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ecology news archives 7

New translation, the Magna Carta
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ecology 7

rapid historic temperature changes in the tropics

Venezuela and surrounds, with Cariaco Basin indicated Cariaco Basin. Image credit: NASA

Original image from NASA

Image 20121240 courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory,
NASA Johnson Space Center:

“The Cariaco Basin, located on the northern Venezuelan shelf in the tropical Atlantic and southeastern Caribbean region, provides a unique look back in time. A core of sediment from the bottom of the ocean, in that area, contains layers of plankton microfossils that serve as a recorder of past climate conditions.

“ The importance of the tropics to global climate change is now seen as far more important than a decade ago [...]. Scientists are intrigued because the tropics used to be seen as "relatively passive" in global climate models. If the tropics are a cause or a trigger of climate change then their role becomes critical, according to Lea, and even if the tropics are an amplifier of changes that started elsewhere, then it is still scientifically important to understand how they play that role.

“The Cariaco record indicates that three large, rapid shifts of five to seven degrees Fahrenheit occurred in the tropics on time scales of a century or less as the earth warmed at the end of the last ice age, between 14,600 and 11,400 years ago. Similar rapid climate shifts are well known from polar ice cores, but they represent a new discovery in the tropics.”

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interesting, if scrappy, item on vehicles with improved consumption

“Next week, Japan's top auto maker will unveil a production version of the second-generation gasoline-electric hybrid car "Prius," distancing itself from competitors as it promises better fuel economy and a larger, more comfortable car than its predecessor at the unchanged sticker price of $20,000.”

“ Gasoline-electric hybrids are the most fuel-efficient mass-market vehicles on the road now, with a four-seater offering between 45 to 52 miles per gallon - about twice that of comparable gasoline-powered cars.”
[Diesel approximates this.]

“ Europeans are keener on diesel, which is cheaper and more fuel-efficient than gasoline although they emit higher levels of harmful nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.”

Worth a run through.
Note the varying behaviour of the European, American and Japanese builders.

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world food stocks running down

“Separate calculations by two leading institutions monitoring the global harvest show that the scorching weather has severely reduced European grain production, ensuring that the world will not produce enough to feed itself for the fourth year in succession, and plunging stocks to the lowest level on record. And experts predict that the damage to crops will be found to be even greater when the full cost of the heat is known.

“They say that, as a result, food prices will rise worldwide, and hunger will increase in the world's poorest countries. And they warn that this is just a foretaste of what will happen as global warming takes hold.”

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record size for ozone hole prediction

“The 1997 Kyoto treaty set in place a global process to reduce greenhouse gases which deplete the ozone layer, but the world's biggest polluter the United States has yet to sign.”

related material
some figures for energy efficiency

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related material
some figures for energy efficiency

a step towards understanding ocean ecology

“Although conservation efforts on land have focused on identifying and protecting concentrations of vulnerable species, little has been known about similar hotspots for marine life in the open ocean.”

“Since three of the four hotspots identified were found within - or directly adjacent to - recently identified coral reef hotspots, the researchers speculated that the rich habitat structure and dynamic ocean conditions associated with coral reefs may favour adjacent hotspots for open ocean species.”

A useful item to scan.

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greenhouse gases

Water vapour and methane are more powerful ‘greenhouse’ gases than carbon dioxide.

“Scientists know that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have risen sharply in recent years, but a study released today in Paris reports a surprising and dramatic increase in the most important greenhouse gas - water vapor - during the last half-century.”
(Report dated April 2001)

This web-site specialises in keeping up with news releases on the subject.

Iit is well to keep in mind there are powerful lobbies on both sides of this ongoing debate.

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health of the seas—corals as an indicator

“People and coral do not mix, and never have, scientists said yesterday in a report that shows humans started killing off coral reefs thousands of years ago.”

“All sorts of records, from pirate’s logs to modern day fish counts, reveal that humans have a long history of damaging reefs. Based on this history, humans have one last chance to establish a sustainable reef-protection strategy,[...] ”

And here is a pre-publication press release, quoting one of the 12 workers concerned, with the main points given in an chatty manner.

