A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Smaller than a grain of sand, phytoplankton are key to aquatic health

Credit: Phytoplankton under the microscope; Gettyimages

Scientists are inching closer to revealing the elusive mechanisms that tiny marine species activate to transform organic contaminants in water into less toxic chemicals.

Cup sea water in your hands and you will be holding a bustling world of single-cell organisms – thousands of them.

Much like creatures of an undersea metropolis, microscopic photosynthetic microbes – phytoplankton – quietly float through the ocean, enhancing water quality. As the foundation for the ocean ecosystem, phytoplankton work tirelessly to fuel marine food webs and consume large amounts of carbon dioxide on scales equivalent to forests. But this is not all they can do! These tiny plants may turn organic contaminants into less toxic chemicals.

Sounds simple, but it's not. The processes involved remain elusive.

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Earth’s day

Credit: Gettyimages

The planet Earth

The Earth, Terra, Gaia, and Tellus, there are many names given to our planet. It is the only home we know and the only one we are aware of, which harbors live forms. The unique, almost unbelievable conjunction of circumstances led to conditions sustaining liquid water, mild temperature, and climate, which on their part made life possible. Given the fact how vast, incomprehensible, and severe is the environment in the open cosmos, the existence of such a hospitable ecosystem is like coming out of a science fiction book. However, it is not some illusion or fantasy, it is as real as our lives.

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A tale of two oceans: Scientists are building digital twins of the ocean

Credit: Gettyimages

Digital Twin

Before the term "digital twin" was first used twenty years ago, engineers at NASA were already developing ground-based replicas of spacecraft infrastructure. Today's manufacturers are also seeing double, taking advantage of digital duplicates to better understand and predict product performance. Now EU scientists are looking to apply the same principles to the natural world – building more and more digital twins of the ocean.

Pioneered in the aerospace industry, the use of digital twins – exact digital replications of objects or environments – are commonplace in engineering and manufacturing. While the concept isn't new, its applications in the natural world are. But they have the potential to revolutionise our knowledge of our ocean, seas and waters, and become a game-changer in our ability to protect and restore them.

'As marine scientists we try to understand systems and their dynamics. This allows us to develop models and make forecasts of the ocean, similar to weather forecasts in the atmosphere. We now have the ability to look far into the future, but I never thought that we would move in such an ocean engineering direction like we are seeing it today,' said Martin Visbeck, head of the research unit Physical Oceanography at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and professor at Kiel University, Germany.

'I like the name "twinning" because it shows the evolution. It's a sign of how much the marine science community has evolved. We're going from understanding to purposefully engineering positive outcomes for the ocean by supporting nature-based solutions, optimising the blue economy for low environmental impacts and optimising the size and locations of marine protected areas.'

Prof. Visbeck is part of an ambitious team of scientists supporting the development of the EU Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030. And the Digital Twin of the Ocean, better known by its acronym DTO, is a crucial component of this initiative – to support the EU's mission to restore ocean, seas and waters by 2030 and make the European Green Deal a reality.

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Hummingbirds can smell their way out of danger

Credit: David Rankin; Southern California hummingbird foraging nectar from a flower.

Vultures aren't the only birds that can sniff

In less time than it takes to read this sentence, hummingbirds can catch a whiff of potential trouble. That is the result of new University of California, Riverside research showing, contrary to popular belief, these tiny birds do have an active sense of smell.

Researchers have known for some time that vultures have a highly sensitive sense of smell, with some species being compared to "airborne bloodhounds." This is due in part to their large olfactory bulbs -- tissue in the brain that controls smell.

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Vienna or Greenenna - Dancing Waltz in a Sustainable Way

Image credit: Wien.info

The Greenest City in the World

In 2020, marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Resonance Consultancy did thorough research and published its "World's Greenest Cities" ranking. Not surprisingly, the first place went to Vienna. This is the result of many years of careful city planning and integration of environment protection measures into the city development. But how and why Vienna won this recognition?

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