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The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals in just 20 years, study says

The population of corals within Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has plummeted by 50 percent in the last two decades, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland, Australia, assessed the colony size of corals in the reef — the world’s largest — between 1995 and 2017, and found a drastic depletion in the population of small, medium and large coral.

“The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species, but especially in branching and table-shaped corals,” study co-author Professor Terry Hughes said of the findings, published in the Royal Society journal.

These specific corals are especially important in providing a habitat for marine life such as fish that inhabit the reef, the researchers said, meaning their loss also results in a decline in reef biodiversity. Despite covering less than 0.1 percent of the ocean floor, reefs host more than 25 percent of all marine fish species, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a network of government and civil society organizations.

“These were the worst affected by record-breaking temperatures that triggered mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017,” Hughes added.

Coral reefs contain remarkable biodiversity, but the vast majority face being wiped out as the planet continues to warm. David Gray / Reuters file

Coral bleaching occurs as a result of the reef experiencing warmer than usual sea temperatures. Climate change has dramatically increased the frequency of these events which inhibits the reef’s ability to recover. A 2019 report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that reefs can take more than 15 years to recover, yet further mass bleaching — the third event in just five years — occurred again this year.

“We used to think the Great Barrier Reef is protected by its sheer size, but our results show that even the world’s largest and relatively well-protected reef system is increasingly compromised and in decline,” Hughes said.

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Coral reefs — which harbor the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on earth — are some of the most vulnerable environments to the climate crisis. The U.N. report warned that the vast majority of all tropical reefs on earth will disappear even if global warming is limited 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit; an aspiration that looks increasingly unlikely to be achieved.

The earth has already warmed over 1.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels with current estimates suggesting that the world is on track for between 3.6 and 4.4 degrees of warming.

“There is no time to lose, we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible,” the study authors concluded.

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Study Suggests A Supernova Exploded Near Earth About 2.5 Million Years Ago, Possibly Causing An Extinction Event

Supernovas are amazingly bright explosions of massive stars at the end of their lives. During the gravitational collapse, the outer layers of the star are pushed away, and chemical elements formed inside the star are released into space. This cosmic dust rains down onto the Earth continuously, including exotic elements formed inside the dying star.

Research published in the journal Physical Review Letters used the concentration of two such exotic elements preserved in ocean sediments to hypothesize that a supernova exploded near Earth just 2.5 million years ago.

The authors, led by Dr. Gunther Korschinek from the Technical University of Munich, focused their study on ferromanganese crusts collected in the Pacific Ocean. Ferromanganese crusts form on the bottom of the ocean by layers of iron- and manganese-oxides precipitating out of seawater. The studied samples started to grow some 20 million years ago at depths ranging from 5,200 feet to 3.18 miles (approximately 1.600 to 5.120 meters). The researchers measured the concentrations of iron-60 and manganese-53 isotopes in the hardened crust. They differ from Earth’s most common form of the elements by their varying number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus. Both isotopes are synthesized in large stars shortly before supernova explosions and are unstable, decaying completely after 4 to 15 million years. Their presence in sediment samples is evidence for Earth passing through a cloud of cosmic dust generated by an exploding star in – geologically speaking – recent times.

Research published in August 2020 already noted a peak of iron-60 in sediments dating back 33,000 years, about 2.6 million years, and possibly another at around 6 million years ago. The new research also found elevated concentrations of manganese-53 in a 2.5 million-year-old layer, supporting the idea of a nearby supernova explosion as the source of both isotopes.

Based on the measured concentrations, the researchers calculated that the exploding star was around 11 to 25 times the size of our sun. The researchers also note that the age of the presumed supernova coincides with the end of the Pliocene epoch on Earth, some 2.58 million years ago. The end of the Pliocene is marked by a general cooling trend leading into the ice-age, but also a mass extinction event involving many large land mammals. In theory, a supernova close enough to the Earth (roughly less than 30 to 1000 light-years) could irradiate Earth with a dangerous dose of Gamma rays. The energetic rays could damage and alter the chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere, exposing the surface to harmful solar and cosmic radiation and triggering a runaway

The Atlantic Ocean Hasn’t Been This Hot in at Least 2,900 Years

Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station.

Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station.
Photo: NASA (Getty Images)

More than 20 years after intoning, “The water’s getting warm, so you might as well swim,” Smash Mouth’s “All Star” continues to be prophetic. Case in point: A new study finds that the Atlantic Ocean just had its hottest decade in at least 2,900 years. Someone award Smash Mouth a PhD and calculate the h-index of their discography immediately.

The new findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, rely on a mix of ice and sediment cores as well as thermometer data to track the state of the Atlantic. The ocean has gone through a well-known up-and-down swing in sea surface temperature, known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. Plotted over hundreds of years, the AMO looks like a pretty steady wave pattern. In its warm phase, it can lead to a greater number of intense hurricanes, while the opposite is true in its cool phase. In addition to hurricanes, the phase of the AMO also influences temperature and precipitation over landmasses both immediately adjacent to the ocean and as far away as India.

So the state of the AMO is big deal, especially knowing where it’s heading in a warming climate. To get a handle on where the AMO has been, the researchers turned to a surprising source: the sediment in a lake on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. The region is one of the areas heavily influenced by shifts in Atlantic Ocean temperatures. When the Atlantic runs hot, it creates higher pressure over the region, resulting in thinner snowpack; less snowpack means less sediment runoff.

Researchers were able to analyze titanium in layer upon layer of lake sediment to create a time series of the past 2,900 years of Atlantic Ocean temperatures. The finding show the wave pattern of warm and cool periods extends into the past, including a big dip in the heart of the Little Ice Age that ran from 1300 until about 1860. Since then, it’s been rising steadily up, with a sharp peak in the past few decades.

The scientists also compared parts of the new Canadian Arctic to shorter, higher-resolution sediment cores from other locations, including one from off the southern coast of Iceland that covers the past 230 or so years. That record relies on Turborotalita quinqueloba, a tiny, cold-water-loving shelled creature, as a proxy for temperature. The core shows a drop in their numbers over the past century, with the rate of disappearance speeding up.

Taken together, the results show that “recent Atlantic warming is unparalleled” in at least 2,900 years. There are natural factors that could be influencing the shift, but it’s impossible to not consider the impact of climate change. The hallmark of climate change is heat, especially in the oceans. Marine heat waves have become more common and intense. Findings published just last month show rising heat is

Astronomers find x-rays lingering years after landmark neutron star collision

UMD astronomers find x-rays lingering years after landmark neutron star collision
Researchers have continuously monitored the radiation emanating from the first (and so far only) cosmic event detected in both gravitational waves and the entire spectrum of light. The neutron star collision detected on August 17, 2017, is seen in this image emanating from galaxy NGC 4993. New analysis provides possible explanations for X-rays that continued to radiate from the collision long after other radiation had faded and way past model predictions. Credit: E. Troja

It’s been three years since the landmark detection of a neutron star merger from gravitational waves. And since that day, an international team of researchers led by University of Maryland astronomer Eleonora Troja has been continuously monitoring the subsequent radiation emissions to provide the most complete picture of such an event.

Their analysis provides possible explanations for X-rays that continued to radiate from the collision long after models predicted they would stop. The study also reveals that current models of neutron stars and compact body collisions are missing important information. The research was published on October 12, 2020, in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“We are entering a new phase in our understanding of neutron stars,” said Troja, an associate research scientist in UMD’s Department of Astronomy and lead author of the paper. “We really don’t know what to expect from this point forward, because all our models were predicting no X-rays and we were surprised to see them 1,000 days after the collision event was detected. It may take years to find out the answer to what is going on, but our research opens the door to many possibilities.

