Hottest, most buoyant hotspots draw from a primordial reservoir deep in the Earth

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University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Associate Professor of Geology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

Outreach Specialist, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

Jasper Konter, next to rock dredge, sampling submarine hotspot volcanoes. Credit: Valerie Finlay/UHM.

The Earth’s mantle — the layer between the crust and the outer core — is home to a primordial soup even older than the moon. Among the main ingredients is helium-3 (He-3), a vestige of the Big Bang and nuclear fusion reactions in stars. And the mantle is its only terrestrial source.

Scientists studying volcanic hotspots, like our Hawaiian Islands, find high helium-3 relative to helium-4 (He-3/4) in some plumes, the upwellings from the Earth’s deep mantle which may contain this primordial material.

A 2012 study by Jasper Konter, a geologist at the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and Thorsten Becker of the University of Texas at Austin proposed a correlation between such hotspots and the velocity of seismic waves moving through the Earth’s interior. Inspired by that study, University of California Santa Barbara geochemist Matthew Jackson teamed up with Konter and Becker to show that only the hottest hotspots with the slowest wave velocity draw from the primitive reservoir formed early in the planet’s history. Their findings appear this week in the journal Nature

“We used the seismology of the shallow mantle — the rate at which seismic waves travel through the Earth below its crust — to make inferences about the deeper mantle,” said Jackson, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science and lead author of the current study. “At 200 km, the shallow mantle has the largest variability of seismic velocities — more than 6 percent, which is a lot. What’s more, that variability, which we hypothesize relates to temperature, correlates with He-3.”

For their study, the researchers used the latest seismic models of the Earth’s velocity structure and 35 years of helium data. When they assessed oceanic hotspots with high levels of He-3/4 and associated seismic wave velocities, they found that these represent the hottest hotspots, with seismic waves that move more slowly than they do in cooler areas. They also analyzed hotspot buoyancy flux, which can be used to measure how much melt a particular hotspot produces. In Hawaiʻi, the Galapagos Islands, Samoa and Easter Island as well as in Iceland, hotspots had high buoyancy levels, confirming a basic rule of physics: the hotter, the more buoyant.

We found that the higher the hotspot buoyancy flux, the more melt a hotspot was producing and the more likely it was to have high He-3/4,” Jackson said. “Hotter plumes not only have slower seismic velocity and a higher hotspot buoyancy flux, they also are the ones with the highest He-3/4. This all ties together nicely and is the first time that He-3/4 has been correlated with shallow mantle velocities and hotspot buoyancy globally.”

Becker noted that correlation does not imply causality, “but it is pretty nifty that we found two strong correlations, which both point to the same physically plausible mechanism: the primordial stuff gets picked up preferentially by the most buoyant thermochemical upwellings.”

The authors also wanted to know why only the hottest, most buoyant plumes sample high He-3/4.

“The explanation that we came up with — which people who do numerical simulations have been suggesting for a long time — is that whatever this reservoir is with primitive helium, it must be really dense so that only the hottest, most buoyant plumes can entrain some of it to the surface,” Jackson said. “That makes sense and it also explains how something so ancient could survive in the chaotically convecting mantle for 4.5 billion years. The density contrast makes it more likely that the ancient helium reservoir is preserved rather than mixed away.”

“Since this correlation of geochemistry and seismology now holds from helium isotopes in this work to the compositions we examined in 2012, it appears that overall hotspot geochemical variations will need to be re-examined from the perspective of buoyancy,” Konter concluded.

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Drop in arrivals to the EU on three main migratory routes in January

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In January, there were nearly 8000 detections of illegal border crossings on the three main migratory routes into the EU.

Central Mediterranean

4400 migrants reached Italy by sea in January, a drop of 16% from a year ago and of nearly 46% from December. Most of the departures occurred from Libya.

The main reason for the decrease in migratory flows last month was worsening weather conditions on the Central Mediterranean, which made it nearly impossible to make a sea crossing for a larger part of the month.

Nationals from Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Nigeria were the top three nationalities among the migrants arriving to Italy.

Eastern Mediterranean

Meanwhile, the number of migrants reaching the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean stood at 1400 in January, 19% less than the previous month, also because of poor weather conditions.

The monthly numbers in Greece plunged since the implementation of the EU/Turkey statement in March 2016.

