Devils Lake Gobbling up farm land

Excerpt from the Crookston Times in Minnesota;

Since 1993, nearby Devils Lake has quadrupled in size, its floodwaters spreading out and swallowing smaller lakes and farmland throughout the region. The lake grew from 44,000 acres to more than 202,000 acres, including those smaller lakes.

But last year, a mini-drought and the expansion of a state-operated outlet system lowered the lake level, bringing new hope to basin farmers as 30,000 to 35,000 acres of farmland resurfaced.

http://m.crookstontimes.com/article/20130628/NEWS/130629552/-1/entertainment%20life

Separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi river basins

Another externality from Dam control and diversions. Inter basin water transfers and foreign biota and invasive species. Excerpt from ‘Dire’ USGS REPORT:

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“If Asian carp spread into the Great Lakes, knowing where to expect them to spawn is a critical step in controlling these invasive species,” said USGS scientist Elizabeth Murphy. “Our study combines the biology of Asian carp early life stages with the physics of rivers to identify potential spawning tributaries, thus giving managers an opportunity to develop targeted control strategies.”

The researchers studied four tributaries for their report: the Milwaukee and St. Joesph Rivers leading to Lake Michigan, and the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers that connect Lake Erie. Scientists have long believed that although adult carp prefer calm waters, carp eggs must be carried along fast currents or else they sink and die. However, it is now found that the river does not necessarily have to be lengthy for the eggs to survive. Given the right temperatures and water-quality characteristics, even short rivers will do. All four tributaries in the study proved sufficient for carp to spawn. This discovery, according to the report, “would expand the number of possible tributaries suitable for Asian carp spawning.”

Scientists also found that dams can be instrumental in creating “settling zones” where the Asian carp eggs collect and sink. Unfortunately, the settling zones caused by dams or natural features in the studied tributaries were not enough to stop the development of Asian carp young, which only required a relatively short distance before they hatched.

The Council of Great Lakes Governors met again for the first time since 2005 earlier this month to discuss the future of invasive species in the region, foremost being the siege laid against the lakes by Asian carp. According to Fox News, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn supported a national project to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi river systems.

“Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,” Quinn said at the meeting. “I really feel that is the ultimate solution.”

http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/usgs-releases-dire-new-report-on-asian-carp-great-lakes-governors-mull-solutions/

Pebble Mine: Gold Copper v Salmon

I know my choice. What is yours? Excerpt on Pebble mine controversy:

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Pebble Mine, if built, will be one of the world’s largest open pit gold and copper mines, yielding 10.8 billion metric tons of ore of which 1% will be usable and 99% would be mine waste stored in what will be the world’s largest earthen dam reservoir – a reservoir that must exist and remain intact forever if the remarkable ecosystem of Alaska’s Bristol Bay is to survive. Any failure will be catastrophic to the surrounding environment. Events are underway to locate this mine on the headwaters of the Kvichak and the Nushagak Rivers which produce over half the salmon in the Bristol Bay Region. This region produces millions of wild salmon annually that represent the largest sustainable harvest of wild salmon on earth. It continues to support not only the indigenous people’s salmon culture that has existed for thousands of years, but is a significant protein source for the world, and the foundation of a food chain that supports not only more than 138 species of wildlife, from grizzly bears and river otters to shorebirds and bald eagles, but the surrounding flora as well. The pristine nature of this ecosystem is extraordinarily fragile and this is a massive gamble – a gamble which has inevitably failed in other salmon-rich drainages now either seriously degraded or eliminated altogether.

READ ON:

http://www.orvis.com/intro.aspx?subject=11059

Voyager: Space, the final frontier

Things are not always as expected. Scientist try to make sense of new data from the far reaches of the galaxy. Excerpt from observations on latest transmission from Voyager 1 from Wired.com :

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The effects from the rest of the galaxy become more pronounced, would be gradual and unexciting. But it’s proven to be far more complicated than anything researchers had imagined, with the spacecraft now encountering a strange region that scientists are struggling to make sense of.

“The models that have been thought to predict what should happen are all incorrect,” said physicist Stamatios Krimigis of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who is lead author of one of three new papers on Voyager appearing in Science on June 27. “We essentially have absolutely no reliable roadmap of what to expect at this point.”

The sun produces a plasma of charged particles called the solar wind, which get blown supersonically from its atmosphere at more than 1 million km/h. Some of these ions are thrown outward by as much as 10 percent the speed of light. These particles also carry the solar magnetic field.

Eventually, this wind is thought to hit the interstellar medium – a completely different flow of particles expelled from the deadly explosions of massive stars. The extremely energetic ions created in these bursts are known as galactic cosmic rays and they are mostly blocked from coming into the solar system by the solar wind. The galaxy also has its own magnetic field, which is thought to be at a significant angle to the sun’s field.

Researchers know that Voyager 1 entered the edge of the solar wind in 2003, when the spacecraft’s instruments indicated that particles around it were moving subsonically, having slowed down after traveling far from the sun. Then, about a year ago, everything got really quiet around the probe. Voyager 1’s instruments indicated at the solar wind suddenly dropped by a factor of 1,000, to the point where it was virtually undetectable. This transition happened extremely fast, taking roughly a few days.

At the same time, the measurements of galactic cosmic rays increased significantly, which would be “just as we expected if we were outside the solar wind,” said physicist Ed Stone of Caltech, Voyager’s project scientist and lead author of one of the Science papers. It looked almost as if Voyager 1 had left the sun’s influence.

So what’s the problem? Well, if the solar wind was completely gone, galactic cosmic rays should be streaming in from all directions. Instead, Voyager found them coming preferentially from one direction.

Keep reading at:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/06/voyager-unexpected-region/

Worst flood in Alberta history: 100,000 displaced, Environment News Service

Record floods in Alberta. Excerpt from ENS report:

10,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the small city of Medicine Hat, Alberta about 300 kilometers (200 miles) to the southeast, where the South Saskatchewan River is predicted to overflow its banks. The peak flow is forecast to occur very early Monday morning.

Floodwaters washed out bridges and roads in Calgary (Photo courtesy City of Calgary)

In Calgary, a Flood Warning remains in effect for the Bow River. The water levels on the Bow and Elbow Rivers were high but consistent throughout the day on Sunday.

The Elbow River downstream of the Glenmore dam crested early Friday. Water levels in both rivers are expected to remain “extremely high” for several days, forecasters warned.

Calgary remains in a state of local emergency. Sections of the downtown remain closed and parts of some neighborhoods are still marked as “red zones” where residents should not try to return home.

http://ens-newswire.com/2013/06/24/wet-weekend-in-flooded-alberta-100000-displaced/