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Scientists Have Discovered A Massive Freshwater Sea Buried Beneath The Atlantic Ocean

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Scientists Have Discovered A Massive Freshwater Sea Buried Beneath The Atlantic Ocean
Photo Credit: Live Science

Scientists recently discovered a massive aquifer of freshwater hidden from view just off the US coast. The freshwater extends from Southern New Jersey to Massachusetts and has sat undisturbed since the last Ice Age.

While the vast size of this massive cache is surprising, it’s not entirely unexpected. Signals of the water first showed up in the 1970s, when companies drilling off the coast searching for oil sometimes hit freshwater instead. But it wasn’t clear whether these freshwater deposits were isolated pockets or whether they covered a larger expanse.

“We knew there was fresh water down there in isolated places, but we did not know the extent or geometry,” said lead author Chloe Gustafson.

The yellow hatched area shows where the giant aquifer is hiding off the coast of New England.
Credit: Gustafson et al., 2019; CC BY 4.0

This water isn’t young, either. The researchers said they suspect that much of it is from the last ice age.

HOW DID ALL THAT FRESH WATER END UP UNDER THE OCEAN?

The aquifer likely came into being at the end of the last ice age, the researchers said. About 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, much of the world’s water was locked up in glaciers, making sea levels lower than they are now. As temperatures rose and the ice covering the U.S. Northeast melted, water washed away huge quantities of sediments, which formed river deltas on the still-exposed continental shelf. Large pockets of fresh water from the melted glaciers then got stuck in these sediment traps. Later, sea levels rose, trapping the sediment and fresh water under the ocean.

However today, it appears that the aquifer isn’t stagnant. Rather, it’s likely fed by subterranean run-off from the land. This water is then likely pumped seaward by the rising and falling pressure of the tides.

This conceptual model shows how offshore groundwater feeds the aquifer.
Credit: Gustafson et al., 2019; CC BY 4.0

The aquifer is purest close to shore and gets saltier farther out, indicating that it is slowly mixing with seawater. The freshwater near land is about 1-part-per-thousand salt, much like other terrestrial fresh water. In contrast, by the aquifer’s outer edges, it’s about 15 parts per thousand, which is still lower than typical seawater’s level of 35 parts per thousand.

In other words, this water would have to be desalinated before it can be used, but costwise it would still be cheaper to process than regular salt water.

“We probably don’t need to do that in this region, but if we can show there are large aquifers in other regions, that might potentially represent a resource,” Kerry Key a geophysicist said in a statement.

Scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory published their research on the topic in the journal Scientific Reports. The research team used electromagnetic sensors towed behind a research ship to measure the difference in conductivity in the water below. Salt water is much more conductive than freshwater and thus the research team was looking for areas of low conductance.

Source of article: Forbes & Live Science

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Environment

Majestic And Haunting Red Jellyfish Lightning Over Texas Captured In Brilliant Photos

These haunting spurts of lightning have been dubbed “sprites.”

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Majestic And Haunting Red Jellyfish Lightning Over Texas Captured In Brilliant Photos
Photo Credit: Stephen Hummel

Scientists have been documenting rare phenomenon in recent years: streaks of red lightning that resemble the tentacles of a glowing crimson jellyfish hanging high from the sky.

These haunting spurts of lightning have been dubbed “sprites,” and are the product of super-fast electrical bursts that occur high up in the atmosphere some 37 to 50 miles in the sky, reaching toward space, according to the European Space Agency.

While sprites have been sighted over every continent besides Antarctica since their discovery in 1989, the phenomenon still isn’t very well known – they last mere tenths of a second, and generally are hidden from those of us on the ground by heavy storm clouds.

Stephen Hummel, an expert on dark skies at the Austin McDonald Observatory, managed to capture a perfect photo of these sprites on July 2 from his vantage point on a ridge on Mount Locke in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

Hummel snapped the photo while he was recording dozens of hours of footage throughout the year. On that July night, he had already recorded four and a half hours of footage before capturing the sprite – and he had also recorded some 70 hours of footage and stills including 70 sprites this year, he told Business Insider.

“Sprites usually appear to the eye as very brief, dim, grey structures. You need to be looking for them to spot them, and oftentimes I am not certain I actually saw one until I check the camera footage to confirm,” Hummel said.

Sprites often resemble alien like jellyfish-style creatures dangling from the ionosphere, or the layer that lies just above the dense lower atmosphere. In other cases, they look like vertical red pillars with thin, curling tendrils – and these are called carrot curls due to their resemblance to the root vegetable.

Sprites are difficult to see from the ground during massive thunderstorms because of the clouds, but also because they happen so far from the Earth’s surface – however, they are far easier to observe from the International Space Station.

Sprites were given their magical name by late University of Alaska physics professor Davis Sentman, who devised the name for this weather phenomenon due to it being “well suited to describe their appearance” and fleeting, fairy-like nature.

