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A grandiose global study of moss shows that it is far more important to Earth’s ecosystems than we thought.



Soil moss with fruit bodies (capsules). Credit: David Eldridge

Mosses are one of oldest land plants. They can be found all over the world, from dense rainforests to the driest deserts and even on the windswept hills of Antarctica.

They are everywhere; grows in cracks along roads and paths, on tree trunks, on rocks and buildings, and, last but not least, on soil.

Yet despite this omnipresence, we have relatively little understanding of how important they are, especially the types of mosses that thrive in the soil.

New global soil moss study published today in NatureGeoscience shows that they play a crucial role in sustaining life on our planet. Without soil mosses, the Earth’s ability to produce healthy soils, provide a habitat for microbes, and fight off pathogens would be greatly reduced.

Global overview of soil mosses

The results of a new study show that we may have underestimated the importance of soil mosses.

Using data from 123 sites on every continent, including Antarctica, we show that soil under mosses contains more nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium, as well as higher soil enzyme activity, than bare surfaces without plants.

In fact, mosses affect all major soil functions by increasing carbon uptake, nutrient cycling, and the breakdown of organic matter. These processes are critical to sustaining life on Earth.

Our simulations have shown that soil mosses cover a huge area of ​​the planet, about 9 million square kilometers, which is equivalent to the area of ​​China. And that’s not counting boreal forest mosses, which were not included in the study.

The strength of the influence of mosses on the soil depends on the conditions of their growth. They operate most strongly in natural unproductive environments such as deserts. They are also more important in sandy and saline soils, and where rainfall varies greatly.

Not surprisingly, mosses have the strongest impact on soils where vascular plants– those containing specialized tissues for carrying water and minerals are rare.

Intimate connection

Mosses do not have plumbing, which allows vascular plants to grow tall and draw water from beneath the soil. This makes them relatively short and means they are closely connected to the topmost layers of the soil.

Mosses are extremely absorbent and can attract airborne dust particles. Some of these particles are included in the soil below. It is not surprising, therefore, that they have such a strong effect on soils.

Our simulations show that globally, mosses store 6.4 gigatons more carbon than bare soils.

The loss of just 15% of the global soil moss cover would be equivalent to global carbon dioxide emissions from all land-use changes during the year, such as clearing and overgrazing.

Not all mosses are the same

We have also found that some mosses are more effective at improving soil health than others. Long-lived mosses tended to be associated with more carbon and better control of soil pathogens.

The ability of mosses to provide ecosystem services and support a diverse community of microbes, fungi, and invertebrates was strongest in areas with high matting and sod moss cover, such as sphagnumwhich are widely distributed in boreal forests.

Soils are a huge reservoir soil pathogens, however, there were fewer plant pathogens in the soil under the mosses. Mosses can help reduce pathogens in the soil. This ability could have arisen when the mosses developed like land plants.

Desert Task Force

A special kind of moss thrives in deserts. They either live hard (perennial mosses) or die young (annual mosses).

mosses in the family Pottiaceae uniquely suited to life in dry and harsh environments. Many have special structures that allow them to survive when water is scarce. These include boat-shaped leaves with long hairy tips that help direct water to the center of the plant. Some mosses wrap around their stem to reduce the area exposed to the sun and retain moisture.

Desert mosses also protect the soil from erosion, affect how much water moves through the upper layers and even ages chances of survival of plant seedlings.

Other mosses have special moisture-absorbing cells (papillae) that swell and provide them with a supply of moisture in dry conditions.

Our global study has shown that matting and turf mosses such as Sphagnum have the strongest positive impact on a variety of microbes, fungi and invertebrates, as well as important functions such as nutrient supply. As expected, long-lived mosses contained more soil carbon and were better at controlling plant pathogens than short-lived mosses.

Protect the mosses

Overall, our work shows that mosses influence important soil processes and function in the same way as vascular plants. Their impact may not be as strong, but their overall coverage means mosses are potentially just as significant when added up across the globe.

