Earth Changes


Geochemistry and micropalaeontology combined to track oxygen levels in Earth's oceans

Microfossils reveal warm oceans had less oxygen, according to Syracuse geologists
Foraminiferas registers iodine ratio to calcium, determining oxygen levels.
Researchers from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences are pairing chemical analyses with micropalaeontology - the study of tiny fossilized organisms - to obtain a better understanding of how global marine life was affected by a rapid warming event over 55 million years ago.

Their findings are the subject of an article published in the journal Paleocenography (John Wiley & Sons, 2014).

Zunli Lu
Asst. Professor of Earth Sciences Zunli Lu among those researching oxygen saturation.
"Global warming impacts marine life in complex ways, of which the loss of dissolved oxygen [a condition known as hypoxia] is a growing concern," says Zunli Lu, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences and a member of Syracuse's Water Science and Engineering Initiative. "Moreover, it's difficult to predict future deoxygenation that is induced by carbon emissions, without a good understanding of our geologic past."

Lu says this type of deoxygenation results in larger and thicker oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) in the world's oceans. An OMZ is the layer of water in an ocean where oxygen saturation is at its lowest.

Much of Lu's work revolves around the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a well-studied analogue for modern climate warming. Documenting the expansion of OMZs during the PETM is problematic due to the lack of a sensitive, widely applicable indicator of dissolved oxygen.

Comment: These little foraminiferas seem to be the hot ticket item in oceanic research of late. They are also being studied for ocean temperature variants (see Warm Gulf Stream water continued to flow into icy Nordic seas during last Ice Age)

Even with the iodate application analyzing iodine-to-calcium ratios, the findings are first and foremost still estimates. It is unclear from this article as to whether the foraminiferas are the only defining edge considered in this comparison. It is also unlikely that this research could historically stretch the findings to broad-stroke a human influence on global warming, since this would "theoretically" be the first-of-its-kind "climate alteration" along with the falsely maligned culprit CO2. (Unbiased research shows global warming is happening at this time to all the planets in the solar system.) If the OMZs are present, and have been periodically for eons, it may be due to repeated cycles of a grander nature than the comparatively recent meddling of human activity.

It is more likely that methane released into the oceans (increasingly happening NOW) would overwhelm any influence added CO2 could have to produce a warming effect. Methane is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas and, by the way, greatly affects the level of oxygenation in both deep and shallow ocean waters since the aerobic oxidation of methane consumes oxygen. Methane-caused oxygen depletion has been proven to create or expand OMZs.

Ice Cube

Another polar vortex looks 'set to hit the U.S. Northeast from January and not let up for months...' with higher than normal snow levels predicted

Get ready: Winter will arrive without delay, according to, with frigid air from another polar vortex seeping down into the country's midsection and Northeast as early as November
The Polar Vortex Part II is getting ready to roll back into town. Leading meteorologists are warning the Mid-Atlantic is in for a repeat of last winter, which was noted as the 34th coldest such period for the contiguous 48 states as a whole since modern records began in 1895, according to

Now, with a month-and-a-half left of fall, the forecasts are in, and another polar vortex looks set to hit the Northeast from January and not let up for months.

Accuweather are reporting that New York will again experience above-average snow and freezing temperatures, however neither is expect to hold out as long as the brutal winter of 2013/14.

'I think, primarily, we'll see that happening in mid-January into February but again, it's not going to be the same type of situation as we saw last year, not as persistent,' Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

Additional images

Update: Blizzard conditions kill 27 in Nepal with another 70 missing

Members of the army pulling dead bodies of trekkers from the Thorung La mountain pass on the Annapurna Circuit, near Muktinath, in Mustang district
Dozens of stranded foreign trekkers have been rescued and more bodies have been found following a blizzard and avalanches in northern Nepal, taking the death toll to 27. About 70 people are still missing along or near the popular Annapurna trail, according to the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, and the death toll is expected to rise.

The route, 100 miles north-west of the capital, Kathmandu, was filled with international hikers during the peak October trekking season, when the air is generally clear and cool. Government administrator Yama Bahadur Chokhyal said rescuers recovered 10 more bodies from the Thorong La pass area - which lies at over 17,000 feet - where they had been caught in a sudden blizzard on Tuesday.

The bodies were not yet identified. Rescuers recovered the bodies of four other hikers - two Poles, an Israeli and a Nepalese - from the area on Wednesday.

Additional images
Cloud Precipitation

Category 4 Hurricane Gonzalo taking aim on Bermuda

© AP Photo/NOAA
This image provided by NOAA Thursday Oct. 16, 2014 shows Hurricane Gonzalo, lower right. At 2 a.m. EDT Thursday the storm had top sustained winds near 125 mph (205 kph) and was centered about 555 miles (1,075 kilometers) south south-west of Bermuda early Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving north at 9 mph (20 kph).
Hurricane Gonzalo is roaring toward the British territory of Bermuda as a powerful Category 4 storm and forecasters say it will likely bring damaging winds and life-threatening storm surge to the island in coming hours.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says conditions in Bermuda, where a hurricane warning is in effect, will begin deteriorating later Friday morning. Gonzalo is about 240 miles (385 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda and packing top sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph)s.

