The scientific community is stunned by research which backs an Australian Aboriginal legend on how coastal palm trees got to Central Australia. Tasmanian ecologist Professor David Bowman did DNA tests on palm seeds from the outback, and his conclusion is startling :: Read the full article »»»»
Global greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached an ominous milestone that is unprecedented in human history. The world’s longest measure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million for the first time in three million years.
The daily CO2 level is measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which tracks greenhouse gases in the Northern Hemisphere. The level has been measured at Mauna Loa since 1958, with data before that taken from ice core samples.
The last time it reached this level, temperatures rose by between three and four degrees and sea levels were between five and 40 metres higher than today. Still sceptical? :: Read the full article »»»»
A re-analysis of temperature records from 1958 to 2010 revealed an increase of 2.4 degrees Celsius over the period, three times the average global rise.
The increase means west Antarctica is one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth, according to paper co-author David Bromwich of the Byrd Polar Research Centre.
“Records suggests that continued summer warming in west Antarctica could upset the surface balance of the ice sheet, so that the region could make an even bigger contribution to sea-level rise than it already does.” David Bromwich said :: Read the full article »»»»
Anna Salleh from abc.net.au has a superlative piece on the effects of pesticides on the environment. As suspected for many years the pesticide run off from farms may be having a negative affect on the ecology of Australia’s river system. The new report says that pesticides could be damaging river biodiversity at levels that have been traditionally regarded as environmentally safe by authorities, suggests a new study.
“Pesticides are having an effect at 10 to 100 times lower concentrations than traditionally thought,”Dr Kefford said.
Kefford goes on to say that when authorities try to protect our streams and rivers from pesticides they rely on thresholds, under which it is assumed pesticides have no effect. For example, the European Union recommends the use of a commonly-used safety factor of 100.
This means if a negative effect on an aquatic organism is only seen at a particular concentration of pesticide, then a safe level of that pesticide is regarded as being one hundredth of this concentration :: Read Anna Salleh’s full article at abc.net.au»»»»
The Yeti Crab!? Antarctic Marine Biodiversity and Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents Produce New Undiscovered Species of Marine LifePosted: January 5th, 2012 | Author: M.Aaron Silverman | Filed under: Cankler Science News, Ecology | Tags: Antarctic Marine Biodiversity, Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents, New Undiscovered Species of Marine Life, Science News, Taxa, Yeti Crab | Comments Off on The Yeti Crab!? Antarctic Marine Biodiversity and Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents Produce New Undiscovered Species of Marine Life
A seven-pronged starfish, a mysterious pale octopus and a new kind of ‘yeti’ crab are among a teeming community of previously undiscovered life on the sea floor near Antarctica, British researchers said. The species, described this week on the online journal PloS Biology, were first glimpsed in 2010 when researchers lowered a robotic vehicle to explore the East Scotia Ridge deep beneath the Southern Ocean, between Antarctica and the tip of South America. The dark and remote area is home to hydrothermal vents, which are deep-sea springs that spew liquid at temperatures of up to 382 degrees Celsius, and have previously been found to host unusual life forms in other parts of the world.
“Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide,” said lead researcher Alex Rogers of Oxford University. “The first survey of these particular vents, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, has revealed a hot, dark, ‘lost world’ in which whole communities of previously unknown marine organisms thrive.”
Vent ecosystems have been documented from many sites across the globe, associated with the thermally and chemically variable habitats found around these, typically high temperature, streams that are rich in reduced compounds and polymetallic sulphides. This most recent work by Steven Chown and his team of researchers has brought to the surface some pretty incredible findings, animal communities of the Southern Ocean vent ecosystems are very different to those found at other vent locations around the globe. Much of the biological significance of deep-sea hydrothermal vents lies in their biodiversity, the diverse biochemistry of their bacteria, the remarkable symbioses among many of the marine animals and these bacteria, and the prospects that investigations of these systems hold for understanding the conditions that may have led to the first appearance of life. Read the full article »»»»