Fairy Tales competition announces winners addressing climate change and sustainability

April 25, 2019 by  
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New York-based online platform Blank Space has announced the winners of the 2019 Fairy Tales competition — the largest annual architecture competition in the world. For its sixth year, the competition drew submissions from over 65 countries that were evaluated by a jury of more than 20 leading architects, designers and storytellers, including the likes of Moshe Safdie, Tatiana Bilbao, Jurgen Mayer, Julia Koerner, Mark Foster Gage and Jane Yolen. The 2019 competition challenged participants to create a text narrative along with images to explore the complex issues of immigration, pollution, climate change , sea level rise and the longevity of human impact. First prize in the 2019 Fairy Tales competition was awarded to Colombian architects Lorena Cano Acosta and Nicolás Mendoza Ramos for “The Fall,” a dystopian narrative inspired by the mass exodus currently taking place in Venezuela. In Acosta and Mendoza’s dystopian world, Earth has been ravaged by rising sea levels , which have flooded and destroyed entire countries. To protect citizens, governments built barriers and walls out of trash — “The Ecowall” — separating land from water. The second prize was given to Melbourne-based concept artist and illustrator Nick Stath for his story, “Monuments of the Past.” The narrative is structured as the diary of a father who recounts his day taking his son to see man-made recreations of natural landscapes destroyed by climate change. The images show a Martian landscape , where the father and son travel in astronaut-like suits visiting the Monuments, artificial landscapes erected on floating mega-structures. Related: Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change Third prize went to Brooklyn-based designer Anthony D’Auria for “Kraken in an 80 Million Gallon Tank,” a look into an “uncanny future that is humid and sticky.” D’Auria added, “A future where things have been set in motion and no matter how big we build or how intricately we plan, they cannot be undone. How do we make sense of such a future? How do we live on the tenuous ground that past decisions have engendered? In the end, it all seems pretty hazy.” + 2019 Fairy Tales Competition Images via Blank Space

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Fairy Tales competition announces winners addressing climate change and sustainability

Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

March 22, 2019 by  
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Ghostly white bands of light are illuminating the coastline in the Outer Hebrides to show the potential rise in sea levels that could become reality as a result of unchecked climate change . The collaborative and site-specific art piece, named Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W), is the work of Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho . The environmental art installation is embedded with sensors that measure the rising tidal changes and activate three synchronized light lines during times of high tide. Hoping to draw attention to and spark a dialogue about climate change, artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho wanted to render visible the predicted impacts of rising sea levels in an area they believe will be among the hardest hit. Consequently, the artists chose the Uist, a low-lying island archipelago belonging to the Outer Hebrides island chain located off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The artwork has been installed at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre in Lochmaddy, the main port of entry to North Uist, which the artists said “cannot develop on its existing site due to predicted storm surge sea levels.” Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W) consists of bright white LED lights, float switches/sensors and timers. Two light lines wrap around the sides of a pair of gabled buildings while the third light line appears to hover above an empty field. The three lines light up in sync with the rising tide. Related: Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23 “The installation explores the catastrophic impact of our relationship with nature and its long term effects,” the artists said in their project statement. “The work provokes a dialogue on how the rising sea levels will affect coastal areas, its inhabitants and land usage in the future. The work helps us to imagine the future sea level rise in undefined period of time, depending on our actions toward the climate warming.” Installed May 8, 2018, Lines will run until May 1, 2019. + Pekka Niittyvirta + Timo Aho Images via Pekka Niittyvirta

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Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change

