Ad
Ad
Ad
Author

ScientifiCult

Browsing

Water trapped in star dust

Astrophysicists at the University of Jena (Germany) prove that dust particles in space are mixed with ice

water star dust
Clouds of interstellar dust and gas, here in the region “Cygnus-X” in the Swan constellation. Credits: ESA/PACS/SPIRE/Martin Hennemann & Frédérique Motte, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/Irfu – CNRS/INSU – Univ. Paris Diderot, France

The matter between the stars in a galaxy – called the interstellar medium – consists not only of gas, but also of a great deal of dust. At some point in time, stars and planets originated in such an environment, because the dust particles can clump together and merge into celestial bodies. Important chemical processes also take place on these particles, from which complex organic – possibly even prebiotic – molecules emerge. However, for these processes to be possible, there has to be water. In particularly cold cosmic environments, water occurs in the form of ice. Until now, however, the connection between ice and dust in these regions of space was unclear. A research team from Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has now proven that the dust particles and the ice are mixed. They report their findings in the current issue of the research journal “Nature Astronomy”.

Better modelling of physico-chemical processes in space

Until now, we didn’t know whether ice is physically separated from the dust or mixed with individual dust moieties,” explains Dr Alexey Potapov of the University of Jena. “We compared the spectra of laboratory-made silicates, water ice and their mixtures with astronomical spectra of protostellar envelopes and protoplanetary disks. We established that the spectra are congruent if silicate dust and water ice are mixed in these environments.”

Astrophysicists can gain valuable information from this data. “We need to understand different physical conditions in different astronomical environments, in order to improve the modelling of physico-chemical processes in space,” says Potapov. This result would enable researchers to better estimate the amount of material and to make more accurate statements about the temperatures in different regions of the interstellar and circumstellar media.

 

Water trapped in dust

Through experiments and comparisons, scientists at the University of Jena also observed what happens with water when the temperatures increase and the ice leaves the solid body to which it is bound and passes into the gas phase at about 180 Kelvin (-93 degrees Celsius).

Some water molecules are so strongly bound to the silicate that they remain on the surface or inside dust particles,” says Potapov. “We suspect that such ‘trapped water’ also exists on or in dust particles in space. At least that is what is suggested by the comparison between the spectra obtained from the laboratory experiments and those in what is called the diffuse interstellar medium. We found clear indications that trapped water molecules exist there.”

The existence of such solid-state water suggests that complex molecules may also be present on the dust particles in the diffuse interstellar medium. If water is present on such particles, it is not a very long way to complex organic molecules, for example. This is because the dust particles usually consist of carbon, among other things, which, in combination with water and under the influence of ultraviolet radiation such as that found in the environment, promotes the formation of methanol, for example. Organic compounds have already been observed in these regions of the interstellar medium, but until now it has not been known where they originated.

The presence of solid-state water can also answer questions about another element: although we know the amount of oxygen in the interstellar medium, we previously had no information about where exactly around a third of it is located. The new research results suggest that the solid-state water in silicates is a hidden reservoir of oxygen.

Does solid-state water help in the formation of planets?

In addition, the “trapped water” can help in understanding how the dust accumulates, as it could promote the sticking together of smaller particles to form larger particles. This effect may even work in planet formation. “If we succeed in proving that ‘trapped water’ existed – or could exist – in building blocks of the Earth, there might possibly even be new answers to the question of how water came to Earth,” says Alexey Potapov. But as yet, these are only suppositions that the Jena researchers want to pursue in the future.

[1] ESA/PACS/SPIRE/Martin Hennemann & Frédérique Motte, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/Irfu – CNRS/INSU – Univ. Paris Diderot, France

INFORMATION

Original publication:
A. Potapov, J. Bouwman, C. Jäger, Th. Henning (2020): Dust/ice mixing in cold regions and solid-state water in the diffuse interstellar medium, Nature astronomyhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-01214-x 

 

Press release from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Discovered a correlation between earthquakes and carbon dioxide in the Apennines

The analysis of ten years of sampling of CO2 dissolved in the groundwaters of the Apennines showed its maximum concentration during intense seismic activity

terremoti anidride carbonica Appennino
Strong free CO2 emission associated with groundwater discharge (San Vittorino plain, Rieti). The emission is located about 30 km far from the epicentre of the April 2009 L’Aquila earthquake.

In the Apennine chain, the emission of CO2 of deep origin appears to be well correlated with the occurrence and evolution of the seismic sequences of the last decade. This is the result of the studyCorrelation between tectonic CO2 Earth degassing and seismicity is revealed by a ten-year record in the Apennines, Italy‘ conducted by a team of researchers from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV, Italy) and the University of Perugia (UNIPG, Italy) just published in ‘Science Advances’.

For the first time an analysis of geochemical and geophysical data collected from 2009 to 2018 was carried out“, explains Giovanni Chiodini, INGV researcher and coordinator of the study. “Results of this research have shown a correspondence between deep CO2 emissions and seismicity. In periods of intense seismic activity, peaks in the deep CO2 flux are observed, meanwhile they dampen when the seismic energy and the number of earthquakes decrease“.

The Earth releases CO2 of deep origin mainly from volcanoes, although these emissions also occur in seismic areas where there are no active volcanoes. In particular, this phenomenon is more intense in regions characterized by extensional tectonics, such as the area of ​​the Apennines.

Although the temporal relationships between the occurrence of a seismic event and the release of CO2 are not yet fully understood“, continues Chiodini, “In this study we hypothesize that the evolution of seismicity in the Apennines is modulated by the rise of CO2 accumulated in crustal reservoirs and produced by the partial melting of the plate subducting beneath the mountain chain“.

The continuous large-scale production of CO2 at depth favors the formation of overpressurized reservoirs. “Seismicity in mountain ranges”, add Francesca Di Luccio and Guido Ventura, INGV researchers and co-authors of the study, “could be related to the depressurization of these reservoirs and the consequent release of fluids which, in turn, activate the faults responsible for earthquakes“.

