Hexbyte Glen Cove Fractured artificial rock helps crack a 54-year-old mystery

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Princeton researchers have developed a technique to better understand how polymers flow through small channels under pressure. Credit: David Kelly Crow

Princeton researchers have solved a 54-year-old puzzle about why certain fluids strangely slow down under pressure when flowing through porous materials, such as soils and sedimentary rocks. The findings could help improve many important processes in energy, environmental and industrial sectors, from oil recovery to groundwater remediation.

The fluids in question are called solutions. These solutions—everyday examples of which include cosmetic creams and the mucus in our noses—contain dissolved polymers, or materials made of large molecules with many repeating subunits. Typically, when they’re put under pressure, polymer solutions become less viscous and faster. But when going through materials with lots of tiny holes and channels, the solutions tend to become more viscous and gunky, reducing their flow rates.

To get at the root of the problem, the Princeton researchers devised an innovative experiment using a see-through porous medium made of tiny glass beads—a transparent artificial rock. This lucid medium allowed the researchers to visualize a polymer solution’s movement. The experiment revealed that the long-baffling increase in viscosity in porous media happens because the polymer solution’s flow becomes chaotic, much like turbulent air on an airplane ride, swirling into itself and gumming up the works.

“Surprisingly, until now, it has not been possible to predict the viscosity of polymer solutions flowing in porous media,” said Sujit Datta, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton and senior author of the study appearing Nov. 5 in the journal Science Advances. “But in this paper, we’ve now finally shown these predictions can be made, so we’ve found an answer to a problem that has eluded researchers for over a half-century.”

“With this study, we finally made it possible to see exactly what is happening underground or within other opaque, porous media when polymer solutions are being pumped through,” said Christopher Browne, a Ph.D. student in Datta’s lab and the paper’s lead author.

Browne ran the experiments and built the experimental apparatus, a small rectangular chamber randomly packed with tiny borosilicate glass beads. The setup, akin to an artificial sedimentary rock, spanned only about half the length of a pinky finger. Into this faux rock, Browne pumped a common polymer solution laced with fluorescent latex microparticles to help see the solution’s flow around the beads. The researchers formulated the polymer solution so the material’s refractive index offset light distortion from the beads and made the whole setup transparent when saturated. Datta’s lab has innovatively used this technique to create see-through soil for studying ways to counter agricultural droughts, among other investigations.

Browne then zoomed in with a microscope on the pores, or holes between the beads, which occur on the scale of 100 micrometers (millionths of a meter) in size, or similar to the width of a human hair, in order to examine the through each pore. As the polymer solution worked its way through the porous medium, the fluid’s flow became chaotic, with the fluid crashing back into itself and generating turbulence. What’s surprising is that, typically, fluid flows at these speeds and in such tight pores are not turbulent, but “laminar”: the fluid moves smoothly and steadily. As the polymers navigated the pore space, however, they stretched out, generating forces that accumulated and generated turbulent flow in different pores. This effect grew more pronounced when pushing the solution through at higher pressures.

“I was able to see and record all these patchy regions of instability, and these regions really impact the transport of the solution through the medium,” said Browne.

Princeton researchers have developed a technique to better understand how polymers flow through small channels under pressure. Credit: David Kelly Crow

The Princeton researchers used data gathered from the experiment to formulate a way to predict the behavior of polymer solutions in real-life situations.

Gareth McKinley, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study, offered comments on its significance.

“This study shows definitively that the large increase in the macroscopically observable pressure drop across a porous medium has its microscopic physical origins in viscoelastic flow instabilities that occur on the pore scale of the porous medium,” McKinley said.

Given that viscosity is one of the most fundamental descriptors of fluid flow, the findings not only help deepen understanding of polymer solution flows and chaotic flows in general, but also provide quantitative guidelines to inform their applications at large scales in the field.

“The new insights we have generated could help practitioners in diverse settings determine how to formulate the right polymer and use the right pressures needed to carry out the task at hand,” said Datta. “We’re particularly excited about the findings’ application in groundwater remediation.”

Because polymer solutions are inherently goopy, environmental engineers inject the solutions into the ground at highly contaminated sites such as abandoned chemical factories and industrial plants. The viscous solutions help push out trace contaminants from the affected soils. Polymer solutions likewise aid in oil recovery by pushing oil out of the pores in underground rocks. On the remediation side, polymer solutions enable “pump and treat,” a common method for cleaning up groundwater polluted with industrial chemicals and metals that involves bringing the water to a surface treatment station. “All these applications of polymer solutions, and more, such as in separations and manufacturing processes, stand to benefit from our findings,” said Datta.

Overall, the new findings on flow rates in brought together ideas from multiple fields of scientific inquiry, ultimately disentangling what had started out as a long-frustrating, complex problem.

“This work draws connections between studies of polymer physics, turbulence, and geoscience, following the flow of fluids in rocks underground as well as through aquifers,” said Datta. “It’s a lot of fun sitting at the interface between all these different disciplines.”



