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Antarctica's ice losses double

Antarctica's ice losses double | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Antarctica is now losing about 160 billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean - twice as much as when the continent was last surveyed.

 

The Amundsen Sea Embayment is an Antarctic region where six huge glaciers are currently undergoing a rapid retreat - all of them being eroded by the influx of warm ocean waters that scientists say are being drawn towards the continent by stronger winds whipped up by a changing climate. A loss of all the ice in the six glaciers would add about 1.2m to global sea level!

 

The new assessment comes from Europe's Cryosat spacecraft, which has a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet.

 

Cryosat  has two antennas slightly offset from each other. This enables the instrument to detect not just the height of the ice sheet but the shape of its slopes and ridges.This makes Cryosat much more sensitive to details at the steep edges of the ice sheet - the locations where thinning is most pronounced.

 

Read the full article here: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27465050

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:
Despite much skepticism, climate change has not gone unnoticed by the scientific community. Research into climate change resistant super corals http://sco.lt/8baJ1N, colonization of Mars http://sco.lt/5LzScr, and renewable energy http://sco.lt/6e11P7, are receiving a lot of attention.
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A Message From The Curator

A Message From The Curator | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Aquascaping and Nature comprises a collection of articles curated from the web on related to our natural environment, climate change and of course aquascaping. The cover photo above shows whale sharks housed in Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium http://sco.lt/7XWQTp

 

I have been interested in fish tanks since I was a kid and have now moved to planted tanks. My passion for environmental issues was spurred on by my dad, Dr. Chan Hung Tuck, who was an ecologist by training.

 

Please follow my topic and share my scoops if you found the curated articles interesting, and check out the popular tags listed in the post above. I also welcome suggested scoops related to this topic and give credit where credit is due.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

I teach chemistry at UCSI University, Malaysia and most of my research is centered around phytochemistry.

 

My research interests can be viewed here: http://scholar.google.com.my/citations?user=iVv3xbAAAAAJ&hl=en

 

I manage the Facebook and Google+ pages belonging to the Faculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University. Curated scoops are shared here:

https://www.facebook.com/Applied.Sciences.UCSI

https://plus.google.com/117901649282247944098/posts

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Gallium, melts in your hand not in your mouth

Gallium, melts in your hand not in your mouth | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

There is an incredible metal that shatters like glass, melts in a human hand, attacks other metals but is non-toxic to humans, and acts like an alien life form when exposed to sulfuric acid and dichromate solution. It sounds too amazing to be true, but gallium is an absolutely real chemical element that’s found in some of the gadgets we use every day.


But perhaps more interestingly, there are a ton of insane experiments scientists like to do with gallium such as:
Gallium attacks a coke can http://youtu.be/FaMWxLCGY0U
Gallium "beating heart" http://youtu.be/N6ccRvKKwZQ
Melting gallium spoon http://youtu.be/cvRcUeWjBu0

 


Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Amazing demonstration of material science.

 

Watch more videos of science trivia here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Trivia

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Plants respond unexpectedly to climate change

Plants respond unexpectedly to climate change | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Not all species flee rising temperatures. As the mercury has inched upward across western North America over the last 40 years, many plant species have moved downhill, toward—not away from—warmer climates, according to the results of a new study. The finding adds to growing evidence that temperature isn’t the only factor influencing how Earth’s life will respond to climate change.

 

In an effort to understand how plants may cope with changing climates, researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, compiled geographic coordinate data for the locations of nearly 300 plant species within seven topographically distinct regions across western North America, ranging from the western Sierra Nevada mountain range in Nevada to the eastern Rocky Mountain Foothills of northern Canada, spanning the last 40 years. They then compared these findings with changing climate conditions, such as temperature, rain, and snowfall. The study is the most extensive of its kind to date.

 

The results of the analysis were unexpected. More than 60% of plants shifted their distributions downward, toward warmer, lower elevations—despite significant climate warming across the regions under study, the team reported online on 24 July in Global Change Biology. Even more striking, all plants within a region—regardless of species—moved in the same direction.

 

“Initially, we thought there was something wrong with our analysis—species distributions are expected to shift upward, not downward,” says team leader and plant ecologist Melanie Harsch. “But we redid the analysis and we got the same results.”

