Puerto Rican wildlife threatened

This 2015 video, in Spanish, is about Caño Tiburones wildlife paradise in Puerto Rico.

From BirdLife:

The future of Caño Tiburones hangs on a thread

By Shaun Hurrell, Wed, 27/04/2016 – 17:57

The wind in your hair, the sound of birds, you’re paddling down 30km of estuarine channels in Puerto Rico’s largest wetland. A unique mix of freshwater and saltwater producing a full variety of natural aromas from native plants. Trying to spot all 190 resident bird species, lost in the moment, you might not realise that this small paradise is under attack. Farmers want to reclaim some of the land and a water-thirsty incinerator might be built here. Suddenly, you start to notice a slight smell of pollution, which also threatens the wetland.

The fate of Puerto Rico’s largest and most important wetland will be decided this week by the Court of San Jose. Caño Tiburones is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) because it holds globally important populations of the Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea and no less than 14 species endemic to the island. On the 28th of April, the national authorities will present a project outlining their plans for the future of the wetland, which could mean the full protection of this IBA or harmful development that will likely lead to the damage and loss of the currently unprotected half of the site.

Back in 1998, the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly voted overwhelmingly to pass Public Law 314 on Wetlands Policy, which ordered that Caño Tiburones be restored and protected.  However, that same year, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the Planning Board failed to protect the entire area, as intended by the Assembly, and instead designated only 50% as Caño Tiburones Natural Reserve with the other half of the wetland managed by the Land Authority. On the unprotected half of the wetland there are high pressures from agriculture, pollution and plans to construct an incinerator with very high water demand. Due to these threats, the site has been listed as an IBA in Danger since 2013.

Since February 2015, SOPI (Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña, Inc.; BirdLife in Puerto Rico) has been pursuing legal action in the national courts to achieve full legal protection of the IBA. They have received support from a wide range of national and international organizations in their fight for Caño Tiburones. However, recently the land developers and national agencies have stepped up pressure for the continued exploitation of the wetland and against its full protection.

“This is a critical time for Caño Tiburones and we will need all the help we can get to get a favourable decision in the Court”,

says Nathaniel González, the President of SOPI.

Answering this plea, the BirdLife Partner organizations of the Americas are signing a letter in support of the position of SOPI at the BirdLife Americas Partnership Meeting that currently takes place in Panama City in Panama. They expect that the Court of San Juan will decide in favour of the full protection of this important wetland in the Caribbean.

New telescope use improves astronomers’ quasar science

This video says about itself:

13 August 2015

The Spektr-R[6] (or RadioAstron) is a Russian scientific satellite with a 10 m (33 ft) radio telescope on board. It rivals the U.S Hubble space telescope. It was launched on the 18th of July 2011. Uses in astrophysics, cosmology, studies of black holes and exoplanets etc.

From Space Fellowship:

Earth-Space Telescope System Produces Hot Surprise

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:43 pm

Astronomers using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes have achieved the highest resolution, or ability to discern fine detail, of any astronomical observation ever made. Their achievement produced a pair of scientific surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies.

The scientists combined the Russian RadioAstron satellite with the ground-based telescopes to produce a virtual radio telescope more than 100,000 miles across. They pointed this system at a quasar called 3C 273, more than 2 billion light-years from Earth. Quasars like 3C 273 propel huge jets of material outward at speeds nearly that of light. These powerful jets emit radio waves.

Just how bright such emission could be, however, was thought to be limited by physical processes. That limit, scientists thought, was about 100 billion degrees. The researchers were surprised when their Earth-space system revealed a temperature hotter then 10 trillion degrees.

“Only this space-Earth system could reveal this temperature, and now we have to figure out how that environment can reach such temperatures,” said Yuri Kovalev, the RadioAstron project scientist. “This result is a significant challenge to our current understanding of quasar jets,” he added.

The observations also showed, for the first time, substructure caused by scattering of the radio waves by the tenuous interstellar material in our own Milky Way Galaxy.

“This is like looking through the hot, turbulent air above a candle flame,” said Michael Johnson, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “We had never been able to see such distortion of an extragalactic object before,” he added.

“The amazing resolution we get from RadioAstron working with the ground-based telescopes gives us a powerful new tool to explore not only the extreme physics near the distant supermassive black holes, but also the diffuse material in our home Galaxy,” Johnson said.

The RadioAstron satellite was combined with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, The Very Large Array in New Mexico, the Effelsberg Telescope in Germany, and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Signals received by the orbiting radio telescope were transmitted to an antenna in Green Bank where they were recorded and then sent over the internet to Russia where they were combined with the data received by the ground-based radio telescopes to form the high resolution image of 3C 273.

The astronomers reported their results in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

In 1963, astronomer Maarten Schmidt of Caltech recognized that a visible-light spectrum of 3C 273 indicated its great distance, resolving what had been a mystery about quasars. His discovery showed that the objects are emitting tremendous amounts of energy and led to the current model of powerful emission driven by the tremendous gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole.

The RadioAstron project is led by the Astro Space Center of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Lavochkin Scientific and Production Association under a contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency, in collaboration with partner organizations in Russia and other countries. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

See also here.