Hexbyte Glen Cove China postpones launch of rocket carrying space station supplies thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove China postpones launch of rocket carrying space station supplies

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In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a Long March-7 carrying a Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft is moved to the launch area at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in southern China’s Hainan Province on May 16, 2021. China postponed a supply mission to its new space station Thursday, May 20, 2021 for unspecified technical reasons. Credit: Guo Wenbin/Xinhua via AP

China postponed a supply mission to its new space station Thursday for unspecified technical reasons.

The Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft was expected to have been launched early Thursday morning. China Manned Space announced the delay on its website but didn’t say when the rescheduled launch may occur.

It would be the first mission to head to the main Tianhe module of the space station that was launched on April 29. Another 10 launches are planned to deliver the station’s other two modules, various components and supplies, and a three-person crew.

The launch of Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, was considered a success although China was criticized for allowing the uncontrolled reentry of part of the rocket that carried it into space.

Usually, discarded rocket stages reenter the atmosphere soon after liftoff, normally over water, and don’t go into orbit.

NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson said at the time that China had failed to meet responsible standards regarding space debris.

China’s space program has suffered relatively few setbacks since it first put an astronaut into orbit in 2003, although the space station launch was delayed by the failure of an earlier version of the massive Long March 5B rocket.

In this black and white photo taken by China’s Zhurong Mars rover and made available by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, extension arms and a departure ramp are deployed on the rover’s lander on the surface of Mars. China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space. Credit: CNSA via AP

Earlier this month, China also landed a probe and its accompanying rover on Mars and has begun sending back pictures from the surface of the red planet.

Only the United States has successfully landed and operated a spacecraft on Mars—nine times, beginning with the twin Vikings in 1976 and, most recently, with the Perseverance rover in February.

China also recently brought back lunar samples, the first by any country’s space program since the 1970s, and also landed a probe and rover on the moon’s less explored far side.

In this photo taken by China’s Zhurong Mars rover and made available by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, the rover’s solar panels and antenna are deployed as the rover sits on its lander on the surface of Mars. China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space. Credit: CNSA via AP

China earlier launched two smaller experimental space stations. It has been excluded from the International Space Station largely at the insistence of the United States, which is wary of the secrecy surrounding the Chinese space program and its close military links.

Despite that, China has entered into increasingly close cooperation in space with various European and other countries.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Highest bid for Blue Origin's maiden voyage $2.6 million and climbing thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Highest bid for Blue Origin’s maiden voyage $2.6 million and climbing

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he Jeff Bezos owned firm is targeting July 20 for the launch of its reusable suborbital rocket system New Shepard from its West Texas facility, the first time it will carry humans after 15 successful uncrewed tests.

An online bid for a seat aboard Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight was going for $2.6 million on Wednesday afternoon as the company prepares to blast off this summer.

Would-be customers have until June 10 before the current phase ends, and the company will hold a live final round on June 12, with the proceeds going to the company’s charitable foundation.

Jeff Bezos’ is targeting July 20 for the launch of its reusable suborbital rocket system New Shepard from its facility in west Texas.

It will be the first time the company, founded in 2000, will carry humans after 15 successful uncrewed tests of the vehicle.

The trip will last a total of ten minutes, four of which passengers will spend above the Karman line that marks the recognized boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.

After lift-off, the capsule separates from its booster, then spends four minutes at an altitude exceeding 60 miles (100 kilometers), during which time up to six people on board experience weightlessness and can observe the curvature of Earth from space.

The booster lands autonomously on a pad two miles from the launch site, and the capsule floats back to the surface with three large parachutes that slow it down to about a mile an hour when it lands.

The auction began with sealed bidding on May 5, with the first unsealed bid posted Wednesday morning, $1.4 million.

The figure is being updated as it climbs, and a spokesperson for the company said that more than 5,200 people from 136 countries had participated.

