Hurricane Julia slams Nicaragua, menaces Central America

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Hurricane Julia tore down trees in the town of Bluefields, on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, as it barreled across the country.

Hurricane Julia raked across Nicaragua Sunday, lashing the country with winds and heavy rain and bringing potentially life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides to much of Central America and southern Mexico.

Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 85 miles (140 kilometers) per hour when the storm made landfall near the Laguna de Perlas area at 0715 GMT, the country’s weather agency said.

By midday, the fifth Atlantic hurricane of the season had weakened to a tropical storm with top sustained winds of nearly 60 miles per hour as it churned westward across Nicaragua, unleashing a dangerous storm surge along the coast, damaging homes in the country’s interior and leaving some towns incommunicado.

“It’s still raining, water has surrounded us, we have been without power and water since early morning, several houses are without roofs and many trees are down on the road,” Julio Hernandez, a resident of Rio Blanco, in central Nicaragua, told AFP.

The country was on high alert, with civil defense brigades helping to clear fallen trees from roads and watch for flooding in coastal towns and mountain villages. No fatalities have been reported.

But the US National Hurricane Center warned that Julia, whose center passed over the Central American isthmus into the eastern Pacific ocean Sunday night, was still packing a punch, not just for Nicaragua but for neighboring countries.

“Heavy rainfall with a risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides to continue across Central America and southern Mexico through Tuesday,” the NHC said.

Residents waded through flooded streets following the passage of Hurricane Julia in the town of Bluefields, Nicaragua.

‘We have to prepare’

Maintaining its tropical storm strength, Julia is forecast to produce five to 10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 centimeters) of rain in Nicaragua and El Salvador, with isolated pockets receiving as much as 15 inches.

Hours earlier in Bluefields, Nicaragua, one of the main coastal towns buffeted by the storm, fishermen had been busy safeguarding their boats as people rushed to buy groceries and withdraw money from ATMs.

Hurricane-force winds and heavy rains began to be felt around midnight, according to AFP photographers in the city, while reports detailed detached roofs, fallen trees and power outages.

Before reaching Nicaragua, Julia passed over a trio of Colombian islands, an environment ministry official told AFP, causing rain and lightning in the country’s north.

Julia was a Category 1 hurricane, on the low side of the five-tier Saffir-Simpson wind scale, when it roared ashore in Nicaragua.

Authorities have evacuated some 6,000 people in Laguna de Perlas, in the Miskito keys located off the coast, and in other zones, and dozens of storm shelters were set up in schools.

“We have to prepare with food, plastic, a little bit of everything, because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Javier Duarte, a cabinetmaker in Bluefields, told AFP.

The municipality of some 60,000 inhabitants has many flimsy structures. By mid-morning, telephone communications were knocked out.

Julia’s arrival in Central America comes less than two weeks after deadly Hurricane Ian crashed into the southeastern US state of Florida as one of the most powerful US hurricanes on record.

The Category 4 storm flattened entire neighborhoods on the Sunshine State’s southwest coast. More than 100 people were killed, according to US media.

Climate change is increasing the temperature of ocean surface layers, which generates more powerful and wetter storms, according to experts.



© 2022 AFP

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Hurricane Julia slams Nicaragua, menaces Central America (2022, October 9)
retrieved 10 October 2022
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Hexbyte Glen Cove ‘Taste’ and ‘smell’ of coral reefs provide insights into a dynamic ecosystem

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Reefscape of the Mo’orea backreef. Credit: Shayle Matsuda / UH SOEST.

Coral reefs are hotspots of biodiversity and are amazingly productive, with a vast number of organisms interacting simultaneously. Hundreds of molecules that are made by important members of the coral reef community were recently discovered by a team of scientists. Together, the compounds—modified amino acids, vitamins and steroids—comprise the “smell” or “taste” of corals and algae in a tropical reef, and will help scientists understand both the food web dynamics and the chemical ecology of these ecosystems.

The study, led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, University of Hawai’i (UH) at Mānoa and the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Although coral and seaweeds (limu) are fixed to the seafloor, these organisms interact via chemicals dissolved in the water. Despite knowing the importance of these that are built during photosynthesis and released into the seawater environment, biologists have never solved the mystery of their quantity, and structural diversity.

Thousands of molecules

The team applied a cutting-edge analytical technique, known as untargeted tandem mass spectrometry, to characterize the thousands of that organisms use for growth, communication and defense.

“We have known for years that play a big role in the fate of coral systems, but until now we did not have the analytical capabilities to analyze the dynamics of thousands of different molecules that make up the coral reef ‘exometabolome,'” said Andreas Haas, senior author on the work.

In the reefs surrounding Mo’orea, one of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, the team collected specimens from two reef-building corals (boulder coral and cauliflower coral), one calcified red alga (crustose coralline algae), one brown alga, and one algal turf (a mix of microscopic filamentous algae). Then, they isolated and analyzed the molecules that each organism released into the seawater during photosynthesis in the daytime, and separately at night, when photosynthesis ceases.

They found that these organisms release large amounts of hundreds of different compounds that ultimately influence the chemistry of the seawater. The compounds determine nutrient concentrations, the growth of decomposers and the availability of vitamins and minerals essential to the plants and animals that inhabit .

Graduate students from the University of Hawai’i and Scripps Institution of Oceanography sampling coral reef exometabolites. Credit: Craig Nelson / UH SOEST

Snapshot of the diversity

This study provides the first snapshot of the diversity of dissolved chemicals floating among coral reefs and a window into the interactions among organisms that scientists are just beginning to understand.

