воскресенье, 5 мая 2019 г.

Explosive volcanic eruptions at least 3-8 times more frequent during peak of Late...

A University of Oklahoma-led study recently found that explosive volcanic eruptions were at least 3-8 times more frequent during the peak of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age (~360 to 260 million years ago). Aerosols produced by explosive volcanism helped keep large ice sheets stable, even when CO2 levels increased, by blocking sunlight. But the volcanic emissions also may have started a cascade of effects on the climate system that resulted in additional CO2 removal from the atmosphere.

Explosive volcanic eruptions at least 3-8 times more frequent during peak of Late Paleozoic Ice Age
Earth’s icehouse conditions of the last several million years were driven laergely by geologically
 low values of atmospheric carbon dioxide [Credit: University of Oklahoma]

«The lessons from this period shed light on a spectrum of outcomes as we move forward on Earth with increasing levels of CO2. Stratospheric aerosol geoengineering increasingly is discussed as a way to mitigate climate change today, but the intended outcomes may lead to unintended consequences,» said Gerilyn (Lynn) S. Soreghan, professor and director of the School of Geology and Geophysics, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy.

Earth’s climate has fluctuated between icehouse and greenhouse states that are defined by the presence or absence of ice sheets. During the LPIA, frequent explosive volcanism is thought to have caused increased reflection of sunlight, and increased atmospheric acidity, enhancing the reactivity of iron in abundant volcanic ash and glacially generated mineral dust, thus strengthening the climate impact of volcanism. Stimulation of phytoplankton growth in the oceans owing to iron fertilization contributed to CO2 drawdown, helping to sustain icehouse conditions.

In this study, geologic data were integrated with radiative calculations to explore the hypothesis that the onset, acme and prolonged extent of the LPIA was driven by unusually intense explosive volcanism prevalent during the tectonic assembly of Pangaea, operating in concert with CO2 and indirect forcings related to volcanism. Data on volcanic aerosols were compiled globally over ~400 to 200 million years ago.

Explosive volcanism during this time interval peaked approximately 310-290 million years ago, right on time to keep climate cool and support CO2 uptake in the ocean as other CO2 sinks like weathering of tropical mountains and verdant tropical rainforests decreased owing to increasingly arid conditions across Europe and North America.

Source: University of Oklahoma [May 02, 2019]



Scientists discover evolutionary link to modern-day sea echinoderms

Scientists at The Ohio State University have discovered a new species that lived more than 500 million years ago—a form of ancient echinoderm that was ancestral to modern-day groups such as sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea stars, brittle stars and crinoids. The fossil shows a crucial evolutionary step by echinoderms that parallels the most important ecological change to have taken place in marine sediments.

Scientists discover evolutionary link to modern-day sea echinoderms
Sea cucumber [Credit: Ohio State University]

The discovery, nearly 30 years in the making, was published recently in the Bulletin of Geosciences and provides a clue as to how creatures were able to make the evolutionary leap from living stuck to marine sediment grains—which were held together by gooey algae-like colonies, the original way that echinoderms lived—to living attached to hard, shelly surfaces, which is the way their modern-day descendants live now on the bottom of the ocean.

«It throws light on a critical time, not just in the evolution of organisms, but also in the evolution of marine ecosystems,» said Loren Babcock, co-author of the study and professor of earth sciences at Ohio State. «This represents a creature that clearly was making the leap from the old style of marine ecosystems in which sediments were stabilized by cyanobacterial mats, to what ultimately became the present system, with more fluidized sediment surfaces.»

The creature, a species of edrioasteroid echinoderm that Babcock and his researchers named Totiglobus spencensis, lived in the Cambrian Period—about 507 million years ago. (The Earth, for the record, is about 4.5 billion years old.) A family of fossil hunters discovered the fossil in shale of Spence Gulch, in the eastern part of Idaho, in 1992, and donated it to Richard Robison, a researcher at the University of Kansas and Babcock’s doctoral adviser. That part of the country is rich with fossils from the Cambrian period, Babcock said.

For years, the fossil puzzled both Babcock and Robison. But the mystery was solved a few years ago, when Robison’s fossil collection passed to Babcock after Robison’s retirement.

Once Babcock had the fossil in his lab, he and a visiting doctoral student, Rongqin Wen, removed layers of rock, exposing a small, rust-colored circle with numerous tiny plates and distinct arm-like structures, called ambulcra. Further study showed them that the animal attached itself to a small, conical shell of a mysterious, now-extinct animal called a hyolith using a basal disk—a short, funnel-like structure composed of numerous small calcite plates.

The discovery was a type of scientific poetry—years earlier, Babcock and Robison discovered the type of shell that this animal appeared to be attached to, and named it Haplophrentis reesei.

The edrioasteroid that Babcock and Wen discovered apparently lived attached to the upper side of the elongate-triangular hyolith shell, even as the hyolith was alive. They think a sudden storm buried the animals in a thick layer of mud, preserving them in their original ecological condition.

Scientists discover evolutionary link to modern-day sea echinoderms
Totiglobus spencensis sp. nov., holotype, from the Spence Shale (Cambrian: Wuliuan Stage), Spence Gulch, Idaho;
A – (part, KUMIP 49294A) and C – (counterpart, KUMIP 49294B); B – enlargement of part (see A),
white arrows indicate trilobite sclerites; D – enlargement of part (see A) showing ambulacra
and interambulacral plates; E – enlargement of counterpart (see C) showing attachment
structure. Scale bar = 10mm for (A, C); 5mm for (B, D, E)
[Credit: Rongqin Wen et al. 2019]

Echinoderms and hyoliths first appeared during the Cambrian Period, a time in Earth’s history when life exploded and the world became more biodiverse than it had ever been before. The earliest echinoderms, including the earliest edrioasteroids, lived by sticking to cyanobacterial mats—thick, algae-like substances that covered the Earth’s waters. And until the time of Totiglobus spencensis, echinoderms had not yet figured out how to attach to a hard surface.

«In all of Earth’s history, the Cambrian is probably the most important in the evolution of both animals and marine ecosystems, because this was a time when a more modern style of ecosystem was first starting to take hold,» Babcock said. «This genus of the species we discovered shows the evolutionary transition from being a ‘mat-sticker’ to the more advanced condition of attaching to a shelly substrate, which became a successful model for later species, including some that live today.»

