Earth ChangesS


The secret life of penguins revealed

King penguins
© AFP/AAD/File/James DoubeKing penguins swim off the coast of the Australian subantarctic territory of Macquarie Island, 2007
Famous for its cuteness and comic gait on land, the penguin also has an enigmatic life at sea, sometimes spending months foraging in the ocean before returning to its breeding grounds.

Zoologists have long wondered where the flightless seabird goes during these long spells away from land -- and now French scientists, in a study published in Wednesday, believe they can supply the answer.

A team from National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) attached monitoring devices to a dozen male and female macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) at the onset of winter on the French Indian Ocean territory of the Kerguelen Islands.


Predators Ignore Peculiar Prey, Bird And Salamander Study Finds

© Fitzpatrick et al., BMC EcologyHere are two salamanders
Rare traits persist in a population because predators detect common forms of prey more easily. Researchers have now found that birds will target salamanders that look like the majority - even reversing their behavior in response to alterations in the ratio of a distinguishing trait.

Benjamin Fitzpatrick, from the University of Tennessee, worked with Kim Shook and Reuben Izally to study the effects of the prevalence of a dorsal stripe among a group of model salamanders on the foraging behavior of a flock of Blue Jays. He said, "Maintenance of variation is a classic paradox in evolution because both selection and drift tend to remove variation from populations. If one form has an advantage, such as being harder to spot, it should replace all others. Likewise, random drift alone will eventually result in loss of all but one form when there are no fitness differences. There must therefore be some advantage that allows unusual traits to persist".


Prairie dogs issue warnings in glorious technicolour

prairie dogs
© Rick and Nora Bowers/AlamyNot only do the rodents' alarm calls tell others about the type and size of approaching predators, but they also seem to warn of the colour of an imminent threat
Prairie dogs talk some pretty colourful talk. Not only do their alarm calls tell others about the type and size of approaching predators, but it seems they can also warn of the hue of an imminent threat.

Gunnison's prairie dogs are burrowing rodents that live in the grasslands of North America. Con Slobodchikoff of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and his colleagues had previously shown that they produce different alarm calls in response to humans, coyotes, domestic dogs and red-tailed hawks. For humans, the calls even vary according to the person's size. They react differently towards each call, all hiding if approached by humans, whereas only nearby animals hide if it is a hawk.


Volcanic Fish Out of Water

Thin and runny lava
© Tobias Fischer/University of New Mexico Façade. Thin and runny lava called carbonatite tops the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano in Tanzania.
Ol Doinyo Lengai is a maverick. Of Earth's hundreds of active volcanoes, it's the only one currently producing a black, runny lava instead of the familiar goopy, glowing red stuff. Now, an international team of researchers thinks it has found the explanation for the unusual behavior of the Tanzanian volcano, which has to do with its location and the future of the African continent.

Africa is fracturing. Everything east of the Great Rift Valley--a 6000-kilometer gash that runs from Syria to Mozambique--is imperceptibly moving into the Indian Ocean. The valley itself is slowly sinking, and millions of years from now it will rest on the sea floor. Smack-dab in the middle of the valley sits Ol Doinyo Lengai, a classic volcanic cone rising nearly 3000 meters. But the mountain's eruptions are anything but classic. Its lava, called carbonatite, is nearly free of silicon oxide, which in sufficient quantity produces the blazing-hot, flame-red flows people typically associate with volcanoes. Instead, Ol Doinyo Lengai's carbonatite lava is much cooler--only about 500°C, compared with 1000°C or more for conventional eruptions. It also flows easily and rapidly, more like water than lava. Initially, the carbonatite is black but turns white quickly after exposure to rain and surface water.


Obama upholds controversial polar bear rule

polar bear
© unknown
President blots his copybook with green groups for the first time

The Obama administration has shocked environmental groups by retaining a controversial Bush-era ruling that limited protection for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.

Secretary of the interior Ken Salazar announced late last week that the Department of the Interior will retain a special rule issued by the Bush administration last year when it placed the polar bear on the endangered species list.


Snow in Saudi Arabia in May?

Saudi snow May 2009
© unknown

From the Saudi Gazette
In one of the rare occasions, Saudis enjoy the snowfall in Al-Baha city south-west of Riyadh, Tuesday. Torrential rains pouring down on Al-Baha accompanied by gusty winds were accompanied by snow capping the mountains and covering the valley areas and the forests of Al-Zaraeb and Khayrah.
The last report we had like this in mid January said that the snow and cold was the "worst in 30 years". In January, snow isn't unexpected in Saudi Arabia, it has happened before. But in May?

Comment: Also from Watts Up With That -

Caption This Photo
© unknown
Roo in snow

WUWT reader David Summers sends this photo along taken a few days ago in Australia from a colleague that "returned there for the summer". I thought it might make a fun photo caption exercise.


