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No, autumn leaves are not changing color later because of climate change

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Credit: James Byard/Washington University
Fall foliage on the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis.

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, and the nights are cooling down. But when will the natural fireworks display of autumn leaves actually begin this year?

Many people believe that climate change is pushing back the start of fall leaf color to later in the year. The general thinking is that the warmer conditions anticipated under climate change will mean that trees can “hang on” to their green, energy-producing leaves longer. But scientists do not actually see this happening across North American forests, according to an expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Warmer temperatures in September and October reduce anthocyanin production in leaves, which could mean that fall colors would become less brilliantly red or purple,” said Susanne S. Renner, honorary professor of biology in Arts & Sciences. “This effect is well documented in certain species, such as sugar maple, where experimental cooling of branches increases anthocyanin concentration and color brilliance. If the first frost comes later than it used to, the brilliant foliage will appear later than it used to.

“However, other factors counteract this. Most important is that trees drop their leaves earlier if they have had a very productive spring and summer. This overrides any delaying effects of a warm fall.

“The end result is that leaves still start to die after about the same amount of time on the tree as they have in years and even decades past,” she said.

In fact, under some scenarios we might even see leaves turning red and yellow earlier. Renner co-authored a 2020 study in the journal Science that showed that increased growing-season productivity drives earlier autumn leaf senescence — the process through which plants break down and reabsorb key nutrients that had been deployed in leaves — in temperate trees.

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“If climate warming continues unabated, the situation is likely to change after about 2040, with senescence then starting earlier than it does now,” Renner said.

Here, Renner answers a few additional questions related to autumn leaf color change.

How do temperature and moisture conditions affect leaf color?

Yellow color in fall leaves is due to the retention of carotenoid pigments (xanthophylls) in senescing chloroplasts. Red and purplish color is due to the accumulation of anthocyanins in vacuoles, starting around September.

Rain does not affect these basic processes. Cold temperatures, however, enhance anthocyanin production, as shown experimentally in sugar maple. One can observe this in the sugar maple trees along St. Louis streets, which start turning colors at the very top, where the microclimate is coldest.

How might climate change alter color dynamics?

Because climate warming has resulted in warmer falls, in Canada and North America we are seeing less brilliant fall colors. Color brilliance is hard to quantify, but the effect has been experimentally demonstrated in sugar maple trees.

An interesting confounding factor is cleaner air. Thus, in Europe, atmospheric brightening due to cleaner air since 1983 has led to higher plant photosynthesis in the spring and summer — and earlier leaf senescence (compared with 1950-1982). These data, however, concern the breakdown of chlorophyll, not the production of red or yellow colors.

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Will all kinds of trees respond in the same ways?

Absolutely not. Experimental work is revealing great species-specific differences. For example, trees that have nitrogen-fixing symbionts never turn red or yellow. Both pigments help protect leaves against damage from sunlight that is no longer usable for photosynthesis because of the massive degradation of chloroplast proteins in aging leaves. Trees with steady access to nitrogen may not bother with costly anthocyanin, but instead simply drop their leaves while still relatively green.

Are scientists already seeing changes to the timing or intensity of leaf color changes?

Warmer falls reduce the brilliance of red and yellow leaf colors, but brilliance is hard to quantify in long time series for many species. Also, many species simply do not turn red or yellow.

We have a paper under review that analyzes satellite data on “greenness” in Northern Hemisphere forests. We found that across a large majority of forest areas, higher spring and summer temperatures have led to an earlier (!!!) senescence by, on average, about 1.5 days per degree Celsius. Senescence here refers to degradation of chlorophyll or greenness.

Where in the world are autumn leaves most likely to be affected by climate change?

Species that change leaf color to red or yellow are much more frequent in North America than in Europe. With continued climate warming and lack of frost nights in October, colors will be less brilliant, but the onset or dates of color change will not change much because of the counteracting factors that I mentioned earlier. In the more distant future (after about 2040), and with unmitigated climate change, leaf senescence in Northern Hemisphere trees and shrubs will occur ever earlier.

