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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

NASA says Earth is warming at a rate 'unprecedented in 1,000 years'

NASA says Earth is warming at a rate 'unprecedented in 1,000 years' | Amazing Science |

New data has confirmed that the Earth has been experiencing the hottest temperatures on record. The latest findings from NASA’s top climate scientists now reveal the world is heating up at a rate that hasn’t occurred within the past 1,000 years.


According to NASA, the planet will continue to warm “at least” 20 times faster than the historical average over the next 100 years. Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said that “in the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory.” He added, “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”


July 2016 was the hottest month on record, and this year the average global temperature peaked at 1.38˚C above levels reported in the 19th century. That number is dangerously close to the 1.5C limit determined by the Paris Climate Agreement. Nasa warns that temperatures will only increase by leaps and bounds at the rate we are going.


If we have even the slimmest of hopes to combat this unprecedented rate of global warming, Schmidt says, “maintaining temperatures below the 1.5˚C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or co-ordinated geo-engineering. That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2˚C.”


“It’s the long-term trend we have to worry about though and there’s no evidence it’s going away and lots of reasons to think it’s here to stay,” Schmidt said. “There’s no pause or hiatus in temperature increase. People who think this is over are viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles. This is a chronic problem for society for the next 100 years.”

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Zircon dating: uncovering Earths oldest continental crust rocks, 4.02 Billion years old

Zircon dating: uncovering Earths oldest continental crust rocks, 4.02 Billion years old | Amazing Science |

Addressing fundamental unknowns about the earliest history of Earth’s crust, scientists have precisely dated the world’s oldest rock unit at 4.02 billion years old. Driven by the University of Alberta, the findings suggest that early Earth was largely covered with an oceanic crust-like surface.


“It gives us important information about how the early continents formed,” says lead author Jesse Reimink. “Because it’s so far back in time, we have to grasp at every piece of evidence we can. We have very few data points with which to evaluate what was happening on Earth at this time.” In fact, only three locations worldwide exist with rocks or minerals older than 4 billion years old: one from Northern Quebec, mineral grains from Western Australia, and the rock formation from Canada’s Northwest Territories examined in this new study.


While it is well known that the oldest rocks formed prior to 4 billion years ago, the unique twist on Reimink’s rock is the presence of well-preserved grains of the mineral zircon, leaving no doubt about the date it formed. The sample in question was found during fieldwork by Reimink’s PhD supervisor, Tom Chacko, professor in the Department of Earth and Atmosphere Sciences, in an area roughly 300 kilometres north of Yellowknife. Reimink recently completed his PhD at the University of Alberta before starting a post-doctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington, D.C.


“Zircons lock in not only the age but also other geochemical information that we’ve exploited in this paper,” Reimink continues. “Rocks and zircon together give us much more information than either on their own. Zircon retains its chemical signature and records age information that doesn’t get reset by later geological events, while the rock itself records chemical information that the zircon grains don’t.”


He explains that the chemistry of the rock itself looks like rocks that are forming today in modern Iceland, which is transitional between oceanic and continental crust. In fact, Iceland has been hypothesized as an analog for how continental crusts started to form.

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NASA's THEMIS sees Auroras move to the rhythm of Earth's magnetic field

NASA's THEMIS sees Auroras move to the rhythm of Earth's magnetic field | Amazing Science |

The majestic auroras have captivated humans for thousands of years, but their nature -- the fact that the lights are electromagnetic and respond to solar activity -- was only realized in the last 150 years.


Thanks to coordinated multi-satellite observations and a worldwide network of magnetic sensors and cameras, close study of auroras has become possible over recent decades. Yet, auroras continue to mystify, dancing far above the ground to some, thus far, undetected rhythm. Using data from NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms, or THEMIS, scientists have observed Earth's vibrating magnetic field in relation to the northern lights dancing in the night sky over Canada.


THEMIS is a five-spacecraft mission dedicated to understanding the processes behind auroras, which erupt across the sky in response to changes in Earth's magnetic environment, called the magnetosphere.


These new observations allowed scientists to directly link specific intense disturbances in the magnetosphere to the magnetic response on the ground. A paper on these findings was published in Nature Physics on Sept. 12, 2016.


