Record Saharan dust plume cloaks Caribbean as health warnings issued
MIAMI — Scientists have been monitoring atmospheric dust on the easternmost Caribbean island of Barbados since 1965. The plume currently drifting over the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico is like nothing they’ve ever seen.In Haiti, fully cloaked this week under a cloud of hot Saharan dust, residents reported the panoramic view of the capital, Port-au-Prince, had vanished. The gray haze also has brought a particular smell, like stepping into a wood shop. With the declining air quality, health agencies throughout the Caribbean have urged residents to take precautions and stay indoors if they ha...
New company plans to launch passengers from Kennedy Space Center dangling from a balloon
ORLANDO, Fla. — A pair of self-described serial entrepreneurs, best-known for flying a KFC chicken sandwich into space and living two years sealed inside a biosphere, are attempting to start a new human spaceflight company that instead of launching rockets will lift civilian passengers into the sky tethered to a high-performance balloon.Space Perspective, introduced during a video news conference Thursday, aims to carry a capsule of eight passengers at a time, dangling from a 650-foot-tall balloon 100,000 feet above Earth. The balloon and capsule will gently ascend for about two hours at 12 mp...
Nation and world news briefs
In prisoner swap, Iran releases US veteran in exchange for scientistWASHINGTON — A U.S. military veteran, Michael White, who had been held by Iran for two years, has been released and is on his way home, his family and President Donald Trump said on Thursday.He was set free after US-Iranian scientist Majid Taheri was released by U.S. authorities, officials in Tehran said.“I am blessed to announce that the nightmare is over, and my son is safely on his way home,” Joanne White, Michael’s mother, said in a statement released by the family’s lawyers.Trump tweeted to confirm the release: “I am to h...
Tribune News Service
New hurricane season forecast raises chance of US landfall
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A pessimistic hurricane season forecast was released Thursday, saying the odds have increased for landfall by a major hurricane in the Caribbean or United States.Colorado State University, one of the most prominent centers for hurricane forecasting, raised the predicted number of hurricanes from eight to nine. The number of expected named storms, those of at least tropical strength, climbed from 16 to 19.“We have slightly increased our forecast for the 2020 Atlantic basin hurricane season and believe that the season will have well above-average activity,” stated a repor...
Will orcas thrive in the coronavirus pandemic's quieter waters? Scientists aim to find out
SEATTLE — The coronavirus pandemic has upended and refocused orca field research in Northwest waters this season.Some scientists are beached. Others are investigating the effect on endangered southern resident orcas of suddenly much quieter home waters in the Salish Sea, the transboundary waters between the United States and Canada including Puget Sound.The southern residents hunt by sound. Disturbance and noise caused by boats and vessels is one of three main threats to their survival, in addition to lack of adequate chinook salmon (their preferred food) and pollution. So this spring like non...
The Seattle Times
Scientists warn of 'superspreaders' as San Diego flocks to restaurants, salons
SAN DIEGO — Churches. Hair salons. Restaurants. Malls. What do they all have in common?They’ve all been cleared to reopen in San Diego County amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and by and large, they all require people to congregate inside, potentially with strangers.This comes as an increasingly vocal group of scientists has sounded the alarm about the danger of indoor gatherings due to the potential for airborne transmission of the disease by “superspreaders.”This week Kimberly Prather of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography penned an urgently worded perspective paper in t...
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Climate change helped produce San Diego's huge ocean heat wave in 2018, researchers find
SAN DIEGO — University of California, San Diego researchers have confirmed that climate change helped produce the historic 43-day ocean heat wave that drew big crowds to San Diego beaches during the summer of 2018.The finding was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, in a paper that says the phenomenon could not be solely attributed to natural variations in the weather.The average summer water temperature at the Scripps Pier in La Jolla is 70.7 degrees. But in 2018, ocean readings surpassed 73 degrees on every day of the heat wave, which lasted from July 19 to Aug. 30. And t...
The San Diego Union-Tribune
May storms are getting more common. So should hurricane season start earlier?
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The official start of hurricane season may get shifted into May in coming years, after several consecutive seasons produced storms prior to the current opening date of June 1.A low-pressure system near the Bahamas has been given a 70% chance of forming a subtropical storm or depression later this week. If it does, this would be the sixth year in a row to see a storm form before the official start date.Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, said the possibility of shifting the opening date into May is being discussed, in light of the series of pre-s...
Karen Carpenter's song had a little wisdom for our current end-of-the-world moment
“Why does the sun go on shining?,” sang Karen Carpenter, eons ago. “Why does the sea rush to shore? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world, ‘cause you don’t love me anymore.”That mournful love ballad, penned by the late Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee, is a beautiful song with one crystalline idea. When we’re suffering personal trauma, we often peer out at the world continuing unabated around us and feel a profound sense of alienation from its quotidian rhythms. Our world just fell apart due to a break-up, maybe, or a major health crisis, or a bereavement, and yet everything beyond ourselves rem...