 

Read the research article here: 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12697/abstract

 

The full news article from Science also compares the results of the study with those of several smaller studies:

http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/08/plants-have-unexpected-response-climate-change


Via Mary Williams
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

High altitude plants are adapted to growing at lower temperatures. Therefore, conventional wisdom would predict that global warming would cause species from higher elevations to die off and be replaced by low altitude plants better adapted to warmer temperatures. 

 

This North American study is very interesting because it shows plants from higher altitudes colonizing lower altitudes which are warmer due to climate change.

 

Care must be taken however, not to over generalize finding as climate change is resulting in lower crop yields, and affecting food security.

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

 

A report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, urges the Obama Administration to step up research funding – especially in developing countries – to help make up a projected gap in future food supply. http://sco.lt/5CifIH

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A tree that produces 40 different types of fruit

A tree that produces 40 different types of fruit | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Award-winning artist Sam Van Aken has grown a hybridised fruit tree that produces 40 different varieties of stone fruits each year.

 

An art professor from Syracuse University in the US, Van Aken grew up on a family farm before pursuing a career as an artist, and has combined his knowledge of the two to develop his incredible Tree of 40 Fruit. 

 

In 2008, Van Aken learned that an orchard at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station was about to be shut down due to a lack of funding. This single orchard grew a great number of heirloom, antique, and native varieties of stone fruit, and some of these were 150 to 200 years old. To lose this orchard would render many of these rare and old varieties of fruit extinct, so to preserve them, Van Aken bought the orchard, and spent the following years figuring out how to graft parts of the trees onto a single fruit tree. 

 

Sixteen of these trees are now growing in the US. Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20142107-25892.html


Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Bialbero de Casorzo in Italy is a natural example of a cherry tree growing on top of a mulberry tree. http://sco.lt/57n4td

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Empty Japanese factories converted into high-tech farms

Empty Japanese factories converted into high-tech farms | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Seven years ago, Fujitsu shut one of its three chip-making lines in a factory in Fukushima, and that sterile room has been turned into a farm that produces 3,500 heads of lettuce a day.

 

This lettuce isn’t grown in soil, says Eric Pfanner at the Wall Street Journal, it sits in water that receives fertiliser and nutrients through a drip-feeder. Because everything can be so precisely metered out this way, the staff are able to keep potassium levels low, and because there’s no bacteria anywhere near the lettuce, it keeps much longer - reportedly two months if refrigerated.

 

"Panasonic is trying to find the right mix between high-tech and traditional farming know-how,” says Pfanner at the Wall Street Journal. "At its smart greenhouses, farmers prepare the soil and plant seeds the usual way. As the plants grow, sensors measure temperature and moisture levels. If it is too hot, Panasonic's system automatically closes the curtains to block sunlight and opens windows to let a breeze in, and vice versa if it is too cold."

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141007-25854.html

http://online.wsj.com/articles/in-japan-idled-electronics-factories-find-new-life-in-farming-1404700202

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

If the economics are viable, such a method could make for cost effective farming in areas where there were previously no farms.

 

The sterile environment also means no pests and no pesticides, a big plus for proponents of organic food.

 

Furthermore, should climate change kick in,  the productivity of such controlled environment farms may eventually be comparable to conventional farming. Read more scoops about climate change and food security here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

 

 

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Self-sustaining urban ecosystem within Bangkok, Thailand

Self-sustaining urban ecosystem within Bangkok, Thailand | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Thailand’s capital is a vibrant city full of surprises, and this abandoned shopping mall in old town Bangkok is certainly no exception. Tucked away behind an unassuming looking gate is New World shopping mall which burned down back in 1999. Because it doesn’t have a roof anymore, the basement is flooded all year round.

 

When cook and photographer Jesse Rockwell descended the stairs of this abandoned mall, he was shocked to see the basement filled with umpteen number of fishes.

 

At some stage, a person started introducing Koi and Catfish into the basement. The population thrived and now this abandoned building has transitioned into a self-sustained, urban aquarium!

 

Read more at: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/self-sustaining-urban-ecosystem-discovered-abandoned-building-thailand

 

See more photos here: http://netdost.com/profiles/blogs/an-abandoned-shopping-mall-in-bangkok-is-filled-with-fishes

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This could be converted into a tourist attraction with a little investment. 