More information:
Christopher A. Browne et al, Elastic turbulence generates anomalous flow resistance in porous media, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj2619. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abj2619

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Astronauts to return from space station next week: NASA

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French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said leaving the International Space Station was ‘a bittersweet feeling’

Four astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth from the International Space Station early Monday after spending more than six months in space, NASA announced.

The four members of the Crew-2 mission, including a French and a Japanese astronaut, will therefore return to Earth before the arrival of a replacement crew, whose take-off was delayed several times due to unfavorable .

NASA said in a statement late Friday that Crew-2 members are due to return to Earth “no earlier than 7:14 am EST (1214 GMT) Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida.”

“As we’re preparing to leave, it’s kind of a bittersweet feeling, we might never come back to see the ISS, and it’s really a magical place,” French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said earlier Friday during a press conference from the .

“I’m very thankful that people dreamt the ISS some time ago and then went ahead and worked hard to make it happen and to build it for the benefit of everyone,” Pesquet added.

Endeavour, the Crew Dragon spacecraft, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 1805 GMT Sunday to begin the journey home.

Once detached from the ISS, the capsule will begin a journey of several hours, the duration of which can vary greatly depending on the trajectory, and will then land off the coast of Florida.

A backup undocking and splashdown opportunity is available Monday, if weather conditions are not favorable, NASA said.

The two missions are being carried out by NASA in collaboration with SpaceX, which now provides regular launches to the ISS from the United States.

Crew-3 is scheduled to take off for the ISS aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where have been in quarantine for days.

US astronaut Megan McArthur was confident that not getting the replacement crew to ISS before the current crew departs was just a temporary setback.

“Of course that’s not optimal,” McArthur told reporters during the Friday press conference. “But we are prepared to manage that. Spaceflight is full of lots of little challenges.”



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Flash floods in Bosnia prompt evacuations, power outages

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by Sabina Niksic

Rescuers from Bosnia’s mountain rescue evacuate residents from their flooded homes in the village of Rajlovac, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo

Heavy rain caused severe flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations, causing power outages in most of the capital, closing a key facility for oxygen used for COVID-19 patients and submerging roads in some parts of the Balkan country on Friday.

The only certified medicinal oxygen filling plant in Bosnia, part of Germany’s Messer Group, was among workplaces and homes in the suburbs of Sarajevo that had to be evacuated after being overrun by fast-moving .

Avdo Delic, general manager of Messer’s Bosnia branch, said the plant was completely submerged, and voiced concern that hospitals around the country treating COVID-19 patients might run out of medicinal oxygen cylinders unless the company’s operations are quickly restored at alternative locations.

“We could not save the equipment, we had to save lives,” Delic said.

“Water came fast like a tsunami and it is fortunate that the Civil Protection was there with rescue boats,” he added.

Bosnia is seeing an increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations amid a recent surge of the virus. The country of 3.5 million has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe at under 20%. On Friday, it reported some 1,100 new daily infections and 32 deaths.

So far, Bosnia has confirmed more than 250,000 infections and over 11,000 deaths, one of the highest death rates in Europe per capita.

Rescuers from Bosnia’s mountain rescue services help an elderly lady down the stairs before evacuating her from her home in the flooded village of Ahatovici, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo

Hundreds of homes in the Sarajevo suburbs, along the rivers Bosnia, Tilava and Zeljeznica, and in the southwest part of the country, around the town of Konjic, had to be evacuated under unrelenting heavy downpours.

“Everything is under water, I just spoke with a friend who told me he cannot get out of his house because the water came up to the first floor,” said Salih Ramadani while walking away from his flooded home in the Sarajevo suburb of Otes.

“The situation is bad and we do not expect it to improve soon,” said Danis Memagic, a firefighter coordinating evacuations in the area.

Most parts of Sarajevo were left for hours without due to the flooding of one of the main substations on the outskirts of the city. The power transmission company, Elektroprijenos, said the heavy rain was hindering attempts to get the power rerouted. By evening, electricity was back in most of the city.

  • Rescuers from Bosnia’s mountain rescue services drag a boat with people rescued from their homes in the village of Ahatovici, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • A man sits on sandbags in the flooded village of Rajlovac, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • Rescuers from Bosnia’s mountain rescue evacuate residents from their flooded homes in the village of Rajlovac, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • A vehicle is partially submerged in the flooded village of Rajlovac, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • Rescuers from Bosnia’s mountain rescue services drag a boat while looking for people to be rescued from their homes in the village of Ahatovici, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • Police officers look at an overflowing river threatening buildings in Vojkovici near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Homes were flooded around Sarajevo while local roads were submerged in the southwest of the country, prompting some schools to cancel classes. Credit: AP Photo
  • A man uses his phone on a balcony overlooking a flooded street in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • Parts of residential areas are submerged in high water in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • Rescuers from Bosnia’s mountain rescue services help an elderly lady down the stairs before evacuating her from her home in the flooded village of Ahatovici, near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • A dog stands in a flooded yard in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • A wooden cross brought by overflowing river is stuck in the railing of a bridge in Butmir near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • A man wades through a flooded street as a car drives by in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • Men protect a house on a flooded street in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • A car is submerged in a flooded street in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo
  • Men wade through a flooded street in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, Bosnia, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in Bosnia, prompting evacuations and submerging local roads in some parts of the country on Friday. Credit: AP Photo

Footage of the floods in Vojkovici, outside Sarajevo, showed a local gas station and motel sitting precariously close to the fast-flowing, swollen and muddy Zeljava river which had eaten away its banks.

