Wednesday, January 17, 2018

China is planting 16.3 million acres of forest this year

The pollution-beleaguered country plans to increase forest coverage to 23 percent of its total landmass by the end of the decade.
I've always wondered how China could sit by as its air, water and other natural splendors were being turned into the stuff of dystopian nightmares. Outdoor air pollution contributes to the deaths of an estimated 1.6 million people in China annually (that's 4,400 people a day). Meanwhile, less than 20 percent of the water from underground wells used by farms, factories and homes is fit for drinking or bathingthanks to industrial and agricultural contamination.
China is planting 16.3 million acres of forest this year : TreeHugger:




Brumbies feel the heat as dry times start to bite in Hunter Valley

A lack of rain is taking its toll on a Hunter Valley brumby sanctuary, with wild horses from the Snowy Mountains struggling to acclimatise in parched conditions.
The local brumby association has nearly 30 brumbies, mainly from the Kosciuszko National Park, as well as from the state's north-west.
But its paddocks are bone dry, prompting carers to spend $3,000 a month hand-feeding the horses.
Hunter Valley Brumby Association president Kath Massey said the Snowy Mountain brumbies were particularly vulnerable.
Brumbies feel the heat as dry times start to bite in Hunter Valley - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):




Sac Actun cave system in Mexico could help shed new light on ancient Mayan civilisation

A group of divers has connected two underwater caverns in eastern Mexico to reveal what is believed to be the biggest flooded cave on the planet, a discovery that could help shed new light on the ancient Mayan civilisation.

Key points:

  • Divers discover 347-kilometre cave in Mexico
  • The finding was made by the Gran Acuifero Maya project
  • The cave could shed more light on the history of the region
The Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM), a project dedicated to the study and preservation of the subterranean waters of the Yucatan peninsula, said the 347-kilometre cave was identified after months of exploring a maze of underwater channels.
Sac Actun cave system in Mexico could help shed new light on ancient Mayan civilisation - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):




Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Melioidosis risk rises in the wake of stormy weather across WA

As if cyclones, crocodiles and stingers weren't enough to worry about, Western Australians are being warned to take precautions against a potentially deadly and ancient disease that may have been stirred up by recent cyclones.
Each year there are dozens of melioidosis cases reported across northern Australia and it continues kill a small number of those infected.
The disease lives as a bacterium beneath the soil's surface in the tropics, but can become airborne in the wet season as heavy rains disturb it.
The head of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Western Australia, Professor Tim Inglis, said there was a risk the recent weather sparked by Cyclone Joyce would carry the disease closer to Perth.
Melioidosis risk rises in the wake of stormy weather across WA - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):




Riverside breathalysers aim to reduce drink-drowning deaths

Have you ever been breath-tested in your togs?
It might sound comical but a pair of researchers will be taking a breathalyser to Australia's favourite swimming spots to find out more about our high rate of river drownings.

Australian drowning deaths by location, 2002–2012

  • 25 per cent — river, creek, stream
  • 18 per cent — ocean, harbour
  • 16 per cent — beach
  • 15 per cent — pool
  • 10 per cent — lake, dam
  • 7 per cent — bath
  • 10 per cent — other


(Approximate figures. Source: Royal Life Saving Australia)
A quarter of all drowning deaths in Australia occur in rivers and creeks, and 37 per cent of those involve alcohol.
And when it comes to drowning, the sexes are not equal — 80 per cent of drowning victims are male
Riverside breathalysers aim to reduce drink-drowning deaths - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):




Sac full of funnel web spiders good news for NSW reptile park seeking specific venom

What would you do if you found a sac full of baby funnel web spiders in your backyard?
While screaming might be the first option for some, you could also take it to your local wildlife park.
A local resident from Matcham on the New South Wales Central Coast went with the second option, delighting his local reptile park with the find.
It turns out the venom from deadly Sydney funnel webs is highly sought after.
"We can only use the male Sydney funnel web's venom to make the anti-venom," Australian Reptile Park's head of spiders Kane Christensen said.
Mr Christensen said while funnel webs can be found around the country, the spiders change depending on the region— and so does their venom.
Sac full of funnel web spiders good news for NSW reptile park seeking specific venom - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):




Monday, January 15, 2018

Tasmanian scientists study a krill's 'sound signature' to help estimate populations

Scientists in Hobart are experimenting to capture the sound of Antarctic krill in a bid to better determine how many are swimming in the Southern Ocean.

Key points:

  • Krill is the term used to describe about 85 species of open-ocean crustaceans known as euphausiids
  • Antarctic krill live in the southern ocean
  • Adult Antarctic krill grow to about six centimetres and weigh over a gram
  • They are one of the most successful and abundant animal species on earth
  • There are an estimated 500 million tonnes of Antarctic krill in the southern ocean
  • Commercial krill fishing began in the early 1970s
  • The fishery is now managed through an international body (CCAMLR)
Antarctic krill are one of the most abundant animal species on Earth, and most of the larger Antarctic animals depend directly or indirectly on the crustacean.
The sound that scientists are recording does not actually come from the krill itself.
They are using echo sounding technology to record the sound reflected from different-sized krill, and to help them identify the 'sound signature' of individual krill.
Tasmanian scientists study a krill's 'sound signature' to help estimate populations - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):