"We've made similar observations before, but only in one place at a time - on the ground or in space," said David Sibeck, THEMIS project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who did not participate in the study. "When you have the measurements in both places, you can relate the two things together."


Understanding how and why auroras occur helps us learn more about the complex space environment around our planet. Radiation and energy in near-Earth space can have a variety of effects on our satellites - from disrupting their electronics to increasing frictional drag and interrupting communication or navigation signals. As our dependence on GPS grows and space exploration expands, accurate space weather forecasting becomes ever more important.


The space environment of our entire solar system, both near Earth and far beyond Pluto, is determined by the sun's activity, which cycles and fluctuates through time. The solar system is filled with solar wind, the constant flow of charged particles from the sun. Most of the solar wind is deflected from Earth by our planet's protective magnetosphere.

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Continents Split Up at the Same Speed Finger Nails Grow. And That’s Fast.

Continents Split Up at the Same Speed Finger Nails Grow. And That’s Fast. | Amazing Science |

Continents cruise in the slow lane. Moving just millimeters at a time, it took the ancient supercontinent Pangea hundreds of millions of years to break apart into today’s landmasses. But a study published Tuesday shows that the journey wasn’t always a leisurely drive. When under extreme strain, the tectonic plates hit the throttle and accelerated to speeds 20 times faster than they were traveling before.


“It’s the equivalent of moving around as a pedestrian to moving around in a very fast BMW,” said Dietmar Muller, a geophysicist at the University of Sydney and an author of the paper, which appeared in Nature. “While the continental crust was still being stretched, all of a sudden there was this amazing acceleration, and we didn’t know why.”


After analyzing seismic data from across the world and building a model, Dr. Muller and his team discovered that plates move in two distinct phases: a slow phase and a fast one. During the slow phase, the continental crusts, which can be more than 20 miles thick, are stretched out little by little while remaining connected. But then suddenly, one or both of the continents step on the gas pedal.


“A critical point is reached when the connection between the two continents becomes so weak it can no longer resist the forces trying to pull it apart,” Dr. Müller said. “This acceleration is directly related to the thinning of the crust.”


Using a computer simulation they illustrated the points in geologic history when pairs of land masses shifted speeds as they drifted apart. This is most dramatically seen between North America and Africa during Pangea’s initial rift some 240 million years ago.

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Sea ice strongly linked to climate change in past 90 000 years

Sea ice strongly linked to climate change in past 90 000 years | Amazing Science |

“The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean.” says Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).


Sea ice amplifies the climate changes that are occurring at any given time. Its growth and melting has profound effects on climate, the marine environment and ocean circulation.


Hoff and colleagues studied the past distribution of sea ice, in the so far longest existing sea ice record in a marine sediment core. The core was retrieved from 1200m water depth from the ocean floor of the Nordic Seas, just off the Faroe Islands. The core represents 90,000 years of sediment layers, and it is by studying those layers that scientist can reveal the changes in sea ice and past climate.


It was the tiniest of evidence in these layers that brought this strong confirmation of sea ice behavior to light. They are a type of phytoplankton, called diatoms, and they are everywhere around you. Diatoms are single celled algae with a cell wall made up of silica.


“They are the golden brown coating in the glass of a street lamp, and shiny stuff in your make-up. They are even used in tooth paste as a cleaning agent.,” says Hoff. “Diatoms are truly amazing, and can be preserved in marine and lake sediments for millions of years. I have personally examined diatom fossils that are 65 million of years old, and they look much the same as the diatoms that we find living today.”

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Huge helium discovery 'a life-saving find'

Huge helium discovery 'a life-saving find' | Amazing Science |
A new approach to gas exploration has discovered a huge helium gas field, which could address the increasingly critical shortage of this vital yet rare element.


Helium doesn't just make your voice squeaky - it is critical to many things we take for granted, including MRI scanners in medicine, welding, industrial leak detection and nuclear energy. However, known reserves are quickly running out. Until now helium has never been found intentionally - being accidentally discovered in small quantities during oil and gas drilling.


Now, a research group from Oxford and Durham universities, working with Helium One, a helium exploration company headquartered in Norway, has developed a brand new exploration approach. The first use of this method has resulted in the discovery of a world-class helium gas field in Tanzania.


