Effects of temperature and snowfall on mortality in Pennsylvania.
The relation between exposure to severe cold weather and mortality is examined in a retrospective study of deaths occurring during the month of January from 1991 to 1996 in Pennsylvania. Using division-days as units of observation (n = 1,560) aggregated from death certificates and geographic divisions, the authors estimated mortality rates for total deaths and deaths due to ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases by analyses based on generalized estimating equations. Total mortality increased on days of "extreme" climatic conditions, that is, when snowfall was greater than 3 cm and when temperatures were below -7 degrees C (rate ratio (RR) = 1.27, 95 percent confidence interval (CI) 1.12-1.44). On days of extreme conditions, mortality due to ischemic heart diseases tripled among males aged 35-49 years (RR = 3.54, 95 percent CI 2.35-5.35), increased for men aged 50-64 years (RR = 1.77, 95 percent CI 1.32-2.38), and rose for males aged 65 years and older (RR = 1.58, 95 percent CI 1.37-1.82), when compared with milder conditions. Among females, mortality for those aged 65 years and older increased for respiratory causes (RR = 1.68, 95 percent CI 1.28-2.21) and cerebrovascular causes (RR = 1.47, 95 percent CI 1.13-1.91). Cold and snow exposure may be hazardous among men as young as 35 years. (+info)
Climate change is affecting altitudinal migrants and hibernating species.
Calendar date of the beginning of the growing season at high altitude in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is variable but has not changed significantly over the past 25 years. This result differs from growing evidence from low altitudes that climate change is resulting in a longer growing season, earlier migrations, and earlier reproduction in a variety of taxa. At our study site, the beginning of the growing season is controlled by melting of the previous winter's snowpack. Despite a trend for warmer spring temperatures the average date of snowmelt has not changed, perhaps because of the trend for increased winter precipitation. This disjunction between phenology at low and high altitudes may create problems for species, such as many birds, that migrate over altitudinal gradients. We present data indicating that this already may be true for American robins, which are arriving 14 days earlier than they did in 1981; the interval between arrival date and the first date of bare ground has grown by 18 days. We also report evidence for an effect of climate change on hibernation behavior; yellow-bellied marmots are emerging 38 days earlier than 23 years ago, apparently in response to warmer spring air temperatures. Migrants and hibernators may experience problems as a consequence of these changes in phenology, which may be exacerbated if climate models are correct in their predictions of increased winter snowfall in our study area. The trends we report for earlier formation of permanent snowpack and for a longer period of snow cover also have implications for hibernating species. (+info)
Prometheus: Io's wandering plume.
Unlike any volcanic behavior ever observed on Earth, the plume from Prometheus on Io has wandered 75 to 95 kilometers west over the last 20 years since it was first discovered by Voyager and more recently observed by Galileo. Despite the source motion, the geometric and optical properties of the plume have remained constant. We propose that this can be explained by vaporization of a sulfur dioxide and/or sulfur "snowfield" over which a lava flow is moving. Eruption of a boundary-layer slurry through a rootless conduit with sonic conditions at the intake of the melted snow can account for the constancy of plume properties. (+info)
Bacterial activity in South Pole snow.
Large populations (200 to 5,000 cells ml(-1) in snowmelt) of bacteria were present in surface snow and firn from the south pole sampled in January 1999 and 2000. DNA isolated from this snow yielded ribosomal DNA sequences similar to those of several psychrophilic bacteria and a bacterium which aligns closely with members of the genus Deinococcus, an ionizing-radiation- and desiccation-resistant genus. We also obtained evidence of low rates of bacterial DNA and protein synthesis which indicates that the organisms were metabolizing at ambient subzero temperatures (-12 to -17 degrees C). (+info)
Variation among biomes in temporal dynamics of aboveground primary production.
Interannual variability in aboveground net primary production (ANPP) was assessed with long-term (mean = 12 years) data from 11 Long Term Ecological Research sites across North America. The greatest interannual variability in ANPP occurred in grasslands and old fields, with forests the least variable. At a continental scale, ANPP was strongly correlated with annual precipitation. However, interannual variability in ANPP was not related to variability in precipitation. Instead, maximum variability in ANPP occurred in biomes where high potential growth rates of herbaceous vegetation were combined with moderate variability in precipitation. In the most dynamic biomes, ANPP responded more strongly to wet than to dry years. Recognition of the fourfold range in ANPP dynamics across biomes and of the factors that constrain this variability is critical for detecting the biotic impacts of global change phenomena. (+info)
Bacteriological quality of runoff water from pastureland.
