Mount Kilauea transforms Hawaii’s coastline with the birth of a new island

July 18, 2018 by  
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Mount Kilauea may have disappeared from the news for a while, but it isn’t done surprising us yet: the Hawaiian volcano has officially created a new island in the Pacific Ocean. Geologists working at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have reported the appearance of a tiny islet, measuring 20-30 feet in diameter, off the eastern shore of Hawaii . The new island was first seen by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) when it conducted a fly-by of the volcanic area on Friday, July 13. Records from the USGS mark the island’s inception and official birth date as July 12. As of Monday, July 16, the baby island has been declassified, forced to abandon its status after a tether to the mainland developed over the weekend. The official term for the new congealed lava structure is ‘tumulus’. Tumuli evolve as slow-moving molten lava forces newly formed crust upward. Related: Hawaii’s Kilauea is creating its own weather The most reasonable explanation for the accumulation is the overflowing of lava from the volcano’s East Rift Zone. This molten river has continued its advance into the ocean for over a month, creating a submerged segment of new-but-unstable territory that stretches almost a half-mile outwards from Hawaii’s shoreline. Other scientists attribute the new island to Fissure 8, the most active of Kilauea’s volcanic fissures. In the future, it would be no surprise to see more changes to Hawaii’s coast. Kilauea, whose name means ‘spewing’ in Hawaiian, has been continuously erupting since 1983, with records dating back to the early 1800s. In fact, Kilauea tops the charts as one of the most active volcanoes in the world despite being one of Hawaii’s youngest. The 2018 eruption marks Kilauea’s 61st official incident. Regardless of the newbie island’s complicated classification status, Hawaii will eventually boast a newer, slightly larger coastline for tourists and environmental enthusiasts to admire. In fact, many visitors have already posted selfies with the volcano on social media despite warnings against it. However, it’s safe to assume that most of us are waiting for a less perilous way to explore Hawaii’s new treasures. Perhaps a good old Google Maps update is in order? + USGS Via Earther Images via USGS

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Mount Kilauea transforms Hawaii’s coastline with the birth of a new island

The Eye of the Storm dome home can withstand hurricanes and it’s officially on the market

July 18, 2018 by  
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Beachfront homes on Sullivan’s Island off Charleston, South Carolina are among the most magnificent dwellings in the country. With vistas that seem to extend beyond infinity and backyards bordering Charleston Harbor, these upscale houses offer the ideal trio of magnificent ocean views, peace and tranquility – except, that is, during hurricane season . After Hurricane Hugo demolished his parents’ prized home on the island in 1989, George Paul, a builder and designer of dome structures , rebuilt the home, called Eye of the Storm, in collaboration with architect X Dilling in 1991. Now the hurricane-defying 650-ton dome home is up for sale by Pareto Real Estate with a price tag of $4.9M. The unique house, located at 2851 Marshall Blvd on Sullivan’s Island, stands out in the crowd of conventionally constructed homes and is situated only 230 feet from the water. Built from concrete, steel, and glass, the home takes the shape of a striking white dome, and it sits on a nearly ½-acre land parcel. Related: Escape the everyday in this Geodesic Dome House in Palm Springs The 3,571-square-foot home has three bedrooms and four baths on the upper level. The main floor has an open, freeform living, dining, and kitchen space that provides unhindered views of the surrounding areas since support beams are not necessary in domed configurations. The showcase fireplace design reflects the lines of the dome’s exterior. Extravagant granite counters were added to the kitchen in a 2018 restoration. To accommodate beachcombing guests, an additional bathroom, two shower rooms and a storage room comprise the 526-square-foot ground floor. Curved concrete walls throughout the home create a flow akin to that of the steady, mesmerizing ocean currents . A secluded, 159-square-foot deck borders the master bedroom and an enormous 889 square feet of deck space embraces the back of the home. Oversized glass openings on decks and balconies provide views that vary from fantastic to fearful, depending on the weather. + Dwell Images via Michael D. Royal/Pareto Real Estate

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The Eye of the Storm dome home can withstand hurricanes and it’s officially on the market

