Naturalistic environments have been demonstrated to promote relaxation and wellbeing. We assess opposing theoretical accounts for these effects through investigation of autonomic arousal and alterations of activation and functional connectivity within the default mode network (DMN) of the brain while participants listened to sounds from artificial and natural environments. We found no evidence for increased DMN activity in the naturalistic compared to artificial or control condition, however, seed based functional connectivity showed a shift from anterior to posterior midline functional coupling in the naturalistic condition. These changes were accompanied by an increase in peak high frequency heart rate variability, indicating an increase in parasympathetic activity in the naturalistic condition in line with the Stress Recovery Theory of nature exposure. Changes in heart rate and the peak high frequency were correlated with baseline functional connectivity within the DMN and baseline parasympathetic tone respectively, highlighting the importance of individual neural and autonomic differences in the response to nature exposure. Our findings may help explain reported health benefits of exposure to natural environments, through identification of alterations to autonomic activity and functional coupling within the DMN when listening to naturalistic sounds.
Observations indicate that solar radiation incident at the Earth surface underwent substantial decadal variations in the second half of the twentieth century, with a tendency towards reduction from the 1950s to the 1980s ("global dimming") and a partial recovery thereafter ("brightening") at widespread locations. The most reliable observational records from the Global Energy Balance Archive (GEBA) are used to evaluate the ability of the climate models participating in CMIP3/IPCC-AR4 as well as the ERA40 reanalysis to reproduce these decadal variations. The results from 23 models and reanalysis are analyzed in five different climatic regions where strong decadal variations in surface solar radiation (SSR) have been observed. Only about half of the models are capable of reproducing the observed decadal variations in a qualitative way, and all models show much smaller amplitudes in these variations than seen in the observations. Largely differing tendencies between the models are not only found under all-sky conditions, but also in cloud-free conditions and in the representation of cloud effects. The ERA40 reanalysis neither reproduces the major decadal variations in SSR, despite strong observational constraints on the temporal evolution of the state of the atmosphere, since time varying aerosol loadings are missing. Climate models and reanalyses are therefore not yet at a stage to provide regionally consistent estimates of decadal changes in SSR. Reproduction of these changes would be essential for an adequate representation of regional scale climate variations and impacts, and short-term (decadal) climate projections.
Population growth, arable land and fresh water limits, and climate change have profound implications for the ability of agriculture to meet this centuryâ€™s demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel while reducing the environmental impact of their production. Success depends on the acceptance and use of contemporary molecular techniques, as well as the increasing development of farming systems that use saline water and integrate nutrient flows.
Epidemiological studies of biomass smoke health effects have been conducted in a variety of settings and with a variety of study designs. The Health Effects Workgroup discussed several approaches for the investigation of health effects in communities exposed to wood smoke from nearby wildland fires, intentional agricultural burning, or residential biomass burning devices such as woodstoves or cookstoves. This presentation briefly reviews observational and intervention studies that have been conducted within these exposure settings. The review is followed by a summary of discussion points among the workgroup members with particular emphasis on study design and the use of biomarkers for assessing outcomes in biomass smoke-exposed populations.
Variation in the relationship between plasma retinol-binding protein (RBP) and retinol (ROH) has implications for vitamin A (VA) status assessment using RBP. Our objectives were to identify factors affecting the RBP:ROH relationship and to derive and evaluate population-specific RBP cutoffs for VA deficiency (VAD) in Cameroon. Plasma RBP, C-reactive protein (CRP), Î±1-acid-glycoprotein (AGP), and ROH concentrations were compared in a subsample of women 15â€“49 y (n = 121) and children 12â€“59 mo (n = 123) included in a national survey conducted in 2009. Plasma RBP and ROH were highly correlated (r = 0.94 for women; r = 0.96 for children; P < 0.001). Pregnancy and lactation altered the RBP:ROH relationship in women, but obesity, elevated CRP and AGP, age, and VA status did not. Among children, age altered the RBP:ROH relationship, but sex, stunting, VA status, and elevated CRP and AGP did not. Cutoffs for VAD derived using regression analysis were <1.17 Î¼mol RBP/L for women (corresponding to <1.05 Î¼mol ROH/L) and <0.83 Î¼mol RBP/L for children (corresponding to <0.70 Î¼mol ROH/L). The sensitivity and specificity of derived cutoffs were 81.8 and 93.0% for women and 94.7 and 88.9% for children, respectively. The infection-adjusted prevalence of low VA status (<1.17 Î¼mol RBP/L) was 21.9% (95% CI = 18.7â€“25.0%) among women. Among children, the infection-adjusted prevalence of VAD (<0.83 Î¼mol RBP/L) was 35.0% (95% CI = 31.1â€“39.0%). In conclusion, VAD remains a public health problem in Cameroon. The RBP:ROH relationship should be considered in surveys using RBP to assess VA status, and use of population-specific cutoffs may be advisable.
BACKGROUND: Global climate change is anticipated to reduce future cereal yields and threaten food security, thus potentially increasing the risk of undernutrition. The causation of undernutrition is complex, and there is a need to develop models that better quantify the potential impacts of climate change on population health. OBJECTIVES: We developed a model for estimating future undernutrition that accounts for food and nonfood (socioeconomic) causes and can be linked to available regional scenario data. We estimated child stunting attributable to climate change in five regions in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in 2050. METHODS: We used current national food availability and undernutrition data to parameterize and validate a global model, using a process-driven approach based on estimations of the physiological relationship between a lack of food and stunting. We estimated stunting in 2050 using published modeled national calorie availability under two climate scenarios and a reference scenario (no climate change). RESULTS: We estimated that climate change will lead to a relative increase in moderate stunting of 1-29% in 2050 compared with a future without climate change. Climate change will have a greater impact on rates of severe stunting, which we estimated will increase by 23% (central SSA) to 62% (South Asia). CONCLUSIONS: Climate change is likely to impair future efforts to reduce child malnutrition in South Asia and SSA, even when economic growth is taken into account. Our model suggests that to reduce and prevent future undernutrition, it is necessary to both increase food access and improve socioeconomic conditions, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Climate dice,” describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons, have become more and more “loaded” in the past 30 y, coincident with rapid global warming. The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small. We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing, climate change.