Hexbyte Glen Cove Baby orca dies in New Zealand after fruitless search for mother thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Baby orca dies in New Zealand after fruitless search for mother

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A baby orca named Toa became front-page news in New Zealand when he washed ashore near the capital Wellington after becoming separated from his pod.

Toa, the baby orca who captured hearts after he was found stranded in New Zealand waters, has lost his fight for survival, conservationists confirmed Saturday.

The killer whale, less than 2.5 metres (eight feet) long and believed to be four to six months old, became front-page news when he washed ashore near the capital Wellington after becoming separated from his pod nearly two weeks ago.

He was unweaned, and hundreds of people volunteered to assist with round-the-clock care as he was unable to survive alone in the ocean.

Conservationists, who named the Toa—Maori for “warrior”—housed him in a makeshift pen at the seaside suburb of Plimmerton, where he was fed via a special teat every four hours while an air and sea search was mounted to find his mother.

Whale Rescue, an organisation that had been helping care for Toa, posted on that his condition rapidly deteriorated on Friday night.

“Vets on site rushed to his aid but were unable to save him,” the statement said.

Department of Conservation marine species manager Ian Angus said they were aware that the longer Toa was in captivity and away from his mother, the more likely it was his health would deteriorate.

“Toa passed quickly, surrounded by love with his last days made as comfortable as possible,” Angus said.

“Throughout this amazing effort, we’ve all been united in wanting to do the best for Toa. Finding and reuniting him with his pod was still our goal as we headed into the weekend.

“This calf had captured hearts, and no one wanted to believe that he didn’t have a fighting chance.”

Despite being known as , orcas are actually the largest species of dolphin, with males growing up to nine metres.

Recognisable by their distinctive black and white markings, they are listed as critically endangered in New Zealand, where their population is estimated at 150-200.

Pods of orcas are relatively common in Wellington Harbour, where they have been observed hunting stingrays.

© 2021 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove University of California regents approve rare tuition hike thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove University of California regents approve rare tuition hike

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In this May 17, 2019, file photo, Michael Drake answers questions during an interview in Columbus, Ohio. University of California regents on Thursday, July 22, will take up a multi-year tuition increase proposal that officials say is needed to keep campuses competitive, increase aid for low-income students and give families some financial predictability. The office of UC President Michael Drake said that an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset increases in tuition. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition flat, it said, whereas everyone else would benefit from more financial aid. Credit: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File

University of California regents on Thursday approved a multiyear plan to raise tuition and fees at the system’s 10 campuses.

The proposed increase is the first since 2017 and had been criticized by opponents as a “forever hike.” University officials say the increase is needed to maintain the quality of the public university system and provide more to students.

The proposal calls for tuition and fees to rise by 2% plus inflation for new undergraduates starting in the 2022-23 academic year. UC officials estimate that will amount to an additional $534, putting tuition and systemwide fees at just over $13,000 a year for in-state students. The estimate does not include additional campus-based fees.

That amount would stay flat for those students for up to six years. Increases for incoming freshmen in the following years would gradually decline from 1.5% to 0.5% plus inflation until the 2026-27 , when increases would be based only on inflation.

However, regents also voted to visit the issue in five years, and the board at that time will have to reauthorize the plan. The vote was 17 in favor and 5 opposed.

Kalli Zervas, a senator with the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley, said she was “absolutely appalled” that leaders would consider raising costs on low-income students such as herself.

“How dare you parade yourself as a diverse system?” she told regents. “At this rate, you might as well only accept the wealthy students, as you’re making it nearly impossible for the rest of us to attend.”

In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, students march under Sather Gate during a tuition-hike protest at the University of California in Berkeley, Calif. University of California regents on Thursday, July 22, will take up a multi-year tuition increase proposal that officials say is needed to keep campuses competitive, increase aid for low-income students and give families some financial predictability. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

UC President Michael Drake and others said that an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset increases in tuition. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition flat, it said, whereas everyone else would benefit from more financial aid.

Even with an increased $11 billion in the California budget for UC this year, officials say has not kept pace with enrollment growth. State funding has gone from nearly $40,000 a in 2000 to an estimated $25,200 in 2021, the office says, while enrollment has increased from 171,000 to 292,000 over the same time period.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned against tuition increases for both UC and the California State University system in January when he released his initial state budget.

“Right as students and families continue to struggle to recover from the adverse impacts of this pandemic, this proposal would lock-in inequitable fee increases for the foreseeable future,” the University of California Student Association said in a statement, calling the proposal a “forever hike.”

