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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.
Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
Coronavirus disease 2019 personal protective equipment has been reported to affect communication in healthcare settings. This study sought to identify those challenges experimentally.
Bamford–Kowal–Bench speech discrimination in noise performance of healthcare workers was tested under simulated background noise conditions from a variety of hospital environments. Candidates were assessed for ability to interpret speech with and without personal protective equipment, with both normal speech and raised voice.
There was a significant difference in speech discrimination scores between normal and personal protective equipment wearing subjects in operating theatre simulated background noise levels (70 dB).
Wearing personal protective equipment can impact communication in healthcare environments. Efforts should be made to remind staff about this burden and to seek alternative communication paradigms, particularly in operating theatre environments.
Often referred to as psychotic experiences, unusual perceptual experiences, thoughts and beliefs (UPTBs) are not uncommon in youth populations. Phenomenological studies of these experiences are lacking. This study aimed to (1) describe the phenomenological characteristics of UPTBs in a sample of young adolescents and (2) explore how young people made sense of those experiences.
Participants were 53 young people aged 11–13 years from a population-based study of mental health. All met criteria for UPTBs following clinical interviews as part of the study. Documentary data on UPTBs in the form of transcribed notes, recorded during clinical interviews, were analysed using content analysis. Data on UPTBs were coded, organised into categorical themes and quantified using descriptive statistics. Qualitative themes on how participants made sense of their experiences were identified.
Participants reported UPTBs across four domains: auditory verbal, auditory non-verbal, non-auditory perceptual experiences and unusual thoughts and beliefs. UPTBs were phenomenologically rich and diverse. Young people sought to make sense of their experiences in multiple ways: normalising them, externalising them by attributing them to paranormal entities and distancing them from psychiatric explanations. Uncertainty about the source of UPTBs was identified as a superordinate theme.
Findings from this study offer new insights into the phenomenological qualities and characteristics of UPTBs in young adolescents. They also reveal that early adolescents may not make sense of their experiences within a psychiatric framework. These findings highlight the need to develop a more phenomenologically sensitive and nuanced approach to studying UPTBs in young people.
Introduction: CAEP recently developed the acute atrial fibrillation (AF) and flutter (AFL) [AAFF] Best Practices Checklist to promote optimal care and guidance on cardioversion and rapid discharge of patients with AAFF. We sought to assess the impact of implementing the Checklist into large Canadian EDs. Methods: We conducted a pragmatic stepped-wedge cluster randomized trial in 11 large Canadian ED sites in five provinces, over 14 months. All hospitals started in the control period (usual care), and then crossed over to the intervention period in random sequence, one hospital per month. We enrolled consecutive, stable patients presenting with AAFF, where symptoms required ED management. Our intervention was informed by qualitative stakeholder interviews to identify perceived barriers and enablers for rapid discharge of AAFF patients. The many interventions included local champions, presentation of the Checklist to physicians in group sessions, an online training module, a smartphone app, and targeted audit and feedback. The primary outcome was length of stay in ED in minutes from time of arrival to time of disposition, and this was analyzed at the individual patient-level using linear mixed effects regression accounting for the stepped-wedge design. We estimated a sample size of 800 patients. Results: We enrolled 844 patients with none lost to follow-up. Those in the control (N = 316) and intervention periods (N = 528) were similar for all characteristics including mean age (61.2 vs 64.2 yrs), duration of AAFF (8.1 vs 7.7 hrs), AF (88.6% vs 82.9%), AFL (11.4% vs 17.1%), and mean initial heart rate (119.6 vs 119.9 bpm). Median lengths of stay for the control and intervention periods respectively were 413.0 vs. 354.0 minutes (P < 0.001). Comparing control to intervention, there was an increase in: use of antiarrhythmic drugs (37.4% vs 47.4%; P < 0.01), electrical cardioversion (45.1% vs 56.8%; P < 0.01), and discharge in sinus rhythm (75.3% vs. 86.7%; P < 0.001). There was a decrease in ED consultations to cardiology and medicine (49.7% vs 41.1%; P < 0.01), but a small but insignificant increase in anticoagulant prescriptions (39.6% vs 46.5%; P = 0.21). Conclusion: This multicenter implementation of the CAEP Best Practices Checklist led to a significant decrease in ED length of stay along with more ED cardioversions, fewer ED consultations, and more discharges in sinus rhythm. Widespread and rigorous adoption of the CAEP Checklist should lead to improved care of AAFF patients in all Canadian EDs.
