Environment

Wednesday, 03 July 2013

How Big is the Ocean?

We all know that the ocean is large. By large I mean huge. The reality is that the ocean is so big that it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it. To blow your mind this afternoon here is a short animation to help put everything into perspective. Here is my favourite ocean fun-fact: The oceans of the world hold 99% of the world’s biosphere. That means that every single tree, bug, human and gopher you see on land is only 1% of what’s really out there.
Why are there no Salmon in the Upper Columbia River? What can we do about that? What are the options? Sea to Source is the first episode in a series of short films following the journey up the Columbia River in 5 dugout canoes that were hand carved by 1000’s of students. The journey is about getting people reconnected with the history and culture of the Columbia River as well as the salmon that was once prolific before the creation of the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams. Hap tip goes to Conor for the lead. More info: voyagesofrediscovery.blogspot.ca
Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Brutal Facts about Dragonflies

I always knew that Dragonflies were enemies to insects but I had no idea they were as cold, calculating and viscous as they actually are. The top-10 list website, Listverse has set of 10 surprising facts about dragonflies. Here is my favourite fun-fact from the list: Fact: They Can Isolate Their Prey in a Swarm Dr. S.D. Wiederman discovered when he began studying the way Emerald dragonflies select their prey. Curious about the way dragonflies hunt, Dr. Wiederman and his team placed a nano-electrode inside the visual processing neuron of a dragonfly. They then positioned the "subject" in front of a TV monitor with two moving objects. In simple nervous systems, multiple objects tend to fade out; the insect can’t handle the attention multitasking. But dragonflies have the ability to switch their attention between objects at will. Under observation, the dragonfly focused first on one object, then shifted to watch the second, then shifted back to the first again, never losing track of where they were. This selective attention span allows the dragonfly to single out one target in a swarm, then zero in on it exclusively-while remaining aware of the rest of the swarm to avoid a collision. All I can say is thank goodness that they are not big enough to hunt us. More dragonfly fun-facts on Listverse. Photo credit: Dragon Fly | Flickr by meke http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_CA / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0  
NASA recently released a colourised photo representing the ocean salinity differences around the world. I thought it was pretty cool to see how much of an influence the Amazon River, St. Lawrence River and the ice caps at the north pole. Makes sense when you think about it but I clearly hadn’t thought about it before. This information comes from data captured by NASA’s Aquarius instrument. Jet Propulsion Laboratory website explains what’s going on and why we should care about this: Launched June 10, 2011, aboard the Argentine spacecraft Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D, Aquarius is NASA's first satellite instrument specifically built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. Salinity variations, one of the main drivers of ocean circulation, are closely connected with the cycling of freshwater around the planet and provide scientists with valuable information on how the changing global climate is altering global rainfall patterns. The salinity sensor detects the microwave emissivity of the top approximately 1 inch (1 to 2 centimeters) of ocean water - a physical property that varies depending on temperature and saltiness. The instrument collects data in 240-mile-wide (386 kilometers) swaths in an orbit designed to obtain a complete survey of global salinity of ice-free oceans every seven days. They also released a very cool visualization showing the ocean surface salinity changes from December 2011 to December, 2012. Photo credit: NASA
Check out the trailer for the feature-length film, Midway. It's both fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time. Using spare narration and stunning imagery, Chris Jordan’s feature film Midway explores the plight of the Laysan albatross plagued by the ingestion of our plastic trash. Both elegy and warning, the film explores the interconnectedness of species, with the albatross on Midway as a mirror of our humanity. Midway is a feature length film in production schedules to premiere in late 2013. Our film is made possible from generous donation and grants. Please contribute through Fractured Atlas. All donations are tax deductible.   We covered Chris's first photographic journey to Midway Atoll back in 2009. Thanks to Ray for the tip.
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