Syrians, Algerians and Palestinians accounted for the largest number of migrants on this route. Interestingly, in January nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo were the fourth largest group detected on the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean.

Western Balkans

The number of detections of illegal border-crossings in the Western Balkans in January was in line with the figure from December, but 97% less than in January 2016.

Nationals from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria accounted for the majority of migrants on this route.

Note:

The data presented in this statement refer to the number of detections of illegal border-crossing at the external borders of the European Union. The same person may attempt to cross the border illegally several times in different locations at the external border.

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Bangladeshi pharmaceutical industry may have bright future in Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister

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Visiting Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals are of international standard which are being exported more than 200 countries. He said Bangladeshi pharmaceutical industry will experience a bright future if they invest in Sri Lanka. He said this in a call on meeting organized by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Sri Lanka Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SLBCCI) at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka on 9 February, 2017. Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Dhaka Yasoja Gunasekera was also present during the meeting.

Welcoming the Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister to Bangladesh, DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan said Sri Lanka is one of the closest neighbors and excellent friend of Bangladesh. Despite having good relation, bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is far from our expectation level. In 2015-2016, Bangladesh imported from Sri Lanka were worth only US$45.016 million as against US$30.45 million exported to Sri Lanka. In order to deepen existing level of bilateral trade, sensitive product list under SAFTA needs to be revised, he said. He also stressed on direct marine connectivity between Chittagong and Mongla ports with Colombo and Trincomalee ports. He invited Sri Lankan investors to invest in gas-based industry, power, fertilizer, backward linkage of RMG, leather and leather goods, ICT, Education and tourism sector.

Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said Colombo and Hambantota Sea ports are geographically placed in an advantaged area. He requested Bangladeshi exporters to use these ports to cut their shipping cost. Regarding free trade agreement (FTA), the Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Minister said Sri Lanka is willing to sign FTA with Bangladesh. He said Bangladesh can initiate the process of signing an FTA with Sri Lanka. He said Sir Lanka exported 4600 products to India and Pakistan last year. He invited Bangladeshi businessmen to organize ‘single country trade fair’ in Sri Lanka to familiarize Bangladeshi products in Sri Lanka. He also said adjacent to Hambantota port there is a 15000 acres of land for industrialization and within 3 years it will be a 5 billion dollar industry over there.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Bangladesh Ms. Yasoja Gunasekera said many Sri Lankan companies already invested in Bangladesh. To boost bilateral trade, Chamber to Chamber relation should be strengthened, she said. She requested DCCI and SLBCCI to send business delegation to Sri Lanka and sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

President of SLBCCI Najith Meewanage, DCCI Vice President Hossain A Sikder, Directors Engr. Akber Hakim, Hossain Akhter, Humayun Rashid, Imran Ahmed, K. Atique-e-Rabbani, FCA, KMN Manjurul Hoque, Md. Alauddin Malik and former Director of DCCI Rizwan Ur Rahman were present during the meeting.  

Education Ministers Approve Inter-American Education Agenda at OAS Meeting in Bahamas

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  February 10, 2017

Ministers of Education of the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas today approved the Inter-American Education Agenda (IEA), the culmination of a two-year process of negotiations to define common priorities aimed at improving quality education in the region, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by the United Nations in 2015.

The approval of the Inter-American Education Agenda is a milestone achievement in improving quality education in the Americas, as it codifies agreement on three concrete priorities: Quality, inclusive, and equitable education; Strengthening the teaching profession; and Comprehensive early childhood care.

The IEA aims to strengthen Inter-American cooperation and link efforts with other international organizations and regional and sub-regional entities to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

The Agenda includes concrete lines of action within each of its three priorities, and will be implemented for a period of five years, after which it will be reviewed by member states.

During the meeting, ministers also adopted the Declaration of The Bahamas, which establishes the commitment of the member states to “explore and identify resources,” build alliances, and to otherwise work toward the implementation of the Inter-American Education Agenda.

In the closing session of the meeting, the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Nestor Mendez, said the Agenda would help to close the gap between the “available pool of skills and those demanded by firms” in the region. In addition, he said, the IEA “will help advance education in the hemisphere and be an important tool to support OAS member states in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

For his part, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology of The Bahamas and Chair of the Inter-American Committee on Education, Jerome Fitzgerald, said “We here have been given a world-class education. We therefore are mandated and required as leaders in education and policymakers to ensure that we afford all of our citizens the same opportunities we have had to give them the best opportunities for success.

