Investigations of meltwater refreezing and density variations in the snowpack and firn within the percolation zone of the Greenland ice sheet

first_imgThe mass balance of polythermal ice masses is critically dependent on the proportion of surface-generated meltwater that subsequently refreezes in the snowpack and firn. In order to quantify this effect and to characterize its spatial variability, we measured near-surface (26%, resulting in a 32% increase in net accumulation. This ‘seasonal densification’ increased at lower elevations, rising to 47% 10 km closer to the ice-sheet margin at 1860 m a. s. l. Density/depth profiles from nine sites within 1 km2 at ∼1945 m a.s.l. reveal complex stratigraphies that change over short spatial scales and seasonally. We conclude that estimates of mass-balance change cannot be calculated solely from observed changes in surface elevation, but that near-surface densification must also be considered. However, predicting spatial and temporal variations in densification may not be straightforward. Further, the development of complex firn-density profiles both masks discernible annual layers in the near-surface firn and ice stratigraphy and is likely to introduce error into radar-derived estimates of surface elevation.last_img read more

Eureka’s own field of dreams

first_imgThe Humboldt B52s open their season at home to the Fresno A’s tonight, as they continue to build on a new tradition for the club.For the past four years the semi pro summer team has undergone a huge transformation, with new management, a new direction and most definitely a new-look ballpark.“The field looks great,” player/GM Jeff Giacomini said. “It’s never looked this good. It’s comparable to any minor league field anywhere.”Since taking over the running of the club in 2015, Giacomini has …last_img