But mosses are under growing threat around the world; livestock anxiety, overharvestingland clearing and changing of the climate are the biggest threats.

We need greater recognition of the services that soil mosses provide to all life on this planet. This means communicating more about their positive benefits, identifying and mitigating the main threats they face, and including them in regular monitoring programs.

Soil mosses are everywhere, but their future is far from certain. They are likely to play an increasingly important role as vascular plants decline in a predicted hotter, drier and more variable global climate.

Contributed by The Conversation

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54,000 years ago humans and Neanderthals may have inhabited Europe together | The science



Flint glasses by Grotte Mandrin in France and Ksar Akil in Lebanon
Drawings and measurements by Laura Metz and Ludovic Slimac.

Grotto Mandrin is not a vast cave; it’s just a deep canopy in the south of France providing protection from the weather. But from the shelter, located inside the cliff, there is a wide view of the Rhone Valley, once teeming with deer, buffalo and horses. Thus, Neanderthals found the place attractive enough to call home, at least seasonally, for tens of thousands of years. And they were not the only species that settled here. A broken molar and complex stone tips suggest that the first known humans in Europe may have lived here 54,000 years ago, subsequently alternating settlement with Neanderthals over thousands of years of European prehistory.

Now the striking resemblance between these finds and tools from the Middle East, posted Wednesday at PLOS Onemade the Grotte Mandrin the epicenter of an intriguing theory that could write new chapters in the history of how humans populated Europe and what their arrival meant for the Neanderthals who lived on the continent.

A provocative new theory suggests that modern humans colonized Europe in three separate waves of migration from the Middle East, intermittently interacting with Neanderthals over thousands of years as they tried to gain a foothold. French archaeologist Ludovic Slimac believes that the complex stone tools found in France were made using systematic technical methods very similar to those homo sapiens in Lebanon that they must have come from the same culture.

A comparison of thousands of tools and one amazing human tooth led Slimak to theorize that human migration from the Middle East began about 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. And because gun technology went through three very similar stages in each region, Slimak believes it spread from the Middle East to Europe in three different waves of migration. He suggests that it was not until after the third wave, around 45,000–42,000 years ago, that Neanderthals began to die out.

“All this time H. sapiens were there, and we just didn’t see it, because human remains are absolutely rare,” says Slimak from the French National Center for Scientific Research. “Therefore, we were unable to really paint the real story of what happened during the migrations and interactions between homo sapiens and Neanderthals.”

Slimak’s research will no doubt spark controversy and lay the foundation for further research that has much to say about how humans came to power in Europe, what our ancestors’ relationship with Neanderthals was like, and why these Neanderthals, the original inhabitants of Europe, eventually disappeared.

“What I’m suggesting here is predictive, not a definitive demonstration,” he says, noting that future research will determine whether these predictions are correct.

The exposed rock Grotto Mandrin stands out on a hill in France.

Ludovic Slimak

Since excavations began in 1990, the dated archaeological layers of the Grotte Mandrin have created intriguing records of Neanderthal occupation of the site for over 80,000 years. Numerous tools and nine teeth from at least seven people were found in the rock shelter. While most of the teeth appear to be Neanderthal, one 54,000-year-old molar is clearly human. This is surprising because, before this tooth was described in 2022, the earliest widely accepted evidence of modern humans in Europe were tooth and bone fragments from a Bulgarian cave called Bacho Kiro, which contained human DNA dating back to about 45,000 years ago.

Not everyone is entirely convinced that the Grotte Mandrin tooth is definitely human, and not perhaps an unusually shaped young Neanderthal tooth. “It would be so cool if it were true… but it’s not a joke,” said Shara Bailey, a paleoanthropologist at New York University. The science in 2022. And, at least for now, scientists have not been able to recover DNA that could confirm the origin of a molar.

