The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

March 29, 2018 by  
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Scientists used to think Lake Hazen, located around 560 miles away from the North Pole in Canada , was beyond the reach of human impact. But new research led by geographer Igor Lehnherr of the University of Toronto Mississauga reveals the High Arctic lake is reacting to climate change . Lehnherr said in the university’s statement , “Even in a place so far north, it’s no longer cold enough to prevent the glaciers from shrinking. If this place is no longer conducive for glaciers to grow, there are not many other refuges left on the planet.” Lake Hazen park staff and visitors noticed the lake’s lack of ice in the summer; in the past, it was rare for the ice to melt completely during that time. Their reports sparked this new study, as did the realization that glaciers melted more in summer than they were growing in the winter, according to Lehnherr. Related: The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation Scientists drew on research dating back to the 1950s for a study that is “the first to aggregate and analyze massive data sets on Lake Hazen,” according to the university. Lehnherr said on his website , the Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory , “What our study shows is that even in the High Arctic, warming is now occurring to such an extent that it is no longer cold enough for glaciers to grow, and lake ice to persist year-round.” Since Lake Hazen is so big, theoretically it should show more resilience to climate change compared to smaller bodies of water or ponds, Lehnherr said in the university’s statement. His website said he and his team had hypothesized Lake Hazen would be “relatively resilient to the impacts of Arctic warming” and the “finding that this was not the case is alarming.” Lehnherr said in the university’s statement, “If this lake is exhibiting signs of climate change, it really shows how pervasive these changes are.” The journal Nature Communications published the research online this week; scientists from institutions in Canada, the United States, and Austria also contributed. + University of Toronto Mississauga + Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory + Nature Communications Images via Pieter Aukes and Igor Lehnherr

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The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

10 things you need to know about living in the 2018 Airstream Globetrotter travel trailer

March 29, 2018 by  
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Have you ever dreamed of packing your bags and hitting the road on an Airstream adventure? You’re not alone. The Airstream is a modern marvel that promises freedom, comfort and self-sufficiency – and it has captured the hearts of dreamers, explorers, and design-savvy travelers for decades. We recently had the chance to take a brand new 2018 Airstream Globetrotter for a trip along the rugged coastline of California – read on for 10 things we learned on the way. 1. Don’t fear the tow Prior to this trip, I had never towed a vehicle before – so the prospect of flying down the freeway with a 3-ton, $100,000 aluminum bubble made me just a little nervous. Still, I found myself at Bay Area Airstream Adventures with a media loan* for a 2018 Globetrotter and a Nissan Titan. Their knowledgeable, friendly team taught me everything I needed to know, sat me in the driver’s seat, and I hit the road just in time for rush hour. Despite the traffic, the trip went smoothly. The Nissan Titan has plenty of power, and the Airstream team coached me to make slow starts, gradual stops, and “unapologetically wide right turns.” Once I made it through San Francisco and hit the Pacific Coast Highway, the rest of the drive was a breeze. 2. The world is your oyster The Globetrotter can adapt to pretty much any environment – but when it came time to select a campsite, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Costanoa KOA is an eco-adventure resort set amidst one of the most scenic stretches of California’s coastline. Located about an hour south of San Francisco, Costanoa is the perfect home base for exploring the region’s rocky coastline, lush green hills, and prime surf breaks. Elephant seals populate Año Nuevo State Park to the south, while the historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse lies just a few miles to the north. The campground has the feel of a cozy coastal village with communal fireplaces, wooden lodges, a restaurant and a general store. It also offers full RV hookups and it’s great for kids, with activities ranging from nature hikes and whale watching to falconry presentations and photography tours. 3. It has all the comforts of home This isn’t your grandfather’s airstream . The wood-heavy interiors of yesteryear have evolved into a light, bright space lined with skylights and panoramic windows. The Globetrotter packs pretty much every amenity you could want – including air conditioning, heating, a full kitchen, a microwave, a refrigerator, a Polk sound system, and two TVs with satellite cable. 4. Bring your friends Thanks to some seriously impressive interior design, the Globetrotter is able to sleep six people. The master bedroom holds a queen-size mattress, another bed slides out from the sofa, and the dining table lowers and locks to create an additional sleeping platform. There’s plenty of room to comfortably lounge and sleep with four people, although I can imagine the quarters get pretty close at full capacity. 5. Smart storage saves the day Organization is the key to living in a tiny home – and Airstream packed clever space-saving features into every nook and cranny of the Globetrotter. Eye-level cabinets are lined with lights and mirrors so that you can easily find what you’re looking for. Additional storage can be found beneath the banquette seating, within the wardrobe, under the sink, and even below the queen bed, which conveniently lifts upwards. 6. It’s chef approved Despite its small size, the Globetrotter’s kitchen can make short work out of even complicated multi-course meals. The oven is topped with three gas burners, and a microwave slides stealthily out of a side cabinet. A full sink makes cleanup a snap, and it can be covered up with Corian insets to create additional counter space. It’s crab season in California, so we whipped up a seafood feast with a pasta course and a blood orange salad. 7. It’s off-grid ready Thanks to smart systems design, the Globetrotter is equally adept at plugging into the grid or ‘boondocking’ in the middle of nowhere. It can tap into district water at a campsite, or you can draw upon its 39-gallon freshwater tank. Heating is provided by an electric heat pump or a propane furnace. The refrigerator can run on electricity or gas, and the roof comes ready to accept a solar array. These systems maximize the trailer’s flexibility and comfort in a wide range of environments and conditions. 8. But there’s definitely a learning curve It takes knowledge and experience to maximize your efficiency – especially if you’re camping off-grid. Knowing which systems to activate at what time can spell the difference between a comfortable stay and a dead battery. Fortunately, there are lots of resources available online to help light the way. 9. Get ready to measure your footprint With all the luxuries that the Globetrotter provides, it’s easy to forget that you’re working with certain constraints. A handy panel keeps the score, measuring the Globetrotter’s battery charge and fresh water levels (critical when boondocking) as well as how much room is left in the gray and black water tanks. Having access to this information really makes you consider the resources you use – and the waste you produce. 10. It’s built for the long haul The Globetrotter appeals to a certain kind of traveler. It takes some effort and knowledge to get it to its location, set it up, and operate it efficiently, so it’s not as quick or easy as tent camping. But it’s definitely more comfortable, durable, and versatile – and with the right setup and practices, it can serve as a cozy, stylish, and modern home on wheels practically indefinitely. + 2018 Airstream Globetrotter + Bay Area Airstream Adventures + Costanoa KOA Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat Full disclosure: Airstream and Nissan Titan loan provided by Bay Area Airstream Adventures and JMPR Public Relations . Costanoa KOA reservation provided by Allison + Partners