 

Check out more scoops on nature photography:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Photography

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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, July 30, 1:47 AM
@Rakesh Nair, thanks for suggesting this scoop.
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Great Green Wall of the Sahara planted to improve farmlands

Great Green Wall of the Sahara planted to improve farmlands | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Twenty African nations have banded together to build a monumental Great Green Wall of Africa - a forest of drought-resistant trees stretching across the edge of the Sahara Desert. Stretching over a space of 9,400,00 square kilometres and covering most of North Africa, the Sahara is the largest non-polar desert in the world. And it’s getting bigger. 

 

According to the US’s Public Education Center website, the effects of climate change are causing the Sahara to creep into bordering countries such as Senegal, Mauritania, and Nigeria, which poses a serious threat to their farmlands and agricultural productivity. By 2025, two-thirds of Africa's arable land could be lost to the desert if nothing is done to stem its expansion. 

 

The initiative will be ongoing, and has garnered the support of several international organisations including the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens, the World Bank, the African Union, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Together they have pledged $3 billion and the expertise of their botanists for its advancement.

 

"Examples of success [so far] include more than 50,000 acres of trees planted in Senegal,”says Ryan Schleeter at National Geographic. Even more dramatic is the project’s potential social impact, says Schleeter. By providing better quality land and more opportunities to earn an income from cultivating it, the Great Green Wall will open up thousands of job opportunities to the local population.

 

Read more here: http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20142407-25916.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Environmental concerns are a priority in the developing world as less developed nations would be the first to feel the impact of climate change. While food security is an important issue, developing nations are also much more innovative when it comes to clean technologies http://sco.lt/4iOK01

 

Read more scoops on food security and climate change here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

 http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

 

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3 Animals That Are Smarter Than You Thought

Dolphins, crows, apes -- you know the drill about smart animals. But there are lots of animals that are smarter than you think. Not everyone thinks they're pretty, but scientists know they're smart.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Rats have also been shown to feel regret after making bad decisions. Read more about it in this scoop: http://sco.lt/91sFcX

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Cleantech in the developing world: from solar power to refrigeration

Cleantech in the developing world: from solar power to refrigeration | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
For a growing number of companies, cleantech promises innovations and opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid.

 

Amanda Faulkner, Cleantech Group analyst, points out that, in contrast to companies focusing on agriculture in developed countries, entrepreneurs working in developing countries need more customers before the business can scale and become profitable. 

 

But while the challenges are steep, so are the rewards: resolving energy and agriculture problems could result in increased farm productivity, less food spoilage, and a better quality of life for farming communities. Not surprisingly, numerous entrepreneurs, business leaders and nonprofits are seeking creative and robust cleantech solutions to the energy and agriculture nexus

 

In the developing cleantech solutions are revolutionizing:

1. Irrigation and pumping

2. Cold storage and refrigeration

3. Off-grid electricity production

 

Given the increased need for agriculture production in the coming decades, Dallas Kachan, the principal of Kachan & Co., a San Francisco-based cleantech research and consulting firm, argues that market opportunities are tremendous: “We believe that the market opportunities are so profound and inevitable that there will be fortunes to be made for the brave.”

 

Read the full article here: 

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/jun/13/cleantech-developing-world-solar-power-refrigeration

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Innovation is driven by need. Entrepreneurs in developing countries have so little to work with that their need for efficiency is great. The same can be said for scientists and researchers in the developing world. 

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Swarm of giant moths descend upon Malaysia

Swarm of giant moths descend upon Malaysia | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Swarms of giant moths have descended on Malaysia, invading homes and even disrupting a national football match.

 

Thousands of the furry insects, with a wing span of up to 16cm (6in), interrupted a semi-finals match at the Darul Makmur Stadium last week.

 

The Lyssa Zampa tropical moth, which is also known as the Laos brown butterfly, is native to South East Asia. Over 800 sightings were also reported in neighbouring Singapore last month, sparking intense online debate.

 

Biology lecturer N Sivasothi said that while the moth sightings appear to be “unprecedented”, it is not a new phenomenon. “The moths are actually present during other times of the year but in very small numbers, so they are usually not noticed by people,” Mr Sivasothi said, adding that the creatures typically emerge between April and August every year.

 

Ecologist Anuj Jain said moths’ use of light for navigation often causes them to head to built-up areas. “Their tendency to emigrate in search of new uneaten host plants attracts these moths to light in urban city areas,” he said.

