Fukushima, Japan, nuclear waste danger

This 28 October 2020 video says about itself:

Fears over plans to release Fukushima nuclear plant waste

There is an international outcry over a possible plan by Japan that could see radioactive water released into the ocean.

Engineers at the Fukushima nuclear plant continue to deactivate reactors damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reports from Geoje Island near the southeast coast of South Korea, where communities are worried about possible radioactive pollution.

Elkhorn coral fights for survival

This 2016 video says about itself:

9 Colonies of Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata). Study by ARC Reef (Atlantic Reef Conservation) searches for a more viable method of propagating hardy variations of this endangered coral. Increasing survival rates against multiple stressors may help to save this species.

From the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science in the USA:

Elkhorn coral actively fighting off diseases on reef

Findings showed coral has core immune response regardless of disease type

October 23, 2020

As the world enters a next wave of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware now more than ever of the importance of a healthy immune system to protect ourselves from disease. This is not only true for humans but corals too, which are in an ongoing battle to ward off deadly diseases spreading on a reef.

A new study led by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science looked at the immune system of elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), an important reef-building coral in the Caribbean, to better understand its response to diseases such as white band disease and rapid tissue loss.

In the experiment, healthy corals were grafted to diseased ones. After one week, the corals were analyzed to study the coral’s overall gene expression in response to disease, if they exhibited an immune response, and whether there were different signatures of gene expression for corals that didn’t show signs of disease transmission. The researchers found that A. palmata has a core immune response to disease regardless of the type of disease, indicating that this particular coral species mounts an immune response to disease exposure despite differences in the disease type and virulence.

“Our results show that elkhorn coral is not immunocompromised but instead is actually actively trying to fight off disease,” said Nikki Traylor-Knowles, an assistant professor of marine biology and ecology at the UM Rosenstiel School and senior author of the study. “This gives me hope that the corals are fighting back with their immune system.”

Based upon these findings, the researchers suggest that corals that did not get disease may have tougher epithelia, a protective layer of cells covering external surfaces of their body. And, that the symbiotic dinoflagellate, Symbiodiniaceae, that live inside corals did not have differences in gene expression in response to disease, but over the course of the two-year study did develop differences.

Coral disease is considered one of the major causes of coral mortality and disease outbreaks are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change and other human-made stressors. The Caribbean branching coral Acropora palmata which has already seen an 80 percent decrease on reefs primarily due to disease, which has resulted in them being classified as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act.

“These corals are keystone species for Florida reefs, so understanding that their immune systems are active is an important component that can be useful for protecting reefs,” said Traylor-Knowles.

Coronavirus disaster in Trump’s USA continues

This 26 October 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

“We’re Not Gonna Control The Pandemic” – Trump Administration Admits It!

HOW THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION DESTROYED AND DISTORTED OUR DATA The Trump administration has failed on so many different fronts in its handling of the coronavirus, creating the overall impression of sheer mayhem. But there is a common thread that runs through these government malfunctions. Precise, transparent data is crucial in the fight against a pandemic— yet through a combination of ineptness and active manipulation, the government has depleted and corrupted the key statistics that public health officials rely on to protect us. The TeleTracking system hospitals were instructed to funnel information to was riddled with errors, and statistics sometimes appeared after delays. [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE FALSELY DECLARES PANDEMIC OVER The Trump administration triumphantly declared victory over the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, one week before the 2020 election and with COVID-19 cases surging across the country. The lie came in a news release on a new 62-page report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy listing what it claims are the scientific and technological accomplishments during Trump’s first term. The list includes, “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.” This comes alongside the news that Congress won’t enact a new coronavirus relief bill before the election — and potentially not before 2021. [HuffPost]

COVID-19 SURGES IN CRITICAL MIDWEST BATTLEGROUNDS The coronavirus is getting worse in states that Trump needs the most. In Iowa, polls suggest Trump is in a toss-up race with Biden after carrying the state by 9.4 percentage points four years ago. Trump’s pandemic response threatens his hold on Wisconsin, where he won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. Meanwhile, Trump rally hosts are racking up COVID-19 fines in Nevada, and public health experts have warned that the U.S. is on track to hit 10,000 new cases a day. [AP]

Suburban women have had their lives upended by COVID-19. They blame Trump.

Seabirds and Falkland islands ecology

This 2016 video says about itself:

Falkland Island Birds – We took a leisurely stroll along a Falkland Island beach and saw many varieties of birds and ducks. The male Kelp Goose is totally white, and nearly always in the company of its brown partner. The Upland Goose has similar coloring. The Striated Caracara is one of the rarest birds in the world, but common in the Falklands and quite a troublemaker.

From the University of Maine in the USA:

Seabird response to abrupt climate change 5,000 years ago transformed Falklands ecosystems

October 23, 2020

Summary: A 14,000-year paleoecological reconstruction of the sub-Antarctic islands has found that seabird establishment occurred during a period of regional cooling 5,000 years ago. Their populations, in turn, shifted the Falkland Islands ecosystems through the deposit of high concentrations of guano that helped nourish tussac, produce peat and increase the incidence of fire.

The Falkland Islands are a South Atlantic refuge for some of the world’s most important seabird species, including five species of penguins, Great Shearwaters, and White-chinned Petrels. In recent years, their breeding grounds in the coastal tussac (Poa flabellata) grasslands have come under increasing pressure from sheep grazing and erosion. And unlike other regions of the globe, there has been no long-term monitoring of the responses of these burrowing and ground-nesting seabirds to climate change.