Natural Selection: The Ghost Idol of Biology

first_img(Visited 395 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 A spirit that works in mysterious ways. Biologists cannot nail it down, but insist it can turn bacteria into biologists.You could give Natural Selection (NS) a different name, and it would be as useless for explaining nature as NumbSkull, the spirit that explains everything according to a mythical caveman community. NumbSkull make mammoth come. NumbSkull make sky rain. NumbSkull make fire hot. Like NumbSkull, natural selection—or selection for short—is the default explanation for every observation. This ghostly spirit with mystical powers, able to take an RNA molecule and evolve it into a biochemist, works miracles, given millions of years. Don’t believe it? Incensed at this assault on a powerful scientific consensus? Shocked at blasphemy against the great Darwin? Let facts be submitted to a candid world.(Note: read previous entry posted 10 Jan 2019 about “Clarifying the Claim” and “What to Look For” in scientific explanations using the idea of natural selection. In the following examples, you will find lots of bluff and bluster written in the dialect of Jargonwocky, but nothing of substance. In some cases, you will see failed predictions of NS: surprising results that contradicted expectations.)Natural selection in the womb can explain health problems in adulthood (Medical Xpress). This article shows that the PhD’s at Columbia University don’t even understand their own theory. NS has nothing to do with childbirth. There’s no innovation, no origin of species here. They’re talking about inheritance of cells that survive embryonic development within the human species! “Rather than being programmed by the environment, random differences in gene expression may provide some embryos with a survival advantage, in particular when conditions are harsh.” Oh good grief. Conditions are always harsh, especially for Mom, but each one pops out as Homo sapiens sapiens.How do complex animal signals evolve? (PLoS Biology). Author Chad M. Eliason uses “selection” 20 times. He argues about whether traits evolve more by natural selection or by sexual selection (Darwin’s 1872 hypothesis for traits that cannot be explained by natural selection). This provides him with endless forms most beautiful for storytelling: when NumbSkull’s explanations fail, bring in his consort SexySkull. Scanning the paper for instances of selection, one finds Eliason embroiled in the scientific controversies about how these pseudo-forces work and interact. Can any reader find anything that is solid, demonstrable, or measurable here? No; it’s all guesswork. For instance, after admitting how complex animal adornments are, he shows that selection can explain opposite things:signal traits are a classic system for studying how sexual selection works because of the increased strength and constancy of sexual selection compared to natural selection [6] and the greater potential for rapid trait divergence if traits and preferences are genetically linked [7]. The idea that sexual selection drives signal diversity, as first emphasized by West-Eberhard [7], has been an important yet controversial idea in biology. For example, Seddon and colleagues [8] showed that sexual selection promotes trait divergence during speciation, while recent theoretical work [9] suggests that sexual selection might instead limit signal divergence in some contexts. This disagreement might arise, in part, from our lack of understanding of how signals are produced or whether and how signals are evolving under natural and/or sexual selection. A third explanation for disagreement over the role of social selection in driving signal diversity might be our lack of understanding of the interrelationships between different aspects of complex signals.Which, being translated, says, ‘It could be this, or it could be that, or it could be something else, but there is disagreement, so we have a lack of understanding.’ Thank you, O great NumbSkull, for the wisdom you bestow on us clueless evolutionists.Darwin’s finches choose parent lookalikes as mates (Nature). Here we go with Darwin’s finches again. Spurgin and Chapman say,A preference for mating with similar individuals can have a key role in speciation. Research on Darwin’s finches suggests that individuals might use the likeness of their parents as a guide for choosing mates.But if that is true, based on recent work by the Grants who have wasted their careers looking for evidence to support Darwin’s theory in finch beaks, then the behavior of mate choice is opposite the mythical forces of natural or sexual selection. Birds who mate with birds that look like their parents are not going to evolve; they are going to stay the same. There’s no speciation or innovation here. “Sexual imprinting” would bring evolution to a standstill. The authors revert to futureware to keep their dream alive: “Disentangling the roles of inherited and learnt mate preferences, and their consequences for speciation, is a key challenge for the future.” All that work for nothing? Peter and Rosemary Grant could still rescue their careers by explaining birds with