Hexbyte Glen Cove The zoo is racing to save some of San Diego's rarest butterflies before they vanish thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove The zoo is racing to save some of San Diego’s rarest butterflies before they vanish

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

High up in the mountains of San Diego County, there are meadows with creeks and streams where some of San Diego’s rarest butterflies flutter from flower to flower.

But life isn’t as idyllic for the Laguna Mountains skipper as it may sound. These endangered butterflies have vanished from the very range they were named after and are now only found on Palomar Mountain. Climate change, human activity and wildfires threaten to wipe them out altogether.

Ecologists and are trying to change that, with a coalition that includes the San Diego Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, among many others. Their goal is to return the skippers to their former range in the Laguna Mountains and ensure they thrive.

That will take time and money. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, it could cost more than $3 million and take until 2045 for the species to recover to the point where it’s no longer considered endangered.

It may seem like a lot of effort for a butterfly you’ve likely never seen or heard of, acknowledges Daniel Marschalek, an insect ecologist who studied the skippers from 2013 to 2017 while at San Diego State University. But he says the measures conservationists take to save these butterflies will help other plants and animals in their ecosystem too.

“Once you start noticing species that start to decline and maybe disappear altogether in certain areas, it should really be kind of a warning sign,” said Marschalek, who’s now an assistant professor at the University of Central Missouri. “It’s reasonably easy to document a decline. But then to figure out why—because it’s usually multiple factors—and then change them, that’s kind of the difficult part.”

The Laguna Mountains skipper is a tiny critter, with a 1-inch wingspan and black wings mottled with white spots.

This butterfly subspecies was last seen in the Laguna Mountains in 1999, and no one quite knows why it vanished. Global warming and a steady dip in rainfall across the region certainly haven’t helped, as these butterflies favor wet mountain meadows. A 2019 report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cites habitat destruction from cattle grazing as another factor.

The only Laguna Mountains skippers left live on four locations on Palomar Mountain—and nowhere else on Earth. Researchers don’t know exactly how many of these butterflies are left, but Marschalek says their current situation doesn’t bode well for their survival.

“Especially in Southern California, if you have one kind of area that a species is restricted to, eventually it’s going to burn,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Skippers aren’t capable of the long flights that have made monarch butterflies famous. That means the population on Palomar Mountain can’t travel to the Laguna Mountains—or anywhere else, for that matter.

At least not without help.

“They’re not there. And they can’t get there from Palomar on their own. So we’re going to take them,” said Paige Howorth, the zoo’s curator of invertebrates. “We feel like the habitat is ready.”

A series of conservation measures going back to the 1980s has helped preserve the skipper’s habitat by limiting cattle grazing and visitor access to the Laguna Mountains. That work is now entering a new phase, with the zoo hatching skipper eggs and rearing caterpillars in their lab, which they later plan to transport to the mountains.

It’s painstaking work, says Howorth and her team. They’ve received more than 400 eggs, which they’ve hatched into more than 300 caterpillars. Each one has a smooth body that looks a bit like a green gummy bear with a black head at the end.

Every morning, zoo staff give the caterpillars a light spritz of water to simulate dew that the larvae drink. Then the caterpillars get back to quietly munching on their favorite food source, Cleveland’s Horkelia, a small herb native to Southern California and Baja California.

As they eat away, they eject small black specks of frass. That’s entomologist-speak for poop. Howorth’s team sifts through these poop pellets for something that looks almost identical to frass but certainly isn’t—the caterpillar’s last head capsule, the tough outer layer that protects their head and which they shed while growing. The size of this capsule tells researchers what stage of development the larvae have reached.

Once the increasingly plump caterpillars stop eating and form a chrysalis, they’ll be transported to the Laguna Mountains for release. Most of the chrysalises will lay dormant until next spring, which is when the butterflies will finally emerge.

But the work doesn’t stop there. The zoo and its conservation partners will continue to monitor the new population for years to come. And they’ll keep running captive rearing programs in their lab each spring. Those reintroductions could take 10 years and cost $700,000 according to the 2019 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services report.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife’s latest financial audit shows that it spent about $24 million on research and conservation in 2020. While many of these projects are in far-flung parts of the globe, Howorth says it’s nice to let San Diegans know there’s work going on right here, including efforts to protect the Quino checkerspot and Hermes copper butterflies, both local species that are also threatened: “It’s meaningful to do something in San Diego for San Diego butterflies.”



