University leads call for the protection and safety of journalists across the world



8 April 2014

The Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheffield yesterday led a call for the increased safety and protection of journalists across the world.

Centre for the Freedom of the Media

The following statement was issued at the Safety of Journalists Symposium at BBC Broadcasting House in London, co-hosted by BBC Global News and CFOM in cooperation with the BBC College of Journalism.

More than 50 symposium participants supported the statement and called for increased safety and protection of journalists:

“We have gathered to protest at the increasing attacks on journalism around the world and the damage to free speech that can result from the rise in violence and intimidation against the media.

“UNESCO has just published detailed evidence which shows that journalism has become increasingly dangerous in many parts of the world. Only last week the acclaimed Associated Press photo-journalist Anja Niedringhaus of AP was killed in Afghanistan.

“In too many countries journalists are facing serious intimidation and violence, which in turns leads to disturbing patterns of censorship and self-censorship. We stand against these abuses and today we call on the governments concerned to investigate each one of those crimes promptly and effectively so as to bring those responsible to justice. We will now observe a minute’s silence to illustrate the silencing of journalists and of free speech.

“Today also marks 100 days since the arrest and detention in Egypt of three respected and highly professional Al Jazeera journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. No credible evidence has been produced to justify their imprisonment and prosecution. A number of other journalists have also been held in Egypt for extended periods without adequate access to justice.

“We call for the release of all those individuals and the freeing of more than 200 other journalists around the world who are now held behind bars only because they were doing their jobs. Journalism is not a crime; it is essential for a free and open society.”

For the full statement and a list of signatories, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/statements/safety-of-journalists-symposium.html

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 117 countries coming to learn alongside 1,209 of the world’s best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things – and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.

A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance.

In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, Siemens, Yorkshire Water and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. The White Rose University Consortium (White Rose) a strategic partnership between three of the UK’s leading research universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Since its creation in 1997 White Rose has secured more than £100M into the Universities.

Contact

For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046
h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk

Sheffield

Forgotten Broadway musical reconstructed for European premiere



7 April 2014

  • Music of Jule Styne’s Subways are for Sleeping to be heard for the first time since 1962.
  • University Masters student reconstructed the musical’s full orchestration using boxes of manuscripts from three US archives.
  • Musical given a makeover with newly-written narration.

A forgotten Broadway musical will get its European premiere after a University of Sheffield student worked through boxes of neglected manuscripts to reconstruct the score, which has not been heard anywhere in the world since 1962.Subways are for Sleeping rehearsal

Masters student Matthew Malone sorted through dozens of boxes filled with sheet music from three US archives to piece together a full orchestration of Subways are for Sleeping – a musical by renowned composer Jule Styne, which only ran for 205 performances.

Matthew will now conduct a 30-piece orchestra during two concert performances of the show’s music, featuring staff and students, at the University’s Firth Hall on Tuesday 29 April and Wednesday 30 April.

Subways are for Sleeping was composed by the late Styne, best known for the music of Gypsy, Funny Girl and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, while the lyrics and script were written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who wrote the screenplay for Singin’ in the Rain.

But despite this impressive pedigree, the show – based on an article and book that described the real-life exploits of homeless people living on New York’s underground system – struggled during previews and the script was partly rewritten.

The critical reception was mixed and, in an attempt to boost ticket sales, the show’s producer David Merrick paid several New Yorkers with the same names as the leading theatre critics of the day to provide positive quotes about the show for publicity.

The show opened on 27 December 1961 and ran for 205 performances, but it never toured. There was a short semi-staged revival in 2009, but this used only piano accompaniment, and there has never been a European production.

The complete original orchestrations of the show have now been reconstructed for a new critical edition using sources from the Library of Congress, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, and Tams-Witmark Music Library in New York.

The planned publication of this edition means the score will be available for others to perform around the world in the future.

The two performances in Sheffield are produced by Dr Dominic McHugh, of the University’s Department of Music, who will use only brief excerpts of the script alongside a newly-written narration.