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Source: Washington University in St. Louis

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A greener internet of things with no wires attached

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Credit: 2022 KAUST; Heno Hwang
Wirelessly powered electronics developed by KAUST researchers could help to make internet of things technology more environmentally friendly.
« A greener internet of things with no wires attached

Newswise — Emerging forms of thin-film device technologies that rely on alternative semiconductor materials, such as printable organics, nanocarbon allotropes and metal oxides, could contribute to a more economically and environmentally sustainable internet of things (IoT), a KAUST-led international team suggests.

The IoT is set to have a major impact on daily life and many industries. It connects and facilitates data exchange between a multitude of smart objects of various shape and size — such as remote-controlled home security systems, self-driving cars equipped with sensors that detect obstacles on the road, and temperature-controlled factory equipment — over the internet and other sensing and communications networks.

This burgeoning hypernetwork is projected to reach trillions of devices by next decade, boosting the number of sensor nodes deployed in its platforms.

Current approaches used to power sensor nodes rely on battery technology, but batteries need regular replacement, which is costly and environmentally harmful over time. Also, the current global production of lithium for battery materials may not keep up with the increasing energy demand from the swelling number of sensors.

Wirelessly powered sensor nodes could help achieve a sustainable IoT by drawing energy from the environment using so-called energy harvesters, such as photovoltaic cells and radio-frequency (RF) energy harvesters, among other technologies. Large-area electronics could be key in enabling these power sources.

KAUST alumni Kalaivanan Loganathan, with Thomas Anthopoulos and coworkers, assessed the viability of various large-area electronic technologies and their potential to deliver ecofriendly, wirelessly powered IoT sensors.

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Large-area electronics have recently emerged as an appealing alternative to conventional silicon-based technologies thanks to significant progress in solution-based processing, which has made devices and circuits easier to print on flexible, large-area substrates. They can be produced at low temperatures and on biodegradable substrates such as paper, which makes them more ecofriendly than their silicon-based counterparts.

Over the years, Anthopoulos’ team has developed a range of RF electronic components, including metal-oxide and organic polymer-based semiconductor devices known as Schottky diodes. “These devices are crucial components in wireless energy harvesters and ultimately dictate the performance and cost of the sensor nodes,” Loganathan says.

Key contributions from the KAUST team include scalable methods for manufacturing RF diodes to harvest energy reaching the 5G/6G frequency range. “Such technologies provide the needed building blocks toward a more sustainable way to power the billions of sensor nodes in the near future,” Anthopoulos says.

The team is investigating the monolithic integration of these low-power devices with antenna and sensors to showcase their true potential, Loganathan adds.

Journal Link: Nature Electronics

Source: King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

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Luxury Travel Advisors, Partners Applaud the Success of Inaugural Internova PLUS Event in San Diego

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Part strategic meeting, part celebration, Internova Travel Group’s three-day program focused on collaboration, imagination and connection

NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ — Top luxury travel advisors, travel agencies and providers have new opportunities to work together as a result of Internova Travel Group’s inaugural Internova PLUS event, held Jan. 17-20 in San Diego, California.

Internova, one of the world’s largest travel services companies, handpicked 125 luxury travel advisors from across each of its brands, including ALTOUR, Global Travel Collection, Nexion Travel Group and Travel Leaders Network.

At Internova PLUS in San Diego, Calif. (l-r): Jonas Schneider, Assistant Director of Sales, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz; Albert Herrera, Executive Vice President, Partner Relations, Internova Travel Group; Lauren Beall, Luxury Travel Advisor, Protravel International, Global Travel Collection; Sven Flory, Director of Sales, The Bürgenstock Collection; and J.D. O’Hara, Chief Executive Officer, Internova Travel Group

Participants were selected based on a range of criteria, including advisors who are in the top 20 percent of luxury bookers, with average annual sales exceeding $2.5 million; contribute to elevating the industry through collaboration and sharing knowledge; take an innovative approach to their business development; and are rising stars who have been in the industry for less than five years.

