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NickB79's Journal
NickB79's Journal
February 18, 2024

2 police officers and 1 firefighter killed responding to a domestic incident outside Minneapolis, governor says

Source: CNN


Two police officers and a firefighter are dead and other officers were injured after responding to a domestic incident in Burnsville, Minnesota, according to the state’s governor.

“Horrific news from Burnsville. While responding to a call of a family in danger, two police officers and one firefighter lost their lives, and other officers were injured,” Gov. Tim Walz posted online.

“We must never take for granted the bravery and sacrifices our police officers and first responders make every day. My heart is with their families today and the entire State of Minnesota stands with Burnsville,” Walz said. The governor added that flags would be flown at half-mast across Minnesota on Monday and the state Department of Public Safety is “coordinating with local law enforcement to conduct an investigation.”

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/18/us/burnsville-minnesota-officers-shooting/index.html

February 11, 2024

Why there may be much fewer monarch butterfly sightings in the US this summer


Monarch butterfly sightings may be sparser than usual in the U.S. and Canada following a drastic drop in populations wintering in Mexico, researchers told ABC News.

The annual census of the number of monarchs that winter in Central Mexico showed that the population decreased "precipitously," the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which conducts the research alongside the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico, announced on Wednesday.

I have fond memories from my childhood of trees filled with thousands of monarchs as they grouped up for fall migration. The last time we saw a large flock on our land in our trees was 8 yr ago. My daughter barely remembers it. I wonder if she'll ever see another. I doubt her children ever will.
February 11, 2024

Expert explains why North American bird populations are declining


"Habitat loss due to agricultural intensification and urbanization is arguably the biggest threat to birds, along with climate change," says Ashley Dayer, an associate professor in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and a Global Change Center affiliated faculty member at Virginia Tech. She also points to cats and window collisions playing a role in their deaths. Data shows up to one billion birds die each year after hitting windows. Cats are estimated to kill more than 2.4 billion birds annually in the U.S. and Canada.

Habitat loss. Climate change. Outdoor cats. Windows. In that order.
February 10, 2024

Hamas had command tunnel under U.N. Gaza headquarters, Israeli military says

Source: Reuters

GAZA, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Israeli forces have discovered a tunnel network hundreds of metres (yards) long and running partly under UNRWA's Gaza headquarters, the military says, calling it new evidence of Hamas exploitation of the main relief agency for Palestinians.

Army engineers took reporters for foreign news outlets through the passages at a time of crisis for UNRWA, which has launched an internal probe and seen a string of donor countries freeze funding over allegations last month by Israel that some of its staff doubled as Hamas operatives.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/hamas-had-command-tunnel-under-un-gaza-hq-israeli-military-says-2024-02-10/

Man, those 12 UNRWA Hamas members have been busy!
February 10, 2024

Shell permanently closes all of its hydrogen refuelling stations for cars in California


Oil major cites ‘supply complications and other external market factors’ in decision to exit market for light-duty H2 vehicles in the US

Shell has this week permanently closed its seven hydrogen refuelling stations for passenger cars in California, citing “supply complications and other external market factors”.
February 6, 2024

Permafrost alone holds back Arctic rivers--and a lot of carbon


New research from Dartmouth College provides the first evidence that the Arctic's frozen soil is the dominant force shaping Earth's northernmost rivers. Permafrost, the thick layer of soil that stays frozen for two or more years at a time, is the reason that Arctic rivers are uniformly confined to smaller areas and shallower valleys than rivers to the south, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But permafrost also is an increasingly fragile reservoir of vast amounts of carbon. As climate change weakens Artic permafrost, the researchers calculate that every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) of global warming could release as much carbon as 35 million cars emit in a year as polar waterways expand and churn up the thawing soil.

"The whole surface of the Earth is in a tug of a war between processes such as hillslopes that smooth the landscape and forces like rivers that carve them up," said first author Joanmarie Del Vecchio, who led the study as a Neukom Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth with her advisers and study co-authors Marisa Palucis, an assistant professor of earth sciences, and engineering professor Colin Meyer.

"We understand the physics on a fundamental level, but when things start freezing and thawing, it's hard to predict which side is going to win," Del Vecchio said. "If hillslopes win, they're going to bury all that carbon trapped in the soil. But if things get warm and suddenly river channels start to win, we're going to see a large amount of carbon get released into the atmosphere. That will likely create this warming feedback loop that leads to the release of more greenhouse gases."
February 6, 2024

Madagascar: giant tortoises have returned 600 years after they were wiped out


A six-year-old project to return giant tortoises to the wild in Madagascar could result in thousands of the 350kg megaherbivores re-populating the island for the first time in 600 years. The first group of Aldabra giant tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea) were brought in from the Seychelles in 2018, and have been reproducing on their own since. Ecologist Grant Joseph explains how reintroducing this tortoise to areas degraded by cattle grazing will help restore the island’s forests, grassy woodlands and shrublands of the past. It could also help prevent devastating forest fires in future.

The Aldabra giant is the second-largest species of land tortoise in the world, after the Galapagos giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra). It can live for 100 years and has a fascinating history.

This tortoise evolved from ancestors of Aldabrachelys abrupta, one of two giant tortoises that inhabited Madagascar for 15 million years. Four million years ago, the Aldabrachelys abrupta lineage migrated, likely via a combination of drifting with floating vegetation and assisted by their natural buoyancy and good swimming abilities, to the Seychelles.

From there it moved on to Aldabra (an island 1,000km south-west of the Seychelles), evolving into a third species, the Aldabra giant of today (Aldabrachelys gigantea). Six hundred years ago, all giant tortoises were wiped out on Madagascar by hunters. The reintroduction of the Aldabra giant is the first time giant tortoises have been released in Madagascar since the 1500s.
February 6, 2024

Lions are being forced to change the way they hunt. It's all because of a tiny invasive ant, scientists say.


It all starts with the whistling-thorn acacia trees in the plains of Laikipia, Kenya. These thorny trees had developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the local acacia ant: The trees provide shelter and food for the ants and in return they use their stinging bite to discourage hungry elephants from devouring the trees.

But the big-headed ant changed all that.

Thought to have originated on an island in the Indian Ocean and brought to the area by the movement of people and goods, these invasive marauders arrived around two decades ago and started killing the acacia ants, leaving the whistling-thorn trees vulnerable to herbivores. Diminished tree cover poses a problem for lions because they rely on the element of surprise to ambush their prey, notably zebras.

Without the protection of the native ants, elephants are destroying the acacias. Without the acacias and surrounding shrubbery for cover, the lions can't ambush prey as effectively. The savanna is turning into wide open grassland that favors smaller, faster predators.
February 6, 2024

Study of sea sponges lead scientists to believe Earth has already passed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming


Earth may have already passed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming and could be soon heading for 2 degrees of warming, researchers have found after studying sea sponges in the Caribbean.

The study of 300 years of ocean temperature records kept preserved within sea sponges in the Caribbean indicate that global mean surface temperatures may have already exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius and that a 2-degree Celsius rise could be possible by the end of the decade, according to a paper published in Nature Climate Change on Monday.


Samples of sclerosponge skeletons found in the eastern Caribbean, where the natural variability of temperatures is less than at other locations, indicate that the pre-industrial period can be defined by stable temperatures from 1700 to 1790 and from 1840 to 1860, with the gap defined by cooling related to volcanic activity, according to the study. The sea sponges revealed that warming related to human activity commenced from the mid-1860s, with clear emergence by the mid-1870s, about 80 years before the period indicated by instrumental sea surface records.

One caveat: they only used sponges from the Caribbean off the coast of Puerto Rico. But, if can be replicated using sponges from other parts of the globe, and I'm sure researchers are already planning to do the studies, it shows we're already at 1.7C, not 1.2C. That's a BFD with regard to climate models and carbon budgets.
February 6, 2024

California company wants to use Arizona groundwater to make 'green hydrogen' fuel. Residents say it'll drain their wells


BRENDA, Arizona — A clean energy company wants federal permission to use Arizona's sunshine and water to create carbon-free hydrogen fuel in one of the state’s more stressed rural groundwater basins.

Heliogen, a Southern California-based company, last year won the exclusive right to lease more than 3,300 acres of desert east of this small community in western Arizona’s La Paz County for solar energy development. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management had offered the land as one of three designated solar zones in the state, this one just north of Interstate 10 and about 100 miles west of Phoenix


Data from wells that the Arizona Department of Water Resources monitors show all areas of the basin in decline over the last 20 years, and many by dozens of feet. For instance, at the routinely checked well nearest to the proposed solar hydrogen field, depth to water has increased by more than 20 feet since 2003, with each year’s reading adding a point along a relatively straight line downward on the well’s depth chart.

Near the basin’s most intensive farm pumping farther east, Department of Water Resources chief hydrologist Ryan Mitchell said, land has subsided 25 centimeters, or nearly 10 inches, since 2010.

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