Humpback whales in Alaska thrive in absence of cruise ships

August 12, 2021 by  
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The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed humpback whales in Alaska to enjoy some peace, according to a new study. Researchers say that reduction in noise caused by cruise ships is to thank for the positive changes being witnessed in whales’ social lives.  Before the pandemic, humpback whales stuck together and expressed themselves less. According to National Park Service biologist Christine Gabriel, this behavior has changed since the dawn of the pandemic. With fewer cruise ships disturbing their habitats, the whales have been observed to spread out and communicate more expressively. Mothers have also been seen giving their young ones more freedom. Related: Human actions are causing endangered whales to shrink in size Cruise ships play a key role in Alaska’s tourism industry, but they make life harder for sea animals. The ships generate loud noise that interferes with whales’ communication and hunting. At the peak of the pandemic , cruise ships became major transmission zones, forcing government restrictions. Tourists also started avoiding cruise ships, a situation that benefited whales. According to a BBC  report , traffic to Glacier Bay in Alaska decreased by about 40%. Decreased cruise ship activities also presented the perfect opportunity for biologists to study marine life . Thanks to the lack of human activity, researchers from the University of Alaska and other institutions have been traversing the coast to observe the behavior of whales.  Jason Gedamke of NOAA fisheries’ ocean acoustics program told NPR that more has to be done to protect whales since they rely on sound for communication. “When you have animals that for millions of years have been able to communicate over vast distances in the ocean, and then once we introduce noise and have increased sound levels and they can’t communicate over those distances, clearly there’s going to be some impact there,” Gedamke said. Although the pandemic has been a nightmare for humans, animals like these whales have enjoyed some benefits. A different  study  by the University of California , Davis has shown a significant drop in the number of wild animals being hit by cars over the pandemic. Wild animals have also been seen widely roaming areas they would otherwise never venture into due to human interference. Via HuffPost Lead image via Pixabay

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Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding

July 16, 2021 by  
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Considering retiring on the coast one day? Better rethink your plans. A new NASA study explains that a cute-sounding phenomenon called a “ moon wobble” could lead to devastating coastal floods in the next decade. “In the mid-2030s, every U.S. coast will experience rapidly increasing high-tide floods, when a lunar cycle will amplify rising sea levels caused by climate change ,” the report warned. Related: Severe coastal floods could affect 287 million people by 2100 But don’t expect to look up and catch a glimpse of a jumpy moon. The wobble refers to an 18.6-year cycle that sharp-eyed astronomers first noted in 1728. During the cycle, the moon wobbles a little in one direction, then the other. One way means lower tides, the other, higher. As you can imagine, higher tides coupled with rising seas will mean some very wet and ruined  coastal  cities that could put humans at risk. “We’re going to have sort of a double-whammy,” William Sweet,  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA) oceanographer and one of the study’s authors, told The Washington Post. “It means that coastal communities — unless they adapt and fortify — are likely to expect even greater flooding than they might otherwise.” In 2019 alone, NOAA tracked 600  floods  caused by high tides on the Gulf and East Coasts. Once the moon wobbles, this number could shoot up. NASA said some clusters of floods could last over a month. Not only could we have flooding, but also public health disasters like stinking cesspools. The moon is now amping up for the flood-prone half of its cycle. And if the human race survives for another 18.6-year cycle, the next one will be worse, thanks to rising  oceans . In the 2030s, Hawaii and Guam will be in trouble, along with just about every piece of U.S. coastline, except perhaps Alaska. For the study,  researchers  examined 89 coastal locations in U.S. states and territories. They studied astronomical cycles and predicted the likelihood of how the moon will affect tides and flooding up to the year 2080. NASA’s  Sea Level Portal  helps citizens better understand what might be in store. Via HuffPost , AlJazeera Lead image via Pixabay

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Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding

Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding

July 16, 2021 by  
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Considering retiring on the coast one day? Better rethink your plans. A new NASA study explains that a cute-sounding phenomenon called a “ moon wobble” could lead to devastating coastal floods in the next decade. “In the mid-2030s, every U.S. coast will experience rapidly increasing high-tide floods, when a lunar cycle will amplify rising sea levels caused by climate change ,” the report warned. Related: Severe coastal floods could affect 287 million people by 2100 But don’t expect to look up and catch a glimpse of a jumpy moon. The wobble refers to an 18.6-year cycle that sharp-eyed astronomers first noted in 1728. During the cycle, the moon wobbles a little in one direction, then the other. One way means lower tides, the other, higher. As you can imagine, higher tides coupled with rising seas will mean some very wet and ruined  coastal  cities that could put humans at risk. “We’re going to have sort of a double-whammy,” William Sweet,  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA) oceanographer and one of the study’s authors, told The Washington Post. “It means that coastal communities — unless they adapt and fortify — are likely to expect even greater flooding than they might otherwise.” In 2019 alone, NOAA tracked 600  floods  caused by high tides on the Gulf and East Coasts. Once the moon wobbles, this number could shoot up. NASA said some clusters of floods could last over a month. Not only could we have flooding, but also public health disasters like stinking cesspools. The moon is now amping up for the flood-prone half of its cycle. And if the human race survives for another 18.6-year cycle, the next one will be worse, thanks to rising  oceans . In the 2030s, Hawaii and Guam will be in trouble, along with just about every piece of U.S. coastline, except perhaps Alaska. For the study,  researchers  examined 89 coastal locations in U.S. states and territories. They studied astronomical cycles and predicted the likelihood of how the moon will affect tides and flooding up to the year 2080. NASA’s  Sea Level Portal  helps citizens better understand what might be in store. Via HuffPost , AlJazeera Lead image via Pixabay

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Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding

These prefabricated tiny homes are earthquake- and fire-resistant

July 16, 2021 by  
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What began as a mission to provide a stable housing option in Papua New Guinea turned into a business model that now sees plug-and-live housing being shipped everywhere in the world. The founders of what became Nestron were met with many obstacles in completing that initial commitment following their visit to Papua New Guinea in 2013. Learning from the process, they launched the Nestron company in 2017. Four years later, they are setting a standard for tiny houses of the future. Nestron’s tiny homes have been called futuristic with their otherworldly look contoured out of a steel frame. Thee company currently offers four models of tiny homes , each of which is 100% prefabricated and equipped with smart features and green technology. The designers found it was most efficient to prefabricate the homes to avoid issues with contractors and supplies on the receiving end. While the pipeline production maximizes accuracy in manufacturing, it also minimizes material waste. Related: Tiny Topanga builds steel-framed tiny homes with artisan touches The houses are customizable with a variety of color and style options. Customers can even select their favorite furniture, because each tiny house arrives fully furnished and ready to live in. Once on location, the tiny house leaves a minimal site impact thanks to its ability to sit directly on flat land without a foundation. The compact designs require little installation with the exception of plugging into electrical and plumbing systems. As part of the customization process, customers can add on green features such as solar panels and a composting toilet. “We take our efforts in caring for the environment seriously because we believe that everything starts at home, hence we equip our houses to make a living in them clearly environmentally friendly and enable people to live a sustainable lifestyle without additional effort,” Nestron said.  Along with the home’s steel frame, 90% of the materials used in the construction process are recyclable and produce very low emissions . The exterior coating and interior insulation offer a high level of soundproofing, but the houses are also rated to endure level-7 earthquakes and level-10 typhoons. The exterior wall material is fire-resistant for two hours or more, and the interior walls are fire-resistant for at least one hour. In addition to the 14.5-square-meter Cube One, and 26-square-meter Cube Two, the company offers more traditional models with the Legend One and Legend Two. All models come with a 50-year material and construction guarantee. The company ships anywhere in the world. + Nestron Images via Nestron

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These prefabricated tiny homes are earthquake- and fire-resistant

Worst drought in a century has hit over 93% of West Coast

July 14, 2021 by  
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Western U.S. states are experiencing the worst drought in the past century. Figures released by the U.S Drought Monitor show that 93% of the land in seven Western states is under drought. Further, about 59% of the land is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. These figures are the worst conditions recorded in the past 100 years. Before this year, the standing figure for the amount of Western land in extreme or exceptional drought was 43%, set in 2003. The extreme drought conditions experienced this year in Arizona, California , Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and most parts of Utah are the worst in a century. The extreme drought conditions pose risks of widespread fires and food shortages. The National Interagency Fire Centre has issued a warning that those living in Western states should be careful and watchful due to the high risk of wildfire outbreaks. Residents have been urged to remain vigilant over the next three months to avoid serious fires and losses. “Last year, we had a lot of wildfire and a lot of smoke. It would be very surprising if that did not happen again this year,” said Douglas Kluck, NOAA’s director of regional climate services in Kansas City. The threat of food shortages and farming losses has also been highlighted. Agriculture Department data shows that the extreme weather threatens several crops . Among the crops at risk are sunflowers, barley and wheat. The data further shows that the drought’s effects may be felt as far as Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub, has warned that conditions are not looking good for the North either. “We have huge concerns up in the northern Plains. Conditions are not good.” To deal with the high risk of forest fires , several national forests have imposed new rules that limit human activities within the forests. At least eight national forests in the seven Western states have imposed fire restrictions. Further, fishing is prohibited in several rivers due to low water levels. Via Scientific American Lead image via Pixabay

