Science

USCGC Polar Star Makes New Zealand Trip

The USCGC Polar Star escorts a tanker through the sea ice of McMurdo Sound. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard New Zealand has granted the United States permission for a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, the USCGC Polar Star, to visit the port of Lyttelton later this month. The icebreaker will make the port call on its way to its home port of Seattle after completing a resupply mission supporting the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), which is managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The U.S. embassy in Wellington announced the port call earlier this week. New Zealand has not permitted port calls by U.S. naval and military vessels since its government passed a 1984 anti-nuclear law banning warships carrying nuclear weapons or operating with nuclear propulsion – something the U.S. does not disclose about its ships. Last summer, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer made the first New Zealand port call since…
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Volcanic Eruption Masked Acceleration in Sea Level Rise

Mount Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption and its effects masked sea level rise. Credit: USGS The cataclysmic 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines masked the full impact of greenhouse gases on accelerating sea level rise, according to a new study. “These scientists have disentangled the major role played by the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo on trends in global mean sea level,” said Anjuli Bamzai, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research. “This research is vital as society prepares for the potential effects of climate change.” Satellite observations of the ocean surface, which began in 1993, indicated the rate of sea level rise was holding fairly steady at about 3 millimeters per year. As the pace of warming oceans and melting glaciers and ice sheets accelerated, scientists expected to see a corresponding increase in the rate of sea level rise.…
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Experts to Use Drones to Discover More about Killer Whales

Drone footage of Killer Whales. Image-Video screenshot NOAA/Vancouver Aquarium Drones will be used to discover more about the social lives of killer whales as part of new research which could help protect the species. Experts from the Universities of York, Exeter and the Center for Whale Research in Washington State, USA, believe drone footage could revolutionise our understanding of whale behaviour. Researchers have so far analysed hundreds of hours of video of killer whale family groups, observing their relationships during fleeting glimpses as the whales surface for breath. They found female killer whales who survive after menopause pass on crucial information which helps their family members to find food during hard times. Only humans and some whales continue to live for many years after giving birth to their last offspring. Such research provides possible insights into the reasons behind this, and is the subject of a new BBC Radio 4…
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Tight Evidence for What killed St. Paul Mammoths

The crater on Lake Hill of St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Photo courtesy Mat Wooller. Using the tiniest of clues, scientists have determined what probably killed the woolly mammoths of St. Paul Island — thirst. “It looks like climate did them in,” said Matthew Wooller, the UAF scientist who in 2013 went to St. Paul as part of a diverse team and brought back lake cores for analysis. “The smoking gun looks like access to freshwater resources was the coups de gras.” Wooller and other researchers have been working on the mystery for a few years. They used tools that help them analyze tiny things like ancient pollen grains and fragments of a fungus that lived on animal dung. Their research, in which they “solve the puzzle of extinction” of the St. Paul mammoths, just became public in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Some…
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Seven Myths About Introverts Featured

1. Alone time isn't lonely  We introverts recharge our batteries by spending time alone. When you see us off in our own world, reading a book or playing a game on our phones, it doesn't mean we're bored. It doesn't mean we need a distraction. It doesn't mean we need cheering up. What it means is that we need time to be silent with ourselves. It means we're unwinding in the way the feels best for our brains, which is usually self-guided relaxation through a passive activity. Most introverts need 3-4 hours a day of downtime where we aren't directly engaging with people, social situations, or being on stage. It may look like we're just waiting for something better to do, but I assure you: we are exactly where we want to be.  2. We don't need more friends Introverts tend to have small social circles. We have deep, intimate…
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Summer Solstice Doesn’t Mean Maximum Warmth

Summer solstice is not often the warmest part of Alaska’s summer. Photo by Ned Rozell. A person might think that since we get our maximum sunlight on the summer solstice (on or about June 21), we should also get our peak warmth then. The sun’s calling the shots, right? Not entirely, said former Alaskan Martha Shulski, author of “The Climate of Alaska” and now climatologist for the state of Nebraska. “Alaska is warmest a few weeks after the solstice,” she said. A lag exists between the peak of solar energy input and the warmth we feel. It’s a phenomenon that also shows up in winter or when people’s pipes mysteriously freeze in May. “You see (the lag) in a lot of different places,” Shulski said. Temperatures peak several weeks after we get the most sunlight because the ground absorbs energy from the sun and releases it to the air. This…
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