The churning seas are slowing down: The Atlantic Ocean circulation at its weakest in millennia

In the Atlantic Ocean there is a giant “river” that affects many aspects of life for us terrestrial dwellers, from the regional climates we enjoy to the sea level at our shore. This “river” is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), one of the planet’s major ocean circulation systems. The ocean has been churning for millenia through this circulation system, but now there are signs of change.

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Dead plants breathe new life into botanical research

I’ll never forget the first time that I stepped into a herbarium. Picture a room full of towering metal cabinets. Inside, there are thousands of pressed plants carefully glued onto special paper upon which thoughtfully recorded field notes describe the plant’s habitat, location, life stage, and more. At a moment’s notice I can still recall the unique smell of preserved plants, reminiscent of the comforting scent that lofts when ruffling the pages of an old book. In those days, as a budding botanist, I never questioned the immense value of these collections. Then, when I learned that one herbarium in seven has closed in the last twenty-five years (Deng 2015), I realized that we simply aren’t talking enough about all the unique ways that old plants can fuel modern science.

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Clues to the Past – What fossils tell us about ancient animal behavior

Hundreds of millions of years ago, Earth was teeming with life. Since humans weren’t around back then, we have to rely on fossils for snapshots into that world. Fossils give clues on how animals and their behaviors have evolved throughout geological time and can help with today’s conservation efforts. But what can fossils tell us about animal behavior, and when were some of the earliest behaviors? That’s a mystery worth digging into!

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Can a meme save a species?

Memes are everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; the world of social media is bursting with amusing images embellished with a witty caption. Memes stay on the pulse of changing cultures and reflect social ideas and current events. But can they also help encourage the protection of species that don’t commonly garner media headlines?

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When Fire and Water Collide: Looking to Lakes to Understand Fire’s Deep Past

As I woke up this morning, I learned that a wildfire raging in our local forest had grown to nearly 70,000 acres. A mixture of emotions subsequently flooded in, combining thoughts of concern with questions about how climate change is altering wildfire patterns. In order for scientists and land managers to better predict wildfire outbreaks and to understand the role that climate plays in their behavior, they must first examine the fire history of an area over a long period of time—longer than recorded history. Charcoal and pollen deposits in lake sediments may be able to provide answers to the mysteries of fire’s deep past. Read on to hear about this interesting approach and how one study of lake sediments mapped out 1.5 million years of fire history in China.

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Emerging Environmental Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Good and Bad

As the COVID-19 pandemic scourges the planet, research and other efforts have focused on the human toll of the virus. Recent research has begun shedding light on the effects of COVID-19 on the environment. At first glance, these effects seem beneficial. However, many negative consequences also loom, particularly in the long-term.

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California Electrification – what buildings, the grid, and the environment need in an age of energy transition and climate change

A team of energy scientists from California tackle the big question of what will electricity demand look like in a changing climate? By analyzing the evolution of the electric grid to supply an increasing demand under the state’s climate action plan AND the increasing demand to make people comfortable in a variable and changing climate, these researchers have given imperative insight into the future of California electrification.

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Understanding forecast uncertainty

Forecasts have been in the news a lot recently as people around the world are working to respond to the threat of coronavirus. To understand these forecasts (and all forecasts!) we need to wrap our minds around a notoriously difficult concept: forecast uncertainty. In this study, researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia demonstrated how different visualizations of forecast uncertainty can affect how people respond to forest fire risks.

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