Daily Archives: August 16, 2018

Scientists conquer the ‘Mount Everest of genetics’ after unlocking secrets of wheat genome

· 微视界
Published on Aug 16, 2018

The project has found the genome sequence for Chinese Spring wheat, a strain that has become the standard for researchers. Photo: Xinhua Scientists conquer the ‘Mount Everest of genetics’ after unlocking secrets of wheat genome An international team of scientists have cracked the genetic code of wheat, a staple food for a third of the world’s population, in a breakthrough that could pave the way for the development of new, higher-yielding varieties. Researchers said the successful conclusion of the 13-year project to map the genome of Chinese Spring wheat would also help develop new strains that have a higher nutritional value and are better adapted to cope with climate change. The study was conducted by the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium, a collaboration among more than 2,000 scientists from over 20 countries, including Australia and China. The results were published in the journal Science on Thursday. “Sequencing the wheat genome is like climbing Mount Everest,” said Rudi Appels, a genetics professor at the University of Melbourne and one of the six co-chairs of the consortium. “People thought we were mad.” Appels said that deciphering the wheat genome had long been seen as mission impossible because the crop has one of the most complex genomes known to science. The genome contains about 16 billion base pairs of DNA, compared with around 3.3 billion in human DNA. “It’s a milestone for agriculture as the genome sequencing will speed up the process by which we cultivate wheat varieties with higher yields and nutritional value,” said Tian Aimei, a plant breeder at Xian University of Arts and Science in northwest China. “Everyone in the field is closely following the sequencing project.” Appels said the completed project had given wheat growers the equivalent of Google Maps when trying to locate the specific functions of the species’s genes. “Instead of trying every address, you can walk directly to the location and find the gene you are looking for,” he added. The project focused on Chinese Spring, which was widely cultivated across China before the 1950s. The strain was found in Sichuan province by a missionary, who later helped bring it to the US, South America and Britain in the early years of the 20th century. “No other variety has played such an important role in genetics,” said Song Weining, a biology professor with Northwest Agriculture and Forest University who has been involved in the project since its inception in 2005. “It became a standard for wheat researchers as the variety shows a high level of crossability with others such as rye.” Song also echoed the comparison of the breakthrough to a map, saying it will “make breeding much more efficient as they now have a guidebook in their hands”. Song’s work was partially funded by China’s Ministry of Science and Education, he said, because wheat was seen a strategic crop. China is the by far the world’s largest wheat producer, with the country’s breadbasket being located in the Yellow and Huai river valleys. China harvested about 128.9 million tonnes of wheat in the agricultural year of 2016/17, accounting for 17 per cent of the world’s total wheat production in that period, according to recent figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the US Department of Agriculture. Farmers in China stopped using the Chinese Spring variety in the 1950s when modern breeding techniques led to the development of new strains with higher yields and better resistance, Song said. “But the variety is still key to understanding how wheat evolves and what genes control the most sought-after traits, such as resistance to drought and pests,” he said. Luo Mingcheng, a genetics professor with the University of California, Davis and a member of the project, said the sequencing work will spur more research to identify which genes control these key traits.

BBC World Service – Newsday, Planet at risk of becoming self-warming

Although Earth is very resilient and has self-balancing systems, scientists are warning that the Earth could be just a few decades away from an “irreversible” pathway to temperatures that we can’t adapt to, if global warming goes past two degrees Celsius.

Professor Johan Rockström, one of the co-authors of the new study, says humanity is at risk of turning the Earth from a resilient, self-cooling friend to a self-warming foe.

(Image: A heatwave hits Moscow, August 2018. Credit: Getty Images)

Release date:

7 August 2018

Investigators from East China Normal University Report New Data on Environmental Factors (Effects of sea level rise, land subsidence, bathymetric change and typhoon tracks on storm flooding in the coastal areas of Shanghai)

Investigators from East China Normal University Report New Data on Environmental Factors (Effects of sea level rise, land subsidence, bathymetric change and typhoon tracks on storm flooding in the coastal areas of Shanghai)

Ecology, Environment & Conservation. (Mar. 30, 2018): p674.
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2018 NewsRX LLC http://www.verticalnews.com/newsletters/Ecology,-Environment-and-Conservation.html

Full Text:

2018 MAR 30 (VerticalNews) — By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Ecology, Environment & Conservation — Research findings on Environment – Environmental Factors are discussed in a new report. According to news originating from Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, by VerticalNews correspondents, research stated, “We compared the effects of three key environmental factors of coastal flooding: sea level rise (SLR), land subsidence (LS) and bathymetric change (BC) in the coastal areas of Shanghai. We use the hydrological simulation model MIKE 21 to simulate flood magnitudes under multiple scenarios created from combinations of the key environmental factors projected to year 2030 and 2050.”

Funders for this research include National Natural Science Foundation of China, Research and Development.