But the tooth is also from a short time layer, about 54,000 years ago, which contains complex stone tools called Neronian, very different from the typical Neanderthal tools found in the surrounding layers, both older and younger. Slimak believes that the nature of the tools and their systematic production represent a completely separate line of evidence from the tooth, which also points to their human origin.

The small, complex flint points are unlike anything else known in Europe at that time. They show standardized technical development, unlike Neanderthal tools, which tend to be more unique than uniform. In a 2023 study, Slimak and others even used local flint to create replicas of various arrowheads and tested their effectiveness using them on dead goats. They found that the smaller ones only proved useful when delivered at the speed of a bow and arrow, although the next evidence of European archery does not appear until 40,000 years later.

Since there was no evidence of human presence in France at the time, some have suggested that the Neanderthal population of the region may have included a unique group that adapted to the production of these complex tools. But at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, Slimack stumbled upon a treasure trove of ancient artefacts from Ksar Akil, Lebanon — a key Paleolithic site a few miles from Beirut — leading him to a very different conclusion.

“You can read flint like a book,” he says. “This is not just a final product, you can see the technical stages of production. When I opened these boxes, I was very surprised: it was the same technical process. All production steps were the same as in the Grotto Mandrin.”

There are countless ways to emphasize flint, and Slimak emphasizes that it is extremely unlikely that two unrelated groups will use the same system of steps and techniques. “It’s almost impossible, unless you are the same people,” he says. “It was very clear to me that I was facing the same people and the same culture.”

“I think the data for this first phase, its links between the neron at Grotto Mandrin and the lower Upper Paleolithic sequence at Ksar Akil, work very well,” says Gilbert Tostevin, a University of Minnesota archaeologist who was not involved in the study. study.

If sets of tools from areas about 1800 miles apart are indeed indicative of the first human migrations to Europe, Slimak further suggests that the later evolution of toolmaking in these same disparate regions is in fact also indicative of a second wave of migration. According to Slimak, thousands of younger flints known as “sharp blades” at Xar-Aquil show the same uncanny resemblance to another tool tradition from Burgundy to Spain known as Châtelperron. The Chatelperron industry is often (though not unanimously) considered to be Neanderthal, the level of technological progress showing that Neanderthals were influenced by humans who were then beginning to appear in Europe. But Slimak suggests that this is so closely related to human technology from the Middle East that it is probably also the work of people – those who migrated to Europe during the second wave. This assertion is likely to run into problems.

If evolving tool technologies mirroring each other across Europe and the Middle East are indeed indicative of a second wave of human migration, this idea may have implications for our theories about how Neanderthals adapted to the arrival of humans. “The way we understand the last Neanderthals is that they adapted to a completely different lifestyle before their extinction,” says Slimak. But if they didn’t adapt and embrace change with transitional industries such as Châtelperron, could that point to new reasons why they didn’t survive alongside humans?

Our human ancestors and their Neanderthal relatives not only shared space and time during evolutionary history; they also interbred in different places and at different times. Today, most people living outside of sub-Saharan Africa carry Neanderthal genes, between 1 and 4 percent. But scientists aren’t sure how often these groups actually came into contact, or how much they learned from each other at places like Mandarin Grotto, where archeology suggests they likely met.

Tostevin suggests that while such human-Neanderthal hybridization may or may not have occurred at the Grotte Mandarin, it is a key part of the dynamics of Paleolithic Europe that is not recognized in the new theory. “After this first phase of modern humans, most of the Upper Paleolithic was also created by hybrids, humans and Neanderthals,” he notes. Tostevin points out that many key European sites of the era have provided such evidence, from ancient DNA at Bacho Kiro in Bulgaria and the Cave of Bones in Romania to hybrid teeth left in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. “All these sites show people who are only a few generations removed from the admixture between humans and Neanderthals.”

Other scientists say the new theory opens up many opportunities for future research in a number of areas.

