China floods to hit US economy: Climate effects through trade chains

Intensifying river floods could lead to regional production losses worldwide caused by global warming. This might not only hamper local economies around the globe — the effects might also propagate through the global network of trade and supply chains, a study now published in Nature Climate Change shows. It is the first to assess this effect for flooding on a global scale, using a newly developed dynamic economic model. It finds that economic flood damages in China, which could, without further adaption, increase by 80 percent within the next 20 years, might also affect EU and US industries. The US economy might be specifically vulnerable due to its unbalanced trade relation with China. Contrary to US president Trump’s current tariff sanctions, the study suggests that building stronger and thus more balanced trade relations might be a useful strategy to mitigate economic losses caused by intensifying weather extremes.

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Tall and older Amazonian forests more resistant to droughts

Tropical rainforests play a critical role in regulating the global climate system — they represent the Earth’s largest terrestrial CO2 sink. Because of its broad geographical expanse and year-long productivity, the Amazon is key to the global carbon and hydrological cycles. Climate change could threaten the fate of rainforests, but there is great uncertainty about the future ability of rainforests to store carbon. While severe droughts have occurred in recent years in the Amazon watershed, causing widespread tree mortality and affecting the forests’ ability to store carbon, the drivers of tropical rainforests’ sensitivity to drought are poorly understood.

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Earth & Climate 

Currents propel the spreading of invasive jellyfish

When the American comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi, also known as sea walnut, conquered the Black Sea as a new habitat 35 years ago, the ecosystem there changed sustainably. The economically important anchovy stocks collapsed since the fish had to compete with the jellyfish for food. Against this background, scientists, fisheries associations and environmental authorities were alarmed when, in 2005, the sea walnut also appeared in northern European waters. Although effects similar to those in the Black Sea have not been observed in the Baltic and in the North Sea yet, scientists are still closely monitoring the development — particularly since many questions on invasion pathways are still largely unclear.

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How do insects survive on a sugary diet?

There’s a reason parents tell their kids to lay off the sugar: too much isn’t good for you.But small sap-sucking insects called aphids can survive quite nicely on a largely sugar-based diet, despite their inability to make important nutrients from scratch. The key to their success is symbiotic bacteria, which live inside aphid cells and make amino acids, the building blocks of proteins needed for growth.

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Did the Chicxulub asteroid knock Earth’s thermometer out of the ballpark?

When the Chicxulub asteroid smashed into Earth 65 million years ago, the event drove an abrupt and long-lasting era of global warming, with a rapid temperature increase of 5°Celsius (C) that endured for roughly 100,000 years, a new study reports. The monumental event is a rare case where Earth’s systems were perturbed at a rate greater than what’s occurring now from human activity. It therefore provides valuable insights into what may happen from sudden, extreme environmental changes.

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Earth & Climate 

Phosphorus nutrition can hasten plant and microbe growth in arid, high elevation sites

Glacial retreat in cold, high-altitude ecosystems exposes environments that are extremely sensitive to phosphorus input, new University of Colorado Boulder-led research shows. The finding upends previous ecological assumptions, helps scientists understand plant and microbe responses to climate change and could expand scientists’ understanding of the limits to life on Earth.

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