Published: 22:18 EST, 19 December 2015 | Updated: 03:17 EST, 20 December 2015
For the second time in two months, a rare deadly sea snake has washed ashore at one of southern California’s most popular beaches.
A dead 27-inch-long male yellow bellied sea snake was discovered last week during a coastal cleanup campaign by volunteers for the Surfrider Foundation in Huntington Beach, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In October, a two-foot-long yellow bellied sea snake was discovered slithering onto Silver Strand State Beach in Ventura County, but it died shortly after being taken to a US Fish and Wildlife Service office nearby.
The venomous sea serpent, known to scientists as Pelamis platura, was first spotted in 1972 during an El Niño in San Clemente.
Deadly: A dead 27-inch-long male yellow bellied sea snake (above) was discovered last week during a coastal cleanup campaign by the Surfrider Foundation
The latest yellow bellied sea snake discovered was found at the popular Huntington Beach in California (file photo above)
A descendant of Australian tiger snakes, experts believe the arrival of the sea snake is a harbinger of El Niño because the last time it appeared in California was during the weather system in the ’80s.
Posted: Dec 13, 2015 4:29 PM CST Updated: Dec 14, 2015 7:16 AM CST
By WLOX Staff
Fish were the first organisms to wash ashore dead after the algal bloom was announced. (Image Source: Missy Dubuisson)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) –
It’s a frightening sight along the coastline. First fish, now dozens of birds found dead on beaches in several coast cities.
“We got reports of several birds in the Gulfport area and after speaking with DEQ they got several more birds in the Biloxi area,” said Missy Dubuisson with Wild at Heart Rescue.
Even in Long Beach, many species of birds have been found lifeless or clinging to life. Experts saying it all goes back to the unprecedented December red tide.
Dead seagull found lying on beach in Pass Christian. (Image Source: Missy Dubuisson)
“Of course there probably has been this issue before on a smaller scale and we might have just had a bird or two that maybe came in and didn’t make it, but we weren’t seeing what we’re seeing now,” said Dubuisson.
Caretakers at Wild at Heart Rescue are currently rehabilitating a pelican who started with a hook injury, but is now battling respiratory distress due to the algal bloom.
The site is leaking up to 145,000 pounds per hour, according to the California Air Resources Board. In just the first month, that’s added up to 80,000 tons, or about a quarter of the state’s ordinary methane emissions over the same period. The Federal Aviation Administration recently banned low-flying planes from flying over the site, since engines plus combustible gas equals kaboom.
Steve Bohlen, who until recently was state oil and gas supervisor, can’t remember the last time California had to deal with a gas leak this big. “I asked this question of our staff of 30 years,” says Bohlen. “This is unique in the last three or four decades. This is an unusual event, period.”
Families living downwind of the site have also noticed the leak—boy, have they noticed. Methane itself is odorless, but the mercaptan added to natural gas gives it a characteristic sulfurous smell. Over 700 households have at least temporarily relocated, and one family has filed a lawsuit against the Southern California Gas Company alleging health problems from the gas. The gas levels are too low for long-term health effects, according to health officials, but the odor is hard to ignore.
Given both the local and global effects of the gas leak, why is it taking so long to stop? The answer has to do with the site at Aliso Canyon, an abandoned oil field. Yes, that’s right, natural gas is stored underground in old oil fields. It’s common practice in the US, but largely unique to this country. The idea goes that geological sites that were good at keeping in oil for millions of years would also be good at keeping in gas.
Scientists test seawater samples off the coast of Japan near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. (Photo: IAEA Imagebank/flickr/cc)
Radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has been detected at an increased number of sites off U.S. shores, including the highest level in the area detected to date, scientists announced Thursday.
While the levels are still too low to be considered a threat to human or marine life by the government’s standards, tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water reveal that the Fukushima Daiichi plant has continued to leak radioactive isotopes more than four years after the meltdown—and must not be dismissed, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine radiochemist Ken Buesseler.
“Despite the fact that the levels of contamination off our shores remain well below government-established safety limits for human health or to marine life, the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific,” Buesseler said Thursday. “[F]inding values that are still elevated off Fukushima confirms that there is continued release from the plant.”
Scientists from the WHOI and Buesseler’s citizen-science project Our Radioactive Ocean discovered trace amounts of cesium-134, the “fingerprint” of Fukushima, in 110 new Pacific samples off U.S. shores in 2015 alone.
