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Messages - vox_mundi

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Consequences / Re: Health Effects of Climate Change
« on: February 12, 2019, 06:48:31 PM »
... Built Shade will be a growth industry for all of our cities. ... 

Once upon a time - before the Great Heat - they would be called trees and forests.

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: February 11, 2019, 08:06:25 PM »
NASA Finds Possible Second Impact Crater Under Greenland Ice

A NASA glaciologist has discovered a possible second impact crater buried under more than a mile of ice in northwest Greenland.

His follows the finding, announced in November 2018, of a 19-mile-wide crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier - the first meteorite impact crater ever discovered under Earth's ice sheets. Though the newly found impact sites in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, at present they do not appear to have formed at the same time.

If the second crater, which has a width of over 22 miles, is ultimately confirmed as the result of a meteorite impact, it will be the 22nd largest impact crater found on Earth.

... Following the finding of that first crater, MacGregor checked topographic maps of the rock beneath Greenland's ice for signs of other craters. Using imagery of the ice surface from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instruments aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, he soon noticed a circular pattern some 114 miles to the southeast of Hiawatha Glacier. The same circular pattern also showed up in ArcticDEM, a high-resolution digital elevation model of the entire Arctic derived from commercial satellite imagery.

To confirm his suspicion about the possible presence of a second impact crater, MacGregor studied the raw radar images that are used to map the topography of the bedrock beneath the ice, including those collected by NASA's Operation IceBridge. What he saw under the ice were several distinctive features of a complex impact crater: a flat, bowl-shaped depression in the bedrock that was surrounded by an elevated rim and centrally located peaks, which form when the crater floor equilibrates post-impact. Though the structure isn't as clearly circular as the Hiawatha crater, MacGregor estimated the second crater's diameter at 22.7 miles. Measurements from Operation IceBridge also revealed a negative gravity anomaly over the area, which is characteristic of impact craters.

"The only other circular structure that might approach this size would be a collapsed volcanic caldera," MacGregor said. "But the areas of known volcanic activity in Greenland are several hundred miles away. Also, a volcano should have a clear positive magnetic anomaly, and we don't see that at all."

Although the newly found impact craters in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, they do not appear to have been formed at the same time. From the same radar data and ice cores that had been collected nearby, MacGregor and his colleagues determined that the ice in the area was at least 79,000 years old. The layers of ice were smooth, suggesting the ice hadn't been strongly disturbed during that time. This meant that either the impact happened more than 79,000 years ago or -- if it took place more recently -- any impact-disturbed ice had long ago flowed out of the area and been replaced by ice from farther inland.

Open Access: Joseph A. MacGregor et al. A Possible Second Large Subglacial Impact Crater in Northwest Greenland, Geophysical Research Letters (2019).

Consequences / Re: Effects on Arctic Wildlife
« on: February 09, 2019, 05:34:33 PM »
Russia Islands Emergency Over Polar Bear 'Invasion'

A remote Russian region has declared a state of emergency over the appearance of dozens of polar bears in its human settlements, local officials say.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people, said there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings.

The archipelago's main settlement, Belushya Guba, has reported a total of 52 bears in its vicinity, with between six and 10 constantly on its territory.

Local administration head Vigansha Musin said more than five bears were on the territory of the local military garrison, where air and air defence forces are based.

The bears had lost their fear of police patrols and signals used to warn them off.

With Arctic sea ice diminishing as a result of climate change, polar bears are forced to change their hunting habits and spend more time on land looking for food - which potentially puts them in conflict with humans.

In 2016 five Russian scientists were besieged by polar bears for several weeks at a remote weather station on the island of Troynoy, east of Novaya Zemlya. ...

Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2018
« on: February 08, 2019, 06:22:44 PM »
Landslides Triggered by Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017 and triggered more than 40,000 landslides in at least three-fourths of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities. In a new article from GSA Today, authors Erin Bessette-Kirton and colleagues write that "the number of landslides that occurred during this event was two orders of magnitude (100 fold) greater than those reported from previous hurricanes."

The authors, from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Puerto Rico, evaluate the extent and characteristics of Maria-induced landslides throughout Puerto Rico. They present an assessment of island-wide landslide density, which they compare, in conjunction with rainfall data, to tropical cyclone systems that have affected Puerto Rico since 1960. Additionally, they discuss the conditions specific to landsliding in Puerto Rico and examine the impact of environmental variables (e.g., rainfall, soil moisture, and geology) on observed variations in island-wide landsliding.

In their analysis, they show that the average rainfall from Hurricane Maria in mountainous areas was greater than that of any other hurricane or tropical storm in Puerto Rico since 1960.

Open Access: Erin Bessette-Kirton et al. Landslides Triggered by Hurricane Maria: Assessment of an Extreme Event in Puerto Rico, GSA Today (2019)

Didn't the Permian-Triassic extinction event have something similar to this? Different cause, but similar erosion.

Catastrophic soil erosion during the end-Permian biotic crisis

Organic geochemical analyses of sedimentary organic matter from a marine Permian-Triassic transition sequence in northeastern Italy reveal a significant influx of land-derived diagenetic products of polysaccharides. This unique event reflects massive soil erosion resulting from destruction of land vegetation due to volcanogenic disturbance of atmospheric chemistry. The excessive supply of soil materials to the oceans provides a direct link between terrestrial and marine ecological crises, suggesting that ecosystem collapse on land could have contributed to the end-Permian marine extinctions.

... When erosion seven times the normal rate sent large flows of nutrients into the ocean, it created conditions much like the over-fertilization we see today near the outlets of large rivers. As it does today, this condition led to a microbial feeding frenzy and the removal of oxygen -- and life -- from the late Permian ocean.

"If there is a lesson to all this," Algeo said, "it is a reminder that things can get out of whack pretty quickly and pretty seriously. We are used to a stable world, but it may not always be so stable."

Effects of soil erosion and anoxic–euxinic ocean in the Permian–Triassic marine crisis

Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: February 03, 2019, 08:40:06 PM »
Australia Weather: Townsville Warned as Floodgates Open

Officials in the Australian city of Townsville are deliberately flooding several neighbourhoods after record rainfall that has swollen a dam beyond capacity.

Residents in and around the north-eastern city have been warned of "risk to life" and "unprecedented flooding" that could inundate up to 20,000 homes.

People have been told to seek shelter on higher ground.

Townsville has received more than a metre (3.3ft) of rain in just a week.

That is more than 20 times the average for the time of year - beating the previous record set in 1998, in what became known as the Night of Noah.

...  The Townsville Bulletin newspaper said low-lying properties were being flooded, and troops on boats were searching for residents in need of help.

Cars and livestock have already been swept away around the coastal city in the state of Queensland.

 Meanwhile, parts of southern Australia are in the grip of a severe drought.

January was the hottest month on record for Australia as a whole, with the southern city of Adelaide breaking its own records twice in the month, first reaching 47.7C and then 49.5C

Arctic sea ice / Re: Northern Sea Route thread
« on: January 30, 2019, 07:20:01 PM »
Ignore the surface ships, subs own the Arctic ...

As The Arctic Warms, US Navy Considering Summer Transit, Bering Sea Port

... The Arctic is heating up and changing twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Some anticipate that it could regularly be virtually ice-free in summer  by 2040. That reality, coupled with Russia’s aggressiveness, is forcing the Navy to look at its ability to operate in there with thawed eyes. “You’re seeing the discussion change dramatically,” said Spencer. “We had the Navy’s [Arctic] Roadmap. We are adjusting that…and there’s more to come.

The Navy is meeting its current requirements for Arctic ops, according to GAO reports, but Spencer said that it was time to look beyond those. He said the U.S. is exploring the possibility of opening a strategic port in the Bering Strait.


US Navy Plans To Send More Ships Into The Arctic As It Looks To Establish New Polar Port

... “A strategic port up in the Bering [Sea] area is being explored, but that would be a whole-of-government approach: that would be Coast Guard, Navy and [Department of] Commerce in that regard,” Spencer explained. “But it’s an area we have to focus on, most definitely.”

... Though the Navy is well aware of the strategic importance of the Arctic, and has increasingly made it a priority issue, the service is up against a number of issues that might make it more difficult to expand its presence in the near-term. For one, it has no icebreakers and the U.S. government as a whole only owns two such ships.

.... But beyond the environmental hazards and limited infrastructure, many of the Navy’s non-ice-capable surface ships are not necessarily equipped to conduct protracted operations in extreme cold weather conditions, to begin with. The Ticonderoga-class cruisers, the first of which got laid down in 1980, was the last of its surface ship designs to feature a purpose-built steam de-icing system. This is apparently not a feature on Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which form the core of the service’s combat surface fleets.

Ice buildup on weapon systems, radomes, antennas, and other features on the Navy’s ships could limit their functionality or even cause damage. Without specialized de-icing features, a crew might have to spend significant effort manually removing the ice without causing any additional harm. That's to say nothing of the need to clear flight decks and helicopter landing pads on carriers, amphibious ships, and other warships.


Navy May Deploy Surface Ships to Arctic This Summer as Shipping Lanes Open Up

... With three potential trans-Arctic routes potentially opening up, he said, the Navy’s discussion about Arctic presence has changed dramatically in the past two years.

“As an example, this summer, the [chief of naval operations] and I have talked about having some ships make the transit in the Arctic. It’s going to be a multi-service task – I think you’ll see the Coast Guard involved. We’re just fleshing it out right now. But what is the purpose of that? We have to learn what it’s like to operate in that environment,” he said.

Spencer said the Ticonderoga-class cruisers were the last class of Navy ships to be designed with steam systems to remove ice from the ship, and that newer classes are not ice-hardened or equipped with systems to remove ice.

When the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group operated north of the Arctic Circle for several weeks this fall, the carrier itself handled the environment well, but its smaller escort ships and the supply ships the carrier relied on had a tougher time in the high sea states and icy waters. Similarly, when the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group sailed from Iceland to Norway in October, the larger amphibious assault ship made the journey safely, but the smaller dock landing ship was damaged in heavy seas and had to turn back.