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Extra-long spiny male genitalia shows benefit for female seed beetles thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Extra-long spiny male genitalia shows benefit for female seed beetles

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Simon Hinkley & Ken Walker, Museum Victoria, CC BY 3.0 au

A team of researchers from Uppsala University, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Toronto has found that there are benefits for female seed beetles mating with males with extra-long spiny genitalia. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study of the mating habits of the beetles and what they learned about them.

Prior research has shown that female seed beetles suffer during mating—this is because the have long spiny genitalia. During copulation, the spikes poke holes in the . Prior research has also shown that males with longer genital spines tend to sire more offspring—which it has been assumed is why females allow males with more harmful genitalia to mate with them. But, it turns out, there are more reasons, as the researchers discovered during their study.

In watching the beetles mate and in monitoring the offspring that resulted, the researchers found that the females may not be quite as harmed as had been believed. The researchers found that they have developed an ultrathick reproductive tract and a very strong immune system that prevents infections in the wounds that occur.

The researchers found that females who mated with males with longer spikes produced with longer spikes and that were bigger and laid more eggs. They also found that females who mated with males with longer spiked genitalia produced more eggs over the course of their lifetime than females who mated with short-spiked males. The reason for this lies in the shape of the spiky —the longer length allowed for better access to the female’s hemolymph, which helped prime her body for better reproduction. The researchers also found that males with longer spikes produced better quality ejaculate—it had material in it that served to enhance egg production in the female. Some of it also provided a nutritional supplement for the female, which came in handy as adult seed beetles cease eating when they reach reproductive age.



More information:
Göran Arnqvist et al, Direct and indirect effects of male genital elaboration in female seed beetles, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2021.1068

© 2021 Science X Network

Citation:
Extra-long spiny male genitalia shows benefit for female seed beetles (2021, July 7)
retrieved 8 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-extra-long-spiny-male-genitalia-benefit.html

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part may be reproduced without the wri

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Freshwater methamphetamine pollution turns brown trout into addicts thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Freshwater methamphetamine pollution turns brown trout into addicts

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Crystal methamphetamine. Credit: public domain

Human pollution is often evident from oil slicks and plastic drifting on shore, but many of the drugs humans consume also end up washing out into the water, and current effluent treatment isn’t equipped to deal with them. Drugs such as fluoxetine—also known as Prozac—creeping into waterways can embolden fish and alter their behavior, but pharmaceutical pollution doesn’t end with prescribed medication. Illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, can also accumulate in waterways.

“Whether illicit drugs alter fish behavior at levels increasingly observed in surface water bodies was unclear,” says Pavel Horký from the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic. He and his colleagues, from the same university and the University of Southern Bohemia in České Budějovice, Czech Republic, have investigated whether (Salmo trutta) are at risk of addiction from illegal methamphetamine in their waterways; the researchers discovered that they are. The team has published this alarming discovery in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

After isolating brown trout in a tank of water laced with 1 μg l-1 methamphetamine (a level that has been found in ) for eight weeks, Horký and colleagues transferred the fish to a freshwater tank and checked whether the animals were experiencing withdrawal—offering them a choice between freshwater or water containing methamphetamine—every alternate day for 10 days. If the fish had become addicted to the low levels of methamphetamine in their water, they would be feeling the effects of withdrawal and would seek the drug when it was available.

Tracking the fish’s choices, it was clear to the team that the trout that had spent two months in methamphetamine-contaminated water had become addicted, selecting water containing the drug as they suffered withdrawal during the first four days after moving to freshwater. In addition, the addicted fish were less active than trout that had never experienced the drug, and the researchers found evidence of the drug in the fish’s brains up to 10 days after the methamphetamine was withdrawn. It seems that even low levels of in waterways can affect the animals that reside there.

Horký is also concerned that drug addiction could drive fish to congregate near unhealthy water treatment discharges in search of a fix, as well as disturbing their natural tempo of life. “The elicitation of drug addiction in wild could represent another example of unexpected pressure on species living in urban environments,” he suggests.



More information:
Pavel Horký et al, Methamphetamine pollution elicits addiction in wild fish, Journal of Experimental Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1242/jeb.242145

Citation:
Freshwater methamphetamine pollution turns brown trout into addicts (2021, July 7)
retrieved 8 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-freshwater-methamphetamine-pollution-brown-trout.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Galaxy cluster Abell 3158 inspected in X-rays thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Galaxy cluster Abell 3158 inspected in X-rays

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Galaxy density map with members of Abell 3158. Credit: Whelan et al., 2021.

