Phytolith reveals seasonal drought conditions of tropical East Asia during the last 60,000 years

maar
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Whether or not millennium-scale climate events had occurred in the tropical continent of East Asia during the last glacial period has been a long-term puzzle. In addition, whether those events were affected by the high-latitude atmospheric conditions in the northern hemisphere, or driven by low-latitude oceanic conditions, remains uncertain.


A research team led by Prof. Lu Houyuan from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences identified seven millennial-scale seasonal drought events occurring during warm interstadial periods based on the analysis of phytolith and pollen obtained from sediment cores of Huguangyan Maar Lake in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, China. The study was published in PNAS on Nov. 23.

“These events had been mainly driven by changes in both zonal and meridional atmospheric-ocean circulations, which were considered to be major determinants of the hydrological changes in tropical East Asia,” said Prof. Lu.

Tropical regions are the “engines” of global hydrological cycles. Therefore, revealing the characteristics and mechanisms of hydrological changes in tropical regions in long-term scales are crucial to thoroughly understanding the evolution of global hydrological patterns, as well as predicting occurrences of extreme climatic events which may be caused by such changes.

In this study, the researchers found that seven millennial-scale seasonal drought events could be identified, which were indicated by the high percentages in the bilobate phytolith. These findings had contradicted the previously accepted mechanism in which the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) had moved southward during the cold period that cause the drought events.

They also found that by comparing the reconstruction results of several long-scale tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs), the bilobate peaks were consistent with the increases in the zonal SST gradients from west to east over the tropical Pacific Ocean.

“The results suggested that the rises in the SST in the western tropical Pacific Ocean had strengthened the Walker circulation process and weakened the atmospheric convection processes in the eastern Pacific Ocean, thereby forming anticyclone conditions in the North Pacific Ocean region,” said Prof. LU.

This may have contributed to the westward extension of West Pacific Subtropical High (WPSH). Meanwhile, the warming of the western tropical Pacific Ocean strengthened the Hadley circulation in the East Asia region, which further strengthened the WPSH and suppressed the East Asian summer monsoons.

Consequently, the northward movement of the WPSH was delayed, and the water vapor from the ocean became weakened. Modern climate records have revealed that during the years when the WPSH moves westward, the precipitation during spring and summer seasons in the Huguangyan area tends to be significantly lower than that observed during the years when the WPSH moves eastward.

The study results revealed the process of the millennium scale hydrological changes in tropical East Asian during the last glacial period under the joint control of the zonal and meridional ocean-atmospheric circulation conditions.


Seesaw of Indo-Pacific summer monsoons triggered by the tropical Atlantic Ocean


More information:
Jianping Zhang et al. Seasonal drought events in tropical East Asia over the last
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Jupiter and Saturn will come close enough to form first ‘double planet’ visible in nearly 800 years

In the complex dance of the solar system, two celestial bodies about to partner up.



a star filled sky with Gallery Arcturus in the background: Jupiter and Saturn have been appearing increasingly closer in the night sky, and they will appear to overlap as a “double planet” on Dec. 21.


Jupiter and Saturn have been appearing increasingly closer in the night sky, and they will appear to overlap as a “double planet” on Dec. 21.

Jupiter and Saturn often look far apart — two separate specks puncturing different parts of the night sky. But later this month, the two largest planets in the solar system will come so close to each other that they may appear to be overlapping, according to NASA, creating a kind of “double planet” that has not been visible since the Middle Ages.

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Skywatch: What’s happening in the heavens in December

The once-in-a-lifetime sight is the product of an astronomical event known as a “conjunction,” in which two objects line up with each other in the sky. When it involves Jupiter and Saturn catching up to each other, it’s sometimes called a “great conjunction.”

“You can actually see it with your own eye. It doesn’t have to be measured with sophisticated instruments,” Michael Brown, an astronomer at Monash University in Australia, told The Washington Post. “The two objects are appearing very close in the sky but ultimately they’re very far away from each other.”

While Jupiter and Saturn will be separated on Dec. 21 by 0.1 degrees, or less than a third of the moon’s width, the two planets will nonetheless remain separated by about 450 million miles in space, he said.

Emily Lakdawalla, a freelance space writer, said planetary orbits can be compared to a kind of running track, with the sun in the middle. If Jupiter is running in circles closer to the inside, Saturn is walking at a slower pace further out.

