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Recovery Of Brazil’s Spix’s Macaw, Popularized In Animated ‘Rio’ Films, Threatened By Climate Change

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Macaw | Pixa Bay Image

Curacao, Brazil — All Spix’s macaws are gloriously blue in the blazing sun of Brazil’s Northeast. Threats that had ravaged the Spix’s macaws persist, and the birds now confront a new threat: climate change. The species’ native range includes what has recently been classified as Brazil’s first arid climate region, but each bird is unique to Candice and Cromwell Purchase. As the parrots soar squawking by their house, the pair can easily distinguish bird No. 17 by its smooth feathers and No. 16 from No. 22, which has two beads attached to its radio collar.

This familiarity reveals the South African couple’s determination to save one of the world’s most severely endangered creatures. The parrot, already uncommon in the nineteenth century and restricted to a small portion of the Sao Francisco River basin, was declared extinct in the wild in 2000 when a single surviving male vanished after decades of hunting and habitat loss caused by livestock overgrazing. The few remaining birds were dispersed across private collections throughout the world.

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Macaw | Pixa Bay Image

Recovery Of Brazil’s Spix’s Macaw, Popularized In Animated ‘Rio’ Films, Threatened By Climate Change

The Spix macaws, immortalized in the popular animated “Rio” flicks, have had a long, twisting, and rough road back from the brink of extinction.

Cromwell Purchase is concerned that the drier weather will influence the habitat of the few surviving Spix’s macaws.

“A dry area only receives rain for a brief portion of the year. “A drought in that period could last a year before you get your next rain,” said Purchase, a tall and thin 46-year-old. “The animals are acclimated to tough settings, yet they are at the brink. “Any small amount of change will decimate populations.”

In November, two federal research organizations published a study on rainfall water loss in plants and soil between 1960 and 2020. It demonstrated that northern Bahia state, including Curaca, where the Spix’s macaws are attempting to live, is now consistent with a desert environment. It also revealed the spread of a semi-arid climate in the Northeast, where almost 55 million people reside.

“If the globe warms, there will be a lot more evaporation. So, water escapes the environment and causes aridity,” Alexandre Pires, director of Brazil’s anti-desertification efforts, told The Associated Press.

Since 2005, Brazil’s semi-arid territory has expanded by 300,000 square kilometers (116,000 square miles), roughly the size of three Californias. The government plans to propose measures to prevent desertification in the region by supporting better soil and natural resource management.

Despite changing climates and countless hurdles, the Purchases have dedicated most of their adult lives to breeding Spix’s macaws and returning them into the wild. The biologists began their voyage by working with a private collection in an oasis in Qatar. When the birds were sold to a charity group, the couple relocated to Germany.

Over the last four years, their efforts have been concentrated in the rural area of Curaca, a nondescript hamlet of 34,000 inhabitants.

The Brazilian government and the German charity Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots reached an agreement in 2020 to send 52 Spix’s macaws to Brazil on two charter flights. Federal police led them to breeding and reintroduction facilities, accessible via a one-hour journey on a difficult country road and where the Purchases live and work for the NGO.

The following year, 20 Spix’s macaws were released into the wild, together with 15 wild-sourced Blue-Winged macaws, to “teach” them how to fly, avoid danger, and forage. Last year, two Spix’s macaw chicks were born in the wild for the first time in decades, but neither survived.

All released birds had radio collars, each containing an antenna to withstand macaws’ strong bills. The Purchases and their assistant monitor the birds’ locations thrice daily.

macaw

Macaw | Pixa Bay Image

Climate Change Endangers the Regeneration of Brazil’s Spix’s Macaw, a Popularity in Animated “Rio” Films

Half of Spix’s macaws have died, largely from predation, or vanished. The remaining ones now dwell within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of the facilities, which comprise a couple’s house and a 47-meter (51-yard)–long U-shaped flight and release cage.

