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Climate change seen causing 'mass extinction' of bumblebees – National Post

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(Adds quote, changes headline)

By Thin Lei Win

ROME, Feb 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When scientist Peter Soroye first saw the figures showing estimated bumblebee populations in North America had fallen by nearly 50% in a single generation, he thought it must be a typo.

He checked the numbers – the result of a long-term analysis of bumblebee populations published in the journal Science on Thursday – seven times to be sure they were accurate.

Rising temperatures are contributing to drastic declines of bumblebees across Europe and North America at rates “consistent with a mass extinction,” threatening food cultivation, the study concluded.

The researchers estimated that Europe’s bumblebee populations fell by 17% between the two periods the study looked at – from 1901 to 1974 and from 2000 to 2014 – while in North America, the figure was 46%.

“The last time that we’ve seen a similar kind of rate of extinction was when the asteroid struck the earth and killed the dinosaurs,” said Soroye, lead author of the study and a PhD student at University of Ottawa.

“So I don’t think there’s much discussion right now as to whether we’re in a period of mass extinction.”

The report’s authors “couldn’t believe that the declines were this severe over such a short time period,” Soroye told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, calling the declines “really severe.”

Declining bee populations have also been linked to heavy pesticide use and habitat loss caused by changes in land use. But Soroye said global warming was exacerbating their plight.

“This paper in no way absolved … pesticides or habitat loss. It’s that climate change is another thing that’s been added to the mix that’s driving this extinction,” he said.

Bumblebees are larger than honeybees, and while they do not produce honey, they are important pollinators.

“When they land on flowers, they physically shake these flowers and shake the pollen off,” said Soroye.

“A lot of crops like squash, berries, tomatoes need bumblebees to pollinate them, and honeybees or other pollinators just can’t do that.”

Bees play a crucial role in producing healthy fruits or seeds for three quarters of the crops that feed people, according to the United Nations.

Yet studies show pollinator populations have been declining across much of the world.

If the trend continues, nutritious fruits, nuts and many vegetables would have to be substituted by staple crops like rice, corn, and potatoes, leading to an imbalanced diet, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warned in 2019.

The researchers used a database encompassing 550,000 records of 66 bumblebee species from 1901 to 1974 and from 2000 to 2014 and compared their distribution and diversity to local changes in temperature and precipitation.

Much larger declines are “likely if climate change accelerates in the coming years,” the study’s co-author Tim Newbold from the University College London said in a statement.

The 10-year period from 2010-2019 is likely to be the hottest decade on record, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization said recently.

Warming southern regions such as Spain and Mexico saw the biggest losses, the researchers said. (Reporting By Thin Lei Win @thinink, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, and property rights. Visit http://www.trust.org)

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Remains of small armor-plated dinosaur found in Argentina – Mint Lounge

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Buenos Aires, Reuters: Paleontologists on Thursday heralded the discovery of a previously unknown small armored dinosaur in southern Argentina, a creature that likely walked upright on its back legs roaming a then-steamy landscape about 100 million years ago.

The Cretaceous Period dinosaur, named Jakapil kaniukura, would have been well-protected with rows of bony disk-shaped armor along its neck and back and down to its tail, they said. It measured about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weighed only 9 to 15 pounds (4-7 kg), similar to an average house cat.

Also read: New dinosaur found in Mexico was ‘very communicative’

Its fossilized remains were dug up over the past decade near a dam in Patagonia in Rio Negro province’s La Buitrera paleontological zone. The scientists described Jakapil in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-15535-6.pdf.)

The scientists said Jakapil marks a first-of-its-kind discovery of an armored dinosaur from the Cretaceous in South America. It is part of the thyreophoran dinosaur group that includes the likes of Stegosaurus, known for its bony back plates and spiky tail, and tank-like Ankylosaurus, covered in armor and wielding a club-like tail.

Also read: Fish once labeled a living fossil surprises scientists again

Lead paleontologist Sebastian Apesteguia and his colleagues found a partial skeleton of Jakapil along with 15 tooth fragments featuring a leaf-like shape, similar to iguana teeth.

Jakapil resembles a primitive form of thyreophoran that lived much earlier, making it a surprise that it dated from the Cretaceous. Apesteguia said never before has such a thyreophoran been dug up anywhere in the southern hemisphere. 

(Reporting by Miguel Lo Bianco; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Will Dunham for Reuters)

Also read: ‘Death shadow’ dinosaur is largest megaraptor ever unearthed

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Perseid meteor shower of 2022 thrills stargazers despite bright moon (photos) – Space.com

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The Perseid meteor shower of the 2022 reached its peak this weekend and while the bright full moon may have washed out the best of the “shooting stars” display this year, that doesn’t mean skywatchers were left completely in the dark.

Stargazers around the world captured some dazzling views of the Perseid meteor shower as it peaked overnight Friday and Saturday (Aug. 12-13) and they shared the photos to prove it. Some observers took to Twitter to share their meteor views while other astrophotographers snapped truly stunning photos for Getty Images. 

“Perseid fireball I saw last night from Oxfordshire,”  skywatcher Mary McIntyre of Oxfordhire in the United Kingdom wrote (opens in new tab) on Twitter, adding that she captured the Perseid photos with a meteor camera. “The ionization trail was awesome.”

Related: Perseid meteor shower generates early “shooting stars” (video)

The Perseid meteor shower is typically one of the best meteor displays of the year, but its peak in 2022 came just one day after the Sturgeon supermoon (August’s full moon) on Aug. 11. Since dark skies are vital for meteor watching, even bright moonlight can dim a stargazers prospects. 

Photographer Wu Zhengjie for the photo service VCG and Getty Images still managed to capture stunning views of the Perseids from the Eboliang Yardang landform in Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province of China. The images show brilliant Perseid meteors over a striking landscape. 

