“The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.”

“The plane to Lisbon, you would like to be on it. 
Why, what’s in Lisbon? 
To get back to America. I’ve often speculated why you don’t return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Did you run off with the Senator’s wife? I like to think that you killed a man, it’s the romantic in me. 
It’s a combination of all three. 
And what in Heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca? 
My health, I came to Casablanca for the waters. 
The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert. 
I was misinformed.” - Reins & Bogart, Casablanca (1942)



The Atlantic Ocean dances with the Sun and volcanoes


The Atlantic Ocean dances with the Sun and volcanoes
by Christina Troelsen for Aarhus News
Aarhus, Sweden (SPX) Apr 04, 2014

Ocean temperature has been regularly measured since 1870, which makes it possible to calculate a mean temperature at each point for the period 1870 to the present day. Ocean temperature varies throughout the year and there are significant variations due to weather systems and over longer timescales. These illustrations show how the average temperatures over 20-year intervals have varied between cold (blue) and warm (red) periods. This variation is called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, abbreviated to AMO. Illustration courtesy Bo Holm Jacobsen, Aarhus Universitet. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Natural fluctuations in the ocean temperature in the North Atlantic have a significant impact on the climate in the northern hemisphere. These fluctuations are the result of a complex dance between the forces of nature, but researchers at Aarhus University can now show that solar activity and the impact of volcanic eruptions have led this dance during the last two centuries.

Imagine a ballroom in which two dancers apparently keep in time to their own individual rhythm. The two partners suddenly find themselves moving to the same rhythm and, after a closer look, it is clear to see which one is leading.

It was an image like this that researchers at Aarhus University were able to see when they compared studies of solar energy release and volcanic activity during the last 450 years, with reconstructions of ocean temperature fluctuations during the same period.

The results actually showed that during the last approximately 250 years – since the period known as the Little Ice Age – a clear correlation can be seen where the external forces, i.e. the Sun’s energy cycle and the impact of volcanic eruptions, are accompanied by a corresponding temperature fluctuation with a time lag of about five years.

In the previous two centuries, i.e. during the Little Ice Age, the link was not as strong, and the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean appears to have followed its own rhythm to a greater extent.

The results were recently published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

In addition to filling in yet another piece of the puzzle associated with understanding the complex interaction of the natural forces that control the climate, the Danish researchers paved the way for linking the two competing interpretations of the origin of the oscillation phenomenon.

Temperature fluctuations discovered around the turn of the millennium
The climate is defined on the basis of data including mean temperature values recorded over a period of thirty years. Northern Europe thus has a warm and humid climate compared with other regions on the same latitudes. This is due to the North Atlantic Drift (often referred to as the Gulf Stream), an ocean current that transports relatively warm water from the south-west part of the North Atlantic to the sea off the coast of Northern Europe.

Around the turn of the millennium, however, climate researchers became aware that the average temperature of the Atlantic Ocean was not entirely stable, but actually fluctuated at the same rate throughout the North Atlantic. This phenomenon is called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), which consists of relatively warm periods lasting thirty to forty years being replaced by cool periods of the same duration. The researchers were able to read small systematic variations in the water temperature in the North Atlantic in measurements taken by ships during the last 140 years.

Although the temperature fluctuations are small – less than 1C – there is a general consensus among climate researchers that the AMO phenomenon has had a major impact on the climate in the area around the North Atlantic for thousands of years, but until now there has been doubt about what could cause this slow rhythm in the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean.

One model explains the phenomenon as internal variability in the ocean circulation – somewhat like a bathtub sloshing water around in its own rhythm. Another model explains the AMO as being driven by fluctuations in the amount of solar energy received by the Earth, and as being affected by small changes in the energy radiated by the Sun itself and the after-effects of volcanic eruptions. Both these factors are also known as ‘external forces’ that have an impact on the Earth’s radiation balance.

However, there has been considerable scepticism towards the idea that a phenomenon such as an AMO could be driven by external forces at all – a scepticism that the Aarhus researchers now demonstrate as unfounded

“Our new investigations clearly show that, since the Little Ice Age, there has been a correlation between the known external forces and the temperature fluctuations in the ocean that help control our climate. At the same time, however, the results also show that this can’t be the only driving force behind the AMO, and the explanation must therefore be found in a complex interaction between a number of mechanisms.