Virgin Galactic, the founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, is also developing a spacecraft capable of sending clients on suborbital flights. Some 600 people have booked flights, costing $200,000 to $250,000.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is planning orbital flights that would cost millions of dollars and send people much further into .



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Highest bid for Blue Origin’s maiden voyage $2.6 million and climbing (2021, May 19)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Chinese Mars rover beams back first photos thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Chinese Mars rover beams back first photos

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Solar panels against an alien landscape, ramps and rods pointing at the Martian horizon—China’s first probe on the Red Planet has beamed back its first “selfies” after its history-making landing last week.

The Zhurong rover was carried into the Martian atmosphere in a lander on Saturday, in the first ever successful probe landing by any country on its first Mars mission.

Zhurong, named after a mythical Chinese fire god, arrived a few months behind the United States’ latest probe to Mars—Perseverance—and has been celebrated in China as a milestone in its ascent to space superpower status.

The China National Space Administration on Wednesday published the images taken by cameras attached to the rover, which showed the obstacle-avoidance equipment and on the vehicle, as well as the texture of the Martian surface.

“People of the internet, the Mars images you’ve been longing for are here,” the said in a social media post containing the images.

The rover’s landing was a nail-biter for Chinese space engineers, with describing the process of using a parachute to slow descent and buffer legs as “the most challenging part of the mission”.

It is expected to spend around three months there taking photos and harvesting geographical data.

China has come a long way in its race to catch up with the United States and Russia, whose astronauts and cosmonauts have decades of experience in .

It successfully launched the first module of its new space station last month with hopes of having it crewed by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the Moon.



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Chinese Mars rover beams back first photos (2021, May 19)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Grape genetics research reveals what makes the perfect flower thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Grape genetics research reveals what makes the perfect flower

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Wines and table grapes exist thanks to a genetic exchange so rare that it’s only happened twice in nature in the last 6 million years. And since the domestication of the grapevine 8,000 years ago, breeding has continued to be a gamble.

When today’s growers cultivate new varieties—trying to produce better-tasting and more disease-resistant grapes—it takes two to four years for breeders to learn whether they have the genetic ingredients for the perfect flower.

Females set fruit, but produce sterile pollen. Males have stamens for pollen, but lack fruit. The perfect flower, however, carries both and can self-pollinate. These hermaphroditic varieties generally yield bigger and better-tasting berry clusters, and they’re the ones researchers use for additional cross-breeding.

Now, Cornell University scientists have worked with the University of California, Davis, to identify the DNA markers that determine grape flower sex. In the process, they also pinpointed the genetic origins of the perfect flower. Their paper, “Multiple Independent Recombinations Led to Hermaphroditism in Grapevine,” published April 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“This is the first genomic evidence that grapevine flower sex has multiple independent origins,” said Jason Londo, corresponding author on the paper and a research geneticist in the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Grape Genetics Unit, located at Cornell AgriTech. Londo is also an adjunct associate professor of horticulture in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“This study is important to breeding and production because we designed genetic markers to tell you what exact flower sex signature every vine has,” Londo said, “so breeders can choose to keep only the combinations they want for the future.”

Today, most cultivated grapevines are hermaphroditic, whereas all wild members of the Vitis genus have only male or . As breeders try to incorporate disease-resistance from wild species into new breeding lines, the ability to screen seedlings for flower sex has become increasingly important. And since grape sex can’t be determined from seeds alone, breeders spend a lot of time and resources raising vines, only to discard them several years down the line upon learning they’re single-sex varieties.

In the study, the team examined the DNA sequences of hundreds of wild and domesticated grapevine genomes to identify the unique sex-determining regions for male, female and hermaphroditic species. They traced the existing hermaphroditic DNA back to two separate recombination events, occurring somewhere between 6 million and 8,000 years ago.

Londo theorizes that ancient viticulturists stumbled upon these high yielding vines and collected seeds or cuttings for their own needs—freezing the hermaphroditic flower trait in domesticated grapevines that are used today.

