Is oxidation of atmospheric mercury controlled by different mechanisms in the polluted continental boundary layer vs. remote marine boundary layer?
. Environmental Research Letters 2020
, 064026. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Deposition of atmospheric mercury is of global concern, primarily due to health effects associated with efficient bioaccumulation of mercury in marine food webs. Although oxidation of gaseous elementary mercury (GEM), the major fraction of atmospheric mercury, is a critical stage in regulating atmospheric mercury deposition efficiency, this oxidation is currently not well-characterized, limiting modeling-based assessments of mercury in the environment. Based on a previous study, we hypothesized that the oxidation of GEM is predominantly controlled by multistep bromine- and chlorine-induced oxidation (MBCO) in the remote marine boundary layer (RMBL), and by photochemical smog oxidants, primarily ozone (O3) and hydroxyl radical (OH), in the polluted continental boundary layer (PCBL). To test this hypothesis, we used the following analyses: (i) application of a newly developed criterion to evaluate the gaseous oxidized mercury (GOM)–O3 association based on previous studies in the RMBL and PCBL; (ii) measurement-based box simulations of GEM oxidation in the RMBL and at a PCBL site; and (iii) measurement-based analysis of photochemical oxidation vs. other processes which potentially influence GOM. Our model simulations indicated that the MBCO mechanism can reproduce GOM levels in the RMBL, but not in the PCBL. Our data analysis suggested the important role of photochemical smog oxidants in GEM oxidation in the PCBL, potentially masked by the effect of relative humidity and entrainment of free tropospheric air.
A Telemetric, Gravimetric Platform for Real-Time Physiological Phenotyping of Plant–Environment Interactions
, e61280. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Food security for the growing global population is a major concern. The data provided by genomic tools far exceeds the supply of phenotypic data, creating a knowledge gap. To meet the challenge of improving crops to feed the growing global population, this gap must be bridged.Physiological traits are considered key functional traits in the context of responsiveness or sensitivity to environmental conditions. Many recently introduced high-throughput (HTP) phenotyping techniques are based on remote sensing or imaging and are capable of directly measuring morphological traits, but measure physiological parameters mainly indirectly. This paper describes a method for direct physiological phenotyping that has several advantages for the functional phenotyping of plant–environment interactions. It helps users overcome the many challenges encountered in the use of load-cell gravimetric systems and pot experiments. The suggested techniques will enable users to distinguish between soil weight, plant weight and soil water content, providing a method for the continuous and simultaneous measurement of dynamic soil, plant and atmosphere conditions, alongside the measurement of key physiological traits. This method allows researchers to closely mimic field stress scenarios while taking into consideration the environment’s effects on the plants’ physiology. This method also minimizes pot effects, which are one of the major problems in pre-field phenotyping. It includes a feed-back fertigation system that enables a truly randomized experimental design at a field-like plant density. This system detects the soil-water-content limiting threshold (θ) and allows for the translation of data into knowledge through the use of a real-time analytic tool and an online statistical resource. This method for the rapid and direct measurement of the physiological responses of multiple plants to a dynamic environment has great potential for use in screening for beneficial traits associated with responses to abiotic stress, in the context of pre-field breeding and crop improvement.
Ecological Risk Dynamics of Pharmaceuticals in Micro-Estuary Environments
. Environmental Science & TechnologyEnvironmental Science & Technology 2020
. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Micro-estuarine ecosystems have a surface area <1 km2 and are abundant in Mediterranean regions. As a result of their small size, these systems are particularly vulnerable to the effects of chemical pollution. Due to the fluctuating flow conditions of base flow dominated by treated wastewater effluents and flood events transporting rural and urban non-point-source pollution, micro-estuaries are under a dynamic risk regime, consequently struggling to provide ecological services. This 2 year study explored the occurrence and risks of pharmaceutical contamination in the Alexander micro-estuary in Israel. Pharmaceuticals were detected in all samples (n = 280) at as high as 18 μg L–1 in flood events and 14 μg L–1 in base flow. The pharmaceutical mixture composition was affected by flow conditions with carbamazepine dominating the base flow and caffeine dominating flood events. The median annual risk quotients for fish, crustaceans, and algae were 19.6, 5.2, and 4.5, respectively, indicating that pharmaceuticals pose a high risk to the ecosystem. Ibuprofen, carbamazepine, and caffeine contributed most to the risk quotients. The current work highlights that micro-estuary ecosystems, like the Alexander estuary, are continuously exposed to pharmaceuticals and most likely to other pollutants, placing these ecologically important systems under an elevated risk in comparison to the more frequently studied large estuarine systems.Micro-estuarine ecosystems have a surface area <1 km2 and are abundant in Mediterranean regions. As a result of their small size, these systems are particularly vulnerable to the effects of chemical pollution. Due to the fluctuating flow conditions of base flow dominated by treated wastewater effluents and flood events transporting rural and urban non-point-source pollution, micro-estuaries are under a dynamic risk regime, consequently struggling to provide ecological services. This 2 year study explored the occurrence and risks of pharmaceutical contamination in the Alexander micro-estuary in Israel. Pharmaceuticals were detected in all samples (n = 280) at as high as 18 μg L–1 in flood events and 14 μg L–1 in base flow. The pharmaceutical mixture composition was affected by flow conditions with carbamazepine dominating the base flow and caffeine dominating flood events. The median annual risk quotients for fish, crustaceans, and algae were 19.6, 5.2, and 4.5, respectively, indicating that pharmaceuticals pose a high risk to the ecosystem. Ibuprofen, carbamazepine, and caffeine contributed most to the risk quotients. The current work highlights that micro-estuary ecosystems, like the Alexander estuary, are continuously exposed to pharmaceuticals and most likely to other pollutants, placing these ecologically important systems under an elevated risk in comparison to the more frequently studied large estuarine systems.
