вторник, 23 июля 2019 г.

Large Hellenistic complex found in Yeroskipou

A large complex from a temple of the Hellenistic period was discovered in Yeroskipou during excavations conducted by the Department of Antiquities, it was revealed on Thursday.











Large Hellenistic complex found in Yeroskipou
Credit: Cyprus Mail

The Director of the Department of Antiquities said the excavations took place under the building programme submitted by the Church of Cyprus, according to daily Politis.


The findings “include a Greek temple which is situated in the south eastern part of the complex and is enclosed by a courtyard. At the back of the temple there is a patio surrounded by different rooms,” Marina Solomonidou-Ierominidou said.


She added that “the complete excavation of the monument and the study of the findings, will allow the department to make more accurate deductions regarding this important monument”.


However, she said that the ancient findings will coexist with the building programme, ensuring that they will be protected and projected.


The Church of Cyprus is planning to build high-rises with luxury apartments, a 5-star hotel and an artificial island in the area of the findings.


In 2017, the Cabinet declassified the area from an Ancient monument schedule, to the surprise of the Department of Antiquities, which claimed that it was the first time that an area which was classified as an ancient monument is declassified while the excavations were still in progress.


Author: Stefanos Marangos | Source: Cyprus Mail [July 18, 2019]



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Decorated Neolithic stone discovered in Orkney

Archaeologists have uncovered what they describe as a «stunning example» of Neolithic decorate stone in Orkney.











Decorated Neolithic stone discovered in Orkney
The decorated stone was discovered on Monday
[Credit: Ness of Brodgar]

The notch-marked slab was discovered at Ness of Brodgar, the location of a well-preserved and sophisticated complex of stone buildings. The site was built and occupied by people more than 5,000 years ago.
Archaeological excavations began at Ness of Brodgar more than 15 years ago and the site covers an area of about six acres (2.5 ha).











Decorated Neolithic stone discovered in Orkney
A stone marked with dots is also among the recent discoveries
[Credit: Ness of Brodgar]

The decorated stone was found on Monday, followed by further discoveries of smaller carved stones during the rest of the week.


Painted stonework and tools are among other previous finds made at Ness of Brodgar.


The site forms part of the Heart of the Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.


Source: BBC News Website [July 18, 2019]



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1200-year-old mosque unearthed in southern Israel

Israeli archaeologists said Thursday they had unearthed the remains of a rare ancient rural mosque from the seventh and eighth centuries AD in the country’s south.











1200-year-old mosque unearthed in southern Israel
A very early mosque dating from circa the 7th to 8th centuries C.E. is being excavated near Rahat 
[Credit: Anat Rasiuk/Israel Antiquities Authority]

The remains were discovered during preparations to construct a new building in the Bedouin town of Rahat, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
It said the remains were of an open-air rectangular mosque with a mihrab, or prayer niche, facing Mecca. The authority called it one of the earliest known rural mosques worldwide.











1200-year-old mosque unearthed in southern Israel
Local youth participate in the excavation of a very early 7th-8th century mosque near Rahat ahead 
of a neighbourhood expansion [Credit: Anat Rasiuk/Israel Antiquities Authority]

«From this period there are large known mosques in Jerusalem and in Mecca, but here we have evidence of an ancient house of prayer, which seems to have served the farmers who lived in the area,» the authority said in a statement from the excavations’ directors, Jon Seligman and Shahar Zur.
It said no similar building had been found in the area where it was discovered. The authority was «examining possible ways in which this special finding can be integrated into the new neighbourhood,» it said.


Other finds in the area were a small settlement from the early Islamic period, the authority said. The Muslim conquest of the region occurred in the first half of the seventh century.


Source: AFP [July July 19, 2019]



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Marble torso found in Roman Forum dig

A large white marble torso has been found by archaeologists of the Capitoline Superintendence for Cultural Heritage engaged in the archaeological excavation of Via Alessandrina, a 16th century road running through the Roman Forum.











Marble torso found in Roman Forum dig
Credit: Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali

The 1.5 metre tall torso is thought to belong to one of about 60-70 statues of Dacian warriors that once decorated the Forum of Trajan, dating from the beginning of the second century AD.











