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 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:55 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
EU, Switzerland to link emissions cap and trade systems

A linking agreement was initialled in January 2016 but the signature and conclusion of the agreement were put on hold following the Swiss referendum

New Europe

The European Commission on August 16 adopted two proposals to finalise an agreement with Switzerland on linking the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) with the Swiss emissions trading system.

Linking the European system with other systems expands opportunities for emissions reductions and reduces costs, the Commission said, adding that once the agreement with Switzerland takes effect, participants in the EU ETS will be able to use units from the Swiss system for compliance, and vice versa.

“After much hard work on both sides, I am proud of the progress we have made with our Swiss colleagues,” Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said. “As the world’s largest cap and trade system, we have always aimed to promote the growth of the international carbon market,” he added.

Negotiations between the Commission and Switzerland opened in 2010. According to the Commission, a linking agreement was initialled in January 2016 but the signature and conclusion of the agreement were put on hold following the Swiss referendum.

Following high-level contacts and a change in Swiss legislation, a meeting between Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Swiss President Doris Leuthard in April opened the path for today’s decisions, the Commission said.

The Commission’s proposal for the signature of the agreement and a proposal for its conclusion (ratification) will now be discussed by the Council of Ministers of the European Union. The Council will require the consent of the European Parliament in order to conclude the agreement.

Subject to conclusion, the agreement could be signed before the end of 2017 enabling the entry into force to take place early 2018, the Commission said, adding, “The EU ETS is a key tool to tackle climate change with a view to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is the world’s first major carbon market and its biggest one”.

In October 2014, the European Council agreed on the 2030 climate and energy policy framework for the EU setting an ambitious economy-wide domestic target of at least 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction for 2030. The Paris Agreement vindicates the EU’s approach.

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:52 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Mexico makes a transition towards renewables

New Europe

Danish wind-turbine maker Vestas has received an order for the largest wind park in Mexico. The order consists of 123 V136-3.45 MW turbines for a 424 MW project in Mexico, Vestas said in a press release on August 15. With this contract, Vestas/ order intake from Mexico’s energy auctions reaches almost 500 MW.

On August15, Zuma Energía has placed a firm and unconditional order for the Parque Eólico Reynosa project in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, which will be one of the largest wind power projects in Latin America.

Established in 2014, Zuma Energía is a leading Mexican player within renewable energy financially backed by Actis and Mesoamerica, which both have a successful track record of building large renewable energy operations across the Americas and Europe, according to Vestas.

The order includes supply and installation of the wind turbines as well as a 15-year Active Output Management 5000 (AOM5000) service contract. Delivery of the wind turbines is expected to begin late 2017, with commissioning expected in 2018.

“Mexico is undergoing a historical moment in its energy policy and we are extremely pleased to play an active role in this process. By building Mexico’s largest wind park with Vestas’ turbines we are taking a bold step in the country’s transition towards renewables,” Zuma Energía CEO Adrián Katzew said.

Vestas’ Managing Director for Mexico and northern Latin America Angélica Ruiz Celis noted that Tamaulipas has a leading position in the country within wind energy and Vestas is proud to be part of this by installing the Reynosa project. “The blades for V136-3.45 MW projects in Latin America will be produced in Mexico which underlines our long-term localisation strategy in Mexico and Vestas’ strong commitment to support Mexico´s renewable target of 35 percent of clean energy by 2024,” she said.

Vestas Mediterranean President Marco Graziano explained that during the auction, the Danish turbine maker mobilised its teams in Mexico City, Madrid and Copenhagen in order to put all of Vestas’ expertise, market-leading product portfolio and service offerings at Zuma’s disposal. “Our ability to do so was key to helping Zuma build a compelling, profitable and sustainable business case, showcasing Vestas’ expertise in auctions,” he said.

Vestas pioneered the Mexican wind energy market back in 1994 when it installed the first commercial wind turbine in the country. With this new order, Vestas has more than 1.5 GW of wind turbines either installed or under construction in Mexico.