In the early part of the Cambrian Period—which started about 538 million years ago—echinoderms likely lived on that algae-like substance in shallow seas that covered many areas of the planet. The algae, Babcock said, probably was not unlike the cyanobacterial mats that appear in certain lakes, including Lake Erie, each summer. But at some point, those algae-like substances became appealing food for other creatures, including prehistoric snails. During the Cambrian, as the population of snails and other herbivores exploded, the algae-like cyanobacterial mats began to disappear from shallow seas, and sediments became too physically unstable to support the animals—including echinoderms—that had come to rely on them.

Once their algae-like homes became food for other animals, Babcock said, echinoderms either had to find new places to live or perish.

Paleontologists knew that the creatures had somehow managed to survive, but until the Ohio State researchers’ discovery, they hadn’t seen much evidence that an echinoderm that lived this long ago had made the move from living stuck to cyanobacterial-covered sediment to living attached to hard surfaces.

«This evolutionary choice—to move from mat-sticker to hard shelly substrate—ultimately is responsible for giving rise to attached animals such as crinoids,» Babcock said. «This new species represents the link between the old lifestyle and the new lifestyle that became successful for this echinoderm lineage.»

Author: Laura Arenschield | Source: Ohio State University [May 02, 2019]



Running may have made dinosaurs’ wings flap before they evolved to fly

Before they evolved the ability to fly, two-legged dinosaurs may have begun to flap their wings as a passive effect of running along the ground, according to new research by Jing-Shan Zhao of Tsinghua University, Beijing, and his colleagues.

Running may have made dinosaurs' wings flap before they evolved to fly
Caudipteryx robot for testing passive flapping flight 
[Credit: Talori et al. 2019]

The findings, published in PLOS Computational Biology, provide new insights into the origin of avian flight, which has been a point of debate since the 1861 discovery of Archaeopteryx. While a gliding type of flight appears to have matured earlier in evolutionary history, increasing evidence suggests that active flapping flight may have arisen without an intermediate gliding phase.
To examine this key point in evolutionary history, Zhao and his colleagues studied Caudipteryx, the most primitive, non-flying dinosaur known to have had feathered «proto-wings.» This bipedal animal would have weighed around 5 kilograms and ran up to 8 meters per second.

Credit: Public Library of Science     

First, the researchers used a mathematical approach called modal effective mass theory to analyze the mechanical effects of running on various parts of Caudipteryx’s body. These calculations revealed that running speeds between about 2.5 to 5.8 meters per second would have created forced vibrations that caused the dinosaur’s wings to flap.
Real-world experiments provided additional support for these calculations. The scientists built a life-size robot of Caudipteryx that could run at different speeds, and confirmed that running caused a flapping motion of the wings. They also fitted a young ostrich with artificial wings and found that running indeed caused the wings to flap, with longer and larger wings providing a greater lift force.

Credit: Public Library of Science     

«Our work shows that the motion of flapping feathered wings was developed passively and naturally as the dinosaur ran on the ground,» Zhao says. «Although this flapping motion could not lift the dinosaur into the air at that time, the motion of flapping wings may have developed earlier than gliding.»

Zhao says that the next step for this research is to analyze the lift and thrust of Caudipteryx’s feathered wings during the passive flapping process.

Source: Public Library of Science [May 02, 2019]



Ice Age fossils found in Mexican underwater cave

The remains of long-extinct predators dating back to the last Ice Age have been unearthed by underwater cave explorers in Mexico.

Ice Age fossils found in Mexican underwater cave
Diver with Protocyon jaw and vertebra [Credit: © Roberto Chavez-Arce]

Among the discoveries was the skull of a short-faced bear known as Arctotherium wingei, a formidable Ice Age predator which weighed around 150 kilograms.
The fossilised remains of wolf-like creatures known as Protocyon troglodytes were also found in the Yucatán cave on the eastern Yucatán Peninsula. The findings are a coup for researchers, who previously believed both species only lived in South, not Central, America.

Ice Age fossils found in Mexican underwater cave
Diver recovering Arctotherium cranium [Credit: © Roberto Chavez-Arce]

«This discovery expands the distribution of these carnivorans greater than 2,000 kilometres outside South America,» palaeontologists from East Tennessee State University wrote in the journal Biology Letters. «Their presence… suggests a more complex history of these organisms in Middle America.»
A collection of ground sloths and an early human — who most likely died falling into the cave some 12,000 years ago — were also unearthed in the same site, known as Hoyo Negro, or Spanish for «black hole».

Ice Age fossils found in Mexican underwater cave
Diver with Arctotherium cranium [Credit: © Roberto Chavez-Arce]

According to researchers, that means humans may have been around to interact with the animals. «The [Hoyo Negro] pit is bell shaped… and served as a natural trap for animals moving through the cave in the late Pleistocene,» the paper said.

«Mammals discovered on the surface of the [cave] floor include multiple ground sloth species… tapirs, sabertooth cats, cougars, gomphotheres, bears, canids and a relatively complete human skeleton. In addition, bones and trackways of extinct fauna are known from the upper passages.»

Another skeleton, believed to be one of the oldest genetically intact human skeletons ever found in the Western hemisphere, dating back 13,000 years, was uncovered in the same cave in 2007.
Scientists said the skeleton belonged to a teenage girl, who too may have fallen to her death after venturing into the dark passages of Hoyo Negro.

At the time, researchers concluded that the Ice Age humans who first crossed into the Americas over a land bridge that formerly linked Siberia to Alaska did in fact give rise to modern Native American populations rather than hypothesised later entrants into the hemisphere.

Source: ABC News Website [May 02, 2019]



4,000-year-old coffin burials, furnaces and other artefacts unearthed at Sanauli

The Archaeological Survey of India has discovered two decorated “legged coffins” with two skeletons at an excavation site near Sanauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district. The skeletons were discovered along with other artifacts during the resumption of excavation at the site.

4,000-year-old coffin burials, furnaces and other artefacts unearthed at Sanauli
Credit: ASI

Excavation had been carried out at the site earlier in 2018 and has been resumed again under the direction of Dr SK Manjul, Director, Institute of Archaeology, ASI. The renewed excavation is being carried out to better understand the extension of the burial site and also the habitation area in relation with earlier findings.
Sanauli is located on the left bank of River Yamuna, 68 km north-east of Delhi. Excavations at this site had brought to light the largest necropolis of the late Harappan period which date back to around the early part of second millennium BCE.

Credit: ASI

According to an ASI release, the excavation is being carried out at two different areas: the first in the area in continuation of the 2018 excavation and the second in an area 200 metres east of the former.

