Category: Discoveries


Earth Watch Report   -  Biological Hazards

File:Two species of penguim at Arctowski Polish Station.jpg

Close to Arctowisky Station there is a huge penguin colony.  by  José Nestor Cardoso

Wikimedia . org

…..

Today Biological Hazard Antarctica [The area was not defined] Damage level Details

 

…..

RSOE EDIS

Biological Hazard in Antarctica on Tuesday, 06 May, 2014 at 10:11 (10:11 AM) UTC.

Description
A new kind of bird flu has been detected for the first time in Antarctica. The virus has been found in Adelie penguins – although it doesn’t appear to make them sick. Researchers say the virus is unlike any other avian flu known to science and raises a lot of unanswered questions. The findings show avian influenza viruses can get down to Antarctica and be maintained in penguin populations.
Biohazard name: H5Nx – Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (new strain)
Biohazard level: 4/4 Hazardous
Biohazard desc.: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic or unidentified diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

 

…..

Distinct Avian Influenza Virus Identified in Antarctica Penguins

First Posted: May 06, 2014 09:06 AM EDT

Distinct Avian Influenza Virus Identified in Antarctica Penguins

Distinct Avian Influenza Virus Identified in Antarctica Penguins (Photo : Aeron Hurt, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia.)

An international team of researchers has identified a distinct avian influenza virus in a group of Antarctica’s Adelie penguins.

According to the finding documented in the journal of American Society of Microbiology, the avian influenza virus is different from the circulating avian flu.

Studies conducted earlier did not detect the live influenza virus in Antarctic’s penguins or other birds.

The study was led by associate professor Aeron Hurt, PhD, a senior research scientist at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia.

The researchers worked on the swab samples taken from Adelie penguins’ windpipes. They also collected samples from posterior openings. Apart from this, blood samples from 270 penguins were taken from two sites on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The two regions included Admiralty Bay and Rada Covadonga. All the samples were collected during January and February 2013.

 

Read More Here

 

……

Enhanced by Zemanta
About these ads

ScienceDaily: Your source for the latest research news

 

 

 

…..

Tree rings reveal nightmare droughts in Western U.S.

May 1, 2014
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
Scientists extended Utah’s climate record back to 1429 using tree rings. They found Utah’s climate has seen extreme droughts, including one that lasted 16 years. If history is repeated in the rapidly growing Western states, the water supply would run out based on current consumption.

Scientists extended Utah’s climate record back to 1429 using tree rings. They found Utah’s climate has seen extreme droughts, including one that lasted 16 years. Credit: Image courtesy of Brigham Young University

..

If you think the 1930s drought that caused The Dust Bowl was rough, new research looking at tree rings in the Rocky Mountains has news for you: Things can get much worse in the West.

In fact the worst drought of this century barely makes the top 10 of a study that extended Utah’s climate record back to the year 1429.

With sandpaper and microscopes, Brigham Young University professor Matthew Bekker analyzed rings from drought-sensitive tree species. He found several types of scenarios that could make life uncomfortable in what is now the nation’s third-fastest-growing state:

  • Long droughts: The year 1703 kicked off 16 years in a row with below average stream flow.
  • Intense droughts: The Weber River flowed at just 13 percent of normal in 1580 and dropped below 20 percent in three other periods.
  • Consecutive worst-case scenarios: The most severe drought in the record began in 1492, and four of the five worst droughts all happened during Christopher Columbus’ lifetime.

“We’re conservatively estimating the severity of these droughts that hit before the modern record, and we still see some that are kind of scary if they were to happen again,” said Bekker, a geography professor at BYU. “We would really have to change the way we do things here.”

Modern climate and stream flow records only go back about 100 years in this part of the country, so scientists like Bekker turn to Mother Nature’s own record-keeping to see the bigger picture. For this study, the BYU geographer took sample cores from Douglas fir and pinyon pine trees. The thickness of annual growth rings for these species is especially sensitive to water supply.

 

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

ScienceDaily: Your source for the latest research news

Undersea warfare: Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria at hydrothermal vents

Date:
May 1, 2014
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
More than a mile beneath the ocean’s surface, as dark clouds of mineral-rich water billow from seafloor hot springs called hydrothermal vents, unseen armies of viruses and bacteria wage war.

