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Photos of an Incredible Secret Rainforest Hidden in The Heart of Africa –

Photos of an Incredible Secret Rainforest Hidden in The Heart of Africa - 86

Atop Mount Lico in northern Mozambique is a site that few have had the pleasure of seeing – a hidden rainforest, protected by a steep circle of rock.

Though the mountain was known to locals, the forest itself remained a secret until six years ago, when Professor Julian Bayliss spotted it on satellite imagery. It wasn’t until last year, however, that he revealed his discovery, at the Oxford Nature Festival.

We recently visited the 700 metre-high mountaintop rainforest in an expedition organised by Bayliss, in collaboration with Mozambique’s Natural History Museum and National Herbarium. As far as anyone knew (including the locals), we would be the first people to set foot there (spoiler: we weren’t).

Lico Mountain of Mystery watermark(© Jeffrey Barbee/Allianceearth.org)

Since the rainforest’s discovery, Lico has received worldwide attention. That it captured the public’s imagination speaks volumes about how rare such places are. Humans are nothing if not adventurous, pushing our range boundaries like no other species can.

But when almost every corner of the planet now shows signs of human activity, how do conservation scientists justify visiting and publicising these last bastions of untrodden nature?

From our perspective, the answer depends on what expeditions like this can teach us about the natural world, our place in it, and how to shepherd the wildest of places through the Anthropocene. Standing back and crossing our collective fingers is not always a winning strategy.

This expedition formed part of a long-standing research programme into these mountains, that aims to provide evidence to legally protect Mozambique’s mountain forests.

Lico mountain of mystery header(© Jeffrey Barbee/Allianceearth.org)

Currently none of northern Mozambique’s mountains are formally protected, either nationally or internationally. Finding new species is one way to highlight the importance of such sites and justify their protection.

As well as exploring Mount Lico, the expedition was the first to undertake a biological survey of nearby Mount Socone. Every bit as majestic and species rich as the iconic Lico, Socone highlights the threat faced by many forests in Mozambique, Africa and elsewhere.

Globally, one football pitch worth of forest is lost every second, driving countless species to extinction. The removal of trees from mountain slopes also leads to soil erosion, flooding in the wet season and water shortages in the dry season.

Map(AllianceEarth.org)

On our first day on Socone, we set out to locate the middle of the forest using a satellite image and GPS. However, the difference between what this image was telling us and what we could see was vast. As we walked towards what the image showed as the heart of lush rainforest, we could see the warm glow of the African sun.

Soon enough, we emerged from beneath the canopy and into newly established farmland. Without the protective cover of the forest, heavy rains will pound these exposed mountain soils, fresh cuts will need to be made, and so the cycle repeats. Media attention on neighbouring Lico, and the new species descriptions coming out of both sites, help to bring these conservation and livelihood issues to the world’s attention.

Time capsules

Our brief footsteps on Lico will soon be overgrown, and the plants and animals that live there will continue to be protected by the same towering cliffs (more than 125 metres high) that have saved them up to now (without the help of world-class climbers, our expedition would not have been possible).

alliance earth blog african volcano 2(© Jeffrey Barbee/Allianceearth.org)

But the impact of people goes far beyond where we have actually managed to set foot. Since the industrial revolution, humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to levels higher than at any time in the past 400,000 years, increasing temperatures and changing weather patterns.

Despite being situated on a fortress of rock, Lico’s forest is vulnerable to climate change, like every other ecosystem on the planet.

alliance earth blog african volcano 4(© Jeffrey Barbee/Allianceearth.org)

The contrast between protection from direct human activities but exposure to climate change means that Lico has a lot to teach us. Most forests experience both of these processes simultaneously, and so it is difficult to unravel their relative and interacting impacts.

Through the data collected on Lico, Socone and other forests worldwide, we gain a greater understanding of how human disturbance affects the ability of forests to respond to environmental change.

Lico is a rare data point on this map: millennia of climate change and ecological response, played out in the absence of direct human disturbance.

Lico Mountain of Mystery 5(© Jeffrey Barbee/Allianceearth.org)

Reconstructing this history meant digging a two metre-deep pit in the forest, so that we could sample the layers of soil in the order that they accumulated.

We tried to minimise any lasting effects on the forest (the hole was filled and topsoil replaced) but nonetheless, reasonable objections can be made against our disturbing this previously pristine site.

What we gained were a series of time capsules: each little tin of soil contains information on the plants that grew, the fires that burned and the water that flowed, data that will be shared in open-access repositories, allowing people worldwide to investigate this unique site without the need for further disturbance.

What we learn from Lico will help the world understand how forests might be affected by future changes in climate.

So were we really the first humans on Lico? Well, not quite.

alliance earth blog african volcano 1(© Jeffrey Barbee/Allianceearth.org)

To everyone’s surprise, we found ancient pots, ceremonially placed near the source of a stream that flows to a waterfall down the side of the cliff. Were these placed there during a time of drought, as the waterfall ran dry and the crops failed?

The ConversationArchaeologists and climate scientists are investigating. Given the pots pre-date local knowledge, the incredible inaccessibility and lack of any other signs of human activity, Lico’s forest remains one of the least disturbed on the planet.

One thing’s for sure though – humans really do get everywhere.

Simon Willcock, Lecturer in Environmental Geography, Bangor University and Phil Platts, Research Fellow, University of York.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Planet Earth

Scientists – It is much colder today than in the last 8,000 years

Scientists - It is much colder today than in the last 8,000 years 99
Ted Scambos / NSIDC

Undisputed temperature reconstructions from around the world show that for much of the Holocene (last 10,000 years), the planet was much warmer than it is today.

Kenneth recently wrote how many new studies of glacier and sea ice sizes show that Iceland is 2-4 ° C colder today than it has been in the past 8,000 years. Only the late 19th century was a little colder.

This post was posted on WUWT and the author provided additional graphics there from other parts of the world showing that the early Holocene was warmer around the world.

First, South America, which shows 100 years ago that it was much warmer from the 1930s to the 1950s than it is today:

Scientists - It is much colder today than in the last 8,000 years 100

Next, we have a 7000-year reconstruction of the Canadian Arctic temperature:

Scientists - It is much colder today than in the last 8,000 years 101

Note that, as many of us already know, the Arctic was much warmer in the early Holocene than it is today.

Finally, let’s take a look at the Swiss Alps, which are 9,000 years old:

Scientists - It is much colder today than in the last 8,000 years 102

Here we see that today it is very cold in the Alps compared to the early Holocene. Old tree trunks found under the glaciers confirm this.

A WUWT reader added that he has “a lot more of this type of graphs, which show very clearly that the whole wolrld has been much warmer for much of the last 10,000 years than it is now.”

And there are really a lot of them!

Medieval warm period, confirmed by hundreds of works

Sebastian Lüning’s remarkable and outstanding Medieval Warm Period reference map, shows hundreds of climatic reconstructions from this period. There we find a lot of research that shows that there is nothing unusual about today’s climate compared to what it was 1000 years ago.

Here are 80 charts from 58 peer-reviewed articles showing the same.

Source

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Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 103

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

https://twitter.com/sonyeoljin/status/1346841272347082752?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

https://youtu.be/pHU533Krs5M

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 104

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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