Monday, 29 February 2016

Bee and butterfly loss 'threatens world food supply'

The first global assessment of creatures that pollinate crops found up to two in five are sliding towards extinction. Photo / iStock 

Plummeting numbers of bees, butterflies and other insect populations are placing world food supplies under threat, a United Nations report has warned.

Millions of people's livelihoods are also at risk, researchers say.

The first global assessment of creatures that pollinate crops found up to two in five are sliding towards extinction.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Seas are now rising faster than they have in 2800 years, scientists say

"We can say with 95 percent probability that the 20th-century rise was faster than any of the previous 27 centuries," said Bob Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University. Photo / iStock 
Scientists says they have now reconstructed the history of the planet's sea levels arcing back over 3000 years - and conclude that the rate of rise in the 20th century was "extremely likely" to have been faster than during nearly the entire period.

"We can say with 95 per cent probability that the 20th-century rise was faster than any of the previous 27 centuries," said Bob Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University who led the research with nine colleagues from several US and global universities. Kopp said it's not that seas rose faster before that - they probably didn't - but the ability to say that with the same level confidence declines.

The study was published on yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Seas rose about 14cm from 1900 to 2000, the new study suggests, or about 1.4mm a year. The current rate, according to NASA, is 3.4mm a year, suggesting that sea level rise is still accelerating.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Antarctica could be more vulnerable to major melting than we thought

Scientists say that Antarctica seems to have given up tremendous volumes of ice. Photo / iStock 
In two new studies, scientists say that the vast ice continent of Antarctica seems to have given up tremendous volumes of ice -- even sprouting considerable plant life -- during an era over 10 million years ago when concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide don't seem to have been all that much higher than they are now.

That period was known as the Miocene. And during its early and middle phases, between 23 and 14 million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations are believed to have sometimes reached around 500 parts per million or somewhat higher -- not so very far from the 400 parts per million (and rising) where we stand today.

During this same era, finds the research, the continent is believed to have lost volumes of ice equivalent to tens of meters of sea level rise around the globe. Overall, Antarctica currently contains enough ice to raise seas by some 60 metres, were it to melt entirely.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

'The Cecil effect': Zimbabwe park warns it may shoot 200 'surplus' lions

It is the country where Cecil the lion was killed, sparking international anger against the American dentist who shot him.

The outcry over Walter Palmer's killing of Cecil drove other big-game hunters away from Zimbabwe, fearful they too would attract the opprobrium of the public.

But in what is being described as a side-effect of the affair, Zimbabwe's largest wildlife area says it now finds itself suffering from an overpopulation of lions.

Bubye Valley Conservancy has more than 500 lions, the largest number in Zimbabwe's diminishing wildlife areas.

It has warned that its lion population has become unsustainable and that it may even have to cull around 200 as a result of what is being called "the Cecil effect".

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Kiwis on to hot source of energy

Scientists have turned to an intriguing place to source cheaper, more efficient energy - blazing-hot magma kilometres below the ground.

At present New Zealand sources about 13 per cent of its electricity from its geothermal assets, drawing out water pre-heated to temperatures of up to 350C from hot rock deep beneath the Earth.
But Canterbury University volcanologist Dr Ben Kennedy said it was possible much more energy could be found from sourcing even hotter fluids at the margins of magma chambers, where temperatures run from 700C to 1200C.

It would mean drilling several kilometres into the Earth with equipment that could withstand the "acidic and supercritical fluids" that would be produced when magma was struck, he told the Herald.
"This concept has long been laughed at by geologists and engineers as science fiction, or a little crazy, but technology is evolving," he said.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Scientists are floored by what's happening in the Arctic right now

New data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest that January of 2016 was, for the globe, a truly extraordinary month. Coming off the hottest year ever recorded (2015), January saw the greatest departure from average of any month on record, according to data provided by NASA.

But the record breaking heat wasn't uniformly distributed - it was particularly pronounced at the top of the world, showing temperature anomalies above 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1951 to 1980 average in this region.

Indeed, NASA provides a "zonal mean" temperature map, which shows how the temperature departures from average change based on one's latitude location on the Earth. Things get especially warm, relative to what the Earth is used to, as you enter the very high latitudes.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

150,000 penguins die in iceberg crash

Some 150,000 penguins died after a massive iceberg grounded near their colony in Antarctica, forcing them to make a lengthy trek to find food, scientists say in a newly-published study.

The B09B iceberg, measuring some 100 square kilometres, grounded in Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica in December 2010, the researchers from Australia and New Zealand wrote in the Antarctic Science journal.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Mesmerising Mass Sheep Herding

A video of New Zealand sheep which has gone viral was shot on a whim by a Hawke's Bay photographer.

Tim Whittaker had been taking some still photographs of sheep at a farm off the Napier-Taihape road for Beef and Lamb when he decided to shoot some video from his drone.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

China's booming ocean parks spell misery for bears, belugas, dolphin

The polar bears pace back and forth in their enclosure, heads lolling as they turn, their distress apparent. Chinese tourists crowd around display windows to snap quick close-ups on their phones.

Beluga whales nod in time to loud music, "kiss" children or spit plumes of water toward the gasping crowd. A walrus blows a trumpet, seals catch Frisbees and dolphins propel their trainers through the water on their beaks.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

These Are the 10 Worst Tourist Attractions for Wildlife Around the World

No 6 on the list of the 10 Worst Tourist Attractions for Wildlife is Performing Dolphins. Vote with your feet! Don't go!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Outlook for 5 years picks heat to rise

Global temperatures will continue to soar over the next year as rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions and El Nino combine to bring more record-breaking warmth to the planet.

According to the Met Office's forecast for the next five years, this year is likely to be the warmest since records began. Next year there will be a dip as the effects of El Nino dissipate, but after that, and for the remainder of the decade, the world will experience more warming. The forecast, which is to be put out this week, is the first such report since the Met Office overhauled its near-term climate prediction system last year.

"We cannot say exactly how hot 2018, 2019 or 2020 will be. That will depend on other variables. But the general trend is going to be upwards," said Doug Smith, a Met Office expert on long-term forecasting.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Giant Whale Carcasses Are Washing Ashore Across Europe

Dead carcasses fromSperm whales have  been found on beaches in Europe. We can't point the finger at the what has caused these huge mammals to die?

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Endangered Right Whales Get More Protected Habitat, But is It Enough?

At last further protection for the endangered Right whale who now gets and extra 39,414 sq miles off the East Coast of USA to play in. Hopefully their numbers will start to increase beyond the minimal level of 500!