnick 9:08 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New technology is a 'science multiplier' for astronomy", , , , , Federal funding of new technology is crucial for astronomy according to results of a study released Sept. 21 in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes Instruments and Systems., , Many of the key advances in astronomy over the past three decades benefited directly or indirectly from this early seed funding., ,   

    From Indiana University via “New technology is a ‘science multiplier’ for astronomy” 

    Indiana U bloc

    From Indiana University


    September 21, 2020

    The first image of a black hole by the the Event Horizon Telescope in 2019 was enabled in part b support for the NSF’s Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation program. Credit: NASA.

    Federal funding of new technology is crucial for astronomy, according to results of a study released Sept. 21 in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments and Systems.

    The study tracked the long-term impact of early seed funding obtained from the National Science Foundation.

    Many of the key advances in astronomy over the past three decades benefited directly or indirectly from this early seed funding.

    Over the past 30 years, the NSF Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation program has supported astronomers to develop new ways to study the universe. Such devices may include cameras or other instruments as well as innovations in telescope design. The study traced the origins of some workhorse technologies in use today back to their humble origins years or even decades ago in early grants from NSF. The study also explored the impact of technologies that are just now advancing the state-of-the-art.

    The impact of technology and instrumentation research unfolds over the long term. “New technology is a science multiplier” said study author Peter Kurczynski, who served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation and is now the Chief Scientist of Cosmic Origins at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. “It enables new ways of observing the universe that were never before possible.” As a result, astronomers are able to make better observations, and gain deeper insights, into the mysteries of the cosmos.

    The study also looked at the impact of grant supported research in the peer-reviewed literature. Papers resulting from technology and instrumentation grants are cited with the same frequency as those resulting from pure science grants, according to the study. Instrumentation scientists “write papers to the same degree, and with the same impact as their peers who do not build instruments,” said Staša Milojevi, associate professor of informatics and the director of the Center for Complex Network and Systems Research in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at Indiana University, who is a coauthor of the study.

    Also noteworthy is that NSF grant supported research was cited more frequently overall than the general astronomy literature. NSF is considered to have set the gold standard in merit review process for selecting promising research for funding.

    An anonymous reviewer described the article as a “go-to record for anyone needing to know the basic history of many breakthroughs in astronomical technology.” Better observations have always improved our understanding of the universe. From the birth of modern astronomy in the middle ages to the present day, astronomers have relied upon new technologies to reveal the subtle details of the night sky with increasing sophistication.

    This study comes at a critical time of reflection on the nation’s commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. U.S. preeminence in STEM is increasingly challenged by China and Europe. This study reveals that investments in technology have a tremendous impact for science. Astronomers today are still reaping the benefits of research that was begun decades ago. The future of astronomy depends upon technologies being developed today.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Indiana U Campus

    Indiana University students get it all—the storybook experience of what college should be like, and the endless opportunities that come with it. Top-ranked academics. Awe-inspiring faculty. Dynamic campus life. International culture. Phenomenal music and arts events. The excitement of IU Hoosier sports. And a jaw-droppingly beautiful campus.

  • richardmitnick 8:03 am on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Extreme warming events impact fisheries and economies; understanding processes beneath ocean surface is crucial for assessment and management., Ningaloo Niño, ,   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Studies investigate marine heatwaves, shifting ocean currents” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    September 21, 2020

    An aerial view of Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia. A marine heatwave in 2011 led to the first-recorded coral bleaching event at Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage site, and also caused extensive loss of a nearby kelp forest. Photo by Darkydoors, Shutter Stock Images.

    Extreme warming events impact fisheries and economies; understanding processes beneath ocean surface is crucial for assessment and management.

    North America experienced a series of dangerous heatwaves during the summer of 2020, breaking records from coast to coast. In the ocean, extreme warming conditions are also becoming more frequent and intense. Two new studies from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) investigate marine heatwaves and currents at the edge of the continental shelf, which impact regional ocean circulation and marine life.

    In a paper published September 17 in the Journal of Climate, WHOI oceanographers and collaborators at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany use a new model to understand how ocean processes affect marine heatwaves at depth off the west coast of Australia. Known as “Ningaloo Niño,” these extreme warming events have caused mass die-offs of marine organisms, coral bleaching, and potentially permanent ecosystem shifts, all of which impact fisheries and the economies that depend on them.