Forecasters say Gonzalo is moving north-northeast at 15 mph (24 kph) and its eye is expected near Bermuda by Friday afternoon or evening.

Bermuda residents have been rushing to make preparations for Gonzalo, days after Tropical Storm Fay damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines there.
Cloud Precipitation

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie declares Emergency as state prepares for Tropical Storm Ana's approach

For the first time since 1992, Hawaiians are preparing for the possibility of two tropical systems making landfall in one season. First, it was Iselle, which made landfall on the Big Island back in August. Now, Tropical Storm Ana is approaching the state, threatening to become a hurricane and ready to cause disruptions for residents even if it remains a tropical storm.

"Tropical Storm Ana is currently moving to the west and is expected to turn toward the northwest by Friday, taking it in the direction of the Hawaiian Islands," said meteorologist Linda Lam. "Ana is expected to gradually strengthen and could still become a hurricane. Bands of rain may reach the Big Island as soon as late Friday and large swells are expected to begin to reach Hawaii late Thursday."

As a result, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has declared an emergency for the state, according to the Associated Press. The proclamation will last through Oct. 24, allowing the state to access state and federal resources for preparation and recovery, if needed, the report adds.

Residents on the Big Island and Oahu have been urged to prepare for serious weather conditions that could be life-threatening if the proper precautions aren't taken, reports.

Bizarre sea creature caught in Singapore

Basket Star
© Discovery News
Basket Star
Singaporean angler Ramlan Saim has clarified that he was the one who reeled in a strange octopus-like creature, a catch which has captured global attention.

While several international news outlets had identified the angler as a Mr Ong Han Boon, Mr Ramlan said on Wednesday morning that this was a case of mistaken identity.

"He must have been one of the people that shared the video, and they thought he was the fisherman that caught it," said Mr Ramlan, 53, an assistant project manager.

He said he caught the basket star - a distant relative of the starfish - at one of his usual fishing spots off Pulau Ubin late last month.
Bizarro Earth

The drought in California is so bad, they're shutting off showers for surfers

Getting out of the water at my local surf break in Pacifica, a beach town just south of San Francisco, I went to rinse off my wet suit and surfboard at the oceanfront showers, only to find this sign: "Due to the drought the available shower heads are reduced. Please limit shower time."

Yes, you can laugh that California's epic drought is even hitting people who spend their time in the water. Or that, finally, urban dwellers are feeling the pinch of an environmental catastrophe that has devastated the state's farms and ranches.

Yet the move by Pacifica to shut off showers at popular surf spots is a sign that coastal cities, where the bulk of California's population resides, are belatedly getting serious about saving water. And a new report from the California Water Resources Control Board shows that such efforts are making a difference.

For instance, the North Coast County Water District, which serves Pacifica's 39,000 residents, has cut its water consumption 26 percent in August compared with the previous year. That means on average, each Pacifica resident used about 2,434 gallons of water in August, compared with 3,283 gallons in August 2013.

That helped California cut statewide water consumption by 11.5 percent in August, up from 7.5 percent in July, and 4 percent in June compared to the previous year, according to the report.
Blue Planet

North Carolina shark feeding frenzy caught on video

A shark feeding frenzy at a beach in North Carolina was caught on video. Rachel Metz from the Virginia Aquarium explains why the sharks were there and whether beachgoers should be worried.


Man mauled to death; woman and youth in serious condition after bear attacks, India

A 32-year-old man was mauled to death by a wild bear in Doda District on Wednesday.

The bear attacked Altaf Ahmed while he was working in his field in the Krandi Desa village in the district last evening, a police officer said. "He died even before a rescue operation could be launched," he added.

Meanwhile, in another incident, a 28-year-old lady was attacked by a bear in the same village. "The seriously injured lady, identified as Zulfa, was shifted to the District Hospital in Doda where her condition is stated to be stable," police said.

Modesto, California: Vicious dogs roaming streets, chasing people and trapping them inside homes

A Beware of Dog sign posted from the alley a few houses East of the home where a man died from wounds when mauled by a pack of pit bulls and a woman critically injured, Tuesday night, Oct. 14, 2014.

Vicious dogs roaming the streets, chasing people and trapping them inside their homes is a common complaint from residents in southwest Modesto, according to police.

In response, the department's animal control officers partner with the Stanislaus County Animal Services Center to conduct regular sweeps of the area, as well as the airport neighborhood, which also has a substantial stray dog population.

The sweeps often result in fines, but the issue has the potential to become criminal.

Animal control officers who alternate between the east and west portions of south Modesto have caught upward of 250 dogs since starting the sweeps a year ago, said Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves.

The last operation in the airport neighborhood, on Friday, resulted in the apprehension of 25 roaming dogs, and 22 were caught in southwest Modesto the month before. Dozens of people have been cited for offenses ranging from unlicensed or unvaccinated dogs to leash violations.

The problem turned fatal Tuesday night when four pit bulls mauled a man and his mother at their Glenn Avenue home in south Modesto, killing him and leaving her in critical condition.