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Climate change is causing Antarctica's snow to turn green, study says – CBS News

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In coastal Antarctica, some snow isn’t white — it’s green. And while small amounts of the green snow have been visible for years, it’s starting to spread across the continent because of climate change.

According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, the vibrant color is caused by microscopic algae blooming across the surface of the snow. Using satellite data and fieldwork observations, a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey have created the first large-scale map of the green algae and predicted the future spread of the bizarre snow. 

Green snow appears along the Antarctic coast, growing in “warmer” areas, where the average temperatures reach just above freezing in the summer. Although the individual algae are microscopic, when they grow at scale, the green snow can even be seen from space. 

For the study, the team combined on-the-ground research from two summers in the Antarctic Peninsula with images from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 2 satellite taken between 2017 and 2019. In total, the team identified over 1,600 separate algal blooms on the snow surface. 

Lead author Matt Davey samples snow algae on Lagoon Island, Antarctica. 

Sarah Vincent


The team found that the distribution of green snow algae is strongly influenced by marine birds and mammals, because their excrement works extremely well as fertilizer. Over 60% of blooms were found near penguin colonies, and others were found near birds’ nesting sites. 

“This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms,” lead author Dr. Matt Davey of the University of Cambridge said in a press release.

If bird populations are strongly affected by climate change, as they likely will be, the algae could lose key sources of nutrients. But the results of the study indicate that green snow will massively spread as global temperatures rise.

That’s because in order to flourish, the organisms need an available supply of water. Temperatures on the peninsula where the green snow is found have risen dramatically in recent decades, increasing the amount of water available.

As the planet warms and more of Antarctica’s snow melts, the algae will spread, the scientists said. And while some algae will be lost to areas that lose snow altogether, much more will be gained.

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A photograph showing Anchorage Island dominated by green algae starting to melt out from beneath surface snow on January 26, 2018. 

Nature Communications


“As Antarctica warms, we predict the overall mass of snow algae will increase, as the spread to higher ground will significantly outweigh the loss of small island patches of algae,” said co-lead author Dr. Andrew Gray, of the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh.

It’s unclear how the spreading algae will affect the planet. It plays a key role in cycling nutrients and pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, Davey said, but also darkens snow, and absorbs more heat from the sun.

The amount of algae found by the team creates a carbon sink that absorbs about 500 tons of carbon each year, the equivalent of about 875,000 average car journeys in the U.K., researchers said.

The amount of algae found is actually a conservative estimate, because the satellite was only capable of picking up green algae, missing its red and orange counterparts. “The snow is multi-colored in places, with a palette of reds, oranges and greens — it’s quite an amazing sight,” Davey said. 

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Mother mystified by Winnipeg toddler's 'terrifying' condition after coming down with COVID-19 – Yahoo News Canada

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Mother mystified by Winnipeg toddler’s ‘terrifying’ condition after coming down with COVID-19

Doctors are investigating the case of a Winnipeg toddler with symptoms suggesting a rare, inflammatory illness potentially linked to COVID-19, the girl’s mother says.

The 21-month-old child is fighting to recover, even after she no longer tested positive for COVID-19.

The mother says health-care providers treating her daughter are concerned the girl may have developed Kawasaki disease, which is also known as multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children.

Inflammatory syndromes can result from the body’s reaction to new viruses — not just the new coronavirus. But doctors in Canada, and scientists around the world, are investigating for a link to COVID-19.

Public health officials say no cases of the conditions connected with COVID-19 have been confirmed in Manitoba so far.

“Honestly, it’s just terrifying … Doctors don’t have the answers,” said the girl’s mother, who CBC is not naming due to concern about stigma.

The toddler’s parents didn’t know what to make of the her symptoms. She had a red, puffy rash, vomiting and diarrhea, a tender abdomen and a recurring fever that spiked to 38.9 C (102 F).

“She refused to eat, barely had anything to drink,” said her mother.

Pediatricians they contacted were cautious about sending the child to a hospital, and told the mother to try Tylenol, thinking the girl had a flu.

On April 28, two days after the girl’s symptoms arose, the family learned the husband has been exposed to a co-worker who later tested positive for COVID-19.

They went for testing immediately, and blood work confirmed the toddler had COVID-19, the mother said.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="WATCH | Toronto doctor answers questions about inflammatory syndrome following COVID-19” data-reactid=”34″>WATCH | Toronto doctor answers questions about inflammatory syndrome following COVID-19

At that point, Manitoba had fewer than 25 active cases of the disease and was announcing plans for reopening.

“It was absolutely devastating,” the mother said. “How could it possibly be COVID … with the cases being so low?”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="‘More unknowns than knowns’” data-reactid=”37″>‘More unknowns than knowns’

A provincial spokesperson said since Kawasaki disease isn’t required to be reported in Manitoba, officials can’t confirm investigations into the illness in Manitoba.

The spokesperson said Manitoba pediatric infectious disease experts are in constant communication with specialists in Ontario and Quebec.

Hospitals in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta are examining possible cases of MIS-C. Experts say the illness is difficult to diagnose and cases remain ill defined.