Rising rivers flooded many local roads around Bosnia, forcing some schools to cancel classes.

Rain started late on Thursday and forecasts say it will continue to fall until Sunday, raising fears of a repeat of record flooding that affected about a third of the population in 2014.

It followed days of unseasonably warm weather with temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Secondary forests restore fresh water sources in degraded landscapes

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Over a two-year period, Chavarria and colleagues took weekly samples from streams surrounded by mature forest, young secondary forest, silvo- and traditional pasture at STRI’s Agua Salud site to analyze the bacterial content of the water. Credit: Jorge Aleman, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

New research, published in Scientific Reports by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) postdoctoral fellow Karina Chavarria and colleagues, shows that bacterial communities in streams adjacent to young secondary forests recover to resemble those of mature forest streams in as little as a decade after cattle has been removed from the land, and that these communities are robust throughout the year.

These results come at a critical time. 2021 marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. The Agua Salud Project, a collaboration with the Panama Canal Authority and the Ministry of the Environment in Panama, and where this research took place, is one of the many initiatives at STRI aimed at understanding the drivers and consequences of environmental change.

Lessons learned from long term studies of ecosystems across different land uses and extreme weather events at Agua Salud inform our ability to restore and maintain . With its various streams and rivers distributed throughout hundreds of hectares, Agua Salud also offers a unique platform for hydrological studies.

Water is a key resource for life on earth. People rely on streams and lakes for food and recreation. Microbes are less appreciated constituents of aquatic systems but are behind-the-scenes engineers that ensure water quality by cycling nutrients and energy. When streams become polluted or surrounding landscapes are degraded, microbial communities shift, risking their ability to help maintain natural processes and often allowing harmful bacteria to flourish.

Chavarria and colleagues took weekly samples from streams surrounded by mature forest, young secondary forest, silvo- and traditional pasture over a two-year period at STRI’s Agua Salud site. They measured different aspects of water quality, and filtered water samples to extract and sequence the bacterial DNA in these streams.

They found similar communities in streams surrounded by young secondary and mature forests but different, less diverse communities in the cattle pasture stream. Notably, the bacterial community in the silvopasture stream shifted seasonally, with the wet season bacterial community being like the forests and the dry season community similar to the traditional pasture.

Research by STRI postdoctoral fellow Karina Chavarria shows that bacterial communities in streams adjacent to young secondary forests resemble those of mature forest streams in as little as a decade after cattle has been removed from the land. Credit: Kristin Saltonstall, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

“Riparian forest helps to protect the silvopasture stream from the impacts of cattle in the but in the dry season, when cows congregate in the stream to drink and seek shade as a way of avoiding the scorching sun, increased disturbance and fecal inputs make the bacterial community in the water more like that of traditional cattle pastures,” said STRI staff scientist Kristin Saltonstall, Chavarria’s advisor and collaborator on the project.

“It is important that cattle not access the streams, and that their drinking water is provided up slope during the dry season to ensure year-round water quality,” said Jefferson Hall, the director of Agua Salud and a collaborator on the project.

Silvopasture systems, where trees are planted on traditional cattle pastures and forest corridors are often maintained along streams, have gained a lot of attention in recent years. While the jury may still be out as to whether these systems provide all the environmental benefits claimed by promoters, it is clear that having a forest buffer around the stream is beneficial with respect to water quality and stream .

“Our results add an important dimension to the growing body of research on the ability of biodiversity associated with young tropical secondary forests to recover rapidly, with implications for as well as a healthy environment,” said Chavarria.

Mitigation efforts taken during this Decade of Ecosystem Restoration will determine our quality of life for generations to come. Chavarria’s research provides hope, showing that passive reforestation, where forests are allowed to recover after cattle are removed, can restore many aspects of in a matter of years. Studies such as this provide much needed data and demonstrate how science can inform policy and practice, contributing to a sustainable planet.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.



More information:
Karina A. Chavarria et al, Land use influences stream bacterial communities in lowland tropical watersheds, Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-01193-7

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Workers digging gas pipes in Peru find 2,000-year-old gravesite

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A work crew laying a natural gas pipe under a street in Lima, Peru stumbled across a 2,000-year-old burial site, including the remains of six people and ceramic vessels.

Workers laying gas pipes on a street in the Peruvian capital Lima stumbled on the remains of a pre-Hispanic gravesite that included 2,000-year-old ceramic burial vessels, an archaeologist said Thursday.

“This find that we see today is 2,000 years old,” archaeologist Cecilia Camargo told AFP at the site.

