Tagged: Earth Observation Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 12:48 pm on November 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ozone hole set to close", , , , , Earth Observation, , , United space in Europe   

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe: “Ozone hole set to close” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe

    08/11/2019

    1

    The size of the ozone hole fluctuates – usually forming each year in August, with its peak in October, before finally closing in late November or December. Not only will the hole close earlier than usual in 2019, but it is also the smallest it has been in 30 years owing to unusual atmospheric conditions.

    Forecasts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which uses total ozone measurements from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission processed at the German Aerospace Center, have forecasted that this year’s ozone hole will close sooner than usual.

    Antje Inness, CAMS Senior Scientist commented, “The ozone hole’s maximum extent this year was around 10 million sq km, less than half of the size the ozone hole usually reached in the last decades. This makes it one of the smallest ozone holes since the 1980s. Our CAMS ozone forecasts predict that the ozone hole will close within a week.”

    2

    Ozone Forcast Charts

    ESA’s mission manager for Copernicus Sentinel-5P, Claus Zehner, noted, “This record-breaking small ozone hole size and duration during 2019 was caused by a warming of the stratosphere over the South Pole. However, it’s important to note that this is an unusual event and does not indicate that the global ozone recovery is speeding up.”

    ESA Copernicus Sentinel-5P

    Large fluctuations in polar vortices and temperatures in the stratosphere lead to ozone holes that vary in size. This year, the warmer polar stratosphere caused a slowing down of the wind fields around the South Pole, or the polar vortex, and reduced the formation of the ‘polar stratospheric clouds’ that enable the chemistry that leads to rapid ozone loss.

    Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation programmes, said, “The ozone hole is a perfect example where scientific evidence led to significant policy change and subsequently changes in human behaviour. The ozone hole was discovered in the 1970s, continuously monitored from space and by in situ devices and, finally in the 1980s led to the Montreal Protocol forbidding the use of chlorofluorocarbons.

    “Today, the ozone hole is recovering thanks to clear political action. This example shall serve as inspiration for climate change.”

    3
    The animation shows the size of the ozone hole in 2019 compared to 2018

    High up in the stratosphere, the ozone acts as a shield to protect us from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, which is associated with skin cancer and cataracts, as well as other environmental issues.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, the widespread use of damaging chlorofluorocarbons in products such as refrigerators and aerosol tins damaged ozone high up in our atmosphere – which led to a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.

    In response to this, the Montreal Protocol was created in 1987 to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of these harmful substances, which is leading to a recovery of the ozone layer.

    Recovery of the ozone hole will continue over the coming years. In the 2018 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion, data shows that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000. At these projected rates, the Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is predicted to recover by around 2030, followed by the Southern Hemisphere around 2050, and polar regions by 2060.

    ESA has been involved in monitoring ozone for many years. Launched in October 2017, Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite maps a multitude of air pollutants around the globe. With its state-of-the-art instrument, Tropomi, it is able to detect atmospheric gases to image air pollutants more accurately and at a higher spatial resolution than ever before from space.

    4
    Ozone hole duration and extension as monitored by CAMS

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    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 9:07 am on November 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Earth Observation, Red Algae,   

    From Rutgers University: “Red Algae Thrive Despite Ancestor’s Massive Loss of Genes’ 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    October 28, 2019
    Todd Bates
    848-932-0550
    todd.bates@rutgers.edu

    Study may spawn ways to genetically alter and control red seaweeds.

    1
    Red seaweed growing along the coast of South Korea. Photo: Debashish Bhattacharya/Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    You’d think that losing 25 percent of your genes would be a big problem for survival. But not for red algae, including the seaweed used to wrap sushi.

    An ancestor of red algae lost about a quarter of its genes roughly one billion years ago, but the algae still became dominant in near-shore coastal areas around the world, according to Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Debashish Bhattacharya, who co-authored a study in the journal Nature Communications.

    The research may assist in the creation of genetically altered seaweeds that could be used as crops, help to predict the spread of seaweed pests and – as the climate warms and pollution possibly increases – control invasive seaweeds that blanket shorelines.

    Scientists believe the 25 percent loss in genetic material resulted from adaptation by the red algal ancestor to an extreme environment, such as hot springs or a low-nutrient habitat. That’s when the genome of these algae became smaller and more specialized. So, how did they manage to escape these challenging conditions to occupy so many different habitats?

    “It is a story akin to Phoenix rising from the ashes, and the study answers an important question in evolution,” said Bhattacharya, a distinguished professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “This lineage has an amazing evolutionary history and the algae now thrive in a much more diverse environment than hot springs.”

