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Climbing Mount Everest: Base Camp Bound, After a Glacial Detour

Editor’s Note: Ulyana Horodyskyj and her team of scientists and Sherpas were scheduled to reach Mt. Everest base camp this morning, just when a massive avalanche occurred above the camp, killing 12 Sherpas who were already working there. She sent us a message at 9:01 EDT today saying she and her group were all okay, and that they had actually been delayed by one day because of illness. Thus far they have learned that a friend of one of the Sherpas who is assisting them was killed. Horodyskyj had just sent us a new post, below—the second in her series—before starting the trek up to the camp.

Namche Bazaar village located at 3,440 metres (11,286 ft) above the sea level in Khumbu region, northeastern Nepal. / Photo courtesty of Steve Hicks via Flickr.

NAMCHE BAZAAR, NEPAL—Greeting from the Sherpa capital of the Mt. Everest region, known as the Khumbu Himal. For the past 10 days Jake St. Pierre, a former police officer turned climber-scientist volunteer, and I have been working in the Gokyo valley, the next valley over from Mt. Everest. It is home to Cho Oyu, the sixth-highest peak in the world. From its slopes flows one of Nepal’s largest glaciers, the Ngozumpa. As you read this we will have just departed for Mt. Everest base camp, but before leaving Jake and I had to take a detour to Ngozumpa that lasted several days.

Why? First, we wanted some extra time to acclimatize (get accustomed to the higher altitudes) before heading over to base camp. The elevation at Namche Bazaar is about 11,500 feet, and climbing around on the glacier would get us higher, a good practice because Everest base camp itself is already at 17,600 feet.

Second, I had left research stations up on Ngozumpa earlier in the year, and I wanted to check on them. They have been tracking air temperature, relative humidity and albedo (reflectivity) changes during snowfall events throughout the winter. This information provides insight into how quickly the glacial snow and ice melts during the coldest time of the year.

Cho Oyu, the sixth-highest peak in the world, viewed from the Gokyo valley. / Photo by Ulyana Horodyskyj.

I’ve been working on Ngozumpa since 2011, tracking how supraglacial lakes change. These lakes reside on the surface of glaciers, and given enough time, gradually “eat away” at the exposed ice, melting it or calving (collapsing) it, sometimes in chunks that are more than tens of feet thick during the summer melt season. I had installed a combination of time-lapse cameras on slopes looking down at the lakes, put thermal buoys in the lake waters, and staked meteorological stations on the adjacent rocky land. Over the past three years the cameras have captured spectacular lake fills, drains, and refills, as well as large calving events that have continued into the present winter (you can watch some video here). It seems that there really is no “quiet” season on the glacier.

I’m happy to report that the stations recorded good data and imagery that I will be processing after we return from Mt. Everest and Mt. Lhotse. One station is still up on the glacier and will continue to record data on the supraglacial lakes through the spring and summer thaw. I should make it back to the instruments in June, for some final data downloads and resets for the subsequent 2014 monsoon season. It is important to get a continuous data set over multiple years, some of which will be wet and some dry, to start to look for patterns. Jake and I took apart a second station and carried it back down, so we can use it on Everest.

There is no trail to get to my research stations. We create it as we go, and the route changes every month. To give you an idea, imagine walking for about a mile. Now imagine walking, or scrambling, that distance on large, unstable boulders that move underfoot every step of the way. And do all that at higher than 15,000 feet. It is incredibly tiring and sometimes dangerous, especially when carrying heavy loads. This time of year the snows come in the early afternoon. Getting caught out on a glacier in the heavy snow bursts can be very disorienting. It takes extra vigilance and caution to stay safe when working out there.

We are currently back at Namche Bazaar. The journey back down the valley was in a spring blizzard, with each of us carrying about 40 pounds of equipment. Thankfully we had some porter support from Thamserku Trekking. We had a quick rest, but the rest of the Mt. Everest–Mt. Lhotse team had already arrived and we were set to head off for base camp on the morning of April 15, lugging hundreds of pounds of scientific equipment and climbing gear.

The route from base camp to Mt. Everest.