The study was conducted by sampling the high-flow rate springs (tens of thousands of liters per second) located in the vicinity of the epicentral areas of the earthquakes that occurred in central Italy between 2009 and 2018. “These samplings allowed us to characterize the origin of the CO2 dissolved in the water of the aquifers and to quantify the amount of the dissolved deep CO2“, explains Carlo Cardellini, researcher of the Department of Physics and Geology of the University of Perugia, co-author of the discovery.

The close relationship between the CO2 release and the number and magnitude of the earthquakes, along with the results of previous seismological surveys, indicate that the earthquakes in the Apennines occurred in the last decade are associated with the rise of deeply derived CO2. It is worth mentioning that the amount of CO2 involved is of the same order as that emitted during volcanic eruptions (approximately 1.8 million tons in ten years)”, concludes Chiodini.

Therefore, the results of the study provide evidence on how the fluids derived from the decarbonation of a subducting plate play an important role in the genesis of earthquakes, opening new horizons in the assessment of CO2 emissions at global scale. Finally, this work demonstrates and supports how the modern study of earthquakes requires a multidisciplinary approach in which geochemical, geophysical and geodynamic data need to be integrated.

earthquakes carbon dioxide Apennines
The Apennine earthquakes during 2007-2019 (including the destructive events of 2009 and 2016) were accompanied by evident peaks in the amount of CO2 dissolved and transported by the large Apennine water springs (tonnes per day of CO2 in the diagram)

———

Abstract 

Deep CO 2 emissions characterize many non-volcanic, seismically active regions worldwide and the involvement of deep CO 2 in the earthquake cycle is now generally recognized. However, no long-time records of such emissions have been published and the temporal relations between earthquake occurrence and tectonic CO 2 release remain enigmatic. Here we report a ten-year record (2009-2018) of tectonic CO 2 flux in the Apennines (Italy) during intense seismicity. The gas emission correlates with the evolution of the seismic sequences: peaks in the deep CO 2 flux are observed in periods of high seismicity and decays as the energy and number of earthquakes decrease. We propose that the evolution of seismicity is modulated by the ascent of CO 2 accumulated in crustal reservoirs and originating from the melting of subducted carbonates. This large scale, continuous process of CO 2 production favors the formation of overpressurized CO 2 -rich reservoirs potentially able to trigger earthquakes at crustal depth.

Press release on the correlation between earthquakes and carbon dioxide in the Apenninesfrom the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia and the University of Perugia.

NASA’s MAVEN Observes Martian Night Sky Pulsing in Ultraviolet Light

Vast areas of the Martian night sky pulse in ultraviolet light, according to images from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. The results are being used to illuminate complex circulation patterns in the Martian atmosphere.

Vast areas of the Martian night sky pulse in ultraviolet light, according to images from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. The results are being used to illuminate complex circulation patterns in the Martian atmosphere.

The MAVEN team was surprised to find that the atmosphere pulsed exactly three times per night, and only during Mars’ spring and fall. The new data also revealed unexpected waves and spirals over the winter poles, while also confirming the Mars Express spacecraft results that this nightglow was brightest over the winter polar regions.

Martian night ultraviolet nightglow
This is an image of the ultraviolet “nightglow” in the Martian atmosphere. Green and white false colors represent the intensity of ultraviolet light, with white being the brightest. The nightglow was measured at about 70 kilometers (approximately 40 miles) altitude by the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph instrument on NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. A simulated view of the Mars globe is added digitally for context. The image shows an intense brightening in Mars’ nightside atmosphere. The brightenings occur regularly after sunset on Martian evenings during fall and winter seasons, and fade by midnight. The brightening is caused by increased downwards winds which enhance the chemical reaction creating nitric oxide which causes the glow.
Credits: NASA/MAVEN/Goddard Space Flight Center/CU/LASP

“MAVEN’s images offer our first global insights into atmospheric motions in Mars’ middle atmosphere, a critical region where air currents carry gases between the lowest and highest layers,” said Nick Schneider of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), Boulder, Colorado. The brightenings occur where vertical winds carry gases down to regions of higher density, speeding up the chemical reactions that create nitric oxide and power the ultraviolet glow. Schneider is instrument lead for the MAVEN Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument that made these observations, and lead author of a paper on this research appearing August 6 in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Space Physics. Ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye but detectable by specialized instruments.

The diagram explains the cause of Mars’ glowing nightside atmosphere. On Mars’ dayside, molecules are torn apart by energetic solar photons. Global circulation patterns carry the atomic fragments to the nightside, where downward winds increase the reaction rate for the atoms to reform molecules. The downwards winds occur near the poles at some seasons and in the equatorial regions at others. The new molecules hold extra energy which they emit as ultraviolet light.
Credits: NASA/MAVEN/Goddard Space Flight Center/CU/LASP

“The ultraviolet glow comes mostly from an altitude of about 70 kilometers (approximately 40 miles), with the brightest spot about a thousand kilometers (approximately 600 miles) across, and is as bright in the ultraviolet as Earth’s northern lights,” said Zac Milby, also of LASP. “Unfortunately, the composition of Mars’ atmosphere means that these bright spots emit no light at visible wavelengths that would allow them to be seen by future Mars astronauts. Too bad: the bright patches would intensify overhead every night after sunset, and drift across the sky at 300 kilometers per hour (about 180 miles per hour).”

The pulsations reveal the importance of planet-encircling waves in the Mars atmosphere. The number of waves and their speed indicates that Mars’ middle atmosphere is influenced by the daily pattern of solar heating and disturbances from the topography of Mars’ huge volcanic mountains. These pulsating spots are the clearest evidence that the middle atmosphere waves match those known to dominate the layers above and below.