U.S. Warship Stuck in Montreal Since December Due to Ice Resumes Trip Home

MONTREAL — An American warship stuck in Montreal since Christmas Eve has finally resumed its trip to its home port in Florida, the U.S. Navy confirmed on Saturday.

The USS Little Rock was commissioned in Buffalo, N.Y., on Dec. 16 but was trapped by ice at the Port of Montreal less than two weeks into its maiden voyage.

The warship was equipped with temporary heaters and 16 de-icers designed to reduce ice accumulation on the hull, and the crew was provided with cold-weather clothing in light of the change to their winter plans.


Zukunft: Changing Arctic Could Lead to Armed U.S. Icebreakers in Future Fleet

Adm. Paul Zukunft told the House Appropriations homeland security subcommittee today that three of each icebreakers was the shipbuilding requirement determined in a study five years ago and would still meet today’s requirements.

However, he noted that “ice has retreated at record rates” since then, which makes oil and gas reserves more accessible – which creates a particularly thorny problem for the United States, which would like to claim these resources for its own but hasn’t ratified the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention treaty that would validate this claim.

We have sovereign interests at stake up there as well. We have seen China, for example, with their icebreaker (in the region)... next thing we know we see a Chinese mobile offshore drilling unit going into the extended continental shelf to extract what otherwise would be U.S. oil.


Russia May Put Lasers on Its New Icebreaker Ships

Last April the Russian Navy ordered for two ships for Project 23550, the Ivan Papanin-class icebreakers. Construction of the first began last September at JSC Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg. The two ships are designed to function as icebreakers, tugboats, and patrol vessels.

According to Janes, the two ships will displace about 8,500 tons, about the size of modern destroyers, but much of that weight is due to the reinforced hull needed by icebreakers to plow through thick sea ice. Dimensionally, the Papanin class will be only about the size of a frigate. The ships will carry one AK-176MA 3-inch multipurpose deck gun (76.2-millimeter), a Kamov Ka-27 search and rescue helicopter, and eight Kalibr anti-ship missiles or longer-range cruise missile variants. The ships will be powered by diesel electric engines mounted in azipods generating a combined horsepower of 9,160 horsepower, and will carry bow thrusters for precise maneuvering.

According to Russian state media Sputnik News, the Ivan Papanin ships could be outfitted with lasers in the near future. Later this year Russian engineers will test a 30-kilowatt laser on the icebreaker Dikson, with an eye toward eventually fielding a 200-kilowatt seagoing laser. The article claims the icebreaker will only use lasers for ice cutting, allowing the ships to get around the arctic faster.


Russia Designs Ice-Breaking Nuclear-Powered Submarine for Arctic Shelf Operations

A vessel that can both crush through the ice and dive beneath it when working on extraction of mineral resources from the Arctic seabed.

It is the design bureau Malachite, famous for developing several classes of Russian navy nuclear powered submarines, that has presented a new 82 meters long submarine with ice-breaking capabilities.

With its special bow and strengthened hull, the submarine is said to be able to navigate through 1,2 meter thick ice in surface position. The vessel will hold Arc5 ice-class according to Russian classification.

Malachite says on its site that the submarine is aimed at working safely beneath the ice without worrying about waves, wind or moving ice on the surface. Fields of operations include both oil and gas subsea installations as well as potential future extraction of other mineral resources to be mined from the Arctic sea floor.

Also Malachite’s Arctic submarine is designed to carry mini-submarines that could work independently from the mother-submarine.


As the Ice Melts, Nuclear Submarines Train for Arctic War

... focusing on the GIUK Gap (the sea between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK) may fall short of the challenge NATO now faces.

For much of the Cold War, the Soviet navy lacked land-attack cruise missiles and would have had to leave its "bastion" in the Barents Sea in order to engage NATO forces, which made the GIUK Gap an important choke point at that time, according to Steven Wills, a military historian and former US Navy surface-warfare officer.

But with the development of sub-launched missiles — especially the modern Kaliber cruise missile — "Today's Russian Navy can remain within its Barents bastion and still launch accurate attacks against ships in the Norwegian Sea and NATO land targets without leaving these protected waters,"

"The real 'Gap' where NATO must focus its deterrent action is the Greenland, Svalbard, North Cape line at the northern limit of the Norwegian and and Greenland Seas," he writes. "It is again time to consider deterrent action and potential naval warfare in the 'High North.'"

The US, Russia and China are stepping up their use of submarines, drones, sensors and other undersea military technology. This is making the security of assets such as undersea internet cables and coastal military facilities an area of growing concern.


The Arctic is Unforgiving ...

Too fast, Vasili. Too fast!

NOAA Posts Cartoon Which Appears to Challenge Trump’s Climate Change Skepticism

The day after President Trump posted a tweet suggesting that extreme cold temperatures in the Midwest cast doubt on the existence of global warming, the climate service for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tweeted a cartoon explaining that warming oceans result in more extreme winter weather.

Winter storms don't prove that global warming isn't happening. 


“World hunger isn’t real because I had breakfast this morning”

Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: January 28, 2019, 03:19:25 AM »
Antarctic Team 'Upbeat' About Hope of Finding Shackleton's Ship

Antarctic explorers are to break their way through 75 miles of sea ice in an effort to reach the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, which sank to the bottom of the Weddell Sea in November 1915.

Expedition leaders believe they have the best chance yet to find the wreckage of the lost vessel, which became trapped in sea ice for 10 months and eventually went down in two miles of water after the crushing forces of the surrounding ice breached its hull.

... “Just getting to the wreck site will be an exciting challenge,” Shears said. “We will need to break through about 120km of dense, thick pack ice, up to 2-3 metres thick.

Scientists on the SA Agulhas II have spent the past two weeks collecting samples and surveying the area around the Larsen C ice shelf, where a trillion-tonne iceberg, A68, four times the size of Greater London, calved in July 2017. 

Consequences / Re: 2019 World Economic Forum: Global Risk Report
« on: January 27, 2019, 04:34:12 AM »
My Message to Davos Elites: Act As If Our House Is on Fire. Because It Is 


At places like Davos, people like to tell success stories. But their financial success has come with an unthinkable price tag. ...  We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.

Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Either we do that or we don’t.

You say nothing in life is black or white. But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie. Either we prevent 1.5C of warming or we don’t. Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control or we don’t.

Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t. That is as black or white as it gets. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.

... Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.

I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.


Children's Climate Rallies Gain Momentum In Europe

... In Brussels, home to the main EU institutions, students carried banners with slogans such as "Dinosaurs thought they had time too" ...

Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: January 22, 2019, 05:37:19 PM »
Antarctic Krill Population Contracts Southward as Polar Oceans Warm


Important krill habitats are under threat from climate change, and this latest research – published today (21st January 2019) in Nature Climate Change – has found that their distribution has contracted towards the Antarctic continent. This has major implications for the ecosystems that depend on krill.

"These northern waters have warmed and conditions throughout the Scotia Sea have become more hostile, with stronger winds, warmer weather and less ice. This is bad news for young krill."

Consequences / 2019 World Economic Forum: Global Risk Report
« on: January 16, 2019, 05:07:35 PM »
Warning to Davos: World 'Sleep-Walking' Into Climate Disaster

The risks of catastrophic weather and flooding from climate change top the list of concerns for business leaders heading into next week's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos

An annual WEF report—based on a survey of about 1,000 respondents drawn from the Davos community of company chiefs, politicians, civil society and academics—listed climate change as the dominant concern for a third year running.

The Global Risks Report 2019 is published against a backdrop of worrying geopolitical and geo-economic tensions. If unresolved, these tensions will hinder the world’s ability to deal with a growing range of collective challenges, from the mounting evidence of environmental degradation to the increasing disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

"The world is sleep-walking into catastrophe," Alison Martin, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, said at the launch of the 114-page report in London on Wednesday.

The WEF report showed mounting alarm about the risks of extreme weather and a failure to take mitigating action as temperatures rise, detailing the possibility of many low-lying cities in Asia, Europe and North America being wiped off the map by flooding.

China alone has more than 78 million people in cities at risk of inundation, a number increasing by three percent every year, the report said, citing World Bank research.

Martin at Zurich Insurance Group said 2018 was already marked by historic wildfires, heavy flooding and rising greenhouse gas emissions.

"It is no surprise that in 2019, environmental risks once again dominate the list of major concerns. So, too, does the growing likelihood of environmental policy failure or a lack of timely policy implementation," she warned.

For environmentalists, such a policy failure has been made more likely by the election of Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is due to address the annual WEF gathering.

Like Trump, Bolsonaro is a climate sceptic. But the two populist leaders won't get to rub shoulders in Switzerland after the US president cancelled his trip owing to the budget crisis in Washington.


... Future Shocks: As the world becomes more complex and interconnected, incremental change is giving way to the instability of feedback loops, threshold effects and cascading disruptions. Sudden and dramatic breakdowns—future shocks—become more likely. In this section, we present 10 such potential future shocks. Some are more speculative than others; some build on risks that have already begun to crystallize. These are not predictions. They are food for thought and action—what are the possible future shocks that could fundamentally disrupt or destabilize your world, and what can you do to prevent them?

- Food Supply Disruption Emerges As A Tool As Geo-Economic Tensions Intensify

- Use Of Weather Manipulation Tools Stokes Geopolitical Tensions

- Advanced And Pervasive Biometric Surveillance Allows New Forms Of Social Control

- In A World Of Diverging Values, Human Rights Are Openly Breached Without Consequence

- Escalating Protectionist Impulses Call Into Question Independence Of Central Banks

- Widening Gulf Between Urban And Rural Areas Reaches A Tipping Point

- Quantum Computing Renders Current Cryptography Obsolete

- AI That Can Recognize And Respond To Emotions Creates New Possibilities For Harm

- Low Earth Orbit Becomes A Venue For Geopolitical Conflict

When something goes wrong in a complex system, problems start popping up everywhere, and it is hard to figure out what’s happening. And tight coupling means that the emerging problems quickly spiral out of control and even small errors can cascade into massive meltdowns.