“Jupiter is lapping Saturn,” she said.

Given the pace of their orbits — Jupiter takes about 12 Earth years to circle the sun compared to Saturn’s 30 — the two actually align in their paths roughly every two decades.

But there’s a catch: Because each track has a slightly different tilt, very close conjunctions like the one set for later this month are rare. The last time Saturn and Jupiter were close enough to create a “double planet” seen from Earth was in March 1226, Brown said.

The two planets came equally close in 1623, but that phenomenon was impossible to see from Earth because of glare from the sun, he added. So the conjunction later this month will be an extraordinarily rare event.

Since the summer, Jupiter and Saturn have been getting closer to one another, often visible at dusk, low in the western sky. Right around the solstice, they may appear as one overlapping body above the horizon.

Luckily, the Earth will not need to await another eight centuries to view another “double planet.” Given the tilts of each orbit, the next conjunction will actually be visible in 2080, according to projections from Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan.

But for many, this year will mark their first and only opportunity to get

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WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Reaffirms The Colleges of Law’s Regional Accreditation for Eight More Years

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. and VENTURA, Calif., Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law (COL) received reaffirmed accreditation for a period of eight years from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The announcement marks the culmination of a five-year endeavor to show ongoing alignment with WSCUC’s standards of accreditation focused on institutional quality, sustainability, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

“It’s a great achievement,” said COL President Matthew Nehmer. “Because of our work with WSCUC, The Colleges of Law is stronger and more prepared to help our students achieve success and advance our mission onward. We are thrilled by the outcome.”

WSCUC is an accreditation agency for higher education recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Among its duties is to establish institutional eligibility for federal funding, including student access to Title IV federal financial aid.

The commission’s reaffirmation decision followed a comprehensive vetting of the institution’s academic and administrative departments, along with numerous panel interviews with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and trustees.

“It was gratifying to have the team of peer evaluators recognize and validate our dedication to delivering an accessible, affordable, and quality education,” said Jackie Gardina, dean and chief academic officer. “They provided incredibly thoughtful recommendations that will guide our work going forward.”

Upon reaffirmation, WSCUC shared the following commendations about COL:

  • Continuous engagement with stakeholders, including students, faculty, and alumni
  • Focus on mission and commitment to transparency
  • Commitment to innovation and nimbleness to navigate a rapidly changing higher education landscape
  • Commitment to assessment of student teaching and learning
  • Strong financial position and the work it performs to deliver a high-quality, affordable legal education

Reaffirmation is the second part of a two-step review process designed to align institutions of higher learning with measurable best practices. COL’s WSCUC journey started more than a decade ago when it began to pursue initial accreditation, a goal that was achieved in 2015.

WSCUC will return in 2028 to again review COL’s alignment with WSCUC’s standards of accreditation. Until then, COL intends to incorporate what it has learned from the reaffirmation process and to update its strategic plan to become an even better place to learn, teach, and work.

About The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law
Established in 1969, The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law was founded to expand opportunities and broaden access to legal education. COL is dedicated to a student-centered approach that affords students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to pursue careers in law or legal-related fields. COL’s faculty advances a real-world perspective and practicality on the application of law and includes practicing attorneys, judges, public servants, and leaders in business and nonprofit organizations. An accredited nonprofit institution, COL offers a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program. Additionally, in the fall of 2018, COL became the first accredited law school in California to offer a hybrid J.D. degree. COL is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The Juris

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Mom of 5 graduates from college nearly 30 years after starting her degree

Tyra Muhammad returned to college nearly three decades after she first started.

Tyra Muhammad graduated from college nearly 30 years after she started her undergraduate studies.

The 46-year-old mother of five graduated last month from Grambling State University, which she attended at the same time as three of her five children.

“I had the thought of, ‘I’m too old to do this. I’m too old to go back to school and be back on campus,’ but my kids encouraged me and were there for me,” Muhammad told “Good Morning America,” adding with a laugh, “People at times would think we were all siblings [on campus] together, so I appreciated that.”

Muhammad, an English major, first entered Grambling State as a freshman in 1994.

She met her husband in school and the two married at the end of Muhammad’s freshman year, when she was 19. The couple soon started their family and Muhammad paused her college career when she became pregnant and it was too hard physically to stay in school.