intelligent design. That’s a lot more useful and interesting than tiny millimeter changes in beak size within subspecies that can still interbreed or hybridize.Limits of long-term selection against Neandertal introgression (PNAS). Archaic DNA expert Svante Pääbo and friends use the word selection a whopping 51 times in this paper. Does it help? Well, sort of. It helps undermine selection by showing that NumbSkull keeps NS from working! (Remember: purifying selection and negative selection, if they do anything at all, preserve or destroy genetic information: they do not lead to innovation or speciation.) Browse all 51 instances; there is no innovation, no positive selection, no speciation. The authors don’t come to any trustworthy facts to make a case for selection, that ghost of a mysterious agent behind evolution.Together, these demonstrate that the actions of selection against Neandertal sequence are not fully captured by the models presented here. Although it is beyond the scope of this work, it may be possible to leverage distributions of Neandertal ancestry in studying the action of selection in noncoding sequence. Challenges associated with such work include the uncertainty of the DFE [distribution of fitness effects] of mutations affecting noncoding sequence, and their dominance coefficients, potential epistatic effects of regulatory mutations, as well as the fact that a single deleterious mutation can affect a region falling into multiple functional categories at once.Epistatic effects and pleiotropy can undermine any potentially beneficial mutations by causing damage elsewhere, like the proverbial worker who finally gets the ends to meet, only to see it come apart in the middle. The only possible thing selection is doing is operating a tug-of-war: the spirit of negative selection trying to get Neanderthal DNA out of the human genome, fighting the spirit of purifying selection trying to keep it in. It’s all subjective, foggy, and uncertain. How is copious application of Darwin Flubber helping us understand biology?The evolution of sex determination associated with a chromosomal inversionJargonwocky (Nature Communications). Wade through the jargon of this paper if you must, but the upshot is another scenario using ‘selection’ as a magic wand. Their hypothesis suggests that “a new male-determining gene evolved in the inversion in response to selection against impaired male fertility in a hybridized population” of stickleback fish. Whoopee; more purifying selection. As usual, this hypothesis scores high on the perhapsimaybecouldness index. There’s nothing measurable, nothing certain, nothing trustworthy. There’s no innovation, positive selection, or origin of species. You could take the word ‘selection’ out of the paper completely and not lose anything of value for biology. This new hypothesis (actually “suggestion”) seems hardly better than its predecessors – and look what the authors have to say about them! We clarify thoughts in brackets.Extensive theoretical studies have proposed several hypothetical models for the evolution of sex determination systems, such as genetic drift [which is just chance!], pleiotropic benefits [for example? Pleiotropy is more likely to cause damage than benefit], sex ratio selection [circular], and sexual antagonism [the war of the sexes does not create innovation]. Most of these models emphasize the importance of natural selection on fitness differences that are directly caused by, or indirectly associated with, a novel locus [chance] as a driving force [chance is not a force!] promoting transitions in sex determination systems. Despite the extensive theoretical work, possible empirical evidence is currently available only, to our knowledge, from a case study for the sexual antagonism hypothesis [the war of the sexes as Creator?], in which novel sex determiners evolve near sexually antagonistic genes by resolving intralocus sexual conflict [what? Ghost whispering wrapped in jargon]. Accordingly, the mechanisms that lead to transitions in sex determination systems remain mostly unknown. In particular, it is of fundamental importance to understand the factors that destabilize an existing sex determination system and drive the evolution of a new system. [Destabilization is observable; evolution of a new system is the problem at issue!]After all these years of appealing to NS, now they tell us: it leaves them clueless! Natural selection theory has done nothing to bring understanding! The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, somewhere out there in futureland.That’s about all we can take for today. This gets so tiring looking for some beef in the Darwinburger, but somebody has to do it to prove that NS theory is useless. Every paper starts sounding the same: high perhapsimaybecouldness index, speculation, storytelling, futureware, and NO concrete case of anything improving by waving Humpty Darwin’s magic wand of selection. We still haven’t heard from any supporters of natural selection as valid science. Come on. Give us your best shot. Just be prepared for some critical analysis, because we have a lot of experience in distinguishing baloney from beef.last_img read more