    “This area is a hotspot for increasing temperature and extreme events, with drastic impacts on regional marine species,” said lead author Svenja Ryan. “It’s important to understand where in the water column temperature and salinity changes are happening so you can determine how the ecosystem will be impacted.”

    For the first time in the Southern Indian Ocean, Ryan and her co-authors, WHOI physical oceanographers Caroline Ummenhofer and Glen Gawarkiewicz, showed that the effects of marine heatwaves extend to 300 meters or more below the surface along the entire west coast of Australia. They found that during La Niña years, the southward-flowing Leeuwin Current becomes stronger and is associated with warm temperature anomalies at greater depths. These conditions were observed during the 2011 marine heatwave that led to the first-recorded coral bleaching at Ningaloo Reef, a World Heritage site, and extensive loss of a nearby kelp forest. During El Niño periods, the temperature and salinity anomalies associated with marine heatwaves are limited to the ocean surface, showing that complex ocean processes play an important role in the depth-extent of extreme events.

    Ryan and her colleagues are using a similar modeling approach to study marine heatwaves in the Northwest Atlantic. “The challenge, wherever you go, is that marine heatwaves have so many drivers,” Ryan said. “Understanding different types of events and their associated depth structure is crucial for regional impact assessment and adaptation strategies, as well as for predicting potential changes in a future climate.”

    A new global ocean model shows how ocean processes affect marine heatwaves at depth off the west coast of Australia. Here, a case study of a catastrophic “Ningaloo Niño” event demonstrates how a marine heatwave impacted seawater temperatures at depth during the 2011/2012 austral winter.

    While models allow scientists to understand and predict changes to large-scale ocean processes, these models rely on data collected in the field. In a study published Aug. 30, 2020, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, lead author Jacob Forsyth made use of 25 years of oceanographic data collected by the container ship (CMV) Oleander on its weekly voyages between New Jersey and Bermuda. These measurements provide valuable insight into the Mid-Atlantic Bight Shelfbreak Jet, a cool-water current that flows south along the continental shelf from Labrador to Cape Hatteras.

    Forsyth, a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program and his co-authors, Gawarkiewicz and WHOI physical oceanographer Magdalena Andres, noticed a distinct relationship between the current and changing sea temperatures. Not only does the Shelfbreak Jet change seasonally— slowing down considerably from winter to summer— they also found it had slowed by about 10 percent since data collection began in 1992. The slow-down of the jet is consistent with the long-term warming of the continental shelf.

    “The Shelfbreak Jet is associated with the upwelling of nutrients, which affects the productivity of fisheries,” said Gawarkiewicz. “As marine heatwaves become more frequent, we need to understand how that links to the jet.“

    The Mid-Atlantic Bight Shelfbreak Jet, shown here as a thin orange arrow, is a cool-water current that flows south along the continental shelf from Labrador to Cape Hatteras. A WHOI study found that the current has slowed by 10% over the last 25 years, a change consistent with gradual warming of the waters on the continental shelf, and with potential implications for fisheries. Source: NOAA.

    Starting in 2000, researchers began to notice that eddies of warm, salty water breaking off the Gulf Stream— known as “warm core rings”— had nearly doubled in number off the New England Continental Shelf. Not only do these rings cause water temperature and salinity to increase, they push the Shelfbreak Jet towards shore, and sometimes entirely shut down or reverse the direction of its flow. The authors noted that shifting currents and temperatures on the continental shelf have already prompted changes in key New England fisheries: cold-loving lobster are slowly moving offshore, while shortfin squid are more commonly found closer to shore.

    “You could call it a ‘calamari comeback’, where some of these rings are coming onto the continental shelf packed with squid. Others have none,” said Gawarkiewicz. “Jacob’s work is an important step in unraveling this mystery and helping us predict how currents and shelf temperatures will respond to approaching rings.”

    The oceanographic data collected by the CMV Oleander are essential for understanding rapidly shifting dynamics in a complex system, said the co-authors. Previous studies rely on satellite data, which are limited to measurements of the ocean surface over a wide area. “Looking at the surface might not tell the whole story of what’s happening when rings approach the continental shelf, or their effects on upwelling,” said Forsyth. “This paper shows how important it is to have this type of long-term monitoring.”

    This research was funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Ocean Sciences, the Office of Naval Research, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar program, and the James E. and Barbara V. Moltz Fellowship for Climate-Related Research. Data collection via the CMV Oleander volunteer observing ship is made possible by the continued cooperation of Bermuda Container Line/Neptune Group Ltd.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.
    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

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