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News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Glaciers around the world are disappearing before our eyes, and the implications for people are wide-ranging and troubling, Twila Moon, a glacier expert at the University of Colorado Boulder, concludes in a Perspectives piece in the journal Science today. The melting of glacial ice contributes to sea-level rise, which threatens to "displace millions of people within the lifetime of many of today's children," Moon writes. Glaciers also serve up fresh water to communities around the world, are integral to the planet's weather and climate systems, and they are "unique landscapes for contemplation or exploration." And they're shrinking, fast, writes Moon, who returned to the National Snow and Ice Data Center this month after two years away. Her analysis, "Saying goodbye to glaciers," is published in the May 12 issue of Science. Moon admits she was pretty giddy when an editor at Science reached out to her to write a perspective piece on the state of the world's glaciers, because of her research knowledge and extensive publication record. "There was some serious jumping up and down," Moon says. "I thought, 'I've made it!' Their invitation was an exciting recognition of my hard work and expertise." But the topic, itself, is far from a happy one. Moon describes the many ways researchers study glacier dynamics, from in-place measurements on the ice to satellite-based monitoring campaigns to models. And she describes sobering trends: The projection that Switzerland will lose more than half of its small glaciers in the next 25 years; the substantial retreat of glaciers from the Antarctic, Patagonia, the Himalayas, Greenland and the Arctic; the disappearance of iconic glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana, or reduction to chunks of ice that no longer move (by definition, a glacier must be massive enough to move). In her piece, Moon calls for continued diligence by the scientific community, where ice research is already becoming a priority. Moon says she got hooked on glaciers as an undergraduate in geological and environmental sciences at Stanford University, when she spent a semester abroad in Nepal. "For the first time I saw a big valley glacier, flowing through the Himalaya," she said, "and I thought it was about the coolest thing ever. After studying geology, the movement and sound of the ice, right now, made it feel almost alive.'" That experience kicked off a research career that has taken Moon to Greenland, Alaska, Norway, and to conferences around the world. She began her work "merely" as a geologist and glaciologist, interested in ice itself, Moon said. Only later did the influence of climate change come to play in her work. "I think I'm about as young as you can get for being a person who started in glaciology at a time when climate change was not a primary part of the conversation," says Moon, who is 35. She is consistently sought out by journalists hoping to understand Earth's ice, and she's sought out in the scientific community as well, recognized as someone who likes to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries. She recently worked with a biologist in Washington, for example, on a paper about how narwhals use glacial fronts in summertime--the tusked marine mammals appear to be attracted to glaciers with thick ice fronts and freshwater melt that's low in silt, though it's not yet clear why. After a couple of post-doctoral research years, at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and then the University of Oregon, Moon and her husband headed to Bristol, England, where she took a faculty position at the University of Bristol's School of Geographical Sciences. When it became clear that her husband's work wouldn't transfer, the two determined to head back to the Rocky Mountains. Moon started back as a researcher at CU Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center, part of CIRES, May 1. Twila Moon, CIRES scientist in the National Snow and Ice Data Center, 406-579-3088


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

Each night before “Greg” goes to bed he brushes and flosses his teeth. Then he double-checks the instructions on the dark brown bottle his nurse gave him before he unscrews the cap and tips five drops of a light-amber, oily liquid onto a spoon. The brew, glistening from the light of the bathroom fixture, is tasteless and has no odor he can detect. But it’s chock-full of bacteria. He sloshes the substance around in his mouth and swallows. Greg hopes that while he sleeps the foreign microbes will wage war with other organisms in his gut, changing that environment to ultimately help him manage some of the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that cloud his mind and riddle his days and nights with nightmares, flashbacks, thoughts of suicide and irrational responses to stressful events. The bacteria he is swallowing, his doctors tell him, “may help reduce symptoms of stress.” Each drop of Greg's brew is filled with millions of Lactobacillus reuteri, a bacterium isolated and derived from human breast milk. The Denver VA Hospital orders the substance and prescribes it as part of a PTSD clinical trial involving 40 veterans who either receive the bacteria or a placebo mix of sunflower oil and other inactive substances. (The bacterium is also currently used to treat a dental condition called chronic periodontitis because it has been shown to help fight inflammation.) Altering the immune system to help build resilience to stressful events is a roundabout way to fight PTSD. But despite the massive burden of this disorder, there are few treatments for many of its crushing symptoms. Of the more than two million troops deployed in U.S. military conflicts worldwide, an estimated 11 to 23 percent have sustained some level of either traumatic brain injury (TBI) or PTSD. Greg, whose name has been changed in this article to protect his identity, is among them. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was injured when the vehicle he was in detonated a roadside improvised explosive device—killing several of his comrades and leaving him with a badly wounded leg, a traumatic brain injury and the constellation of symptoms that comprise PTSD. With few options available after he tried a variety of mental health therapies, last year he and 39 other veteran volunteers—all suffering from PTSD and being treated at the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention center in Denver—volunteered to be part of an early clinical trial to determine if L. reuteri can reduce their physiological and psychological responses to stressful situations. The roughly $200,000 trial is funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and aimed at evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, tolerability and safety measures for the possible use of the bacterium to treat PTSD. The bacterium was chosen after earlier animal trials suggested it produced anxiety-fighting responses. Last year a team of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that injecting beneficial bacteria into mice helped them become more resilient to the stress of residing with much larger, aggressive mice. In that study the scientists injected healthy mice with a heat-killed preparation of Mycobacterium vaccae—which, like L. reuteri, acts like a drug, modulating the mouse’s immune system. (The two microbes are cousins and share a common ancestor.) The injected mice exhibited less anxiety or fearlike behaviors, and behaved more proactively around their aggressors than did those in a control group, which had to make do without the shots. The vaccinated mice’s amplified calm made sense biochemically: The researchers discovered that the gut-altered mice also had more Tph2, an enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of the calming neurotransmitter serotonin, in the brain. The bacterial brew provided another benefit in the gut as well: Biopsies showed the injected mice were 50 percent less likely to suffer stress-induced colitis, as measured by cellular damage to the colon; and they had less system-wide inflammation. That study was hailed as a major breakthrough and named among the top 10 advancements and breakthroughs of 2016 by the nation’s leading nongovernmental funder of mental health research, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. “There is a growing recognition that the microbiome can impact health in general and, more specifically, mental health,” clinician Jeffrey Borenstein, the organization’s president, said in a statement about the research. The mouse work “can potentially be a game changer in our understanding of this, and ultimately lead to new treatments,” he added. “Our study in PNAS showed we can prevent a PTSD-like syndrome in mice,” says Christopher Lowry, a professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology at C.U.–Boulder, who headed up the study on mice that demonstrated M. vaccae’s effects on stress resilience. Lowry’s results were also consistent with earlier evidence about the powers of M. vaccae bacteria: Previous work established that M. vaccae increases serotonin in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that modulates anxiety. (The researchers are not using M. vaccae in humans because it is not yet approved for human use whereas L. reuteri works along the same immune-regulating pathway and could be tapped without needing further regulatory approvals.) The human trials with L. reuteri began in August 2016 at the Denver VA Hospital, headed up by Lowry and Lisa Brenner, a psychiatry professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. In addition to asking veterans to down a daily allotment of bacteria or placebo—the volunteers are unaware of which substance they are taking—each participant has been asked to keep a diary of gastrointestinal symptoms for about two weeks, and submit to stool tests. Participants then return for further blood tests covering various biomarkers of inflammation and gut permeability. Then, after eight weeks, the veterans are subjected to stress testing like the mice. Instead of exposing them to large mice, however, they are asked to do something even more intimidating to many humans: give a speech in front of a group while researchers collect their psychological and physiological stress measures (including heart rate variability and galvanic skin response). Participants also receive final blood and stool tests for biomarkers of inflammation, gut permeability and any changes in the microbiome. Final results from the study are expected in May 2018. The foundational work behind this study is “very provocative” because it validates the concept of immunizing against a variety of stress-related disorders, says John Cryan, head of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at University College Cork in Ireland, who was not involved with the work. The findings, he says, suggest this may be a promising way to help fight anxiety in PTSD patients.


