It seeks valid, reliable understanding of how we as humans have interacted with the environment and how these intricate relationships have been sustained over time.
The “ethno” (see ethnology) prefix in ethnoecology indicates a localized study of a people, and in conjunction with ecology, signifies people’s understanding and experience of environments around them. Ecology is the study of the interactions between living organisms and their environment; enthnoecology applies a human focused approach to this subject. The development of the field lies in applying indigenous knowledge of botany and placing it in a global context.
Kim Stanley Robinson talks about the problems caused by global climate change. He strives to address these issues through his novels. He also talks about a group of dimensions that should be considered at all times: Science, Technology and the Spiritual.
” Procrastination (from latin’s “procrastinare”, that translates in to : the prefix pro-, ‘forward’, and suffix -crastinus, ’till next day’ from cras, ‘tomorrow’) is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline.
Procrastination can take hold on any aspect of life—putting off cleaning the stove, repairing a leaky roof, seeing a doctor or dentist, submitting a job report or academic assignment or broaching a stressful issue with a partner. Procrastination can lead to feelings of: guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrastination
But is procrastination really bad?
” Taxidermy is the preserving of an animal’s body via stuffing or mounting for the purpose of display or study. Animals are often, but not always, portrayed in a lifelike state. The word taxidermy refers to the process of preserving the animal, but the word is also used to describe the end product, which are often called “mounts”. The word taxidermy is derived from the Greek words “taxis” and “derma”. Taxis means to “to move”, and “derma” means “skin” (the dermis). The word taxidermy translates to “arrangement of skin”. Taxidermy is practiced primarily on vertebrates (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and less commonly on amphibians) but can also be done to larger insects and arachnids under some circumstances. Taxidermy takes on a number of forms and purposes, including natural history museum displays, hunting trophies, study skins, and is sometimes used as a means to memorialize pets. A person who practices taxidermy is called a taxidermist. They may practice professionally for museums or as businesses catering to hunters and fishermen, or as amateurs, such as hobbyists, hunters, and fishermen. A taxidermist is aided by familiarity with anatomy, sculpture, painting, and tanning.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxidermy
“Agroforestry systems can be advantageous over conventional agricultural, and forest production methods. They can offer increased productivity, economic benefits, and more diversity in the ecological goods and services provided . (An example of this was seen in trying to conserve Milicia excelsa.)
Biodiversity in agroforestry systems is typically higher than in conventional agricultural systems. With two or more interacting plant species in a given land area, it creates a more complex habitat that can support a wider variety of birds, insects, and other animals. Depending upon the application, impacts of agroforestry can include:
- Reducing poverty through increased production of wood and other tree products for home consumption and sale
- Contributing to food security by restoring the soil fertility for food crops
- Cleaner water through reduced nutrient and soil runoff
- Countering global warming and the risk of hunger by increasing the number of drought-resistant trees and the subsequent production of fruits, nuts and edible oils
- Reducing deforestation and pressure on woodlands by providing farm-grown fuelwood
- Reducing or eliminating the need for toxic chemicals (insecticides, herbicides, etc.)
- Through more diverse farm outputs, improved human nutrition
- In situations where people have limited access to mainstream medicines, providing growing space for medicinal plants
- Increased crop stability
- Multifunctional site use i.e. crop production and animal grazing.
- Typically more drought resistant.
- Stabilises depleted soils from erosion
Agroforestry practices may also realize a number of other associated environmental goals, such as:
- Carbon sequestration
- Odour, dust, and noise reduction
- Green space and visual aesthetics
- Enhancement or maintenance of wildlife habitat” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agroforestry
” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments, dedicated to the task of providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of the WMO and UNEP. The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the main international treaty on climate change. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [i.e., human-induced] interference with the climate system”. IPCC reports cover “the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”
The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself. The IPCC bases its assessment on the published literature, which includes peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources.
Thousands of scientists and other experts contribute (on a voluntary basis, without payment from the IPCC) to writing and reviewing reports, which are then reviewed by governments. IPCC reports contain a “Summary for Policymakers”, which is subject to line-by-line approval by delegates from all participating governments. Typically this involves the governments of more than 120 countries.
The IPCC provides an internationally accepted authority on climate change, producing reports which have the agreement of leading climate scientists and the consensus of participating governments. The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was shared, in equal parts, between the IPCC and Al Gore.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergovernmental_Panel_on_Climate_Change.
” Aquamarine (from Latin: aqua marina, being, water: sea, i.e. sea water, marīna, from marīnus; of the sea.) is a blue or cyan variety of beryl. It occurs at most localities which yield ordinary beryl. The gem-gravel placer deposits of Sri Lanka contain aquamarine. Clear yellow beryl, such as that occurring in Brazil, is sometimes called aquamarine chrysolite. The deep blue version of aquamarine is called maxixe. Maxixe is commonly found in the country of Madagascar. Its color fades to white when exposed to sunlight or is subjected to heat treatment, though the color returns with irradiation.
The pale blue color of aquamarine is attributed to Fe2+. Fe3+ ions produce golden-yellow color, and when both Fe2+ and Fe3+ are present, the color is a darker blue as in Maxixe. Decoloration of maxixe by light or heat thus may be due to the charge transfer between Fe3+and Fe2+. Dark-blue maxixe color can be produced in green, pink or yellow beryl by irradiating it with high-energy particles (gamma rays, neutrons or even X-rays).
In the United States, aquamarines can be found at the summit of Mt. Antero in the Sawatch Range in central Colorado. In Wyoming, aquamarine has been discovered in the Big Horn Mountains, near Powder River Pass. Another location within the United States is the Sawtooth Range near Stanley, Idaho, although the minerals are within a wilderness area which prevents collecting. In Brazil, there are mines in the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, and Bahia, and minorly in Rio Grande do Norte. The mines of Colombia, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya also produce aquamarine.
The largest aquamarine of gemstone quality ever mined was found in Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110 kg (240 lb), and its dimensions were 48.5 cm (19 in) long and 42 cm (17 in) in diameter. The largest cut aquamarine gem is the Dom Pedro aquamarine, now housed in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryl#Aquamarine_and_maxixe
In moments of being exposed to a situation like a challenge experts say you must put systems in place because under stress, your brain is not going to act like it might. You are under a stress scenario.
” Physiological or biological stress is an organism’s response to a stressor such as an environmental condition. Stress is the body’s method of reacting to a challenge. Stimuli that alter an organism’s environment are responded to by multiple systems in the body. The autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are two major systems that respond to stress. The sympathoadrenal medullary (SAM) axis may activate the fight or flight response through the sympathetic nervous system, which dedicates energy to more relevant bodily systems to acute adaption to stress, while the parasympathetic nervous system returns the body to homeostasis. The second major physiological stress, the HPA axis regulates the release of cortisol, which influences many bodily functions such as metabolic, psychological and immunological functions. The SAM and HPA axes are regulated by a wide variety of brain regions, including the limbic system, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hypothalamus, and stria terminalis. Through these mechanisms, stress can alter memory functions, reward, immune function, metabolism and susceptibility to diseases. Definitions of stress differ; however, one system proposed by Elliot and Eisdorfer suggests five types of stress. The five types of stress are labeled “acute time-limited stressors”, “brief naturalistic stressors”, “stressful event sequence”, “chronic stressors”, and “distant stressors”. Acute time-limited stressors involve short-term challenges, while, on the other hand, brief naturalistic stressors involve an event that is normal but nevertheless challenging. Stressful event sequences are a stressor that occurs and continues to yield stress into the immediate future. Chronic stressors involve exposure to a long-term stressor and a distant stressor is a stressor that isn’t immediate.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_(biology)
” Silk is produced by several insects, but generally, only the silk of moth caterpillars has been used for textile manufacturing. There has been some research into other types of silk, which differ at the molecular level. Silk is mainly produced by the larvae of insects undergoing complete metamorphosis, but some insects such as webspinners and raspy crickets produce silk throughout their lives. Silk production also occurs in Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants), silverfish, mayflies, thrips, leafhoppers, beetles, lacewings, fleas, flies, and midges. Other types of arthropod produce silk, most notably various arachnids such as spiders.
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The best-known silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkwormBombyx more reared in captivity (sericulture). The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fiber, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors.
Silk fabric was first developed in ancient China. The earliest example of silk fabric has been found in a Neolithic site in Henan and is dating back 8,500 years. Silk fabric from 3630 BC was used as wrapping the body of a child from a Yangshao culture site in Qingtaicun at Xingyang, Henan.
Legend gives credit for developing silk to a Chinese empress, Leizu (Hsi-Ling-Shih, Lei-Tzu). Silks were originally reserved for the Emperors of China for their own use and gifts to others but spread gradually through Chinese culture and trade both geographically and socially, and then to many regions of Asia. Because of its texture and luster, silk rapidly became a popular luxury fabric in the many areas accessible to Chinese merchants. Silk was in great demand and became a staple of pre-industrial international trade. In July 2007, archaeologists discovered intricately woven and dyed silk textiles in a tomb in Jiangxi province, dated to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty roughly 2,500 years ago. Although historians have suspected a long history of a formative textile industry in ancient China, this find of silk textiles employing “complicated techniques” of weaving and dyeing provides direct evidence for silks dating before the Mawangdui-discovery and other silks dating to the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD).