In some cases, the jellyfish sprites can be absolutely massive, with Hummel’s recent photograph depicting ones that tower “probably around 30 miles long and 30 miles tall,” he said. In some cases, the massive glowing tentacles are seen upwards of 300 miles away.

However, no all thunderstorms produce sprites – instead, they occur when lightning strikes the ground, releasing positive electrical energy that requires balancing by an equal and oppositely charged electrical discharge into the sky. The sprites also occur much higher into the sky than regular lightning, which strikes in between electrically charged air, clouds, and our planet’s surface.

“The more powerful the storm and the more lightning it produces, the more likely it is to produce a sprite,” Hummel noted.

The red glow of the sprite is a result of nitrogen gas high in the atmosphere getting excited by the bursts of electricity resulting from lightning strikes.

As a sprite sparks, it turns red because of nitrogen floating high in Earth’s atmosphere. The gas gets excited by the burst of electricity and emits a red glow.

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‘Extinct’ Large Blue Butterfly Is Reintroduced In The Wild After 150-Year Absence

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Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) – A large blue butterfly that was previously extinct has been successfully reintroduced to the UK, with the pollinator repopulating large parts of the country after an absence of 150 years.

Some 750 of the large blue butterflies, which are marked by distinct rows of black spots on its forewing, have been spotted this summer around Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire, southwest England – a higher number than anywhere else in the world.

In 1979, the butterfly was declared extinct and hasn’t been seen in the Rodborough region for 150 years. The Large Blue is one of the rarest of Britain’s Blue butterfly species, reports BBC.

Last year, conservationists released some 1,100 larvae to the region after meticulously preparing the landscape for the butterflies’ return.

The globally endangered large blue butterfly has a unique life cycle that begins with tiny caterpillars tricking the area’s red ant population (myrmica sabuleti) into hauling them to their nest, while even “singing” to it, after which the parasitic larvae feast on ant grubs before emerging a year later as butterflies.

“In the summer when the ants are out foraging, nature performs a very neat trick — the ants are deceived into thinking that the parasitic larva of the large blue is one of their own and carry it to their nest,” said research ecologist David Simcox in a statement.

“It’s at this point that the caterpillar turns from herbivore to carnivore, feeding on ant grubs throughout the autumn and spring until it is ready to pupate and emerge the following summer.”

Controlling the red ant population was a crucial component of the project to reintroduce the blue butterflies.

For five years, a range of experts from the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation, the Limestone’s Living Legacies Back from the Brink project, Natural England, Royal Entomological Society and the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Committees of Commoners collaborated to prepare the area for the butterflies.

Cattle grazing were kept in check and the area’s scrub cover was reined in to help the area’s ant population, while wild thyme and marjoram plant growth was encouraged to ensure that the butterflies have their natural source of food and egg-laying habitats.

“Butterflies are such sensitive creatures, and with the large blue’s particular requirements they are real barometers for what is happening with our environment and the changing climate,” said commons area ranger Richard Evans. “Creating the right conditions for this globally endangered butterfly to not only survive but to hopefully thrive has been the culmination of many years work.”

The butterfly was reintroduced to the UK after caterpillars were brought to the country from Sweden in an ecologist’s camper van, writes The Guardian.

Experts now say that the large blue butterfly has “stronghold” sites around the country and have also naturally colonized areas across southern England, reports CNN.

The return of the rare large blue to the region marks one of the most successful insect reintroduction projects to date, and marks the culmination of a nearly four-decade conservationist effort in Europe.

“One of the greatest legacies of the re-introduction is the power of working together to reverse the decline of threatened species and the benefit the habitat improvements will have for other plants, insects, birds and bats on the commons,” Evans said.

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Environment

You Can Pedal Through The Redwood Forest On Rail Bikes In Northern California

There are currently about 50 rail trails in the USA, which are disused railway tracks that have been converted into multi-use paths.

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Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) – From the glory days of train travel to forgotten, overgrown rail tracks and abandoned stations, many unused and forgotten railways have been resurrected to take their place in the 21st century.

To the delight of those who enjoy time in nature, rail biking provides a new opportunity to explore the outdoors in a unique way for an awesome adventure definitely worth the experience.

There are currently about 50 rail trails in the USA, which are disused railway tracks that have been converted into multi-use paths, mostly for walking, cycling, horse riding and snowmobiling.

The historic Skunk Train railroad has run in the North Coast since 1885 and up until March 2019. At one stage it was the only way used by visitors to visit the majestic ancient redwood forest.

Generations of young and old took the Skunk Train to enjoy and admire the beauty of the trees.

We added some last-minute railbikes to the schedule for Valentine's Day! Join us out of Fort Bragg at 10:30am or 12:30pm on February 14th for the best couple's outing you could wish for!

Skunk Train paylaştı: 13 Şubat 2020 Perşembe

The Redwood Forests are located just 3 hours north of San Francisco along the Pacific coast and offers something for every nature explorer and it offers a fabulous Skunk Train rail bike route through the redwoods.

