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Mon, 27 Sep 2021
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Phoenix

Volcano: Natural Cause For West Antarctica's Warming?

There might be a possible natural explanation for West Antarctica's warming. In 2008, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey reported a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica. The volcano punched a hole right through due to its heat and force.

This geologic event may prove to be the source of the recent warming seen in West Antarctica in what has otherwise been reported as a 50-year cooling trend seen in East Antarctica. This seems to be the first time scientists see a volcano beneath the ice sheet punching a hole through the ice sheet.

Bug

New Zealand Reptile Becomes Dad at 111 Years Old

A captive reptile in New Zealand has unexpectedly become a father at the ripe old age of 111 after receiving treatment for a cancer that made him hostile toward prospective mates.

The centenarian tuatara, named Henry, was thought well past the mating game until he was caught canoodling with a female named Mildred last March - a consummation that resulted in 11 babies being hatched on Monday.

Tuatara are indigenous New Zealand creatures that resemble lizards but descend from a distinct lineage of reptile that walked the earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

Better Earth

Climate Change Enhances Grassland Productivity

Climate Change
© Dr. Jürgen Kreyling/Universität Bayreuth
Due to global warming and a greater absence of an insulating snow cover, these cyclic processes are likely to increase. In spite of this and apart from a study from the North of Sweden there are hitherto practically no investigations that have conducted research on the significance of these cyclic processes for plants.
More frequent freeze-thaw cycles in winter can increase biomass production according to the results of a recent study conducted by the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), the University of Bayreuth and the Helmholtz Center in Munich. For their experiment at the Ecological-Botanical Garden of the University of Bayreuth the researchers installed underground heating on their plots, thereby enabling five additional thawing periods to take place in the winter of 2005/2006.

They found that on the manipulated plots ten percent more biomass grew compared to on the control plots. Such increased plant productivity can be explained by several factors, like for example an increase in nitrogen supply in the spring, according to the researchers account in the scientific journal New Phytologist.

Soils that experience seasonal freeze-thaw cycles currently cover c. 55 million km2. This equates to more than half of the total land area of the northern hemisphere. Forecasts such as the IPCC-Report 2007 anticipate that due to global warming the soil temperature there in the future will fluctuate more frequently around the freezing point. The change between freeze-thaw cycles is considered to be one of the major factors for the release of nitrogen into the soil and consequently for an increase in microbial activity.

Better Earth

Strong Earthquake Occurs Off Fiji

A strong earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, occured in the vicinity of the Fiji Region at 7.54 tonight.

According to a statement from the Meteorological Department, the epicentre of the earthquake was 348km from East Suva, Fiji and 7,400km South-east of Kunak, Sabah.

Nevertheless, there is no tsunami threat to Malaysia.

Bug

Antarctic Sea Creatures Hypersensitive to Warming

Woodlouse
© Alister Doyle
British marine biologist Simon Morley holds up an Antarctic marine woodlouse -- related to far smaller woodlice found on land -- in an aquarium at the British Rothera research station in Antarctica, January 20, 2009.
Thriving only in near-freezing waters, creatures such as Antarctic sea spiders, limpets or sea urchins may be among the most vulnerable on the planet to global warming, as the Southern Ocean heats up.

Isolated for millions of years by the chill currents, exotic animals on the seabed around Antarctica -- including giant marine woodlice and sea lemons, a sort of bright yellow slug -- are among the least studied in the world.

Now scientists on the Antarctic Peninsula are finding worrying signs that they can only tolerate a very narrow temperature band -- and the waters have already warmed by about 1 Celsius (1.6 Fahrenheit) in the past 50 years.

Better Earth

Earthquake Hits Peterborough in South Australia

An earthquake registering 4.5 on the Richter scale has shaken the small South Australian town of Peterborough.

Local police sergeant Bryce Anderson said the town's 2,200 residents escaped damage or injury.

The quake struck the town, about 250km north-east of Adelaide, at 10.59am (CDT) on Monday and lasted just a few seconds.

"There was heavy rumbling and vibrations but that was it," said Sgt Anderson.

Attention

Beekeeper outlines colony collapse disorder

At the end of a quiet road just a few miles off U.S. 211, there is no sign of trouble on Bob Duxbury's property. And surrounded by trees and dotted with farm and garden equipment, one might easily overlook the innocuous wooden boxes standing away from the house.

But the silence and serenity belie a serious problem. A local beekeeper, Duxbury said he's experienced the unexplained deaths of thousands of the beneficial insects.

"They are a fascinating little insect and they're in trouble - they're in big trouble," said Duxbury. "We could lose them all."

The buzz about bees across America is not good. Coast to coast, commercial farmers, hobbyists and small time, sideline beekeepers like Duxbury are experiencing colony collapse disorder.

Snowman

Shanghai reports coldest winter for 18 years

East China's business hub Shanghai reported a temperature of minus 5.9 degrees Celsius in its downtown Saturday, the lowest for 18 years, as a cold snap swept China from north to south, the municipal meteorological observatory said.

The temperature in the Xujiahui area in downtown Shanghai reached minus 5.9 degrees Celsius early Saturday, the lowest since 1992, the city's Central Meteorological Observatory said. Records show the lowest temperature in downtown Shanghai was minus 8 degrees Celsius in 1991.

Snowman

Penguin at zoo refuses to swim because he is afraid of cold water

Most penguins like nothing better than to get their feathers wet with a quick swim, but this elderly bird refuses to move from his rock - because he is afraid of cold water.
cold penguin

Kentucky the penguin: Keepers at the park have to force Kentucky to dip into the water a couple of times a day to keep his feathers clean Photo: NTI
Kentucky the penguin, described as a 'runt' by his keepers, refuses to take the plunge with his other 23 penguin pals at Blackbrook Zoological Park in Leek, Staffordshire.

Staff at the zoo have seen the 11-year-old become a surprise hit with visitors at the park due to his unusual phobia.

The Humboldt penguin was born smaller than his arctic brothers and sisters and has had malting problems since birth which make the water 'a bit too cold for him', staff say.

Better Earth

Dramatic Expansion of Dead Zones in the Oceans

Unchecked global warming would leave ocean dwellers gasping for breath. Dead zones are low-oxygen areas in the ocean where higher life forms such as fish, crabs and clams are not able to live. In shallow coastal regions, these zones can be caused by runoff of excess fertilizers from farming. A team of Danish researchers have now shown that unchecked global warming would lead to a dramatic expansion of low-oxygen areas zones in the global ocean by a factor of 10 or more.

Whereas some coastal dead zones could be recovered by control of fertilizer usage, expanded low-oxygen areas caused by global warming will remain for thousands of years to come, adversely affecting fisheries and ocean ecosystems far into the future. The findings are reported in a paper 'Long-term ocean oxygen depletion in response to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels' published on-line in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Professor Gary Shaffer of the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, who is the leader of the research team at the Danish Center for Earth System Science (DCESS), explains that "such expansion would lead to increased frequency and severity of fish and shellfish mortality events, for example off the west coasts of the continents like off Oregon and Chile".