Historic Danish cottage with lush seaweed roof hits the market for $414,000

July 3, 2018 by  
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Back in the Middle Ages, the Danish island of Læsø found itself with sparse building materials, leading the industrious population to start building with whatever natural materials they could find. Among these materials? Eelgrass, which they used to create extremely durable roofs that have lasted centuries. Today, the island is home to 19 original seaweed homes and one of them has just been put up for sale – a six-room cottage recently renovated with a whopping 35 tons of locally harvested eelgrass. By the late 18th century, the island had 250 remaining homes with eelgrass roofs, which are credited for the long-lasting nature of the buildings. The roofs were typically layered on in thick piles, often reaching three feet of thickness. The technique created an impressively durable insulative envelope for the homes that has helped the buildings withstand the test of time. Related: Seaweed-Clad House in Denmark Combines Natural Materials With 21st Century Building Techniques For those doubting the logic of building with sea greenery, the natural resource is incredibly sustainable, as well as non-toxic and fireproof. It can be harvested by hand and cured by the sun and wind. And, as the Danish cottages have proven, its insulative properties are as durable as any contemporary insulation . The cottage, which is currently listed for $414,000 , is a six-room home with an area of 1,076 square feet. Dating back to the 18th century, the home has been painstakingly restored to enhance its historic character. The original seaweed roof was replaced with 35 tons of seaweed locally harvested at the island’s “seaweed bank,” an initiative begun by the island for the sole purpose of restoring the remaining historic homes. The extended farmhouse has six rooms tucked into the cottage’s traditional framework. The kitchen and living spaces receive an abundance of natural light . Rustic touches such as colorful farmhouse doors and exposed ceiling beams add an old-world charm to the interior. The cottage is located on large lot of land filled with ancient apple trees, and is just minutes away from a beautiful beach. + Adam Schnack Via Treehugger Photography by Per Nielsen via Adam Schnack  

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Historic Danish cottage with lush seaweed roof hits the market for $414,000

Why Hawaii’s carbon neutrality pledge matters

June 13, 2018 by  
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From the standpoint of reducing emissions, the declaration might seem symbolic. But other states are watching and learning from the island state’s policies.

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Why Hawaii’s carbon neutrality pledge matters

Vatican Citys first-ever pavilion debuts at the Venice Architecture Biennale

June 1, 2018 by  
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The Vatican Chapels Pavilion of the Holy See opened to fanfare last week, marking Vatican City’s debut at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Curated by Professor Francesco Dal Co, the temporary installation consists of 10 chapel-inspired pavilions, each designed by a different renowned design practice from around the world. Perhaps the most anticipated of them all is the pavilion by Foster + Partners , which takes the form of an open-air chapel built with a tensegrity structure. Spread out across the picturesque San Giorgio Maggiore Island, the Vatican Chapels Pavilion of the Holy See is set in a contemplative wooded environment. Foster + Partners’ chapel is located between two mature trees on one end of the island and connects to the lagoon beyond. The chapel comprises a tensegrity structure made up of three upright crosses that support a larch latticework membrane connected with steel cables and masts. Italian furniture company Tecno built the installation. “The project started with the selection of the site,” explained Norman Foster, founder of Foster + Partners. “On a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore, close to Palladio’s magnificent church and the Teatro Verde, I found a green space with two mature trees beautifully framing the view of the lagoon. It was like a small oasis in the big garden, perfect for contemplation. Our aim was to create a small space diffused with dappled shade and removed from the normality of passers-by, focused instead on the water and sky beyond – a sanctuary.” Related: Foster+Partners unveil design for first-ever Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale The larch membrane allows dappled light to pass through the chapel’s interior. The tensegrity structure was also engineered to withstand wind loads. Jasmine vines are planted around the structure and will grow overtop it in time to soften its contours and add an extra sensory element. The pavilion will remain open to the public until November 25, 2018. + Foster + Partners Images by Nigel Young/Foster + Partners

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Vatican Citys first-ever pavilion debuts at the Venice Architecture Biennale

This amazing underwater hotel room lets you sleep while surrounded by marine life

