Temporal and Spatial Analysis of Neural Tube Defects and Detection of Geographical Factors in Shanxi Province, China

PLOS_ONEPLOS ONE, Published 21 April 2016

By Yilan Liao, Yan Zhang, Lei He, Jinfeng Wang, Xin Liu, Ningxu Zhang, and Bing Xu

Background: Neural tube defects (NTDs) are congenital birth defects that occur in the central nervous system, and they have the highest incidence among all birth defects. Shanxi Province in China has the world’s highest rate of NTDs. Since the 1990s, China’s government has worked on many birth defect prevention programs to reduce the occurrence of NTDs, such as pregnancy planning, health education, genetic counseling, antenatal ultrasonography and serological screening. However, the rate of NTDs in Shanxi Province is still higher than the world’s average morbidity rate after intervention. In addition, Shanxi Province has abundant coal reserves, and is the largest coal production province in China. The objectives of this study are to determine the temporal and spatial variation of the NTD rate in rural areas of Shanxi Province, China, and identify geographical environmental factors that were associated with NTDs in the risk area.

Methods: In this study, Heshun County and Yuanping County in Shanxi Province, which have high incidence of NTDs, were selected as the study areas. Two paired sample T test was used to analyze the changes in the risk of NTDs from the time dimension. Ripley’s k function and spatial filtering were combined with geographic information system (GIS) software to study the changes in the risk of NTDs from the spatial dimension. In addition, geographical detectors were used to identify the risk geographical environmental factors of NTDs in the study areas, especially the areas close to the coal sites and main roads.

Cluster areas of Neural Tube Defects in Heshun County and Yuanping County.

Cluster areas of Neural Tube Defects in Heshun County and Yuanping County.

Results: In both Heshun County and Yuanping County, the incidence of NTDs was significantly (P<0.05) reduced after intervention. The results from spatial analysis showed that significant spatial heterogeneity existed in both counties. NTD clusters were still identified in areas close to coal sites and main roads after interventions. This study also revealed that the elevation, fault and soil types always had a larger influence on the incidence of NTDs in our study areas. In addition, distance to the river was a risk factor of NTDs in areas close to the coal sites and main roads.

Conclusion: The existing interventions may have played an important role to reduce the incidence of NTDs. However, there is still spatial heterogeneity in both counties after using the traditional intervention methods. The government needs to take more measures to strengthen the environmental restoration to prevent the occurrence of NTDs, especially those areas close to coal sites and main roads. The outcome of this research provides an important theoretical basis and technical support for the government to prevent the occurrence of NTDs.”

Geostatistical interpolation model selection based on ArcGIS and spatio-temporal variability analysis of groundwater level in piedmont plains, northwest China

SpringerPlus, Published 11 April 2016

By Yong Xiao, Xiaomin Gu, Shiyang YinEmail author, Jingli Shao, Yali Cui, Qiulan Zhang, and Yong Niu

“Based on the geo-statistical theory and ArcGIS geo-statistical module, datas of 30 groundwater level observation wells were used to estimate the decline of groundwater level in Beijing piedmont. Seven different interpolation methods (inverse distance weighted interpolation, global polynomial interpolation, local polynomial interpolation, tension spline interpolation, ordinary Kriging interpolation, simple Kriging interpolation and universal Kriging interpolation) were used for interpolating groundwater level between 2001 and 2013. Cross-validation, absolute error and coefficient of determination (R2) was applied to evaluate the accuracy of different methods.

Groundwater level drawdown during 2001 and 2013.

Groundwater level drawdown during 2001 and 2013.

“The result shows that simple Kriging method gave the best fit. The analysis of spatial and temporal variability suggest that the nugget effects from 2001 to 2013 were increasing, which means the spatial correlation weakened gradually under the influence of human activities. The spatial variability in the middle areas of the alluvial–proluvial fan is relatively higher than area in top and bottom. Since the changes of the land use, groundwater level also has a temporal variation, the average decline rate of groundwater level between 2007 and 2013 increases compared with 2001–2006. Urban development and population growth cause over-exploitation of residential and industrial areas. The decline rate of the groundwater level in residential, industrial and river areas is relatively high, while the decreasing of farmland area and development of water-saving irrigation reduce the quantity of water using by agriculture and decline rate of groundwater level in agricultural area is not significant.”