He said the score is a “neglected masterpiece” and contains several songs that became very popular at the time – in particular, Judy Garland’s hit song Comes Once in a Lifetime.Subways are for Sleeping

He added: “It has been a privilege to be allowed to revive this score for the first time since the original production in 1962. Academia seems the perfect home for the revival.

“Matthew’s reconstruction of the score is based on manuscripts from three different American archives, and the concerts will have a full orchestra of almost 40 players.

“The performances are the result of a year’s planning, research, editing and rehearsal: a process that would simply be too complicated and expensive for the commercial sector, in spite of the high quality of the composition.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Jule Styne and Comden and Green estates for their support of our project.”

Matthew said: “I feel very lucky to be able to bring this fantastic score to a fresh audience that would otherwise not be able to hear it.

“It has been inspiring to work under Dominic’s supervision on this university-wide, once-in-a-lifetime community event.”

Tickets can be booked at http://sivtickets.com/event/subwaysareforsleeping and cost £8.50, £6 (concessions-over 60s), £3 (under 26s, students, unwaged).

Additional information:

The 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.

For further information, please visit www.sheffield.ac.uk

Contact

For further information please contact:
Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield 
0114 222 1046
h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk

Sheffield

How to Fix a Gene [Video]


See Inside
Scientific American Volume 310, Issue 4

Short stretches of RNA paired up with key proteins are fundamentally changing what cells can do

Mar 18, 2014
|By Christine Gorman

|

These days, whenever researchers want to rewrite the way genes work inside a living organism, they often use one or another kind of RNA molecule to get the job done. As part of Scientific American’s annual look at “The Future of Medicine,” my colleagues Dina Fine Maron, Ferris Jabr and I examine a few of the possibilities for new RNA therapies that physicians may one day use to treat hepatitis C, Ebola virus infection and various immune disorders.

Check out our report, “How RNA Discoveries Are Radically Changing Gene Therapy and Other Medical Treatments,” which appears in the April Scientific American, for more details.To get a better visual sense of exactly how one group of RNA molecules can affect the way genes work, watch the following animation, created by Arkitek Studios for Nature Reviews Genetics. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

Gardening Tips

Readers Respond to “Your Brain on Google”

YOUR BRAIN ON GOOGLE

The Internet Has Become the External Hard Drive for Our Memories,” by Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward, discusses studies indicating that the Internet has changed the way humans have traditionally allocated remembering certain facts to others and our sense of self.

I worry that the Internet-induced high “cognitive self-esteem”—the sense of being smart or good at remembering—the authors report might discourage students from taking the care to patiently learn about profound concepts. Try looking up “topological group” or “chord progression.” Some of the most interesting subjects can’t be understood with the touch of a button.

Lance Waltner
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Wegner and Ward mention, as evidence of a profound psychological change created by the Internet, an experiment in which subjects remembered facts they typed into a computer much worse if they were told that the computer had saved them. But the same would have happened if subjects had written facts on paper, and then some were told that the paper had been filed and others that it had been burned.

Guy Ottewell
Dorset, England

The authors ignored a big difference between asking friends and family for information versus looking it up online: you don’t usually need to worry that the former have been paid to deceive you using sophisticated marketing or propaganda.

R. Allen Gilliam
Winter Park, Fla.

DO CETACEANS SPREAD FUNGI?

In “Strange Fungi Now Stalk Healthy People,” Jennifer Frazer discusses the unexpected spread of the airborne, lung-infecting fungus Cryptococcus gattii in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, where it was previously unknown.

C. gattii is described as infecting porpoises as well as people and other animals. How better to aerosolize and spread a pulmonary infection than for a sick and dying porpoise to spray fungus from its blowhole just offshore? And if C. gattii infects one cetacean, could it also be infecting others?

Jim Saklad
Baldwin, Md.