…..

Credit: NOAA

[Click to enlarge image]

More than a mile beneath the ocean’s surface, as dark clouds of mineral-rich water billow from seafloor hot springs called hydrothermal vents, unseen armies of viruses and bacteria wage war.

Like pirates boarding a treasure-laden ship, the viruses infect bacterial cells to get the loot: tiny globules of elemental sulfur stored inside the bacterial cells.

Instead of absconding with their prize, the viruses force the bacteria to burn their valuable sulfur reserves, then use the unleashed energy to replicate.

“Our findings suggest that viruses in the dark oceans indirectly access vast energy sources in the form of elemental sulfur,” said University of Michigan marine microbiologist and oceanographer Gregory Dick, whose team collected DNA from deep-sea microbes in seawater samples from hydrothermal vents in the Western Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California.

“We suspect that these viruses are essentially hijacking bacterial cells and getting them to consume elemental sulfur so the viruses can propagate themselves,” said Karthik Anantharaman of the University of Michigan, first author of a paper on the findings published this week in the journal Science Express.

Similar microbial interactions have been observed in shallow ocean waters between photosynthetic bacteria and the viruses that prey upon them.

But this is the first time such a relationship has been seen in a chemosynthetic system, one in which the microbes rely solely on inorganic compounds, rather than sunlight, as their energy source.

“Viruses play a cardinal role in biogeochemical processes in ocean shallows,” said David Garrison, a program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research. “They may have similar importance in deep-sea thermal vent environments.”

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta
OZONE NEWS

Plugging an ozone hole


by Staff Writers
Boston MA (SPX) Apr 17, 2014


File image.

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.

But a new MIT study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

“While there is certainly some depletion of Arctic ozone, the extremes of Antarctica so far are very different from what we find in the Arctic, even in the coldest years,” says Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, and lead author of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frigid temperatures can spur ozone loss because they create prime conditions for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. When sunlight hits these clouds, it sparks a reaction between chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), human-made chemicals once used for refrigerants, foam blowing, and other applications – ultimately destroying ozone.

A success story of science and policy
After the ozone-attacking properties of CFCs were discovered in the 1980s, countries across the world agreed to phase out their use as part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty. While CFCs are no longer in use, those emitted years ago remain in the atmosphere.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

An aerial view of clouds over a mountain range in Greenland.

Courtesy of Michael Studinger/NASA Earth Observatory

Full Screen

Courtesy of Michael Studinger/NASA Earth Observatory

 

.

An Arctic ozone hole? Not quite

MIT researchers find that the extremes in Antarctic ozone holes have not been matched in the Arctic.

Audrey Resutek | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
April 14, 2014

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.

But a new MIT study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

“While there is certainly some depletion of Arctic ozone, the extremes of Antarctica so far are very different from what we find in the Arctic, even in the coldest years,” says Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, and lead author of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frigid temperatures can spur ozone loss because they create prime conditions for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. When sunlight hits these clouds, it sparks a reaction between chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), human-made chemicals once used for refrigerants, foam blowing, and other applications — ultimately destroying ozone.

‘A success story of science and policy’

After the ozone-attacking properties of CFCs were discovered in the 1980s, countries across the world agreed to phase out their use as part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty. While CFCs are no longer in use, those emitted years ago remain in the atmosphere. As a result, atmospheric concentrations have peaked and are now slowly declining, but it will be several decades before CFCs are totally eliminated from the environment — meaning there is still some risk of ozone depletion caused by CFCs.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

OZONE NEWS

NASA Pinpoints Causes of 2011 Arctic Ozone Hole


by Maria-Jose Vinas for NASA’s Earth Science News
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Mar 13, 2013


Maps of ozone concentrations over the Arctic come from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite. The left image shows March 19, 2010, and the right shows the same date in 2011. March 2010 had relatively high ozone, while March 2011 has low levels. Credit: NASA/Goddard.

A combination of extreme cold temperatures, man-made chemicals and a stagnant atmosphere were behind what became known as the Arctic ozone hole of 2011, a new NASA study finds. Even when both poles of the planet undergo ozone losses during the winter, the Arctic’s ozone depletion tends to be milder and shorter-lived than the Antarctic’s.