We are scheduled to arrive at base camp on April 18 or 19, depending on the weather, which is looking a bit unsettled at the moment. To get a sense of the base camp location see the rough map at right, or plug the following coordinates into your favorite online mapping program: 28 0′ 26″ N, 86 51′ 34″ E. We will spend a few days at the base adjusting to the new altitude before climbing on to Camp 1 at 19,600 feet. After that, we will make a push to Camp 2, at over 21,000 feet, where we will have to spend even more time adjusting to the rarified atmosphere. Camp 2 will be our science staging area. From there we will set out on the glacier to put up a weather station and to measure snow reflectivity over the next month. All the effort is to help figure out how much soot is settling on the mammoth glaciers of this region, which could greatly affect how fast they could melt in the future, or not. For more on that, see my first post in this series.

More to come.

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Japan Will Conduct Pacific Whale Hunt in Wake of Court Ruling

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan said on Friday it would conduct a sharply scaled down form of its annual Northwest Pacific whaling campaign this year despite an international court ruling last month against the mainstay of its whaling program in the Antarctic.

The decision to proceed with the hunt was certain to provoke international anger and promptly drew the fire of environmentalists.

Tokyo’s decades-old and disputed “scientific whaling” program suffered a blow last month when the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in a surprise ruling, ordered a halt to its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean. That prompted Japan to cancel whaling there for 2014-2015.

The Pacific hunt, not as widely known internationally, was not specifically mentioned in the ruling, which did call on Japan to re-examine its overall whaling program. Yet in the 2012-2013 campaign, the Pacific hunt took three times as many whales as the Antarctic hunt, including three sperm whales.

Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the ruling upheld the notion of “the sustainable use of whales as a resource”.

“Based on this … and in line with international law and scientific principles, our nation will carry out research whaling to get the scientific information essential to manage whales as a resource,” he said.

Japan has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered and began what it called scientific whaling in 1987, a year after an international moratorium came into effect.

It has also said it hopes for the eventual resumption of commercial whaling, a view Hayashi said was unchanged.

“We will stick to a basic plan that aims at a resumption of commercial whaling,” he told reporters. Japan, he said, had made “substantial accommodations” to the court ruling.

The ministry said quotas for the Pacific hunt would be reduced in consideration of the court ruling. One proposal, still to be finalized by scientists, would cut the number from 380 whales to 210 in activity extending from Japan’s coastline out into a broad swathe of the Pacific.

In the 2012-2013 season, the fleet killed 319 whales in the Pacific. The Antarctic hunt took 103 whales out of a quota of more than 1,000, partly due to the sometimes violent attempts by environmental groups, such as Sea Shepherd, to disrupt it.

According to the proposal, no sperm whales will be taken and the quota of minkes will be reduced to 100 from 220.

NEW PLAN, NEW MEASURES AGAINST PROTESTERS

The ministry said it would submit a new plan for Antarctic whaling to the International Whaling Commission in 2015 for the purpose of resuming whaling in that area later in the year.

“We will also consider measures against anti-whaling activists,” the ministry said.

Japan says eating whale is a cherished cultural tradition, but costly whale meat now rarely appears on Japanese tables.

Fears of complaints from key allies such as the United States, as well as the cost of maintaining Japan’s ageing whaling fleet, prompted some observers to say Tokyo might cancel the Pacific hunt this year.

But a vocal lobby pressed for it to continue, citing economic benefits to the Pacific hunt’s home port of Ishinomaki,

devastated by the 2011 tsunami.

No details were given about when the fleet would depart. It was originally set to leave on April 22, the day before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Japan for a state visit, but media reports said its departure would be delayed until April 26, the day after Obama leaves.

Environmental group Greenpeace said the decision to proceed with hunt was a disappointment.

“This defiant announcement, mere days before President Obama’s visit to Japan, will damage Japan’s international standing,” said Junichi Sato, at Greenpeace Japan.

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

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Uniter of Sperm and Egg Is Found

Scientists have identified a long-sought fertility protein that allows sperm to dock to the surface of an egg. The finding, an important step in understanding the process that enables conception, could eventually spawn new forms of birth control and treatments for infertility.“It’s very important, because we now know two of the proteins that are responsible for the binding of sperm to the egg,” says Paul Wassarman, a biochemist and developmental biologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

The work, published today in Nature, was led by Gavin Wright, a biochemist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK. He and his team were looking for a counterpart to a protein called Izumo1, discovered in 2005 on the surface of sperm cells.

Scientists knew that Izumo1 allowed sperm to join to an egg to begin the process of fertilization. But nobody knew what protein on the surface of the egg attached to Izumo1.

