One of the main priorities of the United Nations and other international organisations is to encourage the sustainable economic, social, and environmental development of all countries worldwide. Education plays a crucial role in these efforts, as it allows individuals to become more knowledgeable about matters of public interest, while potentially improving their life skills. Researchers at Purdue University and Michigan State University have created Scientific Animations Without Borders, a platform that produces and disseminates educational animations in numerous languages and dialects. A recent paper authored by Dr María Angeles Rodriguez-Domenech of the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain discusses the potential of this innovative platform as a tool for sustainable development.
To study the climate of the ancient past, researchers look for its fingerprints in deep marine and lake sediments. Within these geological records are large and active microbial communities that may hold other clues about past environmental conditions and transitions. Tor Einar Møller [Tore Ee-naar Moe-lerr], a doctoral candidate at the University of Bergen, Norway, examined the link between contemporary microbe composition and the ancient climate. In a recent paper, he demonstrates that current microbe communities found within sediment cores capture elements of past environments.
Permafrost is key to maintaining the stability of steep mountain slopes. Yet as the climate warms, this frozen ground is becoming increasingly prone to thawing. In some cases, these events can trigger cascades of loose rock, with potentially devastating consequences for surrounding communities. Using a combination of computer modelling, and daring field experiments, Dr Florence Magnin at the Laboratory of Environments, Dynamics and Mountain Territories (EDYTEM) aims to better predict when and where these rockfalls are likely to occur, and how the state of mountain permafrost will evolve in the future.
Identifying species with accuracy is important for numerous reasons; for instance, accurately knowing which organisms are present in an ecosystem is essential for informing conservation strategies to protect it. Therefore, if there is any question about an organism’s identity, it is important to document that uncertainty. However, levels of uncertainty are unknown for many research groups that carry out biological monitoring. James Stribling and Erik Leppo from Tetra Tech, Inc.’s Center for Ecological Sciences introduce a process for deriving uncertainty values, by studying the rates at which freshwater organisms in the US tend to be misidentified.
The marine environment houses complex types of ecosystems that provide vital services and habitat to aquatic life. Areas of the seafloor where rocky outcrops are present, such as reefs and gravel beds, are some of the rarest marine habitats. Also known as ‘hard substrate habitats’ these ecosystems are under increasing pressure from fishing, eutrophication, climate change, and coastal management. Though hard substrates are protected in the European Union, we are unable to manage them effectively because maps describing their location and dimensions are inaccurate. In a review paper, Dr Svenja Papenmeier [Sven-yah Pah-pan-my-er] of Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde summarises existing rules for mapping substrate habitats, and describes new and potentially ground-breaking mapping techniques.
As the impacts of climate change become increasingly obvious worldwide, focused efforts to mitigate its worst effects are becoming more urgent. Through his research, Dr Xander Wang at the University of Prince Edward Island aims to innovate the computer models used to predict these future changes on smaller, regional scales. His team’s work is making important strides towards an advanced predictive toolset, which policymakers could use to make the best possible decisions about how to protect local populations from future climate-related disasters.