Thursday, November 29, 2007

How will Earth look 250 million years in the Future

On this pictures you can see how our planet look like in past and what it might look like far into the future...

When the Earth is in its "Ice House" climate mode, there is ice at the poles. The polar ice sheet expands and contacts because of variations in the Earth's orbit (Milankovitch cycles). The last expansion of the polar ice sheets took place about 18,000 years ago.

The Present-day world has well defined climatic zones.
We are entering a new phase of continental collision that will ultimately result in the formation of a new Pangea supercontinent in the future. Global climate is warming because we are leaving an Ice Age and because we are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

This is the way the World may look like 50 million years from now!
If we continue present-day plate motions the Atlantic will widen, Africa will collide with Europe closingthe Mediterranean, Australia will collide with S.E. Asia, and California will slide northward up the coast to Alaska.

The Atlantic Ocean begins to Close.
New subduction zones along the eastern coasts of North America and South America will begin to consume the ocean floor separating North America from Africa. About 100 million years from now the present-day Mid-Atlantic Ridge will be subducted and the continents will come closer together.

"Pangea Ultima" will form 250 million years in the Future
The next Pangea, "Pangea Ultima" will form as a result of the subduction of the ocean floor of the North and South Atlantic beneath eastern North America and South America. This supercontinent will have a small ocean basin trapped at its center.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

The sea is like an enchantress which casts a spell and traps everything in its net. The miracles of Nature's creations are not only visible in the terrestrial but also in the aqua world. The marine world abounds in unique species which are still unknown to the Science. These wonders are either bodies of water, occur underwater, or are surrounded by water and consist of archipelagoes, coral reefs, sea vents, lakes and so on. People become fascinated by the flora and fauna and the diverse ecosystems of the deep sea.

But however these underwater wonders need to be protected as they are being continuously under threats of perishing. All these seven underwater marvels of nature are of supreme importance because of their natural beauty, exclusive marine life, scientific research value and environmental significance.

The list of seven underwater wonders of the world include:

-The Belize Barrier Reef
-The Galapagos Islands
-The Northern Red Sea
-Lake Baikal
-The Great Barrier Reef
-The Deep Sea Vents

Palau: The Republic of Palau is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, located some 500 km east of the Philippines. This beautiful coral reef contains about 700 coral species and about 1,500 species of fish.

Belize Barrier Reef: It is the second largest barrier reef in the world and is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere nearly 260km long which is also known as a diver's paradise.

Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos Archipelago is a cluster of some 13 volcanic islands and associated islets and rocks located just under the equator, about 600 miles west of Ecuador in South America.

Northern Red Sea: The Northern Red sea surrounded by the world's largest expanses of sand is also known as the underground Garden of Eden .

Lake Baikal: Lake Baikal is the deepest, oldest and also the largest freshwater lake world. A World Heritage Site, it lies in Southern Siberia in Russia and is also known as the Blue Eye of Siberia.

Great Barrier Reef: The Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea, is the world's largest coral reef system, composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, that stretch for 2,600 km in north-east Australia.

Deep Sea Vents: On the East Pacific Rise, nearly 8000 feet below the surface, was a strange alien landscape littered with what looked like chimneys expelling clouds of black smoke and these resulted out of Hydrothermal vents.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Victoria Falls

Described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ - ‘the Smoke that Thunders’ and in more modern terms as ‘the greatest known curtain of falling water’, Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as 546 million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge (at the height of the flood season) over a width of nearly two kilometers into a deep gorge over 100 meters below. The wide basalt cliff, over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a wide placid river to a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges.

Facing the Falls is another sheer wall of basalt, rising to the same height and capped by mist-soaked rain forest. A path along the edge of the forest provides the visitor who is prepared to brave the tremendous spray with an unparalleled series of views of the Falls.

One special vantage point is across the Knife edge bridge, where visitors can have the finest view of the Eastern Cataract and the Main Falls as well as the Boiling Pot where the river turns and heads down the Batoka Gorge. Other vantage points include the Falls bridge and the Lookout Tree which commands a panoramic view across the Main Falls.

"The first impression was unmistakable; immense power, the raw energy unleashed when the entire Zambezi leaps wildly into a black two kilometer wide abyss. The scale is massive, the spectacle spellbinding and perpetually changing. The falls hiss and roar as if possessed, they rumble and crash like thunder. Vast clouds spew and billow out from the seething cauldron of its dark impenetrable depths. The moving water creates a magnetism that sucks you closer, so that you recoil in horror to quench a subliminal sacrificial urge." (Jumbo Williams, Zambezi, River of Africa. 1988)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Cyrcle of Life

Live. Love. Burn. Die.
Living when you're young, loving as you grow older, burning from the loss of a loved on, and dying, because that's really all that's left.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?