Identifying the proteins involved in the joining step has been difficult because the molecules tend to bind quite weakly to each other. So Wright and his team devised a way to cluster Izumo1 proteins, then searching for the egg-cell proteins that would bind to the clusters in cell culture. Wright compares the technique to constructing a Velcro fastener out of many individual fabric loops: “Each small hook adheres weakly, but when [they are] clustered in an array, even the most fleeting interactions are stabilized and can therefore be detected,” he says.

Using this method, the team hooked a protein called folate receptor 4 that is found on the surface of the mouse egg cell. Wright’s team propose renaming the egg protein Juno, after the Roman goddess of fertility and marriage. Izumo1 is also named after a cultural symbol of reproduction — a Japanese marriage shrine.

The team found that Juno also exists in mammals, including humans, and that without it, human eggs and sperm cannot fuse. They also found that female mice lacking Juno are healthy, but unable to reproduce. This makes the Juno–Izumo1 partnership the first discovered in any organism to be essential to reproduction, the researchers say.

Wright and his team also found that Juno has another important job — blocking other sperm cells from joining to the egg once it has been fertilized. After one sperm cell joined to the egg, Juno disappeared from the egg surface within 30–45 minutes.

The findings could be used right away in fertility treatment, Wright says. Women who are having trouble conceiving could be tested to find whether they have missing or defective Juno proteins. If they do, they could try intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which a single sperm cell is injected into an egg. But the number of women who would benefit is unknown, because Juno has not yet been studied in connection with fertility.

The discovery also points to potential ways to block the fusion of sperm and egg to prevent pregnancy. Scientists could now study the structure of the Juno–Izumo1 complex, and perhaps develop a new class of contraceptive drugs that interfere with this junction, Wassarman says.

This article is reproduced with permission from the magazine Nature. The article was first published on April 16, 2014.

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4 Years after BP’s Gulf Oil Spill, Compensation Battle Rages

By Jemima Kelly

(Reuters) – Four years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil is still washing up on the long sandy beaches of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and some islanders are fed up with hearing from BP that the crisis is over.

Jules Melancon, the last remaining oyster fisherman on an island dotted with colorful houses on stilts, says he has not found a single oyster alive in his leases in the area since the leak and relies on an onshore oyster nursery to make a living.

He and others in the southern U.S. state say compensation has been paid unevenly and lawyers have taken big cuts.

The British oil major has paid out billions of dollars in compensation under a settlement experts say is unprecedented in its breadth.

Some claimants are satisfied, but others are irate that BP is now challenging aspects of the settlement. Its portrayal of the aftermath of the well blowout and explosion of its drilling rig has also caused anger.

“They got an advert on TV saying they fixed the Gulf but I’ve never been fixed,” said Melancon, who was compensated by BP, but deems the sum inadequate.

The oil company has spent over $26 billion on cleaning up, fines and compensation for the disaster, which killed 11 people on the rig and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days after the blast on April 20, 2010.

That is more than a third of BP’s total revenues for 2013, and the company has allowed for the bill to almost double, while fighting to overturn and delay payments of claims it says have no validity, made after it relinquished control over who got paid in a settlement with plaintiff lawyers in March 2012.

The advertisement that most riled Dean Blanchard, who began what later became the biggest shrimp company in the United States in 1982, was the one first aired by BP on television in late 2011 that said “all beaches and waters are open”.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoOfIR4Vk1o)

At that time almost 50 square miles of water in Louisiana were closed to fishing, according to the state’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Seven fishing areas are still closed, three where Blanchard says he would usually get his seafood.

Asked about the discrepancy, BP, which made the cleanup advertisements to help the affected states bring visitors back, said there was no scientific basis for the water closures and that all studies had found that seafood was safe to consume.

PERCEIVED INJUSTICE

Perceived injustice, between those who got payouts and those who did not, has divided the small community on Grand Isle, 50 miles south of New Orleans. Within sight of a line of deep sea oil rigs, it was one of the worst-affected areas.

Long streaks of oil marked the sand where a couple of tourists walked barefoot and small tarballs, which environmentalists say contain the most toxic form of oil, had collected on part of the beach when Reuters visited in October to report on the legacy of the spill.

The Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental group which monitors spilt BP oil, says it is still appearing in Grand Isle. The group saw what it called “thousands of tarballs” there on April 9th and collected some of them for testing.

A BP spokesman said only very small quantities of material from the Macondo well were washing up and they did not threaten human health.

Under the settlement, claims for lost income or property damage have been easier for individuals and large businesses than small companies or start-ups without detailed accounts.