Astronomers from the University of Bonn, Germany and elsewhere have used the eROSITA telescope onboard the Spektrum-Roentgen-Gamma (SRG) mission to perform X-rays observations of a nearby galaxy cluster known as Abell 3158. Results of this observational campaign, published June 28 on arXiv.org, offer more clues on the properties of this giant structure.

Galaxy clusters contain up to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity. They are the largest known gravitationally bound structures in the universe, and could serve as excellent laboratories for studying galaxy evolution and cosmology.

At a redshift of 0.059 and characteristic radius of approximately 23.95 arcminutes, Abell 3158 (or A3158 for short) is a quite extended nearby galaxy cluster. Given its relative proximity, Abell 3158 is a good place to examine the faint outskirts where physical and enrichment processes are taking place, such as minor mergers or infall of gas clumps.

A team of astronomers led by Béibhinn Whelan of the University of Bonn, has employed eROSITA to investigate the peripheral regions of Abell 3158 in order to shed more light on the properties of this object. The study was complemented by data from ESA’s XMM-Newton satellite.

“We determined 1d temperature, abundance and normalisation profiles from both eROSITA and XMM-Newton data, as well as 2D maps of temperature and metal abundance distribution from eROSITA data,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

The overall temperature of Abell 3158 was measured to be about 4.725 keV. The astronomers noted that temperature, abundance and normalisation profiles of eROSITA are consistent with previous studies of this cluster.

The eROSITA data provided tighter constraints on the metal abundance of Abell 3158 out to large radii. According to the paper, the normalisation profile shows that the values obtained from the XMM-Newton observation are slightly higher than those from eROSITA.

The study found that the morphology and surface brightness profile of Abell 3158 seem to be regular. However, the 2D temperature map of Abell 3158 shows that the cluster does not have a cool core, what is unusual for a cluster with such a surface brightness profile.

Furthermore, based on the spectroscopic redshifts of 365 members of Abell 3158, the velocity dispersion of the cluster member was measured to be some 1,058 km/s. The total mass of the cluster was calculated to be 1.38 quadrillion .

The research also identified an extension of gas some 2.2 million light years in the west direction from the center of Abell 3158. This finding suggests that the cluster is not relaxed but is undergoing merger activity.

“There exists an extension of gas ∼10 arcmin (∼865 kpc) to the West of the cluster centre, observed in the bottom image in the logarithmic scale. We present this extension of gas as a new finding. The irregularities between the different scales would suggest that there may be a sloshing effect occurring in the cluster further supporting the claim that the is undergoing merger activity,” the authors of the paper concluded.



More information:
X-Ray Studies of the Abell 3158 Galaxy Cluster with eROSITA, arXiv:2106.14545 [astro-ph.CO] arxiv.org/abs/2106.14545

© 2021 Science X Network

Citation:
Galaxy cluster Abell 3158 inspected in X-rays (2021, July 6)
retrieved 7 July 2021
from https://phys.o

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Mercury pollution significantly higher in Victoria thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Mercury pollution significantly higher in Victoria

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay

“Historically lax” regulations around pollution control have led to much higher levels of mercury emission from coal-fired power stations in Victoria, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU).

The study compared mercury levels in sediment from lakes close to in the Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and the NSW Hunter Valley.

According to lead author Dr. Larissa Schneider, there was a stark difference.

“New South Wales and Victoria have historically had very different regulatory approaches. Victorian power stations have used “dirtier” coal—or coal with a higher mercury concentration—and had less efficient devices,” she said.

“All of this adds up, power stations in the Latrobe Valley emit around 10 times more mercury than power stations in the Hunter.”

Dr. Schneider says with Australia working to ratify the Minamata Convention, which outlines international guidelines on controlling mercury pollution, she believes it may be time to look at a more uniform approach that takes into account best practices.

“Victoria has recently announced changes. If the Minamata Convention is ratified other states may be obliged to implement better pollution control technology. This study shows how effective that can be,” Dr. Schneider said.

“Regulating even basic pollution control technologies can lead to substantial reductions in .”

The research has been published in Environmental Pollution.



More information:
Larissa Schneider et al, Mercury atmospheric emission, deposition and isotopic fingerprinting from major coal-fired power plants in Australia: Insights from palaeo-environmental analysis from sediment cores, Environmental Pollution (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117596

Citation:
Mercury pollution significantly higher in Victoria (2021, July 6)
retrieved 7 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-mercury-pollution-significantly-higher-victoria.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the

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Hexbyte Glen Cove A tale of two valleys: Latrobe and Hunter regions both have coal stations, but one has far worse mercury pollution thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove A tale of two valleys: Latrobe and Hunter regions both have coal stations, but one has far worse mercury pollution

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Shutterstock

We know coal-fired power stations can generate high levels of carbon dioxide, but did you know they can be a major source of mercury emissions as well?