The OAS, through the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development, will be responsible for the implementation of the IEA, under the guidance of the Inter-American Committee on Education.

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USA: Suspending conflict minerals law would throw a cloak of secrecy over rogue business practices

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10 February 2017, 10:40 UTC

President Donald Trump’s proposed suspension of a ground-breaking transparency law on conflict minerals will reward irresponsible business practices and seriously undermine global human rights protections, Amnesty International said today.

“The conflict minerals law is a vital way of breaking the chain between horrific human rights abuses in Central Africa and consumer products like smart phones. By requiring companies to be transparent about how they source minerals, it throws light on shameful and secretive business practices that allow companies to benefit from conflict and abuse. Suspending it would be a boon to irresponsible companies and the perpetrators of violence in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Audrey Gaughran, Head of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

“Claims by President Trump that blocking this vital human rights protection would somehow protect US national security is patently illogical and absurd. This is a shameless proposal which threatens to unravel years of progress in ending the trade in conflict minerals.

Companies subject to the conflict minerals law need to step forward and speak out against this order. Otherwise they are aligning themselves with President Trump and his determination to throw a cloak of secrecy over rogue business practices.

Background

Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act requires US-listed companies to check if certain minerals in their products have funded armed groups contributing to conflict in the DRC and neighbouring countries. Minerals like tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are used in a huge range of products made and sold in the US, including smartphones and laptops.

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USA: Suspending conflict minerals law would throw a cloak of secrecy over rogue business practices

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Amnesty International's picture

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10 February 2017, 10:40 UTC

President Donald Trump’s proposed suspension of a ground-breaking transparency law on conflict minerals will reward irresponsible business practices and seriously undermine global human rights protections, Amnesty International said today.

“The conflict minerals law is a vital way of breaking the chain between horrific human rights abuses in Central Africa and consumer products like smart phones. By requiring companies to be transparent about how they source minerals, it throws light on shameful and secretive business practices that allow companies to benefit from conflict and abuse. Suspending it would be a boon to irresponsible companies and the perpetrators of violence in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Audrey Gaughran, Head of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

“Claims by President Trump that blocking this vital human rights protection would somehow protect US national security is patently illogical and absurd. This is a shameless proposal which threatens to unravel years of progress in ending the trade in conflict minerals.

Companies subject to the conflict minerals law need to step forward and speak out against this order. Otherwise they are aligning themselves with President Trump and his determination to throw a cloak of secrecy over rogue business practices.

Background

Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act requires US-listed companies to check if certain minerals in their products have funded armed groups contributing to conflict in the DRC and neighbouring countries. Minerals like tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are used in a huge range of products made and sold in the US, including smartphones and laptops.

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More tropical nights in Alaskas future?

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By the end of this century, Alaskans may be enjoying tropical evening breezes for about a week each year. That’s an increase from the almost zero such nights we currently savor.

But it could happen, according to a graduate student who has tightened the grids of computer models to perhaps offer a more detailed glimpse of Alaska’s future.

A tropical night is one with a low temperature of 68 degrees F or warmer. Right now, even the warmest places in Alaska hardly ever experience this. By the year 2100, the average number of tropical nights at some location in Alaska goes to 6.8. That’s according to a computer climate model run by Rick Lader. He is a graduate student at the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks.

Most global climate models predict the future of ground temperatures and other variables in 60-mile squares. Because of Alaska’s mountains and deep valleys that so affect weather and temperatures, Lader customized model results for 12-mile squares. His tweaks resulted in the ability to predict these changes for Alaska by the year 2100:

Hotter summers: The number of days with temperatures higher than 77 degrees will triple in many places across the state.

Warmer winters: Winters like 2015-2016, when the temperature did not fall below minus 30 in Fairbanks, will become the norm within the next 25 years.

Higher low temperatures: The low temperature recorded in Fairbanks — minus 58 for the period of 1981 to 2010 — will be closer to minus 17 from 2071 to 2100.

More hard rains: Because warmer air can hold more moisture, Lader found intense precipitation would rise statewide by 53 percent, likely leading to increased flash flooding and landslides across Alaska.

