Hexbyte Glen Cove Volcanic ash halts flights on Spanish island

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Clouds of ash from the volcano that began erupting a month ago forced airlines to scrap all flights on La Palma.

Planes were grounded on La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, for the second straight day Sunday because of ash from a volcano that began erupting a month ago.

Airlines scrapped all 38 flights scheduled for Sunday, most of them to and from other in the Atlantic archipelago off Morocco, an airport spokesman said.

Only four of the 34 flights scheduled for Saturday went ahead as planned.

Local airline Binter said in a statement it would “restart activity as soon as possible and as long as conditions allow flights to resume safely”.

La Cumbre Vieja , which lies 15 kilometres (nine miles) west of the airport, erupted on September 19, spewing out rivers of lava that have slowly crept towards the sea.

So far no-one has been killed by the continuous lava flows, but the molten rock has covered 750 hectares (1,850 acres) and destroyed 1,800 buildings, including hundreds of homes, according to the European Union’s Copernicus disaster monitoring programme.

About 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island, which has a population of around 85,000 people.

The eruption has covered a large area with and been accompanied by dozens of minor earthquakes most days.

The eruption has buried a large area of La Palma island under volcanic ash.

La Palma airport has had to close twice since the eruption began and airlines have sporadically had to cancel flights.

The head of the regional government of the archipelago, Angel Victor Torres, said Sunday that scientists monitoring the eruption have seen no indications that it is abating.

“We are at the mercy of the volcano, it’s the only one who can decide when this ends,” he told reporters.

Spain’s central government and the regional government of the Canary Islands have so far earmarked 300 million euros ($348 million) for reconstruction on the island, which lives mainly from tourism and .

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has vowed to “spend whatever money is needed to reconstruct this marvellous island”.

“We will be there until we have rebuilt 100 percent of everything which this volcano has destroyed,” he added during an interview with private television La Sexta on Thursday.

It is the island’s third volcanic eruption in a century, the last one taking place in 1971.



© 2021 AFP

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Volcanic ash halts flights on Spanish island (2021, October 17)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Strongest quake since volcano erupted shakes Spanish island

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Lava from a volcano flows destroying a banana plantation on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain, on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. A new river of lava has belched out from the La Palma volcano, spreading more destruction on the Atlantic Ocean island where molten rock streams have already engulfed over 1,000 buildings. The partial collapse of the volcanic cone has sent a new lava stream heading toward the western shore of the island. Credit: AP Photo/Daniel Roca

A 4.5-magnitude earthquake shook La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands in what was the strongest recorded temblor since volcanic eruptions began 26 days ago, authorities said Thursday.

The quake was one of around 60 recorded overnight, Spain’s National Geographic Institute said, as the Cumbre Vieja volcano continued to spew fiery rivers of lava that are destroying everything in their path and dumping molten rock into the Atlantic Ocean.

The lava has partially or completely destroyed more than 1,600 buildings, about half of them houses, officials said, though prompt evacuations have so far prevented any deaths. Around 7,000 people have had to abandon their homes, 300 of them Thursday.

“This is definitely the most serious eruption in Europe of the past 100 years,” Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres said.

“The only good news is that…so far, nobody has been hurt,” he said.

The flow from three rivers of molten rock broadened to almost 1.8 kilometers (just over a mile), the La Palma government said, but their advance has slowed to a crawl.

Hard, black lava now covers 674 hectares (1,665 acres) on the western side of the island, authorities said, though most of la Palma is unaffected.

Authorities advised locals against traveling by car because volcanic ash was ankle-deep in some places. The volcano’s plume was 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet) high as of Thursday.

La Palma is part of Spain’s Canary Islands, an Atlantic Ocean archipelago off northwest Africa whose economy depends on tourism and the cultivation of the Canary plantain.



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Strongest quake since volcano erupted shakes Spanish island (2021, October 14)
retrieved 14 October 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove On the 'Island of the Blue Dolphins,' a glimmer of hope for a rare fox species thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove On the ‘Island of the Blue Dolphins,’ a glimmer of hope for a rare fox species

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A view of drought-affected habitat on San Nicolas Island, including large patches of dead ice plant, a once-favored food of island foxes, in the foreground. Credit: Francesca Ferrara / U.S. Navy

The San Nicolas Island fox, a subspecies of the Channel Island Fox only found on the most remote of California’s eight Channel Islands, is at a low risk of extinction, new research published last week in Ecosphere shows.

In the past decade, the population of San Nicolas Island fox has decreased by nearly half, with just 332 foxes remaining in 2016.

The study, conducted by researchers from Montana State University, the University of Colorado and Naval Base Ventura County, predicted future fox population sizes assuming that current relatively dry environmental conditions persist. The foxes went extinct within 50 years in only 2.5% of the computer model’s simulations.

