Colossal iceberg weighing a trillion metric tons finally breaks off in the Antarctic

July 12, 2017 by  
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It finally happened. For several months scientists have had their eyes on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica , where a massive iceberg has been dangling by a thread. Now they report the iceberg has indeed calved, and is floating in the Weddell Sea. The volume of this iceberg is twice that of Lake Erie. It’s thought to be one of the 10 biggest icebergs we’ve ever recorded. The new iceberg, which will likely be called A68, is around 2,239 square miles. It weighs over a trillion metric tons. Project Midas , which has been monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf, reported the calving happened sometime between July 10 and July 12. Scientists noted the break in NASA satellite data. Related: A colossal iceberg is breaking off Antarctica right now – and it’s big enough to fill Lake Michigan The Larsen C ice shelf has been reduced by 12 percent, meaning it’s at its lowest extent we’ve ever recorded. There isn’t evidence this event is linked to climate change , according to Project Midas leader Adrian Luckman of Swansea University . He said it is possible, but recent data shows that the ice shelf has actually been thickening. United States National Ice and Snow Data Center glacial expert Twila Moon agreed but did say climate change makes it easier for such events to occur. Project Midas team member and Swansea University glaciologist Martin O’Leary said in a statement, “Although this is a natural event, and we’re not aware of any link to human-induced climate change, this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position. This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history.” Scientists don’t yet know what will happen to the rest of the Larsen C ice shelf. Luckman said more icebergs might break off, or the ice shelf could regrow. But the team’s prior research indicates an ice shelf is likely less stable now that A68 is floating free. Luckman told The Guardian, “We will have to wait years or decades to know what will happen to the remainder of Larsen C.” Via The Guardian and Project Midas Images via NASA/John Sonntag and Project Midas

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Colossal iceberg weighing a trillion metric tons finally breaks off in the Antarctic

Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

May 18, 2017 by  
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As global temperatures increase due to global warming , ice caps and glaciers continue to melt at an increasing pace. While this reality disturbs some, it is being regarded as positive news by the National Advisor Bureau Limited, based in Dubai, India. This is because the firm seeks to harvest icebergs in the southern Indian ocean and tow them 5,700 miles (9,200 kilometers) away to the Gulf, where they could be melted and sold to local businesses or marketed as a tourist attraction. However ambitious, the Dubai firm faces many challenges in its ambition, including opposition from environmental activists . Phys reports that to accomplish the task of harvesting icebergs, the firm would send ships to Heard Island, an Australian nature reserve , and steer between massive icebergs the size of cities in search of truck-sized chunks. Then, the smaller icebergs would be secured to boats with nets and dragged thousands of miles back to the intended destination. Managing director of the company, Abdullah al-Shehi, believes that the icebergs would not melt significantly during the voyage as the majority of an iceberg’s mass is underwater. Al-Shehi is largely excited about the payday that could await someone who successfully transports an iceberg capable of holding 20 billion gallons of fresh water to the Gulf’s region water. This is because in Norway, for instance, one distillery sells 750 ml bottles of melted Arctic iceberg for $100 each. However, ice sourced from Antarctica is the driest in the world, therefore, yields much less water. If all the permits required are obtained, harvesting will begin in 2019. According to Robert Brears, the founder of Mitidaption, the project would require an initial investment of at least $500 million. Additionally, the firm faces a variety of obstacles. For one, Australia strictly limits access in order to preserve the diverse ecosystem of migratory birds, penguins, seals and fish. This could be disrupted by large ships. Additionally, Antarctica is subject to global treaties that mandate strict environmental regulations and ban mining and military activities. Said Christopher Readinger, head of the Antarctic team at the U.S. National Ice Center, “There are thousands and thousands of icebergs drifting around and they can move without warning. Storms down there can be really brutal, and there’s really not anyone that can help.” Environmentalists are also offering staunch resistant to the Dubai firm’s plan, as they argue there is a simpler method to address climate change in the Middle East. Examples given include drip-irrigation, fixing leaks and water conservations. Hoda Baraka, spokeswoman for the climate advocacy group 350.org , said , “This region is the heartland of the global oil industry, it will be at the forefront of experiencing these massive, insane heat waves, and there’s only one way to avoid this—reducing emissions and keeping all fossil fuels in the ground.” Related: 70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg Because the project is “an exceptionally futile and expensive way” to combat climate change and “seems to run counter to all ideas of climate change adaptation,” says Charlotte Streck, director of the consultancy firm Climate Focus, the Dubai firm is unlikely to receive financing from green investment groups. Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

