Articles on this Page
- 06/09/14--01:43: _Twisters Hit Colora...
- 06/09/14--01:50: _Space Oddity: Bizar...
- 06/09/14--05:10: _Daily Downpours to ...
- 06/09/14--11:27: _First Vine Video fr...
- 06/09/14--17:10: _Drones Offer New Ho...
- 06/09/14--23:10: _Severe Storms Targe...
- 06/10/14--02:10: _Heat, Humidity to F...
- 06/10/14--02:26: _LOOK: Milky Way Gli...
- 06/10/14--14:07: _Photo: 'Big Apple' ...
- 06/10/14--17:10: _Drastic New England...
- 06/10/14--20:10: _First 90-Degree Hea...
- 06/10/14--20:10: _Strong Solar Flare ...
- 06/10/14--23:10: _Severe Storms Push ...
- 06/11/14--11:57: _Watch: Sun Erupts w...
- 06/11/14--23:10: _2014 Typhoon Foreca...
- 06/11/14--23:10: _Adidas Designs New ...
- 06/11/14--23:10: _Great Lakes Finally...
- 06/11/14--23:10: _Wet Weather to Damp...
- 06/12/14--13:35: _Penguins Once Thriv...
- 06/12/14--20:10: _Heat a Concern for ...
- 06/09/14--01:43: Twisters Hit Colorado: Minor Injury, Damage
- 06/09/14--01:50: Space Oddity: Bizarre Hybrid Star Found After 40-Year Search
- Top 10 Strangest Things in Space
- Star Quiz: Test Your Stellar Smarts
- Inside a Neutron Star (Infographic)
- 06/09/14--05:10: Daily Downpours to Drench Outdoor Plans Atlanta to NYC
- 06/09/14--11:27: First Vine Video from Space Posted by NASA Astronaut
- Soyuz Launch Photos: Expedition 40/41 Blasts Off to Space Station
- Space Station Photos: The Orbital Expedition 40/41 in Pictures
- Space Photos: German Astronaut Alexander Gerst's Blue Dot Flight
- 06/09/14--17:10: Drones Offer New Horizon, Solutions for Weather Modification
- 06/10/14--02:10: Heat, Humidity to Fuel Disruptive Storms at 2014 US Open
- 06/10/14--02:26: LOOK: Milky Way Glimmers Over New Hampshire Farm Museum
- 06/10/14--14:07: Photo: 'Big Apple' Seen From Space
- Manhattanhenge Gallery: Photos of NYC's Special Sunsets
- On the Ground: Hurricane Sandy in Images
- Will Climate Change Destroy New York City?
- 06/10/14--17:10: Drastic New England Lobster Decline May Be Linked to Warmer Waters
- 06/10/14--20:10: First 90-Degree Heat of Year to Hit Cleveland to NYC Next Week
- 06/10/14--20:10: Strong Solar Flare Eruptions Tuesday May Signal Potential for More
- 06/10/14--23:10: Severe Storms Push East to Pittsburgh, Raleigh Wednesday
- 06/11/14--11:57: Watch: Sun Erupts with 3rd Huge Solar Flare in 2 Days
- The Sun's Wrath: Worst Solar Storms in History
- Anatomy of Sun Storms & Solar Flares (Infographic)
- Attack of the Sun | Video Show
- Double Trouble Sunspot Flares Again - Multiple Wavelengths Video
- 06/11/14--23:10: 2014 Typhoon Forecast: Another Active Season for West Pacific
- 06/11/14--23:10: Adidas Designs New World Cup Ball to Suit Brazil's Climate
- 06/11/14--23:10: Great Lakes Finally Ice-Free After Record Ice Longevity
- 06/11/14--23:10: Wet Weather to Dampen East Through Friday
- 06/12/14--13:35: Penguins Once Thrived in Warmer Temps, But Now Face Climate Crisis
- Antarctic Album: Chinstrap Penguins of Deception Island
- 8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World
- Charming Chicks: Antarctica's Baby Penguins
- 06/12/14--20:10: Heat a Concern for World Cup Matches Friday
Monday, June 9, 2014
A damaged office trailer after it was blown over by a reported tornado at the Blackstone Country Club in southeast Aurora, Colo., on Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
AURORA, Colo. (AP) - Several tornadoes touched down as a line of severe thunderstorms swept through Colorado, with one of the twisters hitting near a junior golf tournament and injuring a caddy and others causing property damage, officials said.
Six of the tornadoes struck in northeast Colorado, while two others hit in Park County in the center of the state, the National Weather Service said on its website. At least three of them caused damage.
The severe weather was moving toward central Nebraska and western Kansas overnight before heading into Arkansas and Missouri, Weather Service meteorologist Frank Cooper said.
Aurora Fire Department officials said a twister touched down near the Blackstone Country Club, causing one minor injury and flipping an empty trailer.
Paul Cleveland, 16, who was playing in the golf tournament, said he and two other people were riding a golf cart when they saw a funnel cloud heading in their direction, swirling debris.
"I ducked down, protected my head and waited for the worst," he said.
Moments later, Cleveland said, the twister lifted the cart and threw it on top of a caddy walking nearby. The caddy, a man in his 50s, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, said Capt. Diane Lord with the Aurora Fire Department. Damage was also reported to a construction trailer.
Several other tornadoes were reported Sunday, including one in the tiny northeastern Colorado town of Grover and two others in northern Weld County. A twister also touched down in a sparsely populated area of southeast Wyoming, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.
The weather service said twisters also touched down in Douglas and Arapahoe counties, but there was no word of any damage.
Two twisters in Park County caused damage. A funnel cloud touched down near Fairplay about 65 miles southwest of Denver at about 11 a.m., damaging the roof of a home, Park County spokeswoman Linda Balough said.
"This is amazingly unusual at 10,000 feet, very unusual for it to happen up here," she said.
Another tornado was reported a short time later, about 40 miles away near Lake George, and caused "substantial" damage at an RV park, Balough said. No one was reported injured in either tornado.
Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin said a trough of low pressure created a "large extensive line" of severe weather along the Front Range from southern Colorado to the Wyoming border.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Image showing the location of the star HV 2112 - a hybrid between a red supergiant and a neutron star - in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that lies about 200,000 light-years from Earth. (Credit: Phil Massey, Lowell Observatory)
Astronomers have apparently discovered the first of a class of strange hybrid stars, confirming theoretical predictions made four decades ago.