Polar Challenge: Creating an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for Under Sea-Ice Exploration

World Ocean CouncilWorld Ocean Council Partners with World Climate Research Programme and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation to Promote Industry Involvement in Polar Research Innovation

The World Ocean Council (WOC) is working to foster private sector participation in the Polar Challenge – a competition to develop an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) capable of a 2,000 km mission under the sea-ice in the Arctic or Antarctic, with a prize of 500,000 Swiss francs to the winner.

The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation hope the competition will stimulate innovation towards a cost-effective, autonomous and scalable observing network for ice-covered ocean regions.

“With the Polar Challenge, we hope to open new horizons in under-ice navigation,
endurance and environmental monitoring that is vital to understanding polar oceans,” said WCRP Director David Carlson.

“The reliability of long-term climate change outlooks in polar regions is severely limited by the scarcity and cost of observations of the sea-ice and below,” emphasized WCRP Senior Scientist Michel Rixen. “New generation AUVs such as underwater gliders provide a potential cost-effective option for scaling up observing networks for the Polar regions,” added Mr Rixen.

WOC CEO, Paul Holthus, noted that, “The use of AUVs and other intensive data collection technology can be cost-effectively augmented by harnessing the use of commercial vessels for data collection as they operate in polar waters, and we are working to advance this through the WOC ‘Smart Ocean-Smart Industries’ program.”

Currently AUVs are primarily used in ice-free zones, where they can surface to get a GPS fix and transmit data, e.g. temperature, salinity, chlorophyll and acidity. But under the sea-ice, the operating range, positioning and data transmission are a major challenge. Progress on power systems, navigation and communication create the potential to expand the scope of AUVs to under sea-ice operations. The Polar Challenge advances WCRP research priorities in polar oceans and will contribute to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) polar initiatives that benefit the wider community (weather, ocean, environment, safety, transport, energy, tourism, etc).

The WCRP invites contributions from all relevant stakeholders and provides more details, including competition rules and registration, at: www.wcrp-climate.org/polarchallenge.

The Polar Challenge was announced last week at the Arctic Observing Summit (AOS), in Fairbanks, Alaska. WOC co-organized the private sector theme sessions of the Arctic Observing Summit, which addressed industry experience in, and needs for, Arctic observations and data, and culminated in a workshop on fostering data collection and sharing by industry.

The AOS brought together 450 delegates from 30 countries – representing industry, science, indigenous peoples, government agencies, and NGOs. The AOS 2016 Conference Statement outlines seven major recommendations for developing a pathway towards an internationally supported, pan-Arctic observing system. Click here for the AOS Statement.

Habitat-based cetacean density models for the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 22615, Published Online 03 March 2016

By Jason J. Roberts, Benjamin D. Best, Laura Mannocci, Ei Fujioka, Patrick N. Halpin, Debra L. Palka, Lance P. Garrison, Keith D. Mullin, Timothy V. N. Cole, Christin B. Khan, William A. McLellan, D. Ann Pabst, and Gwen G. Lockhart

“Cetaceans are protected worldwide but vulnerable to incidental harm from an expanding array of human activities at sea. Managing potential hazards to these highly-mobile populations increasingly requires a detailed understanding of their seasonal distributions and habitats. Pursuant to the urgent need for this knowledge for the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, we integrated 23 years of aerial and shipboard cetacean surveys, linked them to environmental covariates obtained from remote sensing and ocean models, and built habitat-based density models for 26 species and 3 multi-species guilds using distance sampling methodology.

Predicted mean density of small delphinoids.

Predicted mean density of small delphinoids.

“In the Atlantic, for 11 well-known species, model predictions resembled seasonal movement patterns previously suggested in the literature. For these we produced monthly mean density maps. For lesser-known taxa, and in the Gulf of Mexico, where seasonal movements were less well described, we produced year-round mean density maps. The results revealed high regional differences in small delphinoid densities, confirmed the importance of the continental slope to large delphinoids and of canyons and seamounts to beaked and sperm whales, and quantified seasonal shifts in the densities of migratory baleen whales. The density maps, freely available online, are the first for these regions to be published in the peer-reviewed literature.”