The University of California has a strong public mission and is invaluable in promoting social and economic mobility, said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, in an op-ed published last year to support the increase.

“For a public university, there are only three choices: the state subsidizes, or tuition goes up, or quality gets cut,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “The only way to make sure that the University of California remains excellent is to ensure that it has adequate funds.”

The office of the UC president said in-state tuition and campus fees at comparable public universities in Virginia, Illinois and Michigan average around $17,000, with increases ranging from 24% to 56% since 2011, at the same time UC tuition has gone up 6%.

The Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on a version of the tuition proposal in March 2020, but deferred action amid the pandemic.

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

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Early-life social connections influence gene expression, stress resilience thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Early-life social connections influence gene expression, stress resilience

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Hyena mom licking her cub in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. Credit: Kay E. Holekamp

Having friends may not only be good for the health of your social life, but also for your actual health—if you’re a hyena, that is. Strong social connections and greater maternal care early in life can influence molecular markers related to gene expression in DNA and future stress response, suggests a new University of Colorado Boulder study of spotted hyenas in the wild.

Researchers found that more social connection and maternal care during a hyena’s cub and subadult, or “teenage,” years corresponded with lower adult hormone levels and fewer modifications to DNA, including near genes involved in immune function, inflammation and aging.

Published this week in Nature Communications, the study is one of the first to examine the association between early-life social environments and later effects on markers of health and in wild animals.

“This study supports this idea that, yes, these early experiences do matter. They seem to have an effect at the and future stress response—and they’re persistent,” said lead author Zach Laubach, a postdoctoral fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology.

As far back as the 1950s and 60s, laboratory research has drawn associations between early life experiences in rodents, primates and humans and behavioral and physiological differences later in life. One landmark study published in 2004 also showed that the offspring of rats who got licked and groomed more by their mothers had less DNA methylation in a gene involved in regulating stress response. This kick-started the desire for more evidence that early life experiences could be related to patterns of modification in genes that influence stress and health.

One of the missing pieces in the past 20 years of research has been the ability to study this relationship in .

Enter the Masai Mara Hyena Project. Launched by co-authors Kay E. Holekamp and Laura Smale of Michigan State University in the 1980s, the project has collected more than 30 years of uninterrupted data on hyena populations in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. With this invaluable resource for studying animal behavior, evolution and conservation, the researchers have been able to utilize generations of data on individually known animals to draw connections between their interactions, behaviors and biological markers.

“Being able to measure behavior, physiology and from the same population has allowed us to dig deeper into the possible mechanisms,” said Laubach, who has been working with data from this project for nearly a decade.

Healthy stress response

Hyenas are ideal for such research as they are devoted mothers, have a strict social hierarchy and follow a consistent timeline for raising their cubs. Instead of giving birth to larger litters, they typically have one or two cubs at a time. Soon after birth, the cubs move into a communal den, where they are integrated into their peer group. For the next year, they still nurse and their mother licks and grooms them, but after that the cubs start to wander out of the den and, like teenagers, learn to start making their way in the world.

The researchers found that the more socially connected hyenas were during their teenage years, the lower their baseline stress hormone levels were later in life. This generally indicates a healthy stress response: Stress hormones can be elevated in an appropriate situation—like when being chased by a lion or a higher-ranking hyena—and when nothing’s happening, levels of stress hormones remain low.

“So if you have more friends as a subadult, essentially, you have lower stress hormone levels as an adult,” said Laubach. “This suggests that the type, timing and mechanisms that link these early life experiences with stress seem to be important not only in controlled laboratory settings but also in the wild, where animals are subject to natural variation.”

In general, hyenas, like other vertebrates, benefit from the effects of stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) mobilizing energy, increasing their heart rate and shutting down non-essential functions, like digestion or reproduction, when escaping a dangerous situation. However, there are significant physical drawbacks to these processes occurring chronically, day after day in humans or other animals as the result of chronic stressors. That’s why having a healthy stress response is so critical.

“We need these stress hormones because they are critical to a variety of basic biological functions,” said Laubach. “And in the right context, like when escaping a predator, they can save your life. But when elevated chronically, these hormones can be detrimental to your health,” said Laubach.

Time travel through DNA

The researchers also wanted to find out if the relationships between early life social experiences and how stress presents later in life is managed by molecular mechanisms.

To do this, Laubach and his co-authors measured and analyzed the level of care and interaction the animal received in early life and their associations with certain modifications to its DNA later in life. These modifications can, through a process known as DNA methylation, end up changing the expression of certain genes, which can in turn, affect an animal’s physiology or behavior.