    Red algae include phytoplankton and seaweeds. Nori and other red seaweeds are major crops in Japan, Korea and China, where they serve as sushi wrap, among other uses. Red seaweeds are also used as food thickeners and emulsifiers and in molecular biology experiments. Meanwhile, seaweed pests and invasive species are becoming a common threat to coastlines, sometimes inundating them.

    The scientists hypothesized that the red algal ancestor was able to adapt to widely varying light environments by developing flexible light-harvesting apparatuses. And their results strongly support this hypothesis. They generated a high-quality genome sequence from Porphyridium, a unicellular red alga. They found that many duplicated as well as diversified gene families are associated with phycobilisomes – proteins that capture and transfer light energy to photosystem II (a protein complex that absorbs light) to split water, the critical first step in photosynthesis that powers our planet.

    A key component of phycobilisomes are “linker proteins” that help assemble and stabilize this protein complex. The results show a major diversification of linker proteins that could have enhanced photosynthetic ability and may explain how the algae now thrive in diverse environments, from near-shore areas to coral reefs.

    The lead author is JunMo Lee, a visiting scientist at Rutgers who works at Kyungpook National University in South Korea. Scientists at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea contributed to the study.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    rutgers-campus

    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:29 am on November 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "CSIRO wins award for using space tech to solve UN land degradation challenge", , , Earth Observation   

    From CSIRO: “CSIRO wins award for using space tech to solve UN land degradation challenge” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation -CSIRO

    07 Nov 2019
    Gabby Russell
    +61294908002

    1
    CSIRO’s award-winning work is being used by more than 140 countries to track and compare land degradation factors like over-grazing, drought and contamination.

    Work led by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to develop robust land degradation mapping methods adopted by the United Nations has been recognised by the international Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

    CSIRO received the inaugural 2019 GEO Sustainable Development Goals Award for Innovation during GEO Week 2019 in Canberra, a global meeting of more than 1100 delegates from government, business, non-profit and research agencies.

    CSIRO’s award-winning work is being used by more than 140 countries around the world to track and compare their progress in addressing land degradation, contributing to a unified, global view where previously there had been no consistent measure for reporting on factors like over-grazing, drought and contamination.

    Creating a clearer picture of the scale of land degradation helps land managers make better decisions on how to address the problem.

    The solution uses Earth observation technology, generated by satellite imaging, to map land degradation over time, and drew on a network of more than 80 expert contributors and reviewers to develop global standards and tools.

    This rapid adoption is due in part to a collaboration between CSIRO and Conservation International, to make the satellite data and models accessible through an open-source software product called Trends.Earth.

    Research scientist Dr Neil Sims, who led the CSIRO team, said that agencies need remote sensing tools and knowledge to understand what is going on in the landscape and to be able to report changes and implement management activities to address them.

    “We developed techniques for measuring land cover change, land productivity and soil organic carbon stocks with a core focus of ensuring that all countries, at any level of capacity and technological development, could use them,” said Dr Sims.

    “We were engaged by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) because Australia is seen as a leader in Earth observation technologies and CSIRO has a strong ethos of collaboration.”

    CSIRO solves the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology, with the health and livelihood of more than 1.3 billion people around the world affected by land degradation.

    This includes fostering resilient and valuable environments and building a secure region that helps safeguard people from risks such as natural disasters.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 1:47 pm on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Exceptional Fossils May Need a Breath of Air to Form", , Earth Observation, Jackson School of Geosciences, , , , The best-preserved fossil deposits are called “Konservat-lagerstätten.”,   

    From University of Texas at Austin – Jackson School of Geosciences: “Exceptional Fossils May Need a Breath of Air to Form” 

    U Texas Austin bloc

    From University of Texas at Austin – Jackson School of Geosciences

    November 5, 2019

    1
    A fossilized mantle of a vampyropod, a relative tothe vampire squid. The ink sacis the raised structure in the center, and muscles have a striated appearance. Credit: Rowan Martindale/The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

    Some of the world’s most exquisite fossil beds were formed millions of years ago during time periods when the Earth’s oceans were largely without oxygen.

    That association has led paleontologists to believe that the world’s best-preserved fossil collections come from choked oceans. But research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that while low oxygen environments set the stage, it takes a breath of air to catalyze the fossilization process.

    “The traditional thinking about these exceptionally preserved fossil sites is wrong,” said lead author Drew Muscente. “It is not the absence of oxygen that allows them to be preserved and fossilized. It is the presence of oxygen under the right circumstances.”

