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Scientists poring over military and satellite imagery have mapped the unimaginable: a network of rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and even a waterfall, flowing over the ice shelf of a continent with an annual mean temperature of more than -50C.

In 1909 Ernest Shackleton and his fellow explorers on their way to the magnetic South Pole found that they had to cross and recross flowing streams and lakes on the Nansen Ice Shelf.

Now, U.S. scientists report in the journal Nature that they studied photographs taken by military aircraft from 1947 and satellite images from 1973 to identify almost 700 seasonal networks of ponds, channels and braided streams flowing from all sides of the continent, as close as 600km to the South Pole and at altitudes of 1,300 meters.

And they found that such systems carried water for 120km. A second research team reporting a companion study in the same issue of Nature identified one meltwater system with an ocean outflow that ended in a 130-meter wide waterfall, big enough to drain the entire surface melt in a matter of days.

In a world rapidly warming as humans burn ever more fossil fuels, to add ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, researchers expect to observe an increase in the volume of meltwater on the south polar surface. Researchers have predicted the melt rates could double by 2050.  ecowatch.com
China Southern Airlines, the mainland’s biggest carrier, has banned shark fin shipments and promised to “actively participate” in animal conservation.

The decision is significant as the company is based in Guangzhou, the world’s largest trading hub for the delicacy, and it narrows the options for Chinese importers.

It means that 51 per cent of international airlines, based on seat capacity, have now banned the cargo. Flag carrier Air China had already banned shark fin, leaving just China Eastern among the big three state-owned airlines yet to declare a position.

No to shark fin: China’s biggest shipping line Cosco pledges total ban on carrying product

Robust campaigning by wildlife activists over the years has also led the nation’s largest shipper and logistics firm, China COSCO Shipping, to come onside.

In a letter to WildAid Hong Kong, seen by the Post and confirmed by the airline, China Southern’s vice-president Han Wensheng said the company “attached great importance to the issue” and had “taken immediate action”. scmp.com
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) Permanent Secretary Wijarn Simachaya said in a seminar on topic of forests in cities and sustainability that the ministry is now pursuing its 20-year plan to increase green areas by 40 percent, compared to its current 32 percent.

He said the MNRE is encouraging the creation of forest in cities complementing the green areas in the country, which will help absorb air pollution in big cities, while Bangkok has had substandard green areas. 

With a ration of three square meters of green area per capita, Thailand ranks below its neighbors such as Singapore which has 66 square meters of green area per capita, and Malaysia which has 44 square meters. 

Department of Environment Quality Promotion Director-General Sakol Tinagul has said all sides should join hands to increase green areas, starting from small sectors such as households, communities, and organizations which can plant more trees, and create green offices with trees which can provide shade and moisture to the city. prd.go.th
The UK’s first 24 hours without using coal as part of its energy mix has been hailed “a watershed” moment. For the first time since the industrial revolution, the country fulfilled all of its energy needs without using coal for a full day. It is bound to happen more frequently, the National Grid said. 

Around half of energy came from natural gas and about a quarter came from nuclear plants, according to Grid Watch. Wind, biomass and imported energy made up the difference. 

A combination of factors, including warmer weather which led consumers to reduce their energy use, made it possible, a National Grid spokeswoman told The Independent. 

Older power plants have also closed in recent years and solar and wind energy are providing a growing proportion of electricity to homes and the industrial sector.  independent.co.uk