This is because the three key ingredients needed for ozone-destroying chemical reactions -chlorine from man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), frigid temperatures and sunlight- are not usually present in the Arctic at the same time: the northernmost latitudes are generally not cold enough when the sun reappears in the sky in early spring. Still, in 2011, ozone concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere were about 20 percent lower than its late winter average.

The new study shows that, while chlorine in the Arctic stratosphere was the ultimate culprit of the severe ozone loss of winter of 2011, unusually cold and persistent temperatures also spurred ozone destruction. Furthermore, uncommon atmospheric conditions blocked wind-driven transport of ozone from the tropics, halting the seasonal ozone resupply until April.

“You can safely say that 2011 was very atypical: In over 30 years of satellite records, we hadn’t seen any time where it was this cold for this long,” said Susan E. Strahan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and main author of the new paper, which was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

“Arctic ozone levels were possibly the lowest ever recorded, but they were still significantly higher than the Antarctic’s,” Strahan said. “There was about half as much ozone loss as in the Antarctic and the ozone levels remained well above 220 Dobson units, which is the threshold for calling the ozone loss a ‘hole’ in the Antarctic – so the Arctic ozone loss of 2011 didn’t constitute an ozone hole.”

The majority of ozone depletion in the Arctic happens inside the so-called polar vortex: a region of fast-blowing circular winds that intensify in the fall and isolate the air mass within the vortex, keeping it very cold.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta
ICE WORLD

Preglacial landscape found deep under Greenland ice


by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 18, 2014

US geologists said Thursday they have uncovered a preglacial tundra landscape preserved for 2.7 million years far below the Greenland ice sheet.

Glaciers are known to scrape everything off any given plot of land — vegetation, soil and even the top layer of bedrock — so scientists expressed great surprise that they had found the landscape in pristine condition below two miles (three kilometers) of ice.

The finding provides strong evidence that the ice sheet has existed for much longer than previously known, and survived numerous global warming episodes, according to the lead researcher, University of Vermont geologist Paul Bierman.

Rather than scraping and sculpting the landscape, the ice sheet has been frozen to the ground, effectively creating “a refrigerator that’s preserved this antique landscape,” Bierman said.

The finding suggests that even during the warmest periods of the ice sheet’s life, the center of Greenland was stable and did not fully melt, allowing the tundra landscape to be sealed without modification through millions of years of changing temperatures.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Massive canyon discovered buried under Greenland ice

A vast gorge in the Earth on the same scale as the Grand Canyon lies buried under ice in Greenland, scientists have learned.

The massive hidden canyon is at least 466 miles (740km) long and up to 800 metres (2,600ft) deep in places.

The feature, resembling a meandering river channel, is believed to pre-date the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for millions of years.

3D visualisation of the canyon under Greenland's ice sheet.

3D visualisation of the canyon under Greenland’s ice sheet. Photograph: Professor Jonathan Bamber

Prof Jonathan Bamber, from the school of geographical studies at the University of Bristol, said: “With Google Streetview available for many cities around the world and digital maps for everything from population density to happiness, one might assume that the landscape of the Earth has been fully explored and mapped.

“Our research shows there’s still a lot left to discover.”

The canyon was uncovered by airborne radar which can penetrate ice and bounce off the land beneath.

Scientists pieced together radar measurements covering thousands of kilometres collected by Arctic researchers over several decades. They found evidence of a fissure in the bedrock stretching northwards almost from the centre of Greenland.

The canyon ends in a deep fjord connecting it to the Arctic ocean.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta
TIME AND SPACE

 


by Brooks Hays
Syracuse, N.Y. (UPI) Apr 15, 2013


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A new and exotic atomic particle — one that doesn’t mesh with traditional particle physics models — has been discovered by researchers at Syracuse University.

The discovery was made as part of the Large Hadron Collider beauty Collaboration, a multinational research project aimed at finding and studying new quantum forces and particles. Led by researchers from Syracuse, the project is headquartered at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world.

In a new paper, scientists working on the LHCb team claim to have discovered a brand new type of particle.

“We’ve confirmed the unambiguous observation of a very exotic state — something that looks like a particle composed of two quarks and two anti-quarks,” explained Tomasz Skwarnicki, one of the paper’s lead authors and a specialist in experimental high-energy physics. “The discovery certainly doesn’t fit the traditional quark model. It may give us a new way of looking at strong-interaction physics.”

