Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center in Jerusalem

Psychiatric hospital Kfar Shaul In Jerusalem – Source: Wikipedia, Public Domain, Creative Commons

 

Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center, established in 1951, is an Israeli public psychiatric hospital located between Givat Shaul and Har Nof, Jerusalem. It is affiliated with the Hadassah Medical Center and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The hospital is Jerusalem’s designated psychiatric hospital for tourists who display mental health disturbances, and is widely known for its research on Jerusalem Syndrome.

 

The Givat Shaul mental health center opened in 1951, utilizing the houses and school building of Deir Yassin, which had been left untouched. It was originally a therapeutic community of 300 patients who spent most of the day working outdoors. It was called the Kfar Shaul Government Work Village for Mental Patients. In its early years, the majority of the patients were Holocaust survivors.

 

The hospital is equipped with Snoezelen rooms, a Dutch therapy technique which uses controlled stimulation of the five senses to benefit the mentally and physically disabled. The hospital is known in particular for its association with Jerusalem Syndrome, a condition in which the sufferer is gripped by religious delusions. The hospital sees some 50 patients a year who are diagnosed with the condition Israel psychologist Gregory Katz has said many of the patients are Pentecostals from rural parts of the United States and Scandinavia. The syndrome was first diagnosed in 1993 by Yair Bar-El, a former director of the hospital. In 2000, archaeologists unearthed the remains of a winepress dated to the Byzantine or Roman era on the grounds of the hospital.

 

The Shaare Zedek Medical Center, which means: “Gates of Justice,” is a major hospital in JerusalemIsrael established in 1902. Source: Wikipedia, Public Domain, Creative Commons

 

Original, 1902 Shaare Zedek hospital building on Jaffa Road, now headquarters of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Source: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

 

 

Shaare Zedek was the first large hospital to be located in the Western portion of Jerusalem and is today the city’s fastest growing hospital and the only major medical facility in the city’s center. After the Ottoman Turks gave permission in the 1890s, and with funding from European donors, the hospital was built on Jaffa Road, two miles (3 km) outside the Old City. Its opening ceremony took place on January 27, 1902. Dr. Moshe Wallach was the director from then until 1947. Schwester Selma lived in the hospital and cared for abandoned children. The building in Bayit Vegan was inaugurated in 1980. In December 2012, Shaare Zedek assumed operational control over Bikur Cholim Hospital and merged many of its activities. The hospital treats over 600,000 patients per year in more than 30 inpatient departments and over 70 outpatient units and maintains a very active academic service as a leading research and teaching institution. Shaare Zedek is classified as a public/private hospital, serving as a non-profit institution and dependent on donor support for capital development, while committed to offering advanced medical care for the wider Jerusalem-area community.

OBESITY

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African-Specific Genomic Variant Associated With Obesity

 

Obesity is a global health problem, contributing to premature death and morbidity by increasing a person’s risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some cancers. While obesity mostly results from lifestyle and cultural factors, including excess calorie intake and inadequate levels of physical activity, it has a strong genomic component. The burden of obesity is, however, not the same across U.S. ethnic groups, with African-Americans having the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity. Interestingly, most of the genomic studies conducted on obesity to date have been in people of European ancestry, despite an increased risk of obesity in people of African ancestry.

 

According to an article published online the journal Obesity (13 March 2017), an international team of researchers has conducted the first study of its kind to look at the genomic underpinnings of obesity in continental Africans and African-Americans. The  study discovered that approximately 1% of West Africans, African-Americans and others of African ancestry carry a genomic variant that increases their risk of obesity, a finding that provides insight into why obesity clusters in families. Results from the study showed that people with genomic differences in the semaphorin-4D (SEMA4D) gene were about six pounds heavier than those without the genomic variant.

 

This is the first study to use a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) to investigate the genomic basis of obesity in continental Africans. A GWAS compares the genomes of people with and without a health condition – in this case, people who are obese and those who are not — to search for regions of the genome that contain genomic variants associated with the condition. Most previous studies on obesity using a GWAS  have been conducted with populations of European ancestry; these studies wouldn’t have found the SEMA4D genomic variant, which is absent in both Europeans and Asians.

 

According to the authors, by studying people of West Africa, the ancestral home of most African-Americans, and replicating our results in a large group of African-Americans, new insights are now available into biological pathways for obesity that have not been previously explored. The authors added that these findings may also help inform how the African environments have shaped individual genomes in the context of obesity risk.