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10 things you need to know about living in the 2018 Airstream Globetrotter travel trailer

The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation

March 15, 2018 by  
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In the far North Atlantic , scientists have uncovered new evidence that an unusual infusion of freshwater into the ocean may already be affecting the ocean’s circulation. Mostly likely sourced from melting glaciers in Greenland or Arctic sea ice, the freshwater remains on the surface of the ocean for longer than denser saltwater. This could affect the ocean’s natural process known as convection, in which northbound surface water becomes denser and colder, thus sinking then traveling south at great depths. “Until now, models have predicted something for the future … but it was something that seemed very distant,” study lead author Marilena Oltmanns told the Washington Post . “But now we saw with these observations that there is actually freshwater and that it is already affecting convection, and it delays convection quite a lot in some years.” The research team gathered data on Irminger Sea to the southeast of Greenland , where they used ocean moorings to take measurements regarding the circulation of ocean water at key convection sites. While the study does not make any specific predictions regarding how convection may be affected, or how quickly it may change, the conclusion that freshwater from melting glaciers or sea ice may be already affecting convection is noteworthy. In 2010, 40 percent of melted freshwater remained on the surface through winter and into the next year. The staying power of the melted freshwater may suggest a positive feedback loop that could drive further mixing. Related: Pre-industrial carbon found in Canadian Arctic waters “It is possible that there is a threshold, that if there is a lot of freshwater that stays at the surface, and mixes with the new freshwater from the new summer, it suddenly doubles, or increases a lot, and the next winter , it’s a lot more difficult to break through,” said Oltmanns. It is already established that Atlantic circulation has been weaker than average since 2008, with scientists crediting climate change , cyclical patterns, or both. While the changes to convection may occur over time, the latest study indicates that change may occur more rapidly than expected. “There might be a threshold that is crossed, and it’s harder to get back to where we were before,” said Oltmanns. “It’s possible.” Via The Washington Post Images via Depositphotos (1)

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The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation

Meet the Monocabin, a tiny home rental mere steps from the Aegean Sea

March 15, 2018 by  
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Milan-based Mandalaki Design Studio has created the gorgeous all-white Monocabin – a prototype for micro-living rentals located on the Greek island of Rhodes. At just over 270 square feet, this micro-home is made out of modular concrete panels and inspired by the island’s traditional architecture – which is simple, clean and cozy. This miniature piece of Greek holiday heaven, which is just steps away from the Aegean Sea, can currently be rented on Airbnb . The Monocabin’s modular concrete panels give the structure a traditional yet modern feel. The interior space, with a “hidden” bedroom and compact kitchen and living area, is simple but elegant. The walls, as well as most of the furnishings, are completely white, exuding an ethereal character. Related: Cool micro studio in Budapest makes the most out of 344 square feet Large and small windows located in every room provide plenty of natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. Additionally, Mandalaki’s own solar-powered lights are featured within the project. Outside, the cabin offers a beautiful open-air terrace that pulls double duty as a lounge area where guests can dine al fresco, under trees that provide plenty of shade. The courtyard is open and uncluttered, again paying homage to the simplicity that defines the island’s architecture. According to the architects, the cabins were inspired by idea that the island’s laid-back, minimalist lifestyle could be transported to other parts of the world via architecture. “The dream was to build a livable and modular design object we could place anywhere in the world sharing our design philosophy,” says George Kolliopoulos, co-founder and designer at Mandalaki. “And the story had to begin in Rhodes, my home island.” + Mandalaki Design Studio Via The Spaces Photographs via Mandalaki Design Studio

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Meet the Monocabin, a tiny home rental mere steps from the Aegean Sea

Meteorologist warns collapse of two Antarctic glaciers could flood every coastal city on Earth

November 24, 2017 by  
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Two of Antarctica’s glaciers are holding our civilization hostage, meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote in a piece for Grist . Pine Island and Thwaites are among the continent’s biggest and fastest-melting glaciers , together holding back ice that could unleash 11 feet of sea level rise . If they collapse, every coastal city on our planet could flood. Thwaites and Pine Island sprawl across a plain over 150-miles-long, and inland widen to a reserve of ice two-miles-thick that’s about the size of Texas, according to Holthaus, who says there’s no doubt the ice will melt. The question is not if, but how soon. Should the two glaciers collapse, every shoreline and coastal city could be inundated with water, leaving hundreds of millions of climate refugees homeless. And those events could happen in 20 to 50 years – too fast for humans to adapt. Related: Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf Two climatologists, in a study published in Nature last year, said an increase of six feet in ocean levels by 2100 was more likely than three feet – but if carbon emissions continue increasing in a worst case scenario, all 11 feet of ice held back in Antarctica could be freed. But if these glaciers are miles thick, wouldn’t it take an incredibly long time for them to collapse? That may not be the case in our warming world. Holthaus pointed to new evidence saying once we reach a certain temperature threshold, glacier ice shelves extending into the sea – like those of Thwaites and Pine Island – could melt from below and above, quickening their demise. Holthaus noted not every scientist thinks there’s cause for panic. National Snow and Ice Data Center lead scientist Ted Scambos said the two glaciers may not collapse all at once – and rapid collapse would still produce several icebergs that could slow the rate of retreat and act as a temporary ice shelf. But the scientific community is starting to think we need more research into the risk of rapid sea level rise, according to Holthaus. University of Michigan leading ice sheet scientist Jeremy Bassis said, “Every revision to our understanding has said that ice sheets can change faster than we thought. We didn’t predict that Pine Island was going to retreat, we didn’t predict that Larsen B was going to disintegrate. We tend to look at these things after they’ve happened.” Via Grist Images via Wikimedia Commons and NASA

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New NASA tool shows which melting glaciers will affect coastal cities

November 17, 2017 by  
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NASA has developed a new tool  that individuals and communities can use to determine the precise impacts that sea level rise will have on individual coastal cities . This newly accessible information will enable scientists and policymakers to have a more complete understanding of the consequences of climate change in specific areas. “This study allows one person to understand which icy areas of the world will contribute most significantly to sea level change (rise or decrease) in their specific city,” said Eric Larour, one of the study’s authors, in an interview with CNN . While most coastal communities around the world understand the imminent risks to their survival from sea level rise , this tool allows them to plan more precisely for the future. Current projections estimate that coastal communities will face a sea level rise of one to four feet, depending on location. Since the impact of melting sea ice will be felt differently in different places, it is important for communities to have as precise and accurate information as possible. NASA’s new tool, developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, incorporates the rotation of the Earth and gravitational variables to more precisely identify how specific bodies of melting ice will impact certain communities. Related: Boston outlines its plans to adapt to rising sea levels To create this tool, researchers conducted a study in which they analyzed data for 293 coastal cities to calculate local sea level rise and the glacial source of this newly liquid water. Glaciers farthest away from a particular city tended to be the most responsible for its sea level rise, due to gravity. “Ice sheets are so heavy, that when they melt, the gravity field is modified, and the ocean is less attracted to the ice mass,” said Larour in an interview with CNN . “This means that locally, close to the ice change itself, sea level will decrease.” Larour hopes that this new tool will empower local communities to make informed decisions as they prepare for unfolding impacts of climate change . + NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Via CNN Images via NASA and Depositphotos

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Scientists discover Antarctica is covered in rivers