Fireworks 2014: Bollywood gears up for big releases

first_imgThe next six months will be all about the clash of the big stars and big films. Bollywood buffs who enjoyed small-budget films high on out-of-the-box ideas such as Queen, Citylights and Filmistaan had a feast for the eyes in the first half of the year. While the second half of 2014 also promises a few small wonders, like every year the focus will be on much-awaited biggies, especially the ones slated to open on the festive dates.Come July and the big screen will be ablaze with the predictable clashes of these films. The audience will get little breathing space, with films starring Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan being lined up right till the end of the year.It will be a cluttered market for the film trade and box-office collections might be affected as business will be divided.”It is going to be hectic second half with all big releases lined up with little time gap. The success of a film is decided in the first and the second week but the audience might still find an overdose of their favourite stars,” says trade analyst Komal Nahta.So far as the 100-crore club is concerned, Bollywood witnessed a lull in the initial months of 2014. Only three films – Salman Khan’s Jai Ho, Arjun Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer 2 States and Akshay Kumar’s Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty – reached that mark, that too not very convincingly. Naturally, all eyes are set on the second half. The tried and tested strategy of releasing a film during a festival week is yetanother reason that most films are releasing nearly at the same time. “Most big stars have a bias towards festival dates. Salman releases his films during Eid, Aamir favours a Christmas release while Shah Rukh Khan famously releases his film during Diwali,” adds Nahta.advertisementLeft, poster of Salman Khan starrer Kick. Right, poster of Shah Rukh Khan starrer Happy New Year.This year, Salman Khan picks his favourite Eid week to release the action thriller Kick, directed by Sajid Nadiadwala. Shah Rukh Khan looks all set to return with Deepika Padukone in Happy New Year on Diwali.  Aamir Khan and Ranbir Kapoor avoided a Christmas clash. Anurag Kashyap preponed the release of his Ranbir-starrer Bombay Velvet to November 28, to avoid a clash with Rajkumar Hirani’s P.K. starring Aamir, which opens on Christmas. Rohit Shetty has chosen Independence Day for Singham Returns starring Ajay Devgn while the Hrithik Roshan-Katrina Kaif starrer Bang Bang will be released on Gandhi Jayanti. Lots of fireworks in store, obviously, but will new records be created this year?KICKSajid Nadiadwala directs Salman Khan & Jacqueline FernandezSCHEDULED FOR: July 25Sajid Nadiadwala’s debut directorial is a remake of a Telugu hit of the same name. The film has created sufficient buzz with its sleek trailer. The trade pundits are watching eagerly because Salman is said to be appearing in a negative shade for the first time in this film. Despite the debacle of Jai Ho, there is tremendous hype about the film.CLASH FACTOR: Salman’s Kick will get a breathing space of about two weeks because Akshay Kumar’s It’s Entertainment has been confirmed for August 8.HAPPY NEW YEARFarah Khan directs Shah Rukh Khan & Deepika PadukoneSCHEDULED FOR: October 23Farah Khan’s latest is this year’s big Diwali release. Her previous outings with SRK have done great business at the boxoffice. After the mammoth success of Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express, the audience is eager to watch Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika return together in this heist thriller. Shot in Dubai, thefilm also has Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani and Vivaan Shah.CLASH FACTOR: Ajay Devgn’s stuntfest Action Jackson, directed by Prabhu Dheva, is scheduled to release on November 7, within a fortnight of Farah’s film.The prospects of both films could suffer.P.K.Aamir Khan stars in the soon-to-release P.K.Rajkumar Hirani directs Aamir Khan & Anushka SharmaSCHEDULED FOR: December 19Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan have been a deadly combination at the box office with their last outing 3 Idiots enjoying Bollywood’s all-time biggest hit status for long. No surprises that P.K. is most anxiously awaited. The film is a satire on Gods and godmen. Aamir has evoked curiosity with his bizarre get-ups on location in Delhi and Jaipur.CLASH FACTOR: Anees Bazmee’s Welcome Back opens on the same date. The film stars John Abraham and Shruti Haasan with Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor and Paresh Rawal.advertisementBOMBAY VELVETThe cast and crew of Bombay Velvet.Anurag Kashyap directs Ranbir Kapoor & Anushka SharmaSCHEDULED FOR: November 28Anurag Kashyap’s film based on Gyan Prakash’s novel Mumbai Fables is set in the ’70s and marks the return of Ranbir Kapoor after his last year’s flop Besharam. Shot extensively in Sri Lanka, the film has Ranbir playing a street fighter and sporting a new look. Anushka plays a jazz singer. Kashyap shifted the film’s release date from December 19 to avoid a clash with the Aamir Khan-starrer P.K.CLASH FACTOR: Shaad Ali’s Kill Dil starring Ranveer Singh and Parineeti Chopra opens a fortnight ahead, and Karan Johar’s Ungli starring Sanjay Dutt and Emraan Hashmi releases the week before. Neither film looks big enough to dent the business of Bombay Velvet.BANG BANGKatrina Kaif, Hrithik Roshan in Bang Bang.Siddharth Anand directs Hrithik Roshan & Katrina KaifSCHEDULED FOR: October 2Siddharth Anand’s new film is an official remake of the Hollywood action comedy Knight And Day starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, which became a worldwide superhit. Hrithik and Katrina shared superb chemistry in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, so the audience is excited about this Bollywood remake. The film has been shot across exotic locations including Greece, Prague and Bangkok, besides in India. It promises some mindblowing stunts.CLASH FACTOR: Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider is also set to release in the same week. However Haider, an official remake of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, will cater to the urban multiplex crowds only, as all Vishal films do.SINGHAM RETURNSAjay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Rohit Shetty.Rohit Shetty directs Ajay Devgn & Kareena KapoorSCHEDULED FOR: August 15Rohit Shetty and Ajay Devgn have always been a hit team and the first Singham was a blockbuster. Both factors work for the film. While Singham was based on the Tamil hit, Singam, the sequel is based on Singam 2, also a big hit. The film brings back Kareena Kapoor as Ajay Devgn’s heroine. She hasn’t had a major hit since Bodyguard.CLASH FACTOR: Singham Returns is slated to open the very next week after Akshay Kumar’s It’s Entertainment.last_img read more