In 1975, physicist Kip Thorne and astronomer Anna Zytkow proposed the existence of odd objects that are hybrids between red supergiants and neutron stars - the collapsed, superdense remnants of supernova explosions.
These so-called Thorne-Zytkow objects (TZOs) likely form when a red supergiant gobbles up a nearby neutron star, which sinks down into the giant's core, researchers said. TZOs look like ordinary red supergiants, like the famed star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion, but differ in their chemical fingerprints, the theory goes. [Top 10 Star Mysteries]
"Studying these objects is exciting because it represents a completely new model of how stellar interiors can work," study leader Emily Levesque, of the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a statement.
"In these interiors we also have a new way of producing heavy elements in our universe," she added. "You've heard that everything is made of 'star stuff' - inside these stars we might now have a new way to make some of it."
And now Levesque and her team say they have probably found the first TZO - a star called HV 2112 in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that lies about 200,000 light-years away.
The researchers used the 6.5-meter Magellan Clay telescope in Chile to study the light emitted by HV 2112. They found the starlight to be highly enriched in rubidium, lithium and molybdenum, just as theory predicts for TZOs. (Normal red supergiants produce these elements as well, but not in such abundance, scientists said.)
The new data, while suggestive, do not represent a slam-dunk discovery for TZOs quite yet, researchers said.
"We could, of course, be wrong," co-author Philip Massey, of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, said in a statement.
"There are some minor inconsistencies between some of the details of what we found and what theory predicts," he added. "But the theoretical predictions are quite old, and there have been a lot of improvements in the theory since then. Hopefully our discovery will spur additional work on the theoretical side now."
The find means a lot to Zytkow, who is a co-author of the new study.
"I am extremely happy that observational confirmation of our theoretical prediction has started to emerge," said Zytkow, who is based at the University of Cambridge in England. "Since Kip Thorne and I proposed our models of stars with neutron cores, people were not able to disprove our work. If theory is sound, experimental confirmation shows up sooner or later. So it was a matter of identification of a promising group of stars, getting telescope time and proceeding with the project."
The study has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Rain drops bead off of the Kauffman Stadium press box window on June 9, 2014, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
The weather this week will bring trouble in the East for those with outdoor plans and projects, as well as occasional travel delays.
Showers and thunderstorms will be nearly daily visitors in the Appalachians, and along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Seaboard. This includes cities from Miami to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston.
While it will rain less than a quarter of the time any given day, some locations can be hit by multiple downpours on multiple days.
The bulk of the rainfall will occur but will not limited to the afternoon and evening hours, when the greatest chance for a locally strong thunderstorm is also likely.
Thunderstorms in part of the Ohio Valley can be strong to locally severe at midweek.
Fans heading to ball games in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh this week should have the raingear handy.
In the coastal areas of the Northeast, a partial flow of moist air from the Atlantic will work to keep daytime temperatures on the cool side of normal for June.
High humidity will make it hard for those who exercise or work outdoors to keep cool and dry. Evaporation rates will be low and RealFeel(R) temperatures will be elevated because of the high humidity.
Because of the high humidity and cloud cover, nights most nights may be warmer than average, if not a bit muggy.
This flow of moisture can also lead to flight delays due to low clouds and fog on occasion.
Sunshine may be limited to a few hours or less on a daily basis for those trying to catch some rays at the beach.
A brief push of dry air may have enough punch to shave humidity levels in New England by Wednesday.
There is some good news for people in the Northeast who have plans this coming weekend. Early indications are that a push of dry air will advance across the region allowing some sunshine and a drop in humidity for Saturday and Sunday.
Since this forecast push of dry air will be week and aimed more eastward, it is unlikely there will be any significant change in humidity levels for much of the South. This may also translate to an ongoing risk of daily showers and thunderstorms.
Monday, June 9, 2014
An astronaut in space has just taken the social video-sharing Vine app into the final frontier.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman created a 6-second time-lapse video with the mobile app Vine, showing a never-setting sun from 240 miles (386 kilometers) above Earth on the International Space Station. He shared the clip with the world on June 6.
"1st Vine from space! Single Earth orbit. Sun never sets flying parallel w/terminator line," Wiseman wrote in a message that accompanied the video. [Amazing Space Photos by NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman]
Because the crewmembers aboard the space station travel around Earth at 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour) every 92 minutes, they might see up to 16 sunrises and sunsets each day. But the sun never seems to rise or set¬†when the station is aligned with the terminator line ‚Äî the boundary where the darkness of night meets the sunlight of dusk and dawn.
Wiseman is a new resident at the space station. He launched for a six-month mission on May 28 aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule along with¬†European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst of Germany and cosmonaut Maxim Suraev. They joined NASA's¬†Steve Swanson¬†and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev on the orbiting outpost as part of the Expedition 40 crew.
Wiseman had been active on Vine before his launch, posting videos while training and working in Russia. He has also been posting amazing photos of the Earth from space¬†on his Twitter account, sharing nighttime views of cities like Chicago and Dubai as well as shots of the planet's natural wonders like volcanic peaks in Chile and the coasts of Australia.
The 38-year-old astronaut is following in the footsteps of his NASA crewmate Swanson, who recently posted on the first Instagram photo sent from space -- a selfie taken April 7 in the station's cupola, a multi-sided window that faces Earth.
NASA established an off-Earth social media presence several years earlier. Mike Massimino became the first astronaut to tweet from space in May 2009, writing in his inaugural message: "Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!" Since then, other spaceflyers have followed. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield skyrocketed to fame last year for the videos and tweets he beamed from the station, including a viral cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" that was viewed more than 22 million times.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
This April 13, 2013, file photo shows a NASA Global Hawk robotic jet in a hangar at Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (AP Photo/John Antczak, File)
Cloud seeding may be the next frontier for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones, with potential global implications.
The state of Nevada was one of six selected test sites by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in December 2013. One of the state's focuses is how UAS can make cloud seeding an easier, more economical process.
Cloud seeding is the attempt to modify the amount of precipitation from clouds, done mostly in an attempt to alleviate drought by creating precipitation. Presently it is done by launching silver iodide into the clouds from the ground or by flying over top of the clouds and dropping the chemicals into the cloud formations.
