Hexbyte Glen Cove ORNL meets key FDA milestone for cancer-fighting Ac-225 isotope thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove ORNL meets key FDA milestone for cancer-fighting Ac-225 isotope

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Targeted alpha therapy can deliver radiation to specific cells, with minimal effect on surrounding, healthy cells. Credit: Michelle Lehman and Jaimee Janiga/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A rare isotope in high demand for treating cancer is now more available to pharmaceutical companies developing and testing new drugs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently acknowledged receipt of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s drug master file for actinium-225 nitrate, which enables to reference the document to support applications for their own Ac-225-based drugs without disclosing proprietary information. The FDA requires an to have an active drug master file before it will approve products containing that ingredient. This file contains information about Ac-225 derived from thorium-229, including materials used in its preparation, and the current Good Manufacturing Practice processes involved in its production.

ORNL produces Ac-225 for the Department of Energy’s Isotope Program, which then sells it for research and applications. To meet federal missions, facilitate emerging technology, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign supply and promote the country’s economic prosperity and technical strength, the DOE Isotope Program provides critical that are in short supply.

Ac-225, a decay product of thorium-229, is used for targeted alpha therapy treatment for certain types of prostate, brain and neuroendocrine cancers. The high-energy alpha particles it releases can interrupt DNA processes, keeping cancer cells from replicating or even killing them altogether.

But Ac-225 doesn’t occur naturally. ORNL, for the DOE Isotope Program, produces the bulk of the world’s supply.

“The promise of targeted alpha therapy is so great, demand for the radioisotope already outweighs the amount produced,” said ORNL’s Laura Harvey. To augment the supply, the Isotope Program supports the production of Ac-225 through other methods as well, including with the use of accelerators.

Harvey is part of an ORNL team producing Ac-225 from a stockpile of thorium-229 stored at ORNL. A byproduct from past nuclear programs, the thorium material was separated and recovered to build ORNL’s current inventory. Ac-225 is one of the key radioisotopes that occur as the thorium decays.

The thorium-229 stockpile periodically is processed to recover radium-225, which decays to the Ac-225 that is recovered and used in treatment of cancer. The radium-225 that accumulates becomes a secondary source of Ac-225. Each week, the ORNL team harvests Ac-225 for further purification and packaging for shipments that are sent to customers around the world for fundamental research, and treatments.

A purified sample of actinium-225, produced at ORNL’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center, glows blue when the air that surrounds it is ionized by alpha particles. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

“The whole benefit to the radioactive decay is that we don’t have to do anything magical to the thorium to keep it producing Ac-225,” said ORNL’s Paul Benny. “It is a long-lived resource that we can continually harvest.”

The science that allows separation of isotopes is the result of decades of groundbreaking radioisotope separation experiments at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor and Radiochemical Engineering Development Center, with support from the DOE Isotope Program. ORNL first began work to extract Ac-225 from the thorium stockpile more than two decades ago, sending its first shipment in—to the National Cancer Institute—in 1997.

Meeting the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements for a new active pharmaceutical ingredient typically takes a couple of years, but ORNL and the DOE Isotope Program developed a plan and implemented the requirements in 13 months for its onsite Ac-225 production. Harvey said lab-wide cooperation and support made that timeline possible.

ORNL also made a significant commitment to the Ac-225 effort, providing dedicated hot cell and glovebox space, storage space where materials can be secured and new equipment. The team—which includes technicians, custodians, managers and others—received specialized training for the process.

“Everybody at the lab worked so hard to make sure the Ac-225 had what it needed to move forward,” Harvey said.

That’s because they realize the importance of the work, Benny said. Though Ac-225 is in clinical trials in the United States, other countries already have treated hundreds of cancer patients with Ac-225 and its decay daughter, bismuth-213. The DOE’s Isotope Program manages distribution of the Ac-225 through the National Isotope Development Center.

A patient from Germany who had benefited from treatments with ORNL-produced Ac-225 went to the trouble to contact one ORNL scientist who was involved in earlier Ac-225 production, to thank her and let her know how his life had improved because of ORNL’s efforts.