 

The authors plan to replicate these findings in more populations and conduct experiments using cell lines and model organisms such as zebrafish to identify the role of genomic variants in SEMA4D in obesity and obesity-related traits. (The SEMA4D gene plays a role in cell signaling, the immune response and bone formation.) Available data show that the newly identified genomic variant overlaps a region of DNA called an “enhancer“ that can be activated to increase the work of a particular gene. The authors plan to conduct larger studies of DNA sequencing of this gene in different human populations with the hope of identifying other genomic factors that may be associated with obesity. The overall goal of the program is to learn how to better prevent or treat obesity.

Impaired Glucose Homeostasis in First-Episode Schizophrenia

 

Schizophrenia is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, it is not clear whether schizophrenia confers an inherent risk for glucose dysregulation in the absence of the effects of chronic illness and long-term treatment. As a result, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry (2017;74:261-269) conducted a meta-analysis examining whether individuals with first-episode schizophrenia already exhibit alterations in glucose homeostasis compared with controls.

 

For the study, the EMBASE, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO databases were systematically searched for studies examining measures of glucose homeostasis in antipsychotic-naive individuals with first-episode schizophrenia compared with individuals serving as controls. Study selection included case-control studies reporting on fasting plasma glucose levels, plasma glucose levels after an oral glucose tolerance test, fasting plasma insulin levels, insulin resistance, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels in first-episode antipsychotic-naive individuals with first-episode schizophrenia compared with healthy individuals serving as controls. Two independent investigators selected the studies. Two independent investigators extracted study-level data for a random-effects meta-analysis. Standardized mean differences in fasting plasma glucose levels, plasma glucose levels after an oral glucose tolerance test, fasting plasma insulin levels, insulin resistance, and HbA1c levels were calculated. Sensitivity analyses examining the effect of body mass index, diet and exercise, race/ethnicity, and minimal (<2 weeks) antipsychotic exposure were performed.

 

Results showed that of the 3,660 citations retrieved, 16 case-control studies comprising 15 samples met inclusion criteria. The overall sample included 731 patients and 614 controls. Fasting plasma glucose levels (P=0.03), plasma glucose levels after an oral glucose tolerance test (P=0.007), fasting plasma insulin levels (P=0.01), and insulin resistance (homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance) (P=0.001) were all significantly elevated in patients compared with controls. However, HbA1c levels (P=0.55) were not altered in patients compared with controls.

 

According to the authors, the findings show that glucose homeostasis is altered from illness onset in schizophrenia, indicating that patients are at increased risk of diabetes as a result. The authors added that this finding has implications for the monitoring and treatment choice for patients with schizophrenia.

Helping to Speed Cures and Treatments to Patients

 

The FDA is committed to helping deliver innovative, safe, and effective treatments and cures to the patients who need them as quickly as possible. To achieve this goal, FDA has implemented a variety of expedited review programs and are working to help shorten the development time before a product is even submitted for FDA review.

 

Accomplishments: Drugs

 

As a result of these efforts, in 2014 alone, FDA approved 51 new molecular entities and biological products (41 by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and 10 by the Center for Biological Evaluation and Research). These approvals included major therapeutic advances in the treatment of cancer, hepatitis C and type-2 diabetes. They also included vaccines for meningococcus type B, and more new orphan drugs for rare diseases than any previous year.

 

Accomplishments: Devices

 

FDA has also made strides with medical devices. As a result of activities coordinated by CDRH Innovation, and programmatic improvements and innovative use of our existing approval and clearance pathways, many devices investigated in the United States now reach the market a full year sooner than they did at the beginning of this decade. Products recently approved or cleared by FDA include the BrainPort V100, a first-of-its-kind wearable device that can help orient profoundly blind individuals to their physical surroundings; Watchman LAA Closure Technology, a permanently implanted device that prevents certain clots from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke; and the Maestro Rechargeable System to treat obesity in certain adult patients (it targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach that controls feelings of hunger and fullness).

