Daily Camera (Boulder)
Earthweek: Diary of a Changing World
Week ending Friday, February 24, 2023
The first batch of trees genetically engineered to grow taller and capture more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere were planted on private land in southern Georgia in an attempt to sideline restrictions on such plantings. More will soon be planted on abandoned Pennsylvania coal mines. The San Francisco-based Living Carbon startup added three genes to the poplars to make their photosynthesis more efficient, hoping they will turbocharge the rate the trees grow wood and suck carbon dioxide from the air. While yet unproven outside of scientific settings, the trees’ prospect of helping to remove the greenhouse gas has its supporters and critics. At least six people were killed and nearly 300 others injured in yet another powerful earthquake to strike southern Turkey and northwestern Syria. • Earth movements were also felt in southern Iran, we stern Nepal and northern India, central New Zealand, central Taiwan and the Alaskan island of Kodiak.
Analysis of increasingly detailed seismic data around the world have allowed scientists to confirm the existence of a huge metallic structure at the heart of Earth’s inner core. The structure was measured by looking at seismic waves from 200 quakes with a magnitude greater than 6.0 as they bounced back and forth up to five times inside the Earth. The transition from the outer regions of the inner core to the newly confirmed inner metallic structure is gradual rather than a sharp boundary, scientists say in the journal Nature. Temperatures at the heart of Earth’s core are similar to those on the sun’s surface, about 10,000 to 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gondolas and other boats in the Italian lagoon city of Venice have been lying on nearly dried-up canals this month due to a prolonged drought and a series of unusually low tides. While the popular tourist destination has regularly been swamped by high astronomical tides made worse by rising sea levels, experts say ultra-low ebb tides this winter point to the need to clean and dredge some of Venice’s inner canal network. The low-water woes are being blamed on a drought fed by a strong high-pressure system, the lunar cycle and altered sea currents.
The amazing recovery in recent years of the humpback whale population is resulting in more aggressive mating behavior among the previously gentler males. Once hunted to near extinction, Australia’s east coast humpback population alone grew from 3,700 in 2007 to 27,000 whales in 2015. Monitoring by a team from the University of Queensland found that male humpbacks used to sing to woo females but have now increasingly turned to fighting among themselves for the right to breed.
A new study reveals that light pollution generated by the nighttime glow of the human presence is increasing, marring the ability to see stars in a sky that was once nearly pitch dark before the invention of electric lights. Observations from tens of thousands of observers around the world documenting the number of stars visible in each location show nocturnal sky brightness increased by 7% to 10% each year from 2011 to 2022. Greater light pollution is raising concerns over its impacts on people and nature. “For nearly the entire evolutionary history of life on this planet, the night sky was lit by starlight, moonlight and natural airglow,” said lead researcher Christopher Kyba. “Until about 150 years ago, to step outside at night was to be confronted with the cosmos.”
Cyclone Freddy passed over the entire width of the Indian Ocean before killing four on Madagascar and later striking Africa. • Storm Enala formed over the open waters of the central Indian Ocean.