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

LiveScience

Unusual Bacteria Gobbles Up Carbon in the Ocean

Debris in the Pacific Ocean, ocean currents

 

Underneath the floating debris in the Pacific Ocean.

Credit: NOAA – Marine Debris Program.

 

The finding may help researchers better understand how carbon cycling works in marine ecosystems.

“We found that an individual bacterial strain was capable of consuming the same amount of carbon in the ocean as diverse [bacterial] communities,” said study author Byron E. Pedler at the University of California, San Diego.

The researchers found the results surprising because of the immense diversity of molecules that constitute dissolved carbon in one form or another in the ocean, Pedler told Live Science.

Those molecules include both “young” carbon recently produced by phytoplankton — the tiny organisms that are the foundation of the marine food web, and really old carbon that is hundreds of years old. Some of this carbon consists of carbohydrates, but a significant portion of it “is simply uncharacterizable, in that even modern chemical techniques cannot determine what it is,” Pedler said.

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

Earth Watch Report  -  Hazmat

"James

James Holland, hydrologist/geologist with the Kanab Field Office of the United States Bureau of Land Management, examines an oil-covered rock with the Forest Service’s Joe Harris and BLM’s Sarah Schlanger in Little Valley Wash in the Upper Valley region of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

…..

April 01 2014 07:40 AM Environment Pollution USA State of Utah, [Little Valley Wash, Grand Staircase National Monument] Damage level Details

 

…..

Environment Pollution in USA on Tuesday, 01 April, 2014 at 07:40 (07:40 AM) UTC.

Description
Hikers exploring the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah last week happened upon an oil spill over four miles in length in an area known as Little Valley Wash. The spill is thought to be old, based on the dense, asphalt-like consistency of the oil, said Larry Crutchfield, Bureau of Land Management public affairs specialist. And it’s a good thing the oil is so thick, he added, because that means the spill will stay put for a while. “The good news is that there is no oil actively moving in the wash,” Crutchfield said. Because the oil in the wash is nearly as thick as asphalt, he added, it is not posing an immediate threat to surrounding areas. However, he said there is evidence suggesting it did move last September when massive monsoon rains created a violent flash flood in the wash. The area typically does receive some rain in the springtime, he said, but not nearly enough to fill the part of the wash where the oil is, which is far upstream. The BLM isn’t taking any chances, however, and plans to secure the area with booms and other equipment to help protect monument resources and water sources. Although preliminary reports last week suggested the spill may have originated from a leak that occurred last month in a nearby pipeline operated by Citation Oil, Crutchfield said the oil found in the wash is very unlikely to have come from a recent leakage.”The Citation oil line did spring a pinhole-sized leak,” Crutchfield said. That leak spilled about 10 barrels of oil before it was discovered and patched last month. The oil that flows through the pipeline has a low viscosity and would be very fluid, he said �” not the thick, viscous, asphalt-like substance found in the wash. The oil in the wash appears to have been there for some time, he said. In fact, investigators currently suspect the spill had been buried beneath the wash until it was exposed by a violent flash flood last fall, which explains why the spill hadn’t been reported in previous years. When asked who might have buried the spill, Crutchfield said it’s quite possible that it was covered by sediment deposited by an earlier flood. There is no way of knowing for sure before BLM investigators complete their assessment of the incident. “We have an idea of where the oil may have come from, but it would be entirely inappropriate for me to speculate at this point,” Crutchfield said. The first priority, he said, is to assess the danger that the oil poses to the surrounding environment. “The important thing at this stage is that we are taking action,” he said. “Citation Oil is taking action. We are working together to figure out what exactly happened.”

 

…..

Sun Independent.com

Massive oil spill discovered at Grand Staircase National Monument

 

Monday, 03-31-2014, 08:30 PM
Written by Michael Flynn

Hikers exploring the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah last week happened upon an oil spill over four miles in length in an area known as Little Valley Wash.

The spill is thought to be old, based on the dense, asphalt-like consistency of the oil, said Larry Crutchfield, Bureau of Land Management public affairs specialist. And it’s a good thing the oil is so thick, he added, because that means the spill will stay put for a while.