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from East China Normal University, “Historical typhoons (TC9711, TC8114, TC0012, TC0205 and TC1109), which caused extremely high surges and considerable losses, were selected as reference tracks to generate potential typhoon events that would make landfalls in Shanghai (SHLD), in the north of Zhejiang (ZNLD) and moving northwards in the offshore area of Shanghai (MNS) under those scenarios. The model results provided assessment of impact of single and compound effects of the three factors (SLR, LS and BC) on coastal flooding in Shanghai for the next few decades. Model simulation showed that by the year 2030, the magnitude of storm flooding will increase due to the environmental changes defined by SLR, LS, and BC. Particularly, the compound scenario of the three factors will generate coastal floods that are 3.1, 2.7, and 1.9 times greater than the single factor change scenarios by, respectively, SLR, LS, and BC. Even more drastically, in 2050, the compound impact of the three factors would be 8.5, 7.5, and 23.4 times of the single factors. It indicates that the impact of environmental changes is not simple addition of the effects from individual factors, but rather multiple times greater of that when the projection time is longer.”

…(read more).

Surging Seas: Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central

The Facts About Sea Level Rise

Global warming has raised global sea level about 8 inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. A Climate Central analysis finds the odds of “century” or worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more, over widespread areas of the U.S. These increases threaten an enormous amount of damage. Across the country, nearly 5 million people live in 2.6 million homes at less than 4 feet above high tide — a level lower than the century flood line for most locations analyzed. And compounding this risk, scientists expect roughly 2 to 7 more feet of sea level rise this century — a lot depending upon how much more heat-trapping pollution humanity puts into the sky.


Search or navigate our interactive tools above to see maps of areas below different amounts of sea level rise and flooding, down to neighborhood scale, matched with area timelines of risk. The tool also provides statistics of population, homes and land affected by city, county and state, plus links to factsheets, data downloads, action plans, embeddable widgets, and more.

…(read more).

See also:




The three-degree world: cities that will be drowned by global warming | Environment | The Guardian


The UN is warning that we are now on course for 3C of global warming. This will ultimately redraw the map of the world

Josh Holder, Niko Kommenda and Jonathan Watts

Fri 3 Nov 2017 02.45 EDT

When UN climate negotiators meet for summit talks this month, there will be a new figure on the table: 3C.

Until now, global efforts such as the Paris climate agreement have tried to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels. However, with latest projections pointing to an increase of 3.2C by 2100, these goals seem to be slipping out of reach.

Global temperature change compared to pre-industrial levels


“[We] still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future,” said Erik Solheim, the UN environment chief, ahead of the upcoming Bonn conference.

One of the biggest resulting threats to cities around the world is sea-level rise, caused by the expansion of water at higher temperatures and melting ice sheets on the north and south poles.

Scientists at the non-profit organisation Climate Central estimate that 275 million people worldwide live in areas that will eventually be flooded at 3C of global warming.

Asian cities will be worst affected

The regional impact of these changes is highly uneven, with four out of five people affected living in Asia.

…(read more).

Free Speech on Campus

University of California Television (UCTV)
Published on Aug 16, 2018

(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/) Hardly a week goes by without another controversy over free speech on college campuses. On one side, there are increased demands to censor hateful, disrespectful, and bullying expression and to ensure an inclusive and nondiscriminatory learning environment. On the other side are traditional free speech advocates who charge that recent demands for censorship coddle students and threaten free inquiry. UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman is an expert in the American Constitution and the Supreme Court. Here he discusses why campuses must provide supportive learning environments for an increasingly diverse student body but can never restrict the expression of ideas. Recorded on 05/30/2018. Series: “Ethics, Religion and Public Life: Walter H. Capps Center Series” [9/2018] [Show ID: 33944]

Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions | PNAS

Susan Solomon, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Reto Knutti, and Pierre Friedlingstein
PNAS February 10, 2009. 106 (6) 1704-1709; published ahead of print January 28, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0812721106

  1. Contributed by Susan Solomon, December 16, 2008 (received for review November 12, 2008)


The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. Among illustrative irreversible impacts that should be expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from current levels near 385 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to a peak of 450–600 ppmv over the coming century are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the “dust bowl” era and inexorable sea level rise. Thermal expansion of the warming ocean provides a conservative lower limit to irreversible global average sea level rise of at least 0.4–1.0 m if 21st century CO2 concentrations exceed 600 ppmv and 0.6–1.9 m for peak CO2 concentrations exceeding ≈1,000 ppmv. Additional contributions from glaciers and ice sheet contributions to future sea level rise are uncertain but may equal or exceed several meters over the next millennium or longer.


Climate change is already irreversible

Simon Clark

Published on Jun 15, 2018

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Puerto Rican Officials Say Electricity Fully Restored After 11 Months

Aug 16, 2018

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority—known as PREPA—said Wednesday it has finished restoring electricity across the island, 11 months after Hurricane Maria destroyed most of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. Critics warn the grid remains highly vulnerable to future storms as the peak of the hurricane season approaches.

GOP to Withhold Documents on Kavanaugh from Public and Most Lawmakers

Aug 16, 2018

Two Senate Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016 met with federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh Wednesday, further dimming the prospects of opponents of Trump’s far-right Supreme Court nominee. The meetings by Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana come ahead of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, scheduled for September 4. This comes as some Democrats blasted the process for Kavanaugh’s review. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey tweeted Wednesday, “Chairman Grassley has unilaterally ruled one-third of the Kavanaugh records to be ‘Committee Confidential’ meaning anyone not on Judiciary Committee cannot see them. That’s 79 Senators & the entire American public. It’s an unprecedented level of secrecy. #WhatAreTheyHiding?”