The neutron star merger that Troja’s team studied—GW170817—was first identified from gravitational waves detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory and its counterpart Virgo on August 17, 2017. Within hours, telescopes around the world began observing electromagnetic radiation, including gamma rays and light emitted from the explosion. It was the first and only time astronomers were able to observe the radiation associated with gravity waves, although they long knew such radiation occurs. All other gravity waves observed to date have originated from events too weak and too far away for the radiation to be detected from Earth.

Seconds after GW170817 was detected, scientists recorded the initial jet of energy, known as a gamma ray burst, then the slower kilonova, a cloud of gas which burst forth behind the initial jet. Light from the kilonova lasted about three weeks and then faded. Meanwhile, nine days after the gravity wave was first detected, the telescopes observed something they’d not seen before: X-rays. Scientific models based on known astrophysics predicted that as the initial jet from a neutron star collision moves through interstellar space, it creates its own shockwave, which emits X-rays, radio waves and light. This is known as the afterglow. But such an afterglow had never been observed before. In this case, the afterglow peaked around 160 days after the gravity waves were detected and then rapidly faded away. But the X-rays

Alex Smith returned to action nearly 2 years after a gruesome injury

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — The ball slipped out of Jared Goff’s right hand trying to spike it after a touchdown. That was about the only time he wasn’t in control.

“It wasn’t great,” he said. “I have the excuse that it was wet.”

Goff threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Los Angeles Rams improved to 4-1 by beating Washington 30-10 on Sunday in Alex Smith’s return almost two years since a gruesome injury put his career in jeopardy.

“It’s incredible what he has overcome,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “You almost wish it were in better conditions. Weird to say when it’s also our defense making things difficult for him. I’m just so impressed with him.”

Smith played his first NFL game 693 days since breaking his right tibia and fibula, entering when new Washington starting quarterback Kyle Allen injured his left arm. Smith was 9 of 17 for 37 yards on the same field he was carted away from on Nov. 18, 2018 before undergoing 17 surgeries to repair the injury.

“Very surreal at first,” Smith said of completing his comeback. “To have it happen as fast as it did was probably almost a blessing. … It was kind of nice in that situation not having to think about it. You just go out and do it.”

Former Washington QB Joe Theismann, who broke his right leg in similar fashion 33 years to the day before Smith was injured, said it was spectacular to see his return, adding, “I’m so thrilled and excited for him.”

The Rams are thrilled with such a strong start in a tough NFC West after missing the playoffs last season. They’ve swept the NFC East and are only a three-point loss on a questionable pass interference call away from being undefeated.

“It’s a great thing for our momentum,” said Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, who had five catches for 66 yards. “Feel great about being 4-1 but by no means does it mean we can be complacent. Making sure we continue to improve and trend upwards.”

Led by Aaron Donald’s four sacks and blanket coverage, the Rams clamped down on defense and ran it up in the rain on offense. Against the team he spent seven seasons with as an assistant, McVay dialed up a lot of play-action early, and unleashed Goff’s long-range passing game that had been largely absent through four games.

“I think we’re just waiting for opportunities,” Goff said. “This one was there, made a throw, made a catch. We’ve always known what our offense is capable down the field, and today we were able to show it.”

Goff led the Rams on a methodical, 10-play, 76-yard opening scoring drive that finished with a 1-yard TD run by Darrell Henderson. He connected with Robert Woods on

Elon Musk’s Tesla, Starman fly past Mars 2 years after SpaceX launch

  • In February 2018, SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster owned by the company’s founder, Elon Musk, into deep space.
  • The electric vehicle, which has a spacesuit-clad “Starman” dummy in the driver’s seat, just made its first flyby of Mars.
  • To Starman, Mars would have appeared to be about one-tenth the size of the moon as seen from Earth, the astronomer Jonathan McDowell said.
  • The vehicle and its unlikely passenger, launched on the upper stage of a Falcon Heavy rocket, may travel for millions of years before crashing, most likely back into Earth.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An electric car that Elon Musk rocketed into space more than two years ago just flew past Mars for the first time.