“This relatively low extinction risk is good news for San Nicolas Island foxes, but they are not out of the woods,” said Victoria Bakker, an assistant research professor at Montana State University and the paper’s lead author. “As a top carnivore living on a small island with degraded and invaded habitats, they are likely to experience the effects of climate change earlier and more acutely than other species. If climate change leads to even more frequent or severe droughts, the risk to foxes could rise substantially.”

The research points to strategies that could increase the foxes’ resilience to a changing climate and other human-caused shifts that have contributed to their decline.

A San Nicolas Island fox observing its habitat. Island foxes are one of the world’s smallest canids, about the size of a housecat. Credit: Francesca Ferrara / U.S. Navy

According to co-author Francesca Ferrara, a natural resource specialist at Naval Base Ventura County, the island’s resource managers are focusing on biosecurity, restoration of habitat and food resources, and minimizing human-wildlife conflict.

Biosecurity efforts in particular have been drawn into the spotlight over the past year.

“We have ongoing vaccination and monitoring programs in place to ensure that no new invasive species or pathogens establish themselves on the island,” said Ferrara. “As the world has now seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, a population that has not been previously exposed to a disease or pathogen can quickly be decimated by it. Due to their isolation, the island foxes are at risk to diseases that normally circulate in mainland wildlife. Since they have never been exposed and have no natural immunity, a pathogen that is mild to a mainland species could prove deadly to the island fox.”

The rugged coastline of San Nicolas Island, the most remote of the California Channel Islands. Credit: Francesca Ferrara / U.S. Navy

San Nicolas Island is the setting for the popular 1960 children’s novel Island of the Blue Dolphins, which draws from the story of Juana Maria, a Native Islander woman who spent 18 years alone on the island after her people were removed in 1835.

Today, San Nicolas Island functions as a United States naval station, but according to Ferrara, the island has retained its sense of remoteness and distinctiveness.

San Nicolas Island fox resting with pup. Pup numbers are highest following years of high rainfall. Credit: Francesca Ferrara / U.S. Navy

“The island fox really has a special place in my heart,” Ferrara said. “They never cease to delight me. They are bold and curious; their attitude and spunkiness is unmatched. I feel so fortunate that I can not only regularly cross paths with a fox foraging for insects but then shortly afterwards I can head over to observe one of the largest active rookeries of thousands of enormous breeding northern elephant seals.”

The naval base’s environmental staff manages the island’s wildlife and natural resources in order to support Department of Defense mission readiness.



More information:
Victoria J. Bakker et al, Understanding extinction risk and resilience in an extremely small population facing climate and ecosystem change, Ecosphere (2021). DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.3724

Citation:
On the ‘Island of the Blue Dolphins,’ a glimmer of hope for a rare fox species (2021, August 23)
retrieved 23 August 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-island-blue-dolphins-glimmer-rare.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Pine Island Glacier's ice shelf is ripping apart, speeding up key Antarctic glacier thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf is ripping apart, speeding up key Antarctic glacier

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Pine Island Glacier ends in an ice shelf that floats in the Amundsen Sea. These crevasses are near the grounding line, where the glacier makes contact with the Antarctic continent. The photo was taken in January 2010 from the east side of the glacier, looking westward. This ice shelf lost one-fifth of its area from 2017 to 2020, causing the inland glacier to speed up by 12%. Credit: Ian Joughin/University of Washington

For decades, the ice shelf helping to hold back one of the fastest-moving glaciers in Antarctica has gradually thinned. Analysis of satellite images reveals a more dramatic process in recent years: From 2017 to 2020, large icebergs at the ice shelf’s edge broke off, and the glacier sped up.

Since floating ice shelves help to hold back the larger grounded mass of the glacier, the recent speedup due to the weakening edge could shorten the timeline for Pine Island Glacier’s eventual collapse into the sea. The study from researchers at the University of Washington and British Antarctic Survey was published June 11 in the open-access journal Science Advances.

“We may not have the luxury of waiting for slow changes on Pine Island; things could actually go much quicker than expected,” said lead author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. “The processes we’d been studying in this region were leading to an irreversible collapse, but at a fairly measured pace. Things could be much more abrupt if we lose the rest of that ice shelf.”

Pine Island Glacier contains approximately 180 trillion tons of ice—equivalent to 0.5 meters, or 1.6 feet, of . It is already responsible for much of Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level rise, causing about one-sixth of a millimeter of sea level rise each year, or about two-thirds of an inch per century, a rate that’s expected to increase. If it and neighboring Thwaites Glacier speed up and flow completely into the ocean, releasing their hold on the larger West Antarctic Ice Sheet, global seas could rise by several feet over the next few centuries.

