Earth ChangesS


South Africa: Pink elephant is caught on camera

Pink elephant I
© Mike HoldingThe little pink calf was spotted in amongst an 80-strong elephant herd
A pink baby elephant has been caught on camera in Botswana.

A wildlife cameraman took pictures of the calf when he spotted it among a herd of about 80 elephants in the Okavango Delta.

Experts believe it is probably an albino, which is an extremely rare phenomenon in African elephants.

They are unsure of its chances of long-term survival - the blazing African sunlight may cause blindness and skin problems for the calf.

Mike Holding, who spotted the baby while filming for a BBC wildlife programme, said: "We only saw it for a couple of minutes as the herd crossed the river.


Major Losses For Caribbean Reef Fish In Last 15 Years

© iStockphoto/David SafandaBy combining data from 48 studies of coral reefs from around the Caribbean, researchers have found that fish densities that have been stable for decades have given way to significant declines since 1995.

By combining data from 48 studies of coral reefs from around the Caribbean, researchers have found that fish densities that have been stable for decades have given way to significant declines since 1995.

"We were most surprised to discover that this decrease is evident for both large-bodied species targeted by fisheries as well as small-bodied species that are not fished," said Michelle Paddack of Simon Fraser University in Canada. "This suggests that overfishing is probably not the only cause."

Rather, they suggest that the recent declines may be explained by drastic losses in coral cover and other changes in coral reef habitats that have occurred in the Caribbean over the past 30 years. Those changes are the result of many factors, including warming ocean temperatures, coral diseases, and a rise in sedimentation and pollution from coastal development. Overfishing has also led to declines of many fish species, and now seems to also be removing those that are important for keeping the reefs free of algae.


Video: Undersea volcano erupts near Tonga in Pacific ocean

Spectacular footage has been captured of an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga - shooting smoke, steam and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the South Pacific ocean.


Hunting of baby harp seals is banned in Russia

The Russian government has announced a ban on the hunting of harp seals younger than 1 year old.

Following a statement by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that it is "such a bloody hunt, and it is clear that it should have been banned a long time ago," the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency updated a ruling from last month, which banned hunting seals younger than a month old, to instead ban the hunting of seals under 1 year of age.

Alarm Clock

Birds endangered by energy development

Washington - As the Obama administration pursues more homegrown energy sources, a new government report faults energy production of all types - wind, ethanol and mountaintop coal mining - for contributing to steep drops in bird populations.

The first-of-its-kind government report chronicles a four-decade decline in many of the country's bird populations and provides many reasons for it, from suburban sprawl to the spread of exotic species to global warming.

In almost every case, energy production is also playing a role.

Better Earth

If You Can't Explain It, You Can't Model It

Global Climate Models
© Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes

Global Climate Models (GCM's) are very complex computer models containing millions of lines of code, which attempt to model cosmic, atmospheric and oceanic processes that affect the earth's climate. This have been built over the last few decades by groups of very bright scientists, including many of the top climate scientists in the world.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the earth warmed at a faster rate than it did earlier in the century. This led some climate scientists to develop a high degree of confidence in models which predicted accelerated warming, as reflected in IPCC reports. However, during the last decade the accelerated warming trend has slowed or reversed. Many climate scientists have acknowledged this and explained it as "natural variability" or "natural variations." Some believe that the pause in warming may last as long as 30 years, as recently reported by The Discovery Channel.
But just what's causing the cooling is a mystery. Sinking water currents in the north Atlantic Ocean could be sucking heat down into the depths. Or an overabundance of tropical clouds may be reflecting more of the sun's energy than usual back out into space.

"It is possible that a fraction of the most recent rapid warming since the 1970's was due to a free variation in climate," Isaac Held of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, New Jersey wrote in an email to Discovery News. "Suggesting that the warming might possibly slow down or even stagnate for a few years before rapid warming commences again."

Swanson thinks the trend could continue for up to 30 years. But he warned that it's just a hiccup, and that humans' penchant for spewing greenhouse gases will certainly come back to haunt us.


Alaska's Mount Redoubt rumbles once again

Mt. Redoubt
© Alaska Volcano Observatory via APSteam rises from a large fumarole on the north flank of Mount Redoubt in January.

Anchorage, Alaska - The official alert level has been raised as Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano rumbles again.

Geologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory say a significant eruption does not appear imminent, but they raised the alert to orange, the stage just before eruption. They cautioned yesterday that conditions could evolve rapidly.

The 10,200-foot Redoubt Volcano is about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Ash from the volcano could harm engines and is especially dangerous for aircraft. Ash blown to cities also can cause respiratory problems.


Cyclical Climate Changes

Sun versus Ocean Cycles
© unknown

Icecap Note: My presentation at the ICCC 2009 conference related to both data integrity and the cycles (averaging around 60 years) of the sun and oceans which fit like a glove with temperatures. I had to leave out the Arctic which exhibits the identical behavior because of time limitations.

I received a copy of this PDF from the authors of a book that discovered a 60 year cycle and a strong relationship with fish productivity, after they saw the presentation on-line and how well it fit with their book "Climate Changes and Fish Productivity". Here are some relevant excerpts of their excellent book PDF (here):

Recently, 60-70 year repeating alterations of hemispherical and global climate were detected [Schlesinger, Ramankutty, 1994; Minobe, 1997, 1999, 2000]. Temperature sequences for the recent 1500 years, reconstructed from Greenland ice core samples, show domination of approximately 60-year periodicity of the climate fluctuations [Klyashtorin, Lyubushin, 2003; Klyashtorin, Lyubushin, 2005]. For the same period, similar (50-70 year) temperature periodicity was detected in the analysis of long-living tree annual growth rings in the Arctic region and California. Reconstruction of sardine and anchovy population fluctuations by analysis of scales in bottom sediments in Californian upwelling for the latest 1700 years has indicated their approximately 60-year periodicity [Baumgartner et al., 1992].


The Clear and Cohesive Message on Climate Change

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth." - from the Oregon Petition, signed by over 31,000 scientists.

United by that conviction, over 800 scientists, economists, and policy makers arrived in New York City last Sunday to attend the Heartland Institute's 2nd Annual International Conference on Climate Change. They came to talk a wide range of subjects, from climatology to energy policy, from computer climate models to cap-and-trade, from greenhouse gas (GHG) effects to solar irradiation. But most of all they came to help spread the word that the answer to the question posed by this year's theme - Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis? - is a resounding NO.

Better Earth

Heartland Meeting of Climate "Realists" a Huge Success

Over 800 scientists and economists from 24 countries were in attendance this week at the Second Annual ICCC in New York City organized by the Heartland and with 60 co-sponsoring organizations including Icecap. They heard talks by 80 scientists from 14 countries. The opening remarks were made by the Heartland's Joe Bast. The presentations of the keynote speakers which included Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic and the European Union, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Astronaut Harrison Schmidt, former Hansen boss Dr. John Theon, Former Governor Dr. John Sununu, Dr. Arthur Robinson, Dr. Bob Carter, Lord Monckton, and Dr. Willie Soon are now all available on the Heartland ICCC 2009 web site. The others were all videotaped and will be made available over upcoming weeks. The powerpoints are now already loaded for all the excellent talks. Sections from the talks will be combined into other videos that tell the real climate story and distributed to decision makers and schools and groups that care about the truth or wish to hear both sides of the story.

One of the major outputs was Anthony Watt's report on the surface station project. He documented the results of the siting survey of the US climate network. He and his team of volunteers are now 75% through the climate network and only 11% of the stations meet the government's own published standards. He had a wonderful publication that will be widely distributed to decision makers.