Temperature anomalies affect violent conflicts in African and Middle Eastern warm regions
, 102118. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Several studies have linked high temperatures to increases in violent conflicts. The findings are controversial, however, as there has been no systematic cross-sectional analysis performed to demonstrate the generality of the proposed relationship. Moreover, the timescale of temperature/violence relationships have not been fully investigated; it is unclear how short versus long-term, or seasonal and inter-annual temperature variability contribute to the likelihood or frequency of violent events. We here perform systematic regional and grid-based longitudinal analyses in Africa and the Middle East for the period 1990–2017, using geolocated information on armed conflicts and a recently released satellite-based gridded temperature data set. We find seasonal synchrony between temperature and number of armed conflicts at the regional scale (climatic region), as well as a positive relationship in temperature and conflict anomalies on inter-annual timescales at the grid cell level (for the entire African and ME region). After controlling for ‘location effects’, we do not find that long-term warming has affected armed conflicts for the last three decades. However, the effects of temperature anomalies are stronger in warmer places (~5% increase per 10 °C, P < 0.05), suggesting that populations living in warmer places are more sensitive to temperature deviations. Taken together, these findings imply that projected warming and increasing temperature variability may enhance violence in these regions, though the mechanisms of the relationships still need to be exposed.
Using Landsat satellites to assess the impact of check dams built across erosive gullies on vegetation rehabilitation
, 138873. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Gully erosion, a process of soil removal due to water accumulation and runoff, is a worldwide problem affecting agricultural lands. Building check dams perpendicular to the flow direction is one of the suggested control practices to stabilize this process. Though there are many studies on the effect of erosive controls on land stabilization, few examine its effect on the rehabilitation of vegetation. Here we use information from the satellites Landsat-7 (1999–2018) and Landsat-8 (2013–2018) to assess the effect of soil check dams built during 2012 across three gullies with distinct structures in a dryland area on vegetative cover and water status. We use a time series analysis technique to decompose Landsat-derived soil adjusted vegetation index (SAVI) into woody (SAVIW) and herbaceous (iSAVIH) contributions. The integral over the seasonal signal of the normalized difference water index (iNDWI) was used to assess changes in water status in the gully. We used herbaceous biomass collected in the field in 2014–2017 to validate iSAVIH as a proxy of herbaceous biomass. Our results show that following the construction of the check dams, the change in woody vegetation cover is best described by a sigmoid model with an increase of ~57% (95% CI: 39%–76%; p < 0.0001), while the herbaceous vegetation increases linearly at a rate of ~71% per year (95% CI: 48%–93% y−1; p < 0.0001). The correlation between iSAVIH and herbaceous biomass (R2 = 0.56; n = 16; p < 0.001) corroborates this increase. We found higher herbaceous productivity in the deeper gully compared to the shallower gullies but not statistically different increase rates. An increase in iNDWI of ~68% (95% CI: 43%–95%; p < 0.0001) likely implies an improved water infiltration rate that favored the vegetation expansion. Our satellite-based approach can be used to assess the impact of erosive control practices on vegetation rehabilitation in heterogeneous gullies.