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Worst drought in a century has hit over 93% of West Coast

Worst drought in a century has hit over 93% of West Coast

July 14, 2021 by  
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Western U.S. states are experiencing the worst drought in the past century. Figures released by the U.S Drought Monitor show that 93% of the land in seven Western states is under drought. Further, about 59% of the land is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. These figures are the worst conditions recorded in the past 100 years. Before this year, the standing figure for the amount of Western land in extreme or exceptional drought was 43%, set in 2003. The extreme drought conditions experienced this year in Arizona, California , Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and most parts of Utah are the worst in a century. The extreme drought conditions pose risks of widespread fires and food shortages. The National Interagency Fire Centre has issued a warning that those living in Western states should be careful and watchful due to the high risk of wildfire outbreaks. Residents have been urged to remain vigilant over the next three months to avoid serious fires and losses. “Last year, we had a lot of wildfire and a lot of smoke. It would be very surprising if that did not happen again this year,” said Douglas Kluck, NOAA’s director of regional climate services in Kansas City. The threat of food shortages and farming losses has also been highlighted. Agriculture Department data shows that the extreme weather threatens several crops . Among the crops at risk are sunflowers, barley and wheat. The data further shows that the drought’s effects may be felt as far as Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub, has warned that conditions are not looking good for the North either. “We have huge concerns up in the northern Plains. Conditions are not good.” To deal with the high risk of forest fires , several national forests have imposed new rules that limit human activities within the forests. At least eight national forests in the seven Western states have imposed fire restrictions. Further, fishing is prohibited in several rivers due to low water levels. Via Scientific American Lead image via Pixabay

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Worst drought in a century has hit over 93% of West Coast

LA County beaches close after an 8-hour sewage spill

July 14, 2021 by  
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On Monday night, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an  order to close  several beaches along Santa Monica Bay following a raw sewage spillover on Sunday. An estimated 17 million gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into the water after the Hyperion Water Reclamation sewage treatment plant experienced a power outage. Treatment plant officials said they had to release 6% of the plant’s daily load to avoid an even bigger problem. The spill lasted for over eight hours and led to the closure of all public beaches within the affected area, including El Segundo Beach and Dockweiler State Beach. According to the closure notice, all the beaches will be closed for at least one week and will only reopen after water tests show no elevated level of bacteria. Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has condemned the occurrence and says that she is still looking for answers from the officials at the sewer plant. She has questioned the amount of raw sewage discharged and the time taken for the plant to notify the public. “What happened yesterday was unacceptable and dangerous. Not only did the Hyperion Plant release seventeen million gallons of sewage into our ocean — the public had little to no information about it for hours,” Hahn said in an interview. “We need answers from LA City Sanitation about what went wrong and led to this massive spill, but we also need to recognize that LA County Public Health did not effectively communicate with the public and could have put swimmers in danger.” Spills in L.A. County have almost become a norm, with several minor spills occurring already this year. According to Heal the Bay , a total of 75 sewage spills have happened in Los Angeles County between 2020 and 2021. These minor spills account for 346,888 gallons of sewage waste.  The county’s last major spill occurred in 2015 when about 30 million gallons of waste were released into Santa Monica Bay by Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. Although the plant had to pay a settlement of $2.26 million, this clearly hasn’t stopped recurring sewer spills.  Via CBS News Lead image via Pixabay

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"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