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:51 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Russia, Bolivia to boost joint gas, nuclear, renewables projects

New Europe

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met his Bolivian counterpart Fernando Huanacuni Mamani on August 16 agreeing to boost cooperation in the energy sector, including gas, nuclear and renewables.

“We have confirmed the focus of our countries on the comprehensive extension of partnership in all areas,” TASS quoted Lavrov as saying. “Our economic ties have a good potential. This is a very serious potential, judging by its volume,” Russia’s top diplomat said. “And now we have confirmed very good perspectives in the energy industry sector,” he added.

Lavrov reminded that the previous July Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and Bolivia’s state-run oil and gas company had signed a protocol of intentions.

Turning to nuclear, Lavrov also reiterated that Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom is completing negotiations over a whole number of contracts and a programme of strategic cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes with the Bolivian side, including the construction of a nuclear research center with the use of Russian technologies.

“Our energy companies are interested in supplying equipment for the thermal electric stations and hydroelectric stations that are under construction in Bolivia, as well as for modernisation of the existing ones,” Lavrov said.

“With regard that Bolivia’s development plans include increase in the share of new energy sources, including the geothermal, solar and wind [energy], Rushydro is ready to present the corresponding technologies,” Lavrov said. “We’ve discussed this as well today. We believe that there is a lot of work to do here for our ministries and companies.”

Negotiations also focused on the prospects of multilateral cooperation, including in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, which is to convene this November in Bolivia, he said. “We will help our Bolivian friends in every possible way make this summit successful and make it form the next action plan aimed to provide a just balance of interests for gas producers and consumers,” the Russian state news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

The Russian minister also pointed to the fact that “mutual interest for investment projects in the petrochemical industry, agriculture, transport and other areas has been preserved and is even growing, and the contacts between the Russian regions and Bolivia are strengthening”.

For his part, Bolivia’s Foreign Minister said his country’s relations with Russia are expected to deepen in every sphere. During the Moscow talks, there was a discussion of cooperation in the energy sphere, including investment in mining projects, he said.

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:48 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Funding to help Egypt source 20% of its energy from low-emission renewable sources by 2022

New Europe

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced on August 17 that the EBRD and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) are teaming up to make a major contribution to a $1 billion renewable energy project in Egypt.

According to the Bank, the funding supports the Egyptian government’s Sustainable Energy Strategy, which aims to source 20% of Egypt’s energy from low-emission renewable sources by 2022. The financing will allow independent power producers to invest in the first wave of private renewable energy production in Egypt.

Funding for this initiative, the largest contribution by GCF since it began full-scale operations, is expected to start flowing in September. This follows the signing of a funded activity agreement (FAA) between GCF and the EBRD on August 17.

FAAs mark the last phase of legal arrangements to implement projects between GCF and its Accredited Entities, such as the EBRD. GCF currently has 54 Accredited Entities, which propose climate finance projects and implement those that are approved by the GCF Board.

The EBRD is providing $352.3 million while GCF is making a contribution of $154.7 million. Additional financing from sponsors and other co-financiers will bring the total investment in new private renewable energy generation in Egypt to $1 billion.

GCF Executive Director Howard Bamsey said the FAA signing marks a benchmark in the way the Fund can work with its partners to pool financial resources to boost countries’ mitigation and adaptation capacities. “This FAA is just the beginning of the potential GCF and the EBRD have in combining their financial forces to drive climate action across various parts of the planet,” Bamsey said.

The GCF Executive Director added the GCF Board has already approved three diverse projects proposed by the EBRD in addition to the Egypt initiative. These include a hydropower project in Tajikistan; a water conservation project in Morocco; and a sustainable energy project covering 10 countries.

EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti said this initiative, the nearest to implementation among the GCF-approved EBRD projects, underscores the very productive cooperation between the two organisations. “Climate finance is crucial to the EBRD’s strategy. We are aiming to dedicate 40 percent of our annual investments to the green economy by 2020,” he said, referring to the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition policy, launched in 2015.

