Raging fires throughout the U.S. and Australia over the past year have put vulnerable species at risk. But not all blazes are devastating—in fact, fire can promote biodiversity. In grasslands, fires prevent trees and roots from taking hold. This allows grazing animals the space and vegetation they need to thrive. As the pattern of wildfires changes, a new review in Science outlines effective ways to let natural fires burn, while preventing out-of-control blazes. Watch to learn how a few of these techniques have been applied around the world.
“Even near the highest peak in the world, life manages to thrive. Follow a global team of scientists on the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition as they measure the biodiversity in Nepal’s Khumbu Valley and investigate how high alpine species are adapting to global climate change.”
In western Norway, the Nordhordland region is the only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Norway. This site of more than 600,000 hectares between sea and fjords promotes sustainable development, combining economic activity and protection of biodiversity.
First up this week, News Intern Rodrigo Pérez-Ortega talks with host Meagan Cantwell about an oasis of biodiversity in the striking blue pools of Cuatro Ciénegas, a basin in northern Mexico. Researchers have published dozens of papers exploring the unique microorganisms that thrive in this area, while at the same time fighting large agricultural industries draining the precious water from the pools.
David Tatnell, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Exeter, talks with host Sarah Crespi about using heat to make sound, a phenomenon known as thermoacoustics. Just like the sound of fire or thunder, sudden changes in temperature can create sound waves. In his team’s paper in Science Advances, Tatnell and colleagues describe a thermoacoustic speaker that uses thin, heated films to make sound. This approach cuts out the crosstalk seen in mechanical speakers and allows for extreme miniaturization of sound production. In the ultrasound range, arrays of thermoacoustic speakers could improve acoustic levitation and ultrasound imaging. In the hearing range, the speakers could be made extremely small, flexible, and even transparent.