Three more light pale blue chicks were hatched in the wild in March. Not only did they survive, but one flew for the first time last week, which was a significant accomplishment.

“This event is so important because it shows how comfortable the parents are in their wild environment,” Candice Purchase remarked via text message. “A remarkable achievement for the birds and an incredible success for the release.”

To minimize the effects of desertification, the German parrot organization collaborated with a private enterprise, Blue Sky Caatinga, to encourage planting 24,000 hectares (59,300 acres) in the Spix’s macaw region. This effort comprises small farmers who rely mainly on goat farming.

Unlike the depictions in the animated films “Rio” and “Rio 2,” which highlighted the Spix’s macaw extinction concern, the parrot’s natural home is distant from Brazil’s most famous city, Rio de Janeiro, and the Amazon rainforest. It dwells among the sparse, prickly, low caatinga vegetation, which frequently loses greens during dry spells. The bird also uses the Caraibeira, a towering evergreen tree that grows near small intermittent creeks, for nesting and feeding. During the breeding season, the trees let the pairs preserve energy by avoiding long flights to eat.

When the macaws came from Germany, they were provided various wild foods. “We found that it took a while for the birds to recognize them as food,” Purchase stated. “But the Caraibeira tree develops a seed pod that resembles helicopter seeds. The Spix family has never seen anything like that before. We put those in the cages, and some people picked them up and quickly knew how to open them and eat the kernel inside, which was amazing and surprised us.”

macaw

Macaw | Pixa Bay Image

Climate Change Endangers the Regeneration of Brazil’s Spix’s Macaw, a Popularity in Animated “Rio” Films

The project also faces problems outside of the natural environment. The federal government informed the organization on May 15 that it would cancel the arrangement, which was set to expire on June 5. According to the Associated Press, Brazil’s federal environmental regulator discovered that in 2023, the NGO relocated Spix’s macaws from its center in Germany to other nations without its consent. The deal will be extended once the matter is resolved, but the government has said the organization can continue its reintroduction efforts. International sources fund the initiative.

Troubled relations have halted plans to release 20 parrots per year for the next 20 years. “There will be no release in 2023, and it currently appears that a 2024 release is uncertain. “It would be a shame if the project failed due to government politics,” Purchase stated.

Over 360 Spix’s macaws are in captivity worldwide, with 46 in Curacao.

Despite the challenges, many Curaca locals, even those who have never seen a Spix’s macaw, expect them to return to flying over the region soon rather than only appearing in endless paintings that have become part of the city’s identity.

“The project is already successful. “They’re free,” remarked Maria de Lourdes Oliveira, whose family leased some of their land for reforestation. “The most challenging part was arriving in Brazil. I cried when I saw them flying to freedom and beating their wings.”

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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NASA Astronauts Will Stay At The Space Station Longer For More Troubleshooting Of Boeing Capsule

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NASA | AP News Image

Two NASA astronauts will stay longer at the International Space Station as engineers work to resolve issues with Boeing’s new space capsule that arose during the mission.

NASA announced on Friday that the astronauts would not return until ground testing was completed and that they were safe.

“We’re not in a hurry to come home,” said NASA’s commercial crew program manager, Steve Stich.

NASA

NASA | AP News Image

NASA Astronauts Will Stay At The Space Station Longer For More Troubleshooting Of Boeing Capsule

Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, veteran NASA test pilots, launched aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft toward the orbiting laboratory on June 5. Boeing’s first astronaut launch came after years of delays and disappointments.

The test voyage was intended to last about a week, giving Wilmore and Williams adequate time to inspect the capsule while docked at the station. However, issues with the capsule’s propulsion system, which is used to steer the spacecraft, forced NASA and Boeing to postpone the flight home many times while investigating the issue.

They also sought to avoid station astronauts interfering with spacewalks. However, this week’s spacewalk was canceled due to water leaking from an astronaut’s spacesuit. The problem still needs rectification, and the planned spacewalk next week has been postponed.

