Hexbyte Glen Cove The recent killer tornado’s track is visible from space

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Maxar Technologies

During the night of December 10, 2021, severe weather tore through several US states, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. At least 70 tornado-like events were reported, and one storm cell was tracked on radar for approximately four hours as it traveled for more than 400 km (250 miles.)

While the destruction these storms left behind is visible even from space, the heartbreaking devastation on the ground is sobering; over 100 people killed, with hundreds more injured.

The image above is from NASA’s Aqua satellite. On December 12, 2021, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument acquired a natural-color image of the tornado track across western Kentucky near Mayfield, a town that endured some of the worst damage of the fierce storm front.

More than 100 were issued Friday before midnight, the most warnings ever for any day in December, according to the National Weather Service.

“No U.S. tornado is known to have killed more than 80 people outside the core tornado season from March to June, ” said meteorologist Bob Henson. He added that until last weekend, the for tornadoes in the U.S. in 2021 had been only 14, the third lowest since 1875.

The satellite company Maxar has also made their high-resolution orbital views of the damage publicly available. Their before-and-after looks at the area are staggering.

Severe tornado damage in Mayfield, Kentucky, as seen in these before and after satellite images. Credit: Maxar Technologies

NASA said that while can occur in any time of year—with roughly a dozen every December—the event was rare for how long it lasted and how far north it occurred in meteorological winter. The storm front came from unseasonably warm and humid weather in the region, with a cool weather front approaching from the west.

The worst damage came along what may be the longest track ever for a tornadic storm (the data is still being analyzed). The NWS reported winds ranging from 158 to 206 miles (254 to 332 kilometers) per hour, damage of at least an EF-3 rating on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, and a ground track that may have blown across 200 miles (300 kilometers) and spanned 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) at its widest.

As this article is being written, the National Weather Service is issuing warnings for another unprecedented series of winter weather events today (December 15) for the upper midwest—states like Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Unseasonably warm and humid weather combined with an approaching cold front may produce more chaotic weather. The first-ever tornado warning for Minnesota in December has been issued; rain and high winds will be followed with snow and bitterly cold .



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The recent killer tornado’s track is visible from space (2021, December 16)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Remote control for plants thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Remote control for plants

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Plants have microscopically small pores on the surface of their leaves called stomata. These help plants regulate the influx of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. They also prevent the loss of too much water and withering away during drought.

The stomatal pores are surrounded by two guard cells. If the internal pressure of these cells drops, they slacken and close the pore. If the pressure rises, the cells move apart and the pore widens.

The stomatal movements are thus regulated by the guard cells. Signaling pathways in these cells are so complex that it is difficult for humans to intervene with them directly. However, researchers of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, nevertheless found a way to control the movements of stomata remotely—using .

Light-sensitive protein from algae used

The researchers succeeded in doing this by introducing a light-sensitive switch into the guard cells of tobacco . This technology was adopted from optogenetics. It has been successfully exploited in animal cells, but the application in plant cells it is still in its infancy.

The team led by JMU biophysicist and guard cell expert Professor Rainer Hedrich describes their approach in the journal Science Advances. JMU researchers Shouguang Huang (first author), Kai Konrad and Rob Roelfsema were significantly involved.

The group used a from the alga Guillardia theta as a light switch, namely the anion channel ACR1 from the group of channelrhodopsins. In response to light pulses, the switch ensures that chloride flows out of the guard cells and potassium follows. The guard cells lose internal pressure, slacken and the pore closes within 15 minutes. “The light pulse is like a for the movement of the stomata,” says Hedrich.

Anion channel hypothesis confirmed

“By exposing ACR1 to light, we have bridged the cell’s own signaling chain, thus proving the hypothesis that the opening of anion channels is essential and sufficient for stomatal closure,” Hedrich says. The exposure to light had almost completely prevented the transpiration of the plants.

With this knowledge, it is now possible to cultivate plants with an increased number of anion channels in the guard . Plants equipped in this way should close their stomata more quickly in response to approaching heat waves and thus be better able to cope with periods of drought.

“Plant anion channels are activated during stress; this process is dependent on calcium. In a follow up optogenetics project, we want to use calcium-conducting channelrhodopsins to specifically allow calcium to flow into the cell through exposure to and to understand the mechanism of anion channel activation in detail,” Hedrich says.

Basic scientific research can also benefit from the results from Würzburg: “Our new optogenetic tool has for research,” says the JMU professor. “With it, we can gain new insights into how plants regulate their water consumption and how carbon dioxide fixation and stomatal movements are coupled.”



More information:
Optogenetic control of the guard cell membrane potential and stomatal movement by the light-gated anion channel GtACR1, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg4619

Citation:
Remote control for plants (2021, July 9)
retrieved 10 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-remote.html

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