Introduction: An important challenge physicians face when treating acute heart failure (AHF) patients in the emergency department (ED) is deciding whether to admit or discharge, with or without early follow-up. The overall goal of our project was to improve care for AHF patients seen in the ED while avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions. The specific goal was to introduce hospital rapid referral clinics to ensure AHF patients were seen within 7 days of ED discharge. Methods: This prospective before-after study was conducted at two campuses of a large tertiary care hospital, including the EDs and specialty outpatient clinics. We enrolled AHF patients ≥50 years who presented to the ED with shortness of breath (<7 days). The 12-month before (control) period was separated from the 12-month after (intervention) period by a 3-month implementation period. Implementation included creation of rapid access AHF clinics staffed by cardiology and internal medicine, and development of referral procedures. There was extensive in-servicing of all ED staff. The primary outcome measure was hospital admission at the index visit or within 30 days. Secondary outcomes included mortality and actual access to rapid follow-up. We used segmented autoregression analysis of the monthly proportions to determine whether there was a change in admissions coinciding with the introduction of the intervention and estimated a sample size of 700 patients. Results: The patients in the before period (N = 355) and the after period (N = 374) were similar for age (77.8 vs. 78.1 years), arrival by ambulance (48.7% vs 51.1%), comorbidities, current medications, and need for non-invasive ventilation (10.4% vs. 6.7%). Comparing the before to the after periods, we observed a decrease in hospital admissions on index visit (from 57.7% to 42.0%; P <0.01), as well as all admissions within 30 days (from 65.1% to 53.5% (P < 0.01). The autoregression analysis, however, demonstrated a pre-existing trend to fewer admissions and could not attribute this to the intervention (P = 0.91). Attendance at a specialty clinic, amongst those discharged increased from 17.8% to 42.1% (P < 0.01) and the median days to clinic decreased from 13 to 6 days (P < 0.01). 30-day mortality did not change (4.5% vs. 4.0%; P = 0.76). Conclusion: Implementation of rapid-access dedicated AHF clinics led to considerably increased access to specialist care, much reduced follow-up times, and possible reduction in hospital admissions. Widespread use of this approach can improve AHF care in Canada.
Interest exists in identifying the factors that specifically contribute to the increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease observed in psychiatric disease. The apolipoprotein-E (APOE) gene codes for a protein that has a key role in metabolism of cholesterol and triglycerides, with increased levels of apoE found in specific areas of post-mortem schizophrenic brains. This study investigated whether apoE variants influence the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors (obesity, diabetes and dyslipidaemia), in patients receiving antipsychotic treatment, due to extension of the risk seen in the general population, but also due to the role of the APOE gene in mediating antipsychotic-induced side effects. Seven polymorphisms (rs741780, rs483082, rs429358, rs7412, rs10119, rs439401 and rs405509) were genotyped in 427 American Caucasian patients who were either receiving, or had been prescribed risperidone. Our results support the hypothesis that APOE gene variants influence the prevalence of diabetes and possibly overweight in psychiatric patients. Unfortunately, due to the cross sectional nature of this study, the contribution of antipsychotic treatment was not determined. These associations warrant prospective study to assess interaction between APOE gene variants and the propensity of antipsychotics to induce cardiovascular risk factors.
Studies suggest that alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders have distinct genetic backgrounds.
We examined whether polygenic risk scores (PRS) for consumption and problem subscales of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C, AUDIT-P) in the UK Biobank (UKB; N = 121 630) correlate with alcohol outcomes in four independent samples: an ascertained cohort, the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA; N = 6850), and population-based cohorts: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC; N = 5911), Generation Scotland (GS; N = 17 461), and an independent subset of UKB (N = 245 947). Regression models and survival analyses tested whether the PRS were associated with the alcohol-related outcomes.
In COGA, AUDIT-P PRS was associated with alcohol dependence, AUD symptom count, maximum drinks (R2 = 0.47–0.68%, p = 2.0 × 10−8–1.0 × 10−10), and increased likelihood of onset of alcohol dependence (hazard ratio = 1.15, p = 4.7 × 10−8); AUDIT-C PRS was not an independent predictor of any phenotype. In ALSPAC, the AUDIT-C PRS was associated with alcohol dependence (R2 = 0.96%, p = 4.8 × 10−6). In GS, AUDIT-C PRS was a better predictor of weekly alcohol use (R2 = 0.27%, p = 5.5 × 10−11), while AUDIT-P PRS was more associated with problem drinking (R2 = 0.40%, p = 9.0 × 10−7). Lastly, AUDIT-P PRS was associated with ICD-based alcohol-related disorders in the UKB subset (R2 = 0.18%, p < 2.0 × 10−16).