“MAVEN’s main discoveries of atmosphere loss and climate change show the importance of these vast circulation patterns that transport atmospheric gases around the globe and from the surface to the edge of space.” said Sonal Jain, also of LASP.

Next, the team plans to look at nightglow “sideways”, instead of down from above, using data taken by IUVS looking just above the edge of the planet. This new perspective will be used to understand the vertical winds and seasonal changes even more accurately.

The Martian nightglow was first observed by the SPICAM instrument on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft. However, IUVS is a next-generation instrument better able to repeatedly map out the nightside glow, finding patterns and periodic behaviors. Many planets including Earth have nightglow, but MAVEN is the first mission to collect so many images of another planet’s nightglow.

###

The research was funded by the MAVEN mission. MAVEN’s principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, and NASA Goddard manages the MAVEN project. NASA is exploring our Solar System and beyond, uncovering worlds, stars, and cosmic mysteries near and far with our powerful fleet of space and ground-based missions.

 

 

 

Press release from NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center.

ALMA finds possible sign of neutron star in supernova 1987A

Two teams of astronomers have made a compelling case in the 33-year-old mystery surrounding Supernova 1987A. Based on observations of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and a theoretical follow-up study, the scientists provide new insight for the argument that a neutron star is hiding deep inside the remains of the exploded star. This would be the youngest neutron star known to date.

 

Supernova 1987A
This artist’s illustration of Supernova 1987A shows the dusty inner regions of the exploded star’s remnants (red), in which a neutron star might be hiding. This inner region is contrasted with the outer shell (blue), where the energy from the supernova is colliding (green) with the envelope of gas ejected from the star prior to its powerful detonation. Credits: NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton

Ever since astronomers witnessed one of the brightest explosions of a star in the night sky, creating Supernova 1987A (SN 1987A), they have been searching for a compact object that should have formed in the leftovers from the blast.

Because particles known as neutrinos were detected on Earth on the day of the explosion (23 February 1987), astronomers expected that a neutron star had formed in the collapsed center of the star. But when scientists could not find any evidence for that star, they started to wonder whether it subsequently collapsed into a black hole instead. For decades the scientific community has been eagerly awaiting a signal from this object that has been hiding behind a very thick cloud of dust.

The “blob”

Supernova 1987A
Extremely high-resolution ALMA images revealed a hot “blob” in the dusty core of Supernova 1987A (inset), which could be the location of the missing neutron star. The red color shows dust and cold gas in the center of the supernova remnant, taken at radio wavelengths with ALMA. The green and blue hues reveal where the expanding shock wave from the exploded star is colliding with a ring of material around the supernova. The green represents the glow of visible light, captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The blue color reveals the hottest gas and is based on data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The ring was initially made to glow by the flash of light from the original explosion. Over subsequent years the ring material has brightened considerably as the explosion’s shock wave slams into it. Credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), P. Cigan and R. Indebetouw; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton; NASA/ESA

Recently, observations from the ALMA radio telescope provided the first indication of the missing neutron star after the explosion. Extremely high-resolution images revealed a hot “blob” in the dusty core of SN 1987A, which is brighter than its surroundings and matches the suspected location of the neutron star.

“We were very surprised to see this warm blob made by a thick cloud of dust in the supernova remnant,” said Mikako Matsuura from Cardiff University and a member of the team that found the blob with ALMA. “There has to be something in the cloud that has heated up the dust and which makes it shine. That’s why we suggested that there is a neutron star hiding inside the dust cloud.”

Even though Matsuura and her team were excited about this result, they wondered about the brightness of the blob. “We thought that the neutron star might be too bright to exist, but then Dany Page and his team published a study that indicated that the neutron star can indeed be this bright because it is so very young,” said Matsuura.

Dany Page is an astrophysicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who has been studying SN 1987A from the start. “I was halfway through my PhD when the supernova happened,” he said, “it was one of the biggest events in my life that made me change the course of my career to try to solve this mystery. It was like a modern holy grail.”

The theoretical study by Page and his team, published today in The Astrophysical Journal, strongly supports the suggestion made by the ALMA team that a neutron star is powering the dust blob. “In spite of the supreme complexity of a supernova explosion and the extreme conditions reigning in the interior of a neutron star, the detection of a warm blob of dust is a confirmation of several predictions,” Page explained.

These predictions were the location and the temperature of the neutron star. According to supernova computer models, the explosion has “kicked away” the neutron star from its birthplace with a speed of hundreds of kilometers per second (tens of times faster than the fastest rocket). The blob is exactly at the place where astronomers think the neutron star would be today. And the temperature of the neutron star, which was predicted to be around 5 million degrees Celsius, provides enough energy to explain the brightness of the blob.

Not a pulsar or a black hole

Contrary to common expectations, the neutron star is likely not a pulsar. “A pulsar’s power depends on how fast it spins and on its magnetic field strength, both of which would need to have very finely tuned values to match the observations,” said Page, “while the thermal energy emitted by the hot surface of the young neutron star naturally fits the data.”

“The neutron star behaves exactly like we expected,” added James Lattimer of Stony Brook University in New York, and a member of Page’s research team. Lattimer has also followed SN 1987A closely, having published prior to SN 1987A predictions of a supernova’s neutrino signal that subsequently matched the observations. “Those neutrinos suggested that a black hole never formed, and moreover it seems difficult for a black hole to explain the observed brightness of the blob. We compared all possibilities and concluded that a hot neutron star is the most likely explanation.”

This neutron star is a 25 km wide, extremely hot ball of ultra-dense matter. A teaspoon of its material would weigh more than all the buildings within New York City combined. Because it can only be 33 years old, it would be the youngest neutron star ever found. The second youngest neutron star that we know of is located in the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A and is 330 years old.

Only a direct picture of the neutron star would give definite proof that it exists, but for that astronomers may need to wait a few more decades until the dust and gas in the supernova remnant become more transparent.

