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Thu, 21 Jan 2021
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Better Earth

Whales Set To Chase Shrinking Feed Zones

Endangered migratory whales will be faced with shrinking crucial Antarctic foraging zones which will contain less food and will be further away, a new analysis of the impacts of climate change on Southern Ocean whales has found.

Humpback whale
©iStockphoto/Dale Walsh
Climate change will require migratory whales like this Humpback whale to swim further for less food.

A new report* summarises World Wildlife Fund (WWF) research showing that levels of global warming predicted over the next 40 years will lead to winter sea-ice coverage of the Southern Ocean declining by up to 30 per cent in some key areas.

"Essentially, what we are seeing is that ice-associated whales such as the Antarctic minke whale will face dramatic changes to their habitat over little more than the lifespan of an individual whale," said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF International's Species Programme and head of the WWF delegation to the IWC meeting.

Cloud Lightning

Second '100-year flood' in 15 years costly for misled public

ST. LOUIS - Fifteen years ago, after the Midwest was swamped with what was pronounced a "100-year" or even a "500-year" flood, some folks figured they would never again see such a disaster in their lifetime. Some even dropped their flood insurance.

Big mistake.

Now, with the region struck by a supposedly once-in-a-lifetime flood for the second time since 1993, some scientists and disaster officials say the use of terms like "100-year flood" should be re-evaluated because they are often misunderstood and can give the public a false sense of security.

Phoenix

US: Lightning sparks fires in Northern Nevada

Dry, hot conditions and lightning strikes sparked at least seven fires in the Reno-Sparks area Sunday, while smoke from fires in California continued to blow into the Reno area.

Extinguisher

California wildfires force firefighters to pick their battles

SAN FRANCISCO -- With hundreds of wildfires raging across remote, rugged parts of California for a second week, fire officials have been forced to strategically choose which to fight and which to leave to burn for weeks or even months.

Cloud Lightning

Tropical storm kills 16 in China

At least 16 people have been killed after the deadly typhoon Fengshen hit southern China, China Daily reported on Monday.

The authorities fear the death toll could rise with nine people still missing.

The storm, whose name means "God of Wind" in Chinese battered China's southern province of Guangdong last Wednesday. Strong winds and downpours caused rivers to swell, destroying over 1,200 houses and hundreds of hectares of crops.

Arrow Up

US: Bees' decline could lead to higher food prices

Food prices could rise even more unless the mysterious decline in honey bees is solved, farmers and businessmen told lawmakers Thursday.

"No bees, no crops," North Carolina grower Robert D. Edwards told a House Agriculture subcommittee. Edwards said he had to cut his cucumber acreage in half because of the lack of bees available to rent.

About three-quarters of flowering plants rely on birds, bees and other pollinators to help them reproduce. Bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion annually in crop value.

In 2006, beekeepers began reporting losing 30 percent to 90 percent of their hives. This phenomenon has become known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists do not know how many bees have died; beekeepers have lost 36 percent of their managed colonies this year. It was 31 percent for 2007, said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Research Service.

Image
©AP
Farmers say their businesses are feeling the sting of the decline of honey bees.

Evil Rays

Strong quake rattles South Sandwich Islands

A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Monday near the South Sandwich Islands, a remote British territory near Antarctica and South America's southern tip, the US Geological Survey said.

The earthquake, which was 10 kilometers (six miles) deep, took place 283 kilometers (176 miles) southeast of Bristol Island and 2,374 kilometers (1,476 miles) southeast of Punta Arenas, Chile, the USGS said.

The quake occurred at 0617 GMT, USGS said.

Hourglass

Mystery surrounds virus which is devastating bee colonies

A VIRUS that has wiped out billions of honey bees is causing a buzz among scientists trying to understand why some colonies abruptly disappear.

Experts are mystified by the way the bee plague is transmitted.

Comment: A little more information on the implications:

Last flight of the honeybee?


Info

Firefighters in stalemate against California blazes

Firefighters in Northern California battled more than a thousand wildfires to a stalemate by Sunday, but forecasters said dangerous conditions would not relent anytime soon.

No new major fires had broken out Sunday as fire crews inched closer to getting some of the largest blazes surrounded, according to the state Office of Emergency Services.



Image
©AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Brandon Hoefs, of Nebraska, a member of the Mid Plains Interagency fire crew, turns away from a wildfire as it nears the deck of a home on Partington Ridge Rd. south of Big Sur, Calif., Friday, June 27, 2008. Fire crews continue to fight the Basin Complex fire, which is burning in the Los Padres National Forest near the coastal town of Big Sur.


But a "red flag warning" - meaning the most extreme fire danger - was still in effect for Northern California until 5 a.m. Monday. And the coming days and months are expected to bring little relief.

Forecasters predicted more thunderstorms and dry lightning through the weekend, similar to the ones that ignited hundreds of fires a week ago. Meanwhile, a U.S. Forest Service report said the weather would get even drier and hotter as fire season headed toward its traditional peak in late July and August.

Fish

Census Of Marine Life Lists 122,500 Known Species, Over Halfway To Complete Inventory By Oct. 2010

Census of Marine Life-affiliated scientists consolidating world databases of ocean organisms have demoted to alias status almost one-third of all names culled from 34 regional and highly specialized inventories.

The new World Register of Marine Species contains about 122,500 validated marine species names (experts having recognized and tidied up some 56,400 aliases -- 32% of all names reviewed). It also contains some 5,600 images, hyperlinks to taxonomic literature and other information.

Marking the World Register's official inauguration, some 55 researchers from 17 countries met in Belgium to plan its completion by 2010. Leading WoRMS experts independently estimate that about 230,000 marine species are known to science. They also believe there are three times as many unknown (unnamed) marine species as known, for a grand total on Earth that could surpass 1 million.

Breadcrumb Sponge
©Bernard Picton and World Register of Marine Species
Halichondria panicea, popularly called "Breadcrumb Sponge," is the marine world's reigning champion of Latin aliases, with 56 synonyms appearing in taxonomic literature since its first description in 1766. Of no fixed address, it's known to frequent floats, pilings, and the underside of rocks, smells like exploded gunpowder and takes on many guises.

"Convincing warnings about declining fish and other marine species must rest on a valid census," says Dr. Mark Costello of the University of Auckland, co-founder of WoRMS and a senior Census of Marine Life official. "This project will improve information vital to researchers investigating fisheries, invasive species, threatened species and marine ecosystem functioning, as well as to educators. It will eliminate the misinterpretation of names, confusion over Latin spellings, redundancies and a host of other problems that sow confusion and slow scientific progress."