“Team members know some of the shipments are going directly to patients all over the world,” Benny said. “It’s exciting when you realize what we do matters and has a direct impact on people’s lives. It can make a difference, when you can give people hope and the tools to fight cancer.”

ORNL meets key FDA milestone for cancer-fighting Ac-225 isotope (2021, March 26)
retrieved 28 March 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers point to populism's appeal to victimhood and resentment thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers point to populism’s appeal to victimhood and resentment

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new study from the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick combines research on populist rhetoric, emotions and security in order to examine how particular groups of voters are mobilized.

The article argues that populists like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, or some Brexit campaigners, construct fantasies of past national greatness and belonging to instill audiences with a sense of pride and nostalgia.

At the same time, these political entrepreneurs use rhetoric that targets feelings of resentment and anger, representing themselves and their audiences as victims of the establishment.

Populists promote an emotive politics of outrage which manipulates public sentiments for political gain and underwrites a radical departure from established political norms.

In the article Populism and the Affective Politics of Humiliation Narrative, published in Global Studies Quarterly (2021), authors Dr. Alexandra Homolar and Dr. Georg Löfflmann look at the use of populist humiliation narratives and voter mobilization in the United Kingdom, France, and the U.S..

They find that populist appeals to victimhood are used to assign blame with elites in politics, businesses, and media for a sense of loss and marginalization, for national decline from past imagined glories, and to foster political conflict.

“Stories shape our feelings toward others and ourselves, toward what is right and wrong, and populist security narratives grip voters through their deep-seated emotional appeal” explains Dr. Homolar.

Populist framing techniques identified in the paper include:

  • Regaining former glories: Marine le Pen and Donald Trump both explicitly pledged to make their countries “great again.” The researchers see echoes of a similar appeal in the Brexit referendum campaign.
  • The “chosen trauma”: populists weight a historic or nostalgic event with disproportionate emotion and meaning in order to exploit it. In the U.S., the Civil War and the Confederacy have become a for feelings of loss and suffering among certain groups, demonstrated clearly in the Charlottesville protests.
  • Taking back control: blame for a country’s presumed decline is placed at the feet of “nefarious elites” from whom the populist promises to take back control on behalf of the people. In the UK, a notorious headline during the Brexit campaign characterized three of Britain’s High Court judges as “enemies of the people.”

The article also considers the recent insurrection at the Capitol in Washington DC. The researchers conclude that the insurrection was the result of President Donald Trump inciting his followers to riot by convincing them that they had been humiliated by a conspiracy of ‘fake news’ media and the political establishment, urging them to retaliate.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Löfflmann said: “The main conclusion from our research is that while emotions shape politics, politics also shapes and channels emotions.

“Populists use fantasies of humiliation to mobilize their voters, appealing to emotions of anger and resentment in society to overturn the political status quo.”

More information:
Alexandra Homolar et al. Populism and the Affective Politics of Humiliation Narratives, Global Studies Quarterly (2021). DOI: 10.1093/isagsq/ksab002

Researchers point to populism’s appeal to victimhood and resentment (2021, March 26)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Guatemala's Pacaya volcano continues erupting after 50 days thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano continues erupting after 50 days

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Lava flowing out of the Pacaya volcano, 25km south of Guatemala City on March 25, 2021

The Pacaya volcano close to Guatemala’s capital is maintaining “high levels” of activity with strong eruptions, ash clouds and rivers of lava spewing out, officials said on Friday.

The 2,500-meter (8,200-foot) volcano that lies 25 kilometers to the south of Guatemala City has been erupting for 50 days, damaging plantations in the path of the .

Pacaya is expelling ash up to 500 meters from its crater, located 2.5 kilometers southwest of the cone, the vulcanology institute said in a statement.

Falling ash was registered in the El Rodeo and El Patrocinio communities, the institute said, adding that “the is considered at high levels.”

The activity has produced a lava flow 2.2 kilometers long on the west flank of the volcano.