“So far, there are six that we have recovered, including children and adults, accompanied by a set of ceramic vessels that were expressly made to bury them.”

Experts believe the site in the Lima district of La Victoria may be linked to the culture known as “Blanco sobre Rojo,” or “White on Red,” which settled on the central coast of Peru in the valleys of Chillon, Rimac and Lurin, the three rivers that cross Lima.

“So far, we have recovered about 40 vessels of different shapes related to the White on Red style,” said Camargo, head of the cultural heritage department at the natural gas company Calidda.

“Some bottles are very distinctive of this period and style, which have a double spout and a bridge handle,” Camargo said.

As finds of ancient artefacts and remains occur frequently in Peru, all public service companies that do excavations have in-house , including Calidda, a Colombian-funded company that distributes in Lima and in the neighboring port of Callao.

Specialists work around the ancient burial site found by a crew laying a natural gas pipe under a street in Lima, Peru on November 04, 2021.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Beijing shuts roads, playgrounds amid heavy smog after coal spike

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Schools in Beijing—which will host the Winter Olympics in February—were ordered to stop physical education classes and outdoor activities due to the smog.

Highways and school playgrounds in Beijing were closed Friday due to heavy pollution, as China ramps up coal production and faces scrutiny of its environmental record at make-or-break international climate talks.

World leaders have gathered in Scotland this week for COP26 negotiations billed as one of the last chances to avert catastrophic climate change, though Chinese President Xi Jinping made a written address instead of attending in person.

China—the world’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change—has ramped up coal output after supply chains in recent months were roiled by an energy crunch owing to strict emissions targets and record prices for the fossil fuel.

A thick haze of smog blanketed swathes of northern China on Friday, with visibility in some areas reduced to less than 200 metres (yards), according to the country’s weather forecaster.

Schools in the capital—which will host the Winter Olympics in February—were ordered to stop physical education classes and outdoor activities.

Stretches of highways to major cities including Shanghai, Tianjin and Harbin were closed due to poor visibility.

Pollutants detected Friday by a monitoring station at the US embassy in Beijing reached levels defined as “very unhealthy” for the general population.

Rapid industrialisation has made China no stranger to air pollution.

Levels of small particulate matter, or PM 2.5, which penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory illnesses, hovered around 230—far above the WHO recommended limit of 15.

Authorities in Beijing blamed the pollution on a combination of “unfavourable weather conditions and regional pollution spread” and said the smog was likely to persist until at least Saturday evening.

But the “root cause of smog in north China is fossil fuel burning,” said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy manager Danqing Li.

China generates about 60 percent of its energy from burning coal.

Increasingly rare

China has increased coal output to ease an energy shortage that had forced factories to close in recent months.

Average daily coal production in the middle of October was 1.1 million tonnes higher than the end of September, according to a Sunday statement by the country’s top economic planning body.

Aerial view of coal being loaded onto trucks near a mine in northern China’s Datong. China generates about 60 percent of its energy from burning coal.

National coal stores hit 112 million tonnes earlier this week, a “normal level for the average year”, the agency said Thursday.

Like many places in rapidly industrialising China, Beijing is no stranger to air pollution—though severe smog episodes have become less frequent in recent years as authorities have increasingly prioritised environmental protection.

“The air in the last few years has been excellent, with very little smoggy weather,” Beijing resident Song Ximeng told AFP.

“This only happens very rarely.”

In his COP26 statement, Xi urged developed countries to provide more climate change support to developing nations, but stopped short of making any significant new commitments from China.

Beijing has already pledged to bring emissions of planet-heating carbon dioxide to a peak by 2030 and reduce them to net zero by 2060.

China hit back Wednesday at criticism by Joe Biden, saying “actions speak louder than words” after the US president accused Beijing of not showing leadership to combat climate change.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Restoring Mexico’s mangroves can shield shores, store carbon

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Women wade through a swamp to plant mangrove seedlings, near Progreso, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. While world leaders seek ways to stop the climate crisis at a United Nations conference in Scotland, a few dozen fishermen and women villagers are working to save the planet’s mangroves thousands of miles away on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

When a rotten egg smell rises from the mangrove swamps of southeast Mexico, something is going well. It means that this key coastal habitat for blunting hurricane impacts has recovered and is capturing carbon dioxide—the main ingredient of global warming.

While seek ways to stop the climate crisis at a United Nations conference in Scotland this month, one front in the battle to save the planet’s mangroves is thousands of miles (kilometers) away on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Decades ago, mangroves lined these shores, but today there are only thin green bands of trees beside the sea, interrupted by urbanized areas and reddish segments killed by too much salt and by dead branches poking from the water.

A few dozen fishermen and women villagers have made building on what’s left of the mangroves part of their lives. Their work is supported by academics and donations to environmental groups, and help train villagers to organize their efforts.

The first time they came to the swamp for seasonal restoration work was more than a decade ago with Jorge Alfredo Herrera, a researcher at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the Mexican Polytechnic Institute in Yucatan. He told them the mangroves needed a network of interlaced canals where fresh and salt water would mingle.