March 19, 2019 by  
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On Thursday March 14, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City unveiled a $10 billion plan to prepare lower Manhattan for the inevitable invasion of sea level rise predicted with climate change. The plan was announced alongside the release of the Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study , which provides a complete assessment of predicted climate risks, including sea level rise, storm surge, extreme rainfall and heat waves. The plan includes extensive construction of permanent and smartly integrated “pop-up” barriers, as well as a proposal to extend the city’s footprint by 500 feet between the Brooklyn Bridge and the South Ferry Terminal. Lower Manhattan gets expanded According to the study, the buildings between the Brooklyn Bridge and South Ferry Terminal are too close to the coast and too densely concentrated with utility and subway lines for the integrated barriers planned for other neighborhoods. Space for additional infrastructure is highly limited. The proposed concept is to build out the land by approximately two blocks at a higher level, so as to act as a raised barrier (called a berm) that protects the Financial District from high tides. Related: Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean — here’s why De Blasio’s plan to expand the city’s footprint into the East River is not unprecedented. In fact,  Gizmodo  reports that Ellis Island, Rikers Island, the FDR Drive, the World Financial Center and Battery Park City are all built on in-filled land. Before urbanization, Manhattan was a marshy island that served as a natural buffer, bearing the brunt of waves and protecting mainland – so it’s no wonder the city built on this land is vulnerable. New York City’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg had also proposed a similar land addition during his term. Other adaptation measures New York City’s new climate change plan also includes $500 million for resilience projects to protect other lower Manhattan neighborhoods, including some affordable housing projects. These resiliency projects include flip-up walls and barriers that can be deployed if a storm is approaching. The discrete, low-impact designs maximize recreational space – such as parks, coastal walkways and fitness areas — but can be flipped-up to provide a fortified wall during emergencies. Other planned adaptation measures include: -a five-mile sea wall around Staten Island – sand dunes around the Rockaways -$165 million to elevate the esplanade in the Battery (construction to begin in 2021) -a combination of flood barriers and deployable walls in Battery Park City -$3.5 million for water and sand-filled temporary barriers in Two Bridges and Financial Districts (to be installed in preparation for the 2019 hurricane season) Mayor de Blasio argues that some of the funding for this expansive project should come from federal funds. In an op-ed in New York Magazine , de Blasio argued that protective measures to address climate change-related risks, such as the invasion of the sea , should be just as important as any federal military equipment. “It will be one of the most complex environmental and engineering challenges our city has ever undertaken and it will, literally, alter the shape of the island of Manhattan,” de Blasio wrote. “The new land will be higher than the current coast, protecting the neighborhoods from future storms and the higher tides that will threaten its survival in the decades to come.” New York City at risk The Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study was funded in part by city and state funding from post-Hurricane Sandy recovery dollars. The hurricane that pummeled the city in 2012 was a wake-up call for city officials and demonstrated the imminent threat of sea level rise and storm surge. Sandy caused $19 billion dollars of damage and claimed 43 lives. Electrek reported  that 72,000 buildings in New York City, worth a combined $129 billion, are within a predicted flood zone. By other estimates , 37 percent of lower Manhattan is at risk of storm surge by 2050, and by 2100 the level of the ocean is expected to be 18-50 inches higher than its current level. Related: Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests Equitable and environmental concerns Environmentalists are concerned that the build-out will have negative impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems and point out that the Mayor’s plan lacks an in-depth assessment of the environmental repercussions and cost-benefit analysis. Still others argue that the plan focuses on the big banks and big business areas of lower Manhattan but ignores other economically vulnerable areas throughout the five boroughs. Given the magnitude of the build out and the expected permitting processes, the additional land may not be a reality for at least five years, during which time environmental impact assessments could be carried out. Most city officials, however,  argue that with “$60 billion of property, 75 percent of the city’s subway lines, 90,000 residents and 500,000 jobs,” the proposed lower Manhattan area is a clear, though perhaps not equitable, priority for the city and ideally for the nation. + NYC Economic Development Corporation Images via Shutterstock

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Green-roofed timber dwelling in Austria is built with recycled materials

March 19, 2019 by  
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In the historic Austrian village of Purkersdorf, Vienna-based architectural practice Juri Troy Architects has completed the L House, a timber home named after its L-shaped form integrated with sustainable design elements. Built with numerous recycled materials, the house forms a strong connection with nature from its green roof to its large windows that sweep views of the bucolic outdoors in. Nestled into a southern slope above the village of Purkersdorf, the 3,450-square-foot L House boasts striking views of the Vienna woods. Despite its corner lot location, the home’s elevated position affords it privacy; the lower level of the two-story home is obscured from view. As a result, most of the bedrooms are located on the ground floor, where they open up to a south-facing outdoor terrace . The cantilevered upper volume primarily consists of the living spaces, including an open-plan dining area, kitchen and living room that open up to a covered outdoor terrace. The parking pad and main entrance are also on this level as is a bedroom suite. To take advantage of views, floor-to-ceiling glazing opens the open-plan living areas up to the outdoors on two sides. To the south is the public-facing terrace, while the more private outdoor spaces—a courtyard and terrace with a natural pool—are tucked into the hillside. In addition to the use of white fir for cladding the upper volume, the architects also lined the interior walls and ceilings with white fir and built the doors and furnishings out of the same material. Related: A massive gabled roof protects this minimalist timber home from the snow As part of L House’s sustainability-focused design, the architects also used numerous recycled materials and topped part of the building with a green roof that buffers rainfall and improves roof insulation. Deep roof overhangs mitigate unwanted solar heat gain while large operable glazing lets in an abundance of natural light and natural ventilation. + Juri Troy Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Juri Troy

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Can Florida save its prized Everglades from climate change destruction?