April 19, 2018 by  
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Putting a positive new spin on the expression “sleeping with the fishes,” a new hotel suite at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the Maldives lets guests sleep underwater. The first-of-its-kind hotel suite – called the Muraka – is a two-level residence that has an underwater living and sleeping area. Guests can experience being surrounded by the beautiful ocean waters and get a firsthand glimpse of the marine wildlife. However if the thought of sharks floating around you while you sleep doesn’t give you a heart attack, the price tag might: the Muraka starts at $50,000 a night. The undersea villas – which are expected to open in November 2018 – will be the first of their kind in the world. While other hotels have underwater suites , the Muraka (which means “coral” in Dhivehi, the local language in the Maldives) will be the first one to be set in real ocean waters instead of man-made aquariums. The luxury suite spans two floors, with the upper floor floating on the waters and the ground floor submerged more than 16 feet below the ocean surface. Related: Underwater Hotel Gets Green Light to be Constructed in the Maldives The suite was designed by the same team behind the resort’s underwater restaurant, Ithaa . Crown Company director Ahmed Saleem and engineer Mike Murphy thought of everything on their latest hotel venture , including open air decks on either side of the suite to offer a chance to enjoy both the sunrise and the sunset. The dual-level suite can sleep up to nine guests and includes a gym, butler’s quarters, and a bar. There are two bedrooms and large living areas on the top floor, and a large bathtub in the master bedroom faces the ocean. On the lower level, guests can marvel at the surrounding ocean world from their undersea bedroom , living area and bathroom. “Driven by our inspiration to deliver innovative and transformative experiences to our global travelers, the world’s first undersea residence encourages guests to explore the Maldives from an entirely new perspective below the surface of the sea,” said Saleem in a press statement. + Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Via Architectural Digest Images via Conrad Maldives Rangali Island  

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This amazing underwater hotel room lets you sleep while surrounded by marine life

New Zealand just eradicated 200,000 mice from a single island

March 23, 2018 by  
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New Zealand just eradicated 200,000 mice from a single island in an extermination unlike anything we’ve seen before. Invasive species can wreak havoc on the environment, and as much as we hate to hear about the mass killing of any animals, sometimes it’s the only way to rescue a struggling ecosystem. In New Zealand, invasive predators like rats, mice, and possums have overrun islands and local bird species, invertebrates and plants have been destroyed. Entirely eradicating mice on Antipodes Island will give native species a chance to thrive, and it could provide a roadmap to help other countries deal with their own invasions. ? New Zealand is home to more species of seabird than anywhere else on Earth, with 21 species using the Antipodes as a breeding ground. Hoards of mice overwhelmed the chicks and eggs on the island, and they threatened to kill entire species of invertebrates, which has a huge impact on the ecosystem. Mice have already wiped out two types of insects on the island. Related: New Zealand plans to power its grid with 100% renewable energy by 2035 Over the past 5 years, New Zealand used an aerial baiting program to spread rat poison every 15 to 30 feet on every part of the island. “This is achieved through precision GPS delivery from helicopters, which minimizes any toxin entering the marine environment, and has very few side effects on other animals because the poison is most strongly acting on land mammals, which aren’t normally found on islands,” said Dr. James Russell from the University of Auckland to Earther . The island ecosystem is already recovering, with birds who competed with mice for insects making a comeback. The project could help Gough Island, where seabirds are being driven to extinction by mice, eradicate its own mouse problem. “Nearly half of our world’s most threatened species are found on islands, with invasive species as a primary threat,” Sally Esposito with Island Conservation told Earther . + Million Dollar Mouse Project Via Earther Images via Department of Conservation New Zealand

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New Zealand just eradicated 200,000 mice from a single island

The ground under a West Texas oil patch is moving ‘at alarming rates’

March 23, 2018 by  
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Local residents, infrastructure, and oil and gas pipelines could be at risk from the ground heaving and sinking in West Texas after years of fossil fuel production, according to a new study from Southern Methodist University (SMU) scientists. In an SMU statement , research scientist Jin-Woo Kim said, “This region of Texas has been punctured like a pin cushion with oil wells and injection wells since the 1940s and our findings associate that activity with ground movement.” Two large sinkholes around Wink, Texas, may just be the start, according to Kim and SMU professor and geophysicist Zhong Lu. Scientific Reports published their research online earlier this month: Kim and Lu drew on radar satellite images revealing significant ground movement in an area of 4,000 square miles. One spot saw movement of up to 40 inches in two and a half years. Lu said the ground movement isn’t normal. Related: Massive sinkhole opens up in the middle of a Brazilian farming town Imagery and oil well production data from the Railroad Commission of Texas helped the researchers connect the ground movement to oil activity. Pressurized fluid injection into what SMU described as “geologically unstable rock formations” in the area is one of those activities; the scientists discovered ground movement corresponded with “nearby sequences of wastewater injection rates and volume and CO2 injection in nearby wells.” And, outside the 4,000 square mile area, more dangers may lurk. Kim said, “We’re fairly certain that when we look further, and we are, that we’ll find there’s ground movement even beyond that.” SMU said the region is vulnerable to human endeavors because of its geology , including shale formations and water-soluble salt and limestone formations. Lu said, “These hazards represent a danger to residents, roads, railroads, levees, dams, and oil and gas pipelines, as well as potential pollution of ground water . Proactive, continuous detailed monitoring from space is critical to secure the safety of people and property.” + Southern Methodist University + Science Reports Images via Nicolas Henderson on Flickr and Zhong Lu, Jin-Woo Kim, SMU