US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Report: 'China Military Power'; China’s Military Is Getting Better at a Lot of Things at Once

DIA’s ‘Russia Military Power’

DIA's 2018 Global Nuclear Landscape

Consequences / Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« on: January 08, 2019, 09:16:44 PM »
Unintended consequences ...

Wild Monkeys With Killer Herpes are Breeding Like Crazy In Florida


A quick reminder: there’s a band of feral monkeys running wild in Central Florida that carries a type of herpes lethal to humans. The mischievous simians—who are not shy around people—can transmit deadly disease with just a scratch, nip, or fling of poo.

Last year, experts warned that the rhesus macaques are a public health threat. It now seems that the monkey business is likely to get worse, with a wildlife expert revealing that their population is set to double in the next few years.

It’s going to be a problem… Continual growth of that population is going to occur without intervention,” Steve Johnson told Florida ABC-affiliate WFTV in a report published January 3. Johnson is a professor and wildlife expert at the University of Florida and part of a team of researchers that has followed the monkeys for years.

Early last year, Johnson and colleagues published a study estimating that about 25 percent of Florida’s population of free-wheeling monkeys carries the deadly virus, known as macacine herpesvirus 1 (McHV-1), herpes B, or monkey B virus. The study appeared in the February issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In humans, McHV-1 can cause a flu-like illness that can progress to neurological problems, such as double vision and paralysis. At that point, an infected person is likely to die of the infection.

The population got its start during the 1930s and 1940s when the captain of a glass-bottom boat released a handful of macaques on an island in Florida’s Silver River to amuse tourists. The monkeys, which are excellent swimmers, established in the surrounding Silver Spring State Park and nearby Ocala National Forest.


Escapades in Ecology: Bart Simpsons


... Bart discover that they are in fact Bolivian tree lizards, an invasive species responsible for the demise of many native birds and must by law be exterminated. After developing a bond with the hatchlings, Bart refuses to hand the lizards over and instead releases them to freedom.
“Our top story, the population of parasitic tree lizards has exploded, and local citizens couldn’t be happier! It seems the rapacious reptiles have developed a taste for the common pigeon, also known as the ‘feathered rat’, or the ‘gutter bird’. For the first time, citizens need not fear harassment by flocks of chattering disease-bags.” (Kent Brockman)
Much to everyone’s surprise, the lizards turn out to be a blessing, dining on the town’s pesky pigeon population. Bart is thanked and praised by Mayor Quimby, but Lisa worries about the long-term ramifications of the introduced lizards. Principal Skinner reassures her that releasing other non-native species will keep the lizards in check.
Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

Consequences / Re: Water wars
« on: January 07, 2019, 06:12:09 PM »
Here’s Where the Post-Apocalyptic Water Wars Will Be Fought

A United Nations report published last week said we have about a decade to get climate change under control, which—let’s be honest—isn’t likely to happen. So break out your goalie masks and harpoon guns, a Mad Max future awaits! Now, as new research points out, we even know where on Earth the inevitable water wars are most likely to take place.

Published today in Global Environmental Change, the paper identifies several hotspots around the globe where “hydro-political issues,” in the parlance of the researchers, are likely to give rise to geopolitical tensions, and possibly even conflict. The authors of the new report, a team from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), say the escalating effects of climate change, in conjunction with ongoing trends in population growth, could trigger regional instability and social unrest in regions where freshwater is scarce, and where bordering nations have to manage and share this increasingly scarce commodity.

Looking at the results, the researchers found that conflicts are more likely to arise in areas where a “transboundary” to water is present, such as a shared lake, basin, or river, and when freshwater is scarce, population density high, and power imbalances and climate stresses exist. A number of potentially problematic areas were identified, including five hotspots: the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates, and Colorado rivers.

Consequences / Re: Water wars
« on: January 07, 2019, 05:10:01 PM »
Quote from: gerontocrat
... I am still waiting for the first real water war - it must come, sometime or other. Maybe between countries, maybe internal unrest. Of interest will be how this also happens in the developed countries (e.g. Phoenix, Arizona).

I lived in Phoenix for 8 years and the problem there is that most of the citizens are retirees or recent migrants from water rich states up north. They have no perception of the value of water - or its scarcity.

Plight of Phoenix: How Long Can the World’s 'Least Sustainable' City Survive?


... This winter, snow in the Rocky Mountains, which feeds the Colorado, was 70% lower than average. Last month, the US government calculated that two thirds of Arizona is currently facing severe to extreme drought; last summer 50 flights were grounded at Phoenix airport because the heat – which hit 47C (116F) – made the air too thin to take off safely. The “heat island” effect keeps temperatures in Phoenix above 37C (98F) at night in summer.

... “There are plans for substantial further growth and there just isn’t the water to support that,” says climate researcher Jonathan Overpeck, who co-authored a 2017 report that linked declining flows in the Colorado river to climate change. “The Phoenix metro area is on the cusp of being dangerously overextended. It’s the urban bullseye for global warming in north America.”

... despite the federal Bureau of Reclamation reporting in 2012 that droughts of five or more years would happen every decade over the next 50 years, greater Phoenix has not declared any water restrictions. Nor has the state government decided its official drought contingency proposal.
... Greater Phoenix is good at recycling waste water, but most of it is used for cooling the Palo Verde nuclear power plant to the west of the city, the largest in the US and the only one not on its own body of water. Conversely, the water department is Arizona’s biggest electricity consumer, because it has to pump the water uphill from the Colorado along miles of canals into Phoenix and Tucson. And most of that electricity comes from the heavily polluting, coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in the north of the state.

Meanwhile, despite enjoying more than 330 days of bright sunshine a year, Holway estimates that Arizona only derives 2-5% of its energy from solar power.


With Colorado River Water Shortage Looming, Phoenix Votes Down Water-Rate Increase

The Phoenix City Council rejected a two-year water-rate increase that would have supported $1.5 billion in new drought-contingency projects and repairs to the city's aging water-delivery system.

About $500 million generated from the rate increase would have gone toward a Colorado River resiliency project, and $500 million would have gone toward fixing aging pipelines. The rest of the money would have paid to replace pumps and update water-treatment facilities and equipment.

That proposal amounts to an increase of $1.98 per month in 2019 and an additional $2.35 per month in 2020 for the average customer, according to the city.


Water Wars: Are Hundreds of Residents Going To Go Thirsty North of Phoenix?

... Hundreds of residents are slated to lose affordable access to privately hauled drinking water at the end of the year because of a city of Phoenix crackdown on water haulers refilling from city fire hydrants.

Meanwhile, families who own wells are anxiously watching groundwater levels drop as population growth sucks the already shallow aquifer dry.

"What would happen if 1,000 people just suddenly have no water available?" ... "There's going to be a big problem. I don't think the people (in government) making the decisions are looking at the greater picture."
... Phoenix accuses private water haulers of hooking up illegally to its hydrants, which are designated for firefighting and construction only, to draw water for residents outside the city. "Water in the hydrants is intended to put out fires, not to be potable," said Wes Harris, a member of the Phoenix Water and Wastewater Citizens' Rate Advisory Committee.
Sounds like India.

Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: December 31, 2018, 08:12:31 PM »
Science Team Drills Into Mercer Subglacial Lake

After four days of troubleshooting components that sustained wear and tear from sitting through two winters on ice, the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) Drill Team began drilling the main borehole on the evening of December 23rd and reached the lake faster than expected at 10:30pm on December 26th with a borehole depth of 1084 meters. The drill team then reamed (smoothed and widened) the borehole so that instruments can be sent down.

The only other subglacial lake humans have drilled into—nearby Lake Whillans, sampled in 2013—demonstrated that these extreme environments can play host to diverse microbial life. Naturally, scientists are stoked to see what they’ll find lurking in Lake Mercer’s icy waters.

Now that the lake is open, the real fun has begun. The SALSA team is deploying a suite of instruments to study the lake, including a CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) probe that will assess temperature and provide details on the structure of the water column, and a remotely operated vehicle to take similar measurements away from the borehole and capture 4k video. Researchers will collect samples of water and microbial DNA, as well as ice from the top of the lake and sediment from the bottom.

The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: December 27, 2018, 05:38:26 PM »
New Evidence Suggests a Ninth Planet Lurking At the Edge of the Solar System

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it "Planet Nine."

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth.

...  They have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a "massive perturber." The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.
... Brown notes that the putative ninth planet—at 5,000 times the mass of Pluto—is sufficiently large that there should be no debate about whether it is a true planet. Unlike the class of smaller objects now known as dwarf planets, Planet Nine gravitationally dominates its neighborhood of the solar system. In fact, it dominates a region larger than any of the other known planets—a fact that Brown says makes it "the most planet-y of the planets in the whole solar."

Researchers find evidence of a real ninth planet
Batygin and Brown realized that the six most distant objects from Trujillo and Shepherd's original collection all follow elliptical orbits that point in the same direction in physical space. That is particularly surprising because the outermost points of their orbits move around the solar system, and they travel at different rates.

"It's almost like having six hands on a clock all moving at different rates, and when you happen to look up, they're all in exactly the same place," says Brown. The odds of having that happen are something like 1 in 100, he says. But on top of that, the orbits of the six objects are also all tilted in the same way—pointing about 30 degrees downward in the same direction relative to the plane of the eight known planets. The probability of that happening is about 0.007 percent. "Basically it shouldn't happen randomly," Brown says. "So we thought something else must be shaping these orbits."
After examining the orbital periods of these six Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) – Sedna, 2010 GB174, 2004 VN112, 2012 VP113, and 2013 GP136 – they concluded that a hypothetical planet with an orbital period of about 17,117 years (or a semimajor axis of about 665 AU), would have the necessary period ratios with these four objects. This would fall within the parameters estimated by Batygin and Brown for the planet's orbital period (10,000 – 20,000 years).