Suma heralded the rising prominence of the private sector as a major driving force in the current creation of a global green economy, including climate finance.

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:46 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Fish scandal catches Danish government

By Beata Stur
New Europe

The Danish government has come under fire for its management of fisheries quotas and its call for criminal investigations into a number of fishing companies.

A new report published by the National Audit Office (Rigsrevisionen) suggests that the ministry’s transferable fishing quotas failed to prevent a limit on the number of so-called “quota kings”.

As reported by The Local, the report also slammed the ministry’s inadequate management of quota ownership that resulted in several fishermen exceeding their catch quotas. The administration was “highly criticisable,” the Audit Office wrote.

According to the report, the ministry used incomplete data over a number of years along with incorrect registrations of quota transactions and ownerships.

In a report published by broadcaster DR last week, the Audit Office was said to have concluded “a series of instances which do not just indicate insufficient administration by the ministry, but also illegalities”.

Meanwhile, the day prior to the release of the report, the ministry of environment and food called on police to initiate an investigation of a number of fishermen and fishing companies in the country.

NGO Oceana, an international ocean conservation and advocacy organisation, issued a press release criticising Denmark for historically pushing quotas much higher than scientifically recommended.

“Denmark has allocated the majority of its fishing quotas to a handful of ‘quota-kings’ and the public has every right to be outraged,” said Oceana Europe’s executive director Lasse Gustavsson in a press statement issued.

“The government and their ministers should serve the public and sustainable fisheries and not the short-term interest of a few industrial fishing companies. Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen took a step in the right direction by taking the fisheries portfolio away from Esben Lunde Larsen. Now he must stop the shady relationships between the ministry and the fishing industry.”

Oceana criticised politicians across Europe for ignoring scientific advice when setting annual fish catch limits, allowing overfishing to reach critical levels.

A study published by Oceana in 2016 showed that in European seas, 64% of fish populations are currently being overfished.

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:44 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Climate Change May Shrink the World’s Fish

A new study suggests warming sea temperatures could result in smaller fish sizes.

By Craig Welch
National Geographic
PUBLISHED August 22, 2017

Warming temperatures and loss of oxygen in the sea will shrink hundreds of fish species—from tunas and groupers to salmon, thresher sharks, haddock and cod—even more than previously thought, a new study concludes.

Because warmer seas speed up their metabolisms, fish, squid and other water-breathing creatures will need to draw more oxyen from the ocean. At the same time, warming seas are already reducing the availability of oxygen in many parts of the sea.

A pair of University of British Columbia scientists argue that since the bodies of fish grow faster than their gills, these animals eventually will reach a point where they can't get enough oxygen to sustain normal growth.

"What we found was that the body size of fish decreases by 20 to 30 perent for every 1 degree Celsius increase in water temperature," says author William Cheung, director of science for the university's Nippon Foundation—Nereus Program.

These changes, the scientists say, will have a profound impact on many marine food webs, upending predator-prey relationships in ways that are hard to predict. (Read about how climate change is resulting in smaller mountain goats.)

"Lab experiments have shown that it's always the large species that will become stressed first," says lead author Daniel Pauly, a professor at the university's Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries, and principal investigator for the Sea Around Us. "Small species have an advantage, respiration-wise."

Still, while many scientists applaud the discovery, not all agree that Pauly's and Cheung's work supports their dramatic findings. The study was published today in the journal Global Change Biology.

Pauly is perhaps best known for his global, sometimes controversial, studies of overfishing. But since his dissertation in the 1970s, he has researched and promoted a principle that suggests fish size is limited by the growth capacity of gills. Based on this theory, he, Cheung and other authors published research in 2013 that showed average body weight for some 600 species of ocean fish could shrink 14-24 percent by 2050 under climate change.

"It's a difficult concept for people to imagine because we breathe air," Pauly says. "Our problem is getting enough food—not oxygen. But for fish, it's very different. For humans, it would be like trying to breathe through a straw."