FRAZER REPLIES: According to veterinary pathologist Stephen Raverty of the Animal Health Center at British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture, based on extrapolation from terrestrial animals and from one case involving dolphins, it is unlikely that C. gattii is spread from one infected animal to another, just as humans cannot spread the disease to each other. Scientists suspect this may be because “wet” forms of the yeast in animals may not be infective. So far C. gattii has been found to infect Dall’s porpoises, harbor porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Samples taken from killer whales roaming between northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia and the Puget Sound have not shown evidence of C. gattii.

U.S. SCIENCE EDUCATION

In “Why China and India Love U.S. Universities” [Forum], Harold O. Levy expresses alarm at the percentage of graduate and undergraduate degrees in science and engineering awarded to foreign students in the U.S. He states that “the U.S. public education system … does not produce enough high school graduates who are qualified for college work.”

The number of U.S. students taking Advanced Placement exams has increased every year since their inception, and the majority of students have been passing them. Last year more than two million students took almost four million AP exams. The pass rate was generally around 60 percent. It seems that enough students are qualified to pursue higher education in science and technology but choose not to do so.

George Schuttinger
Mountain View, Calif.

As a chemistry teacher in high school, I have watched the standards and testing increase while the breadth of the subjects narrows because we teach only what is on the test. Our school district has not even taught science in elementary schools for years because it is not tested. The more No Child Left Behind intruded into the school system, the less of a priority depth of understanding became. We need to get these “reformers,” who have never had a class of 38 students, out of education.

Furthermore, our students do not understand that education is a valuable commodity. If you want better schools, make education priority one at the dinner table.

Art Aronsen
Vacaville, Calif.

More Americans don’t get Ph.D.s in engineering because it makes no economic sense. An engineer with a bachelor’s can give up, say, one year’s earnings to get a master’s and expect to make that back in three to four years from the higher salary. An engineer giving up three to five years’ earnings from a master’s to get a Ph.D. can expect to make the lost income back sometime between 20 years and never.

Richard J. Weader II
via e-mail

INSECT FACIAL RECOGNITION

In “Insects Recognize Faces Using Processing Mechanism Similar to That of Humans,” Elizabeth A. Tibbetts and Adrian G. Dyer describe their work showing that insects such as paper wasps and honeybees are able to recognize individual faces of others in their species.

Do these insects show a difference between the sexes in this ability?

Dennis Weber
Kalamazoo, Mich.

TIBBETTS AND DYER REPLY: There are likely to be sex differences in insect-face learning, although careful experimentation will be needed. Insects often vary within and between species in perceptually difficult tasks such as color discrimination. Bees and wasps are particularly likely to have cognitive differences across the sexes because the social lives of males and females are so distinct. We are planning experiments to address this question.

SECULARISM AND SOCIETY

In “Is God Dying?” [Skeptic], Michael Shermer’s argument that religion is declining is short on hard and social science. Shermer gives one point from a supposedly longitudinal study but asserts time trend results. Likewise, he surmises that because religions help the poor, richer nations become less religious, yet he pronounces the U.S. über-religious. By the way, nonreligious societies have a pretty bad track record (Soviets, North Koreans, Nazis, etc.).

J. P. Harrison
Atlanta

SHERMER REPLIES: The U.S. has long been an outlier in religiosity among developed democracies, showing substantially higher rates. Recent surveys show that we may now be shifting to be more in line with comparable countries. As for the last point: National socialism was not an atheistic regime, and its exterminationist policies were clearly motivated by hegemonic politics and racial hygiene, not religion. The Soviet Union and the North Korean regime (not to mention the People’s Republic of China) were and are officially atheistic, but nothing they did or are doing had or has religious motives.

ERRATA

How Supercomputers Will Yield a Golden Age of Materials Science,” by Gerbrand Ceder and Kristin Persson [World Changing Ideas], incorrectly spelled the name of Stefano Curtarolo of Duke University.

Golden Goose Awards Highlight Weird-Sounding Science with Big Benefits,” by Rachel Feltman [Advances], refers to screwworms as worms. Screwworms are flies.

