Scientific news in small doses

A few milligrams of all the science news of the week.

Soon rain dance to save the forest?

This is called a vicious circle. A recent study published in the journal nature It came to confirm what climate models predicted: the amount of rain falling on forests that have been cut down is decreasing. Basically, the lack of trees leads to less moisture in the air, which leads to less precipitation. However, a drier climate may increase the risk of wildfires and affect nearby areas where trees have not yet been felled. A situation that would reduce the amount of precipitation in these areas. If rainfall continues to fall at the same rate as deforestation, total deforestation will lead to a 10% or 20% decrease in precipitation in the affected areas, estimates researchers at the University of Leeds, UK.

a test

Can wildfires affect the ozone layer?

Photo by Saeed Khan, AFP

Kangaroos fleeing from a bushfire in Australia in January 2020.

According to a study published in the journal natureBushfires in Australia in 2019 and 2020 depleted the ozone layer by 3% to 5% in 2020. Essentially, the smoke from these fires activates molecules that destroy the ozone layer. According to the authors, frequent wildfires can delay recovery of the ozone layer. Remember that at the beginning of the year, the UN announced that the holes in the ozone layer will decrease in about forty years.

the number

Photo by Luis Acosta, AFP archives

Trash strewn on a beach in Panama

171 trillion

That’s the amount of plastic pieces floating in the oceans, according to a recent estimate by the 5 Gyres Institute, a nongovernmental organization that specializes in researching plastic pollution. A number that could triple by 2040 if nothing is done to stop the problem, according to the organization.

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When drought defeats empires

Photo provided by Benjamin Anderson, Reuters Archives

The ruins of the city of Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite kingdom, are located today in Turkey

Drought may have been the cause of the decline of the Hittite kingdom, one of the most powerful kingdoms in the Middle East during the 2000sH millennium BC. That, at least, is the conclusion of a recent study published in the journal nature. According to a team of American researchers, an “unusually severe” drought in Anatolia may have been a turning point in the kingdom’s collapse. In particular, three years of drought greatly affected crop yields, causing starvation among the population, which also led to a social and political crisis. In addition to the mass desertion of soldiers from the Hittite army, the absence of crops for three years undermined the taxation system.

Fewer and fewer native plants in England


campaign in Ireland

England and Ireland have lost half of their native plants in the past 20 years, according to the latest report from the Botanical Society of England and Ireland. Climate change and agricultural practices are believed to be the main causes of this decline. Biodiversity loss could have dire consequences for native insects, warn the scientists, who call for concrete measures to rectify the situation.

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