 

Experts said that while people suffering from asthma may be sensitive to hairs on their wings, the nocturnal creatures do not pose any threat.

 

Read more here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27758640

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Non-biodegradable Plastics End Up In Seabirds' Bellies

Non-biodegradable Plastics End Up In Seabirds' Bellies | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
When bottles and bags are cast out to sea, the debris never truly goes away — it just gets smaller. And these plastic particles, called microplastics, are ready meals for fish and birds.

 

The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn't go away easily.

 

While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

 

"The smaller the piece of debris, the more accessible it is — and the wider the range of creatures that could potentially eat it," says Thompson, who talked with NPR's Melissa Block about his research on the effects of these tiny particles.

 

Listen to Thomson's audio interview here: 

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/17/322959714/plastics-dont-disappear-but-they-do-end-up-in-sea-birds-bellies

 
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

With all the hype given to global warming and climate change, it is easy to forget that plastics threaten our wildlife.

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Energy Generating Fuel Cells from Urine

Energy Generating Fuel Cells from Urine | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Scientists have proven that super-heated urine can provide the building blocks for making economically friendly fuel cells.

 

Fuel cells — devices which harvest energy from a chemical reaction — often use platinum as a catalyst, making them expensive to produce. Researchers have been exploring ways to replace the metal with carbon. However carbon nanostructures, created synthetically, can also be quite expensive.

 

Now researchers from South Korea have proven that equally effective carbon compounds can be extracted from urine — making them a cheap stand-in for platinum or synthetic carbon.

 

To test the potential of pee, scientists collected urine samples from healthy individuals. Then, they heated individuals’ samples to evaporate the water, leaving behind a dried, yellowish deposit. Next, they super-heated various test samples of dried urine in a range between 700 and 1,000 degrees Celsius for six hours to carbonize the urine.

 

The heating process caused salts and other elements to gasify and leave behind carbon. Urine is loaded with other elements besides carbon, which makes the leftover carbon highly porous — ideal for fuel cell catalysts. As an added bonus, the gasified salts solidified and clung to the furnace wall after cooling; researchers say it’s possible to harvest these remnants for commercial use as de-icing salts.

 

Most importantly, the urine carbon was an excellent conductor of electricity, especially the batch that was heated to 1,000 degrees. Researchers said this is the first time carbon was extracted from urine using this simple method.

 

The findings, published in Nature, offer an economical way to advance fuel cell technology, and could also improve the environment if deployed on a large scale.

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141506-25679.html

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/06/12/urine-an-ever-flowing-stream-of-fuel-cell-material/

http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/140609/srep05221/full/srep05221.html

 

 

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This has vast implications in various filed including energy generation, sustainability and space exploration. In particular, urine is a waste product that accumulates during long space missions and this research show how it can be converted into a useful resource. Read related scoops below:

 

http://www.scoop.it/t/world-of-tomorrow/?tag=Space+Exploration

http://www.scoop.it/t/world-of-tomorrow/?tag=Energy+Generation

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Sustainable+Energy

 

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Trace of another world found on Moon

Trace of another world found on Moon | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Researchers have found evidence of the world that crashed into the Earth billions of years ago to form the Moon. Analysis of lunar rock brought back by Apollo astronauts shows traces of the "planet" called Theia.

 

The accepted theory since the 1980s is that the Moon arose as a result of a collision between the Earth and Theia 4.5 billion years ago. According to the lead researcher, Dr Daniel Herwartz, from the University of Goettingen, no-one has found definitive evidence for the collision theory, until now. "It was getting to the stage where some people were suggesting that the collision had not taken place," he told BBC News.

 

The recent study published in the journal Science provides support for the theory that the Moon was created by just such a cataclysmic collision. Theia was named after a goddess in Greek mythology who was said to be the mother of Selene, goddess of the Moon. It is thought to have disintegrated on impact with the resulting debris mingling with that from the Earth and coalescing into the Moon.

 

Dr Mahesh Anand from the Open University described the research as "exciting" but noted that the data was from just three lunar rock samples. "We have to be cautious about the representativeness of these rocks of the entire Moon, and so further analysis of a variety of lunar rocks is required for further confirmation," he said.

