Monthly Archives: February 2013

Study shows Arabian Gulf corals survive temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius

Abu Dhabi, 10th Feb. 2013 – Coral reefs are predicted to decline under the pressure of global warming. However, a number of coral species can survive at seawater temperatures even higher than predicted for the tropics during the next century.

How they survive, while most species cannot, is being investigated by researchers at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) and New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).

We tend to associate coral reefs with tropical seas of around 28 degrees, where even slight warming can have devastating effects on corals. But in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, corals survive seawater temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius every summer, heat levels that would kill corals elsewhere.

In their study, the NOCS team worked closely with NYUAD researchers to select and characterise model corals from the Arabian/Persian Gulf, which will facilitate future molecular-scale investigations into why they can tolerate heat stress.

“We have established successful laboratory cultures of Gulf corals,” said Dr J?rg Wiedenmann, Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory and Senior Lecturer at University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science, both of which are based at NOCS.

“This will greatly accelerate the progress of unravelling the mechanisms that underlie their surprising heat resistance.” Reefs are made up of many species of coral, each of which have a mutually beneficial, or “symbiotic”, relationship with algae living in their tissue. These algae supply vital nutrition to the host but are sensitive to environmental changes including increases in seawater temperature.

Even a temperature rise of just one degree Celsius can harm the symbiotic algae, which in turn can increase mortality in corals. The associated loss of symbiotic algae is known as “coral bleaching” because the white skeletons of the corals become visible through the tissue depleted from the algal pigments.

“In Gulf corals, both the coral host and the associated algal partners need to withstand the high seawater temperatures,” said Dr Wiedenmann who led the study.

But the scientists were surprised to discover that the algae in Gulf corals belong to a group not known for its thermal tolerance, similar corals may also be found in countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India.

We see that the algae are indeed special but in a way that we did not expect,” said Dr Wiedenmann. “The algae that we found in most of the corals in Abu Dhabi reefs were previously described as a generalist strain’ that is usually not found in corals exposed to high levels of heat stress.” “The system seems to be more complex than it is commonly thought but now we are in an excellent position to tackle these important questions.” The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has recently granted funding to Dr Wiedenmann and the Coral Reef Laboratory, so that the team can do just that. The researchers will build on their previous findings and use their model corals to investigate the molecular mechanisms that allow corals to thrive at extreme temperatures.

Already around 30 per cent of coral reefs are severely damaged and more than half of coral reefs worldwide may be lost within the near future because of global warming. A better understanding of how corals respond to rising sea temperatures is important for predicting the fate of coral reefs and to optimize reef conservation.

“Gulf corals are living at the limit of their tolerance,” said co-author Professor John Burt from the New York University Abu Dhabi. “We have observed an increased frequency of coral bleaching events in this area, and we need to act now to protect and understand these ecosystems that hold the answers to many important climate change related questions.” The study was published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin as part of a special issue on coral ecosystems of the Gulf.

How The Internet Has Changed Our Lives

The internet has evolved so fast that any business that dares to blink – is left behind

Not sure if you have heard this story before. In February 1996, when we applied for a trade license for Cyber Gear, we were issued one by the Dubai Economic Department in quick time. There was one problem though. The trade license stated the nature of our business as ‘Automobiles’ because ‘Gear’ in Arabic meant this was the closest matching category. At that time internet did not exist as a classification for business!

17 years later, it is thinkable that we survived without the internet. In just seventeen years, the internet has had more impact on the world culture and commerce than about everything else in prior history.

Here is a look at some of the ways in which the internet has changed our lives, both business and social.

Business’ used to rely on local clients. Today businesses can go global with a few clicks. It has never been easier to keep in contact with customers as it is today. Customers from around the world can be found within minutes. The internet also makes it much easier for companies to do credit checks where necessary and even background checks for potential partners.

We live in a world of instant communication that speeds data, voice and images around the planet at the speed of light. Communicating through email is now taken for granted. Compare it to the time we sent faxes as an official way of communication.

The Internet is the disruptive technology that has set off a revolution in communications. The Internet of today reveals some amazing statistics:

  • Current Users = 3 billion
  • Percentage of the world’s population with Internet access = 40%
  • Number of domain name registrations across all top-level domains = 246 million
  • Number of websites worldwide = 650 million
  • Number of blogs worldwide = 200 million
  • Number of email users worldwide = 2.2 billion
  • Number of emails average Internet users send or receive each day = 150
  • Number of Internet searches conducted each minute = 4 million

Mobile Internet connections represent the fastest growing segment with billions of devices talking to each other. And in the near future those numbers will increase exponentially. Studies show:

+10 billion devices by 2016

24 billion devices by 2020

Socializing has never been easier. Just how powerful is ‘social’ on the Internet today?

Facebook is the largest social network on the planet, the third biggest human organisation, only smaller than China and India. Consider these Facebook stats:

  • 1 billion members
  • 740 billion minutes on the site throughout an average month
  • Daily uploads and sharing of 300 million photographs
  • Postings liked or commented on amounting to 3.2 billion daily
  • More than half the members connect using mobile devices.
  • Communication on Facebook is in 70 different languages

The Internet has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of everyone on our planet, from accelerating the discovery of cures for diseases, to understanding climate change, to enhancing the way companies do business, to making every day life more enjoyable.

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Pink Caravan marks World Cancer Day

Feb 04th, 2013 (WAM)–The annual Ride of the Pink Caravan, the pan-UAE breast cancer awareness initiative by the Friends of Cancer Patients charitable organisation, completed a journey of 35 km from on Sunday, trekking from Al Dhaid Hospital to Masafi in Fujairah. 

The Pink Caravan’s medical team provided medical tests to applicants in Al Dhaid Hospital and Masafi Hospital on the second day of the 10-day journey. The riders and medical teams were warmly welcomed by people of Al Dhaid and Massafi, who commended the great role being played by Pink Caravan in raising breast cancer awareness and providing early detection tests. 

The second day of the ride saw the Pink Caravan’s medical teams provide screenings to 576 members of the public at Al Dhaid Hospital and Masafi Hospital. According to the second day’s statistics, 418 women and 158 men received medical screenings, of which 323 were Emirati nationals and 253 expatriates, bringing the total number of people who received tests during the first two days to 1030 men and women. 

On the second day, 187 women were referred for mammogram screening and 25 women were referred for ultrasound examination. 348 of the individuals being tested were under the age of 40 were people, while 257 were above 40. 

The Pink Caravan aims to achieve this goal through their breast cancer awareness and early detection campaign.
Commenting on the occasion, Secretary General for Friends of Cancer Patients charitable organisation (FoCP) and Head of the Pink Caravan’s Medical and Awareness committee, Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, said, “The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has estimated that 1.5 million lives being lost to cancer, could be saved per year if decisive measures are taken to achieve the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 25 by 25′ target, which aims to reduce premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25 per cent by 2025. In fact, this is exactly what we aim to achieve through FoCP’s various initiatives and campaigns, especially Pink Caravan.” According to UICC, 7.6 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years). Therefore unless urgent action is taken to raise awareness about the disease and to develop practical strategies to address cancer, by 2025, an alarming 6 million premature cancer deaths per year is being projected.