Half a Century of Studying Antarctica and Climate Change

December 7, 2016

Dr Peter Barrett published his first article on the potentially “unstoppable and catastrophic” effects of climate change on Antarctica in the NZ Listener in 21 February, 1981. This came after almost two decades of research on the ancient coal-bearing strata of the Transantarctic Mountains, and a decade drilling for Antarctica’s past climate history coring strata off the Victoria Land coast.

Peter explained how further drilling has shown that Antarctica’s ice sheet first formed around 34 million years, as atmospheric CO2 levels declined from 800+ parts per million in the “Greenhouse World”, cooling global temperatures. A further decline below 400 ppm 2-3 million years ago led to further cooling and the Ice Ages, with ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere as well as Antarctica.

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The Mysterious Case of the Slimy Algae: what we know – and don’t – about the ‘Lake Snot’ invading Queenstown lakes

November 23, 2016

The invasive didymo and more recent lake snot recently found in Lake Wakatipu share characteristics – but there is one difference that makes lake snot more problematic, University of Otago freshwater scientist, Dr Marc Schallenberg says.

Both are diatoms (a type of algae) with long polysaccharide threads made of chiton that they secrete. Didymo’s tail is cotton-like and not sticky. With lake snot, the threads form a sticky slime of greater nuisance value – clogging water filters and sticking onto swimmers, fishing gear and boats – that could potentially be less susceptible to chemical control, protected from treatment agents by its cover of slime.

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Is It True What Happened To You? Stories Of North Korea’s Human Rights Violations, And A Path Of Action To Make Them Otherwise

September 28, 2016.  

Prof Bob Huish has spent much of the last two years listening to North Korean defectors and studying what is literally a black hole on the satellite map – largely through detecting its ripples.  Like who is trading with North Korea, following the flow of sea traffic into Nampo Port and investigating how different companies, governments and individuals get around the substantive international sanctions banning business dealings with DPRK.

He spoke of the Songbun ‘caste’ system, where unbiased loyalty to the Kim dynasty buys favours while those classed as hostile are punished for political crimes by being sent to political labour camp – a punishment then inflicted on their children and grandchildren. Satellite photography suggests 150 – 200,000 North Koreans are currently in these camps.

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