Chiefs up pressure on RCMP Valcourt over release of murdered missing Indigenous

first_imgJorge Barrera APTN National NewsThe Grand Chief of Treaty 6 in Alberta is calling for an independent investigator to review the RCMP’s data on murdered and missing Indigenous women in response to a decision by the Mounties to back a claim by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt that Indigenous perpetrators are responsible for 70 per cent of the solved murders of Indigenous women.During a press conference in Edmonton Friday, Treaty 6 Grand Chief Bernice Martial said the RCMP’s decision to back the 70 per cent statistic has created the need for an independent review of the data on murdered and missing Indigenous women held by the RCMP.“We demand an independent investigator to collect all information and data of missing and murdered Indigenous women held by Statistics Canada and the RCMP,” said Martial, during the Edmonton press conference. “More questions have been raised than answered. We demand answers now.”On Thursday, Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch’s office released to the media a letter written by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and addressed to Martial. In the letter, Paulson said “consolidated data” from about 300 police agencies produced the 70 per cent statistic.Paulson was responding to a letter from Martial who wrote the top Mountie asking for data to back up Valcourt’s claim. Valcourt mentioned the 70 per cent statistic during a closed-door meeting in Calgary last month which Martial attended.The RCMP initially refused to back Valcourt saying its “bias-free policing policy” prevented the federal force from releasing ethnically-based information on perpetrators. Paulson’s decision to confirm the statistic runs counter to the policy.APTN asked the RCMP to explain the decision to release that statistic. The RCMP did not respond.“Why did the RCMP, when for two weeks it stated that they have a bias-free policing policy…all of a sudden change their policy within this time frame?” said Martial.Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde on Friday added his voice to the ongoing controversy and called on the RCMP and Valcourt to share all its information on murdered and missing Indigenous women with First Nations.“It is absolutely unacceptable that important information on a priority issue is being withheld from First Nations,” said Bellegarde, in a statement. “The federal government and the RCMP must immediately release all the information they have to First Nations so we can better understand the current situation and work together toward solutions.”Bellegarde said he would be writing the RCMP to formally request the information.The national chief also took aim at Valcourt for his initial decision to use the statistic to counter public inquiry calls from chiefs during the March Calgary meeting.“Blaming the victim is no longer an option,” said Bellegarde.Martial has called for Valcourt’s resignation.It seems unlikely the RCMP would be willing to release all the information it gathered as part of its project on murdered and missing Indigenous women. While the RCMP released a report last spring and plans to release a second report in May, Paulson said in the letter existing agreements prevented it from releasing all its raw data.Paulson said the RCMP obtained data from Statistics Canada and individual police agencies across the country through signed agreements it would not be disclosing the raw information publicly.As part of its massive project to get a statistical handle on the high number of murdered and missing Indigenous women across the country, the RCMP obtained Statistic Canada’s annual homicide surveys ranging from1980 and 2012. In order to receive the information, the RCMP signed a confidentiality agreement with Stats Can. The RCMP also signed agreements with police departments across the country to obtain their information.Stats Can’s information, however, did not have completely accurate data on whether perpetrators were Aboriginal or not. The RCMP filled in the gaps found in the data by going back to individual police departments and manually reviewing the files.“The RCMP is currently the source of the most complete information on the Aboriginal identity of the accused,” said Stats Can in a statement.For the first time this coming December, Stats Can’s annual homicide survey will include the “Aboriginal identity” of victims and perpetrators.University of Ottawa criminology professor Ronald Melchers said the 70 per cent statistic that is causing so much controversy is likely accurate.“It is very consistent with everything I know,” said Melchers, who has extensive experience studying the intersection between criminal justice statistics and public policy. “A lot of people are saying we don’t know this, or we don’t know that, but we do know this very well.”Melchers said the RCMP was put in a complicated spot when Valcourt’s musings leaked into the public domain.“They did not want to do it, it violates their internal policy,” he said. “But they were forced into it…they did an assessment of what was the public interest, and the public interest was to release the information.”[email protected]@JorgeBarreralast_img read more

