Scientists discover an enormous, hidden reef behind the Great Barrier Reef

August 29, 2016 by  
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New laser data from the Royal Australian Navy has revealed a massive reef behind the rapidly dying Great Barrier Reef. Giant fields of circular, donut-shaped mounds, between 200 and 300 meters in diameter, are created by a type of green algae. Unfortunately, this reef is likely facing the same threats as the neighboring Great Barrier Reef . A collaboration between James Cook University , the University of Sydney , and Queensland University of Technology led to the discovery of just how large these fields are. Dr. Robin Beaman of JCU said in his co-authored paper , “We’ve known about these geological structures in the northern Great Barrier Reef since the 1970s and 80s, but never before has the true nature of their shape, size and vast scale been revealed.” Related: Startling video shows coral bleaching in action The mounds are bioherms, or organic reef-like mounds, made by the growth of Halimeda green algae . Upon death, they form small limestone flakes similar to the shape of cornflakes and mounds begin to form over time. These Halimeda bioherms are between 200-300 meters wide and 10 meters deep. Thanks to the new glimpse into the area, over 6,000 square kilometers have now been mapped. The closer look has raised questions of environmental preservation and historical documentation. Associate Professor Jody Webster of the University of Sydney said, “As a calcifying organism, Halimeda may be susceptible to ocean acidification and warming,” and wonders about the extent of possible damage so far. Dr. Beaman is interested in what researchers can learn from bioherm sediment samples about changes in the reef systems over the last 10,000 years. Further impending research will help scientists better understand the structures, their impact, and their future. Via Daily Mail Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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Scientists discover an enormous, hidden reef behind the Great Barrier Reef

Amtrak to launch next-gen high-speed trains in US in five years

August 29, 2016 by  
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In a big leap forward for American railroad transportation, Amtrak is accepting a $2.45 billion loan from the federal government to improve its technology . The project will span over the next several years and include the addition of 28 next-generation high-speed trains, major upgrades to four major Northeastern stations, and tons of amenities to draw in more passengers. When Amtrak ’s new trains hit the tracks in 2021, travelers will have a high-tech transportation option unmatched by any other in the country. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH-3FsmU6KQ Vice President Joe Biden made the historic announcement at the station that bears his name in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday, noting that the bulk of the loan—around $2 billion—is earmarked for the new high-tech train cars . Once they are put into service, the new cars will increase the Acela fleet by 40 percent. The new additions will be decidedly next-generation in nature, with one-third more rider capacity, additional outlets and USB connections, better Wi-Fi, and the ability to travel as fast as 186 miles per hour. Related: Amtrak teams with Google to create a real-time train locator map “This is a serious, serious upgrade,” Biden said during his announcement. “One out of every three jobs (in the country) are here, along this corridor… you’d need seven more lanes on I-95 to accommodate the traffic if Amtrak shut down.” Amtrak’s new cars are promised to be 95 percent USA-made, built primarily in New York by Alstom. The 28 new cars will service the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington D.C., and are expected to reduce energy usage by 20 percent. The increased passenger capacity combined with higher speed and lower energy consumption could represent a major win for travelers and commuters, as well as the surrounding environment. The remaining $450 million of the federal loan will be used to upgrade four major Northeast Amtrak stations, including Union Station in Washington DC and Penn Station in New York City. The railroad infrastructure between Boston and D.C. will also get a long-awaited sprucing up. All work is expected to be completed by 2021. Via Engadget Images via Amtrak and Wikipedia

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Amtrak to launch next-gen high-speed trains in US in five years

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