    The research was published in the journal PALAIOS on November 5.

    Muscente conducted the research during a postdoctoral research fellowship at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences. He is currently an assistant professor at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. The research co-authors are Jackson School Assistant Professor Rowan Martindale, Jackson School undergraduate students Brooke Bogan and Abby Creighton and University of Missouri Associate Professor James Schiffbauer.

    The best-preserved fossil deposits are called “Konservat-lagerstätten.” They are rare and scientifically valuable because they preserve soft tissues along with hard ones – which in turn, preserves a greater variety of life from ancient ecosystems.

    “When you look at lagerstätten, what’s so interesting about them is everybody is there,” said Bogan. “You get a more complete picture of the animal and the environment, and those living in it.”

    The research examined the fossilization history of an exceptional fossil site located at Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in Canada’s Banff National Park. The site, which Martindale described in a 2017 paper [Geology], is known for its cache of delicate marine specimens from the Early Jurassic – such as lobsters and vampire squids with their ink sacks still intact—preserved in slabs of black shale.

    During the time of fossilization, about 183 million years ago, high global temperatures sapped oxygen from the oceans. To determine if the fossils did indeed form in an oxygen-deprived environment, the team analyzed minerals in the fossils. Since different minerals form under different chemical conditions, the research could determine if oxygen was present or not.

    “The cool thing about this work is that we can now understand the modes of formation of these different minerals as this organism fossilizes,” Martindale said. “A particular pathway can tell you about the oxygen conditions.”

    The analysis involved using a scanning electron microscope to detect the mineral makeup.

    “You pick points of interest that you think might tell you something about the composition,” said Creighton, who analyzed a number of specimens. “From there you can correlate to the specific minerals.”

    The workup revealed that the vast majority of the fossils are made of apatite – a phosphate-based mineral that needs oxygen to form. However, the research also found that the climatic conditions of a low-oxygen environment helped set the stage for fossilization once oxygen became available.

    That’s because periods of low ocean oxygen are linked to high global temperatures that raise sea levels and erode rock, which is a rich source of phosphate to help form fossils. If the low oxygen environment persisted, this sediment would simply release its phosphate into the ocean. But with oxygen around, the phosphate stays in the sediment where it could start the fossilization process.

    Muscente said that the apatite fossils of Ya Ha Tinda point to this mechanism.

    3
    A fossilized lobster claw that may come from a new species. Rowan Martindale, the University of Texas at Austin.

    The research team does not know the source of the oxygen. But Muscente wasn’t surprised to find evidence for it because the organisms that were fossilized would have needed to breathe oxygen when they were alive.

    The researchers plan to continue their work by analyzing specimens from exceptional fossil sites in Germany and the United Kingdom that were preserved around the same time as the Ya Ha Tinda specimens and compare their fossilization histories.

    The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Jackson School of Geosciences.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Texas at Austin

    U Texas Austin campus

    In 1839, the Congress of the Republic of Texas ordered that a site be set aside to meet the state’s higher education needs. After a series of delays over the next several decades, the state legislature reinvigorated the project in 1876, calling for the establishment of a “university of the first class.” Austin was selected as the site for the new university in 1881, and construction began on the original Main Building in November 1882. Less than one year later, on Sept. 15, 1883,

     
  • richardmitnick 11:58 am on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists Around the World Declare ‘Climate Emergency’", , , Earth Observation, More than 11000 signatories to a new research paper argue that we need new ways to measure the impacts of a changing climate on human society., Severe threat to humanity, , The new paper in "Bioscience"looks at 40 years of climate data.   

    From smithsonian.com: “Scientists Around the World Declare ‘Climate Emergency’” 

    smithsonian
    From smithsonian.com

    November 5, 2019
    Avery Thompson

    More than 11,000 signatories to a new research paper argue that we need new ways to measure the impacts of a changing climate on human society.

    1
    An image of the Camp Fire in Northern California on November 8, 2018, from the Landsat 8 satellite. (USGS / NASA / Joshua Stevens)

    NASA/Landsat 8

    The world’s scientists are increasingly worried about our civilization’s reluctance to tackle climate change, so in a paper released today, thousands of them are raising the alarm.

    In a report published in the journal BioScience, over 11,000 of the world’s leading climate scientists have added their names to a declaration calling the planet’s current warming trends a “climate emergency.” Titled “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” the paper takes an urgent tone, detailing a dire situation that will require extreme responses to avert disaster.