“This model is nothing short of a provocation,” says Christian Tryon, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut and the Smithsonian Descent of Man who did not author the new report but received Slimak credit for helping with the research. “Archaeologists love to connect dots on a map. There is a lot of empty space between the points on these maps,” says Tryon. “What lines of evidence can we find to really connect these dots?”

Tryon notes that finding more places between Lebanon and France might not be easy, partly because the world has changed in the last 50,000 years. “One of the implications of connecting these dots in Lebanon and France is that there must have been people living along the Mediterranean coast, sea travel that we don’t count,” he says. “The problem is that since the sea level rose about 20,000 years ago, these key coastal sites could be under water.”

Other information can be gleaned from ancient DNA, a technology that is rapidly advancing. Marie Soressy, an archaeologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, hopes DNA will help test what she calls an interesting, stimulating and much-anticipated hypothesis. This week Soressi and colleagues published a new method successfully extract human DNA from 20,000-year-old bone and tooth artifacts, revealing who made and processed them in the ancient past. “Applying this new technique to the time period discussed by Slimak will be of great help in testing and developing the theory he put forward,” she says.

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Europe’s new meteorological satellite takes first photos



The first images from the new European weather satellite Meteosat-12 have just been published.

The spacecraft, which is located at an altitude of 36,000 km above the equator, was launched in December and is currently in a testing phase that will last for most of this year.

When the Meteosat-12 data is finally released to the meteorological agencies, it is expected to lead to a dramatic change in forecasting skills.

Warnings about imminent dangerous conditions should improve significantly.

This is what is called “nowcasting” – the ability to say with greater certainty that a strong wind, lightning, hail or heavy rain is about to hit a particular area.

Meteosat-12 should help forecasters identify places where extreme conditions may occur.

Part of this progress will come from Meteosat-12’s increased resolution. For previous generation satellites, storm element detection needed to be at least 1 km across. The new spacecraft will track objects up to 500 meters in diameter.

“Now we can see very beautiful structures,” said Jochen Grandell of Eumetsat, the intergovernmental agency that operates Europe’s weather satellites.

“You may have heard, for example, the term ‘high peak’ which is part of the development of a thundercloud where you can see very strong updrafts and downdrafts. They change very fast and they are also very small. But they are also very strong,” he told BBC News.

Since 1977, Europe has had its own meteorological spacecraft, which is located high above the planet. The new thermal imager is the third iteration in this series.

Meteosat-12 is in a “stationary” position, constantly monitoring Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It will return a complete picture of weather systems rushing across the surface of the Earth at a speed of one every 10 minutes, five minutes faster than it has been so far. It also views the planet in more wavelengths of light. Sixteen instead of the previously available 12.

Additional strips of light allow for true color images. In other words, the images are much closer to what the human eye can perceive when looking down from the same vantage point.

“The first time we received the data, there were huge emotions because we could see the high quality of the sensor,” recalls Eumetsat colleague Alessandro Burini.

“The optical quality of images, radiometry, navigation – in other words, the accuracy of the position of individual pixels in the image – is really very good.”


Image: The nearly 4-tonne satellite is 36,000 km above the equator.

The new third-generation system will eventually consist of three spacecraft operating in unison.

The second thermal imager will appear in 2026 in order to get images of only Europe faster – every 2.5 minutes. Before that, in 2024, a “probing” spacecraft will be launched to measure temperature and humidity in the atmosphere.

Since spare satellites have already been ordered for the first operational trio, Europe is guaranteed coverage until the 2040s.

The total cost is expected to be around €4.3bn (£3.7bn).

Wavelength Comparison

Wavelength Comparison

If that sounds like a lot of money (and it is), it pales in comparison to the value society derives from accurate weather forecasting in preventing loss of life, damage to infrastructure and economic disruption.

Repeated analyzes have shown that the benefits are in the tens of billions of dollars a year across Europe.

BBC Weather presenter and meteorologist Simon King was thrilled to see the new images.