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The ground under a West Texas oil patch is moving ‘at alarming rates’

Conservationists rid Florida of invasive iguanas by smashing their heads

March 16, 2018 by  
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Invasive iguana populations have soared in Florida , and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched a $63,000 research project to figure out the best way to get rid of the lizards . But the Sun Sentinel and Gizmodo reported some people are taking issue with one method: that of smashing in the iguanas’ heads. Iguanas can impact native wildlife and plants and irritate homeowners, according to commission spokesperson Carli Segelson. Gizmodo said many residents of Florida consider the reptiles pests, akin to rats. A 15-person University of Florida team, whose work is part of the commission’s project, is tackling the problem with methods like a captive bolt gun or bashing the reptiles’ heads against solid objects, including a boat and truck they’re traveling in to track the creatures down, according to the Sun Sentinel. Wildlife biologist Jenny Ketterlin said their methods are compatible with Florida’s anti-cruelty laws, and that destroying the iguanas’ brains rapidly is the most humane method of killing them. The team has taken out 249 iguanas near a canal over three months, and have spurned other extermination techniques on the grounds they’re inefficient, not safe, unproven, or crueler. Related: It’s so cold that frozen iguanas are falling off trees in Florida Some people don’t like the sound of smashing in iguanas’ heads. The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy executive director Lori Marino described the method as appalling; veterinarian Susan Kelleher said it’s cruel and a kinder method of killing the iguanas would be sedating and euthanizing them. Gizmodo said this is a complicated situation. They spoke with iguana expert Joe Wasilewski who said he did cringe when he heard about iguana heads bashed in, but that this method is one of the better options we have. “In less than a second these lizards go from being cognizant to completely dead. Is that cruel?” he told Gizmodo. “Look, we kill millions upon millions of rats and cockroaches every year. The last thing I want to do is harm one. I’ve spent my whole career trying to improve their island habitats, but the sheer number of iguanas is exploding — it’s a situation that’s not getting better any time soon.” Via the Sun Sentinel and Gizmodo Images via Depositphotos and Skye am i/Wikimedia Commons

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Conservationists rid Florida of invasive iguanas by smashing their heads

What the ‘world’s loneliest tree’ tells us about humanity’s impact on Earth

February 21, 2018 by  
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Over 170 miles away from a single other tree , the ‘world’s loneliest tree’ rests on Campbell Island. New Zealand governor Lord Ranfurly planted the Sitka spruce on the island around 400 miles south of the country sometime in the early 20th century, and researchers now believe it holds clues about the Anthropocene Epoch . After completing a thorough analysis of the tree, researchers have set a potential start date for the geological age in which humans are the dominant influence on the environment . In a piece for The Conversation , Chris Turney and Jonathan Palmer of the University of New South Wales and Mark Maslin of University College London shared work revealing how the world’s loneliest tree might help us determine a potential start date for the Anthropocene. The wood of the tree recorded the radiocarbon generated by above-ground atomic bomb tests, and its layers reveal a peak in 1965, according to the scientists. Related: New report shows humans change climate 170 times quicker than natural forces The spike in radioactive elements generated from those thermonuclear bomb tests has been a contender for defining the Anthropocene’s beginning, according to the scientists, but until now most of the records have been collected in the Northern Hemisphere. They said, “To demonstrate a truly global human impact requires a signal from a remote, pristine location in the Southern Hemisphere that occurs at the same time as the north.” The world’s loneliest tree helped provide that signal. Detailed study of the tree’s year-by-year growth reveals a spike in radioactive elements between October and December 1965. The scientists said, “This spruce has demonstrated unequivocally that humans have left an impact on the planet, even in the most pristine of environments, that will be preserved in the geological record for tens of millennia and beyond.” In other words, according to this research, the Anthropocene officially began in 1965. The journal Scientific Reports published the research online this week; scientists at institutions in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany contributed. Via The Conversation Images via Turney, Chris S.M., et al./Scientific Reports

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