Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Victor R. Caivano / AP

Last week Brazilian soldiers were working to put out this year’s record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest. The irony is that they were there on the orders of their commander-in-chief, President Jair Bolsonaro – because he’s trying to put out another kind of fire.

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Thanks to research done at the University of Miami, we know the epic dust clouds that drift out of North Africa may sometimes prevent hurricanes. (They block the solar energy those cyclones need to form out in the Atlantic.) Now UM scientists have made another discovery linking Africa and the Americas – and this time it’s about smoke. They’ve found that fire smoke from southern Africa also floats our way and has a big, often beneficial impact on the Amazon rainforest and our oceans.

YouTube

During heavy rains last year in a small town outside Havana, people saw something remarkable. Large freshwater catfish called claria were swimming in the flooded streets. In a video posted on YouTube, excited locals splash out to grab them.

But that happy scene was also an environmental alert. Claria are an invasive species in Cuba. They’re supposed to be confined to aquaculture fisheries, where they’re bred for food. Outside those farms – as these claria obviously were – they’re notorious for devouring anything in their paths.