AUDIT-P PRS was associated with a range of alcohol-related phenotypes across population-based and ascertained cohorts, while AUDIT-C PRS showed less utility in the ascertained cohort. We show that AUDIT-P is genetically correlated with both use and misuse and demonstrate the influence of ascertainment schemes on PRS analyses.
This paper provides an up-to-date review of the problems related to the generation, detection and mitigation of strong electromagnetic pulses created in the interaction of high-power, high-energy laser pulses with different types of solid targets. It includes new experimental data obtained independently at several international laboratories. The mechanisms of electromagnetic field generation are analyzed and considered as a function of the intensity and the spectral range of emissions they produce. The major emphasis is put on the GHz frequency domain, which is the most damaging for electronics and may have important applications. The physics of electromagnetic emissions in other spectral domains, in particular THz and MHz, is also discussed. The theoretical models and numerical simulations are compared with the results of experimental measurements, with special attention to the methodology of measurements and complementary diagnostics. Understanding the underlying physical processes is the basis for developing techniques to mitigate the electromagnetic threat and to harness electromagnetic emissions, which may have promising applications.
Relapse prevention strategies based on monitoring of early warning signs (EWS) are advocated for the management of psychosis. However, there has been a lack of research exploring how staff, carers and patients make sense of the utility of EWS, or how these are implemented in context.
To develop a multiperspective theory of how EWS are understood and used, which is grounded in the experiences of mental health staff, carers and patients.
Twenty-five focus groups were held across Glasgow and Melbourne (EMPOWER Trial, ISRCTN: 99559262). Participants comprised 88 mental health staff, 21 patients and 40 carers from UK and Australia (total n = 149). Data were analysed using constructivist grounded theory.
All participants appeared to recognise EWS and acknowledged the importance of responding to EWS to support relapse prevention. However, recognition of and acting on EWS were constructed in a context of uncertainty, which appeared linked to risk appraisals that were dependent on distinct stakeholder roles and experiences. Within current relapse management, a process of weighted decision-making (where one factor was seen as more important than others) described how stakeholders weighed up the risks and consequences of relapse alongside the risks and consequences of intervention and help-seeking.
Mental health staff, carers and patients speak about using EWS within a weighted decision-making process, which is acted out in the context of relationships that exist in current relapse management, rather than an objective response to specific signs and symptoms.
Observation of the ion source generated background has been an area of focus during our routine analytical work. It is noted that the results of very-low-ratio samples are dependent upon the particular procedures for measurement using the present-day Cs+ sputter ion sources. When measured without excessive Cs+ fluxes and without interleafing with other higher-ratio samples and references, the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) sensitivity can be somewhat improved. In some cases, it appears possible to assess old radiocarbon (14C) samples to beyond the long-standing 60 kyr limit. A number of observational studies are made for the sole purpose of minimizing the final contamination to the rare isotopes that is generated within the ion source.
Impact craters are the dominant landform on Mercury and range from the largest basins to the smallest young craters. Peak-ring basins are especially prevalent on Mercury, although basins of all forms are far undersaturated, probably the result of the extensive volcanic emplacement of intercrater plains and younger smooth plains between about 4.1 and 3.5 Ga. This chapter describes the geology of the two largest well-preserved basins, Caloris and Rembrandt, and the three smaller Raditladi, Rachmaninoff, and Mozart basins. We describe analyses of crater size–frequency distributions and relate them to populations of asteroid impactors (Late Heavy Bombardment in early epochs and the near-Earth asteroid population observable today during most of Mercury’s history), to secondary cratering, and to exogenic and endogenic processes that degrade and erase craters. Secondary cratering is more important on Mercury than on other solar system bodies and shaped much of the surface on kilometer and smaller scales, compromising our ability to use craters for relative and absolute age-dating of smaller geological units. Failure to find “vulcanoids” and satellites of Mercury suggests that such bodies played a negligible role in cratering Mercury. We describe an absolute cratering chronology for Mercury’s geological evolution as well as its uncertainties.
