THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year to you all

Have a Happy Green New Year friends and readers...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Great Barrier Reef in Nth Queensland a future tsunami threat - great slab of ocean floor gradually collapsing...

Nogin Block

A westerly view of the Great Barrier Reef margin offshore Cairns, North Queensland, showing submarine canyons and landslide scarps. Inset shows the approx. 1 cubic km perched block in 340 to 470 metres water depth. Image: Dr Robin Beaman, James Cook University Source: News Limited

A tourist swims on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef would be in the firing line when a giant slab of sea floor breaks off. Source: The Courier-Mail

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AN ENORMOUS slab of sea floor is in the early stages of collapse off north Queensland, and could generate a tsunami when it finally breaks off, researchers warn.

Researchers discovered it while mapping the sea floor around the Great Barrier Reef.
James Cook University marine biologist Robin Beaman says the slab will eventually break away from the Great Barrier Reef and when that happens it could generate a huge tsunami.
"It's actually up on the top of the continental slope in about 350 metres of water,'' Dr Beaman told ABC radio.
"It's a pretty big chunk of sea floor (and) is in the very slow, early stages of starting to break away from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
"If it were to break away catastrophically, that is break away really quickly ... it would actually cause a tsunami.
"That tsunami would travel across the Great Barrier Reef, it's about 70 kilometres offshore, and it would impact the local area, the North Queensland area.''
It's estimated it would take about an hour for any tsunami to hit coastal areas such as Mourilyan Harbour and Clump Point, south of Cairns.
But Dr Beaman says it's still very stable, and something like a very large earthquake near the site would be needed to trigger a catastrophic collapse any time soon.
"That is very unlikely. But we should be aware that these things exist. We don't really know when such a block might collapse. All I can say is sometime it eventually will.''

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A Green Christmas with Ecocrap....

A Green Christmas with Ecocrap...

“As we finish up the year 2011, I want to thank all of you for your educational posts over the past year.
I am so totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery!I no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, or have the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.I can’t use the remote in a hotel room because I don’t know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.

I can’t sit down on the hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed, and maybe it has never been washed.
I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one’s nose.
Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.
I can’t touch any woman’s purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public restroom.
I must send my special thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.
Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.
I no longer have any savings because I took it all out of every bank, since they are all insolvent and ready to go under, but, now I can’t sleep because of the large lump in my mattress.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

NZ - led team has ice core success in the Antarctic...

Foremost Delta II driving from McMurdo Station...
Foremost Delta II driving from McMurdo Station (US) to Scott Base (NZ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Scott Base sign. Carefully positioned...
English: Scott Base sign. Carefully positioned along the road from the American, McMurdo Base, New Zealanders proclaiming dominion over the Ross Dependency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: New Zealand's Scott Base as photograp...
English: New Zealand's Scott Base as photographed from the sea ice off the shore of Ross Island in Antarctica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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An NZ-led team of scientists have successfully drilled through 763m of ice on an Antarctic island in a project looking at 30,000 years of climate change.

A New Zealand-led team of scientists has successfully drilled through more than 760m of Antarctic ice to bedrock, in a bid to unearth a detailed record of 30,000 years of climate change.
The 763m-long ice core is the result of many years' planning and four summers of field work on Roosevelt Island in the eastern Ross Sea.
It is being described as one of the most important climate archives from Antarctica to date.
The core will soon be flown to the United States' McMurdo Station before being shipped back to New Zealand in March, when a 50-strong science team from New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, China, Sweden, the US and UK will start to take more than 100,000 samples from it at a purpose-built facility in Lower Hutt.
"I am thrilled with the team's success," said team leader, Victoria University's Nancy Bertler, who was on Roosevelt Island on Thursday night when the drill bit, after piercing through the ice, brought up 40cm of Roosevelt Island sediment.
"The drill cores will provide the most detailed record of the climate history of the Ross Sea region for the last 30,000 years - the time during which the coastal margin of the Antarctic ice sheet retreated following the last great ice age."
The sediment may reveal what the region was like the last time Earth's climate was as warm as it is today.
Roosevelt Island is nearly 1000km from New Zealand's Scott Base, in the western Ross Sea, and supporting such a major field operation had been challenging and complex, said Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson.
"This is a marquee project for Antarctica New Zealand, and we are very proud of the success of Nancy Bertler and her team," he said.

Acknowledgements:  NZN


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Friday, December 21, 2012

A most Happy and Green Christmas greetings...

I wish all my readers a most Happy and Green Christmas greetings for 2012, which despite all the conjecture around predictions about the end of the world, we have survived to continue our concern for the Green Planet and Mother Earth...


