Earth ChangesS


Dumbo of the deep: Discovered in the ocean abyss, the elephant-eared octopod

Dumbo Fish
© PAThe Grimpoteuthis has been nicknamed 'Dumbo' because of the large 'ears' it uses to swim with
What do you get if you cross an octopus with an elephant?

Well, in reality, probably nothing but a squashed octopus.

But with its elephant-like appearance, it's easy to see why this odd creature, found more than a mile beneath the ocean, has been nicknamed Dumbo by scientists.

Never before seen by man, it is a cirrate octopod, and the 'ears' that saw it named after Disney's cartoon elephant are actually fins that it uses to swim.

Marine biologists found the six-foot-long creature on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in their quest to record and name every living thing in the seas.

Mr. Potato

George Monbiot sees no evil

© Unknown
It's no use pretending this isn't a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I'm dismayed and deeply shaken by them.

Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.

Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.

Comment: If Monbiot thinks an email will EVER surface that plainly and explicitly reveals the conspiracy to misinform the public about global warming, he needs to retire and drink warm milk.

The aspect of 'conspiracy' revealed by these emails is not a case of some people getting together and saying "Oh, let's have a conspiracy!" Conspiracy in this context simply means that a group of people act in certain ways that they KNOW are dishonest at a fundamental level, and they use what Lobaczewski termed "subconscious selection and substitution of premises" to explain things in their own minds. This is a predominantly subconscious process though it certainly has to be conscious in some respects.

It is definitely a conspiracy where these scientists are concerned because they have all made a decision to support a particular world view that has been "decided before hand, be damned to the data". Sure, there is no widespread conspiracy by all climatologists to cook the data for global warming, but there are a few "top" scientists lacking in conscience that have been leading the "human-made global warming" campaign and have been doing so for at least 10 years.

Here's a recent sample email:
From: Kevin Trenberth
To: Michael Mann
Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600
Cc: Stephen H Schneider, Myles Allen, peter stott , "Philip D. Jones" , Benjamin Santer, Tom Wigley, Thomas R Karl, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Michael Oppenheimer

Hi all

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low. This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather).


The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

Bizarro Earth

Icebergs Head to New Zealand From Antarctica

© Xinhua/AFP PhotoIn this Nov. 16, 2009 photo released by the Australian Antarctic Division, an iceberg is seen at Sandy Bay on Macquarie Island's east coast, in the Southern Ocean 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) southeast of Tasmania, Australia.
A flotilla of hundreds of icebergs that split off Antarctic ice shelves is drifting toward New Zealand and could pose a risk to ships in the south Pacific Ocean, officials said Tuesday.

The nearest one, measuring about 30 yards (meters) tall, was 160 miles (260 kilometers) southeast of New Zealand's Stewart Island, Australian glaciologist Neal Young said. He couldn't say how many icebergs in total were roaming the Pacific, but he counted 130 in one satellite image alone and 100 in another.

Large numbers of icebergs last floated close to New Zealand in 2006, when some were visible from the coastline - the first such sighting since 1931.

Maritime officials have issued navigation warnings for the area south of the country.

"It's an alert to shipping to be aware these potential hazards are around and to be on the lookout for them," Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman Sophie Hazelhurst said.

No major shipping lanes or substantial fishing grounds are in the area, but most ships there have little hull protection if they collide with an iceberg - which typically has 90 percent of its mass under water. Very few adventure sailors would be in the waters in November, when it is still the southern hemisphere's spring.


Ants Use Bacteria to Make Their Gardens Grow

© University of Wisconsin-MadisonThese leafcutter ants are located on a spongy fungus garden, which they grow themselves.
Leaf-cutter ants, which cultivate fungus for food, have many remarkable qualities.

Here's a new one to add to the list: the ant farmers, like their human counterparts, depend on nitrogen-fixing bacteria to make their gardens grow. The finding, reported Nov. 20 in the journal Science, documents a previously unknown symbiosis between ants and bacteria and provides insight into how leaf-cutter ants have come to dominate the American tropics and subtropics.