In the first area, two burial pits — no 9 and no 10 — and a sacred chamber of burnt bricks were discovered along with burial goods.

4,000-year-old coffin burials, furnaces and other artefacts unearthed at Sanauli
Credit: ASI

In burial pit no. 9, a wooden “legged coffin” decorated with steatite inlays containing the extended skeleton of a female, laid out in the North-South direction and tilted 10 degrees west was excavated.
This burial pit also contained evidence of a decomposed bow, bone points, an armlet of semiprecious stones, gold beads and pottery including vases, jars, bowls and a dish on a stand systematically arranged towards the north and eastern sides of the coffin. An interesting find from this burial pit is the antenna sword placed near the head.

4,000-year-old coffin burials, furnaces and other artefacts unearthed at Sanauli
Credit: ASI

The pelvis of the skeleton is sinking in the middle indicating decomposition of the wooden base of the coffin, a feature also seen in burial pit no.10.

Burial pit no. 10 also includes an extended female skeleton but in a disturbed condition. The burial goods include a copper mirror, hairpin, channel, beads and pottery.

4,000-year-old coffin burials, furnaces and other artefacts unearthed at Sanauli
Credit: ASI

Interestingly, steatite inlays forming a figure of eight, which is probably the lid of a vanity box, was found between two legs of the coffin. The coffin is also decorated with steatite inlays similar to the coffin found in burial no.9. Two big pots — possibly containing food and other organic remains associated with rituals — were found placed under the coffin.
Another important feature to the north of the two coffin burials is a sacred chamber of burnt bricks. The structure has eight courses of bricks on three sides with a probable entrance towards the south. Pottery fragments, brick bats and bones were also found inside the structure.

4,000-year-old coffin burials, furnaces and other artefacts unearthed at Sanauli
Credit: ASI

The excavation in the second area about 200 metres away from the first site unearthed the remains of four furnaces with three associated working levels. The furnaces yielded slag, potsherds, and few charred bones. Stone weights, stone anvils, animal figurines, gamesmen, etc are part of the antiquities recovered from this area.

Storage jars and a cluster of pottery dump are common features of the topmost working level. The overall ceramic assemblage was marked with late Harappan characters. The furnaces were found to have a narrow top and a broad base with air ducts and mouth to regulate temperature. The nature of these furnaces hint at their being used over a long term.

Author: Damini Nath | Source: The Hindu [May 02, 2019]



Chinese archaeologists find 5,000-year-old ‘mysterious tomb’

With a bow in the left hand, a jade weapon in the right and 18 pieces of lower jawbones of pigs on his feet, what power, force and wealth did he possess 5,000 years ago?

Chinese archaeologists find 5,000-year-old 'mysterious tomb'
The high-status tomb found in the Huangshan site is thought to be the leader of the Qujialing culture clan
[Credit: Xinhua News Agency]

The identity of the owner of a tomb recently discovered by archaeologists at Huangshan ruins in the city of Nanyang, central China’s Henan Province, has aroused discussions.
«The tomahawk-like jade weapon is a symbol of power,» said Ma Juncai, head of the archaeological team and researcher with Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology.

Chinese archaeologists find 5,000-year-old 'mysterious tomb'
Aerial view of the excavation area of ​​Huangshan Site
[Credit: Xinhua News Agency]

«Meanwhile, other discoveries including a single wooden coffin, burial objects such as jade wares, stoneware, pottery and a large number of lower jawbones of pigs showed that the owner had power, force and wealth when he was alive,» Ma said.
He added that this is the highest-grade clan tomb of Qujialing culture found in southwest Henan and even in the middle reaches of the Hanjiang River. Qujialing culture is a late Neolithic culture centered primarily around the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

Chinese archaeologists find 5,000-year-old 'mysterious tomb'
Jade and stone artefacts found in the tomb
[Credit: Xinhua News Agency]

Archaeologists also found two house ruins during the late Neolithic Yangshao culture near the suspected clan leader’s tomb, each with an area of more than 120 square meters. They are believed to be jade processing workshops, with jade materials, semi-finished and finished jade articles and jade-making tools unearthed at the location.
«The house ruins are very meaningful for studies on the housing structures and building techniques of Yangshao culture,» said Luan Fengshi, a professor with Shandong University.

Chinese archaeologists find 5,000-year-old 'mysterious tomb'
Stone chisels and polishers excavated from the Huangshan site
[Credit: Xinhua News Agency]

The Huangshan ruins, discovered in 1959, has an area of more than 200,000 square meters. It is of great significance to the study of cultural exchange between the north and south of the Neolithic Age.

Source: Xinhua News Agency [May 02, 2019]



Clever Cultures Three-dimensional cell cultures, more closely…

Clever Cultures

Three-dimensional cell cultures, more closely mimicking the cells’ natural environment, are increasingly used for better drug testing, and could also help repair damaged tissues. To this end, researchers developed a technique to culture human neural stem cells (hNSCs) on a scaffold of self-assembling peptides, artificial proteins which self-organise into 3D structures. Unlike other methods, this approach does not involve animal tissues, making it more suitable for human patients. Initial tests in rats with spinal cord injuries suggest that transplants with these cultures can boost recovery of neural tissues: hNSCs successfully implanted and differentiated into various neural cell types, and the rats’ mobility improved. Transplanted hNSCs performed even better when they were cultured for six weeks and encouraged to start differentiating before transplantation (as pictured, with cell nuclei in blue, neurons in green and supportive astrocytes in red), yielding new insights into how stem cell transplants can be made more effective.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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Chemical records in teeth confirm elusive Alaska lake seals are one of a kind

Hundreds of harbor seals live in Iliamna Lake, the largest body of freshwater in Alaska and one of the most productive systems for sockeye salmon in the Bristol Bay region.

Chemical records in teeth confirm elusive Alaska lake seals are one of a kind
One of the Iliamna Lake seals seen just off a gravel beach on the east end of the lake,
the seals’ primary habitat [Credit: Jason Ching/University of Washington]

These lake seals are a robust yet highly unusual and cryptic posse. Although how the seals first colonized the lake remains a mystery, it is thought that sometime in the distant past, a handful of harbor seals likely migrated from the ocean more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) upriver to the lake, where they eventually grew to a consistent group of about 400. These animals are important for Alaska Native subsistence hunting, and hold a top spot in the lake’s diverse food web.

Scientists now know these «colonizing» seals must have found the lake suitable enough to stay and raise their offspring. Generations later, the lake-bound seals appear to be a genetically distinct population from their ocean-dwelling cousins — even though they are still managed as part of the larger Eastern Pacific harbor seal population.

