Category: Earth

Pic of the Day

SalarDeUyuniBolivia21
Click to Enlarge

Photography by Michael Kittell – “I have been a photographer for a number of years, and have only recently started to do so professionally. I’m an alpine climber, so most of my work focuses on mountains, climbing, and climbing culture.”

I found this at one of the photo sites I link to, Photobotos. Michael’s website is mkwild.com.

The weatherman

This story is as interesting as the photography – and the photography is classical. Something worth saving as a portfolio of what can be done with a camera.

Click here to the slideshow. Open it up to full screen and enjoy, peer into Vyacheslav Korotki’s life and work in solitude. Revel in the richness of Evgenia Arbugaeva’s photography.

Thanks, Mike

There’s only one source for the plastic in our oceans — us!

kelly_pogo_earthday

There are at least 268,000 tonnes of plastic floating around in the oceans, according to new research by a global team of scientists.

The world generates 288m tonnes of plastic worldwide each year, just a little more than the annual vegetable crop, yet using current methods only 0.1% of it is found at sea. The new research illustrates as much as anything, how little we know about the fate of plastic waste in the ocean once we have thrown it “away”.

Most obviously, this discarded plastic exists as the unsightly debris we see washed ashore on our beaches.

These large chunks of plastic are bad news for sea creatures which aren’t used to them. Turtles, for instance, consume plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish. In Hawaii’s outer islands the Laysan albatross feeds material skimmed from the sea surface to its chicks. Although adults can regurgitate ingested plastic, their chicks cannot. Young albatrosses are often found dead with stomachs full of bottle tops, lighters and other plastic debris, having starved to death.

But these big, visible impacts may just be the tip of the iceberg. Smaller plastic chunks less than 2.5mm across – broken down bits of larger debris – are ubiquitous in zooplankton samples from the eastern Pacific. In some regions of the central Pacific there is now six times as much plankton-sized plastic are there is plankton. Plankton-eating birds, fish and whales have a tough time telling the two apart, often mistaking this plastic – especially tan coloured particles – for krill.

However, even this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. For technical reasons Marcus Eriksen and his team weren’t able to consider the very smallest particles – but these may be the most harmful of all.

We’re talking here about tiny lumps of 0.5mm across or considerably less, usually invisible to the naked eye, which often originate in cosmetics or drugs containing nanoparticles or microbeads. Such nanoparticles matter as they are similar size to the smallest forms of plankton (pico and nano plankton) which are the most abundant plankton group and biggest contributors in terms of biomass and contribution to primary production…

Plastic pollution of the marine environment is the Cinderella of global issues, garnering less attention than its ugly sisters climate change, acidification, fisheries, invasive species or food waste but it has links to them all and merits greater attention by the scientific community.

I’ve mentioned many times how – growing up in a southern New England factory town – my family relied on subsistence fishing to get by. That meant we ate fish at least 5 days a week, whatever was running at the time. My poor mom was an inventive workingclass cook; but, there’s a limit to how many ways you can make bluefish appetizing.

If we continue to destroy the greatest natural source of food for our species – and many others – we’re in deep trouble. So deep we may not recover to live long enough to witness all the other disasters those who profit the most from our industrial revolution continue to visit upon the planet.

RTFA. Read the research. Get on board.

Early warning signals of wide-ranging climate change to affect Europe and Africa


Reindeer in Scotland might not be so rare

Research, published…in the journal Nature Communications, used a simulation from a highly complex model to analyse the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important component of the Earth’s climate system.

It showed that early warning signals are present up to 250 years before it collapses, suggesting that scientists could monitor the real world overturning circulation for the same signals.

The AMOC is like a conveyor belt in the ocean, driven by the salinity and temperature of the water. The system transports heat energy from the tropics and Southern Hemisphere to the North Atlantic, where it is transferred to the atmosphere.

Experiments suggest that if the AMOC is ‘switched off’ by extra freshwater entering the North Atlantic, surface air temperature in the North Atlantic region would cool by around 1-3°C, with enhanced cooling of up to 8°C in the worst affected regions.

The collapse would also encourage drought in the Sahel — the area just south of the Sahara desert — and dynamic changes in sea level of up to 80cm along the coasts of Europe and North America.

