Storm Emma, a massive weather system that brought bitter cold and snow to the U.K. this past week did a lot of damage to power grids, forced the closure of schools and caused havoc for anyone looking to travel anywhere in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the Republic of Ireland took its share of knocks, too.) Perhaps worst of all, was the destructive effect the drastic drop in temperature had on sea life in the water surrounding the United Kingdom. This YouTube video shot at Ramsgate Beach in Kent, illustrates what a change in temperature can do to a delicate species of animal--if this isn't a prime example of why climate change is such an important issue, I don't know what is. Read the rest
Starfish wasting disease seriously reduced the west coast's population of starfish. This crucial member of the ecosystem's absence has contributed to collapse. Read the rest
This clip from the BBC's Frozen Planet is one of the most amazing things you will ever see.
"Brinicle" is a clever portmanteau for an icy finger of death that forms naturally in the very cold seawater one finds around Earth's poles. A crust of sea ice can form on top of this water, and that's the first step to making a brinicle. Here's how polar oceanographer Mark Brandon explained the process in an article on the BBC website:
In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath.
The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle.
Check out that BBC website link for more information on how the Frozen Planet videographers captured this footage. That's also where you should go to watch the video when this YouTube version is inevitably taken down.
Thank you, Brittany. Truly freaking amazing.
Observation tube under the Antarctic sea iceMusic video set beneath the Antarctic sea iceResearch Diving in Antarctica Read the rest