Our new research compared the level of pollution in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and the Latrobe Valley in Victoria.

And we found in the Latrobe Valley emit around 10 times more mercury than stations in the Hunter Valley. Indeed, the in the Latrobe Valley environment is 14 times higher than what’s typically natural for the region.

So why is there such a stark difference between states? Well, it has a lot to do with regulations.

Following a NSW requirement for power stations to install pollution control technology, mercury levels in the environment dropped. In Victoria, on the other hand, coal-fired power stations continue to operate without some of the air pollution controls NSW and other developed countries have mandated.

To minimise the safety risks that come with excessive mercury pollution, coal-fired power stations in all Australian jurisdictions should adopt the best available technologies to reduce .

A dangerous neurotoxin

Mercury is a neurotoxin, which means it can damage the nervous system, brain and other organs when a person or animal is exposed to unsafe levels.

Mercury deposited in sediments of Lake Glenbawn (left) in the Hunter Valley and Traralgon Railway Reservoir (right) in the Latrobe Valley. Credit: The Conversation

Coal naturally contains mercury. So when power stations burn coal, mercury is released to the atmosphere and is then deposited back onto the Earth’s surface. When a high level of mercury ends up in bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, it can be transferred to fish and other aquatic organisms, exposing people and larger animals to mercury that feed on these fish.

Mercury does not readily degrade or leave aquatic environments such as lakes and rivers. It’s a persistent toxic element—once present in water, it’s there to stay.

The amount of mercury emitted depends on the type of coal burnt (black or brown) and the type of pollution control devices the power stations use.

The Latrobe Valley stations in Victoria burn brown coal, which has more mercury than the black coal typically found in NSW. Despite this, Victorian regulations have historically not placed specific limits on mercury emissions.

In contrast, NSW power plants are required to use “bag filters”, a technology that’s used to trap mercury (and other) particles before they enter the atmosphere.

While bag filters alone fall short of the world’s best practices, they can still be effective. In fact, after bag filters were retrofitted to Hunter Valley’s Liddell power station in the early 1990s, mercury deposition in the surrounding environment halved.

The best available technology to control mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants is a combination of “wet flue-gas desulfurization” (which removes mercury in its gaseous form) and bag filters (which removes mercury bound to particles).

This is what’s been adopted across North America and parts of Europe. It not only filters out mercury, but also removes sulphur dioxide, and other toxic air compounds.

Lake Narracan: one of the lakes we sampled sediments from, near a coal-fired power station in Latrobe Valley. Credit: Larissa Schneider, Author provided

Using lake sediments to see into the past

Lake sediments can capture mercury deposited from the atmosphere and from surrounding areas. Sediments that contain this mercury accumulate at the bottom of lakes over time—the deeper the sediment, the further back in time we can analyse.

We took sediment samples from lakes in the Latrobe and Hunter valleys, and dated them back to 1940 to get a historical record of mercury deposition.

This information can help us understand how much naturally occurring mercury there was before coal-fired power stations were built, and therefore show us the impact of burning coal.

From these records, we found the adoption of bag filters in the Hunter Valley corresponded with mercury depositions declining in NSW from the 1990s.

In contrast, in Victoria, where there’s been no such requirement, mercury emissions and depositions have continued to increase since Hazelwood power station was completed in 1971.

Loy Yang power station, Victoria’s largest, burns brown coal which contains more mercury. Credit: Shutterstock

What do we do about it?

In March, the Victorian government announced changes to the regulatory licence conditions for brown coal-fired power stations. Although mercury emissions allowances have been included for the first time, they’re arguably still too high, and there’s no requirement to install specific pollution control technologies.

There’s a risk this approach won’t reduce mercury emissions from existing levels. Victoria should instead consider more ambitious regulations that encourage the adoption of best practice technology to help protect local communities and the environment.

Another vital step toward protecting and the environment from mercury is for the federal government to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty to protect human health and the environment from mercury.

Despite signing the convention in 2013, the Australian government is yet to ratify it, which is required to make it legally binding in Australia.

Ratifying the convention will oblige state and federal governments to develop and implement a strategy to reduce mercury emissions, including from coal-fired power stations across Australia. And this strategy should include rolling out effective technologies—our research shows it can make a big difference.