March 19, 2019 by  
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Half of all Floridians will live underwater by the end of the century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s predictions . In her disheartening article in The Guardian , researcher and author of Rising, Elizabeth Grant instructs Floridians to flip a coin – tails and your home is headed under the sea. Overpopulation, unsustainable development and sea level rise also threaten to destroy Florida’s famous Everglades, but the newly elected Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, is an unexpected champion of its restoration. The Everglades are an expansive wetland preserve in Southern Florida that originally spanned millions of acres. Since European settlers arrived, the wetlands were rapidly drained and filled to make way for farms, roads and housing. Now, 1.5 million acres remain protected in the Everglades National Park, which is home to incredible biodiversity, such as “mangrove forests and cypress swamps, alligators, orchids, storks and ibises, as well as threatened species such as the Florida panther,” according to  The Guardian Related: Meet Squid: Key West’s solar-powered boat for dolphin tours Florida’s history of wetland destruction Changes to the landscape, including draining, paving and building, as well as carving out agricultural lands, have damaged the wetland’s sensitive ecology. The amount of water flowing into the wetland had already been cut in half by the 1960’s and is currently a third of what it used to be. Fresh water from Lake Okeechobee, its main source, has largely been rerouted to irrigate farms and re-enter the wetlands full of agricultural chemicals. Steve Davis, senior ecologist from the Everglades Foundation explained to The Guardian , “We only get about a third of the water in the eastern Florida Bay that we received historically. A national park, a world heritage site, an international biosphere reserve, and we’re starving it of fresh water.” These changes in water circulation not only introduce synthetic nutrients that kill wildlife and produce toxic algae blooms, but an overall decrease in water, exacerbated by drought and sea level rise, also changes the water salinity. In 2015, a decline in rainfall caused the water to be twice as salty as the ocean, leading to rapid die-off of its expansive sea grass, which caused a domino-effect die-off of the hundreds of species that live and breed in sea grass beds. Recent changes to a fragile ecosystem In 2017, Category 4 Hurricane Irma tore through and uprooted the mangroves – an ecosystem typically celebrated for its fortitude and ability to protect infrastructure during storms. Without mangrove roots and sea grass beds to stabilize the sediment, what used to be a mecca for birdwatching, fishing and buggy tours is now what The Guardian’s Oliver Milman calls a “mud pit.” “The water used to be so clear you could see the seagrass move back and forth. Now you can’t see the bottom. The dead water sort of moves around the bay and you think ‘I’ve just gotta get out of here,’” a seasoned fisherman lamented to Milman . Related: Can the Cayman Islands save the Caribbean’s remaining coral reefs? An unexpected green champion – for some In January 2019, Florida elected a new governor: Ron DeSantis, a self-proclaimed “conservative warrior” and Trump bestie . In just two months in office, DeSantis released a progressive $250-billion plan to restore the Everglades and invest in water quality remediation infrastructure. Though DeSantis’s predecessor, Rick Scott, set the bar pretty low in terms of green policy (he reportedly banned the phrase “climate change” ), environmentalists are generally hopeful about DeSantis’s commitment. “Our water and natural resources are the foundation of our economy and our way of life in Florida,” Governor DeSantis said in a news release . “The protection of water resources is one of the most pressing issues facing our state.” The four-year plan, “Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment ,” designates $625 million per year to address water pollution, restore ecosystems and raise the Tamiami Trail, a highway that traverses the Everglades and cuts off water circulation. Annual Budget Breakdown: $360 million for Everglades restoration, such as creating a reservoir and raising the highway to allow water to flow beneath it $175 million for targeted water quality remediation infrastructure, monitoring and treatment $50 million to restore natural springs $40 million to develop alternate water supplies and reduce water drawn from Everglade sources Many Democrats, however, believe the proposed budget is still too modest and needs to be reassessed. In 2000, a similar “Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan” passed Congress with ambitions to redirect freshwater and reduce sea water incursion. In the nearly 20 years since the bill passed, the crisis of sea level rise had become far more serious. The Guardian reports that the sea level is now three inches above the 1993 average and future levels are a “moving target.” A more comprehensive restoration plan, conservationists argue , would need to consider the worst-case predictions. Still, the new plan provides one billion dollars more than the budget from previous years, which is a welcomed, albeit insufficient, increase in much needed investment. “This is not a partisan issue,” DeSantis said in a news release . “This is something that Floridians from all walks of life and political persuasions think needs to be done. I look forward to working with the Legislature on bringing this into fruition and getting the job done for the people of this state.” Via The Guardian Images via Shutterstock 