The national disaster coordination body said the lava had caused “fire and the destruction of coffee and avocado plantations.”

Despite the spectacular eruptions, inhabitants of the surrounding villages have chosen to stay at home.

The civil protection body has asked authorities to prohibit people from approaching either the crater or the due to the risk of falling debris.

On Tuesday, a change in forced the closure of the country’s only international airport for almost 24 hours due to ash.

A powerful eruption of the Pacaya volcano in May 2010 killed a television journalist covering the event.

Guatemala has 30 volcanos including two other active ones.

© 2021 AFP

Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano continues erupting after 50 days (2021, March 26)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Zoo Zoomers: Locked down Czech chimps mingle online thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Zoo Zoomers: Locked down Czech chimps mingle online

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Two Czech zoos have installed large screens to let their chimpanzees watch each other via Zoom, an attempt to relieve the boredom during closures enforced by coronavirus restrictions.

The video chat platform, which has become a fixture for many humans over the past year, allows apes at the Safari Park in Dvur Kralove nad Labem northeast of Prague to see their peers at a zoo in the second city of Brno some 160 kilometres (100 miles) to the south.

“We are trying to ensure some entertainment for our apes at a time when visitors cannot come to the zoo and these intelligent animals therefore lack an important entertaining stimulus,” Safari Park spokesman Michal Stastny told AFP.

The Safari Park is home to one male chimpanzee and five females, who enjoy sitting in front of the large screen, munching on salad or grass.

Safari Park zoologist Gabriela Linhartova said their interest has recently started to wane, but at first they loved sitting down in a row in front of the screen with nuts and fruit in their hands.

“The similarity between them and, say, cinemagoers or us sitting in front of a TV was really quite striking,” Linhartova said.

“We can see that when something is happening with the animals in Brno, when there’s a conflict or they are being fed, our animals react with increased attention,” she said.

Zoo life continues

Linhartova said the apes missed visitors just like visitors missed the animals.

“Visitors are a source of entertainment, study and observation for the animals,” she said, adding that it took the apes some time to figure out the chimpanzees on the screen were not really there.

“At first, the male made gestures in a bid to protect the group when the in Brno got close to the camera,” said Linhartova.

Before making new friends in Brno, the Safari Park chimpanzees were allowed to watch children in a kindergarten.

The two enclosures are also being broadcast on YouTube daily between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

“We are trying to show that although Czech zoos have been closed for more than 170 days since the spring of 2020, there’s still life in them,” Stastny said.

One of the worst-hit countries, the Czech Republic has so far seen 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and more than 25,000 deaths.

© 2021 AFP

Zoo Zoomers: Locked down Czech chimps mingle online (2021, March 26)

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Oil and natural gas production emit more methane than previously thought thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Oil and natural gas production emit more methane than previously thought

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Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas production in its annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, according to new research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). The research team found 90 percent higher emissions from oil production and 50 percent higher emissions for natural gas production than EPA estimated in its latest inventory.

The paper is published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

The research team, led by Joannes Maasakkers, a former graduate student at SEAS, developed a method to trace and map from to their source on the ground.

“This is the first country-wide evaluation of the emissions that the EPA reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC),” said Maasakkers, who is currently a scientist at the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

Currently, the EPA only reports total national emissions to the UNFCC. In previous research, Maasakkers and his collaborators, including Daniel Jacob, the Vasco McCoy Family Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering at SEAS, worked with the EPA to map regional emissions of methane from different sources in the US. That level of detail was used to simulate how methane moves through the atmosphere.

In this paper, the researchers compared those simulations to satellite observations from 2010-2015. Using a transport model, they were able to trace the path of emissions from the atmosphere back to the ground and identify areas across the US where the observations and simulations didn’t match up.

“When we look at emissions from space, we can only see how total emissions from an area should be scaled up or down, but we don’t know the source responsible for those emissions,” said Maasakkers. “Because we spent so much time with the EPA figuring out where these different emissions occur, we could use our transport model to go back and figure out what sources are responsible for those under- or over-estimations in the national total.”