Their analysis also offered suggestions as to what kind of resonance the planet has with the KBOs in question. Whereas Sedna's orbital period would have a 3:2 resonance with the planet, 2010 GB174 would be in a 5:2 resonance, 2994 VN112 in a 3:1, 2004 VP113 in 4:1, and 2013 GP136 in 9:1. These sort of resonances are simply not likely without the presence of a larger planet.

"For a resonance to be dynamically meaningful in the outer Solar System, you need one of the objects to have enough mass to have a reasonably strong gravitational effect on the other," said the research team. "The extreme Kuiper belt objects aren't really massive enough to be in resonances with each other, but the fact that their orbital periods fall along simple ratios might mean that they each are in resonance with a massive, unseen object."

Estimates of Planet Nine’s “possible” and “probable” zones. by French scientists based on a careful study of Saturn’s orbit and using mathematical models.
Constraints on the location of a possible 9th planet derived from the Cassini data 


Planet 9 Takes Shape


... “For me candidate Planet Nine is a close object, although it is about 700 times further away as the distance between the Earth and the Sun,” noted Linder in a statement. The “ideal” Planet Nine, according to the models, features a mass ten times heavier than Earth, and a radius 3.7 times wider than our planet. Similar to Uranus and Neptune, it has an outer envelope of helium and hydrogen, a layer of gas (also consisting of helium and hydrogen), a water ice layer, a silicate mantle, and an iron core.

The models also projected a temperature of 47 Kelvin (-374 degrees Fahrenheit, -226 degrees Celsius). Planet Nine is bitterly cold—but this data suggests that it’s being heated from the inside.

This means that the planet’s emission is dominated by the cooling of its core, otherwise the temperature would only be 10 Kelvin,” explained Linder.“Its intrinsic power is about 1,000 times bigger than its absorbed power.


Was Planet Nine Captured By The Sun During The Cluster Phase?


Through a computer-simulated study, astronomers at Lund University in Sweden show that it is highly likely that the so-called Planet 9 is an exoplanet. This would make it the first exoplanet to be discovered inside our own solar system. The theory is that our sun, in its youth some 4.5 billion years ago, stole Planet 9 from its original star.

An extrasolar planet, or exoplanet, is by definition a planet located outside our solar system. Now it appears that this definition is no longer viable. According to astronomers in Lund, there is a lot to indicate that Planet 9 was captured by the young sun and has been a part of our solar system completely undetected ever since.

"It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light years away in other solar systems, there's probably one hiding in our own backyard", says Alexander Mustill, astronomer at Lund University.

Stars are born in clusters and often pass by one another. It is during these encounters that a star can "steal" one or more planets in orbit around another star. This is probably what happened when our own sun captured Planet 9.

In a computer-simulated model, Alexander together with astronomers in Lund and Bordeaux has shown that Planet 9 was probably captured by the sun when coming in close contact while orbiting another star.

Simulations show that the glancing flyby shown here in a computer image best explains the current structure of our outer solar system. As the star and sun drew nearer, gravity began to take hold of objects in both systems. As the sun and passing star approach each other, gravity can yank small objects from one solar system to the other. Once the stellar encounter is complete, the disk of each solar system contains a mixture of indigenous and captured dust and planets, as shown in the final computer image. Credit: University of Utah and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

"Planet 9 may very well have been 'shoved' by other planets, and when it ended up in an orbit that was too wide around its own star, our sun may have taken the opportunity to steal and capture Planet 9 from its original star. When the sun later departed from the stellar cluster in which it was born, Planet 9 was stuck in an orbit around the sun", says Alexander Mustill.

"This is the only exoplanet that we, realistically, would be able to reach using a space probe", he says.

Alexander J. Mustill et al. Is there an exoplanet in the Solar system?, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters (2016).

Two Planets Beyond Pluto?

Some Stars Capture Rogue Planets

Grand Theft Sedna: How the Sun Might Have Stolen a Mini-Planet

Over four billion years ago, our sun stole hundreds of frozen mini-planets from a passing star – and the peculiar planetoid Sedna is one of them.

With its extremely elongated orbit taking it 200 times further from the sun than Neptune every 11,400 years, Sedna has been a mystery ever since its discovery in 2003. Its nearest neighbours, the thousand-plus “ice dwarfs” that populate the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune, are believed to be the frozen remnants of our solar system’s formation.

But Sedna, and a dozen other objects with similarly wonky orbits, are harder to explain. A gravitational kick from a planet in our solar system could never have thrown them into such orbits.

One idea was that Sedna could have been jolted out of place by a passing star, but there was little evidence to back it up.

... Using a low-cost, custom-built supercomputer, the team simulated over 10,000 possible encounters to find out which combination of a star’s mass, fly-by distance and velocity would lead to ice dwarfs being gravitationally captured into Sedna-like orbits.

They conclude that the passing star would have been 80 per cent more massive than the sun, and that it came as close as 34 billion kilometres – 51 times Neptune’s distance. The encounter probably took place when the sun was very young and still a member of a newly born star cluster.

The passing star would itself have stolen hundreds of ice dwarfs from the sun’s Kuiper belt, and flung hundreds more into interstellar space.

Scott Kenyon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who together with Ben Bromley of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City was one of the first to propose the idea, says the simulations are “pretty convincing”.

Consequences / Re: Volcanoes
« on: December 26, 2018, 05:00:50 PM »
FD - the rhinos are safe - extinction postponed for another day ...

Tsunami hits Sunda Strait Beach, What is the fate of Javan rhinos? - (use Google Translate)

Mamat Rahmat, Head of the Ujung Kulon National Park (TNUK), confirmed that the tsunami had reached the national park area. ... "Estimates in the field, water reaches 20-50 meters from the shoreline," ... Mamat stated that the condition of the Javan Rhino ( Rhinoceros sondaicus) was safe after the tsunami.

Rhinos gathered in the middle of the forest and the southern edge of the coast. While those [beaches] affected by the tsunami are in the north - the Sumur Subdistrict, Pandeglang Regency, Banten, which is the entrance to TNUK, is the area directly affected by the disaster.

Infrared camera monitoring shows that the rhinos spent most of their time in areas with an elevation of between 9-15 meters and distances to the coastline of 412-855 meters.

Monitoring the condition of the area affected by the tsunami was carried out directly by WWF-Indonesia National Rhino Officer Ridwan Setiawan , while evacuating the communities around Ujung Kulon.


Mount Etna Has First 'Flank Eruption' In Over a Decade

Europe's most active volcano, Mount Etna in Sicily, erupted on Monday, with officials reporting more than 130 earthquakes of up to 4.3 in magnitude.

The Mount Etna observatory said lava had spewed from a new fracture near its south-eastern crater.

Consequences / Re: Volcanoes
« on: December 23, 2018, 05:45:06 PM »
It's possible that the rhinos may have sensed the tsunami and gone to higher ground - if available.

The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami suggests animals may sense the infrasound from these events ...
... Some 230,000 people across fourteen coastal countries died, but, in the aftermath, locals and rescuers in certain areas noted a conspicuous absence of animal casualties. In the following weeks and months, stories emerged of some animals acting oddly just before the tsunami hit: Eyewitnesses in Sri Lanka and Thailand told of elephants that trumpeted before seeking higher ground, dogs that refused to go outside, and flamingos that suddenly abandoned low-lying nesting areas.
An article from 2017 describes the scenario your suggesting:


... In the largest survey to date, researchers placed motion-activated cameras at nearly 200 locations throughout the park. After analyzing the large amount of video collected, they determined that only 62 Javan rhinos remain in the wild. These few live in low-lying areas that could be inundated by a tsunami, researchers write in a study describing their findings, published in the journal Conservation Letters .

... The researchers conclude that a tsunami that made it to 10 meters, or 33 feet, above sea level would threaten 80 percent of the rhinos' territory. 
... The park also happens to sit about 50 miles from one of the world’s most fearsome volcanoes: Anak Krakatoa. It is the “offspring” of the Krakatoa volcano which erupted in 1883, the most cataclysmic in modern history, the reverberations of which were felt around the world. Anak Kratoa, which means “childs of Krakatoa,” has been growing from the destroyed remnants of this volcanic island ever since. If it erupts before 2040 scientists estimate it could create tsunamis that reach up to nearly 70 feet above sea level. If it erupts after then, the waves could rise to heights of almost 100 feet.

For this reason, a second population of Javan rhinos needs to be established to increase the likelihood of their survival, Gerber says.

Consequences / Re: Volcanoes
« on: December 23, 2018, 09:00:02 AM »
Krakatoa Volcano (Sunda Strait, Indonesia): Possible Major Eruption With Ash to 55,000 ft Following Deadly Tsunami

A major explosive eruption may have occurred at the volcano earlier this morning. VAAC Darwin spotted a large cloud, possibly an ash plume from the eruption reaching approx. 55,000 ft (15 km) altitude and drifting S and SW.

The current eruptive phase of the volcano seems to be in fact rather strong. A new lava flow is reaching the sea and strong explosive activity, likely pulsating lava fountains are occurring at the summit vent.


Indonesia Tsunami Hits Sunda Strait After Krakatoa Eruption

Volcanologist Jess Phoenix told the BBC that when volcanoes erupt, hot magma pushes underground and can displace and break through colder rock. This can trigger a landslide.

But because part of Krakatoa is underwater, she said "instead of just causing a landslide, you get an undersea landslide which pushes water as it moves." This can then cause a tsunami.

“When the flanks [side] of volcanoes collapse, or pyroclastic flows enter the ocean, they can also create waves that become tsunamis.

“Flank collapse may have generated the biggest tsunamis on earth (excluding the very rare ones from asteroid impacts into the ocean).”

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: December 19, 2018, 09:05:50 PM »
Team Locates Nearly All US Solar Panels in a Billion Hi-Res Satellite Images with Machine Learning
DeepSolar Interactive Map: 

Knowing which Americans have installed solar panels on their roofs and why they did so would be enormously useful for managing the changing U.S. electricity system and to understanding the barriers to greater use of renewable resources. But until now, all that has been available are essentially estimates.

