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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norwegian: Svalbard globale frøhvelv) is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from the North Pole. The facility preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. The seeds are duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in genebanks worldwide. The seed vault will provide insurance against the loss of seeds in genebanks, as well as a refuge for seeds in the case of large scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (also known as NordGen and previously named the Nordic Gene Bank, a cooperative effort of the Nordic countries under the Nordic Council of Ministers). Construction of the seed vault, which cost approximately 45 million Norwegian Kroner (9 million USD), was funded entirely by the Government of Norway. Storage of seeds in the seed vault is free of charge. Operational costs will be paid by Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The primary funding of the Trust came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, Switzerland, and Sweden, though funding has been received from a wide variety of sources including four developing countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, and India. The seed vault functions like a safe deposit box in a bank. The bank owns the building and the depositor owns the contents of his or her box. The Government of Norway owns the facility and the depositing genebanks own the seeds they send. The deposit of samples in Svalbard does not constitute a legal transfer of genetic resources. In genebank terminology this is called a "black box" arrangement. Each depositor signs a Deposit Agreement with NordGen, acting on behalf of Norway. The Agreement makes clear that Norway does not claim ownership over the deposited samples and that ownership remains with the depositor, who has the sole right of access to those materials in the seed vault. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor, temblor or seismic activity) is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes are measured with a seismometer; a device which also records is known as a seismograph. The moment magnitude (or the related and mostly obsolete Richter magnitude) of an earthquake is conventionally reported, with magnitude 3 or lower earthquakes being mostly imperceptible and magnitude 7 causing serious damage over large areas. Intensity of shaking is measured on the modified Mercalli scale. At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacing the ground. When a large earthquake epicenter is located offshore, the seabed sometimes suffers sufficient displacement to cause a tsunami. The shaking in earthquakes can also trigger landslides and occasionally volcanic activity. In its most generic sense, the word earthquake is used to describe any seismic event — whether a natural phenomenon or an event caused by humans — that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes are caused mostly by rupture of geological faults, but also by volcanic activity, landslides, mine blasts, and nuclear experiments. An earthquake's point of initial rupture is called its focus or hypocenter. The term epicenter refers to the point at ground level directly above the hypocenter. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



The barracuda is a ray-finned fish known for its large size and fearsome appearance. Its body is long, fairly compressed, and covered with small, smooth scales. Some species could reach up to 1.8m in length and 30 cm in width. The barracuda is a salt water fish of the genus Sphyraena, the only genus in the family Sphyraenidae, and is found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. Barracudas are elongated fish, pike-like in appearance, with prominent sharp-edged fang-like teeth, much like piranhas, that are all of different sizes which are set in sockets of their large jaws. They have large pointed heads with an under bite in many species. Their gill-covers have no spines and are covered with small scales. Their two dorsal fins are widely separated with the anterior fin having five spines, the posterior fin having one spine and nine soft rays. The posterior dorsal fin is similar in size to the anal fin and is situated above it. The lateral line is prominent and extends straight from head to tail. The spinous dorsal fin is placed above the pelvic fins and is normally retracted in a groove. The caudal fin is moderately forked with its posterior edged double-curved and is set at the end of a stout peduncle. The pectoral fins are placed low on the sides. Their swim bladder is large. Barracudas are voracious, opportunistic predators relying on surprise and short bursts of speed up to 27 miles per hour, to overtake their prey. Adults of most species are more or less solitary, while young and half-grown fish frequently congregate. Barracuda prey primarily on fish (which may include some as large as themselves). They kill and consume larger prey by tearing chunks of flesh. Like sharks, some species of barracuda are reputed to be dangerous to swimmers. Barracudas are scavengers, and may mistake snorkelers for large predators, following them in hopes of eating the remains of their prey. Swimmers have been reported being bitten by barracuda but such incidents are rare and possibly caused by poor visibility. Barracuda generally avoid muddy shallows, so attacks in surf are more likely to be by small sharks. Barracudas may mistake things that glint and shine for prey. Handfeeding or touching large barracuda in general is to be avoided. Spearfishing around barracudas can also be dangerous, as they are quite capable of ripping a chunk from a wounded fish thrashing on a spear. Diamond rings and other shiny objects have been known to catch their attention and resemble prey to them. Caution should be taken when swimming near mangrove coastlines by covering or removing items. Barracudas are popular both as food and game fish. They are most often eaten as fillets or steaks. Larger species, like the Great Barracuda, have been implicated in cases of ciguatera food poisoning. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



The Evergreen Supertanker is a Boeing 747-200 commercial airliner that was modified into an aerial firefighting aircraft by Evergreen International Aviation. With a capacity of 24,000 US gallons, the Supertanker is the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world, almost doubling the capacity of the next largest firefighting tanker aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 known as Tanker 910. The Supertanker entered service for the first time in 2009, fighting a fire in Cuenca, Spain. The tanker made its first American operation on August 31, 2009 at the Oak Glen Fire. Development started after the 2002 fire season, which saw the fatal crashes of two airtankers in the USA. The accidents, involving a Lockheed C-130A Hercules and a Consolidated PB4Y-2, prompted the U.S. Department of Interior to issue an official Request for Information on next-generation airtankers. Evergreen proposed to convert up to four of its Boeing 747-200 Freighters into massive 'Supertankers'. The first converted Boeing 747 (N470EV) made its maiden flight on February 19, 2004. The current Supertanker is N479EV, a 747-100. By June 2006, Evergreen had spent $40 million on the project and was hopeful of both FAA certification, and an evaluation contract from the US Forest Service. An issue that impacted usage by the Forest Service was the USFS requirement for using fire retardant rather than water. When Evergreen attempted to convert the system from water dispensing to retardant, they encountered objections from the FAA. The FAA's issue related to the much greater density of fire retardant and the corresponding increased stress on the airframe thus delaying the FAA certification. The FAA determined that the Supertanker's service life would be much less and raised concerns about dangers of stress during firefighting operations and heavy weight maneuvering. The Supertanker can operate from any aerodrome with an 8,000ft long runway and suitable facilities. Evergreen has identified several airports across the US and claim that 80% of US airports meet or exceed the criteria. Currently the first tanker in North America is under a CWN (call when needed) contract with Cal Fire and is stationed at McClellan Field outside of Sacramento, California. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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