Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2/22 River otter, Rainier glaciers, PSE coal, tar sands oil

River otter [USFWS]
River otter Lutra canadensis
River otters have long, streamlined bodies, short legs, webbed toes, and long, tapered tails—all adaptations for their mostly aquatic lives. Their short thick fur is a rich brown above, and lighter, with a silvery sheen, below. Adult male river otters average 4 feet in length, including the tail, and weigh 20 to 28 pounds. Female adults are somewhat smaller than males. Although seldom seen, river otters are relatively common throughout Washington in ponds, lakes, rivers, sloughs, estuaries, bays, and in open waters along the coast. In colder locations, otters frequent areas that remain ice-free in winter—rapids, the outflows of lakes, and waterfalls. River otters avoid polluted waterways, but will seek out a concentrated food source upstream in urban areas. River otters are sometimes mistaken for their much larger seagoing cousin, the sea otter (Enhydra lutris). However, male sea otters measure 6 feet in length and weigh 80 pounds. Sea otters are acclimated to salt water, and come to shore only for occasional rest periods and to give birth. In comparison, river otters can be found in fresh, brackish, or salt water, and can travel overland for considerable distances. (WDFW)

See how Mount Rainier glaciers have vanished over time, with this eye-opening photo project
A series of panoramic photographs taken during the Great Depression is offering a new view of ecological change across the Pacific Northwest, including the dramatic retreat of glaciers on the region’s most iconic peak. In 1934, when a young Forest Service photographer lugged his 75-pound camera to Anvil Rock high on the southern flank of Mount Rainier, the vista he captured showed the curling sweep of the Cowlitz Glacier snaking down the valley below. When Wenatchee-based photographer John F. Marshall re-created the same image with modern equipment 83 years later, the valley stretched out bare and empty of ice. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

Activists Protest Puget Sound Energy Plan To Keep Using Coal
About one hundred activists gathered Wednesday to protest Puget Sound Energy’s plan to keep producing electricity from coal until 2035. PSE is the company that likely keeps your lights and Wifi on if you live in the Puget Sound area but not in Seattle. The activists’ main concern was climate change. Unlike Seattle City Light, which relies on hydroelectric dams, PSE gets about a third of its energy from coal — and activists have been trying to change that for years. They enjoyed partial success when the company agreed to shut down its two dirtiest Montana coal plants by 2022. But that plan leaves two coal plants still online. EilĂ­s O’Neill reports. (KUOW/EarthFix) See also: Coal states Montana and Wyoming push back on Washington state proposed carbon tax  Tom Lutey reports. (Billings Gazette)

New Technology Could Turn Tar Sands Oil Into 'Pucks' for Less Hazardous Transport
A new technology has the potential to transform the transportation of tars sands oil. Right now, the already thick and slow-flowing oil, known as bitumen, has to be diluted with a super-light petroleum product, usually natural gas condensate, in order for it to flow through a pipeline or into a rail tank car. However, scientists at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering inadvertently found a way to make tar sands oil even more viscous, turning it into "self-sealing pellets" that could potentially simplify its transport. "We've taken heavy oil, or bitumen, either one, and we've discovered a process to convert them rapidly and reproducibly into pellets," Ian Gates, the professor leading the research, told CBC News in September. Justin Mikulka reports. (EcoWatch)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  838 PM PST Wed Feb 21 2018  
 NE wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SE to 10 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 13 seconds.
 NW wind to 10 kt becoming SW after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 17 seconds.

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