Their research shows that volcanic activity provides the intense heat necessary to release the gas from ancient, helium-bearing rocks. Within the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley, volcanoes have released helium from ancient deep rocks and have trapped this helium in shallower gas fields. The research is being presented by Durham University PhD student Diveena Danabalan at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Yokohama, Japan.


Diveena Danabalan, of Durham University's Department of Earth Sciences, said: "We show that volcanoes in the Rift play an important role in the formation of viable helium reserves. Volcanic activity likely provides the heat necessary to release the helium accumulated in ancient crustal rocks. However, if gas traps are located too close to a given volcano, they run the risk of helium being heavily diluted by volcanic gases such as carbon dioxide, just as we see in thermal springs from the region. We are now working to identify the 'goldilocks-zone' between the ancient crust and the modern volcanoes where the balance between helium release and volcanic dilution is 'just right'."


Prof. Chris Ballentine, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, said: "We sampled helium gas (and nitrogen) just bubbling out of the ground in the Tanzanian East African Rift valley. By combining our understanding of helium geochemistry with seismic images of gas trapping structures, independent experts have calculated a probable resource of 54 Billion Cubic Feet (BCf) in just one part of the rift valley. This is enough to fill over 1.2 million medical MRI scanners. To put this discovery into perspective, global consumption of helium is about 8 BCf per year and the United States Federal Helium Reserve, which is the world's largest supplier, has a current reserve of just 24.2 BCf. Total known reserves in the USA are around 153 BCf. This is a game changer for the future security of society's helium needs and similar finds in the future may not be far away."

Via Mariaschnee
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Relativistic-microwave theory of ball lightning

Relativistic-microwave theory of ball lightning | Amazing Science |
Ball lightning, a fireball sometimes observed during lightnings, has remained unexplained.


Scientists now present a comprehensive theory for the phenomenon: At the tip of a lightning stroke reaching the ground, a relativistic electron bunch can be produced, which in turn excites intense microwave radiation. The latter ionizes the local air and the radiation pressure evacuates the resulting plasma, forming a spherical plasma bubble that stably traps the radiation. This mechanism is verified by particle simulations. The many known properties of ball lightning, such as the occurrence site, relation to the lightning channels, appearance in aircraft, its shape, size, sound, spark, spectrum, motion, as well as the resulting injuries and damages, are also explained. This theory suggests that ball lighting can be created in the laboratory or triggered during thunderstorms. The results should be useful for lightning protection and aviation safety, as well as stimulate research interest in the relativistic regime of microwave physics.

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Study offers new answer to why Earth's atmosphere became oxygenated

Study offers new answer to why Earth's atmosphere became oxygenated | Amazing Science |
Earth scientists from Rice University, Yale University and the University of Tokyo are offering a new answer to the long-standing question of how our planet acquired its oxygenated atmosphere.


Based on a new model that draws from research in diverse fields including petrology, geodynamics, volcanology and geochemistry, the team's findings were published online this week in Nature Geoscience. They suggest that the rise of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere was an inevitable consequence of the formation of continents in the presence of life and plate tectonics.


"It's really a very simple idea, but fully understanding it requires a good bit of background about how the Earth works," said study lead author Cin-Ty Lee, professor of Earth science at Rice. "The analogy I most often use is the leaky bathtub. The level of water in a bathtub is controlled by the rate of water flowing in through the faucet and the efficiency by which water leaks out through the drain. Plants and certain types of bacteria produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis. This oxygen production is balanced by the sink: reaction of oxygen with iron and sulfur in the Earth's crust and by back-reaction with organic carbon. For example, we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, essentially removing oxygen from the atmosphere. In short, the story of oxygen in our atmosphere comes down to understanding the sources and sinks, but the 3-billion-year narrative of how this actually unfolded is more complex."


Lee co-authored the study with Laurence Yeung and Adrian Lenardic, both of Rice, and with Yale's Ryan McKenzie and the University of Tokyo's Yusuke Yokoyama. The authors' explanations are based on a new model that suggests how atmospheric oxygen was added to Earth's atmosphere at two key times: one about 2 billion years ago and another about 600 million years ago.


