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'Ultimate treasure hunt': Great Barrier Reef gives birth for the first time in 18 months – Timmins Times

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According to ABC Australia, the reef has experienced five major bleaching events since 1998, with the most recent taking place in 2020

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The Great Barrier Reef has given birth for the first time in 18 months, in what hopeful scientists have deemed an encouraging sign for the future of one of the world’s most beloved ecosystems.

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Marine biologist Gareth Philips told ABC Australia he and his team captured the event, which they dubbed “sex on the reef,” overnight Tuesday off the coast of Cairns, Queensland.

“Nothing makes people happier than new life — and coral spawning is the world’s biggest proof of that,” he said in a statement via Queensland Tourism and Events.

When coral spawn, they simultaneously release a mass of eggs and sperm, which then drift until they land on the sea floor. According to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, coral bundles need to find another bundle from the same species to reproduce and so releasing bundles at the same time increases that likelihood.

Conditions supporting the coral spawning need to be just right — at night, several days after a full moon with a calm ocean and water temperatures higher than 26 degrees for a full month, Philips told ABC Australia. Spawning usually takes place between October and November but the timing can vary, depending on other factors.

Over the next few days, Philips and his team of researchers, divers, students and photographers will dive to the reef sites to capture footage of the coral spawning, in an effort to monitor the coral crop and keep tabs on the reef’s health.

“I’ve seen the corals all go off at once, but this time there seemed to be different species spawning in waves, one after the other. The conditions were magical, with the water like glass and beautiful light coming from the moon,” he said.

“Once we found a ripe coral, we watched as it took about 30 seconds for each colony to complete its spawning. It was the ultimate treasure hunt … it was so exciting that we even grabbed the skipper and got him in the water.”

The spawning was a welcome relief to scientists worried about the reef’s fate following a major bleaching event last year, in which hot temperatures forced the coral tissue to expel the algae living inside it, losing its vibrant colour.

According to ABC Australia, the reef has experienced five major bleaching events since 1998, with the most recent taking place in 2020. A study from James Cook University in Australia found that only two per cent of the reef remained unaffected by bleaching.

Seeing the reef give birth is a “strong demonstration that its ecological functions are intact and working after being in a recovery phase for more than 18 months,” Philips said.

“The reef has gone through its own troubles like we all have, but it can still respond — and that gives us hope. I think we must all focus on the victories as we emerge from the pandemic.”

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Russia’s new module on ISS to offer docking opportunity for foreign spacecraft in future – TASS

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KOROLYOV /Moscow Region/, November 26. /TASS/. NASA and Roscosmos have begun talks on harmonizing technical standards of Crew Dragon spaceships with the Russian module and Russian spacecraft with the US segment on the International Space Station (ISS), Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin said at the Flight Control Center on Friday.

“NASA and Roscosmos have launched talks on harmonizing technical standards that will allow not only Crew Dragon or Russian spaceships to dock with the American segment but, in general, this docking is possible and will require an adapter,” Rogozin said, replying to a question about whether US spacecraft would be able to dock to Russia’s new Prichal nodal module.

The Prichal module’s docking completed the formation of the ISS Russian segment, the Roscosmos chief said.

The Prichal nodal module will also serve as a prototype for similar modules for the future Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS) that will be the ‘joints’ of its space body, Rogozin said.

“This is one of the most important prototypes for creating the ROSS whose architecture will differ from the ISS. It should employ the principle of eternal service life: modules that use up their potential will be detached from the station and it will be augmented in a different direction with the help of such nodal modules that will serve as some joints of a new and large metal design engineering body,” Rogozin said.

A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Progress M-UM space freighter and the Prichal nodal module blasted off from Launch Pad No. 31 (‘Vostok’) of the Baikonur spaceport to the orbital outpost at 16:06 Moscow time on November 24. The flight to the orbital outpost took two days. The Prichal module docked with the Russian Nauka research lab on November 26.

The new module will boost the capabilities of Russian spaceships, including the latest Oryol spacecraft, to dock with the ISS. Overall, the new module will have five docking ports. The first docking of a manned spacecraft with the Prichal module is scheduled for March 18.