But if the lake seals are distinct and show signs of local adaptation to their unique ecological setting, this would mean that their conservation — especially in the face of the rapidly changing climate of western Alaska and proposed industrial developments — should differ from that of nearby marine populations.

Lifelong chemical records stored in their sequentially growing canine teeth show that the Iliamna Lake seals remain in freshwater their entire lives, relying on food sources produced in the lake to survive. In contrast, their relatives in the ocean are opportunistic feeders, moving around to the mouths of different rivers to find the most abundant food sources, which includes a diverse array of marine food items in addition to the adult salmon returning to Bristol Bay’s nine major watersheds. These findings are described in a paper published online in Conservation Biology.

Chemical records in teeth confirm elusive Alaska lake seals are one of a kind
Five seals rest on the frozen surface of Iliamna Lake in Alaska
[Credit: Dave Withrow]

«We clearly show these seals are in the lake year-round, throughout their entire lives,» said lead author Sean Brennan, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. «This gives us critical baseline information that can weigh in on how we understand their ecology, and we can use that information to do a better job developing a conservation strategy.»

This new study comes at a time when federal agencies are considering whether to permit mining activities in Bristol Bay, a region teeming with wildlife, including Alaska sockeye salmon. Iliamna Lake, and the seals and other animals that live there, is located in the heart of the proposed Pebble Mine project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this spring released a draft environmental impact statement that analyzes the project’s proposal, presents alternative plans and gives the public a chance to comment. Ultimately, the document will help decide whether the controversial mine is approved.

Because of their current conservation status, the Iliamna Lake harbor seals aren’t assessed as a distinct and ecologically significant population in the project’s draft environmental impact analysis. If the seals are determined to be a distinct population, that has important implications for how the Iliamna Lake system is managed, the study’s authors said. The lake and its resident fishes would then be considered critical habitat for seals.

Chemical records in teeth confirm elusive Alaska lake seals are one of a kind
Iliamna Lake, Alaska’s largest freshwater lake, is situated in the Bristol Bay region. The islands on the east
end of the lake are the seals’ primary habitat [Credit: Jason Ching/University of Washington]

Separately, federal regulators have considered whether the lake seals should be named a distinct population, but scientists have been unable to agree on whether the seals are both distinct, and ecologically and evolutionarily significant, mainly because little is known about their ecology — including whether adult lake seals potentially migrate to the ocean to feed each year.

Brennan was a doctoral student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks when he heard about early efforts to evaluate whether the lake seals were a distinct population. Chemical tracing methods he was using to track the life patterns of salmon could also work for the seals, he realized.

«The light just went off in my head,» Brennan said. «What I was doing for salmon was directly applicable to this population of seals.»

Brennan and collaborators at the UW, University of Utah and University of Alaska Anchorage looked at the chemical signatures present in the teeth of lake seals during each year of their life to better understand where they moved and what they ate. Specifically, the scientists drilled into the growth lines of the seals’ canine teeth, then measured the ratio of heavy and light isotopes of carbon, oxygen, and strontium present in each growth layer.

Chemical records in teeth confirm elusive Alaska lake seals are one of a kind
Rainbow trout (front) and sockeye salmon are seen in Iliamna Lake. The new study shows that the diverse resident fish
community in the lake are the principal prey of seals [Credit: Jason Ching/University of Washington]

Because of the young bedrock geology of the Kvichak (QUEE-jak) River watershed, which encompasses Iliamna Lake, strontium isotope levels in the ocean are consistently much higher than in the lake. Unlike other elements, strontium signatures in mammal teeth directly reflect what animals assimilate from their environment, in particular, what they eat. Therefore, by looking at the strontium isotope ratios over the course of a seal’s life, the researchers saw that the ratios were consistent with lake signatures — meaning these seals only live in Lake Iliamna, depend principally on fish produced within the lake, and do not migrate to the ocean.

They also determined that young seals eat very little adult sockeye salmon. But later in life, the seals shift to supplement their diets with the seasonally abundant sockeye salmon that return each summer to the lake.

The researchers say this method could be used to better understand the life patterns of other elusive mammals around the world, such as river dolphins in the Amazon or the Mekong Basin. Broadly, marine mammals in coastal regions are among the most endangered animals on Earth, Brennan said.

«In terms of the broader picture of aquatic mammal conservation across the globe, I think we show that strontium isotopes can be really powerful because they collapse a lot of uncertainty. This method is completely underutilized across the world,» Brennan said.

Author: Michelle Ma | Source: University of Washington [May 01, 2019]



Scientists track giant ocean vortex from space

Researchers have found a new way to use satellites to monitor the Great Whirl, a massive whirlpool the size of Colorado that forms each year off the coast of East Africa, they report in a new study.

Scientists track giant ocean vortex from space
Researchers have found a new way to use satellites to monitor the Great Whirl, a massive whirlpool the size of Colorado
that forms each year off the coast of East Africa, shown here in a visualization of ocean currents in the Indian Ocean
[Credit: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio]

Using 23 years of satellite data, the new findings show the Great Whirl is larger and longer-lived than scientists previously thought. At its peak, the giant whirlpool is, on average, 275,000 square kilometers (106,000 square miles) in area and persists for about 200 days out of the year. Watch an animation of the Great Whirl’s evolution here.

More than being just a curiosity, the Great Whirl is closely connected to the monsoon that drives the rainy season in India. Monsoon rains fuel India’s $2 trillion agricultural economy, but how much rain falls each year is notoriously difficult to forecast. If researchers can use their new method to discern a pattern in the Great Whirl’s formation, they might be able to better predict when India will have a very dry or very wet season compared to the average.

«If we’re about to connect these two, we might have an advantage in predicting the strength of the monsoon, which has huge socioeconomic impacts,» said Bryce Melzer, a satellite oceanographer at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and lead author of the new study in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The Great Whirl is a huge whirlpool that forms every spring off the coast of Somalia, when winds blowing across the Indian Ocean change direction from west to east. English geographer Alexander Findlay first described the Great Whirl in his navigational directory for the Indian Ocean in 1866.

According to Findlay, Lieutenant Taylor of the British Royal Navy described a «great whirl of current» circulating clockwise at about the same latitude at Xaafuun, Somalia. «A very heavy confused sea is created by this whirl,» Findlay wrote. The phenomenon became known as the Great Whirl, and sailors have long been wary of its strong waves and intense currents.