 

Read more about the discovery here:
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27688511

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6188/1146

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Other discoveries involving astronomical bodies within our Solar System include:

 

1. Oceans within Charon http://sco.lt/8o1ElV

2. Oceans under the Earth's crust http://sco.lt/6go9tB

3. Technology to fly humans to Mars http://sco.lt/5QX0Vd

 

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This underground cave system is so large, it has own weather system

This underground cave system is so large, it has own weather system | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Stretching 42 kilometres under Southwest China, the Er Wang Dong cave system contains its own forests, rapids, and yes, clouds. Explored in its entirety just last year, Er Wang Dong (meaning “Second Royal Cave”) is an enormous cave system in the Chongquing province of Southwest China. With passages stretching 42,139 metres (138,251 feet) and a maximum depth of 441 metres (1,447 feet), the cave is so large, it has its own lush green forest, crystal clear pools and white water rapids, enormous stalagmites, and oddly enough, clouds. 

 

While local nitrate miners knew there was something big lurking beneath China's 195-metre-deep Niubizi tiankeng sinkhole, it was only when a team of 15 explorers and photographers from the Hong Meigui Cave Exploration Society plumbed the depths of the sinkhole to access and explore the Er Wang Dong cave system that its sheer size was realised. Until the explorers got there, none of the system’s major underground passages had ever been touched by light.

 

"I had never seen anything quite like the inside cloud ladder before," said one of the team, UK-based photographer and caver Robbie Shone, according to Wunderground. "Thick cloud and fog hangs in the upper half of the cave, where it gets trapped and unable to escape through the small passage in the roof."

 

Read more here: http://sciencealert.com.au/features/20141408-26015-2.html

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

China is well known for its scenic mountains, hills and caves. Hopefully, it does not end up like Geiranger Fjord which is threatened by the disputed plans to build power lines across the fjord http://sco.lt/8DciZ7; or the three gorges which houses the world's biggest dam http://sco.lt/64BUKf

 

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Floating cities: Is the ocean humanity’s next frontier?

Floating cities: Is the ocean humanity’s next frontier? | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Floating cities are nothing new. In the early 1960s, Buckminster Fuller designed a city – Triton – that was intended to float off the coast of Tokyo Bay. It was later considered but never commissioned by the US government.

 

“Three-quarters of our planet Earth is covered with water, most of which may float organic cities,” Fuller explains in his book Critical Path. “Floating cities pay no rent to landlords. They are situated on the water, which they desalinate and recirculate in many useful and non-polluting ways.”

 

Fifty years on, with heavy pollution causing climate change and rising sea levels, Fuller’s floating city concept is being seriously considered as an antidote to those problems.

 

Read more here:

http://www.factor-tech.com/future-cities/floating-cities-is-the-ocean-humanitys-next-frontier


Via Lauren Moss
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

With the advent of climate change and sea level rise, such cities may be necessary in the near future.

 

China has may build a floating city. Chinese Construction Company has already has already commissioned plans to test this ambitious project from a smaller scale, beginning in 2015. http://sco.lt/9K70an

 

The eco-friendly project is expected to be self-sufficient, with on-island food production, power generation, and waste management systems. However, there is little information about how food security would be achieved out in the ocean.

 

More scoops on climate change and food security here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature?q=food+security

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Maricarmen Husson's curator insight, August 7, 8:18 PM

Ciudades flotantes....será la humanidad del océano la próxima frontera?....

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Indian scientists breed seedless mangoes

Indian scientists breed seedless mangoes | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Seedless mangoes can be the next big thing when it comes to fruit.

 

A team of researchers led by V.B. Patel, chairman of the Horticulture Department at the Bihar Agriculture University (BAU) in India, developed it using hybrids of the mango varieties Ratnaand Alphonso.

 

The seedless mango has been dubbed Sindhu and trials are underway in different locations across India, reports India Today. And it's less fibrous than regular mangoes, a yellowish pulp and weighs an average of 200 grams.

 

BAU’s vice chancellor M.L. Choudhary mentioned that the university has plans to make the new variety available to mango growers during the next season. “The seedless variety also has good export potential. The university would provide quality plants to mango growers in 2015 to exploit the export market,” he added.

 

Read more here:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/indian-scientists-develop-seedless-mangoes/1/373573.html

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Unlike popular perception, biofortification does not entail genetic modification. Seedless bananas and grapes were bred before the advent of genetic engineering.

