New IPCC report due out in two months
The newest IPCC report is due out this fall and should provide yet another sobering view on the state and future of the earth’s climate. You’ll see figures including 11 C increases within the next 80 years (see here) and more. Before it comes out though some of the major model projections were discussed in this paper last year, which does an impressive job of laying out how much better models are actually getting, or aren’t. This is one of the best papers I have read in a while for its tone, approach and angle.
Oh boy. If this doesn’t freak you out, nothing will.
Brian skerry photographs the results of commercial bluefin tuna fishing in the mediterranean. The world wildlife fund estimates that each year, 4.4 million sharks and 90,000 turtles are unintentionally caught as bycatch from unregulated commercial tuna fisheries using long lines and drift nets. A shark caught in a net will suffocate to death. Shark numbers have declined by as much as 80 per cent worldwide, with a third of all species now threatened by extinction (pew charitable trusts)
The skull is about six-feet long and is believed to weigh about 1,000 pounds. It was excavated in July from the cliffs at the edge of the Potomac on the grounds of Stratford Hall, the home of Virginia’s Lee family and the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. The rest of the skeleton, which experts believe belongs to a type of baleen whale that has since gone extinct, remains embedded in Stratford Hall’s sand-colored cliffs….
The eroding river bank where the fossil was found is one of the world’s few Miocene cliffs, said Jim Schepmoes, Stratford’s spokesman, referring to the geological epoch 5 million to 23 million years ago. Thousands of shark teeth have been found there, and the area is known to be rich in marine fossils. Whales are relatively common in the area, so the rogue bone has been found in the past.
“But to have such a large and complete specimen is pretty uncommon,” Nance said. “In a marine environment, the bones are usually scavenged and scattered all about. . .. The really interesting thing,” he said, “is we have all the post-cranial material — the vertebrae, the ribs, the flipper bones. It will give us a more complete picture of what these animals looked like.” Schepmoes agreed that the whale “is about the biggest” fossil discovery in the cliffs because it seemed to be in one piece….
Nance said the determination of the fossil’s age was based on the geologic formation, known as the Calvert Formation, in the cliffs where the bones were found. Scientists have been studying the Calvert Formation for more than 100 years and have dated the various layers of rock, dirt and sediment. This makes it possible to determine the age of a fossil in relation to where it is discovered. The specimen was identified as a baleen whale based on skull size and shape, and Nance noted that it belongs to a family of whales that is extinct. However, its shape and appearance would be comparable to a modern-day minke whale, he said. It is believed that the fossil belonged to a whale that would have been 25 or more feet long from nose to tail. Scientists won’t be able to conclusively determine the whale’s species until the entire fossil is excavated, cleaned and examined, Nance said.
(via The Washington Post)