The Great Whirl starts to form in April but its currents are deepest and strongest from June to September, during the official Indian monsoon season. A 2013 study using satellite data found that at its peak, the Whirl can grow to more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) wide, making it wider than the Grand Canyon is long.

The Great Whirl’s circular currents extend hundreds of meters downward and can go farther than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) deep in some areas. The inertia it generates keeps the Whirl going well past the end of monsoon season in September, until typically disappearing late in the fall.

Scientists have been interested in the Great Whirl for years but have had difficulty studying it directly. Monitoring the Whirl requires many repeat observations taken over a long period of time, but rampant piracy off the Somali coast has prevented researchers from venturing near it or placing instruments in the ocean to observe it.

And because the Whirl is so large, it doesn’t behave the way smaller whirlpools do, and scientists have difficulty defining its boundaries. As a result, scientists don’t fully understand how the Whirl varies from year to year or exactly when it forms and when it disappears.

Researchers have recently turned to satellites to see if they can monitor the Whirl from afar. In the new study, Melzer and his colleagues developed a new way to use satellite measurements of sea levels to better define the Great Whirl’s boundaries and track it over time. The center of the Great Whirl actually rises higher than sea level and the currents spin around this «hill» of water.

The researchers analyzed sea level satellite data from 1993-2015 to understand how the Whirl changes from year to year and what it looks like under different climate conditions.

They found the Great Whirl is larger than previous thought. The average size of the Whirl over those 23 years was 275,000 square kilometers (106,000 square miles), making it larger than the state of Colorado.

They also found there’s a lot of variability in when the Great Whirl forms and how long it lasts. But on average, it lasts for 198 days — six and a half months — considerably longer than previous estimates of 166 and 140 days.

The vast amount of inertia it generates keeps the Whirl spinning well past the official end of monsoon season in September. The researchers found the Whirl persists well into November and even December, and there were three years — 2000, 2005, and 2010 — when it persisted into the new year. The longest it lasted was 256 days — more than eight months — in 1997.

The researchers haven’t yet found a pattern in the Great Whirl that could help them predict the Indian monsoon. But they hope to also apply their method to tracking whirlpools in other areas. Whirlpools in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, have very strong currents that could affect oil drilling operations in the area.

Source: American Geophysical Union [May 01, 2019]



NASA study: Human influence on global droughts goes back 100 years

Human-generated greenhouse gases and atmospheric particles were affecting global drought risk as far back as the early 20th century, according to a study from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City.

NASA study: Human influence on global droughts goes back 100 years
Global ‘drought atlas’ data derived from tree rings running from 1400-2005.
Green is wetter and brown is dryer [Credit: NASA Goddard/LK Ward]

The study, published in the journal Nature, compared predicted and real-world soil moisture data to look for human influences on global drought patterns in the 20th century. Climate models predict that a human «fingerprint» — a global pattern of regional drying and wetting characteristic of the climate response to greenhouse gases — should be visible early in the 1900’s and increase over time as emissions increased. Using observational data such as precipitation and historical data reconstructed from tree rings, the researchers found that the real-world data began to align with the fingerprint within the first half of the 20th century.
The team said the study is the first to provide historical evidence connecting human-generated emissions and drought at near-global scales, lending credibility to forward-looking models that predict such a connection. According to the new research, the fingerprint is likely to grow stronger over the next few decades, potentially leading to severe human consequences.

Searching for human fingerprints

The study’s key drought indicator was the Palmer Drought Severity Index, or PDSI. The PDSI averages soil moisture over the summer months using data such as precipitation, air temperature and runoff. While today NASA measures soil moisture from space, these measurements only date back to 1980. The PDSI provides researchers with average soil moisture over long periods of time, making it especially useful for research on climate change in the past.

The team also used drought atlases: Maps of where and when droughts happened throughout history, calculated from tree rings. Tree rings’ thickness indicates wet and dry years across their lifespan, providing an ancient record to supplement written and recorded data.

«These records go back centuries,» said lead author Kate Marvel, an associate research scientist at GISS and Columbia University. «We have a comprehensive picture of global drought conditions that stretch back way into history, and they are amazingly high quality.»

Taken together, modern soil moisture measurements and tree ring-based records of the past create a data set that the team compared to the models. They also calibrated their data against climate models run with atmospheric conditions similar to those in 1850, before the Industrial Revolution brought increases in greenhouse gases and air pollution.

«We were pretty surprised that you can see this human fingerprint, this human climate change signal, emerge in the first half of the 20th century,» said Ben Cook, climate scientist at GISS and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York City. Cook co-led the study with Marvel.

The story changed briefly between 1950 and 1975, as the atmosphere became cooler and wetter. The team believes this was due to aerosols, or particles in the atmosphere. Before the passage of air quality legislation, industry expelled vast quantities of smoke, soot, sulfur dioxide and other particles that researchers believe blocked sunlight and counteracted greenhouse gases’ warming effects during this period. Aerosols are harder to model than greenhouse gases, however, so while they are the most likely culprit, the team cautioned that further research is necessary to establish a definite link.

After 1975, as pollution declined, global drought patterns began to trend back toward the fingerprint. It does not yet match closely enough for the team to say statistically that the signal has reappeared, but they agree that the data trends in that direction.

Reaching a verdict

What made this study innovative was seeing the big picture of global drought, Marvel said. Individual regions can have significant natural variability year to year, making it difficult to tell whether a drying trend is due to human activity. Combining many regions into a global drought atlas meant there was a stronger signal if droughts happened in several places simultaneously.

«If you look at the fingerprint, you can say, ‘Is it getting dry in the areas it should be getting drier? Is it getting wetter in the areas it should be getting wetter?'» she said. «It’s climate detective work, like an actual fingerprint at a crime scene is a unique pattern.»

Previous assessments from national and international climate organizations have not directly linked trends in global-scale drought patterns to human activities, Cook said, mainly due to lack of data supporting that link. He suggests that, by demonstrating a human fingerprint on droughts in the past, this study provides evidence that human activities could continue to influence droughts in the future.

«Part of our motivation was to ask, with all these advances in our understanding of natural versus human caused climate changes, climate modeling and paleoclimate, have we advanced the science to where we can start to detect human impact on droughts?» Cook said. His answer: «Yes.»

Models predict that droughts will become more frequent and severe as temperatures rise, potentially causing food and water shortages, human health impacts, destructive wildfires and conflicts between peoples competing for resources.