News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The Seismological Society of America (SSA) will present its highest honor, the 2017 Harry Fielding Reid Medal, to U.S. Geological Survey emeritus geologist George Plafker, for his transformative work on megathrust earthquakes in subduction zones, places where two tectonic plates meet, with one riding over the top of the other. Plafker will receive the Reid Medal at Seismology of the Americas, a joint meeting of the SSA and the Latin American and Caribbean Seismological Commission (LACSC), to be held 23-26 April 2018 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Plafker and his colleagues did painstaking fieldwork after the magnitude 9.2 Alaskan earthquake in 1964, covering hundreds of kilometers of Alaskan shoreline in small boats, helicopters, and float-equipped aircraft. His research after the 1964 quake helped to launch a new field of megathrust earthquake geology, which used observations of the placement of intertidal organisms such as acorn barnacles, mussels and rockweed to determine the amounts of vertical change in land relative to sea level near subduction zones. Plafker and his colleagues determined that the massive Alaskan quake was caused by rupture along a deeply buried fault in a subduction zone where the Pacific tectonic plate thrusts below the North American plate. Earlier accounts of the Alaskan earthquake had suggested that the quake took place as slip along a vertical fault, as the Pacific plate rotated counter-clockwise against the North American plate. Plafker's work on the Alaska earthquake led to a re-examination of the 1960 magnitude 9.5 Chilean earthquake, the largest in recorded history, eight years later. After studying more than 1000 kilometers of mainland coast and islands of the Archipiélago de los Chonos in southern Chile, he and his colleagues concluded that the 1960 earthquake was also caused by megathrust faulting at a subduction zone, rather than slip along a vertical fault as previously thought. Megathrust earthquakes include the largest magnitude earthquakes seen on Earth, and often have devastating effects on coastal communities around the globe. "He is the one field geologist whose fieldwork contributed to the essence of plate tectonics, and specifically to subduction," said Peter Molnar, a professor of geological sciences at University of Colorado Boulder, in his commendation of Plafker. In his explorations, Plafker moved beyond his primary geological mapping research in southern Alaska to search for other geological evidence of tectonic deformation, including mapping active faults and studying ancient peat deposits that extended the megathrust record back in time. These paleoseismic studies within the 1964 rupture zone identified a total of nine giant seismic events in Alaska within the past 6500 years. His study of historic active faults and paleoseismicity in Alaska remains the basis for all seismic hazard maps in the state today. In his nomination for the Medal, Plafker's colleagues noted that his thorough and imaginative research has had an impact from earthquake engineering to popular writing about earthquakes and tsunamis. His work on the Alaskan and Chilean earthquakes transformed ideas about the long history of massive earthquakes at subduction zones, highlighting the potential seismic risk of key regions such as the Cascadia subduction zone off the west coast of the United States and Canada. Plafker received his B.S. in geology from Brooklyn College in 1949, his master's degree in geology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1956 and his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Stanford University in 1972. He has worked as an engineering geologist from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a geologist for the USGS, and a petroleum geologist for Chevron. In 1979 Plafker received the U.S. Department of the Interior Distinguished Service Award, the highest award that can be granted to a career employee within the Department of the Interior. First awarded in 1975, the Medal recognizes outstanding contributions in seismology and earthquake engineering. Harry Fielding Reid, a pioneering American seismologist, was in 1906 the first to propose the elastic-rebound theory, concerning the buildup and release of stress and strain around faults as a cause of earthquakes. The call for nominations for next year's Medal, along with a list of past winners, is available at the Seismological Society of America's website. The Seismological Society of America is a scientific society devoted to the advancement of earthquake science. Founded in 1906 in San Francisco, the Society now has members throughout the world representing a variety of technical interests: seismologists and other geophysicists, geologists, engineers, insurers, and policy-makers in preparedness and safety.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

