Northern Vermont University has received a $3.5 million gift from an alumnus of Lyndon State College.
The school announced Monday that the gift from Mark Valade is the largest in the Vermont State College System’s history.
Valade is the CEO of Carhartt, Inc., and the great-grandson of the founder of Carhartt, Hamilton Carhartt, the Caledonian Record reported. Lyndon State College merged with Johnson State College in 2018 to create Northern Vermont University.
The donation will help build the NVU Learning and Working Community, which is a partnership between the institution and local businesses and organizations to provide hands-on learning opportunities and career pathways for students, the university said.
NVU President Elaine Collins said in a statement that the school is grateful for “this transformative gift.” The NVU Learning and Working Community “will help drive entrepreneurship, innovation and professional development, encouraging our students to stay in Vermont to pursue their dreams while also helping to meet our state’s workforce needs,” she said.
Valade said he hopes other alumni and friends will support the new, innovative direction in teaching that NVU has undertaken.
“NVU plays such an important role in the lives of its students and is vital to northern Vermont,” he said in a statement.
An aerial view over areas in the Santiam Canyon burned by the wildfires in September including Fishermen’s Bend, Gates and Mill City
Salem Statesman Journal
SALEM, Ore. — The Northern Spotted Owl was already struggling before 2020.
But this year’s Labor Day wildfires brought another major blow to the iconic but fragile population of birds, pushing them closer to the “extinction vortex,” according to top researcher Damon Lesmeister.
Wildfires kicked up on powerful east winds Sept. 7 and burned across almost a million acres (about 1,560 square miles) of forest in Western Oregon.
All totaled, the fires burned 360,000 acres (over 560 square miles) of suitable nesting and roosting spotted owl habitat in Oregon. Of that, about 194,000 acres (over 300 square miles) are no longer considered viable for the birds, according to U.S. Forest Service data.
“These wildfires were very impactful on spotted owls,” said Lesmeister, the lead researcher on spotted owls for the Forest Service. “The sad truth is that the birds caught in the fire likely didn’t survive — it was just moving too fast. So there will be a lot of direct mortality.
A northern spotted owl named Obsidian by U.S. Forest Service employees sits in a tree in the Deschutes National Forest near Camp Sherman, Oregon in 2003. (Photo: Don Ryan / AP file)
“It will take time to sort out the exact impact to the population, but it’s significant just because their numbers were already declining pretty rapidly.”
Northern Spotted Owls occupied an estimated 14,000 territories across the Pacific Northwest in 1993, three years after they were listed by the federal Endangered Species Act. Today, it’s estimated they occupy just 3,000 territories — meaning a single male or breeding pair inhabit each territory.
Wildfires become third reason for decline in spotted owls
Two things have fueled the decline, he said: the invasion of barred owls overtaking nesting sites and habitat fragmentation.
But wildfires have become a third and potentially devastating stress on spotted owl populations, particularly when they burn as hot as they did this year, he said.
This year’s fires were rare in size and power, torching even old-growth temperate rainforest that might burn only once every few centuries. They’re the very places spotted owls depend on.
“We have so few animals right now that a big loss from these fires could become destabilizing on the population as a whole,” Lesmeister said. “Indications are that they’re already in the extinction vortex in some places, and headed there in others. They’re long-lived birds and will continue to hang on for a while, but we’re not getting the level of recruitment into the population to sustain them.”
Not everybody agrees that wildfires are fueling a spotted owl decline, and argue wildfire can improve habitat in the long-term.
People often come across coins, shells and trash, but a teacher in Northern Ireland made a discovery that will go down in history.
In the 1980s, the late Roger Byrne, a schoolteacher and fossil collector, found several unidentified fossils on the east coast of County Antrim. He held onto them for several years before donating them to the Ulster Museum in Belfast.
Mystery swirled around what the fossils could be until a team of researchers with the University of Portsmouth and Queen’s University Belfast confirmed they are fossilized dinosaur bones.
The 200-million-year-old fossils are the “first dinosaur remains reported from anywhere in Ireland,” according to the article by the research team, published this month in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.
“This is a hugely significant discovery,” Mike Simms, a paleontologist at National Museums NI who led the team of researchers, said in a news release Tuesday. “The great rarity of such fossils here is because most of Ireland’s rocks are the wrong age for dinosaurs, either too old or too young, making it nearly impossible to confirm dinosaurs existed on these shores.”
The researchers wrote in their article that folklore attributes the apparent absence of dinosaur remains from Ireland to the activities of St. Patrick, who is credited with having driven the snakes out of Ireland. But the lack of fossilized dinosaur bones is simply due to geology, they said. The rocks around the country are either the wrong age or type.
“Finding an Irish dinosaur might seem a hopeless task but, nonetheless, several potential candidates have been identified and are described for the first time here,” the article says.
