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Identifying where to reforest after wildfire
Forest managers can now look to a newly enhanced, predictive mapping tool to learn where forests are likely to regenerate on their own and where replanting efforts may be beneficial. This study also indicates a not-so-evergreen future of fewer conifers. (2020-12-18)

Flexible and powerful electronics
A team of researchers led by the University of Tsukuba has developed a method for optimizing the electrical properties of carbon-based conductors by turning them into an ionic gel. This work may open the way for cheap, highly efficient sensors that can be printed on flexible surfaces. (2020-12-16)

Do the benefits of Christmas outweigh its harms?
The Christmas season is associated with preventable harms from cards, tree decorations, and presents, as well as overeating and overdrinking, so do the benefits of Christmas outweigh the harms? In the Christmas issue of The BMJ, Robin Ferner and Jeffrey Aronson dig out some cautionary tales from the archives. (2020-12-16)

Evapotranspiration in an arid environment
Evapotranspiration is an important process in the water cycle because it is responsible for 15% of the atmosphere's water vapor. Without that input of water vapor, clouds could not form, and precipitation would never fall. It is the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants. (2020-12-15)

A smart ring shows it's possible to detect fever before you feel it
Advance could pave the way for early warning system on COVID-19 and flu using wearables. (2020-12-14)

Critical temperature for tropical tree lifespan revealed
For the first time scientists have provided clear evidence that tropical tree lifespan decreases above a critical temperature threshold. (2020-12-14)

Researchers estimate nearly one-third of oaks are threatened with extinction
An estimated 31% of the world's oak species are threatened with extinction according to data compiled in a new report by The Morton Arboretum and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Tree Specialist Group, The Red List of Oaks 2020. (2020-12-10)

Ancient alliance
''Happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.'' So goes the first line of Leo Tolstoy's ''Anna Karenina.'' Little did the Russian novelist know his famous opening line would one day be used to describe microbial communities, their health and their relationships to their hosts. (2020-12-09)

Less light, more trees assist migrating birds
Scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University used observations from the Lab's eBird citizen-science program to estimate the seasonal species richness of nocturnally migrating passerines within 333 well surveyed urban areas in the contiguous U.S. ''Richness'' is defined as the number of different species in an area. (2020-12-09)

Face shields no match for sneeze vortex rings
Do face shields provide enough protection to the wearers against COVID-19 if they don't also wear a mask? No. But researchers in Japan are working to create face shields safe enough to be worn alone. In Physics of Fluids, Fujio Akagi and colleagues describe their work to gain a better understanding of what happens to the airflow around a face shield when someone nearby sneezes. (2020-12-08)

Java's protective mangroves smothered by plastic waste
The mangrove forests on Java's north coast are slowly suffocating in plastic waste. The plastic problem in northeast Asia is huge and a growing threat to the region's mangroves; a natural alley against coastal erosion. Based on fieldwork published in Science of the Total Environment, NIOZ researcher Celine van Bijsterveldt shows that restoration of this green protection belt is impossible without better waste management (2020-12-07)

Reversible stickiness is something to smile about
Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have developed a cross-linker for curing dental cement that can be degraded with UV light. The polyrotaxane cross-linker contains an o-nitrobenzyl ester group that is unstable under UV irradiation. The adhesion strength of a polymer block fixed to bovine dentin with cement stabilized using the cross-linker was significantly reduced after only 2 minutes of irradiation, showing that the linker has potential to ease the removal of temporary dental interventions. (2020-12-04)

Tree lifespan decline in forests could neutralize part of rise in net carbon uptake
Study by Brazilian researchers reported in Nature Communications shows that trees are growing faster in forests worldwide, including the Amazon, but their lives are getting shorter (2020-12-03)

Leaf microbiomes are a neighborhood affair in northern forests
Leaf microbiomes of sugar maple trees vary across the species' range, changing in accordance with the types of trees in the surrounding ''neighborhood.'' (2020-12-03)

The tree of cortical cell types describes the diversity of neurons in the brain
The tree of cortical cell types provides one of the most detailed and complete characterizations of the diversity of neural types in the brain so far. (2020-12-02)

