2008 ozone hole larger than 2007’s hole

Maybe, I can say, “Not surprising…” Given all that we’ve been doing to our Earth. Nothing new. Nothing new. But I still believe we can do something ’bout it…

PARIS (UPI) — The European Space Agency says scientists have determined the 2008 ozone hole is larger than last year’s ozone hole but smaller than the 2006 hole.

“This year the area of the thinned ozone layer over the South Pole reached about 27 million square kilometers, compared to 25 million square kilometers in 2007 and a record ozone hole extension of 29 million square kilometers in 2006, which is about the size of the North American continent,” the ESA said.

Scientists said the depletion of ozone is caused by extremely cold temperatures at high altitude and the presence of ozone-destructing gases such as chlorine and bromine, originating from man-made products like chlorofluorocarbons, which were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol but linger in the atmosphere.

Julian Meyer-Arnek of the German Aerospace Center which monitors the hole annually, said since the polar vortex remained undisturbed for a long period, the 2008 ozone hole has become one of the largest ever observed.

The annual analysis is based on data provided by instruments aboard the ESA’s Envisat, ERS2 and MetOp satellites.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

from Arcamax Science and Technology e-zine, 10-09-2008

Water found in tiny beads from the moon

CLEVELAND (UPI) — U.S. researchers said they’ve discovered water in tiny beads of volcanic glass collected from two Apollo missions to the moon.

Jim Van Orman, a professor in the geological sciences department at Case Western Reserve University, said the findings suggest the water came from the moon’s interior and was delivered to the surface through volcanic eruptions.

The research team, which included scientists from Brown University, Carnegie Institution for Science and Case Western Reserve, said finding water on the moon’s surface could have a big effect on any future plans for long-term manned lunar presence or using the moon as a launching point for explorations further into space.

“Water contains the essential ingredients used for rocket fuel,” Van Orman said in a statement. “Certainly, if there is ice on the moon’s polar caps, that could be used. But if there is water in the rocks –and as much as our studies infer– that is another resource that could be tapped.”

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

from Arcamax Science and Technology E-zine, July 15, 2008

Biodiversity on Earth is declining

GLAND, Switzerland (UPI) — The WWF, also known as the World Wildlife Fund, says more than a quarter of the Earth’s wildlife has been lost during the last 35 years.

The organization’s Living Planet Index — produced for the WWF by the Zoological Society of London — shows populations of marine species, such as swordfish and scalloped hammerhead, were particularly hard hit, falling by 28 percent between 1995 and 2005. Seabird populations have suffered a 30 percent decline since the mid-1990s.

The index said land-based species’ populations fell by 25 percent between 1970 and 2005, and populations of freshwater species by 29 percent between 1970 and 2003.

Scientists said habitat destruction and wildlife trade were among the major causes of population declines but climate change is expected to become an increasingly important factor.

“No one can escape the impact of biodiversity loss,” said James Leape, WWF’s director general, “because reduced global diversity translates quite clearly into fewer new medicines, greater vulnerability to natural disasters and greater effects from global warming.”

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

from Arcamax Science and Technology e-zine, 05-19-2008

Part of cosmos’ missing matter is found

PARIS (UPI) — The European Space Agency says its orbiting X-ray observatory XMM-Newton has uncovered part of the missing matter in the universe.

Scientists say all matter in the universe is distributed in a cosmic web-like structure. At dense nodes of the cosmic web are clusters of galaxies. Astronomers suspected the low-density gas permeates the filaments of that cosmic web.

An international team of astronomers, using XMM-Newton were observing a pair of galaxy clusters about 2.3 billion light-years from Earth when they saw a bridge of hot gas connecting the clusters.

“The hot gas that we see in this bridge or filament is probably the hottest and densest part of the diffuse gas in the cosmic web, believed to constitute about half the baryonic matter in the universe,” said Norbert Werner of the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and leader of the research team.

“This is only the beginning,” added Werner. “To understand the distribution of the matter within the cosmic web, we have to … ultimately launch a dedicated space observatory to observe the cosmic web with a much higher sensitivity than possible with current missions.”

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

from Arcamax Science and Technology e-zine, 05-08-2008