There is still necessary research to be done before cloud seeding can be proven as an effective tool according to AccuWeather.com meteorologist Jesse Ferrell.
"It's hard to prove if it works or not because we don't know what would happen if we hadn't seeded," he said. Still, he sees how drones could assist the technology once more concrete evidence is gathered.
Cloud seeding is a more common practice internationally than within the United States. China is known to use the technique frequently. The Nevada government is hoping to break into the global weather modification market by working with this new technology.
Director of Weather Modification Activities at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, Jeff Tilley said that using drones for cloud seeding will offer a more cost-effective alternative to the controversial process.
Ground-based cloud seeding and manned airborne aircraft seeding are the two procedures currently used. While ground-based is the more common approach, it does not provide as much reach as the more expensive airborne. UAS could bridge the gap between the two and offer an alternative that is inexpensive, yet covers more area.
Fuel is one of the factors that drives up the price of airborne seeding and Tilley sees that as the area where the UAS could provide the most difference.
"You can very quickly go through a budget for a year's supply of fuel during one storm if you're not careful," he said. By using smaller, lighter drones, which weigh less than a typical seeding aircraft, the fuel cost difference would be substantial.
"Fuel is expensive, pilots are expensive and often in a storm you have to go up and down multiple trips," he said.
Using drones, especially in areas with mountainous terrain, could be a safer way to reach the clouds that sit close to the terrain itself. Manned aircraft cannot presently reach such clouds due to FAA regulations on the proximity of aircraft and terrain.
"The smaller size of the drones, and the fact they are not manned, provides potential opportunities for drones to fly below cloud base and seed there as well as at cloud top," said Tilley.
The process of the seeding itself will not drastically change, Tilley explained. Some changes will have to be made to the size of the flares due to the compact size of the drone versus a manned aircraft.
In order to measure the effectiveness of cloud seeding, they hope to use multiple aircrafts to gather simultaneous measurements.
Tilley and his team are working closely with the FAA to operate as a test facility for the cloud-seeding operations as well as researching other weather technologies to "increase the observational net," he said.
"The potential market for the technology is substantial bigger than the current cloud-seeding operational community," Tilley said. Entities within the U.S. and other countries would use the technology for whatever precipitation they need who currently cannot afford to use the laborious, aging technology available now.
The Nevada state government recognizes how quickly the UAS industry is developing and has a goal to become the global leader according to Thomas Wilczek, Defense and Aerospace Industry liaison at the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development.
"From the state perspective, there's that potential to capture a percentage of a $90 billion revenue-producing industry," he said.
Wilczek said that support has been strong from local government all the way up to state level and that there is an understanding as to how important this industry can be for Nevada.
"The industry was developed here," Wilczek said. "That subject matter expertise resides here in the state."
June 10, 2014
The threat of severe thunderstorms will focus over the lower Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee valleys into Tuesday night.
Cincinnati; Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Biloxi, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; New Orleans; and Atlanta are a few cities that are in the path of severe storms through Tuesday evening.
Damaging wind gusts will be one of the threats as storms track eastward across the region with gusts strong enough to bring down trees and power lines, resulting in localized power outages.
Torrential downpours will be the other major impact from these thunderstorms. Enough rain can fall in a short period of time to cause flash flooding and blind motorists.
Water that pools on roadways during these downpours can make it difficult to drive and increase the risk of hydroplaning and being involved in a weather-related accident.
In extreme cases, roadways may become completely flooded and impassable.
If you are driving and come across a flooded road, you should avoid driving through the water and find another route to get to your destination. Turn around, don't drown.
In addition to flooding downpours and damaging wind gusts, there is also the possibility for a few brief tornadoes spinning up.
Northeastern Mississippi and northwestern Alabama are the areas at greatest risk of having a twister spin up; however, they are not expected to be large, long-lived tornadoes.
Looking ahead to the middle of the week, a few showers and thunderstorms are forecast to linger around the area.
However, the threat for severe thunderstorms will shift north towards the Ohio Valley.
Storms on Wednesday could deliver gusty winds, as well as hail to Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh and Erie, Pennsylvania; and Charleston, West Virginia. The same potential for flash flooding will continue and could impact the commute in some metro areas, especially the evening drive home.
June 10, 2014
Lee Westwood, of England, hits out of the bunker on the 17th hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Monday, June 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
The 114th U.S. Open gets underway this Thursday, June 12, and lasts through Sunday, June 15, in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Hot and humid weather will set the stage for storms that may cause disruptions on a daily basis throughout the tournament.
The first scheduled tee time for this year's tournament set for 6:45 a.m. EDT Thursday, at the Pinehurst No. 2 course. While most of Thursday's morning rounds should be rain-free, a storm system moving through the area could jeopardize afternoon play.
"There will be a fairly strong storm system coming through the area [on Thursday] with quite a bit of moisture around," said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Brian Edwards.
Edwards added the wet weather will be most widespread during the afternoon and evening, and thunderstorms could cause problems all four days of the tournament.
In 2013, rain interrupted play at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
George Forster Jr., assistant golf professional at Merion, said preparations for last year's tournament were made years in advance so that they could properly test the drainage systems on the course to make sure that if it rained, the water would soak right through.
After the rain, the greens at Merion became a bit more receptive and the conditions weren't as firm as the United States Golf Association (USGA) tries to institute.
Forster said the Pinehurst No. 2 course has very minimal rough and while it is dependent on the weather, after the ball hits the playing surface, he expects it "to run a ton."
"We can pretty much guarantee that it's going to play firm and fast down there," Forster said.
Greg Nye, the head men's golf coach at Penn State University, said he doesn't anticipate drainage problems at Pinehurst.
The course is located in the North Carolina Sandhills region, and while all U.S. Open courses are set up to have proper drainage, Nye said the Pinehurst course has a sandy soil which handles water very easily.
In the event of a weather delay, it could be a good or bad thing for a player depending on how their particular round is going.
A player on a bogey streak would likely welcome to opportunity to come off the course to reevaluate their round unlike a player who's in a good rhythm of play.
"It's a part of their world, they grow used to it, [but] you never like it," Nye said.
For the golfers, getting their bodies physically and mentally ready to resume play can be a difficult thing, especially when it comes to replicating their playing rhythm, Nye said.
"They try to build that back up through a warmup, but that's a very hard thing to do, because it's not only a physical thing, but it's getting your mind back in that competitive place that it was at," Nye said.