Octogenarian snapper found in WA becomes oldest tropical reef fish by two decades
An 81-year-old midnight snapper caught off the coast of Western Australia has taken the title of the oldest tropical reef fish recorded anywhere in the world. The octogenarian fish was found at the Rowley Shoals -- about 300km west of Broome -- and was part of a study that has revised what we know about the longevity of tropical fish. (2020-12-01)

Psychology research shows 'water cooler talk' can have big benefits
In settings where people are working together on a task, making time for small talk allows for a newly-described behavior called ''reciprocity in conversation,'' which is associated with higher levels of task enjoyment. (2020-12-01)

Guam's most endangered tree species reveals universal biological concept
Newly published research carried out at the University of Guam has used a critically endangered species to show how trees modify leaf function to best exploit prevailing light conditions. The findings revealed numerous leaf traits that change depending on the light levels during leaf construction. (2020-11-30)

Tree rings provide evidence for climate regime shifts
Researchers at the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have given an overview on using tree rings to identify climate regime shifts in a perspective paper, they provided background in the field and discussed its advances. They also referenced a paper reporting a recent climate regime shift to a hotter and drier climate over inner East Asia. (2020-11-30)

Warbler coloration shaped by evolution via distinct paths
Two genes that are important for the diverse colors and patterns of warbler plumage have evolved through two very different processes, according to a new study led by Penn State researchers. These evolutionary processes could help explain the rapid evolution of these songbirds into so many unique species. (2020-11-30)

Future Brahmaputra River flooding as climate changes may be underestimated, study says
A new study looking at seven centuries of water flow in south Asia's mighty Brahmaputra River suggests that scientists are underestimating the river's potential for catastrophic flooding as climate warms. (2020-11-30)

Tipping point for the climate can already be a reality in East Asia
The climate in inner East Asia may already have reached a tipping point, where recent years' transition to abnormally hot and dry summers can be irreversible. This is the finding of a new international study by researchers at University of Gothenburg now published in Science. (2020-11-30)

Preschool children can't see the mountains for the cat
Imagine seeing an image of a cat in front of a wide scene of mountains and being told just to remember the mountains if you saw them in a later picture. As an adult, that's not hard to do. But a new study shows that, even when told to pay attention to the mountain, preschool children focus so much on the cat that they won't later recognize the same mountain. (2020-11-30)

Magnetic vortices come full circle
The first experimental observation of three-dimensional magnetic 'vortex rings' provides fundamental insight into intricate nanoscale structures inside bulk magnets, and offers fresh perspectives for magnetic devices. (2020-11-30)

Getting to the core of nuclear speckles
Scaffold of sub-cellular structures identified after a hundred years. (2020-11-28)

New procedure will reduce the need for rare metals in chemical synthesis
Researchers from Kanazawa University performed an important type of tertiary alkylative cross-coupling reaction without using a rare-metal catalyst. Such efforts are needed to improve the long-term sustainability of important chemical syntheses and minimize supply chain disruptions caused by pandemics and other crises. (2020-11-27)

Irreversible hotter and drier climate over inner East Asia
Researchers warn that heatwaves and concurrent droughts of Mongolia's semi-arid plateau have increased significantly during the past two decades, with troubling implications for the future. The change also has ramifications for atmospheric conditions across the Northern Hemisphere. (2020-11-26)

In temperate trees, climate-driven increase in carbon capture causes autumn leaves to fall sooner
For decades, scientists have expected that the shedding of leaves from temperate trees will get later and later under ongoing climate change. (2020-11-26)

T. rex had huge growth spurts, but other dinos grew "slow and steady"
By cutting into dinosaur bones and analyzing the growth lines, a team of researchers discovered that T. rex and its closest relatives got big thanks to a huge growth spurt in adolescence, while its more distant cousins kept on growing a little bit every year throughout their lives. (2020-11-24)