Many wine grapes can be traced back to either the first or second event gene pool. Cultivars such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and Thompson seedless are all from the first gene pool. The pinot family, sauvignon blanc and gamay noir originate from the second gene pool.

What makes chardonnay and riesling unique is that they carry genes from both events. Londo said this indicates that ancient viticulturalists crossed grapes between the two gene pools, which created some of today’s most important cultivars.

Documenting the for identifying male, female and perfect flower types will ultimately help speed cultivar development and reduce the costs of breeding programs.

“The more grape DNA markers are identified, the more breeders can advance the wine and industry,” said Bruce Reisch, co-author and professor in both the Horticulture and the Plant Breeding and Genetics sections of SIPS. “Modern genetic sequencing technologies and multi-institutional research collaborations are key to making better grapes available to growers.”



More information:
Cheng Zou et al, Multiple independent recombinations led to hermaphroditism in grapevine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2023548118

Citation:
Grape gene

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Saving the eastern monarch butterfly thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Saving the eastern monarch butterfly

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An eastern monarch butterfly taking a short rest. Credit: Rodrigo Solis-Sosa

Simon Fraser University researchers are playing a key role in guiding conservation efforts to protect a declining butterfly population. The eastern monarch butterfly, an important pollinating species known for its distinct yellow-orange and black colour, is diminishing due to the loss of the milkweed plant—its primary food source.

Researchers analyzed current conservation strategies and recommended changes to how and where declining milkweed can be restored, based on assessments of climate and butterfly migration. Their study is published today in Frontiers in Environmental Science.

SFU Ph.D. student Rodrigo Solis-Sosa and professor Sean Cox, from the School of Resource and Environmental Management, led the study with biological sciences professor Arne Mooers. The trio collaborated with Christina Semeniuk, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER) and study co-writer Maxim Larrivée, director of the Insectarium de Montréal, one of the five Montréal’s Space for Life museums.

Solis-Sosa says researchers hope to prevent the eastern monarch butterfly from the same fate as the western , which typically migrated from the Okanagan to California each winter. This year’s measurements of western monarch butterfly colonies found “zero overwintering populations, putting them at an all-time low and closer to extinction,” he explains.

Eastern monarch butterflies overwinter in Mexico from November to March then migrate and reproduce across the U.S. before reaching eastern Canada in late August.

Eastern monarch butterfly larvae depend on the milkweed plant for food. Credit: Rodrigo Solis-Sosa

Milkweed has declined across the U.S. due to clearing land for agricultural use, GMO crops, herbicides and climate change. While identifying the U.S. midwest as the best place to focus on restoration efforts, given optimal weather and milkweed availability when the monarch butterfly arrives, the team also found that the southern U.S. has a paramount yet somewhat neglected role.

“While increasing the number of milkweed stems in the South wasn’t as effective as in the Midwest, decreasing their number in the South was catastrophic,” says Solis-Sosa. “While the South may not play a huge role in increasing the eastern monarch butterfly population, it acts as a safety net.”

Researchers also found that recommended estimates of between 1.2 and 1.6 billion milkweed stems falls short of supporting butterfly populations— by 50 to 90 percent. Existing conservation models don’t factor in the effects of drought, changes in temperature and the stem’s effective usability by the monarch butterflies.

“Monarchs may need at least three billion stems to reach a safe minimum threshold population of six overwintering hectares,” says Solis-Sosa. The population once covered the equivalent of 18 hectares over its wintering territory nearly 25 years ago, but that hasn’t risen above six over the past decade. The latest measure has dwindled to just 2.3 overwintering hectares.

Communities in Mexico also depend on monarch butterfly ecotourism as an essential part of their livelihoods. “Monarch butterflies also hold a special significance in traditional Mexican culture,” says Solis-Sosa. “They arrive in Mexico by November 2—the Day of the Dead—and symbolize the dead souls of loved ones arriving to comfort them through the dark and cold winter season. Losing the butterfly would represent a cultural loss to the Mexican people.”