Women plant young mangroves in the middle of swamp, near Progreso, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. The first time they came to the swamp for seasonal restoration work was more than a decade ago. Credit: AP Photo/Fernanda Pesce

To dig them was a hard work and paid only $4 a day. Men from Chelem, a fishing village of Progreso, turned down the job but a group of women took it on, believing they could accomplish a lot with little money.

Recently, after an intense rainy season, the women worked to finish the second part of the restoration process: planting young mangroves in a swamp near this port city. Under the sun, they chuckled, remembering the time they encountered a crocodile and barely managed to run away.

Then they placed 20-inch seedlings into mounds of mud held together by mesh, creating tiny islands about a yard (meter) square.

“The happiest day is when our plants take,” said 41-year-old Keila Vázquez, leader of the women who now are paid $15 a day and take pride in putting their “grain of sand” into the planet’s well-being. “They are like our children.”

Women push a boat filled with mangrove seedlings as part of a seasonal restoration project, near Progreso, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. “The happiest day is when our plants take,” said the 41-year-old leader of the women who now are paid $15 a day and take pride in putting their “grain of sand” into the planet’s well-being. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

GLOBAL THREAT TO MANGROVES

This mangrove restoration effort is similar to others around the globe, as scientists and increasingly recognize the need to protect and bring back the forests to store carbon and buffer coastlines from climate-driven extreme weather, including more intense hurricanes and storm surges. Other restorations are underway in Indonesia, which contains the world’s largest tracts of mangrove habitat, Colombia and elsewhere.

“Mangroves represent a very important ecosystem to fight climate change,” said Octavio Aburto, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California.

While the tropical trees only grow on less than 1% of the Earth’s land, he said, “on a per-hectare basis, mangroves are the ecosystem that sequesters the most carbon … They can bury around five times more carbon in the sediment than a tropical rain forest.”

A woman wades through a swamp carrying a mangrove seedling, as part of a restoration project near Progreso, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. This mangrove restoration effort is similar to others around the globe, as scientists and community groups increasingly recognize the need to protect and bring back the forests to store carbon and buffer coastlines from climate-driven extreme weather, including more intense hurricanes and storm surges. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

Yet around the globe, mangroves are threatened.

From 1980 to 2005, 20% to 35% of the world’s mangrove forests were lost, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

From 2000 to 2016, the rate of loss declined as governments and spotlighted the problem, but destruction continued—and about 2% of the world’s remaining mangrove forests disappeared, according to NASA satellite imagery.

In Mexico, as in much of the world, the largest threat to mangroves is development. The region near Cancun lost most of its historic mangroves to highways and hotels starting in the 1980s.

Tracts of mangroves on the country’s southern Pacific coast also have been cleared to make room for shrimp farming, while oil exploration and drilling in shallow waters off the Gulf of Mexico threatens mangroves there, said Aburto.

A woman plants mangrove seedlings as part of a restoration project, near Progreso, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. Other restorations are underway in Indonesia, which contains the world’s largest tracts of mangrove habitat, Columbia and elsewhere. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

Mexico began to protect some of its mangroves only after the excessive tourism development of the 1980s. And although Mexico took steps to establish a climate action plan in 1998 and was one of the first developing countries to make voluntary commitments under the Paris Climate Accord, its commitment to the environment began to backslide in 2015, said Julia Carabias, a professor on the science faculty at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

In the past six years, Mexico has cut resources for by 60%, according to Carabias.

And that, combined with increasing government support of fossil fuel energy and ongoing infrastructure and tourist projects in the region, is sounding alarms.

Despite the country’s monitoring system, local researchers say that for every hectare (2.5 acres) of mangrove restored in southeast Mexico, 10 hectares are degraded or lost.

A woman plants mangrove seedlings as part of a restoration project, near Progreso, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. The 20-inch mangrove seedlings are placed into mounds of mud held together by mesh, creating tiny islands. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

EFFORTS TO SAVE SWAMPS

The halting efforts in Mexico to protect and restore mangroves, even as more are lost, mirror situations elsewhere. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency estimated in 2007 that 40% of Indonesia’s mangroves had been cut down for aquaculture projects and coastal development in the previous three decades.

But there have been restoration efforts as well.

In 2020, the Indonesia government set an ambitious target of planting mangroves on 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of degrading coastline by 2024. Key ministries are involved in restoration efforts that include and education.

Yet there have been some setbacks. Precise mapping and data on mangroves is hard to come by, making it difficult for agencies to know where to concentrate. Newly planted mangroves have been swept out to sea by strong tides and waves. Community outreach and education have been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mangrove seedlings planted in mounds of mud are held together by mesh, creating tiny islands, as part of a restoration project near Progreso, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. “On a per-hectare basis, mangroves are the ecosystem that sequesters the most carbon … They can bury around five times more carbon in the sediment than a tropical rain forest,” says Octavio Aburto, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

In Mexico, successes exist, even if they are slow in coming.