The biggest discrepancy was in emissions from oil and natural .

The EPA calculates emission based on processes and equipment. For example, the EPA estimates that a gas pump emits a certain amount of methane, multiplies that by how many pumps are operating across the country, and estimates total emissions from gas pumps.

“That method makes it really hard to get estimates for individual facilities because it is hard to take into account every possible source of emission,” said Maasakkers. “We know that a relatively small number of facilities make up most of the emissions and so there are clearly facilities that are producing more emissions than we would expect from these overall estimates.”

The researchers hope that future work will provide more clarity on exactly where these emissions are coming from and how they are changing.

“We plan to continue to monitor U.S. emissions of methane using new high-resolution satellite observations, and to work with the EPA to improve inventories,” said Jacob.

“It’s important to understand these emissions better but we shouldn’t wait until we fully understand these emissions to start trying to reduce them,” said Maasakkers. “There are already a lot of things that we know we can do to reduce emissions.”

More information:
Joannes D. Maasakkers et al. 2010–2015 North American methane emissions, sectoral contributions, and trends: a high-resolution inversion of GOSAT observations of atmospheric methane, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (2021). DOI: 10.5194/acp-21-4339-2021

Oil and natural gas production emit more methane than previously thought (2021, March 26)
retrieved 27 March 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-03-oil-natural-g

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Hexbyte Glen Cove About 4,300 cold-stunned turtles survived the Texas freeze thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove About 4,300 cold-stunned turtles survived the Texas freeze

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In this Feb. 16, 2021, file photo, thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles suffering from cold stun are laid out to recover at the South Padre Island Convention Center on South Padre Island, Texas. About a third of the cold-stunned sea turtles found along Texas’ coast during last month’s deadly winter freeze survived following a massive rescue effort by experts and volunteers struggling themselves without power at home. The Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network says that of the about 13,000 sea turtles found, about 4,300 have now been rehabilitated and released. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP, File)

About a third of the cold-stunned sea turtles found along Texas’ coast during last month’s deadly winter freeze survived following a massive rescue effort by experts and volunteers who were themselves struggling without power at home.

Of the approximately 13,000 sea turtles found, about 4,300 have been rehabilitated and released, according to the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, a cooperative of federal, state and private partners coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s been the largest cold-stunning event for sea turtles recorded in the U.S. since the network was established in 1980.

While the majority of the sea turtles found during the winter storm were already dead, those that survived wouldn’t have if not for the rescuers, said Barbara Schroeder, NOAA’s national sea turtle coordinator. She said the water and air temperatures were “too cold for too long” for them to recover on their own.

“The event was so severe—the temperatures were so extreme—yes, they absolutely would have all died,” said Schroeder, who added that a small number are still being cared for.

As below-freezing temperatures hit the coast during the February storm, scientists, volunteers and even the U.S. Coast Guard joined the effort to rescue the immobile sea turtles from the water and shore.

“Mind you, while they’re bringing and rescuing all of these sea turtles, we didn’t have power or water, our gas stations ran out of gas,” said Wendy Knight, executive director at Sea Turtle Inc., a nonprofit on South Padre Island.

Her group took in so many sea turtles—over 5,300—that they had to start placing them in the South Padre Island Convention Center.

Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that for a while during the week of the storm a vehicle pulled up “every 15 minutes or less” and dropped off turtles.

When water temperatures drop below about 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius), sea turtles become lethargic and are unable to swim. Surf temperatures dropped into the low 40s that week on South Padre Island.

Some of the cold-stunned sea turtles had other problems as well, including hook infections and injuries from boats, Knight said.

Almost all of the rescued sea turtles were green turtles, Schroeder said.

Once rescued, the turtles were slowly warmed up.

“You can’t warm them up really, really quickly. And some of the turtles that came in live did not make it,” said Christopher Marshall, director of the Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research, which rescued sea turtles in the Galveston area.

He said that once the turtles they rescued were revived, they were taken to the Houston Zoo for a check-up and if they then passed a swim test, they were returned to the Gulf.

