Amazonian deforestation causes systematic changes in regional dry season precipitation. Some of these changes at contemporary large scales (a few hundreds of kilometers) of deforestation have been associated with a ‘dynamical mesoscale circulation’, induced by the replacement of rough forest with smooth pasture. In terms of decadal averages, this dynamical mechanism yields increased precipitation in downwind regions and decreased precipitation in upwind regions of deforested areas. Daily, seasonal, and interannual variations in this phenomenon may exist, but have not yet been identified or explained. This study uses observations and numerical simulations to develop relationships between the dynamical mechanism and the local- and continental-scale atmospheric conditions across a range of time scales. It is found that the strength of the dynamical mechanism is primarily controlled by the regional-scale thermal and dynamical conditions of the boundary layer, and not by the continental- and global-scale atmospheric state. Lifting condensation level and wind speed within the boundary layer have large and positive correlations with the strength of the dynamical mechanism. The strength of these relationships depends on time scale and is strongest over the seasonal cycle. Overall, the dynamical mechanism is found to be strongest during times when the atmosphere is relatively stable. Hence, for contemporary large scales of deforestation this phenomenon is found to be the prevalent convective triggering mechanism during the dry and parts of transition seasons (especially during the dry-to-wet transition), significantly affecting the hydroclimate during this period.
Ant colonies regulate activity in response to changing conditions without using centralized control. Harvester ant colonies forage in the desert for seeds, and their regulation of foraging manages a tradeoff between spending and obtaining water. Foragers lose water while outside in the dry air, but the colony obtains water by metabolizing the fats in the seeds they eat. Previous work shows that the rate at which an outgoing forager leaves the nest depends on its recent experience of brief antennal contact with returning foragers that carry a seed. We examine how this process can yield foraging rates that are robust to uncertainty and responsive to temperature and humidity across minutes to hour-long timescales. To explore possible mechanisms, we develop a low-dimensional analytical model with a small number of parameters that captures observed foraging behavior. The model uses excitability dynamics to represent response to interactions inside the nest and a random delay distribution to represent foraging time outside the nest. We show how feedback of outgoing foragers returning to the nest stabilizes the incoming and outgoing foraging rates to a common value determined by the ``volatility’’ of available foragers. The model exhibits a critical volatility above which there is sustained foraging at a constant rate and below which there is cessation of foraging. To explain how the foraging rates of colonies adjust to temperature and humidity, we propose a mechanism that relies on foragers modifying their volatility after they leave the nest and get exposed to the environment. Our study highlights the importance of feedback in the regulation of foraging activity and points to modulation of volatility as a key to explaining differences in foraging activity in response to conditions and across colonies. Our results present opportunities for generalization to other contexts and systems with excitability and feedback across multiple timescales.
Small changes in word choice can lead to dramatically different interpretations of narratives. How does the brain accumulate and integrate such local changes to construct unique neural representations for different stories? In this study we created two distinct narratives by changing only a few words in each sentence (e.g. “he” to “she” or “sobbing” to “laughing”) while preserving the grammatical structure across stories. We then measured changes in neural responses between the two stories. We found that the differences in neural responses between the two stories gradually increased along the hierarchy of processing timescales. For areas with short integration windows, such as early auditory cortex, the differences in neural responses between the two stories were relatively small. In contrast, in areas with the longest integration windows at the top of the hierarchy, such as the precuneus, temporal parietal junction, and medial frontal cortices, there were large differences in neural responses between stories. Furthermore, this gradual increase in neural difference between the stories was highly correlated with an area’s ability to integrate information over time. Amplification of neural differences did not occur when changes in words did not alter the interpretation of the story (e.g. “sobbing” to “crying”). Our results demonstrate how subtle differences in words are gradually accumulated and amplified along the cortical hierarchy as the brain constructs a narrative over time.
Khanna, Jaya; Medvigy, David; Fueglistaler, Stephan; Walko, Robert
More than 20% Amazon rainforest has been cleared in the past three decades triggering important hydroclimatic changes. Small-scale (~few kilometers) deforestation in the 1980s has caused thermally-triggered atmospheric circulations that increase regional cloudiness and precipitation frequency. However, these circulations are predicted to diminish as deforestation increases. Here we use multi-decadal satellite records and numerical model simulations to show a regime shift in the regional hydroclimate accompanying increasing deforestation in Rondônia, Brazil. Compared to the 1980s, present-day deforested areas in downwind western Rondônia are found to be wetter than upwind eastern deforested areas during the local dry season. The resultant precipitation change in the two regions is approximately ±25% of the deforested area mean. Meso-resolution simulations robustly reproduce this transition when forced with increasing deforestation alone, showing a negligible role of large-scale climate variability. Furthermore, deforestation-induced surface roughness reduction is found to play an essential role in the present-day dry season hydroclimate. Our study illustrates the strong scale-sensitivity of the climatic response to Amazonian deforestation and suggests that deforestation is sufficiently advanced to have caused a shift from a thermally- to a dynamically-driven hydroclimatic regime.