As Starliner approached the space station a day after launch, last-minute thruster malfunctions nearly ruined the docking. Five of the capsule’s 28 engines failed during docking; only one was restarted.

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NASA | AP news Image

NASA Astronauts Will Stay At The Space Station Longer For More Troubleshooting Of Boeing Capsule

When the Starliner launched into orbit, it already had one minor helium leak, and numerous more appeared during the voyage. Helium is utilized to pressurize the fuel for the thruster. Boeing stated that the two issues are not a worry for the return trip.

NASA and Boeing delayed the astronauts’ return because they required extra time to gather information about the thruster problems and leaks while the spacecraft was docked. Both are in the service module, a device attached to the capsule that burns up during reentry.

NASA initially stated that the Starliner might stay docked at the space station for up to 45 days owing to battery limitations. However, according to Stich, in-flight studies have proven that the limit can be expanded.

Officials said they would wait to set a return date while conducting ground tests of capsule thrusters in the New Mexico desert, estimated to take a few weeks. They want to try to duplicate what happened during docking.

“I want to make it very clear that Butch and Suni are not stranded in space,” said Stich, adding that Starliner is designed for up to 210-day missions.

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NASA | AP news Image

NASA Astronauts Will Stay At The Space Station Longer For More Troubleshooting Of Boeing Capsule

Stich stated that if the space station experiences an emergency, the astronauts could return to Earth via Starliner.

After the space shuttle fleet terminated, NASA handed astronaut rides to private businesses. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has completed nine taxi flights for NASA since 2020. NASA intends to alternate between SpaceX and Boeing in transporting astronauts to and from the space station.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Why Mount Rainier Is The US Volcano Keeping Scientists Up At Night

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Mount Rainier, Washington’s snowcapped peak that stands 4.3 kilometers (2.7 miles) above sea level, has not had a significant volcanic eruption in the last 1,000 years. More than Hawaii’s exploding lava fields or Yellowstone’s vast supervolcano, Mount Rainier has many US volcanologists concerned.

“Mount Rainier keeps me awake at night because it poses a significant threat to the nearby villages. “Tacoma and South Seattle are built on 100-foot-thick (30.5-meter) ancient mudflows from Mount Rainier eruptions,” said Jess Phoenix, a volcanologist and ambassador for the Union of Concerned Scientists, on an episode of CNN’s “Violent Earth With Liv Schreiber.”

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Volcano | CNN Image

Why Mount Rainier Is The US Volcano Keeping Scientists Up At Night

The sleeping giant’s deadly potential does not stem from flaming lava flows, which, in the case of an eruption, are unlikely to spread more than a few miles beyond the boundary of Mount Rainier National Park in the Pacific Northwest. According to the US Geological Survey, most volcanic ash will likely drift downwind to the east, away from populated centers.

Instead, many scientists are concerned about a lahar, a fast-moving slurry of water and volcanic rock formed when ice or snow is rapidly melted by an eruption. Lahars gather debris as they run down valleys and drainage channels.

According to Seth Moran, a research seismologist at USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington, Mount Rainier’s tall height and ice and snow cover make it resilient to eruptive activity. “Hot stuff … will melt the cold stuff and a lot of water will start coming down,” he explained.

“And there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people who live in areas that potentially could be impacted by a large lahar, and it could happen quite quickly.”

A lahar is a rapidly flowing debris flow.
The deadliest lahar in recent memory occurred in November 1985, when Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted. Just a few hours after the eruption began, a flow of mud, rocks, lava, and freezing water surged over the village of Armero, killing over 23,000 people in minutes.

In an episode of CNN’s “Violent Earth,” Bradley Pitcher, a volcanologist and Columbia University lecturer in Earth and environmental sciences, described a hardened, concrete substance that can be difficult to escape.