LearnHowToBecome.org, a leading resource provider for higher education and career information, has released its list of the best colleges and universities in Colorado for 2017. 20 four-year schools made the list, with University of Denver, Regis University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado—Colorado Springs and Colorado Colleges coming in with the highest scores. Of the 15 two-year schools that were also included, Aims Community College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Trinidad State Junior College, Front Range Community College and Red Rocks Community College were the top five schools. A full list of schools is included below. “These schools have shown a commitment to preparing their students for success in college and beyond, with numbers to prove it,” said Wes Ricketts, senior vice president of LearnHowToBecome.org. “We measure data from each school, but also dig deeper into the success of alumni after college to find which colleges in Colorado truly are the best for students.” To be included on the “Best Colleges in Colorado” list, schools must be regionally accredited, not-for-profit institutions. Each college is also scored on additional data points including the number of career and academic resources, annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering college, financial aid availability, graduation rates and student/teacher ratios. Complete details on each college, their individual scores and the data and methodology used to determine the LearnHowToBecome.org “Best Colleges in Colorado” list, visit: Colorado’s Best Four-Year Colleges for 2017 include: Adams State University Colorado Christian University Colorado College Colorado Mesa University Colorado School of Mines Colorado State University-Fort Collins Colorado State University-Global Campus Colorado State University-Pueblo Fort Lewis College Johnson & Wales University-Denver Metropolitan State University of Denver Naropa University Regis University United States Air Force Academy University of Colorado Boulder University of Colorado Colorado Springs University of Colorado Denver University of Denver University of Northern Colorado Western State Colorado University Colorado’s Best Two-Year Colleges for 2017 include: Aims Community College Arapahoe Community College Colorado Northwestern Community College Community College of Aurora Community College of Denver Front Range Community College Lamar Community College Morgan Community College Northeastern Junior College Otero Junior College Pickens Technical College Pikes Peak Community College Pueblo Community College Red Rocks Community College Trinidad State Junior College ### About Us: LearnHowtoBecome.org was founded in 2013 to provide data and expert driven information about employment opportunities and the education needed to land the perfect career. Our materials cover a wide range of professions, industries and degree programs, and are designed for people who want to choose, change or advance their careers. We also provide helpful resources and guides that address social issues, financial aid and other special interest in higher education. Information from LearnHowtoBecome.org has proudly been featured by more than 700 educational institutions.


April 28, 2017 - Tropical rainforests are often described as the "lungs of the earth," able to inhale carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and exhale oxygen in return. The faster they grow, the more they mitigate climate change by absorbing CO2. This role has made them a hot research topic, as scientists question what will happen to this vital carbon sink long-term as temperatures rise and rainfall increases. Conventional wisdom has held that forest growth will dramatically slow with high levels of rainfall. But University of Colorado Boulder researchers this month turned that assumption on its head with an unprecedented review of data from 150 forests that concluded just the opposite. "Our data suggest that as large-scale climate patterns shift in the tropics, and some places get wetter and warmer, forests will accelerate their growth, which is good for taking carbon out of the atmosphere," said Philip Taylor, a research associate with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). "In some ways, this is a good-news story, because we can expect greater CO2 uptake in tropical regions where rainfall is expected to increase. But there are a lot of caveats." Ecologists have long thought that forest growth follows a hump-shaped curve when it comes to precipitation: To a point, more rainfall leads to more growth. But after about 8 feet per year, it was assumed too much water can waterlog the ecosystem and slow the growth rate of forests. While working in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, Taylor, who got his doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at CU Boulder, began to question this assumption. "Here we were in a place that got 16 feet of rain per year, and it was one of the most productive and carbon-rich forests on Earth. It clearly broke from the traditional line of thinking," he said. Intrigued, Taylor spent four years synthesizing data on temperature, rainfall, tree growth and soil composition from rainforests in 42 countries, compiling what he believes is the largest pan-tropical database to date. The study, published April 17 in the journal Ecology Letters, found that cooler forests (below 68 degrees F on average), which make up only about 5 percent of the tropical forest biome, seemed to follow the expected hump-shaped curve. But warmer forests, which are in the majority, did not. "The old model was formed with a lack of data from warm tropical forests," said Taylor. "It turns out that in the big tropical forests that do the vast majority of the 'breathing' the situation is flipped. Instead of water slowing growth down, it accelerates it." Taylor cautioned this does not mean climate change won't negatively impact tropical forests at all. In the short term, research has shown, droughts in the Amazon Basin have already led to widespread plant death and a 30 percent decrease in carbon accumulation in the past decade. "A lot of climate change is happening at a pace far quicker than what our study speaks to," he says. "Our study speaks to what we can expect forests to do over hundreds of years." Because the carbon cycle is complex, with forests also releasing carbon into the atmosphere as plants die, it's still impossible to say what the net impact of a wetter climate might be on the forest's ability to sequester carbon, said senior author Alan Townsend, a professor of environmental studies. "The implications of the change still need to be worked out, but what we can say is that the forest responds to changes in rainfall quite differently than what has been a common assumption for a long time," said Townsend. Going forward, the authors hope the findings will set the record straight for educators and scientists. "Our findings fundamentally change a view of the tropical forest carbon cycle that has been published in textbooks and incorporated into models of future climate change for years," said Taylor. "Given how much these forests matter to the climate, these new relationships need to be a part of future climate assessments." The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.