Marble torso found in Roman Forum dig
Credit: Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali











Marble torso found in Roman Forum dig
Credit: Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali

The archaeologists of the Capitoline Superintendence say that the statue was found among rubble in an area abandoned after a collapse dating back to the time of the medieval demolitions, presumably in the second half of the ninth century AD.


A head of a god, believed to be Dionysus, was found there earlier this month.


Source: Parco archeologico del Colosseo [July 19, 2019]



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Hundreds of Viking artefacts discovered in northern Russia

The artefacts, including coins from faraway lands, beads, jewelry and other well-preserved man-made objects were found in an area of northern Russia believed to have served as a Viking trade hub in the tenth century AD.











Hundreds of Viking artefacts discovered in northern Russia
Credit: НКО Фонд Археология

Archaeologists working near the settlement of Gorozhane in Russia’s Pskov Region have discovered over 350 artefacts from the time when Vikings roamed the region, a member of the ‘Citizens-2019’ expedition digging near an artefact-laden area has revealed.











Hundreds of Viking artefacts discovered in northern Russia
Credit: НКО Фонд Археология

“It’s clear that there will be more finds, as field work continues. Among the finds are eight Arab Dirham coins, as well as other imported items, for the most part beads, weapons, jewellery and other items,” the expedition member said.











Hundreds of Viking artefacts discovered in northern Russia
Credit: НКО Фонд Археология

After being discovered in 2016, the archaeological preserve near Gorozhane has become a major source of interest for archaeologists, with the remains of homes and hundreds of manmade objects, including Byzantine Imperial coins dating to the years 920-944, fragments of a pendant featuring a symbol of the Rurikid nobles of Kievan Rus, Dirham coins from ancient Arab caliphates, scale weights, arrowheads, horseshoe fasteners, and dozens of ancient human-made objects made of glass, stone, clay, ferrous and non-ferrous metals found at the site over the years.











Hundreds of Viking artefacts discovered in northern Russia
Credit: arheologpskov

Archaeologists believe the site, which dates back to at least the 10th century, once served as a hub for a trade route between Greece and the Varangians (the name for Vikings given by the Greeks and ancient Rus peoples). All the ancient objects found prior to the current dig were handed to the local archaeological center, with students from universities in Russia, Belarus and Estonia invited to take part in the expeditions with support from the Russian Historical Society.











Hundreds of Viking artefacts discovered in northern Russia
Credit: НКО Фонд Археология

Vikings began exploring in lands which are parts of the Baltic states, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine between the 6th and 9th centuries, traveling aboard their distinctive vessels along the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas and conquering many local settlements amid efforts to open up trade routes with the Greeks and the Middle Eastern empires.











Hundreds of Viking artefacts discovered in northern Russia
Credit: НКО Фонд Археология

Most Varangians are believed to have assimilated with local Slavic tribes sometime after the 11th century. According to the ‘Primary Chronical’ history of Kievan Rus’, published in Kiev in 1113, a Varangian chieftain named Rurik became ruler (knyaz) of the city of Veliky Novgorod in 860, with his successors eventually expanding south to Kiev and founding the first East Slavic state, known as Kievan Rus.

Source: Sputnik News [July 20, 2019]



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Growing Guts The prettiness of these coloured rings belies…


Growing Guts


The prettiness of these coloured rings belies their serious practical potential. They’re fragments of small intestine that have been grown from stem cells in a laboratory. It’s hoped that such engineered tissues may one day be used to treat short bowel syndrome – a reduction in the length of functional bowel resulting from either surgical removal or disease. Premature babies with underdeveloped gastrointestinal tracts, for example, are prone to short bowel syndrome resulting from necrotising enterocolitis – a condition where parts of the intestine die. While intestinal transplants are one option for treating short bowel syndrome (and the consequent malnutrition), such surgeries come with a risk of transplant rejection. Growing intestine from a patient’s own stem cells avoids such risk and, encouragingly, advances in tissue engineering technology are enabling ever-larger pieces of intestine to be grown in culture. This once futuristic treatment idea is therefore becoming increasingly feasible.


