Recovery Times After Catastrophic Events in the Caribbean Islands

by Josh Mueller

Natural Threats to Caribbean Islands

Hurricanes throughout the Caribbean are recognized as the dominant ecological cause of ecosystem and economic disruption [1, 2]. For example, recent storms such as hurricane Irma in September 2017 broke records of sustained hurricane size and wind speed for Atlantic Ocean tropical depressions. Irma caused significant economic damage with estimates in the range of over $100 billion in costs and damages throughout the Caribbean islands (Figure 1). The hurricane also resulted in over 130 human casualties making it one of the deadliest and costliest ever recorded. Yet, what remains unknown are the lingering economic and ecological costs from ecological threats to many of the island nations whose markets depend greatly on the tourism industry. Additionally, little is known regarding the future behavior of hurricanes as global climate change continues to influence atmospheric and oceanic conditions.

Wildfires, both naturally occurring and h…

Senior Scientist - How to Be an ECR in Your Fifties

by Paul Butler

There was a time, I believe, when you had to be under 35 to stand any chance whatsoever of being an early-career researcher (ECR). On the “expected” academic career path, that allowed you to spend up to 5 years doing your PhD, then enjoy the following nine years as an ECR, with all sorts of career advantages, including reserved access to special grants, cheapo rates at conferences and other benefits that made up for being on the tragic salaries and job security typical of early-stage ECRs. This did not go unnoticed by researchers who had made a jump later in life from some other career into academia, and by researchers who had had their careers interrupted by time taken out to raise families or because of illness. Some people started wondering whether there needed to be an age criterion at all; see the comments here for an idea of the kinds of discussions that were taking place back in 2010 about ECR criteria and how they were failing people with “unconventional” career…

Insights from Pre-Columbian Land Use and Fire Management in the Amazon Basin

by Yoshi Maezumi

Amazonia pristine or parkland? The great debate

Today our species stands on a precipice: From climate change to overpopulation, plastic pollution to wildfires, the modern human modus operandi is not sustainable. As international collaborative efforts join forces to develop strategic mitigation and adaptation plans to ferry our species through the 21st century [1, 2], scientists are looking to the past, seeking insights from indigenous land use practices around the world [3]. What has become evident is that the human footprint has had a much longer, more indelible impact than traditionally assumed, particularly in remote tropical regions like the Amazon Basin [3].

For much of the 20th century, the Amazon Basin was considered pristine wilderness prior to European Conquest in ca. 1492. Indigenous peoples (henceforth pre-Columbians) were thought to have had very little impact on the natural environment [4]. Yet, over the past few decades increased deforestation in the Amazo…

100 Days of Vitamin Sea

by Beth Francis

At the start of the second year of my PhD in Ocean Sciences at Bangor University, I was diagnosed with chronic migraine, and I felt as though my whole world collapsed in upon itself. I went from being healthy, active and enjoying my life and PhD, to what felt like a shell of the person I was. When I experience a migraine, I am completely bed-bound for up to a few days, barely able to go to the bathroom by myself - never mind working on my PhD. Even the thought of going into the office to work, or out and about by myself on a good day now scares me, because I fear I will get a migraine and be stuck. Over the last year, I have tried to regain control of my health and my life by embarking on a challenge to swim in the seas around North Wales for 100 days, and along the way shared my journey of living with a chronic illness.

Migraine – not just a headache

For those of you who are lucky not to know what a migraine is, let me start by saying it is definitely not “just a heada…

Balancing Life and Work in Academia

Building a career in science can be a tiring and difficult process, and it is particularly precarious at the early-career stage. Time is usually spent on long hours in the field, in the lab, giving lectures, writing papers and grant applications, or attending conferences. For many, there is a constant fear about future employment - especially in academia, where short-term contracts and career gaps are becoming the norm. The stress from it all can and does influence our personal lives. There has been a big push in academia to teach early-career researchers how to manage and/or balance work and life. However, it can be a daunting thing to actually implement these changes. To help aid early-career researchers in their quest to balance work-life, we asked the PAGES community to share their views and advice. Although we know that experiences and views may differ considerably from person to person and from country to country, here we share three perspectives, each from people at differen…

Diatoms - My Way into Science

by Xavier Benito

**Spoiler: While I personally have tons of admiration to those who leave academia after Master/PhD graduation, this post is dedicated to those early-career researchers who stay and continue along the bittersweet journey called academia **

To begin with, I could write about how today's early-career researchers' personal and professional lives are stressful. Instead, I will write about how important passion and curiousness about nature are in finding your way into science. Personally, I am fascinated by diatoms (Fig. 1), a group of siliceous glass-encased algae, because they can be used to understand past and present environmental conditions in nearly all aquatic ecosystems. Thus, during my PhD in Spain, I studied diatoms found in Mediterranean deltaic ecosystems by applying GIS, ecology and palaeoecology approaches. For example, in the Ebro Delta, I found a high diversity of diatoms (407 taxa to be exact) from only 24 samples! These results inspired me to contin…

The 8.2 ka Event Seen from the South

by Ignacio A. Jara

During my usual surfing on the internet catching up with new science content, I stumbled upon a very exciting article published just a few weeks ago in the journal Nature Scientific Reports [1]. In this recent publication, a climate cooling that occurred about 8,200 years ago was clearly identified in a pollen record from South Korea. This particular cooling [SPOILER ALERT] has largely been recognized in many other areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The article presented the first evidence for its occurrence in coastal East Asia. As a trained palynologist with interest in paleoclimatology I have always been fascinated by these kinds of studies. Nonetheless, I was equally intrigued by the fact that, as far as I know, there is not much evidence for such a cooling event in the Southern Hemisphere.

The original idea of writing this post was to share some outlooks about Quaternary Sciences from here in the Southern Hemisphere, something I did a few years ago during my Ph…