Curry Eggplant Pancake with Wide Variety of Toppings

Medium rare lamb pieces, cooked in oil and garlic with a fig reduction, is the topping on the eggplant pancake that you see above. It’s garnished with chopped scallion and served with fresh mango and mango chutney. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here, topping the eggplant pancake is a delicious shrimp salad (finely chopped celery, a few spices and a very light creamy dressing) ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Over the eggplant pancake, are curry lamb meatballs served with yogurt and mango chutney; cilantro garnish ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

The eggplant pancake is topped with ripe avocados mixed with fresh garlic, finely chopped parsley and cilantro and a simple extra virgin olive oil & fresh lemon dressing. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Homemade lentils cooked with tomatoes (sundried or fresh or canned) onion, garlic, parsley, spices, seasonings. I always cook lentils in chicken stock or broth. Not shown is the finely chopped fresh parsley garnish. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

On the eggplant pancake is left over chicken or turkey, turned into a salad with fresh apples, green and red grapes, garlic, scallions, nuts. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Curried eggplant pancake, served plain without any topping, as a veggie along with a cooked but rare salmon entr�e and a couple of asparagus spears. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Get all your ingredients together. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

Ingredients

 

2 or 3 cups roasted eggplant

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 Onion, well chopped

6 fresh garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/4 to 1/2 creamy goat cheese or plain Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

Pinch black pepper

Pinch dried oregano

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup fresh mint, very finely chopped

1/4 to 1/2 cup canola oil, more if needed

 

 

Directions

 

  1. Roast 1 or 2 Italian eggplant until the inside is very soft. With an oven mitt on, squeeze the eggplant to feel the degree of softness. Remove from oven when done and (use oven mitts) cut each eggplant in half, and open like a book, to cool, on a plate.
  2. When cool enough, throw away any seeds or skin and remove the soft eggplant to a food processor to break up and soften any fibers. Set aside
  3. While eggplant is baking, do all your chopping
  4. Into a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, garlic, onion and creamy goat cheese, finely chopped parsley. Stir to combine everything well.
  5. Add the eggplant from the food processor, to the bowl with mixed wet ingredients.
  6. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, curry powder, dried oregano, and fresh mint. Mix well.
  7. Slowly, add the mixed dry ingredients to the eggplant mixture and stir until the batter is just moistened. Don’t over-mix.

 

Cooking the Eggplant Pancakes

 

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop rounded spoonfuls of eggplant batter into hot oil and fry until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain pancakes on a paper towel-lined plate.

 

Bake the whole eggplant. You can rub extra virgin olive oil over the skin before baking. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

I covered the whole eggplants, lightly with foil. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

When roasted and soft when you squeeze, ( but not soft and mushy), remove from oven and let cool. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Italian eggplants don’t have as many seeds as other varieties, so use these. When eggplant has cooled enough to handle, cut in half and open like a book to cool more. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Scoop all the flesh out of the eggplant and put into food processor. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Do all your chopping at the same time. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

Mix all wet ingredients together in a bowl. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

After mixing wet ingredients, add the eggplant from the food processor, to the wet ingredients. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Slowly, add the bowl of mixed dry ingredients, into the bowl of wet ingredients and stir only until you get a moist batter. Don’t over stir. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Don’t crowd the pan. Cook over medium high flame. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes on each side. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

From pan to plate covered with paper towel to drain. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health In.

 

On a platter, serve plain as a vegetable with fish, seafood, poultry, meat. Or with a topping of your choice, make this into a meal in itself. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

With curried lamb cooked in a wine/fig sauce, the eggplant pancake turned into a gourmet feast. With it, we had a delicious robust Shiraz from Southern Australia. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc. (you’ve got to try it)

 

This wine was a gift from dinner guests. We didn’t open it right away. Recently, when we opened it for the eggplant pancake with lamb, we were so-o surprised at the unique quality of this Shiraz. You take notice the minute the first sip hits your mouth – then such a pleasant sensation as it explodes and sets your throat on fire, the long finish continues as the heat lingers. This is a fabulous 2012 Henschke blend, with 65% Shiraz, 20% Cab, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. We highly recommend this wine. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

From Our Table to Yours !

 

Bon Appetit!

 

Date:
March 16, 2017

Source:
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

Summary:
It is an innovative approach that takes advantage of the different expression profiles of certain proteins between tumor and healthy cells that make the virus to only infect the first ones.

 

The image shows tumor cells infected by the virus, which expresses a fluorescent protein. Over the days (in the image fifth day), the virus multiplies, generating new virions that infect more cancer cells
Credit: IDIBAPS, IRB Barcelona

 

 

Scientists at the IDIBAPS Biomedical Research Institute and at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) lead a study in which they have designed a new strategy to get genetically modified viruses to selectively attack tumor cells without affecting healthy tissues. The study, published today by the journal Nature Communications, is part of Eneko Villanueva’s work for his PhD and it is co-lead by Cristina Fillat, head of the Gene Therapy and Cancer Group at IDIBAPS, and Raúl Méndez, ICREA researcher at IRB Barcelona.