Pitcher stated that Mount Rainier had approximately eight times the amount of glaciers and snow Nevado del Ruiz had when it erupted. “There’s the potential to have a much more catastrophic mudflow.”

According to the US Geological Survey’s 2018 threat assessment, Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano is the most dangerous in the US, which is unsurprising given its proximity to the population and periodic eruptions. Mount St. Helens exploded violently in May 1980 and was voted second most dangerous, followed by Mount Rainier in third.

Lahars are most commonly associated with volcanic eruptions, but landslides and earthquakes can also create them. Moran said geologists have discovered evidence that at least 11 massive lahars from Mount Rainier have reached the surrounding area, known as the Puget Lowlands, over the last 6,000 years.

Scientists have not linked the most recent of these lahars, which occurred approximately 500 years ago, to any volcanic activity. According to analysts, the flow event could have been the result of a huge landslide on the mountain’s west face.

The loose, weak rock remains in that location, and Moran and other volcanologists are particularly concerned about the possibility of a similar, spontaneous landslide-induced lahar.

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Volcano | CNN Image

Why Mount Rainier Is The US Volcano Keeping Scientists Up At Night

“We now know that the volcano can do it again. “And then we’re in this world where anything can happen at any time,” Moran explained.

“If it were the same size, it would be 10 minutes to the nearest places where people live and 60 minutes to the nearest significant settlements. “And those are very short time frames,” he added.

A 2022 study considered two worst-case scenarios. In the first scenario, a 260 million cubic meter, 4 meter deep (9.2 billion cubic feet, 13-foot deep) lahar would form on Mount Rainier’s west slope. According to Moran, the debris flow would be equivalent to 104,000 Olympic-size pools and could reach the heavily populated lowlands of Orting, Washington, roughly an hour after an eruption, moving at a rate of 13 feet (4 meters) per second.

According to the simulation, a second “pronounced hazard” area is the Nisqually River Valley, where a major lahar may displace enough water from Alder Lake to allow the 100-meter-tall (330-foot-tall) Alder Dam to spill over.

Mount Rainier’s neighbor, Mount St. Helens, farther south in the Cascade Range, erupted four decades ago, causing a disastrous lahar that did not reach any highly populated regions.

Venus Dergan and her then-boyfriend, Roald Reitan, were trapped in the Mount St. Helens lahar while on a camping vacation and are among the few persons known to have survived being swept up in a debris flow.

“I tried to cling on as we were swept downstream, but the tree bark was scraping. … During an interview for CNN’s “Violent Earth,” she recounted feeling it on her legs and arms.

“At one point, I went under the logs and dirt and accepted that this was the end. I was not going to get out of this, and I was going to die.

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Volcano | CNN Image

Why Mount Rainier Is The US Volcano Keeping Scientists Up At Night

Following the explosion of Mount St. Helens, the US Geological Survey established a lahar detection system on Mount Rainier in 1998, which has been modified and expanded since 2017.

About 20 places on the volcano’s slopes and the two paths identified as most at risk of a lahar now have broadband seismometers that send real-time data and additional sensors such as trip wires, infrasound sensors, web cameras, and GPS receivers.

Moran explained that the device is designed to identify both a lahar if the volcano erupts in the future and a lahar caused by a landslide.

Because of the constraints of 1990s technology, the original system had limited bandwidth and power requirements, resulting in data transmission every two minutes.

In March, 45,000 kids from Puyallup, Sumner-Bonney Lake, Orting, White River, and Carbonado, Washington, took part in a lahar evacuation simulation. According to the USGS, this was the first time numerous school districts exercised on the same day, making it the world’s largest lahar drill.

Approximately 13,000 pupils walked up to 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) to specified areas outside of the defined lahar zone, while the remaining schools outside the lahar zone practiced sheltering in place.

Moran stated that the fail-safe components of the Lahar detection system are roughly 45 minutes away from the next significant community; thus, that was the time window within which communities had to work.

