biodiversity hotspots

Trappist-1 Nasa announcement: We could find alien life within 10 years on newly discovered planets

Seven potentially habitable exoplanets have been discovered in a solar system 40 light years away and, should it exist, we could find evidence of alien life within the next decade. Nasa hosted a press conference on 22 February to reveal the findings of the new study which was a multinational collaboration between top space scientists.

Trappist-1 exoplanets and alien life: 5 things you need to know about the Nasa announcement

Atmospheric rivers snake through dangerous and extreme storms

The planets orbit the ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. While three planets had previously been identified within the solar system, further monitoring revealed the presence of four more exoplanets. Through these observations, scientists were able to calculate their masses – showing they are roughly Earth-sized and are probably rocky.

Researchers published their findings in the journal Nature. Study author Michael Gillon said: “This is the first time so many planets of this kind are found around the same star. They form a very compact system – they are very close to each other and very close to the star – reminiscent of the moons around Jupiter. The star is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means they could have some liquid water hosting life on the surface.”

Mysterious Tully Monster was a weird creature but not a fish

What is even more exciting is that three of the planets sit within the star’s habitable zone. This is the region where it would be neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to be a constant feature. Because of the nature of the star and the solar system, researchers – with current technology – will be able to study the climate and chemical composition of the atmospheres of the seven planets.

Six biodiversity hotspots claimed to be on brink of ecosystem collapse

Amaury Triaud, another author on the study, explained: “The first stage we are doing is a reconnaissance stage to rule out the planets that have a large hydrogen envelope. This is to make sure they are indeed Earth-like. This will be followed by detailed observations to study the climate and eventually from the chemical formation to try to find out if there is life there. We can expect that within a few years we will know a lot more about these planets and we hope, if there is life there, maybe within a decade.”

The Trappist-1 solar system

Unlike our solar system, the planets orbiting Trappist-1 are very close to their star. Indeed, if they were in our system, they would all be found closer to the Sun than Mercury. However, because the star is far cooler than the Sun, it produces far less energy. This means that for liquid water to exist, planets need to be closer to the star.

All of the planets are tidally locked, meaning one side of a planet is always facing the star, while the other is always facing away (so it is either perpetual daytime or night-time). This is not necessarily a bad thing for the potential for alien life, Gillon said. “They would still be able to efficiently transport heat from the day side to the night side. So you have a source. Night is colder but not so cold that it would make the atmosphere collapse and be impossible for habitability. It’s not catastrophic for life.”

Ultra-cool dwarf stars like Trappist-1 release energy at a far lower rate than stars like our Sun. Scientists estimate it is probably older than half a billion years old. It burns hydrogen so slowly that it will live for around another 100 trillion years.

Which planets are best suited for life?

The three planets the team are most hopeful about in terms of their habitability are Trappis 1e, f and g. “Theoretically you could have liquid water on the seven planets, but three are in the habitable zone – which means with our climate modelling, these planets could have liquid water all over the surface,” Gillion said. “These three are more likely to have liquid water because the temperature is fine. It doesn’t mean they have liquid water. It will really depend on the atmospheric properties. But we will be able to study them in detail.”

Triaud added: “My take is that Trappist 1f is likely the more interesting one. It’s about the size of Earth, is a bit cooler but with the right atmosphere and of greenhouse gasses, the temperature should be fine. This is a very speculative question [though]. We don’t know how life emerges. If life emerges in an ocean and there is an ocean there I don’t see a problem. Water can shield from any radiation. If life is borne elsewhere maybe the conditions are different.”

Why is this system our best bet at finding life?

The atmospheres of the planets around Trappist 1 can be studied with existing technology. This means that in the very near future, researchers will be able to find out if any have conditions suitable to hosting life. If we do find conditions similar to what we have on Earth, the team say this would mean we could be 99% confident of the discovery of alien life.

Triaud said: “We’ve made a crucial step towards finding if there is life out there. I don’t think any time before we’ve had the right planets to find out if there was. Here, if life managed to thrive and releases gasses similar to that what we have on earth, then we will know. Before it was indications, now we have the right target.”