“The good news is that there is no oil actively moving in the wash,” Crutchfield said. Because the oil in the wash is nearly as thick as asphalt, he added, it is not posing an immediate threat to surrounding areas. However, he said there is evidence suggesting it did move last September when massive monsoon rains created a violent flash flood in the wash.

The area typically does receive some rain in the springtime, he said, but not nearly enough to fill the part of the wash where the oil is, which is far upstream. The BLM isn’t taking any chances, however, and plans to secure the area with booms and other equipment to help protect monument resources and water sources.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Published: Friday, April 4 2014 7:46 p.m. MDT

James Holland, hydrologist/geologist with the Kanab Field Office of the federal Bureau of Land Management, left, points to asphalt-like patches of oil in Little Valley Wash in the Upper Valley region of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Escalante on Friday, April 4, 2014. Holland, along with Joe Harris of the Forest Service, Mark Bing, central regional manager of Citation Oil and Gas Corp., Terry Tolbert, wildlife biologist, and Julie Sueker of Arcadis Environmental Consulting Group, hiked the 4-mile stretch of the wash where the oil was discovered.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

 

ESCALANTE, Garfield County — Remnants from at least one large oil spill found by hikers on March 23 in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has officials wondering how and when the damage occurred.

As many as 4 miles in the Little Valley Wash now contain the aftermath of the spill, with about 1.5 miles of 6-inch thick oil flows contained in the mostly dry stream bed. Bureau of Land Management officials who manage the monument say it’s likely the leak happened decades ago.

BLM officials hypothesize that the spill became encased in sediment deposits over time, making it difficult or impossible to see in most areas. Last September, intense floods washed down the drainage, possibly unburying the oil deposit and carrying parts of it downstream for 2.5 miles.

Boulders and tree trunks in the drainage now demonstrate the depth of the initial oil flows, with steady black lines as many as 2 feet above the stream bed. Black splotches are found in other areas, with vegetation collecting the oil as it flowed along with the flood waters.

Long stretches of oil patches not mixed with sediment have liquified in regions exposed to the sun.

“It’s not what we want to see here,” associate monument manager Sarah Schlanger said during an examination of the area Friday.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

Did the Government Give Industrial Hemp a Pass to Clean Up Radiation in the States?

Christina Sarich

NationofChange / News Analysis

Published: Friday 14 February 2014

Hemp has numerous uses and could replace many crops that require heavy irrigation and pesticides, but the most interesting fact about hemp is that it “eats” radiation.

Article image

Activists have been shouting they want an end to GMO foods for more than a decade now, and Cannabis Sattiva L. supporters have been at it for even longer, so why has the US government finally given farmers the right to legally grow industrial hemp, the non-hallucinatory, sister plant of medical marijuana?

It is safe to say that industrialized hemp should have been legalized years ago. With THC levels so low, you would have to smoke more of it than Snoop Dogg to get ‘high’ – and that’s a lot of Cannabis, it is ridiculous that it was classified as a drug at all. It has numerous uses and could replace many crops that require heavy irrigation and pesticides, like cotton, for example. Here’s the most interesting fact though – hemp plants ‘eat’ radiation.

When the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Reactor 4 accident caused severe radioactive contamination in 1986, families within a 30-kilometer area of the site had to be evacuated. Radioactive contamination was later found at 100 kilometers from the accident site, and Fukushima radiation levels are still to be determined, with the Japanese government planning on dumping their overflowing radiated water tanks into the Pacific as we speak.

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

Left Side Male, Right Side Female: Extremely Strange Creatures

By , Epoch Times | February 23, 2014

 

This lobster is half female, half male—split right down the middle, as seen by the two-toned coloring. It was caught by a fisherman off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, last year and the photo was posted on Reddit by his nephew.

The chances of catching such a two-toned lobster are 1 in 50 million to 100 million, staff at the Mount Desert Oceanarium said when a similar lobster was caught in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 2006.

It may be rare to catch such a lobster, but this phenomenon is found not only in lobsters. It is also found in butterflies and numerous other organisms.

According to ancient Taoist beliefs, the human body is divided into two genders corresponding to yin and yang. The left side is male, associated with yang chi, and the right side is female, associated with yin chi.

Not all two-toned lobsters are part male and part female (gynandromorphs).

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,567 other followers