Another photographer, Veysel Altun of the Anadalou Agency and Getty Images, managed to capture a Perseid meteor streak over a campsite in Samsun, Turkey. 

A Perseid meteor streaks across the night sky over Atakum district of Samsun, Turkey on Aug. 13, 2022.  (Image credit: Veysel Altun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Photographer Ercin Ertuk, also of the Anadalou Agency and Getty Images, snapped a photo of a Perseid as it streaked across the sky over trees in Ankara, Turkey.

A view of the Perseid meteor shower over Ankara, Turkey on August 13, 2022. (Image credit: Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Still more stargazers managed to catch views of the Perseids with either their own cameras or meteor cameras that constantly watch the sky to record fireballs. Here’s a look at some of our favorites spotted on Twitter.

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The Perseid meteor shower occurs each year in mid-August when the Earth passes through the dusty trail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. When those comet bits slam into Earth’s atmosphere, they can spawn bright trails as the streak across the sky. They appear to radiate out from the constellation Perseus, hence their name. 

The next major meteor shower of 2022 will be the Orionid meteor shower in October. That shower will peak on Oct. 20 and 21, but its activity period runs from Sept. 26 to Nov. 22. It is caused by the remnants of Halley’s Comet as the Earth passes through that trail. 

Check out our guide for the best meteor showers of the year to prepare for your next stargazing experience.

Editor’s note: If you snap an amazing photo of a Perseid meteor or any other night-sky sight and you’d like to share it with Space.com for a story or image gallery, send images, comments and location information to spacephotos@space.com.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com (opens in new tab) or follow him @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab). Follow us @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab)Facebook (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab).

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B.C. poet illuminates pages of popular scientific magazine with verses about the nature of light – CBC.ca

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On clear summer nights, poet Donna Kane sleeps on the front deck of her farmhouse in Rolla, B.C., in an old-fashioned bed under a blue quilt printed with crescent moons.

The writer draws inspiration from looking at the sky in this northern part of the province, more than 750 kilometres distant from Vancouver.

“I feel connected. I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself, and I feel comforted by that. You’re looking at the origins of light when you’re lying there, looking up at the stars,” Kane said.

Kane’s musings about star light in the night sky inspired her to write a poem that blends scientific principles and the human experience of light’s reflection — a poem that now appears in a respected U.S. science magazine.

The poem, On Visible Light, was published in the July edition of Scientific American magazine, alongside more traditional scholarly research on the thermodynamic limit, momentum computing and interstellar space.

For Kane, the inclusion of her poem is proof that literature and science are more closely connected than many people believe.

“I’ve always thought science and art are very, very similar, trying to discover the mysteries of the world and the universe. They both have that urge,” Kane told CBC News. 

“Poetry explores. Ideas can emerge from really good poems that maybe scientists hadn’t really thought of in that same way.” 

‘Science and art are very, very similar because both disciplines are trying to explore the mysteries of the world and the universe,’ poet Donna Kane said. (Submitted/Donna Kane)

Kane’s poem is a villanelle, a structured type of poem with refrains and a strict rhyming pattern, a form that dates back hundreds of years. She weaves together science and imagery with lines like “Just a slice of electromagnetic/ wavelength and sight is ours, a blindness gone/ at the end of travelling through our nights.”

Its appearance in the pages of Scientific American, which has more than eight million online readers worldwide each month, has brought Kane stratospheric exposure.

“I’m pretty sure I’m never going to get a bigger audience than that,” said Kane. “Usually the reach of poetry is very small.”

The cover of 'Scientific American', whose lead story is 'Voyagers' Final Frontier'. It features an image of a satellite.
Kane’s poem features in the July issue of Scientific American. The magazine has an online readership of around eight million each month. (Submitted/Scientific American)

The editor of Scientific American’s poetry column, Dava Sobel, told CBC News that Kane’s poem is “gorgeous.” 

“It’s emotionally evocative and yet scientifically informative. And it adheres to a very strict poetic form. So it’s a difficult thing to achieve. But she’s really done it,” said Sobel, a former science writer for the New York Times who was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Sobel, who had astronaut Neil Armstrong write the forward to one of her books and also has an asteroid named after her, believes that poetry can illuminate science. 

“Creativity flows smoothly between those two,” she said.

Dava Sobel poses for the camera in front of a sundial. She has white hair, cut short, and is wearing red-rimmed glasses.
Dava Sobel, poetry editor of Scientific American, has previously published poetry written by Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and physics. (Submitted/Glen Allsop)

Sobel said Scientific American published poetry in its very first issue in 1845 but only featured rarely since, until she launched a monthly science poetry column in the magazine in 2020.

Since then, in addition to Kane’s villanelle, she’s included poems written by Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and physics.

“Poetry should not be off limits to anybody, nor should science,” she said.

Even though it’s an imaginative work, Kane’s poem still had to meet the bar for accuracy and was rigorously fact checked by Scientific American before it was published.

“They’re pretty serious that … what you’ve written is accurate. You can do playful things, but the poem has to stand up to the actual science,” said Kane.

B.C. poet Donna Kane's face is shown reflected in the Pioneer 10 space craft during a visit to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Donna Kane’s face is reflected in a prototype of the Pioneer 10 space craft during a visit to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. The B.C. poet is drawn to writing about science and space. (Submitted/Donna Kane)

The poet said she’s always loved science and has written other works about space.

Her 2020 book, Orrery: Poems, featured a number of pieces about Pioneer 10, a space probe launched to study Jupiter’s moons. It was a finalist for a Governor General’s Award for English-language poetry. 

One of her space-themed poems will be included in a forthcoming anthology published by Cambridge University Press.

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