first_imgA new study from the University of Vermont shows that removing native forest and starting intensive agriculture can accelerate erosion so dramatically that in a few decades as much soil is lost as would naturally occur over thousands of years. Had you stood on the banks of the Roanoke, Savannah, or Chattahoochee Rivers 100 years ago, you’d have seen a lot more clay soil washing down to the sea than before European settlers began clearing trees and farming there in the 1700s. Around the world, it is well known that deforestation and agriculture increases erosion above its natural rate.But accurately measuring the natural rate of erosion for a landscape — and, therefore, how much human land use has accelerated this rate — has been a devilishly hard task for geologists. And that makes environmental decision-making — such as setting allowable amounts of sediment in fish habitat and land use regulation — also difficult.Now research on these three rivers and seven other large river basins in the US Southeast has, for the first time, precisely quantified this background rate of erosion. The scientists made a startling discovery: rates of hillslope erosion before European settlement were about an inch every 2,500 years, while during the period of peak land disturbance in the late 1800s and early 1900s, rates spiked to an inch every 25 years.“That’s more than a hundred-fold increase,” says Paul Bierman, a geologist at the University of Vermont who co-led the new study with his former graduate student and lead author Luke Reusser, and geologist Dylan Rood at Imperial College, London. “Soils fall apart when we remove vegetation,” Bierman says, “and then the land erodes quickly.”Their study was presented online Jan. 7 in the February issue of the journal Geology. Their work was supported by the National Science Foundation.Precious resource“Our study shows exactly how huge an effect European colonization and agriculture had on the landscape of North America,” says Dylan Rood. “Humans scraped off the soil more than 100 times faster than other natural processes!”Along the southern Piedmont from Virginia to Alabama — that stretch of rolling terrain between the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plain of the Atlantic Ocean — clay soils built up for many millennia. Then, in just a few decades of intensive logging, and cotton and tobacco production, as much soil eroded as would have happened in a pre-human landscape over thousands of years, the scientists note. “The Earth doesn’t create that precious soil for crops fast enough to replenish what the humans took off,” Rood says. “It’s a pattern that is unsustainable if continued.”The scientist collected 24 sediment samples from these rivers — and then applied an innovative technique to make their measurements. From quartz in the sediment, Bierman and his team at the University of Vermont’s Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory extracted a rare form of the element beryllium, an isotope called beryllium-10. Formed by cosmic rays, the isotope builds up in the top few feet of the soil. The slower the rate of erosion, the longer soil is exposed at Earth’s surface, the more beryllium-10 it accumulates. Using an accelerator mass spectrometer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the geologists measured how much beryllium-10 was in their samples — giving them a kind of clock to measure erosion over long time spans.These modern river sediments revealed rates of soil loss over tens of thousands of years. This allowed the team to compare these background rates to post-settlement rates of both upland erosion and downriver sediment yield that have been well documented since the early 1900s across this Piedmont region.While the scientists concluded that upland erosion was accelerated by a hundred-fold, the amount of sediment at the outlets of these rivers was increased only about five to ten times above pre-settlement levels, meaning that the rivers were only transporting about six percent of the eroded soil. This shows that most of the material eroded over the last two centuries still remains as “legacy sediment,” the scientists write, piled up at the base of hillslopes and along valley bottoms.“There’s a huge human thumbprint on the landscape, which makes it hard to see what nature would do on its own,” Bierman says, “but the beauty of beryllium-10 is that it allows us to see through the human fingerprint to see what’s underneath it, what came before.”“This study helps us understand how nature runs the planet,” he says, “compared to how we run the planet.”Soil conservationAnd this knowledge, in turn, can “help to inform land use planning,” Bierman says. “We can set regulatory goals based on objective data about how the landscape used to work.” Often, it is difficult to know whether conservation strategies — for example, regulations about TMDL’s (total maximum daily loads) of sediment — are well fitted to the geology and biology of a region. “In other words, an important unsolved mystery is: “How do the rates of human removal compare to ‘natural’ rates, and how sustainable are the human rates?” Rood asks.While this new study shows that erosion rates were unsustainable in the recent past, “it also provides a goal for the future,” Rood says. “We can use the beryllium-10 erosion rates as a target for successful resource conservation strategies; they can be used to develop smart environmental policies and regulations that will protect threatened soil and water resources for generations to come.”PHOTO: Hurricane Isabel flooding the Potomac River at Great Falls, Va., carrying sediment eroded from farm fields upstream (Photo credit: Paul Bierman, 2003).last_img read more

