8/3/2023: Air pollution harms brain health — plants can help

Urban greenery may help reduce stroke risk by cleaning up the air, according to new research in AGU’s journal GeoHealth. Credit: Uwe Conrad/Unsplash

Featured research

Air pollution could raise the risk of stroke — plants can help
Exposure to fine particulate pollution called PM2.5 can have long-term impacts on blood flow to the brain, which is an important stroke risk factor, a new study finds. The team found that areas with more urban greenery had better health outcomes due to plants’ ability to reduce air pollution, suggesting an increase in urban greenery could reduce the risk of damage to brain health. [GeoHealth research]

A glimpse into Venus provides more evidence for volcanoes
A low viscosity zone in Venus’ mantle could indicate the presence of partial melting, a new study finds. Like Earth, movement in the mantle’s low viscosity zone is responsible for magmatic activity and is crucial for volcanic formation and eruption. The presence of partial melt in Venus’ interior is a major step forward for identifying Venus as a volcanically active planet. [Geophysical Research Letters research]

Tree rings predict avalanche conditions in Alaska
A new study used tree rings taken from trees in avalanche paths to find a correlation between avalanches and climate. The team found that large avalanches occur during winters with higher-than-normal winter precipitation and colder temperatures. Researchers suggest that policymakers in avalanche-prone areas could use this information to inform infrastructure planning and avalanche mitigation. [JGR Earth Surface research]

Melting permafrost is sinking northwest Canada
Rising temperatures are thawing permafrost in northwest Canada quicker than most studies measure, a new study finds. Without permafrost, the land loses part of its structural integrity and starts to subside over time. Improved understanding of the conditions that affect permafrost thawing could help reduce its impact on human activities, landscapes and ecosystems. [JGR Earth Surface research]

Mud could have shaped meandering rivers long before plants arrived
New evidence from 1.2-billion-year-old rocks suggests that single, winding channels could have formed in muddy floodplain sediments without the stabilizing help of vegetation. Meandering-style rivers have been found in barren landscapes on Earth, and similar features have been spotted on Mars. Researchers determined that single-channel rivers can form in fine sediments alone, challenging the idea that plants originally caused water to flow in concentrated channels. [Geophysical Research Letters research] [Eos research spotlight]

AGU (www.agu.org) is a global community supporting more than half a million advocates and professionals in Earth and space sciences. Through broad and inclusive partnerships, AGU aims to advance discovery and solution science that accelerate knowledge and create solutions that are ethical, unbiased and respectful of communities and their values. Our programs include serving as a scholarly publisher, convening virtual and in-person events and providing career support. We live our values in everything we do, such as our net zero energy renovated building in Washington, D.C. and our Ethics and Equity Center, which fosters a diverse and inclusive geoscience community to ensure responsible conduct