News Article | April 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Feeling heartbroken from a recent breakup? Just believing you're doing something to help yourself get over your ex can influence brain regions associated with emotional regulation and lessen the perception of pain.That's the takeaway from a new University of Colorado Boulder study that measured the neurological and behavioral impacts the placebo effect had on a group of recently broken-hearted volunteers.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

A recent report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty attempts to compare student test score performance for the 2015-16 school year across Wisconsin’s public schools, charter schools, and private schools participating in one of the state’s voucher programs. Though it highlights important patterns in student test score performance, the report’s limited analyses fail to provide answers as to the relative effectiveness of school choice policies. Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin was reviewed by Benjamin Shear of the University of Colorado Boulder. Comparing a single year’s test scores across school sectors that serve different student populations is inherently problematic. One fundamental problem of isolating variations in scores that might be attributed to school differences is that the analyses must adequately control for dissimilar student characteristics among those enrolled in the different schools. The report uses linear regression models that use school-level characteristics to attempt to adjust for these differences and make what the authors claim are “apples to apples” comparisons. Based on these analyses, the report concludes that choice and charter schools in Wisconsin are more effective than traditional public schools. Unfortunately, the limited nature of available data undermines any such causal conclusions. The inadequate and small number of school-level variables included in the regression models are not able to control for important confounding variables, most notably prior student achievement. Further, the use of aggregate percent-proficient metrics masks variation in performance across grade levels and makes the results sensitive to the (arbitrary) location of the proficiency cut scores. The report’s description of methods and results also includes some troubling inconsistencies. For example the report attempts to use a methodology known as “fixed effects” to analyze test score data in districts outside Milwaukee, but such a methodology is not possible with the data described in the report. Thus, concludes Professor Shear, while the report does present important descriptive statistics about test score performance in Wisconsin, it wrongly claims to provide answers for those interested in determining which schools or school choice policies in Wisconsin are most effective. Find the review by Benjamin Shear at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-milwaukee-vouchers Find Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, by Will Flanders, published by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, at: http://www.will-law.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/apples.pdf The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Wind and precipitation play a crucial role in advancing or delaying the breeding cycles of North American tree swallows, according to the results of a new University of Colorado Boulder-led study. The research, which appears today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, sheds new light on how wet, windy weather can affect tree swallow nesting and underscores the importance of considering factors beyond temperature when examining how climate change might affect species' biological niche. Over the past decade and a half, the average egg hatching date for tree swallows -- a common migratory bird species that winters in temperate southern climates before nesting in the spring at sites across North America, including the sub-Arctic regions covered in the study -- has shifted earlier in the year by an average of six days. This change is similar to, but considerably greater than, changes seen in more southerly sites and until now has been believed to correlate with rising temperatures. However, when CU Boulder researchers tested how swallow nesting data from two different Alaskan sites corresponded with both daily and seasonal climate indicators like the number of windy days, days with measureable precipitation and average daily temperature, they found that windiness (or lack thereof) had the most consistent correlation with swallow breeding patterns over time. "We expected that temperature and precipitation would be much more strongly predictive than wind," said Daniel Doak, a professor in CU Boulder's Environmental Studies Program and the co-author of the new research. "The study demonstrates that fine-scale climate effects are important