Archive | Tidal

Moon of Saturn May Have Hidden Ocean

GREENBELT, Md., Oct. 7 (UPI) — A moon of Saturn that should be frozen solid may have liquid oceans, thanks to a “wobble” it experiences as it orbits the ringed planet, researchers say.

With temperatures around 324 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, the surface of Enceladus is indeed frozen, but in 2005 NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovered a giant plume of water gushing from cracks in the surface over the moon’s south pole, suggesting there was a reservoir of water beneath the ice, a release from NASA’s Goddard Space Center said Thursday.

Analysis of the plume by Cassini shows the water is salty, indicating the reservoir is large, perhaps even a global subsurface ocean.

Scientists estimate the south polar heating is equivalent to a continuous release of about 13 billion watts of energy.

Researchers say tidal heating may be keeping Enceladus warm enough for liquid water to remain under its surface.

Enceladus’ orbit around Saturn is slightly oval-shaped and the moon moves closer in and then farther away as it travels around the planet. The fluctuating gravitational tug on Enceladus causes it to flex slightly, and the flexing, called gravitational tidal forcing, generates heat from friction deep within Enceladus.

Also, the moon’s rotation as it orbits may not be uniform, scientists say, and additional heat caused by this “wobble” could be five times as much as that created by tidal heating.

The extra heat makes it likely that Enceladus’ ocean could be long-lived, significant to a search for life on the orbiting moon, because life requires a stable environment to develop, NASA scientists say.

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Satellites Confirm World Mangrove Losses

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) — A decline in the world’s mangrove forests has been confirmed through comprehensive and exact data gathered by orbiting satellites, scientists say.

Scientists from the U.S Geological Survey and NASA say the area covered by mangrove forests, among the most productive and biologically important ecosystems of the world, is 12.3 percent smaller than earlier estimates, research published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography reveals.

The forests of trees, palms and shrubs, which grow at tropical and subtropical tidal zones across the equator, have adapted to challenging environmental conditions, thriving in regions of high salinity, scorching temperatures and extreme tides, researchers say.

Increasing human activity and frequent severe storms have taken their toll, however, resulting in a loss rate for mangrove forests higher than the loss of inland tropical forests and coral reefs, the new data shows.

“The current estimate of mangrove forests of the world is less than half what it once was, and much of that is in a degraded condition,” Dr. Chandra Giri from the USGS said. “It is believed that 35 percent of mangrove forests were lost from 1980 to 2000, which has had an impact on the coastal communities that use mangrove forests as a protective barrier from natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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High Bacteria Levels Close Mass. Beaches

BOSTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) — High bacteria levels at many beaches along the Massachusetts coast resulted in them being closed to swimming Friday, state officials said.

Three state-run beaches — Tenean Beach in Dorchester, Carson Beach in South Boston, and Wollaston Beach in Quincy — were posted closed because of the bacteria enterococcus, which causes gastrointestinal symptoms similar to E. coli, The Boston Globe reported.

Beaches in 14 other Boston area communities have been posted closed in the past several days due to high bacteria counts, a state Web site said.

Department of Conservation and Recreation spokeswoman Wendy Fox said it usually takes one tidal cycle, 12 hours, for the bacteria to wash away, but it could take two to four cycles at Wollaston.

“Wollaston is different because it’s very wide, very shallow, and very protected,” she said.

There are four storm drains that empty into the water at Wollaston, making it more susceptible to bacteria, Fox said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Heat Wave Kills Clams, Crabs in Japan

TOKYO, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A heat wave has caused mass deaths of clams and crabs in Tokyo Bay, ecological researchers say.

Scientists from Toho University say they believe the die-off of up to 80 percent of baby-neck clams was due to lack of oxygen when the extended heat wave accelerated the decomposition of marine algae, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

A Toho graduate student noticed the phenomenon July 28, prompting an urgent study.

Large amounts of edible green algae called sea lettuce grow every year on tidal flats in the bay.

Researchers think the algae dissolved abruptly as the heat wave warmed waters in the bay, resulting in less oxygen in the water and making it deadly for certain species of clams and crabs.

Weather records show the average temperature in the Tokyo area this year has been 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Heat Wave Kills Clams, Crabs in Japan

TOKYO, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A heat wave has caused mass deaths of large quantities of clams and crabs in Tokyo Bay, ecological researchers say.