“Most of what happens at volcanoes is close by, and that’s why you try to keep people away because things happen fast, but lahars can travel a long way from the volcano and have a big impact.”

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Tropical Storm Alberto Weakens Over Northeast Mexico After Heavy Rains Killed 3

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TAMPICO, MEXICO – Tropical Storm Alberto, the season’s first named storm, weakened Thursday as it headed inland across northeast Mexico after dumping torrential rainfall in areas of the arid region and killing at least three.

The storm swiftly faded over land, and the United States National Hurricane Center reduced it to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kmh). Coastal storm watches and warnings in Mexico were withdrawn as Alberto proceeded westward at 18 mph (30 kmh).

However, forecasts predicted several inches of rain were still anticipated inland in Mexico’s Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila states. South Texas was expected to experience less rain on Thursday.

Immediately after it came ashore in Tampico, there was disappointment at the lack of rain. Showers had been irregular throughout the early morning, with the sun occasionally bursting through.

alberto

Alberto | AP news Image

Tropical Storm Alberto Weakens Over Northeast Mexico After Heavy Rains Killed 3

“We hoped it would come because water is so important here, but as far as I can tell, it went somewhere else,” said Tampico resident Marta Alicia Hernández.

The rain Tampico had hoped for could still be arriving from some of the huge system’s outer bands. Heavy rains were reported inland in the adjacent state of Nuevo Leon.

Civil protection authorities reported three deaths as a result of Alberto’s rains. They said that one guy died in the La Silla River in Monterrey, the state capital, while two kids perished from electric shocks in the municipality of Allende. According to local media, the children were riding bicycles in the rain.

Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel García said on social media site X that Monterrey metro and public transportation services would be suspended from Wednesday night until midday Thursday when Alberto dies away.

Alberto had prompted tropical storm advisories for most of the western Gulf of Mexico’s coastline, from Texas to Veracruz. The storm landed with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h).

Schools in Tamaulipas state, where Alberto touched ashore, were closed through Friday. Shelters were set up across the state to accommodate residents fleeing flooding.

alberto

Alberto | AP news Image

Tropical Storm Alberto Weakens Over Northeast Mexico After Heavy Rains Killed 3

According to the hurricane center, some portions of northeast Mexico and southern Texas could receive up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, with higher isolated totals likely. Some higher elevations in Mexico could experience up to 20 inches (50 cm) of rain, causing mudslides and flash flooding, particularly in the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon.

Mexican authorities had minimized Alberto’s risk, instead relying on its potential to alleviate the region’s water shortage.

“The (wind) speeds are not such as to consider it a risk,” said Tamaulipas state Secretary of Hydrological Resources Raúl Quiroga Álvarez during a news conference late Wednesday. Instead, he urged people to welcome Alberto cheerfully. “This is what we’ve been waiting for for eight years in all of Tamaulipas.”

Much of Mexico has suffered from severe drought, with northern Mexico particularly heavily afflicted. Quiroga highlighted that the state’s reservoirs were depleted, and Mexico owed the United States a significant water debt for their shared usage of the Rio Grande.

“This is a win-win event for Tamaulipas,” he told reporters.

Alberto was also causing rain and floods along the Texas coast.

According to the National Weather Service, the major hazard for southern coastal Texas is flooding caused by excessive rain. On Wednesday, the NWS stated that there is “a high probability” of flash flooding in southern coastal Texas. Tornadoes and waterspouts are possible.

alberto

Alberto | AP News Image

Tropical Storm Alberto Weakens Over Northeast Mexico After Heavy Rains Killed 3

On Wednesday, areas along the Texas coast experienced road flooding and severe rip currents, while waterspouts were reported offshore.

Octavio González, a Tampico resident, was noticeably disappointed with Alberto’s light rain.

“Very little water fell,” he explained. “We are experiencing severe drought on the south side of Tamaulipas. And the truth is, we have a lot of optimism for rain.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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