This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citation:
A tale of two valleys: Latrobe and Hunter regions both have coal stations, but one has far worse mercury pollution (2021, July 6)
retrieved 7 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-tale-valleys-latrobe-hunter-regions.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Amid drought, Colorado rafters flock to oases while they can thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Amid drought, Colorado rafters flock to oases while they can

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Kyle Lester, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, teaches a group basic safety measures and rowing techniques before floating down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert

Across Colorado, parched rivers are at some of their lowest levels on record. But on one still spared by the drought, boisterous children and guides bob along as water splashes into their blue inflatable rafts.

The summer activity on the Cache La Poudre River in northeastern Colorado reflects the precarious situations of rivers and lakes in dry regions, with rafters and boaters eager to enjoy the remaining oases while they can and businesses hoping to eke out a season threatened by drought.

“Any time that you make your living off of Mother Nature, you definitely partner with a pretty turbulent environment,” said Kyle Johnson, whose whitewater rafting company, Rocky Mountain Adventures, has been fully booked seven days a week.

Johnson said the booming demand on the river is a “redemption” from the last rafting season, which was cut short by the pandemic and wildfires. But the healthy water levels on the river might not last much longer. Johnson notes the drought could end this season prematurely as well.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” said Savannah House, a Fort Collins resident who was recently rafting on the Poudre, noting the in other parts of the state.

For years, those who rely on rivers and streams for their livelihoods have struggled with the hotter, drier weather brought on by .

Dylan Dems, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, takes a group down a whitewater section of the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Across Colorado, parched lakes and rivers are at some of their lowest levels on record. But on one still spared by the drought, boisterous children bob along with guides as water splashes into their blue inflatable rafts. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert

The rising temperatures have meant dwindling and less reliable amounts of the mountain snowpack that normally drains from high altitudes to replenish water levels. What does trickle down is more likely to get absorbed by the dry, thirsty ground before it reaches the river—a predicament many places were already experiencing this year.

“We really are seeing the impact of the dry conditions last year impacting all of our watersheds and ,” said Karl Wetlaufer, a hydrologist for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Now the gripping the region is deepening worries, affecting even simple recreational activities once taken for granted.

The Yampa River in northwest Colorado is experiencing some of the lowest stream flows on record due to below average snowpack, increasingly dry soil, and the spring’s hot, dry weather. In Steamboat Springs, a recreational hub along the river, rafting and kayaking ended a few weeks ago, and fishing and tubing could soon be over too if the water dips much lower.

  • Kevin Perez, far left, takes a rookie guide training boat down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Perez is a guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Lauren Taylor, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, gives a safety talk to a group ready to run the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • A group of young rafters boards a bus to run the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Lauren Taylor, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, gives a safety talk to a group ready to run the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Kevin Perez, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, pulls an inflatable boat out of the water after taking a group down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Darien Ellis with Rocky Mountain Adventures carries paddles after running a group down a section of the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Kevin Perez, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, gets ready to take a group down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Kyle Johnson, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Adventures, stands on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Johnson said the booming demand on the river is a “redemption” from the last rafting season, which was delayed by the pandemic then cut short by wildfires. But the healthy water levels might not last much longer. Johnson notes the drought could end this season prematurely. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Darien Ellis with Rocky Mountain Adventures gathers gear before running the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought.Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert

“We have known since 2002, when this mega-drought started, that our climate has shifted to a hotter and drier future. And the future is now,” said Kent Vertrees of Friends of the Yampa. The conservation group has received funding from the Walton Family Foundation, which also supports The Associated Press’ coverage of water and environmental policy.

To alleviate conditions, and water agencies created a pathway to release water from an upstream reservoir. That helped “keep the fish wet, cool the river down and increase the oxygen levels in the river,” Vertrees said.

Cottonwood trees have also been planted to shade the river and cool it down when the water is running low. It’s unclear how much such measures will help maintain water levels.



© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
Amid drought, Colorado rafters flock to oases while they can (2021, July 5)
retrieved 6 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-drought-colorado-rafters-flock-oases.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Japan searches for dozens missing in resort town mudslide thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Japan searches for dozens missing in resort town mudslide

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Rescuers continue a search operation at the site of a mudslide at Izusan in Atami, Shizuoka prefecture, southwest of Tokyo Monday, July 5, 2021. Credit: Kyodo News via AP

Rescue workers slogged through mud and debris Monday looking for dozens feared missing after a giant landslide ripped through a Japanese seaside resort town, killing at least three people.

