Thursday, December 28, 2006 Giant ice shelf snaps free from Canada's Arctic

STEVE LILLEBUEN Canadian Press A giant ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has snapped free from Canada's Arctic, leaving a trail of icy boulders floating in its wake. The mass of ice broke clear from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 kilometres south of the North Pole. Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, travelled to the newly formed ice island and couldn't believe what he saw. “It was extraordinary,” Dr. Vincent said Thursday, adding that in 10 years of working in the region he has never seen such a dramatic loss of sea ice.

NASA/AFP/Getty images

This NASA Terra satellite image from 2003 shows the Arctic's largest ice shelf was breaking up even then. Rising temperatures have reduced the original Ward Hunt Ice Shelf into a number of smaller shelves, the largest of which was the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on the northwest fringe of the Ellesmere island. (NASA/AFP/Getty images)

“This is a piece of Canadian geography that no longer exists.” The collapse was so powerful that earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up tremors from it. Scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in 30 years and point their fingers at climate change as a major contributing factor.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

OSU Researcher: Winter Storms and Wave Heights Escalating off Northwest Coast

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Pacific Northwest coast has experienced increasingly intense winter storms and higher wave heights over the last 25 years, both of which may be leading to earlier and more severe winter erosion, scientists at Oregon State University say.

Entire beaches have been scoured away this fall and cliffside houses at Gleneden Beach and elsewhere are in jeopardy, says Paul Komar, professor emeritus in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University.

“We’ve seen some pretty intense winter erosion in Oregon,” Komar said, “but I don’t ever remember seeing the extent of the problem this early. Usually, the erosion doesn’t take effect until January, February or March. If the beach is gone in November, what will happen 2-3 months from now when additional storms hit and that buffer is gone?”

Komar said there is no consensus on why storms have been getting stronger. Some scientists believe global warming may play a role, while others say similar conditions occurred in the late 19th century, suggesting periodicity, if not some kind of cycle.

One thing is certain: Wave heights are increasing.

Komar and colleague Jonathan Allan, a courtesy professor at OSU who works for the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, have been monitoring buoy data since 1975. They found that during the early years of measurements, wave heights – measured several miles off the coast – averaged about three meters. In recent years, that average has grown to four meters, a substantial increase. At the same time, the wave heights during major storms have increased from being on the order of 11 meters in 1975 to 15 meters now.

The researchers have published their findings in the Journal of Coastal Research.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

NASA Contrail Study

The Blanket Effect: NASA Contrail Study

Cirrus Cloud and Climate Modifications due to Subsonic Aircraft Exhaust

NASA has recently initiated a program to evaluate the potential effects
of current and future commercial aircraft fleets on atmospheric
chemical processes and climate.

As part of this program, we are modeling the effects of subsonic aircraft exhaust on upper tropospheric cirrus clouds.

sophisticated computer programs, we have developed a detailed ice cloud
microphysical model here at NASA Ames Research Center. The model
simulates cloud processes such as ice crystal formation, growth, and

formation and evolution of aircraft-generated contrails is simulated to
determine what processes and environmental conditions control the
growth, spreading, and dissipation of contrails.

addition, the formation of natural cirrus is simulated with and without
aircraft exhaust soot particles to predict the impact of commercial air
traffic on the frequency of cirrus occurrence and their impact on

Recent observations of cirrus clouds have shown that clear air in the
upper troposphere is often supersaturated with ice. Cirrus do not
always form in these regions due to the lack of natural nuclei to
provide a foundation on which ice crystals form.

If aircraft exhaust soot particles are efficient ice nuclei (as shown in Fig. 1) , then the frequency of cirrus may be significantly enhanced in regions with heavy air traffic

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Injustice Continues

Making New Orleaneans homeless

housing new orleans

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

EU to tackle aircraft emissions

Europe's airlines may soon have limits set on the amount of greenhouse gases which they can emit.

The EU's environment commissioner is expected to include airlines in the Emissions Trading Scheme, whose goal is to tackle climate change.

The aviation sector had been excluded initially from the system.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Climate Change Melts Kilimanjaro's Snows

Climate Change Melts Kilimanjaro's Snows from

(AP) -- Rivers of ice at the Equator - foretold in the 2nd century, found in the 19th - are now melting away in this new century, returning to the realm of lore and fading photographs.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

P.L.C.T.= persistent lingering condensation trails

YouTube - FunWith P.L.C.T

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Global Dimming. An incidental 9-11 descovery

This is a film that demands action. It reveals that we may have
grossly underestimated the speed at which our climate is changing. At
its heart is a deadly new phenomenon. One that until very recently
scientists refused to believe even existed. But it may already have
led to the starvation of millions.

read more |

Global Dimming An incidental 9 11 descovery :: NNSeek

Global Dimming

Video - BBC Investigates

This is a film that demands action. It reveals that we may have
grossly underestimated the speed at which our climate is changing. At
its heart is a deadly new phenomenon.

One that until very recently scientists refused to believe even

Click here to watch. Video and transcript.

Global Dimming

This is a film that demands action. It reveals that we may have
grossly underestimated the speed at which our climate is changing. At
its heart is a deadly new phenomenon. One that until very recently
scientists refused to believe even existed. But it may already have
led to the starvation of millions. Tonight Horizon examines for the
first time the power of what scientists are calling Global Dimming.

12/05/06 - BBC - Runtime 49 Minutes

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The world's biggest meteor crater -

Vredefort Dome

Two billion years ago a meteorite 10km in diameter hit the earth about 100km southwest of Johannesburg, creating an enormous impact crater. This area, near Vredefort in the Free State, is now known as the Vredefort Dome.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 | University of Washington News and Information

A number of researchers in recent years have reported perplexing findings of water vapor at concentrations as much as twice what they should be in and around cirrus clouds high in the atmosphere, a finding that could alter some conclusions about climate change.