Fractures in geological formations may enable migration of environmentally relevant fluids, as in leakage of CO2 through caprocks in geologic carbon sequestration. We investigated geochemically induced alterations of fracture geometry in Indiana Limestone specimens. Experiments were the first of their kind, with periodic high-resolution imaging using X-ray computed tomography (xCT) scanning while maintaining high pore pressure (100 bar). We studied two CO2-acidified brines having the same pH (3.3) and comparable thermodynamic
disequilibrium but different equilibrated pressures of CO2 (PCO2 values of 12 and 77 bar). High-PCO2 brine has a faster calcite dissolution kinetic rate because of the accelerating effect of carbonic acid. Contrary to expectations, dissolution extents were comparable in the two experiments. However, progressive xCT
images revealed extensive channelization for high PCO2, explained by strong positive feedback between ongoing flow and reaction. The pronounced channel increasingly directed flow to a small region of the fracture, which explains why the overall dissolution was lower than expected. Despite this, flow simulations revealed large increases in permeability in the high-PCO2 experiment. This study shows that the permeability evolution of dissolving fractures will be larger for faster-reacting fluids. The overall mechanism is not because more rock dissolves, as would be commonly assumed, but because of accelerated fracture channelization.
Recent advances in experimental techniques have allowed the simultaneous recordings of
populations of hundreds of neurons, fostering a debate about the nature of the collective
structure of population neural activity. Much of this debate has focused on the
empirical findings of a phase transition in the parameter space of maximum entropy
models describing the measured neural probability distributions, interpreting this phase
transition to indicate a critical tuning of the neural code. Here, we instead focus on the
possibility that this is a first-order phase transition which provides evidence that the
real neural population is in a `structured', collective state. We show that this collective
state is robust to changes in stimulus ensemble and adaptive state. We find that the
pattern of pairwise correlations between neurons has a strength that is well within the
strongly correlated regime and does not require fine tuning, suggesting that this state is
generic for populations of 100+ neurons. We find a clear correspondence between the
emergence of a phase transition, and the emergence of attractor-like structure in the
inferred energy landscape. A collective state in the neural population, in which neural
activity patterns naturally form clusters, provides a consistent interpretation for our
It is well known that formation of new episodic memories depends on hippocampus, but in real-life settings (e.g., conversation), hippocampal amnesics can utilize information from several minutes earlier. What neural systems outside hippocampus might support this minutes-long retention? In this study, subjects viewed an audiovisual movie continuously for 25 min; another group viewed the movie in 2 parts separated by a 1-day delay. Understanding Part 2 depended on retrieving information from Part 1, and thus hippocampus was required in the day-delay condition. But is hippocampus equally recruited to access the same information from minutes earlier? We show that accessing memories from a few minutes prior elicited less interaction between hippocampus and default mode network (DMN) cortical regions than accessing day-old memories of identical events, suggesting that recent information was available with less reliance on hippocampal retrieval. Moreover, the 2 groups evinced
reliable but distinct DMN activity timecourses, reflecting differences in information carried in these regions when Part 1 was recent versus distant. The timecourses converged after 4 min, suggesting a time frame over which the continuous-viewing group may have relied less on hippocampal retrieval. We propose that cortical default mode regions can intrinsically retain real-life episodic information for several minutes.
Does the default mode network (DMN) reconfigure to encode information about the changing environment? This question has proven difficult, because patterns of functional connectivity reflect a mixture of stimulus-induced neural processes, intrinsic neural processes and non-neuronal noise. Here we introduce inter-subject functional correlation (ISFC), which isolates stimulus-dependent inter-regional correlations between brains exposed to the same stimulus. During fMRI, we had subjects listen to a real-life auditory narrative and to temporally scrambled versions of the narrative. We used ISFC to isolate correlation patterns within the DMN that were locked to the processing of each narrative segment and specific to its meaning within the narrative context. The momentary configurations of DMN ISFC were highly replicable across groups. Moreover, DMN coupling strength predicted memory of narrative segments. Thus, ISFC opens new avenues for linking brain network dynamics to stimulus features and behaviour.
A subset of the Fermi-LAT public data for use with NPTFit:
The data here is for use with the Jupyter example notebooks provided with the
main code. Details of the files provided are given below. All files are provided
as numpy arrays binned as nside=128 HEALPix maps.
For the full public data, see:
Dielectric tensor for crystalline graphite from X-ray to microwave frequencies, as discussed in the paper "Graphite Revisited" (Draine 2016, Astrophysical Journal, in press). Cross sections for absorption and scattering by graphite spheres and spheroids are also tabulated, as well as Planck-averaged cross sections for absorption and scattering of radiation with a Planck spectrum.
What mechanisms support our ability to estimate durations on the order of minutes? Behavioral studies in humans have shown that changes in contextual features lead to overestimation of past durations. Based on evidence that the medial temporal lobes and prefrontal cortex represent contextual features, we related the degree of fMRI pattern change in these regions with people's subsequent duration estimates. After listening to a radio story in the scanner, participants were asked how much time had elapsed between pairs of clips from the story. Our ROI analysis found that the neural pattern distance between two clips at encoding was correlated with duration estimates in the right entorhinal cortex and right pars orbitalis. Moreover, a whole-brain searchlight analysis revealed a cluster spanning the right anterior temporal lobe. Our findings provide convergent support for the hypothesis that retrospective time judgments are driven by 'drift' in contextual representations supported by these regions.