Eighty people were still unaccounted for, according to Shizuoka prefectural disaster management official Takamichi Sugiyama. Officials were preparing to release their names, hoping to reach some who might not have been caught in the landslide.

Initially, 147 of those people were unreachable, but that number was revised downward after confirmed some had safely evacuated or were away when the disaster struck, it said.

The disaster is an added trial as authorities prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, due to start in less than three weeks, while Japan is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters that rescue workers, including police, self-defense troops, firefighters and coast guard personnel, are doing their utmost “to rescue those who may be buried under the mud and waiting for help as soon as possible.”

At least 20 were initially described as missing. Since Atami is a vacation city, many apartments and homes are unoccupied for long parts of the year, with their listed residents living in other places.

Rescuers continue a search operation at the site of a mudslide at Izusan in Atami, Shizuoka prefecture, southwest of Tokyo Monday, July 5, 2021. Credit: Kyodo News via AP

Others may be away visiting relatives or friends or not answering the phone, officials said. They hope to get in touch with more of those unaccounted for on Monday.

The landslide occurred Saturday after several days of heavy rains. Witnesses heard a giant roar as a small stream turned into a torrent, carrying black mud, trees, rocks and debris from buildings.

Bystanders were heard gasping in horror on cell phone videos taken as it happened.

Like many seaside and mountain towns in Japan, Atami is built on steep hillsides, its roads winding through bits of forest and heavy vegetation. With other parts of the country expecting heavy downpours in what is known as Japan’s , authorities elsewhere were also surveying hillsides. NHK carried a program Monday about risk factors and warning signs that might precede a landslide.

Three coast guard ships, and six military drones were backing up the hundreds of troops, firefighters and other toiling in the rain and fog in search of possible survivors.

Rescuers continue a search operation at the site of a mudslide at Izusan in Atami, Shizuoka prefecture, southwest of Tokyo Monday, July 5, 2021. Credit: Kyodo News via AP

The mudslide struck Atami’s Izusan neighborhood, known for its hot springs, a shrine and shopping streets. Atami, which has a population of 36,800, is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Naoto Date, an actor who happened to be visiting the Izusan area after a filming session, woke up to sirens in the neighborhood when he was in his house, which is next to his mother’s. Both of them were safe, but he made sure his mother walked to a nearby community center to evacuate, and he called all his friends and schoolmates and made sure they’d survived.

“I grew up here and my classmates and friends live here. I’m so sad to see my neighborhood where I used to play with my friends is now destroyed,” Date told The Associated Press in a video interview from his home in Atami.

Date said his friends all had safely evacuated and his mother moved to a hotel in a safer location. Date, who usually lives in Tokyo, said he was staying away from evacuation centers due to concern about the coronavirus.

Even though his house was located in a hazard area, he said he never imagined it would be hit by a disaster.

Rescuers continue a search operation at the site of a mudslide at Izusan in Atami, Shizuoka prefecture, southwest of Tokyo Monday, July 5, 2021. Credit: Kyodo News via AP

“I used to take it not so seriously and I regret that,” he said. He filmed scenes in his neighborhood with muddy water gushing down and rescuers wading through knee-deep mud.

He also went to the sea where toppled cars were floating with debris from destroyed homes. “Many people saw their homes and belongings and everything washed away. They won’t be able to return home, and it must require an unimaginable effort to recover.”

Three people had been found dead as of early Monday, Fire and Disaster Management Agency and local officials said. Twenty-three people stranded by the mudslide were rescued, including three who were injured.

Shizuoka’s governor, Heita Kawakatsu told a news conference Sunday that construction upstream may have been a factor in the mudslide. Citing a preliminary examination by drone, Kawakatsu said massive amounts of soil that had been heaped up in the construction area had all washed down.

Kawakatsu said he will investigate. Media reports said a planned housing development was abandoned after its operator ran into financial problems.

The Izusan area is one of 660,000 locations in the country identified as prone to mudslides on a hazard map issued by the government, but is not widely publicized and public awareness is low.

Early July near the end of a rainy season often is a time of deadly flooding and mudslides triggered by torrential rains, which many experts say are worsening due to global warming.

A year ago, flooding and mudslides triggered by heavy rain in Kumamoto and four other prefectures in the Kyushu region in southern Japan left nearly 80 people dead. In July 2018, hillsides in crowded residential areas in Hiroshima collapsed, leaving 20 dead. In 2017, mudslides and flooding in the Kyushu region killed 40.



