Oceans help regulate the planet’s weather by shifting heat from the equator to the poles.
Changes in salinity and temperature are major forces driving global currents as well as circulation patterns from the surface to the seabed.
Understanding exactly how much heat the ocean can absorb and accounting for tiny differences in salinity are crucial for scientists to figure how oceans affect climate and how that interaction could change because of global warming.
“Getting these circulations right is central to the task of quantifying the ocean’s role in climate change,” said Trevor McDougall of Australia’s state-backed research body the CSIRO, who is part of the international team that updated the methods to define sea water.
He said the new definition allows for the first time to accurately calculate ocean heat content and take into account small differences in salinity. Previous methods assumed the composition of seawater was the same around the globe.
Seawater is a mixture of 96.5 percent pure water with the remainder comprising salts, dissolved gases and other matter. McDougall said data from about 1,000 seawater samples showed global variations.
There were small but significant differences in the composition of seawater between the North Pacific and North Atlantic, for example.
“We’ve got along quite well for 30 years without delving deeper into what the sea salt is composed of,” said McDougall, of the CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship in Hobart in the southern Australian state of Tasmania.
But ever more complex computer models and greater demands to project how oceans and climate will behave in a warmer world mean an increasing need for more precise data.
McDougall said salinity affects ocean density, and changes in density help drive huge vertical ocean circulation patterns.
“Water sinks to the bottom and rises to the top in a very slow circulation that accounts for about half of the heat that the globe needs to transport from the equator to the poles.”
The constant circulation of heat by the oceans and atmosphere keeps the planet livable.
“What we’re doing is providing a more accurate way of estimating that circulation,” McDougall said.
McDougall chairs the Scientific Committee on Oceans Research, an international guiding body, and said he expected the new methods to be formally backed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission at a meeting in June next year.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)
Wine traditionalists sneerwhen vintners replace cork with plastic.
They howl in contempt at screwtops.
So what will they make of a California company taking an even bolder step: doing away with bottles altogether and replacing them with cardboard tubes?
FOUR wine is marketing its Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Sirah blend inthree-litre (three-quart) canisters.
Cheap wine has been sold worldwide for years in cardboard boxes but FOUR claims this is the first time a premium California wine has broken out of its glass house.
Brand manager Larry Leigon said the tubes are more eco-friendly and less expensive than bottles.
The wine can last longer after being opened, he added. Less oxygen enters through the tube and its spout than a bottle whose cork has been popped.
Leigon is no stranger to innovation, having helped pioneer the productionof premium non-alcoholic wine at Ariel nearly a quarter of a century ago.
“Glass was an innovation in the 1400s or 1500s,” he said in an interview at the Grove Street Winery in Healdsburg, Sonoma County where FOUR is bottled — or rather, bagged.
“If we do this correctly, we can change the tradition and make it better. There\’s a tradition that can grow up around this tube, too.”
Some French winemakers, not surprisingly, are skeptical of storing premium wine in a tube.
“I don\’t see the point. People drink wine with food and you put the bottle on the table. Round cartons are for milk,” said Alain Vauthier, owner of Chateau Ausone in Saint Emilion, part of the Bordeaux winemaking region.
“For a good wine you need good dark glass and a high quality cork. I would also question the durability of cardboard. We have bottles here at the chateau of Ausone from 1849 that taste wonderful. That wouldn\’t happen in cardboard.
“For cheaper wines consumed within two or three years, yes, you can put them in cardboard tubes, but not high quality wines that need 10, 20, 30 or more years of keeping.”
The FOUR tubes — which can hold the equivalent of four bottles of wine — are 28.5 centimeters (11 inches) tall (slightly shorter than a standard wine bottle) and 13 cm (5 inches) in diameter.
— \’At the higher end, tubes will never be there\’ — Everything is recyclable, and the company making the bags that hold the
wine inside the tubes, Smurfit Kappa of Epernay, France, claims a three-litre tube is six times lighter than four 750ml (25.4 fluid ounces) wine bottles.
Producing and transporting tubes is less expensive and requires fewer resources than bottles, which allows FOUR to charge about 40 dollars per tube and to reduce its carbon footprint.
“I\’m a great believer in the romance of the bottle and the cork, I love that. And there will always be a place for that,” said Bill Leigon, Larry\’s brother and business partner.
“But not if I\’m doing that at the expense of my environment.”
The Leigons and winemaker Barry Gnekow eventually hope to market four varietals under the FOUR label — two reds and two whites.
The first run of 10,000 tubes in October is selling well, they say, and another run of 6,000 tubes is planned for late January.
