Our Atmosphere is Escaping
Posts tagged earth.
Incredible shots tweeted by the rock-star astronaut from the International Space Station
Wow. Absolutely must see.
From Michael Marten’s series, Sea Change, which explores rising sea levels from regular tides and also climate change. His statement:
‘Sea Change’ is a study of the tides round the coast of Britain. The views in each diptych are taken from identical positions at low tide and high tide, usually 6 or 18 hours apart.
I am interested in showing how landscape changes over time through natural processes and cycles. The camera that observes low and high tide side by side enables us to observe simultaneously two moments in time, two states of nature.
Recent landscape photography often focuses on human shaping (and reshaping) of the environment - urbanisation, globalisation, pollution. Even when critical and committed, this approach can emphasise, even glamorise, humankind’s power over nature. I’m interested in rediscovering nature’s own powers: the elemental forces and processes that underlie and shape the planet.
The tides are one of these great natural cycles. I hope these photographs will stimulate people’s awareness of natural change, of landscape as dynamic process rather than static image. Attending to earth’s rhythms can help us to reconnect with the fundamentals of our planet, which we ignore at our peril.
‘Sea Change’ also comments on climate change. The tide floods in and quickly recedes again, but rising sea levels will flood our shores and not recede for thousands or millions of years. Many of the views in these pictures may have disappeared in 100 years’ time.
— Michael Marten
Some Strange Things Are Happening To Astronauts Returning To Earth
Tremendous. Surprise ending.
Earth from Space: Water and ice
Earth from Space is presented by Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the ESA Web-TV virtual studios. The largest outlet glacier on Greenland’s east coast is pictured in the forty-eighth edition. Via ESA.
Sea ice is any form of ice found at sea that originated from the freezing of sea water. It is the most visible feature of the Arctic Ocean, with its extent waxing and waning with the seasons. Ice thickness is highly variable, ranging from a thin veneer to tens of meters. While the existence of sea ice reflects the cold conditions inherent to high latitudes, sea ice also strongly modulates the energy budget and climate of the Arctic and beyond, particularly because it is white, and hence reflects much of the sun’s energy back to space (it has a high albedo) and also through acting as a lid, insulating the underlying ocean from a generally much colder atmosphere.
Historically, at its maximum extent in March, Arctic sea ice covered an area more than 15 million square kilometers, somewhat less than twice the size of the contiguous United States. The minimum extent, occurring in September, the end of the melt season, was typically around 7.0 x106 km2. However, as assessed over the modern satellite record spanning 1979 to the present, Arctic sea ice extent exhibits downward linear trends for all months, weakest in winter and strongest for September. The downward September trend appears to have accelerated over the past decade. Through 2001, the September trend stood at -7.0% per decade. Through 2012, it was more than twice as large at -14.3% per decade. The six lowest September extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past six years, with September of 2012 setting a new low mark. Decreased summer ice extent has been accompanied by large reductions in winter ice thicknesses that are primarily explained by changes in the ocean’s coverage of thick multiyear ice (MYI). MYI is ice that has survived at least one summer melt season. In the mid-1980s, MYI accounted for 70% of total winter ice extent, whereas by the end of 2012 it had dropped to less than 20%. At the same time the proportion of ice older than 5 years declined from 50% of the MYI pack to less than 8%.
Ice loss is also contributing to strong rises in Arctic air temperature during autumn and winter, not just at the surface, but extending through a considerable depth of the atmosphere. As discussed, sea ice acts as a lid, insulating the underlying ocean from a generally much colder atmosphere. With less ice, the insulating effect is weaker, so heat can readily be transferred from the ocean to the atmosphere above. This strong warming, termed Arctic amplification, is starting to extend beyond areas of ice loss to influence Arctic land areas.
Continued loss of the ice cover is in turn likely to impact on patterns of atmospheric circulation and precipitation not just within the Arctic, but into middle latitudes; there is evidence that this is already occurring. The basic reason for this is that the outsized warming of the Arctic changes the atmospheric stability and temperature differences between the Arctic and lower latitudes. Finally, as the ice cover retreats, the Arctic is becoming more accessible for marine shipping as well as oil and natural gas exploration, increasing the economic and strategic importance of the region.
secondtrainofthought asked: As far as a planet's mass. How much does the planet's core affect the temperature of a planet's surface? I just want a perspective in the physics of mass in space.
Thanks and nope. As far as I know, there’s no correlation between the Earth’s mass and surface or atmospheric temperatures. And none of the climate literature discusses this, that I’ve seen.
The only thing I can think of is the length of a day fluctuates a tiny bit in part due to the core’s relationship with the spin of the earth. The speculation is that this fluctuation exposes the earth to the sun by a tiny bit, which maybe possibly affects temperature. Some scientists at NASA did a minor study on core spin and the length of a day a couple of years ago. There findings were inconclusive.