A 14,000-year paleoecological reconstruction of the sub-Antarctic islands led by University of Maine researchers has found that seabird establishment occurred during a period of regional cooling 5,000 years ago. Their populations, in turn, shifted the Falkland Islands ecosystems through the deposit of high concentrations of guano that helped nourish tussac, produce peat and increase the incidence of fire.

This terrestrial-marine link is critical to the islands’ grasslands conservation efforts going forward, says Dulcinea Groff, who led the research as a UMaine Ph.D. student in ecology and environmental sciences, and part of a National Science Foundation-funded Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Research Traineeship (IGERT) in Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change (A2C2). The connection of nutrients originating in the marine ecosystem that are transferred to the terrestrial ecosystem enrich the islands’ nutrient-poor soil, thereby making the Falkland Islands sensitive to changes in climate and land use.

The terrestrial-marine linkage in the Falkland Islands was the focus of Groff’s dissertation in 2018.

“Our work emphasizes just how important the nutrients in seabird poop are for the ongoing efforts to restore and conserve their grassland habitats. It also raises the question about where seabirds will go as the climate continues to warm,” says Groff, who conducted the research in the Falkland Islands during expeditions in 2014 and 2016 led by Jacquelyn Gill, an associate professor of paleoecology and plant ecology in the UMaine Climate Change Institute.

“Our 14,000-year record shows that seabirds established at Surf Bay during cooler climates. Seabird conservation efforts in the South Atlantic should be prepared for these species to move to new breeding grounds in a warmer world, and those locations may not be protected,” says Groff, who is now a postdoctoral research scientist at the University of Wyoming.

The UMaine expedition team, which included Kit Hamley, then a master’s student in Quaternary studies and a Climate Change Institute Fellow, collected a 476-centimeter peat column from Surf Bay, East Falkland. The 14,000-year record revealed in the undecomposed tussac leaves of the peat column “captures the development of a terrestrial-marine linkage that supports some of the most important breeding colonies of seabirds in the Southern Ocean today,” according to the research team, which published its findings in the journal Science Advances.

The absence of seabirds at the East Falklands site prior to 5,000 years ago suggests that seabirds may be sensitive to warmer mediated sea surface temperatures, which can impact their food supply, according to the research team. With a warming South Atlantic today, the question is whether the Falkland Islands, about 300 miles east of South America, will continue to be a seabird breeding “hot spot.”

“Our work suggests that as the Southern Ocean continues to warm in the coming decades, the Falkland Islands seabird communities may undergo abrupt turnover or collapse, which could happen on the order of decades,” according to the research team, which, in addition to Groff, Hamley (now a UMaine doctoral student) and Gill, involved Trevor Lessard and Kayla Greenawalt of UMaine, Moriaki Yasuhara of the University of Hong Kong, and Paul Brickle of the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute, all co-authors on the American Association for the Advancement of Science journal article.

The Falkland Islands are at the boundary of a number of potential climate drivers, note the researchers. And P. flabellata peatlands have the world’s highest accumulation rates, “providing an unusually high-resolution record capable of recording abrupt change” — preserved charcoal, seabird guano and pollen data that can be used to analyze fire history, seabird population abundance and vegetation composition, respectively.

In the Falklands, where there are no native mammals or trees, settlers introduced sheep in the 17th century. Today, residents make their livelihoods from fishing, sheep farming and tourism.

The 14,000-year record from East Falkland revealed that for 9,000 years before the arrival of seabirds, the region was dominated by low levels of grasses, a heathland of ferns and dwarf Ericaceous shrubs. About 5,000 years ago, the researchers say, an “abrupt transition” appears to occur. Concentrations in bio-elements such as phosphorus and zinc increase. Grass pollen accumulation rates skyrocket, indicating the establishment of tussac grasslands within 200 years of the establishment of seabird colonies on the island. Also found in the core: increased accumulation rates of peat and charcoal.

It’s clear that the addition of seabird populations bringing nutrients from the marine environment to the island drove changes in the terrestrial plant community structure, composition and function, according to the researchers, as well as increased fire activity and nutrient cycling.

What remains unclear is what drove the abrupt ecosystem shift, says Gill, one of the world’s leading authorities on paleo-ecosystems, including the impacts of climate change and extinction, and the geographical distribution of living things through space and time.

“We know seabirds arrived at Surf Bay during a time when the climate was becoming cooler in the South Atlantic, though we still don’t know for sure what it was they were tracking. We also don’t know where these birds took refuge when climates were warmer, and that’s concerning as the South Atlantic gets hotter into the future,” says Gill, an NSF CAREER researcher who most recently was named a 2020 Friend of the Planet by the National Center for Science Education.

“Our study is also a powerful reminder of why we need to understand how different ecosystems are connected as the world warms,” says Gill. “We know that many seabirds in the South Atlantic rely on these unique coastal grasslands, but it turns out that the grasses also depend on the nutrients seabirds provide. Because they rely on ecosystems in the ocean and on land for their survival, seabirds are really good sentinels of global change. We just don’t have good long-term monitoring data for most of these species, so we don’t know enough about how sensitive they are to climate change. The fossil record can help us fill in the gaps.”