A global view on the health of the oceans.
Picturing the future of coral reefs.
And scientists head to the county fair. That’s today…On Science!
Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m your host Emerald Robinson.
A new piece of space rock has been brought to the surface. Divers in Russia recently pulled a 1200 pound piece of the meteorite that exploded over Russia back in February from a lakebed in the Ural Mountains. More than a dozen meteorite fragments have been recovered from the lake so far, with the heaviest up until now being around 25 pounds. A curator at London’s Natural History Museum said the presence of fusion crust, which forms as the meteoroid travels through the atmosphere as a fireball, gave away its extraterrestrial origins. Experts say this is one of the top 10 biggest meteorite fragments ever found. That’s one space rock you definitely have to be glad landed it water.
Where do these crazy meteorites come from anyway? Space, duh. But more specifically? The Curiosity rover has proven that some of the meteorites discovered here on Earth made their way from our neighbor – The Red Planet. That means their Martian Meteorites right? Based on info from the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, scientists were able to match the argon isotopic ratio found in some meteorites with that seen on Mars, which is slightly different from the rest of the Solar System. On Mars the ratio of light to heavy argon is skewed because most of the planet’s original atmosphere was lost to space, losing much of the lighter form of argon. The match has scientists feeling quite confident, boasting that, “this direct reading from Mars settles the case with all Martian meteorites.” Well, then I guess case closed.
And meteorites aren’t the only foreign materials landing in water. Carbon emissions are swimming around too. A new study is taking a comprehensive look at how carbon emissions and warming temperatures will affect the oceans, and what effect that will have on humans. They studied 32 marine habitats and biodiversity hotspots to determine each location’s susceptibility to climate change, and looked at data on human dependence on the ocean for goods and services. From their overall view, they said that – without mitigation – nearly every place in the world’s ocean will be affected by 2100 which in turn will affect humans who rely on the ocean for food and work. The ocean will see an increase in acidification, a decrease in oxygen and diversity, and a rise in the overall PH level. They found that coral reefs, sea grass beds, and shallow soft-bottom marine habitats would be the most changed. Researchers said this is “one legacy that we as humans should not ignore.”
And another group is getting a picture of the future of coral reefs. Literally. A team from Stanford University is using drones to map and measure coral reefs. The drones are equipped with an extra special 360-degree camera that images the reefs beneath the surface of the water. The images are then analyzed by, you guessed it, special software, which boosts image resolution and removes distortions caused by water movements. The team is using the images to try to better understand the effects of climate change on corals and to learn about the conditions that help support coral longevity.
And let’s leap on to the next story. If you want to study bullfrogs where do you go? To the county fair of course! Researchers from Brown and Northeastern Universities went to the Calavera County Fair in California to study how far a bullfrog can really leap. The researcher from Brown was frustrated with lab leaping analysis of bullfrogs and decided that the best way to see a bullfrog in action was in a frog-leaping contest. Lab measurements hadn’t surpassed 1m, although they had heard of winning bull frogs jumping as much as 3m. They filmed the fair jumps and took them back to the lab for analysis. They found that most bullfrogs jumped an average 1.1 to 1.5 m. But for the professionals who went out to hand select their prize-winning jumpers, their frogs hit closer to the 3m mark. The researchers determined it’s all a numbers game; the more frogs there are to choose from, the more likely you are to end up with good jumper. So if you plan to enter a frog-leaping competition at the county fair, be sure to look at a lot of frogs to find your winner.
And that’s what’s up today On Science. Gonna go catch me a winner! [ ribbit ]