“People are really upset here because a lot of people got a lot of money but many people didn’t,” said waitress Jeanette Smith at Starfish Restaurant, the only eatery in Grand Isle to have managed to stay open seven days a week since the spill.

Melancon said his claim for economic damage was rejected as a lot of transactions were in cash. He was offered more than a million dollars for property damage but says he lost more than six times as much and has so far only received around $400,000 of the compensation money he was allocated.

Some islanders, however, say compensation has been fair.

Terry Pazane, 48, a shrimper on Grand Isle since he was 15, found out in late January that he will be compensated just over $300,000. “You got your paperwork together, they got you paid,” he said. “If you can’t prove nothing, you don’t get nothing.”

The oil company said it could not comment on individual claimants but that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had found the settlement scheme was “fair, reasonable, and adequate to all”.

BP has maintained, both via the media and the courts, that the settlement has been too generous in some cases.

Along with video images of its clean-up, BP regularly runs full-page advertisements in U.S. newspapers highlighting what it says are flaws in the handling of the settlement it had agreed to avoid having to fight costly individual lawsuits.(https://www.thestateofthegulf.com/bp-advertisements/)

In one, concerning a claim by a shrimp fisherman, BP said a lawyer within the settlement program, which is responsible for deciding the amount of payouts, took a cut. The office of claims administrator Patrick Juneau declined to comment.

Businesses of all kinds in New Orleans said they suffered from the spill because visitors stayed away due to concerns over the city’s signature Gulf seafood, even though the oil that flowed into the ocean near the mouth of the Mississippi did not reach New Orleans itself.

The settlement does not compensate everyone. Just 20 out of over 3,000 claims for failed business have been paid so far, according to the settlement website.(http://www.deepwaterhorizoneconomicsettlement.com/docs/statistics.pdf)

But BP has argued in the New Orleans court that claims administrator Juneau should prove losses were caused by the spill. The court threw out that argument, but the company has asked for its case to be heard again.

Blaine LeCesne, a professor at Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans, said BP’s actions were understandable but possibly counter-productive.

The settlement it had agreed to was “more than fair … virtually assuring that every individual or business affected by the spill may be compensated for their actual losses and beyond”, LeCesne said. But he said BP was losing goodwill by retroactively challenging the settlement’s validity because of its unanticipated cost.

BP said its “efforts to assure the integrity of the claims process” had been misrepresented and that it continued to be committed to the Gulf while defending its interests “in the face of absurd awards made to claimants whose alleged losses have no apparent connection to the spill”.

BP has argued that it is not the claimants but rather the lawyers, who can charge big fees for negotiating claims, who are the biggest winners from the spill.

OYSTER, SHRIMP SHORTAGE

In the aftermath of the spill, oysters have been among the biggest losers. They have fared worse than any other seafood, partly because their immobility made them unable to swim away from the oil and partly because they could not survive the fresh water diversions opened along the Mississippi to protect Louisiana’s precious wetlands from oil seeping in.

Owners of oyster leases can claim $2,000 per acre for property damage in the most affected areas, whether or not they have been using the leases.

Al Sunseri, who, with his brother Sal, runs the oldest oyster company in the United States – P&J Oysters, in New Orleans’s French Quarter – said processors like them had been dealt a bad hand in comparison with the oyster farmers.

The Sunseris reckon they are handling just 55-60 percent of the oysters they used to. Before the spill they employed 11 oyster shuckers to take off the shells, now they have just one, working part time.

“BP ruined our business,” said Al. “All the money they’ve spent on this marketing thing, and it’s like, we don’t even have anything to market.”

Blanchard says he is handling 15 percent of the local shrimp that he did before the spill. The shrimps, he says, either swam away from the oil or were killed or mutated by the spill and its aftermath. He is suing BP for $111 million.

BP said all tests had shown that Gulf seafood was safe to consume and there had been no published studies demonstrating seafood abnormalities due to the Deepwater Horizon accident.

But a study published on March 24, led by the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration, found the spilt BP oil caused “serious defects” in the embryos of several species of fish, including tuna and amberjack.(http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1320950111)

In response, BP said the concentration of oil used in the experiments for the study was “rarely seen in the Gulf during or after the Deepwater Horizon accident” and that the paper provided no evidence for a “population-level impact” on fish.

In one of its latest advertisements, the oil major said the outcome of what it said was its fight to return the settlement to its intended purpose would affect future decisions by other companies in similar positions.

“Will they accept responsibility and do the right thing? Or will the lesson be that it’s better to deny, delay, and litigate – with victims potentially waiting decades for compensation?”

