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As sea levels rise, B.C. coastal cities could face flooding from moon's 'wobble' – Yahoo News Canada

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Waves push up on the shoreline in White Rock B.C. during a storm in March, 2016. (Bill Hawke – image credit)

A lunar cycle that happens only once every 18.6 years could combine with rising seas from climate change, and create further problems here on Earth.

What some are calling a “moon wobble” means that B.C.’s coastal communities already bracing for flooding from rising sea levels may also have to contend with an added phenomenon.

“Nothing about the moon is changing, this is a totally predictable effect,” explained Jess McIver, an assistant professor of astronomy at UBC. “It’s been wobbling in this way for millions and millions of years.

“Very, very slowly the axis the moon is orbiting the Earth around is kind of shifting … and the tides are going to respond.”

The issue came to the fore after the release of a new NASA study, published in Nature Climate Change journal earlier this month, “Rapid increases and extreme months in projections of United States high-tide flooding.”

Although the study only examines impacts on U.S. coastal communities, the same effects would apply to cities in B.C. as well as other coastal areas in Canada, explained McIver. She added that the effects of moon wobble would vary by location.

She said she hopes further studies can specifically examine how the phenomenon, known formally as a “precession effect” of the lunar cycle, could impact Canadian tides.

The effect will not become significant until the 2030s, according to NASA, but that’s exactly when rising sea levels are forecast to worsen.

Cities on B.C.’s coast have already begun preparing for rising sea levels, flooding and extreme tides, in addition to the other climate and weather extremes predicted by climate scientists.

And although they have long known oceans will likely encroach on some urban areas, the addition of the lunar “wobble” at almost exactly the same time could amplify the impact.

“We’re going to have this overlap between this very predicted steady creep up in sea level,” McIver said. “And when you combine that with this normal 19-year cadence, all of a sudden we’re going to reach a point where we start seeing this flooding a lot more often.”

The new study is yet another warning to low-lying cities such as Richmond, Delta, Victoria and many First Nations along the coast, said Kees Lokman, chair of landscape architecture at UBC.

Lokman is also principal investigator on a four-year research project, Living With Water, which is examining how cities and First Nations can adapt to climate change and flooding. The project is based out of the University of Victoria’s Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

“If we don’t really plan ahead, it will impact us pretty drastically, especially with these new findings,” Lokman said. “Some of these rises to sea level might happen faster than we originally predicted or anticipated.”

The City of Richmond is one municipality that has heavily invested in dikes and flood protections in its climate plan.

The city is built just one metre above sea level, and in 2019 was one of several B.C. municipalities to official declare a climate emergency.

“A considerable amount of upgrades and improvements to the City’s flood protection infrastructure have been completed and are planned for the short-, medium-, and long-term to address infrastructure age, growth and climate change,” Richmond said on its website.

The province’s environment minister, in his most recent mandate letter, was tasked with creating “a coastal strategy to better protect coastal habitat” and protecting the coast’s economy.

Lokman says mitigation of B.C.’s contributions to greenhouse gases should be a priority, but also how communities can adapt to rising sea levels from climate change.

He says effects from the moon wobble could also help communities and policy makers address climate change.

“These events kind of give us a peek into the future of what normal sea level rise might look like,” he said.

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Researchers Develop Genome Techniques to Analyze Adaptation of Cattle – AZoCleantech

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Jared Decker, a fourth-generation cattle farmer, has been aware of cattle suffering from health and productivity problems when they are moved from one location to another. The shift is from a region where they had spent generations to another place with a different climate, grass, or elevation.

Jared Decker is on a mission to help farmers learn more about what their cattle need to thrive. Image Credit: University of Missouri.

Decker, as a researcher at the University of Missouri, looks at the chances of using science to resolve this issue, thereby serving a dual purpose to enhance the cattle’s welfare and sealing the leak in an almost $50 billion industry in the United States.

When I joined MU in 2013, I moved cattle from a family farm in New Mexico to my farm here in Missouri. New Mexico is hot and dry, and Missouri is also hot but has much more humidity. The cattle certainly didn’t do as well as they did in New Mexico, and that spurred me to think about how we could give farmers more information about what their animals need to thrive.

Jared Decker, Associate Professor and Wurdack Chair, Animal Genetics, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources 

The study was published in the journal PLOS Genetics on July 23rd, 2021.

Decker and his research team have revealed the proof exposing the fact that cattle are losing their key environmental adaptations. The researchers regard this as a loss due to the lack of genetic information available to farmers.

After assessing the genetic materials dating back to the 1960s, the team determined particular DNA variations linked with adaptations that could someday be used to develop DNA tests for cattle. These tests could help educate the farmers regarding the adaptability of cattle from one environment or another.

We can see that, for example, historically cows in Colorado are likely to have adaptations that ease the stress on their hearts at high altitudes. But if you bring in bulls or semen from a different environment, the frequency of those beneficial adaptations is going to decrease. Over generations, that cow herd will lose advantages that would have been very useful to a farmer in Colorado.

Jared Decker, Associate Professor and Wurdack Chair, Animal Genetics, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri

The research team included then-doctoral student Troy Rowan who had examined 60 years’ worth of bovine DNA data from tests of cryo-preserved semen produced by cattle breed associations. They observed that, as time runs, the genes related to higher fertility and productivity increased as a result of careful selection by farmers. Also, many genes relating to environmental adaptations have decreased.

According to Decker, the farmers are not to be blamed as there are no affordable methods available at present to identify the suitability of cattle for a specific environment. The study also proposes easy-to-use cattle DNA tests that focus on the particular adaptations identified in the study.