Flashback Snow, cold, in Saudi Arabia: "worst in 30 years"

According to wire reports, temperatures reached their lowest point in 30 years, reaching to -2°C in the capital, Riyadh, and to -6°C in mountainous regions blanketed by snow. At least 10 people have died in the country as a weather system driven South from Siberia sent temperatures plummeting. Below are some pictures of snow from that region.
Saudi snow January 2008
© unknown


Another US meteorologist fed up with global warming nonsense

That would be Karl Bohnak, chief meteorologist at WLUC-TV on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, who calls global warming alarmism his "pet peeve" and finally got so fed up with it that he wrote to his congressman, Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak. He shared his letter in a blog post on his station's Web site:
For years as a broadcast meteorologist, I kept silent about the issue of "global warming." Declaring skepticism labeled you (and still does) as an anti-environmentalist. After former VP Gore's movie hit the big screen, I could remain silent no more. "An Inconvenient Truth" was filled with so many gross distortions and outright scientific misrepresentations; I felt it was my obligation to speak out....

CO2 is not a pollutant and it's not a problem. The problem is rent-seeking corporations looking to cash in on cap and trade and low-output, high-cost alternative energy. As your Michigan House colleague Congressman Dingell says "cap and trade is a tax, and it's a great big one." This is not the time to raise energy prices, which is what this bill will surely do. I believe the majority of your constituents will suffer adversely if this legislation is passed.


Alaska's Hubbard Glacier is advancing at the rate of seven feet per day!

Alaska Hubbard glacier
© US Army Corps of EngineersGilbert Point looking towards Russell Fiord August 2005

Alaska's Hubbard Glacier is advancing at the rate of seven feet per day!

This past week, I received a literally astounding report from Yakutat, Alaska's city manager, Skip Ryman, forwarded to me by Kerri Thoreson, concerning the rapid advancement of the Hubbard Glacier towards Gilbert Point near Yakutat at the astonishing rate of two meters (seven feet) per day!

Skip gave me the Army Corp of Engineers special Web site for the Hubbard Glacier. On Tuesday, we pulled up some absolutely amazing photos of the advancing glacier in color. One can easily see the expanding wall of ice. It's HUGE! Since the Corp of Engineers ordinarily protects and maintains possession of the scientific information they generate, it's certainly unusual for them to 'open up' like this. But, as Randy Mann and I have often said, these are days of Wide Weather 'EXTREMES'?


Creatures Living on Violent Undersea Volcano Give Climate Change Survival Clue

An active underwater volcano which spews torrents of lava and noxious gas has become a surprising hotspot for sea critters, scientists revealed today.

Studying them may provide answers to how sea life could adapt to the world's increasingly acidic oceans, they said.

Lava erupts onto the seafloor from the NW Rota-1 volcano, creating an acidic plume

Comment: This article is a good example of how the media can slip in their subtle suggestions supporting the anthropogenic global warming agenda. Specifically the implication that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere leads to the acidified oceans and the global killing of oceanic species.

And here it is, article quote:
Sea water is slightly alkaline, but the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been mirrored by an increase of CO2 dissolving in the oceans and forming carbonic acid.

Ocean acidification is a serious concern because it can be fatal to some fish eggs and larvae and interferes with the formation of shells.
Remember the recent scaremongering that the Great Barrier Reef was dying due to global warming and CO2. Well it wasn't. Global warming and CO2 had nothing to do with it. See: Australian scientists celebrate Great Barrier Reef comeback.

There are many good, credible sources for studies on ocean acidification and CO2 / carbonate balance in the world's oceans.

One good reference is as follows (Link):

Acid in the Oceans Fraud

The pH of the oceans is 8.1, which is alkaline, and there has been no measured acidification.
Two billion years ago, there was a huge amount of carbon dioxide in the air and carbonate in the oceans. Since then, most of it disappeared. It was converted to calcium carbonate in the oceans and ultimately limestone. Now there is a shortage. The human addition is slightly rescuing life and the planet by increasing the CO2. For propagandists to claim humans are destroying life and the planet through CO2 couldn't be a bigger fraud.

The oceans have had almost four billion years to absorb carbon dioxide. Why are the oceans not acidic? Hasn't there been enough time yet? There was five times as much CO2 in the air during dinosaur years as now. The oceans rapidly stabilize; and they stabilized at pH 8.1 due to the alkalinity of calcium and its buffering capacity.

Fraudulent scientists uses hydrochloric acid in laboratory tanks to test the effects of carbon dioxide on ocean biology due to increased acidity. CO2 is in equilibrium with carbonate, which improves marine growth and shell production, while HCl does not. Example
Carbon dioxide propagandists have a campaign going for an "acid in the ocean" alternative to the greenhouse gas scare. This tactic is a result of the danger of the "greenhouse gas" lie blowing up in their faces at any time due to the obvious scientific frauds.

Carbon dioxide has been an extremely effective and insidious propaganda scheme, being used as the latest pretext for population reduction and shoving the lower classes out of the economy. The public considers the greenhouse gas problem to be unquestionable science and an imminent peril. This does not immunize it from scientific truth, which is bound to expose it eventually. But the acid ploy is unrelated to global warming, and it salvages the propaganda value of carbon dioxide.

The acid fraud says that humans are putting more carbon dioxide into the oceans (through the atmosphere), and the CO2 converts to acid in the oceans, while corals are supposedly sensitive to acid and cannot produce their calcium shells in such an environment.

