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A team of researchers working on a Carnegie expedition in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has documented that coral growth rates have plummeted 40 percent since the mid-1970s. The scientists suggest that ocean acidification may be playing an important role in this perilous slowdown. 

New work from a team led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner shows the limitations of long-used research methods in tropical rainforest ecology and points to new technological approaches for understanding forest structures and systems on large geographic scales. For decades, the primary method of studying tropical forests has been field inventory plots—specially selected areas assumed to represent their surrounding forested landscapes.The Carnegie team used advanced three-dimensional forest mapping techniques provided by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to determine how representative typical field plots actually are of their surroundings in forested landscapes.

Silicon is the second most-abundant element in the earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices—carbon is to biology as silicon is to technology. A team of Carnegie scientists led by Timothy Strobel has synthesized an entirely new form of silicon, one that promises even greater future applications. 

Plants grow in environments where the availability of light fluctuates quickly and drastically, for example from the shade of clouds passing overhead or of leaves on overhanging trees blowing in the wind. Plants thus have to rapidly adjust photosynthesis to maximize energy capture while preventing excess energy from causing damage. So how do plants prevent these changes in light intensity from affecting their ability to harvest the energy they need to survive? The response has to be extremely swift. 

A key to understanding Earth’s evolution is to look deep into the lower mantle—a region some 400 to 1,800 miles (660 to 2,900 kilometers) below the surface, just above the core. Data have suggested that deep, hot, fluid magma oceans of melted silicates, a major Earth material, may reside above the core-mantle boundary. Researchers including Carnegie’s Alex Goncharov have found that the deep Earth materials conduct far less heat under increasing pressure than previously thought. The results indicate the presence of dense, dark magma heat traps that could affect the flow of heat across the core-mantle boundary revealing a different model of heat transport in this region.

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