Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ~John Ruskin

Friday, April 16, 2021

The Mariana Trench- Environmental Science

The Mariana Trench is a deep-sea trench located on the floor of the western North Pacific Ocean. This trench is regarded as the deepest point on Earth. It is part of the western Pacific system of oceanic trenches coinciding with nearby subduction zones. 

The Mariana Trench stretches for more than 1,580 miles (2,540 km) with a mean width of 43 miles (69 km) The trench’s deepest points are reached in Challenger Deep, on the floor of the main trench southwest of Guam. Nobody has ever made it to the bottom of the trench, but the greatest depths were reached by Victor Vescovo in 2019 at 35,853 feet or 6.7 miles.

Due to the deep depths, there is very little to no sunlight in parts of The Mariana Trench and there is extreme pressure the deeper you go, life is still very much present and interesting. The trench is home to many deep-sea creatures such as the Seadevil Anglerfish, Goblin Shark, and Zombie Worms to name a few.  Sadly there are also many signs of plastic debris floating around deep in the trench, with some even being found inside of certain species’.

The pressure at Mariana Trench is 1000 times greater than the sea level's atmospheric pressure.
Mariana Trench's ocean floor has a yellowish color to it due to all of the decaying plants and animals.
If you could place the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, at Challenger Deep of Mariana Trench, its peak would still be over 2 kilometers below sea level. As many as 200 microorganisms have been identified at Mariana Trench.

 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Endangered Species Act (Environmental Science)

    The Endangered Species Act was passed and instituted in 1973. This act was seen as key legislation for both domestic and international conservation. The act is aimed to provide a framework to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats. The goal of this act was to protect all species threatened with extinction that fall within the borders of the United States and its other territories. 

    The Endangered Species Act allows authorities to determine whether a given species is qualified for endangered or threatened status. According to the USFWS, the “species” definition also extends to subspecies or any distinct population segment capable of interbreeding. This means that certain subsets of a species may also be singled out for protection. If granted the status of “Endangered”,  the act prevents unauthorized harvest, custody, trade, and transport of the species. (Plants, animals, and other at-risk organisms). The act allows for the application of civil and criminal penalties upon those who violate this law.

    To regulate the Endangered Species Act there are different organizations that watch over each area of the environment. For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the Department of Commerce is responsible for the conservation and management of endangered fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. With this role an organization has, comes the power to establish cooperative agreements with and award monetary grants to the states to provide protection for at-risk organisms within their borders. States are offered financial assistance and incentives to develop and maintain these organizations, 

    Modest Trump Admin Reforms Could End Worst Abuses of Endangered Species Act  – InsideSources


Friday, February 12, 2021

United States Radium Corporation

    The U.S. Radium Corp. is a radiation site located in Orange, New Jersey. This site was used to operate a radium processing plant from 1917-1926. During its operation, waste generated from the plant was disposed of both on and off the property of the facility. This waste contaminated the site and local properties with radium-226. 

    Radium-226 is a highly radioactive isotope with a half-life of 1600 years. Radium-226 emits ionizing radiation and decays into radon gas. When directly exposed to people, the radioactive dust particles can be inhaled or ingested, causing adverse health effects with an increased chance for certain types of cancer. The United States Radium Corporation was used to extract and process radium from carnotite ore. 

    The extracted radium was then sold and used for medical purposes and luminous paint. This luminous paint was especially in high demand for dials, watches, and aircraft instruments painted with luminescence paint. During its operation, about a half-ton of carnotite ore was processed each day. In 1926, the U.S. Radium Corporation ceased its extraction and processing. 

    The United States Radium Corporation employed around 100 workers, and about 70 of them were women. While working on the smaller number dials on thee watches, the owners of the company told the women to use their mouths to point the brush. Though there somewhat was an understanding of radium’s dangers, these women still used their mouths to help themselves paint on the dials. Due to the high volumes of radiation being this close to their mouths, many of these women began to suffer from diseases, such as anemia, bone fractures, and necrosis of the jaw, (radium jaw). Today these women are known as the ‘Radium Dial Girls’


    When New Jersey officials came to the realization of the dangers this level of radiation may cause in the early 1980s, they took immediate actions to protect both human health and the environment. In September 1983, the EPA placed the site on the Superfund programs National Priorities List.  Following this, between 1989 and 1993, the EPA completed a broader remedial investigation and feasibility study, further assessing the level of contamination in the area. In 1991, the EPA took interim removal actions in an attempt to mitigate the radiation’s threat to human health and the environment.
    



Saturday, December 12, 2020

Satellites

    According to Nasa.gov, a satellite is a moon, planet or machine that orbits a planet or star. With this definition of a satellite, we can also consider the planets in our solar system, like the Earth, a satellite since it orbits the sun. These are known as “Natural Satellites.” More specifically, a "satellite" refers to a machine that is launched into space and revolves around Earth or another body in space. These machines are used by various different researchers to help better understand the universe.

    Some meteorologists use satellites to take pictures of the planet in order to predict weather and track hurricanes. Other meteorologists take pictures of other planets, the sun, black holes, dark matter, or faraway galaxies. Many other satellites are still used mainly for communications, such as beaming TV signals and phone calls around the world.

    Satellites are able to give researchers a bird's-eye view allowing them to see large areas of Earth at one time. This ability allows satellites to collect more data even quicker than instruments on the ground. Satellites are also very useful because they can provide much clearer images of outer space than telescopes. This is because they reside above the natural barriers like clouds and dust molecules that can block the view from the ground level.  Satellites are also used to make TV signals and phone calls possible. These devices are able to send their signals up to the satellite, which almost instantly sends them back down to different locations on Earth.