Longer periods of rain, shorter dry spells: Consecutive days with precipitation greater than or equal to 1 millimeter will increase by 23 percent. Consecutive days of dryness will decrease 21 percent.

A longer growing season: By 2100, the annual number of days with killing frosts will decrease by two months.

At the same conference where Lader presented his results, a scientist from the University of North Carolina said that aufeis in northern Alaska is disappearing sooner each summer, and fields of it are becoming smaller and less persistent.

Aufeis is like a glacier in miniature that forms on streams in winter. A German term pronounced “off-ice” meaning “ice on top,” aufeis builds all winter as groundwater forced to the surface comes in contact with frigid air and freezes in layers.

Fields of aufeis can cover acres of the North Slope. Sometimes they endure the whole summer.

Following through on the observations of Kirk Sweetsir, pilot for Yukon Air Service and frequent observer of northern Alaska, Tamlin Pavelsky of the University of North Carolina took a look at Alaska’s aufeis fields.

He found that north of Toolik Lake, 118 of 122 large ephemeral bodies of aufeis are disappearing earlier in summer than they did in 2000. Twenty-four out of 25 aufeis fields that survive all summer long now have a smaller minimum extent than they did in 2000.

US: Dont Suspend Conflict Minerals Rule

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(Washington, DC, February 10, 2017) – A move reportedly under consideration by the Trump administration to suspend a rule requiring companies to disclose their source for gold and other potential “conflict minerals” could enrich abusive armed groups in Africa, Human Rights Watch said today.

Suspension of the rule, known as Dodd-Frank 1502, would undermine positive efforts to eliminate conflict minerals from the supply chain of major companies. The trade in these minerals has enriched abusive armed groups in Congo and neighboring countries, Human Rights Watch said.

A child digs for gold in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri District

“If the Trump administration wants to ‘drain the swamp,’ it makes no sense to undermine companies trying to keep money out of the hands of abusive thugs,” said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Leading companies have embraced the rule and proven that it works.”

This effort would suspend the implementation of 1502 for two years and may portend an effort to repeal the Dodd-Frank law that underpins it. Suspension would create a competitive disadvantage for responsible companies and benefit others that do not want to disclose their sourcing to deter the trade in conflict minerals, Human Rights Watch said.

The United States would also become a laggard on global efforts to halt the trade in conflict minerals if the rule was suspended. The European Union is considering a similar rule, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has developed a guidance that encourages similar efforts by multinational companies.

The law was passed in 2010 to curtail the trade in conflict minerals. These minerals are globally significant as they are critical for key components in the electronics, jewelry, and aerospace industries.

The SEC finalized the rule that operationalizes 1502 in 2012 and the modified rule went into force in 2014 following a legal challenge. Since its implementation, major companies such as Apple, Intel, and Tiffany & Co have made effective efforts to comply with the rule. Tiffany & Co has urged that the rule be left in place. Other companies have also welcomed the rule and said efforts to ensure their operations are conflict-free are now integral to their operations.

Trump Administration’s First 100 Days

A 2005 Human Rights Watch report, “The Curse of Gold,” documented how local armed groups fighting for the control of gold mines and trading routes in Congo committed war crimes and crimes against humanity using the profits from gold to fund their activities and buy weapons.

In one case, during 18 months of conflict in 2002 and 2003, armed groups fought to control a gold mining town in the Ituri region. As the town changed hands five times, the warlords slaughtered 2,000 civilians, carried out summary executions, raped, tortured, and otherwise abused civilians and arbitrarily detained people they saw as enemies. Tens of thousands of civilians were forced to flee their homes, losing much or all they owned to looting or destruction.

When Uganda occupied northeastern Congo from 1998 to 2003, its soldiers took control of gold-rich areas and coerced gold miners to extract the gold for their benefit. Their irresponsible mining practices led to the collapse of one of the most important mines in the area in 1999, killing 100 people trapped inside and destroying a major livelihood for the residents of the area.

Critics of the regulation, such as the National Association of Manufacturers, claim that the law would cost thousands of companies a total of US$9-$16 billion to implement. However, an independent assessment by Elm Associates submitted to the SEC found that actual costs would be far lower, closer to $800 million, and that those costs were decreasing over time.

The Trump administration should not get rid of a rule being followed and supported by leading companies,” Ganesan said. “Dodd-Frank 1502 helps to prevent mineral resources from enriching abusive warlords in Congo. It has been a model for similar rules in other countries and it protects American consumers from unknowingly financing horrific human rights abuses.”