(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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Rebuilding Memories Makes Them Stick


See Inside
Scientific American Mind Volume 25, Issue 3

Even after his death, the famous amnesic H. M. is revolutionizing our understanding of how memory works and how we maintain it as we age

I remember meeting H.M. in the spring of 1967, when he was perhaps 40 years old and I was 16 years his junior. My mentor, Hans-Lucas Teuber, brought him to my tiny office across from the psychology department library at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I recall H.M.’s thin, smiling, rather handsome face as he squeezed into the doorway with Teuber, who introduced us as “Don” and “Henry,” as if we might become buddies. I think I called Henry “sir” as we shook hands because he was already a minor M.I.T. celebrity. Teuber assured Henry that he would enjoy taking part in my experiment on sentence comprehension, something he was good at, and excused himself.

As we climbed the stairs to the testing room, it never crossed my mind that this quiet man would become a major focus of my research during the next half a century. I unlocked the door and seated Henry at a wooden desk facing mine, sunlight streaming into the room from large windows to my right. In front of me I had two stopwatches and a stack of 32 short sentences typed onto three-by-five index cards. I started a tape recorder and began what I thought would be a fairly routine experiment.

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The Science of Memory


See Inside
Scientific American Mind Volume 25, Issue 3

Managing editor Sandra Upson introduces the May/June 2014 issue of Scientific American MIND

May 1, 2014
|By Sandra Upson

|

When I was eight years old, my family moved out of our 100-year-old house in the Netherlands. Its ivy-covered brick walls, dark green door and matching window shutters remain vivid to me. I still keep a framed photo of my golden retriever and me scampering down the pebble driveway, which led past rhododendrons to a separate garage. Behind it rose a majestic dune.

The passing of decades inevitably weakens the brain connections that hold such slices of time in place. Yet as I learned in this issue’s special report, “How We Remember,” revisiting one’s recollections helps the brain rebuild aging neural links. In “The Engine of Memory,” psychologist Donald G. MacKay describes his discovery of several ways the mind repairs and strengthens reminiscences.

Also in the report, cognitive scientist Felipe De Brigard delves into the mystery of the hippocampus, a brain region viewed as the seat of memory. People with damage to this area develop amnesia—but also suffer deficits of imagination, sight and other core mental functions. Connecting with our past makes it easier to envision the future, it seems. See “The Anatomy of Amnesia.”

Memory is not the only faculty vulnerable to the ravages of time and disease. New hope for treating disorders in which brain cells perish, such as Parkinson’s, is now emerging in the form of stem cell therapies. Journalist Lydia Denworth reports on stunning progress in cultivating replacement neurons. The advances she describes in “The Regenerating Brain” demanded many years of painstaking research—a reminder that the passage of time also brings us breakthroughs that improve human lives.

Last October, I paid a brief visit to the house in the Netherlands, my first trip back in decades. I recognized the facade, but gone were the green shutters and the ivy, as well as the detached garage. The gardens had been transformed. The building was a stranger now, not a friend. Yet it dawned on me that my beloved childhood home still stood safely in my memories. By carrying the past forward with us, our present and future become all the richer.

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National award for students dedicated to making the world a better place



17 April 2014

Exceptional entrepreneurs from the University of Sheffield who are dedicated to making the world a better place have been crowned Enactus UK Champions after helping more than 150 disadvantaged people transform their lives.

Homemade projectGlobal business leaders awarded Enactus Sheffield with the prestigious prize for their remarkable projects which have touched the lives of people not only in South Yorkshire but across the world.

The dedicated team, which is made up of 150 talented students, triumphed over 35 University teams from all over the UK at the 2014 Enactus UK National competition which took place in London earlier this week.

As UK National Champions the Sheffield team will go on to compete against 35 other countries at the Enactus World Cup 2014 in Bejing later this year.

Sheffield Enactus is a social enterprise company based at the University of Sheffield which through both social and commercial projects aims to harness students’ entrepreneurial spirit, to make a difference through innovative projects such as Homemade.

The pioneering Homemade venture saw students working with homeless people to create a jam-making business, called Bevin’s Finest Preserve, enabling people living on the streets to harness the skills necessary to move to full-time employment and a stable home.

Accounting and Finance Management student Caroline Turner, 19, is the Managing Director of Enactus Sheffield. “I still cannot believe that we have won this tremendous award,” she said.

