Will Warmer Weather Curb the Spread of Coronavirus?
As the world continues to cope with the onset of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease COVID-19, there is hope that the virus may follow the suit of similar respiratory illnesses and see a slower spread during the warmer months.
A growing body of evidence suggests a link between higher temperatures and decreased transmission rates of coronavirus while, on the other hand, a rising number of confirmed cases in countries now in the middle of their summer may prove otherwise.
Why the Warmer Months May Help
Flu and cold viruses tend to peak in the colder months and slow down during the summer. Despite popular belief, this has little to do with a virus' ability to survive warmer temperatures and more to do with how people's behaviors change during the seasons. During the winter, people tend to congregate and stay inside, increasing the number potentially exposed to one who is infected and contagious as well as meeting in large groups in places like schools and universities.
"Coronaviruses tend to be associated with winter because of how they're spread," Elizabeth McGraw, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, told NPR. She adds that respiratory viruses spread through respiratory droplets that are more likely to see spikes in transmission rates during winter conditions largely due to the nature of the virus. For example, Influenza thrives in colder, dry conditions such as those present during winter in the northern hemisphere, which helps the virus to spread more easily from person to person.
"What we know is that they're [the droplets] are better at staying afloat when the air is cold and dry, " said McGraw. "When the air is humid and warm, [the droplets] fall to the ground more quickly, and it makes transmission harder."
Experts hope that the coronavirus will behave in a similar fashion as the warmer months approaches the northern half of the world, despite differences between Influenza and COVID-19. Even so, Nelson Michael, the director for infectious disease research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said at a Pentagon briefing last week that it is possible that the virus returns again in the colder months, reports CNN.
"We have to be ready that even if this epidemic begins to wane, we have to be ready for next winter when it may come back again," said Nelson.
Why the Warmer Months May Not Help
Then again, there is a possibility that warmer weather may not impact infection rates. Warm, humid environments are still seeing their share of confirmed cases. Argentina, Brazil and Australia are in the midst of their summer and are seeing increasing rates of infection and are actively monitoring the situation as it progresses. Experts caution that several factors will determine whether transmission rates decline in the coming months, such as government responses, the quality of medical care and population density, among others.
"The short answer is that while we may expect modest declines in the contagiousness of SARS-CoV-2 in warmer, wetter weather and perhaps with the closing of schools in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, it is not reasonable to expect these declines alone to slow transmission enough to make a big dent," explained Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director at the Center for Communicable Disease. He adds that "even seasonal infections can happen 'out of season' when they are new" due to their "temporary but important advantage: few or no individuals are immune to them."
More About COVID-19
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in both people and many species of animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is rare for an animal coronavirus to infect and then spread between people, but such spread was noted in 2003 with respiratory illnesses caused by SARS-CoV and again with MERS-CoV in 2012. The first U.S. vaccine trial for the novel coronavirus began Monday but will likely take a year to 18 months to be fully validated, reports The Associated Press. There is currently no cure for the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Health officials advise that the best protection against infection and spreading continue to be non-pharmaceutical interventions like hand washing, sanitizing surfaces, social distancing and staying home when feeling ill. As of March 18th, the World Health Organization reports more than 191,000 confirmed cases resulting in just under 8,000 deaths around the world.
Recent research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the CDC and several educational institutes suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is stable for several hours to days in aerosols. The New York Times reports that timeframe may last up to three days, which means that people may become infected by the virus both through the air and after touching contaminated surfaces, further advancing the potential for spread when indoors. Children have also been shown to exhibit milder symptoms when infected with the virus, which could help further spread the virus as they remain active and attend social functions, reports IFLScience.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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