Scientists from Toho University say they believe the die-off of up to 80 percent of baby-neck clams was due to lack of oxygen when the extended heat wave accelerated the decomposition of marine algae, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

A Toho graduated student noticed the phenomenon July 28, prompting an urgent study.

Large amounts of edible green algae called sea lettuce grow every year on tidal flats in the bay.

Researchers think the algae dissolved abruptly as the heat wave warmed waters in the bay, resulting in less oxygen in the water, making it deadly for certain species of clams and crabs.

Weather records show the average temperature in the Tokyo area this year has been 5 degrees F higher than normal, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Consortium to Study Gulf Oil Spill Effects

WOODS HOLE, Mass., June 15 (UPI) — Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say they’ve formed a consortium with two Louisiana institutions to study the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

WHOI officials say they have joined with Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium to determine the myriad impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil discharge and to devise and implement possible solutions to the disaster.

The three institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding forming a consortium called the Gulf Oil Research Program.

“The purpose of the consortium is to work cooperatively to plan, secure funding for, execute and report on a program of scientific research to describe and quantify the effects of the oil spill on varied environments, communities and species in the affected region, and to develop and implement remediations where feasible,” the memorandum said. “Effects of the discharged oil and dispersant chemicals are expected to be widespread and long lasting in many environments of the Gulf of Mexico, including deep sea benthos and water column, sub-tidal benthos, coastal marshes and beaches, with significant economic impacts to fisheries, tourism and coastal development.”

The memorandum will be in effect for an initial term of three years.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Cyclone Leaves Thousands Without Power

MIDGE POINT, Australia, March 22 (UPI) — Cyclone Ului caused millions of dollars in damage to crops, buildings, roads and businesses in Australia but no serious injuries were reported, officials said.

An estimated 30,000 homes were without power in Queensland, down from 60,000 at the height of the storm Sunday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Monday.

The cyclone crossed north of Mackay with 124-mph winds before weakening to a tropical storm and tracking west over inland Queensland.

About 20 boats were on the bottom of Shute Harbor near Airlie Beach, which was without power and running low on drinking water, the Mackay Regional Council said. In Midge Point, a tidal surge swept water and sand into homes and ripped apart a city park.

The storm, as a Category 3 cyclone, tore off roofs and uprooted large tree throughout the region, Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said, estimating the damage in the millions of dollars.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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2010 Energy Prize Competition Begins

HOUSTON, March 17 (UPI) — The ConocoPhillips Co. and Pennsylvania State University say they have opened the 2010 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize competition.

Officials said the competition awards up to $300,000 in recognition of original and viable solutions that can help improve the way the United States develops and uses energy.

The competition’s three areas are new energy source development, energy efficiency improvements and innovations that fight climate change.

Officials said the competition is open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Entrants must submit a comprehensive proposal before May 22.

An expert panel of judges will select up to five finalists to present their submissions in October. Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity, scalability, commercial viability and sustainability.

“Securing the nation’s energy future will require innovative ideas that maximize existing resources, create sustainable and diverse energy supplies, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Stephen Brand, ConocoPhillips senior vice president for technology.

ConocoPhillips and Penn State awarded the 2009 prize to a team that created a hydrokinetic machine that converts the movement of water from river and ocean currents into electric energy regardless of tidal current strength.

More information is available at www.conocophillips.com/energyprize.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Taiwan's Temperatures and Emissions Rise on Impact of Air Pollution

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Jan. 4 (UPI) — Taiwan’s temperatures have risen by an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, according to a government study.

Despite Taiwan’s rise in temperatures, sunny hours in the country have fallen. The decline — attributed to air pollution and suspended particles that had blocked the sunshine — ranges from 176 hours per year in the north to 552 hours per year in central Taiwan, the Central News Agency reports.

Taiwan’s sea level has risen an average of 1.18 inches over the past 10 years, or about 0.11 of an inch each year, according to Fan Kuang-lung, a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Oceanography.

Taiwan is becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change due to global warming and the pumping of underground water for farming and household use, said Fan, CNA reports. “Flooding will become the norm in some western tidal land areas,” he said.

Taiwan has also recorded the world’s highest growth in greenhouse gas emissions — 138 percent — over the past 16 years, said Liang Chi-yuan, a government minister.

But Taiwan will have to spend twice as much as other countries as a percentage of its gross domestic product to meet international carbon emissions reduction targets, said Yang Jih-chang, a senior adviser to the Industrial Technology Research Institute.