The researchers found that the maternal care hyenas received during their first year of life, as well as their social connections after den independence, corresponded to differences in DNA methylation levels.

“This echoes a growing body of epidemiological work which studies how the timing of an exposure affects a health outcome. The idea is that, as an organism develops, there are certain points in time, often referred to as sensitive periods, when an exposure has a larger and a more persistent effect than if that exposure occurred at a later point in time,” said Laubach.

More information:
Zachary M. Laubach et al, Early-life social experience affects offspring DNA methylation and later life stress phenotype, Nature Communications (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-24583-x

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Big data-derived tool facilitates closer monitoring of recovery from natural disasters thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Big data-derived tool facilitates closer monitoring of recovery from natural disasters

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

By analyzing peoples’ visitation patterns to essential establishments like pharmacies, religious centers and grocery stores during Hurricane Harvey, researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a framework to assess the recovery of communities after natural disasters in near real time. They said the information gleaned from their analysis would help federal agencies allocate resources equitably among communities ailing from a disaster.

“Neighboring communities can be impacted very differently after a natural catastrophic event,” said Dr. Ali Mostafavi, associate professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Urban Resilience.AI Lab. “And so, we need to identify which areas can recover faster than others and which areas are impacted more than others so that we can allocate more resources to areas that need them more.”

The researchers have reported their findings in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface.

The metric that is conventionally used to quantify how communities bounce back from nature-caused setbacks is called resilience and is defined as the ability of a community to return to its pre-disaster state. And so, to measure resilience, factors like the accessibility and distribution of resources, connection between residents within a community and the level of community preparedness for an unforeseen disaster are critical.

The standard way of obtaining data needed to estimate resilience is through surveys. The questions considered, among many others, are how and to what extent businesses or households were affected by the natural disaster and the stage of recovery. However, Mostafavi said these survey-based methods, although extremely useful, take a long time to conduct, with the results of the survey becoming available many months after the disaster.

“For allocating funds, recovery information is actually needed in a faster and more near real-time fashion for communities that are trailing in the recovery process,” said Mostafavi. “The solution, we thought, was to look for emerging sources of data other than surveys that could provide more granular insights into community recovery at a scale not previously investigated.”

Mostafavi and his collaborators turned to community-level , particularly the information collected by companies that keep track of visits to locations within a perimeter from anonymized cell phone data. In particular, the researchers partnered with a company called SafeGraph to obtain location data for the people in Harris County, Texas, around the time of Hurricane Harvey. As a first step, they determined “points of interest” corresponding to the locations of establishments, like hospitals, gas stations and stores, that might experience a change in visitor traffic due to the hurricane.

Next, the researchers mined the big data and obtained the number of visits to each point of interest before and during the hurricane. For different communities in Harris County, they calculated the time taken for the visits to return to the pre-disaster level and the general resilience, that is, the combined resilience of each point of interest based on the percent change in the number of visits due to the hurricane.

Their analysis revealed that communities that had low resilience also experienced more flooding. However, their results also showed that the level of impact did not necessarily correlate with recovery.

“It’s intuitive to assume, for example, that businesses impacted more will have slower recovery, which actually wasn’t the case,” said Mostafavi. “There were places where visits dropped significantly, but they recovered fast. But then others that were impacted less but took longer to recover, which indicated the importance of both time and general in evaluating a community’s recovery.”

The researchers also noted that another important finding was that the areas that are in close proximity to those that had flooding are also impacted, suggesting that the spatial reach of flooding goes beyond flooded areas.

“Although we focused on Hurricane Harvey for this study, our framework is applicable for any other natural disaster as well,” said Mostafavi. “But as a next step, we’d like to create an intelligent dashboard that would display the rate of recovery and impacts in different areas in near real time and also predict the likelihood of future access disruption and patterns after a heavy downpour.”

More information:
Cristian Podesta et al, Quantifying community resilience based on fluctuations in visits to points-of-interest derived from digital trace data, Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2021). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0158

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Unravelling the knotty problem of the sun's activity thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Unravelling the knotty problem of the sun’s activity

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Simulation of twisted magnetic field lines emerging through the photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun. Credit: MacTaggart et al.

A new approach to analyzing the development of magnetic tangles on the Sun has led to a breakthrough in a longstanding debate about how solar energy is injected into the solar atmosphere before being released into space, causing space weather events. The first direct evidence that field lines become knotted before they emerge at the visible surface of the Sun has implications for our ability to predict the behavior of active regions and the nature of the solar interior. Dr. Christopher Prior of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Durham University, will present the work today at the virtual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).

