Asian monsoon: Sea changes

An unexpected link has been spotted between the Asian monsoon and a recently discovered oscillating pattern of sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean. Other newsworthy papers from Nature include Health studies - new for old and Magnetic make-over


This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.445 NO.7125 DATED 18 JANUARY 2007

This press release contains:

* Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Asian monsoon: Sea changes

Commentary: Health studies - new for old

Materials: Magnetic make-over

Party of One launched this week

* Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo
* Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Asian monsoon: Sea changes (pp 299-302; N&V)

An unexpected link has been spotted between the Asian monsoon and a recently discovered oscillating pattern of sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean. The findings suggest that the consequences of future Asian monsoons will be more widespread and intense than previously forecast.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), as it is known, has profound impacts on rainfall throughout the tropical Indian Ocean region, but its interactions with the Asian monsoon system and El Niño/Southern Oscillation - which are themselves forecast to change - have been unclear.

Nerilie J. Abram and colleagues used coral records, which can act as a proxy for sea surface temperatures and rainfall, to reconstruct the IOD of the past 6,500 years, including times when the Asian monsoon behaved very differently from the present day. The results, reported in this week's Nature, show that the IOD does not act in isolation; it is influenced by the Asian monsoon, which appears to extend IOD-related droughts and sea-surface cooling.


Nerilie J. Abram (British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK) Author
Tel: +44 1223 221539 or +44 1954 200129; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

Please note that the author may be unavailable before January 15. It may be easier to contact:
Mike Gagan (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) Co-author
E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

Jonathan T. Overpeck (University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA) N&V author

Tel: +1 520 622 9065; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

Commentary: Health studies - new for old

Should funding bodies invest in creating new national cohorts for long-term health studies, or could data from existing cohorts be pooled to answer the same questions? Two Commentaries in this week's Nature investigate two options the authors believe would be the best way to move forward while maximising the potential impact on our knowledge of genetic and environmental factors on health.

Long-term health studies of hundreds of thousands of individuals are now under way in several countries in Europe and Asia. The US wants to follow suite with its own national cohort. Walter C. Willett and colleagues propose instead that existing resources should be supported and adapted to avoid the long wait involved with collecting data from new cohorts. They argue that results from new cohorts would not be available for at least ten years; valuable time in the fast changing world of medical research. However Francis Collins and Teri Manolio respond that a new national cohort could be developed alongside continuing support for existing studies.

Willett argues that much of our understanding of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses comes from studies already in existence, and using these to further investigate interactions between genes and the environment could be invaluable in future understanding. Collins and Manolio however suggest that this approach would not be enough - not least in terms of studying disease in younger populations - and call for investment into both ongoing and new studies. Future generations will wonder why we didn't try as hard as possible to get both of these kinds of studies underway they conclude.

Walter C. Willett (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 432 4680; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

Francis Collins (National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 301 496 0844; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

[2] Materials: Magnetic make-over (pp 291-294)

The prospect of practical magnets made from organometallic molecules moves a step closer with the discovery of a new family of materials that can form magnets at room temperature.

The fundamental properties of conventional magnets, made from pure metals and metal alloys, are relatively inflexible, and there are only a limited number of materials available. Hence the interest in magnets synthesized from organic and organometallic materials. In principle, researchers should be able to design and chemically fine-tune the properties of such magnets to get exactly the properties they desire. But such magnets are very rare, and even then are usually magnetic only at extremely low temperatures.

In this week's Nature, Robin G. Hicks and colleagues describe a simple method for making a new family of organic-containing magnets that work well above room temperature. The next step is to find out exactly how they work, and then design and fine-tune the next generation of metal-organic magnets.


Robin G. Hicks (University of Victoria, Canada)

Tel: +1 250 721 7165; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

Party of One launched this week

A regular column focusing on the intersection between US science and policy is launched this week in Nature. ‘Party of One’ will be written by David Goldston, a visiting lecturer and practitioner-in-residence at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the former chief of staff of the House Science Committee in the US Congress. In his first column, Goldston takes a look at what the new, Democratic-led Congress might mean for scientists.


David Goldston; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>


[3] Reversible stress softening of actin networks (pp 295-298)

[4] Complex gas hydrate from the Cascadia margin (pp 303-306)


***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 17 January 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 18 January, but at a later date.***

[5] Promotion of Hras-induced squamous carcinomas by a polymorphic variant of the Patched gene in FVB mice
DOI: 10.1038/nature05489

[6] Feedback inhibition of calcineurin and Ras by a dual inhibitory protein Carabin
DOI: 10.1038/nature05476

[7] Coupling substrate and ion binding to extracellular gate of a sodium-dependent aspartate transporter

DOI: 10.1038/nature05455


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.


Canberra: 1


Ontario: 4

Ottawa: 4

Vancouver: 2

Victoria: 2, 4


Qiangdao: 1

Xi’an: 1


Bandung: 1


Osaka: 7


Chungnam: 4

Daejeon: 4


Cambridge: 1

Dundee: 5

Glasgow: 5



Berkeley: 3

San Francisco: 5


New Haven: 5

District of Columbia

Washington: 4


West Lafayette: 7


Baltimore: 6

Bethesda: 7


Ipswich: 6

New York

New York: 7


Portland: 7


Madison: 1


For North America and Canada

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington

Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan

Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo

Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above

Helen Jamison, Nature London

Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

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Published: 17 Jan 2007

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