Detailed ALMA images

This colorful, multiwavelength image of the intricate remains of Supernova 1987A is produced with data from three different observatories. The red color shows dust and cold gas in the center of the supernova remnant, taken at radio wavelengths with ALMA. The green and blue hues reveal where the expanding shock wave from the exploded star is colliding with a ring of material around the supernova. The green represents the glow of visible light, captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The blue color reveals the hottest gas and is based on data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The ring was initially made to glow by the flash of light from the original explosion. Over subsequent years the ring material has brightened considerably as the explosion’s shock wave slams into it. Credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), P. Cigan and R. Indebetouw; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton; NASA/ESA

Even though many telescopes have made images of SN 1987A, none of them have been able to observe its core with such high precision as ALMA. Earlier (3-D) observations with ALMA already showed the types of molecules found in the supernova remnant and confirmed that it produced massive amounts of dust.

“This discovery builds upon years of ALMA observations, showing the core of the supernova in more and more detail thanks to the continuing improvements to the telescope and data processing,” said Remy Indebetouw of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the University of Virginia, who has been a part of the ALMA imaging team.

###

This research is presented in two papers:

ALMA observation of the “blob”: “High Angular Resolution ALMA Images of Dust and Molecules in the SN 1987A Ejecta”, by P. Cigan et al., The Astrophysical Journalhttps://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab4b46

Theoretical study favoring a neutron star: “NS 1987A in SN 1987A”, by D. Page et al., The Astrophysical Journalhttps://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab93c2

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

.

 

 

 

 

Press release on Supernova 1987A from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Hubble Sees Summertime on Saturn

Saturn is truly the lord of the rings in this latest snapshot from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, taken on July 4, 2020, when the opulent giant world was 839 million miles from Earth. This new Saturn image was taken during summer in the planet’s northern hemisphere.

Saturn summertime Hubble summer
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of Saturn on July 4, 2020. Two of Saturn’s icy moons are clearly visible in this exposure: Mimas at right, and Enceladus at bottom. This image is taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our solar system’s gas giant planets. In Saturn’s case, astronomers continue tracking shifting weather patterns and storms.
Credits: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), and the OPAL Team

 

Hubble found a number of small atmospheric storms. These are transient features that appear to come and go with each yearly Hubble observation. The banding in the northern hemisphere remains pronounced as seen in Hubble’s 2019 observations, with several bands slightly changing color from year to year. The ringed planet’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium with traces of ammonia, methane, water vapor, and hydrocarbons that give it a yellowish-brown color.

Hubble photographed a slight reddish haze over the northern hemisphere in this color composite. This may be due to heating from increased sunlight, which could either change the atmospheric circulation or perhaps remove ices from aerosols in the atmosphere. Another theory is that the increased sunlight in the summer months is changing the amounts of photochemical haze produced. “It’s amazing that even over a few years, we’re seeing seasonal changes on Saturn,” said lead investigator Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Conversely, the just-now-visible south pole has a blue hue, reflecting changes in Saturn’s winter hemisphere.

Hubble’s sharp view resolves the finely etched concentric ring structure. The rings are mostly made of pieces of ice, with sizes ranging from tiny grains to giant boulders. Just how and when the rings formed remains one of our solar system’s biggest mysteries. Conventional wisdom is that they are as old as the planet, over 4 billion years. But because the rings are so bright – like freshly fallen snow – a competing theory is that they may have formed during the age of the dinosaurs. Many astronomers agree that there is no satisfactory theory that explains how rings could have formed within just the past few hundred million years. “However, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft measurements of tiny grains raining into Saturn’s atmosphere suggest the rings can only last for 300 million more years, which is one of the arguments for a young age of the ring system,” said team member Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley.

Two of Saturn’s icy moons are clearly visible in this exposure: Mimas at right, and Enceladus at bottom.

This image is taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our solar system’s gas giant planets. In Saturn’s case, astronomers continue tracking shifting weather patterns and storms.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.

 

 

Press release from NASA, on Hubble capturing summertime data from Saturn.

Heat stress: the climate is putting European forests under sustained pressure

No year since weather records began was as hot and dry as 2018. A first comprehensive analysis of the consequences of this drought and heat event shows that central European forests sustained long-term damage. Even tree species considered drought-resistant, such as beech, pine and silver fir, suffered. The international study was directed by the University of Basel, which is conducting a forest experiment unique in Europe.

In a forest near Basel researchers study the effects of climate change on the most important and sensitive part of the trees – the canopy. A total of 450 trees between 50 and 120 years old grow on the 1.6 hectare research area. Credits: University of Basel

Until now, 2003 has been the driest and hottest year since regular weather records began. That record has now been broken. A comparison of climate data from Germany, Austria and Switzerland shows that 2018 was significantly warmer. The average temperature during the vegetation period was 1.2°C above the 2003 value and as high as 3.3°C above the average of the years from 1961 to 1990.

Part of the analysis, which has now been published, includes measurements taken at the Swiss Canopy Crane II research site in Basel, where extensive physiological investigations were carried out in tree canopies. The goal of these investigations is to better understand how and when trees are affected by a lack of water in order to counter the consequences of climate change through targeted management measures.

When trees die of thirst

Trees lose a lot of water through their surfaces. If the soil also dries out, the tree cannot replace this water, which is shown by the negative suction tension in the wood’s vascular tissue. It’s true that trees can reduce their water consumption, but if the soil water reservoir is used up, it’s ultimately only a matter of time until cell dehydration causes the death of a tree.

Physiological measurements at the Basel research site have shown the researchers that the negative suction tension and water shortage in trees occurred earlier than usual. In particular, this shortage was more severe throughout all of Germany, Austria and Switzerland than ever measured before. Over the course of the summer, severe drought-related stress symptoms therefore appeared in many tree species important to forestry. Leaves wilted, aged and were shed prematurely.