Gardening Tips

World’s largest ever Parkinson’s disease study



7 April 2014

This week (Monday 7 April–Sunday 13 April 2014) marks National Parkinson’s Awareness Week.
Each day, 80 people are newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the UK and one in 20 will be under the age of 40.

NeuronsProfessor Oliver Bandmann, Professor of Movement Disorders Neurology at the University of Sheffield and Consultant at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: “Parkinson’s is not just a movement disorder but can also cause other problems such as depression and memory problems.

“It is currently relentlessly progressive and incurable. However, more and more research on PD is being carried out at the University of Sheffield, paving the way for new treatments.

“Clinician scientists and basic scientists work closely together to get a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms leading to PD and find drugs which slow down and one day hopefully arrest PD in the early stages.”

He added: “Basic scientists and clinician scientists at our University benefit from excellent facilities at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), the Bateson Centre in the Faculty of Basic Sciences and the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

“This allows academics and clinicians to undertake research spanning from basic science and in-house drug discovery to clinical trials.

“We are currently participating in the world’s largest long-term study on PD called Tracking Parkinson’s. Across the UK, 3000 PD patients are being recruited into this study which is funded by the leading PD charity Parkinson’s UK.

“We are also carrying out a drug screen at SITraN which has identified a very promising drug which might slow down the progression of disease.”

Contact

For further information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859
a.l.pullan@sheffield.ac.uk

Sheffield

World’s first database of footballer statues compiled by UK researchers



4 April 2014

  • Researchers compile first database commemorating football heroes around the world
  • Nearly 300 different footballers, as well as less obvious figures such as chairmen, broadcasters, fans and mascots, are honoured with statues
  • Database reveals some of the most unusual statues around the world

A statue featured in the Sporting Statues database

A database of statues commemorating football’s heroes around the world has been compiled by researchers from the University of Sheffield.

Over 400 statues of footballers now stand proudly at stadiums or civic sites in 56 different countries spread across six continents, reflecting the global appeal of the game.

The striking database, at www.sportingstatues.com features information on when the statues were unveiled, who sculpted them and the inscriptions on plinths or plaques, as well as images of each statue and links to location maps, in addition to a world map of statues.

Just under 300 different footballers, as well as less obvious subjects such as chairmen, broadcasters and fans, are amongst the 320 distinct individuals depicted. Unsurprisingly, the most frequently portrayed player, with 6 statues, is the legendary Pelé; a statue of his father has also been erected. In addition, 125 statues of anonymous football players have been identified.

Though the United Kingdom leads the way with 80 statues, traditional football nations Brazil, Spain and Holland have each erected more than 20, and statues are also popular in Argentina, Russia and Mexico. Even nations with a less successful playing history, such as China, Bolivia, Israel and Indonesia, have erected monuments to their greatest players.

The database and mapping have been compiled by a small team led by Dr Chris Stride, a statistician from the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield and Ffion Thomas, a postgraduate student from the University of Central Lancashire, who have worked on the project for the past three years.

Dr Stride said: “The earliest footballer statue identified, an anonymous player, can be found in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was sculpted in 1903. Real Madrid were the first club to erect statues at their stadium, portraying their Argentinian stars Sotero Aranguren and Alberto Machimbarrena in 1925.”

He added: “However, almost 95 per cent of football statues have been created since 1990, and over half in the last decade, showing it to be a largely modern phenomenon. The primary reasons for this increase are football clubs’ marketing strategies based around branding through nostalgia and authenticity, along with the desire of fans to project their club’s distinct identity in an increasingly globalised game. Statues are also being erected by towns, cities and commercial organisations, who are seeking reflected glory and identity from their local sporting heritage.”

The database goes live to the public at www.sportingstatues.com at 10:00 GMT on Monday 7 April 2014.

