Tag Archives: Ottawa

The shape of Lake Ontario makes for white out blizzards

The mainly rural area just east of Lake Ontario in upstate New York gets an average of 20ft of snow a year. A new report explains why.

Tug Hill in upstate New York get’s massive amounts of snow due to lake effect snow storms and it turns out the shape of Lake Ontario. Lake effect snow storms are common in the Great Lakes area. Cold air travels over warm water, the heat and moisture over the water destabilizes the air mass causing intense storms.

A new report has these intense storms fueled by heat released from the lake, and the shoreline geography of Lake Ontario affects the formation and circulation of this circulation. Result…heavy snowstorms.

Lake Ontario’s east west orientation allows intense bands of snow to form. Low level winds that lead to bands of snow and the heavy snowfalls are influenced by the shape of the shoreline.

When land breezes move offshore from places where the land bulges out into the water, unstable air masses are formed and drive a narrow band of moisture that dumps moisture downwind. Thus there has been storms in Tug Hill that have dropped 40 inches of snow in 24 hours.

On Lake Ontario’s southern shore there is a large gentle, broad bulge that extends from Niagara to just west of Rochester. This bulge is important to where the lake effect snow bands develop. Another bulge is found at Oswego also contributes to precipitation down stream…meaning Tug Hill.

So , if you like snow…Tug Hill is where it is at.

 

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England and Wales and raw sewage

Raw sewage is running into rivers at thousands of sites across England and Wales harming wildlife and risking human health a report has noted.

It is unknown how much raw sewage is intentionally being released into the rivers, which is a big concern according to the WWF, who produced the report. Their analysis does suggest that more than half the sewage overflow sites do spill sewage into rivers at least once a month, and 14% at least once a week.

 

The WWF argues that this is far more frequently than allowed. Regulations do permit overflows at times of unusually heavy rainfalls when treatment facilities can not cope with the volume of water.

The report also states that the number of reported sewage pollution incidents, including failures at sewage treatment plants rose in 2016 …the first rise since 2012. Alarmingly only 14% of rivers in England have a good ecological rating, this reflects on sewage, farm pollution, and low water levels compared to 27% in 2010.

The danger here is that sewage pollution can cause algae blooms that starve rivers of oxygen. and kill fish. This has the added affect of being bad for kingfishers, otters, and other wildlife that depend on a healthy river. The pathogens in untreated sewage can effect human health causing gastroenteritis, septicaemia, and hepatitis A.

Further the study goes on to say that 40% of rivers in England and Wales are polluted with sewage, coming from almost 18,000 sewage overflow sites. Clearly there is a problem here.

WWF warns that without action the situation is likely to worsen due to population increases, urbanisation, and climate change. It appears that sewage overflows are being used as a tool to alleviate systemic under capacity. This suggest the sewage system is inadequate and unable to protect the environment and the people.

Since 2015, 4000 sewage overflow sites have been fitted with monitoring equipment to record the frequency and duration of spills…by March 2020 the plan is to expand this program to some 11, 500 sites.

Fish out of water

Recently a large Koi fish was caught in the Morell River in PEI. Biologists with the provincial government were out catching and collecting salmon for a stock assessment program. Surprisingly they caught this bright orange and white Koi rummaging around in the Morell River. The fish was about the length of your forearm and weighed  about 2 lbs.

Koi are a domesticated common carp that are selectively bred for color and are native to Asia and Central Europe. We tend to keep them in back yard ornamental ponds and the like.

The biologists are not sure how the fish got there , but most likely someone just released it there. Which is a bad idea.

To be a responsible pet owner you have to think long-term, can you provide a home for your pet (fish) and feed it over what could be years. releasing the fish into a local waterway is not acceptable.

The Koi are not native to our waterways, they could be carrying parasites, bacteria, or viruses and these could spread into our native fish populations. By being released into our waterways non native species could compete with the native species with possible terrible results for the natives. Also, the Koi in some parts of the world are considered a noxious pest because they can foul up the waters they are in.

So if you are considering fish for pets think long-term and protect our local environment.

Update on Whale Cove Boil Water Advisory

A 4 month-long boil water advisory has been lifted in Whale Cove , Nunavut.

The Community has seen coliform in its drinking water sources over the last few summers. This government issued repeated boil water advisories to the Kivalliq community. This year’s advisory began in late June and stayed in place until November 3rd when the Health Dept of Nunavut released that the communities water was once again safe to drink.

Typically , the coliform levels in Whale Cove’s drinking water source drop over the winter months.

Coliform is a natural bacteria, found in plants, soil, and in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. Humans are at risk of getting sick from water born coliform.