To get accurate numbers, Stanford University scientists analyzed more than a billion high-resolution satellite images with a machine learning algorithm and identified nearly every solar power installation in the contiguous 48 states.

The analysis found 1.47 million installations, which is a much higher figure than either of the two widely recognized estimates. The scientists also integrated U.S. Census and other data with their solar catalog to identify factors leading to solar power adoption.

The group's data could be useful to utilities, regulators, solar panel marketers and others. Knowing how many solar panels are in a neighborhood can help a local electric utility balance supply and demand, the key to reliability. The inventory highlights activators and impediments to solar deployment. For example, the researchers found that household income is very important, but only to a point. Above $150,000 a year, income quickly ceases to play much of a role in people's decisions.

On the other hand, low- and medium-income households do not often install solar systems even when they live in areas where doing so would be profitable in the long term. For example, in areas with a lot of sunshine and relatively high electricity rates, utility bill savings would exceed the monthly cost of the equipment. The impediment for low- and medium-income households is upfront cost, the authors suspect. This finding shows that solar installers could develop new financial models to satisfy unmet demand.

Joule, Yu & Wang et al.: "DeepSolar: A Machine Learning Framework to Efficiently Construct Solar Deployment Database in the United States"

Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: December 17, 2018, 02:38:35 PM »
Storms Shatter Records In the East, Create Massive Waves In the West

Powerful storms drenched the East and West coasts over the weekend, shattering rainfall records in the Washington, D.C., area and creating office tower-sized waves off the California coast.

Tweeting in all-caps Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a warning to surfers and gawkers in Northern California: “STAY WELL BACK FROM THE OCEAN OR RISK CERTAIN DEATH.” 


Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2018/2019 freezing season
« on: December 11, 2018, 05:16:51 PM »
Sudden Stratospheric Warming Linked To Open Water in Polar Ice Pack


Though not especially rare in some parts of the Arctic, the north Greenland polynya of February 2018 was most unexpected. 50,000 km² of open water in the Wandel Sea, an area the size of the state of Kentucky or the province of Nova Scotia.

... In their paper, What caused the remarkable February 2018 Greenland Polynya?, Moore, Schweiger, Jinlun Zhang and Mike Steele identify the polynya's cause to be strong surface winds catalyzed by a dramatic warming in Earth's upper atmosphere known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming.

"During these events, temperatures in the stratosphere – about 30km above ground level—can warm by 10° or 15°C in just a few days," Moore says.

"This causes a change in air circulation that includes a reversal in the winds in the stratosphere. These high altitude winds blow against the west-to-east direction of the jet stream, descending toward the Earth's surface. In February 2018, this caused winds from Siberia to blow cold air into northern Europe, creating a weather system that became known as the 'Beast from the East'. It brought temperatures of minus 20°C to northern Europe, and the same weather pattern moved warmer air northwards up the east coast of Greenland."

Strong southerly winds forced mild air to Greenland and beyond, but it wasn't their warmth that caused the polynya.

"Most Arctic warmings last a day or two," says Moore. "This lasted a week, and these were the warmest temperatures and strongest winds observed in north Greenland since observations began in the 1960s. Winds were close to hurricane force (93+km/h) and temperatures were above freezing. Once we got that piece of the puzzle, we realized it could be wind rather than warmth that caused the polynya."

While the size of the polynya was unprecedented over the period we have good data, it appears not to be tied to the thinning of the ice pack that has occurred over the same period. Simulations with the University of Washington's Pan-Arctic Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) indicate that similar conditions would have created a polynya, even without the recent thinning of the ice north of Greenland.

G. W. K. Moore et al. What caused the remarkable February 2018 North Greenland Polynya?, Geophysical Research Letters (2018)

During late February and early March 2018, an unusual polynya was observed off the north coast of Greenland. This period was also notable for the occurrence of a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW). Here we use satellite and in‐situ data, a reanalysis and an ice‐ocean model to document the evolution of the polynya and its synoptic forcing. We show that its magnitude was unprecedented and that it was associated with the transient response to the SSW leading to anomalous warm southerly flow in north Greenland. Indeed, regional wind speeds and temperatures were the highest during February going back to the 1960s. There is evidence that the thinning sea ice has increased its wind‐driven mobility. However, we show that the polynya would have developed under thicker ice conditions representative of the late 1970s and that even with the predicted trend towards thinner sea ice, it will only open during enhanced southerly flow.

Plain Language Summary:

In late February 2018, satellite imagery revealed the presence of a large polynya (a region of reduced sea ice cover within the pack), in the Wandel Sea off the north coast of Greenland. Since this region is not known for the development of polynyas, this discovery generated interest among Arctic observers and in the science community, raising questions about the nature and cause of this unusual event. In this paper, we show that its opening coincided with a period of sustained and unusually warm winds from the south, with above‐freezing temperatures and wind speeds in excess of 25 m/s reported at local weather stations. February 2018 was also notable for a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event, in which an abrupt warming of the atmosphere between 10‐50 km altitude occurred in conjunction with a reversal of the stratospheric winds. We show this event was responsible for the polynya. We also use a computer model to confirm the dominant role of the winds in creating the polynya. Finally, we show that even with future thinning of sea ice due to climate change, extreme winds will remain necessary to create a polynya in this region over the next few decades.

Pointer to the 2017-2018 freezing season discussion,2141.msg143538.html#msg143538

and the ASIB
Talk about unprecedented

Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science and the Environment
« on: December 05, 2018, 06:23:04 PM »
Trump to Lift Carbon-Capture Mandate for New Coal Plants


The Trump administration will propose scrapping an Obama-era mandate that new coal-fired power plants use carbon-capture technology, removing a major barrier to constructing the facilities, according to a person familiar with the plans

The Environmental Protection Agency is slated to unveil the measure on Thursday, during an event at its headquarters in Washington

The EPA is set to assert that the requirement for carbon capture and storage technology fell short of a legal standard that it be "adequately demonstrated," mirroring an objection raised by power companies, coal miner Murray Energy Corp. and industry associations that have challenged the mandate in federal court.

The proposed replacement would raise allowable carbon dioxide emissions from new and modified coal power plants.

The move dovetails with the EPA's separate effort to dramatically weaken an Obama administration regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to bring back coal jobs and lift regulations he said were throttling the U.S. economy.

Yet the effort is unlikely to bring about a coal power renaissance in the U.S., as utilities increasingly shift to cheap, cleaner burning natural gas and zero-emission renewables. Since 2010, power plant owners have either retired or announced plans to retire at least 630 coal plants in 43 states—nearly 40 percent of the U.S. coal fleet, according to data by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: November 26, 2018, 06:02:07 PM »
Engineers Developing a HAL 9000-type AI system for Monitoring Planetary Base Stations, and What Could Go Wrong, Really

A team of engineers at TRACLabs Inc. in the U.S. is making inroads toward the creation of a planetary base station monitoring system similar in some respects to Hal 9000—the infamous AI system in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this case, it is called cognitive architecture for space agents (CASE) and is outlined in a Focus piece by Pete Bonasso, the primary engineer working on the project, in the journal Science Robotics.

Bonasso explains that he has had an interest in creating a real Hal 9000 ever since watching the movie as a college student—minus the human killing, of course. His system is designed to run a base situated on another planet, such as Mars. It is meant to take care of the more mundane, but critical tasks involved with maintaining a habitable planetary base, such as maintaining oxygen levels and taking care of waste. He notes that such a system needs to know what to do and how to do it, carrying out activities using such hardware as robot arms. To that end, CASE has been designed as a three-layered system. The first is in charge of controlling hardware, such as power systems, life-support, etc.

The second layer is more brainy—it is in charge of running the software that controls the hardware. The third layer is even smarter, responsible for coming up with solutions to problems as they arise—if damage occurs to a module, for example, it must be sealed off from others modules as quickly as possible. The system also has what Bonasso describes as an ontological system—its job is to be self-aware so that the system can make judgment calls when comparing data from sensors with what it has learned in the past and with information received from human occupants. To that end, the system will be expected to interact with those humans in ways similar to those portrayed in the movie.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
HAL: You can't take care of your own planet. I'm not letting you f**k this one up.

Pete Bonasso. CASE: A HAL 9000 for 2021, Science Robotics (2018).

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: November 21, 2018, 11:30:17 PM »
AIG: Total Assets: $498 Billion.

On May 15, 2006, American International Group (“AIG”) became the first U.S. insurance company to publicly address climate change as a risk and formally outline its corporate policy and programs regarding the issue. As a leading provider of Property and Casualty (“P&C”) insurance in the U.S., AIG is directly exposed to the risk of insured losses resulting from severe weather. According to Allianz, one of AIG’s competitors, “climate change stands to increase insured losses from extreme events in an average year by 37 per cent within just a decade”[2]. Given this threat, the players in this market have focused on limiting their financial exposure to high-risk areas, either by canceling or not renewing policies or by increasing deductibles, reducing limits, and adding new exclusions to policies.

Swiss Re: Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd, generally known as Swiss Re, is a reinsurance company based in Zurich, Switzerland. It is the world’s second-largest reinsurer. Total Assets: $222 Billion

As a major global reinsurer, Swiss Re has had a major role in the climate change debate for over two decades. 

 For a reinsurer, climate change constitutes a key risk because it can lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of natural catastrophes such as floods, storms, excessive rainfall and drought. In combination with growing asset concentrations in exposed areas and more widespread insurance protection, this will cause a rise in losses.

Since detecting the long-term threat posed by climate change more than 20 years ago, we have been an acknowledged thought leader on the topic. 

Munich Re: Munich Re Group or Munich Reinsurance Company.. It is one of the world’s leading reinsurers.