Muhammad would go to become a certified nursing assistant and tried a few times to restart at Grambling State but said her studies always took second place to motherhood and she never finished her degree.

“I kind of put myself on the back burner, which is generally what most mothers and women do,” she said.

Muhammad and her husband later divorced and by 2018, with her youngest child now a teenager, she was ready to go back to college. She re-enrolled at Grambling State, where three of her children were already enrolled.

“I sat my children down and talked to them and asked them if it’d be awkward if I attended at the same time and they said no,” recalled Muhammad. “I always wanted my degree and also wanted to be an example to my children in terms of the importance of education.”

Muhammad, whose children are now ages 15, 19, 22, 23 and 26, said the family got positive attention on campus because they would so often be seen together. She had at least one class with one of her children and enjoyed doing campus activities and study sessions with the others.

“It was a fun time,” she said. “I really, really enjoyed my time in school with my children.”

Muhammad’s son Elijah, 22, said he and his siblings also enjoyed the rare chance to attend college with their mom.

“It was fun for me,” said Elijah, who is studying business management and marketing. “Every parent is curious as to what their child is doing on campus and she got to see what I was doing and what

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Jupiter and Saturn will come within 0.1 degrees of each other, forming the first visible “double planet” in 800 years

Before 2020 comes to a close, Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that they will appear to form a “double planet.” The great conjunction, as the planetary alignment has come to be known, hasn’t occurred in nearly 800 years. 

When their orbits align every 20 years, Jupiter and Saturn get extremely close to one another. This occurs because Jupiter orbits the sun every 12 years, while Saturn’s orbit takes 30 years — every couple of decades, Saturn is lapped by Jupiter, according to NASA.  

However, 2020’s conjunction is especially rare — the planets haven’t been observed this close together since medieval times, in 1226.

“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another,” Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan said in a statement. “You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”

Aligning with the solstice on December 21, 2020, the two planets will be just 0.1 degrees apart — less than the diameter of a full moon, EarthSky says. The word “conjunction” is used by astronomers to describe the meeting of objects in our night sky, and the great conjunction occurs between the two largest planets in our solar system: Jupiter and Saturn. 

The planets will be so close, they will appear to overlap completely, creating a rare “double planet” effect.

saturnjupiter.jpg
Jupiter and Saturn will come within 0.1 degrees of each other on December 21, 2020, during what is known as the “great conjunction.” 

Getty Images


How to watch the great conjunction

During the last great conjunction in 2000, Jupiter and Saturn were so close to the sun that the event was difficult to observe. But skywatchers should have a clearer view of the celestial event this time around. The great conjunction will be shining bright shortly after sunset, low in the southwestern sky, as viewed from the Northern hemisphere, NASA says. 

Through the entirety of December, skywatchers will easily be able to spot the two planets. For the next three weeks, you can look up each evening to watch them get closer and closer in the sky. 

Jupiter currently appears brighter than any star in the sky. Saturn is slightly dimmer, but still just as bright as the brightest stars, with a recognizable golden glow. 

Saturn will appear just to the east of Jupiter, and will even look as close to the planet as some of its own moons. Unlike stars, which twinkle, both planets will hold consistent brightness, easy to find on clear nights. 

The event is observable from anywhere on Earth, provided the sky is clear. “The further north a viewer is, the less time they’ll have to catch a glimpse of the conjunction before the planets sink below the horizon,” Hartigan said. 

The planets will appear extremely close for about of month,

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Four Top 25 college basketball games on deck; An updated look at this year’s calendar

This year has been like any other due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and that includes the sports season. When the pandemic hit in March, sporting events around the world were canceled or postponed. Some leagues and tournaments were forced to cancel, others paused with the hope of restarting, but all had to adjust in some way.



a basketball player with a football ball: NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 25: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Steelers defeated the Titans 27-24.


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NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 25: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Steelers defeated the Titans 27-24.


As the world continues to navigate the pandemic, many sports leagues that paused in March have since created a plan to restart found a safe way to carry out their season. For instance, the NBA and NHL had “bubbles” for players to live in. In other sports, fans are not permitted at many events and new health protocols have been put in place.

Stay up to date with what games are on by checking out our daily schedule of sporting events.

