Warming trends: warming up the Summer Olympics, seeing the Earth in 3-D and methane emissions from “ tree farts ”

SCIENCE

Don’t forget to count the “ tree farts ”

Greenhouse gas emissions from forests of dead trees – also known as ‘tree farts’ – should be taken into account when calculating emissions from these forests, according to a new study.

Stands of dead trees in coastal wetlands called ‘ghost forests’ emit methane and other potent greenhouse gases down the sides of their trunk, acting like a straw that sucks soil gases into the atmosphere. . These dead trees increase the ecosystem’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 25%, compared to a swamp ecosystem without dead trees, according to the study, conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University and published earlier this month in the review Biogeochemistry, find.

“Wetlands naturally produce greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane in freshwater wetlands,” said Melinda Martinez, senior author and former North Carolina State graduate student. “Because there is so much standing water for a long time, it creates this perfect low oxygen environment that these microbial communities love, and therefore they end up producing a lot of methane.”

Despite their natural methane emissions, these coastal wetlands tend to be carbon sinks: they absorb more carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and other processes than the greenhouse gases they emit. But when trees die and the carbon-absorbing leaf canopy disappears, the landscape can become a source of carbon, and these emissions must be factored into greenhouse gas analyzes.

“This essentially provides a piece of the climate budget puzzle,” Martinez said. “A lot of studies don’t really consider tree stems as a potential source of emissions, so this study shows, ‘Hey, it’s happening.’

CULTURE

Hot weather, summer (Olympics) in the city

Climate change could make the Olympics dangerously hot this summer, as Tokyo, the host city of the games, has warmed by nearly 3 degrees Celsius since 1900 and is further warmed by what is known as the effect of urban heat island, a new report warns.

The report, assembled by the British Association for Sustainable Sport, noted that temperatures at the July games are expected to average 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit), but could reach over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). , with high humidity levels. .

The city has experienced more frequent heat waves, but its high concentrations of asphalt and sparse vegetation also make it warmer and cause the heat to last through the night.

If there is a heat wave during the games, some events may need to be delayed, moved, shortened or even canceled if conditions are dire, said Mike Tipton, professor of human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth who contributed to the report. . High temperatures, humidity and solar intensity combine to compromise the body’s ability to control its temperature, at the risk of heat stroke.

“You can’t continue to train in the heat unless you are able to compensate for the thermal challenge,” Tipton said.

It’s not just continuous, energy-consuming events like tennis and triathlon that are risky, Tipton said. Sports like pistol shooting can also be affected by heat, if athletes are distracted by sweat dripping from their eyebrows while aiming for a shot in which mere millimeters could decide who wins the money and who wins the shot. gold.

Organizers of the Olympics have moved some events, like the marathon and road cycling, to colder parts of Japan to address the heat problem, the report said, but Tipton added that athletes should always be prepared for. compete in hot and humid temperatures.

“There is a reason to try to tackle climate change and the associated global warming,” he said. “Anyone who is interested in sports or practices sports should support these actions to limit the rise in temperatures.”

CULTURE

New app looks at long-term climate change

A soon-to-be-released mobile gaming app shows gamers what a world devastated by climate change will look like in the year 2412, based on actions taken today.

The Australian creators of “Descendants of Earth” likened the game to “Fallout” or an apocalyptic “Sims”. In the game, players communicate via a pump in time with their descendants 400 years in the future, who live in a wasteland caused by the climate crisis of the 21st century. In the game, players can implement actions they take in their real life to send resources to their future descendants, helping them restore a prosperous society.

“By actually acting right now, you are saving resources in our timeline and sending them to the future and changing the timeline of Earth by regenerating Earth,” said co-creator Natalia Shafa.

Screenshot of a new mobile app game “Descendants of Earth”. Courtesy of Descendants of Earth

Actions people can take in the real world might include composting, planting trees, biking to work, or installing solar panels for in-game rewards.

Co-creator Edmund Weir said most projections for the future of climate change only go to 2100, but temperatures will continue to rise beyond that if nothing is done to avoid the Warming.

“We wanted to take a longer look at the timeline, but still keep it close enough that you still feel a connection to the people in the game,” he said.

The free app is not yet available, Weir said, but will be. start deploying later this year.

SCIENCE

Visualize the Earth in 3D

NASA’s new satellites will bring together next-generation data on Earth’s interior, surface and atmosphere over the next decade.

The satellite network will use the latest technologies to create a “3-D” visualization of Earth’s systems, with the aim of answering pressing research questions highlighted by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, according to Karen, director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA Saint-Germain. Much of the questions relate to climate change.

Some satellites will observe phenomena in the atmosphere, such as clouds, precipitation and aerosols; some will look at vegetation and changes in the Earth’s surface after earthquakes and landslides; and others will measure what’s going on underground, for example, in underground aquifers, St. Germain said.

“Taken together, this collection gives us a great basic observatory for understanding how all of Earth’s systems play together,” she said.

Often when scientists talk about climate change, it’s at a global level, said St. Germain. But its effects actually play out very differently in different places. Coastal communities may cope with rising sea levels, while inland communities may be most affected by drought; some regions may experience severe heat waves while others experience regional cooling.

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She added that the data will be freely available, so that researchers at all levels of government and even in the private sector and non-governmental organizations can apply Earth system data to human communities, “whether it is health and air quality, or by examining the risks of coastal flooding and storm surges or the food security issues associated with water availability in agriculture. “

CULTURE

But is this T-shirt really green?

About half of clothing consumers want to buy sustainably, but don’t know how to do it, according to a new survey, and nearly 90% of those surveyed are reluctant to trust brands that claim to sell sustainable products.

the investigation was administered to approximately 2,000 teens and adults in the United States this spring by Genomatica, a sustainable materials company that creates clothing fibers from renewable resources. Less than half of respondents knew that many synthetic fabrics are made from fossil fuels like crude oil and coal.

“You have a lot of people who have no idea where their business is coming from,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “I hope most people will say that the cotton is from a crop and the wool may be from sheep, but where do nylon and polyester come from? It’s not really obvious how you turn a barrel of liquid crude oil into a lump of fiber. “

Brands are starting to recognize that consumers want more sustainable products, Schilling said, and they expect clothing brands to be accountable and transparent.

“Consumers put this burden on the brand,” said Schilling. “It’s the responsibility of the brand, and it’s not the brands that make these chemicals and fibers, but rightly so, the consumer says, ‘It’s your problem, find it. “”

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