The supplementing of sow diets with lipids during pregnancy and lactation has been shown to reduce sow condition loss and improve piglet performance. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of supplemental palm oil (PO) on sow performance, plasma metabolites and hormones, milk profiles and pre-weaning piglet development. A commercial sow ration (C) or an experimental diet supplemented with 10% extra energy in the form of PO, were provided from day 90 of gestation until weaning (24 to 28 days postpartum) in two groups of eight multiparous sows. Gestation length of PO sows increased by 1 day (P<0.05). Maternal BW changes were similar throughout the trial, but loss of backfat during lactation was reduced in PO animals (C: −3.6±0.8 mm; PO: −0.1±0.8 mm; P<0.01). Milk fat was increased by PO supplementation (C day 3: 8.0±0.3% fat; PO day 3: 9.1±0.3% fat; C day 7: 7.8±0.5% fat; PO day 7: 9.9±0.5% fat; P<0.05) and hence milk energy yield of PO sows was also elevated (P<0.05). The proportion of saturated fatty acids was greater in colostrum from PO sows (C: 29.19±0.31 g/100 g of fat; PO: 30.77±0.36 g/100 g of fat; P<0.01). Blood samples taken on 105 days of gestation, within 24 h of farrowing, day 7 of lactation and at weaning (28±3 days post-farrowing) showed there were no differences in plasma concentrations of triacylglycerol, non-esterified fatty acids, insulin or IGF-1 throughout the trial. However, circulating plasma concentrations of both glucose and leptin were elevated during lactation in PO sows (P<0.05 and P<0.005, respectively) and thyroxine was greater at weaning in PO sows (P<0.05). Piglet weight and body composition were similar at birth, as were piglet growth rates throughout the pre-weaning period. A period of 7 days after birth, C piglets contained more body fat, as indicated by their lower fat-free mass per kg (C: 66.4±0.8 arbitrary units/kg; PO: 69.7±0.8 arbitrary unit/kg; P<0.01), but by day 14 of life this situation was reversed (C: 65.8±0.6 arbitrary units/kg; PO: 63.6±0.6 arbitrary units/kg; P<0.05). Following weaning, PO sows exhibited an increased ratio of male to female offspring at their subsequent farrowing (C: 1.0±0.3; PO: 2.2±0.2; P<0.05). We conclude that supplementation of sow diets with PO during late gestation and lactation appears to increase sow milk fat content and hence energy supply to piglets. Furthermore, elevated glucose concentrations in the sow during lactation may be suggestive of impaired glucose homoeostasis.
Phenology is a key ecosystem process that reflects climate–vegetation functioning, and is an indicator of global environmental changes. Recently, it has been suggested that land-use change and timber extraction promote differences in forest phenology. We use remote-sensing data to describe regional leaf phenological patterns in combination with field data from 131 plots in old-growth and disturbed forests distributed over subtropical forests of Argentina (54–65°W). We assessed how climate is related to phenological patterns, and analysed how changes in forest structural characteristics such as stock of above-ground biomass relate to the observed phenological signals across the gradient. We found that the first three axes of a principal component analysis explained 85% of the variation in phenological metrics across subtropical forests, ordering plots mainly along indicators of seasonality and productivity. At the regional scale, the relative importance of forest biomass in explaining variation in phenological patterns was about 15%. Climate showed the highest relative importance, with temperature and rainfall explaining Enhanced Vegetation Index metrics related to seasonality and productivity patterns (27% and 47%, respectively). Within forest types, climate explains the major fraction of variation in phenological patterns, suggesting that forest function may be particularly sensitive to climate change. We found that forest biomass contributed to explaining a proportion of leaf phenological variation within three of the five forest types studied, and this may be related to changes in species composition, probably as a result of forest use.
Vocalisations are commonly expressed by gregarious animals, including cattle, as a form of short- and long-distance communication. They can provide conspecifics with meaningful information about the physiology, affective state and physical attributes of the caller. In cattle, calls are individually distinct meaning they assist animals to identify specific individuals in the herd. Consequently, there is potential for these vocalisations to be acoustically analysed to make inferences about how individual animals or herds are coping with their external surroundings, and then act on these signals to improve feed conversion efficiency, reproductive efficiency and welfare. In the case of dairy farming, where herd sizes are expanding and farmers are becoming more reliant on technologies to assist in the monitoring of cattle, the study of vocal behaviour could provide an objective, cost effective and non-invasive alternative to traditional measures of welfare. The vocalisations of cattle in response to calf separation, social isolation and painful husbandry procedures, alongside changes to feeding and oestrous activity are here reviewed. For future application of sound technology, research is first necessary to analyse the acoustic structure of cattle vocalisations and determine the specific information they encode. This review draws together the latest research in field of cattle bioacoustics highlighting how the source–filter theory and affective state dimensional approach can be adopted to decode this information and improve on-farm management.
We present an indentation-scope that interfaces with confocal microscopy, enabling direct observation of the three-dimensional (3D) microstructural response of coatings on substrates. Using this method, we compared microns-thick polymer coatings on glass with and without silica nanoparticle filler. Bulk force data confirmed the >30% modulus difference, while microstructural data further revealed slip at the glass-coating interface. Filled coatings slipped more and about two times faster, as reflected in 3D displacement and von Mises strain fields. Overall, these data indicate that silica-doping of coatings can dramatically alter adhesion. Moreover, this method compliments existing theoretical and modeling approaches for studying indentation in layered systems.