Today, some 20 percent of Earth's atmosphere is free molecular oxygen, or O2. Free oxygen is not bound to another element, as are the oxygen atoms in other atmospheric gases like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. For much of Earth's 4.5-billion-year history, free oxygen was all but nonexistent in the atmosphere.

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Sea Level Rise Swallows 5 Whole Pacific Islands

Sea Level Rise Swallows 5 Whole Pacific Islands | Amazing Science |
Evidence confirms dramatic climate change effects in the Solomon Islands


Sea-level rise, erosion and coastal flooding are some of the greatest challenges facing humanity from climate change. Recently at least five reef islands in the remote Solomon Islands have been lost completely to sea-level rise and coastal erosion, and a further six islands have been severely eroded.


These islands lost to the sea range in size from one to five hectares. They supported dense tropical vegetation that was at least 300 years old. Nuatambu Island, home to 25 families, has lost more than half of its habitable area, with 11 houses washed into the sea since 2011.


This is the first scientific evidence, published in Environmental Research Letters, that confirms the numerous anecdotal accounts from across the Pacific of the dramatic impacts of climate change on coastlines and people.

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Climate-exodus expected in the Middle East and North Africa

Climate-exodus expected in the Middle East and North Africa | Amazing Science |

The number of climate refugees could increase dramatically in future. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have calculated that the Middle East and North Africa could become so hot that human habitability is compromised. The goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, agreed at the recent UN climate summit in Paris, will not be sufficient to prevent this scenario. The temperature during summer in the already very hot Middle East and North Africa will increase more than two times faster compared to the average global warming. This means that during hot days temperatures south of the Mediterranean will reach around 46 degrees Celsius (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century. Such extremely hot days will occur five times more often than was the case at the turn of the millennium. In combination with increasing air pollution by windblown desert dust, the environmental conditions could become intolerable and may force people to migrate.

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Lightning is not evenly distributed around the world

Lightning is not evenly distributed around the world | Amazing Science |
A map of the world showing where lightning activity is most intense and where lightning rarely occurs.


The distribution of lightning on Earth is far from uniform. The ideal conditions for producing lightning and associated thunderstorms occur where warm, moist air rises and mixes with cold air above. These conditions occur almost daily in many parts of the Earth and rarely in other areas.

NASA has satellites orbiting the Earth with sensors designed to detect lightning. Data from these satellites is transmitted to Earth and used to construct a geographic record of lightning activity over time. The maps on this page are based upon the average yearly count of lightning flashes per unit of area. This data was plotted geographically to create the maps.

Much more lightning occurs over land than over the ocean because daily sunshine heats the land surface faster than the ocean. The heated land surface warms the air above it and that warm air rises to encounter cold air aloft. The interaction between air masses of different temperature stimulates thunderstorms and lightning.

Via Catherine Russell
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NASA Just Opened Up Access To 2.95 Million Images Of Earth

NASA Just Opened Up Access To 2.95 Million Images Of Earth | Amazing Science |

For the past 16 years, a Japanese-built instrument aboard a NASA research satellite has been quietly gathering data about Earth’s changing surface. Those changes include everything from volcanic eruptions and massive wildfires to the worst North Korean drought in a century. NASA made the data publicly available on Friday for free — including more than 2.95 million images. The data was previously accessible for a small fee through Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.


The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, also known as “ASTER,” measures Earth’s land surface temperature, elevation and the amount of light it reflects across 14 different spectral bands.


NASA can use the information to not only examine glacial advances and retreats, but also identify stressed crops, monitor thermal pollution and coral reef degradation, and evaluate wetlands.


According to the space agency, a single capture by ASTER covers a square of land about 37 miles wide and 37 miles tall. The instrument has recorded data for 99 percent of Earth’s landmass.

Via YEC Geo
YEC Geo's curator insight, April 12, 11:16 AM
Absolutely astounding images.  No kidding.
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Ocean temps predict U.S. heat waves 50 days out, study finds

Ocean temps predict U.S. heat waves 50 days out, study finds | Amazing Science |

The formation of a distinct pattern of sea surface temperatures in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean can predict an increased chance of summertime heat waves in the eastern half of the United States up to 50 days in advance, according to a new study led by a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). 