The most significant fact about the acid fraud is that there has never been real damage to corals found as a result of increased acidity of the oceans. The damage to coral reefs which has been occurring is caused by heat, disease, etc., but not by acidity of the ocean water. There are major reasons why. Oceans have such a huge potential to neutralize acid that no significant pH change is occurring. And all biological cells have evolved the ability to cope with pH changes. The propaganda is a mindless argument over the chemistry of calcium without a trace of biology or evolution.

Concerning point one, the human production of CO2 per year is 0.014% of the amount of carbon already in the oceans. Part of the carbon which enters the oceans is converted into neutral cell mass; and this is one of the reasons why there is no acid problem. Biology converts CO2 into neutral cell mass.

Another reason why the acid scare is a fraud is because the CO2 levels in the atmosphere always fluctuate during ice age cycles, and the cycle is exactly the same now as it was during the previous ice age. There is nothing unusual about it. Biology easily adapts to such variations.

Physiology totally controls pH within cells. This means that the pH of ocean water has no relationship to the pH within the cells, where calcium carbonate shells are created. Survival of ancient coral reefs is a different matter, but creating them through living cells is a not a pH problem in the oceans. pH will affect the algae which are exploited by corals, but as one species leaves, another species which is more adapted to lower pH enters.

One of the most difficult questions to study in biology is how cells control their internal pH. It's difficult to study, because every chemical reaction in a cell influences pH. Evolution takes into account the total effects and produces a result which is favorable to survival. As a result, acid comes and goes in biological cells with no indication of where from or where to. All biologists can do is observe the end result. And biologists observe total control over extremes in pH in biological systems. For the frauds to claim that a small fraction of a pH change in the ocean cannot be handled by corals is a contrivance in conflict with biological principles.

Propagandists claim carbon dioxide is an acid, and acid destroys carbonate in the ocean, while corals require carbonate. But CO2 isn't just an acid; it is in equilibrium with carbonate. This means more CO2 entering the oceans results in more carbonate, not less.

There are two scientific frauds involved. One is to view CO2 only as an acid, as if it were equivalent to hydrochloric acid, while ignoring its equilibrium with carbonate. The other fraud is to ignore the huge buffering capacity of the oceans, which results in no detectable acidity from CO2 entering the oceans.

When adding up the absence of increased acidity with the equilibrium between CO2 and carbonate, the net result is that CO2 is increasing the carbonate which corals need, not decreasing it.

A new study and web site explains the oceanography of carbon dioxide and shows the errors of the propagandists who claim that increased CO2 in the oceans will make the oceans more acidic and destroy coral reefs. Near the surface of the oceans, increased photosynthesis creates alkalinity rather than acidity. There is in fact a shortage of acid near the surface for the promotion of photosynthesis. The decay which creates acidity occurs 1-2 kilometers down, which is way below the level of coral reefs.

This subject is explained by Dr. J. Floor Anthoni here:
(New Oceanograhy Study)

Another Study: Science Magazine, April 18, 2008

Iglesias-Rodriguez, et al, Phytoplankton Calcification in a High-CO2 World. April 18, 2008. Science 320: 336-340. (Link)

Dr J Floor Anthoni describes the study as follows:

An important and complicated study looked at the plankton record in a deep sea core of the North Atlantic while also conducting experiments with living cultures of one of the most common small phytoplankton organisms, the coccolith Emiliania huxleyi. This coccolith is a major contributor to calcium deposits in the oceans (50%). Contrary to other studies that found a decrease in calcification, this study found an increase in calcification, accompanied by larger individuals, although at somewhat slower growth rates. The difference in experimental setup may have been decisive: whereas others changed the pH by adding external acids or bases, this team mimicked the real world more accurately by bubbling air with known concentrations of CO2 (280-750ppm, pH=8.1-7.7) through their cultures. This gives high credibility to their findings:
  • a doubling of particulate organic carbon, a doubling of size and calcite shell
  • slightly slower growth rates but photosynthetic health unaffected
  • near-constant C:N ratio (6.8-8.3), an indication of food value for grazers
  • the deep cores showed an increase in coccolith mass of about 40% in the past 220 years, which roughly agrees with experiments.
The curve has a hockey-stick appearance, climbing more steeply in the past 25 years (~25%).

This study shows that paradoxically, even though calcite dissolves more rapidly at higher carbon dioxide concentrations, it is apparently also more easily made, resulting in heavier shells. A lower pH also encourages productivity, which provides the energy to grow bigger and to make larger shells. Note that this is exactly what we predicted earlier. The deep sea cores furthermore show that coccoliths provide a substantial sink for CO2, while adjusting to high-CO2 conditions by increasing this sink. Please note that studies like this and others need to be replicated and confirmed, and also note that the carbon chemistry of the oceans interacts with stabilising sediments (buffer). Also note that sea temperature plays an important role.

Dr J Floor Anthoni
Director Seafriends Marine Conservation and Education Centre
7 Goat Island Rd; Leigh R.D.5; New Zealand
Seafriends web site:

CO2 and Coral Reefs - A Review of the Science