Manuel González, a 57-year-old fisherman known as Bechá, proudly shows off recovering mangroves in the seaside community of Dzilam de Bravo, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Progreso. He walks through mud, avoiding the interlaced mangrove roots that burrow into it. Some trees are already 30 feet (9 meters) tall.

In 2002, Hurricane Isidoro devastated this area, but after a decade of work, 120 hectares (297 acres) have been restored. The fisherman says that now storms don’t hit the community as hard. And the fish, migratory birds, deer, crocodiles and even jaguars have returned.

But the mangroves face a new risk, as stumps scattered among the trees attest.

“In 10 years, you have a very nice mangrove for someone with a chainsaw to come and take it,” González said. “That’s something that hurts me a lot.”

  • Birds fly near the seaside community Dzilam de Bravo, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. In 2002, Hurricane Isidoro devastated this area, but after a decade of work, 120 hectares (297 acres) of mangroves have been restored. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • Fishermen dig canals in order for fresh and salt water to mingle, as part of a mangrove restoration project near Dzilam de Bravo, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Their work is supported by academics and donations to environmental groups, and government funds help train villagers to organize their efforts. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • Fishermen dig and clean canals as part of a mangrove recovery project, near Dzilam de Bravo, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. From 1980 to 2005, 20% to 35% of the world’s mangrove forests were lost, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • A patch of dried mangroves in the Dzilam de Bravo reserve, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. The halting efforts in Mexico to protect and restore mangroves, even as more are lost, mirror situations elsewhere. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • Dying mangroves poke out from a swamp near the Dzilam de Bravo reserve, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Decades ago, mangroves lined these shores, but today there are only thin green bands of trees beside the sea, interrupted by urbanized areas and reddish segments killed by too much salt and by dead branches poking from the water. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • Jorge Alfredo Herrera, a researcher at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the Mexican Polytechnic Institute in Yucatan, walks through the Dzilam de Bravo reserve, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • A sign with a message that reads in Spanish: “Don’t cut us down. Let me live”, is nailed to the trunk of a tree in the Dzilam de Bravo Reserve, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Cutting mangroves has been a crime since 2005, but Manuel Gonzalez, a 57-year-old fisherman known as Becha, says authorities shut down and fine projects, only to have them later reopen. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • A dog jumps across a lagoon in the tourist area of San Crisanto, an old salt harvesting community between Progreso and Dzilam, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. While more funds are needed for protection and restoration of mangroves, some communities prefer to think about how to make conservation a profitable activity. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • A highway cuts through a mangrove forest near the Dzilam de Bravo Reserve, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. In Mexico, as in much of the world, the largest threat to mangroves is development. The region near Cancun lost most of its historic mangroves to highways and hotels starting in the 1980s. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • A tangle of mangrove roots grow alongside a shore in San Crisanto, near Progreso, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. Despite the country’s monitoring system, local researchers say that for every hectare (2.5 acres) of mangrove restored in southeast Mexico, 10 hectares are degraded or lost. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • A bulldozer clears a field next to mangroves lining a shoreline near Dzilam de Bravo, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Cutting mangroves has been a crime since 2005. The Yucatan state government said it is aware of complaints of illegal logging yet the harvest has only grown. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
  • Mangroves form an arch over a lagoon in the tourist area of San Crisanto, an old salt harvesting community between Progreso and Dzilam, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

Cutting mangroves has been a crime since 2005, but González says authorities shut down and fine projects, only to have them later reopen.

The Yucatan state government said it is aware of complaints of illegal logging yet the harvest has only grown.

While more funds are needed for protection and restoration, some communities prefer to think about how to make conservation a profitable activity.

José Inés Loría, head of operations at San Crisanto, an old salt harvesting community of about 500 between Progreso and Dzilam, thinks the way to make the local mangrove part “of the community’s business model” is using the new financial tools such as blue carbon credits.

Those instruments, already in use in Colombia and other countries, allow polluting businesses to compensate for emissions by paying others to store or sequester greenhouse gases.

Some in Mexico say credits are still not well regulated in the country and could invite fraud and scams. But Loria defends them. “If conservation doesn’t mean improving the quality of life of a community, it doesn’t work.”



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Restoring Mexico’s mangroves can shield shores, store carbon (2021, November 5)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Pangolin trafficking: Iceberg tip of Nigeria’s illegal trade revealed

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White-bellied pangolin scales confiscated by Nigeria Customs Service. Credit: Charles Emogor

Since the first reported pangolin seizure in Nigeria in 2010, the country has seen an explosion in the black market for the world’s most trafficked mammal—becoming Africa’s hub for the criminal export of pangolin products to East Asia.

Use of pangolin scales in traditional Chinese medicines has resulted in Asian species declining dramatically this century.

Now, a team of conservationists led by the University of Cambridge has produced the first data-driven study quantifying Nigeria-linked seizures of pangolin product, in order to gauge the size of this illicit trade.

Just those shipments intercepted and reported by authorities between 2010 and September 2021 amounted to 190,407 kilos of pangolin scales taken from at least 799,343 but potentially up to almost a million dead creatures.

This figure is close to recent estimates for the entire global pangolin trade since 2000—suggesting levels of trafficking are far greater than previously thought.

Some seizures occurred in ports such as Hong Kong after leaving African shores. Researchers traced cargo from countries such as Cameroon and Gabon that was destined for Asian nations including China and Cambodia—sometimes travelling via France and Holland. All had been funnelled through Nigeria.

Warehouse in Nigeria containing confiscated scales. Credit: Charles Emogor

Of the 77 seizures analysed in the new study, 26 were uncovered alongside thousands of kilos of ivory—indicating that organised networks of pangolin traffickers are piggybacking on long-established ivory-smuggling connections.

Despite recent improvements and some dedicated officers, overall enforcement in Nigeria is lax and corruption endemic, say researchers. Total prosecutions for pangolin trafficking in Nigeria amount to just four—all in the last year.

As such, seized shipments are likely to represent a small fraction of the pangolin product now moved through Nigeria. The study, published in Biological Conservation, cites experts suggesting that detected wildlife seizures are anywhere from 30% to just 2% of the overall illegal trade.

“The figures in our research suggest there has been a gross underestimation of the scale of pangolin trafficking in Nigeria and indeed Africa as a whole, which could translate into mismatched anti-trafficking policies,” said lead researcher Charles Emogor from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.

As well as a false belief in the curative power of their scales, eating pangolin meat is considered a status symbol in parts of Asia. Pangolin bodies are illegally traded at markets across China, and some studies have implicated sale of the animal’s meat in the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead researcher Charles Emogor with a descaled pangolin carcass in his right hand, and the dead body of a young white-bellied African pangolin in his left hand. Credit: Charles Emogor

All eight pangolin species—four African, four Asian—are listed as threatened, with three now considered critically endangered. Researchers randomly sampled dozens of sacks impounded by customs, and estimate that some 90% of the scales involved in Nigeria-linked trade are from white-bellied pangolins.

Among the more common African species, although still classed as vulnerable by conservation agencies, white-bellied pangolins are traditionally hunted and sold in local markets. Researchers now fear that international trafficking is driving the butchery of African pangolins to dangerous new heights.

“The levels of extraction hinted at by the hundreds of thousands of animals in seized shipments alone suggest that expanding trafficking networks driven by demand from Asia could ultimately jeopardise the survival of some African pangolin species,” said Emogor, who is also a Wildlife Conservation Society fellow.

Nigeria is signed up to various agreements that prohibit the hunting and commercial trade of pangolins, yet it has been involved in more reported trafficking incidents than any other African country.

Emogor and colleagues combed through the records of several domestic and international agencies as well as conducting interviews with Nigerian customs and intelligence officers working to try and curb wildlife trafficking.

A white-bellied African pangolin in Nigeria’s Cross River National Park. Credit: Charles Emogor

The average mass of reported Nigeria-linked seizures increased steadily from 2010 before jumping sharply around 2017, when Nigeria secured its place as the nucleus of Africa’s pangolin trade, according to researchers. While the country initially acted as a conduit, by 2019 almost all shipments originated in Nigeria.

Pangolin cargo was trafficked via land and air, but the majority—some 65% of all scales—was shipped by sea, with maritime smuggling increasing over the years. Some seizures occurred in warehouses where mode of transport and destination were unknown, but all those taken in transit were likely bound for Asia.

The highest quantity of scales destined for any country or territory was Vietnam (over 64 kg), followed by China (over 48 kg) and Hong Kong (over 21 kg).

Black-bellied pangolin scales confiscated by the Nigerian Customs Service. Credit: Charles Emogor

Two shipments uncovered this year had claws separated out from scales, suggesting traffickers are catering to shifting demands such as those for -claw amulets in China.

The researchers call for increased law enforcement efforts and mandatory training in the detection of illegal wildlife products for Nigerian customs officials, particularly at seaports, along with proper seizure documentation by Nigeria and surrounding nations.

“We would like to see a greater emphasis on the prosecution of apprehended traffickers as a deterrence,” added Emogor, who points out that traffickers were rarely arrested during confiscations in Nigeria, and of those that were, the vast majority had cases settled out of court.



More information:
Charles A. Emogor et al, The scale of Nigeria’s involvement in the trans-national illegal pangolin trade: Temporal and spatial patterns and the effectiveness of wildlife trade regulations, Biological Conservation (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109365

Citation:
Pangolin trafficking: Iceberg tip of Nigeria’s illegal trade revealed (2021, November 4)
retrieved 4 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-pangolin-trafficking-iceberg-nigeria-illegal.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Aviation’s present-day contribution to human-induced global warming is 4% and will increase over the next 30 years

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Warming stripes of aviation, showing the percentage contribution to global warming from 1980 to 2021. Credit: Developed as part of ongoing collaboration with the European Aviation Safety Agency’s environmental work (e.g. ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/default/files/2019-aviation-environmental-report.pdf)

Aviation is responsible for more global warming than implied by its carbon footprint alone. According to new research published today, aviation could consume up one-sixth of the remaining temperature budget required to limit warming to 1.5˚C by 2050. The article, published in Environmental Research Letters, suggests that emissions produced by the aviation industry must be reduced each year if the sector’s emissions are not to increase warming further.

