Friday, 21 July 2017

When the world's glaciers shrunk, New Zealand's grew bigger


The question has puzzled scientists: when the world's glaciers were retreating, why were New Zealand's glaciers getting bigger?\

New research from a group of New Zealand scientists may have solved the mystery, but it's not good news; New Zealand's glaciers are now likely to continue melting at a dramatic rate.
Between 1983 and 2008, when the vast majority of the world's glaciers were shrinking in a warming world, at least 58 New Zealand glaciers grew bigger.

The Southern Alps was one of a handful of areas internationally where glaciers were growing – In 2005, 15 of the 26 advancing glaciers worldwide were in New Zealand.

In that time, Franz Josef Glacier regained nearly half the mass it had lost during the 20th century.
The unusual period of advance came after several decades or rapid decline, which for many glaciers has resumed since 2008.

Many of the country's largest glaciers have retreated substantially since 2011 with several on track to disappear entirely.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/89403443/When-the-worlds-glaciers-shrunk-New-Zealands-grew-biggerhttp://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/89403443/When-the-worlds-glaciers-shrunk-New-Zealands-grew-bigger.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/89403443/When-the-worlds-glaciers-shrunk-New-Zealands-grew-bigger

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

There's a pressing need to value eco-friendly wool

OPINION

 Eco-friendl, sustainable and good for the environment are all well-worn admirable sentiments. Aspirations we should all be aiming towards.

But sometimes the interpretation can be interesting and somewhat biased. A garment is termed eco-friendly when made out of recycled plastic bottles.

The garment might be a product of clever manufacturing and it's a good idea to keep these bottles out of rubbish dumps, but it conveniently overlooks the fact that plastic is a synthetic product made from crude oil . And we are all well aware that extracting fossil fuels is certainly not a sustainable practise.
In addition there is the huge issue of microfibres shed when synthetic materials are washed. The estimate of 1.7 grams of microfibre lost off every garment in every wash doubles for older fabrics.
 
This pollution enters waterways, lakes, oceans and shorelines and also into fish and shellfish along the food chain.

Considering the amount of synthetic clothes washed every day, this is serious and not fixable by simply fencing waterways.

There is a choice of action. Either try to isolate the problem using anti-shed treatments, filters, nets or even waterless washing machines, or eliminate the problem by no longer using unsustainable, environmentally unfriendly fabrics and instead find alternatives.

We already have a wonderful natural product readily available. It can be used to create clothing, blankets, carpets, mats and furniture upholstery. Because of its amazing properties it is also used for making piano dampers, the fuzz on the outside of tennis balls, the stuffing inside baseballs and, ironically, even absorbent pads to mop up those eco-damaging oil spills.

Resistance to fire is a major advantage and it doesn't drip or melt, which gives a huge safety factor superior to synthetics. Any fibres shed are totally biodegradable so no pollution is washed into waterways
 
The unsung hero is, of course, a great product we grow efficiently in New Zealand, exporting about 84,000 tonnes last year. Whoopee for wonderful, warm wool.

The best action any enthusiastic environmentalist could do for sustainability is to proudly promote wool. As the "green movement " is sensibly returning to basic values like making compost, eating home-grown vegetables, upcycling clothing, using less chemical cleaners and being more aware of our footprint, it is high time we championed wool again, as our grandparents did.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/rural-women/94799701/pressing-need-to-value-ecofriendly-wool

Thursday, 13 July 2017

One trillion tonne iceberg breaks off from Antarctica


A one trillion tonne iceberg has broken off from an Antarctic ice shelf, changing the shape of the Antarctic Peninsula forever.

The much-anticipated calving from the Larsen C Ice Shelf reduces its area by more than 12 per cent, though the 5800 square km iceberg won't have an impact on sea levels as it was already floating before completely breaking away.

Researchers have previously shown the rift could increase the risk of instability leading to the wider ice shelf's collapse - a fate which befell its neighbour Larsen B, seven years after it experienced its own calving event in 1995.

A section of an iceberg - about 6000 sq km - broke away as part of the natural cycle of iceberg calving off the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antarctica in this satellite image released by the European Space Agency on July 12, 2017.

Believed to size up among the top ten on record (it is roughly 6000sqkm, siz times the size of Auckland city), the iceberg separated from Larsen C sometime between July 10 and July 12 - the event detected and confirmed separately by two Nasa satellites.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/science/94676841

Sunday, 9 July 2017

China builds a 100-hectare solar farm shaped like a giant panda


A new solar power plant in Datong, China, decided to have a little fun with its design.
China Merchants New Energy Group, one of the country's largest clean energy operators, built a 248-acre solar farm in the shape of a giant panda.

The first phase, which includes one 50-megawatt plant, was completed on June 30, according to PV magazine. The project just began delivering power to a grid in northwestern China, and a second panda is planned for later this year.

Called the Panda Power Plant, it will be able to produce 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of solar energy in 25 years, according to the company. That will eliminate approximately one million tonnes of coal that would have been used to produce electricity, reducing carbon emissions by 2.74 million tonnes.

China Merchants New Energy Group worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to make the Panda Power Plant a reality. The project is part of a larger effort to raise awareness among young people in China about clean energy, the UNDP wrote in a statement.

The groups hope to build more panda-shaped solar plants throughout China in the next five years.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Third of turtles found dead on New Zealand beaches had ingested plastic



A third of turtles found dead on New Zealand beaches have swallowed plastic, an expert says, and single-use shopping bags are the most common culprit.

Dan Godoy, of Massey University's Coastal-Marine Research Group, said the turtles' intestinal tract got blocked when they mistook soft plastics for jellyfish, resulting in "horrific" deaths.
"They can't digest food, and they basically slowly die," Godoy said.
\
Dan Godoy, of Massey University's Coastal-Marine Research Group, said 30 per cent of stranded turtles had plastic in their stomachs.
"In the turtles that I've looked at, and [from] other studies around the world, it's the soft, white, and translucent plastics items – so plastic bags particularly – that are consumed in a higher proportion than other items."

The Government has been facing mounting pressure from local bodies, environmental groups, and schoolchildren to take action against the more than a billion plastic bags Kiwis discard annually. So far there's been no real movement on the problem.

Some of the samples of plastic found in turtles stomachs.
, and said of those with plastic in their stomachs, about half had died as a direct result.

He has seen instances where hard plastic had punctured the intestines and fishing line had cut through the intestinal wall, resulting in a horrific death for the reptile.

"Marine turtles aren't the only ones, we are seeing this in a huge range of species – seabirds, even whales," he said.

Up to half of turtles found to have eaten plastic died directly as a result.
On one occasion he was able to tell by the label that the plastic wrapping had come from Lower Hutt.​
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https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/94277174/third-of-turtles-found-dead-on-new-zealand-beaches-had-ingested-plastic

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Meet Sudan, the last surviving male northern white rhino


There is a small dusty patch of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya that is marked by 18 rocky headstones. On a plaque bolted to each is the name of a rhino that has been killed by poachers.

Nearby, past watch towers manned 24 hours a day by armed guards, stands - or, these days, more often sits - a mammoth two-ton herbivore munching the grass. He is Sudan, the last surviving male northern white rhino, and quite possibly the most famous animal on the planet.

Sudan is now 43 (or 100 in rhino years) and it is feared only has months left to live. As the last male of his species, he receives 40,000 visitors a year from all over the globe, Elizabeth Hurley and Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly among them.

Sudan is also a star of Instagram and boasts his own hashtag #lastmalestanding as well as a Tinder account, where he is described as the "most eligible bachelor in the world" and, inevitably, "horny". Such is the interest in him that competing film crews are restricted to one visit a day.

Award-winning filmmaker Rowan Deacon is the latest to tell his story. In a new BBC documentary, Sudan: The Last of the Rhinos, Deacon has pieced together Sudan's fascinating life.

After being born in the wild in South Sudan, he was captured by animal trappers employed by England's Chipperfield Circus and sold to a zoo in the then-communist Czechoslovakia, before finally being shipped back to Africa in a desperate attempt to make him breed.

Even now, as Sudan sees out his last days in Kenya, scientists in Berlin are attempting novel forms of rhino IVF with his sperm. When the inevitable moment arrives, a pre-written obituary is waiting to be sent out to newsdesks around the world.

Rhinos have been on this earth for 50 million years and it is not some quirk of evolution that has caused the demise of this magnificent species, but us, humans.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/africa/94069722/meet-sudan-the-last-surviving-male-northern-white-rhino

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Seafloor scans reveal what lurks beneath the surface of the Marlborough Sounds


Scans of Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel have wrapped up after eight months on the water.
Eight months, 30 terabytes and 40,000 hectares later, a state-of-the-art scanning project of the Marlborough Sounds seabed has wrapped up.

The scans of Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel will create three-dimensional maps of the depths below, and mark the first significant update to boat charts since 1942.

The joint project between Marlborough District Council, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) began in October last year.

Niwa national projects manager Dr Helen Neil said the Sounds had thrown up some challenges for the hydrographic and scientific survey.
 
"Successful work was carried out in a challenging marine environment, the palette of the Sounds changed each day with sunshine, fog and occasionally those windy bumpy seas," she said.

About 30 terabytes of information from the scans will be transformed into free charts for skippers.

"It has been a privilege to work within one of New Zealand's natural treasures, unlocking nature's secrets and working with a community that is passionate about the environment."

Multi-beam technology was used to map the seabed and capture water column features.

Scientists described the process as similar to "mowing the lawn" - where they proceeded up and back to scan each strip of the ocean floor.
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The results would offer a data-rich snapshot of the sea floor to determine habitats, identify seeps and plumes and detect fish shoals and kelp beds.

The team from Niwa spent about 2800 hours on the water to finish the job, Neil said.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/93926578/seafloor-scans-reveal-what-lurks-beneath-the-surface-of-the-marlborough-sounds