Silk is described in a chapter on mulberry planting by Si Shengzhi of the Western Han (206 BC – 9 AD). There is a surviving calendar for silk production in an Eastern Han (25–220 AD) document. The two other known works on silk from the Han period are lost. The first evidence of the long distance silk trade is the finding of silk in the hair of an Egyptian mummy of the 21st dynasty, c.1070 BC. The silk trade reached as far as the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. This trade was so extensive that the major set of trade routes between Europe and Asia came to be known as the Silk Road.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk
” Agroecology is the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems. The prefix agro- refers to agriculture. Bringing ecological principles to bear in agroecosystems can suggest novel management approaches that would not otherwise be considered. The term is often used imprecisely and may refer to “a science, a movement, [or] a practice”. Agroecologists study a variety of agroecosystems, and the field of agroecology is not associated with any one particular method of farming, whether it be organic, integrated, or conventional; intensive or extensive, although it has much more in common with some of the before mentioned farming systems.
Agroecologists do not unanimously oppose technology or inputs in agriculture but instead assess how, when, and if technology can be used in conjunction with natural, social and human assets. Agroecology proposes a context- or site-specific manner of studying agroecosystems, and as such, it recognizes that there is no universal formula or recipe for the success and maximum well-being of an agroecosystem. Thus, agroecology is not defined by certain management practices, such as the use of natural enemies in place of insecticides, or polyculture in place of monoculture.
Instead, agroecologists may study questions related to the four system properties of agroecosystems: productivity, stability, sustainability, and equitability. As opposed to disciplines that are concerned with only one or some of these properties, agroecologists see all four properties as interconnected and integral to the success of an agroecosystem. Recognizing that these properties are found on varying spatial scales, agroecologists do not limit themselves to the study of agroecosystems at any one scale: gene-organism-population-community-ecosystem-landscape-biome, field-farm-community-region-state-country-continent-global.
Agroecologists study these four properties through an interdisciplinary lens, using natural sciences to understand elements of agroecosystems such as soil properties and plant-insect interactions, as well as using social sciences to understand the effects of farming practices on rural communities, economic constraints to developing new production methods, or cultural factors determining farming practices.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agroecology
” CrossFit is a branded fitness regimen created by Greg Glassman and is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. which was founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. Promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman, and other exercises. It is practiced by members of over 13,000 affiliated gyms, roughly half of which are located in the United States, and by individuals who complete daily workouts (otherwise known as “WODs” or “workouts of the day”).
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, calisthenics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weightlifting. CrossFit, Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains,” with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or “boxes”, typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity “workout of the day” (or WOD), and a period of individual or group stretching. Some gyms also often have a strength focused movement prior to the WOD. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.
CrossFit gyms use equipment from multiple disciplines, including barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, plyo boxes, resistance bands, rowing machines, and various mats. CrossFit is focused on “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement,” drawing on categories and exercises such as these: calisthenics, Olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, Strongman-type events, plyometrics, body weight exercises, indoor rowing, aerobic exercise, running, and swimming.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrossFit
” The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract plus the accessory organs of digestion (the tongue, salivary glands, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder). In this system, the process of digestion has many stages, the first of which starts in the mouth. Digestion involves the breakdown of food into smaller and smaller components until they can be absorbed and assimilated into the body.
Chewing, in which food is mixed with saliva begins the process of digestion. This produces a bolus which can be swallowed down the esophagus and into the stomach. Here it is mixed with gastric juice until it passes into the duodenum where it is mixed with a number of enzymes produced by the pancreas. Saliva also contains a catalytic enzyme called amylase which starts to act on food in the mouth. Another digestive enzyme called lingual lipase is secreted by some of the lingual papillae on the tongue and also from serous glands in the main salivary glands. Digestion is helped by the mastication of food by the teeth and also by the muscular actions of peristalsis and segmentation contractions. Gastric juice in the stomach is essential for the continuation of digestion as is the production of mucus in the stomach.
Peristalsis is the rhythmic contraction of muscles that begins in the esophagus and continues along the wall of the stomach and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. This initially results in the production of chyme which when fully broken down in the small intestine is absorbed as chyle into the lymphatic system. Most of the digestion of food takes place in the small intestine. Water and some minerals are reabsorbed back into the blood in the colon of the large intestine. The waste products of digestion (feces) are defecated from the anus via the rectum. ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_digestive_system
” The respiratory system (also respiratory apparatus, ventilatory system) is a biological system consisting of specific organs and structures used for gas exchange in animals and plants. The anatomy and physiology that make this happen vary greatly, depending on the size of the organism, the environment in which it lives and its evolutionary history. Inland animals, the respiratory surface is internalized as linings of the lungs. Gas exchange in the lungs occurs in millions of small air sacs called alveoli in mammals and reptiles, but atria in birds. These microscopic air sacs have a very rich blood supply, thus bringing the air into close contact with the blood. These air sacs communicate with the external environment via a system of airways, or hollow tubes, of which the largest is the trachea, which branches in the middle of the chest into the two main bronchi. These enter the lungs where they branch into progressively narrower secondary and tertiary bronchi that branch into numerous smaller tubes, the bronchioles. In birds, the bronchioles are termed parabronchi. It is the bronchioles or parabronchi that generally open into the microscopic alveoli in mammals and atria in birds. Air has to be pumped from the environment into the alveoli or atria by the process of breathing which involves the muscles of respiration.
In most fish, and a number of other aquatic animals (both vertebrates and invertebrates) the respiratory system consists of gills, which are either partially or completely external organs, bathed in the watery environment. This water flows over the gills by a variety of active or passive means. Gas exchange takes place in the gills which consist of thin or very flat filaments and lamellae which expose a very large surface area of highly vascularized tissue to the water.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respiratory_system
” Tourette syndrome (TS or simply Tourette’s) is a common neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple motor tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are typically preceded by an unwanted urge or sensation in the affected muscles. Some common tics are eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements. Tourette’s does not adversely affect intelligence or life expectancy.
Tourette’s is defined as part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes provisional, transient and persistent (chronic) tics. While the exact cause is unknown, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are no specific tests for diagnosing Tourette’s; it is not always correctly identified because most cases are mild and the severity of tics decreases for most children as they pass through adolescence. Extreme Tourette’s in adulthood, though sensationalized in the media, is a rarity; tics are often unnoticed by casual observers.
In most cases, medication for tics is not necessary. Education is an important part of any treatment plan, and explanation and reassurance alone are often sufficient treatment. Many individuals with Tourette’s go undiagnosed or never seek medical care. Among those who are seen in specialty clinics, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are present at higher rates. These co-occurring diagnoses often cause more impairment to the individual than the tics; hence, it is important to correctly identify associated conditions and treat them.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourette_syndrome
Mother and daughter tell their story living with this strange syndrome. Watch this incredible TED talk and learn from this courageous ladies.
“Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur. Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease. Depression and anxiety are also common occurring in more than a third of people with PD. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep, and emotional problems. The main motor symptoms are collectively called “parkinsonism”, or a “parkinsonian syndrome”.
The cause of Parkinson’s disease is generally unknown but believed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. Those with a family member affected are more likely to get the disease themselves. There is also an increased risk in people exposed to certain pesticides and among those who have had prior head injuries, while there is a reduced risk in tobacco smokers and those who drink coffee or tea. The motor symptoms of the disease result from the death of cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain. This results in not enough dopamine in these areas. The reason for this cell death is poorly understood but involves the build-up of proteins into Lewy bodies in the neurons. Diagnosis of typical cases is mainly based on symptoms, with tests such as neuroimaging being used to rule out other diseases.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_disease
Emma Lawton was diagnosed Parkinson at a pretty young age 29 years old. She has lived through it and in this special occasion, she talks about her life and the happy things she has lived and how she has accepted Parkinson´s disease.
A disease that generates an inflammatory condition of the colon and the small intestine. It also affects mouth, esophagus, stomach, and anus. It occurs as a result of an environmental interaction or genetic factors that cause an immunological reaction ending up in inflammation in the intestine.
“Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the principal types of inflammatory bowel disease. It is important to note that not only does Crohn’s disease affects the small intestine and large intestine, it can also affect the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the anus whereas ulcerative colitis primarily affects the colon and the rectum.
In spite of Crohn’s and UC being very different diseases, both may present with any of the following symptoms: abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, severe internal cramps/muscle spasms in the region of the pelvis and weight loss. Anemia is the most prevalent extraintestinal complication of inflammatory bowel disease. Associated complaints or diseases include arthritis, pyoderma gangrenosum, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and non-thyroidal illness syndrome (NTIS). Associations with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (BOOP) have also been reported. Diagnosis is generally by assessment of inflammatory markers in stool followed by colonoscopy with biopsy of pathological lesions.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflammatory_bowel_disease
For the microscopic lab worm C. elegans, life equates to just a few short weeks on Earth. The bowhead whale, on the other hand, can live over two hundred years. Why are these life spans so different? And what does it really mean to ‘age’ anyway?