“It’s like going from standard definition to 4K,” he said. “The increase in resolution is quite noticeable. When you zoom in, you can actually see the structure of the clouds. And it’s not just clouds, you can also see the dust in the atmosphere very clearly, which is important, for example, for the development of hurricanes.”

Natasha Strelets Makhovich works at Eumetsat teaching people how to use data from space. She previously worked as a meteorologist in Croatia.

“Another example that I would call a consequence of higher resolution is fog detection, because now we can see fog even in very narrow valleys,” she explained. “And perhaps another application that I would highlight is the monitoring of forest fires, since [Meteosat-12] will not only see much smaller fires better and see smoke, but also channels on [Meteosat-12] will allow us to see differences even in the intensity of the fire.”

Testing of the satellite and terrestrial systems will continue throughout this year. National forecasting agencies such as the UK Met Office, Météo-France and DWD (German Meteorological Service) are scheduled to enter Meteosat-12 information into their supercomputers regularly in early 2024.

Image Comparison

Image Comparison

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IEEE Foundation celebrates 50 years of philanthropy



Since its launch in 1973 IEEE Foundation raised over $135 million for more than 250 IEEE programs that improve access to technology, increase technology literacy, and support education.

The IEEE charitable partner is celebrating its 50th anniversary with several events that showcase the tremendous impact donors around the world have had. It has also introduced new ways to recognize its donors and added a priority area where donations will go.

“As the IEEE Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary, the global need for sustainability, Internet access, STEM education, and inspiring a new, diverse generation of technologists to such worthy endeavours, has never been greater.” Ralph FordPresident of the Foundation, said in news release about the anniversary. “Generous donors and members are the lifeblood of the IEEE Foundation’s world-changing initiatives that have positively impacted thousands of communities.”

Here is a look at some of the events and a range of programs that have benefited from donor generosity.

Celebration with technology pioneers

The celebration began in February with an event held in Sheraton New York Times Square hotel.

“Over the past 50 years, the leaders, volunteers, and donors of the IEEE Foundation have impacted the lives of so many people around the world,” John Macdonald– said the chairman of the committee for the celebration of the 50th anniversary in his welcoming speech. He and his wife have been donors for decades. “I have personally witnessed how these contributions have had a meaningful and lasting impact. I look forward to working with all of you to increase our impact, expand our network, and forge even more partnerships with IEEE members, volunteers, and philanthropists.”

“I look forward to partnering with the IEEE Foundation to make meaningful philanthropic investments that encourage holistic and intelligent ways to use technology to improve the lives of people around the world,” added Saifur Rahman, IEEE President. “As we continue this quest, we will create a wider range of technological capabilities and continue to address global challenges.”

In one highlight of the event, the actors pose as engineering pioneers. Marie Curie, Thomas Alva Edison, Lewis Latimer, Nicholas TeslaAnd George Westinghouse talked to those present and talked about how the inventions of technologists have changed the world.

Curie, Tesla and Westinghouse reappeared on March 1 during virtual party organized by McDonald, Rahman and Ford.

“Generous donors and members are the lifeblood of the IEEE Foundation’s world-changing initiatives that have positively impacted thousands of communities.”

Rahman and Tesla discussed IEEE Foundation supported programs that have improved living conditions. “Contributions to the IEEE and the IEEE Foundation expand our capabilities beyond our own beliefs and improve people’s lives both professionally and personally,” Rahman said.

Ford and Curie spoke about the important contributions made by the Nobel Laureate and other women engineers. Ford mentioned IEEE Women in Engineering and as the IEEE Foundation supports program and finance it scholarships.

“We inspire girls around the world to pursue their academic interests and pursue careers in engineering, computer science, technology, and related tech fields,” Ford said. “We want to do more and take bold steps to help WIE members and families move up the career ladder and ensure women who study these fields find meaningful careers.”

According to the executive director of the Fund, other festive events and events are planned throughout the year. Karen A Galucci.