For more than 40 years, Munich Re has been dealing with climate change and the related risks and opportunities for the insurance industry. Our approach to coping with this challenge is holistic and based on the following pillars: risk assessment – insurance solutions – asset management

Like aperson said:
... Find me an insurance company that does NOT charge based on risk!  Anyone that does not accurately base their premiums on the risk of payout, will probably be out of business soon.

Policy and solutions / Re: Extinction Rebellion
« on: November 18, 2018, 12:38:53 AM »
To paraphrase Marie Antoinette ...

"Let them drive Teslas"

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: November 15, 2018, 05:16:28 PM »
Factcheck: How Global Warming Has Increased US Wildfires

Recently, some commentators have tried to dismiss recent increases in the areas burnt by fires in the US, claiming that fires were much worse in the early part of the century. To do this, they are ignoring clear guidance by scientists that the data should not be used to make comparisons with earlier periods.

... According to data from the NIFC, there has been a clear trend in increased area burned by wildfires in the US since the 1980s, when reliable US-wide estimates based on fire situation reports from federal and state agencies became available.

Today, wildfires are burning more than twice the area than in the 1980s and 1990s. These figures include all wildland fires in both forested and non-forested areas. Most of the area burned today is in the western US, where dryer conditions tend to allow for large, quickly-spreading wildfires.

The NIFC explicitly warns users on its website: “Prior to 1983, sources of these figures are not known, or cannot be confirmed, and were not derived from the current situation reporting process. As a result, the figures prior to 1983 should not be compared to later data.”

Those sceptical about the role of climate change in the recent increase in fires have pointed to the full dataset, trying to argue that the fire area has decreased by around 80% over the past century.

This is not an accurate comparison, according to Randy Eardley, a spokesman at the NIFC.
... To try and compare any of the more modern data to that earlier data is not accurate or appropriate, because we didn’t have a good way to measure [earlier data]. Back then we didn’t have a reliable reporting system; for all I know those came from a variety of different sources that often double-counted figures. When you look at some of those years that add up to 60 or 70 million acres burned a lot of those acres have to be double counted two or three times. We didn’t have a system to estimate area burned until 1960, but it was really refined in 1983.
If 50m acres had actually burned in the early 20th century, it would amount to an area of land equal to the entire state of Nebraska going up in flames every year.

Eardley suggests that earlier records were inflated by including areas where fires were purposefully set to clear forests for agriculture, or where rangelands were torched to get rid of sagebrush to improve grazing conditions. Other federal reports suggest that most of the area burned between 1930 and 1950 was in southeastern US and were primarily intentionally set fires for clearing land.

While the early 20th century data is not reliable and likely double or even triple-counted actual fires, Eardley says that it is possible that fire extents were higher back then for a simple reason: there was no large-scale firefighting organisation in the first half of the 20th century. Therefore, fires would burn through larger areas before being extinguished or burning themselves out, particularly when they were not close to towns or settlements.

There has been no proof that wildfires and global warming have any connection besides in the media...

It's revealing that mostly_lurking used disingenuous graphics from WhatUpWithThat to support his global warming denial.
<snip, I believe you, no need to link to that s**thole; N>

Watts, (and apparently mostly_lurking) deliberately misrepresented data from the US National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and ignored the database warning:
... Prior to 1983, sources of these figures are not known, or cannot be confirmed, and were not derived from the current situation reporting process. As a result the figures prior to 1983 should not be compared to later data.

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: November 14, 2018, 10:03:06 PM »
Earlier evidence that points to this impact.

Wendy S. Wolbach et al, Extraordinary Biomass-Burning Episode and Impact Winter Triggered by the Younger Dryas Cosmic Impact ∼12,800 Years Ago. 1. Ice Cores and Glaciers, The Journal of Geology (2018). DOI: 10.1086/695703

Wendy S. Wolbach et al. Extraordinary Biomass-Burning Episode and Impact Winter Triggered by the Younger Dryas Cosmic Impact ∼12,800 Years Ago. 2. Lake, Marine, and Terrestrial Sediments, The Journal of Geology (2018). DOI: 10.1086/695704 ,

Topper site in middle of comet controversy

Exploding asteroid theory strengthened by new evidence located in Ohio, Indiana

Did a comet hit the Great Lakes region and fragment human populations 12,900 years ago?

Discovery of widespread platinum may help solve Clovis people mystery.

The mammoth's lament: Study shows how cosmic impact sparked devastating climate change

Research suggests toward end of Ice Age, humans witnessed fires larger than dinosaur killer, thanks to a cosmic impact

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: November 13, 2018, 05:37:42 PM »
New Year, Same Story: Cost of Wind and Solar Fall Below Cost of Coal and Gas

It's that time of the year again: time for asset management company Lazard to release its annual Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) study. (We know, you've been waiting all year.) The numbers in the report offer economic insight into how energy choices were made in the previous year and how the energy landscape will likely change in the coming year.

The bottom line? The cost of coal-fired electricity per megawatt-hour hasn't budged a bit from 2017, while wind and solar costs per MWh are still falling. That spells bad news for an American coal revival, especially in places where the cost of building brand-new renewable installations is cheaper than the cost of operating existing coal and gas plants—a situation that Lazard says is happening with increasing frequency (PDF).

Although this is Lazard's 12th year quantifying the cost of energy, it's only the fourth year that it has released a separate report quantifying the cost of storage (PDF). Energy storage includes grid-scale lithium-ion batteries as well as vanadium and zinc flow batteries, lead-acid batteries, and advanced lead batteries.

Lazard breaks these down further by market: batteries selling storage wholesale have different revenue streams than batteries connected to utility-grade solar or commercial standalone batteries that are not controlled by a utility.

Here, Lazard says that lithium-ion batteries showed significant cost declines in the relevant markets throughout 2018. Meanwhile, "cost declines for flow batteries are less significant but still observable," Lazard writes. The asset management company unfortunately doesn't expect that to last: "Future declines in the cost of lithium-ion technologies are expected to be mitigated by rising cobalt and lithium carbonate prices as well as delayed battery availability due to high levels of factory utilization."

Lazard also found that shorter-duration batteries, which can discharge over about four hours, are the most cost-effective of any batteries. These batteries "improve the grid’s ability to respond to momentary or short duration fluctuations in electricity supply and demand." This has been confirmed by reports from real-world battery use in Australia, where the massive Tesla battery at the Hornsdale Wind Farm has been used to maintain grid frequency, rather than replacing more traditional forms of electricity generation.

The IEA's World Energy Outlook 2018


IEA's World Energy Outlook 2018 Presentation:

The International Energy Agency's newly released World Energy Outlook finds that oil demand for passenger vehicles is slated to peak in the mid-2020s due to more efficiency, biofuels, and electric vehicles. That's according to their "new policies" scenario, which models not only existing policies but also countries' announced plans and emissions targets.

But, but, but: That projected mid-2020s peak doesn't mean that overall global demand for crude oil is reaching an inflection point anytime soon. That's because other uses — petrochemicals, heavy freight, shipping and planes — remain robust.

Add it all up and the report sees global crude oil demand rising slightly to reach 106 million barrels per day in 2040 (it's roughly 100 mbd right now).

Why it matters: The findings underscore that despite heavy and justified attention to electric cars, passenger transport is just one part of the wider equation when it comes to oil.

Yes, but: The annual report also models a "sustainable development" scenario — a wholly upended global energy system where policy and investment trends are bent to be consistent with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. On the oil side, that means overall demand peaks in almost all nations by 2030. Per an IEA summary...
- "By 2040, cars that rely solely on gasoline and diesel are 40% more efficient than today; there are 930 million electric cars on the road (50% of the global car fleet); a quarter of buses are electric; and nearly 20% of fuels used by trucks are low or zero carbon."

- "There are also major changes in most other sectors and as a result, total oil demand in 2040 in this scenario is 25 mb/d lower than today."

What's next: Despite the forces trimming growth, the world still needs lots of oil and several sources are at risk, including Iran, which is seeing exports fall thanks to looming reimposition of U.S. sanctions. Per IEA...

- Global oil demand is on the cusp of the "historically significant" 100 mbd mark.
- While the market has enough supplies "for now," Iran's exports are slated to fall even more, Venezuela is deteriorating, and there's the "ever-present" threat of more Libyan disruption.
- "[W]e cannot be complacent and the market is clearly signalling its concerns that more supply might be needed."

In its report, the IEA said its main projection scenario through to 2040 foresees the U.S. accounting for nearly 75% and 40% of global oil and gas growth, respectively, over the next six years. Growth is expected to be driven primarily by shale fracking, which should lead U.S. shale oil supply to more than double, reaching 9.2 million barrels a day by the mid-2020s, the agency said.

If these approvals do not pick up sharply from today’s levels, US tight oil production would need to triple from today’s level to over 15 mb/d by 2025 to satisfy demand in the NPS. With a sufficiently large resource base, this could be possible. But it would require levels of capital investment that would far surpass the previous peaks in 2014.

Oil markets are entering a period of renewed uncertainty & volatility
- Natural gas is on the rise: China’s rapid demand growth is erasing talk of a ‘gas glut’
- Solar PV has the momentum while other key technologies & efficiency policies need a push
- Our assessment points to energy-related CO2 emissions reaching a historic high in 2018
Oil demand looks robust in the near term; if approvals of new conventional projects remain low, market stability would require continuous exceptional growth in US shale
“More than at any other point in recent history, fundamental changes to the development model of resource-rich countries look unavoidable,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “Following through with the announced reform initiatives is essential, as failure to take adequate action would compound future risks for producer economies as well as for global markets.”
New sources of supply will be needed whether or not demand peaks, the agency said.

"The analysis shows oil consumption growing in coming decades, due to rising petrochemicals, trucking and aviation demand. But meeting this growth in the near term means that approvals of conventional oil projects need to double from their current low levels," IEA director Fatih Birol said.

"Without such a pick-up in investment, US shale production, which has already been expanding at record pace, would have to add more than 10 million bpd from today to 2025, the equivalent of adding another Russia to global supply in seven years“ which would be an historically unprecedented feat."

