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Tree rings show unprecedented rise in extreme weather in South America

Scientists have filled a gaping hole in the world’s climate records by reconstructing 600 years of soil-moisture swings across southern and central South America. Along with documenting the mechanisms behind natural changes, the new South American Drought Atlas reveals that unprecedented widespread, intense droughts and unusually wet periods have been on the rise since the mid-20th century. It suggests that the increased volatility could be due in part to global warming, along with earlier pollution of the atmosphere by ozone-depleting chemicals. The atlas was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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‘Light squeezer’ reduces quantum noise in lasers, could enhance quantum computing and gravitational-wave detection

Physicists at MIT have designed a quantum “light squeezer” that reduces quantum noise in an incoming laser beam by 15 percent. It is the first system of its kind to work at room temperature, making it amenable to a compact, portable setup that may be added to high-precision experiments to improve laser measurements where quantum noise is a limiting factor.

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Evolution makes the world less ragged

How does evolution impact ecological patterns? It helps smooth out the rough edges, says UConn Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Mark Urban. Urban led an international team of researchers through a review of the history of ecological and evolutionary research to establish a framework to better understand evolution’s impact on ecosystem patterns. The research is published as a perspective in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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