A submarine landslide source for the devastating 1964 Chenega tsunami, southern Alaska

epEarth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 438, 15 March 2016, Pages 112–121

By Daniel S. Brothers, Peter J. Haeussler, Lee Liberty, David Finlayson, Eric Geist, Keith Labay, and Mike Byerly

“Highlights:

  • New geophysical evidence for a large landslide complex offshore Chenega Island.
  • Pervasive failure of glacimarine sediment along a perched sedimentary basin.
  • Earthquake-triggered submarine landslides are likely cause of tsunami in 1964.
  • Landslides display complex flow evolution from source area to deposition.

“During the 1964 Great Alaska earthquake (MwMw 9.2), several fjords, straits, and bays throughout southern Alaska experienced significant tsunami runup of localized, but unexplained origin. Dangerous Passage is a glacimarine fjord in western Prince William Sound, which experienced a tsunami that devastated the village of Chenega where 23 of 75 inhabitants were lost – the highest relative loss of any community during the earthquake. Previous studies suggested the source of the devastating tsunami was either from a local submarine landslide of unknown origin or from coseismic tectonic displacement. Here we present new observations from high-resolution multibeam bathymetry and seismic reflection surveys conducted in the waters adjacent to the village of Chenega. The seabed morphology and substrate architecture reveal a large submarine landslide complex in water depths of 120–360 m.

7.3-D perspective view of shaded relief bathymetry offshore Chenega village.

7.3-D perspective view of shaded relief bathymetry offshore Chenega village.

“Analysis of bathymetric change between 1957 and 2014 indicates the upper 20–50 m (∼0.7 km3) of glacimarine sediment was destabilized and evacuated from the steep face of a submerged moraine and an adjacent ∼21 km2 perched sedimentary basin. Once mobilized, landslide debris poured over the steep, 130 m-high face of a deeper moraine and then blanketed the terminal basin (∼465 m water depth) in 11±5 m11±5 m of sediment. These results, combined with inverse tsunami travel-time modeling, suggest that earthquake-triggered submarine landslides generated the tsunami that struck the village of Chenega roughly 4 min after shaking began. Unlike other tsunamigenic landslides observed in and around Prince William Sound in 1964, the failures in Dangerous Passage are not linked to an active submarine delta. The requisite environmental conditions needed to generate large submarine landslides in glacimarine fjords around the world may be more common than previously thought.”

Visualizing Impact of Youth Leadership for the Natural World: Jane Goodall Launches Tapestry of Hope Interactive Map

Famed primatologist and conservationist launches new online tool with Esri at COP21 in Paris

Today, with deep thanks to Esri, Dr. Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute are launching the Tapestry of Hope, an interactive online tool to visualize the thousands of projects led by young people around the globe who are passionate about protecting our shared environment.

As world leaders struggle to make progress in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dr. Jane Goodall, spreading her message of hope for our world, is calling on each of us to take action ourselves to protect our natural world.

Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, Dr. Jane Goodall, through her Roots & Shoots program, has inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the globe to take action to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment. Together, these individual actions weave together a story of true impact—a narrative of change for what Dr. Goodall has come to call the Tapestry of Hope.

PressRelease_JGI_TapestryofHope_151207 (2)

“The launch of Tapestry of Hope reflects just a snapshot of the projects young leaders have led in the past several years through Roots & Shoots,” said Erin Viera, associate vice­-president of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. “Moving forward, the map will be a critical tool to document, manage, visualize and share the actions and impacts of Roots & Shoots projects that are making a positive difference for the environment, animals and people. The map will continue to grow and populate with the launch of each new Roots & Shoots community project that young people continue to pioneer around the world.”

“Esri and the Jane Goodall Institute have collaborated on conservation programs across Africa for more than ten years now. These projects have included applications ranging from using geospatial technologies for chimpanzee behavior research in Gombe to supporting the development and implementation of conservation action plans and improving village land use using geodesign and community mapping across East Africa and Congo basin,” said Dr. Lilian Pintea, the Jane Goodall Institute’s vice-president of conservation science.