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Old Swedish farm is reborn as a cozy woodland cabin holiday home

March 19, 2019 by  
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Swedish architectural practice Wingårdh Arkitektkontor converted a large old farm in the south of Sweden into a holiday home with a cozy woodland cabin atmosphere. Commissioned by a family who reside in the nearby city of Malmö, the countryside retreat was fashioned as a luxurious escape into nature built predominately with timber and designed to embrace views of the lush forest through floor-to-ceiling glazing. The adaptive reuse project—dubbed Kvarnhuset (The Mill House)—has respected the farm’s traditional gabled forms, while imbuing the interiors with new contemporary flourish. The original farm buildings included a cowshed, stables, hayloft and barn. Wingårdh Arkitektkontor transformed those structures into sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a gym and other additional rooms, while adding a new freestanding wing to the late 19th-century house. The annex consists of a guest bedroom as well as a sauna with a dressing room and bathroom. Since the existing creek onsite was too small for bathing, the architects also built a small bathing pool next to the sauna so that the family can engage in the “Swedish ritual of sauna and bathing.” “The detailing of the annex surpasses all of Wingårdh’s prior work,” the architects explain in their project statement. “The entire building is crafted with the precision of fine cabinetry and the craftsmanship and materials – oak and limestone – infuse the atmosphere with warmth and authenticity. The heavily detailed architecture of the interior is more than a mere background for its contents. By contrast, the simple exterior gives no indication of the care lavished on the inside, particularly the façade towards the courtyard.” Related: Tham & Videgård Arkitekter designs Swedish “vertical village” built from CLT The architects also reference Japan’s traditional teahouse architecture as a major inspiration. However, unlike the straightforward simplicity and austerity of those teahouses, the Mill House offers a more luxurious experience. + Wingårdh Arkitektkontor Images by Åke Eson Lindman

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Old Swedish farm is reborn as a cozy woodland cabin holiday home

Baby turtles officially return to the beaches of Mumbai after largest beach clean up in history

March 19, 2019 by  
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Olive Ridley baby turtles have officially returned to the beaches of Mumbai, and it is all because one of the world’s largest beach clean-up efforts. Last summer, conservationists watched as over 80 baby turtles made their way across Mumbai’s Versova Beach, which was previously home to a massive garbage heap. “I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean ,” Afroz Shah, an activist in Mumbai, shared. Related: Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife It has been a few decades since the baby turtles have had access to the beach, which is an important part of their migratory journey to the Arabian Sea. Watching the turtles waddle towards the sea was confirmation that the clean-up efforts were well worth it and inspired volunteers to keep up the good work. It took a little over two years for volunteers to clean up the beach and remove the massive piles of trash . The mounds of plastic and other human waste was over five feet high, making it impossible for the baby turtles to make their journey to the sea. Following the clean-up effort, you can now play in the sand just like any beach in the world. The pristine condition of the beach is all thanks to the efforts of  hundreds volunteers who gathered over 11 million pounds of garbage over the course of two years. The volunteers, whom Shah helped organize, also cleaned up nearby river systems and initiated programs to prevent local residents from using the beach as a landfill . Shah also cleaned up over 52 public restrooms in the area and installed 50 coconut trees alongside the beach. Shah and his team plan to plant a grove of mangrove trees in the future, which he hopes will help with flooding and increase the quality of the water. Between the beach clean-up and the baby turtles returning to Mumbai , the United Nations gave Shah their Champion of the Earth Award and named the project the “world’s largest beach clean-up effort.” Via Global Citizen Image via skeeze

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Baby turtles officially return to the beaches of Mumbai after largest beach clean up in history