Today’s sporting events:

Thursday, December 3

Men’s College Basketball

  • Western Illinois vs. #3 Iowa, 8 p.m.
  • Washburn vs. #7 Kansas, 8 p.m.
  • VMI vs. #16 Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.
  • #25 Arizona State vs. California, 10 p.m.

College Football

  • Louisiana Tech vs. North Texas, 6 p.m.
  • Air Force vs. Utah State, 9:30 p.m.

Here’s an overall look at the current 2020 sports calendar

U.S. Women’s Open: December 10 – 13, 2020

The USGA rescheduled the U.S. Women’s Open from the original June 4-7 date. It will be played over two courses due to less daylight in December.

2020 Summer Olympics: Summer 2021

The 2020 Summer Olympics were moved to 2021, but could still look a lot different when they are played. The IOC could decide to limit fans or have no fans at all at the games for health reasons.

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2020 sports schedule: Four Top 25 college basketball games on deck; An updated look at this year’s calendar

college-basketball-balls.jpg
Getty Images

This year has been like any other due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and that includes the sports season. When the pandemic hit in March, sporting events around the world were canceled or postponed. Some leagues and tournaments were forced to cancel, others paused with the hope of restarting, but all had to adjust in some way.

As the world continues to navigate the pandemic, many sports leagues that paused in March have since created a plan to restart found a safe way to carry out their season. For instance, the NBA and NHL had “bubbles” for players to live in. In other sports, fans are not permitted at many events and new health protocols have been put in place.

Stay up to date with what games are on by checking out our daily schedule of sporting events.

Today’s sporting events:

Thursday, December 3

Men’s College Basketball

  • Western Illinois vs. #3 Iowa, 8 p.m.
  • Washburn vs. #7 Kansas, 8 p.m.
  • VMI vs. #16 Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.
  • #25 Arizona State vs. California, 10 p.m.

College Football

  • Louisiana Tech vs. North Texas, 6 p.m.
  • Air Force vs. Utah State, 9:30 p.m.

Here’s an overall look at the current 2020 sports calendar

U.S. Women’s Open: December 10 – 13, 2020

The USGA rescheduled the U.S. Women’s Open from the original June 4-7 date. It will be played over two courses due to less daylight in December.

2020 Summer Olympics: Summer 2021

The 2020 Summer Olympics were moved to 2021, but could still look a lot different when they are played. The IOC could decide to limit fans or have no fans at all at the games for health reasons.

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Jupiter and Saturn to appear closest in night sky in hundreds of years

Keep a close look at the sky in December and you may see a very rare event.

Keep a close look at the night sky in December and you may see a rare occurrence between the two biggest planets in our solar system.

From now until Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn will continue to get closer until they are just 0.1 degrees apart and form a “double planet,” according to NASA. And there’s a chance you’ll be able to see it for yourself.

The space agency describes the rarity of the 2020 event in-depth in its December Skywatching page. The rare event is officially called a “great conjunction.”

“These occur every 20 years this century as the orbits of Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn periodically align making these two outer planets appear close together in our nighttime sky,” NASA writes.

NASA program officer and astronomer Henry Throop explained the phenomenon to “GMA.”

“Jupiter takes 12 years to go around the sun. And Saturn is about twice as far away as Jupiter and it takes 30 years to go around the sun. And so about every 20 years, Saturn is lapped by Jupiter,” Throop said.

And while these occurrences happen every 20 years, the Earth’s proximity to the sun can worsen visibility and prevent he majority of people from seeing it, as happened in 2000.

“This is the closest they’ve been in hundreds of years,” Throop said of the historical significance of this year’s conjunction.

The last time the two planets were this close and visible from Earth was in 1623, just 14 years after Galileo built his first telescope and around the time Jupiter’s moons were discovered. Humankind was still learning about the two planets and solar system in general, the astronomer said.

“I guess you could say it ties the discovery of Galileo’s discovery of the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn back because those two bodies are coming together again,” Throop said.

The planets will appear so close that “if you were to stick your finger out at your at arm’s length … and look up in the sky, you can cover both Jupiter and Saturn with your finger,” Throop told “GMA.”

Sky watchers can differentiate Saturn and Jupiter from the stars because the planets will appear “brighter and more solid in the sky.”

Most locations will have an excellent vantage point of the celestial event with the naked eye. And for those with a telescope or DSLR camera with a long lens, you can likely see Jupiter’s four moons lined up, as well.

