Boat Carrying 600 Gallons of Oil Sinks off the Galápagos
A barge containing 600 gallons of diesel fuel sank off the Galápagos Islands Sunday, prompting fears for the island chain's unique wildlife.
The oil spill occurred off San Cristóbal Island when workers were attempting to load a shipping container onto a barge called the Orca, The New York Times reported. A video shared on social media shows the container falling onto the boat, pulling the crane holding it with it and tipping the boat on its side as people dive off. One was injured, DW reported.
Esto pasó hoy en San Cristóbal, muelle El Predial- Galapagos https://t.co/eEc5NfZLxP— Eduardo Emanuele (@Eduardo Emanuele)1577048455.0
"The illegal and dangerous logistics operation carried out on the dock must be moved to another site," conservation group SOS Galápagos tweeted Sunday. The group also warned the oil would reach a popular tourist beach, CBS News reported.
Authorities declared an emergency and began an investigation into the spill, The New York Times reported. Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment shared pictures on social media of cleanup efforts undertaken by the Coast Guard and Galápagos National Park.
La máxima Autoridad Ambiental también inspeccionó el sitio del siniestro y evaluó el riesgo ambiental de la contami… https://t.co/4gtgRdnthX— Ministerio del Ambiente de Ecuador (@Ministerio del Ambiente de Ecuador)1577133781.0
So far, these efforts have paid off. Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno said on Twitter Monday that the spill was under control.
"Not a single species has been affected by the spill in San Cristóbal," Ecuador's Environment Minister Raul Ledesma said, DW reported Tuesday.
He said veterinarians had tested several iguanas and two sea lions near the spill site and found they had not been affected.
However, authorities are still worried about what could happen if they do not recover the oil tanks that sank.
"We are very concerned about the recovery work of the tanks because there could be a potential spill if it is not done efficiently and swiftly," Ledesma said.
The Galápagos are home to unique species not found anywhere else on the planet, according to CNN. The islands' unique wildlife and ecosystems helped Charles Darwin develop his theory of evolution, and the chain is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In 2001, a much worse oil spill poured 150,000 gallons of fuel into the water when a tanker hit a reef off San Cristóbal. While most of the oil was blown out to sea, the population of marine iguanas fell from 25,000 to 10,000 on the island of Santa Fe after the spill, The New York Times reported.Oil spills aren't the only way that fossil fuels threaten the Galápagos: UNESCO says their reefs are extremely vulnerable to the climate crisis.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
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Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.