The isotope is unique to Fukushima and has a relatively short two-year half life, which means “the only source of this cesium-134 in the Pacific today is from Fukushima,” Buesseler said.
Map shows the location of seawater samples taken by scientists and citizen scientists that were analyzed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for radioactive cesium as part of Our Radioactive Ocean. Cesium-137 is found throughout the Pacific Ocean and was detectable in all samples collected, while cesium-134 (yellow/orange dots), an indicator of contamination from Fukushima, has been observed offshore and in select coastal areas. (Figure by Jessica Drysdale, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
One sample collected roughly 1,600 miles west of San Francisco revealed the highest radiation level detected to date off the West Coast, the researchers said in a post on the project’s website. “[In] one cubic meter of seawater (about 264 gallons), 11 radioactive decay events per second can be attributed to cesium atoms of both isotopes. That is 50 percent higher than we’ve seen before.”
“[T]hese long-lived radioisotopes will serve as markers for years to come for scientists studying ocean currents and mixing in coastal and offshore waters,” Buesseler continued.
The 2011 accident, prompted by an earthquake and tsunami off Japan’s east coast, was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 and resulted in the near-total meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant and a mass evacuation of the prefecture. Despite ongoing warnings about long-term health and environmental impacts and widespread opposition to nuclear power in the wake of the meltdown, Japan in August restarted a reactor at the Sendai power plant, about 620 miles southwest of Tokyo.
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A recent study found that the historical occurrence of earthquakes in the eastern Mediterranean Sea has been much more plentiful than previously thought. They have suggestions for precautions to take, considering that. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
There is more seismic activity in the eastern Mediterranean than was previously thought, and a study about this was recently accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Historically in the long stretch of geological time, seismic activity near and around Crete has stirred up bursts of earthquakes, and this may increase the region’s future risk of earthquakes and tsunamis, according to a release.
Several tectonic plates are in the Mediterranean basin, caused by the African and Eurasian Plates crashing together there. While scientists have been aware that the collision between the two plates can make the eastern part of that sea and land area susceptible to earthquakes, they’ve also been confused by the region having gone through only two (known) earthquakes larger than 8 on the Richter scale in 4,000 years.
The African Plate goes under the Aegean microplate just south of Crete. This occurs in an area shaped like an arc, which is called the Hellenic margin. The scientists in the study looked at the history of earthquakes in this subduction zone, to learn what could drive mega-earthquakes in the area.
“We study the Hellenic subduction margin going back to about 50,000 years, which is about 10 times the time window of paleo-earthquake observations in the eastern Mediterranean that we had before,” Vasiliki Mouslopoulou, at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, and study lead author, in the release. “For the first time ever, we were able to chart the spatial and temporal pattern with which mega-earthquakes rupture the Hellenic margin.”
PUBLISHED: 07:51, Sat, Nov 28, 2015 | UPDATED: 12:58, Sat, Nov 28, 2015
Heimdal Glacier southern Greenland, from NASA’s Falcon 20 aircraft at 33,000 feet above sea level.
An intensive scientific study of both Earth’s poles has found that from 2009 to 2016 overall temperature has dropped in the southern polar region.NASA’s Operation IceBridge is an airborne survey of polar ice and has finalised two overlapping research campaigns at both the poles.In the last few weeks NASA has revealed the overall amount of ice has increased at the Antarctic and the amount of sea ice has also extended.Coupled with the latest announcement of slight cooling in the area, it has fuelled claims from climate change deniers that human industrialisation is not having the huge impact on global tenperature as often is claimed.
Map showing the extent of ice during the NASA studies
Environmental activists have plundered Nature’s Scientific Reports and released a paper yesterday that they claim removes all doubt there is a global warming pause. After examining 40 peer-reviewed papers that show a global warming hiatus, they claim the papers didn’t examine a long enough period of time. In fact, the authors—Stephan Lewandowsky, James Risbey, and Naomi Oreskes—broke the golden rule of science: they started with a predetermined outcome and then cherry-picked the data to fit their conclusion. It also runs counter to the unaltered datasets from leading climate institutions.
The paper assessed the “magnitude and significance of all possible trends up to 25 years duration looking backwards from each year over the past 30 years.” Unsurprisingly, the authors thought the papers didn’t use a long enough time frame to show a clear global warming pause over the entire global warming “record.” Here we document how this extended global warming record has been tampered, altered, and utilized for politicized “green ideology,” and how massive alterations were made to both NASA and NOAA’s temperature data series.