Knight said they have held a volunteer appreciation day and made T-shirts for those who helped rescue the turtles that say: “I survived the great cold stun.”

“There were hundreds, maybe even thousands, I couldn’t even guess at how many people we had involved,” Knight said.

© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

About 4,300 cold-stunned turtles survived the Texas freeze (2021, March 25)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Turning wood into plastic thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Turning wood into plastic

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Efforts to shift from petrochemical plastics to renewable and biodegradable plastics have proven tricky—the production process can require toxic chemicals and is expensive, and the mechanical strength and water stability is often insufficient. But researchers have made a breakthrough, using wood byproducts, that shows promise for producing more durable and sustainable bioplastics.

A study published in Nature Sustainability, co-authored by Yuan Yao, assistant professor of industrial ecology and sustainable systems at Yale School of the Environment (YSE), outlines the process of deconstructing the porous matrix of natural wood into a slurry. The researchers say the resulting material shows a high , stability when holding liquids, and UV-light resistance. It can also be recycled or safely biodegraded in the natural environment, and has a lower life-cycle when compared with petroleum-based plastics and other .

“There are many people who have tried to develop these kinds of polymers in , but the mechanical strands are not good enough to replace the plastics we currently use, which are made mostly from fossil fuels,” says Yao. “We’ve developed a straightforward and simple manufacturing process that generates biomass-based plastics from wood, but also plastic that delivers good mechanical properties as well.”

To create the slurry mixture, the researchers used a wood powder—a processing residue usually discarded as waste in lumber mills—and deconstructed the loose, porous structure of the powder with a biodegradable and recyclable deep eutectic solvent (DES). The resulting mixture, which features nanoscale entanglement and hydrogen bonding between the regenerated lignin and cellulose micro/nanofibrils, has a high solid content and high viscosity, which can be casted and rolled without breaking.

Yao then led a comprehensive life cycle assessment to test the environmental impacts of the against commons plastics. Sheets of the bioplastic were buried in soil, fracturing after two weeks and completely degrading after three months; additionally, researchers say the bioplastic can be broken back down into the slurry by mechanical stirring, which also allows for the DES to be recovered and reused.

“That, to me, is what really makes this plastic good: It can all be recycled or biodegraded,” says Yao. “We’ve minimized all of the materials and the waste going into nature.”

The bioplastic has numerous applications, says Liangbing Hu, a professor at the Center for Materials Innovation at the University of Maryland and co-author of the paper. It can be molded into a film that can be used in plastic bags and packaging—one of the major uses of plastic and causes of waste production. Hu also says that because the bioplastic can be molded into different shapes, it has potential for use in automobile manufacturing, as well.

One area the research team continues to investigate is the potential impact on forests if the manufacturing of this bioplastic is scaled up. While the process currently uses wood byproducts in manufacturing, the researchers say they are keenly aware that large-scale production could require usage of massive amounts of , which could have far-reaching implications on forests, , ecosystems and climate change, to name a few.

Yao says the research team has already begun working with a forest ecologist to create forest simulation models, linking the growth cycle of forests with the manufacturing process. She also sees an opportunity to collaborate with people who work in forest-related fields at YSE—an uncommon convenience.

“It’s not often an engineer can walk down the hall and talk to a forester,” says Yao.

More information:
A strong, biodegradable and recyclable lignocellulosic bioplastic, Nature Sustainability (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00702-w

Turning wood into plastic (2021, March 25)
retrieved 26 March 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-03-wood-plastic.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Ocean currents predicted on Enceladus thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Ocean currents predicted on Enceladus

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Encased in an icy shell, the ocean on Enceladus appears to be churning. Credit: California Institute of Technology

Buried beneath 20 kilometers of ice, the subsurface ocean of Enceladus—one of Saturn’s moons—appears to be churning with currents akin to those on Earth.

The theory, derived from the shape of Enceladus’s , challenges the current thinking that the moon’s is homogenous, apart from some vertical mixing driven by the warmth of the moon’s core.