Conventional cancer treatment may cause undesirable side effects as a result of poor selectivity. To avoid them it is important that new therapies can efficiently remove cancer cells and preserve the healthy ones. One of the new approaches in cancer therapy is based on the development of oncolytic viruses, ie, viruses modified to only infect tumor cells. In recent years several studies have been focused on the development of viruses created by genetic engineering to maximize their anticancer effect but, as their potency increases, so does the associated toxicity. Limiting this effect on healthy cells is now the key for the application of this promising therapy.

An innovative and specific approach

In the study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from IDIBAPS and IRB Barcelona have developed an innovative approach to provide adenovirus with high specificity against tumor cells. “We have taken advantage of the different expression of a type of protein, CPEBs, in normal and tumor tissues,” explains Raúl Méndez from IRB Barcelona.

CPEB is a family of four RNA binding proteins (the molecules that carry information from genes to synthesize proteins) that control the expression of hundreds of genes and maintain the functionality and the ability to repair tissues under normal conditions. When CPEBs become imbalanced, they change the expression of these genes in cells and contribute to the development of pathological processes such as cancer. “We have focused on the double imbalance of two of these proteins in healthy tissues and tumors: on the one hand we have CPEB4, which in previous studies we have shown that it is highly expressed in cancer cells and necessary for tumor growth; and, on the other hand, CPEB1, expressed in normal tissue and lost in cancer cells. We have taken advantage of this imbalance to make a virus that only attacks cells with high levels of CPEB4 and low CPEB1, that means that it only affects tumor cells, ignoring the healthy tissues,” says Méndez.

“In this study we have worked with adenoviruses, a family of viruses that can cause infections of the respiratory tract, the urinary tract, conjunctivitis or gastroenteritis but which have features that make them very attractive to be used in the therapy against tumors,” explains Cristina Fillat. To do this, it is necessary to modify the genome of these viruses. In the study researchers have inserted sequences that recognize CPEB proteins in key regions for the control of viral proteins. Their activity was checked in in vitro models of pancreatic cancer and control of tumor growth was observed in mouse models.

The oncoselective viruses created in this study were very sophisticated, being activated by CPEB4 but repressed by CPEB1. Thus, researchers achieved attenuated viral activity in normal cells, while in tumor cells the virus potency was maintained or even increased. “When the modified viruses entered into tumor cells they replicated their genome and, when going out, they destroyed the cell and released more particles of the virus with the potential to infect more cancer cells,” says Fillat. She adds that, “this new approach is very interesting since it is a therapy selectively amplified in the tumor.”

Since CPEB4 is overexpressed in several tumors, this oncoselective strategy may be valid for other solid tumors. Researchers are now trying to combine this treatment with therapies that are already being used in clinical practice, or that are in a very advanced stage of development, to find synergies that make them more effective.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eneko Villanueva, Pilar Navarro, Maria Rovira-Rigau, Annarita Sibilio, Raúl Méndez, Cristina Fillat. Translational reprogramming in tumour cells can generate oncoselectivity in viral therapies. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 14833 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS14833

 

Source: Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). “Viruses created to selectively attack tumor cells.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170316112147.htm>.

Newly available tool will help researchers worldwide shed light on inner workings of cells

Date:
March 15, 2017

Source:
University of Alberta

Summary:
Researchers have developed a new method of controlling biology at the cellular level using light. The tool — called a photocleavable protein — breaks into two pieces when exposed to light, allowing scientists to study and manipulate activity inside cells in new and different ways.

 

Light-activated control of protein localization in mammalian cells. The protein is initially in the cytoplasm and excluded from the nucleus of the cell (blue area in the middle each cell). Upon illumination, the part of the protein that prevents it from entering the nucleus is cleaved off and the protein is now able to enter the nucleus. The concentration of protein is represented by the color, with blue indicating a low concentration, and red representing a high concentration.
Credit: Robert Campbell

 

 

Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a new method of controlling biology at the cellular level using light.

The tool — called a photocleavable protein — breaks into two pieces when exposed to light, allowing scientists to study and manipulate activity inside cells in new and different ways.

First, scientists use the photocleavable protein to link cellular proteins to inhibitors, preventing the cellular proteins from performing their usual function. This process is known as caging.

“By shining light into the cell, we can cause the photocleavable protein to break, removing the inhibitor and uncaging the protein within the cell,” said lead author Robert Campbell, professor in the Department of Chemistry. Once the protein is uncaged, it can start to perform its normal function inside the cell.

The tool is relatively easy to use and widely applicable for other research that involves controlling processes inside a cell.

