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Cities are rethinking what trees they plant



This article originally appeared in News Nexus Media.

After a series of winter storms hit California this winter, thousands of trees across the state lost traction and collapsed on power lines, homes and highways. Sacramento one lost over 1000 trees in less than a week. Years of drought, pests and extreme weather have put the city’s trees in trouble.

The US Forest Service estimates that cities are losing some of their 36 million trees is destroyed each year by development, disease and, increasingly, climate stressors such as drought. In a recent study published in NatureThe researchers found that more than half of the city’s trees in 164 cities around the world were already exposed to temperatures and rainfall that were beyond their survival limits.

“So many of the trees we relied on so heavily are now losing popularity due to climate change,” says Nathan Flack, urban forest manager for the city of Santa Barbara. Conifers such as pines and coastal redwoods, which once grew widely along the coast, are dying en masse, he said. “Intensity of heating [and] longer periods [without] The rains are really forcing us urban forestry managers to rethink what good street trees are.”

Read more: 20 things you didn’t know about trees

What types of trees?

Trees help keep the area cool, absorb rainwater and clean the air from pollution. But in order for them to perform these critical functions, they need to survive in the same conditions. For many cities, this means rethinking what types of plants to plant.

Flack says he’s looking for trees that typically grow further east, like paloverde, which do better in warmer, third conditions. “Trees that survive in the desert will do us much more good here,” he says.

In Sacramento, species like the “Bubba” desert willow are replacing redwoods, says Jessica Sanders, executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation. “It’s sad because it’s an iconic tree,” says Sanders, “but it’s not really suited to the climate of the Sacramento region at the moment.”

Not only California cities rethinking their awnings.

In Harrisonburg, Virginia, authorities bring willow, oak and eucalyptus from the coast, trees that are more heat tolerant than many native species. In Seattle, they are planting more Pacific madrone and garry oaks, which had a better chance of surviving the hotter three summers.

In Detroit, which was once known as “Tree City” because of its extensive canopy, officials plant hardy trees such as eastern redbud, American witch hazel, and white oak that can withstand extreme heat and flooding.

Variety of trees

The city is also expanding species diversity to fight disease, aiming to prevent any single species from making up more than 10 percent of the city’s overhang. Detroit lost much of its canopy between the 1950s and 1990s due to Dutch elm disease and an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer.

Today, nearly 40 percent of the remaining trees are considered “low quality,” says Jenny Shockling, senior urban forestry manager in Detroit for the nonprofit American Forests. “[They] consist of species that are prone to disease and storms, damage property and infrastructure, and dump large amounts of debris.”

Forest cover and climate change

Preserving urban tree cover could mean the difference between life and death on a hot planet. extreme heat kills approximately 12,000 people annually already in the USA; experts say the figure could reach 100,000 by the end of the century. A study published lancet found in January that increasing a city’s tree cover by 30 percent could cut heat-related deaths by a third.

Poorer areas with large non-white populations tend to have less forest cover and can be up to 20 degrees warmer than richer (and greener) areas. in accordance with several studies. “A tree map in any city in America, it’s a map of income and a map of race,” says Jud Daly, president and CEO of nonprofit American Forests.

Cities may see some relief soon. The Inflation Reduction Act passed last year includes $1.5 billion for the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which is a fivefold increase in the program’s annual budget.

According to experts like Daley, the funding has the potential to transform urban canopies. But as Flack and other arborists across the country turn to new species to fill their streets, they face a new challenge: supply.

Read more: What makes a tree a tree?

“Now there are bottlenecks in the traditional nursery supply line,” Schokling says. “Growers tend to favor certain species because they do well in the nursery or grow fast, but that doesn’t necessarily say something about the diversity standards we’re trying to meet.”

American Forests is partnering with the US Forest Service to invest in and develop nurseries across the country to improve the supply chain. “Nurseries need some assurance that what they grow will have a market value, and we have confidence that what we are going to buy will have a stock,” Schokling says.

According to David Teuschler, chief horticulturist at Devil Mountain, one of California’s largest nurseries, this large-scale investment will be critical to renovating the look of the city’s canopies.

Even California’s native trees, like coastal live oak, are battling the state’s drought, Teuschler said. He would like to invest more in trees like Mesa Oak or Silver Oak for sale in Northern California, and Hammer Marsh or Salt Gum for sale in Southern California, but it can take years to grow the trees to marketable size and then he will only limited time to sell these seedlings. Unsold trees are usually composted, burned or otherwise destroyed.

He needs to know that he will have clients who have a clear vision of the future.

“You have to remember that there are a lot of old-school people who want to plant redwoods,” he says. “You want to be a nursery for these drought-adapted species, but if you can’t sell them, it’s a waste of time.”

One of Devil Mountain’s longtime clients is California arborist Dave Muffley, who stocks all of his projects with drought tolerant species.

Trees to combat drought

Muffley first began looking for drought-tolerant trees 15 years ago when he was leading a project to plant 1,000 trees along a two-mile stretch of highway through East Palo Alto. He wanted evergreens to prevent freeway pollution from reaching the low-income population on the other side, and drought-tolerant varieties, but most of the state’s nurseries had few options.

Muffley began to scour the southwest for acorns of the hardier oaks; There are more than 500 oak species around the world that can reproduce and create viable hybrids, Muffley says.

With Teuschler’s help, his projects, including the 9,000-tree mega-project around the Apple campus, have served as proof-of-concept cities as they work to build climate-resilient tree canopies.

By channeling federal funding to nurseries like Devil Mountain, Muffley says such a holistic system can be replicated across the country to meet each region’s unique needs.