Nye had access to the player's area at Merion and he said players tried to keep themselves in a playing zone by stretching in the clubhouse and by talking to their fellow competitors because they were all in the same boat.
For the second round on Friday, Edwards said the storms might be less active, but the threat will remain for afternoon rounds.
"It looks like moisture hangs around into Friday. It's probably a fairly similar day, more clouds than sun and highs in the upper 80s to near 90, but again, they'll have to deal with pop-up thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening," Edwards said.
"It's kind of a typical summertime pattern, where you get some heating and showers and thunderstorms bubble up, so it's fairly normal for down there," he said.
Nye said he doesn't expect much of a change in the way the greens will play if they are dry versus recently saturated.
"I don't think you're gonna see a big difference," Nye said. "I think that they're firm greens and they drain well; the water rolls off the edges of those greens."
Nye said even though it can be easier when greens soften up, he doesn't expect that to happen at Pinehurst because they have a sand base and are perched upwards.
"You might have a half hour to an hour of softer conditions where it's easier, but they'll firm right back up," he said.
Moving into the weekend, conditions on Saturday should improve with partly sunny skies and highs in the low 90s.
"There could be a pop-up thunderstorm, but I think it's a pretty small bet on Saturday," Edwards said. "A better chance is probably off to the south."
The chance for an afternoon or evening thunderstorm will remain for Sunday's final round.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Astrophotographer A. Garrett Evans took this image on June 1, 2014, at the Muster Field Farm Museum in Sutton, NH. (Credit: A. Garrett Evans)
The stars of the Milky Way galaxy and the New Hampshire countryside offer a spectacular sight in this amazing panorama view captured by a night sky photographer.
Astrophotographer A. Garrett Evans created this image during a night sky photo session on June 1 at the Muster Field Farm Museum in Sutton, New Hampshire. The image seen here combines 12 separate shots into a single panoramic view, a feat that took the photographer more than one try.
"I had taken a similar image the night before but the sky was so dark and the foreground had gotten lost," Evans wrote in an email. "I love the barns at this local farm museum and wanted to try and showcase them a bit more in the image." [Amazing Milky Way Galaxy Photos by Stargazers]
The Muster Field Farm Museum is a collection of historic barns, corn cribs, a spring houses, a school house, a carriage shed, and other artifacts placed on a 250 acres of fields and woods.
Our host galaxy, the Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy spanning between 100,000 to 120,000 light-years in diameter. It comprises gas, dust and roughly 400 billion stars. The dazzling band we see from Earth is the center portion of the galaxy where a gigantic black hole billions of times the size of the sun resides. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by Space.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at email@example.com.
The gridded streets, wharves and skyscrapers of Manhattan look like the work of ants in a new picture taken from far above.
An astronaut aboard the International Space Station snapped this photograph of New York City from about 220 miles (354 kilometers) up on May 5. The East River runs along the top of the photograph, and the Hudson River along the bottom. On the New Jersey side of the Hudson, a dark greenish line runs parallel to the river. This is the Palisades, a steep escarpment between 300 and 450 feet (91 to 137 meters) tall.
In the East River, between Manhattan and Queens, sits the slender Roosevelt Island, with the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge running over it. Farther toward the tip of Manhattan, the Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge are visible crossing over the East River. [Earth from Above: 101 Stunning Images from Orbit]
Humans and nature
This image was taken during the early afternoon, according to NASA's Earth Observatory, which released the image today (June 9). Nevertheless, the shadows of some of the city's tallest buildings can be seen, particularly in the Financial District toward the tip of the island, and in Midtown. Central Park appears as an orderly green rectangle, its 18-acre lake visible in blue. The bright dots scattered across the park are sports fields, according to Earth Observatory. Rectangular wharves line the banks of Manhattan, projecting into the Hudson River.
The steel-and-glass canyons of Manhattan align with the natural world a few times a year to create a phenomenon astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson has dubbed "Manhattanhenge." Four times a year, the sun sets directly west of the island's avenues, creating a golden glow that permeates the city. Two Manhattanhenge dates have already passed this year (May 29 and May 30), but hopeful skywatchers can look for the next occurrences on July 11 and July 12.
As engineered as Manhattan is, it is still vulnerable. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy highlighted the dangers of flooding in the densely packed borough. The storm brought the largest recorded storm surge in history to New York City, with the high-water level at the southern tip of Manhattan reaching 13.88 feet (4.2 m).
As the globe warms and sea levels rise, such surges could become standard. One 2012 study published in the journal Nature Climate Change estimated that 100-year floods could hit Manhattan every three to 20 years by the end of the century. These floods that are now expected about once a century bring a surge of 5.3 feet (1.61 m) of water to The Battery, on Manhattan's southern tip.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Despite booming populations of adult lobsters, marine biologists and fisheries along the northern Atlantic coast of the United States are concerned about a dramatic population decline for young larval lobsters. Scientists searching for the cause of this drop see signs that ocean currents and warmer ocean waters are possible culprits.
Dr. Rick Wahle, research professor for the School of Marine Science at the University of Maine and founder of the American Lobster Settlement Index, has been tracking lobster populations since 1989. The scope of his study today tracks the waters in New England and Atlantic Canada.
Wahle and his crew of divers are tasked with counting the larval populations of American lobster. He told AccuWeather.com that the last few years have seen some downturn, but that recently the decrease was more drastic.
"In 2013 we saw one of the most widespread downturns in the history of [this study] for sure," Wahle said.
The young populations are nearly 50 percent of what they were in 2007.
Though yet to be fully confirmed, Wahle stated it is likely that oceanographic changes are responsible for the population downturn.
Lobster eggs will float in the water for six to eight weeks before settling on the sea bed, he said. In that time they are vulnerable to wind-driven currents which will determine where they go.
Ocean temperatures can also heavily impact lobster development. According to Wahle, the comfort zone for lobsters is below 68 F. Lately, he said, summer waters have been warm enough to create stress for lobsters. In 1999, significant lobster deaths occurred in Long Island Sound. The fishery there has yet to recover from the 80 percent loss of their lobsters, with many lobstermen no longer able to work.
As a result of warmer waters, lobster populations have been pushing north. In the Bay of Fundy, which once was too cold for lobsters to thrive, now has larger populations.