SpaceX, the rocket company Musk founded, launched his old Tesla Roadster aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018 with a spacesuit-wearing dummy named “Starman” at the wheel.

The car also carried a Hot Wheels model of itself with a miniature Starman inside. In storage, it holds a copy of the sci-fi novels “Foundation” by Isaac Asimov and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, along with a towel and a sign that says “Don’t Panic.” The car’s speakers even blasted the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie after launch.

Since then, the rocket’s second stage has glided through space with no fuel to propel it, with Musk’s old red car perched on top of it.

“It’s a rocket stage with a hood ornament,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who independently calculated the Tesla’s close Mars pass, told Business Insider.

spacex falcon heavy launch

An illustration of Musk’s Tesla atop the upper stage of a Falcon Heavy rocket.


The Tesla was supposed to slip into a circular orbit between Mars and the sun. But the mission overshot and ended up on an elliptical path that takes it far past Martian orbit, toward the asteroid belt; it completes an orbit about every 557 days. The car’s trajectory had taken it past Mars orbit before, but at that time the planet was nowhere near the point where Starman intersected its path.

The car made its first close approach to Mars at about 2:25 p.m. ET on Wednesday, passing about 7.4 million kilometers (4.6 million miles) from the red planet, according to McDowell’s calculations. (SpaceX on Wednesday tweeted a similar estimate of “under 5 million miles” for the flyby distance.)

Neither the Tesla nor the Falcon Heavy stage attached to it is sending signals back to Earth, so McDowell calculated its path from the last data available as it left Earth. He used the same gravitational data that NASA uses to steer its space probes.

spacex falcon heavy launch

An illustration of “Starman” and Musk’s Tesla flying past Mars.


“It’s a pretty confident extrapolation, because we understand gravity pretty well,” McDowell said. “The only thing that could throw you off is what we call outgassing: If there was leftover fuel, or if the paint job on the Tesla carriage came off,

Down years for me a lot of times are career years for others

Aaron Rodgers has not won the league’s MVP award since 2014. He is a candidate through four games this season.

Rodgers, 36, is having one of his best seasons in completing 70.5 percent of his passes for 1,214 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Packers trade up in the first round to select Jordan Love invited questions about Rodgers’ future. He has answered: He’s back, even though he never went anywhere.

“Every team is different. Every year is different,” Rodgers told Pat McAfee on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. “Circumstances in any year which allow you to have more success, or make it more difficult for success, just kind of depends on the situation. It does help being the second year, for sure. I feel a lot more comfortable. But, you know, I sometimes laugh when people talk about down years for me because a lot of times down years for me are career years for most quarterbacks.”

He’s not wrong.

Rodgers passed for 4,002 yards with 26 touchdowns and four interceptions last season in leading the Packers to a 13-3 record. The analytics experts, though, pointed to his throwaways and his Expected Points Added (EPA) per play.

This season, Rodgers is on pace for 4,856 yards and 52 touchdowns. His career-best season was 2011 when he passed for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns.

Aaron Rodgers: Down years for me a lot of times are career years for others originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

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Packers’ Aaron Rodgers: ‘Down Years for Me Are Career Years for Most QBs’ | Bleacher Report

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have time for anyone who has talked about him having down seasons before 2020. 

Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers said “a lot of times down years for me are career years for most quarterbacks.”

Midway through the 2019 season, Ben Baldwin of The Athletic broke down Rodgers’ decline in expected points added (EPA) per play over a four-year span:

“From 2009 through 2014, Rodgers finished a close No. 2 to Peyton Manning among 60 qualified quarterbacks (minimum 500 plays) in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play, a measure of efficiency that takes into account situational factors such as down, distance and field position. However, since 2015, Rodgers’ per-play efficiency has fallen outside of the top 10, currently ranking No. 13 of 48 and behind players such as Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins.”