FOUR is set to launch internationally at the ProWein trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany, in late March.
The Leigons originally assumed their market would be restaurants and larger venues such as conference centres and sports arenas — places where many customers buy by the glass and never see the container — but they also hope the tube looks good enough to sit on the back bar at wine bars and taverns.
They are talking to US Airways about using FOUR tubes on airline drink carts, and are also now selling to retail wine stores.
Yet a quick survey of downtown Healdsburg found no evidence of FOUR at a couple of bottle shops, a restaurant or a bar.
None of the four establishments had heard of FOUR, and there was some skepticism mixed in with a willingness to try something new.
Mark Friedrich, assistant manager of The Wine Shop, said tubes are a great idea for storing and transporting wine, but acknowledged drinking wine is also about perception.
“If you\’re taking your wife out to a fancy restaurant and blowing the budget, do you want the waiter to unscrew the cork or undo the spout?” he asked. “At the higher end of the market, I think (tubes) will never be there.”
Toyota Motor Corporation forecast its first-ever operating loss this year as the global slowdown creates “an unprecedented crisis” for the long profitable automaker.
Toyota\’s sharp cuts in forecasts marked a deepening of the woes plaguing the auto industry, which has seen General Motors and Chrysler, two of the US Big Three automakers, on the verge of collapse due to the global financial turmoil.
Toyota, which vies with GM for the crown of the world\’s largest automaker, said it was cutting back production and investment as a slump in sales and a soaring yen wreak havoc on its balance sheet.
“The company is facing an unprecedented crisis where it cannot avoid posting an operating deficit in this term,” Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe told a news conference at the company\’s hub in central Japan.
Toyota, which earlier cut 3,000 jobs in Japan, said it would freeze the launching of a new factory in the US state of Mississippi and scale back production in India.
“The company has decided to either delay or review almost all projects aimed at expanding production ability or building new plants,” Watanabe said.
Japan\’s top automaker said it expected an operating loss of 150 billion yen (1.69 billion dollars) for the financial year, the first loss since it started reporting annual earnings in March 1941. Last year it posted 2.27 trillion yen in operating profit.
Toyota said it still expected to make a profit on a net level but cut its forecast sharply to 50 billion yen, down from a previous estimate of 550 billion yen.
EU stocks down
Toyota\’s forecast was matched by downbeat news from Europe, where the CAC 40 stock market index in Paris plunged 2.31 percent at the close, the Frankfurt DAX was down 1.23 percent and the FTSE in London slid 0.88 percent on pre-Christmas gloom.
Share prices were also down in early trading on Wall Street.
A poll in Germany showed consumer confidence in Europe\’s biggest economy has stagnated at less than half the rate at which it was in December 2007.
Russia\’s biggest car plant, Avtovaz, part owned by France\’s Renault, said it was suspending production for January because of the economic crisis.
In the eurozone economies, industrial orders were down 4.3 percent in October compared to September, falling by 15.1 percent year-on-year, data published by the European statistics office Eurostat showed.
Car demand falls
Toyota has enjoyed hefty profits in recent years fuelled by demand overseas, particularly in the United States, for its eco-friendly hybrid cars.
But demand has fallen sharply in the United States as a credit crisis at banks drags down the entire economy. The White House on Friday offered a 13.4-billion-dollar government lifeline to keep GM and Chrysler afloat.
Analysts said Toyota\’s revision showed the global crisis was affecting all automakers, not just Detroit\’s long troubled Big Three, which also includes Ford.
“It is symbolic for a company like Toyota, representing Japan, to suffer a loss,” said Yasuaki Iwamoto, auto analyst at Okasan Securities.
“Not only Toyota but all the carmakers are finding it crucial to get to the end of this abnormal market condition,” he said.
For the current year, Toyota now expects global sales worth 21.5 trillion yen, down from an earlier estimate of 23.0 trillion yen. It plans to sell 8.96 million vehicles this calendar year, down four percent from a year earlier.
But Watanabe said he believed that global demand will eventually return, especially in emerging economies, once the credit crisis settles — and that Toyota will be in a strong position.
Foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said Pakistan\’s acting High Commissioner Afrasiab Mehdi Hashmi was summoned to the ministry and given the letter purportedly written by Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman.
“In his letter to the Pakistan High Commission, Iman has stated he and the (nine) terrorists killed in the attack were from Pakistan and he has sought a meeting with the Pakistan high commission,” Mr Prakash added.
A ministry official who did not want to be named told AFP a photocopy of Iman\’s original letter had been handed over, adding the gunmen has sought legal aid.