to consider when thinking about what's going to affect a species." The study developed as a result of a CU Boulder undergraduate's research efforts. Rachel Irons, then a junior in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, received a UROP grant and worked with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on a long-term tree swallow nesting study to fulfill her senior thesis requirements. "Swallow phenology in Alaska is shifting at twice the rate of the continental U.S.," said Irons, who is the lead author of the new paper. "I figured it was related to temperature, but I added in wind and precipitation measurements just to get the whole climate picture." The results showed that a long-term decline in windiness (and to a more variable extent, rain) in central Alaska over the past decade-plus correlated with the birds' earlier breeding much more strongly than temperature, indicating that wet, windy spring weather that may have delayed egg laying in the past is now less of an impediment for the swallows. The authors noted that while it is not necessarily surprising that wind and rain would affect an aerial foraging species like tree swallows, the findings emphasize the need to broaden the scope of consideration when making predictions about which climate mechanisms will influence population ecology. "This shows that our initial intuitions are not always good about what's going to impact these birds and their patterns," said Doak. Additional co-authors of the new study include Alexandra Rose of CU Boulder; April Harding Scurr and Tricia Blake of the Alaska Songbird Institute; and Julie Hagelin of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Current wildfire policy can't adequately protect people, homes and ecosystems from the longer, hotter fire seasons climate change is causing, according to a new paper led by the University of Colorado Boulder. Efforts to extinguish every blaze and reduce the buildup of dead wood and forest undergrowth are becoming increasingly inadequate on their own. Instead, the authors -- a team of wildfire experts -- urge policymakers and communities to embrace policy reform that will promote adaptation to increasing wildfire and warming. "Wildfire is catching up to us," said lead author Tania Schoennagel, a research scientist at CU Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. "We're learning our old tools aren't enough and we need to approach wildfire differently." This means accepting wildfire as an inevitable part of the landscape, states the new paper published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The western U.S. has seen a 2-degrees-Celsius rise in annual average temperature and lengthening of the fire season by almost three months since the 1970s; both elements contribute to what the authors refer to as the "new era of western wildfires." This pattern of bigger, hotter fires, along with the influx of homes into fire-prone areas--over 2 million since 1990--has made wildfire vastly more costly and dangerous. "For a long time, we've thought that if we try harder and do better, we can get ahead of wildfire and reduce the risks," said Schoennagel, who also is an adjunct faculty member in CU Boulder's Geography Department. "We can no longer do that. This is bigger than us and we're going to have to adapt to wildfire rather than the other way around." As part of this adaptation process, the authors advocate for actions that may be unpopular, such as allowing more fires to burn largely unimpeded in wildland areas and intentionally setting more fires, or "controlled burns," to reduce natural fuels like undergrowth in more developed areas. Both these steps would reduce future risk and help ecosystems adapt to increasing wildfire and warming. They also argue for reforming federal, state and local policies that have the unintended consequence of encouraging people to develop in fire-prone areas. Currently, federal taxpayers pick up the tab for preventing and fighting western wildfires--a cost that has averaged some $2 billion a year in recent years. If states and counties were to bear more of that cost, it would provide incentive to adopt planning efforts and fire-resistant building codes that would reduce risk. Re-targeting forest thinning efforts is another beneficial reform suggested by the authors. The federal government has spent some $5 billion since 2006 on thinning dense forests and removing fuel from some 7 million hectares (17 million acres) of land, often in remote areas. But these widespread efforts have done little to reduce record-setting fires. Directing thinning projects to particularly high-risk areas, including communities in fire-prone regions and forests in particularly dry areas, would increase adaptation to wildfire, the authors said. Additionally, as climate change forces species to move their ranges, some may vanish entirely. Familiar landscapes will disappear, a fact that makes many people balk. But such changes, including those caused by wildfire, could be necessary for the environment in the long run, says Max Moritz, a fire scientist at the University of California Cooperative Extension and a co-author on the paper. "We need the foresight to help guide these ecosystems in a healthy direction now so they can adjust in pace with our changing climate," he said. "That means embracing some changes while we have a window to do so." Critical to making a policy of adaptation successful, said Schoennagel, will be education and changing people's perception of wildfire. "We have to learn that wildfire is inevitable, in the same way that droughts and flooding are. We've tried to control fire, but it's not a control we can maintain. Like other natural disasters, we have to learn to adapt."