 

Nonetheless, the possibilities for biofortification is vastly expanded via genetic modification.  Scientists were able to reduce weight gain in mice by feeding them a genetically modified probiotics http://sco.lt/6TvQLB

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A cherry tree growing on a mulberry tree

A cherry tree growing on a mulberry tree | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Meet Italy’s Bialbero de Casorzo, a 'two-tiered tree' that’s unlike anything else in the world.

 

Growing between the towns of Grana and Casorzo in Italy’s Piemonte region, the Bialbero de Casorzo is an old mulberry tree with a cherry tree growing on top. While a tree growing on another tree is not so uncommon, a fully-grown, perfectly robust tree growing atop another is a super-rare sight.

 

If a plant grows non-parasitically on another plant, getting its nutrients from the air, rain, and debris around it rather than from its host, it’s known as an epiphyte. In the case of the Bialbero de Casorzo, the cherry tree on top is the epiphyte, and a strangely healthy one at that - while most epiphytes are stunted and have just a brief lifespan, this cherry tree is as big as any regular cherry tree, and shows no signs of weakness or disease.

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/features/20140608-25978-2.html

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Award-winning artist Sam Van Aken has grown a hybridised fruit tree that produces 40 different varieties of stone fruits each year. http://sco.lt/5VdNp3

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Amazing Natural Scenery, the Geiranger Fjord, Norway

Amazing Natural Scenery, the Geiranger Fjord, Norway | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

In case the title alone didn’t give it away, this is the Geiranger Fjord region, found in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. It, for obvious reasons, is a hot spot for tourist activity. It’s so beautiful, in fact, that, in 2005, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but like many things in this day and age, technological progression threatens to make its mark on a region with unmarred beauty.

 

Other than Geiranger Fjord, there are a few more Norwegian fjords that rival its beauty, called Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord (both are also listed as World Heritage Sites). Fjords, in a geological sense, are long and narrow inlets that form in valleys in response to glacial retreating.

 

Overall, it spans over an area roughly 9.3 miles (5 kilometers) long, connecting to the Sunnylvsfjorden fjord. It, in turn, branches off from the Great Fjord (officially known as Sunnylvsfjorden). As mentioned above, these so-called fjords are created as the result of glacial activity, but to expand on that, these fjords were forged into narrow and steep crystalline rock formations —which extend more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) below sea level and rise some 4,593 feet (1,400 meters) from the sea bed, at least in this example — when glacial bodies shrunk (or retreated). This led to the corrosion of u-shaped valleys that make up fjords (as a fun-aside, Norway has a higher concentration of them than any other place on Earth).

 

This mini-feature is part of a series, entitled “Earth: The Pale Blue Dot“, which explores and highlights some of the most amazing and beautiful natural features mother Earth has to offer. Read more here: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/geiranger-fjord-norway/

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Scenic landscapes such as these are worth preserving. The Three Gorges is a similarly beautiful landmark in China. However, some of its beauty has been irreversibly changed by the huge dam http://sco.lt/64BUKf

 

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Stanford biologist warns of an impending mass extinction

Stanford biologist warns of an impending mass extinction | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Stanford biology Professor Rodolfo Dirzo and his colleagues warn that this "defaunation" could have harmful downstream effects on human health.

 

The planet's current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.

 

In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event.

 

Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.

 

Loss of megafauna has various downstream effects and may eventually impact human health. For example, studies conducted in Kenya where patches of land were isolated from large animals such as zebras and elephants found that the areas rapidly became plagued with rodents due to increases in food availability and shelter. Concomitantly, the levels of disease causing pathogens that they carry also increases, thus enhancing the risk of disease transmission to humans.

 

Read more here:

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/july/sixth-mass-extinction-072414.html

 

Read the scientific review here:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6195/401.full

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This is reflected by the growing IUCN Red List which now includes 90% of Lemur Species http://sco.lt/8mJJwH

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Rainbow Grapes

Rainbow Grapes | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

These may look like party balloons but they are actually rainbow grapes. These grapes aren't a rare species, they are created during Véraison i.e. when grapes turn from green to purple as they ripen. Berries do not ripen at the same time, hence the variety of colours.