The pattern is a contrast of warmer-than-average water butting up against cooler-than-average seas. When it appears, the odds that extreme heat will strike during a particular week—or even on a particular day—can more than triple, depending on how well-formed the pattern is. The research is being published in the journal Nature Geoscience.


"Summertime heat waves are among the deadliest weather events, and they can have big impacts on farming, energy use, and other critical aspects of society," said Karen McKinnon, a postdoctoral researcher at NCAR and the lead author of the study. "If we can give city planners and farmers a heads up that extreme heat is on the way, we might be able to avoid some of the worst consequences."


The research was largely funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor. In addition to McKinnon, the research team includes Andrew Rhines, of the University of Washington; Martin Tingley, of Pennsylvania State University; and Peter Huybers, of Harvard University.

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Deepest Underwater Cave Discovered

Deepest Underwater Cave Discovered | Amazing Science |
Czech abyss is so deep the Empire State Building could fit inside.


A team of explorers has found the deepest underwater cave yet discovered, with a bottom that lies at least 1,325 feet below the water's surface. Polish explorer Krzysztof Starnawski, who led the team, first explored the cave -- named Hranická Propast and located near the Czech town of Hranice -- in 1999, and instantly knew it was an unusual find. He told National Geographic, which sponsored his most recent expedition, that hot water saturated with carbon dioxide bubbled up like a volcano, and made his exposed skin itch.


A series of dives over the years hinted at the abyss' depth. In 2014, he reached 656 feet, thinking he had found the bottom, only to discover a very narrow opening that led to a vertical tunnel. The following year, some of the rock in the cave had crumbled, widening the opening and making it possible for him to squeeze through. He reached a depth of 869 feet and released a probe, which at 1,214 feet landed on what was probably a pile of debris from the collapsed passage above.

Via Kathy Bosiak
Donavon's comment, October 3, 4:00 PM
summary~That's cool. What did they build it out of to withstand that dept? Looks like that 39 ft helped. This article is short. I would be scared to go down that deep. Did they find anything cool down there?
Donavon's comment, October 3, 4:01 PM
comment~Like i said
Donavon's comment, October 3, 4:04 PM
comment~Like i said i would be scared to go down that deep. What if something went wrong. I can't hold breath that long. I doubt that anything lives down there. But what if they did.
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Moon’s pull can trigger big earthquakes

Moon’s pull can trigger big earthquakes | Amazing Science |
Geologic strain of tides during full and new moons could increase magnitude of tremors.


Big earthquakes, such as the ones that devastated Chile in 2010 and Japan in 2011, are more likely to occur during full and new moons — the two times each month when tidal stresses are highest.


Earth’s tides, which are caused by a gravitational tug-of-war involving the Moon and the Sun, put extra strain on geological faults. Seismologists have tried for decades to understand whether that stress could trigger quakes. They generally agree that the ocean’s twice-daily high tides can affect tiny, slow-motion tremors in certain places, including California’s San Andreas fault1 and the Cascadia region2 of the North American west coast.


But a new study, published on 12 September in Nature Geoscience3, looks at much larger patterns involving the twice-monthly tides that occur during full and new moons. It finds that the fraction of high magnitude earthquakes goes up globally as tidal stresses rise.


Satoshi Ide, a seismologist at the University of Tokyo, and his colleagues investigated three separate earthquake records covering Japan, California and the entire globe. For the 15 days leading up to each quake, the scientists assigned a number representing the relative tidal stress on that day, with 15 representing the highest. They found that large quakes such as those that hit Chile and Tohoku-Oki occurred near the time of maximum tidal strain — or during new and full moons when the Sun, Moon and Earth align.


For more than 10,000 earthquakes of around magnitude 5.5, the researchers found, an earthquake that began during a time of high tidal stress was more likely to grow to magnitude 8 or above.

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What is the Temperature of the Earth's Crust?

What is the Temperature of the Earth's Crust? | Amazing Science |

The temperature of the Earth’s crust ranges considerably. At its outer edge, where it meets the atmosphere, the crust’s temperature is the same temperature as that of the air. So, it might be as hot as 35 °C in the desert and below freezing in Antarctica. On average, the surface of the Earth’s crust experiences temperatures of about 14°C.


