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  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on January 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Understanding Rare Rain Events in the Driest Desert on Earth", Additional research is needed to confidently show that the Amazon is the source of the moisture brought by some of the conveyor belts., , , , , It’s like a decade worth of rain within one single event within a couple hours., , Moisture conveyor belts, Moisture conveyor belts occur throughout the nearby Andes region about 4 times per year., Most of the moisture originates in the Amazon basin-a surprising result given the high Andes that divide the rain forest from the desert., , The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest and harshest environments on Earth.   

    From Eos: “Understanding Rare Rain Events in the Driest Desert on Earth” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    18 January 2022
    Emily Cerf

    A new study reveals the atmospheric paths of storm events that can deliver a decade’s worth of rain in a few hours to the Atacama Desert.

    1
    Parts of the Atacama Desert receive fewer than 5 millimeters of rainfall a year. Credit: Wescottm, CC BY 4.0.

    In the enduring dryness of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile where the average rainfall is as low as 5 millimeters per year, rare rain events can come swiftly and intensely. They shape the landscape and provide precious moisture to plants and other species that otherwise adapted to extended dry spells or harvesting coastal fog. Intense rain events like those seen in the Atacama are known to be associated with so-called ‘moisture conveyor belts”, which are high-altitude atmospheric phenomena known for transporting large volumes of water vapor. However, whether or not “moisture conveyor belts” are responsible for the Atacama’s intense rain events has yet to be shown.

    In a new study, Böhm et al.[Geophysical Research Letters] explain the atmospheric mechanisms behind the wettest of these precipitation events and propose that the water travels from the tropical Amazon across oceans and mountains to reach the desert. The research shows that 40%–80% of the total precipitation that occurs between the coast and the Andean foothills is associated with “moisture conveyor belts”.

    Rain events related to “moisture conveyor belts” can be devastating for local microbial species adapted to dry conditions, the authors say, but they could play a role in the germination of the blooming desert—an explosion of colorful wildflowers that occurs in the Atacama every 5 to 7 years. The authors’ understanding of the processes behind these rare events could change how scientists understand past and future climates in the region.

    Cataloging Conveyor Belts

    Böhm and colleagues cataloged the role of the conveyor belts in the Atacama for the first time. To figure out the role of “moisture conveyor belts” and track air masses, the researchers examined a 2017 precipitation event that brought more than 50 millimeters of rain to some regions of the Atacama. Modeling that tracked the paths of the air masses suggested that most of the moisture originated in the Amazon basin, a surprising result given the high Andes that divide the rain forest from the desert. The authors also discovered that “moisture conveyor belts” occur throughout the nearby Andes region about 4 times per year—some don’t bring much precipitation at all, but the wettest of them can be extreme.

    “It’s like a decade worth of rain within one single event within a couple hours,” said Christoph Böhm, lead author of the study from the Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology at The University of Cologne [Universität zu Köln](DE). Ten times the annual precipitation can be rained down by these conveyor belts in the midsection of Earth’s lowest atmospheric layer, the troposphere.

    In tracing how water moves in moisture conveyor belts across the continent, the researchers suggest that in the most humid of these extreme events, the moisture originates in the tropical Amazon basin rather than over the Pacific Ocean that lies west of the desert.

    However, additional research is needed to confidently show that the Amazon is the source of the moisture brought by some of the conveyor belts. An examination of isotopic data—the atomic chemical information of the water—from the rain events is necessary to support this idea, according to Cornell University (US) geologist Teresa Eileen Jordan, who studies the Atacama and was not involved in the research. The hypothetical path of the water from the Amazon over the Andes would fundamentally change the chemical composition of the water, she says.

    New ideas about how water is transported to these regions can shape how paleoclimatologists understand past eras in this region, affecting understandings of past civilizations that may also have depended on these processes, and can inform water resource management and predictions of future climate change in the Atacama Desert.

    See the full article here .

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    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:29 pm on November 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How plants survive in the Atacama", , , , , , , , Only the most resilient plant life can cling on among the water-parched rocks and sand., Phylogenomics, Some Atacama plants are closely related to staple crops including grains; legumes and potatoes., The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest and harshest environments on Earth., The European Southern Observatory, The international team of researchers has identified the smoking gun: key genes that have helped Atacama’s hardy shrubs adapt to their desiccated homelands., The research area is home to a surprising variety of plant species including grasses; annuals and perennial shrubs., The scientists sequenced the genes expressed in the 32 dominant plant species of the region as well as the genomes of the microbes living in the Atacama soil .   

    From COSMOS (AU) : “How plants survive in the Atacama” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS (AU)

    2 November 2021
    Amalyah Hart

    1
    The Atacama Desert in northern Chile, one of the driest and harshest environments on Earth. Credit: Melissa Aguilar.

