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We summarize some of the past year's most important findings within climate change-related research. New research has improved our understanding of Earth's sensitivity to carbon dioxide, finds that permafrost thaw could release more carbon emissions than expected and that the uptake of carbon in tropical ecosystems is weakening. Adverse impacts on human society include increasing water shortages and impacts on mental health. Options for solutions emerge from rethinking economic models, rights-based litigation, strengthened governance systems and a new social contract. The disruption caused by COVID-19 could be seized as an opportunity for positive change, directing economic stimulus towards sustainable investments.
A synthesis is made of ten fields within climate science where there have been significant advances since mid-2019, through an expert elicitation process with broad disciplinary scope. Findings include: (1) a better understanding of equilibrium climate sensitivity; (2) abrupt thaw as an accelerator of carbon release from permafrost; (3) changes to global and regional land carbon sinks; (4) impacts of climate change on water crises, including equity perspectives; (5) adverse effects on mental health from climate change; (6) immediate effects on climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and requirements for recovery packages to deliver on the Paris Agreement; (7) suggested long-term changes to governance and a social contract to address climate change, learning from the current pandemic, (8) updated positive cost–benefit ratio and new perspectives on the potential for green growth in the short- and long-term perspective; (9) urban electrification as a strategy to move towards low-carbon energy systems and (10) rights-based litigation as an increasingly important method to address climate change, with recent clarifications on the legal standing and representation of future generations.
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Stronger permafrost thaw, COVID-19 effects and growing mental health impacts among highlights of latest climate science.
We describe an ultra-wide-bandwidth, low-frequency receiver recently installed on the Parkes radio telescope. The receiver system provides continuous frequency coverage from 704 to 4032 MHz. For much of the band (
), the system temperature is approximately 22 K and the receiver system remains in a linear regime even in the presence of strong mobile phone transmissions. We discuss the scientific and technical aspects of the new receiver, including its astronomical objectives, as well as the feed, receiver, digitiser, and signal processor design. We describe the pipeline routines that form the archive-ready data products and how those data files can be accessed from the archives. The system performance is quantified, including the system noise and linearity, beam shape, antenna efficiency, polarisation calibration, and timing stability.
Predictive analytics in health is a complex, transdisciplinary field requiring collaboration across diverse scientific and stakeholder groups. Pilot implementation of participatory research to foster team science in predictive analytics through a partnered-symposium and funding competition. In total, 85 stakeholders were engaged across diverse translational domains, with a significant increase in perceived importance of early inclusion of patients and communities in research. Participatory research approaches may be an effective model for engaging broad stakeholders in predictive analytics.
Renewable energy can provide a host of benefits to society. In addition to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, governments have enacted renewable energy (RE) policies to meet a number of objectives including the creation of local environmental and health benefits; facilitation of energy access, particularly for rural areas; advancement of energy security goals by diversifying the portfolio of energy technologies and resources; and improving social and economic development through potential employment opportunities. Energy access and social and economic development have been the primary drivers in developing countries whereas ensuring a secure energy supply and environmental concerns have been most important in developed countries.
An increasing number and variety of RE policies–motivated by a variety of factors–have driven substantial growth of RE technologies in recent years. Government policies have played a crucial role in accelerating the deployment of RE technologies. At the same time, not all RE policies have proven effective and efficient in rapidly or substantially increasing RE deployment. The focus of policies is broadening from a concentration almost entirely on RE electricity to include RE heating and cooling and transportation.
RE policies have promoted an increase in RE capacity installations by helping to overcome various barriers. Barriers specific to RE policymaking (e.g., a lack of information and awareness), to implementation (e.g., a lack of an educated and trained workforce to match developing RE technologies) and to financing (e.g., market failures) may further impede deployment of RE.
A wide variety of nanofillers of varying compositions have been used to create polymer nanocomposites, including tubes, wires, fibers, sheets, and particles. A new class of compounds has been identified for use as nanofillers, boron cage compounds. Boron cage compounds are discrete, icosahedral closed cage molecules of high boron content and examples include carboranes and dodecaborate salts. Several chemically modified boron cage compounds have been incorporated into polyolefin elastomers, such as poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate), poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate-co-vinyl alcohol), poly(ethylene-co-ethyl acrylate), and poly(ethylene-co-octene), among others. The resulting thermal and thermomechanical properties were evaluated in order to determine when plasticization and reinforcement occur to better understand the chemical structure/physical property relationships. Materials with a wide range of properties were produced, however under certain conditions, advanced materials were created with high boron contents, improved thermal stability, mechanical strength, and significant reinforcement.