Death of a beech tree in a forest near Basel: during the 2018 heatwave the leaves died prematurely, the following year the tree stopped forming new shoots. Credits: Urs Weber, University of Basel

Spruce, pine and beech most heavily affected

The true extent of the summer heatwave became evident in 2019: many trees no longer formed new shoots – they were partially or wholly dead. Others had survived the stress of the drought and heat of the previous year, but were increasingly vulnerable to bark beetle infestation or fungus. Trees with partially dead canopies, which reduced the ability to recover from the damage, were particularly affected.

“Spruce was most heavily affected. But it was a surprise for us that beech, silver fir and pine were also damaged to this extent,” says lead researcher Professor Ansgar Kahmen. Beech in particular had until then been classified as the “tree of the future”, although its supposed drought resistance has been subject to contentious discussion since the 2003 heatwave.

heat European forests
Death of a beech tree in a forest near Basel: during the 2018 heatwave the leaves died prematurely, the following year the tree stopped foring new shoots. Credits: Urs Weber, University of Basel

Future scenarios to combat heat and drought

According to the latest projections, precipitation in Europe will decline by up to a fifth by 2085, and drought and heat events will become more frequent. Redesigning forests is therefore essential. “Mixed woodland is often propagated,” explains plant ecologist Kahmen, “and it certainly has many ecological and economic advantages. But whether mixed woodland is also more drought-resistant has not yet been clearly proven. We still need to study which tree species are good in which combinations, including from a forestry perspective. That will take a long time.”

Another finding of the study is that it is only possible to record the impacts of extreme climate events on European forests to a limited extent using conventional methods, and thus new analytical approaches are needed.“The damage is obvious. More difficult is precisely quantifying it and drawing the right conclusions for the future,” says Kahmen. Earth observation data from satellites could help track tree mortality on a smaller scale. Spatial patterns that contain important ecological and forestry-related information can be derived from such data: which tree species were heavily impacted, when and at which locations, and which survived without damage? “A system like this already exists in some regions in the US, but central Europe still lacks one.”

Original source

Schuldt, Bernhard & Buras, Allan & Arend, Matthias & Vitasse, Yann & Beierkuhnlein, Carl & Damm, Alexander & Gharun, Mana & Grams, Thorsten & Hauck, Markus & Hajek, Peter & Hartmann, Henrik & Hilbrunner, Erika & Hoch, Günter & Holloway-Phillips, Meisha & Körner, Christian & Larysch, Elena & Luebbe, Torben & Nelson, Daniel & Rammig, Anja & Kahmen, Ansgar.

A first assessment of the impact of the extreme 2018 summer drought on Central European forests.
Basic and Applied Ecology (April 2020); doi: 10.1016/j.baae.2020.04.003

 

Press release on the heat stress upon European forests from the University of Basel.

What started out as a hunt for ice lurking in polar lunar craters turned into an unexpected finding that could help clear some muddy history about the Moon’s formation.

Team members of the Miniature Radio Frequency (Mini-RF) instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft found new evidence that the Moon’s subsurface might be richer in metals, like iron and titanium, than researchers thought. That finding, published July 1 in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, could aid in drawing a clearer connection between Earth and the Moon.

“The LRO mission and its radar instrument continue to surprise us with new insights about the origins and complexity of our nearest neighbor,” said Wes Patterson, Mini-RF principal investigator from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, and a study coauthor.

Moon metallic
This image based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft shows the face of the Moon we see from Earth. The more we learn about our nearest neighbor, the more we begin to understand the Moon as a dynamic place with useful resources that could one day even support human presence. Credits: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University

Substantial evidence points to the Moon as the product of a collision between a Mars-sized protoplanet and young Earth, forming from the gravitational collapse of the remaining cloud of debris. Consequently, the Moon’s bulk chemical composition closely resembles that of Earth.

Look in detail at the Moon’s chemical composition, however, and that story turns murky. For example, in the bright plains of the Moon’s surface, called the lunar highlands, rocks contain smaller amounts of metal-bearing minerals relative to Earth. That finding might be explained if Earth had fully differentiated into a core, mantle and crust before the impact, leaving the Moon largely metal-poor. But turn to the Moon’s maria — the large, darker plains — and the metal abundance becomes richer than that of many rocks on Earth.

This discrepancy has puzzled scientists, leading to numerous questions and hypotheses regarding how much the impacting protoplanet may have contributed to the differences. The Mini-RF team found a curious pattern that could lead to an answer.

Using Mini-RF, the researchers sought to measure an electrical property within lunar soil piled on crater floors in the Moon’s northern hemisphere. This electrical property is known as the dielectric constant, a number that compares the relative abilities of a material and the vacuum of space to transmit electric fields, and could help locate ice lurking in the crater shadows. The team, however, noticed this property increasing with crater size.

For craters approximately 1 to 3 miles (2 to 5 kilometers) wide, the dielectric constant of the material steadily increased as the craters grew larger, but for craters 3 to 12 miles (5 to 20 kilometers) wide, the property remained constant.

“It was a surprising relationship that we had no reason to believe would exist,” said Essam Heggy, coinvestigator of the Mini-RF experiments from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and lead author of the published paper.

Discovery of this pattern opened a door to a new possibility. Because meteors that form larger craters also dig deeper into the Moon’s subsurface, the team reasoned that the increasing dielectric constant of the dust in larger craters could be the result of meteors excavating iron and titanium oxides that lie below the surface. Dielectric properties are directly linked to the concentration of these metal minerals.

If their hypothesis were true, it would mean only the first few hundred meters of the Moon’s surface is scant in iron and titanium oxides, but below the surface, there’s a steady increase to a rich and unexpected bonanza.