Anniversary Foundation, which was originally created to receive and manage donations in support of IEEE Awards The program will be covered throughout IEEE Vision, Innovation and Challenges Summit and Awards Ceremonyofficials say.

during IEEE Power & Energy Society General MeetingThe Foundation plans to celebrate the success PES Scholarship Plus Initiative another IEEE Smart Village and host a property planning session for visitors.

The Foundation plans to continue its proud history of investing in IEEE grassroots leadership by sponsoring the IEEE Sectional Congress. in August, the Foundation is set to host a post-opening reception, give charity classes, and present its 50-year history at an exhibition.

Thanks to donations made to the IEEE Smart Village Program, IEEE Senior Member Tunde Salihu [third from left] and his staff were able to install a microgrid at a medical facility in Illorina, Kwara, Nigeria. SHAYBIS NIGERIA LLC

New donor recognition programs

During a virtual event on March 1, Ford also announced that the Foundation has added six tiers of philanthropy to IEEE Legacy Circle, including one named after Curie. The Donor Recognition Scheme has various levels of donations named after innovators in science and technology. The Curie level is awarded to members who donate between $150,000 and $249,999. The remaining five new levels reflect the pioneering engineering work of women, people of color, and members of the LGBT+ community: Hertha Ayrton (from 25,000 to 49,999 USD), Jagadish Chandra Bose (from 750,000 to 999,999 USD), Edith Clark ($5 million or more), Lewis Latimer (from $75,000 to $99,999) and Alan Turing (from $2.5 million to $4,999,999).

Another way the Foundation celebrated its anniversary was to add a fifth area, a pillar, to help guide philanthropy. One example is known as future supportThe Foundation will fund educational, inspiring and foundational programs for future generations. The other four pillars are labeled illuminate, bring up, attractAnd to fill with energy.

Women’s support and STEM education

Generous donors support these ongoing programs:

  • IEEE History Center. In 1979, the center was one of the first partnership programs with the newly created IEEE Foundation. Created in preparation for the 1984 IEEE Centenary celebration, the Center preserves and promotes the history of technology, the engineering profession, and the IEEE. Donations have contributed to the oral histories of nearly 1,000 technology icons; over 200 milestones celebrating significant technical advances around the world; and over 5000 articles published on Wiki on the history of engineering and technology.
  • IEEE Life Members Foundation. This program, which preceded the IEEE Foundation, was one of the first funds added to the Foundation in 1979. It supports life members as well as fellowships and fellowships for students.
  • IEEE Women in Engineering. This global network is dedicated to advancing women engineers and scientists and inspiring girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM. WIE has 30,000 members, including men, in over 100 countries and 950 local around the world.
  • IEEE Try Engineering. This STEM outreach program is designed to empower a new generation of technology innovators. Donations support IEEE TryEngineering Portal, which provides educators and students with free resources, 135 lesson plans, and hands-on STEM labs. More than 562,000 people use the portal every year.
  • IEEE Smart Village.ISV supports business development projects that combine renewable energy, educational opportunities and entrepreneurship development to empower poor communities around the world. More than 1.4 million people have benefited from the program through nearly 200 projects in sub-Saharan Africa, India, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
  • IEEE This Kappa Well.This honorary society has received support from the Foundation since its merger with the IEEE in 2010. Its members are over 200,000 electrical engineers, computer engineers, computer scientists and other professionals and students in related fields. It has over 250 undergraduate and graduate chapters in 29 countries.
  • IEEE VISION.Members of the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Task Force partner with communities to share ideas, gain experience, and implement technology projects to solve local problems. The initiative has 18,000 members from over 130 countries.

“Technology brings and will continue to bring benefits to humanity, and this is the mission that the IEEE has,” Rahman said in his speech. news release about the anniversary. “Making our world more just, sustainable and sustainable is critical for every community.

“Five decades of generous donor support… have been invaluable to resource-poor communities around the world.”

To find out how you can support important IEEE Initiativesconnect with IEEE Foundation. You can also just do donation online.

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