Featured Image: It is well-understood that the Earth’s biodiversity is in severe decline. However, it is less clear if this decline can now be called a mass extinction. Public domain image via. The Wilderness Society.
Paper: The Sixth Mass Extinction: fact, fiction, or speculation?
Authors: Robert H Cowie, Philippe Bouchet & Benoît Fontaine
Human-driven emissions and land use changes have impacted Earth’s biosphere greatly, causing global extinction rates to climb fast. However, does the current undeniable biodiversity crisis meet the requirements to be called a mass extinction?
Continue reading “Getting to Grips With the Sixth Mass Extinction”
Featuring image: Cress can grow nearly everywhere, but can it also survive on the Moon? Bastet78, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Paper: Plants grown in Apollo lunar regolith present stress-associated transcriptomes that inform prospects for lunar exploration
Authors: A.-L. Paul, S. M. Elardo and R. Ferl
Plants surround us everywhere and dominate our planet. We feed from them, we build our homes from them and we need them as a source for oxygen. We couldn’t imagine a world without them. But can we take them with us, when we visit other worlds?
In space science, plants have already played an important role. They are often used as model organisms for experiments and in future space missions they might even be used as important additions to the astronauts’ food and life supply. Thus, they already made their way up to the International Space Station. Now for the first time, Paul and colleagues have tried to grow plants in original lunar soil, finding that we may be able to take our green companions with us to the Moon.
Continue reading “Dreaming of a green Moon – farming lunar fields”
Featured Image: A salmon in a stream on the Oregon coast. Photo credit: Conrad Gowell
Paper: Thiaminase activity of gastrointestinal contents of salmon and herring from the Baltic Sea
Authors: S. Wistbacka, A. Heinonen, and G. Bylund
Flintstones vitamins are generally marketed for children, but should fish be taking them too? Thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency in fish, especially species of salmon, is a widespread issue with serious implications, as this vitamin is an integral compound required by virtually all living organisms. Vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to an array of negative health outcomes for salmon, which collectively manifest as the condition known as thiamine deficiency complex. This condition inhibits many salmon and other anadromous fish (those that migrate from the oceans to rivers to spawn) from spawning, posing a major problem for their long-term survival.
Continue reading “A Historical Link Between Thiamine Deficiency in Salmon and the Presence of Thiaminase in their Prey”
Feature Image: Huge amounts of waste symbolise the impact of human activity on the Earth System. Public domain image by Antoine Giret
Paper: The Anthropocene: Comparing Its Meaning in Geology (Chronostratigraphy) with Conceptual Approaches Arising in Other Disciplines
Authors: Jan Zalasiewicz et al.
Journal: Earth’s Future
We are now entering a new geologic time due to the planetary-scale impact of human activity. The Anthropocene is widely accepted as this new epoch, but debate is still ongoing about its scientific basis and when this new epoch began. As so many different disciplines are involved in defining and characterizing the Anthropocene, it has become difficult to properly define. A recent paper by Jan Zalasiewicz and colleagues aims to provide context as the broad subject spills over into other areas of science, art and the humanities. They emphasise that future studies should stick to the original stratigraphic and Earth System Science meaning of the term to avoid confusion around the term.
Continue reading “Defining and Contextualising the Anthropocene”
Paper: Freshening of the western Arctic negates anthropogenic carbon uptake potential
Authors: R.J. Woosley and F.J. Millero
Journal: Limnology and Oceanography
As human generated emissions of carbon dioxide continue to increase, scientists seek to understand the potential for ‘sinks’, or places that the excess CO2 can move in the global carbon cycle, to take up and store some of the increased emissions. Understanding how these carbon sinks may react to increasing global emissions helps to better predict both the rate of atmospheric increase in the future and the potential response of global ecosystems, including major sinks in forests and oceans.
Continue reading “The role of carbon in a changing Arctic”
Featured Image: Lake in a volcano’s crater at Mývatn, Iceland. Photo by Philipp Wüthrich on Unsplash.
Book: Iceland: Tectonics, Volcanics, and Glacial Features, Geophysical Monograph 247 (First Edition, 2020)
Author: Dr. Tamie J. Jovanelly
Figure Illustrations: Nathan Mennen
Additional Text: Emily Larrimore
Publisher: American Geophysical Union, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
I have always wanted to go to Iceland and travel the countryside marveling at the island’s unique geology and icy wonder. Reading through Iceland: Tectonics, Volcanics, and Glacial Features by Dr. Tamie J. Jovanelly, I felt like I got my chance to tour Iceland; this time with a very experienced guide. Dr. Jovanelly has been to Iceland more than ten times since 2006 to explore and study and her familiarity with the place and the people who live there is engrained in this text.
Continue reading “Iceland’s constantly changing landscape: A Book Review”
Featured image: by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
Paper: Satellite Hydrology Observations as Operational Indicators of Forecasted Fire Danger Across the Contiguous United States
Authors: Alireza Farahmand, E. Natasha Stavros, John T. Reager, Ali Behrangi, James T. Randerson, and Brad Quayle.
Forest Fires are a natural part of the ecosystem that clear out old and overgrown vegetation and recycle nutrients back into the soil. However, increasing growth into these forested areas has increased the wildland fire hazards to people and their homes and businesses. This has subsequently increased the use of resources and funds to battle and restore damage from these fires. In the United States alone, federal wildfire suppression expenditures tripled from $0.4 billion per year to $1.4 billion per year in the last century. These economic impacts inspired researchers from the California Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of California – Irvine and the United States Department of Agriculture to see if they could improve wildfire prediction beyond our current limited methods using subjective expert knowledge and weather forecasts.
Continue reading “Satellites Predict Forest Fires Better Than Experts”
Featured image by Hans from Pixabay.
Paper: Modeling the Effects of Sediment Concentration on the Propagation of Flash Floods in an Andean Watershed
Authors: María Teresa Contreras and Cristían Escauriaza
Climate change has altered weather patterns around the world and has even led to increased heavy rainfall in some regions. This, combined with El Niño – a weather pattern produced by unusual winds that can cause some regions to experience heavier than normal rainfall – has led to high numbers of catastrophic flash floods in populated areas near the Andes mountains. To add insult to injury, climate models predict increases in heavy rainfall events in the future, further worsening the chance for flash floods. New research from scientists working in Chile and the United States aims to model the impact of these floods on communities by simulating realistic flash flood conditions with different amounts of sediment, a potentially dangerous component of flash floods in mountainous regions.
Continue reading “Small Sediment’s Big Impact on Flash Floods”
We’ve all been overwhelmed by learning something new before–especially in the sciences where jargon can be overwhelming. Geobites aims to overcome this problem by summarizing new and interesting geoscience research in short, understandable pieces. Here, readers can learn about the newest developments in geoscience research, and geoscientists can build their science communication skills.