Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another little of nature's belly burps...

Just to let you know the wierdo weather is still about, and coming soon to a place near you.....

Freak Beijing storm turns day into nightABC June 16, 2009, 3:46 pm Send

June 17, 2009, 11:21 pmChina correspondent Stephen McDonell and ABC cameraman Rob Hill saw day turn into night as a freak storm swept across the capital Beijing today.

"It was pitch black outside and you could see people looking out from the office towers across the road from us," McDonell said.

"In a couple of the photos you can see a clock in the distance showing it was around 11:30 am local time."

The storms were expected to affect western and northern Xinjiang, most part of Inner Mongolia, north-east China and north China.

Today's extreme weather follows yesterday's hail storms across eastern China's Anhui province, which killed 14 people and injured more than 180, AFP reports.

Anhui's Civil Affairs Bureau said that more than 10,000 people were evacuated and nearly 9,700 houses collapsed in yesterday's severe storm.

Anhui was struck by hail and winds of up to 104 kilometres per hour, causing $82 million worth of damage.

A similar hail storm struck the region in the first week of June, killing 23 people and injuring more than 200.

Officials have warned residents that more dangerous weather could follow.

First hard evidence found of a lake on Mars

This Japanese hornbag will find it hard to survive if climate change has it way here and sauces the Martian best practice experience.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A long, deep canyon and the remains of beaches are perhaps the clearest evidence yet of a standing lake on the surface of Mars -- one that apparently contained water when the planet was supposed to have already dried up, scientists said on Wednesday.

Images from a camera called the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate water carved a 30-mile-(50-km-)long canyon, a team at the University of Colorado at Boulder reported.

It would have covered 80 square miles (200 sq km) and been up to 1,500 feet deep, the researchers wrote in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

There is now no dispute that water exists on the surface or Mars -- robot explorers have found ice. There is also evidence that water may still seep to the surface from underground, although it quickly disappears in the cold, thin atmosphere of the red planet.

Planetary scientists have also seen what could be the shores of giant rivers and seas -- but some of the formations could also arguably have been made by dry landslides.

"This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars," said Gaetano Di Achille, who led the study.

"The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence allows us to calculate the size and volume of the lake, which appears to have formed about 3.4 billion years ago," Di Achille said in a statement.

Water is key to life and scientists are looking desperately for evidence of life, past or present, on Mars. Having water on the planet could also be useful to future human explorers.

"On Earth, deltas and lakes are excellent collectors and preservers of signs of past life," said Di Achille. "If life ever arose on Mars, deltas may be the key to unlocking Mars' biological past," Di Achille said.

"Not only does this research prove there was a long-lived lake system on Mars, but we can see that the lake formed after the warm, wet period is thought to have dissipated," assistant professor Brian Hynek said.

The lake probably either evaporated or froze over after abrupt climate change, the researchers said. Its waters would have turned into vapor. No one knows what turned Mars from a warm, wet planet into the frozen, airless desert it is now.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jellyfish threaten to 'dominate' world's oceans.

Giant jellyfish are taking over parts of the world's oceans due to overfishing and other human activities, researchers say.

Nomura jellyfish are the biggest in the world and can grow as big as a sumo wrestler. They weigh up to 200 kilograms and can reach 2 metres in diameter.

Dr Anthony Richardson and his colleagues from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research says jellyfish numbers are increasing, particularly in South East Asia, the Black Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea.

"We need to take management action to avert the marine systems of the world flipping over to being jellyfish dominated," says Dr Richardson, who is also a marine biologist at the University of Queensland.

He says the Japanese have a real problem with giant jellyfish that burst through fishing nets.

He says other researchers are experimenting with different ways of controlling jellyfish, including using sound waves to explode jellyfish and using special nets to try and cut them up.


Dr Richardson and his colleagues reviewed literature linking jellyfish blooms with overfishing and eutrophication (high levels of nutrients).

Jellyfish are normally kept in check by fish, which eat small jellyfish and compete for jellyfish food such as zooplankton, he says.

