A warmer Arctic could permanently affect the pattern of the high-altitude polar jet stream, resulting in longer and colder winters over North America and northern Europe, US scientists say. The jet stream, a ribbon of high altitude, high-speed wind in northern latitudes that blows from west to east, is formed when the cold Arctic air clashes with warmer air from further south. The greater the difference in temperature, the faster the jet stream moves.
According to Jennifer Francis, a climate expert at Rutgers University, the Arctic air has warmed in recent years as a result of melting polar ice caps, meaning there is now less of a difference in temperatures when it hits air from lower latitudes. “The jet stream is a very fast moving river of air over our head, but over the past two decades the jet stream has weakened. This is something we can measure,” she said Saturday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As a result, instead of circling the earth in the far north, the jet stream has begun to meander, like a river heading off course. This has brought chilly Arctic weather further south than normal, and warmer temperatures up north. Perhaps most disturbingly, it remains in place for longer periods of time.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio [x]
Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and Stony Brook University have demonstrated a new way to calculate the temperature of the ocean 80 million years ago: through the jaws of ammonites.
The new approach provides an alternative technique for gathering information about the habitats of ammonites—an extinct type of shelled mollusk that’s closely related to modern-day nautiluses and squids. The study was recently published in PLOS ONE.
New technique helps estimate earth’s ancient climates.
I am embarrassed I hadn’t heard about The Weather Channel’s climate documentary series, “Tipping Points.”
A tipping point, in climatology, is when a major change occurs to a major environmental system due to climate change, such as a shift in ocean currents or atmospheric circulation. These systems “tip” over from one stable state to another stable state, thus creating an entirely new situation. This new situation is irreversible. Sort of like spilling a glass of wine, you can’t put the wine back in the glass. Climate activists (whom I often disagree with) colloquially call this new state “the new normal.”
The show, Tipping Points, is hosted by Bernice Notenboom, an interesting journalist who combines science writing and adventure travel. She’s pretty good on camera, but most of the show seems to focus on showing 1) a climate change problem as it occurs in the real world (such as drought in the Amazon rainforest) and 2) a series of scientific experiments that aim identify the moment of a tipping point and then figure out how to manage the new system.
Tipping Points: Breaching Climate Stability
Hosted by Climate Journalist and adventurer Bernice Notenboom, Tipping Points embraces commentary from leading climate scientists surveying the complexity of the major tipping points effecting our current climate and their impact on changing weather patterns around the globe.
Adventurous and informative, Tipping Points explores the interconnectedness of all the elements that make up our climate system that influence global and local weather patterns. The Earth is in a delicate equilibrium; once one factor reaches its respective tipping point the other factors will also breach stability. As the atmosphere heats up and the chemical makeup of the atmosphere shifts there will be repercussions felt on a global scale. These elements are what Bernice and her team of climate authorities are going to explore is some of the most remote locations on the planet.
From the canopies of The Amazon to the ice sheets of Siberia, these climate specialists will chase answers to behavioral patterns of tipping elements in the climate system affecting our weather systems. View, here.
The Minneapolis-based photographer Paula McCartney has exploited extreme weather to dazzling effect, capturing detailed portraits of natural winter elements, from frozen waterfalls to ice stalagmites to snow flurries. A look at her photographs: http://nyr.kr/LkiZ5l
Above: “Ice Floe #5” (2008). Photograph by Paula McCartney/Klompching.
The London Array is the world’s largest off-shore windfarm. Via NASA.
Twenty kilometers (12 miles) from England’s Kent and Essex coasts, the world’s largest offshore wind farm has started harvesting the breezes over the sea. Located in the Thames Estuary, where the River Thames meets the North Sea, the London Array has a maximum generating power of 630 megawatts (MW), enough to supply as many as 500,000 homes.
The wind farm became fully operational on April 8, 2013. Twenty days later, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the area. The second image is a closeup of the area marked by the white box in the top image. White points in the second image are the wind turbines; a few boat wakes are also visible. The sea is discolored by light tan sediment—spring runoff washed out by the Thames.
To date, the London Array includes 175 wind turbines aligned to the prevailing southwest wind and spread out across 100 square kilometers (40 square miles). Each turbine stands 650 to 1,200 meters apart (2,100 to 3,900 feet) and 147 meters (482 feet) tall. Each is connected by cables buried in the seafloor, and power is transmitted to two substations offshore and to an onshore station at Cleve Hill.
Plankton blooms like the one seen here occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the proliferation of the tiny marine plants. This Swedish sea scene is one of more than 150 satellite vistas offered in "Earth From Space," a coffee-table book assembled by environmentalist photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.”
I came across a photograph on Thursday and set it as my desktop wallpaper. I’ve been staring at it for three days. No, that’s not quite true. I’ve stared at it for maybe a total of seven minutes, looking at it seconds at a time, catching glimpses when browser windows close and open in between work on the novel and a talk I’m giving in Portland next week. You’ve seen the photograph too, I bet. It’s made an appearance on ESPN’s Around the Horn, even though it has nothing to do with sports.
One series of thoughts: How fast is it going? Where does it land? Do frogs land on their feet? What’s that frog thinking, at that moment? Probably something like: ojpifqijovapijwalkjrjpew, because it’s a frog, and frogs are pretty much always thinking ojpifqijovapijwalkjrjpew.
Another series: Rocket launches don’t happen in black, featureless voids. They happen in wetlands. Sudden light heat noise in a place of dark cool calm. The silhouette of the frog also brings to relief to the bits of wild grass threshed about in the smoke.
Man’s ambition. His destruction of the earth in his quest for the stars. The perfect geometry of the heavens. The Vitruvian geometry of the figure; it’s almost … human.
It brings to mind another photograph, taken twelve years prior, nearly to the day: a photograph of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The photograph ran on page seven of The New York Times and in hundreds of newspapers around the world, then virtually disappeared. Until two years later, when it became the subject of Tom Junod’s Esquire piece, "The Falling Man".
But Junod’s piece is really about Looking. It’s about what we see when we look, but also what, when we have the freedom to look, we individually and collectively choose not to look at. And what that says about us.
An analogy for a significant life event. Hopes. Horrors. Aversion. The fear of loss. The frame-obliterating nature of an act beyond routine. One moment you’re thinking about flies from your lilypad in the cool still night. You’re thinking about the book you’re writing and the speech you’re going to give. You’re thinking about how sore your feet are and your wife asleep in bed and the order at table five. And then …
This is a lovely meditation on what it means to really look at something and how it feels to actually see what you’re looking at. But my favorite part is the bit about how this photo is a reminder that space flight starts in the swamps of Florida, and how this one little unfortunate frog reminded us all of how little we are and how big we are reaching.
"His destruction of the earth in his quest for the stars."
Science struggled to explain fully why an ice age occurs every 100,000 years. As researchers now demonstrate based on a computer simulation, not only do variations in insolation play a key role, but also the mutual influence of glaciated continents and climate.