“There were several surprises with our findings,” said Linda Wegley Kelly, co-lead author of the work. “First, very few molecules were universal to all five of the organisms we studied. Even the two species of corals made few of the same molecules—more than 85% of the molecules we measured were unique to just one specific organism.”

The study demonstrated the release of over 1000 distinct molecules with diverse structures, pointing the way forward for new explorations into marine natural products.

Another key finding was demonstrating that the molecules released by corals contained many more nutrients than those made by algae, which may have strong implications for the availability of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur in these reef ecosystems. Perhaps more importantly for reef food webs, the work showed that the combination of molecules released into the water by seaweeds were more chemically reduced.

Haas explained, “Algae potentially provide more energy to bacteria in the reef than do corals, with implications for how increasing algae on reefs alters the transfer of energy through microbes into larger in the reef ecosystem.”

Reefs worldwide are changing and degrading under local pressures from human misuse and overuse as well as global threats of ocean warming and acidification.

“One common global shift is a change from coral dominance to increasing biomass of limu, associated with a shift in the structure and function of the ecosystem and the quantity and types of fish and invertebrates that thrive there,” said Craig Nelson, co-lead author of the work. “Understanding what shifts like this mean to the chemistry of an ecosystem is critical for managers, and this work demonstrates differences in the chemical exudates of corals and algae that can help us understand what changes in coral and algae mean for the ecosystem.”

In future work, the team will observe how the diverse array of compounds behaves on the reef including which molecules disappear rapidly, which build up, and whether any of the molecules are taken up directly by other plants and animals that make up the reef community.

Additional co-authors on the study include researchers from University of Tübingen (Germany), San Diego State University and University of California, Santa Barbara.



More information:
Linda Wegley Kelly et al, Distinguishing the molecular diversity, nutrient content, and energetic potential of exometabolomes produced by macroalgae and reef-building corals  , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110283119

Citation:
‘Taste’ and ‘smell’ of coral reefs provide insights into a dynamic ecosystem (2022, February 2)
retrieved 3 February 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-coral-reefs-insights-dynamic-ecosystem.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Giant metallic 'steed' traverses Iceland's threatened glacier thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Giant metallic ‘steed’ traverses Iceland’s threatened glacier

Hexbyte Glen Cove

The glacier mega bus is named Sleipnir after the mythical eight-legged horse ridden by the Norse god Odin

Instead of a slow slog on snowshoes, a giant bus sweeps passengers at up to 60 kilometres an hour across Iceland’s second largest glacier, which scientists predict will likely be nearly gone by the end of the century.

The red glacier mega bus is 15 metres (50-foot) long and fitted with massive tyres for traction across the powder snow of western Iceland’s vast Langjokull ice cap.

The glacier formed around 2,500 years ago and, with melting and refreezing, glaciologists believe the oldest ice of the glacier to be 500 years old.

From its highest point, at about 1,450 metres, the spectacular view takes in other snow covered peaks, including the Okjokull, the country’s first glacier officially lost to climate change in 2014.

With its 850 horsepower engine, the tour bus—resembling something out of a science-fiction movie—smoothly traverses the icy terrain on eight wheels, each two metres in diameter.

It has been named “Sleipnir” after the mythical eight-legged horse ridden by the Norse god Odin.

As strong winds whip up the fresh snow on an October day, the bus—created by keen mechanic Astvaldur Oskarsson, 59, who runs a specialised storage company—climbs higher to emerge from the low cloud into bright blue skies.

An Italian couple are among the few travellers to have braved the double COVID-19 test and five-day quarantine required on arrival in Iceland.

The bus is 15 metres (50-foot) long and fitted with eight wheels, each two metres in diameter

“It feels really emotional. Touching something that is so old, you feel so in contact with the earth,” Italian Rossella Greco, 30, tells AFP, of the tour, which costs 10,000 kronur (about 60 euros or $71).

The bus’ dimensions allow it to cross crevasses three metres wide, though also mean it guzzles 45 litres (12 gallons) of petrol per 100 km and leaves deep tracks in the snow.

However, the impact on the glacier “is small as long as it is just one or two vehicles,” according to Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson, a glaciologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Endangered

Along the path climbing from the foot of the Langjokull glacier, signs have been erected showing the ice line of every 20 years since 1940—a reminder of how quickly the glacier is thinning.

Nearly 250 square kilometres (97 square miles) of surface area have evaporated since 1890 and the end of the Little Ice Age.

The glacier bus was created by Astvaldur Oskarsson, 59 (pictured)

“The elevation of the glacier is getting lower in many, many places,” Gunnar Gudjonsson, a tour guide of 20 years, told AFP.

“So it’s actually new mountains or new nunataks (the ridge or summit of a mountain protruding from an ice field) coming out of the glaciers,” he added.

“It’s incredible how fast it is melting.”

In August, the dam of a glacial lake, formed by melt water, broke, causing flooding.

“It was not a major event but it happened in a region where we are not used to such phenomena,” Thorsteinsson said.

Powerful floods called jokulhaup are normal around the Vatnajokull glacier, the biggest in Iceland and also in Europe.

These however are generally due to volcanic activity.

But floods are bound to occur more regularly on glaciers elsewhere in Iceland, as global warming accelerates the melting.

Langjokull’s chances of survival are slim, Thorsteinsson warned.

“If this continues in a similar way or even in a still warmer climate, then it’s very likely that all of Langjokull, or maybe 80 to 90 percent of it, will be gone by the end of this century,” he said.



© 2020 AFP

Citation:
Giant metallic ‘steed’ traverses Iceland’s threatened glacier (2020, October 29)
retrieved 30 October 2020
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