Solis-Sosa says their research will help policymakers across North America update conservation strategies and has already led to discussions with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC supports cooperation between North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners to address environmental issues of continental concern.



More information:
Rodrigo Solis-Sosa et al, A Landscape-Level Assessment of Restoration Resource Allocation for the Eastern Monarch Butterfly, Frontiers in Environmental Science (2021). DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2021.634096

Citation:
Saving the eastern monarch butterfly (2021, May 18)
retrieved 19 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-eastern-monarch-butterfly.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart fr

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Drenching rains flood homes, swamp cars in south Louisiana thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Drenching rains flood homes, swamp cars in south Louisiana

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Water surrounds a house along flooded areas on Bluff Road Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Ascension Parish, La. Heavy rains have swept across southern Louisiana, flooding homes, swamping cars and closing a major interstate. Credit: Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP

Residents in southern Louisiana were bracing for more rain Tuesday after heavy downpours flooded homes, swamped cars, and closed a major interstate.

Lake Charles was hammered once again by nature’s fury in a coastal zone still recovering from back-to-back hurricanes last fall and a deep freeze in February.

The National Weather Service said south Lake Charles in western Louisiana saw 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 centimeters) of rain in a 12-hour period Monday, while elsewhere in the parish as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) fell.

As the storm moved east, as much as 13 inches (33 centimeters) of rain fell overnight in Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge, according to East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

By Tuesday the waters had largely receded, but more rain is expected across the region this week.

“It is mind-boggling,” said Lake Charles resident Patrick King. He was at a car rental office Tuesday after his truck was flooded Monday. He still hadn’t moved back into his house after it flooded during October’s Hurricane Delta but had recently had new furniture delivered to the home. Then it flooded again.

King spent Tuesday morning mopping the house and preparing for further rains.

Homeowner Stephen Punkay, right, dumps a cart-load of wet carpet to add to the debris pile, after the Baker Drive home that he and wife Amy share with their six children got at least six inches of water in Monday night’s deluge of rain in the Westminster subdivision, as they clean up with the help of family, neighbors and “church family” from Community Bible Church, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. Heavy rains have swept across southern Louisiana, flooding homes, swamping cars and closing a major interstate. Credit: Travis Spradling/The Advocate via AP

“I picked up everything I could get off the floor and got it elevated,” he said.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter estimated that 400 to 500 structures flooded during Monday’s downpours. Hunter was mayor last year when the city was hit by Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and then six weeks later by Delta. Then in February, a deep freeze settled over the region, freezing pipes and causing widespread drinking water problems. Layered on top of all those disasters has been the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are a very resilient people. We are a very strong population. But, you know, eventually you do kind of get to a point where you ask Mother Nature: What more can you do to us?” Hunter said Tuesday.

Some parents in Lake Charles picked up their children from school in kayaks Monday because the roads were impassable, and other residents reported on social media taking winding trips through town to avoid flooded roads.

In this photo taken by a drone is an aerial view of the flooded Siegen Calais apartments Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. Heavy rains have swept across southern Louisiana, flooding homes, swamping cars and closing a major interstate. Credit: John Ballance/The Advocate via AP

Lake Charles resident Don Dixon said there was intense rainfall for about 12 hours Monday. He lives on Lake Street but he said it was more like a raging river.

“Water came up about 6 inches from going into my house,” he said. “It got pretty close. I was very, very lucky.”

The Baton Rouge Fire Department responded to more than 300 calls overnight of people either trapped in cars or in homes that were starting to flood, The Advocate reported.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference that there were two weather-related deaths. The body of 33-year-old Justin Blaine Thompson was found in a vehicle submerged in water under a Baton Rouge overpass, the coroner’s office said. Across the Mississippi River near Port Allen, 40-year-old Alvarado Morentes Hermelindo died and another person was missing after their car crashed into a canal Monday evening, Louisiana State Police said.

