Tag Archives: tropics

No Ocean-Borne Radiation from Fukushima Detected on West Coast Shoreline, According to Analysis of 1st Samples from ‘Kelp Watch 2014’

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Scientists working together on Kelp Watch 2014 announced today that the West Coast shoreline shows no signs of ocean-borne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, following their analysis of the first collection of kelp samples along the western U.S. coastline.

Kelp Watch 2014 is a project that uses coastal kelp beds as detectors of radioactive seawater arriving from Fukushima via the North Pacific Current. It is a collaborative effort led by Steven Manley, marine biology professor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), and Kai Vetter, head of applied nuclear physics at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and a nuclear engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley. (more…)

Read More

How red crabs on Christmas Island speak for the tropics

Each year, the land-dwelling Christmas Island red crab takes an arduous and shockingly precise journey from its earthen burrow to the shores of the Indian Ocean where weeks of mating and egg laying await.

Native to the Australian territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, millions of the crabs start rolling across the island roads and landscape in crimson waves when the November rains begin. After a two-week scuttle to the sea, the male crab sets up and defends a mating burrow for himself and a female of his kind, the place where she will incubate their clutch for another two weeks. Before the morning of the high tide that precedes the December new moon, the females must emerge to release their millions of eggs into the ocean. A month later, the next generation of crabs comes ashore. (more…)

Read More

From obscurity to dominance: Tracking the rapid evolutionary rise of ray-finned fish

ANN ARBOR — Mass extinctions, like lotteries, result in a multitude of losers and a few lucky winners. This is the story of one of the winners, a small, shell-crushing predatory fish called Fouldenia, which first appears in the fossil record a mere 11 million years after an extinction that wiped out more than 90 percent of the planet’s vertebrate species.

The extinction that ended the Devonian Era 359 million years ago created opportunities quickly exploited by a formerly rare and unremarkable group of fish that went on to become—in terms of the sheer number of species—the most successful vertebrates (backboned animals) on the planet today: the ray-finned fish. (more…)

Read More

In last great age of warmth, CO2 at work — but hardly alone

Warming patterns during Earth’s last period of prolonged global warmth differed dramatically from modern temperature patterns, according to new research by a Yale University scientist and colleagues. Cloud feedbacks, ocean mixing, or other dynamic factors must have played a greater role in Pliocene warming than commonly recognized, the scientists argue, and these must be accounted for in order to make meaningful predictions about Earth’s future climate.

In a paper published April 4 in the journal Nature, Yale climate scientist Alexey Fedorov and colleagues compile records of sea surface temperatures going back five million years, to the early Pliocene. These records reveal a world with fairly uniform warm temperatures in the whole of the Tropics prior to 4 million years ago — a significant scenario that typical climate model simulations fail to show. (more…)

Read More

Changes in Cloud Distribution Explain Some Weather Patterns

Regional cloud changes, such as those that result in less rain during monsoons in India and those that indicate a widening of the tropics, may be as important to watch as the overall amount of cloud cover, new University of Washington research indicates.

Authors of the paper, led by Ryan Eastman, a UW research scientist in atmospheric sciences, set out to examine observations collected from weather stations around the world as a way to study the distribution of clouds. The research was recently published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. (more…)

Read More

NASA Ozone Study May Benefit Air Standards, Climate

PASADENA, Calif. – A new NASA-led study finds that when it comes to combating global warming caused by emissions of ozone-forming chemicals, location matters.

Ozone is both a major air pollutant with known adverse health effects and a greenhouse gas that traps heat from escaping Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists and policy analysts are interested in learning how curbing the emissions of these chemicals can improve human health and also help mitigate climate change. (more…)

Read More

Nearly One-Tenth of Hemisphere’s Mammals Unlikely to Outrun Climate Change

A safe haven could be out of reach for 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and as much as 40 percent in certain regions, because the animals just won’t move swiftly enough to outpace climate change.

For the past decade scientists have outlined new areas suitable for mammals likely to be displaced as climate change first makes their current habitat inhospitable, then unlivable. For the first time a new study considers whether mammals will actually be able to move to those new areas before they are overrun by climate change. Carrie Schloss, University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, is lead author of the paper out online the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (more…)

Read More

A Whole New Meaning for Thinking on Your Feet

Smithsonian researchers report that the brains of tiny spiders are so large that they fill their body cavities and overflow into their legs. As part of ongoing research to understand how miniaturization affects brain size and behavior, researchers measured the central nervous systems of nine species of spiders, from rainforest giants to spiders smaller than the head of a pin. As the spiders get smaller, their brains get proportionally bigger, filling up more and more of their body cavities.

“The smaller the animal, the more it has to invest in its brain, which means even very tiny spiders are able to weave a web and perform other fairly complex behaviors,” said William Wcislo, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. “We discovered that the central nervous systems of the smallest spiders fill up almost 80 percent of their total body cavity, including about 25 percent of their legs.” (more…)

Read More