Texas Tech University

International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies

The International Center for Arid and Semiarid Land Studies (ICASALS) at Texas Tech University was created in 1966 to promote the university's special mission of the interdisciplinary study of arid and semiarid environments and the human relationship to these environments from an international perspective. The purpose of ICASALS is to stimulate, coordinate and implement teaching, research, and public service activities concerning all aspects of the world's arid and semiarid regions, their people and their problems.

News of Interest

Week of May 18-22, 2020

Climate change is turning Antarctica green
Scientists have used satellite data to produce the first large-scale maps of microscopic algae growing in coastal Antarctica, where large blooms are creating patches of ‘green snow'. Their observations will be used to assess the speed at which the continent is turning green because of climate change; warmer temperatures create more of the slushy conditions the algae need to thrive. The blooms could even create a source of food for other species. “This could potentially form new habitats. It's the beginning of a new ecosystem,” says biologist Matt Davey, who co-led the study. Full Story: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16018-w

Emissions could see major drop due to global lockdowns
Carbon emissions worldwide are poised to see the largest decrease since World War II thanks to global stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. [T]his is an unprecedented drop," says Glen Peters, co-author of a study in Nature Climate Change, who also notes "it basically makes no difference at all" due to the cumulative nature of climate change. Full Story: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2243875-coronavirus-set-to-cause-biggest-emissions-fall-since-second-world-war/

Microorganisms in parched regions extract needed water from colonized rocks
In Northern Chile's Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, microorganisms are able to eke out an existence by extracting water from the very rocks they colonize. The new insights, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate how life can flourish in places without much water in evidence - such as Mars - and how people living in arid regions may someday derive hydration from available minerals. Full Story: https://www.pnas.org/content/117/20/10681 [requires subscription]

arid region world map