Such adaptations include resistance to vasoconstriction, which is a process of blood vessel narrowing that takes place at high elevation and puts excessive stress on the heart. Also creating resistance to the toxin in the grass can result in vasoconstriction and tolerance for increased temperature or humidity. All these factors tend to decline over generations when the cattle are shifted from the associated surroundings.

Sometimes, natural and artificial selection are moving in the same direction, and other times there is a tug of war between them. Efficiency and productivity have vastly improved in the last 60 years, but environmental stressors are never going to go away. Farmers need to know more about the genetic makeup of their herd, not only for the short-term success of their farm, but for the success of future generations.

Jared Decker, Associate Professor and Wurdack Chair, Animal Genetics, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

The first widely adopted genetic test for cattle was developed at the University of Missouri in 2007. Decker and Rowan are looking forward to giving further details of the development. Both the researchers grew up on farms with a desire to use research to help farmers to balance farm traditions of America with the requirement for eco-friendly business practices.

As a society, we must produce food more sustainably and be good environmental stewards. Making sure a cow’s genetics match their environment makes life better for cattle and helps farmers run efficient and productive operations. It’s a win-win,” concluded Decker.

Journal Reference:

Rowan, T. N., et al. (2021) Powerful detection of polygenic selection and evidence of environmental adaptation in US beef cattle. PLOS Genetics. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009652.

Source: https://missouri.edu/

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'Eye of Sauron' volcano and other deep-sea structures discovered in underwater 'Mordor' – Livescience.com

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Researchers exploring the Indian Ocean have discovered the remains of a collapsed underwater volcano with an uncanny resemblance to the all-seeing “Eye of Sauron” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings,” as well as two other seafloor structures named after places in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. 

The eye is actually an oval-shaped depression measuring 3.9 miles (6.2 kilometers) long by 3 miles (4.8 km) wide. Called a caldera, this giant divot is left over from the ancient collapse of a deep-sea volcano. The caldera is surrounded by a 984-foot-tall (300 meters) rim, giving the impression of eyelids, and an equally tall cone-shaped peak at the center, which looks like a pupil, according to The Conversation. The unusual structure is located 174 miles (280 km) southeast of Christmas Island ― an Australian external territory off mainland Australia ― at a depth of 10,170 feet (3,100 m).

A team of researchers discovered the structure while onboard the ocean research vessel Investigator, owned by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), on the 12th day of an expedition to Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories. The researchers used multibeam sonar to create 3D maps of the caldera and the surrounding seafloor.

Related: 5 colossal cones: Biggest volcanoes on Earth 

Like other calderas, this one formed when the peak of the original volcano collapsed, according to the researchers.

“The molten magma at the base of the volcano shifts upwards, leaving empty chambers [below],” chief scientist Tim O’Hara, senior curator at Museums Victoria in Australia, wrote in The Conversation. “The thin, solid crust on the surface of the dome then collapses, creating a large, crater-like structure.”

The area surrounding the volcanic crater is also home to two other noteworthy structures.

“Our volcanic ‘eye’ was not alone,” O’Hara wrote. “Further mapping to the south revealed a smaller sea mountain covered in numerous volcanic cones, and further still to the south was a larger, flat-topped seamount.”

Continuing the connection to Tolkien’s fantasy epic, the researchers named the cone-covered mountain Barad-dûr, after Sauron’s main stronghold, and the seamount Ered Lithui, after the Ash Mountains, both of which are found alongside the Eye of Sauron in the evil realm of Mordor. 

A map showing off the locations of all three features named after places in Mordor. (Image credit: 3D imagery courtesy of CSIRO/MNF, GSM)

The Ered Lithui seamount is part of a cluster of seamounts thought to date back about 100 million years, O’Hara wrote. The Ered Lithui seamount was once above the water’s surface, giving it its flat top, and it has gradually sunk to around 1.6 miles (2.6 km) below sea level.

Over millions of years, sand and sinking detritus — particulate matter, including plankton, excrement and other organic matter — have coated the seamount in a thick layer of sediment around 328 feet (100 m) deep. However, the caldera remains relatively uncovered, suggesting it may be significantly younger, O’Hara said. 

“This sedimentation rate should have smothered and partially hidden the caldera,” O’Hara wrote. It also “looks surprisingly intact for a structure that should be 100 million years old.”

This freshness suggests that the volcano was created, and subsequently collapsed, after the seamount began sinking into the ocean.

“It is possible that volcanoes have continued to sprout long after the original foundation,” O’Hara wrote. “Our restless Earth is never still.”

Originally published on Live Science.

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Europe's robotic arm and Russian's Nauka on their way to ISS – SpaceWatch.Global

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Source: ESA

Paris, 23 July 2021. – The European Robotic Arm (ERA) is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

The 11-m-long robot is travelling folded and attached to what will be its home base – the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, also called ‘Nauka’, ESA said. The Proton-M booster placed Nauka and ERA into orbit around ten minutes after liftoff, nearly 200 km above Earth, the agency said.

ERA is capable of ‘walking’ around the Russian parts of the orbital complex. It can handle components up to 8000 kg with 5 mm precision, and it will transport astronauts from one working site to another.

The Russian Nauka module (‘nauka’ means ‘science’ in Russian) was delayed for years due to technical problems that Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, finally solved.

Space News quoted Russian sources yesterday that Nauka suffered further problems after reaching orbit. The space agencies – NASA and Roscosmos – did not comment these rumors.

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