Thursday, December 20, 2012

NZ man helps to create a huge shark sanctuary in the Cook Islands

Titikaveka, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Titikaveka, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A white tip reef shark swimming off the coast of Rarotonga. Photo / Shaun Gilmour

A white tip reef shark swimming off the coast of Rarotonga. Photo / Shaun Gilmour
A Kiwi man's dream to establish a shark sanctuary the size of Mexico has been realised in the Cook Islands.
On December 12, the Cook Islands declared its 1997 million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) a sanctuary for sharks and rays - the largest in the world and with the toughest shark conservation regulations to date.
The sanctuary is the product of an 18-month grassroots campaign led by Auckland-born Stephen Lyon, a marine scientist and founder of the Rarotonga-based NGO the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative (PICI).
The Auckland University-educated scientist says he had the idea for the conservation project over six years ago, after witnessing how sharks were becoming exploited through his work in the dive business.
"Palau had taken steps to protect sharks and I thought it would be a good thing for the Cook Islands to do as well."
But it wasn't until programme manager Jess Cramp came on board in May last year that the plan was galvanised.
From there PICI worked to secure a "strong political mandate", running consultations with community groups on Rarotonga and the outer islands - enabling them to address concerns about sharks and explain how they are being exploited.
"The culture of the Cook Islands involves theories around sharks and they are often seen as guardians. There's that level of cultural understanding but also in a practical sense for local fisherman around the coast - sharks are seen as pests," he said.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's in your hands New Zealand, 55 Maui Dolphin art of survival

English: Bowen House, the Beehive and Parliame...
English: Bowen House, the Beehive and Parliament, New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
More New Zealand parliamentarians than adult Maui Dolphins. What will you do Prime Minister, John Key? There are now only 55 adult Maui Dolphins living. Dodos are extinct; do you get the message?


    :roll:It's in your hands Maui's Dolphin art of survival...

  • People all over the world responded to the plight of New Zealand's critically endangered Maui's dolphin. The Government called for submissions and received over 20,000 from people in New Zealand and all around the world wanting immediate action to save Maui's dolphin from extinction.
    Maui's dolphin is the world's smallest and most endangered marine dolphin. It is found only in New Zealand waters and the latest population estimate indicates only 55 adult dolphins remain alive.
    The sad truth is, they're now outnumbered by our Members of Parliament. The future of Maui's dolphin is now in the hands of those politicians. To highlight this point to them we commissioned Wellington artist Sheyne Tuffery to produce 55 artworks representing the alarmingly small Maui's dolphin population.The beautiful handmade woodblock prints, aptly titled 'In your hands', feature Maui's dolphins and a tuatara -- another New Zealand species to have faced extinction but now considered a national treasure.
    We then presented those 55 prints to 55 Members of Parliament, urging them to take immediate steps to protect Maui's dolphin and give it a future. If they do, they'll be able to look on these artworks with pride that they took action when it counted. It will be the art of survival. On the other hand, if they're too slow, or, if the measures they agree are too weak, they'll have a constant reminder of their failure to act. It will be the albatross around their necks.
    Music by Jamie McDell  Interactive site

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Dolphin hearing component also found in insects...

English: Buildings of Grafton campus of the Un...
English: Buildings of Grafton campus of the University of Auckland Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A hearing system component thought to be unique in toothed whales like dolphins has been discovered in insects, following research involving the University of Strathclyde. The research is challenging ideas about how a large group of insects including crickets and katydids hear, revealing the unexpected similarity to toothed whale hearing.
Scientists from the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Auckland, with colleagues from Plant & Food Research in New Zealand, led the research with engineers from the University of Strathclyde working on the biomechanical aspects of the project.
They discovered that the iconic New Zealand insect, the weta, rely on a unique lipid -- a compound that includes oils and fats -- to hear the world around them.
Dr James Windmill, of the University of Strathclyde's Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering, said: "As engineers we are particularly interested in how sound interacts with certain materials and how it travels to and from a source. These findings help us to improve our fundamental knowledge and could inspire new systems in ultrasound technologies like biomedical and non-destructive testing.
"The discovery is interesting as previously only toothed whales were known to use this hearing system component, the lipid. There are many similarities in the use of lipids to amplify the sounds and help both animal groups to hear.
"We don't know why animals who are so far apart in evolutionary terms have this similarity, but it opens up the possibility that others may use the same system component."
The sound is known to be transmitted through a liquid-filled cavity to reach the hearing organs, but until the current research was carried out it was presumed that the liquid was simply the insect equivalent of blood.
The researchers found that it was in fact a lipid of a new chemical class. They believe the role of the lipid is to efficiently transmit sound between compartments of the ear, and perhaps to help amplify quiet sounds.
Dr Kate Lomas from the University of Auckland, said: "In the weta, as in other members of the Ensiferan group which includes katydids and crickets, sound is detected by ear drums on the front legs."
Using new tissue analysis and three-dimensional imaging techniques the scientists also discovered a tiny organ in the insects' ears, which they named the olivarius after Dr Lomas' son Ollie. The organ appears to be responsible for producing the all-important lipid. It may have been overlooked in previous studies because standard analytical techniques, which are much harsher, would have damaged or destroyed the fragile tissue.
Dr Lomas added: "The ear is surprisingly delicate so we had to modify how we looked at its structure and in doing so we discovered this tiny organ."
The researchers carried out their work with the Auckland tree weta. They believe that the same method of hearing is likely to be used by other members of its biologic class, including crickets and katydids, which are famous for the sounds they produce.

Source: University of Strathclyde
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