Other scientists have linked oxygen to smaller fish sizes. In the North Sea, for example, haddock, whiting, herring and sole have already seen significant loss in size in areas of the sea with less oxygen.

Still, Pauly's and Cheung's 2013 results were criticized in some corners as overly simplistic. Earlier this year, a group of European physiologists argued that Pauly's basic premise about gill size was, itself, flawed.
Climate 101: Oceans

So Pauly and Cheung used more sophisticated models and re-examined their theory.

The new paper doubles down on their earlier case, explains the gill theory in more detail and argues that it can and should be used as a guiding principle. The new work goes on to suggests their original conclusions actually underestimated the scale of the problem fish will soon face.

The earlier paper, for example, suggested the size of some species, such as tuna, may be less affected by climate change. But the new research states that fast-swimming ever-mobile tunas, which already consume significant oxygen, may be more susceptible than some other fish.

In fact, in parts of the tropical Atlantic, Cheung says, there is a vast region where oxygen is already low in the open ocean. Other studies have shown tunas altering their range to avoid that bad water.

"Tunas' distributions have followed very closely the bounds of these oxygen minimum zones," Cheung says.

Some fish experts find Pauly's and Cheung's gill theory and new work convincing.

Jeppe Kolding, a biology professor at the University of Bergen in Norway, who studies fish in Africa, says Pauly's gill concept is the only thing he's found that elucidates the dwarfing he's seen in Nile tilapia, guppies, and a type of sardine found in Zambia and in Lake Victoria. "It does explain the phenomena I have encountered in Africa," he says.

Nick Dulvy, a marine biologist at Simon Fraser University, says his own research "tends to confirm" Pauly's ideas. "It is absoutely an inevitability that as fish grow heavier they will eventually reach a point where oxygen intake does not match their metabolic rate."

Hans-Otto Poertner, marine animal physiologist at Germany's Bremen University and Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, says Pauly's work doesn't account for how well some species may acclimate or adapt to changing ocean conditions. But, he says, the authors "convincingly argue" that oxygen will affect fishes' sensitivity to temperature and curb body size.

Still, one of Pauly's earlier critics, Sjannie Lefevre, a physiologist with the University of Oslo in Norway, lead author of the critique published earlier this year in the same journal, continues to find Pauly's gill theory wanting.

"I am not at all impressed or convinced by their attempt to refute our arguments," Lefevre says, adding that she doesn't "consider the new results any more reliable."

She says fish absolutely are capable of growing larger gills. "There are no geometric constraints stopping gills from growing as fast as the body of a fish," she says.

She and Poertner could not view the work more differently. Lefevre says she hopes ecologists and modelers keep "an open and cautious mind" before accepting such unifying theories.

Poertner, on the other hand, maintains that Pauly's and Cheung's work is a great example of the right way to apply such theories.

The new research shows how "careful use of an overarching principle in a wide set of observations across species can support insight that is difficult to reach otherwise," he says.

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
This Man Searched for the Yeti for 60 Years—and Found It

He also stumbled upon what he calls "the greatest wilderness on the planet."

National Geographic

In 1951, a British explorer named Eric Shipton looking for an alternative route up Mt. Everest found a footprint that appeared to be hominoid. He took a picture, and the mystery of the Yeti—a Sherpa word for “wild man”—cast a spell over the world. Daniel Taylor, author of Yeti: The Ecology of a Mystery, has been searching for signs of this “Abominable Snowman” in the high Himalayas since he was a child.

Talking from his home in West Virginia, Taylor explains what he thinks made that human-like footprint, how his search eventually led to the creation of a national park, and why, in an age where we have become disconnected from nature, we have a deep need to believe in mysteries.

The key evidence for the existence of the Yeti was the photo of a footprint taken by British explorer Eric Shipton in 1951. Talk us through that event—and why Shipton’s image has been regarded as the Rosetta Stone in Yeti lore.

The photograph was taken on the Menlung Glacier, west of Mount Everest, on the Nepal-Tibet border. Shipton and Michael Ward were searching for an alternative Everest route when they came across the prints. Shipton was one of the most highly respected Everest explorers, so if he is bringing back a print, it is a real print. Nobody ever questioned that. But what is it?

