When tetrapods (four-limbed vertebrates) began to move from water to land roughly 390 million years ago it set in motion the rise of lizards, birds, mammals, and all land animals that exist today, including humans and some aquatic vertebrates such as whales and dolphins.
Predictions of future climate change require a clear and nuanced understanding of Earth's past climate. In a study published today in Science Advances, University of Hawai'i (UH) at Mānoa oceanographers fully reconciled climate and carbon cycle trends of the past 50 million years—solving a controversy debated in the scientific literature for decades.
Research has studied the effects of climate risk on financial markets, but few studies have addressed the effect of environmental policy on those markets. A new study examined whether federal policy aimed at mitigating local air pollution—specifically, the Clean Air Act—affected the municipal bond market from 2005 to 2019. The study concludes that increases in regulatory stringency or uncertainty over future environmental policy increased the cost of municipal debt used to fund infrastructure and other projects. The findings have implications for policy, including the risk that environmental regulations could jeopardize local governments' ability to raise capital for critical infrastructure.
New results from an atmospheric study over the Eastern North Atlantic reveal that tiny aerosol particles that seed the formation of clouds can form out of next to nothingness over the open ocean. This "new particle formation" occurs when sunlight reacts with molecules of trace gases in the marine boundary layer, the atmosphere within about the first kilometer above Earth's surface. The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, will improve how aerosols and clouds are represented in models that describe Earth's climate so scientists can understand how the particles—and the processes that control them—might have affected the planet's past and present, and make better predictions about the future.
In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo, a volcanic peak on the Philippine Island of Luzon, literally blew its top. It was the second-most powerful volcanic eruption of the 20th century, ten times stronger than Mount Saint Helens, and its effects were devastating. Lava and ash spewed into the surrounding environment in the Zambales Mountains, pooling in layers up to 600 feet thick in the valleys. Following the eruption, powerful typhoons and monsoon rains triggered landslides and ash flows that continued for many months. Eight hundred people lost their lives, and the lush forests that covered the mountain prior to the eruption were destroyed or severely damaged. In recent years, scientists returned to the region to survey the surviving mammal populations, and in a new paper in the Philippine Journal of Science, the team announced the rediscovery of a species of mouse that had long been feared to be extinct.
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have put forward a detailed plan of how faster and better defined quantum bits—qubits—can be created. The central elements are magnetic atoms from the class of so-called rare-earth metals, which would be selectively implanted into the crystal lattice of a material. Each of these atoms represents one qubit. The researchers have demonstrated how these qubits can be activated, entangled, used as memory bits, and read out. They have now published their design concept and supporting calculations in the journal PRX Quantum.
Alongside Dennis van Engelsdorp, associate professor at the University of Maryland (UMD) in Entomology named for the fifth year in a row for his work in honey bee and pollinator health, Yiping Qi, associate professor in Plant Science, represented the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources on the Web of Science 2020 list of Highly Cited Researchers for the first time. This list includes influential scientists based on the impact of their academic publications over the course of the year. In addition to this honor, Qi is already making waves in 2021 with a new high-profile publication in Nature Plants introducing SpRY, a newly engineered variant of the famed gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. SpRY essentially removes the barriers of what can and can't be targeted for gene editing, making it possible for the first time to target nearly any genomic sequence in plants for potential mutation. As the preeminent innovator in the field, this discovery is the latest of Qi's in a long string of influential tools for genome editing in plants.
A brief burst of high-energy light swept through the solar system on April 15, triggering many space-based instruments, including those aboard NASA and European missions. Now, multiple international science teams conclude that the blast came from a supermagnetized stellar remnant known as a magnetar located in a neighboring galaxy.