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Citation:
Japan searches for dozens missing in resort town mudslide (2021, July 5)
retrieved 6 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-japan-dozens-resort-town-mudslide.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Cuba evacuates 180,000 as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Cuba evacuates 180,000 as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches

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Frank Barakat carries his daughter Valentina, 2, through an shopping aisle dedicated for hurricane supplies as the Home Depot store prepares for possible effects of tropical storm Elsa in Miami on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Elsa fell back to tropical storm force as it brushed past Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday and threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida. Credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP

Cuba evacuated 180,000 people amid fears Sunday that Tropical Storm Elsa could cause heavy flooding after battering several Caribbean islands, killing at least three people.

The Cuban government opened shelters and moved to protect sugarcane and cocoa crops ahead of the . Most of those evacuated went to relatives’ homes, while some people sheltered at . Hundreds living in mountainous areas took refuge in natural caves prepared for the emergency.

The storm’s next target was Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 15 counties, including in Miami-Dade County, where a high-rise condominium building collapsed last week.

Late Sunday afternoon, Elsa’s center was near Cuba’s southern coast, about 15 miles (20 kilometers) west of Cabo Cruz, and was moving northwest at 14 mph (22 kph). It had maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph (95 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The center said the storm was expected to gradually weaken while moving across Cuba on Monday.

“After Elsa emerges over the Florida Straits and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, some slight restrengthening is possible,” it said.

The storm killed one person on St. Lucia, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. A 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman died Saturday in separate events in the Dominican Republic after walls collapsed on them, according to a statement from the Emergency Operations Center.

Home Depot department supervisor, Arnaldo Gonzalez, loads water bottles into Elena Arvalo’s shopping cart as shoppers prepare for possible effects of tropical storm Elsa in Miami on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Elsa fell back to tropical storm force as it brushed past Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday and threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida. Credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP

Elsa was a Category 1 hurricane until Saturday morning, causing widespread damage on several eastern Caribbean islands Friday as the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. Among the hardest hit was Barbados, where more than 1,100 people reported damaged houses, including 62 homes that completely collapsed. The government promised to find and fund temporary housing to avoid clustering people in shelters amid the pandemic.

Downed trees also were reported in Haiti, which is especially vulnerable to floods and landslides because of widespread erosion and deforestation. Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said Sunday that three people had been injured by downs trees.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for much of Cuba, Jamaica and the Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas. A hurricane watch was issued for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba. Some of those provinces have reported a high number of coronavirus infections, raising concerns that the storm could force large groups of people to seek shelter together.

  • Antony Exilien secures the roof of his house in response to Tropical Storm Elsa, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, July 3, 2021. Elsa brushed past Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday and threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida. Credit: AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn
  • An electrical pole felled by Hurricane Elsa leans on the edge of a residential balcony, in Cedars, St. Vincent, Friday, July 2, 2021. Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday as it blew off roofs and snapped trees in the eastern Caribbean, where officials closed schools, businesses and airports. Credit: AP Photo/Orvil Samuel

Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record and also broke the record as the tropic’s fastest-moving hurricane, clocking in at 31 mph Saturday morning, said Brian McNoldy, a researcher at the University of Miami.

Portions of Cuba were forecast to get rainfall of 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) through Monday, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches (20 centimeters). Jamaica was expected to get 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters), with maximum totals of 15 inches (38 centimeters).



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Cuba evacuates 180,000 as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches (2021, July 5)
retrieved 6 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-cuba-evacuates-tropical-storm-elsa-1.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove 'Lakes' under Mars' south pole: A muddy picture? thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove ‘Lakes’ under Mars’ south pole: A muddy picture?

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The bright white region of this image shows the icy cap that covers Mars’ south pole, composed of frozen water and frozen carbon dioxide. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/Bill Dunford

Two research teams, using data from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, have recently published results suggesting that what were thought to be subsurface lakes on Mars may not really be lakes at all.

In 2018, scientists working with data from the Mars Express orbiter announced a surprising discovery: Signals from a reflected off the red planet’s south pole appeared to reveal a liquid subsurface lake. Several more such reflections have been announced since then.

In a new paper published in the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters, lead author and graduate student Aditya Khuller of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration with Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), describe finding dozens of similar radar reflections around the south pole after analyzing a broader set of Mars Express data. But many are in areas that should be too cold for to remain liquid.