“It should also be pointed out that these fluctuations occur on the basis of evenly increasing ocean temperatures during the last approximately fifty years – an increase connected with global warming,” says Associate Professor Mads Faurschou Knudsen, Department of Geoscience, Aarhus University, who is the main author of the article. Convincing data from the Earth’s own archives

Researchers have attempted to make computer simulations of the phenomenon ever since the discovery of the AMO, partly to enable a better understanding of the underlying mechanism. However, it is difficult for the computer models to reproduce the actual AMO signal that can be read in the temperature data from the last 140 years.

Associate Professor Knudsen and his colleagues instead combined all available data from the Earth’s own archives, i.e. previous studies of items such as radioactive isotopes and volcanic ash in ice cores. This provides information about solar energy release and volcanic activity during the last 450 years, and the researchers compared the data with reconstructions of the AMO’s temperature rhythm during the same period.

“We’ve only got direct measurements of the Atlantic Ocean temperature for the last 140 years, where it was measured by ships. But how do you measure the water temperature further back in time? Studies of growth rings in trees from the entire North Atlantic region come into the picture here, where ‘good’ and ‘bad’ growth conditions are calibrated to the actual measurements, and the growth rings from trees along the coasts further back in time can therefore act as reserve thermometers,” explains Associate Professor Knudsen.

The results provide a new and very important perspective on the AMO phenomenon because they are based on data and not computer models, which are inherently incomplete. The problem is that the models do not completely describe all the physical correlations and feedbacks in the system, partly because these are not fully understood. And when the models are thus unable to reproduce the actual AMO signal, it is hard to know whether they have captured the essence of the AMO phenomenon. Impact of the sun and volcanoes

An attempt to simply explain how external forces such as the Sun and volcanoes can control the climate could sound like this: a stronger Sun heats up the ocean, while the ash from volcanic eruptions shields the Sun and cools down the ocean. However, it is hardly as simple as that.

“Fluctuations in ocean temperature have a time lag of about five years in relation to the peaks we can read in the external forces. However, the direct effect of major volcanic eruptions is clearly seen as early as the same year in the mean global atmospheric temperature, i.e. a much shorter delay. The effect we studied is more complex, and it takes time for this effect to spread to the ocean currents,” explains Associate Professor Knudsen.

“An interesting new theory among solar researchers and meteorologists is that the Sun can control climate variations via the very large variations in UV radiation, which are partly seen in connection with changes in sunspot activity during the Sun’s eleven-year cycle. UV radiation heats the stratosphere in particular via increased production of ozone, which can have an impact on wind systems and thereby indirectly on the global ocean currents as well,” says Associate Professor Knudsen.

However, he emphasises that researchers have not yet completely understood how a development in the stratosphere can affect the ocean currents on Earth.

Towards a better understanding of the climate
“In our previous study of the climate in the North Atlantic region during the last 8,000 years, we were able to show that the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean was presumably not controlled by the Sun’s activity. Here the temperature fluctuated in its own rhythm for long intervals, with warm and cold periods lasting 25-35 years.

The prevailing pattern was that this climate fluctuation in the ocean was approximately 30-40% faster than the fluctuation we’d previously observed in solar activity, which lasted about ninety years. What we can now see is that the Atlantic Ocean would like to – or possibly even prefer to – dance alone.

However, under certain circumstances, the external forces interrupt the ocean’s own rhythm and take over the lead, which has been the case during the last 250 years,” says Associate Professor Bo Holm Jacobsen, Department of Geoscience, Aarhus University, who is the co-author of the article.

“It’ll be interesting to see how long the Atlantic Ocean allows itself to be led in this dance. The scientific challenge partly lies in understanding the overall conditions under which the AMO phenomenon is sensitive to fluctuations in solar activity and volcanic eruptions,” he continues.

“During the last century, the AMO has had a strong bearing on significant weather phenomena such as hurricane frequency and droughts – with considerable economic and human consequences. A better understanding of this phenomenon is therefore an important step for efforts to deal with and mitigate the impact of climate variations,” Associate Professor Knudsen concludes.

