Showing posts from June, 2018

Trials in Taxonomy: Popcorn, Spirals, and Roses

by Robyn Granger

In 2016, I worked as a teaching assistant to a group of biology and conservation undergraduates. Despite my taxonomy knowledge being rather limited (having done my Master's degree in Palaeoclimatology), the students never seemed to tire of asking me to identify various species in the field. It wasn't long before they began to affectionately quip “Robyn is a palaeoclimatologist - she knows nothing,” whenever I informed them that I was unable to tell them the difference between a plant that might kill them, and one that would be good rolled up in a cigarette.

Figure 1: Both of these organisms are the same species? Now I'm really confused...[1]

They would probably laugh if they could see me now. Two years later, I have found myself nose-deep in a PhD with a significant biological component, which involves picking out the subtlest of differences between tiny ocean-dwelling organisms called foraminifera. My project involves refining one of the chemical proxy met…

Newspaper Reports in Romania – What Do They Tell Us about Extreme Meteorological Events of the Early 19th Century?

by Aritina Haliuc

Sources of information

Extreme meteorological events, such as droughts or floods, are expected to increase in many parts of the globe under predicted climate changes of the next decades (Fig. 1). Yet, the forecasted frequency, intensity and occurrence of extreme meteorological events include large uncertainties as they depend upon location and season. These events are of particular interest for society as they can cause important human, economic and environmental losses.

To better understand extreme meteorological events and to improve future meteorological forecasts, we rely on information extracted from natural archives such as tree rings, peat bogs, lakes and fluvial deposits (associated with rivers and streams). Natural archives provide information over hundreds and thousands of years back in time and are complemented by historical and instrumental data in the more recent past spanning few centuries. 

Historical data include chronicles, monastery documents, ship log…