Parents use boats to pick up students from schools after nearly a foot of rain fell in Lake Charles, La., Monday, May 17, 2021. Credit: Rick Hickman/American Press via AP

“Unfortunately, more rain is on the way,” Edwards said and pointed out that the ground is already saturated. “While we hope that the worst of this rainfall is behind us, we can’t be sure of that.”

Officials in the Baton Rouge area didn’t yet have estimates of how many homes took on water and were asking people to report their damage. The downpours come five years after similar rains swamped large swaths of the capital region for days. Broome acknowledged the “heightened sense of anxiety” residents were feeling.

“Our community has had more than our fair share of severe rain events,” she said. But she tried to calm residents: “We are not under the same threat as we were in 2016.”

Schools and universities in the parish were closed Tuesday to try to keep people off roads, and the parish was working to clear streets where flooded vehicles blocked passage.

  • Nick Delgado uses his boat to help a neighbor pick up their kids from schools during heavy rains in Lake Charles, La., Monday, May 17, 2021. Credit: Rick Hickman/American Press via AP
  • Cars sit stalled on a flooded Sale Road during heavy rains in Lake Charles, La., Monday, May 17, 2021. Credit: Rick Hickman/American Press via AP
  • Cars sit stalled on a flooded Nelson Road from heavy rains in Lake Charles, La., Monday, May 17, 2021. Credit: Rick Hickman/American Press via AP
  • Cars sit stalled on a flooded McNeese Street during heavy rains in Lake Charles, La., Monday, May 17, 2021. Credit: Rick Hickman/American Press via AP
  • A wooden bridge leads to a flooded area along Bluff Road Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Ascension Parish, La. Heavy rains have swept across southern Louisiana, flooding homes, swamping cars and closing a major interstate. Credit: Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP

Between the hurricanes, the freeze and the coronavirus pandemic, Lake Charles has been part of four federally declared disasters over the course of a year, the mayor said. He said he’d talked with federal disaster officials who said they could not think of another city that has been subject to as many federal disasters in a similar time period.

Hunter said the city is still waiting for a supplemental disaster relief package from Washington to help the region recover from Hurricane Laura, whose 150 mph (240 km/h) winds scoured western Louisiana in what state officials said was the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the state.

“The plight of the average homeowner in Lake Charles is unthinkable at this moment. You have people that are possibly ripping out Sheetrock and renovating a home for now the third time,” he said. “The financial capability of this of this city, the human capital that we have here, is finite.”

Edwards has requested $3 billion in federal aid to help Louisiana with its ongoing recovery from the 2020 hurricanes.



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Drenching rains flood homes, swamp cars in south Louisiana (2021, May 18)
retrieved 19 May 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Archaeologists teach computers to sort ancient pottery thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Archaeologists teach computers to sort ancient pottery

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A “river” of Tusayan White Ware sherds, showing the change in type designs from oldest at left to youngest at right. Deep learning allows for accurate and repeatable categorization of these sherd types. Credit: Chris Downum

Archeologists at Northern Arizona University are hoping a new technology they helped pioneer will change the way scientists study the broken pieces left behind by ancient societies.

The team from NAU’s Department of Anthropology have succeeded in teaching computers to perform a complex task many scientists who study ancient societies have long dreamt of: rapidly and consistently sorting thousands of pottery designs into multiple stylistic categories. By using a form of machine learning known as Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), the archeologists created a computerized method that roughly emulates the thought processes of the human mind in analyzing visual information.

“Now, using digital photographs of pottery, computers can accomplish what used to involve hundreds of hours of tedious, painstaking and eye-straining work by archeologists who physically sorted pieces of broken pottery into groups, in a fraction of the time and with greater consistency,” said Leszek Pawlowicz, adjunct faculty in the Department of Anthropology. He and anthropology professor Chris Downum began researching the feasibility of using a computer to accurately classify broken pieces of pottery, known as sherds, into known pottery types in 2016. Results of their research are reported in the June issue of the peer-reviewed publication Journal of Archaeological Science.

