Census footprint featured in a Nature News article

The Census footprint is featured in a Nature News article. You can tell how extensive the Census projects have been conducting researches across the globe.

The footprint map is a product of my lab and the web site (comlmaps.org), which accompanies the footprint in the PDF version, is my lab's. 


National Geographic Oceans Special Edition

The project I'm involved in (Census of Marine Life & OBIS) is introduced in National Geographic Oceans Special Edition!
Besides, the pictures in this edition are amazing! Worth stopping by a book store.


Moose and Arthritis

As you may or may not know, moose is my favorite animal. A long story short, my first encounter to moose happened in Yellowstone National Park while I was doing my first ever backpacking. I literally gazed into eyes of a bull moose when he was watching me bite lunch in mere 10 yards or so. Since this incredible encounter, I have been captivated with moose.

So I was glad to see this news article about moose's contribution to human arthritis research. It's funny and unexpected that a connection between moose and human arthritis has been found.

A research on moose in Isle Royale found that many moose suffer a kind of arthritis which, the research revealed, is likely caused by poor nutrition in early development of the body. Although causes of human arthritis and how it develops through the life are very complex, this finding suggests the importance of taking appropriate nutrition in early stage of the life or even by pregnant women.

By the way, Isle Royale is famous of its unique and valuable ecosystem encompassing moose-wolf interaction. I did some studies on this perfect showcase of the predator-prey interaction while in grad school.


Gulf Oil Spill cmoing to an end?

A so-called "static kill" applied to the Deepwater Horizon well that burst out the huge amount of crude oil seems to be a success and President Obama said the disaster is "finally close to coming to an end."

Prior to this, NOAA announced in a report that almost 75% of the spilled oil is gone thanks to various causes, which is summarised as follows.
  • 33% -- Clean-up efforts by human acctivities
  • 25% -- Evaporated or dissolved
  • 16% -- Dispersed
The report says  that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm.

 But wait. Is it really over? In response to this report, many scientists express concerns. Just because you can't see any remaining oil on the surface of the ocean in your vicinity, that doesn't necessarily mean no more harm. There may be bunch of oil beneath beaches or sunk onto the sea floor. It is also possible that a large amount of oil is just somewhere else, transported by complex currents, at the time of your investigation. More noteworthy is that we don't know yet very well what the long-term effects of the oil taken into the food chain are. A scientist in the above link points out that this disaster should be considered as a "3-D catastrophe", not just a 2-D problem.


Marine Biodiversity

Census of Marine Life, the global project I'm involved in, released a collection of research papers on marine species and biodiversity on PLoS ONE. It is safe to say that they are the most comprehensive assessments of marine species and biodiversity in the human history. The researches were conducted by region.

A news article published on Nature is a good summary of the collection. It reports that while discoveries of new species will continue, the species and biodiversity in oceans are under threats such as overfishing, habitat loss, endemic species, and pollution along with emerging sea temperature rise and acidification due to the global warming.

Please refer to the Census press release, too.


Global warming is the fact

US NOAA issued a report in July 2010 that stresses that the "global warming is undeniable." This report investigates 10 climate-related indexes such as sea surface temperature, temperature over land and sea ice cover from the real world observations.

This should be regarded complimentary to the approach by IPCC, the world's leading body for the environmental issues, where it develops global climate models and predicts the future climates based on the models. The importance of the NOAA report is that it pronounces that the global warming is the fact derived from the real data.

As opposed to the dull responses to the environmental issues under the Busch administration, US already declared in December 2009 that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. The NOAA report clearly follows this view.

Around the same time, US EPA rejected claims issued by the fossil fuel industry and other opponents of action on climate change. It's a strong message that EPA is determined to regulate greenhouse gases.

It's a sheer surprise to me that there are still a bunch of people who stand against the global warming.


Phytoplankton decreasing significantly

Roughly a half of the oxygen on earth is produced by phytoplankton in the ocean while the other half is by plants on land.

A Nature article reveals that phytoplankton are decreasing substantially probably due to the higher ocean temperature caused by the global warming. In addition to the major source for the earth oxygen, phytoplankton are the basis of the food chain in oceans. With such essential roles for the earth environment, this significant decrease of phytoplankton will likely have a serious impacts on the future earth environment.

Dr. Falkowski, who commented on the article, expressed a concern that "We're squeezing big open-ocean fish like tuna and swordfish from both ends." That is to say we are not only overfishing big fish from above (land) but also threatening their existence by destroying the marine food chain from the bottom (ocean).

Nothing human being have been done for good?

By the way, Boris Worm, one of the article authors, is a Census of Marine Life researcher and I have met him before.

Related news article from Scientific American