“In animal studies, maximum span is often taken to be the mean life span of the most long-lived 10% of a given cohort. By another definition, however, maximum life span corresponds to the age of which the oldest known member of a species or experimental group has died. Calculation of the maximum life span in the latter sense depends upon initial sample size.
Maximum life span contrasts with mean life span (average life span, life expectancy), and longevity. Mean life span varies with susceptibility to disease, accident, suicide, and homicide, whereas maximum life span is determined by “rate of aging”. Longevity refers only to the characteristics of the especially long lived members of a population, such as infirmities as they age or compression of morbidity, and not the specific life span of an individual.
Small animals such as birds and squirrels rarely live to their maximum life span, usually dying of accidents, disease or predation.
The maximum life span of most species is documented in the Anage repository.
Maximum life span is usually longer for species that are larger or have effective defenses against predation, such as bird flight, chemical defenses or living in social groups.
The differences in life span between species demonstrate the role of genetics in determining maximum life span (“rate of aging”). The records (in years) are these:
- for common house mouse, 4
- for Norway rat, 3.8
- for dogs, 29
- for cats, 38
- for polar bears, 42 (Debby)
- for horses, 62
- for Asian elephants, 86
The longest-lived vertebrates have been variously described as
- Macaws (A parrot that can live up to 80–100 years in captivity)
- Koi (A Japanese species of fish, allegedly living up to 200 years, though generally not exceeding 50 – A specimen named Hanako was reportedly 226 years old upon her death)
- Tortoises (Galápagos tortoise) (190 years)
- Tuataras (a New Zealand reptile species, 100–200+ years)
- Eels, the so-called Brantevik Eel (Swedish: Branteviksålen) is thought to have lived in a water well in southern Sweden since 1859, which makes it over 150 years old. It was reported that it had died in August 2014 at an age of 155.
- Whales (Bowhead Whale) (Balaena mysticetus about 200 years) Although this idea was unproven at a time, recent research has indicated that bowhead whales recently killed still had harpoons in their bodies from about 1890, which, along with analysis of amino acids, has indicated a maximum life span, stated as “the 211-year-old bowhead could have been from 177 to 245 years old”.
- Greenland Sharks are currently the vertebrate species with the longest known lifespan. An examination of 28 specimens in one study published in 2016 determined by radiocarbon dating that the oldest of the animals that they sampled had lived for about 392 ± 120 years (a minimum of 272 years and a maximum of 512 years). The authors further concluded that the species reaches sexual maturity at about 150 years of age.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_life_span
Carina Morillo knew almost nothing about autism when her son Ivan was diagnosed only that he didn’t speak or respond to words, and that she had to find other ways to connect with him. She shares how she learned to help her son thrive by being curious along with him.
“Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three.
Autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some cases are strongly associated with certain infections during pregnancy including rubella and use of alcohol or cocaine.Controversies surround other proposed environmental causes; for example the vaccine hypotheses, which have since been disproven. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. In the DSM V, autism is included within the autism spectrum (ASDs), as is Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which was diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome were not met.
Early speech or behavioral interventions can help children with autism gain self-care, social, and communication skills. Although there is no known cure, there have been reported cases of children who recovered. Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some become successful. An autistic culture has developed, with some individuals seeking a cure and others believing autism should be accepted as a difference and not treated as a disorder.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism
Happy New Year, planet Earth!
According to the Anno Domini designation, the year is now 2014. But the Earth has been around a lot longer than that – about 4.567 billion years. The first evidence of life dates back to around 3.8 billion years ago. Homo sapiens first appeared on the planet around two hundred thousand years – or ten thousand generations – ago.
How’s that for perspective?
Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History, calls this perspective “deep time.” This is the story of our planet preserved in “the DNA of living things,” Johnson explains, as well as “in the fossils we find, in the geologic structures of our planet, in the meteorites we scavenge from the ice fields in Antarctica. Those things together give us an incredible manual for thinking about the planet.”
Why is this manual useful? We are facing a century that will be an incredibly challenging one for humanity. We now live on a planet with seven billion people, which is up from 1.7 billion people just three or four generations ago. So we have more people and a greater need for resources.
Fortunately, we have the bodies of extinct plants and animals that lived for the last three-and-a-half billion years. These fossils are not only a source of energy but also a source of knowledge about how this planet works. Over its history, the Earth has seen an incredible diversity of life – maybe as many as fifty million species. Johnson says we’re learning “as much about the evolution of life on Earth by looking at what happened in the past as we are at looking at the breakthroughs in genomics and DNA of living things.” Furthermore, Johnson sees the sequencing of the human genome as the vanguard for what will eventually be “the study of the genomics of all living things.”
We have the opportunity right now, Johnson says, to choose what our future will be. Our understanding of the diversity of life on this planet, he says, will be our guide. This story is being told at a current exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History called “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code.”
In the video, Johnson shares a unique perspective on deep time in the form of a timeline of life on this planet in just three minutes.
Transcript – Life on Earth is an amazing story. The planet forms around 4.567 billion years ago. The first rocks that appear to have any chemical evidence of life show up around 3.8 billion years ago. Then by 3.5 billion years ago we actually see evidence of these bacterial mounds. And we waited a long time before we see any life forms that are large. The first large life forms show up about 600 million years ago and they are sea floor organisms that are now extinct that looked like placemats believe it or not. After that there’s somewhere around 500 million years is an explosion of marine life, lots of diversification, the first organisms that were related to the different groups of marine animals you find today. It’s not until about 400 million years ago that the first life emerges onto land. The first little arachnid spider-like organisms, early plants that were only maybe a centimeter tall. Wait another 100 million years you get your first forest.
You get your first large bodied terrestrial animals. Things like giant millipedes and the first land living vertebrates evolving from fish. Sometime after that animals — four-legged animals finally learned how to eat plants. It took a while for the first terrestrial herbivores to appear. That happened somewhere around 300 million years ago. And then there’s a major extinction that happens at 250 million years ago. Don’t really know the cause but something to do with the perturbation of the Earth’s carbon cycle where we lose something like 90 percent of the species on the planet. When they disappear it’s like the near shave for life on Earth. But out of that grows the age of the dinosaurs. And for 150 million years we have a world that’s warm, a world that is so warm that no polar ice caps. And in that world a, a great diversity of animals that start to look familiar to you cohabit with the dinosaurs. We get the first birds. We get the first mammals. We still have these large dinosaurs and then at 66 million years ago an asteroid the size of Denver traveling 20 times the speed of a bullet crashes into the Yucatan Peninsula and causes a massive extinction of all animals that are larger than dogs on the planet.
More than 300 million people around the world suffer from asthma, and around 250,000 people die from it each year. But why do people get asthma, and how can this disease be deadly?
“Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs.
If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness.
For many asthma sufferers, the timing of these symptoms is closely related to physical activity. And, some otherwise healthy people can develop asthma symptoms only when exercising. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), or exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Staying active is an important way to stay healthy, so asthma shouldn’t keep you on the sidelines. Your physician can develop a management plan to keep your symptoms under control before, during and after physical activity.
People with a family history of allergies or asthma are more prone to developing asthma. Many people with asthma also have allergies. This is called allergic asthma.
Occupational asthma is caused by inhaling fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while on the job.
Childhood asthma impacts millions of children and their families. In fact, the majority of children who develop asthma do so before the age of five.
There is no cure for asthma, but once it is properly diagnosed and a treatment plan is in place you will be able to manage your condition, and your quality of life will improve.
An allergist/immunologist is the best-qualified physician in diagnosing and treating asthma. With the help of your allergist, you can take control of your condition and participate in normal activities.” https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma
The sequence of DNA that we inherit from our parents encodes directions for making our cells and giving us specific traits. Identical twins have the same DNA sequence, so how can one twin end up with a genetic disorder while the other twin does not? Robin Ball explains how the secret lies in X chromosome inactivation.
The X chromosome is one of the two sex chromosomes in humans (the other is the Y chromosome). The sex chromosomes from one of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes in each cell. The X chromosome spans about 155 million DNA building blocks (base pairs) and represents approximately 5 percent of the total DNA in cells.
“Each person normally has one pair of sex chromosomes in each cell. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y chromosome. Early in embryonic development in females, one of the two X chromosomes is randomly and permanently inactivated in cells other than egg cells. This phenomenon is called X-inactivation or lyonization. X-inactivation ensures that females, like males, have one functional copy of the X chromosome in each body cell. Because X-inactivation is random, in normal females the X chromosome inherited from the mother is active in some cells, and the X chromosome inherited from the father is active in other cells.
Some genes on the X chromosome escape X-inactivation. Many of these genes are located at the ends of each arm of the X chromosome in areas known as the pseudoautosomal regions. Although many genes are unique to the X chromosome, genes in the pseudoautosomal regions are present on both sex chromosomes. As a result, men and women each have two functional copies of these genes. Many genes in the pseudoautosomal regions are essential for normal development.” https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/X
Oxygen forms about 21% of the air around us. In your body, oxygen forms a vital role in the production of energy in most cells. But if gases can only efficiently diffuse across tiny distances, how does oxygen reach the cells deep inside your body?
“When we breathe, oxygen gets into our bodies. Every day about 2,000 gallons of circulating blood travel through an estimated 60,000 miles of blood vessels which link all the cells and organs of our body.