A new species of rare phylum Loricifera discovered in the deep-sea surrounding Japan
The Loricifera is a microscopic, sediment-dwelling marine invertebrate, with a head covered in over 200 spines and an abdomen with a protective shell - known as a lorica. Since it was first discovered in 1983, just under 40 species have been written about. Now, that number is one more thanks to a group of scientists who reported on a new genus and species of Loricifera. (2020-11-24)

Milky Way family tree
Galaxies formed by the merging of smaller progenitor galaxies. An international team of astrophysicists led by a scientist from Heidelberg University has succeeded in reconstructing the merger history of our home galaxy, creating a complete family tree. To achieve this, the researchers analysed the properties of globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way with artificial intelligence. Their investigations revealed a previously unknown galaxy collision that must have permanently altered the appearance of the Milky Way. (2020-11-23)

Direct visualization of quantum dots reveals shape of quantum wave function
Trapping and controlling electrons in bilayer graphene quantum dots yields a promising platform for quantum information technologies. Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have now achieved the first direct visualization of quantum dots in bilayer graphene, revealing the shape of the quantum wave function of the trapped electrons. (2020-11-23)

Study finds health trade-offs for wildlife as urbanization expands
City living appears to improve reproductive success for migratory tree swallows compared to breeding in more environmentally protected areas, a new five-year study suggests. But urban life comes with a big trade-off - health hazards linked to poorer water quality. (2020-11-18)

Green chemistry: Politecnico di Milano publishes in Chem
The prestigious journal Chem (Cell Press, impact factor: 19.735) publishes the first mechanosynthesis of a molecular crystal with a Borromean topology. The results obtained by the Politecnico di Milano group have shown that mechanosynthesis can be applied to the self-assembly of complex multi-component supramolecular structures such as the Borromean rings, demonstrating, in detail, the mechanism of formation of this complex topology. (2020-11-18)

Research on environmental history: 330-year-old poplar tree tells of its life
Similar to genetic mutations, epigenetic changes, i.e. gene modifications that do not occur on the primary DNA sequence, sometimes arise accidentally in plants and can be transmitted across generations. Using trees as a model, researchers have now shown for the first time that these so-called epimutations accumulate continuously throughout plant development, and that they can be employed as a molecular clock to estimate the age of a tree. (2020-11-18)

The bull Y chromosome has evolved to bully its way into gametes
In a new study, published Nov. 18 in the journal Genome Research, scientists in the lab of Whitehead Institute Member David Page present the first ever full, high-resolution sequence of the Y chromosome of a Hereford bull. The research, more than a decade in the making, suggests that bulls' Y chromosomes have evolved dozens of copies of the same genes in a selfish attempt to make more males -- a move that is countered in the female-determining X chromosome. (2020-11-18)

An acebuchin-oil-enriched diet helps to reduce hypertension
The acebuche, also know as the wild olive tree, is a variety of tree widely found throughout Spain and covering almost nine million hectares in Andalusia. However, little data is available on the composition and therapeutic potential of acebuchin oil. The studies mainly focus on the composition and pharmacological effects of olive tree leaves and extra virgin olive oil. (2020-11-17)

Light shed on the atomic resolution structure of phage DNA tube
Given that phages are able to destroy bacteria, they are of particular interest to science. Basic researchers from the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) in Berlin are especially interested in the tube used by phages to implant their DNA into bacteria. In collaboration with colleagues from Forschungszentrum Jülich and Jena University Hospital, they have now revealed the 3D structure of this crucial phage component in atomic resolution. (2020-11-13)

Chemical clues in leaves can reveal ash tree resistance to deadly disease
Naturally occurring compounds in ash leaves could be linked to susceptibility of individual trees to the fungal disease ash dieback (ADB). But selecting trees with lower levels of these compounds and breeding for resistance could leave the UK ash tree population open to attack from invading insect pests in the future, according to scientists at the University of Warwick. (2020-11-11)

Tree rings may hold clues to impacts of distant supernovas on Earth
Massive explosions of energy happening thousands of light-years from Earth may have left traces in our planet's biology and geology, according to new research by University of Colorado Boulder geoscientist Robert Brakenridge. (2020-11-11)

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