Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bloodroot

Ah yes, my favorite wildflower bloomed today. They are often hard to catch because the bloom comes and goes so quickly. In the wild I have gotten lucky a couple times. Last year I transplanted a couple from our family land to a little fern and moss shade garden on the north side of our house. They have done very well there and have multiplied quite a bit. Nice to know that I won't have a problem seeing them in bloom anymore!


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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sea Level Rise Could Accelerate

Not at all surprising for those of us paying attention, the situation "might be worse than earlier thought." In a story by Michael Byrnes, Planet Ark reports that Sea Level Rise Could Accelerate:
Data from satellites is showing that sea-level rises and polar ice-melting might be worse than earlier thought, a leading oceanographer said on Monday.

Sea levels, rising at 1 millimetre a year before the industrial revolution, are now rising by 3 millimetres a year because of a combination of global warming, polar ice-melting and long natural cycles of sea level change.

"All indications are that it's going to get faster," said Eric Lindstrom, head of oceanography at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), told Reuters on the sidelines of a global oceans conference in Hobart.

Rapid advances in science in the past five years on polar ice-sheet dynamics had yet to filter through into scientific models, Lindstrom said.

He also pointed to huge splits in Antarctic ice shelves in 2002, then seen as once-in-100-year events that created icebergs bigger than some small countries.

The mega icebergs were first thought not to affect global sea levels because the ice broke off from shelves already floating on the surface of the ocean.

But the disintegration of ice shelves that had blocked the flow of ice from the Antarctic continent could allow sudden flows by glaciers into the ocean, raising sea-levels.

"What we're learning is that ice isn't slow. Things can happen fast," Lindstrom said.

"If the (polar) ice sheets really get involved, then we're talking tens of metres of sea level -- that could really start to swamp low-lying countries," he said.

A report by the UN climate panel released last month cited six models with core projections of sea level rises ranging from 28 to 43 cms (11.0-16.9 inches) by 2100.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also said temperatures were likely to rise by 2-4.5 Celsius (3.6-8.1 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels if carbon dioxide concentrations are kept at 550 parts per million in the atmosphere, against about 380 now. The "best estimate" for the rise is about 3C (5.4F).

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Arctic could have iceless summers by 2100

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Alan Zarembo reports that the Arctic could have iceless summers by 2100:

Climate models show a complete melting down to open ocean in warmer weather, maybe as early as 2040.

A review of existing computer climate models suggests that global warming could transform the North Pole into an ice-free expanse of ocean at the end of each summer by 2100, scientists reported today.

The researchers said that out of the 15 models they looked at, about half forecast that the sea-ice cover — a continent-sized expanse that shrinks and grows with the seasons — would seasonally vanish by the turn of the century.

"That may be conservative," said lead author Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.

One model predicted the Arctic would be ice-free each September as early as 2040, according to the article in the journal Science.

The remaining models showed the presence of some ice beyond 2100, although they agreed there would be significant ice loss if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at the current rate.

The computer models were included in a landmark United Nations report last month that blamed human activities for the "runaway train" of global warming.

The disappearance of the ice would lead to a dramatic reshaping of the Arctic that would accelerate warming of the oceans and potentially change precipitation patterns worldwide.

The Arctic's end-of-summer ice expanses already have been declining by about 9% each decade since the 1970s.

It is possible to see the difference from an airplane heading north from Alaska. "You have to fly a lot longer to get to the ice edge than you used to," said Josefino Comiso, a satellite imaging expert at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who was not connected to the report.

He and other experts believe the melting will accelerate as more ice disappears and exposes the open ocean, which absorbs heat and melts more ice from below.

"With less and less ice, you have more and more heat," eventually contributing to further warming around the globe, Comiso said.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One day a tomato

Ah yes, my first vegetable garden since moving back to Missouri! I planted a couple tomatoes and lots of basil last year but they were in pots. It was a bit of an experiment to see if the the deer would let them survive. This year I dug a small bed and have planted cold crops: broccoli, beets, radishes, lettuce, carrots, spinach, and swiss chard. Inside I've started tomatoes and peppers. If all goes well perhaps I'll expand the bed a bit next year. I've also got lots of native perennials so I may try interplanting a few veggies and herbs as an experiment.


My sister and her family have also put in a garden for a second year in a row so that's exciting.




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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Northern Spring Peeper

Heard outside my window tonight, the Northern Spring Peeper! From the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri's Toads and Frogs:
Northern Spring Peeper (Hyla crucifer crucifer)

A small, pinkish, gray or light tan treefrog with a dark x-mark on the back. This species has reduces adhesive toe pads, and spends most of the time on the forest floor or in low shrubbery. Spring peepers average from 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches (19 to 32 mm) in body length. This is a woodland species, living near ponds, streams or swamps where there is thick undergrowth. Spring peepers are active from early spring to late fall, but breed early. Their voices are a true announcement of spring. Small, fishless woodland ponds are required by this amphibian. Their high-pitched, peeping call can be heard on warm spring nights and also during the day in early summer and fall.

It's too dark to take a photo so I recorded the cute bird-like chirp: Listen


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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tree Bud

I wrote a couple weeks ago about getting a new camera. Since then I've had lots of fun with it. I'm mostly interested in various forms of nature photography: landscape, wildlife, macro so I'll be much happier once spring arrives. Thats not to say that there aren't things to photograph in the winter, just that it is much more of a challenge. I've gotten a few good bird shots (we have a feeder just outside our office window) and I've just purchased a macro lens so I'm ready for the flowers and insects! Spent a few hours today trying it out, here's one of a tree bud. I've never actually had a dedicated macro lens even though that's probably my main interest.

My most recent 200 photos are on my Flickr page. For the older stuff I used Apple's iWeb to set up a more complete photo archive.

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Honeybees Vanishing

Last July I noticed that there were far fewer butterflies in my garden than in previous years. If there is indeed a drop in the butterfly population it won't be to surprising that other insects might also be having problems. Whether it is climate change, the increasing use of genetically modified crops, toxics in the environment or a combination of causes, it seems obvious that these massive drops of insect populations is not good. Not good for them and if we want to continue eating food, not good for us. I think most people forget that food production requires large, healthy insect populations. We take so many things for granted, we assume so much and that's a mistake. Back to the bees, The New York Times reports on the vanishing honeybees:
VISALIA, Calif., Feb. 23 — David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.

In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.

Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.

Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.

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The fish are dying

This is frightenenig: Massive fish dieoffs.
Tens of thousands of fish have been found in California, Oregon, Washington State, Pennsylvania, and the Potomac etc. Looking further, I found that this is happening world wide, from Romania to China! Combine these massive die-offs with thousands of dead whales, sea turtles, porpoises, birds, honey bees, and butterflies.well, it's not hard to reason that the planet is dying. These massive deaths appear to be reported only locally and never making it to the national scene or an all out alarm by the EPA or environmental (corporate sponsored) groups?

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