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  • richardmitnick 6:43 am on August 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise, study shows, U Sheffield   

    From U Sheffield: “Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise, study shows” 

    From U Sheffield

    23 August 2018
    Hannah Postles
    Media Relations Officer
    The University of Sheffield
    0114 222 1046
    h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk

    1
    Although most landslides are caused by eruptions or rain, an increasing number are anthropogenic. TACrafts/Getty Images via COSMOS

    ___________________________________________________

    University of Sheffield research shows more than 50,000 people were killed by landslides around the world between 2004 and 2016
    Study of more than 4,800 fatal landslides over 13-year period reveals for the first time that landslides resulting from human activity have increased
    ___________________________________________________

    More than 50,000 people were killed by landslides around the world between 2004 and 2016, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield.

    The team, which compiled data on more than 4,800 fatal landslides during the 13-year period, also revealed for the first time that landslides resulting from human activity have increased over time.

    The research is published today (23 August 2018) in the European Geosciences Union journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

    The team found that more than 700 fatal landslides that occurred between 2004 and 2016 had a human fingerprint. Construction works, legal and illegal mining, as well as the unregulated cutting of hills (carving out land on a slope) caused most of the human-induced landslides.

    Dr Melanie Froude, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography and lead author of the study, said: “We were aware that humans are placing increasing pressure on their local environment, but it was surprising to find clear trends within the database that fatal landslides triggered by construction, illegal hill cutting and illegal mining were increasing globally during the period of 2004 to 2016.”

    While the trend is global, Asia is the most affected continent. Dr Froude added: “All countries in the top 10 for fatal landslides triggered by human activity are located in Asia.”

    The number one country is India, which accounts for 20 per cent of these events. It is also the country where human-triggered fatal landslides are increasing at the highest rate, followed by Pakistan, Myanmar and the Philippines.

    Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, started collecting data on fatal landslides after realising that many databases on natural disasters were “significantly underestimating the extent of landslide impact”.

    While earthquakes and storms are deadlier, landslides cause a significant number of fatalities.

    The researchers identified a total of 4,800 fatal landslides, excluding those triggered by earthquakes, that occurred around the world between 2004 and 2016 and caused a total of about 56,000 deaths. The most tragic event identified by the researchers was the Kedarnath landslide in June 2013 in India, which resulted in over 5,000 deaths. It was due to extreme weather conditions that caused flash floods and massive mudflows, which affected thousands of religious pilgrims trapped in a mountain area.

    Since 2004, Professor Petley has painstakingly collected data on fatal landslides from online English-language media reports. To confirm the news stories were accurate, Professor Petley – and more recently Dr Froude, who reviewed all landslide accounts – checked each report whenever possible against government and aid agency articles, academic studies or through personal communication. Details about the landslides, such as location, impacts or cause, were added to their Global Fatal Landslide Database.

    Professor Petley said: “Collecting these reports and organising them into a database shows us where landslides are frequently harming people, what causes these landslides and whether there are patterns in fatal landslide occurrence over time.

    “The database provides us with an overview of the impact of landslides on society.”

    Aside from Asia, where 75 per cent of landslides in the database occurred, the areas most affected are in Central and South America, the Caribbean islands, and in East Africa. In Europe, the Alps is the region with the most fatal landslides.

    In support of past studies, the researchers also found that 79 per cent of landslides in their database were triggered by rainfall. Most events happen during the northern hemisphere summer, when cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons are more frequent and the monsoon season brings heavy rains to parts of Asia.

    The Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences study highlights that fatal landslides are more common in settlements, along roads, and at sites rich in precious resources. They occur more frequently in poor countries and affect poor people disproportionately, the researchers say.

    In the Himalayan mountain region, especially in Nepal and India, many of the fatal landslides triggered by construction occurred on road construction sites in rural areas, while in China many happened in urban building sites.

    Dr Froude said: “The prevalence of landslides in these settings suggests that regulations to protect workers and the public are insufficient or are not being sufficiently enforced. In the case of roads, maintaining safety during construction is difficult when it is economically unviable to completely shut roads because alternative routes involve substantial 100 mile-plus detours.”