Researchers are generally in agreement that is caused by instabilities in giant twists of magnetic ropes threading the visible surface of the Sun, known as the photosphere. However, there has been an ongoing debate about how these tangles form. The two dominant theories have suggested either that coils of field lines emerge through the photosphere from the convection zone below, or that the feet of arching field lines wrap around each other on the surface itself and create braids. Both mechanisms could theoretically produce effects like sunspot rotation and dramatic solar flares but, to date, no direct observational evidence had conclusively supported either scenario.

Prior and colleagues from the University of Glasgow and INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania in Italy came up with a new direct measure of the entanglement of the magnetic field by tracking the rotation of field lines at the points where they intersect with the photosphere. This “magnetic winding” should manifest in different ways for each of the two theories. Thus, applying magnetic winding to observations of the and examining the resulting patterns could enable a definitive answer to be reached for which theory was correct.

The image on the left shows a series of magnetic loops on the Sun, as captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The image on the right has been processed to highlight the edges of each loop and make the structure clearer. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO.

The researchers studied the magnetic winding for 10 active regions on the Sun in observations by solar missions. In every case, the results matched the emergence of pre-twisted rising up from the convection zone.

Prior explains, “The pattern for pre-twisted field lines exactly matched the we considered initially, and this has since been found to be true for all data sets of active regions we have looked at so far. We anticipate that magnetic winding will become a staple quantity in the interpretation of magnetic field structure from observational data.”

More information:
MacTaggart, D., Prior, C., Raphaldini, B., Romano, P., & Guglielmino, S. (2021). Direct evidence: twisted flux tube emergence creates solar active regions. arXiv preprint arXiv:2106.11638.

Prior, C., & MacTaggart, D. (2020). Magnetic winding: what is it and what is it good for?. Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 476(2242), 20200483.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Survey finds bullying and harassment systemic in astronomy and geophysics thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Survey finds bullying and harassment systemic in astronomy and geophysics

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Results from a new survey of astronomers and geophysicists show that these sciences have a systemic bullying problem; one that is disproportionately worse for women and those from minority groups. In a survey carried out by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) last year of over 650 people in the field, 44% of respondents had suffered bullying and harassment in the workplace within the preceding 12 months. Aine O’Brien, RAS Diversity Officer, will present the key results in a talk at the virtual National Astronomy Meeting on Thursday 22 July.

Key initial findings show:

  • Disabled, and Black and minority ethnic astronomers and geophysicists are 40% more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled and white colleagues respectively.
  • Women and non-binary people in the field are 50% more likely than men to be bullied and harassed.
  • 50% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer astronomers and geophysicists were bullied in the last 12 months, and 12% of bisexual astronomers reported being bullied at least once a week.

The RAS Committee on Diversity in Astronomy and Geophysics commissioned the survey, and O’Brien and Dr. Sheila Kanani, the Royal Astronomical Society Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer, carried out the survey for the Society and analyzed its findings.

O’Brien said, “This is the first time data like these have been collected in our field. It’s bleak, sadly somewhat unsurprising, but is unequivocal evidence to show we need to improve the workplace culture in academia. We have a well-reported problem in STEM and this does nothing to help. Women and minorities are feeling pushed out.”

Professor Emma Bunce, RAS President, said, “The results from the survey are very concerning indeed, and we must act to change this unacceptable situation. The RAS is doing important work to uncover these facts, and we are committed to working alongside the community to urgently improve the environment in astronomy and geophysics.”

Dr. Natasha Stephen, Chair of the RAS Committee for Diversity in Astronomy & Geophysics (CDAG), said, “Our RAS community is increasingly diverse, yet far from equitable. This survey highlights the disparity in lived experience across our global community, and paints a worrying picture of the way in which those from marginalized communities are often treated. We acknowledge that these largely intersectional issues cannot be solved overnight, but CDAG will work with RAS fellows and the wider field to understand and tackle these systemic problems.”

