Shrubs have become more abundant in the Arctic over the past 30 years as air temperatures have increased, a change that is likely to affect the grazing of caribou and the communities that rely on them for food. According to an article in the January 2005 issue of BioScience, a variety of evidence now suggests that winter biological processes form a positive feedback mechanism that is contributing to the expansion of shrubs in the Arctic. The effect could have important implications for the global carbon budget, as the mechanism may liberate large stores of carbon that are currently frozen and not participating in the carbon cycle.
The article, by Matthew Sturm of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory-Alaska and seven coauthors, notes that the evidence for increasing shrub abundance--including historical photographs-- is most comprehensive in northern Alaska. Information from other arctic regions supports the idea, however. Sturms group argues that observations indicate that shrubs encourage deeper snowdrifts, which warm the soil below, preventing some subsurface water from freezing even during winter. This effect alters and boosts the winter activity of subsurface soil bacteria and fungi that provide accessible nutrients for shrubs, notably nitrogen. As a result, shrubs grow more rapidly, and so the spread continues.
Donna Royston | EurekAlert!
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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
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COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
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'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
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