Enceladus, a tiny frozen ball about 500 kilometers in diameter (about 1/7th the diameter of Earth’s moon), is the sixth largest moon of Saturn. Despite its , Enceladus attracted the attention of scientists in 2014 when a flyby of the Cassini spacecraft discovered evidence of its large subsurface ocean and sampled water from geyser-like eruptions that occur through fissures in the ice at the . It is one of the few locations in the solar system with (another is Jupiter’s moon Europa), making it a target of interest for astrobiologists searching for signs of life.

The ocean on Enceladus is almost entirely unlike Earth’s. Earth’s ocean is relatively shallow (an average of 3.6 km deep), covers three-quarters of the planet’s surface, is warmer at the top from the sun’s rays and colder in the depths near the seafloor, and has currents that are affected by wind; Enceladus, meanwhile, appears to have a globe-spanning and completely subsurface ocean that is at least 30 km deep and is cooled at the top near the ice shell and warmed at the bottom by heat from the moon’s core.

Despite their differences, Caltech graduate student Ana Lobo (MS ’17) suggests that oceans on Enceladus have currents akin to those on Earth. The work builds on measurements by Cassini as well as the research of Andrew Thompson, professor of environmental science and engineering, who has been studying the way that ice and water interact to drive ocean mixing around Antarctica.

The oceans of Enceladus and Earth share one important characteristic: they are salty. And as shown by findings published in Nature Geoscience on March 25, variations in salinity could serve as drivers of the ocean circulation on Enceladus, much as they do in Earth’s Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica.

Lobo and Thompson collaborated on the work with Steven Vance and Saikiran Tharimena of JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA.

Gravitational measurements and heat calculations from Cassini had already revealed that the ice shell is thinner at the poles than at the equator. Regions of thin ice at the poles are likely associated with melting and regions of thick ice at the equator with freezing, Thompson says. This affects the ocean currents because when salty water freezes, it releases the salts and makes the surrounding water heavier, causing it to sink. The opposite happens in regions of melt.

“Knowing the distribution of ice allows us to place constraints on circulation patterns,” Lobo explains. An idealized computer model, based on Thompson’s studies of Antarctica, suggests that the regions of freezing and melting, identified by the ice structure, would be connected by the ocean currents. This would create a pole-to-equator circulation that influences the distribution of heat and nutrients.

“Understanding which regions of the subsurface might be the most hospitable to life as we know it could one day inform efforts to search for signs of life,” Thompson says.

More information:
A pole-to-equator ocean overturning circulation on Enceladus, Nature Geoscience (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00706-3

Ocean currents predicted on Enceladus (2021, March 25)
retrieved 26 March 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-03-ocean-currents-enceladus.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Asian Americans report biggest increase in serious incidents of online hate and harassment during COVID pandemic thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Asian Americans report biggest increase in serious incidents of online hate and harassment during COVID pandemic

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Asian Americans reported the single biggest increase in serious incidents of online hate and harassment as racist and xenophobic slurs blaming people of Asian descent for the coronavirus pandemic spread over the past year, according to a new survey shared exclusively with U.S. TODAY.

Some 17% of Asian Americans reported , stalking, physical threats and other incidents, up from 11% last year.

Half of them said the harassment was spurred by their race or ethnicity, according to the survey from anti-hate group ADL. Overall, 21% of Asian-American respondents said they were harassed online.

CEO Jonathan Greenblatt says the survey’s findings, which come amid a growing outcry over the rapid rise in attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide, show that efforts to curb surging anti-Asian sentiment by like Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube have fallen short.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey are slated to testify on Capitol Hill on Thursday about their handling of misinformation, disinformation and other harmful content. The vast majority of those polled by ADL—81%—agreed with the statement that social media platforms should do more to combat online hate.

In a statement, Facebook said it does not allow hate speech and removes content that attacks someone for who they are, their race, ethnicity or national origin.