Image: BizarBin/Worth1000/Sesan Olasupo/Laritech Garden Seeds Branch Company

 

Read more about grape ripening here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veraison

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Skilled, passionate and knowledgeable photographers are invaluable for showcasing the beauty of nature.

 

Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher captures tears of grief, joy, laughter and irritation in extreme detail http://sco.lt/7qRoIb

 

See more scoops with beautiful photography here: http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Photography

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Why Hot Water Freezes Faster Than Cold

Why Hot Water Freezes Faster Than Cold | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
Aristotle first noticed that hot water freezes faster than cold, but chemists have always struggled to explain the paradox. Until now

 

Hot water seems to freeze faster than cold water, known as the Mpemba effect. The effect was named after the Tanzanian student who in 1963 noticed that hot ice cream mix freezes faster than a cold one.  The effect was first observed by Aristotle in the 4th century BC, then later Francis Bacon and René Descartes. Mpemba published a paper on his findings in 1969.

 

Theories for the Mpemba effect have included: faster evaporation of hot water, therefore reducing the volume left to freeze; formation of a frost layer on cold water, insulating it; and different concentrations of solutes such as carbon dioxide, which is driven off when the water is heated. Unfortunately the effect doesn’t always appear - cold water often does actually freeze faster than hot, as you would expect. But this Mpemba effect occurs regularly, and no one has ever been able to definitively answer why.

 

Now a team of physicists from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, led by Xi Zhang, have found evidence that it is the chemical bonds that hold water together that provide the effect.


Read more at https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/why-hot-water-freezes-faster-than-cold-physicists-solve-the-mpemba-effect-d8a2f611e853

 

The research article can be read here:

http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1310/1310.6514.pdf

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Strange but true. Read more science trivia here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Trivia

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90 Percent of Lemur Species Face Extinction on IUCN's "Red List"

90 Percent of Lemur Species Face Extinction on IUCN's "Red List" | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Entire branches of the tree of life are in danger of being wiped out: The majority of species in some groups of plants and animals are now on the "Red List" of the world's most threatened species.

 

The list, which is managed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and was updated this week, shows that among the groups most at risk are lemurs and temperate slipper orchids.

 

Found only in Madagascar, 90 of the 101 species of lemur are threatened with extinction, the IUCN said. More than 20 percent of these small primates are listed as being critically endangered, meaning that they have a very high risk of extinction in the wild. The main threat stems from illegal logging of tropical forests, which has accelerated in the island nation in recent years

 

Read more about other endangered species on the red list:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140613-conservation-species-iucn-red-list-endangered-science-environment/

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Films have a big role to play in getting people interested in conservation efforts. Hopefully, movies such as Madagascar would garner enough support to save the lemurs. It would be really sad to see them go as King Julien is my favorite character from the film.

http://madagascar.wikia.com/wiki/King_Julien

 

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Huge Marine Reserves in the Pacific

Huge Marine Reserves in the Pacific | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
The U.S., Cook Islands, Bahamas, and Palau add to protected areas.

 

Commercial fishing would end in the vast marine reserves of these nations in their Pacific Ocean territory by the end of the year.

 

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama announces a plan to create world's largest ocean reserve by expanding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the central Pacific, from almost 87,000 square miles (225,000 square kilometers) to nearly 782,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers).

 

The new Palau National Marine Sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean will protect 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers), representing 80 percent of the country's exclusive economic zone, or the territorial waters that a nation controls. "That's about the size of the great state of Texas," said the Republic of Palau's president, Tommy Remengesau, Jr.

 

The Cook Islands in the South Pacific announced an expansion of its ban on commercial fishing from 12 miles (19 kilometers) around each of the 15 islands to 50 miles (80 kilometers) around each island.

 

The Bahamas' minister of the environment and housing, Kenred Dorsett, said his country has committed to protecting 20 percent of its ocean territory by 2020, up from 3 percent today. The country comprising 94% ocean, designated 15 new marine protected areas earlier this year.

 

Read more here: 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140617-pacific-marine-reserves-ocean-environment/

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

These massive marine reserves are a welcome change given the global depletion of fish stocks.

