Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Summer


Although the scientific community has acknowledged modest improvements can be made to weight status and obesogenic behaviors (i.e., physical activity, sedentary/screen time, diet, and sleep) during the school year, studies suggests improvements are erased as elementary-age children are released to summer vacation. Emerging evidence shows children return to school after summer vacation displaying accelerated weight gain compared to the weight gained occurring during the school year. Understanding how summer days differ from when children are in school is, therefore, essential.

Concepts: Scientific method, Emergence, Gain, High school, Summer


Evidence suggests that children gain more weight during the summer months compared with the school year. To examine the impact of the school and summer environment on children’s weight further, we conducted a 5-year longitudinal study examining changes in standardized BMI (zBMI) of students entering kindergarten.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Childhood, High school, Summer


The Antarctic Peninsula has had a globally large increase in mean annual temperature from the 1951 to 1998 followed by a decline that still continues. The challenge is now to unveil whether these recent, complex and somewhat unexpected climatic changes are biologically relevant. We were able to do this by determining the growth of six lichen species on recently deglaciated surfaces over the last 24 years. Between 1991 and 2002, when mean summer temperature (MST) rose by 0.42 °C, five of the six species responded with increased growth. MST declined by 0.58 °C between 2002 and 2015 with most species showing a fall in growth rate and two of which showed a collapse with the loss of large individuals due to a combination of increased snow fall and longer snow cover duration. Increased precipitation can, counter-intuitively, have major negative effects when it falls as snow at cooler temperatures. The recent Antarctic cooling is having easily detectable and deleterious impacts on slow growing and highly stress-tolerant crustose lichens, which are comparable in extent and dynamics, and reverses the gains observed over the previous decades of exceptional warming.

Concepts: Species, Water, Snow, Precipitation, Climate change, Lichen, Summer, Antarctica


Previous research has shown that the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is an effective intervention for high-achieving underrepresented minority (URM) students; African-American Meyerhoff students are significantly more likely to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) PhD programs than comparison students. The first of two studies in this report extends the prior research by examining levels of PhD completion for Meyerhoff (N = 479) versus comparison sample (N = 249) students among the first 16 cohorts. Entering African-American Meyerhoff students were 4.8 times more likely to complete STEM PhDs than comparison sample students. To enhance understanding of potential mechanisms of influence, the second study used data from the 22nd (Fall 2010) to 25th (Fall 2013) cohorts (N = 109) to test the hypothesis that perceived program benefit at the end of freshman year would mediate the relationship between sense of community at the end of Summer Bridge and science identity and research self-efficacy at the end of sophomore year. Study 2 results indicated that perceived program benefit fully mediated the relationship between sense of community and both criterion measures. The findings underscore the potential of comprehensive STEM intervention programs to enhance PhD completion, and suggest mechanisms of influence.

Concepts: Scientific method, Perception, Social psychology, Summer, Doctor of Philosophy, Baltimore, Students, Sophomore's dream


Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) is the most serious of the endemic arboviruses in Australia. It was responsible for six known large outbreaks of encephalitis in south-eastern Australia in the 1900s, with the last comprising 58 cases in 1974. Since then MVEV clinical cases have been largely confined to the western and central parts of northern Australia. In 2011, high-level MVEV activity occurred in south-eastern Australia for the first time since 1974, accompanied by unusually heavy seasonal MVEV activity in northern Australia. This resulted in 17 confirmed cases of MVEV disease across Australia. Record wet season rainfall was recorded in many areas of Australia in the summer and autumn of 2011. This was associated with significant flooding and increased numbers of the mosquito vector and subsequent MVEV activity. This paper documents the outbreak and adds to our knowledge about disease outcomes, epidemiology of disease and the link between the MVEV activity and environmental factors. Clinical and demographic information from the 17 reported cases was obtained. Cases or family members were interviewed about their activities and location during the incubation period. In contrast to outbreaks prior to 2000, the majority of cases were non-Aboriginal adults, and almost half (40%) of the cases acquired MVEV outside their area of residence. All but two cases occurred in areas of known MVEV activity. This outbreak continues to reflect a change in the demographic pattern of human cases of encephalitic MVEV over the last 20 years. In northern Australia, this is associated with the increasing numbers of non-Aboriginal workers and tourists living and travelling in endemic and epidemic areas, and also identifies an association with activities that lead to high mosquito exposure. This outbreak demonstrates that there is an ongoing risk of MVEV encephalitis to the heavily populated areas of south-eastern Australia.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Demography, Summer, Outbreak, Incubation period, Murray Valley encephalitis virus


Over India, heat waves occur during the summer months of April to June. A gridded daily temperature data set for the period, 1961-2013 has been analyzed to examine the variability and trends in heat waves over India. For identifying heat waves, the Excess Heat Factor (EHF) and 90(th) percentile of maximum temperatures were used. Over central and northwestern parts of the country, frequency, total duration and maximum duration of heat waves are increasing. Anomalous persistent high with anti-cyclonic flow, supplemented with clear skies and depleted soil moisture are primarily responsible for the occurrence of heat waves over India. Variability of heat waves over India is influenced by both the tropical Indian Ocean and central Pacific SST anomalies. The warming of the tropical Indian Ocean and more frequent El Nino events in future may further lead to more frequent and longer lasting heat waves over India.