Dr Stride will be speaking about football statues at the Soccer As A Beautiful Game conference at Hofstra University, New York, between 10 and 13 April 2014, as part of a line-up of soccer scholars, journalists, players and coaches, including the great Pelé.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 117 countries coming to learn alongside 1,209 of the world’s best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things – and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.

A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, Siemens, Yorkshire Water, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. The White Rose University Consortium (White Rose) is a strategic partnership between 3 of the UK’s leading research universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Since its creation in 1997 White Rose has secured more than £100M into the Universities.

Contact

For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Media Relations Assistant
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852
s.barton@sheffield.ac.uk

Sheffield

Powered by Blood: Wearable Devices Consume the Greenest Fuel

Scientists in Sweden are developing wearable electronics that run on energy produced by naturally occuring chermical processes in the blood.


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Gardening Tips

Can Flamethrowers Help Trees Migrate?

About a year ago, Nature Conservancy foresters started a small experiment on a 20-acre field in eastern Maryland, planting about 1,000 longleaf pine seedlings just north of their natural range.

And on Wednesday, the conservancy teamed up with a Fish and Wildlife Service crew to set its experiment on fire. A team of 16 men and women sporting fire-resistant clothing and drip torches methodically set the area alight, and soon flames engulfed everything that grew there. A few hours later, the Nature Conservancy’s preserve was nothing but a smoldering field of black ash.

They did it on purpose, of course—fire is an important part of the longleaf pine’s life cycle. But if it weren’t for climate change, it’s likely that the land wouldn’t have been burned at all.

The natural range of longleaf pines extends only to southern Virginia, explained Dave Ray, a conservation forester with the Maryland and D.C. chapter of the Nature Conservancy, who is leading the project. But due to climate change, the range of temperatures where longleaf pines can comfortably grow is shifting north.

Plants and animals have been adapting to natural changes in climate for millions of years, Ray said. But he added, “The rate that is happening now is likely outpacing how quickly species could move … particularly sedentary species like trees.”

To give the longleaf pine a head start on global warming, Ray is overseeing one of the Nature Conservancy’s first tests of “assisted migration,” or the introduction of a species to a new climate that is expected to be more favorable in the future.

Wednesday’s controlled burn on Maryland’s Delmarva Peninsula provides a small example of the kind of human intervention that might become more necessary—and more common—if forest ecosystems are going to survive climate change.

Slow-moving tree species have a long way to go
It’s important to note that longleaf pines were in trouble long before global warming became an issue. Prior to the arrival of European immigrants, longleaf pine forests dominated the landscape of the U.S. Southeast, blanketing about 91 million acres of land.

But several centuries of human development have devastated their populations and threatened many of the animal species that depend on them like the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Today, about 4.4 million acres of longleaf pine forest remains, up slightly from its lowest point at 2.9 million acres in 1995 thanks to aggressive conservation efforts, explained Robert Abernethy, president of the nonprofit Longleaf Alliance in Andalusia, Ala.

“We’re coming back; it’s a success story,” Abernethy said.

But according to Ray, climate change could jeopardize this success story. A 2013 paper in the journal Forest Ecology notes that based on current climate projections, plant species in general are going to need to migrate up to 16,400 feet each year—a distance about 10 times greater than plants are naturally capable of moving, on average.

Long-lived species like longleaf pines are in even more trouble because their life cycle is much slower, Ray explained. Additionally, human development has fragmented many of America’s forests, which makes it more unlikely that trees can naturally venture north to adapt to higher temperatures.

According to R. Kasten Dumroese, research plant physiologist with the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Moscow, Idaho, and co-author of the Forest Ecology paper, there are few other examples of assisted tree migration in the United States.

This is because the process of assisted migration is “really extraordinarily complicated,” he said, as foresters must take tree genetics, future climate models, soil moisture capacity and myriad other factors into account.

However, Dumroese added, “My gut feeling is that we will be adjusting seed sources to keep up with shifts in climate in the future—I don’t think we’ll have any choice if we want to maintain productivity of our forests.”