“The truth is, we don’t grow enough trees in the US to spend the money the government has just allocated,” Muffley says. “So now it’s time to build the arsenal of ecology, and the production lines are the new nurseries that will need to be built to grow the trees.”

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How to watch Europe launch its JUICE alien-hunting satellite live on Thursday



On Thursday (April 13), the European Space Agency (ESA) is launching an exciting new mission to study whether Jupiter’s moons have the potential for alien life: Jupiter’s icy moon explorer, also known as JUICE (will open in a new tab). And you can watch the launch thanks to ESA live stream (will open in a new tab)scheduled to start at 7:45 AM EST (11:45 GMT) and launch at 8:15 AM EST (12:15 GMT).

JUICE is a satellite that will study Jupiter’s three moons. 92 known moons: Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. Each of these worlds has an ocean of water hidden under a shell of ice. These subsurface waters are an important target for astronomers looking for life beyond Earth, as they could potentially host life. In accordance with ESAJUICE investigates this key question: “Is the origin of life unique to our planet, or could it originate somewhere else in our solar system or beyond?”

This mission will be the first to orbit a satellite in the outer solar system, as it will spend time orbiting Ganymede. The four largest moons of Jupiter are known as the Galilean moons because they were discovered by Galileo Galilei; of these, Ganymede is the largest and only moon in the solar system with a magnetic field.

An Ariane 5 VA 260 carrying Juice is ready for launch at the ELA-3 launch pad at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on April 12, 2023. (Image courtesy of ESA – S.Corvaja)

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Watching Octopus Stripes Change May Help Us Save Them



Various individuals belonging to the species Octopus chierchiae.

Liu et al., 2023, PLoS One, CC-BY 4.0

The distinct striped pattern on pygmy octopuses varies from one individual to another, which may help researchers keep track of the rare animal.

Zebra pygmy octopuses (octopus), also known as the less specific striped octopus, live in shallow waters on the Pacific coast of America and have alternating brown and white stripes running across them.

Feeling that little is known about the animal or how it interacts with the environment, Benjamin Liu and his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley have bred two adult males and two adult females in their laboratory.

The team then individually kept 25 baby octopuses, which they photographed and videotaped once a week for about 2 years.

When the octopuses were about two weeks old, their patterns became visible to the naked eye and were fully visible by four weeks. Pygmy zebra octopuses often change their appearance to mimic their surroundings in response to disturbance, so the researchers only focused on specimens that persisted for hours or days.

They found that each of the 25 octopuses had a unique stripe pattern.

Volunteers who were shown photos of octopuses could even tell if the photos were of the same octopus or two different ones, with an average accuracy of 84.2%.

This suggests that individual zebra pygmy octopuses can be repeatedly identified and tracked in the wild over time, which may contribute to their conservation, the researchers write in their paper. These octopuses are rare and gentle, so ideally they should be studied in a way that doesn’t move them away from their natural habitat, they wrote.

While the stripes on zebra pygmy octopuses appear to vary between individuals, it is not clear why they have these stripes at all. “The fact that they can turn bands on and off and even do it unilaterally makes me think they are used in communication or at least to make the signals more obvious,” says Roy Caldwellauthor of the study.


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So many satellites in orbit. Can we clear the space?



At the end of 2022, a European satellite unfurled a shimmering silver sail behind it. The purpose of this appendage was simple: to accelerate the self-destruction of the satellite by pushing it into the Earth’s atmosphere.

As strange as it may sound at first glance, this was the latest in a growing wave of efforts to tackle the growing problem of space debris. In recent years, the situation over our sky has changed dramatically. For decades, since the beginning of the space age in the late 1950s, satellite launch rates have remained fairly stable. The growth in the number of satellites is now exponential, fueled by the efforts of corporations like Amazon. Collisions in space, meanwhile, produce clouds of debris that could pose a danger to spacecraft for decades.

Why did we write this

As the amount of man-made debris in space grows, so does the search for solutions. Some experts say the first step is to think of space not as an endless garbage dump, but as a common area requiring agreed-upon norms of behaviour.

Threat mitigation efforts are underway, including so-called active garbage disposal. Concepts include the cosmic equivalent of a net, magnet, or harpoon. Another approach is to minimize the creation of new debris, mainly by promoting international agreement on what the norms of behavior should be.

“People on Earth are benefiting tremendously from space,” says Crystal Azelton, director of space applications programs at the Secure World Foundation, a US organization that promotes collaborative solutions to make space sustainable. “It’s fragile, it’s not infinite, and it needs to be managed in a way that’s sustainable.”

At the end of 2022, a European satellite unfurled a shimmering silver sail behind it. The purpose of this appendage was simple: to accelerate the self-destruction of the satellite by pushing it into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Strange as it may sound at first glance, this was actually just the latest wave of efforts to address a growing problem facing humanity in space – the proliferation of debris and satellites in orbit around our planet.

In fact, we treat space like a garbage dump.

Why did we write this

As the amount of man-made debris in space grows, so does the search for solutions. Some experts say the first step is to think of space not as an endless garbage dump, but as a common area requiring agreed-upon norms of behaviour.

And the task doesn’t get any easier: In early February, the United States gave Amazon permission to launch more than 3,000 satellites, not to mention the Russian rocket that destroyed a defunct Soviet satellite in November 2021, creating a new cloud of debris that would pose a danger. spacecraft for years, maybe decades to come.

There is hope, as the European Space Agency’s silver sail shows, but the situation is difficult. A multitude of countries and companies are currently striving to embrace a space perspective with a number of competing and overlapping priorities. This raises the question of who is responsible for cleaning up this mess, and whether we even need to care about it.

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