“On many of the thousands of archeological sites scattered across the American Southwest, archeologists will often find broken fragments of pottery known as sherds. Many of these sherds will have designs that can be sorted into previously-defined stylistic categories, called ‘types,’ that have been correlated with both the general time period they were manufactured and the locations where they were made,” Downum said. “These provide archeologists with critical information about the time a site was occupied, the cultural group with which it was associated and other groups with whom they interacted.”

The research relied on recent breakthroughs in the use of machine learning to classify images by type, specifically CNNs. CNNs are now a mainstay in computer image recognition, being used for everything from X-ray images for medical conditions and matching images in search engines to self-driving cars. Pawlowicz and Downum reasoned that if CNNs can be used to identify things like breeds of dogs and products a consumer might like, why not apply this approach to the analysis of ancient pottery?

Until now, the process of recognizing diagnostic design features on pottery has been difficult and time-consuming. It could involve months or years of training to master and correctly apply the design categories to tiny pieces of a broken pot. Worse, the process was prone to human error because expert archeologists often disagree over which type is represented by a sherd, and might find it difficult to express their decision-making process in words. An anonymous peer reviewer of the article called this “the dirty secret in archeology that no one talks about enough.”

Determined to create a more efficient process, Pawlowicz and Downum gathered thousands of pictures of pottery fragments with a specific set of identifying physical characteristics, known as Tusayan White Ware, common across much of northeast Arizona and nearby states. They then recruited four of the Southwest’s top pottery experts to identify the pottery design type for every sherd and create a ‘training set’ of sherds from which the machine can learn. Finally, they trained the machine to learn pottery types by focusing on the pottery specimens the archeologists agreed on.

“The results were remarkable,” Pawlowicz said. “In a relatively short period of time, the computer trained itself to identify pottery with an accuracy comparable to, and sometimes better than, the human experts.”

For the four archeologists with decades of experience sorting tens of thousands of actual potsherds, the machine outperformed two of them and was comparable with the other two. Even more impressive, the machine was able to do what many archeologists can have difficulty with: Describing why it made the classification decisions that it did. Using color-coded heat maps of sherds, the machine pointed out the design features that it used to make its classification decisions, thereby providing a visual record of its “thoughts.”

“An exciting spinoff of this process was the ability of the computer to find nearly exact matches of particular snippets of pottery designs represented on individual sherds,” Downum said. “Using CNN-derived similarity measures for designs, the machine was able to search through thousands of images to find the most similar counterpart of an individual pottery design.”

Pawlowicz and Downum believe this ability could allow a computer to find scattered pieces of a single broken pot in a multitude of similar sherds from an ancient trash dump or conduct a region-wide analysis of stylistic similarities and differences across multiple ancient communities. The approach might also be better able to associate particular pottery designs from excavated structures which have been dated using the tree-ring method.

Their research is already receiving high praise.

“I fervently hope that Southwestern archeologists will adopt this approach and do so quickly. It just makes so much sense,” said Stephen Plog, emeritus professor of archeology at the University of Virginia and author of the book “Stylistic Variation In Prehistoric Ceramics.” “We learned a ton from the old system, but it has lasted beyond its usefulness, and it’s time to transform how we analyze ceramic designs.”

The researchers are exploring practical applications of the CNN model’s classification expertise and are working on additional journal articles to share the technology with other archeologists. They hope this new approach to archeological analysis of pottery can be applied to other types of ancient artifacts, and that archeology can enter a new phase of machine classification that results in greater efficiency of archeological efforts and more effective methods of teaching designs to new generations of students.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Permafrost carbon feedbacks threaten global climate goals thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Permafrost carbon feedbacks threaten global climate goals

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Since it was first signed more than five years ago, the Paris Agreement has set the bar for the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with more than 70 countries taking on ambitious nationally determined contributions that exceed initial commitments laid out in the agreement. However, a new paper released today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that the carbon budget these commitments are based on does not take into account the latest science on Arctic feedback loops, and calls for global leaders to rethink emissions goals.