“We found that natural fluctuations in the circulation were getting longer-lived as the collapse was approached, a phenomenon known as critical slowing down,” said lead author Chris Boulton.

We don’t know how close we are to a collapse of the circulation, but a real world early warning could help us prevent it, or at least prepare for the consequences” adds co-author Professor Tim Lenton.

The study is the most realistic simulation of the climate system in which this type of early warning signal has been tested.

It’s everyone’s wildest sci-fi movie. Wild only because climate change deniers have focused their paid-for-stupidity only on the aspects of climate change indicating environments with rising temperatures. Actually the whole North Atlantic current from the Gulf Stream via the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation warms the north and west of Europe and the UK from what would be normal temps absent that elevator.

The Benelux countries and the UK might become more like Lapland.

My curiosity extends to changes in humidity and precipitation. The report indicates desertification south of the Sahara. I wonder if the affected areas of Europe might end up with increased precipitation. Folks in the west of Scotland, Wales and England might have to sprout webbed feet.

Thanks, Mike – GMTA

Pic of the Day

Bird Tree, Jordan Ek
Click to enlarge

This stunning black-and-white image of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand was captured by Jordan Ek of Portland, Oregon. It was named as the people’s choice winner in the 2014 Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year competition.

Check out Jordan Ek’s gallery of photography – containing this image as well as others just as stunning.

Mini House 2.0 has electricity and a fitted kitchen – delivered

The virtues of a simple, low-cost and sustainable lifestyle have driven the growth of the tiny house movement. Jonas Wagell’s Mini Houses embody these values. Having initially been designed as a weekend cabin or guest house, the Mini House is now in its second iteration.

Gizmag first featured the Mini House in 2012, when the first prototypes were already in use in Sweden. It was designed to be quick to construct, and built using recyclable prefabricated modules. Due to its size, the Mini House also didn’t need a building permit in Sweden.

The Mini House 2.0, which was being designed when we featured the original version, is based on the same goals and principles, but is slightly more developed and has more configuration options available from which to choose. A model covering an area of 161 sq ft is still available, but is now joined by a longer version. The Mini House 2.0 is also modular, allowing multiple units to be joined together for more space…

The houses are designed to be delivered to their planned sites on a lorry in prefabricated sections. “In theory, only a plinth foundation needs to be prepared, unless the houses are equipped with kitchen or bath which require further work with sewage etcetera,” explains designer Jonas Wagell to Gizmag. “We have amended the dimensions to be optimized for shipping pre-build.”

The Mini House 2.0 is currently only available in Sweden…Prices start from $29,550, or $41,860 for a model with a kitchen fitted.

As I’ve said before – smaller is better – and OK with me.

Earth in 4K — pretty snazzy even in 1080p

A timelapse of Earth in 4K resolution, as imaged by the geostationary Elektro-L weather satellite, from May 15th to May 19th, 2011. Elektro-L is located ~40,000 km above the Indian ocean, and it orbits at a speed that causes it to remain over the same spot as the Earth rotates. The satellite creates a 121 megapixel image (11136×11136 pixels) every 30 minutes with visible and infrared light wavelengths. The images were edited to adjust levels and change the infrared channel from orange to green to show vegetation more naturally. The images were resized by 50%, misalignments between frames were manually corrected, and image artifacts that occurred when the camera was facing towards the sun were partially corrected. The images were interpolated by a factor of 20 to create a smooth animation. The animation was rendered in the Youtube 4K UHD resolution of 3840×2160. An original animation file with a resolution of (5568×5568) is available on request.

To answer frequently asked questions; why are city lights, the Sun, and other stars not visible? City lights are not visible because they are thousands of times less bright than the reflection of sunlight off the Earth. If the camera was sensitive enough to detect city lights, the Earth would be overexposed. The Sun is not visible due to mechanisms used to protect the camera CCD from direct exposure to sunlight. A circular mask on the CCD ensures that only the Earth is visible. This mask can be seen as pixelation on Earth’s horizon. The mask also excludes stars from view, although they would not be bright enough to be visible to this camera.

Thanks, Mike