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first_imgThe ceremony was made even more meaningful because John Bartlett’s son and APH President Corey Bartlett presented the award to his father. Those who have had the opportunity to work with or for John Bartlett immediately appreciate his ­modesty, his principled leadership and his aura of calm competence. It is these characteristics that have led various organizations to seek him out for leadership positions. Over the years, Bartlett has served on the boards of AWDA and Aftermarket Auto Parts ­Alliance. He is currently chairman of the Alliance board. Bartlett also helps direct the efforts of ­WACOSA, an organization that provides training and work opportunities for people with disabilities throughout central Minnesota. A significant criteria for AWDA’s Pursuit of ­Excellence Award is the setting of high standards as an example for others to follow. John Bartlett’s ­standards are apparent in his advice to would-be ­entrepreneurs: “Be as concerned about the people you’ve chosen to work with you, as you are about your customers. If employees aren’t happy, customers aren’t happy.” According to son, Corey, that is a standard everyone should follow. AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement John Bartlett is CEO of the 93-year-old, family and employee-owned warehouse distribution company, based in St. Cloud, MN. Originally founded as National Bushing and Parts Company, APH has grown to more than 110 locations. Bartlett’s career with the company began in high school when he “…worked at the parts store counter, swept floors – whatever part-time things high school kids do.” Bartlett joined the company full-time in 1971 after graduating from Bemidji State University with a degree in business and economics.center_img He was thrust into the company’s top leadership position in 1975 when his father Jack, the company president, died unexpectedly. “I was only semi-groomed for the job,” Bartlett recalled. “I suppose we both assumed we had another 10 years to work together. I had a lot to learn and it took time to acquire those competencies. I suppose the transition I didn’t have with my father has had an impact on the transition we have had with Corey.” LAS VEGAS – On Nov. 3, John Bartlett Jr., Automotive Parts Headquarters (APH), was honored with the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA)’s 2013 Pursuit of Excellence Award. ­Established in 1983, this award is given annually to an AWDA member in recognition of excellence in business performance and the setting of high standards as an example for others to follow. last_img read more

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first_imgMr McCartney added: Participation in this unique summer school has increased every year with over 40 children taking part last year.  This February, a weekend residential course at Ringford will also take place with over 20 children expected to attend. “It was wonderful to learn more about the important work of the Piping and Drumming Academy.  Being in a pipe band gives young people a wide range of skills. It encourages teamwork, builds confidence and friendship and it can also open the door to travel opportunities and paid employment in the future. The SWSPDA is a Charitable Trust that was founded in 2013.  The aim of the trust is to ‘increase participation in and raise enthusiasm for piping and drumming in the South West of Scotland’. “Piping and drumming are an important part of our heritage but they must also be in Scotland’s cultural future.  In order to guarantee that pipe bands continue, our children and young people must be given the opportunity to learn to play the instruments and the SWSPDA does just that. It is clear that without the work that they are doing across our region’s schools and in our communities, we would see the number of skilled pipers and drummers fall.” “Our aim is to work with pipe bands and schools, and also directly with youngsters, to build both motivation and ability.  Our ‘Piper in Residence’, Callum Moffat, who is one of our tutors, demonstrates with his competition successes, both individually and with the Scottish Power Pipe Band, just what can be achieved.”center_img Commenting on the meeting, Mr Arkless said: AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedIn Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless has met with Andrew McCartney, Chair of South West Scotland Piping and Drumming Academy (SWSPDA), to find out more about the important work that they do to expand the availability of drumming and piping tuition to young people across the region. As well as working directly with pipe bands and schools to give piping and drumming lessons, the SWSPDA also holds an annual residential summer school at the Barony College.  Over the course of a week, the children are given high quality piping tuition, with the opportunity for both beginners and more established players to work towards recognised Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board (PDQB) qualifications.  The week culminates in a concert held for the children’s families and friends, giving the children the opportunity to show off some of what they have learned during their week at the Barony. To find out more about SWSPDA, please visit their website at www.swspda.co.uklast_img read more

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first_imgOTTAWA — The union representing Canadian diplomats says too much bureaucracy keeps the government from making sure diplomatic and embassy staff stationed overseas are kept safe.Federal auditor general Michael Ferguson reported this week that security at Global Affairs Canada’s embassies and missions abroad has “significant” failings that need immediate attention.Pamela Isfeld of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers says staff in foreign missions face a wide and fluid range of risks to their personal safety and deserve to be protected.She says the concerns highlighted by the AG are not new, but that complicated bureaucratic policies and practices within the department often get in the way of security improvements.Gar Pardy, a retired Canadian diplomat who served in Central America, echoed these concerns, saying management at Global Affairs has long been too slow to respond to the shifting security landscape.In his audit, the AG found concerns had previously been raised about many of the security problems he uncovered, but recommended steps to address these deficiencies hadn’t been followed.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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first_imgNecurs botnet has distributed junk mail and malware for many different groups of cyber-thieves. Image Credit: HuffPost Advertisement One of the biggest networks of spam-sending computers in the world has gone quiet, puzzling experts, internet security firms have said.For years the Necurs botnet has distributed junk mail and malware for many different groups of cyber-thieves.But the amount of malicious traffic emerging from Necurs has now dwindled to almost nothing. – Advertisement – It is not clear what has caused the slowdown and whether traffic will return to previously high levels.One of the first signs of the disruption was seen earlier this month when email messages spreading the Dridex banking trojan and Locky ransomware caught by security firms dried up.Proofpoint said in a blogpost, typically, millions of messages bearing these malicious programs are sent out every week.However, the flood of messages “essentially stopped” last week, it said. Investigations revealed that these messages typically travelled via the Necurs botnet which was found to have gone largely offline.The Necurs botnet is believed to be made up of about six million compromised Windows machines, many of which were enrolled when their owners inadvertently fell victim to a form of malware known as a rootkit.[related-posts]Analysis of some of the machines known to be part of Necurs shows that its core administration systems have disappeared, said Proofpoint.“Data from a variety of sources show that Necurs bots are actively looking for a new command and control (C&C) system, but we have no evidence that the Necurs botmaster has been able to retake control of the botnet.”A botnet’s C&C system helps the network keep running and co-ordinates the distribution of any spam or malware being sent out via the global collection of computers.Security researchers who monitor botnets and the groups that operate them said the cause of the shutdown remained a mystery.“We cannot confirm how the botnet was brought down yet,” Joonho Sa, a researcher for FireEye, told tech news site Motherboard.[BBC]last_img read more

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