“I saw the national competition as a brilliant way for the team to get experience and learn from innovative projects which other universities have put together – we never imagined that we would win the title and be chosen to represent the whole of Great Britain at the Enactus World Cup in Bejing.

“I am so incredibly proud and the members of Enactus are the most dedicated, driven, passionate and wonderfully talented people I have ever met. Without Enactus I wouldn’t be the person I am today – I no longer sit and procrastinate I know that with the help of others you can achieve amazing things every single day.”

Enactus Sheffield is one of the biggest groups in the UK and has empowered more than 155 individuals with volunteers dedicating more than 16,400 hours to 17 separate projects.
“I signed up to Enactus in Freshers Week,” said Caroline.

Helping to change lives“I knew that a degree wasn’t going to be enough for me and when I heard about the team I know this was something I had to be involved in. Obviously it is extremely rewarding to see how our work can directly impact on the lives of others but in terms of personal development Enactus has been invaluable.

“When I signed up the thought of giving a talk to 20 people was terrifying and now I find presenting to 20,000 people an exciting challenge. I have been given so many amazing opportunities through Sheffield Enactus and I would truly recommended it to any student out there who just wants to make a difference – a few hours of your time can transform someone’s life forever. “

Enactus Sheffield International Director and International Development Masters student, Bethan Rimmington, 23, said: “Our ethos is to help meet each individual’s needs and we stick to this model whatever the project.
“The Hope project which helps victims of human trafficking is something which I feel exceptionally privileged to have been involved in.

“To see the transformation in people from being so vulnerable and nervous that they cannot even look you in the eye when they are speaking to you – to becoming confident, strong and successful women is absolutely amazing.

“It is an incredible experience to work with all of our beneficiaries and the culture that we have within the team is fantastic. The skills I have developed through Enactus are things which will help my in all aspects of my everyday life.”

The team have already begun working incredibly hard in preparation of the Enactus World Cup. They would welcome support from any staff, students or local business leaders who can help them bring the World Cup back to Sheffield.

Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, Professor of Enterprise and Engineering Education at the University of Sheffield said: “There are students who inspire me every day; their passion, determination and desire to change the world is breath taking. The Sheffield Enactus team are without a doubt at the top of this group of transformational students.

“Winning the Enactus UK Nationals is the cherry on top of the cake. However, the most important achievement of our team is the change they bring to the world.”

She added: “We are incredibly proud of each one of them and of previous members. They represent all we stand for at the University of Sheffield.”

For more information about Sheffield Enactus visit http://www.enactussheffield.org/index.html or email Caroline Turner on managing.director@sheffieldsife.org

Additional information

Enactus
Founded in 1975, Enactus is an international community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world.
Enactus UK was founded in 2001 and now operates in 54 universities, with more than 3000 active students. For more information about Enactus, please visit: www.enactus.org and www.enactusuk.org
Last year, 3000 Enactus students from across the UK volunteered more than 187,000 hours to create and implement some 250 projects that improved the lives of 4800 people.

Enactus projects use innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to tackle a wide range of social needs including: empowering diverse beneficiaries such as the unemployed, homeless, struggling businesses, immigrants and ex-offenders. They also harness the expertise of engineering students to tackle issues such as sanitation, irrigation and disease oversees. These experiences not only transform lives, but give students the opportunity to step out of the classroom and develop skills firsthand and the perspective that is essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world.
For project examples, please visit: www.enactusuk.org/what-we-do/project-stories
In the UK, Enactus actively engages business and academic volunteers [over 470 business, 90 university and 50 alumni volunteers in 2013] who provide know-how in a framework that encourages the students to be innovative, creative, and to take advantage of the unique resources and opportunities at their university.

University of Sheffield
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Sheffield

When It Comes to Conservation, Tropical Grasslands Have an Identity Problem [Slide Show]

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Although they cover a fifth of Earth’s landmass, tropical grassy ecosystems are routinely misidentified and mismanaged

– Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

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Costs of Climate Change May Prove High for Future

Our descendants will pay a higher price for greenhouse gas build-up as real costs are updated over time

Apr 16, 2014
|By Tim Radford and The Daily Climate

|

LONDON – Economists and scientists may have seriously underestimated the “social cost” of carbon emissions to future generations, according to a warning in the journal Nature.

Social cost is a calculation in US dollars of the future damage that might be done by the emission of one metric ton of carbon dioxide as greenhouse gas levels soar and climates change, sea levels rise and temperature records are broken in future decades.