Colossal landforms discovered under Antarctic ice sheet are 5X bigger than any on Earth

May 10, 2017 by  
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Colossal landforms recently found beneath the Antarctic ice sheet have surprised scientists. An international team found these eskers, or ridges of land similar to those left behind by ancient ice sheets , with satellite images and radar data – and it turns out they are far bigger than anything else like it on Earth. Some are as large as the Eiffel Tower and they might be contributing to Antarctic ice shelf thinning. The ancient Scandinavian Ice Sheet of the Pleistocene epoch was one of the biggest glacial masses of that time, and left behind eskers for us to see. The ice sheet was around 9,800 feet thick, but for thousands of years landforms under the sheet mitigated precipitation and evaporation so ice would continue to cycle through the ocean, according to ScienceAlert. Related: World’s most massive canyon may be hidden beneath Antarctic ice Now scientists have uncovered evidence of the landforms beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. But these subglacial features are a staggering five times larger than the eskers left behind we can see today. The scale of the eskers is shocking but they may also hold implications for the stability of the ice sheet. The Université libre de Bruxelles explained the “oversized sediment ridges actively shape the ice hundreds of kilometers downstream, by carving deep incisions at the bottom of the ice.” These gashes open up weak spots that are more susceptible to damage from warm ocean water. Researchers once thought ice shelves thinned only once they hit the ocean, but this new discovery means instability could impact the ice sheet even while it’s still on land. ScienceAlert pointed out we might not be able to halt the Antarctic ice sheet thinning, but a better understanding of the process could help us understand what will happen as the sheet thins. Nature Communications published the team’s research online yesterday. Scientists from institutions in Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Norway contributed to the study. Via ScienceAlert and Université libre de Bruxelles Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Colossal landforms discovered under Antarctic ice sheet are 5X bigger than any on Earth

70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg

December 7, 2016 by  
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A deep, 70-mile long crack in the Antarctic ice shelf could lead to major problems as it grows. The rift threatens the Larsen C ice shelf, the continent’s fourth largest, which has been under close observation since its neighbor, Larsen B, collapsed due to a similar crack in 2002. The growing rift, photographed by NASA’s IceBridge mission on November 10, will force the relocation of a British research station in the near term, and could have even more severe consequences down the road. Antarctica’s ice shelves are constantly changing, responding to even the most minuscule of temperature shifts. This 70-mile long rift in the Larsen C ice shelf could lead to its demise, though. The fracture measures more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep. NASA reports that the crack extends completely through the ice shelf but does not (yet) go all the way across it. Once the crack grows to that extent, an enormous portion of the ice shelf will calve off into the ocean, producing “an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware.” That’s approximately 2,491 square miles or between nine and 12 percent of the total area of the ice shelf. Related: Antarctic ice shelf twice the size of Manhattan is about to break free The ramifications of this enormous rift are numerous. Among the most immediate concerns is the safety of British Antarctic Survey ’s Halley VI research station, which is currently situated about 4.3 miles from the crack. BAS announced today the station will be moved in order to avoid becoming cut off from the rest of the ice shelf when the crack finally cuts across the entire shelf. Although moving a research station is no small feat, the team is optimistic and even “excited by the challenge,” as Tim Stockings, BAS director of operations, said in a statement . The station has been in its current location since 2012, and Stockings insists that it will remain operational with minimal disruption during the move. NASA’s Operation IceBridge will continue to monitor the growth of the rift, as part of its larger objective to collect data on changing polar land and sea ice, in keeping with previous measurements. The mission is currently funded through 2019. Via The Guardian Images via NASA and British Antarctic Survey

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70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg

50 scientists launch groundbreaking mission to circumnavigate Antarctica

October 18, 2016 by  
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In a first-of-its-kind expedition , more than 50 researchers hailing from 30 countries are joining forces on a journey to circumnavigate Antarctica . Their goal? To measure pollution and signs of climate change across the continent. The team will set off from Cape Town on the Russian research vessel Akademik Treshnikov on December 20, 2016 with a planned return of March 18 next year. The researchers involved hail from a variety of disciplines, including oceanography, biology, and climatology. The journey is treacherous and the conditions hostile, but it will help scientists better understand the effect humankind is having on the Southern Ocean. Not only will the Antarctic Circumpolar Expedition (ACE) study the main land mass, but it’s also the first attempt to study all the major islands in the surrounding ocean . While there’s been a good amount of recent research about the Arctic and the changes occurring as the northern ice cap melts, the southern pole is vastly less understood. Related: Burning all of Earth’s fossil fuels would completely melt Antarctica Though the project began with over 90 proposals for potential research ideas, in the end, only 22 were accepted. The adopted projects include measuring the effects of plastic pollution on the food chain and measuring the role phytoplankton plays in regulating the climate. The organization behind the expedition is the newly formed Swiss Polar Institute , a joint venture between a number of Swiss research and educational institutions that aims to “enhance international relations and collaboration between countries, as well as to spark the interest of a new generation of young scientists in polar research.” Via Phys Images via Andreas Kambanis  

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Antarctic ozone layer shows "first fingerprints of healing"

July 1, 2016 by  
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Nearly 30 years ago, almost every country in the world signed the Montreal Protocol to ban chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigerators, aerosols, and dry cleaning. The chlorine in CFCs was said to interact with ozone in the atmosphere to deplete the ozone layer. MIT scientist Susan Solomon’s work helped provide the impetus for the Montreal Protocol, and now she’s the lead author on a study recently published in Science revealing the Antarctic ozone layer may be healing at last. Each year around August, the ozone hole begins to open, and is typically fully formed in October. In the past, scientists have usually scrutinized the ozone hole in October, but Solomon and her team – which includes five other scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and the University of Leeds in the UK – decided to switch their focus to September. According to Solomon , “September is a better time to look because chlorine chemistry is firmly in control of the rate at which the hole forms at that time of the year.” The team tracked September ozone hole data between 2000 and 2015. They looked at satellite measurements of ozone and at meteorological changes. Related: New invention uses fluorescent lights to remove air pollution and stinky odors Their findings provide a lot of hope. Chlorine levels in the atmosphere are dissipating, and the ozone hole is shrinking. September’s ozone hole has diminished by over 4 million square kilometers, which is almost ” half the area of the contiguous United States .” The scientist team did see an ozone depletion spike in 2015, but were able to link it to a volcano eruption in Chile. Solomon thinks the ozone hole might even close up in the middle of this century. Solomon said , “We can now be confident that the things we’ve done have put the planet on a path to heal…Science was helpful in showing the path, diplomats and countries and industry were incredibly able in charting a pathway out of these molecules, and now we’ve actually seen the planet starting to get better. It’s a wonderful thing.” Via Phys.org Images via NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Pixabay

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Japanese “scientific” expedition murders hundreds of pregnant whales in violation of international law

March 25, 2016 by  
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333 Antarctic minke whales were slaughtered by a Japanese fleet in the name of “science” – even though we have techniques of studying whales without murdering them. 230 of those whales were female , and 90.2 per cent of them were pregnant. Read the rest of Japanese “scientific” expedition murders hundreds of pregnant whales in violation of international law

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Okuda turns a dreary Hong Kong building into a giant kaleidoscopic bear

March 25, 2016 by  
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Naturally striped Antarctic icebergs are almost too beautiful to be real

January 16, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Naturally striped Antarctic icebergs are almost too beautiful to be real Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Antarctic , Antarctic iceberg , envioronmental art , glacier art , glaciers , ice sculpture , ice sculptures , ice stripes , iceberg , iceberg art , icebergs , natural beauty , natural ice formations , natural phenomenon , sculpture , stripe iceberg , striped ice , striped iceberg , striped icebergs , stripes

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The Earth’s Ozone Layer Increases for the First Time in 35 Years

September 12, 2014 by  
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Good news, everyone – a new United Nations report shows that the Earth’s ozone layer has increased for the first time in 35 years. The report credits the recovery in part to the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) following the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987. Scientists discovered that the ozone layer was thinning above Antarctica in the 1970s, damaging crops and putting people at risk for skin cancer from harmful ultraviolet rays. Read the rest of The Earth’s Ozone Layer Increases for the First Time in 35 Years Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Antarctic , CFCs , chemicals , chlorofluorocarbons , earth , montreal protocol , ozone layer , UN

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