Projected Renewables Surge Won't Prevent Runaway Global Warming

Projected growth of renewable power, electric vehicles and other low-carbon sources won't prevent levels of global warming that soar past the targets of the Paris climate agreement, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

Clean Energy Is Surging, but Not Fast Enough to Solve Global Warming

Over the next two decades, the world’s energy system will undergo a huge transformation. Wind and solar power are poised to become dominant sources of electricity. China’s once-relentless appetite for coal is set to wane. The amount of oil we use to fuel our cars could peak and decline.

But there’s a catch: The global march toward clean energy still isn’t happening fast enough to avoid dangerous global warming, at least not unless governments put forceful new policy measures in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

That’s the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, which on Monday published its annual World Energy Outlook, a 661-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2040. These projections are especially difficult right now because the world’s energy markets, which usually evolve gradually, are going through a major upheaval. ...

The report projects that emissions will keep rising slowly (steadily) until 2040.

Glaciers / Re: Alpine Glaciers
« on: November 06, 2018, 07:05:33 PM »
Julien Seguinot et al. Modelling last glacial cycle ice dynamics in the Alps, The Cryosphere (2018)

An international research team used a computer model to reconstruct the history of glaciation in the Alps, visualising it in a two-minute computer animation. The simulation aims to enable a better understanding of the mechanisms of glaciation.

The scientists conducted simulations with three different sets of paleo-climate data, as well as two different precipitation scenarios. Only one of the climate data sets delivered results that match the geological evidence left behind by the glaciers in rock and sediment. The results of this simulation indicate that Alpine glaciers advanced and retreated more often than previously thought. For a long time, glaciologists assumed a minimum of four glaciations. Since the 1980s, however, this low figure has often been called into question. The new simulation appears to support the theory of more frequent glaciations, showing that some Alpine glaciers may have advanced and retreated more than 10 times during the last 120,000 years.

Using a detailed analysis of another simulation that charts the glaciation of the last 120,000 years down to the kilometre, the researchers conclude that during peak glaciation, the ice may have been much thicker than previously thought: in the upper Rhône Valley, for example, it may have been up to 800 metres thicker.

Advance and retreat of the Alpine glaciers during the last glacial cycle. Credit: Julien Seguinot

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: October 23, 2018, 06:59:28 PM »
Rapid Effects of Climate Change On Plants and their Ecosystems

An international team of researchers led by two Villanova University biologists has found that climate change is dramatically altering terrestrial plant communities and their ecosystems at such a rapid pace that having a stable baseline from which to conduct experiments is becoming increasingly difficult.

... For most species (57 per cent), according to the article, the magnitude of ambient change was greater than the magnitude of treatment effects—the opposite of the result expected by the researchers.

"A preponderance of evidence suggests that ongoing climate change is dramatically altering terrestrial plant communities," the article states.

... "One key take-away from the IPCC report that supports our findings is that changes across many ecosystems may be happening faster than we thought," Chapman agreed. "Plants are shifting under our feet as we're trying to predict the future."
"Plants are the base of the food web and drive the carbon cycle, nutrient cycles and water cycles on which we rely," Langley said. "When the plant species change, everything else in the ecosystem may follow."
He added, "We are trying to simulate how the future earth will look with global change, but, climate change and nutrient pollution are changing ecosystems so fast it's tough to experiment on top of those changes. In the face of ongoing environmental change, our experiments may be like 'rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic'.

Open Access: J.A.Langley, et. al., Ambient changes exceed treatment effects on plant species abundance in global change experiments. Global Change Biology. 18 October 2018


Study Finds Availability of Nitrogen to Plants is Declining as Climate Warms

Researchers have found that global changes, including warming temperatures and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, are causing a decrease in the availability of a key nutrient for terrestrial plants. This could affect the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the amount of nutrients available for the creatures that eat them.

... "This idea that the world is awash in nitrogen and that nitrogen pollution is causing all these environmental effects has been the focus of conversations in the scientific literature and popular press for decades," said Elmore. "What we're finding is that it has hidden this long-term trend in unamended systems that is caused by rising carbon dioxide and longer growing seasons."

Researchers studied a database of leaf chemistry of hundreds of species that had been collected from around the world from 1980-2017 and found a global trend in decreasing nitrogen availability. They found that most terrestrial ecosystems, such as forests and land that has not been treated with fertilizers, are becoming more oligotrophic, meaning too little nutrients are available.

"If nitrogen is less available it has the potential to decrease the productivity of the forest. We call that oligotrophication," said Elmore. "In the forested watershed, it's not a word used a lot for terrestrial systems, but it indicates the direction things are going."

"This new study adds to a growing body of knowledge that forests will not be able to sequester as much carbon from the atmospheric as many models predict because forest growth is limited by nitrogen," said Eric Davidson, director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory. "These new insights using novel isotopic analyses provide a new line of evidence that decreases in carbon emissions are urgently needed."

Joseph M. Craine et al. Isotopic evidence for oligotrophication of terrestrial ecosystems, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2018).


Scientists Warn of Insect Pest Outbreaks and Reduced Wheat Yields

Climate-warming affects farmlands by increasing pests but not their natural predators, resulting in reduced crop yields, new research has revealed.

The study, published today in the journal, Molecular Ecology, provides the first experimental evidence of how the interactions between agricultural plants, greenflies and tiny parasitoid wasps are affected in a world where temperatures are increased by 1.4°C.

Scientists at Newcastle University and the University of Hull have also shown that a rise in temperature drives changes in the crop, altering the growing patterns of the wheat that produced fewer, lighter seeds.

Stephane A.P. Derocles et al. Climate-warming alters the structure of farmland tri-trophic ecological networks and reduces crop yield, Molecular Ecology (2018).


Non-Native Plants in Homeowners' Yards Endanger Wildlife

"Most homeowners think plants are just decorations with no thought to the ecological roles plants must play in our landscapes," Tallamy said. "So they go to the nursery and buy the prettiest plant they can find. The nursery industry has pushed plants from someplace else for a century because they are unusual and have market value."

Most plant-eating insects can only eat species with which they have coevolved. Non-native plants have defensive chemicals in their tissues, which ward off indigenous insects. The indigenous insects cannot eat a given plant unless it has developed the adaptations to circumvent those defenses. Not only do non-native plants smell and taste different, but these species are often toxic to most of native bugs.

Record-Breaking Floods Are Destroying Texas Neighborhoods and Collapsing Bridges

Max Starcke Dam on Oct. 16, 2018

Forecasters are telling people along the Llano River in Central Texas to seek higher ground after more than 10 inches of rain fell in the past day and a half.

The Llano River, a tributary of the Colorado River, in Kingsland, Texas, rose over 16 feet between midnight and 6 a.m. local time, causing major flood damage to residential areas and transportation infrastructure. The river hit 39 feet during that six-hour time span and is expected to crest well over the major flood stage. At the time of press, the river has already risen to its highest level since 1935.

The flooding has shut down several roadways and bridges in the area, and at about 9:30 a.m., the FM 2900 bridge in Kingsland, Texas, collapsed from the pressure of the raging floodwaters, according to a report from KEYE-TV in Austin.
"At 32.0 feet...Disastrous flooding well into the flood plain will cut off and potentially drown thousands of livestock," the National Weather Service predicted. "Homes, resorts, commercial buildings, boats, docks and marinas will flood disastrously above Castell to Marble Falls on Lake LBJ. Roads and bridges near the river will be severely flooded and dangerous to motorists."

Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2018
« on: October 12, 2018, 01:36:18 AM »
Rescuers look for survivors after Michael obliterates Florida beach town ....
... Afterward, [a survivor] sat in the shade and broke down. "I know, but we can rebuild it," a FEMA rescuer said, putting his arm around her.   
Although I feel for the survivors, this is the root of the problem.

Rebuilding, only to have it swept away in 10 or 20 years by rising sea and fiercer storms is not a rational plan.

Consequences / Re: Hurricane season 2018
« on: October 12, 2018, 01:13:51 AM »
Tyndall Air Force Base In Ruins After Michael, Fighter Jets Seen Inside Roofless Hangars

Tyndall Air Force Base took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael, with its eye passing right overhead....

Supposedly, the wind gauge on the base broke after winds hit 135 mph and are now thought to have reached above 150mph or even greater. A reevaluation of meteorological data from many sources could even result in Michael being retroactively reclassified from a Cat 4 to a Cat 5 hurricane.

This Twitter video of a helicopter survey of the base shows just how bad the damage is ...

Major damage to F-22s. QF-16s and Mu-2s shoved into one another inside one of the base's large and now roofless hangars.

Infrastructure and aircraft damage = North of $ 1 Billion

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: October 11, 2018, 06:05:00 PM »
Climate Scientist Sees Stage Set for Reprise of Worst Known Drought, Famine
VANCOUVER, Wash. - A Washington State University researcher has completed the most thorough analysis yet of The Great Drought -- the most devastating known drought of the past 800 years -- and how it led to the Global Famine, an unprecedented disaster that took 50 million lives.

She warns that the Earth's current warming climate could make a similar drought even worse.

The Global Famine is among the worst humanitarian disasters in history, comparable to the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919, World War I or World War II. As an environmental disaster, it has few rivals. Making matters worse were social conditions, like British colonialists hoarding and exporting grain from India. Some populations were particularly vulnerable to disease and colonial expansion afterwards.

"In a very real sense, the El Niño and climate events of 1876-78 helped create the global inequalities that would later be characterized as 'first' and 'third worlds'," writes Singh, who was inspired by "Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World." The book details the social impact of the Great Drought and subsequent droughts in 1896-1897 and 1899-1902. ..."Millions died, not outside the 'modern world system', but in the very process of being forcibly incorporated into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of Liberal Capitalism"... Its author, Mike Davis, is a distinguished professor at the University of California, Riverside, and a co-author on Singh's paper.

The Great Drought actually was several droughts, Singh found, beginning with a failure of India's 1875 monsoon season. East Asia's drought started in the spring of 1876, followed by droughts in parts of South Africa, northern Africa and northeastern Brazil. There were also droughts in western Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia.