How much would society save if it didn’t emit that ton of carbon dioxide? One recent federal estimate is $37. Such a measure helps civil servants, businessmen and ministers to calculate the impact of steps that might be taken.

Needs improvement
On the other hand, says Richard Revesz of New York University School of Law and a research team consisting of U.S. and Swedish colleagues, assumptions of cost per ton – and these range from $12 to $64 according to various calculations – are based on models that need to be improved and extended. 

The cost of climate change could be higher, for four reasons:

  • The impact of historic temperature variation suggests societies and economies may be more vulnerable than the models predict, and in this case weather variability is more important than average weather – because crop yields are vulnerable to extremes of temperature.
  • Then the models omit the damage to productivity, and to the value of capital stock, because of lower growth rates: as these lower growth rates compound each other, human welfare will begin to decline. And that’s without factoring in climate-induced wars, coups or societal collapse.
  • Third, the models assume that the value people attach to ecosystems (and water is an ecosystem service) remains constant. But, they point out, as commodities become scarce, value increases, so the costs of ecosystem damage will rise faster than models predict.
  • Finally, the models assume that a constant discount rate can translate future harms into today’s dollars. But discount rates of the future may not be constant.

“What now?” they ask. “Modelers, scientists and environmental economists must continue to step outside their silos and work together to identify research gaps and modeling limitations.”

They hint at an even deeper problem: the basis of the social harm costs dates from calculations more than 20 years old, and is predicated on an average global warming of less than 3 degrees Celsius. Yet without mitigation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a warming of 4°C by the end of the century.

“If warming continues unchecked into the 22nd century, it could render parts of the planet effectively uninhabitable during the hottest days of summer, with consequences that would be challenging to monetize,” they write.

Other misses
Economic harm may not be the only thing underestimated. Michael Mann, a meteorologist at Penn State University thinks the so-called “slowdown” in global warming during this decade could be because scientists underestimated the impact of a meteorological monster called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO – an oceanographic cycle of warming and cooling that delivers natural change in northern hemisphere weather patterns.

A misreading of this cycle, probably because scientists have not known about it for long, could account for this apparent slowdown, he reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “Some researchers in the past attributed a portion of Northern Hemispheric warming to a warm phase of the AMO,” Mann said.

“The true AMO signal, instead, appears likely to have been in a cooling phase in recent decades, offsetting some of the anthropogenic warming temporarily.” And when the rate of warming rises again, there’s yet more evidence of possible acceleration, according to new research.

More methane
The thawing of the Arctic sea ice is also accompanied by a softening and warming of the Arctic permafrost, and changes in the chemistry of the preserved peat, that could release ever larger amounts of methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas, present in smaller quantities than carbon dioxide, but 34 times more potent as a warming agent over 100 years.

If the permafrost melts entirely, that would put five times the present levels of carbon into the atmosphere, US researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The world is getting warmer, and the additional release of gas would only add to our problems,” said Jeff Chanton of Florida State University, a co-author.

This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.
 

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Research sheds new light on impact of diabetes on the brain



17 April 2014

  • Diabetic nerve damage causes more harm in the brain than previously thought
  • One in three diabetes patients suffer from diabetic neuropathy
  • Break through could lead to better treatments for sufferers in the future

Researchers from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have discovered diabetic nerve damage causes more harm in the brain than previously thought, shedding new light on the disease.

The new findings published in the Diabetes Care journal reveal the extent of damage patients suffering with the disease can endure in areas of the brain called ‘grey matter’ – a key component of the central nervous system which is involved in touch and pain sensory perception.

Brain scanDuring the study, which involved patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, researchers used recent advances in ground breaking brain imaging and analyses methods to take detailed nerve assessments of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.

This revealed that the volume of certain brain regions in people with diabetic neuropathy was significantly lower compared to those without the disease. Previous studies have shown that the impact of the disease on the brain is limited and isolated to outside areas of the brain considered to be peripheral to core functions in the body.

The breakthrough could pave the way for better assessment and monitoring of the disease, which affects around a third of people with diabetes. This, in turn, could lead to better treatments for sufferers in the future.
Diabetes patient Tracey Smythe, 45, of Parson Cross, Sheffield, admits she had little understanding of diabetic neuropathy – which affects up to a third of patients suffering with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes – when she was first diagnosed with the illness five years ago.

Now she finds “living with the disease hard” and crippling pains from the illness stop her from doing the simplest things – including walking her two dogs, going to the supermarket alone and wearing clothes with zips and buttons.