 

Read more about food security:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

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Apparent pause in global warming blamed on poor data

Apparent pause in global warming blamed on poor data | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it
 European Space Agency scientist says annual sea level rises since 1993 indicate that warming has continued unabated

 

 

A widely reported "pause" in global warming may be an artefact of scientists looking at the wrong data, says a climate scientist at theEuropean Space Agency. Global average surface temperatures rose rapidly from the 1970s but have been relatively flat for the past 15 years. This has prompted speculation from some quarters that global warming has stalled.

 

Now, Stephen Briggs from the European Space Agency's Directorate of Earth Observation says that surface air temperature data is the worst indicator of global climate that can be used, describing it as "lousy".

 

Climate scientists have been arguing for some time that the lack of rising temperatures is due to most of the extra heat being taken up by the deep ocean. A better measure, he said, was to look at the average rise in sea levels. The oceans store the vast majority of the climate's heat energy. Increases in this stored energy translate into sea level rises. "Sea level is a very good integrator of different indicators of climate change," said Briggs.

 

Scientists are now trying to simulate the behaviour using computer models. This is difficult because the behaviour of the deep ocean is too poorly known to be reliably included. Building reliable computer models is dependent on knowing which parameters are important to the climate, and over the past decade scientists have homed in on the key parameters of the Earth's system.

 

Read more here:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jun/13/pause-global-warming-data-sea-level-rises

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Global warming remains one of the most divisive issues especially in political circles. Whether or not it is anthropogenic i.e. man-made, climate change is threatening our:

 

Food securityhttp://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Food+Security

Habitable areas http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Sea+Level+Rise

Biodiversity http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Conservation

 

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Best Aquariums in the USA, the Top 10

Best Aquariums in the USA, the Top 10 | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

Aquariums hold the most amazing secrets of the sea and this is the reason why millions of tourists keep aquariums on the top of their to-see list among tourist destinations.

 

The US is famous for its numerous aquariums, which are homes of some of the unique freshwater and saltwater species of fish and under water aquatic organisms.

 

See photos here: http://www.webgyaan.com/top-10-best-aquariums-in-the-usa.html

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (沖縄美ら海水族館 Okinawa Churaumi Suizokukan) was the largest aquarium in the world until it was surpassed by the Georgia Aquarium in 2005.  


Did I mention they have 4 whale sharks? Check out this scoop: http://sco.lt/7XWQTp

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Oceans in the center of the Earth three times that on surface

Oceans in the center of the Earth three times that on surface | Aquascaping and Nature | Scoop.it

After decades of searching scientists have discovered that a vast reservoir of water, enough to fill the Earth’s oceans three times over, may be trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface, potentially transforming our understanding of how the planet was formed.

 

The water is thought to be locked up in a mineral called ringwoodite about 660km (400 miles) beneath the crust of the Earth. Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University in the US co-authored the study published in the journal Science and said the discovery suggested Earth’s water may have come from within, driven to the surface by geological activity, rather than being deposited by icy comets hitting the forming planet as held by the prevailing theories.

 

“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” Jacobsen said.

 

“I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades.”

 

Read more here:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jun/13/earth-may-have-underground-ocean-three-times-that-on-surface

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25723-massive-ocean-discovered-towards-earths-core.html

 

Research article here:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6189/1265

 

 


Via Sepp Hasslberger
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

NASA's New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt probe observed that Charon, Pluto's moon may have underground oceans beneath its icy surface. This could suggest the presence of extraterrestrial life. Read the Scoop here: http://sco.lt/8o1ElV

 

This new finding may also cause climate change models to revise their predictions of sea level rise. Read related Scoops below:

http://www.scoop.it/t/aquascaping-and-nature/?tag=Climate+Change

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Sepp Hasslberger's curator insight, June 14, 8:29 AM

Water at hundreds of kilometers of depth - three times more than the water contained in the oceans on the surface - that sounds to me like they have discovered the ocean on the inside of the earth's crust.


might the earth be hollow after all?

http://www.unmuseum.org/hollow.htm ;

John Myers's comment, July 18, 2:08 PM
Not hollow as the water is contained within a mineral. Funny how this makes the global flood stories possible..."the well springs of the deep broke forth". Don't shoot me...just an observation! Maybe ancient people weren't so ignorant.
Sepp Hasslberger's comment, July 22, 8:24 AM
"the water is contained within a mineral" - that's conjecture. They know there's water, but no one could go down there to see, so whether it's an ocean or is in a mineral we don't really know.