Now a group of European and U.S. scientists is advocating a broad research effort to solve the puzzle and understand just what is occurring in cirrus clouds, wispy sheets of ice crystals 6 to 10 miles above the Earth's surface.

"Based on our current knowledge, it shouldn't exist," said Marcia Baker, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. She is one of six climate researchers who authored a Perspectives article in the Nov. 30 edition of the journal Science promoting an extensive effort to investigate the dilemma.

Part of the problem is that many atmospheric scientists have dismissed the findings as erroneous because the current understanding of atmospheric conditions and cirrus clouds would make the water vapor anomaly impossible, Baker said. Yet a number of pieces of evidence published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at scientific meetings during the last six years have supported the finding.

Clouds and particles in the atmosphere play a significant role in regulating the Earth's temperature because they help determine how much of the sun's heat and energy is reflected back into space and they trap outgoing radiation from the Earth's surface. Cirrus clouds also are important in regulating the distribution of water vapor, the most important greenhouse gas, in the upper troposphere.

"We have thought our models of the formation and evolution of cirrus clouds are generally adequate in how they portray the role of cirrus clouds in regulating water vapor, but if the recent findings are accurate and high humidities are widespread, our assumptions could need significant adjustment," Baker said.

"The point is to bring this to the more general science audience as a broad puzzle, but also to lay the groundwork for research to solve the puzzle," she said.

Cirrus clouds form in the upper troposphere and modulate the exchange of water between the troposphere and the stratosphere. Vapor in the upper troposphere can rise into the stratosphere but tiny ice crystals can fall back toward the surface.

Outside the clouds, there are water vapor and minute atmospheric particles called aerosols, but no ice crystals. Scientists have come to expect that new ice crystals will begin to form in aerosols when vapor levels rise to the point at which they are 60 percent above equilibrium with the surrounding air. Yet measurements have shown that vapor levels can reach 90 percent to 100 percent above equilibrium without forming new ice particles.

Inside the clouds, it is expected that vapor levels above equilibrium cannot be maintained, yet evidence shows that often vapor levels are as much as 30 percent above equilibrium in large areas of clouds.

Scientists have speculated about what causes these anomalies. It is possible the aerosols might have as-yet undiscovered properties that prevent crystals from forming in some conditions, or there could be some kind of coating on the aerosols that prevents ice from forming, Baker said. There also could be some undiscovered property of ice crystals that prevents them from growing in certain conditions.

"There could be a different phase of ice at the temperatures and pressures in cirrus clouds that has a higher equilibrium for vapor," Baker said. "These are the kinds of questions for which we are trying to find answers."

The lead author of the Science article is Thomas Peter of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule of Switzerland. Other co-authors are Claudia Marcolli, Peter Spichtinger and Thierry Corti, also of the climate institute, and Thomas Koop of Bielefeld University in Germany.

Monday, December 04, 2006

NASA Says It Will Set Up Polar Moon Camp -

NASA may be going to the same old moon with a ship that looks a lot like a 1960s Apollo capsule, but the space agency said Monday that it's going to do something dramatically different this time: Stay there.

Unveiling the agency's bold plan for a return to the moon, NASA said it will establish an international base camp on one of the moon's poles, permanently staffing it by 2024, four years after astronauts land there.

It is a sweeping departure from the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and represents a new phase of space exploration after space shuttles are retired in 2010.

NASA chose a "lunar outpost" over the short expeditions of the '60s. Apollo flights were all around the middle area of the moon, but NASA decided to go to the moon's poles because they are best for longer-term settlements. And this time NASA is welcoming other nations on its journey.

YouTube - F18 hornet

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scientists fear results of collapsed ice shelf - New Zealand news on

The Ross Ice Shelf, a raft of ice the size of France, could collapse quickly, triggering a dramatic rise in sea levels, scientists warn.

A New Zealand-led drilling team in Antarctica has recovered three million years of climate history, but the news is not good for the future.
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Initial analysis of sea-floor cores near Scott Base suggest the Ross Ice Shelf had collapsed in the past and had probably done so suddenly.

The team's co-chief scientist, Tim Naish, said the sediment record was important because it provided crucial evidence about how the Ross Ice Shelf would react to climate change, with potential to dramatically increase sea levels.

"If the past is any indication of the future, then the ice shelf will collapse," he said.

"If the ice shelf goes, then what about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? What we've learnt from the Antarctic Peninsula is when once buttressing ice sheets go, the glaciers feeding them move faster and that's the thing that isn't so cheery."

Antarctica comprises about 90 per cent of the world's ice mass, with the the West Antarctic Ice Sheet holding an estimated 30 million cubic kilometres.

In January, British Antarctic Survey researchers predicted that its collapse would make sea levels rise by at least 5m, with other estimates predicting a rise of up to 17m.

NASA - NASA Scientists Find Primordial Organic Matter in Meteorite

NASA researchers at Johnson Space Center, Houston have found organic materials that formed in the most distant reaches of the early Solar System preserved in a unique meteorite. The study was performed on the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite, a rare type of meteorite that is rich in organic (carbon-bearing) compounds.

Organic matter in meteorites is a subject of intense interest because this material formed at the dawn of the Solar System and may have seeded the early Earth with the building blocks of life. The Tagish Lake meteorite is especially valuable for this work because much of it was collected immediately after its fall over Canada in 2000 and has been maintained in a frozen state, minimizing terrestrial contamination. The collection and curation of the meteorite samples preserved its pristine state.

In a paper published in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Science, the team, headed by NASA space scientist Keiko Nakamura-Messenger, reports that the Tagish Lake meteorite contains numerous submicrometer hollow organic globules.

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