The question of whether the signals are or not is also being considered by a team of scientists led by ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration postdoctoral scholar Carver Bierson. Their research was also recently published in AGU’s Geophysical Research Letters and determined that these bright reflections might be caused by subsurface clays, metal-bearing minerals or saline ice.

Mars Express is the second-longest-surviving continually active spacecraft in orbit around a planet other than Earth, behind only NASA’s still-active 2001 Mars Odyssey. As Mars Express orbits Mars, it continues to provide important data on the red planet’s subsurface, surface and atmosphere.

Onboard this spacecraft is an instrument called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, or MARSIS for short. This instrument uses a radar sounder to assess the composition of the subsurface of Mars.

MARSIS has been collecting data around Mars since 2004, including the south pole, allowing scientists to build a three-dimensional view of the south polar region. “We wanted to look beneath the south polar ice and characterize the old terrain lying underneath using MARSIS data,” said Khuller.

In other recent studies using MARSIS data, researchers have found areas where the reflections below the surface are brighter than that of the surface, which is not what scientists would expect.

“Usually, radar waves lose energy when they travel through a material, so reflections from deeper down should be less bright than those from the surface,” said Khuller, who is concurrently on an internship at JPL under Plaut’s direction. “Although there are a few possible reasons for unusually bright subsurface reflections, these two studies concluded that a liquid water component was the cause of these bright reflections, because liquid water appears bright to radar.”

The colored dots represent sites where bright radar reflections have been spotted by ESA’s Mars Express orbiter at Mars’ south polar cap. Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Frozen time capsule

The radar signals originally interpreted as liquid water were found in a region of Mars known as the South Polar Layered Deposits, named for the alternating layers of water ice, dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) and dust that have settled there over millions of years. These layers are believed to hold a record of how the tilt in Mars’ axis has shifted over time, just as changes in Earth’s tilt have created ice ages and warmer periods throughout our planet’s history. When Mars had a lower axial tilt, snowfall and layers of dust accumulated in the region and eventually formed the thick layered ice sheet found there today.

The areas originally hypothesized to contain liquid water span about 6 to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometers) in a relatively small region of the Martian South Polar Layered Deposits. Khuller and Plaut expanded the search for similar strong radio signals to 44,000 measurements spread across 15 years of MARSIS data over the entirety of the Martian south .

Unexpected ‘lakes’: A muddy picture?

The new, expanded study from Khuller and Plaut revealed dozens of additional bright radar reflections over a far greater range of area and depth than ever before. In some places, they were less than a mile from the surface, where temperatures are estimated to be minus 81 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 63 degrees Celsius)—so cold that water would be frozen, even if it contained salty minerals known as perchlorates, which can lower the freezing point of water.

“We’re not certain whether these signals are liquid water or not, but they appear to be much more widespread than what the original paper found,” said co-author Plaut, who is also the co-principal investigator of the orbiter’s MARSIS instrument. “Either liquid water is common beneath Mars’ south pole, or these signals are indicative of something else.”

Additionally Khuller noted a 2019 paper in which researchers calculated the heat needed to melt subsurface ice in this region, finding that only recent volcanism under the surface could explain the potential presence of liquid water under the south pole.

“They found that it would take double the estimated Martian geothermal heat flow to keep this water liquid,” Khuller said. “One possible way to get this amount of heat is through volcanism. However, we haven’t really seen any strong evidence for recent volcanism at the south pole, so it seems unlikely that volcanic activity would allow subsurface liquid water to be present throughout this region.”

Khuller and Plaut’s next steps in this line of research are to investigate their discovery of a second, deeper layer under parts of the of Mars, which scientists think represents an older buried terrain called the Dorsa Argentea Formation. It is thought to have been modified by ancient glaciers once present across the region, and they intend on trying to more accurately determine its composition and age.



More information:
Aditya R. Khuller et al, Characteristics of the Basal Interface of the Martian South Polar Layered Deposits, Geophysical Research Letters (2021). DOI: 10.1029/2021GL093631

C. J. Bierson et al, Strong MARSIS Radar Reflections from the Base of Martian South Polar Cap may be due to Conductive Ice or Minerals, Geophysical Research Letters (2021). DOI: 10.1029/2021GL093880

Michael M. Sori et al, Water on Mars, With a Grain of Salt: Local Heat Anomalies Are Required for Basal Melting of Ice at the South Pole Today, Geophysical Research Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1029/2018GL080985

Citation:
‘Lakes’ under Mars’ south pole: A muddy picture? (2021, July 3)
retrieved 4 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-lakes-mars-south-pole-muddy.html

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part may be reproduced without t

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