According to the satellite record (the most accurate), weather balloons, radiosonde data, sea surface temperatures, and weather stations (least accurate), previously unadulterated data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Institute of Space Studies (NASA GISS) data showed a long-term definitive trend: no increase in tropospheric temperatures when the Industrial Revolution began in earnest after World War II.
We do have weather station temperature data, albeit spotty, that goes back to 1881 and it shows regular intervals of warming and cooling, and not the popular upward slope in temperatures used by environmentalists and governments to illustrate dramatic global warming. More on that shortly.
In 1967 Hansen went to work for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York City, where he continued his research on planetary problems. Around 1970, some scientists suspected Earth was entering a period of global cooling. Decades prior, the brilliant Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovitch had explained how our world warms and cools on roughly 100,000-year cycles due to its slowly changing position relative to the Sun. Milankovitch’s theory suggested Earth should be just beginning to head into its next ice age cycle. The surface temperature data gathered by Mitchell seemed to agree; the record showed that Earth experienced a period of cooling (by about 0.3°C) from 1940 through 1970. Of course, Mitchell was only collecting data over a fraction of the Northern Hemisphere—from 20 to 90 degrees North latitude. Still, the result drew public attention and a number of speculative articles about Earth’s coming ice age appeared in newspapers and magazines.
Initial efforts to observe Earth’s temperature were limited to the Northern Hemisphere, and they showed a cooling trend from 1940 to 1970 (jagged line). Scientists estimated the relative effects of carbon dioxide (warming, top curve) and aerosols (cooling, bottom curve) on climate, but did not have enough data to make precise predictions. (Graph from Mitchell, 1972.)
But other scientists forecasted global warming. Russian climatologist Mikhail Budyko had also observed the three-decade cooling trend. Nevertheless, he published a paper in 1967 in which he predicted the cooling would soon switch to warming due to rising human emissions of carbon dioxide. Budyko’s paper and another paper published in 1975 by Veerabhadran Ramanathan caught Hansen’s attention. Ramanathan pointed out that human-made chlorofluorocarbons (or CFCs) are particularly potent greenhouse gases, with as much as 200 times the heat-retaining capacity of carbon dioxide. Because people were adding CFCs to the lower atmosphere at an increasing rate, Ramanathan expressed concern that these new gases would eventually add to Earth’s greenhouse effect and cause our world to warm. (Because CFCs also erode Earth’s protective ozone layer, their use was mostly abolished in 1989 with the signing of the Montreal Protocol.)
The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.
Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.1
Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.
All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880.5 Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.6 Even though the 2000s witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continue to increase.7
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
Tardigrades, already impossible to kill, also have foreign DNA
Tardigrades, already made of indestructible win, have shown up again in the scientific weirdness Hall of Fame this week, thanks to a new study that sequenced the first tardigrade genome and found that 17.5% of it came from other species. Otherwise known as water bears, tardigrades are actually a large group of related species which have a key trait in common: They’re impossible to kill. Tardigrades are the only species ever observed to survive outside Earth’s sheltering atmosphere. Now scientists are speculating that horizontal gene transfer, the phenomenon identified by a team of researchers at UNC as the reason for the unprecedented proportion of foreign DNA discovered in the tardigrade genome, may also be responsible for some of the tardigrade’s famous durability.
If the idea of fully a sixth of an animal’s genome being of foreign origin seems far-fetched, you’re in good company. Most organisms have a maximum of 1% foreign DNA. Creatures like Elysia chlorotica, which literally consumes a steady diet of other organisms to acquire their powers (of photosynthesis), have been known to science for many years – until now the rotifer, distant cousin to the water bear, was the most extreme example in its class for having acquired about 10% of its DNA from other species via horizontal gene transfer. Even the alarming phenomenon of increasing resistance to antibiotics has its roots in the fact that some single-celled organisms are very good at shaking down other microbes for their spare plasmids. But the proportion of foreign DNA in this clearly successfully adapted organism surprised even the researchers who did the experiment. Bob Goldstein, one of the co-authors of the study, said “We had no idea that an animal genome could be composed of so much foreign DNA. … We knew many animals acquire foreign genes, but we had no idea that it happens to this degree.”
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