“Arctic warming poses one of the greatests risks to our climate, yet it has not been adequately incorporated into existing climate projections and policies,” said Dr. Sue Natali, lead author and director of Woodwell Climate’s Arctic Program. “To build effective policy to address the climate crisis, it is essential that we recognize the full scope of the problem.”

Over the past decade, rapid Arctic warming has resulted in record-breaking Siberian heatwaves, extreme northern wildfires that release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and an acceleration of permafrost thaw. Arctic permafrost, which has been accumulating and storing carbon for thousands of years, contains approximately twice the amount of carbon that is currently in the Earth’s atmosphere, and is releasing that carbon into the atmosphere as it thaws. Those emissions exacerbate warming, which triggers more thaw, potentially leading to an exponential increase in emissions and warming in the coming years. This new paper shows current carbon budgets fail to account for these from permafrost and the dangerous climate feedback loops they will set off.

“Based on what we already know about abrupt thaw and wildfire, these feedback loops are likely to substantially exacerbate the permafrost thaw feedback and resulting carbon emissions,” said Woodwell researcher and paper co-author Dr. Rachael Treharne. “Unless our models account for these anticipated effects, we’ll be missing a major piece of the carbon puzzle.”

In order to keep the Earth’s temperature below 1.5° or 2°C, the paper recommends incorporate the latest science on Arctic carbon emissions into and carbon budgets used to inform policy, and update risk assessments to determine how quickly we need to reduce emissions to meet climate goals.

“The science alone is not enough,” said Dr. Philip Duffy, president and executive director of the Woodwell Climate Research Center and commentary co-author. “We urgently need communication between scientific and policy communities to make sure our climate policies are effective in addressing the scale and scope of the climate crisis.”



More information:
Susan M. Natali el al., Permafrost carbon feedbacks threaten global climate goals, PNAS (2021). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2100163118

Provided by
Woodwell Climate Research Center

Citation:
Permafrost carbon feedbacks threaten global climate goals (2021, May 17)
retrieved 18 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-permafrost-carbon-feedbacks-threa

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Part of the Greenland ice sheet may be close to a tipping point thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Part of the Greenland ice sheet may be close to a tipping point

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Accelerated melt. Credit: TiPES/HP

Data from the Jakobshavn drainage basin of the Central-Western Greenland ice sheet reveals that the distinct mark of this part of the ice sheet has reached a tipping point. That is the conclusion by Niklas Boers from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany and Martin Rypdal from the Arctic University of Norway, after careful studies of the development in melt rates and ice-sheet height changes during the last 140 years. The two authors propose close monitoring of the Greenland ice sheet to assess the situation. The work, published in PNAS today, is part of the TiPES project, coordinated and led by the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.

In the article, Rypdal and Boers have analyzed reconstructions of the height changes of the Central-Western Greenland ice sheet since 1880, and have compared them to corresponding model simulations. From the analysis, they conclude that this part of the Greenland ice sheet is losing stability, consistent with the idea that it is very close to tipping into a state of accelerated melting, regardless of whether the Arctic warming trend is halted in the coming decades.

“We might be seeing the beginning of a large-scale destabilization, but at the moment, we cannot tell, unfortunately. So far, the signals we see are only regional, but that might simply be due to the scarcity of accurate and long-term data for other parts of the ice sheet,” says Dr. Niklas Boers.

An ice sheet can only maintain its size if the loss of mass from melting and calving glaciers is replaced by snow falling onto its surface. The warming of the Arctic disturbs this because the snow at the surface often melts away in the warmer summers.

Melting will mostly increase at the lower altitudes, but overall, the ice sheet will shrink from a mass imbalance. Therefore, a positive feedback mechanism kicks in: as the ice sheet surface lowers, its surface is exposed to higher average temperatures, leading to more melting, further height reductions, and correspondingly accelerated mass loss. Beyond a critical threshold, this process cannot be reversed, because with reduced height, a much colder climate would be needed for the ice sheet to regain its original size.