"There are some dramatic changes going on in temperatures affecting the species range," Wahle said.
The warmer waters off the New England coast also allow shell disease to thrive, which eats away at the shells of lobsters. It can be fatal to the crustaceans or make them unmarketable for selling live. This problem was once more common in Rhode Island, but there are signs of the disease moving north into Maine waters.
It will take six to eight years to see what the effects of this population downturn will mean for the fisheries and lobstermen of the Northeast, when this group of larval lobsters will be large enough to harvest. Wahle's group tries to use the information they gather as a forecasting tool for future seasons.
Wahle stated that these early life stages are when the lobsters are most vulnerable. With this research, they are just now understanding what the short-term effects these larval numbers have, with little to no concrete information on the long-term effects.
"The larval stage is dependent on the egg-bearing females," he said, explaining that typically a low number of larval lobsters could point to a decrease in egg production.
However, in this case, Wahle said that the numbers of adult lobsters, including egg-bearing females, are at "historic highs," which helps point to the atmospheric causes for the decrease.
Wahle's team is focused on providing their research to fisheries to help them forecast and work to protect egg production for this valuable New England resource.
"We're not always in the driver's seat for future generations," Wahle said.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Temperatures may hit 90 F for the first time this season in New York City, Philadelphia and many other cities in the Northeast and the Ohio Valley during the middle of next week.
If you have been holding out because of cool conditions so far this season, now may be the time to put the air conditioner in the window or get your central air tuned up.
According to AccuWeather.com long-range expert Paul Pastelok, "A piece of the high pressure area responsible for the heat in the Southwest will break off and drift into the Eastern states next week."
Since 2000, the latest New York City has hit 90 was on June 24, 2003, when the high was 93.
The latest Philadelphia has hit the 90-degree mark was June 23, 2003, when the high was 92.
Other cities in the Ohio Valley and Northeast that have not yet hit 90 this year and may do so next week include Pittsburgh; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Indianapolis; Louisville, Kentucky; Harrisburg and Scranton, Pennsylvania; Hartford, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; and Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey.
"The heat next week will be accompanied by moderate to high humidity," Pastelok said.
AccuWeather RealFeel(R) temperatures may run 10 degrees higher than the actual temperature for a number of hours during the midday and afternoon during the peak of he hot weather.
Boston, Detroit, Chicago and other northern tier cities will be on the northern fringe of the heat but could break into the hot air and touch 90 for a short time. While Chicago did reach 90 on June 1 this year, Boston and Detroit have stopped short of the mark so far.
The core of the heat will settle over the Ohio Valley, the mid-Atlantic and southern New England next Wednesday.
"Monday to Tuesday of next week will be the transitional days as a warm front lifts slowly across the area from southwest to northeast," Pastelok said.
Some locations may squeeze out two to three days of 90-degree temperatures. While 90-degree highs are fairly routine in the Deep South in the summer, three days in a row of 90-degree highs are considered to be a heat wave in the Northern states.
Locally heavy, gusty thunderstorms can occur part of the region prior to the arrival of the heat Monday into Tuesday then on the northern rim of the heat as it reaches its peak.
"Late next week, the heat will be chopped down in stages from northwest to southeast as a series of fronts drop in from Canada," Pastelok said. "The core of the heat will then settle back over the Southwest states late next week."
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
A solar flare bursts off the left limb of the sun in this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 10, 2014, at 7:41 a.m. EDT. (NASA/SDO/Goddard/Wiessinger)
The sun produced two powerful solar flares Tuesday at approximately 7:42 a.m. EDT, which can have disrupting effects on Earth in radio, cell phones and other communicative tools.
The two X-class flares occurred within an hour of each other, a rare occurrence according to AccuWeather.com Astronomy Expert Hunter Outten. The two flares were not directed towards the Earth.
Still, the Earth likely felt effects in under a minute. Communication issues typically occur in the immediate aftermath of solar flares.
"Analysis is underway to determine potential impacts at Earth," NASA said in a statement.
There is the chance that more flares could occur in the following days. As the sun rotates, the flares could travel in a more direct path towards the Earth. The radiation from such a flare may cause radio wave disturbances to electronics, such as cell phones, GPS and radios, causing services to occasionally cut in and out.
Solar flares happen because of an internal process within the sun. Mark Paquette, AccuWeather.com meteorologist, explained the event as a "burp" from the sun.
"The 'burp' releases a stream of particles that comes away from the sun's surface and sets the whole thing in motion," he said.
There is evidence of the flares producing two coronal mass ejections (CME), which Paquette described as a "burst of energy that goes away from the sun and heads through space."
While some solar flares can produce northern lights, this pair is not expected to according to Outten. However, if there is another strong flare, the chance for northern lights will increase.
Had the flares developed a few days later, the consequences could have been more severe, though still not near the catastrophic events of previous solar storms such as the Carrington storm of 1859 and the March of 1989 Quebec storm.
The Carrington event produced intense northern lights and caused the telegraph systems in Europe and North America to fail.
While there are now measures to protect essential infrastructures from such events, there is no proven way to shield satellites effectively, according to Paquette.
This set of flares is among the top five most powerful of the current solar cycle, according to Outten. A solar cycle lasts 11 years and is currently at its peak.
Outten said the sun has been increasingly active after being slow for the last few weeks.
"The activity of sun spots is increasing," he said. "There is a potential for more strong solar flares."
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The threat for severe weather will continue to trend north and east on Wednesday, reaching into the mid-Atlantic and to the Carolina Coast.
Much of the East is expected to see showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday, threatening outdoor activities from New York all the way to the Gulf Coast.
However, severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts, hail and flooding downpours will only focus on a portion of this area.
Cities that could be impacted by these severe storms include Pittsburgh and Erie, Pennsylvania; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Charleston, West Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Richmond and Roanoke, Virginia; Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte and Fayetteville, North Carolina; Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina; and Augusta, Georgia.
"The bulk of the rainfall will occur, but will not be limited to the afternoon and evening hours, when the greatest chance for a locally strong thunderstorm is also likely." said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
This means that the worst of the storms could move through some of the bigger travel hubs in the area during the Wednesday evening commute.
Several baseball games set to be held across the region on Wednesday evening may face delays as frequent lightning from thunderstorms can make it dangerous for players to be on the field and for fans to sit in the stands.