Solar-powered home takes advantage of cooling ocean breezes in Los Angeles

March 19, 2019 by  
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Crafted to embrace spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the Ziering Residence is defined by its dramatically curved architecture and walls of glass. Local practice SPF: architects designed the contemporary house that’s perched high in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles and engineered to take advantage of passive systems, including cooling ocean breezes and the thermal mass of concrete floors. The home also reduces its energy footprint with rooftop solar panels and solar hot water heaters. With Pacific Ocean views on one side and the backdrop of the Santa Monica Mountains on the other, the solar powered  Ziering Residence was designed to embrace panoramic views on both sides while maintaining a deliberately low-slung profile so as not to obstruct views for neighboring residences. For privacy, the street-facing facade of the dwelling is clad in an ipe wood rainscreen. In contrast, the courtyard side is wrapped in sliding floor-to-ceiling glazing that seamlessly connects the interiors to the outdoors. The spacious 9,000-square-foot home is marked by an open-floor plan. The main living areas are housed in the curved section of the building, along with a guest suite, and overlook views of the ocean as well as the outdoor pool, courtyard  and long wood deck. A large kitchen and parlor connects the curved wing with the bedroom wing that juts out towards the ocean and contains the master bedroom. The lower level, which is partly submerged underground, contains an office, two additional bedrooms, a study, technical rooms, a sauna and a gym. Related: Wave-inspired Rainbow Bridge in Long Beach is covered in mini gardens and twinkling LED lights In addition to rooftop solar panels and passive solar principles , the Ziering Residence reduces its energy footprint by limiting the mechanical AC to only the kitchen, master suite and study. “A patented ‘Climate Right System’ designed and fabricated by the project engineer coordinates and controls all the systems, and a heat recovery ventilation program provides for the continuous cycling of fresh outside air,” the architects add. “Resulting utility costs are kept to a minimum, and like the rest of the home’s design and intent energy use is dictated, maintained, and heavily influenced by the natural climate.” + SPF: architects Images by Bruce Damonte

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Solar-powered home takes advantage of cooling ocean breezes in Los Angeles

Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

May 18, 2018 by  
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Climate change is doing more than causing  sea levels to rise or sea ice to dwindle — it’s pressuring  fish to move far away from their typical habitats. Warming waters have already prompted some fish to migrate south or north. As the climate continues to change, marine species’ shifts could be challenging for fisheries as the fish potentially move into new areas altogether — some hundreds of miles away. Fish are already seeking more favorable habitats in a changing world, and a team of six scientists at institutions in the U.S. and Switzerland decided to predict how they might move in the future. In research published this week in PLOS One , the team modeled the habitat of 686 species. Ecologist and co-author Malin Pinksy of Rutgers University told NPR they have high certainty for how far around 450 of those species will shift in the future. Related: Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time “We found a major effect of carbon emissions scenario on the magnitude of projected shifts in species habitat during the 21st century,” lead author James Morley of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said in a statement . “Under a high carbon emissions future we anticipate that many economically important species will expand into new regions and decline in areas of historic abundance.” Some species might just shift a few miles. But others might move so far that they become out of reach for some fishers. For example, the Alaskan snow crab could move north as far as 900 miles. A shift of just a couple hundred miles could place lobster or other fish out of the range for fishers with small boats — and limited time and fuel. The scientists aren’t sure when the shifts might happen; it depends on how much the waters warm. But the movement could pose challenges for resource management — co-author Richard Seagraves, formerly with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council , told NPR that states get a catch limit, or quota, for fish. The catch limit is based on where the fish were decades ago. Seagraves said, “Some of the Southern states are having trouble catching their quota, and states to the north have more availability of fish.” + PLOS One Via NPR and EurekAlert! Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

Scientists puzzle over subterranean heat melting Greenland’s glaciers

January 23, 2018 by  
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Researchers have acquired evidence that heat emanating from deep below the Earth’s surface is contributing to the meltdown of Greenland’s glaciers. Though they have long suspected that a subterranean heat source was a factor in the melting glaciers, scientists were previously unable to determine the precise mechanism by which this occurred. Data gathered from Greenland’s Young Sound fjord region, a geologically active area featuring many hot springs in which temperatures can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit, indicates that radiant heat loss is melting glaciers from the bottom up. This discovery will allow researchers to more accurately assess the stability of Greenland’s ice sheet and better predict sea level rise . The heat rising from below Greenland’s surface has loosened the lowest levels of glaciers, easing their slide into the sea. “There is no doubt that the heat from the Earth’s interior affects the movement of the ice, and we expect that a similar heat seepage takes place below a major part of the ice cap in the northeastern corner of Greenland,” wrote Søren Rysgaard, lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports . The heat source is known as a geothermal heat flux, an ancient phenomenon found throughout the planet. In Greenland, the heat percolates from below the surface up through fjords, warming deep sea temperatures that then transfer this heat to the surrounding glaciers . Related: 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth Because geothermal heat fluxes are difficult to assess, “our results are very unique because we determined the relatively small heat flux from a decade-long warming of an almost stagnant water mass,” co-author Jørgen Bendtsen told Newsweek . Earth’s heat circulating up through the fjords of Greenland is one of several factors contributing to the melting glaciers. Rising air and sea temperature, precipitation , and the unique qualities of the ice sheet also affect the speed of glacier melting. Via Newsweek Images via Wieter Boone ,  Mikael Sejr , and  Søren Rysgaard

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