Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Lop Nur, Xinjiang, China:
NASA image acquired May 17, 2011
Located in China’s resource-rich but moisture-poor Xinjiang autonomous region, Lop Nur is an uninviting location for any kind of agriculture. It sits at the eastern end of the Taklimakan Desert, where marching sand dunes can reach heights of 200 meters (650 feet), and dust storms rage across the landscape.
Yet for all it lacks in agricultural appeal, Lop Nur offers something valuable to farmers the world over: potash. This potassium salt provides a major nutrient required for plant growth, making it a key ingredient in fertilizer.
The discovery of potash at Lop Nur in the mid-1990s turned the area into a large-scale mining operation. The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image of Lop Nur on May 17, 2011. The rectangular shapes in this image show the bright colors characteristic of solar evaporation ponds. Around the evaporation ponds are the earth tones typical of sandy desert.
During the early and middle Pleistocene epoch, this area held a large brackish lake. Uplift of the northern part of the lake in the late Pleistocene created hollows that became receptacles for potash deposition. The main potash deposits found at Lop Nur today are brine potash, and this site is the second-largest source of potash in China.
Lop Nur slowly dried up in the Holocene. The area now receives average annual precipitation of just 31.2 millimeters (1.2 inches), and experiences annual evaporation of 2,901 millimeters (114 inches), according to a study published in 2008. The study found, however, that this area has experienced seven major climate changes since the end of the Pleistocene, including climatic conditions far more favorable to farming and settlement than today.
Examination of plant and mollusk remains at the lake, as well as studies of sediments, indicate that the Lop Nur region experienced a severe drought about 3,000 years ago, followed by wetter conditions. Between 1,250 and 400 years ago, Lop Nur likely experienced the conditions most favorable to farming and settlement, and red willow trees grew in the area. Pottery dating from the Tang and Song dynasties further testifies to welcoming conditions at the lake centuries ago.
Starting around 400 years ago, however, a more arid climate took hold, completely drying out Lop Nur. Today, by providing potash, the desiccated lake still supports agriculture, but it does so for farming efforts further afield.
NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team. Caption by Michon Scott.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
The AquaDom is in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin:
The AquaDom belongs to the Sea Life Berlin. In the neighbouring tour of Sea Life Berlin, visitors discover 30 fish tanks containing local species from the River Spree to the Atlantic Ocean. The highlight of the tour is a ride across the AquaDom, the world's largest cylindrical aquarium, where a multitude of tropical fish reside in one-million litres of salt-water.
Habitat to over 1500 tropical fish and over 50 different species including trigger fish, hogfish, humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), blowfish (Tetraodontidae), surgeonfish (Myripristinae), soldierfish (Tetraodontidae) and swarm fish, like Cero mackerel (Scomberomorus regalis) and Silver moonfish (Monodactylus argenteus).
Height of the AquaDom is 25 metres.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
James Scott encountered that scent for the first time a decade ago in a town called Lakeshore, Ontario. Just across the river from Detroit, Lakeshore is where barrels of Canadian Club whiskey age in blocky, windowless warehouses. Scott, who had recently completed his PhD in mycology at the University of Toronto, had launched a business called Sporometrics. Run out of his apartment, it was a sort of consulting detective agency for companies that needed help dealing with weird fungal infestations. The first call he got after putting up his website was from a director of research at Hiram Walker Distillery named David Doyle.
Doyle had a problem. In the neighborhood surrounding his Lakeshore warehouses, homeowners were complaining about a mysterious black mold coating their houses. And the residents, following their noses, blamed the whiskey. Doyle wanted to know what the mold was and whether it was the company’s fault. Scott headed up to Lakeshore to take a look.
When he arrived at the warehouse, the first thing he noticed (after “the beautiful, sweet, mellow smell of aging Canadian whiskey,” he says) was the black stuff. It was everywhere—on the walls of buildings, on chain-link fences, on metal street signs, as if a battalion of Dickensian chimney sweeps had careened through town. “In the back of the property, there was an old stainless steel fermenter tank,” Scott says. “It was lying on its side, and it had this fungus growing all over it. Stainless steel!” The whole point of stainless steel is that things don’t grow on it.