Category: Discoveries


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Pelamis platurus, related to the cobra family (Elapidae)
Yellowbelly Sea Snake      Carpenter0     Wikipedia.org

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El Nino washes a SECOND posionous sea snake onto popular California beach which has not seen any for THIRTY YEARS

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

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)

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.

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The Boston Globe

Scores of rare turtles found stranded on Cape

Rescuers placed cold-stunned turtles in fruit boxes.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Rescuers placed cold-stunned turtles in fruit boxes.

Massachusetts Audubon Society volunteers recovered about 120 “cold-stunned” sea turtles during the weekend after strong winds caused them to wash up on the shores of Cape Cod Bay.

The majority of the reptiles found on the beaches of Wellfleet, Truro, Eastham, and Brewster were Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, a critically endangered species and the rarest type of sea turtle.

It was an unusually large late-season stranding for the turtles, who most often get stuck on Cape Cod shores around Thanksgiving as they try to make their way south to warmer waters for the winter.

Young sea turtles often feed in Cape Cod Bay during the summer but can get trapped in the “hook” of the Cape and become hypothermic as temperatures drop, according to Mass Audubon.

Despite their rarity, Kemp’s ridleys are the type of turtle most often found stranded on Massachusetts beaches.

 

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Dead birds wash up on MS beaches

Posted: Dec 13, 2015 4:29 PM CST Updated: Dec 14, 2015 7:16 AM CST

Fish were the first organisms to wash ashore dead after the algal bloom was announced. (Image Source: Missy Dubuisson) 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) 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.

 

 

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California Has a Huge Gas Leak, and Crews Can’t Stop It Yet

Sarah Zhang 
Crews from SoCalGas and outside experts work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, on December 9, 2015.
© Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News/AP/Pool Crews from SoCalGas and outside experts work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles, on December 9, 2015.
While the world was hammering out a historic agreement to curb carbon emissions—urged along by California, no less—the state was dealing with an embarrassing belch of its own. Methane, a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide, has been leaking out of a natural gas storage site in southern California for nearly two months, and a fix won’t arrive until spring.

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.

 

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‘Fukushima Fingerprint’: Highest-Yet Radiation Levels Found Off US Coast

‘The changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific.’

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)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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Dec 01, 2015 03:03 PM EST

Tectonic plates in the eastern Mediterranean

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.”

 

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GLOBAL WARMING? NASA says Antarctic has been COOLING for past SIX years

ANTARCTIC temperatures have cooled over the past six years, according to US space agency NASA.

PUBLISHED: 07:51, Sat, Nov 28, 2015 | UPDATED: 12:58, Sat, Nov 28, 2015

Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland, in an image captured on Oct. 13, 2015, from NASA Langley Research Center's Falcon 20 aircraft flying 33,000 feeNASA

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 studiesNASA

Map showing the extent of ice during the NASA studies

 

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Examiner.com

New paper claims no pause in warming, but unaltered data says otherwise

November 25, 2015 9:20 AM MST
Authors Naomi Oreskes (L) and Erik Conway attend the 'Merchants of Doubt' premiere during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Photo by Aaron Harris

 

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Next: How NOAA rewrote climate data to hide global warming pause

 

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Nasa Earth Observatory

Earth is Cooling…No It’s Warming

 

 

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.

 

Graph of Northern Hemisphere temperatures, 1860 through 1970

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.)

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This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: [[LINK||http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/||NOAA]])

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)

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.
– Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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.

 

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The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling:


  • Republic of Maldives: Vulnerable to sea level rise

    Photograph by Shahee Ilyas  

    Malé, capital of Maldives  Wikipedia.org

    Sea level rise

    Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.4

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  • Global temperature rise

    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

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  • Warming oceans

    The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.8

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  • Flowing meltwater from the Greenland ice sheet

    Shrinking ice sheets

    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.

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tardigrade_fam

5. They’ve been around longer than nearly every other living organism.

Tardigrades roamed the earth and seas far before humans did – and will most likely outlast us. Will the tardigrades be nature’s last organisms standing? Only time will tell.

 

5 Reasons Why The Tardigrade Is Nature’s Toughest Animal

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 Independent

Zika virus: Health alerts in South America and Caribbean following fears illness may cause birth deformities

Doctors believe the illness may be linked to a rise in cases of microcephaly in infants
  • Alexandra Sims
  • Thursday 19 November 2015 Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease similar to dengue fever VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

 

A virus believed to cause under-developed brains and skulls in newborn babies has sparked a public health emergency in Brazil and the Caribbean.

The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease similar to dengue fever, was first identified on Easter Island, Chile in February last year and has since spread to Brazil, Columbia and the Caribbean.

On Monday, the Caribbean Public Health Agency confirmed five cases of the Zika virus in a territory of the Caribbean Community, according to Liverostrum News Agency.

The territory where the cases were confirmed has not been revealed.

Reports say the disease surveillance system operated by one of the community’s members, Grenada, has since been heightened and health officials are on alert.

 

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Super rare lancetfish found out of its depth on New Plymouth shore

CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ

A rare Longsnouted lancetfish has been found just offshore at Fitzroy beach in New Plymouth.

The lancetfish is no Finding Nemo but one has been found a long way from home.

A lancetfish – usually found around 1000 metres deep – has been found just offshore at Fitzroy beach in New Plymouth.

Nik Pyselman was running with his friend Cam Twigley along Fitzroy beach on Wednesday evening when he saw an iridescent blue shape in the water.

“It looked like it had been washed in and was struggling to swim back out to sea,” he said.

“I’ve heard of people catching them on long lines but I’ve never seen one myself.”

“I’ve also heard them called cannibal fish before because they eat their own kind.”

Pyselman took the fish to Keith Mawson of Egmont Seafoods who was able to identify the species as a longsnout lancetfish.

 

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