The power of light-sensitive proteins, Campbell explained, is that they can be used to study the inner workings of any living cell. For example, optogenetic tools are widely used to activate brain activity in mice.

“We could use the photocleavable protein to study single bacteria, yeast, human cells in the lab or even whole animals such as zebrafish or mice,” explained Campbell. “To put these proteins inside an animal, we simply splice the gene for the protein into DNA and insert it into the cells using established techniques.”

The gene for the photocleavable will be made available on Addgene, providing access to other researchers and scientists.

“We want to provide new ways to learn about cell biology,” said Campbell. “I see countless potential applications for research and future investigation — from looking at which cells become which tissues in development biology, to investigating the possibilities of gene-editing technology.”

The research was published in Nature Methods in March 2017. It was conducted in collaboration with Roger Thompson and post-doctoral fellow Alex Lohman from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute from the University of Calgary.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Alberta. Original written by Katie Willis. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wei Zhang, Alexander W Lohman, Yevgeniya Zhuravlova, Xiaocen Lu, Matthew D Wiens, Hiofan Hoi, Sine Yaganoglu, Manuel A Mohr, Elena N Kitova, John S Klassen, Periklis Pantazis, Roger J Thompson, Robert E Campbell. Optogenetic control with a photocleavable protein, PhoCl. Nature Methods, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.4222

 

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170315125623.htm

Date:
March 14, 2017

Source:
PLOS

Summary:
Scientists have found fossils of 1.6 billion-year-old probable red algae. The spectacular finds indicate that advanced multicellular life evolved much earlier than previously thought.

 

X-ray tomographic picture (false colors) of fossil thread-like red algae.
Credit: Stefan Bengtson; CCAL

 

 

Scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History have found fossils of 1.6 billion-year-old probable red algae. The spectacular finds, publishing on 14 March in the open access journal PLOS Biology, indicate that advanced multicellular life evolved much earlier than previously thought.

The scientists found two kinds of fossils resembling red algae in uniquely well-preserved sedimentary rocks at Chitrakoot in central India. One type is thread-like, the other one consists of fleshy colonies. The scientists were able to see distinct inner cell structures and so-called cell fountains, the bundles of packed and splaying filaments that form the body of the fleshy forms and are characteristic of red algae.

“You cannot be a hundred per cent sure about material this ancient, as there is no DNA remaining, but the characters agree quite well with the morphology and structure of red algae,” says Stefan Bengtson, Professor emeritus of palaeozoology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

The earliest traces of life on Earth are at least 3.5 billion years old. These single-celled organisms, unlike eukaryotes, lack nuclei and other organelles. Large multicellular eukaryotic organisms became common much later, about 600 million years ago, near the transition to the Phanerozoic Era, the “time of visible life.”

Discoveries of early multicellular eukaryotes have been sporadic and difficult to interpret, challenging scientists trying to reconstruct and date the tree of life. The oldest known red algae before the present discovery are 1.2 billion years old. The Indian fossils, 400 million years older and by far the oldest plant-like fossils ever found, suggest that the early branches of the tree of life need to be recalibrated.

“The ‘time of visible life’ seems to have begun much earlier than we thought,” says Stefan Bengtson.

The presumed red algae lie embedded in fossil mats of cyanobacteria, called stromatolites, in 1.6 billion-year-old Indian phosphorite. The thread-like forms were discovered first, and when the then doctoral student Therese Sallstedt investigated the stromatolites she found the more complex, fleshy structures.

“I got so excited I had to walk three times around the building before I went to my supervisor to tell him what I had seen!” she says.

The research group was able to look inside the algae with the help of synchrotron-based X-ray tomographic microscopy. Among other things, they have seen regularly recurring platelets in each cell, which they believe are parts of chloroplasts, the organelles within plant cells where photosynthesis takes place. They have also seen distinct and regular structures at the centre of each cell wall, typical of red algae.


Story Source:

Materials provided by PLOS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stefan Bengtson, Therese Sallstedt, Veneta Belivanova, Martin Whitehouse. Three-dimensional preservation of cellular and subcellular structures suggests 1.6 billion-year-old crown-group red algae. PLOS Biology, 2017; 15 (3): e2000735 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2000735

 

Source: PLOS. “World’s oldest plant-like fossils show multicellular life appeared earlier than thought.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170314150937.htm>.

Date:
March 13, 2017

Source:
University of Washington

Summary:
The dramatic decline of Arctic sea ice in recent decades is caused by a mixture of global warming and a natural, decades-long atmospheric hot spot over Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.

