Since they began clearing valleys and slopes for agriculture more than 9,000 years ago, and continuing with the construction of roads, buildings and cities, people have been altering landscapes. UVM geologists explore the link between human actions and landscape--and reach some important conclusions--in the cover article of the April/May issue of GSA Today. Produced by the Geological Society of America, the prestigious monthly journal goes to more than 20,000 geologists and libraries worldwide.
Paul Bierman, professor of geology, and colleagues--including three undergraduates--authored the paper, titled "Old Landscape Images Record Landscape Change Through Time." The paper is the result of research collected via UVMs Landscape Change Program, a searchable, web-based community archive of more than 10,000 images of Vermont landscapes from before 1810 to the present. The archive, which is particularly rich in rare images of rural areas, can be accessed online at http://uvm.edu/perkins/landscape. Historical photographs are a powerful tool for examining and understanding the distribution of physical and biological surficial processes over the course of decades and centuries. Such imagery is particularly valuable for understanding human-landscape interaction. The GSA article presents several examples of quantitative, image-based, landscape-scale analyses made using hundreds of different images, each taken at a different place. (Numerous photographs that show the same landscape at two different points in time are also available in the archive. These photographic pairs can be accessed online at http://www.uvm.edu/~pbierman/landscape/.
"Our findings have significant environmental implications for Vermont and New England in general," said Bierman. "We found that erosion is linked to clearing trees from hill slopes, which implies that if New England were cleared of trees sediment would again pour off slopes and into streams and rivers." Also of note, said Bierman, are the condition of riparian zones; corridors running along rivers and streams have improved markedly over the past 30 years. "This is a positive environmental finding and one thats very good for stream health and the health of ecosystems in streams," he said.
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Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
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In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
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In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
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