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

All stakeholders in the scientific research enterprise -- researchers, institutions, publishers, funders, scientific societies, and federal agencies - should improve their practices and policies to respond to threats to the integrity of research WASHINGTON - All stakeholders in the scientific research enterprise -- researchers, institutions, publishers, funders, scientific societies, and federal agencies - should improve their practices and policies to respond to threats to the integrity of research, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Actions are needed to ensure the availability of data necessary for reproducing research, clarify authorship standards, protect whistleblowers, and make sure that negative as well as positive research findings are reported, among other steps. The report stresses the important role played by institutions and environments - not only individual researchers -- in supporting scientific integrity. And it recommends the establishment of an independent, nonprofit Research Integrity Advisory Board to support ongoing efforts to strengthen research integrity. The board should work with all stakeholders in the research enterprise to share expertise and approaches for minimizing and addressing research misconduct and detrimental practices. "The research enterprise is not broken, but it faces significant challenges in creating the conditions needed to foster and sustain the highest standards of integrity," said Robert Nerem, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and Institute Professor and Parker H. Petit Professor Emeritus, Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology. "To meet these challenges, all parties in the research enterprise need to take deliberate steps to strengthen the self-correcting mechanisms that are part of research and to better align the realities of research with its values and ideals." A growing body of evidence indicates that substantial percentages of published results in some fields are not reproducible, the report says, noting that this is a complex phenomenon and much remains to be learned. While a certain level of irreproducibility due to unknown variables or errors is a normal part of research, data falsification and detrimental research practices -- such as inappropriate use of statistics or after-the-fact fitting of hypotheses to previously collected data -- apparently also play a role. In addition, new forms of detrimental research practices are appearing, such as predatory journals that do little or no editorial review or quality control of papers while charging authors substantial fees. And the number of retractions of journal articles has increased, with a significant percentage of those retractions due to research misconduct. The report cautions, however, that this increase does not necessarily indicate that the incidence of misconduct is increasing, as more-vigilant scrutiny by the community may be a contributing factor. The report endorses the definition of scientific misconduct proposed in the 1992 Academies report Responsible Science: "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reporting research." However, many practices that have until now been categorized as "questionable" research practices - for example, misleading use of statistics that falls short of falsification, and failure to retain research data -- should be recognized as "detrimental" research practices, the new report says. Detrimental research practices should be understood to include not only actions of individual researchers but also irresponsible or abusive actions by research institutions and journals. "The research process goes beyond the actions of individual researchers," said Nerem. "Research institutions, journals, scientific societies, and other parts of the research enterprise all can act in ways that either support or undermine integrity in research." Because research institutions play a central role in fostering research integrity, they should maintain the highest standards for research conduct, going beyond simple compliance with federal regulations and applying these standards to all research independent of the source of funding. Institutions' key responsibilities include creating and sustaining a research culture that fosters integrity and encourages adherence to best practices, as well as monitoring the integrity of their research environments. Senior leaders at each institution -- the president, other senior executives, and faculty leaders -- should guide and be actively engaged in these tasks. Furthermore, they must have the capacity to effectively investigate and address allegations of research misconduct and to address the conflict of interest that institutions may have in conducting these investigations -- for example, by incorporating external perspectives. In addition, research institutions and federal agencies should ensure that good faith whistleblowers - those who raise concerns about the integrity of research - are protected and their concerns addressed in a fair, thorough, and timely manner. Inadequate responses to such concerns have been a critical point of failure