It’s best to look for the planets low in the southwest sky in the hour after sunset.

“What’s cool about Jupiter and Saturn is that they are really, really

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So long, jazzoids. After nearly 30 years, KNKX’s Dick Stein calls it a career

Dick Stein finally felt comfortable telling the story — the real story.

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At long last, he was ready to come clean.

“Maybe since we’re doing, ‘now it can be told,’ I can tell you the truth,” Stein said by phone, on the first day of what would be his last week as a jazz DJ and host on KNKX.

“I never knew anyone named Jeannine. I never dated anybody named Jeannine,” Stein went on to admit.

“I just like the song.”

It was one of several revelations divulged Monday, during a wide-ranging conversation that clearly made Stein more uncomfortable than listeners are accustomed to.

After spending the better part of three decades on the air at KPLU and later KNKX, including weaving numerous colorful tales to explain his well-known affinity for the jazz standard “Jeannine,” it turns out that the 75-year-old local radio personality had no idea that his imminent retirement would strike such a chord.

Stein said the reaction to the news — which was announced in a short personal note he penned for KNKX last week — left him “overwhelmed,” and, for once, searching for the right words.

“To be honest, I really didn’t expect all of this. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal,” Stein told The News Tribune, downplaying the situation with self-effacement and humility.

“I was really just moved by it,” Stein said.

While the prospect of a career twilight tribute might make Stein squirm, it should come as no surprise that news of his retirement has reverberated across the South Sound

Having begun his career as a jazz DJ at KPLU in the early 1990s, Stein’s unique voice and offbeat sense of humor — which seem specifically designed for dry one-liners — have become staples for public radio listeners in the area.

Whether you’re a fan of his favored music or not, Stein’s familiar “Hi ho, Jazzoids!” sign on and his descriptions of the “Big Red Switch” in the studio — which back in the original KPLU days was essentially a reset button that would erase the station’s software — were long ago woven into the local cultural fabric.

So, too, was Stein’s predictable playing of a rendition of “Jeannine” every Friday.

By speakerphone from his Tacoma home on Monday, Stein said it was simply time to hang it up.

If that meant dispelling the mystery of Jeannine after all these years — and putting an end to the playful speculation and innuendo he cultivated behind the microphone, which typically revolved around fabricated romantic encounters from his younger days — so be it.

“I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Stein said of his decision to call it a career.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he added with a chuckle. “It just seemed like it was time to retire. I’m pretty old.”

Stein’s career playing jazz for local listeners actually marked his second foray into radio.

Originally from New York,

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Michigan State University to require students to live 2 years on campus

EAST LANSING — Undergraduates at Michigan State University will be required to live on campus a second year as part of efforts to help students toward graduating.

A two-year living requirement waived since the 1980s will be reinstated next fall, according to the school.

An analysis by Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Research shows undergraduates who live on the East Lansing campus their first two years have graduation rates about 2.5 percentage points higher than those who live on campus only their first year.

The difference is nearly 10 percentage points for some underserved student groups, the school said.

“Reinstating the second-year live-on requirement will help us better equip our students with the tools they need, while in a supportive and safe environment, to help them succeed,” Vennie Gore, senior vice president for Auxiliary Enterprises at Michigan State, said in a release.

The change is also a response to rental policies in East Lansing, Kat Cooper, chief communications officer for MSU’s residential operation, said in an email to Crain’s. Rental companies have been pressuring students to sign leases as early as a year in advance.

Cooper said around half of the university’s sophomores already choose to live on campus.

“While this will generate more revenue in the residence halls and dining program, it’s not as big of a change as may be perceived,” she said “… Instead, it will provide a smoothing of our revenue model, allowing us to plan further out and continue the significant reinvestment in our resident and dining halls that has occurred over the last decade, with over half a billion dollars in construction or renovation to these spaces.”

Incoming students currently are required to spend their first academic year, which is made up of their first two semesters, on campus. Students living in residence halls now and the current 2020 incoming class will be exempt from the change.

Students who transfer to Michigan State will be required to live on campus unless they meet the exception criteria.

Universities around the state have been hard hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic, with the vast majority of students living off campus while taking classes online. Room and board costs about $10,000 per school year.

— Crain’s Detroit Business contributed to this report

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