Fossilised Trees, Extreme Weather and Aussie Climate Change

Geography News From Around The World!

Fossilised Trees Point Towards Volcano Eruption Date

What do the fossilised remains of a tree (destroyed more than 1,000 years ago) and the records of Japanese monks have in common? No - this isn't a joke, it's a genuine question with an answer that pertains to the news that a volcanic eruption, which created a crater 4km-wide crater, has finally been dated. An international team of scientists combined their talents to successfully cross-reference the results, which were discovered from radiocarbon dating and historical accounts. In a rare move, scientists from China and North Korea sought for help with the project from the West. Concerned that Changbaishan (or Mount Paetku as it's otherwise known) would erupt soon, scientists are aiming to discover all they can about it's past. After linking patterns on the fossilised tree rings with 'bursts of cosmic radiation' which were flooding the world in the year 775, the researchers could successfully link the eruption (which was long suspected to have occurred around the year 1000 A.D.) with the notes recorded by Japanese monks who had heard the explosion and experienced the rain of ash that followed it from 470km away.

Extreme 'Weather Bomb' Surprises New Zealand

Imagine you're in the middle of a perfect summers day. You have a BBQ in full swing. The sun is shining, you've got shorts and t-shirt on and you're just about to put on your sunglasses when you see dark clouds on the horizon. Surely...that can't be...snow? This would have been the situation that you would have found yourself in if you'd been enjoying Summer time in the Southern parts of New Zealand this January. At this time of year, Kiwis are usually enjoying temperate weather but a recent 'weather bomb' has wrought havoc on the country as heavy rain, gales and snow storms have ravaged the North and South Island. Landslides have blocked roads and residents of some towns have been forced to burn their fences, in a bid to fend off the unseasonably cold weather. New Zealanders hoping for this weather to pass quickly will be disappointed, as the Met Service has confirmed that stable weather is not expected to return until February and March.

Australians Feel Like Climate Change Is Already Happening

Although America might well have recently sworn in a leader that has a less than favourable view on the existence of climate change - the good people of Australia, or at least a large proportion of a survey of 2000, believe they are already experiencing it's impacts. 90% of those who took the survey (undertaken by the Community Power Agency), living in regional and rural areas, felt that climate change was already making it's presence known. 46% of these also thought that coal-fired power stations should be replaced with a cleaner form of energy production. The sentiment was no different within the cities of Australia, as over three quarters of the respondents to the survey, who lived within the cities, believed that ignoring climate change would make their current situation much worse. Let's just hope Australia's conscientious population decides to emigrate to the States sometime soon!

Earthquakes Hits Italy, E-Waste Skyrocketing and Geog Exams Worst Ever

 Geography News this week...

Series Of Earthquakes Stun Italy

Up until August last year, most people would have considered Italy a safe, viable destination to travel to.

Although known for it's corruption and questionable police force, it has remained an enduring tourist attraction, thanks to it's well preserved national heritage sites and celebrated culture. With temperate summers and mild winters, it has long been a destination for holiday makers - but this might soon change. On August 24th 2016, the country was rocked by a series of Earthquakes, the most aggressive of which registered at 6.2 on the richter scale. Nearly 300 people lost their lives and over 400 people were injured across the country. It was the first of a series to hit the country after a 4-year hiatus from tectonic activity. The most recent of these, registering at 5.7, has led to at least 14 fatalities at an Italian mountain hotel in Abruzzo. After 5 incidents in the space of a year, it would appear that Italy is entering a new era of increased natural disasters.

Asia's E-Waste Mountains Rise To Record High

China is currently leading the way with record amounts of e-waste being left as a result of an ever increasing market for new consumer electronics.

A whopping 16 million tonnes of electronics waste was dumped in the space of a single year - a number that has risen by 63% within 5 years. E-waste includes any kind of electronic item that contains toxic or valuable metals that can not simply be put into a landfill. Items such as televisions, phone and toys often contain pollutants that have been linked to adverse effects on human health, including inflammation and oxidative stress. These symptoms are often seen as precursors to serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer. The demand for consumer electronics is unlikely to desist in China or the rest of Asia, where similar cases of e-waste have been increasing for the past few years. The question remains, what will the long-term consequences be for these countries' populations and is there a way of turning the tide?

 Popularity Of Geography Under Threat In Scotland

After a series of particularly poorly received exams have left both students and teachers scratching their heads, the popularity of the Geography A-Level in Scotland may well be on the decline.

The Royal Scottish Geographical Society, back in November, made a submission to Members of Scottish Parliament, warning that if the Scottish Qualifications Authority did not amend their exams properly for the next year the subject could see a significant decrease in popularity. Of all the teachers, who took part in a survey on the much criticised exam paper, 10% considered the paper as 'fair, OK, or better' whereas over 50% of the teachers thought it was 'poor, shocking, terrible, worst ever and nothing like the specimen or previous paper.' SQA have responded insisting that the paper was of an 'appropriate standard'. Fortunately for us, the subject still remains as popular as ever in England and Wales.

Tropical Forests In Danger, Sinkholes In China and A New Deadly Frog

Breaking Geography News...

Can Climate Policies Alone Save The Rainforests?

No. That's what the University of Leeds is saying anyway, in a recent study funded by the institution.

In fact, summaries from their results have suggested that efforts to conserve forests, by expounding their carbon storage value, might do more to endanger the remaining forests than help them. Although there are many international programmes in place with the aim of protecting the carbon stocks of the world's forests, many of these don't take into consideration the protection of the forest's biodiversity. The study found that biodiversity was not causally linked to carbon storage, but it could still be an important factor looking into the future. Writer on the study, Dr. Sullivan, took Borneo for an example, expounding the importance of protecting forests which have both high carbon stocks and tree diversity.

Sinkhole In China Eats 25 Tonnes Of Fish In One Night

Chinese officials are currently puzzling over a giant sinkhole, over 5 metres wide, which opened up underneath a local farmer's fish farm, destroying his livelihood.

Between the hours of 4 and 5 in the morning, the sink hole opened and began draining the pond above of all it's water - including some 25 tonnes of fish within. The current theory is that work being undertaken at a nearby quarry is the cause of the hole, however there has yet to be a complete investigation. The farm constituted a part of collective, meaning that the loss of fish could well impact the entire local community. Sinkholes can occur for a number of reasons, both man-made and environmental. They usually occur when rock beneath the surface is made of limestone, salt beds or other such rocks that can be dissolved by water running through them. It remains to be seen whether this particular example was caused naturally or by the local quarry work.

Peru Holds More Poisonous Secrets

There are apparently many more secrets to be discovered within the Earth's forests.

Buried deep within the Peruvian Amazon, herpetologist Shirley Jennifer Serrano Rojas has discovered a new species of poison dart frog - however she may be a little short on time studying it. In the summer of 2013, Serrano Rojas, along with other members of the Crees Foundation (a Peruvian Foundation created with the aim of sustaining the Amazon and the diverse species it contains) was recording the sounds of a nearby stream when she heard a call she had not heard before. After finally netting the elusive frog, named Ameerega shihuemoy, the scientists discovered that not only was this a new species but that it also displayed wholly unique behaviours in regards to their reproduction cycle. Unfortunately, considering the rate of deforestation in the Amazon, they will be racing against the clock to research this species and discover more, which disappear daily.