Rodgers seemed to adopt a conservative style of play in 2018 when Pro Football Focus credited him with 59 throwaways, the most by any player since the 2006 season. 

Even as talk of Rodgers’ decline was getting louder, the two-time NFL MVP threw for 8,444 yards, 51 touchdowns and six interceptions combined in the previous two seasons.

In his second year playing under head coach Matt LaFleur, Rodgers is playing even better so far than he was during those peak years from 2009-14. The 36-year-old has 1,214 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions through four games.   

The Packers offense leads the NFL with 152 points scored and ranks second with 1,782 total yards. They are one of four teams with a 4-0 record. 

Aaron Rodgers thinks “down years” for him are career years for most QBs. Are they?

Aaron Rodgers is on pace to throw for 52 touchdowns this season, which would be second all-time to Peyton Manning’s 55 in 2013.

a man wearing a hat: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers leaves the field following an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday in Green Bay, Wis. (Mike Roemer / Associated Press)

© (Mike Roemer / Associated Press)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers leaves the field following an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday in Green Bay, Wis. (Mike Roemer / Associated Press)

Not bad for a guy in his 13th year as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback. Or a guy who finished with half that amount last year.

Still, don’t call it a comeback. Or anything of the sort. You might be setting yourself up for a Rodgers retort like this one:

“I sometimes laugh when people talk about down years for me because a lot of times down years for me are career years for most quarterbacks.”

That was part of Rodgers’ response Tuesday when asked on “The Pat McAffee Show” if he was benefitting from being in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system for a second season. Rodgers answered that he does feel more comfortable this year before seemingly taking umbrage at the premise of the question.

McAffee and company erupted with cheers following Rodgers’ remark, prompting Rodgers to say, “Hey, it’s just the facts, bro.”

But is it?

First, it must be noted that Rodgers put up some excellent numbers last year as he helped the Packers to a 13-3 record. He passed for more than 4,000 yards for the eighth time in his career and had only four passes picked off. His interception percentage of 0.7 was the best in the NFL, the fourth time he’s led the league in that category.

As far as touchdown passes go, Rodgers threw 45 in 2011 (second to Drew Brees’ 46 that year) and a league-leading 40 in 2016. So based on those stats, it would be difficult to begrudge someone who considered last season’s 26 to be a down year for him in that category.

But what about Rodgers’ claim that it would be a career year for most quarterbacks? Well, quarterbacks have thrown for 27 or more touchdowns in a season 226 times. That may seem like a lot, but, of course, some players accomplished the feat more than once. And considering the number of people who have played quarterback in the history of the game, it’s probably accurate to say “most” quarterbacks would have loved to have thrown as many touchdown passes as Rodgers in any year of his career.

Bottom line, Rodgers has set a ridiculously high standard for himself during a career that will certainly land him in the Hall of Fame. Maybe he comes across as a bit arrogant, but like he said, it’s just the facts, bro.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles

‘Down years for me are career years for most quarterbacks’

Aaron Rodgers is oozing all kinds of confidence after Monday’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

a man holding a football ball

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The Green Bay Packers superstar tossed four touchdown passes in the win, and just for good measure, he added a funny/silly/dry-humored flex to the “Showtime Cam” after he threw Robert Tonyan one of his three scores. Everything’s coming up Rodgers right now.

Then, there’s this flex that’s not literal: he spoke to Pat McAfee on Tuesday and was asked about his improvement from last year.

His response: “It does help being in a second year [offense] for sure, I feel a lot more comfortable. But … I sometimes laugh when people talk about down years for me, ’cause a lot of times down years for me are career years for most quarterbacks”


By the way, he’s right! He amassed 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The completion percentage — 62.0 — wasn’t his best, but there are a lot of QBs out there who would kill for those numbers.


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