Environment General

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day is April 22 of every year. April 22, 2020 marks 50 years of Earth Day.

Blue water in Venice Grand Canal

Earth looks different on Earth Day 2020.

Italian phrase of the day
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Environment General United States

The longest running US environmental disaster still affecting the Gulf Coast

Deepwater Horizon Spill
Fire boat crews battle the blazing remnants of Deepwater Horizon on April 21, 2010. (Coast Guard, Via AFP/Getty Images)

Major oil spills are catastrophic events that immensely affect the environment and society, yet determining their spatial extent is a highly complex task.

During the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout, ~149,000 km2 of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) was covered by oil slicks and vast areas of the Gulf were closed for fishing. Yet, the satellite footprint does not necessarily capture the entire oil spill extent.

A new study published in Science Advances use in situ observations and oil spill transport modeling to examine the full extent of the DWH spill, focusing on toxic-to-biota (i.e., marine organisms) oil concentration ranges. We demonstrate that large areas of the GoM were exposed to invisible and toxic oil that extended beyond the boundaries of the satellite footprint and the fishery closures.
 Click here to learn more.

Is Gulf Oil Spill’s Damage Over or Still Unfolding? Click here to read the National Geographic article.

Italian phrase of the day
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Environment General Naples Napoli Nature

What Naples and Yellowstone have in common

Naples with snow-covered Vesuvio – photo by Claudio Morabito

In the Bay of Naples, Europe’s most notorious giant is showing signs of reawakening from its long slumber. Campi Flegrei, a name that aptly translates as “burning fields”, is a supervolcano.

Yellowstone has had three super-eruptions in the past 2.1 million years. The last eruption of Yellowstone would potentially have put ash across both American continents.

Click here to read how a super-volcano eruption could wipe us out.

Italian phrase of the day
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Environment Food General

History and fate of the modern banana

Click on the image to learn more.
Art Environment Floods General Italy Veneto Venice

Venice under water

St. Mark’s Square flooded
Famous spots like St. Mark’s Square were under several feet of water. The crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica was flooded.Credit…Marco Bertorello/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica
The crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica was flooded by more than three feet of water. Photo by Manuel Silvestri/Reuters
Hotel Paganelli in Venice
Using a makeshift bridge to exit a hotel on Wednesday. Photo by Marco Bertorello/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Contrast all this with beauty that Carla Gambescia’s article reminds us.

Photo by Carla Gambescia
Photo by Carla Gambescia

The text below is a translation of the article on November 14, 2019.

A masterpiece of art, history and spirituality is in grave danger, Venice is flooded. The situation is still at risk, the tide arrived yesterday at 187cm. Piazza San Marco World Heritage Site and the Basilica of San Marco, jewel of Venice are threatened. The salt water entered the Basilica putting the Crypt and the whole church at risk. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted in Pellestrina due to a short circuit. Electricity outlets are water fountains, hotel bars and restaurants as well as shops and houses submerged by water.

The siren anticipated a nightmare night yesterday. Record high water in Venice has reached 187 centimeters and with winds of 100 km / h, high water of this magnitude has not been seen since 1966. In the lagoon they expect the three days of high tide with effects on the city still unpredictable .

The crypt has been submerged by more than a meter of water, so many are the infiltrations and damages that also affect the structures and therefore the foundations of the Basilica. In addition to the Basilica of San Marco, Cà Pesaro and the La Fenice theater were hit.

The mayor is preparing the request for a state of crisis and declares that for the Marcian basilica “we have been a hair’s breadth from the disaster”. Also the general secretary of the Mibact declares that the situation is “complex and worrying”.

Prime Minister Conte has visited the city noting the serious damage entering the Basilica. Now they expect three days of high tide, as usual. These exceptional events added the bora wind and the sirocco wind that joined together to create rough seas in the lagoon and waves at Piazza San Marco.

The damage count is still difficult while the Centro Maree itself has been hit by the storm that has also damaged the telephone lines. It is feared that the high water inside the Basilica of San Marco could compromise its structure and that the materials could flourish. The situation is particularly dangerous not for the interior furnishings, but rather because the water could give static problems to the columns that support the Basilica.