Drones fly to rescue of Amazon wildlife

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World Wildlife Fund-Brazil Conservation Specialist Marcelo Oliveira gets back a drone during the field work of EcoDrones expedition at Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve in Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 29, 2018. (AFP / Mauro Pimentel)
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View of a drone with a thermal camera overflying during the night at Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve in Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 26, 2018. (AFP / Mauro Pimentel)
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Mamiraua Institute biologist Daiane da Rosa gets back a drone during the field work of EcoDrones expedition at Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve in Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 27, 2018. (AFP / Mauro Pimentel)
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Expedition field assistants Joney Brasil (L), 35, and Bide Martins (R), 26, prepare a "voadeira" to take the scientists to work at Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve in Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 26, 2018. (AFP / Mauro Pimentel)
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View of a Tucuxi River dolphin (Sotalia fluviatilis) and a drone with a 360° camera at Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve in Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 28, 2018. (AFP / Mauro Pimentel)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Drones fly to rescue of Amazon wildlife

  • With the help of drones, researchers are able to watch the Amazon’s pink river dolphins in a heavily flooded Amazon reserve
  • The expedition is using new thermal imaging cameras to allow work to continue at night

MAMIRAUA RESERVE, Brazil: A hoarse sound abruptly wakes visitors staying at a floating house that serves as a base for environmentalists on the Jaraua river in the Amazon rainforest.
During flood season, the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve — located 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Amazonas state capital Manaus — fills with water.
For researchers from the Mamiraua Institute and WWF-Brazil, that means their nearest neighbor is a caiman they call Dominique. It has decided to squat for the day at the end of their house.
But the surprising noise was something else.
“Don’t worry! That’s just the river dolphins breathing. It’s scary in the middle of the night, right?” biologist Andre Coelho says.
The next day, scientists got into two boats, slowly navigating the endless spread of water-filled forest.
In this primeval landscape, the researchers used a drone to help them watch the Amazon’s pink river dolphins, whose scientific name is Inia geoffrensis.
The voyage in late June, which AFP was invited to follow, was the last in the series of a project called EcoDrones, which monitors populations of the pink river dolphin and another type, the tucuxi, or Sotalia fluviatilis.
“We need to understand their behavior and habits so that we can propose policies for their preservation,” said Marcelo Oliveira, from the World Wildlife Fund-Brazil.
Drones “are a tool that will reduce costs and speed up the investigations,” said oceanographer Miriam Marmontel, from the Mamiraua Institute.
The expedition is using new thermal imaging cameras to allow work to continue at night.
“We can observe the animals at times when before it was impossible,” Oliveira said.
Some of the research will be sent to the University of Liverpool in association with WWF-Brazil, with hopes of developing an algorithm that will allow scientists to identify every one of the dolphins during their observations.
“There are many different Amazons in what we call the Amazon jungle,” said Marmontel.
“Our monitoring means we can understand how to preserve animals in each region — what are the dangers and how they can be faced.”


Crater bigger than Paris is discovered under Greenland ice

Videographic looking at the importance of ice shelves. A study shows that Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will continue to shrink this century, even if warming is limited to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Crater bigger than Paris is discovered under Greenland ice

  • The discovery was initially made in the 2015 but an international team of researchers has been working to verify the findings ever since
  • There would have been debris projected into the atmosphere that would affect the climate and the potential for melting a lot of ice

TAMPA: A massive iron meteorite smashed into Greenland as recently as 12,000 years ago, leaving a crater bigger than Paris that was recently discovered beneath the ice with sophisticated radar, researchers said Wednesday.
The crater is the first of its kind ever found on Greenland — or under any of the Earth’s ice sheets — and is among the 25 largest known on Earth, said the report in the journal Science Advances.
The impact of the 19-mile (31 kilometers) wide crater under the Hiawatha Glacier would have had significant ripple effects in the region, possible even globally, researchers said.
But its story is just beginning to be told.
“There would have been debris projected into the atmosphere that would affect the climate and the potential for melting a lot of ice, so there could have been a sudden freshwater influx into the Nares Strait between Canada and Greenland that would have affected the ocean flow in that whole region,” said co-author John Paden, courtesy associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Kansas University.
“The evidence indicates that the impact probably happened after the Greenland Ice Sheet formed, but the research team is still working on the precise dating.”
The discovery was initially made in the 2015 but an international team of researchers has been working to verify the findings ever since.
The initial finding was made with data from NASA’s Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment and Operation IceBridge.
More data was collected since then, using more advanced radar technology.
“So far, it has not been possible to date the crater directly, but its condition strongly suggests that it formed after ice began to cover Greenland, so younger than three million years old and possibly as recently as 12,000 years ago — toward the end of the last ice age” said co-author professor Kurt Kjaer from the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
Researchers plan to try and recover material that melted from the bottom of the glacier to learn more about its timing and effects on life on Earth at the time.