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How Can We Use Oxygen Isotopes from Ostracods to Reconstruct Abrupt Climate Changes from the Holocene?

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by Joanna Tindall Why are we interested in past abrupt climate changes? The earth’s climate has always fluctuated. However, with the current anthropogenic climate crisis, the importance of understanding climatic change has never been greater. You may be familiar with big climatic changes in Earth’s history such as the so-called ‘ice ages’ or extended periods of long cold conditions. Our current geological period is the Quaternary which covers the past 2.6 million years. During the Quaternary, climate has switched between extended periods of cool, glacial conditions and warm interglacial conditions. We currently live in one of these interglacial periods, the Holocene, which spans the last ∼11,700 years. We generally consider the Holocene climate to be relatively stable, but our records show that abrupt changes have occurred. Abrupt climatic changes have a sudden onset and are short-lived, typically lasting only a few hundred years. However, they are large enough to be detected in palaeo

Caribou Survived the Late Pleistocene Extinction, but Can They Avoid Extinction in the Twenty-First Century?

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 by Mark Lawler The impacts of contemporary climate change on biodiversity are undeniable and emphasize the critical need for understanding biotic responses to past shifts in climate, and in applying that knowledge to guide current land management decisions [1, 2]. The earth is experiencing human-induced global ecological transformations. These changes have led to a global biodiversity crisis where the species lost rate exceeds the current background rate of 0.1–1.0 extinctions/million species years [3, 4, 5, 6]. Mathematically speaking, this means that if there are a million species on the earth, one would go extinct every year, while if there was only one species it would go extinct in one million years, etc. [6]. One of the species currently threatened by these ecosystem changes is caribou, which are members of the cervid (deer) family, known in Europe as reindeer (Figure 1). Caribou have a Holarctic distribution and comprise five recognized subspecies: R. t. granti; R. t. groenland

Expedition in Antarctica

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by Margot Courtillat Today, a big portion of the earth’s population is in lockdown. During this complicated time, I thought it would be a nice idea to take you on a journey to Antarctica, where we will learn how long-term climate records are collected and analyzed. Here we go! Context One year ago, I had the great opportunity to sail on board the JOIDES Resolution for an IODP ( Integrated Ocean Drilling Program ) Expedition in Antarctica during my PhD studies. IODP is an international research collaboration program that coordinates seagoing expeditions to study the history of Earth as recorded in marine sediments and rocks around the world. The JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) operates the scientific drillship JOIDES Resolution on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Fig. 1: Eastern Amundsen Sea continental shelf and rise bathymetry. Red stars mark Expedition 379 drilling sites on Resolution Drift (RD), which is one of five large north-northeast–striking sedi

Darkness and Light: On Mental Health in Early Career Life

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Foreword from the editors: As awareness around mental health in academia has been increasing in recent years, it has become clear that mental health issues are prevalent among graduate students and early-career researchers. In particular, depression and anxiety are considerably  more common among PhD students  than in the general population. At the same time, evidence of high rates of burnout among academic staff is also emerging. Precarious employment, frequent moves, and a pressure to "publish or perish" are pervasive in academia, and means of  support at host institutions are often lacking . Moreover, the associated stigma prevents many who are affected from seeking help. For many of us, our peers are the closest thing to a support system we have at work, and they are also often in the best position to notice a change in behaviour in people who are struggling. It is therefore important that we as colleagues listen, show empathy, and engage in open conversations. Friend

Early-Career Researchers in the COVID-19 Pandemic

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In March 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic. The response to this crisis has brought sweeping changes felt by people across the world, including early-career researchers (ECRs). With classes moving online and ECRs working from home  —  many in foreign countries and/or far away from their families or support systems  —  there is increased risk of emotional isolation and struggles with mental health. This is all the more pertinent given that mental health issues like depression and anxiety are already prevalent among ECRs navigating the academic world, where the pressure to succeed is ever-present and rejection is the norm . In many cases, academics are expected to maintain or even increase their productivity during the pandemic, with the suggestion that they now have more time to write . This ignores the emotional stress many may be enduring. Field and laboratory work have come to a halt, causing delays in research projects, and the pandemic has prompted many