    She added: “Landslides triggered by hill cutting are mostly a problem in rural areas, where many people illegally collect material from hillslopes to build their houses.

    “We found several incidences of children being caught-up in slides triggered as they collected coloured clay from hillslopes, for decoration of houses during religious festivals in Nepal. Educating communities who undertake this practise on how to do it safely, will save lives.

    “With appropriate regulation to guide engineering design, education and enforcement of regulation by specialist inspectors, landslides triggered by construction, mining and hill cutting are entirely preventable.”

    Professor Petley concluded: “The study highlights that we need to refocus our efforts globally on preventable slope accidents.”

    The University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography has an internationally-recognised record of academic research by staff with wide-ranging interests in both human and physical geography. Geography at Sheffield is ranked within the top 15 UK departments following the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The impact of all its research has been ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the REF 2014.

    See the full article here .

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    The University of Sheffield (informally Sheffield University) is a public research university in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It received its royal charter in 1905 as successor to the University College of Sheffield, which was established in 1897 by the merger of Sheffield Medical School (founded in 1828), Firth College (1879) and Sheffield Technical School (1884).

    Sheffield is a multi-campus university predominantly over two campus areas: the Western Bank and the St George’s. The university is organised into five academic faculties composed of multiple departments. It had 20,005 undergraduate and 8,710 postgraduate students in 2016/17. The annual income of the institution for 2016–17 was £623.6 million of which £155.9 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £633.0 million. Sheffield ranks among the top 10 of UK universities for research grant funding.

    Sheffield was placed 75th worldwide according to QS World University Rankings and 104th worldwide according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It was ranked 12th in the UK amongst multi-faculty institutions for the quality (GPA) of its research and for its Research Power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. In 2011, Sheffield was named ‘University of the Year’ in the Times Higher Education awards. The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2014 ranked the University of Sheffield 1st for student experience, social life, university facilities and accommodation, among other categories.

    It is one of the original red brick universities, a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, the Worldwide Universities Network, the N8 Group of the eight most research intensive universities in Northern England and the White Rose University Consortium. There are eight Nobel laureates affiliated with Sheffield and six of them are the alumni or former long-term staffs of the university.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on July 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Guinness World Record for micro view into hidden worlds, , Record-breaking microscope developed using methods pioneered by Sheffield scientists, U Sheffield   

    From U Sheffield and Cornell University: “Record-breaking microscope developed using methods pioneered by Sheffield scientists” 

    From U Sheffield

    23 July 2018
    Sean Barton
    Media Relations Officer
    University of Sheffield
    0114 222 9852
    s.barton@sheffield.ac.uk

    1
    A revolutionary microscope that has produced images in the highest resolution ever obtained has been developed by researchers using microscopic techniques pioneered by scientists at the University of Sheffield.

    Revolutionary microscope produces images in the highest resolution ever obtained
    Electron microscope developed using computational algorithms pioneered by University of Sheffield scientists
    Record-breaking microscope could be used to study 3D atomic structure at unprecedented resolution

    The record-breaking electron microscope, built by researchers at Cornell University in the USA, can produce images at a higher resolution than conventional approaches. It could be used to determine the atomic structure of materials that are normally damaged using existing methods.

    The microscope may eventually allow researchers to study 2D materials, such graphene, using unprecedented precision to provide new insights into this burgeoning class of useful materials that have extraordinary physical and electrical properties, and which could revolutionise many modern technologies.

    It may also lead to the development of a method that can image individual atoms in 3D objects without damaging the structure by using ‘slow’ low-energy electrons.

    Electron imaging is usually conducted using expensive lenses and high-energy electrons that damage many types of material. Alternatively, the Cornell research team recorded electrons that had been scattered through high angles to get around these problems.

    Once scattered, the electrons don’t look anything like an image, so the Cornell research team used computational algorithms developed by scientists at the University of Sheffield to work out backwards what the specimen looked like. This is what enabled the microscope to generate the record-breaking high resolution image.

    For many years, this backwards calculation, known as the phase problem, was regarded as impossible to solve for a large image.