And it seems to me the study spurned little interest because the results were not very interesting. Bottom line, prior to 1930 (e.g., prior to anthropogenic climate change), they believe that over thousands of years, the variations in the earth’s temperature possibly, maybe, but-no-one-really-knows may have been influenced by the length of a day, which shifted by a few milliseconds. Over thousands of years, these fluctuations shorten and lengthen a day (e.g., the 24 hours that comprise an earth’s rotation around the sun). Thus, a one second shorter or longer day may have affected the earth’s temperature, but the effects the researchers found were nearly immeasurable, perhaps even meaningless.
Again, core-spin is not in the climate literature and there’s no correlation to speak of.
Considering how humans’ affect the climate, land use, oceans, species, and habitats, many scientists think the earth has entered a new period in historic time. But what are the criteria for a new epoch, one defined by humans? A few scientists and a journalist discuss the issue.
Have humans had such a dramatic impact on the globe that we’ve created a new geological era? That’s what some scientists think. They’ve proposed that the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century marked the end of the Holocene (a period that began with the last ice age 11,700 years ago) and the beginning of the Anthropocene, the “Age of Man.” Not everyone agrees. In fact, some say the Anthropocene began 11,500 years ago and completely overlaps with the Holocene. And still others say the Anthropocene has yet to begin.
Who’s right? What are the implications for science and the planet?
Astronaut Chris Hadfield Explains How to Take Pictures of Earth from Space
Role model right tharr.
Watch the slow creep of spring as it pushes the cold hand of winter back to the frigid north … only to succumb again next year, of course.
NASA’s MODIS imager senses Earth’s reflection of both visible and longer wavelength near-infrared light. Plants, full of chlorophyll, absorb most visible light (except for green, of course) and reflect near-infrared. By combining this with the reflection of snow, NASA can watch the yearly cycle of vegetation springing back and falling away.
Climate Change Shifts North’s Growing Seasons
temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.
“Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more,” said Ranga Myneni of Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment. “In the north’s Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems.”
Image: Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years. Satellite data in this visualization are from the AVHRR and MODIS instruments, which contribute to a vegetation index that allows researchers to track changes in plant growth over large areas.
13. Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its life style. In many parts of the world society is given to instant gratification and consumerism while remaining indifferent to the damage which these cause. As I have already stated, the seriousness of the ecological issue lays bare the depth of man’s moral crisis. If an appreciation of the value of the human person and of human life is lacking, we will also lose interest in others and in the earth itself. Simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice, must become a part of everyday life, lest all suffer the negative consequences of the careless habits of a few.
Pope John Paul II - WORLD DAY OF PEACE speach, JANUARY 1990. Pope John Paul II was considered the world’s first “Green Pope.” (h/t to ThinkProgress)
An education in ecological responsibility is urgent: responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth. This education cannot be rooted in mere sentiment or empty wishes. Its purpose cannot be ideological or political. It must not be based on a rejection of the modern world or a vague desire to return to some “paradise lost” . Instead, a true education in responsibility entails a genuine conversion in ways of thought and behaviour.
Our species still hunts elephants, rhinos, tigers, and other large animals. Now these animals are gunned down for body parts sold on the black market rather than for food.
Pleistocene extinction: Did climate change or humans doom mammoths, sabercats, dire wolves, and more. - Slate Magazine (via dendroica)
People still kill these Pleistocene remnants, even as others among us try to protect the animals (a kind of inter-species benevolence never seen before in the history of life on Earth).
But even with our best intentions, we are altering the planet on a scale and with a speed that stretch the imagination.
Climate change at the end of the Pleistocene was a natural process that had been cycling back and forth for the previous 2 million years. Now we, not natural geological cycles, drive the climate, and the planet is abruptly on its way to a greenhouse world that hasn’t been seen in 55 million years.
We have already seen what happens when hunting and climate change create a deadly synergy. The question is, how long are we going to ignore this lesson, passed down to us in bone by long-lost mammoths and other vanished species?
Newspapers have fired over 30,000 reporters in the last 5 years - Science and Climate journalists are the first to go. ›
“The Crisis in Climate Reporting.” - An event by climate, environment, and media experts on how journalists are a critical conduit to discussing climate change.
The speakers explored several practical solutions and then launch into a decent Q&A. Some were simple, such as directing readers to share their reading materials or collaborate with authors from various news outlets (e.g., Mother Jones partnering with, say, Washington Post to work on and cross-post the same stories, which would reach different audiences.). It was good to hear some practical solutions rather than esoteric brainstorming.
The public is poorly served by reports about climate change that follow familiar lines and surface only when there’s a severe weather event or UN conference; meanwhile, media outlets like the New York Times are scaling back on environmental reporting.
Orion and media watchdog Free Press convened a panel of authors and activists (including Kate Sheppard, M. Sanjayan, Bill McKibben, and others) to propose concrete actions for improving the state of climate reporting in the mainstream media.
Climate Science Communications Week is winding down at Climate Adaptation! For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I covered how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to: http://climateadaptation.tumblr.com/submit