Written by Ruth Williams



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2019 July 23 M82: Galaxy with a Supergalactic Wind Image…


2019 July 23


M82: Galaxy with a Supergalactic Wind
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing & Copyright: Daniel Nobre


Explanation: Why is the Cigar Galaxy billowing red smoke? M82, as this starburst galaxy is also known, was stirred up by a recent pass near large spiral galaxy M81. This doesn’t fully explain the source of the red-glowing outwardly expanding gas and dust, however. Evidence indicates that this gas and dust is being driven out by the combined emerging particle winds of many stars, together creating a galactic superwind. The dust particles are thought to originate in M82’s interstellar medium and are actually similar in size to particles in cigar smoke. The featured photographic mosaic highlights a specific color of red light strongly emitted by ionized hydrogen gas, showing detailed filaments of this gas and dust. The filaments extend for over 10,000 light years. The 12-million light-year distant Cigar Galaxy is the brightest galaxy in the sky in infrared light, and can be seen in visible light with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major).


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190723.html


Volcano eruption at different latitudes: A switch of hemispheric…


Volcano eruption at different latitudes: A switch of hemispheric monsoon rainfall change http://www.geologypage.com/2019/07/volcano-eruption-at-different-latitudes-a-switch-of-hemispheric-monsoon-rainfall-change.html


What Does a Marsquake Look Like?


NASA — InSight Mission patch.


July 22, 2019



Animation above: This artist’s concept is a simulation of what seismic waves from a marsquake might look like as they move through different layers of the Martian interior. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ETH Zurich/ Van Driel.


Southern California got all shook up after a set of recent quakes. But Earth isn’t the only place that experiences quakes: Both the Moon and Mars have them as well. NASA sent the first seismometer to the Moon 50 years ago, during the Apollo 11 mission; the agency’s InSight lander brought the first seismometer to Mars in late 2018, and it’s called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).


Provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), the seismometer detected its first marsquake on April 6, 2019. The InSight mission’s Marsquake Service, which monitors the data from SEIS, is led by Swiss research university ETH Zurich.


Quakes look and feel different depending on the material their seismic waves pass through. In a new video, scientists at ETH demonstrate this by using data from the Apollo-era seismometers on the Moon, two of the first quakes detected on Mars by SEIS and quakes recorded here on Earth.


By running data from these worlds through a quake simulator, or «shake room,» scientists can experience for themselves how different the earthquakes can be. Researchers had to amplify the marsquake signals by a factor of 10 million in order to make the quiet and distant tremors perceptible in comparison to the similarly amplified moonquakes and unamplified earthquakes.



Marsquake: How does it feel like?

Video above: Fifty years after Apollo 11 astronauts deployed the first seismometer on the surface of the Moon, NASA InSight’s seismic experiment transmits data giving researchers the opportunity to compare marsquakes to moon and earthquakes. The Marsquake Service (MQS) center at ETH Zurich in Switzerland monitors daily seismic activity on Mars. Video Credit: ETH Zürich.


About InSight


JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.



InSight on Mars. Image Credits: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.


Related article:


First Seisms Detected on Mars
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2019/04/first-seisms-detected-on-mars.html


Related links:


Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS): https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/instruments/seis/


Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3): https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/instruments/hp3/


InSight Mars Lander: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/insight/main/index.html


Animation (mentioned), Image (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/Alana Johnson/JPL/Andrew Good.


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Fully Staffed Station Crew Kicks off Busy Week Waiting for Dragon


ISS — Expedition 60 Mission patch.


July 22, 2019


SpaceX is targeting Wednesday at 6:24 p.m. EDT for the launch of its 18th contracted Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station. This will be the third flight of this particular reusable Dragon space freighter atop a Falcon 9 rocket.


The Expedition 60 crew is now fully staffed with three new flight engineers, who arrived Saturday aboard the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft, expanding the station inhabitants to six.  Drew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos are getting used to their new home in space and working to get the orbiting lab up to full speed.



Image above: A waning gibbous Moon was pictured from the International Space Station on the 50th anniversary of NASA landing humans on the lunar surface for the first time. Image Credit: NASA.


Morgan will be on Dragon duty Friday morning, monitoring its approach to the station. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch will capture the commercial cargo craft around 7 a.m. with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Dragon is delivering a variety of research gear supporting human health and the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) for commercial vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX.



