February 8, 2013

A polar bear with nowhere to go.     Photo: Martin Lopatka/Flickr

We May Have to Feed Polar Bears

Group outlines measures in new article

Humans may have to resort to feeding polar bears—and possibly even relocating some populations north—as sea ice continues to decline, a group of twelve prominent bear researchers have warned in a new article in Conservation Biology.

Andy Derocher, a polar bear biologist at the University of Alberta, said that flying in loads of meat for the bears could keep some groups around for another decade or two; however, he told Yale's Environment 360 blog that it would be a stopgap solution at best.

In Derocher’s view, feeding and relocation will only work for polar bears so long as they have some habitat remaining, which is unlikely in the next century if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed dramatically. “Keeping hundreds of semi-wild bears on a diet of bear chow doesn't fit my personal philosophy, but perhaps centuries from now, it will be viewed as visionary, if we eventually control those greenhouse gases,” Derocher says.

Derocher and co-authors Ian Stirling and Steve Amstrup emphasized that the ideas in the article are still just suggestions: Some of the solutions, such as intervention feeding, would require legislative changes to be put into effect. Arctic sea ice has declined steadily over the past several years.

In September 2012, ice coverage around the North Pole hit a new record low of 1.32 million square miles.

Via Environment 360

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists Find Life Under Antarctic Ice

First discovery of its kind

For the first time, scientists report that they have found bacteria living deep under the Antarctic ice in a network of underground lakes. An expedition drilled through half a mile of ice into the 23-square-mile, five-foot-deep Lake Whillans to recover water and sediment samples. Within the samples they discovered living cells. The extremophile bacteria, which survive without sunlight, could offer new information on how life could develop in similar conditions on other celestial bodies.

Montana State University’s John Priscu, calling in from Antarctica’s McMurdo Station, said that every precaution has been taken to prevent contamination of the lake with bacteria from the surface. Last year, Russian scientists claimed to have found life in Antarctica’s Lake Vostok, two miles deep, but were forced to admit the possibility of contamination from kerosene drilling fluid.

Via New York Times

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Lance Armstrong running     Photo: David Ortez/Flickr

Firm Sues Armstrong for $12M in Bonuses

Says he lied under oath

The sports insurance company that paid Lance Armstrong $12 million in bonuses for winning the Tour de France announced Wednesday that it intends to sue. A spokesman for SCA promotions said the suit will seek to recover money paid to Armstrong for wins between 2002 and 2005 and damages.

A lawyer for Armstrong says there is no grounds for the suit and that his client does not intend to pay:

"My only point is no athlete ever, to my understanding, has ever gone back and paid back his compensation," Herman told USA Today.

He said the dispute should be solely with Tailwind, the owner of the U.S. Postal Service-sponsored team Armstrong rode for, and not the cyclist.

An unsuccessful effort was made to settle the case out of court. The details of those negotiations have not been made public.

The latest development comes as U.S. media reported that Armstrong could face a fresh federal investigation.

Armstrong sued SCA after it delayed his 2005 bonus payment due to drug use allegations. In the proceedings, he testified under oath that he had never doped, and SCA settled with Armstrong shortly thereafter.

Via BBC

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Yosemite is famous for its glaciers and falls.     Photo: DeForestRanger/Flickr

Yosemite's Lyell Glacier Stops Moving

Highlights climate change

Yosemite's Lyell Glacier has stopped moving, according to scientists from the National Park Service—which means, it can no longer be called a glacier.

Lyell has been historically recognized as the second largest glacier in the Sierra Nevada Range, but climate change has taken its toll on the icepack and new measurements indicate that it has not moved in the past few years.

Researchers noted that the icepack on the Lyell Glacier has decreased by 60 percent since 1900.

The team also measured the Maclure Glacier, which is adjacent to the Lyell Glacier. John Muir first documented movement of this glacier in 1872. The research team mimicked Muir's measurements in 2012 by measuring stakes over the same period of the melt season. Despite a similar amount of ice loss as the Lyell Glacier, the team found that the Maclure Glacier continues to move at the same rate as that measured by Muir, about one inch per day. Although the Maclure Glacier has also thinned substantially, it is still thick enough to move and flow. Much of the downhill movement occurs by slow sliding at the glacier bed due to increased amounts of meltwater.

Researchers will continue to monitor the ice, which they say highlights the effects of climate change on Yosemite.

Via The National Parks Traveler

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    Photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr

Northeast Ski Resorts Welcome Blizzard

One to three feet predicted

While most in the Northeast are hunkering down for what could be the region’s worst blizzard in a century, the region's ski resorts are secretly pumping their fists for a big hit from Nemo.

Flights and trains have been canceled, schools have been closed, and single women are scrambling for blizzard boyfriends as the Northeast anticipates anywhere from one to three feet of snowfall. A pain for many, but a blessing for the Northeast’s struggling ski areas, as Quartz explains:

Ski resorts had a terrible year in 2012—the worst since 1991—because of unusually warm winter weather across most of the United States. But ski resorts in the northeast anticipate that the blizzard could significantly lift revenues this year: resorts in Vermont, for instance, have already seen reservations increase, and expect snowfall to allow more terrain to remain open, for much longer.

New Hampshire snowmobile dealerships are also laying out the welcome mat.

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