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Article Released Wed-1st-August-2007 17:22 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Climate change: Brown haze spells bad news

The haze of air pollution over the Indian Ocean may be causing as much lower atmospheric warming as the recent increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases, a Nature study suggests. Summaries of newsworthy papers include Earthquakes: Love and stress, Deep brain stimulation in a minimally conscious state and Tunable light sources lose their mirrors


This press release is copyright Nature.
VOL.448 NO.7153 DATED 02 AUGUST 2007

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Climate change: Brown haze spells bad news

Earthquakes: Love and stress

Neuroscience: Deep brain stimulation in a minimally conscious state

Tunable light sources lose their mirrors

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Climate change: Brown haze spells bad news (pp 575-578; N&V)

The haze of air pollution over the Indian Ocean may be causing as much lower atmospheric warming as the recent increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases, a Nature study suggests.

During 18 missions, Veerabhadran Ramanathan and colleagues simultaneously flew three lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles below, into and above the polluted ‘Brown Clouds’ over the Indian Ocean. Tiny instruments were deployed to measure aerosol concentrations, soot amount and solar fluxes, allowing the team to calculate atmospheric solar heating rates. Using model simulations, they conclude that atmospheric Brown Clouds enhance lower atmospheric solar heating by around 50 per cent.

Atmospheric Brown Clouds consist of a mixture of light-absorbing and light-scattering aerosols and so contribute both to atmospheric solar heating and to surface cooling. The combined effects are thought to have masked up to 50 per cent of the global warming attributed to the recent, rapid rise in greenhouse gases. This study helps to tease out the effects of atmospheric solar heating.


Veerabhadran Ramanathan (University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 858 337 3114; E-mail: or

Peter Pilewskie (University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA) N&V author

Tel: +1 303 492 5724; E-mail:

[2] Earthquakes: Love and stress (pp 579-582)

Non-volcanic tremor and slip along a plate boundary can be triggered by shear stress, rather than fluid movement, according to a report published in Nature this week.

The analysis of seismic data has revealed long-duration, low-amplitude tremor, similar to that seen below active volcanoes, but associated with plate tectonic boundaries, rather than volcanoes. Episodes of tremors and slow slip have been observed to last up to months, and can be associated with as much deformation as a magnitude-7 earthquake. Although observations of this type of tremor are increasing, the mechanism behind it remains unclear, with some researchers pointing towards slip along the plate interface, and others the movement of fluids.

Justin Rubinstein and colleagues examined seismic recordings associated with the 2002 Denali earthquake and found clear evidence of bursts of tremor having been triggered within the Cascadia subduction zone near Vancouver Island, Canada. These episodes seem to be triggered when the Love wave (surface seismic wave) displacements were to the southwest — parallel to the direction of plate convergence. They conclude that the tremor and possibly slow-slip events can be induced by shear stress increases along the subduction interface.

Justin Rubinstein (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA)
Tel: +1 206 685 7563; E-mail:


[3] A ferromagnet in a continuously tunable random field (pp 567-570; N&V)

[4] Jaws and teeth of the earliest bony fishes (pp 583-586)

[5] Distinct classes of chromosomal rearrangements create oncogenic ETS gene fusions in prostate cancer (pp 595-599)


***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 01 August at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included them on this release to avoid multiple mailings they will not appear in print on 02 August, but at a later date.***

[6] Break-induced replication and telomerase independent telomere maintenance require Pol32

DOI: 10.1038/nature06047

[7] A central integrator of transcription networks in plant stress and energy signalling

DOI: 10.1038/nature06069

Neuroscience: Deep brain stimulation in a minimally conscious state

The responses of a single patient in a minimally conscious state have improved with deep brain stimulation, according to research in this week’s Nature. During this intervention, the patient’s arousal level and motor control increased to the point that he was able to chew and swallow food.

