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West Antarctica glacier disintegrating faster than thought

ScientiFix, our weekly feature, offers you a summary of the top global science stories of the week, with links to their sources.

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New Delhi: The Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is “hanging by its fingernails”, says scientists who have mapped in high-resolution a critical area of the seafloor in front of the glacier to understand how fast it is retreating. 

This massive ice stream is already in a phase of fast retreat leading to widespread concern about how fast it may give up its ice to the ocean.

Thwaites’ retreat could raise the sea level from 3 to 10 feet.

Researchers from the University of South Florida identified geologic features that are new to science. These also provide insight into the future of Thwaites. 

The team documented more than 160 parallel ridges that were created as the glacier’s leading edge retreated and bobbed up and down with the daily tides.

The team said that Thwaites is likely to undergo big changes over the next few years. Read more 

Also Read: Thousands of animals are being relocated in Zimbabwe due to climate change 

New mathematical equation could transform medical procedures 

Scientists have developed a mathematical equation that describes how microscopic particles move, which could transform medical procedures, natural gas extraction, and plastic packaging production in the future.

The new equation is being described as groundbreaking by scientists at the University of Bristol. It describes the diffusive movement of particles through permeable material for the very first time. 

It comes a century after world-leading physicists Albert Einstein and Marian von Smoluchowski derived the first diffusion equation, and marks important progress in representing motion for a wide range of entities from microscopic particles and natural organisms to man-made devices.

Until now, scientists looking at particle motion through porous materials such as biological tissues, polymers, various rocks and sponges have had to rely on approximations or incomplete perspectives.

The new equations can have applications in a diverse range of settings including health, energy, and the food industry. Read more 

Also Read: Diversity among reptiles a result of global warming 250 years ago, finds study

New dinosaur species identified in Germany

Scientists in Germany have discovered a new species of herbivorous dinosaur that lived about 203 to 211 million years ago in the region now known as Swabian Alb.

The new species, named Tuebingosaurus maierfritzorum, displays similarities with the large long-necked dinosaurs known as sauropods. It was identified when already-known dinosaur bones were re-examined by paleontologists at the University of Tübingen.

The fossils, which are part of Tübingen’s paleontological collection, were previously interpreted as Plateosauridae remains. 

Most of the fossils originate from a quarry near Trossingen at the edge of Swabian Alb, where many dinosaur bones found since the 19th century have frequently been classified as Plateosaurus

When they re-analysed a skeleton that was discovered in Trossingen in 1922, consisting mainly of the rear of the body, the team established that many of the bones were not the same as a typical Plateosaurus

For instance, the partial skeleton displayed, among other derived characters, broader and more strongly-built hips with fused sacral vertebrae as well as unusually large and robust long bones — both features implied locomotion on four legs. 

Following an in-depth comparison of all anatomical characteristics, the scientists re-categorised the partial skeleton from Trossingen in the dinosaur tree of life and established that they had discovered a previously unknown species and genus. 

The study was published in the journal Vertebrate Zoology.  Read more

Solar Orbiter gets closeup insight into coronal mass ejection

A large coronal mass ejection shot from the Sun in the direction of Venus and struck the ESA-NASA Solar Orbiter, revealing solar storm changes the space environment. 

The data beamed back by the orbiter reveals why it is important to monitor space weather and its effects on the celestial bodies and spacecraft. 

Coronal mass ejections are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona. 

There were no negative effects on the spacecraft as the solar observatory is designed withstand and measure violent outbursts from the sun. 

Coronal mass ejections have stripped Venus’s atmosphere of gasses — one of the reasons why the planet is thought to be unsuitable for life. 

Solar Orbiter is a quarter of the way through its decade-long mission to observe the Sun up close and get a look at its mysterious poles. Its orbit was chosen to be in close resonance with Venus, meaning it returns to the planet’s vicinity every few orbits to use its gravity to alter or tilt its orbit.

Data beamed home since Solar Orbiter encountered the solar storm shows how its local environment changed as the large coronal mass ejection swept by. 

While some instruments had to be turned off during its close approach to Venus, in order to protect them from stray sunlight reflected off of the planet’s surface, Solar Orbiter’s ‘in situ’ instruments remained on, recording among other things an increase in solar energetic particles. Read more 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: New dinosaur species ‘Jakapil kaniukura’ weighing just 4-7 kg discovered in Argentina south


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