“Over the past year we’ve updated our policies to catch more implicit hate speech,” Facebook said. “Thanks to significant investments in our technology we proactively detect 95% of the content we remove and we continue to improve how we enforce our rules as hate speech evolves over time.”

Fatal shootings of women of Asian descent in Atlanta escalate concern

The fatal shootings of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at Atlanta-area massage parlors, have escalated concern that racist and xenophobic rants online are spilling over into real-world violence.

Though police say the suspect said he did not target the women because of their race, the crime touched a nerve with the sharp increase in anti-Asian incidents in recent months. Experts say the killings were inextricably linked to racism and hate.

“Hate and stigma against Asian-American populations have gone viral during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anahi Viladrich, a professor of sociology at Queens College and The Graduate Center at the City University of New York, who recently published a paper in the American Journal of Public Health exploring the rise of anti-Asian language.

“Social media has significantly contributed to the pandemic of prejudice and hate against Asian populations globally,” she said. “With its power to freely move across time zones and social geographies, social media has turned terms such as ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Wuhan virus’ into race-based stigma against Asian groups in the United States and overseas.”

Researchers at University of California at San Francisco traced the rise of anti-Asian hashtags on Twitter to Donald Trump’s tweet in March 2020 referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”

“The use of racial and ethnic terms to describe the coronavirus is an important contributor to the record-breaking level of severe online harassment against Asian Americans over the past year,” John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study, told U.S. TODAY.

Anti-Asian sentiment rose 85% after Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 last fall, the ADL found at the time. Trump used the term “China virus” in a recent Fox News interview.

How Trump, ‘China virus’ fueled hate speech

Jeremy Blackburn, a professor of computer science at Binghamton University, is studying Sinophobic,or anti-Chinese, terms on 4chan and Twitter.

What he and his colleagues witnessed was the evolution of anti-Chinese hate speech in real-time.

“One slur many people are probably familiar with is ‘Wuhan Flu,’ which did not exist in the lexicon until COVID-19,” he said. “But we also found not only dozens of new slurs, but more importantly that previously benign words like ‘pangolin’ were increasingly used as slurs.”

Blackburn points out how difficult it is to measure the scope of the problem given how much the language has changed—even in the time since the pandemic started.

“One of the major challenges in measuring Sinophobic content is that it has rapidly evolved,” he said. “Although it is quite easy to look for occurrences of well known slurs, we’ve seen all sorts of new Sinophobic terms arise.”

Advocates for the Asian American community have warned for months that inflammatory online rhetoric about COVID-19 from political leaders including Trump could lead to violence.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans jump during coronavirus pandemic

Hate crimes against Asian Americans rose 149% from 2019 to 2020, even though hate crimes overall decreased 7% during the pandemic, according to findings released in early March by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks discrimination and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents during the year-long pandemic.

These numbers are probably a fraction of actual incidents. One in 4 Americans, including nearly half of Asian Americans, in recent weeks have seen someone blame Asian people for the coronavirus epidemic, a U.S. TODAY/Ipsos Poll found.

Recent attacks include multiple violent assaults on elderly people of Asian descent.

“Racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID-19,” a United Nations report released last year found, citing sharp rises in vandalism, physical assaults and robberies against Asian American people, businesses and community centers.

President Joe Biden denounced the attacks as un-American in his first prime-time address. During his first week in office, Biden condemned racially motivated harassment and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and directed federal agencies to explore ways to counter the attacks.

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday the Senate will take up legislation on anti-Asian hate crimes.

The ADL survey of 2,251 individuals also found:

  • Nearly 6 in 10 African Americans reported a sharp rise in racially motivated online harassment, up from 42% last year.
  • American adults who were harassed said they were exposed to the most harassment on Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, (75%), followed by Twitter (24%), Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, (24%) and YouTube, owned by Google, (21%).
  • More than a quarter—27%—experienced severe online harassment over the past year which includes incidents of swatting, in which false police reports are made in hopes of getting a SWAT team sent to someone’s home, and doxing, which is leaking personal information online.
  • Overall, 41% of Americans said they had experienced some form of online hate and harassment.
  • A third of those surveyed attributed the harassment to an identity characteristic, which was defined as sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, gender identity, or disability.
  • LGBTQ respondents reported disproportionately higher rates of harassment than all other identity groups at 64%