Oxygen is traveling in that circulating blood. How does it move from our lungs to other places, like the brain?
This video clip provides an animated overview of the process.
All cells need oxygen to live. Freely available in the air around us, oxygen is the essential fuel to help cells stay alive and carry out their jobs.
How does oxygen reach our body’s cells? It follows a systematic transportation route which depends on another substance called hemoglobin.
Getting oxygen to the body’s cells requires three major events:
- Uptaking oxygen from the air to the lungs;
- Transporting that oxygen in the blood; and
- Delivering the oxygen to cells throughout the body.
How does a person’s body uptake oxygen? Blood flows through our bodies via fine capillaries in the walls of our lungs’ air sacs. Those air sacs are called alveoli.
The oxygen molecules undergo a change once they are inside the body. They change from gas molecules, which circulate in the air, to dissolving into a solution within the blood’s plasma located within the capillaries of the alveoli.
Once those dissolved oxygen molecules are in the solution of the blood, 98% of the dissolved oxygen is taken-up by red blood cells which are passing by. The other 2% of the dissolved oxygen remains in the physical solution.
Red cells are great vehicles for transporting the dissolved oxygen. That’s because red blood cells contain a special oxygen-binding protein known as “hemoglobin.” https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Breathing-How-Oxygen-Travels-in-the-Body0
Have you ever wondered what happens to a painkiller, like ibuprofen, after you swallow it? Medicine that slides down your throat can help treat a headache, a sore back, or a throbbing sprained ankle. But how does it get where it needs to go in the first place?
“A drug interaction is a situation in which a substance (usually another drug) affects the activity of a drug when both are administered together. This action can be synergistic (when the drug’s effect is increased) or antagonistic (when the drug’s effect is decreased) or a new effect can be produced that neither produces on its own. Typically, interactions between drugs come to mind (drug-drug interaction). However, interactions may also exist between drugs and foods (drug-food interactions), as well as drugs and medicinal plants or herbs (drug-plant interactions). People taking antidepressant drugs such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors should not take food containing tyramine as a hypertensive crisis may occur (an example of a drug-food interaction). These interactions may occur out of accidental misuse or due to lack of knowledge about the active ingredients involved in the relevant substances.
Injection (often referred to as a “shot” in US English, or a “jab” in UK English) is the act of putting a liquid, especially a drug, into a person’s body using a needle (usually a hypodermic needle) and a syringe. Injection is a technique for delivering drugs by parenteral administration, that is, administration via a route other than through the digestive tract. Parenteral injection includes subcutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous, intraperitoneal, intracardiac, intraarticular and intracavernous injection.
Injection is generally administered as a bolus, but can possibly be used for continuous drug administration as well. Even when administered as a bolus, the medication may be long-acting, and can then be called depot injection. Administration by an indwelling catheter is generally preferred instead of injection in case of more long-term or recurrent drug administration.
Skin absorption is a route by which substances can enter the body through the skin. Along with inhalation, ingestion, and injection, dermal absorption is a route of exposure for toxic substances and route of administration for medication. Absorption of substances through the skin depends on a number of factors, the most important of which are concentration, duration of contact, the solubility of medication, and physical condition of the skin and part of the body exposed.
Skin (percutaneous, dermal) absorption is the transport of chemicals from the outer surface of the skin both into the skin and into circulation. Skin absorption relates to the degree of exposure to and the possible effect of a substance which may enter the body through the skin. Human skin comes into contact with many agents intentionally and unintentionally. Skin absorption can occur from occupational, environmental, or consumer skin exposure to chemicals, cosmetics, or pharmaceutical products. Some chemicals can be absorbed in enough quantity to cause detrimental systemic effects. Skin disease (dermatitis) is considered one of the most common occupational diseases. In order to assess if a chemical can be a risk of either causing dermatitis or other more systemic effects and how that risk may be reduced one must know the extent to which it is absorbed, thus dermal exposure is a key aspect of human health risk assessment.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_(skin)
What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple.
“Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. Despite the involvement of a number of psychosocial factors, a biological process – one which is induced by repeated exposure to an addictive stimulus – is the core pathology that drives the development and maintenance of an addiction. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., they are perceived as being inherently positive, desirable, and pleasurable).
Addiction is a disorder of the brain’s reward system which arises through transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms and occurs over time from chronically high levels of exposure to an addictive stimulus (e.g., morphine, cocaine, sexual intercourse, gambling, etc.). ΔFosB, a gene transcription factor, is a critical component and common factor in the development of virtually all forms of behavioral and drug addictions. Two decades of research into ΔFosB’s role in addiction have demonstrated that addiction arises, and the associated compulsive behavior intensifies or attenuates, along with the overexpression of ΔFosB in the D1-type medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens. Due to the causal relationship between ΔFosB expression and addictions, it is used pre-clinically as an addiction biomarker. ΔFosB expression in these neurons directly and positively regulates drug self-administration and reward sensitization through positive reinforcement, while decreasing sensitivity to aversion.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addiction
When most people think of fishing, we imagine relaxing in a boat and patiently reeling in the day’s catch. But modern industrial fishing — the kind that stocks our grocery shelves — looks more like warfare. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Jennifer Jacquet explain overfishing and its effects on ecosystems, food security, jobs, economies, and coastal cultures.
“The exponential growth in human population experienced in last decades has to lead to an overexploitation of marine living resources to meet growing demand for food. Worldwide, fishing fleets are two to three times as large as needed to take present day catches of fish and other marine species and as what our oceans can sustainably support. The use of modern techniques to facilitate harvesting, transport and storage have accelerated this trend. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) over 25% of all the world’s fish stocks are either overexploited or depleted and 52% are fully exploited . Thus a total of almost 80% of the world’s fisheries are nearly to overexploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. Although, these estimates are considered rather conservative. Recently, a study showed that 29% of fish and seafood species have collapsed (i.e their catch has declined by 90%) and are projected to collapse within by 2048 unless immediate action is taken. Worldwide about 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish stocks are already collapsed.
Overexploitation does not only affect open ocean or pelagic ecosystems, but also coastal and intertidal areas. For example, intertidal limpets in Hawaii (Cellana spp.), the Azores, Madeira and Canaries (Patella spp.) have all shown declines, and in the case of the Azores, dramatic population crashes owing to food gathering.” https://www.marbef.org/wiki/over_exploitation
“Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource to the point of diminishing returns. Sustained overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource. The term applies to natural resources such as wild medicinal plants, grazing pastures, game animals, fish stocks, forests, and water aquifers.
In ecology, overexploitation describes one of the five main activities threatening global biodiversity. Ecologists use the term to describe populations that are harvested at a rate that is unsustainable, given their natural rates of mortality and capacities for reproduction. This can result in extinction at the population level and even extinction of whole species. In conservation, biology term is usually used in the context of a human economic activity that involves the taking of biological resources, or organisms, in larger numbers than their populations can withstand. The term is also used and defined somewhat differently in fisheries, hydrology and natural resource management.
Overexploitation can lead to resource destruction, including extinctions. However, it is also possible for overexploitation to be sustainable, as discussed below in the section on fisheries. In the context of fishing, the term overfishing can be used instead of overexploitation, as can overgrazing in stock management, over logging in forest management, over-drafting in aquifer management, and endangered species in species monitoring. Overexploitation is not an activity limited to humans. Introduced predators and herbivores, for example, can over-exploit native flora and fauna.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overexploitation
“The survival of a bee colony depends on the bee’s ability to find flowers containing food. The bright color and sweet aroma of certain flowers act as natural attractants for bees. Bees use a combination of eyesight and sense of smell to identify flowers with the pollen and nectar they need to survive.
Bees are able to see blue, green and violet. They also have the unique capacity to see ultraviolet light patterns, which are invisible to the human eye. Bees use the color patterns found in the petals of flowers and the ultra violet light to determine the presence of both pollen and nectar. If the ultraviolet light is not present, bees become disinterested in searching for flowers.” https://www.ehow.com/about_6505858_do-bees-flowers_.html
Anyway, spring is in the air!! We’re all thawing out from winter’s chill, and for bees and flowers, this season is about one thing: Feeding and fertilizing. Bees are amazing social insects, and their relationship with flowers is one of nature’s coolest examples of “mutualism”.
These are 20 animals that have been used as the monsters in many a movie. Enjoy them!
These are the 20 biggest carnivorouse birds in the world. ( Some are already exitinct 🙁 ).
African Fish Eagle
You might notice that this bird bears a resemblance to the bald eagle of North America; in fact, the two birds are related … although this critter weighs about 8 pounds and is found in sub-Saharan Africa. They have wingspans greater than 7.5 feet. As you might guess, it feeds mainly on fish … and has specialized toes that can easily grip slippery prey. This eagle has quite a wide range, and serves as the national bird for 3 countries — Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Zambia.