The data were collected as part of a wider survey covering experiences of suffering and witnessing bullying and harassment, as well as workplace culture, in and geophysics. The full survey results will be published by the RAS later this summer.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Perseverance Mars Rover to acquire first sample thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Perseverance Mars Rover to acquire first sample

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A light-colored “paver stone” like the ones seen in this mosaic will be the likely target for first sampling by the Perseverance rover. The image was taken on July 8, 2021 in the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” geologic unit at Jezero Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA is making final preparations for its Perseverance Mars rover to collect its first-ever sample of Martian rock, which future planned missions will transport to Earth. The six-wheeled geologist is searching for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”

This important mission milestone is expected to begin within the next two weeks. Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, and NASA kicked off the rover mission’s science phase June 1, exploring a 1.5-square-mile (4-square-kilometer) patch of crater floor that may contain Jezero’s deepest and most ancient layers of exposed bedrock.

“When Neil Armstrong took the first sample from the Sea of Tranquility 52 years ago, he began a process that would rewrite what humanity knew about the Moon,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters. “I have every expectation that Perseverance’s first sample from Jezero Crater, and those that come after, will do the same for Mars. We are on the threshold of a new era of planetary science and discovery.”

It took Armstrong 3 minutes and 35 seconds to collect that first Moon sample. Perseverance will require about 11 days to complete its first sampling, as it must receive its instructions from hundreds of millions of miles away while relying on the most complex and capable, as well as the cleanest, mechanism ever to be sent into space—the Sampling and Caching System.

Watch as NASA-JPL engineers test the Sample Caching System on the Perseverance Mars rover. Described as one of the most complex robotic systems ever built, the Sample and Caching System will collect core samples from the rocky surface of Mars, seal them in tubes and leave them for a future mission to retrieve and bring back to Earth. Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech

Precision instruments working together

The sampling sequence begins with the rover placing everything necessary for sampling within reach of its 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm. It will then perform an imagery survey, so NASA’s science team can determine the exact location for taking the first sample and a separate target site in the same area for “proximity science.”

“The idea is to get valuable data on the rock we are about to sample by finding its geologic twin and performing detailed in-situ analysis,” said science campaign co-lead Vivian Sun, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “On the geologic double, first we use an abrading bit to scrape off the top layers of rock and dust to expose fresh, unweathered surfaces, blow it clean with our Gas Dust Removal Tool, and then get up close and personal with our turret-mounted proximity science instruments SHERLOC, PIXL, and WATSON.”

SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals), PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), and the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera will provide mineral and chemical analysis of the abraded target.

Perseverance’s SuperCam and Mastcam-Z instruments, both located on the rover’s mast, will also participate. While SuperCam fires its laser at the abraded surface, spectroscopically measuring the resulting plume and collecting other data, Mastcam-Z will capture high-resolution imagery.

Working together, these five instruments will enable unprecedented analysis of geological materials at the worksite.

“After our pre-coring science is complete, we will limit rover tasks for a sol, or a Martian day,” said Sun. “This will allow the rover to fully charge its battery for the events of the following day.”

Sampling day kicks off with the sample-handling arm within the Adaptive Caching Assembly retrieving a sample tube, heating it, and then inserting it into a coring bit. A device called the bit carousel transports the tube and bit to a rotary-percussive drill on Perseverance’s robotic arm, which will then drill the untouched geologic “twin” of the studied the previous sol, filling the tube with a core sample roughly the size of a piece of chalk.

Perseverance’s arm will then move the bit-and-tube combination back into bit carousel, which will transfer it back into the Adaptive Caching Assembly, where the sample will be measured for volume, photographed, hermetically sealed, and stored. The next time the sample tube contents are seen, they will be in a clean room facility on Earth, for analysis using scientific instruments much too large to send to Mars.

“Not every sample Perseverance is collecting will be done in the quest for ancient life, and we don’t expect this first sample to provide definitive proof one way or the other,” said Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley, of Caltech. “While the rocks located in this geologic unit are not great time capsules for organics, we believe they have been around since the formation of Jezero Crater and incredibly valuable to fill gaps in our geologic understanding of this region—things we’ll desperately need to know if we find life once existed on Mars.”

More information:
To learn more about Perseverance, visit: nasa.gov/perseverance and mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

Perseverance Mars Rover to acquire first sample (2021, July 21)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Review evaluates the evidence for an intensifying Indian Ocean water cycle thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Review evaluates the evidence for an intensifying Indian Ocean water cycle

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Co-author Sujata Murty retrieving a coral core piece during the underwater drilling process. Credit: Justin Ossolinski.

The Indian Ocean has been warming much more than other ocean basins over the last 50-60 years. While temperature changes basin-wide can be unequivocally attributed to human-induced climate change, it is difficult to assess whether contemporary heat and freshwater changes in the Indian Ocean since 1980 represent an anthropogenically-forced transformation of the hydrological cycle. What complicates the assessment is factoring in natural variations, regional-scale trends, a short observational record, climate model uncertainties, and the ocean basin’s complex circulation.