Like a giant elevator to the stratosphere

Originally posted on spiritandanimal.wordpress.com:

Like a giant elevator to the stratosphere
by Staff Writers
Potsdam, Germany (SPX) Apr 08, 2014

In tropical thunderstorms over the West Pacific air masses and the chemical substances they contain are quickly hurled upward to the edge of the stratosphere. If there are sufficient OH molecules in the atmosphere, the air is extensively cleaned by chemical transformation processes. Where OH concentrations are low, such as those now found in large sections of the tropical West Pacific, the cleaning capacity of the atmosphere is reduced. Image courtesy Markus Rex, Alfred Wegener Institute.

An international team of researchers headed by Potsdam scientist Dr. Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute has discovered a previously unknown atmospheric phenomenon over the South Seas. Over the tropical West Pacific there is a natural, invisible hole extending over several thousand kilometres in a layer that prevents transport of most of the natural and…

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Erfinderischer Orca auf Robbenjagd Video

Erfinderischer Orca auf Robbenjagd

Große Schwertwale, auch Orcas genannt, sind raffinierte Jäger. Ein Tierfilmer hat ein Exemplar in Argentinien dabei beobachtet, wie es sich absichtlich an den Strand spülen lässt. Denn dort wartet fette Beute.

Im seichten Wasser in Strandnähe fühlen sich Robben sicher. Zu unrecht, wie das Video von Gil Arbel zeigt. Der 43-jährige Naturfilmer wurde an der Küste der Halbinsel Valdes Zeuge, wie sich ein Orca an den Strand katapultiert, um eine Robbe zu erlegen. Mit der Beute im Maul rutscht der riesige Räuber schließlich auf den glatten Steinen zurück ins Meer.

What Happened to Nakai? SeaWorld Orca Missing Huge Chunk of Chin PLUS The 10 Rights for Dolphins as ‘Non-Human Persons’


What Happened to Nakai? SeaWorld Orca Missing Huge Chunk of Chin

This wouldn’t be the first time a killer whale was hurt by the steel and concrete confines of an artificial habitat…if that’s what happened.

Killer whale Nakai and the giant chunk of bone and skin missing from his chin—how did this happen? (Photo: Courtesy of Tim Zimmerman)

September 28, 2012

David Kirby has been a professional journalist for 25 years. His third book, ‘Death at Seaworld,’ was published in 2012.

David Kirby is author of Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity.

Nakai, an 11-year-old male orca at SeaWorld is missing a “dinner-plate sized chunk” of skin and flesh just under his mouth. The ghastly gash, first reported by journalist Tim Zimmermann, happened during a nighttime show at the Southern California park on September 20.

Was it “contact with a portion of the pool,” as SeaWorld contends? Or was it the pointed, precise teeth of Ike or Keet? We may never know.

It is not clear what caused the horrendous wound. SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz told reporters that Nakai “came in contact with a portion of the pool,” but gave no other details.

SeaWorld staff reportedly retrieved the sliced-off piece of Nakai’s chin from the pool bottom.

MORE: Exclusive Op-Ed: SeaWorld Appeals Ruling in Trainer’s Death

This would not be the first time that a killer whale was hurt by the glass, steel and concrete confines of an artificial habitat. Three whales at the now-defunct SeaLand of the Pacific—Nootka, Haida and the three-time killer Tilikum—often cut and scraped themselves on the metal edges of their nighttime pen. One whale in San Diego, Ikaika (Ike), recently sustained a nasty gash under his mouth, believed to be caused by a railing. And Kotar, an orca in San Antonio, died when a metal gate crushed his skull. Other cases have also been documented.

It is hard to understand, however, exactly what part of the tank at Shamu Stadium could have sliced such a large, clean, portion of flesh deep out of Nakai’s chin. SeaWorld may try to blame the metal safety railings it installed after Tilikum killed Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. But it doesn’t make sense that those bars, and the small bolts they contain, could have scalloped out such a large piece of flesh.

To many observers, this looks like a bite. According to Zimmerman:

It happened last week during a night show, seemingly during a major altercation involving Nakai, Keet, and Ike. It’s not clear if there was an aggressor or instigator, or if they all suddenly went after each other. In response to the altercation, Nakai split to the back pool. The onstage trainers, not realizing how badly injured he was, continued the show with the other whales. It was only when they called Nakai over later that night that they realized he was seriously hurt.

