BUENOS AIRES - The old-growth forests of South America’s Patagonia region are now, more than at any time in the past 600 years, extremely slow growth, according to researchers from Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, or CONICET.
What’s causing the slow down? The scientists point to ozone depletion in the atmosphere above Antarctica, the Argentine daily Clarín reports.
The infamous hole in the ozone layer, the CONICET researchers argue, has shifted weather patterns in Patagonia, a wilderness region that covers both sides of the border in southern Chile and Argentina. The changes have resulted in less rainfall for northern Patagonia, whose forests depend on high levels of moisture.
The growth slow-down is affecting several species of tree, including Patagonia’s iconic Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), an endangered species that also goes by the name Patagonian Cyprus. Like its Northern Hemisphere cousin, the Redwood, Alerce trees can live for millennia. Also affected are Araucaria araucana, or Monkey Puzzle trees, an extremely old species of evergreen considered to be a “living fossil.”
The Monkey Puzzle tree, a "living fossile" - Photo: Benjamin Witte
Still the phenomenon requires further study, for the same researchers found that forests in mountainous regions of New Zealand and Tasmania (in southern Australia), areas that are on roughly the same latitude as Patagonia, are currently experiencing an accelerated growth spurt not seen since the 1700s.
Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.
The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.
Though state officials didn't publicly accuse anyone specific, they did say perhaps this and other attacks had been planned for October, to "anger people" on the anniversary of the anti-government protests of 2019.
Khamenei, where's our gas?
Cheeky slogans were spotted Tuesday in different places in Iran, including electronic panels over motorways. One of them read "Khamenei, where's our gas?"
Iran International reported that Tehran-based news agency ISNA posted, then deleted, a report on drivers also seeing the message "cyberattack 64411" on screens at gas stations, purported to be the telephone number of the office of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A member of parliament's National Security Committee, Vahid Jalalzadeh, said the attack had been planned months ahead, and had inflicted "grave losses," Iran International and domestic agencies reported Thursday. The conservative Tehran newspaper Kayhan named "America, the Zionist regime and their goons" as the "chief suspects" in the attack.
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