Showing posts from November, 2021

Arctic rainfall predicted to increase faster than expected

Kayaking in the Canadian Arctic. Photo credit -  Kerry Raymond Nature Communications The amount of rainfall in the Arctic may increase at a faster rate than previously thought, according to a modelling study published in  Nature Communications . The research suggests that total rainfall will supersede snowfall in the Arctic decades earlier than previously thought, and could have various climatic, ecosystem and socio-economic impacts. The Arctic is known to be warming faster than most other parts of the world, leading to substantial environmental changes in this region. Research suggests that there will be more rainfall than snowfall in the Arctic at some stage of the 21st century, but it is not yet clear when this shift will occur. Michelle McCrystall and colleagues used the latest projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) to assess the changes in the Arctic water cycle by the year 2100. The authors found that precipitation, such as rainfall and snowfall, is p


 Manitoba/Canada News Release GOVERNMENTS INVEST IN "INNOVATION" TO "HELP INCREASE  COMPETITIVENESS AND SUSTAINABILITY OF PORK PRODUCERS" The governments of Canada and Manitoba are investing $2.2 million in three agricultural research projects, to be conducted by Topigs Norsvin Canada (TN), that will enhance the competitiveness of Manitoba pork producers by improving the precision feeding of sows and promoting higher animal welfare standards, Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler announced today. "These innovative projects will give the pork industry more tools in their sustainability toolbox," said Bibeau. "They will help to improve feeding and housing for the pigs, which leads to better resource efficiency and a reduced environmental footprint for producers. Topigs Norsvin plays a big role in making Canada a global leader in swine genetics, and we are p

Cancer: Fatty acid in palm oil promotes tumour metastasis in mice

Nature Vast areas of rain forest habitat continue to be cleared for oil palm plantations like this in Sarawak. Photo credit: Ben Sutherland Exposure to high concentrations of a dietary fatty acid contained in palm oil promotes the metastasis of mouth and skin cancer cells in mice, according to a paper published in Nature. Changes in the uptake and metabolism of fatty acids have been linked to cancer metastasis — the process by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. However, it is unclear which dietary fatty acids in particular might be responsible for these changes, and the biological mechanisms involved. Salvador Benitah and colleagues exposed human mouth and skin cancer cells to one of three types of dietary fatty acid — palmitic acid (the main saturated fatty acid in palm oil), oleic acid or linoleic acid — for four days, before introducing them into corresponding tissues in mice fed a standard diet. Although tumour initiation was not found to be influenced by any of

Farmers on the Canadian prairies set fire to their fields - are they placing their reputation as "stewards of the land" on the line?

by Larry Powell SHOAL LAKE, MANITOBA, CANADA: As dedicated, well-meaning people gathered in Scotland to find ways to counter our climate crisis, farmers on the Canadian prairies were waging a "scorched earth" war on their fields.  By taking advantage of severe drought that has rendered those fields tinder-dry, they were able to effectively burn down marsh-plants - mostly cattails in and around wetlands diminished by that same drought.  Farmers commonly use specially-fitted quads like this to light fires on their land.  PinP photos.  Dozens of such fires could be spotted each day for many days this fall in the vicinity of my own community in southwestern Manitoba, too. So, do they really "get" the adage, "Think globally. Act locally?"  You be the judge.

Airguns and ship sounds dangerously disrupt the natural behaviour of the "unicorn of the sea." Study

The Royal Society - Biology Letters A pod of narwhals in the Arctic. Manmade noise is increasing in the Arctic, posing a threat to narwhals. To study this, narwhals were fitted with tags and exposed to ship and airgun noise. The whales showed clear reactions to sound disturbance by first reducing and then ceasing foraging. Reactions could be detected as far as 40 km from the ship, where the signals were embedded in the natural background noise. The reactions of the whales demonstrate their sensitivity and emphasize that - "if healthy narwhal populations are to be maintained,"  humans need to "manage" activities that make such noise. The findings have just been published by the Royal Society. Please also read: RAPIDLY WARMING OCEANS HAVE LEFT MANY NORTHERN MARINE MAMMALS SWIMMING IN TROUBLED WATERS. BUT PERHAPS NONE MORE SO THAN THAT STRANGE AND MYSTERIOUS "UNICORN OF THE SEA," THE NARWHAL .

Baleens - beneficial gluttons of the high seas

Scientists believe the ravenous appetites of baleen whales - Earth's largest creatures - and their prodigious waste - hold clues to the very health and productivity of our oceans. by Larry Powell A blue whale  (Balaenoptera musculus)  defecates.  Photo credit-Ryan Lavery (Smithsonian) Baleens include humpbacks, fins, minkes and blue whales, the latter being the largest creatures ever to live on Earth. The carnivorous marine mammals catch and consume vast amounts of prey. And they recycle ocean nutrients by excreting undigested food in what have been described as "volcano-like" movements. A minke whale tagged by the research team off the coast of Antarctica in 2019. Credit: Ari Friedlaender under NOAA/NMFS permit 23095. By attaching tags to the backs of 321 whales from seven baleen species, the researchers now reckon that - before the onset of whaling in the twentieth century - and in the Southern Ocean alone - baleens were, amazingly, consuming  more than twice what the w