“It affects all aspects of my life. I get shooting pains that take me off my feet. One time the pain lasted four and a half hours. I couldn’t get up the stairs without using my arms to pull me up. I was in on my own, and I felt frightened and vulnerable. “

She added: “Even walking my two dogs is impossible as the pain increases when I’m walking. All the time I’m taking risk assessments on what I can and can’t do. If I’m making a cup of tea I need to ask myself if I’m going to be alright.

“My hands get swollen and numb and I’m constantly getting pins and needles. My husband has to be there when I’m cooking, and I can’t even bake a cake without him helping do the mix. Even the weather affects me, and if it gets too hot or cold I feel worse.

Brain scan“Imagine you’ve gone out on a good night and worn the tightest pair of shoes, and the next day your feet are killing you. That’s what it’s like constantly living with diabetic nerve damage. I just wish there was more doctors could do to help people like me, which is why better understanding of the disease through research is vital.”

The pioneering research, which will benefit patients like Tracey, was conducted by Dr Dinesh Selvarajah, a Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Diabetes at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and a team from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University of Sheffield led by Professor Solomon Tesfaye and Professor Iain Wilkinson.

The research was funded by JDRF, the leading global funder of Type 1 diabetes research.

Dr Dinesh Selvarajah, of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: “Diabetic nerve damage has a massive impact on the quality of people’s lives, physically, mentally and socially.

“With the number of people suffering from diabetes around the world soaring, these are significant findings. Our study reveals for the first time how extensively involved diabetic neuropathy is in the brain, causing shrinking and a reduction in the main part of the brain associated with sensation. This is a new insight which will go a long way towards helping us better understand, treat and prevent a disease which we thought to be fairly innocuous in terms of effects on the brain.

“The next steps will be for us to investigate at what stage this occurs, what the consequences of this are and whether it can be prevented as it could be impacting on patient’s behaviour and psychology.”

Iain Wilkinson, an MR Physics Professor within Academic Radiology at the University of Sheffield and an Honorary Consultant Clinical Scientist for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “To see leading-edge MRI technology pinpoint changes that might play an influential factor in the quality of so many lives highlights the need for clinical research like this. It’s such an important part of our Teaching Hospital and University.

“MRI is such a useful neuroimaging tool in both medicine and patient-based medical research. The technique that we have been using is often termed ‘volumetry’ – recent scanner improvements enable the collection of high quality, high resolution, 3D datasets of the brain in an acceptable time, which, when coupled with the latest image processing systems, enable us to look at, or ‘segment’, different parts of the brain in patients who do or do not have diabetic neuropathy. The overall technique indicates where the differences that we are observing are occurring.”

The grey matter region identified is a major component of the central nervous system, consisting of brain cells (or neurons) which process information from sensory organs in order to decide and execute functions. Loss of nerve cells in the grey matter, more properly known as cerebral atrophy, is highly undesirable as the functions of that area of the brain can become impaired.

Additional information

The study was supported by a $486,000 grant from JDRF, awarded to Professor Solomon Tesfaye, Consultant Diabetologist and Honorary Professor of Diabetic Medicine at the University of Sheffield, and a team of colleagues from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield.
According to recent figures, the number of people suffering with diabetes is expected to hit an all-time UK high by 2025, soaring to five million cases.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is one of the UK’s largest NHS Foundation Trusts and one of the largest and busiest teaching hospitals. We have over 15,000 staff caring for over a million patients each year at our five hospitals and in the local community:
• The Royal Hallamshire Hospital
• The Northern General Hospital
• Charles Clifford Dental Hospital
• Weston Park Cancer Hospital
• Jessop Wing Maternity Hospital
We offer a full range of local hospital and community health services for people in Sheffield as well as specialist hospital services to patients from further afield in our many specialist centres.

The Trust is recognised internationally for its work in neurosciences, spinal injuries, renal, cancer, transplantation, neurosciences and orthopaedics.

The Trust has been awarded the title of ‘Hospital Trust of the Year’ in the Good Hospital Guide three times in five years and we are proud to be one of the top 20% of NHS Trusts for patient satisfaction.

The Trust is a recognised leader in medical research for bone, cardiac, neurosciences and long term conditions such as diabetes and lung disease. We also play a key role in the training and education of medical, nursing and dental students with our academic partners, including the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam.
For more information visit: www.sth.nhs.uk

University of Sheffield
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Sheffield