Researcher Robert Smyth and Professor David Martill of the University of Portsmouth analyzed the bone fragments with high-resolution 3D digital models of the fossils, produced by Dr. Patrick Collins of Queens University Belfast.
Originally researchers believed the bones were from the same animal but then determined they were from two different dinosaurs.
“Analyzing the shape and internal structure of the bones, we realized that they belonged to two very different animals,” said Smyth in the news release.
“One is very dense and robust, typical of an armored plant-eater. The other is slender, with thin bone walls and characteristics found only in fast-moving two-legged predatory dinosaurs called theropods.”
Both fossils were pieces of the animal’s leg bones, according to the researchers. One was part of a femur of a four-legged plant-eater called Scelidosaurus. The other was part of the tibia belonging to a two-legged meat-eater similar to Sarcosaurus.
The beach where the fossils were found is covered in rounded fragments of basalt and white limestone, according the journal article. It noted that fossils in that area are usually sparse and heavily abraded.
“The two dinosaur fossils that Roger Byrne found were perhaps swept out to sea, alive or dead, sinking to the Jurassic seabed where they were buried and fossilized,” said Simms.
This discovery helps shine light onto the life of dinosaurs that roamed millions of years ago.
“Usually you have to go a little ways out of town to get away from those city lights [to see them],” said Ryan Medzger, a meteorologist at the Fairbanks Weather Service office, who called the display “impressive.”
Other shots captured across the Final Frontier showed arcing bands of light splayed out across the sky like fluttering glow-in-the-dark wind chimes.
The lights were courtesy of a solar storm, or an eruption of high-energy particles from the surface of the sun. That burst of electromagnetic radiation hurtled toward the earth, where it reached the threshold of a level 2 out of 5 “geomagnetic storm.” The earth’s natural magnetic field converts that potentially hazardous energy into harmless visible light.
In the case of Saturday’s episode, the source of the energy wasn’t one prolific burst of energy, but rather a stream of solar wind emanating from a “coronal hole.” That’s a cooler region on the surface of the sun out of which the solar wind pours, sending a swift stream of energetic particles into space.
Some photographers even snagged shots of elusive “corona” formations, not to be confused with the solar corona, or the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere. The term comes from the Latin word for “crown” and describes whirlpool-like curls of the northern lights that pinch off and, from below, appear like a crown of converging blades of light.
In Fairbanks, the scene was accompanied by rare “light pillars,” or vertical columns of light above the ground.
Light pillars form when extremely cold air causes hexagonally-shaped ice crystals to be present near the surface. Light reflects off their lower horizontal faces and toward an observer, causing light to appear as a vertical stripe.
A glimpse of the northern lights was seen as far south as northern Minnesota and Wyoming, while some colors were even spotted from the northern United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the full splendor of the aurora appeared over Scandinavia, with stunning shots coming in from Norway, Sweden and Finland.
In Iceland, the aurora was bright enough to be seen even from the streets of Reykjavik, the nation’s capital
The Suomi NPP/VIIRS satellite, which stands for Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, is able to detect and resolve sources of light, including from the northern lights. The satellite was peering down on Alaska when the sky erupted in color as a 300-mile-wide band of aurora descended from the high Arctic. Meteorologists were able to obtain a view from space as tendrils of plasma writhed their serpentine weave.
The northern lights are most common at the peak of the solar cycle, which falls every 11 years or so. When the cycle is in full gear, the number of sunspots, or bruiselike discolorations on the sun, are at a maximum. These sunspots throb with energy and are typically the origin of the “coronal mass ejections” that bring aurora to earth.
At present, we’re in “solar minimum,” during which the sun can be spotless for long stretches of time. That makes such epic displays of
At Morgan State, a historically Black university that serves more than 7,700 students in Baltimore, the gift will support academic programs in cryptocurrency, blockchain and mergers and acquisitions, said David Wilson, the school’s president.
“You would have to look long, very long, and hard to find African Americans, in particular, in those areas,” Wilson said. “Bank of America has recognized that and has raised its hand to say, ‘We have to do something about this, and it has to go beyond checking a box.’ ”
Anne Kress, president of the more than 51,000-student Northern Virginia Community College, said the grant will fund scholarships and provide support for FastForward — a short-term workforce credential program that trains students for jobs in the health care and information technology fields. Most programs take between six and 12 weeks to complete.
Kress said short-term programs have gained popularity “because people can plan for that length of time.” The unpredictability of the pandemic has made it difficult for many students to plan their lives around traditional 15-week semesters.
“This is an incredible investment by Bank of America,” Kress said, adding that her students — more than half of whom are people of color — are overrepresented in industries hit hardest by the pandemic, including retail and service jobs. She said she plans to use the grant to lead students into higher paying, more stable careers.
“If you’re a first-generation student and you’re from a neighborhood where no one’s worked in cybersecurity before . . . you don’t know those careers exist,” Kress said.
