Monthly Archives: February 2019

Remote control snowblowers

The winter of 2018/2019 in Ottawa has been a long one. The snow came in mid -November and stayed. December brought us record snowfalls. All this snow means we have to clear our driveways. We shovel, blow, and plow the stuff. How about if we can have a remote control vehicle…check this out.

 

Pharmaceutical residues in Fresh Water

It has been noted that for the last 20 years concentrations of pharmaceuticals in fresh water have grown all over the world. Levels of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin  have reached potentially damaging levels.

Research is on going looking at the risks in having medicines in our freshwater supplies. Two drugs carba-mazinepine ( an epileptic drug) , and ciprofloxacin (antibiotic) were found to be 10-20 times higher in 2015 than in 1995. Globally the use of cipro has grown around the world. the concentrations found to detrimental to the bacteria in the water, which are important in various nutrient cycles. Antibiotics can also have a negative impact on bacteria colonies used in wastewater treatment.

Antibiotic resistance has been on the agenda of the World Health Organization and the UN but is generally thought of as an issue for the health sector in terms of resistant bacteria. Not enough thought is being put on the environmental impact.

 

 

Belize’s Blue Hole.

A team of scientist’s and Richard Branson have returned from the bottom of Belize’s Great Blue Hole with exciting findings.

The Great Blue hole is the world’s largest sinkhole, measuring 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. The group began their quest in December of 2018 looking for the secrets that lay at the bottom.

Using two subs they created the first 3D map of the interior.

One of the most exciting findings were stalactites , a type of mineral formation shaped like icicles. They were seen some 407 ft into the hole, right near the bottom.

Another crazy thing is the hydrogen sulfide layer, appearing at around 300ft, cutting off all light below. The water becomes inky black and totally anoxic with absolutely no life. Thanks to high resolution sonar the team were able to see the unique features of the hole.

Interestingly, not everything could be identified. Some tracks on the bottom could not be figured out as to who they came from.

Everyone was pleased to see the Blue Hole was almost free of trash, only a few pieces of plastic were found.

Trump Gators??

In South Carolina two alligators with leathery orange skin are mystyfying the townspeople.

The two reptiles were found in a pond in Bluffton. Did someone paint them, did they eat cheetos, or are they albinos?

The South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources feels the color could simply be rust from drain pipes. In the winter gators like to find a nice place to hibernate. Some may be finding their way beside drain pipes that have rusty metal pieces, so all winter they marinate in rust and are stained.

The thing is orange alligators are not seen every year, that is why when seen they get so much attention. Keeping a safe distance is recommended. They are meat eaters and demand respect.

Drought in the Amazon Rain Forest..How Does it Cope?

The Amazon rain forest has a large influence on the global climate and future warming. Dry spells are projected to become more frequent and harsher, so how is this going to affect the rain forest.

Researchers from Michigan State have examined the Amazon’s response to droughts in order to predict how forest growth and physiology will affect tree diversity and ultimately the planet’s climate.

The Tapajos National Forest in Brazil was studied with 41 monthly surveys between 2010 and 2017. The structure of the forest was studied to see how it changed in response to seasonal water stress and a strong El Nino.

It was found that the rainforest increased the amount of leaves in its highest canopy during dry seasons and drought…with the number of leaves on the lower level going down.

Their study also allowed them to divide the forest by height and light. It was found that the small trees where shading was low and sunlight high were losing their leaves. Smaller trees in shaded areas, added more leaves.

It is key to note that the dryer periods are also sunnier periods. Tall trees have deeper roots, giving more access to water, maybe taking advantage of the increased sunlight to spread their crowns. Small trees in the shade maybe taking advantage of increased light in the cooler shaded areas. Short trees in high heat and light suffer the most.

Cold Weather Fun

With it being so cold with a Polar Vortex affecting a large chunk of North America it does not have to be a no fun situation. As they say when life gives you lemon , make lemonade.

Let’s take advantage of the cold to have some fun. Toss hot water into the cold air to create an eye-catching vapour as it freezes before it flies away.

India’s Water Crisis…Getting Worse.

India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and around 600 million people face severe water shortages. Around 200,000 Indians die annually due to inadequate access to clean water. 21 of its cities are likely to run out of ground water by 2020.

…and it will only get worse as the 1.4 billion people continue to grow at a rate of 1%. By 2030 the demand for water is projected to be twice the available supply. Water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people will become normal.

The economics of the situation mean India will lose 6% of GDP. Infrastructure is in desperate need of up grading. Line ups for government water trucks and public taps is common in the slums who are reliant on these services.

The monsoon rains are becoming increasingly erratic, so ground water is in greater use in farming.

Efforts at developing good water legislation  exist in 80% of the country, but poor data management and failure to price water properly has hindered these efforts. Water is cheap, people think it is free.

Water is not a problem, until there is none.