By 2025, 1.8 billion people could be living in water-scarce areas desperate enough for mass migrations, and another 3 billion could live in water-stressed areas. Today about 750 million people live below the water-stress threshold of 1,700 cubic meters per person per year and more than 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. Water tables are falling on every continent; 40% of humanity depends on international watersheds; agricultural land is becoming brackish; groundwater aquifers are being polluted; and urbanization is increasing water demands faster than many systems can supply. Water withdrawals from lakes and rivers have doubled in the last 40 years. Agriculture accounts for 70% of human usage of fresh water, which needs even more to feed growing populations. Nature also needs sufficient water to be viable for all life support. Hence, more fresh water is needed—not just distribution agreements. Breakthroughs in desalination, like pressurization of seawater to produce vapor jets, filtration via carbon nanotubes, and reverse osmosis, are needed along with less costly pollution treatment. Seawater agriculture on desert coastlines would reduce freshwater agriculture demand.

We need an integrated global water strategy, plan, and management system to focus knowledge, finances, and political will to address this challenge. It should apply the lessons learned from producing more food with less water via drip irrigation and precision agriculture, rain water collection and irrigation, watershed management, selective introduction of water pricing, and replication of successful community-scale projects around the world. The plan should also help convert degraded or abandoned farmlands to forest or grasslands; invest in household sanitation, reforestation, water storage, and treatment of industrial effluents in multipurpose water schemes; and construct eco-friendly dams, pipelines, and aqueducts to move water from areas of abundance to scarcity. Access to clean water and basic sanitation should become human rights. Water can also be conserved by using animal stem cells to produce meat tissue (without the need to create the animal) and by increasing vegetarianism around the world.

About 80% of diseases in the developing world are water-related. Many are due to poor management of human excreta. About 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. Many major rivers now run dry during part of the year before they reach the ocean. UNICEF and WHO estimate that developing nations need at least $11.3 billion a year to meet low-cost basic levels of service for both drinking water and sanitation by 2015. However, the water sector receives only 5% of development assistance today. If the world can meet the MDG goal for water, total economic benefits will be about $38 billion per year, far greater than the costs.

Unless major political and technological changes occur, future conflicts over trade-offs among agricultural, urban, and ecological uses of water are inevitable. Previously, water-sharing agreements have occurred even among people in conflict and have led to cooperation in other areas.

Challenge 2 will be addressed seriously when the number of people without clean water and those suffering from water-borne diseases diminishes by half and when the percentage of water used in agriculture drops for five years in a row.

Regional Considerations

Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa would have to triple its freshwater access to meet its MDG target on water by 2015, but few African governments spend more than 0.5% of GDP on water and sanitation. The IPCC warns that a 1–2°C increase in average temperature may leave 250–600 million Africans in water-stressed conditions. Africa has about one-third of the world’s major international water basins but uses less than 6% of its renewable water resources. Since the majority of Africa depends on rain-fed agriculture, upgrading rain-fed systems and improving agricultural productivity will immediately improve the lives of millions of Africans.

Asia and Oceania: The Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges, and Indus are among the 10 most polluted rivers in the world, and some of them could eventually dry up. In the best-case scenario, the water situation in China is expected to get worse for the next eight years. China has only 8% of the world’s fresh water to meet the needs of 22% of the world’s population. More than 12 million Chinese are short of drinking water, and 75% of the drinking water is polluted. China is expected to desalinate 800,000 to 1 million cubic meters of seawater a day by 2010, a significant increase from 120,000 cubic meters a day in 2005. It also plans to transfer water from Tibetan highlands to the more-developed northeast. Forced migration due to water shortages has begun in China, and India should be next. India’s urban water demand is expected to double and industrial demand to triple by 2025. Diarrhea causes some 450,000 deaths annually in India.

Europe: Cyprus, Bulgaria, Belgium, Spain, Malta, FYR Macedonia, Italy, the UK, and Germany can be considered water-stressed; 14% of the EU population has been affected by water scarcity. Over 80% of the original floodplain area along the Danube and its main tributaries has been lost as a result of dams, pollution, and climate change. The Belgian government recognizes water as a human right, and its development aid will focus on water. Water utilities in Germany pay farmers to switch to organic operations because it costs less than removing farm chemicals from water supplies. Russia could supply fresh water to China and Middle Asia.

Latin America: Although the region has 28% of the world’s water resources, almost 80 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and 120 million lack sewage treatment. Water crises will occur in megacities within a generation unless new water supplies are generated, a culture of water stewardship is achieved, lessons from both successful and unsuccessful approaches to privatization are applied, and legislation is updated for more reliable, transparent, and consistent integrated water resources management policies among institutions and countries. Water and sanitation problems cost the region an estimated $29 billion a year. Policymakers should pay more attention to privatization’s best practices and to lessons from past failures.

North America: Each kilowatt-hour of electricity in the U.S. requires about 25 gallons of water for cooling, making power plants the second largest water consumer in the country, after agriculture. Over the past five years, municipal water rates have increased by an average of 27% in the U.S. and 58% in Canada. Water consumption per capita has been lowered over 20 years, yet 16 million Americans face water rationing. Water could become a class problem; poor people will be the first victims in free market distribution. The EPA found that half of all streams in the U.S. are polluted. Government agricultural water subsidies should be changed to encourage conservation. Innovations are increasing from atmospheric water generation to nanofiltration and packets (sachets) for water purification.

article provided

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Loch Ness Lake

Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland, one of the most celebrated holiday destinations in the UK. Wild and beautiful, the surrounding countryside isn’t just scenic, it’s teeming with wildlife and yet a host of visitor attractions and Inverness, Scotland’s fastest growing city, are all within easy reach.