The Bank of America grant comes as corporations and philanthropists look to invest in historically Black universities and other schools with large minority enrollment in ayear marked by protests over police violence and racial inequity. Amid a reckoning of racism has come a financial one, aimed at reversing decades of underinvestment in communities of color.
But the track records of these corporations can raise skepticism. At Bank of America — which just last year paid a $4.2 million settlement after being accused of discriminating against Black, Hispanic and female jobs applicants — about 19 percent of executive and senior-level managers at the company are minorities, according to 2019 data from the company. The company denied allegations of discrimination.
This year, Bank of America unveiled plans to change course, committing $1 billion over the next four years to assist communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, invest in minority-owned small businesses, promote affordable housing and support students of color.
“We can help address the widespread inequities in our communities by providing students with the resources they need for future employment and advancing economic mobility,” said Sabina Kelly, Greater Maryland market president for Bank of America.
Campus leaders say the investment is welcomed. It’s also overdue.
“Institutions such as Morgan, have long served as valuable pipelines to an overabundance of brilliant and highly capable African American talent,” Wilson said, “often untapped and underrepresented.”
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian scientists found a detached coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef that exceeds the height of the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower, the Schmidt Ocean Institute said this week, the first such discovery in over 100 years.
The “blade like” reef is nearly 500 metres tall and 1.5 kilometres wide, said the institute founded by ex-Google boss Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy. It lies 40 metres below the ocean surface and about six kilometres from the edge of Great Barrier Reef.
A team of scientists from James Cook University, led by Dr. Robin Beaman, were mapping the northern seafloor of the Great Barrier Reef on board the institute’s research vessel Falkor, when they found the reef on Oct. 20.
“We are surprised and elated by what we have found,” said Beaman.
He said it was the first detached reef of that size to be discovered in over 120 years and that it was thriving with a “blizzard of fish” in a healthy ecosystem.
The discovery comes after a study earlier this month found the Great Barrier Reef had lost more than half its coral in the last three decades.
Using the underwater robot known as SuBastian, the scientists filmed their exploration of the new reef, collecting marine samples on the way, which will be archived and placed in the Queensland Museum and the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
“To not only 3D map the reef in detail, but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible,” Beaman added.
Although the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef suffered from bleaching in 2016, Beaman said this detached reef didn’t display any evidence of damage.
Bleaching occurs when the water is too warm, forcing coral to expel living algae and causing it to calcify and turn white.
The Great Barrier Reef runs 2,300 km (1,429 miles) down Australia’s northeast coast spanning an area half the size of Texas. It was world heritage listed in 1981 by UNESCO as the most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet.
(Reporting by James Redmaynein Sydney; Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
Leopards are fascinating animals. In addition to being sublime hunters that will eat nearly anything and can survive in varied habitats from forests to deserts, they are able to withstand temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius during winter to plus 40 degrees in summer.
Despite their resilience, the majority of leopard species are endangered. Poaching and the clearing of forest habitat for human activities are among the reasons for their global decline.
But in northern China—and specifically on the Loess Plateu—something fantastic is occurring.
Numbers of a leopard subspecies called the North Chinese leopard have increased according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and their colleagues in Beijing.
“We were quite surprised that the number of leopards has increased, because their populations are declining in many other places. We knew that there were leopards in this area, but we had no idea how many,” says Bing Xie, a Ph.D. student at UCPH’s Department of Biology and one of the researchers behind the study.
Together with researchers at Beijing Normal University, she covered 800 square kilometers of the Loess Plateu between 2016 and 2017.
The just-completed count reports that the number of leopards increased from 88 in 2016 to 110 in 2017—a 25 percent increase. The researchers suspect that their numbers have continued to increase in the years since.
This is the first time that an estimate has been made for the status of local population in North Chinese leopards.
Five-year reforestation plan has worked
The reason for this spotted golden giant’s rebound likely reflects the 13’th five-year plan that the Chinese government, in consultation with a range of scientific researchers, implemented in 2015 to restore biodiversity in the area.
“About 20 years ago, much of the Loess Plateau’s forest habitat was transformed into agricultural land. Human activity scared away wild boars, toads, frogs and deer—making it impossible for leopards to find food. Now that much of the forest has been restored, prey have returned, along with the leopards,” explains Bing Xie, adding:
“Many locals had no idea there were leopards in the area, so they were wildly enthused and surprised. And, it was a success for the government, which had hoped for greater biodiversity in the area. Suddenly, they could ‘house’ these big cats on a far greater scale than they had dreamed of.”
Leopards are nearly invisible in nature
The research team deployed camera equipment to map how many leopards were in this area of northern China. But even though the footage captured more cats than expected on film, none of the researchers saw any of the big stealthy felines with their own eyes:
“Leopards are extremely shy of humans and sneak about silently. That’s why it’s not at all uncommon to study them for 10 years without physically observing one,” she explains.
Even though Bing Xie has never seen leopards in the wild, she will