Amazon basin

The Amazon basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. The Amazon drainage basin covers an area of about 6,300,000 km2, or about 35.5 percent of the South American continent. It is located in the countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela. Most of the basin is covered by the Amazon Rainforest known as Amazonia. With a 5.5 million km2 area of dense tropical forest, this is the largest rainforest in the world. The Amazon River begins in the Andes Mountains at the west of the basin with its main tributary the Marañón River in Peru; the highest point in the watershed of the Amazon is the peak of Yerupajá at 6,635 metres. With a length of about 6,400 km before it drains into the Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the two longest rivers in the world. A team of Brazilian scientists has claimed that the Amazon is longer than the Nile, but debate about its exact length continues; the Amazon system transports the largest volume of water of any river system, accounting for about 20% of the total water carried to the oceans by rivers.

Some of the Amazon rainforests are deforested because of an increase in cattle ranches and soybean fields for livestock. The Amazon basin flowed west to the Pacific Ocean until the Andes formed, causing the basin to flow eastward towards the Atlantic Ocean. Politically the basin is divided into the Brazilian Amazônia Legal, the Peruvian Amazon, the Amazon region of Colombia and parts of Bolivia and the Venezuelan state of Amazonas. Plant growth is dense and its variety of animal inhabitants is comparatively high due to the heavy rainfall and the dense and extensive evergreen and coniferous forests. Little sunlight reaches the ground due to the dense roof canopy by plants; the ground remains dark and damp and only shade-tolerant vegetation will grow here. Orchids and bromeliads exploit other plants to get closer to the sunlight, they grow hanging onto the branches or tree trunks with aerial roots, not as parasites but as epiphytes. Species of tropical trees native to the Amazon include rubber tree and Assai palm.

More than 1,400 species of mammals are found in the Amazon, the majority of which are species of bats and rodents. Its larger mammals include the jaguar, capybara and South American tapir. About 1500 bird species inhabit the Amazon Basin; the biodiversity of the Amazon and the sheer number of diverse bird species is given by the number of different bird families that reside in these humid forests. An example of such would be the cotinga family. Birds such as toucans, hummingbirds are found here. Macaws are famous for duck gathering by the hundreds along the clay cliffs of the Amazon River. In the western Amazon hundreds of macaws and other parrots descend to exposed river banks to consume clay on an daily basis, the exception being rainy days; the green anaconda inhabits the shallow waters of the Amazon and the emerald tree boa and boa constrictor live in the Amazonian tree tops. Many reptiles species are illegally exported for the international pet trade. Live animals are the fourth largest commodity in the smuggling industry after drugs and weapons.

More than 1,500 species of amphibians are found in the Amazon. Unlike temperate frogs which are limited to habitats near the water, tropical frogs are most abundant in the trees and few are found near bodies of water on the forest floor; the reason for this occurrence is quite simple: frogs must always keep their skin moist since half of their respiration is carried out through their skin. The high humidity of the rainforest and frequent rainstorms gives tropical frogs infinitely more freedom to move into the trees and escape the many predators of rainforest waters; the differences between temperate and tropical frogs extend beyond their habitat. About 2,500 fish species are known from the Amazon basin and it is estimated that more than 1,000 additional undescribed species exist; this is more than any other river basin on Earth, Amazonia is the center of diversity for Neotropical fishes. About 45% of the known Amazonian fish species are endemic to the basin; the remarkable species richness can in part be explained by the large differences between the various parts of the Amazon basin, resulting in many fish species that are endemic to small regions.

For example, fauna in clearwater rivers differs from fauna in white and blackwater rivers, fauna in slow moving sections show distinct differences compared to that in rapids, fauna in small streams differ from that in major rivers, fauna in shallow sections show distinct differences compared to that in deep parts. By far the most diverse orders in the Amazon are Characiformes and Siluriformes, but other groups with many species include Cichlidae and Gymnotiformes. In addition to major differences in behavior and ecology, Amazonian fish vary extensively in form and size; the largest, the arapaima and piraiba can reach 3 m or more in length and up to 200 kg in weight, making them some of the largest strict freshwater fish in the world. The bull shark and common sawfish, which have been recorded far up the Amazon, may reach greater sizes, but they are euryhaline and seen in marine waters. In contrast to the giants, there are Amazonian fish from several families that are less than 2 cm long; the smallest are the Leptophilypnion sleeper gobies, which do not surpass 1 cm and are among the smallest fish in the world.

The Amazon supports large fisheries, including well-known species of large catfish (such as Brachyplat

Carl Frederick Holden

Carl Frederick Holden was an officer of the United States Navy who retired with the rank of Vice Admiral. Born in Bangor, Holden graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1917, he saw service in World War I on destroyers based in Ireland. Lieutenant Commander Holden was given command of the destroyer Mason in 1920. In 1922-1924 he took a master's degree in Electrical Communications Engineering from the Naval Academy and Harvard University, spent the next ten years on communications-related assignments, including a posting with the Naval Mission to Brazil, he commanded the destroyer Tarbell in 1932-34, in 1935-36 was sent to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as District Communications Officer. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Holden was serving as Executive Officer with the rank of Commander on the battleship Pennsylvania when it was attacked and damaged by Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor. In January 1942 he was made Fleet Communication Officer on the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet, was appointed Director of Naval Communications in September 1942, replacing Joseph Redman.