Healthy sprigs under the ashes
Before Wednesday’s burn began, it took Ray a few minutes to find one of his longleaf pine seedlings, which were shipped up from a North Carolina nursery and planted last April. The seedlings don’t look like much—just little sprigs of needles extending about 6 inches from the ground, barely distinguishable from tufts of grass growing around them.

Standing among his crew of FWS and AmeriCorps firefighters, FWS fire management officer Art Canterbury explained they were burning the fields to “try to get some heat on the pines, reduce the competition around them and hopefully get them to release.”

Longleaf pines don’t compete well with other plant species, Ray explained. But when fires regularly move through their habitat—as they did long ago in the lightning-prone Southeast—they are able to establish their roots and grow. The Nature Conservancy plans on burning the area on a regular basis to keep the longleaf pines healthy.

This week’s burn was the first for the conservancy’s fledgling longleaf forest. The flames lapped across the field in an impressively well-managed line under the FWS fire team’s careful supervision. Every so often, one of the longleaf pine’s primary competitors, a loblolly pine tree, was engulfed in a whoosh of flames.

After the smoke cleared, Ray wandered into the field to find his seedlings again, which were even harder to pick out under the ash. But after a while he pointed out one or two that escaped the mini-inferno unscathed.

The burn was dubbed a success, but only time will tell whether a climate-ready longleaf pine forest will successfully grow there, Ray warned—”It’s kind of a test of concept,” he said.

But if in a few decades the seedlings grow into a forest, Ray added, “this would be one example that people could say, ‘Hey, it works!’”

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500

Gardening Tips

Continental Collapse: Bearing Witness to Antarctica’s Intensifying Transition [Excerpt]

Excerpted with permission from Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land, by James McClintock. Available from Palgrave Macmillan. Copyright © 2014.

No voyage from South America across the Drake Passage to Antarctica is complete without celebrating the first sighting of an iceberg. Usually one can expect to see one about two-thirds of the way across the Passage. On Antarctic cruise ships, a bottle of fine champagne is awarded to the first guest to inform the officer on the bridge of the sighting. Aboard research vessels, scientists are outwardly subdued, as if sighting the first iceberg is routine and benign. But scientists hide their excitement behind their professional demeanor. Icebergs are irrefutably stunning—transcending both science and art. When sunlit on a clear day, they are so brilliantly white they are impossible to look at without squinting. Where snow has melted or blown free, a translucent-light to deep-azure blue emerges from the ice. At the water line and up to twenty or so feet below the sea’s surface, the shades of turquoise and lime green can take an onlooker’s breath away. As icebergs melt and shrink, they periodically tip over, exposing their underbellies of glassy-smooth or pockmarked surfaces. As a precaution against sudden rollovers, our vessels give icebergs a wide berth, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic dive program prohibits scuba diving in their proximity. But one need not enter the water to enjoy such surreal beauty. One of my favorite places in Antarctica to take nature photographs is from a small boat slowly winding its way through gardens of icebergs. As if sculpted by an artist, their myriad shapes—some reminiscent of animals, castles, or treasures from the world’s finest modern art collections—provide a virtual smorgasbord of photographic potential.

Icebergs are large pieces of floating freshwater ice, generally projecting from just a few to around two hundred fifty feet above sea level, and weighing hundreds to millions and occasionally even billions of tons. They can originate from a variety of sources, such as being shed from a snow-formed glacier (known as a calving event), or from cracking off an ice sheet. The word iceberg itself is derived from the Dutch [ijsberg] meaning “ice mountain.” This term is somewhat ironic considering that 80 to 90 percent of an iceberg is hidden below the surface of the water. If upside down, however, an iceberg would truly be an ice mountain.

