Why did Iran's Lake Urmia just change from bright green to blood red?

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Between April and July, Iran's salty Lake Urmia changed from a bright green color to a blood red. NASA's Aqua satellite captured the image above and reported on the science behind the strange transformation. According to NASA, the periodic color change is caused by micro algae producing carotenoids that help with photosynthesis and act as antioxidants and Halobacteriaceae, a bacteria in very salty water that releases "a red pigment called bacteriorhodopsin that absorbs light and converts it into energy for the bacteria." From NASA:

The color changes have become common in the spring and early summer due to seasonal precipitation and climate patterns. Spring is the wettest season in northwestern Iran, with rainfall usually peaking in April. Snow on nearby mountains within the watershed also melts in the spring. The combination of rain and snowmelt sends a surge of fresh water into Lake Urmia in April and May. By July, the influx of fresh water has tapered off and lake levels begin to drop.

The fresh water in the spring drives salinity levels down, but the lake generally becomes saltier as summer heat and dryness take hold. That’s when the microorganisms show their colors, too. Careful sampling of the water would be required to determine which organisms transformed the lake in 2016, but scientists say there are likely two main groups of organisms involved: a family of algae called Dunaliella and an archaic family of bacteria known as Halobacteriaceae.

While Lake Urmia has shifted from green to red and back several times in recent years, trends suggest that a red Urmia could become increasingly common.

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Mysterious green slimy foam emerges from Utah sewer

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Salt Lake City area health officials are investigating a very strange green foam that's emerging from a sewer grate in Bluffdale, Utah. Residents are freaked out because the nearby Utah Lake waterway was recently shut down due to a large toxic algae bloom.

Resident Tara Dahl said she watched the foam "kind of bubbling a little bit, and then you got closer and you could see it start rising,"

According to the Salt Lake County Health Department though, this particular nasty green material is more likely the result of chemicals used for moss removal in Welby Canal. That said, Welby Canal connects to the Jordan River which links directly to, you guessed it, Utah Lake where the toxic algae is blooming.

Salt Lake County is running more tests.

(Fox 13 Salt Lake City) Read the rest

Video of one year on Earth, from one million miles away

One million miles from Earth, hanging in space between Earth's gravitational pull and the sun's, is the DSCOVR satellite and NASA's incredible EPIC camera. Every two hours, EPIC takes a photo of Earth "to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth." The above video combines one year of those images.

From the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

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CO2 in Antarctica reaches 400 PPM for first time in 4 million years

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Earth's most remote continent finally caught up with its more populated counterparts. “Carbon dioxide has been steadily rising since the start of the Industrial Revolution, setting a new high year after year,” writes Brian Kahn at Climate Central. “There’s a notable new entry to the record books. The last station on Earth without a 400 parts per million (ppm) reading has reached it.”

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A First: from space, NASA spots a single methane leak from Earth's atmosphere

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“For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth's surface,” NASA announced Tuesday.

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Right to repair is under assault in New York, and you can save it!

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New York is one of four states considering legislation that would guarantee your right to get your stuff fixed by independent repair centers, curbing manufacturers' attempts to limit access to technical documentation and parts, meaning you pay less to keep your stuff working, and that means that your gadgets don't become immortal, toxic e-waste. Read the rest

How an engineer/public health whistleblower led the citizen scientists who busted Flint's water crisis

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When Marc Edwards was a young Virginia tech engineer, he landed a job with Cadmus Group, an EPA subcontractor who'd been hired to investigate problems with the DC water-supply, but when he discovered a lead contamination crisis and refused to stop talking about it, he was fired. Read the rest

Texas oil firm indicted in massive 2015 oil spill off coast of Santa Barbara, CA

A brown pelican being cleaned of oil by a bird rescue volunteer on May 22, 2015, after thousands of gallons of oil leaked on to San Refugio State Beach and into the Pacific. REUTERS

In California today, a grand jury indicted the Plains All-American Pipeline and one of the oil company's employees on criminal charges over the massive 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara County.

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Do you ever just go for a walk?

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The BBC's Finlo Rohrer laments the "slow death of the purposeless walk," an activity replaced by modern transit and planned, regimented leisure/exercise activities. But there's hope!

Across the West, people are still choosing to walk. Nearly every journey in the UK involves a little walking, and nearly a quarter of all journeys are made entirely on foot, according to one survey. But the same study found that a mere 17% of trips were "just to walk". And that included dog-walking. It is that "just to walk" category that is so beloved of creative thinkers.

"There is something about the pace of walking and the pace of thinking that goes together. Walking requires a certain amount of attention but it leaves great parts of the time open to thinking. I do believe once you get the blood flowing through the brain it does start working more creatively," says Geoff Nicholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking.

"Your senses are sharpened. As a writer, I also use it as a form of problem solving. I'm far more likely to find a solution by going for a walk than sitting at my desk and 'thinking'."

I suspect there is an element of benign self-deception in the idea of a purposeless walk. I walked a lot when I lived in the city, apparently without purpose, but there was concealed purpose in the rhythms and pressures of urban living. You walk to manage your environment, even when there is no destination. Walkable cities subtly help you do this. Read the rest

Canada's Fort McMurray wildfire is so massive, you can see it from space

On May 8, 2016, the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite captured this image of Ft. McMurray Fire in Alberta, Canada.
[NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team]

The massive wildfire that continues to burn in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta, Canada has been captured from space by NASA imaging satellites.

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The Planet Remade: frank, clear-eyed book on geoengineering, climate disaster, & humanity's future

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Since its publication in late 2015, science writer Oliver Morton's The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World has swept many "best book" (best science book, best business book, best nonfiction book) and with good reason: though it weighs in at a hefty 440 pages and covers a broad scientific, political and technological territory, few science books are more important, timely and beautifully written.

It's too late to do anything about sudden oak death, which has already killed 1,000,000 trees

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Phytophthora ramorum is a mold, related to the Irish Potato Famine pathogen, that causes some oak and tanoak trees to split open and bleed out all their sap, something called "sudden oak death." Read the rest

Australian MP sets river on fire

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Jeremy Buckingham, a Green Party MP, took a dingy out on Queensland's Condamine River, about 220km west of Brisbane, and set the river on fire with a barbeque lighter. Read the rest

Treescrapers are bullshit

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Architects love to render their buildings covered and ringed in trees: trees that sprout from balconies, dot roofs, climb walls. Read the rest

Before and After Mexico: a Bruce Sterling story about the eco-pocalypse

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Bruce Sterling's announced the first-ever English publication of his story for 25 minutos en el futuro. Nueva ciencia ficción norteamericana, a Spanish-language sf anthology of translated works by anglophone writers whose work is largely unknown in Mexico. Read the rest

To understand the link between corporations and Hillary Clinton, look at philosophy, not history

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When Hillary Clinton supporters are confronted with the evidence of their candidate's financial ties to dirty coal and oil, dirty finance, dirty autocratic governments, and so on, they insist that there's nothing to see here, because no one can link any specific contribution to a specific policy outcome. Read the rest

Wrapped: magical short film about mutant monster ivy that engulfs New York City

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"Wrapped" is a short film created by Roman Kaelin, Falko Paeper and Florian Wittmann from Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, at the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction.

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