These have attracted attention in recent decades as their thinned because warmer ocean currents melted the ice’s underside. From the 1990s to 2009, Pine Island Glacier’s motion toward the sea accelerated from 2.5 kilometers per year to 4 kilometers per year (1.5 miles per year to 2.5 miles per year). The glacier’s speed then stabilized for almost a decade.

Results show that what’s happened more recently is a different process, Joughin said, related to internal forces on the glacier.

From 2017 to 2020, Pine Island’s ice shelf lost one-fifth of its area in a few dramatic breaks that were captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, operated by the European Space Agency on behalf of the European Union. The researchers analyzed images from January 2015 to March 2020 and found that the recent changes on the ice shelf were not caused by processes directly related to ocean melting.







The ice shelf on Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier lost about one-fifth of its area from 2017 to 2020, mostly in three dramatic breaks. The timelapse video incorporates satellite images from January 2015 to March 2020. For most of the first two years, the satellite took high-resolution images every 12 days; then for more than three years it captured images of the ice shelf every six days. Images are from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites operated by the European Space Agency on behalf of the European Union. Credit: Joughin et al./Science Advances

“The ice shelf appears to be ripping itself apart due to the glacier’s acceleration in the past decade or two,” Joughin said.

Two points on the glacier’s surface that were analyzed in the paper sped up by 12% between 2017 and 2020. The authors used an ice flow model developed at the UW to confirm that the loss of the ice shelf caused the observed speedup.

“The recent changes in speed are not due to melt-driven thinning; instead they’re due to the loss of the outer part of the ice shelf,” Joughin said. “The glacier’s speedup is not catastrophic at this point. But if the rest of that ice shelf breaks up and goes away then this glacier could speed up quite a lot.”

It’s not clear whether the shelf will continue to crumble. Other factors, like the slope of the land below the glacier’s receding edge, will come into play, Joughin said. But the results change the timeline for when Pine Island’s ice shelf might disappear and how fast the glacier might move, boosting its contribution to rising seas.

“The loss of Pine Island’s ice shelf now looks like it possibly could occur in the next decade or two, as opposed to the melt-driven subsurface change playing out over 100 or more years,” said co-author Pierre Dutrieux, an ocean physicist at British Antarctic Survey. “So it’s a potentially much more rapid and abrupt change.”

Pine Island’s ice shelf is important because it’s helping to hold back this relatively unstable West Antarctic glacier, the way the curved buttresses on Notre Dame cathedral hold up the cathedral’s mass. Once those buttresses are removed, the slow-moving glacier can flow more quickly downward to the ocean, contributing to rising seas.

“Sediment records in front of and beneath the Pine Island indicate that the glacier front has remained relatively stable over a few thousand years,” Dutrieux said. “Regular advance and break-ups happened at approximately the same location until 2017, and then successively worsened each year until 2020.”



More information:
Ice-shelf retreat drives recent Pine Island Glacier speedup, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg3080 , advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/24/eabg3080

Citation:
Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf is ripping apart, speeding up key Antarctic glacier (2021, June 11)
retrieved 12 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-island-glacier-ice-shelf-ripping.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Galapagos island gets 36 endangered giant tortoises thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Galapagos island gets 36 endangered giant tortoises

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Chelonoidis chatamensis, or San Cristobal Giant Tortoise, as endangered, though their numbers are on the rise

Three dozen endangered giant tortoises, born and raised in captivity, have been released into the wild on one of the Galapagos islands, where their kind is from.

The Galapagos National Park said the 36 creatures were freed on the northeastern part of San Cristobal island, where an estimated 6,700 roam free.

The latest additions belong to the Chelonoidis chathamensis subspecies—one of 15 endemic to the Galapagos, where Charles Darwin’s observation of birds and tortoises on different islands led to his theory of natural selection.

The youngsters are between six and eight years old, and weigh between three and five kilograms (6.6-11 pounds) each.

The animals spent time in quarantine and were tested for disease and parasites before their release so as not to endanger the rest of the natives, the park said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists Chelonoidis chathamensis, or San Cristobal Giant Tortoise, as endangered, though their numbers are on the rise.

The slow-breeding creatures can live to the age of about 100 or 150 and are endemic to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean off Ecuador’s coast.

According to the IUCN, the San Cristobal Giant Tortoise population experienced “catastrophic decline” due to the introduction of predators, competitors and vegetation change—from about 24,000 animals historically to about 500-700 in the early 1970s.

By 2016, the numbers had recovered somewhat to about 6,700.

In the last eight years, 75 of the sub-species, raised in captivity, have been reintroduced to San Cristobal.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Galapagos island gets 36 endangered giant tortoises (2021, March 4)
retrieved 5 March 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-03-galapagos-island-endangered-giant-tortoises.html

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