What was captivating about the prints was that they’re really sharp. The snow was hard so the photo looks like a sort of plaster of Paris cast. The second feature was that the prints looked like a human footprint, but with a thumb. So, you get this primate-like feeling but hominoid at the same time. Its enormous size—13 inches—also suggests a magnificent hominoid, a King Kong type of image! And the media grabbed it.

Numerous expeditions were sent out in search of the Yeti. Give us a brief timeline.

The most important one was the Daily Mail one in 1954. That’s when Yeti fever took off, though the name for the Yeti was given as the Abominable Snowman. Then American oilman Tom Slick mounted several expeditions. One of them had 500 porters and spent 6 months in the field. They even took along bloodhounds to track the scent.

The World Book Encyclopedia then got captivated by the Yeti and approached Edmund Hillary. He had been somewhat of a believer in the 1950s but he said, “We shouldn’t go just Yeti searching, we should study how people live at high altitude.” So they built a house at 19,000 feet and did a bunch of experiments on how humans acclimatize. They’re the ones who first made the distinction between the Sherpa belief in the Yeti and the Yeti as a mysterious hominoid that lives in the mountains.
Yeti Legends

A Sherpa family talks about the legend of the Yeti.

Describe how you first became fascinated by the Yeti.

My grandmother came from Cincinnati; my grandfather was a cowboy in Kansas. They met in medical school in Kansas City in hard times and decided to go to India as medical missionaries. In 1914 they ended up in an area near India’s western border with Nepal: dense, rich jungle, made famous by Jim Corbett, in books like Man-Eaters of Kumaon.

I come into the picture in 1946, when my own parents went to India to take over running a hospital. It was a fabulous childhood. My grandparents had bought a property at the top of a mountain near the old British hill station of Mussoorie. It was a lovely old compound with jungle all around.

One Saturday, during the monsoon, I saw the famous picture of the Yeti’s footprint in a magazine. I knew most of the jungle animals so when the curator at the British Museum said he thought these were prints of the langur monkey, I said, “This is outrageous! I know the langur monkey, bouncing on the tin roof all the time. Some other animal must have made this mysterious, human-like footprint.”

I must have gone to my father and grandfather and they said, “Danny, that’s the Yeti!” I said, “What is the Yeti?” They said, “The Yeti is a wild man that lives out in the mountains, and that’s his footprint.” That’s when the spark was lit.

Your own search eventually became focused on a wild area of Nepal known as the Barun Valley. Put us on the ground—and explain your hypothesis about what the Yeti actually is.

Due to its microclimate, the Barun Valley brings in more moisture than any other valley in the Himalayan system. That means the Barun is really dense jungle with a lot of rain. That is why people didn’t settle it. If you’re looking for the last read-out of the wild, it is this valley. It is so dense that very few people have actually entered it, even the locals who live on its edge.

I was advised to go there by the King of Nepal, who said, “If you want to go to the wildest place, where the Yeti might be, it is the Barun.” And when the King says that, you go, because he really knows his country.

Once I got in that valley I found footprints. I’d seen footprints before but these were fresh and I had no doubt I had found the Yeti.

The question was, what made them?

A local hunter I worked with said he thought what I’d found was a tree bear. I’d never heard of a tree bear in this region. Suddenly we had an explanation for where the thumb came from. A bear that lives in a tree forces an inner digit down so it can make an opposable grip. Normal bears cannot make an opposable grip. But if you’re spending a lot of time in the tree, you train that one thumb to grab a branch or break bamboo. So I spent two years trying to figure out whether it was a species, sub-species, or a juvenile bear.

DNA analysis became a powerful new tool in the search for the Yeti. Tell us about the tests done by Bryan Sykes, at Oxford University, in England, and what new light they shed on the mystery.