Because it has few natural resources and its industrial sector accounts for more than 50 percent of annual GDP, Yang estimates it would cost Taiwan $3.1 billion to $4.65 billion annually to meet the International Energy Agency’s recommendation that countries spend up to 0.5 percent of GDP to keep greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million by 2020.

Yang Chi-yuan, an associate professor at Chinese Culture University, said the government should not plot a carbon-reduction target using a top-down centralized process. He suggests instead that Taiwan allow agencies in charge of transportation, industrial and economic affairs to set targets based on practical abilities.

“We need not follow European and American countries in setting carbon reduction targets because their regulations do not necessarily meet Taiwan’s needs,” Yang Chi-yuan said, CNA reports.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shu-hung Shen said the government has passed laws on energy management and renewable energy development, admitting that more work still needs to be done.

“Once the statutes governing energy taxes and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are enacted, our legal framework on carbon reduction will be complete,” Shen said.

He urged Taiwan Power Co. to reduce the percentage of fossil fuels in its energy generation.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Atmospheric Science, Causes, Global Warming & Climate Change, Tidal, Transportation0 Comments

Iraq's Water Crisis Gets Worse Daily

BAGHDAD, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Iraq’s water crisis is getting worse by the day, adding to the political uncertainty sweeping the country ahead of potentially incendiary parliamentary elections in January.

On top of the cutbacks in the water flow of the life-giving Tigris and Euphrates rivers by Turkey, Iraq’s parched south is now threatened by encroaching tidal waters from the Gulf that are poisoning vital farmland, the result of climate change.

On Sept. 19, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that Ankara had agreed to increase the Euphrates flow to between 450 and 500 cubic meters per second until Oct. 20, after which Baghdad would have to negotiate a new deal.

But it will take much more than that to help the Iraqis, who are suffering one of the country’s worst droughts in living memory.

Apart from the land around the two great rivers that rise in Turkey’s Anatolia region, Iraq is largely desert. These days, its arable land is steadily drying up. Poor rains have damaged farmland even further.

Crop yields are so bad that a country once so fertile and known in antiquity as Mesopotamia – “the land between the rivers” – is now one of the largest importers of wheat in the world.

There is deepening distrust of Ankara in Iraq. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that Turkey has twice reneged on promises to increase the flow rate of the Euphrates, which also runs through Syria, Iraq’s northwestern neighbor.

Baghdad believes that the Syrians too are reducing the Euphrates flow. Damascus denies that, but since Maliki accused Syria of harboring the masterminds of devastating suicide bombings in the capital in August, Baghdad is not likely to get much support from Syria on the water issue.

Turkey has drastically reduced the flow of the two rivers since 2002 because of its ambitious plan to build 22 dams and hydroelectric power plants to develop its impoverished southeast.

Ankara declared in August that it had no water to spare in its reservoirs

So it was something of a surprise when Ankara made a bid to mediate between Baghdad and Damascus in late August as part of Turkey’s assertive new foreign policy aimed at establishing itself as a regional leader.

So far, the Turks have made no discernible progress on resolving the political dispute between Syria and Iraq, and the worsening water crisis is raising hackles even further.

The crisis has been worsened by Iranian dam-building to the east, cutting the flow of rivers such as the Karoun, which flows into the Shattt al-Arab, the waterway formed by the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris at Qurna in southern Iraq.

Water has historically been a cause of friction in the largely arid Middle East and there have been concerns that conflict could erupt between Turkey and its riparian neighbors to the south.

This has not happened, even though Turkey and Syria went to the brink of war in 1998 over Syria’s harboring of Kurdish separatist leaders.

But Mustafa Kibargolu, of the Department of International Relations at Ankara’s Bilkent University, cautioned in a recent analysis: “The fact that any confrontation or high tension stemming from the unsatisfied demands of parties over the use of water has not been seen yet in the region should not mislead observers into thinking that this is unlikely.

“Unless some old policies are purged and new ones introduced, it remains a real possibility.”

The catastrophe that seems to be overtaking southern Iraq is likely to increase Baghdad’s ire as the water crisis continues to grow.

Sea water from the northern Gulf is steadily moving up the Shatt al-Arab, where salination has been kept in check by the fresh water flowing downstream from the Euphrates and the Tigris.

Earlier this month, 2,000 people from fishing villages along the lower reaches of the Shatt abandoned their homes. In August, 3,000 moved out.

Iraq’s dams are at about 10 percent capacity these days and hydroelectric power stations have seriously reduced output as turbines stalled because of low water volumes.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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