The orginal set of four articles concerning this story were published in the 15 August 2003 edition of Science magazine. Unfortunately, unless one pays, all one is allowed is a very small taster.

an independent news release for the report, Global Trajectories of the Long-Term Decline of Coral Reef Ecosystems is available here;
while here is the report, Long-Term Region-Wide Declines in Caribbean Corals.
Nothing was found elsewhere concerning the other two articles.

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up dated 23.08.2003

global warming is a myth i tell you—don’t worry, ignore it and it will go away

“With river levels falling and the mercury rising, authorities face the choice of spewing out hotter water, risking ecological damage, or cutting output, potentially leading to blackouts.”

“ Other countries face similar dilemmas. Germany has cut power output while
Italy is trying to avoid further blackouts.”

From a World Meteorological Organization report issued on 02.07.2003:

“The extreme weather [the WMO] documents, such as record high and low temperatures, record rainfall and record storms in different parts of the world, is consistent with predictions of global warming. Supercomputer models show that, as the atmosphere warms, the climate not only becomes hotter but much more unstable. "Recent scientific assessments indicate that, as the global temperatures continue to warm due to climate change, the number and intensity of extreme events might increase," the WMO said, giving a striking series of examples.”

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useful and well-structured item on fish farming THree and a half GoldenYak (tm) award

“[...] some 75% of global fish stocks are depleted in some way.

“As people get richer, they eat more fish. Average consumption per person has almost doubled in under half a century. And fish has certainly become more expensive [...] as demand has increased and supply declined. There are still not enough farmed fish to stem this price rise.”

related material
Seafood watch

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related material
Seafood watch

killing the oceans

A book review Three GoldenYak (tm) award

“Nor is it just our consumption of large fish (such as cod, swordfish, and tuna) that threatens these species; it is also our depletion of their food sources. Fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly calls this "fishing down the food chain." That chain, says Ellis, is actually more a web of interdependence; for example, when California sea otters were hunted almost to extinction, their preferred food, sea urchins, proliferated. The urchins in turn destroyed kelp beds, which once provided habitat for numerous fish -- and thus the cycle of destruction and alteration persists and magnifies."

More than a million fish have escaped from fish farms over the past six years, threatening the survival of Britain's declining wild salmon populations.

“ The statistics also show that since 1999 at least 4.4 million salmon and trout have been killed in incidents involving poisonous growths of algae in the sea and invasions by jellyfish, including 1.9 million fish last year alone.”

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the sky is rising, said little red hen—and it’s your fault

“The top of the troposphere - the atmosphere's lowest layer - has risen by several hundred metres since 1979, mostly because of transport and industrial emissions, reckon Ben Santer, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and colleagues.”

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heavy metal lead permeates earth ‘slowly’

“This definitively supports a few earlier studies," says Friedland, "that show that lead in forests in the Northeast moves very, very slowly. The lead that was emitted from gasoline and settled into the soil over about 30 or 40 years is not going to end up in our drinking water anytime soon.”

“ We found that the lead 207 applied in 1984 had only moved down into the soil about seven centimeters, [...]”

My guess is that this suggests that depleted uranium will sink at a similar rate. Even slight sinking would probably block alpha radiation.

related material
is nuclear power really really dangerous?

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related material
is nuclear power really really dangerous?

new estimates of whale populations before hunting

“They suggest that the North Atlantic once contained about 240,000 humpback whales, or 24 times present numbers, and 360,000 fin whales, or more than six times present numbers.

“However minke whales appear to be much closer to past levels. The current population, estimated at 149,000, is more than half Roman's estimate of its past population at 265 000.”

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aral sea disaster continues

larger image at [image credit:]“This feedback means the shallower eastern half of the South Aral could be gone in just 15 years, says Zavialov, decades earlier than previous estimates.”

Left: The shrinking Aral Sea – larger image from item at
[image credit:]

From Enc Brit.:

“From about 1960 the Aral Sea's water level was systematically and drastically reduced because of the diversion of water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers for purposes of agricultural irrigation. As the Soviet government converted large acreages of pastures or untilled lands in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and elsewhere into irrigated farmlands by using the waters of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, the amount of water from these rivers that reached the Aral Sea dropped accordingly. By the 1980s, during the summer months, the two great rivers virtually dried up before they reached the lake. The Aral Sea began to quickly shrink because of the evaporation of its now-unreplenished waters.”

The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest inland area of water.

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