Runoff from a cow-calf pasture in eastern Nebraska was monitored for total coliforms (TC), fecal coliforms (FC), and fecal streptococci (FS) during 1976, 1977, and 1978. Bacteriological counts in runoff from both grazed and ungrazed areas generally exceeded recommended water quality standards. The FC group was the best indicator group of the impact of grazing. Rainfall runoff from the grazed area contained 5 to 10 times more FC than runoff from the fenced, ungrazed area. There was little difference in TC counts between the two areas, but FS counts were higher in runoff from the ungrazed area and reflected the contributions from wildlife. Recommended bacteriological water quality standards, developed for point source inputs, may be inappropriate for characterizing nonpoint source pollution from pasture runoff. The FC/FS ratio in pasture runoff was useful in identifying the relative contributions of cattle and wildlife. Ratios below 0.05 were indicative of wildlife sources and ratios above 0.1 were characteristic of grazing cattle. Occasions when the FC/FS ratio of diluted cattle waste exceeded one resulted from differential aftergrowth and die-off between FC and FS. The FC/FS ratio and percentage of Streptococcus bovis in pasture runoff are useful indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of livestock management practices for minimizing bacterial contamination of surface water. The importance of choice of medium for the enumeration of FS in runoff derived from cattle wastes is discussed. (+info)
Detection and quantification of snow algae with an airborne imaging spectrometer.
We describe spectral reflectance measurements of snow containing the snow alga Chlamydomonas nivalis and a model to retrieve snow algal concentrations from airborne imaging spectrometer data. Because cells of C. nivalis absorb at specific wavelengths in regions indicative of carotenoids (astaxanthin esters, lutein, beta-carotene) and chlorophylls a and b, the spectral signature of snow containing C. nivalis is distinct from that of snow without algae. The spectral reflectance of snow containing C. nivalis is separable from that of snow without algae due to carotenoid absorption in the wavelength range from 0.4 to 0.58 microm and chlorophyll a and b absorption in the wavelength range from 0.6 to 0.7 microm. The integral of the scaled chlorophyll a and b absorption feature (I(0.68)) varies with algal concentration (C(a)). Using the relationship C(a) = 81019.2 I(0.68) + 845.2, we inverted Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer reflectance data collected in the Tioga Pass region of the Sierra Nevada in California to determine algal concentration. For the 5.5-km(2) region imaged, the mean algal concentration was 1,306 cells ml(-1), the standard deviation was 1,740 cells ml(-1), and the coefficient of variation was 1.33. The retrieved spatial distribution was consistent with observations made in the field. From the spatial estimates of algal concentration, we calculated a total imaged algal biomass of 16.55 kg for the 0.495-km(2) snow-covered area, which gave an areal biomass concentration of 0.033 g/m(2). (+info)
Cryptococcus nyarrowii sp. nov., a basidiomycetous yeast from Antarctica.
In December 1997, 196 soil and snow samples were collected from Vestvold Hills, Davis Base, Antarctica. Two isolates, CBS 8804T (pink colonies) and CBS 8805 (yellow colonies), were shown by proteome analysis and DNA sequencing to represent the same species. Results from the sequencing of the D1/D2 region of the large rDNA subunit placed this species in the hymenomycetous tree in a unique sister clade to the Trichosporonales and the Tremellales. The clade consists of Holtermannia corniformis CBS 6979 and CBS strains 8804T, 8805, 8016, 7712, 7713 and 7743. Morphological and physiological characteristics placed this species in the genus Cryptococcus, with characteristics including the assimilation of D-glucuronate and myo-inositol, no fermentation, positive Diazonium blue B and urease reactions, absence of sexual reproduction and production of starch-like compounds. Fatty acid analysis identified large proportions of polyunsaturated lipids, mainly linoleic (C18:2) and, to a lesser extent, linolenic (C18:3) acids. On the basis of the physiological and phylogenetic data, isolates CBS 8804T and CBS 8805 are described as Cryptococcus nyarrowii sp. nov. (+info)