«Climate change is not just a future problem,» said Cook. «This shows it’s already affecting global patterns of drought, hydroclimate, trends, variability — it’s happening now. And we expect these trends to continue, as long as we keep warming the world.»

Author: Jessica Merzdorf | Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center [May 01, 2019]



Narwhals have endured a million years with low genetic diversity, and they’re...

Danish researchers have sequenced the genome of a narwhal, the Arctic whale famous for the horn-like tusk protruding from its forehead. Their work, appearing in the journal iScience, finds that compared to other Arctic marine mammals, narwhals have low genetic diversity, which typically indicates a species is struggling. However, narwhal populations number in the hundreds of thousands—but researchers warn they are still vulnerable to climate change and human activities in the Arctic.

Narwhals have endured a million years with low genetic diversity, and they're thriving
Danish researchers have sequenced the genome of a narwhal and show that the species has
extremely low levels of genetic diversity [Credit: Binia De Cahsan]

Low genetic diversity has historically been viewed as a species’ death sentence because it was thought that when members of a species have less DNA variation for natural selection to act on, they would struggle to adapt to changes in their surroundings. But this research suggests it might be more complicated than that.

«There’s this notion that in order to survive and be resilient to changes, you need to have high genetic diversity, but then you have this species that for the past million years has had low genetic diversity and it’s still around—and is actually relatively abundant,» says Eline Lorenzen, an associate professor and curator at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Currently, the population estimate of narwhals places them at around 170,000 individuals, enough to change their IUCN Red List status from «Near Threatened» to «Least Concern» last year.

«This shows us that just looking at the number of individuals isn’t indicative of the genomic diversity levels of a species, but also looking at the genomic diversity levels isn’t indicative of the number of individuals. Equating those two doesn’t seem to be quite as simple as previously thought,» Lorenzen says.

Interestingly, the low genetic diversity found in narwhals appears to be unique to the species; several other Arctic species, including their closest relative, the beluga, all have higher levels of genomic diversity.

Narwhals have endured a million years with low genetic diversity, and they're thriving
Narwhals are one of three whale species found only in the Arctic and are well-known for their tusks
[Credit: Carsten Egevang]

Instances of low genetic diversity usually stem from inbreeding or bottleneck events, which is when a species’ population is dramatically reduced as a result of a die-off and the surviving individuals are left to rebuild their numbers from limited genetic stock. However, neither of these possibilities, which result in an accumulation of unfavorable gene variants within a species, appear to explain what is seen in the narwhals. Instead, the authors suggest that the onset of the last glacial period roughly 115,000 years ago might have created an ideal habitat in which narwhals, whose population was probably considerably smaller at that time, could have rapidly proliferated.
«Narwhals’ long-term low genetic diversity may have allowed them to evolve different mechanisms to cope with their limited genome,» says Michael Vincent Westbury, a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

The authors caution that although most narwhal populations are currently doing well, their niche specialization and confinement to the Arctic—an area expected to be one of the most dramatically affected by climate change—means they are still vulnerable in the coming decades. «Our study can’t comment on whether narwhals will be able to adapt, or if they have the plasticity to be resilient in these rapid changes,» says Lorenzen. «But what we can say is that they have had this low genetic diversity for a really long time and they’re still around.»

Narwhals have endured a million years with low genetic diversity, and they're thriving
Narwhals are an Arctic-bound whale species famous for their tusks
[Credit: Mads Peter Heide Jorgensen]

Ideally, Lorenzen and Westbury would like their work to inform the conservation of this charismatic animal. «Narwhals are culturally important to Danish national history,» says Lorenzen. She notes that Danish waters aren’t actually inhabited by narwhals, but narwhal tusks were traded intensively as unicorn horns during the Viking period, and today narwhals are a highly priced hunting product in Greenland. «Their prevalence in Danish culture represents a long-lasting friendship between Greenland and Denmark,» she says, «and even the coronation chair of Danish King Frederik the 3rd from 1640 is made of narwhal tusks.»
Moving forward, the authors are interested in exploring whether this unexpected finding in narwhals is present in other species as well. To that end, future research plans include conducting genomic analyses and expanding their genetic understanding of a variety of Arctic species, both terrestrial and marine.

«This study shows that, as new data becomes available, we can question these commonly perceived notions that genetic diversity predicts the survivability of a species,» says Westbury. «Ultimately, this analysis is just one step of a lot of work to come.»

Source: Cell Press [May 01, 2019]



Scientists solve mystery of Medieval bone disease

Scientific research at the molecular level on a collection of medieval skeletons from Norton Priory in Cheshire could help rewrite history after revealingthey were affected by an unusual ancient form of the bone disorder, Paget’s disease.

Scientists solve mystery of Medieval bone disease
Macroscopic changes of PDB like pathology to the right clavicle of SK37 Gr35
[Credit: Paul Quigley]

The study, coordinated by researchers at the University of Nottingham, involved analysing proteins and genetic material preserved in the bones and teeth that are more than 800 years old. The work suggests that ancient remains can hold a chemical memory of disease and that similar molecular analysis could be used to explore the evolution of other human disorders.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is significant because it indicates that ancient Paget’s disease may have been far more common than the modern disease and developed much earlier in life.

Paget’s disease is nowadays the second most common metabolic bone disorder and affects around 1% of the UK population over the age of 55, with an especially high prevalence in the North West of England. Both genetic and environmental factors are important in the disease, a likely explanation for the regional variations in its incidence. Paget’s disease can result in the weakening of the affected bone, causing deformity, pain, and sometimes fracture. In very rare cases, a bone affected by Paget’s disease can develop osteosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer.

Dr Carla Burrell and Professor Silvia Gonzalez from Liverpool John Moores University, found that more than 15% of the skeletons at Norton Priory had extensive disease throughout up to 75% of their skeletons, comparedto the modern day population with Paget’s disease who typically have just one or a few bones affected. The research also revealed that the medieval disease started inyoung adulthood, whereas nowadays Paget’s tends to develop after the age of 55.

Surprisingly though, the medieval cases showed almostno evidence of the complications that are common in modern day Paget’s disease.

One of the skeletons analysed was thought to be that of William Dutton, a medieval Canon at the Priory who died in the late 14thcentury. He was aged between 45 and 49 when he died and had bone disease affecting more than 75% of his skeleton, including pelvic osteosarcoma. Further analyses indicated he had a marine-based diet typical of a high status individual, and was local to the North West of England, pointing to some local environmental factor that may have triggered his disease.