The length and severity of the droughts prompted the Global Famine, aided in no small part by one of the strongest known El Niños, the irregular but recurring periods of warm water in the tropical Pacific Ocean. That triggered the warmest known temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean and the strongest known Indian Ocean dipole -- an extreme temperature difference between warm waters in the west and cool waters in the east. These in turn triggered one of the worst droughts across Brazil and Australia.

Deepti Singh et al, Climate and the Global Famine of 1876-78, Journal of Climate (2018).

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: October 05, 2018, 12:50:19 PM »
Another collapsing fishery. ...

Fish dwindle in the traditionally rich waters of Tanzania – in pictures

In Kivukoni fish market, the port city of Dar es Salaam boasts a thriving economic enterprise. But diminishing catches means demand outstrips supply.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2018 melting season
« on: September 27, 2018, 07:50:07 PM »
NSIDC Calls It: 2018 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Extent Tied for Sixth Lowest on Record

Arctic sea ice likely reached its 2018 lowest extent on Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 23, according to NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Analysis of satellite data by NSIDC and NASA showed that, at 1.77 million square miles (4.59 million square kilometers), 2018 effectively tied with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest summertime minimum extent in the satellite record.

"This year's minimum is relatively high compared to the record low extent we saw in 2012, but it is still low compared to what it used to be in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s," said Claire Parkinson, a climate change senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Parkinson and her colleague Nick DiGirolamo calculated that, since the late 1970s, the Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk on average about 21,000 square miles (54,000 square kilometers) with each passing year. That is equivalent to losing a chunk of sea ice the size of Maryland and New Jersey combined every year for the past four decades.

Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: September 25, 2018, 01:47:21 AM »
This Hissing, Bubbling Alaska Lake is Frightening Scientists

ABOVE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, ALASKA - Katey Walter Anthony has studied some 300 lakes across the tundras of the Arctic. But sitting on the mucky shore of her latest discovery, the Arctic expert said she’d never seen a lake like this one.

The first time Walter Anthony saw Esieh Lake, she was afraid it might explode - and she is no stranger to the danger, or the theatrics, of methane.

At first, the sheer volume of gases at Esieh Lake was slightly terrifying, but as Walter Anthony grew accustomed to the lake's constant spluttering, her fear gave way to wonder.

Her sounding devices picked up huge holes in the bottom of the lake. Pockmarks, she called them, “unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any Arctic lake.”

Most of Esieh is quite shallow, averaging only a little over three feet deep. But where the gas bubbles cluster, the floor drops suddenly, a plunge marked by the vanishing of all visible plant life.

Measurements showed that the lake dips to about 50 feet deep in one area and nearly 15 feet in another. When they first studied them, Walter Anthony and her graduate student Janelle Sharp named these two seep clusters W1 and W2, short for "Wow 1" and "Wow 2."

The next discovery came from the lab. ...

More supporting evidence that Climate Change is impacting polar drift

Scientists ID Three Causes of Earth's Spin Axis Drift

The observed direction of polar motion, shown as a light blue line, compared with the sum (pink line) of the influence of Greenland ice loss (blue), postglacial rebound (yellow) and deep mantle convection (red). The contribution of mantle convection is highly uncertain.

Using observational and model-based data spanning the entire 20th century, NASA scientists have for the first time identified three broadly-categorized processes responsible for this drift—contemporary mass loss primarily in Greenland, glacial rebound, and mantle convection.

"The traditional explanation is that one process, glacial rebound, is responsible for this motion of Earth's spin axis. But recently, many researchers have speculated that other processes could have potentially large effects on it as well," said first author Surendra Adhikari of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We assembled models for a suite of processes that are thought to be important for driving the motion of the spin axis. We identified not one but three sets of processes that are crucial—and melting of the global cryosphere (especially Greenland) over the course of the 20th century is one of them."

While ice melt is occurring in other places (like Antarctica), Greenland's location makes it a more significant contributor to polar motion.

"There is a geometrical effect that if you have a mass that is 45 degrees from the North Pole—which Greenland is—or from the South Pole (like Patagonian glaciers), it will have a bigger impact on shifting Earth's spin axis than a mass that is right near the Pole," said coauthor Eric Ivins, also of JPL.

The results suggest that tracking polar shifts can serve as a check on current estimates of ice loss, says Erik Ivins, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. When mass is lost in one part of a spinning sphere, its spin axis will tilt directly towards the position of the loss, he says — exactly as Chen’s team observed for Greenland. “It’s a unique indicator of the point where the mass is lost,” says Ivins.

Scientists can locate the north and south poles to within 0.03 milliarcseconds by using Global Positioning System measurements to determine the angle of Earth’s spin. Knowing the motion of the poles constrains estimates of ice loss made by other methods, Chen says

With these three broad contributors identified, scientists can distinguish mass changes and polar motion caused by long-term Earth processes over which we have little control from those caused by climate change. They now know that if Greenland's ice loss accelerates, polar motion likely will, too.

JPL Interactive Polar Motion Simulator:

What drives 20th century polar motion?


Astrometric and geodetic measurements show that the mean position of Earth's spin axis drifted through the solid crust toward Labrador, Canada at an average speed of  cm/yr during the 20th century. Understanding the origins of this secular polar motion (SPM) has significance for modeling the global climate, as it provides a link to ice mass balance and sea-level rise. A perplexing issue, however, is that while glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models satisfactorily explain the direction of SPM, the associated prediction of the amplitude is insufficient. Our Bayesian GIA analysis, with constraints from relative sea-level and vertical land motion data, reveals that this process only accounts for % of the observed SPM amplitude. This shortfall motivates a more broadly scoped reassessment of SPM drivers. To address this, we assemble a complete reconstruction of Earth's surface mass transport derived from recent advancements in modeling the global 20th century cryospheric, hydrologic, oceanic, and seismogenic mass exchange. The summed signals, nonetheless, cannot fully reconcile the observed SPM, even when considering the error statistics of each driver. We investigate an additional excitation source: changes in Earth's inertia tensor caused by mantle convection. Sophisticated models have recently been advanced in tectonic plate reconstructions, in conjunction with geoid and seismic tomographic models. Here we use these models to compute new estimates of SPM. While the convection-driven SPM has considerable uncertainty, the average direction of 283 recent models aligns with the residual SPM (within 2.7 +/- 14.8 ), significantly reducing the gap between observation and prediction. We assert that one key mechanism for driving 20th century SPM is long-term mass movement due to mantle convection.

Permafrost / Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« on: September 19, 2018, 05:05:13 PM »
Always more, never less ...

Thawing Permafrost May Release More CO2 Than Previously Thought

Over long, geologic time scales, carbonic acid weathering is an important control on atmospheric CO2 levels and climate, but under the right conditions, weathering by sulfuric acid can release substantial CO2.

Ph.D. candidate Scott Zolkos and his supervisor, U of A biologist Suzanne Tank, found that these conditions are prevalent in the western Canadian Arctic.

"We found that rapidly thawing permafrost on the Peel Plateau in the Northwest Territories is greatly enhancing mineral weathering," explained Zolkos, the lead author on the study. "Because weathering is largely driven by sulfuric acid in this region, intensifying permafrost thaw could be an additional source of CO2 to the atmosphere."

The researchers worked with scientists from the Northwest Territories Geoscience Office to examine long-term records of river chemistry from the Peel River.

They found that weathering driven by sulfuric acid has intensified with regional permafrost thaw in recent decades, and likely increased the amount of CO2 released into the surrounding water and air.

Scott Zolkos et al. Mineral Weathering and the Permafrost Carbon-Climate Feedback, Geophysical Research Letters (2018).

This kinda compliments a previous study

Thawing Permafrost Produces More Methane Than Expected

... What they found: without oxygen, equal amounts of methane and CO2 are produced. But since methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas, it is more significant. Because methane production couldn't be measured, it was assumed that in the absence of oxygen only very small amounts of it can be formed. "It takes an extremely long time until stable methane-producing microorganisms develop in thawing permafrost," explains Knoblauch. "That's why it was so difficult to demonstrate methane production until now."

"By combining process-based and molecular-microbiological methods, our study shows for the first time that the methane-forming microorganisms in the thawing permafrost have significant influence on the greenhouse gas budget," adds co-author Susanne Liebner from the Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences

Knoblauch C, Beer C, Liebner S, Grigoriev M N, Pfeiffer E-M (2018): Methane production as key to the greenhouse gas budget of thawing permafrost; Nature Climate Change

Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: September 18, 2018, 07:56:33 PM »
Storegga submarine landslides may be more common than originally thought.

Scientists Closing In On Source of Shetland Tsunamis

Shetland Island (north of Scotland) has been hit by at least two more tsunamis in the past 10,000 years than previously thought, and scientists are working to identify where the giant waves originated.

Around 8,200 years ago, the Storegga  off the coast of Norway caused a 20m-high tsunami to sweep across Shetland. Sands found at various points across the isles, and in mainland Scotland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, proved the tsunami's towering height, and the event has been well-reported.

Scientists funded by NERC have identified sands on Shetland that they say prove additional tsunamis hit Shetland 5,000 and 1,500 years ago. This could mean that tsunamis are a more common occurrence than previously thought in the UK.
... We found sands aged 5,000 and 1,500 years old at multiple locations in Shetland, up to 13 meters (42 feet) above sea level. These deposits have a similar sediment character as the Storegga event and can therefore be linked to tsunami inundation.
... Submarine landslides can occur on slopes of just one or two degrees, and we still don't know exactly how they are set in motion, except that earthquakes are considered to be the most common trigger. It is critical that we learn more.

The research is part of the Landslide-Tsunami project, ongoing research that forms a key element of NERC's Arctic Research Programme. The project aims to discover what causes enormous submarine landslides, what the impact of slides in different locations and of different magnitude would be on the UK, and what the likelihood of such an event might be, given the significant scale of Arctic climate change.

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