The indigenous Bedouin farmers as land rehabilitators—Setup of an action research programme in the Negev
. Land Degradation & DevelopmentLand Degradation & DevelopmentLand Degrad Dev 2020
. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract The Negev suffers from enhanced land degradation, mostly due to lack of awareness about its state, and hostility between the region's indigenous Bedouin farmers and the authorities. In order to examine a potential solution to this 'Lose?Lose' situation, a unique project is underway, with the collaboration of the Yeroham Municipality and the adjacent Rahma Bedouin farmers' village. The concept of this ongoing Programme is based on bidirectional knowledge transfer of farming data between the farmers and land scientists, aimed to adapt Bedouin traditional cultivation methods and transform them into methods that restore the environment and are also profitable. In order to reach this goal, a highly knowledgeable Bedouin liaison person was appointed to carry out the project together with the Coordinating Team. A comprehensive study and tour were carried out in order to analyze the different landforms and Bedouin cultivation preferences. An initial survey was carried out and data from literature collected in order to determine the ecological and archaeological characteristics of the ecosystem. The area was then prepared for agricultural utilization by removing widespread garbage and dealing with wadis that have been filled with construction waste. This project, which integrates soil enhancement, agriculture utilization, and traditional Bedouin farming, aims for rehabilitation of the northern Negev gullied areas. However, the implementation of the study concept in the field is accompanied by many challenges related to Bedouin interclan communication and the diverse types of degraded lands.
Pharmaceuticals in treated wastewater induce a stress response in tomato plants
. Sci Rep 2020
Pharmaceuticals remain in treated wastewater used to irrigate agricultural crops. Their effect on terrestrial plants is practically unknown. Here we tested whether these compounds can be considered as plant stress inducers. Several features characterize the general stress response in plants: production of reactive oxygen species acting as stress-response signals, MAPKs signaling cascade inducing expression of defense genes, heat shock proteins preventing protein denaturation and degradation, and amino acids playing signaling roles and involved in osmoregulation. Tomato seedlings bathing in a cocktail of pharmaceuticals (Carbamazepine, Valporic acid, Phenytoin, Diazepam, Lamotrigine) or in Carbamazepine alone, at different concentrations and during different time-periods, were used to study the patterns of stress-related markers. The accumulation of the stress-related biomarkers in leaf and root tissues pointed to a cumulative stress response, mobilizing the cell protection machinery to avoid metabolic modifications and to restore homeostasis. The described approach is suitable for the investigation of stress response of different crop plants to various contaminants present in treated wastewater.
Eco-hydrology and geomorphology of the largest floods along the hyperarid Kuiseb River, Namibia
. Journal of Hydrology 2020
, 124450. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Flood-fed aquifers along the sandy lower reach of the Kuiseb River sustain a 130-km-long green belt of lush oases across the hyperarid Namib desert. This oasis is a year-round source for water creating dense-tall woodland along the narrow corridor of the ephemeral river valley, which, in turn, supports human activity and fauna including during the long dry austral winters and multi-year droughts. Occasional floods, originating at the river’s wetter headwaters, travel ∼280 km downstream, before recharging these aquifers. We analyzed the flood-aquifer-vegetation dynamics at-a-site and along the river, determining the relative impact of floods with diverse magnitude and frequency on downstream reaches. We find that flood discharge that feeds the alluvial aquifers also affects vegetation dynamics along the river. The downstream aquifers are fed only by the largest floods that allow the infrequent germination of plants; mean annual recharge volume is too low to support the aquifers level. These short-term vegetation cycles of green-up and then fast senescence in-between floods are easily detected by satellite-derived vegetation index. This index identifies historical floods and their magnitudes in arid and hyperarid regions; specifically, it determines occurrences of large floods in headwater-fed, ephemeral Namib streams as well as in other hyperarid regions. Our study reveals the importance of flood properties on the oasis life cycle, emphasizing the impact of drought and wet years on the Namib’s riparian vegetation.
The influence of surfactant-application method on the effectiveness of water-repellent soil remediation
. Geoderma 2020
. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Soil water repellency (SWR) has a substantial effect on soil–water hydrology: it hinders infiltration, leading to enhanced surface runoff and soil erosion, and causes preferential flow in the soil profile beyond that from the soil's natural heterogeneity. SWR is associated with soil organic matter content, the latter added to the soil by vegetation exudates, litter and residues, forest fires, and replacement of fresh water by treated wastewater for irrigation. Surfactants are surface-active substances composed of organic molecules with hydrophobic tails and hydrophilic heads that can reduce the surface tension (γ) of the aqueous solution, thereby reducing SWR, via adsorption to soil particles. Surfactants are commonly used to remediate water-repellent soils. We investigated the role of two surfactant-application methods on the efficacy of SWR remediation. Aqueous solutions of two commercial surfactants had a substantial effect on parameters used to characterize the persistence and severity of SWR. However, the efficacy of these surfactants in remediating sandy soils rendered water-repellent by irrigation with treated effluent was substantially affected by their application method. Whereas application of aqueous surfactant solution to the surface of water-repellent soil, the commonly used remediation method, formed finger-like plumes similar to those obtained for water application, bulbous-like plumes were formed when the soil was premixed with the aqueous surfactant solution prior to water application. These differences were attributed to the significant role of the rate-limited surfactant adsorption to the soil particles. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.