Trees, Tempests, and Time: What trees can tell us about weather in the past

For storms along the Gulf Coast, first-person recordings are only reliable for the past 150 years. But knowing more about when storms happened in the past helps us understand how the climate is changing and how to reduce storm risks for coastal communities. To do that, we have to use even more unusual records: tree rings.

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Get the Lead Out: Lessons Learned from Flint, MI

April marks the five-year anniversary of the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. For the past five years, the United States has watched the repercussions of polluted drinking water wreak havoc on the City of Flint. What have scientists learned since then? Read on for an abridged understanding of the crisis and learn how one researcher is utilizing the data for good.

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Cover Crops: Good for Water Quality?

Cover crops have been a popular management strategy to reduce nutrient runoff from agriculture. However, evidence suggests that some cover crops may in fact release nutrients, instead of keeping them out of the water. One study explores whether five types of cover crops release phosphorus, and how that may impact water quality in the important Great Lakes region.

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Dung Beetles and Soil Bacteria Promote Food Safety.

Having a diverse farm benefits everyone Not only will the soils be richer and the number of different crops grow higher but also diversity may also potentially be safer. By limiting the use of pesticides and maintaining various landscapes throughout a farmland, organic farming increases the number of insects, namely beetles, and bacteria that help break down potential pathogens before they infiltrate the growing crops. Jones and colleagues examined 70 vegetable fields throughout California and conducted several laboratory experiments to find that organic farms had richer, more diverse communities of beetles and soil bacteria that help breakdown foodborne pathogens.

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Tiny Doctors: Cleaner Shrimp Heal Wounds and Aid in Sustainable Fish Production

Throw out the antibiotics and bring in the shrimp! In a recent study, researchers at the Center for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture found cleaner shrimp to be an effective biologic control in preventing parasitic infestations in farm-raised fish.

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Pollution to Solution: Can We Get Rid of Plastics in Our Oceans?

The issue of marine plastic pollution has become a pressing, global concern. A few organizations have been created over the past few decades that have tried to address the threat of marine pollution, but none have been solely dedicated to the issue. This has led to a lack of dedication towards the issue at the international scale, and only recently have increased measures been taken to address marine plastic pollution. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was created by world leaders in 2015, and since then a number of conferences and independent initiatives have taken place across the globe to promote ocean health. Gatherings like the United Nation’s Oceans Conference and statewide bans on plastic bags can provide the groundwork to evolve these agreements and engage governments and communities to work to reduce marine plastic pollution.

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Captive breeding: Saving species from extinction or sending them there?

In the midst of the sixth mass extinction, conservation efforts are more important now than ever. Captive breeding programs aim to supplement wild populations with individuals born in captivity. Seems great, right? Well… maybe. Despite good intentions, captive breeding and release programs can have permanent harmful effects on the world’s most vulnerable species. This recent study explores the demographic and genetic effects of a common conservation practice.

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It’s Not Just About Fish: How Understanding Ecosystem Services Can Lead to Marine Conservation

What is the value of a fish? It’s role in the ecosystem, or the community that relies on the species? A team of scientists from the UK explores these interactions in their recent paper, which details the use of ecosystem services in marine conservation.

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Voyage to Iceberg Alley

A couple of days ago, right around sunrise, we sailed out of the Straits of Magellan and into the southern Atlantic Ocean, bound for the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic waters known as Iceberg Alley. Giant petrels soared against a clear blue sky, and gentle waves rocked the ship—although we didn’t expect that to last! I am aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a research vessel and drilling ship, and we are intentionally sailing into some of the planet’s wildest seas and the area of greatest iceberg concentration in the Antarctic.

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