    “As a scientist, I feel that I must speak out about climate change, since it is such a severe threat to humanity,” says Bill Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University and lead author of the new report. In addition to a warning about the future, Ripple, his co-authors and the 11,258 other people who attached their names to the paper suggest a set of tools to make sense of our changing world.

    2
    Flooding level shown against a speed limit sign in Finchfield, IA. (Don Becker, USGS)

    The paper, which looks at 40 years of climate data, argues that scientists as well as world leaders should start moving away from using a single number to track the progress of climate change: global average surface temperature. When the world’s leaders signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, that’s the number they used.

    According to the Paris Agreement, if the global average surface temperature rises more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, we’ll start seeing more extreme weather events and around two feet of sea level rise. If it rises more than 2 degrees, we’ll experience significant melting of the polar ice caps, widespread desertification and severe coastal flooding. If we do nothing at all about climate change, we could see 4 degrees or more of warming, which could trigger a so-called “hothouse Earth” [PNAS] scenario where runaway climate effects bring us past a point of no return, resulting in a world barely habitable for humans with major population losses around the globe.

    But, Ripple argues, global average surface temperature is too simple to capture the nuances of climate change. It ignores other pieces of crucial information, and it doesn’t address all the various ways our planet is transforming.

    “For the average policy maker or the public, 1.5 degrees centigrade does not sound like a catastrophe,” he says. “It seems like, ‘O.K., that would be a little warmer, but not too bad.’”

    But a global average increase of just a degree and a half would have nuanced and cascading effects. To address this variation, the researchers developed a suite of different metrics, including the amount of heat stored in the oceans, the masses of the polar ice caps, the economic losses sustained from extreme weather events, and the area of land covered by wildfires in the United States.

    3
    According to the graphs Ripple and his colleagues have put together, despite decades of work fighting climate change, human impact is only getting worse. Fossil fuel use is still increasing. CO2 emissions are barely slowing down. The world’s forests are shrinking as quickly as ever. (William J. Ripple et al. / BioScience)

    “The effects of climate change are much broader than just surface temperature,” Ripple says. By incorporating these additional metrics in the conversation, researchers hope to highlight the wide array of climate change’s affects and make them clearer to the public.

    “By setting our goals with a single set of measures, we were making the climate problem more abstract,” says David Victor, a climate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego. “It was hard to see the progress people were making with that indicator.”

    In 2015, Victor authored a paper [Nature Climate Change] arguing that the climate debate needed more diverse metrics. Four years later, along with a large body of additional research, this new paper outlines a different way of looking at climate change. Surface temperatures are just one indicator out of many, but regardless of what you focus on, the picture looks increasingly grim.

    Over the last decade, for example, the cost of hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts and other such disasters has nearly doubled. The world is projected to spend around $200 billion on climate-related disaster relief next year. That cost is only going to go up as the Earth gets warmer.

    4
    Climate change has many wide-reaching impacts beyond a rising thermometer. Effects include hotter and more acidic oceans, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and more extreme weather. (William J. Ripple et al. / BioScience)

    The research team also developed a second set of metrics to track humanity’s impact on worldwide climate. “We think that to be holistic in the conversation, and for considering transformative change by society, we should track how we’re behaving as humans,” Ripple says.

    Dozens of measurements are included, including acreage of deforestation, world GDP, rate of population growth, and even how many cows there are around the world. Collectively, they paint a picture of a society either unaware of the damage it’s doing or unwilling to change. Still, the information is going to come in handy as scientists and leaders seek out solutions.

    “You want to understand not just the impact, but also what are the levers you can pull in order to reduce that impact,” Victor says.

    The research lists six steps to avoid the worst of an oncoming climate disaster. These steps fall into broad categories, such as energy, short-lived pollutants, nature conservation, food, economy and population. They range from well-known solutions like transitioning away from fossil fuels and countering deforestation to more uncomfortable tactics like slowing population growth and eating less meat.

    “We’re suggesting a major transformative change in the way that society functions that would promise a greater future well-being for humans,” Ripple says. “I have hope that we will do what it takes to sustain life on planet Earth.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Smithsonian magazine and Smithsonian.com place a Smithsonian lens on the world, looking at the topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution — science, history, art, popular culture and innovation — and chronicling them every day for our diverse readership.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:00 pm on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Arsenic in Rice, , , Earth Observation, Rice in the future,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers find rice yields plummet and arsenic rises in future climate-soil scenarios” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 1, 2019
    Danielle Torrent Tucker

    Research combining future climate conditions and arsenic-induced soil stresses predicts rice yields could decline about 40 percent by 2100, a loss that would impact about 2 billion people dependent on the global crop.

