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  1. Abstract

    Earth’s forests face grave challenges in the Anthropocene, including hotter droughts increasingly associated with widespread forest die-off events. But despite the vital importance of forests to global ecosystem services, their fates in a warming world remain highly uncertain. Lacking is quantitative determination of commonality in climate anomalies associated with pulses of tree mortality—from published, field-documented mortality events—required for understanding the role of extreme climate events in overall global tree die-off patterns. Here we established a geo-referenced global database documenting climate-induced mortality events spanning all tree-supporting biomes and continents, from 154 peer-reviewed studies since 1970. Our analysis quantifies a global “hotter-drought fingerprint” from these tree-mortality sites—effectively a hotter and drier climate signal for tree mortality—across 675 locations encompassing 1,303 plots. Frequency of these observed mortality-year climate conditions strongly increases nonlinearly under projected warming. Our database also provides initial footing for further community-developed, quantitative, ground-based monitoring of global tree mortality.

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  4. Abstract Antarctic glacial meltwater is thought to play an important role in determining large-scale Southern Ocean climate trends, yet recent modeling efforts have proceeded without a good understanding of how its vertical distribution in the water column is set. To rectify this, here we conduct new large-eddy simulations of the ascent of a buoyant meltwater plume after its escape from beneath an Antarctic ice shelf. We find that the meltwater’s settling depth is primarily a function of the buoyancy forcing per unit width of the source and the ambient stratification, consistent with the classical theory of turbulent buoyant plumes and in contrast to previous work that suggested an important role for centrifugal instability. Our results further highlight the significant role played by localized variability in stratification; this helps explain observed interannual variability in the vertical meltwater distribution near Pine Island Glacier. Because of the vast heterogeneity in mass loss rates and ambient conditions at different Antarctic ice shelves, a dynamic parameterization of meltwater settling depth may be crucial for accurately simulating high-latitude climate in a warming world; we discuss how this may be developed following this work, and where the remaining challenges lie.
  5. Homicide investigations generate large and diverse data in the form of witness interview transcripts, physical evidence, photographs, DNA, etc. Homicide case chronologies are summaries of these data created by investigators that consist of short text-based entries documenting specific steps taken in the investigation. A chronology tracks the evolution of an investigation, including when and how persons involved and items of evidence became part of a case. In this article we discuss a framework for creating knowledge graphs of case chronologies that may aid investigators in analyzing homicide case data and also allow for post hoc analysis of the key features that determine whether a homicide is ultimately solved. Our method consists of 1) performing named entity recognition to determine witnesses, suspects, and detectives from chronology entries 2) using keyword expansion to identify documentary, physical, and forensic evidence in each entry and 3) linking entities and evidence to construct a homicide investigation knowledge graph. We compare the performance of several choices of methodologies for these sub-tasks using homicide investigation chronologies from Los Angeles, California. We then analyze the association between network statistics of the knowledge graphs and homicide solvability.
  6. Abstract

    The versatile nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway initiates as the XPC–RAD23B–CETN2 complex first recognizes DNA lesions from the genomic DNA and recruits the general transcription factor complex, TFIIH, for subsequent lesion verification. Here, we present a cryo-EM structure of an NER initiation complex containing Rad4–Rad23-Rad33 (yeast homologue of XPC–RAD23B–CETN2) and 7-subunit coreTFIIH assembled on a carcinogen-DNA adduct lesion at 3.9–9.2 Å resolution. A ~30-bp DNA duplex could be mapped as it straddles between Rad4 and the Ssl2 (XPB) subunit of TFIIH on the 3' and 5' side of the lesion, respectively. The simultaneous binding with Rad4 and TFIIH was permitted by an unwinding of DNA at the lesion. Translocation coupled with torque generation by Ssl2 and Rad4 would extend the DNA unwinding at the lesion and deliver the damaged strand to Rad3 (XPD) in an open form suitable for subsequent lesion scanning and verification.

  7. Drought and warming increasingly are causing widespread tree die-offs and extreme wildfires. Forest managers are struggling to improve anticipatory forest management practices given more frequent, extensive, and severe wildfire and tree die-off events triggered by “hotter drought”—drought under warmer than historical conditions. Of even greater concern is the increasing probability of multi-year droughts, or “megadroughts”—persistent droughts that span years to decades, and that under a still-warming climate, will also be hotter than historical norms. Megadroughts under warmer temperatures are disconcerting because of their potential to trigger more severe forest die-off, fire cycles, pathogens, and insect outbreaks. In this Perspective, we identify potential anticipatory and/or concurrent options for non-timber forest management actions under megadrought, which by necessity are focused more at finer spatial scales such as the stand level using higher-intensity management. These management actions build on silvicultural practices focused on growth and yield (but not harvest). Current management options that can be focused at finer scales include key silvicultural practices: selective thinning; use of carefully selected forward-thinking seed mixes; site contouring; vegetation and pest management; soil erosion control; and fire management. For the extreme challenges posed by megadroughts, management will necessarily focus even more on finer-scale, higher-intensity actions for prioritymore »locations such as fostering stand refugia; assisted stand recovery via soil amendments; enhanced root development; deep soil water retention; and shallow water impoundments. Drought-induced forest die-off from megadrought likely will lead to fundamental changes in the structure, function, and composition of forest stands and the ecosystem services they provide.« less