Coordinating the project, Professor Robert Layfield from the Nottingham Paget’s Association Centre of Excellence (PACE), said: “X-ray analyses of medieval skeletons from the collection at Norton Priory first directed us to unusually extensive pathological changes resembling, but also very different, to modern day Paget’s disease.

Scientists solve mystery of Medieval bone disease
Normal cortical and trabecular structure of a healthy right clavicle from SK50 Gr48
[Credit: Paul Quigley]

We carried out a much closer inspection of the remains using a technique called paleoproteomics – protein sequencing using mass spectrometry. This technique allows analysis of bone samples at the molecular level by extracting proteins from the ancient bone cells. Remarkably these proteins are well-preserved, whereas DNA degrades over extensive periods of time. Effectively the proteins offer an insight into the biology of the cell when it was alive many hundreds of  years ago.

We were able to identify one ancient protein that is diagnostic of Paget’s disease. This indicates the people who died at Norton were affected by a very different form of Paget’s disese to what we see today. Our research shows how proteomics can be used to examine and diagnose disease in ancient bones, and importantly also in ancient teeth. It backs up the theory that Norton Priory and perhaps the North West in general was a hotspot for this early form of Paget’s and opens up new questions about its natural history and risk factors.”

A major finding in parallel to protein sequencing was the successful analysis of ancient microRNAs in the 800 year old pelvic osteosarcoma.

MicroRNAs are genetic molecules that control how active our genes are and contribute to almost all genetic diseases ever studied. Specific microRNA patterns are used to determine different disease types and the findings in this study correlate with modern day microRNA patterns of bone cancer.

Analysis of ancient microRNAs has also opened up an entirely new field of research using archeological samples, as microRNAs were thought to be unstable and usually have to be studied in fresh samples.

Dr Darrell Green from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, who performed this part of the work, said: “MicroRNAs have never been investigated in ancient samples before because it seemed patently obvious that given their genetic structure they would degrade very quickly.

We developed a new, more sensitive technique to capture microRNAs in all types of samples and were surprised to find we dected microRNAs in the 600 year old bone cancer. This shows that given the correct preservation conditions, microRNAs are more stable than anybody thought so our new technique could be applied to museum samples that hold a wealth of data on biological and medical history.” 

Lynn Smith, Senior Keeper at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens said “the results of the scientific research into an ancient form of Paget’s here at Norton Priory has been a real surprise and is adding a huge amount to our knowledge and understanding of this unique medieval population. It is very rare for an archaeological collection to be used in such cutting-edge research and as such it has been both a privilege and a career highlight for me. The results will not only help re-work our interpretation of the site and the individuals that had connections with the Priory but will also help inform modern medical practice and future research”.

The next stage of the research will be to determine what the ancient environmental triggers for Paget’s disease might have been, which may help doctors understand the fall in incidence of modern day disease observed over the past few decades. By further applying the methods developed in the project the reserchers also hope to to gain a better understanding of what daily life was like for our ancestors affected by this, and other, ancient bone disorders.

Source: The University of Nottingham [May 01, 2019]



The quiet loss of knowledge threatens indigenous communities

Most of the knowledge that indigenous communities in South America have about plants is not written down. Now, ecologists at the University of Zurich have analyzed comprehensive information about the services provided by palm trees from multiple regions and made it accessible via a network approach. What they also discovered in the process was that the simultaneous loss of biodiversity and knowledge represents a key threat to the survival of indigenous peoples.

The quiet loss of knowledge threatens indigenous communities
Most of the knowledge that indigenous communities in South America have
about plants is not written down [Credit: iStock/LaszloMates]

Plants play an important role for most indigenous communities in South America, and not merely as a source of food. They also provide the raw material for building materials, tools, medicine, and much more. The extinction of a plant species therefore also endangers the very foundation of these people’s way of life.
But there is another threat that has more or less gone unnoticed: The disappearance of the knowledge of what the different plant species are used for. The problem is that this is not written down. Passed down as a cultural inheritance, it exists only in the minds of the people – and could therefore vanish almost unnoticed.

«Very little is known about how vulnerable this knowledge is in the context of current global change,» says Jordi Bascompte, professor of ecology at the University of Zurich. «There is therefore an urgent need to find out how biological and cultural factors interact with each other in determining the services provided by biodiversity.»

Analysis of the use of palm trees

Consequently, Jordi Bascompte and his postdoc Miguel A. Fortuna teamed up with Rodrigo Cámara-Leret from the Royal Botanic Gardens in the UK to study these interactions on a large scale for the first time. For their study, they analyzed knowledge held by 57 indigenous communities in the Amazon basin, the Andes and the Chocó region to collate their knowledge of palm trees.

The researchers then depicted the different palm species and their uses in graphical form in a network, from which they could identify the local and regional links between the knowledge of indigenous communities.

Each community knew around 18 palm species and 36 different possible uses on average. For example, the fruit is eaten, dried leaves are woven into hammocks and the trunks can be split and laid as flooring in huts. The study revealed that the knowledge of the different communities only overlapped partially, even with respect to the same species of palm.

Minimal loss of knowledge still has consequences

Using simulations, the researchers analyzed what would happen if knowledge of a particular species or use were lost. They found that the network is extremely fragile, with the loss of just a few components having the potential to make an enormous impact on the entire system.

«In this context, cultural diversity is just as important as biological diversity,» says Jordi Bascompte. «In particular, the simultaneous loss of plant species and cultural inheritance leads to a much faster disintegration of the indigenous knowledge network.»

Importance of cultural and biological factors

Bascompte and his colleagues concluded that, to date, too little attention has been paid to cultural factors. «The focus is typically directed toward the extinction of plant species. However, the irreplaceable knowledge that is gradually disappearing from indigenous communities is equally important for the service that an ecosystem provides.»

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also highlights the value of transdisciplinary collaboration between ecology and social science: «The relationship established between biological and cultural diversity can help strengthen the resilience of indigenous communities in the face of global change.»