    Rice is the largest global staple crop, consumed by more than half the world’s population – but new experiments from Stanford University suggest that with climate change, production in major rice-growing regions with endemic soil arsenic will undergo a dramatic decline and jeopardize critical food supplies.

    These experiments exploring rice production in future climate conditions show rice yields could drop about 40 percent by 2100 – with potentially devastating consequences in parts of the world that rely on the crop as a basic food source. What’s more, changes to soil processes due to increased temperatures will cause rice to contain twice as much toxic arsenic than the rice consumed today. The research was published Nov. 1 in Nature Communications.

    “By the time we get to 2100, we’re estimated to have approximately 10 billion people, so that would mean we have 5 billion people dependent on rice, and 2 billion who would not have access to the calories they would normally need,” said co-author Scott Fendorf, the Terry Huffington Professor in Earth system science at Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “We have to be aware of these challenges that are coming so we can be ready to adapt.”

    The researchers specifically looked at rice because it is grown in flooded paddies that help loosen the arsenic from the soil and make it especially sensitive to arsenic uptake. While many food crops today contain small amounts of arsenic, some growing regions are more susceptible than others. Future changes in soil due to higher temperatures combined with flooded conditions cause arsenic to be taken up by rice plants at higher levels – and using irrigation water with naturally occurring high arsenic exacerbates the problem. While these factors will not affect all global commodities in the same way, they do extend to other flood-grown crops, like taro and lotus.

    “I just didn’t expect the magnitude of impact on rice yield we observed,” said Fendorf, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “What I missed was how much the soil biogeochemistry would respond to increased temperature, how that would amplify plant-available arsenic, and then – coupled with the temperature stress – how that would really impact the plant.”

    A naturally occurring, semi-metallic chemical, arsenic is found in most soils and sediments, but is generally in a form that doesn’t get taken up by plants. Chronic exposure to arsenic leads to skin lesions, cancers, aggravation of lung disease and, ultimately, death. It is especially concerning in rice not only because of its global significance, but also because the low-allergen food is often introduced early to infants.

    “I think this problem is also crucial for people that have young kids in our society,” said lead author E. Marie Muehe, a former postdoctoral scholar at Stanford and now at the University of Tübingen, Germany. “Because infants are a lot smaller than we are, if they eat rice, that means that they take up more arsenic relative to their body weight.”

    Climate simulations

    The researchers created future climate conditions in greenhouses based on estimates of a possible 5 degree Celsius temperature increase and twice as much atmospheric carbon dioxide by 2100, as projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    While previous research examined the impacts of increasing temperature in the context of the global food crisis, this study was the first to account for soil conditions in combination with shifts in climate.

    For the experiments, the group grew a medium-grain rice variety in soil from the rice-growing region of California. The greenhouses were controlled for temperature, carbon dioxide concentrations and soil arsenic levels, which will be higher in the future due to its buildup in soils from irrigating crops with arsenic-contaminated water, a problem that is worsened by over-pumping groundwater.

    “We don’t often think about this, but soil is alive – it’s teeming with bacteria and a lot of different microorganisms,” Fendorf said. “It turns out those microorganisms determine whether the arsenic stays partitioned onto the minerals and away from the plants or comes off the minerals into the water phase.”

    The researchers found that with increased temperatures, microorganisms destabilized more of the soil’s inherent arsenic, leading to greater amounts of the toxin in the soil water that is available for uptake by the rice. Once taken up, arsenic inhibits nutrient absorption and decreases plant growth and development, factors that contributed to the 40 percent decrease in yield the scientists observed.

    Early warning, future planning

    While the dramatic loss in production is a major cause for concern, the scientists are hopeful that this research will help producers find potential solutions for feeding the world.

    “The good news is that given past advances in terms of the global community’s ability to breed varieties that can adapt to new conditions, along with revisions to soil management, I’m optimistic we can get around the problems observed in our study,” Fendorf said. “I’m also optimistic that as we continue to shine a light on the threats resulting from a 5 degree Celsius change, society will adopt practices to ensure we never reach that degree of warming.”

    As next steps, Fendorf, co-author Tianmei Wang and Muehe hope to asses rice yields on a global scale by using remote sensing to pinpoint contaminated rice paddies in order to model future yields and arsenic contamination.