Blakiston’s Fish Owl
Blakiston’s fish owl (Bubo blakistoni), the largest living species of owl, is a fish owl, a sub-group of eagle owls who specialized in hunting riparian areas. This species is a part of the family known as typical owls (Strigidae) which contains most species of owl. Blakiston’s fish owl and three related species were previously placed in the genus Ketupa; mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data is equivocal on which genus name is applied for this species. Its habitat is riparian forest, with large, old trees for nest-sites, near lakes, rivers, springs and shoals that don’t freeze in winter. Henry Seebohm named this bird after the English naturalist Thomas Blakiston, who collected the original specimen in Hakodate on Hokkaidō, Japan in 1883.
Verraux’s (vair-OOZE) Eagle
This bird is also known as the Black Eagle and is a large raptor found in the mountainous regions of Africa. From bill to the tip of tail, they can measure some 38 inches, and weigh more than 15 pounds. It’s recognized as a uniquely specialized bird, with its distribution and history focused on its favorite species of prey — the rock hyrax. That’s a squat critter which resembles a guinea pig.
Eurasian Eagle Owl
The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia. It is also called the European eagle-owl and in Europe, where it is the only member of its genus besides the snowy owl (B. scandiacus), it is occasionally abbreviated to just eagle-owl. It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 75 cm (30 in), with a wingspan of 188 cm (6 ft 2 in), males being slightly smaller. This bird has distinctive ear tufts, with upper parts that are mottled with darker blackish colouring and tawny. The wings and tail are barred. The underparts are a variably hued buff, streaked with darker color. The facial disc is poorly developed and the orange eyes are distinctive. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_eagle-owl
Great Grey Owl
As measured by length, this is the world’s largest owl species … and is found across the Northern Hemisphere. But their size is kind of a deception. While they can reach some 30 inches long, their large head, exceptionally long tail, and fluffy feathers conceal a body that is actually much lighter than that of other large owls … these critters only weigh a little over 4 pounds!
The crowned eagle, also known as the African crowned eagle or the crowned hawk-eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) is a large bird of prey found in sub-Saharan Africa; in Southern Africa it is restricted to eastern areas. Its preferred habitats are principally riparian woodlands and various forests. The crowned eagle is the only extant member of the genus Stephanoaetus. A second species, the Malagasy crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus mahery) became extinct after humans settled on Madagascar.
At least 90 per cent of the diet is mammalian; the usual prey taken by populations shows pronounced regional differences. Throughout its range the principal prey items are small ungulates (such as duikers, chevrotains), rock hyrax and small primates such as monkeys. Birds and large lizards are barely taken.
The bird of prey is actually known as a sea eagle … and is recognized as a national symbol of the United States. They’re documents as building the largest tree nests of any animal species … which can be 13 feet deep and more than 8 feet wide! They can weigh nearly 14 pounds and have a wingspan of 7.5 feet.
The cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) is a large raptorial bird that is distributed through much of Eurasia. It is also known as the black vulture, monk vulture, or Eurasian black vulture. It is a member of the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards and harriers. It is one of the two largest Old World vultures, attaining a maximum size of 14 kg, 1.2 m long and 3.1 m across the wings.
This Old World vulture is native to southern Africa … They’re among the largest raptors on that continent, weighing about 24 pounds, with wingspans around 8.5 feet. Did you know these robust critters lay only one egg each year?
It’s also known as the American Harpy Eagle … In additional to being one of the largest eagle species in the world, it’s also the biggest and most powerful raptor known in the Americas. The fearsome critters have a wingspan exceeding 7 feet … and the heaviest documented weight was some 27 pounds. Possessing the largest talons of any extant eagle, these birds will hunt larger prey including deer!
The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), also known as the monkey-eating eagle or great Philippine eagle, is an eagle of the family Accipitridae endemic to forests in the Philippines. It has brown- and white-colored plumage, and a shaggy crest, and generally measures 86 to 102 cm (2.82 to 3.35 ft) in length and weighs 4.7 to 8.0 kg (10.4 to 17.6 lb). It is considered the largest of the extant eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface, with Steller’s sea eagle and the harpy eagle being larger in terms of weight and bulk. Among the rarest and most powerful birds in the world, it has been declared the Philippine national bird. It is critically endangered, mainly due to massive loss of habitat resulting from deforestation in most of its range. Killing a Philippine eagle is punishable under Philippine law by 12 years in prison and heavy fines.
White Tailed Eagle
Considered a close relative to the bald eagle, this bird is a highly efficient hunter and scavenger. They’re found in Eurasia, in habitats of old-growth trees and open water. They can have wingspans of 8 feet, they can measure more over 3 feet long. They’re known to regularly steal food from others, and other raptors.
Steller’s Sea Eagle
Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) is a large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae that lives in coastal northeastern Asia and mainly preys on fish and water birds. On average, it is the heaviest eagle in the world, at about 5 to 9 kg (11 to 20 lb), but may be below the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) in some standard measurements. It is named after the German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller.
Wedge Tailed Eagle
Measuring around 3.5 feet long with a wingspan of more than 9 feet, this is Australia’s largest bird of prey … and is named for its unique, wedge-shaped tail. The large raptor can fly for countless hours without once flapping its wings. They’ve been known to team up to take down larger prey like red kangaroos … and are the only animals known to attack hang gliders and paragliders — likely to defend their territory.
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), also known as the lammergeier or ossifrage, is a bird of prey and the only member of the genus Gypaetus. Traditionally considered an Old World vulture, it actually forms a minor lineage of Accipitridae together with the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), its closest living relative. It is not much more closely related to the Old World vultures proper than to, for example, hawks, and differs from the former by its feathered neck. Although dissimilar, the Egyptian and bearded vulture each have a lozenge-shaped tail — unusual among birds of prey. In July 2014, the IUCN Red List has reassessed this species to be near threatened. Before July 2014, it was actually classed as Least Concern. Their population trend is decreasing.
The bearded vulture is the only known animal whose diet is almost exclusively bone (70-90%). It lives and breeds on crags in high mountains in southern Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Tibet, laying one or two eggs in mid-winter that hatch at the beginning of spring. Populations are resident. – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearded_vulture
It’s among the world’s largest vultures and true raptors, weighing close to 30 pounds with a wingspan around 10 feet. They’re mainly found in the higher elevations of the Himalayas, so they’re often called the Himalayan Griffon Vulture … but they’ve also been observed further south in Thailand and Singapore.
The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. This condor became extinct in the wild in 1987 (all remaining wild individuals were captured), but the species has been reintroduced to northern Arizona and southern Utah (including the Grand Canyon area and Zion National Park), the coastal mountains of central and southern California, and northern Baja California. Although other fossil members are known, it is the only surviving member of the genus Gymnogyps. The species is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.
The plumage is black with patches of white on the underside of the wings; the head is largely bald, with skin color ranging from gray on young birds to yellow and bright orange on breeding adults. Its huge 3.0 m (9.8 ft) wingspan is the widest of any North American bird, and its weight of up to 12 kg (26 lb) nearly equals that of the trumpeter swan, the heaviest among native North American bird species. The condor is a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion. It is one of the world’s longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 60 years.
Condor numbers dramatically declined in the 20th century due to poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction. A conservation plan was put in place by the United States government that led to the capture of all the remaining wild condors which was completed in 1987, with a total population of 27 individuals. These surviving birds were bred at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. Numbers rose through captive breeding and, beginning in 1991, condors were reintroduced into the wild. The California condor is one of the world’s rarest bird species: as of December 2016 there are 446 condors living wild or in captivity.
The condor is a significant bird to many Californian Native American groups and plays an important role in several of their traditional myths.
Andean Condor (an-dee-un)
Did you know this is considered to be the largest flying bird in the world … at least as measured by their combined wingspan and weight. That wingspan can exceed 10.5 feet … and they weigh in at about 25 pounds on average. They prefer South America’s Andes Mountains, where elevations can reach 16,000 feet. At those extreme altitudes, the birds only need flap their wings occasionally to cover great distances.
Eurasian Black Vulture
The cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) is a large raptorial bird that is distributed through much of Eurasia. It is also known as the black vulture, monk vulture, or Eurasian black vulture. It is a member of the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards and harriers. It is one of the two largest Old World vultures, attaining a maximum size of 14 kg, 1.2 m long and 3.1 m across the wings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinereous_vulture
From GIANT Squids and Sharks; to the LARGEST animal on earth; These are 14 World’s BIGGEST Sea Creatures.
Until the year 2012, no one had ever heard of or seen a cave robber spider. That is until a team of scientists discovered the bizarre tiny creatures in some old forests of Oregon and California. The scientists did a whole bunch of research and finally declared these spiders were unique and brand new. The team had unearthed an entirely new species of spider. Cave Robbers were the first new family of spiders to be added to North America since way back in 1890. These type of arachnids prefer caves and densely darkened redwood forests.
Spiny Orb Weaver
These dazzling arachnids can grow up to 30 millimetres in diameter and can be found all over the world. Their name hails from the prominent spines that can be found all over their abdomens, which are typically shaped similar to that of a crab. These brightly colored spiders have a hardened exoskeleton which comes in a variety of color patterns including white, orange, or yellow with red markings. Lucky for us, spiny orb weaver spider bites tend to be relatively harmless to humans.
This gigantic breed of arachnid is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s biggest spider. They typically weigh around 6 ounces with leg spans of roughly 11 inches…that’s about the size of a puppy! Here’s an image of a little girl playing with what we certainly hope is a fake spider but if it’s real, the spider in question would have to be one of these disturbing Goliath Birdeaters. These giant spiders belong to the tarantula family and can be found in rainforest areas such as northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. These creepy crawlers have the ability to regenerate damaged or lost limbs, have fangs strong enough to pierce a mouse skull, and have a defense mechanism wherein they release tiny barbed hairs which are said to be extremely painful and leave the victim itching for days.
Happy Face Spider
Found in the rainforests of Hawaii, this crazy-looking spider is best identified through the strange patterns which decorate their yellow abdomens and form, you guessed it, a smiley face. However, there are a few of these incredibly bizarre-looking creatures who sport frowny faces or even ones that appear to be screaming. Sadly, this unique spider is listed on the endangered list.
This Australian species of spider is best known for their brightly colored circular flaps which appear on the abdomens of the males, which is highly reminiscent to a peacock’s colorful patterned fan used to attract mates of the other gender. These strange yet beautiful arachnids are gifted with extremely acute eyesight and when courting a female will vibrate their hind legs and abdomen to create a more dramatic and enticing effect.
Diving Bell Spider
Some call these fearsome fellas Water Spiders as they are the only completely aquatic spiders found on Earth, more specifically Europe, Asia, the United Kingdom, and Siberia. These strange arachnids survive inside ponds, slow moving streams, and shallow lakes. They have no gills to breath underwater so they build underwater retreats composed of silk filled with a giant air bubble. This pocket of air usually retains a bell-like shape with a silvery shine. Most of this peculiar spider’s time is spent inside that bell and occasionally jutting out to feed on whatever unfortunate small aquatic invertebrate happens to be swimming by.
Before we reveal number one, let us know in the comments below which one of these spiders you thought was the creepiest and don’t forget to subscribe! And now…
These fearsome spiders can be found worldwide. You can identify them by their all black coloring and bright red hourglass-shaped marking which lines their abdomens. Males are smaller and less venomous than their female counterparts, making their bite relatively harmless. On the other end of this spider spectrum, femme fatale black widows practice sexual cannibalism. This means a female will devour a male after mating with him. If she works up a ravenous appetite that is, hence why most male black widow spiders pick their mate based on how long ago she finished her last meal, which they can sense through chemicals in her web. These notorious spider queens have deadly fangs which contain neurotoxins. One bite from an angry female black widow could prove to be fatal to most humans, if left untreated.
One of the worst ecological human disasters happened in the Aral Sea (Sea of Islands) located in the far western Asia, in the east of the Caspian Sea located in the countries of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It once had 68,000 square km. Today the sea is almost completely gone it is evaporating day by day, contaminated by fertilizer residues, biological weapons tested by the Soviet Union for the Cold War. Source: https://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/aralsea.htm. This magnificent sea was the 4th largest in 1960 until the high demand of cotton killed it. The Sea paid with its life for the production of entire fields of cotton, (white gold) at the very high price.
“There is not enough cotton”- that is what the authorities said. Cotton needed to be planted everywhere to provide all Russia even though the Aral had to die in the process and so it was made. Over 40 years ago two rivers that ran into the Aral, were deviated those were the Amu Daria and Sir Daria in order to irrigate field full of cotton. The tubes and material used to take this waters were not good quality and most of the flow was lost in its way. During years and years, the Sea received no water from its tributaries, the consequence was it began to dry day by day. Today it is only 75% of what it was in its good times. It was not only it was drying up but its waters were polluted with all the fertilizers used for cotton plantations. Its waters started affecting people around cases as malformations, high infant mortality, and linfatic cancer appeared.
Symposiums are held in order to generate ideas to bring the Aral back. Salinity is so high flora and fauna die, pesticides in the sand left are being carried to the population in forms of dust storms. The Soviet Union had secret laboratories installed in the Aral, they were abandoned as the sea dried out with no care of biosecurity rules. The multiple virus present in them were free into the environment. The Aral´s sand contains boats all around its body, the ones that make the settlers feel nostalgic of this immense and beautiful sea in its good times. Temperatures have turned extreme in the place and authorities say it is because of climate change.
Settlers say there is an old legend that tells that The Aral has gone three times and three times it has come back. They hoped some time it will come back. Fisherman remembers the good and tasty fish they used to capture in the Sea. Thet said those fish ate Seagrass that made them tastier. Their diet was based on fish, every meal they had food prepared with fish. The great factory of fish established on the place processed thousands of tons of fish and approximately 600 men worked in here they sent their products mostly to the Soviet Union. The factory had to close when the water level went down and the fish could no longer live in its waters.Source: Documentary by We are Water Foundation (Isabel Coixet) “Aral the Lost Sea”.
The Aral is all over, no more fish no more water to sail on………
Climate change is taking a serious toll on planet earth, and whether is man-made or as a result of natural causes, there’s no denying that it’s worse then ever.
WatchMojo presents the top 10 signs that climate change is worse than ever.
Greenland is the singing canary for this:
Severe wildfires, melting glaciers and extreme weather rank amongst the top of these foreboding signs.
So, an important playlist on Climate change basics. Climate change occurs when changes in Earth’s climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades, and maybe for millions of years. The climate system is comprised of five interacting parts, the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), cryosphere (ice and permafrost), biosphere (living things), and lithosphere(earth’s crust and upper mantle). The climate system receives nearly all of its energy from the sun, with a relatively tiny amount from earth’s interior. The climate system also gives off energy to outer space. The balance of incoming and outgoing energy, and the passage of the energy through the climate system, determines Earth’s energy budget. When the incoming energy is greater than the outgoing energy, earth’s energy budget is positive and the climate system is warming. If more energy goes out, the energy budget is negative and earth experiences cooling.
This is a complete course on the matter:
And here is another fairly well extended playlist on climate change
Causes of climate change
On the broadest scale, the rate at which energy is received from the Sun and the rate at which it is lost to space determine the equilibrium temperature and climate of Earth. This energy is distributed around the globe by winds, ocean currents, and other mechanisms to affect the climates of different regions.
Factors that can shape climate are called climate forcings or “forcing mechanisms”. These include processes such as variations in solar radiation, variations in the Earth’s orbit, variations in the albedo or reflectivity of the continents, atmosphere, and oceans, mountain-building and continental drift and changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. There are a variety of climate change feedbacks that can either amplify or diminish the initial forcing. Some parts of the climate system, such as the oceans and ice caps, respond more slowly in reaction to climate forcings, while others respond more quickly. There are also key threshold factors which when exceeded can produce rapid change.
Forcing mechanisms can be either “internal” or “external”. Internal forcing mechanisms are natural processes within the climate system itself (e.g., the thermohaline circulation). External forcing mechanisms can be either anthropogenic (e.g. increased emissions of greenhouse gases and dust) or natural (e.g., changes in solar output, the earth’s orbit, volcano eruptions).
Whether the initial forcing mechanism is internal or external, the response of the climate system might be fast (e.g., a sudden cooling due to airborne volcanic ash reflecting sunlight), slow (e.g. thermal expansion of warming ocean water), or a combination (e.g., sudden loss of albedo in the Arctic Ocean as sea ice melts, followed by more gradual thermal expansion of the water). Therefore, the climate system can respond abruptly, but the full response to forcing mechanisms might not be fully developed for centuries or even longer.
Internal forcing mechanisms
Scientists generally define the five components of earth’s climate system to include atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere (restricted to the surface soils, rocks, and sediments), and biosphere. Natural changes in the climate system (“internal forcings”) result in internal “climate variability”. Examples include the type and distribution of species, and changes in ocean-atmosphere circulations.
The ocean and atmosphere can work together to spontaneously generate internal climate variability that can persist for years to decades at a time. Examples of this type of variability include the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, the Pacific decadal oscillation, and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. These variations can affect global average surface temperature by redistributing heat between the deep ocean and the atmosphere and/or by altering the cloud/water vapor/sea ice distribution which can affect the total energy budget of the earth.
The oceanic aspects of these circulations can generate variability on centennial timescales due to the ocean having hundreds of times more mass than in the atmosphere, and thus very high thermal inertia. For example, alterations to ocean processes such as thermohaline circulation play a key role in redistributing heat in the world’s oceans. Due to the long timescales of this circulation, ocean temperature at depth is still adjusting to effects of the Little Ice Age which occurred between the 1600 and 1800s.
Life affects climate through its role in the carbon and water cycles and through such mechanisms as albedo, evapotranspiration, cloud formation, and weathering. Examples of how life may have affected past climate include:
- glaciation 2.3 billion years ago triggered by the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis, which depleted the atmosphere of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and introduced free oxygen.
- another glaciation 300 million years ago ushered in by long-term burial of decomposition-resistant detritus of vascular land-plants (creating a carbon sink and forming coal)
- termination of the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago by flourishing marine phytoplankton
- reversal of global warming 49 million years ago by 800,000 years of arctic azolla blooms
- global cooling over the past 40 million years driven by the expansion of grass-grazer ecosystems
External forcing mechanisms
In the context of climate variation, anthropogenic factors are human activities which affect the climate. The scientific consensus on climate change is “that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities”, and it “is largely irreversible”.
… there is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.— United States National Research Council, Advancing the Science of Climate Change
Of most concern in these anthropogenic factors is the increase in CO2 levels. This is due to emissions from fossil fuelcombustion, followed by aerosols (particulate matter in the atmosphere), and the CO2 released by cementmanufacture. Other factors, including land use, ozone depletion, animal husbandry (ruminant animals such as cattleproduce methane, as do termites), and deforestation, are also of concern in the roles they play—both separately and in conjunction with other factors—in affecting climate, microclimate, and measures of climate variables.
Slight variations in Earth’s motion lead to changes in the seasonal distribution of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface and how it is distributed across the globe. There is very little change to the area-averaged annually averaged sunshine; but there can be strong changes in the geographical and seasonal distribution. The three types of kinematic change are variations in Earth’s eccentricity, changes in the tilt angle of Earth’s axis of rotation, and precession of Earth’s axis. Combined together, these produce Milankovitch cycles which affect climate and are notable for their correlation to glacialand interglacial periods, their correlation with the advance and retreat of the Sahara, and for their appearance in the stratigraphic record.
The IPCC notes that Milankovitch cycles drove the ice age cycles, CO2 followed temperature change “with a lag of some hundreds of years”, and that as a feedback amplified temperature change. The depths of the ocean have a lag time in changing temperature (thermal inertia on such scale). Upon seawater temperature change, the solubility of CO2 in the oceans changed, as well as other factors affecting air-sea CO2 exchange.
The Sun is the predominant source of energy input to the Earth. Other sources include geothermal energy from the Earth’s core, tidal energy from the Moon and heat from the decay of radioactive compounds. Both long- and short-term variations in solar intensity are known to affect global climate.
Three to four billion years ago, the Sun emitted only 75% as much power as it does today. If the atmospheric composition had been the same as today, liquid water should not have existed on Earth. However, there is evidence for the presence of water on the early Earth, in the Hadean and Archean eons, leading to what is known as the faint young Sun paradox. Hypothesized solutions to this paradox include a vastly different atmosphere, with much higher concentrations of greenhouse gases than currently exist. Over the following approximately 4 billion years, the energy output of the Sun increased and atmospheric composition changed. The Great Oxygenation Event—oxygenation of the atmosphere around 2.4 billion years ago—was the most notable alteration. Over the next five billion years from the present, the Sun’s ultimate death as it becomes a red giant and then a white dwarf will have large effects on climate, with the red giant phase possibly ending any life on Earth that survives until that time.
Solar output varies on shorter time scales, including the 11-year solar cycle and longer-term modulations. Solar intensity variations, possibly as a result of the Wolf, Spörer, and the Maunder Minima, are considered to have been influential in triggering the Little Ice Age.This event extended from 1550 to 1850 AD and was marked by relative cooling and greater glacier extent than the centuries before and afterward. Solar variation may also have affected some of the warming observed from 1900 to 1950. The cyclical nature of the Sun’s energy output is not yet fully understood; it differs from the very slow change that is happening within the Sun as it ages and evolves.
Some studies point toward solar radiation increases from cyclical sunspot activity affecting global warming, and climate may be influenced by the sum of all effects (solar variation, anthropogenic radiative forcings, etc.).
A 2010 study suggests “that the effects of solar variability on temperature throughout the atmosphere may be contrary to current expectations”.
In 2011, CERN announced the initial results from its CLOUD experiment in the Nature journal. The results indicate that ionisation from cosmic rays significantly enhances aerosol formation in the presence of sulfuric acid and water, but in the lower atmosphere where ammonia is also required, this is insufficient to account for aerosol formation and additional trace vapours must be involved. The next step is to find more about these trace vapours, including whether they are of natural or human origin.
The eruptions considered to be large enough to affect the Earth’s climate on a scale of more than 1 year are the ones that inject over 100,000 tons of SO2 into the stratosphere. This is due to the optical properties of SO2 and sulfate aerosols, which strongly absorb or scatter solar radiation, creating a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. On average, such eruptions occur several times per century, and cause cooling (by partially blocking the transmission of solar radiation to the Earth’s surface) for a period of several years.
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century, affected the climate substantially, subsequently global temperatures decreased by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) for up to three years. Thus, the cooling over large parts of the Earth reduced surface temperatures in 1991–93, the equivalent to a reduction in net radiation of 4 watts per square meter. The Mount Tambora eruption in 1815 caused the Year Without a Summer.Much larger eruptions, known as large igneous provinces, occur only a few times every fifty – one hundred million years – through flood basalt, and caused in Earth past global warming and mass extinctions.
Small eruptions, with injections of less than 0.1 Mt of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, affect the atmosphere only subtly, as temperature changes are comparable with natural variability. However, because smaller eruptions occur at a much higher frequency, they too significantly affect Earth’s atmosphere.
Seismic monitoring maps current and future trends in volcanic activities, and tries to develop early warning systems. In climate modelling the aim is to study the physical mechanisms and feedbacks of volcanic forcing.
Volcanoes are also part of the extended carbon cycle. Over very long (geological) time periods, they release carbon dioxide from the Earth’s crust and mantle, counteracting the uptake by sedimentary rocks and other geological carbon dioxide sinks. The US Geological Survey estimates are that volcanic emissions are at a much lower level than the effects of current human activities, which generate 100–300 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes. A review of published studies indicates that annual volcanic emissions of carbon dioxide, including amounts released from mid-ocean ridges, volcanic arcs, and hot spot volcanoes, are only the equivalent of 3 to 5 days of human-caused output. The annual amount put out by human activities may be greater than the amount released by supererruptions, the most recent of which was the Toba eruption in Indonesia 74,000 years ago.
Although volcanoes are technically part of the lithosphere, which itself is part of the climate system, the IPCC explicitly defines volcanism as an external forcing agent.
Over the course of millions of years, the motion of tectonic plates reconfigures global land and ocean areas and generates topography. This can affect both global and local patterns of climate and atmosphere-ocean circulation.
The position of the continents determines the geometry of the oceans and therefore influences patterns of ocean circulation. The locations of the seas are important in controlling the transfer of heat and moisture across the globe, and therefore, in determining global climate. A recent example of tectonic control on ocean circulation is the formation of the Isthmus of Panama about 5 million years ago, which shut off direct mixing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This strongly affected the ocean dynamics of what is now the Gulf Stream and may have led to Northern Hemisphere ice cover. During the Carboniferousperiod, about 300 to 360 million years ago, plate tectonics may have triggered large-scale storage of carbon and increased glaciation. Geologic evidence points to a “megamonsoonal” circulation pattern during the time of the supercontinent Pangaea, and climate modeling suggests that the existence of the supercontinent was conducive to the establishment of monsoons.
The size of continents is also important. Because of the stabilizing effect of the oceans on temperature, yearly temperature variations are generally lower in coastal areas than they are inland. A larger supercontinent will therefore have more area in which climate is strongly seasonal than will several smaller continents or islands.
The Earth receives an influx of ionized particles known as cosmic rays from a variety of external sources, including the Sun. A hypothesis holds that an increase in the cosmic ray flux would increase the ionization in the atmosphere, leading to greater cloud cover. This, in turn, would tend to cool the surface. The non-solar cosmic ray flux may vary as a result of a nearby supernova event, the solar system passing through a dense interstellar cloud, or the oscillatory movement of the Sun’s position with respect to the galactic plane. The latter can increase the flux of high-energy cosmic rays coming from the Virgo cluster.
Evidence exists that the Chicxulub impact some 66 million years ago had severely affected the Earth’s climate. Large quantities of sulfate aerosols were kicked up into the atmosphere, decreasing global temperatures by up to 26 °C and producing sub-freezing temperatures for a period of 3−16 years. The recovery time for this event took more than 30 years.
Study of past climates
A number of disciplines throw light on past climates.
Paleoclimatology is the study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of Earth. It uses a variety of proxy methods from the Earth and life sciences to obtain data previously preserved within things such as rocks, sediments, ice sheets, tree rings, corals, shells, and microfossils. It then uses the records to determine the past states of the Earth‘s various climate regions and its atmospheric system. Notable climate events known to paleoclimatology are provided in this list of periods and events in climate history.
Historical climatology is the study of historical changes in climate and their effect on human history and development. The primary sources include written records such as sagas, chronicles, maps and local history literature as well as pictorial representations such as paintings, drawings and even rock art.
Climate change in the recent past may be detected by corresponding changes in settlement and agricultural patterns. Archaeological evidence, oral historyand historical documents can offer insights into past changes in the climate. Climate change effects have been linked to the rise and also the collapse of various civilizations.
Physical evidence and effects
Evidence for climatic change is taken from a variety of sources that can be used to reconstruct past climates. Reasonably complete global records of surface temperature are available beginning from the mid-late 19th century. For earlier periods, most of the evidence is indirect—climatic changes are inferred from changes in proxies, indicators that reflect climate, such as vegetation, ice cores, dendrochronology, sea level change, and glacial geology.
Temperature (surface and oceans)
The instrumental temperature record from surface stations was supplemented by radiosonde balloons, extensive atmospheric monitoring by the mid-20th century, and, from the 1970s on, with global satellite data as well. Taking the record as a whole, most of the 20th century had been unprecedentedly warm, while the 19th and 17th centuries were quite cool.
The 18O/16O ratio in calcite and ice core samples used to deduce ocean temperature in the distant past is an example of a temperature proxy method, as are other climate metrics noted in subsequent categories.
Glaciers are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change. Their size is determined by a mass balance between snow input and melt output. As temperatures warm, glaciers retreat unless snow precipitation increases to make up for the additional melt; the converse is also true.
Glaciers grow and shrink due both to natural variability and external forcings. Variability in temperature, precipitation, and englacial and subglacial hydrology can strongly determine the evolution of a glacier in a particular season. Therefore, one must average over a decadal or longer time-scale and/or over many individual glaciers to smooth out the local short-term variability and obtain a glacier history that is related to climate.
A world glacier inventory has been compiled since the 1970s, initially based mainly on aerial photographs and maps but now relying more on satellites. This compilation tracks more than 100,000 glaciers covering a total area of approximately 240,000 km², and preliminary estimates indicate that the remaining ice cover is around 445,000 km². The World Glacier Monitoring Service collects data annually on glacier retreat and glacier mass balance. From this data, glaciers worldwide have been found to be shrinking significantly, with strong glacier retreats in the 1940s, stable or growing conditions during the 1920s and 1970s, and again retreating from the mid-1980s to the present.
The most significant climate processes since the middle to late Pliocene (approximately 3 million years ago) are the glacial and interglacial cycles. The present interglacial period (the Holocene) has lasted about 11,700 years. Shaped by orbital variations, responses such as the rise and fall of continental ice sheets and significant sea-level changes helped create the climate. Other changes, including Heinrich events, Dansgaard–Oeschger events and the Younger Dryas, however, illustrate how glacial variations may also influence climate without the orbital forcing.
Glaciers leave behind moraines that contain a wealth of material—including organic matter, quartz, and potassium that may be dated—recording the periods in which a glacier advanced and retreated. Similarly, by tephrochronological techniques, the lack of glacier cover can be identified by the presence of soil or volcanic tephra horizons whose date of deposit may also be ascertained.
Data from NASA‘s Grace satellites show that the land ice sheets in both Antarctica (upper chart) and Greenland (lower) have been losing mass since 2002. Both ice sheets have seen an acceleration of ice mass loss since 2009.
Arctic sea ice decline
The decline in Arctic sea ice, both in extent and thickness, over the last several decades is further evidence for rapid climate change. Sea ice is frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface. It covers millions of square kilometers in the polar regions, varying with the seasons. In the Arctic, some sea ice remains year after year, whereas almost all Southern Ocean or Antarctic sea ice melts away and reforms annually. Satellite observations show that Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2 percent per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. The 2007 Arctic summer sea ice retreat was unprecedented. Decades of shrinking and thinning in a warm climate has put the Arctic sea ice in a precarious position, it is now vulnerable to atmospheric anomalies. “Both extent and volume anomaly fluctuate little from January to July and then decrease steeply in August and September”. This decrease is because of lessened ice production as a result of the unusually high SAT. During the Arctic summer, a slower rate of sea ice production is the same as a faster rate of sea ice melting.
Sea level change
Global sea level change for much of the last century has generally been estimated using tide gauge measurements collated over long periods of time to give a long-term average. More recently, altimeter measurements—in combination with accurately determined satellite orbits—have provided an improved measurement of global sea level change. To measure sea levels prior to instrumental measurements, scientists have dated coral reefs that grow near the surface of the ocean, coastal sediments, marine terraces, ooids in limestones, and nearshore archaeological remains. The predominant dating methods used are uranium series and radiocarbon, with cosmogenic radionuclides being sometimes used to date terraces that have experienced relative sea level fall. In the early Pliocene, global temperatures were 1–2˚C warmer than the present temperature, yet sea level was 15–25 meters higher than today.
According to recent studies, global-mean sea level rose by 195 mm during the period from 1870 to 2004. Since 2004, satellite-based records indicate that there has been a further 43 mm of global-mean sea levels rise, as of July 2017.
Analysis of ice in a core drilled from an ice sheet such as the Antarctic ice sheet, can be used to show a link between temperature and global sea level variations. The air trapped in bubbles in the ice can also reveal the CO2 variations of the atmosphere from the distant past, well before modern environmental influences. The study of these ice cores has been a significant indicator of the changes in CO2 over many millennia, and continues to provide valuable information about the differences between ancient and modern atmospheric conditions.
Cloud cover and precipitation
Past precipitation can be estimated in the modern era with the global network of precipitation gauges. Surface coverage over oceans and remote areas is relatively sparse, but, reducing reliance on interpolation, satellite clouds and precipitation data has been available since the 1970s. Quantification of climatological variation of precipitation in prior centuries and epochs is less complete but approximated using proxies such as marine sediments, ice cores, cave stalagmites, and tree rings. In July 2016 scientists published evidence of increased cloud cover over polar regions, as predicted by climate models.
Climatological temperatures substantially affect cloud cover and precipitation. For instance, during the Last Glacial Maximum of 18,000 years ago, thermal-driven evaporation from the oceans onto continental landmasses was low, causing large areas of extreme desert, including polar deserts (cold but with low rates of cloud cover and precipitation). In contrast, the world’s climate was cloudier and wetter than today near the start of the warm Atlantic Period of 8000 years ago.
Estimated global land precipitation increased by approximately 2% over the course of the 20th century, though the calculated trend varies if different time endpoints are chosen, complicated by ENSO and other oscillations, including greater global land cloud cover precipitation in the 1950s and 1970s than the later 1980s and 1990s despite the positive trend over the century overall. Similar slight overall increase in global river runoff and in average soil moisture has been perceived.
A change in the type, distribution and coverage of vegetation may occur given a change in the climate. Some changes in climate may result in increased precipitation and warmth, resulting in improved plant growth and the subsequent sequestration of airborne CO2. A gradual increase in warmth in a region will lead to earlier flowering and fruiting times, driving a change in the timing of life cycles of dependent organisms. Conversely, cold will cause plant bio-cycles to lag. Larger, faster or more radical changes, however, may result in vegetation stress, rapid plant loss and desertification in certain circumstances. An example of this occurred during the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse (CRC), an extinction event 300 million years ago. At this time vast rainforests covered the equatorial region of Europe and America. Climate change devastated these tropical rainforests, abruptly fragmenting the habitat into isolated ‘islands’ and causing the extinction of many plant and animal species. Such stress can alter the growth rate of trees, which allows scientists to infer climate trends by analyzing the growth rate of tree rings. This branch of climate science is called dendroclimatology, and is one of the many ways they research climate trends prior to written records.
Forest genetic resources
Even though this is a field with many uncertainties, it is expected that over the next 50 years climate changes will have an effect on the diversity of forest genetic resources and thereby on the distribution of forest tree species and the composition of forests. Diversity of forest genetic resources enables the potential for a species (or a population) to adapt to climatic changes and related future challenges such as temperature changes, drought, pests, diseases and forest fire. However, species are not naturally capable to adapt in the pace of which the climate is changing and the increasing temperatures will most likely facilitate the spread of pests and diseases, creating an additional threat to forest trees and their populations. To inhibit these problems human interventions, such as transfer of forest reproductive material, may be needed.
Palynology is the study of contemporary and fossil palynomorphs, including pollen. Palynology is used to infer the geographical distribution of plant species, which vary under different climate conditions. Different groups of plants have pollen with distinctive shapes and surface textures, and since the outer surface of pollen is composed of a very resilient material, they resist decay. Changes in the type of pollen found in different layers of sediment in lakes, bogs, or river deltas indicate changes in plant communities. These changes are often a sign of a changing climate. As an example, palynological studies have been used to track changing vegetation patterns throughout the Quaternary glaciations and especially since the last glacial maximum.
Remains of beetles are common in freshwater and land sediments. Different species of beetles tend to be found under different climatic conditions. Given the extensive lineage of beetles whose genetic makeup has not altered significantly over the millennia, knowledge of the present climatic range of the different species, and the age of the sediments in which remains are found, past climatic conditions may be inferred. The studies of the impact in vertebrates are few mainly from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively.
Similarly, the historical abundance of various fish species has been found to have a substantial relationship with observed climatic conditions. Changes in the primary productivity of autotrophs in the oceans can affect marine food webs.
According to the IPCC, human-caused global warming is driving climate changes impacting both human and natural systems on all continents and across the oceans. Human-caused global warming results from the increased use of fossil fuels in transportation, manufacturing and communications. Internet induced climate change is newest contributor to human-induced climate change. Some of the impacts include the altering of ecosystems (with a few extinctions), threat to food production and water supplies due to extreme weather, and the dislocation of human communities due to sea level rise and other climate factors. Taken together these hazards also exacerbate other stressors such as poverty. Possible societal responses include efforts to prevent additional climate change, adapting to unavoidable climate change, and possible future climate engineering.
Climate of recent past
- CORA dataset temperature and salinity of global oceans
- Effects of global warming
- Extreme weather
- Global terrestrial stilling
- Hardiness zone
- Holocene climatic optimum
- Land surface effects on climate
- Medieval Warm Period
- Temperature record of the past 1000 years
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