Antarctica boasts some of the largest icebergs ever recorded. In 2000, Iceberg B-15 broke free from the Ross Ice Shelf—a floating platform of ice that can be hundreds or even several thousands of feet thick. (Large icebergs are given designations so they can be tracked.) The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf in Antarctica and is about the size of France. Remarkably, a vertical ice wall towering 50 to 100 vertical feet fronts 370 miles of the Ross Sea. The ice shelf was named for Captain James Ross Clark who first sighted the shelf on January 28, 1841. Iceberg B-15 measured twenty-two miles wide and 183 miles long, and was estimated to weigh three billion tons. At 4,200 square miles, the iceberg was eight times the size of the city of Los Angeles. I was fortunate to witness one of these behemoths on a cruise to Antarctica aboard the Explorer II—on whichI was lecturing with a friend, geologist Henry Pollack—in 2007. We sailed for hours, seemingly within reach, of a thirty-one-mile-long iceberg that had grounded itself near Clarence Island off the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Henry, who had visited Antarctica frequently over a span of eighteen years, was, like me, nonetheless awestruck by this iceberg’s grandeur. Emerging one hundred vertical feet from the sea, the immense iceberg towered above us, dwarfing our ship as we passed.
        
As global temperatures rise, icebergs will more often break off, or calve from, the mainland. Throughout the decade I have worked at Palmer Station, I have witnessed many bergs calve from their glaciers. About once a week, I would be startled by a loud, thundering crash. Leaping from my desk on the second floor of the Palmer BioLab, I would join others running down the hall to throw open the door and watch the waves rolling up neighboring Hero Inlet—waves brought on by a house-sized chunk of the Marr Glacier breaking free and plummeting into the sea. Now when I visit Palmer Station, the calving events have become so routine that my colleagues and I in the BioLab don’t even bother to move from our desks when we hear the glacier roar. Sometimes, three or four calvings happen in a single day. Indeed, those who have worked at Palmer Station over the past decade don’t need to consult journals, television programs, or the Internet to understand how the climate is changing. Furthermore, as the geography changes, so do the names of actual locations. When the receding ice tongue of the Marr Glacier recently revealed an island rather than a seemingly long-established point of land, Amsler Island was officially born.

The frequency of icebergs calving off glaciers and ice sheets breaking up will inevitably increase as waters along the Antarctic Peninsula and other regions of western Antarctica continue to warm. Larger icebergs will also become more common as they are shed from ice sheet break-ups, and their increased mass will permit them to drift farther north before finally melting. They will also begin to show up in odd places. On November 16, 2006, while I was on sabbatical at the University of Otago in the city of Dunedin on the southern island of New Zealand, government officials spotted a large iceberg off the coast—the first iceberg sighted from a New Zealand shoreline in seventy-five years. It turned out to be one of a flotilla of over a hundred icebergs. Immediately, the media was abuzz with news about the impacts of climate change, and the New Zealand icebergs soon became a major tourist attraction. Tourists paid $300 apiece for a helicopter ride over the fields of ice, and for a bit more cash, they could land on the large berg within sight of Dunedin. A tour company quickly organized an iceberg wedding, but had to scuttle it when the helicopter pilot decided it was unsafe to land.

A warming Antarctic Peninsula riddled with icebergs has consequences that are hidden from the casual observer. The increased amount and sizes of icebergs scouring the coastal seafloor disrupt the marine communities there. Marine biologists have long known that near-grounded icebergs behave much like earth movers at construction sites, displacing tens of thousands of square yards of seafloor sediment. The exposed portion of an iceberg acts as a sail, transferring the energy of wind and current to motion, causing the berg’s base to plow through soft sediments and scrape over hard rocky bottoms. Massive iceberg scars extend for miles along coastal Antarctic seafloors, and these are devoid of seaweed, sponges, sea anemones, soft corals, sea spiders, starfish, brittle stars, and even fish. Over a period of a few years, the process ecologists refer to as community succession will kick into gear along these iceberg scars. Temporary communities of rapidly settling and fast-growing, but short-lived, seaweeds, sponges and sea squirts will give way to more stable “climax” communities comprised of more competitive seaweeds and marine invertebrates that grow slower and have longer life spans. Climax communities are ecological communities in which populations of bacteria, plants, and animals remain stable and exist in balance with each other and their environment. In the big picture, Antarctic seafloors that are subject to intermediate levels of periodic iceberg scour are checkered with short-term opportunistic and long-term stable communities and, as such, sustain higher overall diversities of species. But just as intermediate levels of iceberg disturbance may increase species diversity, too much iceberg disturbance may actually compromise this diversity. Heavily ice-scoured seafloors, like a graded construction site, can be biological deserts. Climate warming could result in an overabundance of coastal icebergs that regionally decimate near-shore seafloor communities.