Each custom-made rail bike seats two per bike and literally whispers through the forest with pedal power. The bikes are safe on the tracks with no trains or other traffic to disrupt the journey, guaranteed! Low noise electric motors fitted to the bikes give tired legs running low on ‘steam’ to take a recharge break, without disrupting the peaceful surroundings.

Spend your Saturday exploring the wild beauty of Fort Bragg via a rail bike from the Skunk Train Depot. These open-air,…

Visit Fort Bragg, California paylaştı: 2 Mart 2019 Cumartesi

It’s a gloriously tranquil 1.5 to 2 hour round trip which starts at Fort Bragg, from where the tracks wind along the scenic Pudding Creek then cross over the wooden trestle bridges and continues into Mendocino County, heart of the magnificent ancient redwoods, estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, some reaching as high as 300ft into the sky.

The freedom rail peddling provides to survey the beautiful surroundings is amazing. It’s that exuberant feeling of ‘look Ma, no hands!’, leaving you free to look, slow down, take pictures and notice and discover so much more than any other mode of transport allows. Naturally, there are plenty of birds, including blue herons and osprey, as well as deer, otters and turtles around the rivers – and perhaps, during peak berry season, you might even spot a bear enjoying a berry feast.

Good news for our local Fans! In accordance with the updated Shelter in Place order allowing certain activities for…

Skunk Train paylaştı: 11 Mayıs 2020 Pazartesi

You’ve reached the halfway mark one you reach the Glen Blair Junction, which is a great spot to stretch your legs, enjoy a picnic and a walk into the forest to pay homage to the giant redwoods. With all that pure, clean air in your blood, the short trip back to Fort Bragg will be over far too quickly, albeit with plenty of beautiful photos and memories, it’s a sure bet you’ll be wanting to do it again, soon.

For bookings and rules safety, visit: www.skunktrain.com as well as www.railexplorers.net and www.themanual.com for other railbike adventures.

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Environment

In Colorado, You Can Hike A 2,744-Step Staircase Up To The Clouds

The stunning view from the summit is totally worth the effort, according to those who make it to the top.

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Colorado springs hike
Photo Credit: Mint Press News

(TMU) — If you love challenges and hiking, you’ll love the Manitou Incline in Colorado which was only legalized for hiking in 2013. Definitely not for the unfit, faint of heart or pets, the Manitou Incline is only a mile long but very steep, made up of 2,744 steps. The stunning view from the summit is totally worth the effort, according to those who make it to the top.

The website of the Incline Friends provide some finer detail: ‘’It is known as one of the most popular and challenging hikes in the Colorado Springs area. It is famous for its sweeping views and steep grade, as steep as 68% in places with an average grade just over 40%, making it a fitness challenge for locals in the Colorado Springs area. The incline gains over 2,000 feet (610 m) of elevation in less than one mile, to a height of about 8,600′. It can be completed by Olympic athletes in around 20 minutes, but it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on your fitness level.’’

Many hikers give a sigh of relief after making it past the steepest grade of 68%, thinking they have made it to the top, but alas, they’ve only reached what’s called the ‘False Summit’ and will need to take a deep breath and press on for another 300 feet to enjoy the majestic views which include the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs! For those unable to cope with the elevation, there is a bailout point about 2/3 of the way up which meets up with the Barr Trail, a 3 mile down trail.

The steps making up the Manitou Incline are the remains of what was once a funicular—or cable train—constructed in 1907 to get materials and workers to the top of Pike’s Peak for the construction of a nearby hydroelectric plant and waterline. Shortly after completion of the project, it was bought by the enterprising Dr. Newton M Brumback who turned it into a successful tourist attraction.

New owner Spencer Penrose bought the Incline Railway in 1923 and upgraded the whole operation. He rebuilt the summit station in 1958, providing a more upmarket dining and viewing experience for visitors. The Railway became too expensive to maintain and stopped operating in 1990.

The rail tracks were removed but the railroad ties left behind, forming a natural, ready-made staircase.

Before you make the trip to hike the Manitou Incline, check the weather conditions, familiarize yourself with the strict rules and regulations, take the time to adjust to Colorado Springs’ high altitude, wear appropriate hiking gear, take plenty of water and energy snacks and leave your pets at home.

The Manitou Incline is, like most attractions, closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic but under normal circumstance is open seven days a week from 6am to 8am from April 1 to October 31 and 6am to 6pm from November 1 to March 31.

The hike is free but parking at the Barr Lot, at end of the downward Barr Trail, is limited and cost $10. Alternatively, park for free and take the free shuttle ride from 10 Old Man’s Trail at the Hiawatha Gardens building. Another option is a reservation only lot or the parking lot by the Tahine Restaurant in Manitou Springs from where you can take the free shuttle to the Incline.

By Jade Small | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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