Gillion continued: “This is not in a few decades that we can do this. We are doing this now. People will get more and more news about this system in the coming months and years. The story is just beginning.”

You may be interested in:

Earth is Dying - and it's Our Fault.

I need to fully develop my conservation blog and post things like this there. But here’s the deal.

We are in the midst of the planet’s sixth mass extinction.

These are incredibly rare, and yes, it is what you think it is - when hundreds, thousands of species go extinct within a short period of time. But if it’s happened before, why is this one so bad?

Because the five before this have been due to completely natural causes. The warming or cooling of the planet, volcano eruptions, floods, droughts…

But this time, HUMANS are the primary problem. That’s right, us. You and I.

Sure, we are not the only reason for species going extinct, but everything we do harms the environment. Our hunger for expansion and a higher standard of living has caused us to keep destroying nature just so we can build on it.

So, habitat destruction is a HUGE problem. Along with littering, overpopulation, overusage of water, fragmentation, and carbon emissions (which contribute to global warming). We are invading and destroying rainforests - even the protected biodiversity hotspots are difficult to preserve - and disaster falls.

We are wiping out keystone species, plants and animals that could trigger the collapse of an entire ecosystem because they’re so important. We are losing species of plants that may have undiscovered medicinal value (like a cure for cancer).

Species are disappearing faster than we can blink. What will we do when the bees are gone? The sea turtles, the sharks? What happens when you wake up in the morning and the birds aren’t singing, what happens when you go to the beach and instead of clean sand and rocks, it’s filled with litter and trash?

So, yes. We are destroying our planet and ensuring the downfall of both us and future generations.

So how can we stop this?
1.) Conserve resources. The lower the demand is for products, the less people will go out and harvest them. Try and save water, drive less (public transportation may be a better option for example), save electricity by turning lights off. The littlest things can help.

2.) Don’t litter. This should be easy. But apparently, people haven’t been getting the message. Those garbage patches in the ocean can’t just be cleaned up.

3.) RECYCLE!! This is so important, and so easy! I’m astonished at the amount of people I know who don’t recycle. Please encourage everyone you know to participate, too.

4.) Educate. We have the world at our fingertips. Visit the IUCN red list, which documents all species of animals, and names their status. Look at other websites. Learn. Teach people. Let them know what’s happening.

5.) Donate. This can be the hardest to do because, well - money is hard to come by. But I urge you all to send this money to a good cause. There are soooo many environmental and conservation groups out there to donate to. Your money will be well spent. Just make sure you research each project before donating to ensure it’s not a scam.

Thank you for listening - and I urge you all to speak up about this. We need this planet. It doesn’t need us.

Behold: 4 New Species Of Tiny Frogs Smaller Than A Fingernail

Four newly discovered frog species are so tiny that they can sit comfortably on a fingernail, making them some of the smallest-known frogs in the world.

[NEWS] Scientists said in a video that they were “surprised to find that the miniature forms are in fact locally abundant and fairly common.” The frogs likely escaped notice until now because of their tiny size and secretive habitats, hidden under damp soil or dense vegetation.

Keep reading

Oceans cover over 70 percent of our planet’s surface and contain 99 percent of the living space on earth, making them hotspots of biodiversity. The National Park of American Samoa – a remote park located on four volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean – protects coral reefs, rainforest and a strong Samoan cultural component. Coral reef studies at the park are helping scientists understand how warming waters are affecting these and other reef systems. Photo by National Park Service.

flickr

PSA: SUNGREBES HAVE STRIPED FEET

Here’s a wonderful and obscure tropical bird: the sungrebe (Heliornis fulica)! They look a bit like a cross between a grebe, a duck, and a rail, but are in fact more closely related to rails than they are to either of the other two! That being said, sungrebes hail from their own monotypic family (Ralliformes: Heliornithidae) and are a great example of how far tropical evolution can go.