Localized power outages are also a possibility as winds from storms can blow over power lines and bring down large tree limbs.
Although the threat of severe weather will decrease throughout Wednesday night, showers and thunderstorms will remain across much of the East.
More unsettled weather is in store from New York City to Atlanta through the rest of the week with showers and thunderstorms remaining over the region.
Thursday and Friday could also yield more severe weather with the primary threats remaining gusty winds and torrential downpours.
Be sure to check back with AccuWeather.com for more on the severe weather potential in the East later in the week.
The sun is hitting its stride. Earth's closest star shot off yet another powerful solar flare today (June 11) after producing a pair of major solar storms Tuesday.
The X1-class flare reached its peak at 5:06 a.m. EDT (0906 GMT) and came from Region 2087 near the southeastern limb of the sun's disk, the same region of the star that produced the two powerful solar flares yesterday. NASA captured an amazing video of the X1 solar flare using its space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Today's solar tempest did cause a brief radio blackout on Earth, but officials with the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center based in Boulder, Colorado, don't think that the flare has an associated coronal mass ejection ‚Äî a burst of hot plasma sent out from the sun during some solar flares. [See photos of the biggest solar flares in 2014]
While officials with the SWPC didn't initially think that Tuesday's flares produced a coronal mass ejection -- a burst of plasma associated with some solar flares -- later analysis shows that the flares did produced two CMEs. The first solar flare produced a relatively small CME, with the second merging with it shortly after, according to astronomer Tony Phillips at spaceweather.com.
Three X-class flares erupted from the left side of the sun June 10-11, 2014. These images are from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and show light in a blend of two ultraviolet wavelengths: 171 and 131 angstroms. (NASA/SDO)
The CME is expected to give Earth a glancing blow, when it reaches our part of the solar system Friday (June 13). It's possible that the incoming CME could create polar geomagnetic storms, according to Phillips.
The sun is in the active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 24. NASA officials now think the sun is in its maximum, which they have dubbed the "mini max." Although the sun's activity is on the upswing, this solar max is still quite weak by comparison to other solar maximums on record, NASA officials have said. Scientists expected that the solar maximum (the peak in the sun's activity for the cycle) would occur in 2013.
"It's back," Dean Pesnell, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a NASA statement Tuesday (June 10) on the sun's weather cycle. "Solar max has arrived."
Wednesday's solar flare is the eighth documented X-flare shot out from the sun in 2014. The most powerful flare of the year -- a monster X4.9-class flare -- occurred in February. X2 flares are two times as intense as X1 flares. If aimed toward Earth, X-flares can damage the planet's power grids and put satellites and astronauts in space in danger.
The sun also shoots out other, less powerful classes of solar flares. M-class flares can produce incredible auroras, and our nearest star also emits weaker C-class flares.
NASA has a fleet of sun-monitoring satellites in orbit today. The Solar Dynamics Observatory, the space agency's twin STEREO probes and the joint U.S.-European SOHO spacecraft all keep watch on the sun from space.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
A large boat sits on top of destroyed homes after it was washed ashore by strong waves caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Succeeding a season with the strongest typhoon in recordable history, near-normal numbers are expected for the 2014 West Pacific typhoon season. However, the onset of El Niño will intensify the storms that develop in this basin.
With roughly 28 tropical storms, 18 typhoons and 5 super typhoons predicted for the West Pacific basin this season, AccuWeather.com's long-range forecast team foresees coastal China and the Philippines to be at the highest risk for significant impacts from either tropical storms or typhoons.
As five to seven significant impacts are expected for both coastal China and the Philippines, Japan will also need to remain on high alert as meteorologists expect more storms to make landfall on the island nation this season.
1. AccuWeather.com is predicting a near-normal typhoon season.
2. The onset of El Niño will give tropical storms a better chance for development.
3. While China, Taiwan and the Philippines will be impacted this year, Japan may experience more storms than the 2013 season.
"Last year there were only one or two significant impacts on Japan, but this year we expect storms, at least in the later part of the season, to re-curve before reaching China," AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. "So, Japan may be impacted more this year than in the last few years."
For the 2014 season, Japan can expect approximately four to six significant storm impacts.
While storms moved east to west last year, frequently impacting the Philippines, Taiwan and China, this season Taiwan can anticipate between three and five significant impacts.
Although the number of potential impacts differ per country, Kottlowski expressed that not every storm is going to necessarily have separate impacts, as one storm can effect more than one place.
This season, the onset of El Niño in late summer or early fall will influence the opportunity for tropical development in the basin.
"This year we are expecting an El Niño during the summer and a full El Niño pattern during the heart of typhoon season," Kottlowski said. "What that does is create more opportunity for tropical development in the West Pacific."
Opposite of the Atlantic basin, the arrival of an El Niño reduces the wind shear across the West Pacific. During peak typhoon season from late July through October, warm ocean water, combined with a lower wind shear, give tropical storms a better chance for development.
"We believe this season will be a little more active compared to last and that there will be more intense storms this year," Kottlowski said.
With strong westerly winds expected to be farther north this season, storms may often re-curve before reaching China and Taiwan. Despite re-curving, however, the Philippines will still be vulnerable for multiple impacts.
Last November, Typhoon Haiyan hit the island country becoming the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving parts of the country completely leveled, including Tacloban. While forecasting the strength of potential typhoons far in advance is nearly impossible, it's not out of the question that another strong typhoon could hit the Philippines again this season.
While typhoons can be extremely destructive when they make landfall, slow-moving tropical storms can also cause substantial damage.
"A lot of times slow-moving tropical storms can cause very heavy rainfall that can cause major flooding," Kottlowski said. "It doesn't take a strong typhoon to cause major damage."
Tropical storms can drop anywhere from 254 millimeters (10 inches) to 508 millimeters (20 inches) of rain.
With the season already underway and the threat of tropical storms lasting the entire year, AccuWeather.com meteorologists urged citizens to prepare for the worst case scenario and begin preparations now.
Typhoons can induce storm surges, a pile-up of water that moves ahead and along with a typhoon and rises quickly before crashing along the coast, which can wash away entire neighborhoods. Typhoon Haiyan demonstrated the power of a storm surge in November 2013, nearly washing away Tacloban, Philippines.
Damaging winds are yet another dangerous element of typhoons that can induce extensive damage to affected areas.