October 16, 2017 by  
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When you hear the word ‘ hurricane ,’ you probably don’t think about Ireland . But Tropical Storm Ophelia, which has been downgraded from its status as a hurricane, is on a path towards the country, with warnings of high seas, power outages , and hazardous conditions. Minister for Flood Relief Kevin Moran said at a Dublin press conference, “This is unprecedented.” An Atlantic hurricane has been whirling towards the United Kingdom . Although Ophelia is an ex-hurricane, the Irish Meteorological Service, Met Éireann , is warning of violent and destructive wind gusts that could reach between 120 and 150 kilometers per hour (km/h), or around 75 to 93 miles per hour (mph). They said heavy rain and storm surges in some coastal areas will lead to flooding , posing a danger to human property and lives. Related: How Hurricane Irma changed the colors of these Caribbean islands As many as 100,000 homes and businesses in the country have lost power, as power lines have been knocked down. An Electricity Supply Board spokesperson said earlier today many of the power lines are still live and asked people to stay away. The Met Éireann said at Cork Airport, wind gusts of 124 km/h, or 77 mph, were recorded; at Fastnet Rock wind gusts were 176 km/h, or 109 mph. The United Kingdom Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland, southwest Scotland, Strathclyde, and Wales. They issued yellow warnings for 11 locations, including western areas in England and Yorkshire. A status red weather warning applies to all cities and counties in Ireland, according to prime minister Leo Varadkar, who told people to stay indoors. Speaking of Debbie, the largest storm recorded in the history of Ireland in the 1960’s, he said, “The last time we had a storm this severe 11 lives were lost so safety is our number one priority.” Via The Guardian Images via NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team and Met Éireann on Twitter

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"This is unprecedented": Irish Minister of State for Flood Relief on tropical storm Ophelia

Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy

September 29, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Maria has left swaths of Puerto Rico without power – and millions of people could have to go without electricity for months . The storm’s devastation has stirred new interest in obtaining more energy from clean sources like solar or wind . Energy experts say increasing renewables and transitioning from centralized grids to microgrids could boost resilience as Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands weather storms. CARICOM, a Caribbean nation consortium, already hoped to hit 47 percent renewable energy by 2027. The recent hurricanes could act as a motivation to work for that goal. Caribbean countries in the past have relied mostly on imported fossil fuels , which are expensive both for the islands and for the environment . And storms can cripple power lines. Related: Puerto Rico could be without electricity for months due to Hurricane Maria There is an alternative, according to The Washington Post. Renewable sources, coupled with battery storage , powering small grids could offer more resiliency. Fossil fuels would offer backup—at least initially until battery storage becomes more affordable. The microgrids could be connected to a main grid but could also be isolated. With this new setup, the Caribbean could benefit from trade winds and solar panels. According to renewable energy expert Tom Rogers, who works at Britain’s Coventry University, solar systems in the tropics can “generate over one and a half times more than exactly the same PV system” installed in a location with a higher latitude like Europe. Rogers told The Washington Post, “You look at islands like Dominica, Anguilla, and other islands affected by the recent hurricanes, I’ve spoken to a couple of the utilities, and they say they would prefer to rebuild using distributed generation with storage, and just trying to reduce the amount of transmission lines. Because that’s where their energy systems fail. It’s having these overhead cables.” Via The Washington Post Images via Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos/Puerto Rico National Guard and NOAA Satellites Twitter

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Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy

Three hurricanes form in the Atlantic for the first time since 2010

September 7, 2017 by  
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While Hurricane Irma barrels through the Caribbean towards the United States mainland, another two potentially powerful storms are waiting in the wings. Following closely behind Irma, one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, are Tropical Storms Jose and Katia. The presence of these storms marks the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic. In what may prove to be one of the most active on record , the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has already demonstrated the unpredictable and explosive power of storms in the age of climate change . Jose, like Irma, is known as a Cape Verde hurricane for its origins in the far eastern Atlantic , near the island nation of Cape Verde off the coast of Africa . However, it is unlikely that Jose will follow Irma’s path nor will it likely be as powerful. Jose is expected to spin towards the open ocean and become a Category 3 hurricane, though it is not expected to travel over any land area. Related: Harvey forces National Weather Service to add new color to its rainfall map Katia is more closely related to Harvey, in that it too became a hurricane in the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico. Despite its shared birthplace with the devastating hurricane that made landfall near Houston , Katia is expected to travel close to Mexico . It is currently nearly 200 miles northeast of Veracruz, Mexico, near which a small portion of the coast is currently under hurricane watch. Although three hurricanes active in the Atlantic at the same time is unusual, it is neither unprecedented nor unrivaled. During the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, four hurricanes, including Hurricane Georges which caused major damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic , were active during the same period. Via CNN Images via NOAA (1)

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Three hurricanes form in the Atlantic for the first time since 2010

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