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Down-Under Drought: Australian Wildfires Linked to Climate Change

Australia Drought Wildfires Climate Change

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Australia’s devastating wildfires during 2019 and 2020 were at least 30 percent more likely to occur because of human-caused climate change, report researchers in a new study published in the online journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences. An intense heat wave was the primary factor in raising the fire risk, says climate scientist Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. The study linked to climate change the extremity of that heat wave, which is 10 times more likely now than it was in 1900. Van Oldenborgh notes that climate simulations tend to underestimate the severity of such heat waves. “We put the lower boundary at 30 percent, but it could well be much, much more,” he says. The year 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest since modern recordkeeping began in the country in 1910.
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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