Core samples taken from far below the ocean floor are helping a University of Edinburgh geologist to form a picture of dramatic climate changes which took place 30 to 40 million years ago. Dr Bridget Wade is part of an international team of scientists studying climate shifts between the Eocene period – the warmest cycle in the last 65 million years – and the cooler Oligocene period, which saw the first major build-up of Antarctic ice. The study could shed new light on present climate trends as the Eocene climatic regime appears to have established itself rapidly – at a rate comparable to modern global warming – before ending almost as abruptly.
The team of 28 scientists from eight nations is analysing drill cores taken from eight sites near the equator in the Pacific Ocean in October. The cores are the first to be recovered which contain continuous geological records of the Eocene and Oligocene periods. Dr Wade is studying sediment which records the transition 33.7million years ago from the Eocene period – when London was covered by tropical rainforest and crocodiles swam in the River Thames – to the Oligocene period, a time about which scientists know relatively little.
The start of the Oligocene period coincides not only with huge climate shifts, but also with marked changes in the Earth’s oceanography. Scientists detect a shift towards patterns more like those today where wind systems from the northern and southern hemispheres come together and stir the ocean near the equator so that deep, nutrient-rich waters come to the surface and support a diverse, thriving community of plankton. In the Eocene period, the oceanic biological system had been broad and diffuse with low plankton productivity.
Ronald Kerr | alphagalileo
In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy