Nature – Images

Interesting Images:

A stunning US Interior Department photo of lightning striking the Grand Canyon. This photo was taken near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

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A new time lapse video, produced and narrated by Cassandra Brooks, a doctoral student at Stanford University, condenses two months on an Antarctic ice-breaker into less than five minutes. Frame by frame, the video reveals how stunning sea ice can be — from polka-dot pancake ice to thick white flows. Link

Antarctica 130507

Storms and Floods

Landslide in Yiyang, China

Landslide in Zhaojiatang village, in Heshan district, Yiyang city in Hunan Province in China has claimedthe lives of two people.

Avalanche at Everest base camp

An avalanche above the second base camp of Mount Everest has killed one climber at an altitude of 7 000 meters.

Other News:

Flash floods in Mombasa, Kenya cut water supply to residents.

Heavy rainfall caused a 25-metre high landslide which damaged several cars near the Bukit Nanas monorail station in Jalan Sultan Ismail, Malaysia.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images:

A stunning US Interior Department photo of lightning striking the Grand Canyon. This photo was taken near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

21241 627012583993969 383599468 n

A new time lapse video, produced and narrated by Cassandra Brooks, a doctoral student at Stanford University, condenses two months on an Antarctic ice-breaker into less than five minutes. Frame by frame, the video reveals how stunning sea ice can be — from polka-dot pancake ice to thick white flows. 

Antarctica 130507

Wildlife

Poaching Pushes 2 Madagascar Tortoises to Brink

Illegal poaching is “raging out of control” and pushing radiated and ploughshare tortoises to the brink of extinction, according to a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

More than 1,000 of the animals have been confiscated from smugglers in the first three months of 2013 alone, the environmental group reported. A total of 54 ploughshare tortoises were intercepted in Thailand, and the species is “now the most common tortoise for sale in Bangkok’s infamous Chatuchak wildlife market,” according to the statement.

The ploughshare tortoise was once common in northern Madagascar but as of 2008 it was estimated that there were only 400 individuals left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These reptiles can grow up to 19 inches (47 centimeters) long and weigh up to 42 pounds (19 kilograms).

The radiated tortoise lives in the country’s south. Its dark brown or black domed shell is covered with bright yellow or orange starlike patterns and can grow up to 16 inches (40 cm) long. They can live for an estimated 100 years, according to the IUCN.

“These tortoises are truly one of Madagascar’s most iconic species,” James Deutsch, executive director of the Africa Program at WCS, said in the statement. “This level of exploitation is unsustainable. Unless immediate action is taken to better protect the wild populations, their extinction is imminent.”

Ploughshare tortoise

Environment

Declining snow levels could leave some creatures near extinction

During long, bitterly cold winters, a thick blanket of snow helps protect creatures and plants that live in these harsh climates. That is why recently published findings showing a steady decline in snow cover across the Northern Hemisphere are so alarming.

Since 1970, snow in this part of the globe has decreased by as much as 3.2 million square kilometers (1.2 million square miles) during the spring months of March and April, according to a study published May 2 by a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Snow

In their report, scientists describe the gradual degradation of the “subnivium,” the zone in and underneath the snow pack that creates a seasonal microenvironment for habitats of creatures from microorganisms to hibernating bears. In the subnivium, animals can find refuge against dry, biting winds and cold temperatures.

Underneath that homogenous blanket of snow is an incredibly stable refuge where the vast majority of organisms persist through the winter. The snow holds in heat radiating from the ground, plants photosynthesize, and it’s a haven for insects, reptiles, amphibians, and many other organisms.

Changes in the subnivium can have drastic consequences for northern ecosystems. Mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are all threatened by fluctuating temperatures, which can force premature emergence from hibernation, exposing them to sudden freezes, spring deluges, or unfamiliar predators. Plants can be damaged or die when their roots are subjected to alternating periods of freezing and thawing.

Disease

China Bird Flu – Update

As of 7 May 2013 (11:00 CET), the National Health and Family Planning Commission, China notified WHO of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. The outbreak total has now risen to 131 cases, including 31 deaths (a 24% fatality rate).

Wildfires

California Wildfires – Update

Cooler weather and rain assist firefighters in containing the rash of wildfires across southern California.