International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

Station managers are planning a spacewalk to complete the installation of the IDA-3 on the space-facing side of the Harmony module. Parmitano, Hague and Koch teamed up Monday to service U.S. spacesuits ahead of the upcoming spacewalk.


Related links:


Expedition 60: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition60/index.html


SpaceX: https://www.nasa.gov/spacex


Canadarm2: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/mobile-servicing-system.html


Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3): https://www.nasa.gov/feature/meet-the-international-docking-adapter


Harmony module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/harmony


Zvezda service module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/zvezda-service-module.html


Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html


International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


How a drilling ship pulls cores from 2.5 miles below the sea…


How a drilling ship pulls cores from 2.5 miles below the sea http://www.geologypage.com/2019/07/how-a-drilling-ship-pulls-cores-from-2-5-miles-below-the-sea.html


Solving the salt problem for seismic imaging…


Solving the salt problem for seismic imaging http://www.geologypage.com/2019/07/solving-the-salt-problem-for-seismic-imaging.html


Drilling Deeper : A new study shows Americans are drilling…


Drilling Deeper : A new study shows Americans are drilling deeper than ever for fresh water http://www.geologypage.com/2019/07/drilling-deeper-a-new-study-shows-americans-are-drilling-deeper-than-ever-for-fresh-water.html


Cosmic pearls: Fossil clams in Florida contain evidence of…


Cosmic pearls: Fossil clams in Florida contain evidence of ancient meteorite http://www.geologypage.com/2019/07/cosmic-pearls-fossil-clams-in-florida-contain-evidence-of-ancient-meteorite.html


Jurassic fossil shows how early mammals could swallow like their…


Jurassic fossil shows how early mammals could swallow like their modern descendants http://www.geologypage.com/2019/07/jurassic-fossil-shows-how-early-mammals-could-swallow-like-their-modern-descendants.html


‘Crystal clocks’ used to time magma storage before volcanic…


‘Crystal clocks’ used to time magma storage before volcanic eruptions http://www.geologypage.com/2019/07/crystal-clocks-used-to-time-magma-storage-before-volcanic-eruptions.html


Chysauster Prehistoric and Iron Age Settlement, Penzance, Cornwall, 22.7.19.To walk...






Chysauster Prehistoric and Iron Age Settlement, Penzance, Cornwall, 22.7.19.


To walk through the nine houses and courtyards of the Iron Age settlement is an unparalleled experience for gaining a sense of Iron Age life. Some of the walls are over two metres high and the room layouts suggest complex living. There are numerous hearths, socket stones and drains too.


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Correcting historic sea surface temperature measurements

Something odd happened in the oceans in the early 20th century. The North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific appeared to warm twice as much as the global average while the Northwest Pacific cooled over several decades.











Correcting historic sea surface temperature measurements
New research from Harvard corrects decades of sea surface temperature data, solving a long-standing
mystery about global climate change [Credit: Harvard]

Atmospheric and oceanic models have had trouble accounting for these differences in temperature changes, leading to a mystery in climate science: why did the oceans warm and cool at such different rates in the early 20th century?


Now, research from Harvard University and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre points to an answer both as mundane as a decimal point truncation and as complicated as global politics. Part history, part climate science, this research corrects decades of data and suggests that ocean warming occurred in a much more homogenous way.


Humans have been measuring and recording the sea surface temperature for centuries. Sea surface temperatures helped sailors verify their course, find their bearings, and predict stormy weather.


Until the 1960s, most sea surface temperature measurements were taken by dropping a bucket into the ocean and measuring the temperature of the water inside.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) maintains a collection of sea surface temperature readings dating back to the early 19th Century. The database contains more than 155 million observations from fishing, merchant, research and navy ships from all over the world. These observations are vital to understanding changes in ocean surface temperature over time, both natural and anthropogenic. They are also a statistical nightmare.


How do you compare, for example, the measurements of a British Man-of-War from 1820 to a Japanese fishing vessel from 1920 to a U.S. Navy ship from 1950? How do you know what kind of buckets were used, and how much they were warmed by sunshine or cooled by evaporation while being sampled?