Se is an essential element for animals. In man low dietary Se intakes are associated with health disorders including oxidative stress-related conditions, reduced fertility and immune functions and an increased risk of cancers. Although the reference nutrient intakes for adult females and males in the UK are 60 and 75 μg Se/d respectively, dietary Se intakes in the UK have declined from >60 μg Se/d in the 1970s to 35 μg Se/d in the 1990s, with a concomitant decline in human Se status. This decline in Se intake and status has been attributed primarily to the replacement of milling wheat having high levels of grain Se and grown on high-Se soils in North America with UK-sourced wheat having low levels of grain Se and grown on low-Se soils. An immediate solution to low dietary Se intake and status is to enrich UK-grown food crops using Se fertilisers (agronomic biofortification). Such a strategy has been adopted with success in Finland. It may also be possible to enrich food crops in the longer term by selecting or breeding crop varieties with enhanced Se-accumulation characteristics (genetic biofortification). The present paper will review the potential for biofortification of UK food crops with Se.
We investigate self-similar solutions of the thin film equation in the case of zero contact angle boundary conditions on a finite domain. We prove existence and uniqueness of such a solution and determine the asymptotic behaviour as the exponent in the equation approaches the critical value at which zero contact angle boundary conditions become untenable. Numerical and power-series solutions are also presented.
We set out to determine whether and to what degree life events independent of illness increase the risk of relapse in schizophrenia following withdrawal from medication in the previous 6 months, either by triggering a relapse in the following 4 weeks or by acting cumulatively over time.
Seventy-one patients fulfilling DSM–III–R criteria for schizophrenia with chronic illness were followed for 48 weeks and assessed on the LEDS scale. Half were treated with regular neuroleptic medication and half had been recently withdrawn from medication. A subgroup was randomised double-blind to treatment or placebo.
A proportional hazards regression model showed that life events made a significant cumulative contribution over time (P < 0.05) to the risks of relapse and that ceasing medication made an independent contribution. The risk of relapse increased in proportion to the number of life events but no interaction between medication status and events could be detected, i.e. life events were not more closely associated with relapse on medication than off medication. For those of the sample exposed to the mean rate of life events during the study period, it was estimated that 23% of the relapse risk could be attributed to life events, and for those with twice the mean rate of events, 41%. In contrast, patients who continued on regular medication had 80% less risk of relapse than those who had been withdrawn from medication either by choice or under double-blind controlled conditions.
A contribution of life events to the risk of relapse in schizophrenia was confirmed by this study but the hypothesis that life events trigger relapse was not supported, nor was the hypothesis that life events are more relevant to relapse in patients on maintenance medication than in patients off medication.
We have developed a novel approach for quantifying the microstructure of granular thin films using digital image processing and analysis. In the past, conventional scanning electron microscopy of thin films has generated qualitative information on the surface topography and film microstructure. However, when coupled to digital image analysis, the amount or degree of surface contours (i.e., granularity) in SEM micrographs can be quantified in a rapid and reproducible manner. Briefly, SEM micrographs are digitized and the edge boundaries on the film surface are enhanced by a gradient filter; granularity is then quantified by calculating the %AREA covered by the edges with respect to the entire field. Objects of a particular shape, such as phase impurity particles, can be selectively deleted from the image using a specific sequence of shape analysis algorithms and parameter values. In this manner, the contributions of edges from the phase impurity particles is minimized in the final measurement of real surface contours. Statistical analysis of the data yields quantitative information concerning variations in microdomains within single thin films and can detect statistically significant differences among samples. This method is being used in the characterization of the microstructure of superconducting thin films for optimization of their electrical and magnetic properties.
Recent trends in the southeastern states toward increased use of irrigation in agriculture may be attributed to risk aversion management by farmers in response to recent drought periods. Despite ample annual average rainfall in the Southeast during the growing season, the vicissitudes of rainfall patterns provide sufficient reason to consider irrigation for field crops as well as for vegetables and fruit (Ganguly). Increased use of irrigation additionally results in new demands for water in rural areas.
It is also well documented that nonmetropolitan areas are experiencing substantial rates of positive net immigration (Wardell and Gilchrist). In the Southeast, there is a trend for new manufacturing plants to locate in rural areas where wages, taxes, and union activity are at low levels. As growth occurs in these nonmetropolitan regions, industrial, residential, and commercial activities require additional supplies of water.
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