Comparing crater floor radar images from Mini-RF with metal oxide maps from the LRO Wide-Angle Camera, Japan’s Kaguya mission and NASA’s Lunar Prospector spacecraft, the team found exactly what it had suspected. The larger craters, with their increased dielectric material, were also richer in metals, suggesting that more iron and titanium oxides had been excavated from the depths of 0.3 to 1 mile (0.5 to 2 kilometers) than from the upper 0.1 to 0.3 miles (0.2 to 0.5 kilometers) of the lunar subsurface.

“This exciting result from Mini-RF shows that even after 11 years in operation at the Moon, we are still making new discoveries about the ancient history of our nearest neighbor,” said Noah Petro, the LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The MINI-RF data is incredibly valuable for telling us about the properties of the lunar surface, but we use that data to infer what was happening over 4.5 billion years ago!”

These results follow recent evidence from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission that suggests a significant mass of dense material exists just a few tens to hundreds of kilometers beneath the Moon’s enormous South Pole-Aitken basin, indicating that dense materials aren’t uniformly distributed in the Moon’s subsurface.

The team emphasizes that the new study can’t directly answer the outstanding questions about the Moon’s formation, but it does reduce the uncertainty in the distribution of iron and titanium oxides in the lunar subsurface and provide critical evidence needed to better understand the Moon’s formation and its connection to Earth.

“It really raises the question of what this means for our previous formation hypotheses,” Heggy said.

Anxious to uncover more, the researchers have already started examining crater floors in the Moon’s southern hemisphere to see if the same trends exist there.

LRO is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Mini-RF was designed, built and tested by a team led by APL, Naval Air Warfare Center, Sandia National Laboratories, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

For more information on LRO, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/lro

 

Press release from NASA/Space Goddard Flight Center, by Jeremy Rehm

Why are plants green?

UC Riverside-led research team’s model to explain photosynthesis lays out the next challenging phase of research on how green plants transform light energy into chemical energy

UC Riverside-led research team’s model to explain photosynthesis lays out the next challenging phase of research on how green plants transform light energy into chemical energy. Credits: Gabor lab, UC Riverside

When sunlight shining on a leaf changes rapidly, plants must protect themselves from the ensuing sudden surges of solar energy. To cope with these changes, photosynthetic organisms — from plants to bacteria — have developed numerous tactics. Scientists have been unable, however, to identify the underlying design principle.

An international team of scientists, led by physicist Nathaniel M. Gabor at the University of California, Riverside, has now constructed a model that reproduces a general feature of photosynthetic light harvesting, observed across many photosynthetic organisms.

Nathaniel Gabor is an associate professor of physics at UC Riverside. Credits: CIFAR

Light harvesting is the collection of solar energy by protein-bound chlorophyll molecules. In photosynthesis — the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water — light energy harvesting begins with sunlight absorption.

The researchers’ model borrows ideas from the science of complex networks, a field of study that explores efficient operation in cellphone networks, brains, and the power grid. The model describes a simple network that is able to input light of two different colors, yet output a steady rate of solar power. This unusual choice of only two inputs has remarkable consequences.

“Our model shows that by absorbing only very specific colors of light, photosynthetic organisms may automatically protect themselves against sudden changes — or ‘noise’ — in solar energy, resulting in remarkably efficient power conversion,” said Gabor, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, who led the study appearing today in the journal Science. “Green plants appear green and purple bacteria appear purple because only specific regions of the spectrum from which they absorb are suited for protection against rapidly changing solar energy.”

Gabor first began thinking about photosynthesis research more than a decade ago, when he was a doctoral student at Cornell University. He wondered why plants rejected green light, the most intense solar light.  Over the years, he worked with physicists and biologists worldwide to learn more about statistical methods and the quantum biology of photosynthesis.

Richard Cogdell, a renowned botanist at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom and a coauthor on the research paper, encouraged Gabor to extend the model to include a wider range of photosynthetic organisms that grow in environments where the incident solar spectrum is very different.

“Excitingly, we were then able to show that the model worked in other photosynthetic organisms besides green plants, and that the model identified a general and fundamental property of photosynthetic light harvesting,” he said. “Our study shows how, by choosing where you absorb solar energy in relation to the incident solar spectrum, you can minimize the noise on the output — information that can be used to enhance the performance of solar cells.”

Coauthor Rienk van Grondelle, an influential experimental physicist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands who works on the primary physical processes of photosynthesis, said the team found the absorption spectra of certain photosynthetic systems select certain spectral excitation regions that cancel the noise and maximize the energy stored.

“This very simple design principle could also be applied in the design of human-made solar cells,” said van Grondelle, who has vast experience with photosynthetic light harvesting.

Gabor explained that plants and other photosynthetic organisms have a wide variety of tactics to prevent damage due to overexposure to the sun, ranging from molecular mechanisms of energy release to physical movement of the leaf to track the sun. Plants have even developed effective protection against UV light, just as in sunscreen.

“In the complex process of photosynthesis, it is clear that protecting the organism from overexposure is the driving factor in successful energy production, and this is the inspiration we used to develop our model,” he said. “Our model incorporates relatively simple physics, yet it is consistent with a vast set of observations in biology. This is remarkably rare. If our model holds up to continued experiments, we may find even more agreement between theory and observations, giving rich insight into the inner workings of nature.”

To construct the model, Gabor and his colleagues applied straightforward physics of networks to the complex details of biology, and were able to make clear, quantitative, and generic statements about highly diverse photosynthetic organisms.

“Our model is the first hypothesis-driven explanation for why plants are green, and we give a roadmap to test the model through more detailed experiments,” Gabor said.

Photosynthesis may be thought of as a kitchen sink, Gabor added, where a faucet flows water in and a drain allows the water to flow out. If the flow into the sink is much bigger than the outward flow, the sink overflows and the water spills all over the floor.

“In photosynthesis, if the flow of solar power into the light harvesting network is significantly larger than the flow out, the photosynthetic network must adapt to reduce the sudden over-flow of energy,” he said. “When the network fails to manage these fluctuations, the organism attempts to expel the extra energy. In doing so, the organism undergoes oxidative stress, which damages cells.”

