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Fri, 07 May 2021
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Greenland Ice Core Reveals History Of Pollution In The Arctic

Coal burning, primarily in North America and Europe, contaminated the Arctic and potentially affected human health and ecosystems in and around Earth's polar regions, according to new research.

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©Joseph McConnell, Desert Research Institute
This image is of an ice core sample sitting on a melter head in the research facility. The longitudinal ice core sample falls by gravity onto the heated melter plate and the melt water split into three streams by grooves etched into the melter head. Only the inner most 10 percent of the melt water is used for ultra-trace elemental measurements. The middle 20 percent used for major ions and particle size determinations. The potentially contamined outer 70 percent of the melt water is discarded.

The study was conducted by the Desert Research Institute (DRI), Reno, Nev. and partially funded by the National Science Foundation.

Detailed measurements from a Greenland ice core showed pollutants from burning coal--the toxic heavy metals cadmium, thallium and lead--were much higher than expected. The catch, however, was the pollutants weren't higher at the times when researchers expected peaks.

"Conventional wisdom held that toxic heavy metals were higher in the 1960s and '70s, the peak of industrial activity in Europe and North America and certainly before implementation of Clean Air Act controls in the early 1970s," said Joe McConnell, lead researcher and director of DRI's Ultra-Trace Chemistry Laboratory.

"But it turns out pollution in southern Greenland was higher 100 years ago when North American and European economies ran on coal, before the advent of cleaner, more efficient coal burning technologies and the switch to oil and gas-based economies," McConnell said.

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Quake hits southwest China, no reports of casualties

Beijing - An earthquake hit southwest China on Wednesday, knocking down houses and forcing around 1,200 people to evacuate from near the site of a devastating quake which killed at least 70,000 people in May, state media said.

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Deforestation behind loss of Mount Kilimanjaro snow

A scientific theory has linked the loss of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro to deforestation and dismissed suggestions that the dwindling of glaciers on Africa's highest peak was due to global warming.

The theory is highlighted in a recent study report compiled by two researchers from Britain's Portsmouth University, Nicholas Pepin and Martin Schaefer, who surveyed the mountain's glaciers for 11 days.

Mt Kilimanjaro
©Unknown

The researchers, who revealed their findings at a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, said the mountain's glacier surface had shrunk from 20 km in 1880 to a mere two kilometres in 2000.

They said the development was caused more by local than regional factors, with Pepin suggesting that deforestation mainly due to extensive farming as the major cause.

''Deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the most likely culprit because without forests there is too much evaporation of humidity into outer space.

Bizarro Earth

Oceanic Dead Zones Continue to Spread

Fertilizer runoff and fossil-fuel use lead to massive areas in the ocean with scant or no oxygen, killing large swaths of sea life and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage

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©Science/AAAS
Dead Zone: Waters with little or no oxygen continue to form in coastal areas worldwide thanks to fertilizer washing off agricultural fields and fossil fuel burning.

More bad news for the world's oceans: Dead zones - areas of bottom waters too oxygen depleted to support most ocean life - are spreading, dotting nearly the entire east and south coasts of the U.S. as well as several west coast river outlets.

According to a new study in Science, the rest of the world fares no better - there are now 405 identified dead zones worldwide, up from 49 in the 1960s - and the world's largest dead zone remains the Baltic Sea, whose bottom waters now lack oxygen year-round.

Cloud Lightning

Resilient storm Fay could hit Florida a third time

MIAMI - Tropical Storm Fay swept into Florida from the Gulf of Mexico and soaked the state on Tuesday while growing strong enough that forecasters said it could become a hurricane before smacking Florida a third time.

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Magpies are no bird-brains, mirror test shows

LONDON - Magpies can recognize themselves in a mirror, highlighting the mental skills of some birds and confounding the notion that self-awareness is the exclusive preserve of humans and a few higher mammals.

Magpie
©Prior H., Schwarz A., Güntürkün O., PLoS Biology
Magpie with yellow mark.

It had been thought only chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants shared the human ability to recognize their own bodies in a mirror.

But German scientists reported on Tuesday that magpies -- a species with a brain structure very different from mammals -- could also identify themselves.

"It shows that the line leading to humans is not as special as many thought," lead researcher Helmut Prior of the Institute of Psychology at Goethe University in Frankfurt told Reuters.

Snowman

New Zealand: Ski resort claims deepest snow base ever

Mt Ruapehu is claiming the biggest snow base ever recorded for a New Zealand skifield with over 4.5m of snow on the ground.

Snowman

60 - 80 year "little ice age" coming

An expert from the National Autonomous University of Mexico predicted that in about ten years the Earth will enter a "little ice age" which will last from 60 to 80 years and may be caused by the decrease in solar activity.

Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the UNAM, presented his argument during a conference that teaches at the Centre for Applied Sciences and Technological Development.

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Moderate earthquake hits Nicaraguan Pacific coast

Managua -- An earthquake measuring 4.8 degrees on the Richter scale hit west Nicaragua's Pacific coast on Monday, and there have not had reports of casualties or damage so far, Nicaraguan Earthquake Administration said.

The earthquake occurred at 13:00 local time (1900 GMT) and the epicenter was located some 200 km from Managua in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 9.8 km.

Cloud Lightning

Oregon, US: Lightning starts additional fires

Lightning storms have sparked more than 100 new fires on the Willamette and Umpqua national forests since Saturday, with more lightning forecast through today.

About 75 of those fires are on the Willamette National Forest and all were initially pegged at less than an acre. Judith McHugh, spokeswoman for the Willamette, said crews and equipment are being sent to the fires but acknowledged that there are too many to attack all at once.