The instability that Boers and Rypdal have found in melt and reconstructed ice-sheet height data from the Central-Western Greenland ice sheet indicates that the critical threshold has at least regionally been reached due to the last 100 years of accelerated melting.

The increase in surface melt will possibly be compensated at least partly by increases in snowfall as precipitation patterns over the ice sheet will change due to the changing ice-sheet height.

However, if the Greenland ice sheet as a whole transits into accelerated melting there will be severe consequences for the entire planet. The Greenland ice sheet contains the mass equivalent to raising global sea level by 7 meters. A loss of the Greenland ice sheet is also expected to add to global warming due to decreasing albedo as well as disrupt major ocean currents, monsoon belts, rainforests, wind systems and precipitation patterns.

“We need to monitor also the other parts of the Greenland ice sheet more closely, and we urgently need to better understand how different positive and negative feedbacks might balance each other, to get a better idea of the future evolution of the ,” says Niklas Boers, who together with Martin Rypdal expects to see accelerated melting in the near future.



More information:
Niklas Boers el al., “Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point,” PNAS (2021). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2024192118

Citation:
Part of the Greenland ice sheet may be close to a tipping

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Is your family 'CO safe' when big storms hit? thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Is your family ‘CO safe’ when big storms hit?

Hexbyte Glen Cove

(HealthDay)—If you live in the path of hurricanes , the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging you to be prepared.

Deaths from (CO) poisoning, fires and are common during severe weather events, according to the CPSC.

Hurricane season in North America runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has upped averages from 12 to 14 named storms and from six to seven hurricanes. Its official forecast is due out next week, but Colorado State University has already forecast a dire season, with 17 named storms and eight hurricanes, four of them major ones.

“Millions of Americans who are still dealing with the stress of the global COVID-19 pandemic also live in regions prone to devastating hurricanes and severe storms,” said Robert Adler, acting chairman of the CPSC. “It only takes one hurricane to cause massive destruction and loss of life. Be prepared, stay informed, and keep safe before and after storms.”

The CPSC said that people who rely on portable generators when power is out need to be cautious because the devices carry the risk of CO poisoning and fire. More than 400 people die from CO poisoning each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carbon monoxide from a can kill within minutes.

To stay safe, follow these tips:

  • Before the storm, install battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup in your home.
  • Have smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test your alarms every month.
  • Be sure your generator is properly maintained.
  • Have flashlights and extra batteries on hand.
  • Use portable generators outside only. Keep them at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Direct the generator’s exhaust away from the home.
  • Never use a portable generator inside the house, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed or on the porch. Opening doors or windows will not provide enough ventilation to prevent CO buildup.
  • CO poisoning can happen so fast that people may become unconscious before recognizing the symptoms of nausea, dizziness or weakness.
  • If CO or smoke alarms go off, get outside immediately and then call 911.

Other hazards during season include:

Charcoal: Don’t use it indoors as it can produce deadly levels of CO. Never cook on a charcoal grill in a garage, even with the door open.

Candles: Use flashlights instead. If you do use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Put candles out when you leave the room and before sleeping.

Wet appliances: Look for signs that appliances have gotten wet. Discard unplugged gas or electric appliances that have been wet, because they can cause shocks and fires. Do not touch appliances that are still plugged in.

Before using appliances: Have a professional or your gas or electric company evaluate your home and replace gas control valves, electrical wiring, circuit breakers and fuses that have been underwater.

Gas leaks: If you smell or hear gas, get out of the house immediately. Do not turn lights on or off, or use electrical equipment, including a phone. Once safely outdoors and away from the house, contact the gas company.



More information:
Learn more about hurricane preparedness at the American Red Cross.

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Citation:
Is your family ‘CO safe’ when big storms hit? (2021, May 16)
retrieved 17 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-family-safe-big-storms.html

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