A new review paper takes a broad look at whether heat and freshwater changes in the Indian Ocean are consistent with the increase in rainfall that is expected in response to anthropogenic global warming or whether these changes are due to natural variability on multi-decadal and other timescales along with other factors. That distinction has “big implications for climate risk assessment and for the densely populated regions around the Indian Ocean that are vulnerable to the effects of ,” says Caroline Ummenhofer, lead author of the paper, Heat and freshwater changes in the Indian Ocean region, published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.

The paper brings together various scientific expertise, tools, and data sources to address key questions regarding climate change in the Indian Ocean, says Ummenhofer, associate scientist in the Physical Oceanography Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “The different scientific communities need to come together and have very open discussions about what we can tell from our data, how we can compare apples and oranges, and how we can bring all of this information together to have a better understanding of the entire Indian Ocean system,” she says.

“Rather than rely on climate models that struggle to accurately represent the complex circulation, we look at many different observational records including measurements of sea level, and the and subsurface temperature and salinity,” says co-author Janet Sprintall, a research oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.

While some changes in the Indian Ocean appear to be a consistent response to anthropogenic global warming, “in general our ocean observational records are still far too short to distinguish the naturally driven variability from the man-made changes,” says Sprintall. “This tells us that we need to continue measuring our oceans—particularly below the surface—so that we can better understand these long-term changes and their causes, and so that we can improve our prediction and response to them.”

Recovery of the South Ombai mooring, topped with an Acoustic Doppler Current Meter (ADCP) to measures ocean currents, aboard the Indonesian Research Vessel Baruna Jaya I. Observational data in the Indian Ocean is sparse and in situ observations are key to determining heat input to the Indian Ocean. Photo credit: Janet Sprintall. Credit: Janet Sprintall

Quantifying the changes in the Indian Ocean heat and freshwater balance warrants a multi-pronged approach across temporal and spatial scales that integrates in situ observations (including Argo floats robotically programmed to measure ocean temperature, salinity, and other properties; moorings; and buoys), by satellites to measure rainfall and sea surface salinity, improved numerical modeling simulations, and paleoclimate proxy networks, the authors note.

Corals are an important paleoclimate archive in the ocean because their calcium carbonate skeletons incorporate the chemical properties of past oceans and so reflect past climate and environmental conditions. “Corals are unique environmental archives that allow us to extend our understanding of Indian Ocean variability centuries farther back in time than the observational record,” says co-author Sujata Murty, WHOI adjunct scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University at Albany, State University of New York. “Including the long-term perspective provided by corals alongside that of observations and remote sensing data enriches our understanding of complex climate and ocean systems and improves our ability to anticipate future changes in a warming world.”

Maintaining and expanding current remote sensing, in situ observations, and a network of paleo proxies is “crucial” for “disentangling the effects of multi-decadal natural variability and anthropogenic change on heat and freshwater changes” in the Indian Ocean and the Maritime Continent region between the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to the paper.

The Indian Ocean, the paper notes, “is particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic climate change,” in part because the ocean is bounded to the north by the Asian continent. This means that heat from the Pacific Ocean that enters the Indian Ocean through the Indonesian Seas cannot easily exit the basin.

The basin “could be a kind of canary in a coal mine,” says Ummenhofer, because those changes now being observed in the Indian Ocean also could happen in other oceans. “We can all benefit from having better observations and a better understanding of the so that we can know whether the changes are a change signal or part of a natural cycle.”

More information:
Ummenhofer, C.C. et al. Heat and freshwater changes in the Indian Ocean region. Nat Rev Earth Environ (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s43017-021-00192-6

Review evaluates the evidence for an intensifying Indian Ocean water cycle (2021, July 20)
retrieved 21 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-evidence-indian-ocean.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove A foot tumor and two tail fractures complicated the life of this hadrosaur thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove A foot tumor and two tail fractures complicated the life of this hadrosaur

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Despite the seriousness of its foot and tail vertebrae ailments, Bonapartesaurus rionegrensis did not die immediately after its injuries. Credit: José Antonio Peñas (SINC)

When it was discovered in the 1980s in Argentina, this hadrosaur was diagnosed with a fractured foot. However, a new analysis now shows that this ornithopod commonly known as the duck-billed dinosaur actually had a tumor some 70 million years ago, as well as two painful fractures in the vertebrae of its tail, despite which, it managed to survive for some time.