In 1943 he became the first captain of the battleship New Jersey, a position he held for most of the war. In 1945 he was made Rear Admiral in charge of Cruiser Division Pacific, witnessed the Japanese surrender from the deck of the Missouri in Tokyo Bay, he subsequently became Commander of US Naval Forces in occupied Germany, retiring from that position in 1952. He was decorated with Bronze Star Medal for his service from August 1944 to January 1945 in Philippines and South China Seas and also with Legion of Merit. Proceedings of the IRE, September 1943, p. 525. Accessed through IEEE Explore. May 13, 2009

Brocken Railway

The Brocken Railway is one of three tourist metre gauge railways which together with the Harz Railway and Selke Valley Railway form the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways railway network in the Harz mountain range of Germany. It runs from the station of Drei Annen Hohne at 542 m, where it joins the Harz Railway, via Schierke and the Bode River valley to the summit of the Brocken, the highest mountain of the Harz at 1,141 m and part of the Harz National Park; the Brocken Railway leaves Drei Annen Hohne station, like the Harz Railway, in a southwesterly direction. As it leaves the station, however, it crosses the road to Schierke/Elend and enters the Harz National Park, it heads west to Schierke station, where until 1963, there was a siding to Knaupsholz granite quarry at about the half-way point. The line runs for some distance along the valley of the Cold Bode, which lies south and far below the line. Next the 971 m high mountain, the Wurmberg, appears on the left, the train crosses the Brocken Road for the first time.

After a tight left hand bend before the Eckerloch Bridge and another right-hander, the line reaches Goetheweg station, now only used as a locomotive depot. The line runs directly to the Brocken, encircling it in a spiral 1 ½ times, during which it crosses the Brocken Road again, finally ends after 18.9 km at Brocken station. As early as 1869 there was a design for the construction of a railway to the Brocken, but it was turned down. A resubmission in 1895 succeeded, and, on 30 May 1896, the construction permit was issued once Prince Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode had allocated the requisite land; the first section of the Brocken Railway, from Drei Annen Hohne to Schierke, was opened on 20 June 1898 and construction work for the remaining section up to the Brocken was begun on 4 October 1898. Services to the Brocken only ran between 30 April to 15 October. At the end of the Second World War significant damage occurred to the track through bombs and artillery shells, in the course of fighting in the Harz, declared a fortress.

The section to the Brocken was only reopened, therefore, in 1949. The operator of the Brocken Railway until 5 August 1948 was the Nordhausen-Wernigerode Railway Company, after which it belonged from the Association of Publicly Owned Companies, part of Saxony-Anhalt's transport services, from 11 April 1949 to the Deutsche Reichsbahn in East Germany. Only after the German winter sports championships in 1950, which took place in Schierke, did winter trains run up to the Brocken summit. A railway station at Eckerloch was built for the championships, closed again after they had ended; the location of the former sidings at Eckerloch station can still be seen. Goods trains continued to work the Brocken Railway right up to 1987, although since the construction of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961 the Brocken and its station had been part of the out-of-bounds area and thus not accessible to the public. Up to that time the trains transported coal and building materials up the mountain for the East German Border Troops and Soviet soldiers who were stationed there.

Passengers services on the Brocken Railway continued to run from Drei Annen Hohne to Schierke. After German reunification the continued operation of the Brocken Railway was called into question, however united efforts by railway enthusiasts and politicians under the overall control of the state Minister for the Economy, Horst Rehberger, helped to give the Brocken Railway a second chance; the German Armed Forces was involved, because the Brocken Railway was needed to haul away the obsolete, military facilities on the Brocken. On 15 September 1991, after being renovated, the Brocken Railway was ceremoniously opened to the public with two steam-hauled trains; the trains were headed by locomotive no. 99 5903, a Mallet locomotive, procured by the NWE in 1897/98, locomotive no. 99 6001, a prototype developed in 1939 by the firm of Krupp. Since the privatisation of the narrow gauge lines in the Harz in 1993 the Brocken Railway has been operated by the Harz Narrow Gauges Railways; the steam trains on the Brocken Railway have become popular with thousands of tourists every year, offering convenient access to the top of the Brocken.

Up to six pairs of trains run daily to the top of the Brocken during the winter. Of those, four end in Wernigerode. During the summer, services are increased to eleven pairs of trains daily; the fastest train takes 49 minutes to reach the summit. The Brocken Railway is the only HSB line whose regular services are hauled by steam locomotives. Brocken station Speakman and Colin, Walking in the Harz mountains - including walks from the Harz narrow gauge railway, Cicerone Press, Cumbria, ISBN 1-85284-149-4. Bauer, Jörg. 100 Jahre Harzquer- und Brockenbahn. EK-Verlag, Freiburg, ISBN 3-88255-685-4 Bornemann, Manfred. Mit der Brockenbahn in den Harz. Ed. Pieper, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, ISBN 3-923605-23-4 Nitschke, Ulrich. Die Harzquer- und Brockenbahn. Transpress – VEB Verlag für Verkehrswesen, Berlin Zieglgänsberger, Gerhard and Röper, Hans. Die Harzer Schmalspurbahnen. Transpress Verlag, Stuttga