Source: University of Zurich [May 02, 2019]



2019 May 5 Saturn, Titan, Rings, and Haze Image Credit: NASA,…

2019 May 5

Saturn, Titan, Rings, and Haze
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, JPL, SSI, Cassini Imaging Team

Explanation: This is not a solar eclipse. Pictured here is a busy vista of moons and rings taken at Saturn. The large circular object in the center of the image is Titan, the largest moon of Saturn and one of the most intriguing objects in the entire Solar System. The dark spot in the center is the main solid part of the moon. The bright surrounding ring is atmospheric haze above Titan, gas that is scattering sunlight to a camera operating onboard the robotic Cassini spacecraft. Cutting horizontally across the image are the rings of Saturn, seen nearly edge on. At the lower right of Titan is Enceladus, a small moon of Saturn. Since the image was taken pointing nearly at the Sun, the surfaces of Titan and Enceladus appear in silhouette, and the rings of Saturn appear similar to a photographic negative. Now if you look really really closely at Enceladus, you can see a hint of icy jets shooting out toward the bottom of the image. It is these jets that inspired future proposals to land on Enceladus, burrow into the ice, and search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190505.html

Conan the Barbarian probably belonged to Y-haplogroup R1a

A fresh batch of Iron Age genomes from across the Eurasian steppe is about to be published along with a new paper at Current Biology. The manuscript, titled Shifts in the Genetic Landscape of the Western Eurasian Steppe Associated with the Beginning and End of the Scythian Dominance, is still under review but freely available here.
Most of the male ancients, including two Cimmerians from the North Pontic steppe, in what is now Ukraine, belong to Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a. Wasn’t Conan the Barbarian supposed to be a Cimmerian? From the preprint:

The Early Iron Age nomadic Scythians have been described as a confederation of tribes of different origins, based on ancient DNA evidence [1-3]. It is still unclear how much of the Scythian dominance in the Eurasian Steppe was due to movements of people and how much reflected cultural diffusion and elite dominance. We present new whole-genome sequences of 31 ancient Western and Eastern Steppe individuals including Scythians as well as samples pre- and postdating them, allowing us to set the Scythians in a temporal context (in the Western/Ponto-Caspian Steppe). We detect an increase of eastern (Altaian) affinity along with a decrease in Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) ancestry in the Early Iron Age Ponto- Caspian gene pool at the start of the Scythian dominance. On the other hand, samples of the Chernyakhiv culture postdating the Scythians in Ukraine have a significantly higher proportion of Near Eastern ancestry than other samples of this study. Our results agree with the Gothic source of the Chernyakhiv culture and support the hypothesis that the Scythian dominance did involve a demic component. …
Out of the 31 samples of this study, 16 are male, and with sufficient Y-chromosome coverage for haplogroup assignment (Table S2). R1a (43%) and I (27%) are the two most frequent Y- chromosome hgs in present-day Ukrainians [142]. R1a is also the predominant lineage among Cimmerians, Scy_Ukr and ScySar_SU in our data, and present among Scy_Kaz as well. Thus, although acknowledging our small sample size, the individuals sampled from archaeological context associated with Scythian identity do not appear to stand out from the context of other groups living in the region before and after them. One notable difference from the present is the absence of hg N, nowadays widespread in the Volga-Uralic region and West Siberia as well as among Mongols and Altaians [165-167]; however, this result is consistent with the absence of hg N among Bronze Age and Eneolithic males from the Steppe [168]. In context of their claimed Altaian homeland it is interesting to note that one Scy_Ukr and the single Sar_Cau sample belong to the Q1c-L332 lineage which is a sub-clade of hg Q1c-L330 that today has peak frequency of 68% in Western Mongolians [169] and occurs at 17% in South Altaians [170] while being very rare (<1%) in East European populations and absent elsewhere (https://www.yfull.com/tree/Q-L330/).

Järve et al., Shifts in the Genetic Landscape of the Western Eurasian Steppe Associated with the Beginning and End of the Scythian Dominance, Current Biology (preprint), Posted: 6 Mar 2019, http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3346985
See also…
The mystery of the Sintashta people
On the association between Uralic expansions and Y-haplogroup N
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…


The Amazing Power of Zoom — Find this and other great images in…

The Amazing Power of Zoom — Find this and other great images in the Technology Networks new The Spectacular World of Brain Imaging Flipbook.

Image of the Week – May 5, 2019


Project name: Brain Maps

Description: Creation of high-resolution large-scale brain maps of protein expression.

Leader: Tom Deerinck

Collaborators: James Bouwer, Mark Ellisman, and Maryann Martone

Attribution Only: This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

The Spectacular World of Brain Imaging Flipbook — http://go.technologynetworks.com/the-spectacular-world-of-brain-imaging-flipbook

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Study on explosive volcanism during ice age provides lessons for…

Study on explosive volcanism during ice age provides lessons for today’s rising CO2 http://www.geologypage.com/2019/05/study-on-explosive-volcanism-during-ice-age-provides-lessons-for-todays-rising-co2.html

Earthquakes are triggered well beyond fluid injection zones…

Earthquakes are triggered well beyond fluid injection zones http://www.geologypage.com/2019/05/earthquakes-are-triggered-well-beyond-fluid-injection-zones.html

Blue Origin NS-11 Mission

Blue Origin logo.

May 4, 2019

The New Shepard booster lands during Mission NS-11 on May 2, 2019

The New Shepard reusable launch system was launched and landed at Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site, on 2 May 2019, at 13:35 UTC (08:35 CDT).

Blue Origin NS-11: New Shepard launch & landing, 2 May 2019

This was the fifth mission, launch and landing, for this New Shepard launch vehicle. For Blue Origin’s mission NS-11, the New Shepard Crew Capsule 2.0 transported 38 payloads, including 9 NASA-supported payloads: Characterization of 3D Printing Processes under Microgravity Conditions, Developing a Centrifuge for Blue Origin’s New Shepard, Cryogenic Gauging Technology Geometry Development, Evolved Medical Microgravity Suction Device, Suborbital Flight Experiment Monitor-2, Flow Boiling in Microgap Coolers, BioChip SubOrbitalLab, Strata-S1. Other payloads include TESSERAE: Self Assembling Space Architecture, Floral Cosmonauts: Crystal Electro-Nucleation and Queen Bee Maiden Flight.

Image above: NS-11 flew 38 payloads to space for a variety of schools, universities, government agencies and private companies.

Related article:

NASA and Blue Origin Help Classrooms and Researchers Reach Space

Related links:

NASA’s Flight Opportunities program: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/flightopportunities/index.html

3D printing experiment: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/technologies/178/

Evolved Medical Microgravity Suction Device: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/technologies/162/

Suborbital Flight Experiment Monitor-2: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/technologies/168/

Flow Boiling in Microgap Coolers: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/technologies/173/

BioChip SubOrbitalLab: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/technologies/181/

Strata-S1: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/technologies/182/

Blue Origin: https://www.blueorigin.com/

Images, Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Blue Origin/SciNews/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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