They created a lot of confusion! A professor from Oxford makes a global call for all Yeti artifacts—hair, fingernails, bones, fragments—and he gets many, many artifacts, mostly bits of bear or sheep. He then does DNA analysis and finds that two appear to be bear-like, but can’t be explained by any known animal. The closest DNA connection is the polar bear but with mysterious DNA sequences.

After he publishes his research, the Yeti myth gets reactivated worldwide. A couple of doctoral students then decide to check his DNA sequencing. They show that he made a mistake and that rather than proposing a new animal it is the incomplete sequence of a known animal. Once again, we come back to the bear.

You write towards the end of the book, “At the end of the search for a wild man in the snows, a new wild grows.” Tell us about the Makalu-Barun National Park—and your work with the local community to create a “Yeti Trail.”

In my search for the Yeti, I had stumbled into, arguably, the greatest wilderness on the planet. But it was not a protected area. Villagers were moving in and making the Barun into fields. On the Tibetan side, the Chinese were making a road into the valley immediately north of the Barun to clear-cut the timber! This is one of the world’s three or four most majestic places on the planet, so I said, I’ve got to do something to protect it!

I’m not the World Wildlife Fund. So I decided to take my family heritage of community-based solutions in healthcare and apply it to nature protection, working with the local community to manage the whole landscape rather than just creating pockets. When I initiated this in the mid 1980s the idea had been kicked around but nobody had ever done it. So it was extremely exciting to take the idea of participatory, zone-based conservation and do it in the highest place on Earth. Now, tourists are walking on the Yeti Trail through a pristine, wild park.

You have spent 60 years searching for the Yeti, Daniel. What are your final thoughts? And how did this odyssey change your life?

In this series of discoveries, I came to what I and many other biologists now believe is a completely new understanding of biology, which I call bio-resilience. As we look to save life itself we are concentrating on the diversity of DNA. But there are certain life forms like the crow, cockroaches, or zebra mussels which are more resilient than others and can deal with temperature and moisture changes due to climate change. The lesson of the Yeti is that we have to treasure and build up the resilience in biology if we are going to save life itself.

It changed my life because I understood life in a different way. In a world that’s increasingly urban, it is important that we understand we are part of life, connected to life. There are Yeti legends all over the world. There’s a Russian legend about the Jungle Man, and there’s a Chinese legend. This leads us into the question, what is this human hunger for these humanoid apparitions? I’m convinced it evolved out of the Victorian age when people were circling the world looking for the missing link.

The deep mystery at our core is that we want to be connected to the great beyond. And we need symbols to help us understand the connection. That’s why we believe in God or angels or the Loch Ness Monster. Throughout human history, and across human cultures, we have developed messengers from the great beyond. Ultimately, that’s what the Yeti is.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Simon Worrall curates Book Talk. Follow him on Twitter or at

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:36 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Nighttime forecast for Mars: Bursts of rapidly falling snow

Los Angeles Times
21 Aug 2017 at 18:09 ET

 Headed to Mars? Remember to pack your snow gear. Turns out that there are snowstorms on the Red Planet at night, according to a new paper.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, could shed light on the dynamics of the planet's ancient climate — and reveal that even today, Mars remains a more dynamic world than some scientists expected.

Today, the Red Planet seems dusty, rusty and dry, with an atmosphere that's about 100 times thinner than Earth's. But scientists say that early in its history, Mars probably looked a lot like Earth, with a thick atmosphere, puffy clouds and liquid water. That's part of why researchers study Mars — to understand why our next-door neighbor ended up with such a different fate than that of our planetary home.

Even now, Mars has some thin clouds, as well as water-ice deposits on and beneath its surface. (It's cold enough to have carbon dioxide ice deposits too.) A laser instrument on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander even discovered signs of actual snowfall, years ago. But many scientists figured that whatever the contribution made by snowfall, it was very slow, building up gradually over time.

But lead author Aymeric Spiga, a planetary scientist at the Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique in Paris, and his colleagues wondered if some other phenomenon was at work. Thanks to data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor, they had noticed strange temperature patterns beneath the Martian water-ice clouds that hinted at a surprising amount of air movement in the atmosphere.