Given that aviation is widely recognized as a sector which is challenging to decarbonise, this research aims to inform the discussion about aviation’s ‘fair share’ of future warming.

The researchers behind the study, based at the University of Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation, developed a simple technique for quantifying the temperature contribution of historical aviation emissions, including both CO2 and non-CO2 impacts. It also projects future warming due to aviation based on a range of possible solutions to the climate crisis.

Milan Klöwer, lead author of the study said: “Our results show that aviation’s contribution to warming so far is approximately 4% and is increasing. COVID reduced the amount people fly, but there is little chance for the to meet any climate target if it aims for a return to normal.”

The authors show that the only way to ‘freeze’ the temperature increase from the sector is to strongly decline CO2 emissions by about 2.5% per year; however, there is room for optimism as they also show that ensuring a 90% mix of low carbon by 2050 would achieve a similar outcome, with no further temperature increase from the sector. But this relies on a sustainable production chain of low-carbon fuels that does not exist yet, as Milan Klöwer points out. “The aviation industry has to come up with a credible plan for a 1.5˚C world.”

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

“Any growth in aviation emissions has a disproportionate impact, causing lots of warming”, says Professor Myles Allen, co-author of the study. “But any decline also has a disproportionate impact in the other direction. So the good news is that we don’t actually need to all stop flying immediately to stop aviation from causing further —but we do clearly need a in direction now, and radical innovation in the future.”

Co-Author Professor David Lee, Manchester Metropolitan University, adds, “These are important results that show stylized pathways of how we can get to where we need to be with aviation emissions, robustly showing the different roles of CO2 and non-CO2 impacts. One of the important nuances is that the non-CO2 impacts, like the formation of contrails and cloudiness, have been thought to dominate the total impact: this is true at present, but it’s not widely understood in the stakeholder community that if you take care of CO2, the non-CO2 fraction decreases in importance, even more so with sustainable alternative fuels that generate fewer contrails. This emphasizes the importance of tackling aviation’s CO2 emissions.”

The industry has only recently begun to tackle the warming effect of flying, and this study is timely for quantifying that impact. The solutions discussed in this study, such as moving to alternative fuels, present a clear pathway to minimizing warming but these will take time to implement. In the short-term, there are actions that the industry can take right now. Dr. Simon Proud, of the National Centre for Earth Observation and RAL Space, suggests, “A ban on tankering—where aircraft carry more fuel than they need, and hence burn extra fuel, to save the cost of refueling at the destination—would reduce CO2 emissions in Europe alone by almost one million tonnes.” Other solutions, such as more efficient air traffic control and minimizing holding patterns at airports would also reduce emissions and help keep future minimal.



More information:
Quantifying aviation’s contribution to global warming, Environmental Research Letters (2021). iopscience.iop.org/article/10. … 088/1748-9326/ac286e

D.S. Lee et al, The contribution of global aviation to anthropogenic climate forcing for 2000 to 2018, Atmospheric Environment (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2020.117834

Citation:
Aviation’s present-day contribution to human-induced global warming is 4% and will increase over the next 30 years (2021, November 4)
retrieved 4 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-aviation-present-day-contribution-human-induced-global.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove NY state approves constitutional right to clean environment

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Visitors enjoy Central Park in New York in May 2016.

The New York state constitution will be amended to say people have the right to clean air and water and a healthy environment, after voters said yes to the measure in a referendum that was part of local elections on Tuesday.

A total of 60.8 percent of voters approved the referendum question, compared to 27 percent against and 11.7 casting blank ballots, with 99 percent of state districts reporting. Supporters of the “yes” option are claiming victory.

Even though turnout was low—3.1 million people voted out of 12.3 million who were registered— said the constitutional amendment is an important step. It came as the COP26 climate summit was underway in Glasgow, Scotland.

“We cannot take and air for granted. For too long, our most vulnerable communities have been harmed by and ,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Questions remain on whether this environmental right will be truly binding and opponents are already warning that it would create a legal quagmire that could slow down .

“The courts are going to have a big job ahead of them to sort out what exactly this means,” said Peter Bauer, the director of environmental advocacy group Protect the Adirondacks, whose name refers to a vast mountain and lake area in upstate New York, although he did say the vote is a success for people who care about the environment.

Including rights linked to the environment in the constitution has become an issue in many countries.

In France, for instance, the government abandoned in July a bill that sought to guarantee protection of the environment and biodiversity and to fight in a clause in the constitution, after it failed to win support in parliament.

The website Ballotpedia lists Pennsylvania as the first US state to include the environment in its constitution, in 1971. Five others followed—Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana and Rhode Island.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
NY state approves constitutional right to clean environment (2021, November 4)
retrieved 4 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-ny-state-constitutional-environment.html

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