I have never heard of an orca taking a chunk of tissue from another orca, though I am certain they are capable of doing so. Killer whales have sharp teeth and they are extremely nimble at surgically extracting body parts from prey. Some orcas kill sharks only to excise and eat their livers; others prey on penguins and expertly remove their breast meat, leaving skin, feathers and bone to bob in the water.

Killer whales, like people, also get pissed off at each other. They frequently ram, block, and rake other whales with their teeth, in acts of brute aggression or repeated bouts over dominance. Sometimes these quarrels are deadly. In 1989, during a show witnessed by thousands in San Diego, the female orcas Kandu and Corky collided during an altercation. Kandu severed a major artery in her upper jaw and slowly bled to death in a back pool, spurting red jets of blood from her blowhole as helpless staff—and Kandu’s calf Orkid— looked on.

Orca society is female-dominated, and females at SeaWorld have been known to battle for supremacy of their little artificial hierarchies (where whales from different ecotypes, and even different oceans, are held—and bred).

But this supposed altercation involved three males. Among some orcas in the Pacific Northwest, testosterone-charged bulls burn off excess energy and aggression in periodic “male only social interactions,” or MOSI’s, which are staged apart from the females and calves of their pod.

These ritualized scrimmages help keep the peace among the males. But Nakai, Keet and Ike were all born in captivity (Nakai was the first successful orca birth at SeaWorld resulting from artificial insemination), and would thus know nothing about MOSI’s, because most whale social behavior is learned, and not instinctual.

In fact, these three whales are relatively new to each other. Nakai was born and raised in San Diego, but Keet and Ike were both transferred there earlier this year: Keet from San Antonio, and Ike from Marineland Ontario in Canada. Ike had been on loan to the Canadians but SeaWorld successfully sued to get him back, citing poor conditions at the Ontario park.

Also of note, though perhaps irrelevant, is Nakai’s rather notorious bloodline. His mother is Kasatka, who was involved in several incidents with trainers in San Diego, including the now-famous attack on Ken Peters in 2006 (see video here) and his father is Tilikum, who was involved in the death of a trainer in Canada in 1991, a trespasser in Florida in 1999, and Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

So what happened to Nakai? Was it “contact with a portion of the pool,” as SeaWorld contends? Or was it the pointed, precise teeth of Ike or Keet? We may never know—although a good forensics team could certainly determine the cause.

The truth is, SeaWorld simply does not have a felicitous explanation—it was either the tank, or the tank-mates that wounded poor Nakai.

In the wild, orcas rarely, if ever seriously hurt themselves on “portions” of the ocean like rocks and reefs (their astounding echolocation abilities see to that), although boat propellers can cause awful cuts and gaping gashes.

Likewise, wild orcas rarely, if ever, take giant chunks of flesh from each other. Not only would it be taboo in killer whale society, altercations don’t typically lead to life-threatening injuries. For one, a whale under attack can easily get away from its aggressor in the open sea, but not so at enclosed SeaWorld and other entertainment parks.

In either case, SeaWorld only has captivity to blame.

What do you think happened to Nakai? Tell us in the comments.

These are solely the author’s opinions and do not represent those of TakePart, LLC or its affiliates.

Watch These Fearless Activists Swim With a Tiger Shark and Save Its Life

Watch These Fearless Activists Swim With a Tiger Shark and Save Its Life

Australian rescuers revived the wounded predator and lived to tell the tale.

Most of us would avoid coming face-to-face with an ocean predator—but these conservationists put their fears aside to save a shark’s life.

After beach patrollers released a tiger shark trapped at a drumline—a floating hook installed offshore to reduce shark attacks—activists on three boats saw the predator flip over and sink below the surface. The boaters rushed to the wounded fish, and to revive it, they swam with it for an hour and a half.

“We kept tickling it under the chin and moving it to help get the oxygen into its system,” Animal Amnesty’s Amy-Lea Wilkins told Perth Now. “It wasn’t particularly dangerous. We could see the shark was close to death and it was a matter of everyone taking turns.”