This dinosaur, called Bonapartesaurus rionegrensis, was discovered in Argentinean Patagonia in the 1980s, and the first analyses of its fossils indicated an ailment of the foot, possibly a fracture, as the Argentinean paleontologist Jaime Powell pointed out at the time. The study of this animal then came to a standstill until 2016, when Powell invited another team of scientists to resume the research.

“In addition to the ailment of the foot, there were other possible in several neural spines of the vertebrae of the tail,” as Penélope Cruzado-Caballero, the lead author of the study, now published in the journal Cretaceous Research, and a scientist at the Research Institute of Palaeobiology and Geology of CONICET and the National University of Río Negro (Argentina), as well as a professor at the University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain), has told SINC.

The researchers decided to analyze them all to see this hadrosaur, also known as duck-billed dinosaur, “during its lifetime” and to see how it was able to interact with the environment, with its fellows, and with predators while suffering from these problems.

Life of the hadrosaur. Credit: José Antonio Peñas (SINC)

Scientists were particularly surprised by the condition of the foot. “We were struck by the large overgrowth of bone that gave it a cauliflower-like appearance and covered almost the entire metatarsal,” the researcher points out. When studying the histology and CT scans of the fossil, the team did not find a fracture. Instead, the indicators showed a reduction in bone density and several areas where cortical tissue had been destroyed.

“We were probably looking at a cancer or a neoplasm, such as an osteosarcoma,” specifies Cruzado-Caballero. The presence of diseases such as tumors confirms that they already existed at a very early age and among a very diverse group of animals.

“Despite the large development of the cancer, it did not significantly affect the muscle insertion zone, so we cannot be sure that the lesion affected its locomotion,” says the paleontologist. The study has allowed us to determine that the tumor did not spread to other bones—since this ornithopod preserved almost half of its skeleton -, “so, although it severely affected the metatarsus, it did not cause its death,” she adds.

Credit: José Antonio Peñas (SINC)

Tail fractures followed by infections

In addition to the foot tumor, other pathologies were identified in the neural spines of two vertebrae in Bonapartesaurus rionegrensis’s tail. According to the scientists, one of the vertebrae had a displaced fracture that had almost healed. “It was probably related to an injury resulting from a strong blow that caused the bone to be displaced and to heal in this manner, giving the spine a curved appearance,” Cruzado-Caballero stresses.

The other vertebra had an almost completely healed fracture also produced by a stress event (it is not known if it was due to impact), which did not lead to the displacement of the bone. Although the spine maintains its straight shape, the researchers observed a swelling that formed a callus on the bone as it healed.

“These fractures, especially in the case of the displaced fracture, must have been associated with infections following the rupture of the muscles surrounding the ,” says the researcher, who considers that they must have been painful not only because of the blow, but also because of the infections that could have impeded the mobility of the tail and caused this specimen a great deal of discomfort when it moved.

However, despite the severity of the ailments, the death of Bonapartesaurus rionegrensis did not follow immediately after its injuries, the authors point out. “But we cannot quantify how long it lived afterwards, which means that it could have lived for months or years. Nor can we confirm that these injuries were the final cause of its death,” comments the scientist.

This hadrosaur, although badly injured, therefore managed to survive and continued to interact with its fellows, despite the initial pain caused by fractures and infections. These could have been caused by falling, hitting an object or another animal to defend itself from predators, or even by being trampled on the by another hadrosaur.

More information:
PenélopeCruzado-Caballero et al, Osseous paleopathologies of Bonapartesaurus rionegrensis (Ornithopoda, Hadrosauridae) from Allen Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Patagonia Argentina, Cretaceous Research (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.cretres.2021.104800

A foot tumor and two tail fractures complicated the life of this hadrosaur (2021, July 20)
retrieved 21 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-foot-tumor-tail-fractures-complicated.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Exoplanet discovery tool begins its mission thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Exoplanet discovery tool begins its mission

Hexbyte Glen Cove

An image of NEID’s spectroscopic observations of the Sun. NEID’s spectral coverage extends significantly redder and bluer than the limits of human vision, enabling it to observe many critical spectral lines. NEID’s design enables high spectral resolution, large wavelength coverage, and exquisite stability. The image is inspired by the classic image of the spectrum of the sun created by N. A. Sharpe, based on data obtained at the McMath Pierce Observatory, located at Kitt Peak, where NEID is also located. Credit: Dani Zemba, Guðmundur Stefánsson, and the NEID Team

The NEID spectrometer, a new tool for the discovery of planets outside of our solar system, has now started its scientific mission at the WIYN 3.5m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona.