Icebergs can also have unforeseen impacts on Antarctic marine birds. Following the 2005 break-up of B-15, a massive offspring (renamed B-15A) grounded at the mouth of McMurdo Sound. Its position effectively blocked the outflow of pack-ice from the Sound while simultaneously cutting off the Adélie and emperor penguins from their food resources. This blockage diverted the penguins to a route that effectively doubled the distance they would normally travel, from about 60 to 120 miles. Until the massive B-15A iceberg floated free several years later, biologists routinely found emaciated penguin carcasses en route between rookery and sea.

The physical attributes of the Antarctic Peninsula—its icebergs, annual sea ice, ice shelves, glaciers, winds, and currents—are important players in a rapidly warming environment. Some are increasing in size and abundance (icebergs), some are diminishing in duration, size, or extent (annual sea ice, ice shelves, and glaciers), and others (winds and currents) are subject to regional variation. All are subject to change. When considered collectively, they portray a dynamic ecosystem undergoing remarkable transition in a relatively short period of time. These incredible changes affect the myriad of Antarctic marine organisms that over the millennia have adapted to survive in one of the world’s most stable locations. Some of these organisms may adapt, but the vast majority of species here have become so finely tuned to their surroundings that they don’t have much wiggle room.

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MIND Reviews: Moral Tribes

Ethical Conundrums: Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap between Us and Them
by Joshua Greene
Penguin Press: 2013

We begin on a serene pasture inhabited by a tribe of shepherds. Motivated by personal wealth, one by one the herders begin adding more sheep to their individual flocks. Soon enough the once lush meadow is overrun, and ultimately the sheep destroy it. Such is the tragedy of the commons, the idea that people acting out of self-interest will deplete shared resources to the detriment of the group.

In his new book, Harvard University psychologist Greene uses the concept of the tragedy of the commons to explain moral behavior. He argues that our moral brain evolved to promote cooperation within groups, not between them. Groups will differ in their views, causing conflict. We see this clash of morals play out today among different racial groups, religious factions and warring nations.

To better understand how moral conflicts arise, Greene turns to neuroscience. Based on his functional MRI studies, he proposes that our moral brain operates like a dual-mode camera: it has an automatic setting, for emotional instincts, and a manual setting, for logical reasoning (a concept first popularized by psychologist Daniel Kahneman). When dealing with moral dilemmas, we instinctively react emotionally, but if we step back from the situation, logical reasoning can override a gut reaction.

To illustrate the moral brain at work, Greene describes the famous trolley problem, in which a bystander must choose whether to send a man to his death to save five men. If we identify with the solo man, we are more likely to react emotionally (automatic setting) and want to save him, but if we can think logically about the greater good (manual setting), we often choose to save five lives at the expense of one. Greene explores thorny issues, such as physician-assisted suicide, abortion and capital punishment, through the lens of moral tribalism.

Moral Tribes weaves together age-old philosophical musings, theoretical and real-world problems, and recent brain research, but Greene is at his best when describing his personal journey investigating the mysteries of the moral brain. In his ambition to cover so much territory, however, he goes on too many tangents and at times loses the reader in minutiae.

Greene’s main objective here is to begin developing a unified system of morality that promotes cooperation among all groups. Although he does not accomplish this lofty goal, he nonetheless furthers our understanding of the moral brain. Looking out for the best interest of the global community, he believes, will move us closer to a morally united world.

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