The spacecraft-module also delivered about 700 kg of various cargo to the ISS, including equipment and consumables, water purification, medical control including sanitary and hygienic supplies, maintenance and repair tools, as well as standard food rations for the 66th Main Expedition crew.

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Italy and France sign agreement on space launchers

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 Italy and France clinched an accord on Friday to strengthen their cooperation on space launchers as part of a broader bilateral treaty.

Among the goals laid out in the bilateral treaty were pledges to reinforce military connections, including at an industrial level, and work together in the space sector.

The two countries agreed to work together on liquid and solid propulsion and press ahead with the development of launchers Ariane 6 and Vega C, Italy’s innovation minister and France’s economy minister said in a joint press release.

Launchers are the second largest area of space-manufacturing activity in Europe after commercial satellites, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

For the development of Ariane 6, ESA is working with more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, led by prime contractor ArianeGroup, which is a joint venture of Airbus and Safran.

ESA is overseeing procurement and the architecture of the overall Vega-C launch system, while industry is building the rocket with Italy’s Avio as prime contractor.

 

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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New Study: Arctic Ocean began warming decades earlier than previously thought – Digital Journal

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Fram Strait in 2009.

Source – Algkalv, CC SA 3.0.

The Arctic Ocean has been getting warmer since the beginning of the 20th century – decades earlier than records suggest – due to warmer water flowing into the delicate polar ecosystem from the Atlantic Ocean.

The rapid expansion of the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean represents indisputable evidence of the rapid changes occurring in this region. 

This so-called “Atlantification” of the Arctic Ocean has caused Arctic water temperature in the region studied to increase by around 2 degrees Celsius since 1900, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances on November 24, 2021.

Francesco Muschitiello, a co-author of the study and assistant professor of geography at the University of Cambridge, said the findings were worrisome because the early warming suggests there might be a flaw in the models scientists use to predict how the climate will change.

“The Arctic Ocean has been warming up for much longer than we previously thought,” Muschitiello told CNN. “And this is something that’s a bit unsettling for many reasons, especially because the climate models that we use to cast projections of future climate change do not really simulate these types of changes.”

The international team of researchers came to this conclusion after reconstructing 800 years of data from marine sediments in the Fram Strait, where the Atlantic meets the Arctic east of Greenland.

The precisely dated paleoceanographic records they used were based on organic biomarkers and benthic foraminiferal data. The marine sediments are “natural archives,” the researchers wrote, which record data on past climate conditions.

Fram Strait is located between Svalbard and Greenland. The Greenland Sea is to the south of Fram Strait, while the Arctic Ocean is to the north. Fram Strait is the only deep passage between the Arctic and World Oceans.
Source – Bdushaw, CC SA 3.0.

The results the team came up with show the Arctic Ocean began to warm rapidly at the beginning of the last century, and that this change likely preceded the warming documented by modern instrumental measurements, with records that only go back about 40 years. 

During the study, the researchers found that temperature and salinity, the saltiness of ocean water, remained fairly constant for the Arctic Ocean up until the 20th century. Since 1900, the ocean temperature has risen by approximately 2 degrees Celsius, while sea ice has retreated and salinity has increased, according to Phys.org.

“The reason for this rapid Atlantification of at the gate of the Arctic Ocean is intriguing,” said Muschitiello. “We compared our results with the ocean circulation at lower latitudes and found there is a strong correlation with the slowdown of dense water formation in the Labrador Sea.”

“In a future warming scenario, the deep circulation in this subpolar region is expected to further decrease because of the thawing of the Greenland ice sheet. Our results imply that we might expect further Arctic Atlantification in the future because of climate change.”

So what does this study have to do with the accuracy of today’s climate models? The researchers say the study may also expose a possible flaw in climate models because they do not reproduce this early Atlantification at the beginning of the last century.

Climate simulations generally do not reproduce this kind of warming in the Arctic Ocean, meaning there’s an incomplete understanding of the mechanisms driving Atlantification,” said Tommaso. “We rely on these simulations to project future climate change, but the lack of any signs of an early warming in the Arctic Ocean is a missing piece of the puzzle.”

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