    “This is most likely to be a problem where most rice is consumed, so we think about South and East Asia,” said Wang, a PhD candidate in Earth system science. “Especially for people like my dad – he consumes rice three times a day and he just cannot live without it.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:15 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESA's Technology Strategy for Space19+", , , , , , Earth Observation   

    From European Space Agency: “ESA’s Technology Strategy for Space19+” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    1

    The space industry is in the midst of rapid, fundamental change. ESA’s new Technology Strategy, seeking to draw maximum opportunities from the emerging trends and opportunities driving this shifting landscape, willl be presented at the Space19+ Ministerial Council in Seville on 27 November.

    ESA’s Technology Strategy includes four main goals:

    30% improvement in spacecraft development time by 2023 by developing technologies that digitalise workflows, advancing technologies for increased flexibility, scalability and adaptability and developing processes that quickly introduce terrestrial technology into missions.

    A one order of magnitude improvement in cost efficiency with each new generation by reducing the cost per useful bit transmitted by telecommunications satellites, providing 100% service availability of positioning, navigation and timing services and making systems resilient to spoofing attacks, improving the resolution, accuracy, revisit time and product delivery time of remote sensing missions and enabling transformational science and increased science performance.

    30% faster development and adoption of innovative technology by focusing on technologies that enable new space-based capabilities and services, investing in joint lab facilities with industry and research centres for faster spin-in from terrestrial sectors to space and increasing opportunities for technology demonstration and verification payloads

    Inverting Europe’s contribution to space debris by 2030 by ensuring that all ESA missions are environmentally neutral by 2020, developing the technologies necessary for the successful active removal of space debris by 2024 and enabling all ESA missions to be risk neutral by 2030.

    See the full document here.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    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 8:04 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Data on soil moisture and ocean salinity, Earth Observation, ,   

    From European Space Agency: “SMOS 10 years in orbit” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    ESA SMOS

    SMOS has been in orbit for a decade. This remarkable satellite has not only exceeded its planned life in orbit, but also surpassed its original scientific goals. It was designed to deliver data on soil moisture and ocean salinity which are both crucial components of Earth’s water cycle. By consistently mapping these variables, SMOS is not only advancing our understanding of the water cycle and the exchange processes between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere, but is also helping to improve weather forecasts and contributing to climate research as well as contributing to a growing number of practical everyday applications.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    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 8:54 am on October 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Did an asteroid collision cause abrupt Earth cooling?", , Earth Observation, , , Scientists analyzing ocean lake terrestrial and ice core records have identified large peaks in particles associated with burning such as charcoal and soot at the time the Younger Dryas kicked in., The beginning of a decline in ice-age megafauna such as mammoth and mastodon eventually leading to extinction of more than 35 genera of animals across North America., The evidence is mounting that the cause of the Younger Dryas’ cooling climate came from outer space., The impact hypothesis: the idea that a fragmented comet or asteroid collided with the Earth 12800 years ago and caused this abrupt climate event., The Younger Dryas climate event   

    From EarthSky: “Did an asteroid collision cause abrupt Earth cooling?” 

    1

    From EarthSky

    October 28, 2019

    What kicked off a rapid cooling on Earth 12,800 years ago? Some geologists believe a fragmented comet or asteroid collided with Earth and caused the change. Read more from a scientist whose fieldwork at a South Carolina lake adds to the growing pile of evidence.

    By Christopher R. Moore, University of South Carolina

    1
    Artist’s concept of an impending collision from space. Image via Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock.com.

    In the space of just a couple of years, average temperatures abruptly dropped [Science], resulting in temperatures as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (8 C) cooler in some regions of the Northern Hemisphere. If a drop like that happened today, it would mean the average temperature of Miami Beach would quickly change to that of current Montreal, Canada. Layers of ice in Greenland show that this cool period in the Northern Hemisphere lasted about 1,400 years.

    This climate event, called the Younger Dryas by scientists, marked the beginning of a decline in ice-age megafauna, such as mammoth and mastodon, eventually leading to extinction [Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics} of more than 35 genera of animals across North America. Although disputed, some research suggests that Younger Dryas environmental changes led to a population decline among the Native Americans known for their distinctive Clovis spear points.

    Conventional geologic wisdom blames the Younger Dryas on the failure of glacial ice dams holding back huge lakes in central North America and the sudden, massive blast of freshwater [Nature Geoscience] they released into the north Atlantic. This freshwater influx shut down ocean circulation [PNAS] and ended up cooling the climate.