    In the harsh, arid conditions of Chile’s vast Atacama Desert – the driest non-polar desert on the planet – only the most resilient plant life can cling on among the water-parched rocks and sand.

    How these plants came to thrive in such a hostile place is of particular interest to scientists hoping to understand how plant life might adapt to changing ecosystems in a warming world. Now, in a new study published today in PNAS, an international team of researchers has identified the smoking gun: key genes that have helped Atacama’s hardy shrubs adapt to their desiccated homelands.

    The study was an international collaboration between botanists, microbiologists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists and genomic scientists, headed up by a team of Chilean researchers who established a pioneering “natural laboratory” in the Atacama, where they conducted experiments over a decade to understand how the unforgiving landscape was able to nourish life. They measured climate, soil and plant life at 22 sites across varying elevations and types of vegetation.

    The research area is home to a surprising variety of plant species including grasses; annuals and perennial shrubs, all of which are adapted to manage the region’s aridity, altitude, nutrient-poor soil, and the Sun’s harsh radiation.

    2
    Gabriela Carrasco is identifying, labelling, collecting, and freezing plant samples in the Atacama Desert. These samples then travelled 1600km, kept under dry ice to be processed for RNA extractions in Santiago de Chile. The species Carrasco is collecting here are Jarava frigida and Lupinus oreophilus. Credit: Melissa Aguilar.

    The team brought samples 1000 miles (1600km) to their laboratory, where they sequenced the genes expressed in the 32 dominant plant species of the region as well as the genomes of the microbes living in the Atacama soil that co-exist with the plants.

    Critically, they found some plant species developed growth-promoting bacteria near their roots to optimise their uptake of nitrogen – a nutrient they need in order to grow, but which is notoriously sparse in the Atacama.

    Then, researchers at New York University (US) used an approach called phylogenomics to identify which genes had adapted protein sequences, comparing the 32 Atacama species with 32 genetically similar ‘sister’ species.

    “The goal was to use this evolutionary tree based on genome sequences to identify the changes in amino acid sequences encoded in the genes that support the evolution of the Atacama plant adaptation to desert conditions,” says Gloria Coruzzi, co-author of the study and a professor at NYU’s Department of Biology and Center for Genomics and Systems Biology.

    “This computationally intense genomic analysis involved comparing 1,686,950 protein sequences across more than 70 species,” adds Gil Eshel, who conducted the analysis using the High Performance Computing Cluster at NYU.

    3
    “Greene,” NYU’s New High-Performance Computing Cluster, is the most powerful supercomputer in the New York metropolitan area, one of the top 10 Most Powerful Supercomputers in Higher Education, and one of the Top 100 Greenest Supercomputers in the world.

    “We used the resulting super-matrix of 8,599,764 amino acids for phylogenomic reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the Atacama species.”

    The studied found 265 candidate genes whose protein sequences were found across multiple Atacama species. Some of these genes adapted the plants’ ability to respond to light and manage photosynthesis, which may have helped them adapt to the extreme irradiation of these high desert plains. Other genes found are involved in the regulation of stress responses and the management of salt intake and detoxification, which could have adapted the plants to Atacama’s high-stress, low-nutrient environment.

    A “genetic goldmine” of precious information

    The research is timely, as this week the world’s leaders attempt to negotiate a global approach to climate change at COP26.

    “Our study of plants in the Atacama Desert is directly relevant to regions around the world that are becoming increasingly arid, with factors such as drought, extreme temperatures, and salt in water and soil posing a significant threat to global food production,” says Rodrigo Gutiérrez, co-author of the study and a professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile [Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile] (CL).

    “Most of the plant species we characterised in this research have not been studied before,” he says. “As some Atacama plants are closely related to staple crops including grains; legumes and potatoes, the candidate genes we identified represent a genetic goldmine to engineer more resilient crops, a necessity given the increased desertification of our planet.”

    The Atacama is the home site for the astronomical assets of The European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL).

    Paranal Observatory pictured with Cerro Paranal in the background. The mountain is home to one of the most advanced ground-based telescopes in the world, the VLT. The VLT telescope consists of four unit telescopes with mirrors measuring 8.2 meters in diameter and work together with four smaller auxiliary telescopes to make interferometric observations. Each of the 8.2m diameter Unit Telescopes can also be used individually. With one such telescope, images of celestial objects as faint as magnitude 30 can be obtained in a one-hour exposure. This corresponds to seeing objects that are four billion (four thousand million) times fainter than what can be seen with the unaided eye.

    European Southern Observatory(EU) , Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ) •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ) •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star). Elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo.


    European Southern Observatory(EU) La Silla Observatory 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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