"It was like the temperature profiles were showing very strong mixing and were representative of very strong winds below the clouds, and it was at night," Spiga said. The understanding at the time, he added, "was that water-ice clouds on Mars were not supposed to create very strong winds, especially at night, and the winds at night were supposed to be very calm."

After developing models that simulated these temperature patterns, Spiga and his colleagues realized that the natural explanation for these patterns were brief but strong snowstorms, triggered by radiative cooling at night. Snowfall on Mars, it turns out, could be much more dramatic than expected.

"It seems quite satisfying that data acquired quite a few years ago from the Phoenix lander can so nicely be explained by the model," said Paul Mahaffy, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who was not involved in the work.

These snowstorms aren't quite like those on Earth, Spiga pointed out. For one thing, the "snow" probably isn't made of delicate, crystalline snowflakes; instead, it's probably more like tiny chunks of ice just a few micrometers thick. But the snow would be coming down fast, he added — about as fast as during a moderate thunderstorm on Earth.

"The amount of water overall is quite small — so you won't be able to build any snowmen on Mars with that, and you won't be able to put up a ski station," Spiga quipped.

Still, the fact that so little water in such a thin atmosphere could have such a pronounced effect on the mixing of air shows that far more remains to be learned about the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere, he said.

Understanding the influence of these storms will also help researchers better understand the Red Planet's dynamics many millions of years ago, when the planet's axial tilt toward the sun was more pronounced — which meant that the poles received far more sunlight than they did before, resulting in a very different climate.

Mahaffy, who leads instruments on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover and the MAVEN spacecraft, agreed.

"It's a little piece of the puzzle in our understanding of Mars," he said.

 on: Aug 22, 2017, 04:34 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Fruitcake From Robert Scott Expedition Is ‘Almost’ Edible at 106 Years Old

NY Times

Consider the fruitcake.

Long maligned for its questionable taste (what did Grandma put in this thing?), its ubiquity (stubbornly appearing at any or every celebratory event) and its toughness (the fridge gives it life), the dessert may have further cemented itself in food lore after a discovery in Antarctica.

In one of the most hostile regions known to humankind, conservationists unearthed an ice-covered fruitcake they believe once belonged to the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust said this past week.

The age of the fruitcake: 106 years old.

A program manager said it was in “excellent condition.”

And the trust said it smelled “almost” edible.

The cake, dating to the Cape Adare-based Northern Party of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition (1910-13), was found in Antarctica’s oldest building, which was constructed by a Norwegian explorer’s team in 1899 and used by Scott’s team in 1911, the trust said.

The dessert, found wrapped in paper and in its original “tin-plated iron alloy tin” container, was made by the British biscuit company Huntley & Palmers. It boasts that its “biscuits were exported all over the world and their tins have turned up in the most unexpected places.”

Lizzie Meek, program manager for artifacts at the trust, said in a statement that the cake was surprisingly well preserved.

“There was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it, but other than that, the cake looked and smelled edible,” she said. “There is no doubt the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation.”

The cake was among about 1,500 artifacts collected from two huts by a team of conservationists that had been working at the site since May 2016. “Finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake among them was quite a surprise,” Ms. Meek said.

But why did the explorers haul a fruitcake to the South Pole?

“It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions,” she said, “and is still a favorite item on modern-day trips to the ice.”

Ms. Meek explained to National Geographic: “Fruitcake was a popular item in English society at the time, and it remains popular today. Living and working in Antarctica tends to lead to a craving for high-fat, high-sugar food, and fruitcake fits the bill nicely, not to mention going very well with a cup of tea.”

The trust’s team finished part of the conservation project in July. Some of the other artifacts found: tools, clothing and what Ms. Meek described as “badly deteriorated” meat and fish and “rather nice-looking” jams.

All the artifacts were flown to Christchurch, New Zealand, where they were conserved at a lab at the Canterbury Museum.