Conservatives NDP promise national suicide prevention strategy if elected

first_imgBrittany HobsonAPTN NewsLiberal Leader Justin Trudeau admitted his government needs to do more to combat the high number of youth suicides in Canada but could offer no concrete plans on what the Liberals would do if re-elected this fall.Instead Trudeau highlighted what the party has done over the past four years.“[We’ve] made investments in mental health service workers, in a hotline to help out Indigenous communities, investments in education and in new schools and health centres and investments in Indigenous languages and culture,” Trudeau told reporters while in Winnipeg Thursday afternoon.Earlier this week child advocates from across Canada released a new paper on youth suicides.They also called on the federal government to implement a national suicide prevention strategy.Read More: Child advocates call for a national youth suicide prevention strategyTrudeau said it’s not just about creating a strategy it’s about making investments in Indigenous communities.“Everyday longer we take means more kids are struggling for longer,” he said. “But we have to get this right and we have to do it in the full spirit of respect and partnership.“That has been what our government has been focused on and will continue to be focused on.”First Nation people are dying at much earlier than non-Indigenous people in Manitoba, according to a new study released this week by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba.Researchers say early death rates are three times higher for First Nation people.The report also determined, “approximately 23 per cent of First Nations living on-reserve identified suicide as a community challenge.”In August, God’s Lake First Nation activated a state of emergency because of a suicide crisis. Four young people died by suicide over the summer and another 22 attempted to take their own lives.Trudeau said there is still a long way to go, “what took generations and indeed centuries to break is going to take time to fix.”Brielle Beardy-Linklater is a two-spirit advocate in Manitoba.She wasn’t impressed with what Trudeau told reporters Thursday.“What he needs to be doing is listening when people are talking. Not being defensive by reinstating the same thing over and over, which is being recited because it’s all public relations. It’s all a game,” said Beardy-Linklater.She says youth need more resources and they need them now.“It’s a big problem and it’s growing. It’s an epidemic and we’re being ignored,” said Beardy-Linklater.“Our people are not being heard so this is the time to do it.”What are the other federal parties saying?APTN reached out to each major party and asked if they would implement a national suicide prevention strategy if elected.Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said on Tuesday he will support the development of a national suicide crisis if elected prime minister.“Especially when it relates to Indigenous Canadians, there’s a unique responsibility for the federal government to do that,” Scheer said. “We had a private members bill in our party for a national suicide prevention strategy. That’s something I certainly supported. And will commit to doing more as prime minister to tackle that very issue.The New Democratic Party did not provide a response from party leader Jagmeet Singh.They did refer to a motion Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus tabled earlier this year – but the statement from the party is vague on a strategy.“Youth need to be an important part of a national suicide prevention action plan. Our motion called for an analysis of priority areas and needs, followed by implementation and regular reports to Parliament on implementation,” the statement said.The People’s Party of Canada said they would not.“Health care and social services, including the issue of youth suicide, is an exclusive provincial jurisdiction. Provincial governments already have such prevention strategies. The People’s Party has promised to respect the Constitution and not intervene in these areas. We therefore do not commit to implementing a national strategy if we form government,” Martin Masse, a PPC spokesperson, wrote by email.The Green Party did not [email protected]last_img read more

Local farmers to start canola harvest this week

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With the amounts of rain experienced for most of the summer in Fort St. John and surrounding areas, it looks like farmers are now getting a break in the weather.Kelly Kassian, manager of Viterra in Fort St. John, the crops and fields were affected by the steady rain but are now ready for harvest, starting on canola by the end of this week.“They didn’t mature as fast as we wanted them to because of all the rain and everything but they’re coming along now. We should have some canola start getting swathed down by the end of this week.” As for the peas, Kassian says they will be a bit delayed as they need more sun and time to dry up and mature before they are ready to harvest.According to Kassian, some of the fields were hit hard by the unfavourable weather as some had wet spots and even crops knocked down.Environment Canada is calling for mostly warmer temperatures and sun this week, with a chance of showers on the weekend.last_img read more