Long-term warming and environmental change trends persist in the Arctic in 2013
According to a new report released today by NOAA and its partners, cooler temperatures in the summer of 2013 across the central Arctic Ocean, Greenland and northern Canada moderated the record sea ice loss and extensive melting that the surface of the Greenland ice sheet experienced last year. Yet there continued to be regional extremes, including record low May snow cover in Eurasia and record high summer temperatures in Alaska.
“The Arctic caught a bit of a break in 2013 from the recent string of record-breaking warmth and ice melt of the last decade,” said David M. Kennedy, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations, during a press briefing today at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco. “But the relatively cool year in some parts of the Arctic does little to offset the long-term trend of the last 30 years: the Arctic is warming rapidly, becoming greener and experiencing a variety of changes, affecting people, the physical environment, and marine and land ecosystems.”
Kennedy joined other scientists to release the Arctic Report Card 2013, which has, since 2006, summarized changing conditions in the Arctic. One hundred forty-seven authors from 14 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report.
What if all the ice melted?
The ocean holds most of Earth’s water. After that, it’s ice. 5.7 million cubic miles of the stuff.
What if, thanks to natural and man-made climate change, it all melted? What if, by burning enough deep-Earth carbon (dead dinosaurs, prehistoric plants, or as we call it… fossil fuels) we raised Earth’s average temperature to around 80˚ F?
Thanks to National Geographic we know: This is is what 216 feet (66 meters) of sea level change looks like.
NEW DEEP-SEA ANIMALS RECENTLY DISCOVERED
More than 30 new, and as yet unclassified, species of marine life have been discovered in Antarctica’s deep Amundsen Sea. The bottom-dwelling species were collected during a 2008 survey, but the results have just been published.
- More: Nat Geo News
- Reference: Linse et al, 2013. The macro- and megabenthic fauna on the continental shelf of the eastern Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. Continental Shelf Research
Making a Bodacious Dream Come True
On October 2, 2013, Dave and Bodacious Dream launched their 30,000-mile voyage from Newport, Rhode Island. As of December 9th, he had traveled 8,000 miles south and arrived in Cape Town, South Africa—and he’s still got seven months of sailing to go. Along the way, he’ll visit New Zealand, traverse the Straits of Magellan, and stop by the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil.
But how does one guy with a sailboat contribute to scientific research? Dave has partnered with Earthwatch to make important observations as he steers Bodacious Dream across the world’s oceans.
“Planting a vegetable garden beside a road is no longer a fineable action in Los Angeles.
In a major victory for TED speaker Ron Finley, otherwise known as the renegade gardener of South Central, the Los Angeles City Council voted 15-0 on Tuesday to allow the planting of vegetable gardens in unused strips of city land by roads. The council is opting to waive the enforcement of a city law that requires sidewalks and curbs to be “free of obstruction” in the case of vegetable gardens designed for community use. The city will stop enforcing this law immediately.
On the TED2013 stage, Finley described getting a citation for planting a vegetable garden on his curb.
“I live in a food desert, South Central Los Angeles, home of the drive-thru and the drive-by,” he said. “So what I did, I planted a food forest in front of my house. It was on a strip of land called a parkway. It’s 150 feet by 10 feet. Thing is, it’s owned by the city. And somebody complained. The city came down on me, and basically gave me a citation saying that I had to remove my garden, and the citation was turning into a warrant. And I’m like ‘Come on, really? A warrant for planting food on a piece of land that you could care less about?’”
After getting the citation, Finley circulated a petition. And the number of signatures he collected made an impact on Council President Herb Wesson. Last week, after two more urban gardeners were issued citations, Wesson raised the motion to amend the ”Residential Parkway Landscaping Guidelines” and stop fining for vegetable gardens. Many of his fellow council members agreed. As councilman Mike Bonin put it to the Los Angeles Daily News, “We deal with a lot of big issues, but this is one that helps shape community character.”
Finley himself was very happy with the change, and that he got a personal shout-out during the council session. ”I was pretty elated. It’s beautiful,” he tells the TED Blog. “It goes to show that one person can make a difference.”
His next battle: pushing for more vacant lots to be turned into community vegetable gardens, so people can learn the self-sufficiency of growing their own food. “It shouldn’t be abnormal,” says Finley.