 

Arctic sea ice, as seen from an ice breaker ship in 2014.
Credit: Bonnie Light/University of Washington

 

 

Arctic sea ice in recent decades has declined even faster than predicted by most models of climate change. Many scientists have suspected that the trend now underway is a combination of global warming and natural climate variability.

A new study finds that a substantial chunk of summer sea ice loss in recent decades was due to natural variability in the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean. The study, from the University of Washington, the University of California Santa Barbara and federal scientists, is published March 13 in Nature Climate Change.

“Anthropogenic forcing is still dominant — it’s still the key player,” said first author Qinghua Ding, a climate scientist at the University of California Santa Barbara who holds an affiliate position at the UW, where he began the work as a research scientist in the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory. “But we found that natural variability has helped to accelerate this melting, especially over the past 20 years.”

The paper builds on previous work by Ding and other UW scientists that found changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean have in recent decades created a “hot spot” over Greenland and the Canadian Arctic that has boosted warming in that region.

The hot spot is a large region of higher pressure where air is squeezed together so it becomes warmer and can hold more moisture, both of which bring more heat to the sea ice below. The new paper focuses specifically on what this atmospheric circulation means for Arctic sea ice in September, when the ocean reaches its maximum area of open water.

“The idea that natural or internal variability has contributed substantially to the Arctic sea ice loss is not entirely new,” said second author Axel Schweiger, a University of Washington polar scientist who tracks Arctic sea ice. “This study provides the mechanism and uses a new approach to illuminate the processes that are responsible for these changes.”

Ding designed a new sea ice model experiment that combines forcing due to climate change with observed weather in recent decades. The model shows that a shift in wind patterns is responsible for about 60 percent of sea ice loss in the Arctic Ocean since 1979. Some of this shift is related to climate change, but the study finds that 30-50 percent of the observed sea ice loss since 1979 is due to natural variations in this large-scale atmospheric pattern.

“What we’ve found is that a good fraction of the decrease in September sea ice melt in the past several decades is most likely natural variability. That’s not really a surprise,” said co-author David Battisti, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences.

“The method is really innovative, and it nails down how much of the observed sea ice trend we’ve seen in recent decades in the Arctic is due to natural variability and how much is due to greenhouse gases.”

The long-term natural variability is ultimately thought to be driven by the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conditions in the tropical Pacific set off ripple effects, and atmospheric waves snake around the globe to create areas of higher and lower air pressure.

Teasing apart the natural and human-caused parts of sea ice decline will help to predict future sea ice conditions in Arctic summer. Forecasting sea ice conditions is relevant for shipping, climate science, Arctic biology and even tourism. It also helps to understand why sea ice declines may be faster in some decades than others.

“In the long term, say 50 to 100 years, the natural internal variability will be overwhelmed by increasing greenhouse gases,” Ding said. “But to predict what will happen in the next few decades, we need to understand both parts.”

What will happen next is unknown. The tropical Pacific Ocean could stay in its current phase or it could enter an opposite phase, causing a low-pressure center to develop over Arctic seas that would temporarily slow the long-term loss of sea ice due to increased greenhouse gases.

“We are a long way from having skill in predicting natural variability on decadal time scales,” Ding said.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Washington. Original written by Hannah Hickey. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Qinghua Ding, Axel Schweiger, Michelle L’Heureux, David S. Battisti, Stephen Po-Chedley, Nathaniel C. Johnson, Eduardo Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, Kirstin Harnos, Qin Zhang, Ryan Eastman, Eric J. Steig. Influence of high-latitude atmospheric circulation changes on summertime Arctic sea ice. Nature Climate Change, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3241

 

Source: University of Washington. “Rapid decline of Arctic sea ice a combination of climate change and natural variability.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170313160827.htm>.

Climate Change: Springtime in NYC: First a Snow Storm, then Sun and Flowers

 

The photo below was taken in the front gardens of our building in NYC showing the crocuses pushing through.

 

On this same morning we had a very cold snow storm, but by the time I was coming home in the afternoon, the sun was out and crocuses blooming.

 

First 2017 crocuses blooming in our front garden. © Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

For more information about Target Health contact Warren Pearlson (212-681-2100 ext. 165). For additional information about software tools for paperless clinical trials, please also feel free to contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel or Ms. Joyce Hays. The Target Health software tools are designed to partner with both CROs and Sponsors. Please visit the Target Health Website.

 

Joyce Hays, Founder and Editor in Chief of On Target

Jules Mitchel, Editor

 

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