The source of the bacteria in Whale Cove’s water is still unclear. It is possible that heavy spring rains could be the cause, or it could come from the outcrop of rocks that surround the lake.

In the short-term the federal gov’t and territorial gov’t announced in August a $500,000 temporary water treatment unit for Whale Cove, which was supposed to arrive in Whale Cove by the end of October. The locals have asked put off the installation until next year…summer of 2018. This is due to the problems of trying to set the unit up during a probable freeze up, it is that time of year in that part of the world.

Contaminated groundwater gets help.

Researchers at Rice University have discovered a bacteria borne gene that helps breakdown dioxane, a groundwater contaminant and suspected carcinogen. This could be the basis for a breakthrough tool needed to figure out how to treat contaminated sites.

 

The Rice University lab found an interesting gene cluster, a mold like bacterium capable of using 1.4 dioxane as it’s source of carbon and energy. Essentially it would feed on the dioxane.  This microbe was discovered in 2009 in the sediment of a dioxane contaminated river in South Korea.

In an earlier study the researchers decoded the complete genome sequence of the bacterium. It clearly fed on dioxane, but was different than another known microbe. The Genome sequence showed the prescence of a new gene cluster that has the ability to initiate dioxane degradation.

The thing about dioxane is that it has been used as a stabilizer of chlorinated solvents frequently found as co-contaminant at thousands of contaminated sites. Dioxane is highly soluble, and easily leaches into ground water , and resists natural bio degradation.

 

This discovery should give enviromental engineers another arrow in the quiver to fight contaminated groundwater. Presently “pump and treat”, is a common form of dealing with contaminated groundwater. This is not always available or even the best way to handle a particular situation.

The gene cluster could be employed as a probe to test for the presence of dioxanze degraders in groundwater. If degraders are present the site could be left to heal itself.

I find it amazing that we are now on the level of making molecular tools. In future I am sure we will see great growth in this area.

 

First Nation’s Supports Water Infastructure

The Canadian Government congratulated the First Nations Finance Authority(FNFA) on it’s fourth Debenture Issuance, this assists with financing First Nations water infrastructure projects. Established under the first Nations Fiscal Management Act FNFA allows First Nations to collaboratively access long-term financing at preferred rates through issuing bonds on capital markets. FNFA states on their website that one of the first steps with infrastructure development is clean water, and so the financing of these projects is a key.

This 4th debenture saw twice the demand from investors than was available, due in part to the recent credit rating increase from Moody’s. This allows the 19 participating First Nations to pay their lowest rate to date, given market conditions, on their way to realizing their community projects. The issuance added $126 million to the debentures, bringing the total to $376 million.

For their part the Federal Government has stated the importance of economic development in indigenous communities as being critical to closing the socio economic gaps and playing an important part in the federal governments renewed relationship with the First Nations. Budget 2016 committed $20 million over two years to bolster FNFA’s capital base.

Now with this new issuance 41 First Nations benefit from the FNFA’s bond. We should be able to see the economic spin off’s in terms of job creation, purchase goods and services, and reduce dependence on government.

Climate change might be worse than thought.

In a new study climate change might be far worse than thought.

The new information challenges the way researchers have worked out sea temperatures until now. This means that the temperatures may be increasing quicker than previously thought. The methodology generally used by the scientific community may be based on a mistake and so our understanding of climate change may be seriously flawed.

The new research suggests that hundreds of millions of years ago the oceans were much cooler than previously thought. If true then the global warming we are experiencing is unparallelled within the last 100 million years, and far worse than previously calculated.

The belief is that the ocean depths, and the surface of the polar ocean 100 million years ago were about 15 degrees warmer than they are today. But..they might have remained relatively stable, making the warming at present far more alarming.

Oceans cover 70% of the planet and play an important role in the climate. Knowing the extent to which their temperatures have changed over time is critical to understanding where we are headed.

The new study scientists have been reviewing shows we have been overlooking crucial processes when the  temperature of the oceans from millions of years ago were gauged. Leading to the belief that they were warmer than they actually were. Temperatures have been calculated by studying the fossils of tiny marine organisms  found in the sediment on the ocean floor. The shells of these small creatures takes on an oxygen isotope depending on how warm the water is. By looking at the oxygen content the temperature can be estimated when they were alive. This has led scientists to believe the sea temps have fallen by 15 degrees over the last 100 million years.

The new research shows that the amount of oxygen in those shells doesn’t actually remain constant over time, and the change can happen without any visible trace that would alert researchers to that change.

The perfectly preserved fossil may in fact not be so well-preserved and the estimates of paleotemps are now incorrect.

The French and Swiss research team behind the new work are hard at it to try to decide the proper paleotemps. More marine life found in the core sediments are being studied so we can clearly understand what took place in the sediment over geological time.