But with overfishing, jellyfish numbers are increasing. Jellyfish feed on fish eggs and larvae, further impacting on fish numbers.

To add insult to injury, nitrogen and phosphorous in run-off cause red phytoplankton blooms, which create low-oxygen dead zones where jellyfish survive, but fish cannot.

"You can think of them like a protected area for jellyfish," Dr Richardson says.

The researchers say climate change may also encourage more jellyfish and they have postulated for the first time that these conditions can lead to what they call a "jellyfish stable state", in which jellyfish rule the oceans.

Taking action

The team recommends a number of actions in its paper, published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution and released to coincide with World Oceans Day.

They say it is important to reduce overfishing, especially of small pelagic fish like sardines, and to reduce run-off.

They also say it is important to control the transport of jellyfish around the world in ballast water and aquariums.

Jellyfish are considered simple jelly-like sea animals, which are related to the microscopic animals that form coral.

They generally start their life as a plant-like polyp on the sea bed before budding off into the well-known bell-shaped medusa.

Jellyfish have tentacles containing pneumatocyst cells, which act like little harpoons that lodge in prey to sting and kill them.

The location and number of pneumatocysts dictate whether jellyfish are processed for human consumption.

While dried jellyfish with soya sauce is a delicacy served in Chinese weddings and banquets, not all kinds of jellyfish can be eaten, Dr Richardson says.

According to Dr Richardson, the species increasing in number are not generally eaten.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Latest doom sauced for you....

Yes sauced from the daily news of doom and despair.....see it now, before its too late lah!

Scientists warn acid is killing oceans
Email Print Normal font Large font Deborah Smith Science Editor

June 2, 2009

RISING carbon dioxide emissions are turning the oceans acidic in an irreversible process that threatens coral reefs and food security, the world's scientific academies have warned.
Seventy academies, including the Australian Academy of Science, urged governments meeting in Bonn for climate talks to tackle the issue in the new United Nations treaty on climate change to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.
In the past 200 years the world's oceans have absorbed about a quarter of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities, and the current rate of acidification is much more rapid than at any time during the past 65 million years, the scientists said in a joint statement.
Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society in Britain, said that unless global carbon dioxide emissions were cut by at least 50 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050 there could be an "underwater catastrophe" and loss of marine life.
"The effects will be seen worldwide, threatening food security, reducing coastal protection and damaging local economies that may be least able to tolerate it," Professor Rees said. "Copenhagen must address this very real and serious threat."
As carbon dioxide dissolves it alters ocean chemistry, leading to an attack on the carbonate building blocks needed by marine organisms, such as corals and shellfish, to produce their skeletons, shells and other hard structures.
"Ocean acidification is irreversible on timescales of at least tens of thousands of years," the scientists said.
Although it was a global problem, some areas, including the tropical waters around the Great Barrier Reef, would be more affected than others.
Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Centre for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said the effects have already been observed. "We have clear evidence that the growth rate of corals is slowing because of ocean acidification."
The Great Barrier Reef was under stress as well from higher water temperatures, said Professor Hughes, who contributed to the academies' statement.
"Unless the world can sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the combination of repeated bouts of bleaching, more extreme storms and slower growth due to acidification will have a severe impact on coral reefs and the tourism and fisheries industries they support," he said. "We only have a narrow window of opportunity to prevent further severe damage to coral reefs before it's too late."
Will Howard, an oceanographer at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre in Hobart, said the issue of acidification was independent of debates about possible effects of global warming.
"The impact is happening now in nature, not in computer simulation or in laboratory manipulation, and can be directly attributed to carbon dioxide emissions," Dr Howard said.
If carbon dioxide levels, now at 387 ppm, were stabilised at 450 ppm, more than 10 per cent of the world's oceans would be affected by acidification, including more than 90 per cent of all tropical and subtropical coral reefs.
Stabilisation at 550 ppm could result in coral reefs "dissolving globally", the scientists said.
Adding chemicals to the oceans to try to counter acidification was likely to be expensive, only partly effective at local sites and could pose unknown risks.