The researchers were surprised by how general and simple their model is.

“Nature will always surprise you,” Gabor said. “Something that seems so complicated and complex might operate based on a few basic rules. We applied the model to organisms in different photosynthetic niches and continue to reproduce accurate absorption spectra. In biology, there are exceptions to every rule, so much so that finding a rule is usually very difficult. Surprisingly, we seem to have found one of the rules of photosynthetic life.”

Gabor noted that over the last several decades, photosynthesis research has focused mainly on the structure and function of the microscopic components of the photosynthetic process.

“Biologists know well that biological systems are not generally finely tuned given the fact that organisms have little control over their external conditions,” he said. “This contradiction has so far been unaddressed because no model exists that connects microscopic processes with macroscopic properties. Our work represents the first quantitative physical model that tackles this contradiction.”

Next, supported by several recent grants, the researchers will design a novel microscopy technique to test their ideas and advance the technology of photo-biology experiments using quantum optics tools.

“There’s a lot out there to understand about nature, and it only looks more beautiful as we unravel its mysteries,” Gabor said.

Gabor, Cogdell, and van Grondelle were joined in the research by Trevor B. Arp, Jed Kistner-Morris, and Vivek Aji at UCR.

The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program, the National Science Foundation, and through a U.S. Department of the Navy’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions award. Gabor was also supported through a Cottrell Scholar Award and a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Azrieli Global Scholar Award. Other sources of funding were the NASA MUREP Institutional Research Opportunity program, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Biotechnological and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

The research paper is titled, “Quieting a noisy antenna reproduces photosynthetic light harvesting spectra.”

 

 

 

Press release from the University of California, Riverside

Traffic density, wind and air stratification influence concentrations of air pollutant NO2

Leipzig researchers use a calculation method to remove weather influences from air pollution data

traffic air pollutant nitrogen dioxide COVID-19
Traffic density, wind and air stratification influence the pollution with the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide, according to the conclusion of a TROPOS study commissioned by the LfULG. Credits: Burkhard Lehmann, LfULG

Leipzig/Dresden. In connection with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, satellite measurements made headlines showing how much the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) had decreased in China and northern Italy.  In Germany, traffic density is the most important factor. However, weather also has an influence on NO2 concentrations, according to a study by the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), which evaluated the influence of weather conditions on nitrogen dioxide concentrations in Saxony 2015 to 2018 on behalf of the Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG). It was shown that wind speed and the height of the lowest air layer are the most important factors that determine how much pollutants can accumulate locally.

In order to determine the influence of various weather factors on air quality, the team used a statistical method that allows meteorological fluctuations to be mathematically removed from long-term measurements. The air quality fluctuates, in some cases very strongly, due to different emissions and the influence of the weather. Until now, however, it has been difficult to estimate, what share legal measures such as low emission zones or diesel driving bans have and what share the weather influences have in the actual air quality? With the method used, this will be easier in the future.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is an irritant gas which attacks the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, causes inflammatory reactions as an oxidant and increases the effect of other air pollutants. As a precursor substance, it can also contribute to the formation of particulate matter. Limit values have been set in the EU to protect the population: For nitrogen dioxide, an annual average value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air applies (μg/m³). To protect the health of the population, measures must be taken if these limit values are not complied with. In 2018/2019, for example, various measures were taken in Germany, ranging from a reduction in the number of lanes (e.g. in Leipzig) to driving bans for older diesel vehicles (e.g. in Stuttgart).

To evaluate the effectiveness of such measures, it would be helpful to determine the exact influence of weather conditions. The Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG) therefore commissioned TROPOS to carry out a study on the influence of weather factors on NO2 concentrations and provided its measurement data from the Saxon air quality measurement network and meteorological data for this purpose. The researchers were thus able to evaluate data from 29 stations in Saxony over a period of four years, which represent a cross-section of air pollution – from stations at traffic centres to urban and rural background stations and stations on the ridge of the Erzgebirge mountains. They also calculated the height of the lowest layer in the atmosphere and incorporated data from traffic counting stations in Leipzig and Dresden into the study. A method from the field of machine learning was used for the statistical modelling, the application of which in the field of air quality was first published by British researchers in 2009.

In this way, the study was able to demonstrate that the traffic density at all traffic stations is most significantly responsible for nitrogen oxide concentrations. However, two weather parameters also have a significant influence on nitrogen dioxide concentrations: wind speed and the height of the so-called mixing layer. The latter is a meteorological parameter that indicates the height to which the lowest layer of air, where the emissions mix, extends. “It was also shown that high humidity can also reduce the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which could be due to the fact that the pollutants deposit more strongly on moist surfaces. However, the exact causes are still unclear,” says Dominik van Pinxteren.

The statistical analysis has also enabled the researchers to remove the influence of the weather from the time series of pollutant concentrations: Adjusted for the weather, the concentration of nitrogen oxides (NOx) decreased by a total of 10 micrograms per cubic meter between 2015 and 2018 on average over all traffic stations in Saxony. In urban and rural areas and on the ridge of the Erzgebirge, however, NOx concentrations tend to remain at the same level. Even though there have been some improvements in air quality in recent years, there are good scientific arguments for further reducing air pollution.

In a way, this also applies to premature conclusions from the corona crisis: in order to find out how strong the influence of the initial restrictions on air quality actually was, the influence of the weather would have to be statistically removed in a longer series of measurements. To this end, investigations for the Leipzig area are currently underway at TROPOS, as is a Europe-wide study of the EU research infrastructure for short-lived atmospheric constituents such as aerosol, clouds and trace gases (ACTRIS), the German contribution to which is coordinated by TROPOS.

