July 16, 2013

The Arctic may be ice-free by 2054.     Photo: U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr

Ice-Free Arctic by 2054

Researchers narrow the range

An ice-free Arctic may become the reality by 2054, says a newly released study by researchers at the State University of New York at Albany. While previous reports have pegged the climate-change milestone to anywhere between 2015-2100, by using two approaches to model conditions, study leader Jiping Liu was able to significantly narrow the time-frame.

Some experts find the precision of Liu's estimate to be "almost comical," but the range is "pretty typical of these models," Mark Serreze, an expert on Arctic sea ice at the National Snow and Ice Data Center told NBC News.

Compared to Liu, Serreze thinks the Arctic will become ice-free by 2030, but says there is an element of unpredictability to the reports. "Because what we're seeing here is that the sea ice cover continues to surprise us."

Changing conditions in the Arctic threaten polar bear and seal habitats and are projected to dramatically shift global climate patterns.

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    Photo: Youtube.com

WATCH: Diver Frees Whale, Warms Hearts

Right whale was caught in a fishing line

A Virginia diver became a true friend of the sea Friday when he freed a right whale from a heavy fishing line equipped only with a snorkel, a knife, and a GoPro.

Adrian Colaprete was fishing on a boat with two friends about 50 miles off Virginia Beach when they spotted the rare creature. They quickly realized it was caught on something and began following it with the boat. When they were close enough, Colaprete jumped in to assess the situation.

After observing the whale’s pattern of movement, Colaprete was able to come up beside it and cut the ropes wrapped around its fluke. You can watch the rescue in full detail below:

Right whales were nearly hunted to extinction in the 19th century. Only a few hundred remain in the wild today.

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    Photo: Bob Walker

Maine's Veazie Dam to be Removed

Will be breached Monday

Maine's Penobscot River will come one step closer to flowing freely into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in almost 200 years on Monday, when authorities begin the process of dismantling the hydroelectric Veazie Dam. Contractors will begin taking out the 830-foot concrete structure at 10 a.m., following a press conference and a ceremony presided over by an elder from the Penobscot Indian Nation.

The removal, organized by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, has been in the works for 14 years, since Pennsylvania-based PPL Corporation bought the Veazie and several other dams on the Penobscot.

In 2012, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust spearheaded the removal of the Great Works Dam, between Old Town and Bradley, Maine. The group hopes that the removal of the Veazie will open the way for the 11 species of ocean fish that use spawning grounds in the river to return.

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mystery of the Fat Gene Unlocked

Leads to higher levels of the "hunger hormone"

The FTO gene, or the “fat gene,” affects one out of every six adults, making them 70% more likely to become obese. However, the mechanism by which it did so was a mystery, until now.

A British-led science team studied blood samples from subjects after meals while simultaneously monitoring their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging. They found that people with the FTO gene not only had increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, but greater sensitivity to the hormone in their brains as well. "It's a double hit," said Rachel Batterham, who led the study.

According to Batterham, the discovery could provide exciting new leads in the fight against obesity, which kills almost 3 million adults each year.

Steve Bloom of Imperial College London said that while the FTO gene is only a small part of the obesity epidemic, this latest discovery symbolizes “an important step forward.”

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