April 20, 2017 by  
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For decades, scientists have known that summertime brings liquid meltwater to Antarctica’s ice sheets. But until now, they’ve had no idea just how extensive the continent’s network of rivers, streams, ponds, and waterfalls really is. A new analysis by scientists at  Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has found that warmer months cause far more extensive melting than previously thought. That could be a problem as global temperatures continue to rise. Surface water can damage the ice shelves , weakening them and causing them to collapse into the ocean. Some of the channels identified in this survey allow meltwater to run harmlessly off into the sea, but in other areas, standing water can be a huge problem. In 2002, more than 2,000 lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf drained through the ice into the ocean below, causing the entire area to rapidly disintegrate. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc The presence of water on the frozen continent does not yet appear to be the cause of widespread problems—but there’s also the possibility that warmer temperatures are causing sub-surface ice melt. Unfortunately, that phenomenon has been researched in far less detail, so it’s unclear exactly what effect it will have on the ice and rising sea levels in the future. Via Phys.org Images via NASA and Wikimedia Commons

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Scientists discover Antarctica is covered in rivers

NASA snaps worrying images of new crack in large Greenland glacier

April 17, 2017 by  
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One of Greenland’s biggest glaciers could be in trouble. A Netherlands university professor pointed out a new chasm in the Petermann Glacier, as seen in satellite images . NASA’s Operation IceBridge recently went over to check it out and captured photographs that don’t look too good. Scientists say the crack is in an unusual place, and aren’t sure what caused it. Delft University of Technology professor Stef Lhermitte provided coordinates for Operation IceBridge, which flew over the rift to snap pictures. The significant crack is close to the center of Petermann Glacier’s floating ice shelf, which is a strange place for it to be according to scientists. The new chasm is not too far away from another longer and wider rift snaking towards the center of the ice shelf from the eastern side wall, and if the two intersect, a chunk could break off. Related: Iceberg Twice the Size of Manhattan Breaks Off Greenland Glacier There may be some hope – a feature NASA called a medial flowline could “exert a stagnating effect on the propagation of the new rift toward the older one.” Petermann Glacier has seen ice islands break off in the past, in 2010 and 2012. The 2010 chunk was over four times the size of Manhattan, and according to Massachusetts representative Edward J. Markey was the “largest piece of Arctic ice to break free in nearly half a century.” Since those two events the glacier has grown back a bit, but should another ice island break off, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland’s Jason Box told The Washington Post it could be over two times as big as Manhattan, or 50 to 70 square miles big. Lhermitte, after looking at NASA’s recent images, told The Washington Post, “From these images alone, it is difficult to already say anything about what exactly caused the crack on this unusual spot.” Via The Washington Post and Mashable Images via NASA/DMS/Gary Hoffmann and NASA/Kelly Brunt

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NASA snaps worrying images of new crack in large Greenland glacier

Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc

October 26, 2016 by  
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As climate change fuels the melting of Antarctic glaciers , scientists have expressed grave concern. The UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and US National Science Foundation (NSF) will spend up to $25 million to research the colossal Thwaites Glacier, part of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which could dramatically accelerate sea level rise around the world if it melts. If the whole ice sheet goes, scientists warn global sea levels could rise by as much as nine feet.

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Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc

This pink snow may be pretty, but it’s terrible news for the environment

June 27, 2016 by  
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Pink snow might sound outlandish, but it can actually be found around the world. While it may be pretty, it turns out it really isn’t a good look: the color is caused by blooming algae , which cause the snow to melt quicker. As the climate changes, these algae thrive – but their presence has ominous implications for glaciers . In a study published this week in Nature Communications , scientists from the UK and Germany scrutinized the algae and an effect called “bio-albedo.” White surfaces, like glaciers and snow, reflect sunlight, and that’s called albedo. When those glaciers and snow melt, they reveal darker surfaces beneath, like mountains or oceans, and those surfaces have a lower albedo, or absorb greater amounts of sunlight. That effect is important because red algae actually gives snow a lower albedo and makes it melt faster. Related: Arctic temperatures are literally off the charts Lead author Stefanie Lutz told Gizmodo, “The algae need liquid water in order to bloom . Therefore the melting of snow and ice surfaces controls the abundance of the algae. The more melting, the more algae. With temperatures rising globally, the snow algae phenomenon will likely also increase leading to an even higher bio-albedo effect.” Lutz’s study reveals ” red pigmented snow algal blooms ” can decrease snow albedo by 13 percent during a melt season. The phenomenon takes place all around the world, too, from the Arctic to Antarctica. Greenland, the European Alps, and Iceland are a few other places where people have noted the algae. The algae is especially prevalent in the Arctic during the summer, when Lutz says by her estimation at least 50 percent of snow on a glacier displays the blooms. Lutz and her colleagues recommended the algae be taken into account in future climate models, because warmer temperatures will likely mean more algae, and therefore even more melting. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Dick Culbert on Flickr

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