Sydney, Jan 22 (Xinhua/UNB) -- An extensive study into the health of Australia's Great Barrier Reef is underway this month, with a 25-day data collecting journey canvassing bleach affected parts of the reef not observed since 2016.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) revealed details of the mission on Monday, with the organization's largest research vessel carrying a team of 18 specialists to survey the damage done by recent coral bleaching events, as well as collecting general data about marine life.
AIMS senior research scientist Dr Line Bay, who was on board for the first half of the trip, told Xinhua that coral reefs are particularly sensitive to the effects of global warming, making it vitally important to monitor them.
"We hadn't been to that part of the reef since before the bleaching so we went back to resurvey these reefs to look at the health and condition of both the coral communities, but also fish populations and sharks," Bay said.
Coral bleaching occurs when coral reefs are exposed to higher than usual water temperatures and prolonged periods of direct sunlight.
The Great Barrier Reef experienced two significant bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, the consequences of which were only just starting to be understood.
Bay's team made the most of the 34.9-meter modern research vessel, Solanda, using the boat's onboard wet lab to conduct heat stress tests on corals which had survived bleaching events.
While the study is still underway, Bay is tentatively optimistic about her findings so far, saying that not only did she see low numbers of a notorious species of starfish which damages the reef, but also seeing some resilience in the reef itself.
"What we could see is that there was variation among species, so not all coral species responded in the same way. We expected to find that," Bay said.
"However, we could also see that we're getting variation among individuals. And we take that as being a positive sign because if there's some individuals that do better than others then there's the potential for adaptation."
Coral reefs are widely recognized as being highly sensitive to anthropogenic warming, which considering the vital part they play in supporting life both above and below the water, Bay said is concerning for all.
"I think that there's no doubt that we need action on climate change, it's a problem we have to tackle on a global level," she said.
The voyage departed Cooktown, a town in northeastern Australia, on Jan. 4 and will conclude its journey on Jan. 29.
Dhaka, Jan 21 (UNB) – Mobile phone users in Bangladesh will soon be able to know if their phones have been imported through the legal channel.
The telecom regulator has already made an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number database of phones that have been legally imported.
Now, the Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has taken an initiative to introduce short code ‘16002’.
“With this, mobile users can learn whether their IMEI numbers are included in the BTRC database,” Zakir Hossain Khan, BTRC senior assistant director, told UNB over phone on Monday.
Once the BTRC database is in operation, users can have their stolen phones locked, if their IMEI numbers are included in the databank.
Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar will inaugurate the short code on Tuesday at the BTRC office.
Cape Canaveral, Jan 21(AP/UNB) — The only total lunar eclipse this year and next came with a supermoon bonus.
On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America, where skies were clear. There won't be another until the year 2021.
It was also the year's first supermoon, when a full moon appears a little bigger and brighter thanks to its slightly closer position.
The entire eclipse took more than three hours. Totality — when the moon's completely bathed in Earth's shadow — lasted an hour. During a total lunar eclipse, the eclipsed, or blood, moon turns red from sunlight scattering off Earth's atmosphere.
In addition to the Americas, the entire lunar extravaganza could be observed, weather permitting, all the way across the Atlantic to parts of Europe.
San Francisco, Jan 19 (AP/UNB) — Facebook may be facing the biggest fine ever imposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations involving the personal information of its 2.2 billion users.
The FTC is considering hitting Facebook with a penalty that would top its previous record fine of $22.5 million , which it dealt to Google in 2012 for bypassing the privacy controls in Apple's Safari browser, according to The Washington Post. The story published Friday cited three unidentified people familiar with the discussions.
In an automated response, the FTC said it was unable to comment, citing its closure due to the U.S. government shutdown. Facebook declined to comment.
The potential fine stems from an FTC investigation opened after revelations that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica had vacuumed up details about as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.
The FTC has been exploring whether that massive breakdown violated a settlement that Facebook reached in 2011 after government regulators had concluded the Menlo Park, California, company had repeatedly broken its privacy promises .
The FTC decree, which runs through 2031, requires Facebook to get its users' consent to share their personal information in ways that aren't allowed by their privacy settings.
Since the Cambridge Analytica erupted 10 months ago, Facebook has vowed to do a better job corralling its users' data. Nevertheless, its controls have remained leaky. Just last month, the company acknowledged a software flaw had exposed the photos of about 7 million users to a wider audience than they had intended.
The FTC's five commissioners have discussed fining Facebook but haven't settled on the amount yet, according to the Post.
Facebook's privacy problems are also under investigation in other countries and the target of a lawsuit filed last month by Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine.
Cape Canaveral, Jan 18(AP/UNB) — The moon, Earth and sun will line up this weekend for the only total lunar eclipse this year and next. At the same time, the moon will be ever so closer to Earth and appear slightly bigger and brighter than usual — a supermoon.
"This one is particularly good," said Rice University astrophysicist Patrick Hartigan. "It not only is a supermoon and it's a total eclipse, but the total eclipse also lasts pretty long. It's about an hour."
The whole eclipse starts Sunday night or early Monday, depending on location , and will take about three hours.
It begins with the partial phase around 10:34 p.m. EST Sunday. That's when Earth's shadow will begin to nip at the moon. Totality — when Earth's shadow completely blankets the moon — will last 62 minutes, beginning at 11:41 p.m. EST Sunday.
If the skies are clear, the entire eclipse will be visible in North and South America, as well as Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and the French and Spanish coasts. The rest of Europe, as well as Africa, will have partial viewing before the moon sets.
During totality, the moon will look red because of sunlight scattering off Earth's atmosphere. That's why an eclipsed moon is sometimes known as a blood moon. In January, the full moon is also sometimes known as the wolf moon or great spirit moon.
So informally speaking, the upcoming lunar eclipse will be a super blood wolf — or great spirit — moon.
In the U.S., the eclipse will begin relatively early Sunday evening, making it easier for children to stay up and enjoy the show. Plus the next day is a federal holiday, with most schools closed. But the weather forecast for much of the U.S. doesn't look good.
Parents "can keep their kids up maybe a little bit later," said, Hartigan, who will catch the lunar extravaganza from Houston. "It's just a wonderful thing for the whole family to see because it's fairly rare to have all these things kind of come together at the same time."
"The good thing about this is that you don't need any special equipment," he added.
Asia, Australia and New Zealand are out of luck. But they had prime viewing last year, when two total lunar eclipses occurred.
The next total lunar eclipse won't be until May 2021.
As for full-moon supermoons, this will be the first of three this year. The upcoming supermoon will be about 222,000 miles (357,300 kilometers) away. The Feb. 19 supermoon will be a bit closer and one in March will be the farthest.