For example, a canvas bucket left on a deck for three minutes under typical weather conditions can cool by 0.5 degrees Celsius more than a wooden bucket measured under the same conditions. Given that global warming during the 20th Century was about 1 degree Celsius, the biases associated with different measurement protocols requires careful accounting.


«There are gigabytes of data in this database and every piece has a quirky story,» said Peter Huybers, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and of Environmental Science and Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and senior author of the paper. «The data is rife with peculiarities.»











Correcting historic sea surface temperature measurements
Chart shows annual sea surface temperature changes from different datasets in the North Pacific (top)
and North Atlantic (bottom). The blue line indicates the corrected data from this research. It shows greater
warming in the North Pacific and less warming in the North Atlantic relative to previous estimates
[Credit: Duo Chan/Harvard]

A lot of research has been done to identify and adjust for these peculiarities. In 2008, for example, researchers found that a 0.3-degree Celsius jump in sea surface temperatures in 1945 was the result of measurements taken from engine room intakes. Even with these corrections, however, the data is far from perfect and there are still unexplained changes in sea surface temperature.


In this research, Huybers and his colleagues proposed a comprehensive approach to correcting the data, using a new statistical technique that compares measurements taken by nearby ships.


«Our approach looks at the differences in sea surface temperature measurements from distinct groups of ships when they pass nearby, within 300 kilometers and two days of one another,» said Duo Chan, a graduate student in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and first author of the paper. «Using this approach, we found 17.8 million near crossings and identified some big biases in some groups.»


The researchers focused on data from 1908 to 1941, broken down by the country of origin of the ship and the «decks,» a term stemming from the fact that marine observations were stored using decks of punch cards. One deck includes observations from both Robert Falcon Scott’s and Ernest Shackleton’s voyages to the Antarctic.


«These data have made a long journey from the original logbooks to the modern archive and difficult choices were made to fit the available information onto punch cards or a manageable number of magnetic tape reels,» said Elizabeth Kent, a co-author from the UK National Oceanography Centre. «We now have both the methods and the computer power to reveal how those choices have affected the data, and also pick out biases due to variations in observing practice by different nations, bringing us closer to the real historical temperatures.»


The researchers found two new key causes of the warming discrepancies in the North Pacific and North Atlantic.


The first had to do with changes in Japanese records. Prior to 1932, most records of sea surface temperature from Japanese vessels in the North Pacific came from fishing vessels. This data, spread across several different decks, was originally recorded in whole-degrees Fahrenheit, then converted to Celsius, and finally rounded to tenths-of-a-degree.











Correcting historic sea surface temperature measurements
Movie of sea surface temperature corrections and the predominant groups reporting sea surface temperatures. The upper
panel shows the estimated sea surface temperature correction in degrees Celsius, and the bottom panel indicates the
 groups that provided the measurements.  Groups are typically associated with particular nations and ‘decks’ of data,
respectively indicated by a two-letter code and deck number. GB stands for Great Britain; DE for Germany;
NL for the Netherlands; JP for Japan; RU for Russia [Credit: Duo Chan/Harvard]

However, in the lead-up to World War II, more and more Japanese readings came from naval ships. These data were stored in a different deck and when the U.S. Air Force digitized the collection, they truncated the data, chopping off the tenths-of-a-degree digits and recording the information in whole-degree Celsius.


Unrecognized effects of truncation largely explain the rapid cooling apparent in foregoing estimate of Pacific sea surface temperatures between 1935 and 1941, said Huybers. After correcting for the bias introduced by truncation, the warming in the Pacific is much more uniform.


While Japanese data holds the key to warming in the Pacific in the early 20th century, it’s German data that plays the most important role in understanding sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic during the same time.


In the late 1920s, German ships began providing a majority of data in the North Atlantic. Most of these measurements are collected in one deck, which, when compared to nearby measurements, is significantly warmer. When adjusted, the warming in the North Atlantic becomes more gradual.


With these adjustments, the researchers found that rates of warming across the North Pacific and North Atlantic become much more similar and have a warming pattern closer to what would be expected from rising greenhouse gas concentrations. However, discrepancies still remain and the overall rate of warming found in the measurements is still faster than predicted by model simulations.