The 85 supplier partners represented an airline, cruise lines and hotel brands, as well as tour operators from destinations around the world.

The event won raves from travel advisors.

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“Internova PLUS is a big deal,” said Leah Iudice, a luxury travel advisor with Nexion Travel Group. “It was an honor to be part of this select group of travel advisors. I learned an incredible amount and I’m returning home with fresh ideas for my business. I’m so excited to offer my clients even more high-end travel options in partnership with Internova.”

“The vibe at Internova PLUS was so relaxed, and that was incredibly conducive to building new relationships,” said Jeffrey Brothers, a luxury travel advisor with Global Travel Collection.

“Anyone can talk about how much they appreciate their travel advisors but at Internova, they show it,” said luxury travel advisor Caryl Halpin from Global Travel Collection. “Internova PLUS is a perfect example of the high level of personal attention and tremendous support that Internova provides its travel advisors. Everything about this event was carefully curated to help us grow our businesses and strengthen our relationships with some of the most important brands in luxury travel.”

Diane Frisch, a luxury travel advisor with Nexion Travel Group, noted that Internova PLUS is the latest in a series of company events that are geared toward supporting luxury travel advisors. “Internova has made a commitment to the luxury category unlike any I have ever seen,” said Frisch. “This event proves that if you’re a luxury travel advisor, you need to be affiliated with Internova. It’s not only the most valuable conference I have ever been to, it’s my favorite.”

Likewise, travel suppliers were also impressed with the event.

“Internova PLUS proved that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Tristan Dowell, Global Vice President, Luxury, Lifestyle and Leisure for Hyatt Hotels. “Not only did we have important conversations with travel advisors, we were also able to connect with friendly competitors in an impactful way.”

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“The size, the professionalism and variety of the advisors, as well the quality of the content, were all incredible,” said Ludovic Cayacy, Director of Sales at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, in Paris. “Internova PLUS ticked all the boxes.”

“I received an inquiry from every appointment I had,” said Rebecca Slater, owner of Rebecca Recommends, one of the leading luxury travel representation companies in the United States. “I can’t remember that ever happening at a meeting before.”

Internova PLUS, held at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, was designed to push the boundaries of traditional event programming by bringing together participants through an intimate, innovative approach. Attendees tackled critical industry topics in “Think Tank” sessions, met one-on-one, enjoyed small group dinners and engaged in structured networking that fostered creativity and collaboration. There were opportunities to bond informally through activities like hiking, bocce, pickleball, beer and wine tasting and a sustainability tour.

“We are proud of what we put together for our partners and advisors,” said Albert Herrera, Executive Vice President, Partner Relations at Internova. “The discussions that happened at Internova PLUS will shape the next year of luxury travel.” 

Herrera announced that the next Internova PLUS event will take place Jan. 16-19, 2024, at the soon-to-be-opened Pendry Newport Beach, in Orange County, California.

To learn more about Internova and its portfolio of travel agency brands, please visit https://internova.com.

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About Internova Travel Group 
Internova Travel Group is one of the largest travel services companies in the world with a collection of leading brands delivering high-touch, personal travel expertise to leisure and corporate clients. Internova manages leisure, business and franchise firms through a portfolio of distinctive divisions. Internova represents more than 100,000 travel advisors in over 6,000 company-owned and affiliated locations predominantly in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a presence in more than 80 countries.

SOURCE Internova Travel Group

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NASA to Test Nuclear Engine Soon for Future Mars Missions

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NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or “DARPA,” announced Tuesday a collaboration to demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket engine in space, an enabling capability for NASA crewed missions to Mars.

https://stmdailynews.com/nasa-darpa-will-test-nuclear-engine-for-future-mars-missions/

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