What's more, the work, conducted by a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison bacteriologist Cameron Currie, identifies what is likely the primary source of terrestrial nitrogen in the tropics, a setting where nutrients are otherwise scarce.

"Nitrogen is a limiting resource," says Garret Suen, a UW-Madison postdoctoral fellow and a co-author of the new study. "If you don't have it, you can't survive."

Bizarro Earth

6.8 Earthquake Recorded Near Tonga

A powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.8 struck northeast of the South Pacific island nation of Tonga on Tuesday, the United States Geological Survey said, but a destructive tsunami was not expected.

The quake's epicenter was recorded 195 km (120 miles) east-northeast of the Tongan capital Nuku'Alofa at a depth of 61 km (38.5 miles), it said.

There were no immediate tsunami warnings issued, according to websites for the USGS and the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC).

"Based on all available data, a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii," the PTWC said in a statement.


New Zealand: Hive Thieves Rustle Over a Million Bees

Thieves have rustled more than million bees from a Matamata beekeeper.

John Tyler lost 28 hives, and their 1.125 million industrious inhabitants, in the November 7 or 8 robbery from a Te Poi farm paddock, the Matamata Chronicle reported.

Each hive contained about 50,000 bees, weighed 25 kilograms and was worth about $7500.

The robbery of his winged workers, requiring at least two men and a truck, has left a bitter taste in Mr Tyler's mouth.

The hives were not insured.

"(I'm) stunned, I suppose. I'm pretty upset," he told the newspaper.

The beekeeper was coming into the busiest part of his year, with fruitgrowers needing his bees to pollinate their plants.

Bizarro Earth

El Nino intensifies Latin America drought

From a devastating food crisis in Guatemala to water cuts in Venezuela, El Nino has compounded drought damage across Latin America this year.

The occasional seasonal warming of central and eastern Pacific waters upsets normal weather patterns across the globe and occurs on average every two to five years. Typically lasting around 12 months, El Nino reappeared once again in June.

Guatemalan authorities blamed it for the nation's worst drought in 30 years, which has left almost 500 people dead from hunger since the start of the year. Around 36,000 hectares (90,000 acres) of corn and bean crops were lost, officials said.

Bizarro Earth

5.1 Earthquake Jolts Mexico Pacific Coast

An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale struck Jalisco, a state on Mexico's Pacific coast on Monday, the state-run National Seismology Service said.

It was recorded 8 minutes and 41 seconds after midnight as was 192 kilometers (km) southwest of Cihuatlan, a town in Jalisco. There have been no reports so far of harm to people or damage to property.

The quake was 30 km deep and was located at 18.05 degrees north and 105.88 degrees west in longitude. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the magnitude as 5.2.


New Chameleon Species Discovered in East Africa

© University of YorkKinyongia magomberae (the Magombera chameleon)
Dr Andrew Marshall, from the Environment Department at the University of York, first spotted the animal while surveying monkeys in the Magombera Forest when he disturbed a twig snake eating one.

The specimen was collected, tested and compared to two others found by scientists in the same area and has now been named Kinyongia magomberae (the Magombera chameleon) in research published in the African Journal of Herpetology.

Dr Marshall is co-author of the study alongside researchers from the Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Stellenbosch.


Sea Stars Bulk Up to Beat the Heat

© Nancy SeftonOchre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) are voracious predators in the intertidal zone. Feeding on mussels and other mollusks, they limit the range of these species.
A new study finds that a species of sea star stays cool using a strategy never before seen in the animal kingdom. The sea stars soak up cold sea water into their bodies during high tide as buffer against potentially damaging temperatures brought about by direct sunlight at low tide.

"Sea stars were assumed to be at the mercy of the sun during low tide," said the study's lead author, Sylvain Pincebourde of François Rabelais University in Tours, France. "This work shows that some sea stars have an unexpected back-up strategy."

The researcher is published in the December issue of The American Naturalist.

Sea stars need to endure rapid changes in temperature. During high tide, they are fully submerged in cool sea water. But when tides receded, the stars are often left on rocky shorelines, baking in the sun.