    Professor John Rodenburg from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, who developed the computational algorithms together with his colleague Andrew Maiden, commented:

    “The electron microscope developed by the Cornell research team is the most powerful microscope we’ve ever seen. It is capable of capturing images that have an unprecedented level of detail, which is important because it now paves the way for us to develop new insights into material structure at the atomic scale.

    “Such an advanced electron microscope wasn’t possible previously because although the technique we developed here at the University of Sheffield works well for X-ray and light microscopes, in the case of electron microscopy it needs a near-perfect detector to get good enough quality data. Now, due to the advances in detector technology made by the Cornell team, this record-breaking microscope can successfully run the Sheffield algorithm.”

    Cornell Bloc

    From Cornell Chronicle

    Guinness World Record for micro view into hidden worlds

    2

    July 25, 2018
    Tom Fleischman

    In a recent research paper published in Nature, a group led by physics professors David Muller and Sol Gruner claimed a world record for electron microscope resolution using a high-powered detector and a technique called ptychography. Their technique was shown to measure down to 0.39 ångströms or 0.039 nanometers (one-billionth of a meter).

    Guinness World Records has officially recognized the Cornell collaboration’s achievement, listing it alongside such notables as Robert Pershing Wadlow (at 8 feet, 11.1 inches, the world’s tallest human) and Lee Redmond (longest fingernails, with a combined length of 28 feet, 4 inches).

    Gruner, former director of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, said he’d always dreamed of making the Guinness grade, but didn’t figure microscopy would be his ticket to fame.

    “I always thought that I’d need to eat 40 hamburgers in five minutes or stand on one foot for days to get into the Guinness book,” he said. “Who would have thought that seeing a few atoms would do the trick?”

    That brings to four the number of current Cornell University-affiliated record-holders. Muller also shares the record for thinnest glass (three atoms thick, 2013); the other records are held in part by applied and engineering physics professor Harold Craighead, who shares records for smallest replica guitar (1997) and lightest object weighed (2004). In addition, the current record for furthest distance covered by a quadruped robot (83.28 miles, in 2015) eclipsed the mark of 40.5 miles set by Cornell’s Ranger robot in 2011.

    See the full Sheffield article here .
    See the full Cornell Chronicle article here .

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    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.

    U Sheffield campus

    The University of Sheffield (informally Sheffield University) is a public research university in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It received its royal charter in 1905 as successor to the University College of Sheffield, which was established in 1897 by the merger of Sheffield Medical School (founded in 1828), Firth College (1879) and Sheffield Technical School (1884).

    Sheffield is a multi-campus university predominantly over two campus areas: the Western Bank and the St George’s. The university is organised into five academic faculties composed of multiple departments. It had 20,005 undergraduate and 8,710 postgraduate students in 2016/17. The annual income of the institution for 2016–17 was £623.6 million of which £155.9 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £633.0 million. Sheffield ranks among the top 10 of UK universities for research grant funding.

    Sheffield was placed 75th worldwide according to QS World University Rankings and 104th worldwide according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It was ranked 12th in the UK amongst multi-faculty institutions for the quality (GPA) of its research and for its Research Power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. In 2011, Sheffield was named ‘University of the Year’ in the Times Higher Education awards. The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2014 ranked the University of Sheffield 1st for student experience, social life, university facilities and accommodation, among other categories.

    It is one of the original red brick universities, a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, the Worldwide Universities Network, the N8 Group of the eight most research intensive universities in Northern England and the White Rose University Consortium. There are eight Nobel laureates affiliated with Sheffield and six of them are the alumni or former long-term staffs of the university.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:13 pm on February 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Tidal Distruption Events, U Sheffield   

    From Sheffield: “Stars regularly ripped apart by black holes in colliding galaxies” 

    u-sheffield-bloc

    University of Sheffield

    27 February 2017

    1
    Depiction of the tidal disruption event in F01004-2237. The release of gravitational energy as the debris of the star is accreted by the black hole leads to a flare in the optical light of the galaxy. Credit and copyright: Mark Garlick.

    2
    A black hole devouring a star. Credit: NASA (phys.org)

    Astronomers based at the University of Sheffield have found evidence that stars are ripped apart by supermassive black holes 100 times more often than previously thought.