However, the hottest temperature ever recorded was 70.7°C (159°F), which was taken in the Lut Desert of Iran as part of a global temperature survey conducted by scientists at NASA’s Earth Observatory. Meanwhile, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was measured at the Soviet Vostok Station on the Antarctic Plateau – which reached an historic low of -89.2°C (-129°F) on July 21st, 1983.


That’s quite the range already. But consider the fact that the majority of the Earth’s crust lies beneath the oceans. Far from the Sun, temperatures can reach as low as 0-3° C (32-37.5° F) where the water reaches the crust. Still, a lot balmier than a cold night in Antarctica!

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NASA: July 2016 was the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping

NASA: July 2016 was the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping | Amazing Science |

July 2016 was the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.


Because the seasonal temperature cycle peaks in July, it means July 2016 also was warmer than any other month on record. July 2016's temperature was a statistically small 0.1 degrees Celsius warmer than previous warm Julys in 2015, 2011 and 2009.

“It wasn't by the widest of margins, but July 2016 was the warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “It appears almost a certainty that 2016 also will be the warmest year on record.”


The record warm July continued a streak of 10 consecutive months dating back to October 2015 that have set new monthly high-temperature records. Compared to previous years, the warmer global temperatures last month were most pronounced in the northern hemisphere, particularly near the Arctic region.

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations. The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn't cover enough of the planet.


For more information on NASA GISS's monthly temperature analysis, visit:


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Antarctica Could Lose Most of Its Penguins to Climate Change

Antarctica Could Lose Most of Its Penguins to Climate Change | Amazing Science |
A new study finds significant impact, and a possible silver lining, for the iconic birds over the next century.


Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) have survived in Antarctica for nearly 45,000 years, adapting to glacial expansions and sea ice fluctuations driven by millennia of climatic changes. The penguins remained resilient through these changes, but new research from the University of Delaware suggests that unique 21st-century climates may pose an existential threat to many of the colonies on the Antarctic continent.


Published Wednesday in Scientific Reports, the study, led by oceanographer Megan Cimino, found that up to 60 percent of the current Adélie penguin habitat in Antarctica could be unfit to host colonies by the end of the century.


The Adélie penguin is one of two true Antarctic penguins—the other being the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)—and it inhabits the full extent of the continent. The penguins nest on land during the austral (southern) summer, and migrate during the winter to the edge of the sea ice, where they are able to feed at sea.


Using a combination of field survey data and high-resolution satellite imagery, the researchers were able to stitch together 30 years of colony data, from 1981 to 2010, at sites ringing Antarctica. Looking at the year-to-year data, the researchers were able to identify population trends at each colony site for the full 30-year period. The scientists found diverging trends at different sites. Some colonies, like the closely monitored population near Palmer Station, a United States research hub in northern Antarctica, saw declines of over 80 percent.

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Fossil fuel burning imposes more in climate costs than it makes in profits

Fossil fuel burning imposes more in climate costs than it makes in profits | Amazing Science |

It is fairly well understood by now that releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere imposes an economic cost, in the form of climate change impacts. In most cases, however, those responsible for carbon emissions are not required to pay that cost. Instead, it's borne mainly by the world's poor and low-lying countries, and of course by future generations, as many of the worst impacts of climate change will emerge years after the emissions that drive them.


People sometimes refer to the unpaid cost of carbon pollution as a subsidy, or an "implicit subsidy," to polluting businesses. The IMF recently issued a report saying that total worldwide subsidies to energy, mainly fossil fuel energy, amounted to $5.2 trillion a year. The reason that number is so high is that the IMF includes implicit subsidies — the social costs imposed by businesses (including climate damages) that they don't have to pay for.


Vox's Brad Plumer raised some questions about whether that's a misleading use of the term "subsidy." Whatever you call it, though, it makes for an unsustainable situation, literally. It can't go on.


As climate change gets worse and the chance to avoid harsh impacts dwindles, governments are getting serious about putting some sort of price on carbon emissions, whether explicit (a tax) or implicit (regulations). Soon, a quarter of the world's carbon emissions will be priced in some way. Businesses that now emit carbon pollution for free (or cheap) will soon see their costs rise.


