Amazon Waters: Conserving Wildlife, Securing Livelihoods

mazonasWhen most people think of conservation in the Amazon, images of rainforests – burned and bulldozed for cattle pastures and plantations – come to mind.

And, indeed, in the past two decades some 325,000 square kilometers of rainforest in the region have been lost. Fewer of us remember that the largest river system in the world originates in the towering Andes and the more modest elevations of the Brazilian and Guiana Shields.

Water flowing through the Amazon Basin nourishes millions of people and innumerable and incredible diverse species of wildlife. Covering nearly 40 percent of South America, these waters exceed in volume the world’s next six largest rivers combined. Далее

Water Recovery System, International Space Station

With the arrival of the new water recovery system (WRS) in November 2008, the International Space Station (ISS) moved closer towards its planned increase in crew and mankind took another small step towards the exploration of deep space.

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Reducing the need to be resupplied from Earth, the system will decrease the quantity of water and consumables required to be launched by about 6.8t a year and help make it possible for twice as many people to be accommodated on board. Далее

Water, water, anywhere?

Artist's impression of the planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581. (Courtesy: ESO)

Artist’s impression of the planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581. (Courtesy: ESO)

It’s a major discovery: a planet orbiting a red dwarf star some 20.5 light years away with Earth-like qualities, including a radius only 50 per cent larger and a mass about five more than our own planet.

But the potential of the planet to hold liquid water on its surface is what makes the discovery, unveiled Tuesday by the European Southern Observatory in Germany, so intriguing.

Though the planet is 14 times closer to its star than Earth is to our own sun, the star it orbits — the red dwarf Gliese 581 — is smaller and colder than our sun, meaning the planet lies in a potentially ideal temperature zone.

“We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid,” explained Stephane Udry, the lead author of the paper reporting the result, in a statement.

“Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth’s radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky, like our Earth, or covered with oceans,” said Udry, from the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland. Далее

Water conflicts come to the Andes as glaciers melt

Water-conflictsThe people of the Andes mountains have long benefited from melting glacial ice. But as those ice sheets start to disappear, conflicts over the diminishing resource could intensify.

The majestic Illimani mountain just south of La Paz provides a dramatic backdrop to the bustling Bolivian city. But for residents who have long lived in La Paz, the changes on Illimani are striking – the 6,439-meter high peak is covered with much less snow than just one or two decades earlier.

And the transformation on neighboring mountain Chacaltaya is even more dramatic. Not long ago, it was home to the highest ski region in the world at 5,300 meters. But skiers no longer head to the slopes of Chacaltaya because the mountain’s glacier literally disappeared in 2009. Далее

NASA reveals secrets of Antarctic sea ice growing as Arctic ice melts

Antarctic-sea-iceA new NASA study has revealed why Antarctic sea grows as Arctic sea ice melts. According to a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) report, NASA and British Antarctic Survey researchers have announced the first direct evidence that obvious changes to Antarctic sea ice drift caused by changing winds are responsible for observed increases in Antarctic sea ice cover in the past twenty years.

The evidence helps researchers understand how Antarctic sea ice cover has augmented due to climate change, while Arctic sea ice cover has significantly decreased.

Researchers looked at maps generated by the JPL from more than five million individual daily ice-motion measurements. The data reveals long-term changes in sea ice drift around Antarctica. Далее