"People should be aware when a typhoon is heading towards their area and they should have a plan in advance," Kottlowski said. "Have an emergency kit together and available that includes food, water, copies of housing documents, insurance papers and a safety kit. They should also know where they are going to evacuate to."
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Adidas unveiled the Brazuca ball in December 2013. The ball will be used for the 2014 World Cup, starting June 12. (Photo/adidas)
After a controversial ball design for the 2010 World Cup, Adidas' 2014 creation, the Brazuca ball, is better suited for Brazil's climate according to researchers.
Players during the World Cup in South Africa complained about the makeup of the Jabulani, the ball specifically designed for the 2010 matches.
Each ball has a distinct speed that once hit, the path will no longer be predictable, even to the most seasoned player.
According to Adrian Kiratidis, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Adelaide in Australia, once the Jabulani reached a speed between 55 and 70 kph (34 and 43 mph), players would not have been able to determine the direction the ball would travel.
"This is why the complaints about 'beach ball' behavior were justified," said Kiratidis.
The Brazuca, the new ball, gives more reaction time as it loses control near the 35-55 kph (21-34 mph) range.
Kiratidis and his colleague, Derek Leinweber, have studied past world cup balls including the Jabulani and are working with the Brazuca. They perform state-of-the-art computer simulations of ball trajectory based on the latest wind tunnel data and an understanding of the physics of the airflow around the ball.
A simulation that compares the Brazuca flight path at sea level to the Brazuca flight path in Brasilia. (Credit/Adrian Kiratidis and Derek Leinweber, CSSM, University of Adelaide)
Altitude and temperature are other factors that can have an impact on a ball.
"Altitude is key from our point of view, as it changes the air density," said Derek Leinweber, a professor at the University of Adelaide. "It will affect the amount a spinning kick will bend, the final speed of the ball and the associated time to the net."
Stadiums for the 2014 World Cup are at a much lower altitude than those in South Africa. Leinweber explained that the air density will drop by 10 percent when traveling from one of the venues at sea level to Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, the venue with the highest elevation of 1,172 m (3,845 feet).
This means that the ball has a lesser chance of swerving unreliably.
The ball will also be affected by Brazil's warmth.
A 2011 study by researchers at Sheffiled Hallam University (UK) found that the higher the temperature, the less time a goalie had to react to an incoming ball. The time available to the goalkeeper was seven percent less at 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) than at zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
"Temperatures will be pretty close to normal," AccuWeather meteorologist Eric Leister said of Brazil's expected forecast. Average temperatures in the northern region are in the 20-26 degrees Celsius range (80-90 degrees Fahrenheit) and near 15 C (70s F) for the southern regions at this time of year.
Adidas addressed potential weather concerns when designing the Brazuca to create a ball that is stable in all conditions.
"To replicate the unique climate of Brazil, adidas tested Brazuca in a variety of weather conditions, at different levels of elevation and on multiple field surfaces," Ernesto Bruce, director of Adidas Soccer said.
Venue to venue, climates will differ slightly and players will have to make adjustments.
The stadiums across Brazil offer less consistency than those across South Africa, so there is a need for the ball to be predictable in different settings.
"Here in Brazil, weather conditions vary even more," Leister said. "Even the temperature contrasts from one venue to another is greater than in South Africa."
Kiratidis is expecting the keepers to feel more comfortable with the Brazuca and strikers won't have to deal with such an erratic ball.
"I think the fans can expect to see an exciting world cup with a ball similar to ones the players are used to, in a climate that isn't extreme," he said.
South Africa was a good example of altitude variation extremes, Kiratidis explained. The extreme temperatures in Qatar, home of the 2022 cup, will also factor into the makeup of the next ball and how the players interact with it.
Brazil offers a more stable environment and combined with Adidas' efforts to improve ball predictability, the 2014 World Cup is a "win-win situation" for Kiratidis.
"Players should be given ample opportunity to showcase their skills at this world cup," he said. "Given the ball is similar to what they are used to and this should make the world cup a very exciting one."
Thursday, June 12, 2014
In this April 22, 2014, photo, the Kaye E. Barker, right, is escorted by the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Katmai Bay in the St. Mary's River in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., where thick ice has slowed early shipping on the upper Great Lakes. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)
With summer just around the corner, for the first time in seven months the Great Lakes are officially free of ice.
While only weeks ago, chunks of ice could be seen floating on the lakes as residents and visitors flocked to the waters for Memorial Day, as of June 6, the lakes were classified as ice-free.
"This year is the longest we've seen ice on Lake Superior in our 40 years of records," physical scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration George Leshkevich said.
Following one of the coldest winter's on record for the region with temperatures from Jan. 1 to April 1 averaging seven degrees below normal, the Great Lakes hit their second highest ice coverage on record, reaching 92.19 percent on March 6, 2014.
Moving into the spring season, more than one-third or 38 percent, of the Great Lakes remained covered in ice in mid-April, causing major problems for the steel industry as the business relied on the waterways for shipping and transporting goods and materials.
"There are no years in the last 30 years that are even close to that, so it's very unusual this late in the season to have that much ice coverage," AccuWeather.com lead long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok said.
The last time the ice coverage on the lakes lasted nearly this long was in 2003, when the last of the ice cleared on May 29, according to Leshkevich.
However, moving farther into the spring season, temperatures began to increase in May, aiding in diminishing the ice coverage on the lakes.
"The air temperature, currents of the water and the water temperatures all play apart in melting the ice," Public Affairs Specialist for the 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland, Levi Read said.
Since May 1, average temperatures in the Ironwood, Michigan, region have trended slightly above normal with daytime highs in the low 70s and overnight lows in the low 50s.
Aside from rising temperatures across the area, the Coast Guard has been working hard since the beginning of December to break up the ice on the lakes, according to Read.
About a month longer than normal, the service finished ice breaking in the middle of May, Read stated.
Despite the increase in temperatures for the areas surrounding the lakes, the longevity of the cold and the extent of the ice coverage so late into the spring will hinder water temperature recovery.
Currently, the warmest of the lakes, Lake Erie is averaging daily temperatures between 60 and 65 F but the coldest lake has temperatures in the 40s.
"The water is still very, very cold and it's very dangerous for people to go out and get in it," Read said. "The Coast Guard considers anything below 72 F a cold water rescue."