    Until now, such stellar cannibalism – known as Tidal Distruption Events, or TDEs – had only been found in surveys which observed many thousands of galaxies, leading astronomers to believe they were exceptionally rare: only one event every 10,000 to 100,000 years per galaxy.

    However, the pioneering study conducted by leading scientists from the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, recorded a star being destroyed by a supermassive black hole in a survey of just 15 galaxies – an extremely small sample size by astronomy standards.

    “Each of these 15 galaxies is undergoing a ‘cosmic collision’ with a neighbouring galaxy,” said Dr James Mullaney, Lecturer in Astronomy and co-author of the study.

    “Our surprising findings show that the rate of TDEs dramatically increases when galaxies collide. This is likely due to the fact that the collisions lead to large numbers of stars being formed close to the central supermassive black holes in the two galaxies as they merge together.”

    The supermassive black holes that lurk in the hearts of all large galaxies can be elusive. This is because they don’t shine in a conventional sense due to their gravity being so strong that nothing can escape, not even light itself. However, the release of energy as stars are ripped apart when they move close to the black holes leads to dramatic flares. The galaxies’ nuclei can then appear as bright as all the billions of stars in a typical galaxy combined. In this way, TDEs can be used to locate otherwise dim black holes and study their strong gravity and how they accrete matter.

    “Our team first observed the 15 colliding galaxies in the sample in 2005, during a previous project,” said Rob Spence, University of Sheffield PhD student and co-author of the study.

    “However, when we observed the sample again in 2015, we noticed that one galaxy – F01004-2237 – appeared strikingly different. This led us to look at data from the Catalina Sky Survey, which monitors the brightness of objects in the sky over time. We found that in 2010, the brightness of F01004-2237 flared dramatically.”

    The particular combination of variability and post-flare spectrum observed in F01004-2237 – which is 1.7 billion light years from Earth – was unlike any known supernova or active galactic nucleus, but characteristic of TDEs.

    Clive Tadhunter, Professor of Astrophysics and leader of the study, said: “Based on our results for F01004-2237, we expect that TDE events will become common in our own Milky Way galaxy when it eventually merges with the neighbouring Andromeda galaxy in about 5 billion years.

    “Looking towards the centre of the Milky Way at the time of the merger we’d see a flare approximately every 10 to 100 years. The flares would be visible to the naked eye and appear much brighter than any other star or planet in the night sky.”

    The study, published today (27 February 2017) in the journal Nature: Astronomy, was supported by a grant from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council.

    The findings were based on observations made with the William Herschel Telescope, which is operated on the island of La Palma by the Isaac Newton Group in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canaria. The study also used data taken with NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and the Catalina Sky Survey.

    ING 4 meter William Herschel Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands
    ING 4 meter William Herschel Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Scientists at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy are exploring the fundamental laws of the universe and developing pioneering technologies.

    Students in the Department work with leading academics in the field to look beyond our planet to tackle global challenges – from climate change to meeting energy demands. This research further cements the University’s position at the forefront of Physics and Astronomy research.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    u-sheffield-campus

    The University of Sheffield (informally Sheffield University is a public research university in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It received its royal charter in 1905 as successor to the University College of Sheffield, which was established in 1897 by the merger of Sheffield Medical School (founded in 1828), Firth College (1879) and Sheffield Technical School (1884).

    Sheffield is a multi-campus university predominantly over two campus areas: the Western Bank and the St George’s. The university is organised into five academic faculties composed of multiple departments. It had 19,555 undergraduate and 8,370 postgraduate students in 2015/16 and its total and research income came to £635.7 million and £168.5 million in 2015/16 respectively, which made Sheffield among the top 10 of the UK universities in terms of Net assets.

    Sheffield was placed 84th worldwide by The QS World University Rankings 2016. In 2011, Sheffield was named ‘University of the Year’ in the Times Higher Education awards. The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2014 ranked the University of Sheffield 1st for student experience, social life, university facilities and accommodation, among other categories.

    It is one of the original red brick universities, a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, the Worldwide Universities Network, the N8 Group of the eight most research intensive universities in Northern England and the White Rose University Consortium. There are seven Nobel Prize laureates amongst Sheffield academics, six of which are its alumni or former staff.

     
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