Hope you enjoy these images from the pond:
Today was the moment! I built and developed the garden pond for the purpose of creating an additional habit for the local wildlife – its proved a success in attracting additional birds, mammals, and insects, as well as frogs and toads. But of all the creatures I’d hoped to see in and around the pond, number one on my list was Newts. It’s therefore been an exciting time this evening to finally discover, after seven years, that they have arrived.
I’ve been able to confirm three adults so far but have the impression that there are more yet to be seen. Getting a picture of our new additions hasn’t proved easy and I suspect that it’s going to take some time to secure a blurred shot.
An article here in yesterdays Austrian Times reports on calls for lakeside towns and villages in the Alpine region to reassess the risk from tsunamis. The warning comes from Professor Johann Stötter, an expert on Alpine Global Warming, from the University of Innsbruck.
The concerns focus upon new research from the University of Innsbruck which show permafrost is now disappearing at a rate of 5cm to 10cm a year. In Alpine areas above 2500 metres the soil is held in place as a result of being permanently frozen and until recently only the surface layer has been known to thaw.
This deeper thawing of the permafrost increases the risk of significant rock and landslides which can create lake tsunamis. The article gives a few historical examples, as well as highlighting huge rise in lakeside populations and how simulation show that collapses can lead to large tsunamis developing extremely quickly.
The quote above by Bernhard Niedermoser, of the Austrian Central Institute for Climate Research and Geodynamics (ZAMG), is reported here in the Austrian Times as part of a short article on a new report looking at the impact of climate change in this part of Europe over the next 50 to 100 years.
If their analysis is correct the Alps are going to get hotter springs and summers with more sun and less rain. The good news for the winter tourism industry (or at least those operating on the higher resorts) is that winters will bring higher levels of snow. This last item is of particular interest as previous reports I’ve seen has suggested that the Alp would see less snow – our understanding of climate changing is developing all the time.
What remains consistent in the report is that despite the increased snow the Alpine glaciers, which play an important role in the supply of water across central Europe, are in trouble. To complete Bernhard Niedermoser quote in my headline “….because it is the summer that controls their fate, it doesn’t matter how much snow falls, it is always the summer that is crucial.”
A few images from the Dachstein glacier:
I recently wrote about the success of the new public transport pricing scheme here in Vienna. Well it would appear from this report in the Austrian Times that it’s going to leave me standing and oddly I think that’s rather good news
To recap, in May the Red/Green State coalition government reduced the price of the annual pass from 449 Euro to 365 Euro. In addition they reduced the cost of a monthly ticket from 49.50 to 45 Euro, while increasing the weekly and day ticket prices. This leaves Vienna as one of the cheapest cities in Europe for traveling on what is one of the best public transport systems on the continent.
As an annual pass holder I am ever happy with this development but also as a resident of the city I benefit from the environmental gains achieved as more people take to public transport. With the increase of passengers using the integrated tram, bus and train system Wiener Linien (Transport Company) are having to find new ways to cope with these greater numbers. One solution is to be piloted on my local tramline, the No43. Some seats are to be removed to allow more standing room, as well as additional space for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
So will having to stand at peak times annoy me? Frankly the answer is no. To be honest we have an excellent system, well priced and the trams, buses and trains turn up on time. Standing on the tram occasionally is a small price to pay and it’s hardly London sardine hell round here.
The equivalent to just over a quarter of Vienna’s citizens have bought an annual ticket for travel on the city’s public transport system. I wonder how that compares to other major cities around the world?
I’ve just been reading a report in the Austrian Times that since May 2012 there are over 70,000 new pass holders, bringing the total up to a record breaking 450,000 people with an annual travel pass (myself included). The increase is linked to the decision of the red/green coalition, which runs Vienna State government, to reduce the ticket price from 449 Euro to 365 Euro. They also reduced the cost of a monthly ticket from 49.50 to 45 Euro, while increasing the weekly and day ticket prices. Additionally fines for fare dodgers were increased from 70 to 100 Euro’s and if it’s not my imagination the number of ticket checks have gone up.
As only 5% of all passengers prior to the changes opted for day tickets it is likely that the increase in annual passes brought will be reflected in the overall numbers using the system.
I’ve read various claims that Vienna’s fares are amongst the lowest in Europe with the average cost being in the region of 660 Euro.
The increasing numbers would appear to be a political win for the City’s red/green coalition. Particularly the Greens as the policy is seen as a direct consequence of their involvement in the State Government. More widely, any shift away from car usage (if this is indeed a consequence of this policy) in the city would be a welcome aid to efforts to tackle air quality and parking problems. Both issues that detract from a otherwise high quality of life that regularly puts Vienna in the top three ‘cities in the world to live’.
The City’s integrated transport system is view as one of the best in the world. The State Government is investing 475 million Euros this year, with total investment in transport infrastructure planned to reach 2.4 billion Euros by 2015.
One of the many dragonflies, which spend so much time dancing and darting around my garden pond, flew into the middle of a water fight this morning. Unharmed it sat on the stalk of a plant drying off for long enough for me to grab my camera and get some pictures:
Below the surface of the water the pond is teeming with life including dragonfly in the nymph phase of their life cycle, which I understand can take up to 4 years to complete. Occasionally one of the larger nymphs will scurry into view, as it moves between leaf cover on the bottom of the pond, look for all the world life an extra from an alien movie. If you look carefully at the leaves and stalks of the plants that reach up above the surface of the water you can see the husks of these alien creatures, left behind after the dragonfly has emerged:
I’m not the only one for enjoys the dragonfly. Leicester the cat gets regard exercise chasing them around the garden.
Very occasionally he actually catches one and will then happily sit in front of me crunching away:
The pond is an enjoyable place to sit but its bigger value is to the local wildlife and we have a healthy population of frogs and toads in the garden. These wonderful amphibians are excellent at helping to keep the slug population under control. The pond also helps to attract an increased range of birds and mammals to the garden.
I’ve posted some additional pic’s of the dragonfly, other visitors and pond here