Survey Vessel Caused Mass Whale Stranding
An independent scientific review panel has concluded that the mass stranding of approximately 100 melon-headed whales in the Loza Lagoon system in northwest Madagascar in 2008 was primarily triggered by acoustic stimuli, more specifically, a multi-beam echosounder system operated by a survey vessel contracted by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production (Northern Madagascar) Limited.
In response to the event and with assistance from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) led an international stranding team to help return live whales from the lagoon system to the open sea, and to conduct necropsies on dead whales to determine the cause of death.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/survey-vessel-caused-whale-mass-stranding
Reusable, Magnetic Nanoparticles Remove Clean Oil Spills
When 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, cleanup crews rushed to deploy floating barriers to contain crude oil collecting on the water’s surface. However, this did nothing for the oil that never reached the top.
Crews released more than two million gallons of an experimental dispersant, Corexit, to break up the underwater oil and prevent it from reaching coast lines. Still, tar balls washed up on beaches lining the Gulf Coast and mixed in with the sandy ocean floor. Corexit didn’t remove oil. It only broke it down so that the environment could handle the tiny droplets of dispersed oil. But Corexit may have made the oil more toxic, and killed microscopic marine animals at the bottom of the Gulf, one study found.
Now, researchers at Texas A&M Univ., have developed a non-toxic solution to clean up residual crude oil after bulk removal following a spill. They’ve designed nanoparticles that soak up underwater oil like millions of tiny sponges and remove it from the environment. Each “nanosponge” is 100 times thinner than a human hair and can hold more than 10 times its own weight in oil. The particles can be removed from the water after absorption and reused after the oil is removed.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/reusable-magnetic-nanoparticles-remove-clean-oil-spills
Arctic Sea Ice is Sixth Lowest, But Better than 2012
The amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank this summer to the sixth lowest level, but that’s much higher than last year’s record low.
The ice cap at the North Pole melts in the summer and grows in winter; its general shrinking trend is a sign of global warming. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says that Arctic ice was at 1.97 million square miles when it stopped melting late last week.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/09/arctic-sea-ice-sixth-lowest-better-2012
Rare All White Humpback Whale Spotted off Australian Coast
by Nick Lester
These stunning images capture a graceful show by a rare white whale. Photographer Jenny Dean managed to shoot the action last month as the humpback dived out of the water in Etty Bay near Innisfail, far north Queensland. The mother-of-three, who is a clinical nurse and midwife, was on a whale-watching trip with her husband when they spotted the amazing mammal in the water…
(read more: Daily Mail)
photographs by Jenny Dean
The islands now called Kiribati have been inhabited since 3000 BC, but if the seas continue to rise they could be gone in as little as a century.
For a decade, Anote Tong the president has been warning the 100,000 inhabitants of the tiny Pacific state that they may not have much longer to cling to their 32 atolls. Now, he can talk about a potential solution.
Improbable though it may sound, with the help of a pioneering Japanese company and a few hundred billion dollars, Mr. Tong is considering the creation of the world’s first floating nation.
Shimizu Corp., a Tokyo-based construction company, is devising plans for a city that floats on vast “lily-pads” on the surface of the Pacific, although the designs look like something that might be devised for another planet in the distant future. (Illustration: Shimizu Corp)
If there was any other reason for me to visit the motherland besides the food, this would be it.
Son Doong in Vietnam, the world’s largest cave, will begin 6-day guided tours next year at $3,000 a pop.
Son Doong is over 5.5 miles long, has a jungle, waterfall and river inside and is large enough to hold a 40-story skyscraper.
The cave entrance was first discovered in 1991 by locals but wasn’t explored until 2009 by british cavers because the entrance was too steep.
Visitors will have to rappel 260 feet down from the surface to enter the cave.
Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) resident adult at winter feeding grounds, Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico, endangered by Tui De Roy
No-take marine reserves make coral reefs more resilient.
"A new study finds no-take marine reserves, where fishing for parrotfish is prohibited, may make coral reefs six times more resilient to coral bleaching and other disturbances. Parrotfish eat algae, so a reef system with abundant parrotfish is more likely to recover from disturbance rather than “tip” into an undesirable state in which algae dominate. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions also improves coral resilience, but only in the long term.
"This added resilience is important because it shows that protecting parrotfish, through such measures as marine reserves and fisheries policies, increases the ability of corals to adapt to warming oceans," said Dr. Mumby, lead author of the study and a professor at University of Queensland in Australia. “In addition, it should reduce the loss of ecosystem services that reefs provide, such as support for fisheries and coastal protection from storms."
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