Cardiff and Vale College student Briony set to take her carpentry skills to Swaziland

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A Carpentry student from Cardiff and Vale College is set to travel to Africa to support an initiative which supports projects that alleviate poverty through creating opportunities for women and children.

Sixteen-year-old Briony Adams will fly out to Swaziland this Easter to volunteer for the SAFE Foundation and Positive Women, who work on a number of projects to promote social change in the country.

I will be teaching kids to make little things out of wood that they can sell rather than selling themselves for food or a place to sleep, Briony said. “There are two charities involved – Positive Women and the SAFE Foundation. They’re amazing and do such great work.”

Positive Women is based in Swaziland and works with local organisations to bring about effective and sustainable change through healthcare and nutrition programmes and investing in creating skills, tools and opportunities that allow people to fulfil their potential. The SAFE Foundation assists in the provision of grants of money and materials to combat poverty in developing countries. The two bodies will pay for Briony’s flights, injections and accommodation.

Briony found out about the Swaziland project almost by accident.

“I don’t check my email as often as I should but one night I thought I look through them,” she explained. “I was going through and I saw an email to my College account asking for people who could teach carpentry skills and I thought ‘Oh my God – I’m going to Africa!’ So it was through chance and my Cardiff and Vale College student email account.

“I got in touch with the SAFE Foundation and Positive Women and did my research; 15% of the population are vulnerable children and they often head the household, and 75% don’t have a toilet. It’s very upsetting.”

Travelling out in April, Briony will spent three weeks in a rural community in Swaziland teaching vulnerable children to make wooden items they can sell to support themselves. She aims to continue working with the SAFE Foundation when she returns.

“I’m so excited to be going,” Briony said. “I will be able to help people who haven’t had the kind of opportunities that I have had – we take things for granted and don’t really realise until something like this happens and you find out about it.”

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Lack of sea ice and Lower 48 weather

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Last month, villagers in Savoonga landed a bowhead whale. Before 2017, in every January people can remember, sea ice surrounded St. Lawrence Island, locking it in for the winter. Boat-launching and whale-taking were not possible.

Now, the disc of ice chunks floating on the northern oceans is smaller than any recent year except 2010. The Bering Sea west of the Alaska mainland is wide open; satellites show a patch of dark seawater there that was usually ice-covered from 1981 to 2010. A few states could disappear in that swath of blue.

Unless you are now eating muktuk in Savoogna, it’s hard to pinpoint the effects of less sea ice floating on the northern oceans. But some researchers say the northern ocean — now absorbing so much more heat and reflecting so much less — is affecting weather far from the Arctic.

“It’s setting up bizarre weather patterns that are happening more often,” said Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences. At the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, she gave a presentation in which she related a warming Arctic to extreme weather events at mid-latitudes.

The story begins with “arctic amplification,” or the accelerated warming of the far north compared to other areas. Arctic amplification was especially large in the first half 2016, with the far north warming more than four times as much as the middle U.S.

The added heat up here has resulted in a lot less sea ice, as is now evident in the splashy Bering Sea around St. Lawrence Island.

The retreat of the ice has led to less of a temperature contrast between the North Pole and places like middle America. That diminished difference has slowed the ribbons of fast-flowing air miles above the planet known as jet streams.

The polar jet stream exists at 30,000 feet and above and flows in a wave-like fashion over North America. The paths of jet streams steer storm systems. In what Francis called the “good old days,” a jet stream ridge might reach up to a winter Alaska locked in sea ice and very cold air. Now, on the trip north, the jet stream is gulping big rushes of relatively warm, moist air in areas where sea ice is missing.

“If the ridge happens to appear over Alaska, it may be able to access more heat, making it more intense and persistent,” Francis said.

An example is the “ridiculously resistant ridge” that blocked winter storms from hitting the coast of California from the winter of 2012-2013 until recently, causing a drought in the state.

A lack of sea ice and the warmer air that interacts with the jet stream is not the only part of the story, but it’s an intriguing one, Francis said. There are lots of natural processes going on, and the slam-dunk effects of less sea ice are hard to tease out. But we may find crazy weather in the Lower 48 combined with an increasingly warming Arctic is the new normal, she said.