In other words, carbon pollution is a business risk. It's a bubble that's going to pop, probably soon. The Carbon Tracker Initiative has popularized a term for this looming liability: "unburnable carbon."


There's been a lot of work recently trying to quantify carbon risk. A recent contribution to that conversation was released by Chris Hope and colleagues at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School: "Quantifying the implicit climate subsidy received by leading fossil fuel companies." It attempts to put a number on the carbon risk facing the world's top 20 fossil fuel companies, the ones most directly vulnerable to a price on carbon. The results suggest that those companies are in a perilous situation.


Hope took a fairly simple approach: He multiplied the carbon emissions embedded in the companies' products by the "social cost of carbon," i.e., the net economic, health, and environmental cost of a ton of carbon dioxide. He ran the calculation for data from 2008 to 2012 and took the results as a rough proxy for the level of carbon risk facing each company. (See the technical addendum below for more details on this calculation.)


The results are pretty startling. To wit: "For all companies and all years, the economic cost to society of their CO2 emissions was greater than their after‐tax profit, with the single exception of Exxon Mobil in 2008" (my emphasis). In other words, if these fossil fuel companies had to pay the full cost of the carbon emissions produced by their products, none of them would be profitable.


It's even worse for pure coal companies, for which "the economic cost to society exceeds total revenue in all years, with this cost varying between nearly $2 and nearly $9 per $1 of revenue." Total revenue, Hope and colleagues note, represents "employment, taxes, supply purchases, and indirect employment"  —  everything that coal companies contribute to the economy. It turns out the costs they impose through carbon emissions are larger than all those contributions combined. (For oil and gas companies, carbon costs generally range from 10 to 50 percent of total revenue.)

nawaz1's curator insight, October 5, 12:55 PM
this article talks about the cost of climate change and that there should be environment tax otherwise  in the future it will cost a lot of money .
it says that The IMF recently issued a report saying that total worldwide subsidies to energy, mainly fossil fuel energy, amounted to $5.2 trillion a year.
Rohit Murali's curator insight, October 6, 2:00 PM

As too much greenhouse gases is released people believe it has a bigger impact where the money earned from businesses who pollute is less than the amount polluted. To help future generations the government are prepared to put taxes on businesses who pollute excessively.

Rohit Murali's curator insight, October 6, 3:01 PM

As too much greenhouse gases is released people believe it has a bigger impact where the money earned from businesses who pollute is less than the amount polluted. To help future generations the government are prepared to put taxes on businesses who pollute excessively.

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How Earth’s magnetic field is changing

How Earth’s magnetic field is changing | Amazing Science |

Earth’s continuously changing magnetic field is thought to be largely generated by superheated, swirling liquid iron in Earth’s outer core. Other sources of earthly magnetism include minerals in our world’s mantle and crust.


Earth’s ionosphere, magnetosphere and oceans also play a role. The European Space Agency (ESA) now has two years of data from a trio of satellites in Earth-orbit, designed to measure magnetism from these various sources. The mission is called Swarm. At last week’s Living Planet Symposium held in Prague in the Czech Republic (May 9-13, 2016), scientists presented new results from the Swarm satellite trio and provided some recent insights about how Earth’s magnetic field is changing at this time.


Among other things, they said that the field has weakened by about 3.5% at high latitudes over North America, while it has grown about 2% stronger over Asia. The region where the field is at its weakest field – the South Atlantic Anomaly – has moved steadily westward and further weakened by about 2%.


Meanwhile, the magnetic north pole has been wandering east, towards Asia. The animation shown in this article is based partly on results from ESA’s Swarm mission, and partly on information from the CHAMP and Ørsted satellites. It shows how the strength of Earth’s magnetic field changed between 1999 and mid-2016. Blue depicts where the field is weak and red shows regions where the field is strong. As you can see, the changes in field strength are relatively small.