The area boasts a great range of activities and accommodation to suit all tastes. In fact, it’s the perfect base for exploring the Highlands and provides a natural link to Skye and the West Coast. And at the loch itself, of course, there’s always a chance to glimpse ‘Nessie’, the world-famous Loch Ness Monster.

No holiday in Scotland is complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, Loch Ness is the largest body of water in Scotland by volume. The surrounding area is filled with historic attractions, natural wonders, cosy places to stay, and superb eateries. And the Loch Ness Monster is just one of the many myths and legends to be discovered in this particularly mysterious corner of Scotland.

Loch Ness is a holiday destination full of surprises – whether you want to sit back and take in the landscape, explore the history of the area, visit the charming towns and villages like Fort Augustus, Cannich, Strathglass and Drumnadrochit. Or why not enjoy the fresh highland air on a walk along the South Loch Ness shore or for a bigger challenge take the majestic Great Glen Way through some 70 miles of Scotland’s finest scenery.

This website guide will help you find all the information you need to plan your trip to Loch Ness, with suggestions on how to get there, where to stay and what to do. You’ll also find plenty of background information on Loch Ness: its history, its myths, its wildlife, its attractions and its most famous resident, the Loch Ness Monster.,

So, if you’re planning a break in Scotland, or planning to visit the UK put Loch Ness at the top of your list of UK holiday destinations. And remember – there’s something in the water…

Friday, November 9, 2007

Deepest Lake in the World

Situated in south-east Siberia, the 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world's total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Known as the 'Galapagos of Russia', its age and isolation have produced one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.
The Committee inscribed Lake Baikal as the most outstanding example of a freshwater ecosystem on the basis of natrual criteria (vii), (viii), (ix) and (x). It is the oldest and deepest of the world´s lakes containing nearly 20% of the world´s unfrozen freshwater reserve. The lake contains an outstanding variety of endemic flora and fauna, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science. It is also surrounded by a system of protected areas that have high scenic and other natural values. The Committee took note of the confirmation of the revised boundaries of the site, which correspond to the core areas defined in the Baikal Law (excluding the five urban developed areas). It also noted that the special Lake Baikal Law is now in its second reading in the Duma. Finally, it noted concern over a number of integrity issues including pollution, which should be brought to the attention of the Russian authorities.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Beautifull Fall colors

One of the nicest things about living in northern climes is the ever changing seasons. For a few weeks, nature puts on one of its most spectacular displays as native trees and shrubs finish out the growing season in a brilliant display of fall colors.

Jack Frost usually gets credit for the beautiful colors, but, in reality, fall color is controlled by both the plant's genetic factors and the environment. Carotene and xanthophyll are yellow pigments produced in foliage all year; along with chlorophyll, the green pigment. In autumn when short days and cool temperatures slow down the production of chlorophyll, the remaining chlorophyll breaks down and disappears. Then the yellow pigments that have been masked by chlorophyll show up. These pigments give the ginkgo its clear yellow color. Redbud, larch, hickory, birch and witch hazel turn hues of yellow and gold.

Some plants produce anthocyanins (red and purple pigments) that may mask the yellow pigments. Some maples, dogwood, black tupelo, oaks and winged euonymous seem to be on fire with red and purple.

Anthocyanin production increases with increased sugars in the leaves. A fall season with sunny days and cool nights increases sugar content of the leaves and intensifies fall reds. This also explains the two-tone effect on green ash which exhibits yellow on leaves inside the tree and purple on the outside leaves where they are exposed to sunlight. It also explains the amelanchier which may be red on top branches and yellow on bottom branches.

The tans and browns of oaks are caused by tannins which accumulate as the chlorophyll disappears.

Fall color starts in September with poison ivy and sumac and ends in November with the larches and weeping willows. Frost and freezing temperatures will stop the coloration process and blacken the leaves.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Strange and interesting images from Google Earth

Last year, one of the Google Earth Community members ‘Valery35′ found a huge picture (36 miles tall) of Santa on Google Earth.

This giant pink bunny (Google Earth coordinates 44.244273,7.769737) in Prata Nevoso, Italy, was built by a group of artists from Vienna, according to published accounts. It's 200 feet long and answers to the name "Hare."

National Geographic partnered with Google Earth on a project called Africa Megaflyover. The magazine has made more than 500 high-resolution images accessible through Google Earth, including this close-up view (Google Earth coordinates 15.298693,19.429661) of camels and their caretakers taking a water break in Nigeria.

Google's satellites sometimes catch the Earth's inhabitants on the move, like these ten African elephants (Google Earth coordinates 10.903497,19.93229).