Some of the 15 rescuers were on-site to document Western Australia’s controversial culling program, which places drumlines off popular beaches and hires fishermen to track and kill sharks. The local government enacted it in January following a series of fatal attacks.

Culling outrages many, including New Zealand scientist Riley Elliot. Questioning just how many animals had been set free by patrollers only to die later, he told the website, “This entire policy to protect the beaches came about to save tourism because everyone feared the sharks.”

Rescuer Ocean Ramsey said, “The Fisheries guys just don’t know how to handle the animals.” She was part of a film crew following the boat patrolling the drumlines.

“I feel like this cull is just coming out of fear and is a knee-jerk reaction by politicians because they feel like they have to do something.”

Luckily, this injured shark survived. “Everyone was starting to think it was time to give up,” Wilkins said. “Then it gave a kick, then a couple more big kicks and then it swam off. It was really classic.”

Norway keeps whaling quota unchanged for 2014

Norway keeps whaling quota unchanged for 2014
by Staff Writers
Oslo (AFP) April 01, 2014

 Norway keeps whaling quota unchanged for 2014
by Staff Writers
Oslo (AFP) April 01, 2014



Norway maintained on Tuesday its quota of previous years to hunt up to 1,286 whales in its waters in 2014, despite whalers repeatedly catching less than the limit.

“This year too, we have decided on a quota which guarantees continuity and a good framework for the whaling sector,” Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspaker said in a statement.

Norway formally objected to the 1986 commercial whaling moratorium and does not consider itself subject to it.

The Scandinavian kingdom and Iceland are the only countries in the world to hunt whales for commercial purposes.

Both nations argue that the whale species they hunt have a sufficiently large population to not be endangered.

The announcement came the day after the whaling industry suffered a serious setback: the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to end its annual Antarctic whale hunt of fin whales, a larger species than the Minke whale Norway catches.

The United Nations’ Hague-based court said that the programme was a commercial activity disguised as science and that most of the meat ended up on supermarket shelves.

In Norway, where whale meat used to be considered a poor man’s dish, whalers struggle to reach the quota: in 2013, only 594 whales were harpooned according to official data.

Animal rights activists say this is a sign of the consumers’ lack of interest.

“Year after year, the quotas aren’t reached and this new quota is unnecessarily high,” Greenpeace Norway head Truls Gulowsen told AFP.

“But that’s not a big problem: it’s a dying industry, because consumers prefer pizza to whale meat.”

Whaling professionals argue they do not reach the quota due to the whale meat processing plants’ lack of capacity, high fuel prices and distant hunting areas.

The hunting season goes from April 1 to September 30.

So Japan Can’t Hunt Whales Anymore? That Doesn’t Mean They’re Safe | Common Dreams

Originally posted on spiritandanimal.wordpress.com:

So Japan Can’t Hunt Whales Anymore? That Doesn’t Mean They’re Safe | Common Dreams.

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Pete Bethune, Earthrace Conservation, applauds International court verdict on Japanese whaling


Pete Bethune, Earthrace Conservation, applauds International court verdict on Japanese whaling

Pete Bethune

Pete Bethune


31 March 2014. The International Court of Justice in The Hague today (Monday, 31 March 2014) found in favor of Australia and New Zealand in the court case against Japan’s so-called Research Whaling in Antarctica.

Earthrace Conservation founder Pete Bethune, who was at the court for the original case in June 2013 and today to hear the verdict, said, “I am absolutely thrilled.  Today will go down in history as a great day for whales, for conservation and for justice.”

He said, “The verdict makes Japan’s Research Whaling program, which has killed many thousands of whales in the name of science, illegal. It also halts any likely copycat programs from the likes of Russia and Korea which had the decision favored Japan had been expected to introduce research whaling programs of their own”.

Bethune had his boat, the Ady Gil, destroyed when it was run over by a Japanese security vessel in Antarctica in January 2010.  He then spent five months in a maximum-security prison in Japan after he illegally boarded the vessel that had nearly taken the lives of himself and his crew. :::

Read more: http://www.international.to/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=58661:pete-bethune-earthrace-conservation-applauds-international-court-verdict-on-japanese-whaling&catid=37:world&Itemid=470