Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Patterns in Nature: Coral

Branching Coral

Rigid coral branches present the illusion of fluid movement in a turquoise sea near the Turks and Caicos Islands.

ea Fan Close-Up

Similar to all corals, sea fans, such as this one in the Turks and Caicos Islands, are made up of tiny animals called polyps. When stressed by such things as temperature change or pollution, coral polyps will evict their colorful algae boarders, which can lead to coral bleaching and death.
Patterns in Nature: Coral


A majid crab (Xenocarcinus depressus) disappears among the vivid red of gorgonian coral in Palau.

Coral Topography

A close-up reveals the subtle valleys and ridges of a single coral off of the coast of Mexico.

Mushroom Coral

Reminiscent of the underside of a mushroom cap, this coral is common in the western Pacific Ocean. Mushroom coral (Fungia scutaria) is formed from a single polyp, instead of a colony of polyps.

Coral Tentacles

Though corals get most of their food from the byproducts of zooxanthellae algae's photosynthesis, they also have barbed, venomous tentacles they can stick out, usually at night, to grab zooplankton and even small fish.

Rainbow of Soft Corals

A palette of soft corals grows along a reef near Fiji. Unlike hard corals, soft corals have no rigid outer skeletons—the building blocks of coral reefs.

Star Coral

Star coral (Montastrea cavernosa) polyps open in search of food near Little Cayman Island.

Coral Close View

Coral reefs teem with life, covering less than one percent of the ocean floor, but supporting about 25 percent of all marine creatures. Indonesia is home to the highest marine diversity on Earth, including this coral photographed near the Tukangbesi archipelago in Indonesia.

Soft Coral

Orange pulpy soft coral vacillates in the western Pacific Ocean. Both hard and soft corals have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae algae, which live in coral and give it its 

HTC One Max

The HTC One has rightfully been one of the most popular and acclaimed phones of the year, and with a mini version of the mobile unveiled in July, it was surely only a matter of time until HTC supersized the device to make sure it had all bases covers. Enter the HTC One max, a "phablet"-sized phone that boasts top specs and a similar sleek design as its tinier siblings.
The One Max will be available in the UK from mid-October. No pricing details are yet available, but expect it to be expensive (£500+).

Like the HTC One and the HTC One mini before it, the HTC One Max has to be one of the most beautiful Android devices ever produced. It's round back is crafted almost entirely from aluminium, although it has the same plastic rim that distinguishes the HTC One mini from the One. An extremely slim bezel rings the outer edges of the screen, which stretches nearly the full width of the phone, and along the top are two silver slivers with speaker grills.

10 Green-Tech City Solutions for Beating the Heat

10 Green-Tech City Solutions for Beating the Heat

Air Tree, Spain

Eco-Village, London

Low Carbon Campus, United Kingdom

Sustainable Housing, Denmark

An Eco-Village, United Kingdom

Floating Food, New York

Greening Government Buildings, Berlin

Using plants and trees in a unique way, Singapore officials opened Gardens by the Bay this year. The 11-million-square foot (1-million-square-meter) complex—the size of nearly 250 U.S. football fields—aims to curb the heat island effect while bringing botanical bliss to urbanites.

The centerpiece of Gardens by the Bay is a glass atrium that houses approximately 220,000 types of vegetation, or 80 percent of the world’s plant species, according to Singapore's National Parks Board.

Outside the menagerie of plants is a grove of 18 “supertrees”— vertical gardens up to 164 feet (50 meters) tall that capture rainwater, filter exhaust, and are capped with solar panels that provide enough energy to light up the trees at night.

The heat island effect occurs in cityscapes characterized by pavement, asphalt, and concrete—all materials that can absorb warmth. The annual mean temperature of a city with one million people or more can be up to 5.4°F (3°C) warmer than surrounding rural areas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The effects cascade as summertime peak energy demands rise along with air conditioning costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

(Test your A/C acumen with our quiz: What You Don't Know About Air Conditioning.)

The value of vegetation in urban areas goes beyond cooling and shade. City plantings can also help improve air and water quality through filtering mechanisms.

A new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology shows that grass, ivy, and other urban plantings, in addition to trees, can reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter by as much as 40 and 60 percent respectively. Both are pollutants that are potentially harmful to human health.

Solar Dominance, China

Wind Tower, Abu Dhabi

Pictures: Fire "Tornado" Spotted—How Do They Form?

Pictures: Fire "Tornado" Spotted—How Do They Form?

A fire tornado blazes near Curtin Springs, Australia, in a still of a recently released video.

Chris Tangey of Alice Springs Film and Television was filming a wildfire when a small twister touched down, "causing it to build into a spinning flame," according to Australia's WPTV.com. (Watch a video of the fire tornado.)

Also known as fire whirls, fire devils, or even firenados, these whirlwinds of flame are not really rare, just rarely documented, Jason Forthofer, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Forest Services's Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory in Montana, said in 2010. (Also see "Fire Tornado Seen Spinning Over Hungary.")

As Tangey told Northern Territory News, "It sounded like a jet fighter going by, yet there wasn't a breath of wind where we were."

Can Long-Distance Migrating Shorebird Survive?

Can Long-Distance Migrating Shorebird Survive?

The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal also highlights other threats beyond this loss of stopover fuel. Climate change is having ill effects on other elements of the red knot's diet and changing the character of its Arctic breeding grounds. The shorebird is also losing areas along its migratory range due to sea-level rise and coastal development.
What Now?
So if the proposed "threatened" status for the red knot is confirmed, how can the Endangered Species Act offer protection to such an international species? Racey explained, "While the ESA's prohibitions regarding listed species—no harm, no kill, et cetera—apply only to people subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, the ESA can generate conservation benefits beyond its jurisdiction, such as increased awareness of listed species, research efforts to address conservation needs, or funding for in-situ conservation of the species in its range countries."
Holmer added that the ESA "can require states to adopt adequate regulatory mechanisms to limit horseshoe crab harvest," which "thus far, states have not been willing to do."
The service could also designate critical habitat for the shorebird, which,according to a FWS document, "could include sand dunes for roosting or habitat supporting prey, among other elements."
Last week's proposal to list the rufa red knot follows an "exhaustive scientific review" of the species and its habitat, but isn't the last step in the ESA process. By law, the proposal is now open to public comment for 60 days. After that period, the agency will release a final listing determination within a year.