The next phase will be conservation work on the buildings at Cape Adare, the first in Antarctica and the only examples left of humanity’s first building on any continent, the trust says.
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Everything found will be returned to its original resting place, in accordance with the site’s status as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area.

An emailed statement from the trust on Sunday said: “Because the cake was one of nearly 1,500 artifacts removed from Antarctica’s first building, there are very strict rules around its handling, and it is now being stored carefully before it is returned to the hut (once the building is restored).”

The recipe for preserving the fruitcake’s container, according to the trust, involves rust removal, chemical stabilization, coating of the tin remnants, deacidification of the tin label and repairing of the paper wrapper and tin label.

The cake itself? Untouched.

There is documentation showing that Scott took cake made by Huntley & Palmers, headquartered in Reading, England, with him on his explorations, said the trust, a nonprofit organization that is in the business of “inspiring explorers.”

Matthew Williams, manager of the Reading Museum, which has in its collection biscuits that came back from Scott’s supply huts, said in an email that Huntley & Palmers was the principal suppliers of biscuits for the Terra Nova Antarctic expedition.

The treats were specially made to the following formula:

    “Flour 80 lb, rice gluten 13 3/4 lb, wheat meal 20 lb, sugar 7 1/2 lb, lard 2 1/2 lb, salt 10 oz, sodium bicarbonate 2 1/2 oz, water, 40 lb.

    They were baked to a final water content of 5%, and each biscuit weighed 2 oz.”

The museum’s website said, “Modern research has shown that the polar party’s daily ration of 4,100 calories was 800 calories short, and their diet was deficient in vitamins, as well as energy-producing elements.”

Mr. Williams is well acquainted with tales of the fruitcake’s longevity. He wrote, “We often get the public coming forward with preserved H&P fruitcakes from weddings and christenings.”

There are those who believe that fruitcake is forever, and Scott’s may continue to stand the test of time. As for the explorer, his second trip to the South Pole was ill-fated. He and his companions made the arduous trip to the bottom of the world, only to find that a Norwegian team had beaten them to it by 33 days. On their way back to base in 1912, trekking through severe weather and struck by frostbite, starvation and exposure, the British explorers all perished.

 on: Aug 21, 2017, 06:26 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
The Turku attack changes perceptions of security in Finland

New Europe

An attack by a single man in the city of Turku on Friday is treated as a planned terrorist incident. That is the first attack of its kind in the small Nordic country.

The attack

The Turku assailant killed two and injured eight citizens in the area surrounding Turku’s Market Square.

As reported by the Helsinki Times, the police believe that the assailant specifically targeted women. Both casualties were Finnish women, while the men injured were had tried to protect them.

Turku is a small city with a population of 180,000 people in south-west Finland. Located on the Baltic coast, it attracts a number of tourists. Among those wounded in the attack were an Italian, a Swedish, a Briton, and five Finnish citizens, according to AP.

Two victims remain in intensive care according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The assailant and the investigation

The 18-year old assailant is being treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries. He is a confirmed asylum seeker of Moroccan origin who arrived in Finland in 2016. Like most Nordic countries, Finland has a high number of refugees, peaking at 32,500 in 2015.

His name has not been released.

Four more Moroccan-origin asylum seekers have been arrested, while Finnish authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for a fifth suspect who has left the country. Finnish authorities are coordinating their efforts with Europol on the investigation.

Implications for Finland

It is unclear whether or not any of the applications for asylums of the men held under custody had been successful.

One of the questions being asked is whether the suspects were related to the cell that organized the attack in Barcelona, Spain, the same time.

Authorities are investigating whether the group in Finland has any other links to the group in Spain. Another question is whether there were any links between the Finnish suspects and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

What is certain is that Turku has experienced over the weekend the first anti-terrorist investigation of its kind. It may not be the last. It may not be the last. According to sources in the country’s intelligence service (Supo), the number of individuals that are being tailed for their activity linked to Islamic extremism in the country has risen to 350, that is, an 80% increase compared to 2012, the Financial Times reports.

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