Concepts: Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, India, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Summer, El Niño-Southern Oscillation


The biophysical effects of forests on climate have been extensively studied with climate models. However, models cannot accurately reproduce local climate effects due to their coarse spatial resolution and uncertainties, and field observations are valuable but often insufficient due to their limited coverage. Here we present new evidence acquired from global satellite data to analyse the biophysical effects of forests on local climate. Results show that tropical forests have a strong cooling effect throughout the year; temperate forests show moderate cooling in summer and moderate warming in winter with net cooling annually; and boreal forests have strong warming in winter and moderate cooling in summer with net warming annually. The spatiotemporal cooling or warming effects are mainly driven by the two competing biophysical effects, evapotranspiration and albedo, which in turn are strongly influenced by rainfall and snow. Implications of our satellite-based study could be useful for informing local forestry policies.

Concepts: Time, Precipitation, Climate, Season, Köppen climate classification, Steppe, Summer, Taiga


Parasitoid wasps are a mega-diverse, ecologically dominant, but poorly studied component of global biodiversity. In order to maximise the efficiency and reduce the cost of their collection, the application of optimal sampling techniques is necessary. Two sites in Auckland, New Zealand were sampled intensively to determine the relationship between sampling effort and observed species richness of parasitoid wasps from the family Ichneumonidae. Twenty traps were deployed at each site at three different times over the austral summer period, resulting in a total sampling effort of 840 Malaise-trap-days. Rarefaction techniques and non-parametric estimators were used to predict species richness and to evaluate the variation and completeness of sampling. Despite an intensive Malaise-trapping regime over the summer period, no asymptote of species richness was reached. At best, sampling captured two-thirds of parasitoid wasp species present. The estimated total number of species present depended on the month of sampling and the statistical estimator used. Consequently, the use of fewer traps would have caught only a small proportion of all species (one trap 7-21%; two traps 13-32%), and many traps contributed little to the overall number of individuals caught. However, variation in the catch of individual Malaise traps was not explained by seasonal turnover of species, vegetation or environmental conditions surrounding the trap, or distance of traps to one another. Overall the results demonstrate that even with an intense sampling effort the community is incompletely sampled. The use of only a few traps and/or for very short periods severely limits the estimates of richness because (i) fewer individuals are caught leading to a greater number of singletons; and (ii) the considerable variation of individual traps means some traps will contribute few or no individuals. Understanding how sampling effort affects the richness and diversity of parasitoid wasps is a useful foundation for future studies.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Sample size, Estimation theory, Estimator, Wasp, Summer, Wasps, Efficiency


Climate change will affect the abundance and seasonality of West Nile virus (WNV) vectors, altering the risk of virus transmission to humans. Using downscaled general circulation model output, we calculate a WNV vector’s response to climate change across the southern United States using process-based modeling. In the eastern United States, Culex quinquefasciatus response to projected climate change displays a latitudinal and elevational gradient. Projected summer population depressions as a result of increased immature mortality and habitat drying are most severe in the south and almost absent further north; extended spring and fall survival is ubiquitous. Much of California also exhibits a bimodal pattern. Projected onset of mosquito season is delayed in the southwestern United States because of extremely dry and hot spring and summers; however, increased temperature and late summer and fall rains extend the mosquito season. These results are unique in being a broad-scale calculation of the projected impacts of climate change on a WNV vector. The results show that, despite projected widespread future warming, the future seasonal response of C. quinquefasciatus populations across the southern United States will not be homogeneous, and will depend on specific combinations of local and regional conditions.

Concepts: Mosquito, Climate, Weather, Dengue fever, Southern United States, Summer, West Nile virus, DEET


Modeling studies suggest that Antarctic ozone depletion and, to a lesser degree, greenhouse gas (GHG) increase have caused the observed poleward shift in the westerly jet during the austral summer. Similar studies have not been performed previously with observational data because of difficulties in separating the two contributions. By applying a cluster analysis to daily ERA-Interim data, we found two 7- to 11-day wind clusters, one resembling the models' responses to GHG forcing and the other resembling ozone depletion. The trends in the clusters' frequency of occurrence indicate that the ozone contributed about 50% more than GHG toward the jet shift, supporting the modeling results. Moreover, tropical convection apparently plays an important role for the GHG-driven trend.

Concepts: Scientific method, Tropics, Knowledge, Ozone depletion, Summer, Greenhouse gas, Ozone, Chlorofluorocarbon