If you want to see a sungrebe, I recommend 1) patience (sungrebes swim slowly both fully and partially submerged), and 2) traveling to a tropical oxbow lake. These biodiversity hotspots have warm, near-stagnant water that sungrebes and other waterbirds love. 

Sungrebe by George Scott 

The biodiversity of nudibranch species in Southeast Asia is amazing.

Every dive I have done I have seen multiple, and never the same species. Every. Dive.

I have mentioned before about biodiversity hotspots in the world, and as amazing as they are they have one fault… Because these regions are tropical and somewhat equatorial, they normally don´t experience a large variance in temperatures. With climate change and surface and water temperatures changing around the world, these habitats will be the first to suffer.


Photo by @daviddoubilet A Papuan fisherman paddles homeward at dusk across a bay filled with moon jellyfish (Aurelia) near Gam Island in Raja Ampat Indonesia. Raja Ampat is a marine biodiversity hotspot located within the coral triangle. The coral triangle is a region of rich marine biodiversity located in the oceanic region between Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. For @natgeo with @natgeocreative @thephotosociety #ocean #jellyfish #indonesua #rajaampat #life #beauty #extreme #explore for #moreocean follow @jenniferhayesig and @daviddoubilet by natgeo

34 Biodiversity Hotspots: Together they make up 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, and contain 42% of Earth’s terrestrial vertebrate species and 50% of the world’s plants. To be classified as a hotspot, the region must have had at least 70% of its original habitat disturbed or lost.

4

This #WomeninSTEM Wednesday, meet BLM-California Wildlife Biologist Joyce Schlachter.

How many years have you been with the BLM? 

24

What do you like best about your job?

There is always something new to learn and to get involved with because of BLM’s multiple-use mission and the vast amount of land we manage. I have been able to experience working with a variety of wildlife in many different habitat types.  I have worked in the forests of southwestern Oregon, the Redwoods, the Mojave Desert and southern California, which is considered to be a world biodiversity hotspot.  San Diego County where I am now stationed has more biodiversity than any other county in North America.  I have worked on demographic studies for the northern spotted owl, desert bighorn sheep, Townsend’s big-eared bat and the Mojave Desert tortoise.

What did you do to prepare yourself for your career with the BLM?

My love of nature and animals, domestic and wild, has been my saving grace. It was only natural that I would someday work with and for the environment and animals.  I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I was a little girl but, instead my first job was for a dentist and I spent the next 17 years being a Registered Dental Assistant.  I also assisted in veterinary dentistry and worked on gorillas, lions and dogs used in Disney motion pictures. During this time I decided I wanted to pursue a college degree and do more.  I then studied at Humbolt State University and earned my bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management. During my studies I participated in a career day and was chosen by BLM to be in the cooperative education program.

My advice to other women wanting to work in science and/or as a Wildlife Biologist:

I believe it is never too late to begin to pursue your interests.  I didn’t know what I would be doing with my degree and I didn’t know I’d be working for the BLM.  As trite as it may sound, it is important to follow your heart, be open to new adventures-say “Yes” and don’t give up!  I also feel it’s very important to volunteer your services in a field that you are passionate about. In my spare time, I volunteer for Project Wildlife, rehabilitating bats; an opportunity that is priceless.

Interview submitted by My Public Lands Tumblr blogger Michelle Puckett

effieosborne-blog  asked:

How will the TPP obstruct efforts to curtail global warming?

The TPP has the potential to be the greenest trade agreement ever. In that agreement, the Administration is seeking to address conservation challenges that are particularly prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region, including many “biodiversity hotspots,” some of which have served as conduits for illegal trade and smuggling in threatened animal and plant species. This makes TPP a unique opportunity to break new ground on conservation and fisheries provisions that go beyond current international agreements. For the first time in any trade or environment agreement, we are negotiating prohibitions on some of the most harmful fish subsidies, including those that contribute to overfishing. TPP also includes commitments to protect our oceans and endangered wildlife including commitments on wildlife trafficking, illegal fishing, and illegal logging. -Brian