Monthly Archives: September 2018

Medicane…What is it?

A large storm in the Mediterranean is threatening Greece and Turkey. This  rare and powerful hurricane type storm is often called a”Medicane”,(Mediterranean  + hurricane). it has features similar to hurricanes and typhoons.


According to a 2011 study there are only 1 or 2 medicanes a year. They usually occur in September to October when the sea surface temperatures are still warm, can can happen tear round as well.

Over the open water the storm is likely to pick up characteristics normally associated with hurricanes…gale force winds and an eye.

Killer Whales threatened by PCB’s

It has been some 40yrs after the first initiatives were taken to ban the use of PCB.s. The threat to the top of the food channel is still there though. A new study just published in the journal SCIENCE has determined that the current concentrations of PCB’s could lead to the disappearance of half the world’s population of killer whales from the most heavily contaminated areas within a period of just 30-50 yrs.

Killer whales are on top of the food chain and are among the mammals with the highest levels of PCB’s in their tissue. PCB’s can lead to infertility and a weakened immune system It has been documented that the number of killer whales is rapidly declining in 10 out of the 19 whale populations investigated. The animal may disappear from some areas within a few decades.

The killer whale is one of the most widespread mammals on earth, found in all the world’s oceans, pole to pole. It can be said that the populations living in the least polluted are the most numerous. PCB’s are passed down from the mother to the offspring  through the mother’s fat rich milk. The hazard is passed on , not being able to slowly breakdown in the environment. A female killer whale can live for 60-70yrs. We took the first steps to phase out PCB’s more than 40yrs ago…but high levels of PCB’s are still present.

The good news is that killer whales populations continue to grow around the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Alaska, and the Antarctic.

57 Detroit schools have high lead and copper in drinking water.

At least 57 Detroit public schools have tested positive for high levels of copper and lead in their drinking water…pending the results from 17 more schools.

This round of testing was not required from the federal , state , or local jurisdictions. All water sources from sinks to water fountains were reviewed. The cause of the high copper and lead has not been determined. The city’s water dept. has said that the schools aging plumbing systems are to blame. The issues do not extend to the rest of the city. Lead and copper can enter the water as the pipes age and corrode. All drinking water within the schools has been turned off.

Consuming metals can lead to a range of health issues. Lead in particular can be harmful to children, potentially leading to impaired cognition, behavioral disorders, hearing problems, and delayed puberty.

The Detroit schools problems come in the wake of a lengthy water crisis involving lead levels in Flint, about an hours drive away.

The Largest Clean Up In History

It is estimated that there is over 5 trillion pieces over plastic garbage currently littering our oceans. Trash is building up in 5 ocean garbage patches, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California. If left alone the plastic will affect our ecosystems, health , and economies. Solving this will require a combination of closing off the plastic garbage at source, and cleaning up what is already there.

Ocean garbage patches are vast and dispersed..yet due to ocean currents the plastic is concentrated in 5 areas in the world. Once in these patches the garbage will not go away by itself.

The Ocean Clean Up develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastics. A full-scale deployment of the system is estimated to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 yrs.


Research has shown that the majority of plastic by mass is currently in larger debris. By removing the plastic while it is still large, it will be prevented from breaking down into dangerous micro plastics.

Combining the clean up with source reduction on land will lead down the road towards a plastic free ocean by 2050.



How does a water spout form?

The water inside a water spout is formed by condensation in the cloud. There are two major types of waterspouts: tornadic waterspouts and fairweather waterspouts. Tornadic waterspouts get their starts as true tornadoes. Influenced by winds associated with severe thunderstorms, air rises and rotates on a vertical axis. Tornadic waterspouts are the most powerful and destructive waterspout. Fairweather water spouts are rarely dangerous and are associated with a developing storm, but not the storm themselves.

Let’s look at these two types of waterspout in the following videos.

Fairweather waterspouts.


Tornadic waterspouts.


What causes hurricanes?

Hurricanes are intense low pressure areas that form over warm ocean waters in the summer and early fall. Their source of energy is water vapor which is evaporated from the ocean surface.

Water vapor is the fuel for hurricanes because it releases “latent heat of condensation”, when it condenses to form clouds and rain, which in turn warms the surrounding air.

Usually the heat is released in tropical thunderstorms, through wind shear which blows off the top of the thunder storms. However when there is little wind shear, heat can build up, causing low pressure to form. This pressure causes wind to spiral  inward.  More water is helped to evaporate, feeding more showers and thunderstorms…warming the atmosphere even more.

Rainbands form, eyewalls form. The strongest winds are at the eyewall in the centre of what will now be a hurricane.


Hurricanes have been categorized as being ,1, 2,3 , 4 ,or 5 in intensity. A category 1 has wind speeds of 74-95 mph. Damage is considered to be minimal…trees, branches, shrubs…and unanchored mobile homes are at risk. A cat 5 has winds in excess of 155mph..with damage considered to be possibly catastrophic. Complete roof failure, buildings destroyed, severe window and door damage, mobile homes destroyed.

In low-lying areas much of the damage from a hurricane is from the storm surge…which is the water being blown ashore. Entire buildings can be destroyed. Usually hurricanes move away from the equator towards the poles carrying away the heat. As hurricanes move into cooler waters or travel over land they lose their fuel source , weaken , and die.

How does an elephant drink water? Swim?

The elephant is such a unique animal with such great size…so how do they drink water? Obviously they use their trunks..but do the just suck the water up or do they do something else?

That was interesting. The trunk is used to suck up the water, then the water is poured into the mouth for drinking. They don’t drink through their trunks. It is a two-step operation.

For all their size, how is an elephant in the water?



How does a giraffe drink water?


When we are thirsty we can simply drink water from a fountain, or get a glass..fill it and drink. What about a giraffe? Long legs, long just can’t be all that easy. Let’s take a look.

All that for a drink. You can see that this giraffe looked as if it wanted to drink, started the whole procedure…then stopped and had a look around. If a predator was around, a drinking giraffe would be exposed. Better to have a good look.

This second video really does highlight the group of giraffes being very wary. They certainly seem to be having a good look around before assuming their vulnerable drinking posture.