    Out of the 2,666 operational satellites circling the globe in April 2020, 1,007 were for communication services. 446 of these satellites are used for observing the Earth and 97 for navigation/ GPS purposes. Right now, there are nearly 6,000 satellites circling our tiny planet. About 60% of those are defunct satellites or space junk, and roughly 40% are operational.


 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

El Nino and La Nina

 La Nina and El Nino are both effects that occur because of the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomena El Nino being a warm phase and La Nina is the cold phase with a neutral phase occurring occasionally in between. The El Nino Southern Oscillation also is known as ESNA is a pattern of trade winds in the Pacific Ocean that influence the weather across the world. The name El Nino (little boy) was fixated on this event when waters would be warmer than normal on the coast of South America and La Nina (little girl) was for when the waters would be colder than normal. During an El Nino, which occur every 3-5 years, there is is a warming of waters in the Pacfic Ocean that is paired with stronger winds that blow eastward. The effects that come with El Ninos include a drastic increase in rain levels in the southern United States, that often bring flash floods. Along with this there are often colder winters in the northeast due to a strong polar jet from the north. El Ninos also have a strong impact on hurricane formation and during an El Nino event there is an increase in hurricane production in the Pacfic Ocean and a decrease in the Atlantic Ocean due to the strong wind shear that often rips apart any tropical activity. 

During a La Nina the effects are the opposite of an El Nino, the waters in the Pacfic Ocean cool while and the wind slows down. During a La Nina the southern United States is met with extremely hot and dry weather, while the northern states often deal with above average precipitation during the winter months. Likewise with La Ninas there is an impact on hurricane production but differing to El Ninos, La Ninas produce more hurricanes in the Atlantic and less in the Pacific due to the water and wind changes. ESNO is referred to as one of the most important weather phenomena across the globe because of the heavy impact that it has on food and agriculture sources across the world. The cause behind this event includes oceanic circulation which involves the rising and sinking of warm and cold waters throughout the oceans on the planet. One particularly grim event involved an El Nino during the years 2015-16 in which over 60 million people were directly impacted due to the years El Nino, which caused widespread famine, drought, and disease outbreak. With the warming of our planet these El Ninos will continue to gain strength and impact more and more people across the world. 











Monday, November 30, 2020

Radiosondes & Rawinsondes

       Radiosondes are small, expendable instrument packages that are suspended below a large balloon inflated with hydrogen or helium gas known as the weather balloon. They transmit air pressure, temperature, relative humidity, and GPS position data each second they are used. They are also connected to a battery-powered, 300 milliwatt radio transmitter so they transfer their data much faster.

    Rawinsondes are observations where winds aloft and are obtained by radiosondes. They can be radiosondes or can be a result of radiosonde data but they work the same as radiosondes but are tracked by a radar or radio direction finder. It can project methods of upper-air observation consisting of an evaluation of wind speed and direction, temperature, pressure, and relative humidity.

When the balloon reaches its maximum height, it explodes leading the device to fall a large height from the atmosphere. However, there is an orange parachute to prevent this device from breaking due to it having a possibility to harming the environment and to possibly use these devices again in the future. Most radiosondes however land in the oceans due to most of the stations being on the coasts.

Without radiosondes, we wouldn't be able to calculate weather data to create maps, graphs, and future conditions. Without these devices, we wouldn't even know if it would rain or if there could be snow. This has a very important purpose in today's technology.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Doppler Radar

 The Doppler radar is a modern weather radar that is used to see more than just clouds. It was named after J. Christian Doppler, who first proposed the idea of the "Doppler effect" when he noticed that a train horn was louder when stationary next to him compared to when it was moving away. The radar sends low frequency radio waves (pulses) into stormy areas to determine the velocity, distance, and direction of the wind or precipitation. It can also measure if the storm is moving away or towards the radar. A picture of it is shown below, containing a large satellite dish covered by a sphere to protect it from the elements.

    This forecasting process begins with a low frequency radio wave, or pulse, that is shot into a storm at a certain elevation. Once the pulse hits a raindrop, piece of hail, or a gust of wind the pulse breaks apart and many different waves shoot out in different directions. Using the Doppler effect, one wave will reach back to the satellite dish with a different frequency than what it started with. The back and forth interaction will usually last about 0.00000157 seconds. The forecasters can then measure the intensity of the storm by using the new frequency of the returning waves. If the pulse return with a high frequency, they can assume that the storm is intense, while a low frequency indicates a less powerful storm. The pulse also helps to find the horizontal distance of the storm, which is helpful in forecasting the storm on a map. The Doppler radar is important because it not only finds the distance of a storm, but it also finds the intensity. This can help predict future weather events and how detrimental they will be to certain areas. This can help communities properly prepare for any upcoming storms; whether it is closing windows of the house or evacuating.

    An example of the Doppler radar is the WSR-88D. Currently, it is the most powerful radar worldwide, possessing the strength of 750,000 watts. For perspective, this wave transmitter is 10,000 times more powerful than a lightbulb (75 watts). As most Doppler radars can only see one storm at a time, this model can see past more than one storm, giving information on further weather. The National Weather Service (NWS) owns one of these machines that sees 14 elevations every 5 minutes, giving one pulse every 20 seconds. This intelligent radar gives quick and accurate depictions on the weather, and what is to come.    

  1. the Doppler effect: an increase (or decrease) in the frequency of sound, light, or other waves as the source and observer move toward (or away from) each other. The effect causes the sudden change in pitch noticeable in a passing siren, as well as the redshift seen by astronomers. (Definition from Oxford Languages)