    Some geologists, however, subscribe to what is called the impact hypothesis [PNAS]: the idea that a fragmented comet or asteroid collided with the Earth 12,800 years ago and caused this abrupt climate event. Along with disrupting the glacial ice-sheet and shutting down ocean currents, this hypothesis holds that the extraterrestrial impact also triggered an “impact winter” by setting off massive wildfires that blocked sunlight with their smoke.

    The evidence is mounting that the cause of the Younger Dryas’ cooling climate came from outer space. My own recent fieldwork at a South Carolina lake that has been around for at least 20,000 years adds to the growing pile of evidence [Nature Scientific Reports].

    2
    The muck that’s been accumulating at the bottom of this lake for 20,000 years is like a climate time capsule. Image via Christopher R. Moore.

    What would an Earth impact leave behind?

    Around the globe, scientists analyzing ocean, lake, terrestrial [Journal of Geology]and ice core records have identified large peaks in particles associated with burning Journal of Geology, such as charcoal and soot, right at the time the Younger Dryas kicked in. These would be natural results of the cataclysmic wildfires you would expect to see in the wake of Earth taking an extraterrestrial hit. As much as 10% of global forests and grasslands may have burned at this time.

    Looking for more clues, researchers have pored through the widely distributed Younger Dryas Boundary [PNAS] stratigraphic layer. That’s a distinctive layer of sediments laid down over a given period of time by processes like large floods or movement of sediment by wind or water. If you imagine the surface of the Earth as like a cake, the Younger Dryas Boundary is the layer that was frosted onto its surface 12,800 years ago, subsequently covered by other layers over the millennia.

    In the last few years, scientists have found a variety of exotic impact-related materials in the Younger Dryas Boundary layer all over the globe.

    These include high-temperature iron and silica-rich tiny magnetic spheres, nanodiamonds, soot [PNAS], high-temperature melt-glass [Nature Scientific Reports], and elevated concentrations of nickel, osmium, iridium and platinum.

    While many studies have provided evidence supporting the Younger Dryas impact, others [AGU] have failed to replicate evidence. Some have suggested [PLOS|ONE] that materials such as microspherules and nanodiamonds [PNAS]can be formed by other processes and do not require the impact of a comet or asteroid [JQS].

    4
    White Pond has been part of this landscape for 20,000 years or more. Image via Christopher R. Moore.

    A view of 12,800 years ago from White Pond

    In the southeastern United States, there are no ice cores to turn to in the quest for ancient climate data. Instead, geologists and archaeologists like me can look to natural lakes. They accumulate sediments over time, preserving layer by layer a record of past climate and environmental conditions.

    White Pond is one such natural lake, situated in southern Kershaw County, South Carolina. It covers nearly 26 hectares (64 acres) and is generally shallow, less than 2 meters (6 feet) even at its deepest portions. Within the lake itself, peat and organic-rich mud and silt deposits upwards of 6 meters (20 feet) thick have accumulated at least since the peak of the last ice age [Quaternary Research] more than 20,000 years ago.

    5
    Collecting sediment cores from White Pond in 2016. Image via Christopher R. Moore.

    So in 2016, my colleagues and I extracted sediment [Nature Scientific Reports] from the bottom of White Pond. Using 4-meter-long (13-feet-long) tubes, we were able to preserve the order and integrity of the many sediment layers that have accumulated over the eons.

    6
    The long sediment cores are cut in half in order to extract samples for analysis. Image via Christopher R. Moore.

    Based on preserved seeds and wood charcoal that we radiocarbon dated, my team determined there was about a 10-centimeter (4-inch) thick layer that dated to the Younger Dryas Boundary, from between 12,835 and 12,735 years ago. That is where we concentrated our hunt for evidence of an extraterrestrial impact.

    We were particularly looking for platinum. This dense metal is present in the Earth’s crust only at very low concentrations but is common in comets and asteroids. Previous research had identified a large “platinum anomaly” – widespread elevated levels of platinum, consistent with a global extraterrestrial impact source in Younger Dryas layers from Greenland ice cores [PNAS] as well as across North [Nature Scientific Reports]and South America [Nature Scientific Reports].

    Most recently, the Younger Dryas platinum anomaly has been found in South Africa [Wired Space]. This discovery significantly extends the geographic range of the anomaly and adds support to the idea that the Younger Dryas impact was indeed a global event.

    Volcanic eruptions are another possible source of platinum, but Younger Dryas Boundary sites with elevated platinum do not have other markers of large-scale volcanism.