Publication:

Dominik van Pinxteren, Sebastian Düsing, Alfred Wiedensohler, Hartmut Herrmann (2020): Meteorological influences on nitrogen dioxide: Influence of weather conditions and weathering on nitrogen dioxide concentrations in outdoor air 2015 to 2018. Series of publications of the LfULG, issue 2/2020 (in German only)
https://publikationen.sachsen.de/bdb/artikel/35043
This study was commissioned by the State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG).

Project:

LfULG-Projekt „Meteorologische Einflüsse auf Stickstoffdioxid“:
https://www.luft.sachsen.de/Inhalt_FuE_Projekt_Witterung_NOx_Ozon.html

 

Press release on traffic density, wind and air stratification influence concentrations of air pollutant NO2 by Tilo Arnhold from the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS)

Addressing the infodemic around the COVID 19 pandemic, decision-making simulation game wins first ComplexityJam

Addressing the topic of an onslaught of conflicting information and fake news in connection to the coronavirus pandemic, ComplexityJam #survivetheinfodemic challenged participants to represent he complexity of the situation through games and interactive digital narratives, in an online international game jam event coordinated by INDCOR EU COST Action and MOME University, which ended on June 13 with a virtual award ceremony.

The main award went to “Temp in Charge”.

The ComplexityJam international online game developing competition was initiated by the INDCOR COST Action, which stands for Interactive Digital Narratives for Complexity Representations. The INDCOR project was launched on May 29 with almost 80 participants attending from 12 different countries, including the US, the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Hungary, and Turkey. 11 entries were developed before the deadline, June 5. The resulting works addressed issues of social distancing, information overload, fake news identification, successful collaboration and the responsible decision-making during the pandemic. The main task was to provide orientation during the pandemic and provide an outlet for playful creativity through the creation of complex representations.
ComplexityJam infodemic pandemic

The winners were selected by a five-member International jury of acclaimed scholars and award-winning professionals: Janet Murray (Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology, US), Lindsay Grace (Professor and Knight Chair for Interactive Media, University of Miami, US), Szabolcs Józsa (Founder, Nemesys Games, HU), Odile Limpach (ProfessorCologne Game Lab, DE) and Simon Meek (Creative Director, The Secret Experiment, BAFTA winner, UK).

  1. “Temp in Charge” wins the ComplexityJam main awardhttps://rocinante.itch.io/temp-in-charge The president contracted pneumonia and you are his temporary stand-in for just one week. You must make decisions about the current pandemic and economic situation. There is no need to panic when you have the EasyGuv 6000 application at hand by which running a government becomes an easy task. Find solutions to your problems with just a few clicks.

Team: Resul Alıcı (Bahcesehir University Game Design graduate and Unico Studio game designer), Burak Karakas (Bahcesehir University).
The jury found this work to offer the most complete experience. It directly addresses the question of difficult decisions based on competing pieces of information. “Temp in Charge” makes us aware of the complexity of political decision-making via a friendly, easy-to use interface.

  1. “Trial Day” wins Runner-up Award for developmenthttps://erencaylak.itch.io/trial-day Trial Day is a game about information overload in the age of a pandemic, of post-truth and fake news. You are an aspiring journalist. Welcome to your new job’s trial day! Your ultimate goal? Play their game as best as you can and identify which news pieces to trust! But be aware: your choices and behavior are being monitored!

Team: Eren Çaylak, Sid Chou, Glenn Curtis, Yiting Liu, Dimitra Mavrogonatou, Kirstin McLellan. (This team was assembled by the ComplexityJam organizers and included participants from New York University, Turkey, Greece, and Glasgow School of Art)
The jury particularly liked the trial aspect and its rapid-fired approach that challenges the interactor to make quick decisions. The simple, yet effective graphic depiction of the trial elements adds considerably to the experience.

  1. “Essential workers” wins Special Award “the most potential for further development” https://aanupam3.itch.io/essential-workersEssential Workers is a cooperative online multiplayer game about a community working together to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Players must balance their personal safety against the necessities of the community. If anyone loses, everyone loses.

Team: Aditya Anupam, Jordan Graves, Marian Dominquez Mirazo, Colin Stricklin, Kevin Tang, Michael Vogel (all Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
The jury was impressed by this entry and how it translates an underlying scientific model into accessible game play. In addition, it raises awareness of “essential workers” – people in important jobs who are too often underpaid and underappreciated.

  1. Honorary mentions: RAWRER, the Cretacian version of an imagined dinosaur version of Twitter, is a game where the dinosaur community circulates news about the ongoing Volcano crisis and tries to spread the word on how they should best address the situation: https://noha-morte.itch.io/rawrer-mobile-game

Team: Olga Chatzifoti (Glasgow Schol of Art), Christina Chrysanthopoulou (Game Developer)
According to the Jury this entry addresses the infodemic via a fantasy world, in which a population of dinosaurs discussing the severity of an impending threat in a manner analogous to the discussion around the COVID-19 pandemic. The developers created an impressive and detailed system for the interactor to explore.

  1. Rabid is a point and click adventure game where, as a mayor, you need to make decisions that will influence the lives of the anthropomorphic animals living in your town. You can decide which information to rely on, which to investigate further, but the issues you have to face might not be black and white, and sometimes you need to pick priorities or the lesser evil. https://kuvasz013.itch.io/rabid

Team: Ágnes Fábián, Viktória Fehér, Ádám Kovács, Rebeka Kovács, Miklós Levente Papp, Noémi Rózsa, Eszter Szabó-Zichy
According to the Jury this experience was created with much love for detail and description. The interactor experiences the complexity of decision-making in a friendly environment that could also work for younger audiences.

All games are available at: https://itch.io/jam/complexityjam
The event was supported by the COST Action INDCOR, COST – European Cooperation in Science and Technology (indcor.eu, cost.eu), MOME – Moholy-Nagy Univesriyt of art and Design, National Research, Development and Innovation Office, Hungary (mome.hu).

Press release. INDCOR (1, 2)