«Remaining mismatches highlight the importance of continuing to explore how the climate has been radiatively forced, the sensitivity of the climate, and its intrinsic variability. At the same time, we need to continue combing through the data—through data science, historical sleuthing, and a good physical understanding of the problem, I bet that additional interesting features will be uncovered,» said Huybers.


The research is published in Nature.


Author: Leah Burrows | Source: Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences [July 17, 2019]



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Protecting a forgotten treasure trove of biodiversity

The Cerrado is the largest savanna region in South America, but compared to the Amazon Forest to the North, it does not attract much attention. It is home to an incredible diversity of large mammal species including jaguar, the endangered maned wolf, the giant anteater, giant armadillo, and marsh deer, as well as more than 10,000 species of plants, almost half of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Despite its importance as a global biodiversity hotspot, it is one of the most threatened and over-exploited regions in Brazil. In fact, today, less than 20% of the Cerrado’s original area remains undisturbed and this habitat is at risk of conversion to agriculture, especially for soybean cultivation.











Protecting a forgotten treasure trove of biodiversity
Credit: © Augusto Miranda Martins/Dreamstime

The region has been at the center of the country’s recent agricultural boom, with 48% of Brazil’s soybean production harvested in the Cerrado in 2015. Unlike the Amazon, where almost half of the area is under some sort of conservation protection, only 13% of the Cerrado is protected. Under Brazil’s Forest Code — an environmental law designed to protect the country’s native vegetation and regulate land use — 80% of the native vegetation on private lands in the Amazon biome has to be protected, but only 20% is required in the majority of the Cerrado. Between 2000 and 2014, almost 30% of the soy expansion in the Cerrado occurred at the expense of native vegetation. A similar proportion of soy expansion in the Amazon between 2004 and 2005 led to the implementation of the Amazon Soy Moratorium, which constitutes a zero-deforestation agreement between civil society, industry, and government that forbids the buying of soy grown on recently deforested land.
In their study, the team led by IIASA researcher Aline Soterroni and Fernando Ramos from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), endeavored to quantify the direct and indirect impacts of expanding the Amazon Soy Moratorium to the Cerrado biome in terms of avoided native vegetation conversion and consequent soybean production loss. Their findings indicate that expanding the moratorium to the Cerrado would prevent the direct conversion of 3.6 million hectares of native vegetation to soybeans between 2020 and 2050.


Accounting for leakage effects — in other words, the increase of native vegetation loss to other agricultural activities due to the expansion of soybeans over already cleared areas — the expanded moratorium would save 2.3 million hectares of the Cerrado. Nationally, this would require a reduction in soybean cultivation area of only around 2% (or 1 million hectares), as there are at least 25.4 million hectares of land that has already been cleared in the region (mainly for pasture areas with low productivity cattle ranching) that would be suitable for agricultural expansion. This suggests that both agricultural expansion and conservation of the remaining habitat may therefore be possible.


«According to our model, expanding the Amazon Soy Moratorium to the Cerrado can avoid the loss of a significant amount of native vegetation while simultaneously achieving soybean production goals. We also show that the Forest Code is not enough to protect the area given its low level of legal reserve requirements and its historical lack of enforcement,» explains Soterroni. «Our study presents the first quantitative analysis of expanding the soy moratorium from the Amazon to the Cerrado and could be used by traders and consumer markets to adjust their supply chains».


According to the researchers, a growing number of private sector actors are already voluntarily pledging to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. Furthermore, consumer awareness of deforestation is increasing, providing companies with incentives to adhere to the responsible sourcing of commodities. Soterroni also points out that the close relative risks of future native vegetation conversion to soy estimated for China and the EU (37.52 and 37.06 hectares per 1,000 tons annually, respectively), shows that both of these entities can play an important role regarding the responsible sourcing of soy.


To preserve the biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by the remaining parts of the Cerrado, urgent action is needed. Soterroni says that to this end, a public-private policy mix would be essential to preserve the last remnants of the region and in light of the recent absence of strong environmental governance in Brazil, the expansion of the Soy Moratorium beyond the Amazon to the Cerrado might be more urgent than previously thought. The researchers urge the EU and stakeholders from other regions to encourage the expansion of conservation measures to the Cerrado and to support the call for making soy trade with Brazil more sustainable.


The study is published in Science Advances.


Source: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [July 17, 2019]



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