‘Minimally conscious state’ refers to a level of consciousness characterized by intermittent evidence of awareness of oneself or the environment, and is distinct from persistent vegetative state or coma. At present there are no reliable means for improving recovery from this extended loss of consciousness, which can occur following traumatic brain injury, although recent evidence suggests some brain activity may be preserved in minimally conscious patients. In the current study, Nicholas Schiff and colleagues implanted electrodes into the brain of a 38-year-old male, six years after he suffered a severe brain injury that resulted in a minimally conscious state. The electrodes were used to stimulate an area known as the thalamus, on both sides of the brain, which has been suggested to have a role in arousal. The authors report that during periods of stimulation, the frequency of communicative behaviours, functional limb control and oral feeding increased.

The authors caution that the extent to which their results might apply to other patients is unknown, and that expectations raised by their findings should be tempered — the specific injury suffered and its effects on responsiveness will not be shared by all patients in a minimally conscious state. The present findings should, however, motivate further research into the mechanisms of recovery, as their replication could have important implications for clinical practice.


The following authors are available for comment:

Nicholas Schiff (Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA)

Joseph Fins (Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA)

Ali Rezai (Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH, USA)

Joseph Giacino (JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute / New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, Edison, NJ, USA)

Please contact Nicholas Schiff and Joseph Fins through:

Jonathan Weil (Director of Research Communications, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA)

Tel: +1 212 821 0566; E-mail:

Please contact Ali Rezai through:

Molly Johnson (Media Relations Manager, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH, USA)

Tel: +1 216 444 1815; E-mail:

Please contact Joseph Giacino through:

Steven Weiss (Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Solaris Health System, Edison, NJ, USA)

Tel: +1 732 205 1449; E-mail:

Michael N. Shadlen (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA) N&V author

Tel: +1 206 616 4630; E-mail:

Tunable light sources lose their mirrors

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.137

A tunable infrared source that is ‘mirror-free’ and easy to align has been experimentally demonstrated for the first time. Details are given in a paper published in the August issue of Nature Photonics, and could result in a new source of light that is small, inexpensive and convenient to use.

Optical parametric oscillators (OPOs) are useful in the fields of spectroscopy, chemistry and other disciplines because they offer tunable coherent light – narrow-bandwidth light that has radiation with all the waves vibrating in phase – with wavelengths ranging from 2 to 10 micrometres, filling gaps that can’t be served by other sources. Unfortunately, conventional designs are hard to align and miniaturize as, apart from a nonlinear crystal, they also contain a pair of mirrors that need to be very precisely located. Although ‘mirrorless’ designs have been theoretically proposed in the past, an experimental prototype has not been demonstrated to date.

Carlota Canalias and Valdas Pasiskevicius have built a device that is highly compact, easy to align and has the ability to tune wavelengths with high precision in the near- and mid-infrared wavelengths. Their OPO relies solely on subtle modifications to the nonlinear crystal itself, rather than mirrors. The result is a new breed of OPO that consists of just the nonlinear crystal and a pump laser.

Author contact:

Carlota Canalias (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden)

Tel: +46 855 378 159; E-mail:

Other papers from Nature Photonics to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[2] Wavelength-scale stationary-wave integrated Fourier-transform spectrometry

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.138

[3] Optical arbitrary waveform processing of more than 100 spectral comb lines

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.139

[4] Photonic-crystal full-colour displays

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.140


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.


Flanders: 7


Paris: 4


Berlin: 4


Valencia: 4


Uppsala: 4


London: 3, 4



La Jolla: 1

Merced: 3


Chicago: 3


Boston: 5, 7

Lexington: 3

Waltham: 6


Ann Arbor: 5

New Jersey

East Brunswick: 3


Hampton: 1


Seattle: 2


For North America and Canada

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington

Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail:

For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan

Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo

Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail:

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above

Helen Jamison, Nature London

Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail

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Keywords associated to this article: earthquakes, climate change, neuroscience, deep brain stimulation, tunable light sources
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