“We are proud that NEID is available to the worldwide astronomical community for exoplanet discovery and characterization,” said Jason Wright, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and NEID project scientist. “I can’t wait to see the results we and our colleagues around the world will produce over the next few years, from discovering new, rocky , to measuring the compositions of exoplanetary atmospheres, to measuring the shapes and orientations of planetary orbits, to characterization of the physical processes of these planets’ host stars.”

The newest and one of the most precise tools ever built to detect exoplanets, NEID will discover exoplanets by measuring the minute gravitational tug of these planets on their .

“We have reached an exciting milestone for NEID,” said Sarah Logsdon, a scientist at NSF’s NOIRLab and NEID instrument scientist. “After an extensive commissioning process, where NEID was put through its paces, NEID is embarking on its , having demonstrated that it is indeed a state-of-the-art tool for studying planets outside of our .”

The gravitational tug of orbiting planets induces a periodic velocity shift on the host star—a ‘wobble’ that can be measured by NEID. Jupiter for example induces a 13 meter per second wobble on our Sun, but the Earth induces a wobble of only about 9 centimeters per second. NEID’s single measurement precision is already better than 25 centimeters per second, enabling it to detect small wobbles with sufficient data.

“NEID represents the state of the art in Doppler spectroscopy radial velocity detection and characterization of exoplanets,” said John Callas, NN-EXPLORE project manager for NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “NEID will push the existing boundaries for searching for smaller exoplanets, probing beyond the challenges that have limited past generations of RV spectrographs.”

Built as part of a joint NSF and NASA program, NEID’s mission is to enable some of the highest precision measurements currently possible, as well as to attempt to chart a path to the discovery of terrestrial planets around other stars.

“NEID has now successfully passed its final NASA review, and is in full operations as a scientific discovery tool,” said Fred Hearty, research professor at Penn State and project manager of NEID. “It was a real delight to work with this talented team, and a privilege to be a part of this group of professionals.”

The seething convection on the surface of stars, threaded by invisible lines of magnetic force and marred by ever changing active regions and “starspots” can pose a substantial challenge to NEID’s measurements. This stellar activity is one of the major impediments to enabling the detection of rocky planets like our own. For very small signals it is difficult to tell which are planets and which are just manifestations of stellar activity. However, there is one star for which we know the answer, because we know exactly how many planets orbit it—our Sun! In addition to observing stars during the night, NEID will also look at the Sun through a special smaller solar telescope that the team have developed.

“Thanks to the NEID solar telescope funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation, NEID won’t sit idle during the day,” said Eric Ford, professor of astronomy and astrophysics and director of Penn State’s Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds. “Instead, it will carry out a second mission, collecting a unique dataset that will enhance the ability of machine learning algorithms to recognize the signals of low-mass planets during the nighttime.”

The solar telescope was designed, and built by Andrea Lin, a Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin Science Achievement Graduate Fellow in astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, with Andy Monson, NEID’s systems engineer.

“The solar telescope was fun project to work on,” said Lin. “I look forward to using NEID for my doctoral dissertation research. One of my planned projects with NEID is to look for planets around K-dwarfs. These stars line up incredibly well with NEID’s capabilities, and the radial velocity method in general, so I’m hoping to discover some small—hopefully terrestrial!—planets around nearby K-stars.”

NEID’s solar telescope marks the return of solar observations to Kitt Peak.

“The Sun points the way,” said Suvrath Mahadevan, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and principal investigator of NEID. “For decades the iconic, and now decommissioned McMath Pierce telescope at Kitt Peak was the premier facility for studying the Sun. NEID is now the bridge that connects exoplanet science to solar observations, the Sun to the stars, and a bridge that connects Kitt Peak’s history to its present and future.”

All data from NEID’s observations of the Sun are being immediately released publicly to enable researchers to begin to address the stellar activity problem. The NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) at Caltech / IPAC coordinates the data processing and will make the data available through the NEID science archive.

“NEID has been the incredible story of a team that has delivered, in record time of a little over four years that include seven months of stoppage for COVID and then working through the height of this pandemic, an instrument that sets a new standard and will produce breakthrough science,” said WIYN Executive Director, Jayadev Rajagopal.

More information:
The NEID blog: neid.psu.edu/

Exoplanet discovery tool begins its mission (2021, July 20)
retrieved 21 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-exoplanet-discovery-tool-mission.html

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