Via Mariaschnee
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Computer Simulation: How An 8.0 Earthquake Would Rock Los Angeles

Computer Simulation: How An 8.0 Earthquake Would Rock Los Angeles | Amazing Science |

Earlier this week, an expert from the Southern California Earthquake Center spoke at a conference in Long Beach and called the southern San Andreas fault "locked, loaded and ready to go" for a major 'quake. He said that people should be preparing for something around a magnitude 8.0—that's larger than the devastating San Francisco earthquake back in 1906, the LA Times notes, and that one caused about 3,000 deaths from both the shaking and the fires that followed (which LA's former earthquake czar Lucy Jones has said we should be worried about).


What would an earthquake that big even look like? How would it move and where could we expect the shaking to be felt? For that, there's a video from the SCEC that shows where the movement would occur and how far away it could be felt in the event of a 'quake that starts near San Luis Obispo and moves south along the fault.

Via YEC Geo
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Scientists map a newly created island volcano

Scientists map a newly created island volcano | Amazing Science |
One of the earth's newest islands exploded into view from the bottom of the southwest Pacific Ocean in January 2015, and scientists sailing around the volcano this spring have created a detailed map of its topography.
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Dynamic models of the complex microbial metapopulation of lake mendota

Dynamic models of the complex microbial metapopulation of lake mendota | Amazing Science |
Population modelling: Understanding lake microbes A lake microbe population model developed by US researchers reveals how environmental factors affect community dyamics.


Like many other environments, Lake Mendota, WI, USA, is populated by many thousand microbial species. Only about 1,000 of these constitute between 80 and 99% of the total microbial community, depending on the season, whereas the remaining species are rare. The functioning and resilience of the lake ecosystem depend on these microorganisms, and it is therefore important to understand their dynamics throughout the year.


Via Dr Alejandro Martinez-Garcia
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Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo is leading to a mini ice-age

Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo is leading to a mini ice-age | Amazing Science |

Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to 'mini ice age' levels: Sun driven by double dynamo.


A new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat. The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone. Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645. Results will be presented today by Prof Valentina Zharkova at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno.


It is 172 years since a scientist first spotted that the Sun’s activity varies over a cycle lasting around 10 to 12 years. But every cycle is a little different and none of the models of causes to date have fully explained fluctuations. Many solar physicists have put the cause of the solar cycle down to a dynamo caused by convecting fluid deep within the Sun. Now, Zharkova and her colleagues have found that adding a second dynamo, close to the surface, completes the picture with surprising accuracy.


“We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different, and they are offset in time.  Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97%,” said Zharkova.


Zharkova and her colleagues derived their model using a technique called ‘principal component analysis’ of the magnetic field observations from the Wilcox Solar Observatory in California. They examined three solar cycles-worth of magnetic field activity, covering the period from 1976-2008. In addition, they compared their predictions to average sunspot numbers, another strong marker of solar activity. All the predictions and observations were closely matched. 


Looking ahead to the next solar cycles, the model predicts that the pair of waves become increasingly offset during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022. During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030-2040, the two waves will become exactly out of synch and this will cause a significant reduction in solar activity.


“In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other – peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun. Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other. We predict that this will lead to the properties of a ‘Maunder minimum’,” said Zharkova. “Effectively, when the waves are approximately in phase, they can show strong interaction, or resonance, and we have strong solar activity. When they are out of phase, we have solar minimums. When there is full phase separation, we have the conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, 370 years ago.”

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Gems that fall from Space: Pallasite peridot, faceted moldavite, wire-wrapped tektite, and others

Gems that fall from Space: Pallasite peridot, faceted moldavite, wire-wrapped tektite, and others | Amazing Science |

Several different extraterrestrial materials can be used as gems. Pallasite peridot, faceted moldavite, wire-wrapped tektite, desert glass pendants, iron meteorites.


Rocks that fall from the sky have frightened and fascinated people throughout history. They immediately generate curiosity and have a scientific significance. They are made of extremely rare materials that interest scientists, collectors, and curious people alike.

Many meteorites and impactites are small enough and attractive enough to be used as gems in the same condition in which they fell from the sky. Iron meteorites are alloys of iron and nickel that can be cut and polished into beautiful gems or fashioned into the metal parts of jewelry. Pallasites are stony-iron meteorites that contain colorful peridot (olivine) crystals that can be cut into gems. Impactites are often colorful glasses that can be faceted, cut into cabochons, or carved into small sculptures.

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