    More evidence of an extraterrestrial impact

    In the White Pond samples, we did indeed find high levels of platinum. The sediments also had an unusual ratio of platinum to palladium.

    Both of these rare earth elements occur naturally in very small quantities. The fact that there was so much more platinum than palladium suggests that the extra platinum came from an outside source, such as atmospheric fallout in the aftermath of an extraterrestrial impact.

    My team also found a large increase in soot, indicative of large-scale regional wildfires. Additionally, the amount of fungal spores that are usually associated with the dung of large herbivores decreased in this layer compared to previous time periods, suggesting a sudden decline in ice-age megafauna in the region at this time.

    6
    Photomicrograph of Sporormiella – fungal spores associated with the dung of megaherbivores – from White Pond. Image via Angelina G. Perrotti.

    While my colleagues and I can show that the platinum and soot anomalies and fungal spore decline all happened at the same time, we cannot prove a cause.

    The data from White Pond are, however, consistent with the growing body of evidence that a comet or asteroid collision caused continent-scale environmental calamity 12,800 years ago, via vast burning and a brief impact winter. The climate change associated with the Younger Dryas, megafaunal extinctions and temporary declines or shifts in early Clovis hunter-gatherer populations in North America at this time may have their origins in space.

    7
    A White Pond sediment core is like a timeline of the stratigraphic layers. What researchers found in each layer provides hints of climate and environment at that time. Image via Shutterstock.com/Allen West/NASA/Sedwick C (2008) PLoS Biol 6(4): e99/Martin Pate/Southeast Archaeological Center.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:15 am on October 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UW team sending autonomous surfboard to explore Antarctic waters", , Earth Observation, In February the cybernetic surfboard plans to head north into Drake Passage, Investigating the summer conditions near Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, , The Wave Glider surfboard,   

    From University of Washington: “UW team sending autonomous surfboard to explore Antarctic waters” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    October 23, 2019
    Hannah Hickey

    1
    The Wave Glider is being lowered into the water in the Beaufort Sea in September 2018. The black solar panels provide electrical power, the white bulb provides satellite communication and the orange paddles drop down to give a forward push in wavy seas.San Nguyen

    This week, a surfboard arrived in Antarctica. Not only was it missing a surfer, but the unique board was covered in parts that let it move independently and measure the surrounding seawater.

    The University of Washington project will first use the Wave Glider to investigate the summer conditions near Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, to better understand how the warming ocean interacts with ice shelves that protrude from the shore.

    Then in February, the cybernetic surfboard plans to head north into Drake Passage, braving some of the stormiest seas on the planet that even large research ships try to avoid. The device uses wave power to propel itself, so the monster waves common in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current can help it move forward.

    “We hope to learn more about the connections between the ocean, atmosphere and sea ice in this dynamic environment,” said principal investigator Jim Thomson, an oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and professor of civil and environmental engineering.

    As it surfs along, the board will measure turbulence in the upper part of the Southern Ocean, which helps to measure how heat and other properties move between the water and the air. The board sends information back via satellite, and researchers will retrieve it once the mission is complete.

    The UW team’s previous project in late 2016 sent the same autonomous platform across the 500-mile channel between Antarctica and Argentina, with resulting papers in Oceanography magazine and the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. This time the board has more capabilities, including a winch that can lower an instrument to measure water temperature, salinity and pressure — key oceanographic observations — down to a depth of 150 meters (about 160 yards).

    3
    The robot surfboard will explore near Palmer Station, a U.S. research station on the Antarctic Peninsula. It will also measure conditions in Drake Passage, the stormy channel between Antarctica and South America.University of Washington.

    The revamped system also uses sonar to measure turbulence in the ocean and in the atmosphere, as well as a motion sensor to measure the waves. These measurements quantify the strength of the mixing occurring in the notoriously stormy region.

    The board is a modified version of a Wave Glider made by Liquid Robotics, a California-based subsidiary of Boeing Co.

    “The ability to collect vertical profile data with the new winch is a game changer. It makes the platform complete as an autonomous research tool,” said James Girton, an oceanographer at the Applied Physics Laboratory and affiliate assistant professor of oceanography.

    Girton and Ryan Newell, an oceanographer at the Applied Physics Laboratory, are putting the instrument out in the water this week from the icebreaker research vessel Laurence M. Gould. An outreach team is providing live interaction from the ship through Nov. 2.

    The coastal monitoring is part of the Long-Term Ecological Research Network at Palmer Station, a U.S. research station on an island off the Antarctic Peninsula. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: