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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Toxin found in sardines that clogged US marina

Toxin found in sardines that clogged US marina

(AP) -- The millions of sardines that were found floating dead in a Southern California marina this week tested positive for a powerful neurotoxin, researchers said Friday.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Latest Temblor An Interplate Quake: Meteorological Agency

Latest Temblor An Interplate Quake: Meteorological Agency

TOKYO (Nikkei)--The major earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on Friday had the hallmarks of an interplate quake, which occurs at the boundary between two tectonic plates.
At the area near the epicenter, the North American plate, on which part of the Japanese archipelago lies, slips under the Pacific plate. The temblor was likely triggered when the North American plate snapped upward, releasing the accumulated strain.

A whirlpool caused by the quake-triggered tsunami at Tomakomai port in Hokkaido.
The earthquake occurred near the site of another tremor that shook Miyagi Prefecture on Wednesday, so the earlier quake may have been a foreshock, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
"There aren't many instances in which such a large earthquake occurs right after a magnitude 7-class quake," said an official at the agency. "This is a highly unusual case."
The agency warns that aftershocks registering around magnitude 7 could take place over the next month.
Major quakes have occurred off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture about every 40 years, the previous being a magnitude 7.4 temblor in 1978. Government experts had expected that one registering between 7.5 and 8 would hit, but the latest packed a wallop of magnitude 8.8.
The plate may have shifted over a stretch of several hundred kilometers along the fault on Friday, according to the agency, with some experts putting the figure at upwards of 400-500km.
"In last year's magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile, the fault is said to have moved over a span of about 800km, so the latest quake may be similar," said Kyoto University Professor Manabu Hashimoto.
Friday's interplate earthquake is different from the Great Hanshin Earthquake that rocked the Kobe area in 1995, which was an intraplate quake.
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U.S. experts offer quake analysis

U.S. experts offer quake analysis

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers Pittsburgh (UPI) Mar 11, 2011 The unusually strong 8.9-magnitude quake that shook Japan Friday strained Japan's civil and nuclear power infrastructure, U.S. researchers say. University of Pittsburgh seismologist Bill Harbert said Pitt's seismograph detected the 8.9-magnitude quake for 3 hours, a rare magnitude and duration, a Pitt release said Friday.
Pitt's seismic station registered near-constant activity for the full 3 hours, he said.
Kent Harries, a Pitt professor of civil and environmental engineering, said while much of Japan's infrastructure is among the most disaster-resistant in the world, earthquake- and tsunami-resistant construction calls for entirely different principles.
For tsunamis, buildings need to be able to let water pass through -- such as beach houses on stilts -- while structures need a solid base to withstand an earthquake.
Although Japan has done well incorporating both requirements, Harries said, "the tsunami clearly seems to be the dominant source of destruction."
John Metzger, a Pitt professor of mechanical engineering and material science, said Japan's emergency procedures, modern reactor and plant designs, and lessons learned from Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island incident in 1979 mean Japanese reactors will likely remain stable.
Modern reactors permit a lengthy amount of time to respond, and it appears Japanese engineers were able to institute safety measures in a reasonable amount of time, Metzger, a nuclear engineer, said.
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Going to Earth's core for climate insights

Going to Earth's core for climate insights

Going to Earth's core for climate insights


A NASA/university study of data on Earth's rotation, movements in Earth's molten core and global surface air temperatures has uncovered interesting correlations. Credit: NASA/JPL-Université Paris Diderot - Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
(PhysOrg.com) -- The latest evidence of the dominant role humans play in changing Earth's climate comes not from observations of Earth's ocean, atmosphere or land surface, but from deep within its molten core.



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North Atlantic oceanic currents play a greater role in the absorption of carbon than previously thought

North Atlantic oceanic currents play a greater role in the absorption of carbon than previously thought




The ocean traps carbon through two principal mechanisms: a biological pump and a physical pump linked to oceanic currents. A team of French researchers have managed to quantify the role of these two pumps in an area of the North Atlantic. Contrary to expectations, the physical pump in this region could be nearly 100 times more powerful on average than the biological pump. By pulling down masses of water cooled and enriched with carbon, ocean circulation thus plays a crucial role in deep carbon sequestration in the North Atlantic. These results are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
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Will Water Set The World On Fire?

Will Water Set The World On Fire?


By Ashvin Pandurangi


Water Scarcity Chart

UN alarmed at huge decline in bee numbers

UN alarmed at huge decline in bee numbers

by Staff Writers Geneva (AFP) March 10, 2011 The UN on Thursday expressed alarm at a huge decline in bee colonies under a multiple onslaught of pests and pollution, urging an international effort to save the pollinators that are vital for food crops. Much of the decline, ranging up to 85 percent in some areas, is taking place in the industrialised northern hemisphere due to more than a dozen factors, according to a report by the UN's environmental agency.
They include pesticides, air pollution, a lethal pinhead-sized parasite that only affects bee species in the northern hemisphere, mismanagement of the countryside, the loss of flowering plants and a decline in beekeepers in Europe.
"The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century," said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.
"The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees," he added.
Wild bees and especially honey bee colonies from hives are regarded as the most prolific pollinators of large fields or crops.
Overall, pollinators are estimated to contribute 153 billion euros ($212 billion) worldwide or 9.5 percent of the total value of food production, especially fruit and vegetables, according to the report.
Honey bee colony declines in recent years have reached 10 to 30 percent in Europe, 30 percent in the United States,and up to 85 percent in Middle East, said scientist Peter Neumann, one of the authors of the first ever UN report on the issue.
But in South America, Africa and Australia there were no reports of high losses.
"It is a very complex issue. There are a lot of interactive factors and one country alone is not able to solve the problem, that's for sure. We need to have an international network, global approaches," added Neumann of the Swiss government's Bee Research Centre.
Some of the mechanisms behind the four-decades-old trend, which appears to have intensified in the late 1990s, are not understood. UNEP warned that the broad issue of countryside management and conservation was involved.
"The bees will get the headlines in this story," UNEP spokesman Nick Nuttall told journalists.
"But in a sense they are an indicator of the wider changes that are happening in the countryside but also urban environments, in terms of whether nature can continue to provide the services as it has been doing for thousands or millions of years in the face of acute environmental change," he added.
Nonetheless, scientists have been unable so far to quantify the direct impact of bee decline on crops or plants, and Neumann insisted that some of the impact was qualitative.
Citing British research, the report estimated that pollination by managed honey bees is worth 22.8 billion to 57 billion euros in terms of crop yields, and that some fruit, seed and nut crops would decrease by more than 90 percent without them.
One key driving force behind bee destruction in Europe and North America has been a type of mite, the varroa destructor pest, which attacks bees and that beekeepers struggle to control, Neumann said.
"It's quite shocking how little we know about this essential pest of honey bees although it has caused havoc in agriculture for more than 20 years."
"African bees are tolerant, we don't know why," he added.
Meanwhile, frequent changes in land use, degradation and fragmentation of fields, trade carrying hostile species such as the Asian hornet into France or virulent fungi, chemical spraying and gardening insecticides as well as changing seasons due to climate change have added to the hostile environment for bees.
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