Esri technology that powers the mapping behind JGI’s conservation work forms the basis of the Tapestry of Hope. The map connects the work of young people around the world with other young people who are passionately making the world we all share a better place through local projects.

In addition to documenting and visualizing the work of young people around the world, the Tapestry of Hope map serves to further Dr. Jane Goodall’s message of hope. It brings together the critical observations, creative ideas and clever solutions of thousands of passionate young minds all working to make a difference in the world. It represents and inspires a global movement of change showing that young people care about the future of the world they are inheriting, and are taking action. It is for this reason Dr. Jane Goodall, and everyone everywhere can know there is hope for the future of our world.

To access the Tapestry of Hope, visit storymaps.esri.com/stories/2015/tapestry­of­hope.

About the Jane Goodall Institute

Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall’s pioneering research on chimpanzee behavior started more than 50 years ago — research that transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Today, the Institute is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It also is widely recognized for establishing innovative community­-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, the global environmental and humanitarian program for youth of all ages, which has groups in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit: janegoodall.org.

About Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots

Founded in 1991 by Dr. Jane Goodall and a group of Tanzanian students, the Roots & Shoots program is about making positive change happen — for our communities, for animals and for the environment. With hundreds of thousands of young people in more than 120 countries, the Roots & Shoots network connects youth of all ages who share a desire to create a better world.

Young people identify problems in their communities and take action. Through service projects, youth­-led campaigns and an interactive website, Roots & Shoots members are making a difference across the globe. For more information, please visit rootsandshoots.org.

About Esri

Since 1969, Esri has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS technology, Esri software is used in more than 350,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two­-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. Esri applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world’s mapping and spatial analysis. Esri is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms.

[Source: Jane Goodall Institute press release]

Protected areas in Borneo may fail to conserve tropical forest biodiversity under climate change

405853Biological Conservation, Volume 184, April 2015, Pages 414–423

By Sarah A. Scriven, Jenny A. Hodgson, Colin J. McClean, and Jane K. Hill

“Protected areas (PAs) are key for conserving rainforest species, but many PAs are becoming increasingly isolated within agricultural landscapes, which may have detrimental consequences for the forest biota they contain. We examined the vulnerability of PA networks to climate change by examining connectivity of PAs along elevation gradients. We used the PA network on Borneo as a model system, and examined changes in the spatial distribution of climate conditions in future. A large proportion of PAs will not contain analogous climates in future (based on temperature projections for 2061–2080), potentially requiring organisms to move to cooler PAs at higher elevation, if they are to track climate changes.

Map of Borneo showing location of refuge (n = 30) and source PAs (n = 210). Source PAs are shaded according to the minimum dispersal ability required for individuals to successfully reach target PAs (assuming 100% forest cover in PAs, a population density of 125 individuals per 250 m forest grid cell and using RCP8.5 temperature projections).

Map of Borneo showing location of refuge (n = 30) and source PAs (n = 210). Source PAs are shaded according to the minimum dispersal ability required for individuals to successfully reach target PAs (assuming 100% forest cover in PAs, a population density of 125 individuals per 250 m forest grid cell and using RCP8.5 temperature projections).

“For the highest warming scenario (RCP8.5), few (11–12.5%; 27–30/240) PAs were sufficiently topographically diverse for analogous climate conditions (present-day equivalent or cooler) to remain in situ. For the remaining 87.5–89% (210–213/240) of PAs, which were often situated at low elevation, analogous climate will only be available in higher elevation PAs. However, over half (60–82%) of all PAs on Borneo are too isolated for poor dispersers (<1 km per generation) to reach cooler PAs, because there is a lack of connecting forest habitat. Even under the lowest warming scenario (RCP2.6), analogous climate conditions will disappear from 61% (146/240) of PAs, and a large proportion of these are too isolated for poor dispersers to reach cooler PAs. Our results suggest that low elevation PAs are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and management to improve linkage of PAs along elevation gradients should be a conservation priority.”