in many cases of misconduct where investigations were delayed or sidetracked. Currently, standards for transparency in many fields and disciplines do not adequately support reproducibility and the ability to build on previous work, the report says. Research sponsors and publishers should ensure that the information needed for a person knowledgeable about the field and its techniques to reproduce the reported results is made available at the time of publication or as soon as possible after that. Federal funding agencies and other research sponsors should also allocate sufficient funds to enable the long-term storage, archiving, and access of datasets and code necessary to replicate published findings. Researchers should routinely disclose all statistical tests carried out, including negative findings, the report says. Available evidence indicates that scientific publications are biased against presenting negative results and that the publication of negative results is on the decline. But routine reporting of negative findings will help avoid unproductive duplication of research and make research spending more productive. Dissemination of negative results also has prompted a questioning of established paradigms, leading ultimately to groundbreaking new discoveries. Research sponsors, research institutions, and journals should support and encourage this level of transparency. Scientific societies and journals should develop clear disciplinary authorship standards based on the principle that those who have made a significant intellectual contribution are authors. Those who engage in these activities should be designated as authors, and all authors should approve the final manuscript. Universal condemnation by all disciplines of gift or honorary authorship, coercive authorship, and ghost authorship would also contribute to changing the culture of research environments where these practices are still accepted. To bring a unified focus to addressing challenges in fostering research integrity across all disciplines and sectors, the report urges the establishment of a nonprofit, independent Research Integrity Advisory Board. The RIAB could facilitate the exchange of information on approaches to assessing and creating environments of the highest integrity and to handling allegations of misconduct and investigations. It could provide advice, support, encouragement, and where helpful advocacy on what needs to be done by research institutions, journal and book publishers, and other stakeholders in the research enterprise. The RIAB would have no direct role in investigations, regulation, or accreditation; instead it will serve as a neutral resource that helps the research enterprise respond to challenges. In addition, the report recommends that government agencies and private foundations fund research to quantify conditions in the research environment that may be linked to research misconduct and detrimental research practices, and to develop responses to these conditions. The study was sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation, the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Society for Neuroscience, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit http://national-academies. . A roster follows. Sara Frueh, Media Officer Joshua Blatt, Media Assistant Office of News and Public Information 202-334-2138; e-mail news@nas.edu national-academies.org/newsroom Follow us on Twitter at @theNASEM Copies of Fostering Integrity in Research are available from the National Academies Press on the Internet at http://www. or by calling 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above). Robert M. Nerem1,2 (chair) Institute Professor and Parker H. Petit Professor Emeritus Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Ann M. Arvin2 Lucile Packard Professor of Pediatrics, Vice Provost and Dean of Research, and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Stanford University Stanford, Calif. C.K. (Tina) Gunsalus Director National Center for Professional and Research Ethics University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Deborah G. Johnson Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor Emeritus of Applied Ethics Department of Science, Technology, and Society School of Engineering and Applied Science University of Virginia Charlottesville Michael A. Keller Ida M. Green University Librarian, and Director of Academic Information Resources University Libraries and Academic Information Resources Stanford University Stanford, Calif. W. Carl Lineberger3 E.U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Fellow JILA University of Colorado Boulder Victoria Stodden Associate Professor of Statistics Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Sara E. Wilson Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Academic Director Bioengineering Graduate Program University of Kansas Lawrence Paul R. Wolpe Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, and Director Center for Ethics Emory University Atlanta 1 Member, National Academy of Engineering 2 Member, National Academy of Medicine 3 Member, National Academy of Sciences

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