Swimming in water below 70F can induce a life-threatening health condition known as immersion hypothermia. As water takes heat away from the body almost 25 times faster than air, this condition develops much more quickly than standard hypothermia.
With lake temperatures still lagging as the official start to summer approaches, the prolonged water temperature recovery may have a huge impact on the summer weather for the region including some of the United State's major cities, such as Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo, New York.
"It's going to affect the overall atmosphere around the region," Pastelok said. "It may be a bit on the cooler side."
In addition to cooler weather for the Great Lakes area, slow-recovering lake temperatures could lead to less severe weather near the lakes and more widespread fog.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
(STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Umbrellas and raincoats will be put to good use across the East through Friday as showers and thunderstorms continue to plague the region.
Outdoor events such as ball games and barbecues from Boston to Baltimore and southward to Atlanta may end up being rained out as rounds of showers and thunderstorms impact the region.
The morning hours look to be the best opportunity to get outdoor work done before showers and thunderstorms become more numerous as the day progresses.
Moisture getting drawn in from the Gulf of Mexico will help to fuel heavy downpours with afternoon thunderstorms which can result in localized flash flooding.
Communities that have already been hit with drenching storms this week are at higher risk for flooding due to the ground already being saturated with water.
This includes the Philadelphia area after a slow-moving thunderstorm unloaded 2.59 inches of rain on the city Tuesday afternoon.
A few stronger thunderstorms may also develop during the afternoon hours with wind gusts as strong as 45 mph possible.
While these storms are not expected to become widespread, they may turn out to be strong enough to blow over lawn furniture and bring down tree limbs.
Travel delays may mount as the soaking storms move over major travel hubs, such as New York City and Washington, D.C.
If you plan on traveling around the I-95 corridor through Friday night, you may want to allow for some extra travel time to ensure that you reach your destination on time.
Those in the Northeast looking to enjoy some time outdoors this weekend can expect much drier weather as a cold front swings through the region, sweeping away the showers and thunderstorms and lowering the humidity.
The same cannot be said for the Southeast.
A disturbance moving in from the Plains is expected to shift over the region, extending the trend of unsettled weather through the weekend.
This will continue the daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms, mainly during the afternoon, across Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Adelie Penguins in Antarctica. (Tom Hart)
Since the last ice age, penguins have basked in warmer Antarctic climates because less ice makes it easier for the birds to breed and hunt for food, a new study reveals. But there's a key caveat: Current climate change is happening too fast for their food supply to keep up with demand.
Declines in some species of penguins have been happening for the past 1,000 years, but are getting worse as climate change accelerates, the study found.
Researchers examined how populations of penguins changed since the end of the last ice age, some 11,000 years ago. The scientists looked specifically at three current Antarctic penguin species: gentoo, Adelie, and chinstrap. All three of these species prefer ice-free waters to look for food, and ice-free land to nest and raise youngsters. [See photos of the amazing penguins of Antarctica]
"We typically think of penguins as relying on ice, but this research shows that during the last ice age, there was probably too much ice around Antarctica to support large populations," study lead author Gemma Clucas, a postdoctoral marine biologist and ecologist at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.
But too little ice is hurting some penguin populations now, the study found. One of the penguins' main sources of food -- krill, or shrimp-like crustaceans -- prefer to eat algae that clings to the bottom of sea ice.
"We are not saying that today's warming climate is good for penguins; in fact, the current decline of some penguin species suggests that the warming climate has gone too far for most penguins," study co-author Tom Hart, a researcher in the department of zoology at the University of Oxford in the U.K., said in a statement.
Winners and losers
Sea ice loss in the region has been accelerating over the past 50 years, causing the amount of krill to decline, which has, in turn, impacted two species of penguins, the researchers said. Only gentoo penguins appear to be maintaining stable populations, likely because they feed on more diverse types of prey.
"This suggests current climate warming ... [is] favoring generalist gentoo penguins as climate change 'winners,' while Adelie and chinstrap penguins have become climate change 'losers,'" the researchers wrote in the study.
The scientists gathered blood and feathers from 537 penguins currently living across Antarctica, then examined a fast-evolving portion of the DNA or genetic code of mitochondria -- structures within cells that convert food to energy -- for mutation rates. This allowed the researchers to see how the penguin populations have changed over time.
For example, scientists found that gentoo populations historically differed depending on whether the birds were found north or south of the Antarctic Polar Front, which is a zone in the seas that encircle Antarctica where cold Antarctic waters meet warmer waters from the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Gentoos that lived in the Southern region had faster-growing populations compared to those in the Northern region, the researchers discovered. This suggests that conditions at northern nesting sites did not change as quickly or as dramatically as in the South.
"What we have found is that, over the last 30,000 years, different penguin species have responded very differently to a gradually warming world -- not something we might expect, given the damage current rapid warming seems to be doing to penguins' prospects," Hart said.
Understanding the genetics of these penguin populations will help researchers better distinguish the impacts from natural and human-caused climate change.
"Without a good understanding of how things were in the past, it's hard to put what we see now into context. This study gives us a historic perspective on a current phenomenon," study co-author Michael Polito, a postdoctoral investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said in a statement.
The study was published today (June 12) in the journal Scientific Reports.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Mexico's soccer players train for the World Cup at the Arena das Dunas stadium in Natal, Brazil, Thursday, June 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Three World Cup matches are set to take place across Brazil on Friday. Although rain is not expected to be a big issue, the combination of heat and humidity could play a major role in the outcomes.
The first match of the day, between Mexico and Cameroon, will take place in the tropical climate of Natal. Temperatures during the match are expected to be in the lower 80s F (upper 20s C). Those temperatures combined with high dew points will result in AccuWeather RealFeel(R) temperatures climbing to near 90 F (32 C) during the match.
The final match of the day, taking place in Cuiaba between Chile and Australia, could also be impacted by the heat. Temperatures will still be in the upper 80s F (near 30 C) when the match starts, before cooling off throughout the duration of the match.
This type of heat and humidity can prove challenging even for trained athletes and can result in cramping and dehydration.
The third match of the day, taking place in Salvador, will feature lower temperatures as Spain battles Netherlands. While temperatures will not be an issue, showers can dampen the field at times.
Heat and humidity will continue to play a major role in upcoming games as teams travel from more temperate climates into the tropical climates of western and northern Brazil.