“There are way more unknowns than knowns,” said Rae Yeung, a professor of pediatrics, immunology and medical sciences at the University of Toronto, and staff pediatrician and rheumatologist at the Hospital for Sick Children.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""Right now, the big challenge is that there is not one diagnostic test&nbsp;… that can actually tell us whether a child has MIS-C or Kawasaki disease, [which are] all one hyper-inflammatory syndrome," said Yeung.” data-reactid=”42″>”Right now, the big challenge is that there is not one diagnostic test … that can actually tell us whether a child has MIS-C or Kawasaki disease, [which are] all one hyper-inflammatory syndrome,” said Yeung.

“As we’re learning, the one common denominator is that they have massive immune activation. But many things can cause massive immune activation.”

When she’s not sick, the child in Winnipeg is “very chatty. She’s energetic, running around,” said her mother. 

COVID-19 sucked that energy away as the toddler mostly slept.

Eventually, “she was only awake approximately three hours in a 24-hour period,” her mother said.

After she tested positive, doctors admitted the toddler to the hospital for treatment and testing to rule out anything else that may have been making her sicker.

Initially, doctors hoped her body could fight off the disease on its own, her mother said. But the family has been in and out of the hospital for weeks as her condition remained serious.

Last week, the toddler’s health took a turn for the worse. But on May 28, tests showed she’s now negative for COVID-19 and is fighting a new medical battle.

Doctors then raised the possibility of MIS-C or Kawasaki, the mother said, and will now begin further tests to help understand exactly what is making her daughter so ill.

“You just kind of feel helpless because you can’t make [your children] feel better,” she said.

“You don’t want to see them sick, especially with something so serious as a pandemic. You just wish you could take their pain away.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The syndrome with many names” data-reactid=”57″>The syndrome with many names

Yeung calls MIS-C “the syndrome with many different names,” because depending on where you are in the world, it might be called different things.

“I think this is part of the reason why it’s led to some confusion and a lot of anxiety, in fact, among not only families, but also caregivers and health-care professionals,” she said.

Much of what’s known about the disease remains hypothetical, she said, and research is needed to understand more. At its core, the syndrome can be characterized by inflammation, especially in blood vessels, caused by a hyperactivation of the immune system.

“What we’re seeing in all of these syndromes is hyper inflammation —  just an overactive immune system that’s gone into overdrive, affecting multiple organs in the body,” she said.

The illnesses in that family are triggered by a “tickle” to the immune system, Yeung said, starting with anything from strep throat to the novel coronavirus. Canada documents roughly 100 to 150 cases of Kawasaki disease a year, she said.

But epidemiology in Europe, the U.S. and Canada has suggested a pattern, as cases of inflammatory syndromes in children emerge roughly four to six weeks following the peak coronavirus outbreak in each population.

Many, even most, of the children diagnosed with these illnesses don’t initially test positive when swabbed for COVID-19, Yeung said, but blood work often shows the children had the disease previously.

It’s still not clear exactly how many cases of the inflammatory illness there are in Canada, Yeung said. She said at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, they’re seeing roughly three to four times the volume of these illnesses over normal years.

Yeung is helping lead research, in partnership with the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Public Health Agency of Canada, with doctors across the country to determine where cases are and help understand them better.

“I think sharing knowledge and alerting the public is a very important component of this,” Yeung said.

The mother of the Winnipeg toddler said she wanted to share her story to spread information and urge caution from parents.

“It’s rare, but it’s serious,” the mother said. “If you’re in doubt, take your child to the hospital.”

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Scenes of SpaceX launching NASA astronauts into orbit, moment by moment – CNET

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, perched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, takes off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station. The May 30 launch was the first US rocket launch with a crew since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011 and SpaceX’s first crewed mission ever. The mission is called Demo-2 since its primary purpose is to test out SpaceX’s spacecraft.

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An Asteroid Bigger Than The Empire State Building Poses ‘No Danger’ On Saturday Night, Says NASA – Forbes

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A huge near-Earth asteroid will pass our planet tonight at a safe distance of 3.2 million miles, according to NASA.

After a spate of doom-laden headlines the space agency felt the need yesterday to update a previous post about near-Earth asteroids with the following note:

“Asteroid 2002 NN4 will safely pass by the Earth on June 6 at a distance of approximately 3.2 million miles (5.1 million kilometers), about 13 times further away from the Earth than the Moon is. There is no danger the asteroid will hit the Earth.”

Asteroid 2002 NN4’s closest approach to Earth will be at 11:20 p.m. EDT. on Saturday, June 6, 2020.

NASA also tweeted the same advice:

NASA Asteroid Watch then tweeted this image of the asteroid’s trajectory:

How big is Asteroid 2002 NN4?

Asteroid 2002 NN4 is huge. Measuring between 820 feet and 1,870 feet (250 meters to 570 meters) according to Space.com. New York City’s Empire State Building is 443.2 meters tall, including its antenna.

That’s over a dozen times bigger than the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. That was the biggest meteor for over a century.

Would asteroid 2002 NN4 be dangerous if it hit Earth?

Yes—asteroid 2002 NN4 is city-killer size, but it’s not going to cause any harm to anyone.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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