4/25/2015

Shocking Aerial Footage of the Amazon Forest in Peru


This aerial footage of the Amazon forest throughout the region of Marde de Dios, Peru, will likely leave you speechless. It shows the expansiveness and the devastation caused by deforestation and mining, much of which has occurred in this particular region since 2010. Please share and show your support for efforts such as Community Carbon Trees in Costa Rica that protect and plant trees in regions close to the equator. Sponsor a tree today.


 Waking Times
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4/23/2015

Billions Of Bizarre Blue Animals Wash Ashore On The West Coast





Beaches along the west coast of America have been swamped with transparent blue creatures resembling jellyfish, known as “purple sails” or “by the wind sailors.” The phenomenon is a result of the wind's direction and probably not an indicator of environmental destruction. The sheer scale of this event is breathtaking, with estimates of a billion specimens washed ashore.
Velella velella are not true jellyfish but a smaller, less deadly relative of the Portuguese man-of-war. They are siphonophores, colonies of zooids that operate together as if they are one animal.


Credit: Jennifer Nicole Buchanan via Shutterstock. Individual Velella colonies are small, but in their millions they can dominate a beach.
Velella float in the open ocean and use poisonous tentacles to catch prey such as plankton. Balloon-like bubbles stick above the water's surface and catch the wind in such a way that they sail at an angle to it. Every few years, however, prevailing winds in the wrong direction wash large quantities onto beaches where they die. This spring has proven particularly disastrous for the northern Pacific population as winds were sustained long enough to wash huge numbers onto the coast.
As usual, the beaches are not hit at the same time, with the wave of blue starting in Washington and sweeping south over a period of several weeks. Coincidentally, there have also been major strandings in Italy at the same time.
Despite their numbers, permits are required to collect them. Kevin Raskoff of Monterey Peninsula College told National Geographic that touching them is unwise. Unlike both the man-of-war and many true jellyfish, their toxins will do little damage to the skin, but can rub off. If you rub your eyes after receiving some of the venom on your fingers, “you're going to feel it,” Raskoff said.
Last year's American Velella stranding was unusually late, leading to reports such as this one.

It is also rare to have such large strandings on the same coastline in successive years.

Credit: Bettina Walter, "Velella velella," via Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 
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4/22/2015

Rare quadruple rainbow photo goes viral

While waiting for her train this morning at the Glen Cove train station in Long Island, NY, Amanda Curtis grabbed her phone and snapped a photo of an incredibly rare atmospheric phenomenon: A quadruple rainbow.
When she posted the photo on Twitter – where it went viral, some folks were incredulous. They said the photo was photoshopped or that Curtis had shot it through glass, causing a reflection.
But, in the interview posted below, Curtis told The Weather Channel the image was authentic and taken in the open air:
The photo was convincing to Paul Neiman, who works as a research meteorologist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Observatory. He posted this very helpful explanation on his Facebook page, which he allowed me to republish:
 This is an outstanding example of a primary and secondary rainbow (relatively common) occurring together with their reflected-light counterparts (quite rare). Allow me to elaborate.
A typical primary rainbow is caused by refraction and one internal reflection of sunlight within raindrops, resulting in a rainbow that is positioned 41 arc degrees from the anti-solar point (i.e., the point directly opposite the sun – for example, if the sun is 10 degrees above the horizon at your back, the anti-solar point is 10 degrees below the horizon directly in front of you). The refraction causes the separation of white sunlight into its component colors, with red on the outside of the rainbow and violet on the inside.
The secondary rainbow, which is centered 51 arc degrees from the anti-solar point (i.e., the larger of the two bows during a typical display), involves two internal reflections of sunlight within the raindrops rather than one, resulting in a reversal of the color sequence (red on the inside and violet on the outside). We can usually only see the portion of these rainbows above the horizon, because there isn’t a sufficient density of raindrops between the observer and the ground to see the rainbow below the horizon (exceptions include full-circle rainbows viewed from locales such as airplanes and mountain tops).
So far, so good. For the much rarer reflected-light rainbows shown in this spectacular photo, a large glassy-smooth water surface is required behind the observer. This smooth water surface reflects the sun, such that a second solar light source is generated. This reflected sun, which is located the same the number of arc degrees below the horizon as the real sun is above the horizon, creates a second primary and secondary rainbow on the opposite side of the sky from the sun, but with the center of these reflected-light rainbows above the horizon. The geometry dictates that the regular and reflected-light rainbows will join at the horizon, as this photo shows.
Neiman’s explanation requires a body of water to be behind the observer. And, indeed, Oyster Bay – located about 2 miles east-northeast of the train station “likely provided the reflective surface to create the reflected-light rainbows”, he said.
Neiman said he was “awe-struck by this photo”, so too apparently were the thousands who shared it on social media.

Washington Post
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4/16/2015

Ticks Are Carrying a Virus Worse Than Lyme Disease

As the weather warms up, it's tempting to grab the family and the dogs and head out for a hike. But if you live in a few key areas, you might be putting yourself at risk of a scary disease.
According to CBS News, ticks in the Northeast and the Great Lakes area have been found to be carrying the Powassan virus. It's a rare condition that produces symptoms similar to Lyme disease, but more severe, and there's no cure.
The disease can lead to encephalitis and meningitis, and give you permanent neurological issues afterward. And it can act much more quickly than Lyme disease, giving you symptoms within hours of being bitten by a tick, according to Fox News. About 10% of cases that lead to encephalitis are fatal.
Powassan is extremely rare, having affected only 50 people in the U.S. over the past decade. In contrast, 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC each year (though the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States is estimated to be around 300,000). People who work outdoors or go camping in affected areas are at a higher risk of infection.
 If you want to protect yourself, government officials say you should avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass, use bug spray and conduct a full-body tick check on yourself, your children and your pets after going outdoors.

Country Living 
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