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Wed, 21 Oct 2020
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Better Earth

Whatever happened to our ice age?

Today scientists are warning of a warming planet - but didn't they claim a new ice age was on the way just 40 years ago? SARAH LEWIS gets in a time machine and takes a look at the science of the 1970s.

In the 1970s, scientists predicted an ice age.

Nearly 40 years later, there is worldwide alarm as we are repeatedly warned of catastrophic warming to our climate.

Better Earth

Scientists study Arctic haze for clues to rapid melting

FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Visitors to Alaska often marvel at the crisp, clear air. But the truth is, the skies above the Arctic Circle work like a giant lint trap during late winter and early spring, catching all sorts of pollutants swirling around the globe.

In recent weeks, scientists have been going up in government research planes and taking samples of the Arctic haze in hopes of solving a mystery: Are the floating particles accelerating the unprecedented warming going on in the far north?

Better Earth

Sudden oak death sleuthing pays off

The Sudden oak death epidemic that has killed more than a million trees throughout coastal California started in two sites: Scotts Valley and on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, a new genetic analysis reveals.

Through genetic detective wok, scientists found that pathogens at both locations - separated by 62 miles - share identical DNA footprints, indicating that they are related, probably through the nursery trade, said lead investigator Matteo Garbelotto of the University of California Berkeley.

"Our study reconstructs the Sudden oak death epidemic," Garbelotto said."Having multiple introductions explains why it is so extensive."

Better Earth

Bikini Atoll's Nuked Coral Reef Bounces Back to Life - Sort of

Half a century after the atomic blasts that devastated Bikini Atoll, vast expanses of corals in the area seem to be flourishing once again, much to the surprise of scientists.

American government scientists detonated a hydrogen bomb on the tiny island (a part of the Marshall Islands in the western Pacific) on March 1, 1954, and about 20 other nuclear tests were carried out on the atoll between 1946 and 1958.

Many of the natives were moved to Kili Island and today are compensated by the United States government.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Hazard Maps Show How U.S. Shakes With Quakes

Last Friday's magnitude 5.2 earthquake in southern Illinois is a reminder that earthquakes are a national hazard.

Today, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are revealing how shaky the nation is by releasing an updated version of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps.

earthquake map
©U.S. Geological Survey
Colors on this map show the levels of horizontal shaking that have a 2-in-100 chance of being exceeded in a 50-year period. Shaking is expressed as a percentage of g (g is the acceleration of a falling object due to gravity).

Earthquakes remain a serious threat in 46 of the United States. For some areas such as western Oregon and Washington, the new maps contain higher estimates for how hard the ground will shake compared to earlier versions of the maps released in 1996 and 2002.

Better Earth

Climate change: Progress at polluters' talks, but obstacles ahead

Talks among major carbon emitters aimed at speeding negotiations towards a new pact on climate change ended Friday after making some headway but failing to remove roadblocks ahead of a summit in July.

"We achieved a consensus on the need for long-term and medium-term goals for reducing greenhouse-house gases... but we have not quantified targets at this stage and we regret this," said France's secretary of state for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet.

The two-day talks in Paris gathered ministers from Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States.

Arrow Down

The Antarctic deep sea gets colder - RV Polarstern finished first Antarctic field season within the International Polar Year

The Antarctic deep sea gets colder, which might stimulate the circulation of the oceanic water masses. This is the first result of the Polarstern expedition of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association that has just ended in Punta Arenas/Chile. At the same time satellite images from the Antarctic summer have shown the largest sea-ice extent on record. In the coming years autonomous measuring buoys will be used to find out whether the cold Antarctic summer induces a new trend or was only a ,slip".

The Polarstern expedition ANT-XXIV/3 was dedicated to examining the oceanic circulation and the oceanic cycles of materials that depend on it. Core themes were the projects CASO (Climate of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean) and GEOTRACES, two of the main projects in the Antarctic in the International Polar Year 2007/08.

Under the direction of Dr. Eberhard Fahrbach, Oceanographer at the Alfred Wegener Institute, 58 scientists from ten countries were on board the research vessel Polarstern in the Southern Ocean from 6 February until 16 April, 2008. They studied ocean currents as well as the distribution of temperature, salt content and trace substances in Antarctic sea water. ,We want to investigate the role of the Southern Ocean for past, present and future climate," chief scientist Fahrbach said. The sinking water masses in the Southern Ocean are part of the overturning in this region and thus play a major role in global climate. ,While the last Arctic summer was the warmest on record, we had a cold summer with a sea-ice maximum in the Antarctic. The expedition shall form the basis for understanding the opposing developments in the Arctic and in the Antarctic," Fahrbach said.

Image
©AWI
Recovery of mooring 207 in heavy sea ice.

X

Severe heatwave in east India kills over 20

At least 22 people have died from severe heat in east India's state of Orissa as temperatures touched 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in some areas, local TV said on Tuesday.

Soaring temperatures have affected the region for the past three weeks hitting an average of 40 degrees Celsius (103 Fahrenheit), around 7-8 degrees higher than normal.

Officials said sunstroke has been confirmed as a cause of death for only three people so far, and warned that the intense heat would continue for another four to five days.

Better Earth

Larger Pacific Climate Event Helps Current La Nina Linger

Boosted by the influence of a larger climate event in the Pacific, one of the strongest La Niñas in many years is slowly weakening but continues to blanket the Pacific Ocean near the equator, as shown by new sea-level height data collected by the U.S.-French Jason oceanographic satellite.

This La Niña, which has persisted for the past year, is indicated by the blue area in the center of the image along the equator. Blue indicates lower than normal sea level (cold water). The data were gathered in early April.

La Niña
©NASA/JPL
This La Niña is indicated by the blue area in the center of the image along the equator. Blue indicates lower than normal sea level (cold water).

Better Earth

Can the earth provide enough food for 9 billion people?

That's how many are expected to inhabit the world by 2050. Experts worry over looming food shortages.

The world is an odd place. A tight global food situation with record-high grain prices presents the possibility of increasing malnutrition, perhaps famine, in parts of Africa and South Asia. Yet an estimated 1.6 billion adults, about a quarter of the world's 6.7 billion people, are overweight, some of them obese.

As a result, chubby Americans are spending roughly $1 billion a year to lose a few pounds with special diets, treadmills, etc., while hundreds of millions in poor nations are scrambling to buy enough food to add a little weight. "You couldn't write any stranger fiction," says Joseph Chamie, former head of the United Nation's Population Division.