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Deadly heat waves will be common in South Asia, even at 1.5 degrees of warming thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Deadly heat waves will be common in South Asia, even at 1.5 degrees of warming

Hexbyte Glen Cove

With 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the population of South Asia will experience more than double the exposure to unsafe labor temperatures (left) and will have almost three times the exposure to temperatures that cause lethal heat stress (right). Credit: Saeed et. al/ Geophysical Research Letters/AGU

Residents of South Asia already periodically experience heat waves at the current level of warming. But a new study projecting the amount of heat stress residents of the region will experience in the future finds with 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the population’s exposure to heat stress will nearly triple.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will likely reduce that impact by half, but deadly heat stress will become commonplace across South Asia, according to the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, short-format reports with immediate implications spanning all Earth and space sciences.

With almost one quarter of the world’s population living in South Asia, the new study underlines the urgency of addressing climate change.

“The future looks bad for South Asia, but the worst can be avoided by containing warming to as low as possible,” said Moetasim Ashfaq, a computational climate scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and corresponding author of the new study. “The need for adaptation over South Asia is today, not in the future. It’s not a choice anymore.”

Earth has warmed by 1 degree Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On the current climate trajectory, it may reach 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming in 2040. This deadline leaves little time for South Asian countries to adapt. “Only half a degree increase from today is going to cause a widespread increase in these events,” Ashfaq said.

A hot region getting hotter

People living in South Asia are especially vulnerable to deadly heat waves because the area already experiences very hot, humid summers. Much of the population live in densely populated cities without regular access to air conditioning, and about 60% perform agricultural work and can’t escape the heat by staying indoors.

In the new study, the researchers used climate simulations and projections of future population growth to estimate the number of people who will experience dangerous levels of heat stress in South Asia at warming levels of 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. They estimated the wet bulb temperature residents will experience, which is similar to the heat index, as it takes into account humidity as well as temperature. A wet bulb temperature of 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered to be the point when labor becomes unsafe, and 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) is the limit to human survivability—when the body can no longer cool itself.

Their analysis suggests at 2 degrees of warming, the population’s exposure to unsafe labor temperatures will rise more than two-fold, and exposure to lethal temperatures rises 2.7 times, as compared to recent years.

Curbing warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will likely cut that exposure in half, but large numbers of people across South Asia will still experience extreme temperatures. An increase in heat events that create unsafe labor conditions are likely to occur in major crop producing regions in India, such as West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, and in Pakistan in Punjab and Sindh. Coastal regions and urban centers such as Karachi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Peshawar are also likely to be heavily affected, according to the study.

“Even at 1.5 degrees, South Asia will have serious consequences in terms of heat stress,” Ashfaq said. “That’s why there is a need to radically alter the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The results differ from a similar study conducted in 2017, which predicted that heat waves of lethal temperatures will occur in South Asia toward the end of the 21st century. The researchers suspect the earlier study is too conservative, as deadly heat waves have already hit the region in the past. In 2015, large parts of Pakistan and India experienced the fifth deadliest heat wave in the recorded history, which caused about 3,500 heat-related deaths.

“A is very much needed to fight against heat stress and wave-related problems,” said T.V. Lakshmi Kumar, an atmospheric scientist at India’s SRM Institute of Science and Technology who was not involved in the work. “India has already committed to reduce emissions to combat issues.”

The study was supported by National Climate Computing Research Center, which is located within ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences and supported under a Strategic Partnership Project between Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

More information:
Fahad Saeed et al, Deadly heat stress to become commonplace across South Asia already at 1.5°C of global warming, Geophysical Research Letters (2021). DOI: 10.1029/2020GL091191

Deadly heat waves will be common in South Asia, even at 1.5 degrees of warming (2021, March 24)
retrieved 25 March 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-03-deadly-common-south-asia-degrees.html

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