“The letter urges Pakistan to provide him such assistance,” he said. Indian lawyers have refused to represent Iman in court.
In Islamabad, the foreign ministry confirmed that the letter had been forwarded to Pakistan\’s high commission in New Delhi.
It said the suspect claimed in the letter to be a Pakistani, and had asked for legal assistance as well as a meeting with Pakistani officials in India.
“The contents of the letter are being examined,” it said in a brief statement.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee meanwhile demanded more results from US-led efforts to force Pakistan to co-operate with the probe into the attacks, which India blames on Pakistan-based guerrillas.
“There has been some effort so far by the international community but this is not enough,” Mukherjee told a meeting of India\’s ambassadors called to New Delhi to discuss the November 26 carnage.
Asked whether a military response to the attacks was being considered, he said India would “explore all options” to push Pakistan on its promise to crack down on cross-border terrorism.
Mr Mukherjee said India had “so far acted with utmost restraint” after gunmen killed 163 people in Mumbai — but he added that it could not afford to stand back and rely on others to tackle nuclear rival Pakistan.
“While we continue to persuade the international community and Pakistan, we are also clear that ultimately it is we who have to deal with this problem.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani meanwhile reiterated his country did not want war with India.
“If war is imposed upon us, the whole nation would be united and the armed forces are fully capable of safeguarding and defending the territorial integrity of the country,” Gilani told his ambassador to India, Shahid Malik.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Premier Gordon Brown and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have all visited the region since the Mumbai attacks in a bid to calm tensions between the nuclear-armed adversaries.
“We expect Pakistan to do whatever it has committed,” Mukherjee said.
He said Pakistan\’s response to the attacks demonstrated its “tendency to resort to a policy of denial.”
Pakistan refuses to hand over suspects in the Mumbai strikes and rejects evidence that the gunmen were from Pakistan.
Delhi blames the carnage on Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based militant group fighting in Indian-held Kashmir.
Under pressure from the UN, Pakistan banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity which is accused of being a front for LeT.
The Lashkar has already been banned by Pakistan, but India accuses Islamabad of not cracking down on the group.
An elite commando force meanwhile unveiled plans Monday to deploy troops in the four key cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai as a precaution against possible future strikes.
The Delhi-based commando team was instrumental in ending the 60-hour siege in Mumbai.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain and nearly came to a fourth in 2001 after an attack on the Indian parliament blamed on cross-border militants.
India put on hold a 2004 peace process with Pakistan following the Mumbai atrocity.
The inquiry into the arrest of Mohamed Haneef on terrorism charges has found that he should not have been charged and that the cancellation of his visa and his deportation should have been deferred.
The report of the inquiry, which is expected to be released today, has cleared the former Howard government of any political motivation in ordering the detention and later deportation of the Indian doctor from the Gold Coast in July last year, The Australian newspaper reports.
Howard government immigration minister Kevin Andrews also has been cleared of any improper behaviour in cancelling Dr Haneef\’s visa.
Former NSW Supreme Court judge John Clarke QC, who chaired the inquiry, found that the most likely reason Mr Andrews cancelled Dr Haneef\’s visa was that he had grave suspicions as a result of the material put before him and he genuinely believed the community wanted him to act decisively, Fairfax reports.
However, the Clarke report finds that the former minister did not “reflect deeply enough” on what was a “rambling brief” from his department on Dr Haneef, The Australian says.
Mr Clarke suggests there should be clearer guidelines for laying terrorism charges, more cooperation between the police and intelligence agencies, direct ASIO advice to the immigration minister on deportation cases and a standing review of the terror laws and federal police, the paper says.
The Australian says it understands the government will announce the creation of a joint House of Representatives and Senate committee on law enforcement to extend parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies and federal police.
Dr Haneef spent two weeks in police custody without charge after being arrested while trying to board a flight to Bangalore at Brisbane International Airport in relation to a failed UK terror plot.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) finally charged him with recklessly providing support to a terrorist organisation for giving his mobile phone SIM card to his cousin Sabeel Ahmed, the brother of Kafeel Ahmed who died after driving the flaming jeep into Glasgow Airport.
The charge collapsed within days but Dr Haneef was unable to return to his job at the Gold Coast Hospital because of a fight with the Department of Immigration over his visa.
Mr Clarke finished his inquiry several weeks ago but the government delayed releasing his report at the request of authorities in Britain, where a terror trial was still under way, Fairfax reports.
Last week\’s conviction of an Iraqi doctor who tried to murder hundreds of people in London and Glasgow cleared the way for Attorney-General Robert McClelland to finally release the report, the report said.