Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia

October 2, 2020 by  
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Greenland’s massive ice sheet is melting at a rate faster than experienced in the past 12,000 years, according to a new study in  Nature . Published on Wednesday, the study, dubbed “Greenland Ice Sheet Will Exceed Holocene Values this Century,” revealed that Greenland is already losing ice at a rate four times faster than any period in the past 11,700 years.  Earlier studies showed that the fast rate of ice melt will lead to rising sea levels and disruption in ocean currents. According to these predictions, Greenland’s ice contributes the most to sea-level rise, with advanced models showing it raising sea levels by 0.7 millimeters each year. Estimations predicted the rate of sea-level rise to increase an additional four times by the end of the century. However, the new study explains that the actual impact of Greenland’s ice sheet melting could prove even worse than earlier predicted.  The new paper offers a revised prediction, showing that increased greenhouse gas emissions may worsen the state of affairs. If nothing changes regarding the current state of global warming, sea levels may rise between 2 to 10 centimeters per year by the century’s end. According to Jason Briner, a geologist at the University of Buffalo and the study’s lead author, the changes humans have made to the planet are already affecting Greenland ice melting rates. “We have altered our planet so much that the rates of ice sheet melt this century are on pace to be greater than anything we have seen under natural variability of the ice sheet over the past 12,000 years,” Briner said. Briner adds that the current ice melting state is not caused by natural variability as it has been historically. Instead, the current state is purely caused by humans. Andy Aschwanden from the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks wrote commentary on the research , saying that the only stopping greenhouse gas emissions can stop Greenland’s mass wasting. “Thanks to the work of Briner and colleagues, we are now one step closer to the goal of accurately and confidently predicting mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet. However, we are also increasingly certain that we are about to experience unprecedented rates of ice loss from Greenland, unless greenhouse-gas emissions are substantially reduced,” Aschwanden said.  + Nature Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia

Critical Antarctic glaciers are drifting away

September 24, 2020 by  
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New findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have revealed that two of the most important Antarctic glaciers are breaking away. The findings, which follow analyses of satellite imagery, indicate that a natural buffer that prevents the glaciers from breaking away is deteriorating at a rapid rate and could lead to destructive sea level rise. The two Antarctic glaciers in question, Pine Island and Thwaites, are located along the coast of the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica. For years, scientists have been carrying out studies to determine the best way to ensure that these two glaciers do not drift off into the ocean. Currently, the two glaciers already contribute to about 5% of global sea level rise . It is feared that if the glaciers drift, they could contribute up to a 10-foot sea level rise, which could lead to devastating losses of life and property. The survival of Pine Island and Thwaites is so critical that the U.S. and the U.K. have already invested millions into research concerning these glaciers. Related: Canada’s last Arctic ice shelf has collapsed Stef Lhermitte, one of the authors of the study and a satellite expert at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, said that the images are alarming. “The stresses that slow down the glacier, they are no longer in place, so the glacier is speeding up,” Lhermitte said. “We already knew that these were glaciers that might matter in the future, but these images to me indicate that these ice shelves are in a very bad state.” Ice shelves are very important in retaining seawater in the form of ice. As explained by The Washington Post, they are vast, floating ice sheets that extend across the ocean’s surface to the outer edge of glaciers . Although they freely flow over water, the ice shelves can attach themselves and freeze into the mountainsides. After freezing into mountainsides, they anchor into the seafloor. But warming oceans can cause the ice shelves to thin and glaciers to break away. As they drift off, the glaciers can melt and release more water into the oceans. If this happens, the resulting sea level rise could critically change the world as we know it. + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via The Washington Post Image via Kate Ramsayer / NASA

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Critical Antarctic glaciers are drifting away

Indie comic book characters are brought to life as unique cardboard cutouts

September 24, 2020 by  
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After creating a life-size board game out of cardboard , Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame has combined his love of cardboard crafting with another passion — rare comic book action figures. The self-proclaimed “comic book nerdboy” recently launched a Kickstarter for unique handmade cardboard cutouts of some of his favorite indie comic book characters. In a collection called ‘ Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs ,’ Nuwame has meticulously put together a 15-figurine set — including one of the earliest Black comic book heroes, Ace Harlem — that are available exclusively on Kickstarter. Created as a limited one-time release, the 15 figurines in The Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs series were all made by hand from cardboard , photo paper, glue, magnets, paint and bamboo picks by Nuwame in his living room. As articulated cutouts, each magnetic figurine can be moved into a variety of poses. His Kickstarter videos show how he puts each figurine together with bamboo toothpicks and glue. Related: Parent shares process of making life-size board game from cardboard “Since the start of the 2020 pandemic , I noticed many of my fellow comic book creators, in addition to myself, have experienced challenges when it comes to sharing our characters and stories with the public,” Nuwame explained on Kickstarter. “Many of us have amazing comics to share with current fans and potential new ones, but the ongoing cancellations of comic book conventions have made expanding audiences more difficult. However, this new unfortunate reality spawned an idea!” In addition to the inclusion of classic but perhaps little-known comic book character favorites, Nuwame has also included more recent characters including those from his own self-published line of comic books. Characters include the likes of Ace Harlem, a golden age comic book detective hero; Lacrossa, a super heroine of Nuwame’s creation from 2016; and a glow-in-the-dark horror character called The Muffenman. The one-of-a-kind cardboard figurines are only available for purchase on Kickstarter through September. + Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Comic Book Action Cut-Outs Images via Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame

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Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater

December 11, 2019 by  
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A study recently published in Nature found that glacier-based freshwater systems are highly threatened by climate change. Called “mountain water towers,” they supply water to communities in the downstream basin by generating and storing vast quantities of water from their high-elevation rain and snow. Unfortunately, ice melt is becoming more pronounced and precipitation patterns are disrupted, in turn placing these water towers’ storage capacity at critical risk. The study warns that the depletion of freshwater supplies and severe water shortages will become more evident, especially as “water stress, governance, hydropolitical tension and future climatic and socio-economic changes” put these natural water towers at risk. Narratives on climate change must shift to include discussions on mountain ice melt and loss and not just revolve around sea level rise. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis The research, authored by 32 scientists across the globe, recognized 78 mountainous regions as crucial water towers primarily found in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Based on the study, Asian water towers were the most vulnerable, particularly the Indus water system. “The study quantified for the first time both the natural water supply from the mountains as well as the water demand by society and also provided projections for the future based on climatic and socioeconomic scenarios,” said Tobias Bolch of the University of St. Andrews’ School of Geography and Sustainable Development. “The projected loss of ice and snow and increasing water needs makes specific densely populated basins located in arid regions, like the Indus basin in South Asia or the Amu Darya basin in Central Asia, highly vulnerable in the future.” Reliance on these water towers means these mountain ecosystems must be safeguarded. Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist at National Geographic Society, explained, “This research will help decision-makers, on global and local levels, prioritize where action should be taken to protect mountain systems, the resources they provide and the people who depend on them.” + Nature Image via Ashish Verma

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Antarctica loses record amount of ice

July 3, 2019 by  
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A new study using satellite images of Antarctica reveals a remarkable spike in ice melt over the last five years. Although the extent of the ice was expanding since 1974, after 2014, Antarctica lost nearly 810,815 square miles of ice. Scientists aren’t ready to point their fingers at climate change as the culprit, but regardless of what is to blame, the loss in ice has an enormous impact on the South Pole’s ecosystem. “It went from its 40-year high in 2014, all the way down in 2017 to its 40-year low,” said the author of the study , climatologist Claire Parkinson. There was a similar massive retreat of ice in the 1970s, which is why researchers aren’t sure if this is due to global warming — and if it is permanent. Despite the overall loss in ice over the past five years, there was some growth in 2017; scientists are hopeful that this could be part of the relatively normal cycling of ice. Related: NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier Regardless of what caused it and whether or not it is gone forever, the loss in ice is bad news for local species and for global warming in the rest of the world. “Sea ice also affects the polar ecosystem, including penguins and whales and seals, petrels and albatrosses, krill, and a whole range of additional animals and marine plant life,” Parkinson said. In addition, ice reflects about 50 to 70 percent of the sun’s rays back out into space, which helps keep the Earth’s surface cool. By comparison, EcoWatch reported that the dark blue ocean absorbs 90 percent of light. “The plunge in the average annual extent means Antarctica lost as much sea ice in four years as the Arctic lost in 34 years,” tweeted a concerned Greta Thunberg. Via EcoWatch Image via John B. Weller / The Pew Charitable Trusts / U.S. Department of State

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This rustic tiny home on wheels spans just 90 square feet

July 3, 2019 by  
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When it comes to tiny home design, sometimes it’s the itsy-bitsy spaces that show us how to live big. The Vancouver-based designers at Backcountry Tiny Homes have proved just that with a gorgeous tiny home on wheels that measures merely 16 feet long. Although incredibly compact, savvy design strategies, including oversized windows and a charming front porch, give The Acorn a certain character that overcomes its small stature. The Acorn tiny house, part of the company’s Mountain Series, is designed for the adventurer in us all. Perfect for either a weekend cabin in the mountains or an off-grid home near the beach, this tiny home is a great fit for just about any lifestyle. Related: Basecamp tiny home boasts a large rooftop deck for mountain-climbing couple and 3 dogs The tiny home ‘s exterior is clad in a honey-toned knotty cedar with a bit of black metal siding. A charming front porch gives the residence a welcoming vibe. The cabin’s interior is just 90 square feet but manages to pack a lot of punch into the space. A major factor in its sophisticated design is the multiple oversized windows that let in ample natural light and connect the living space with the outdoors. Adding to the rustic charm is the wooden interior with Alpine Backwoods flooring and tongue and groove spruce paneling on the walls. The home boasts a small living room with a comfy sofa that folds out into a queen-sized mattress. On the opposite wall, a small table that can be used for dining or working folds up when it is not in use. High up on the walls, just under the ceiling, is a wrap-around shelf for storage . Additional storage is found in the nooks and crannies throughout the home. The bathroom is more than big enough for such a small space and comes with a full-sized shower, toilet and a vanity cabinet. The kitchen is a tight squeeze but offers all of the basic amenities as well as one major surprise. Hooked up to the kitchen is a built-in Sweepovac vacuum system that is the perfect amenity for keeping the tiny space tidy. According to the designers, the Acorn comes with tight insulation that makes it feasible for almost any climate. Additionally, the tiny home can be custom-designed with additional features such as off-grid capabilities . + Backcountry Tiny Homes Via Tiny House Talk Images via Backcountry Tiny Homes

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This rustic tiny home on wheels spans just 90 square feet

Heatwave roasts mussels alive in California

July 3, 2019 by  
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An unusual heatwave sent droves of Californians to the beach, where they were met with hundreds of unfamiliar beach-goers – cooked mussels. Consecutive days of high temperatures caused a widespread die-off of mussels along Northern California’s Bodega Bay, a marine reserve and fishing community. Ecologists reported similar die-of scenarios throughout a 140 mile stretch of coastline. Although there was a similar die-off of mussels in 2004, this appears to be the largest in 15 years. With low-tide temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the mussels were roasted right in their shells and washed up on the beaches fully cooked. Related: Trash collecting device returned to Pacific garbage patch Scientists worry that although they can see the damage to the mussel population by walking along the shore, there could be other widespread damage to other species and ecosystems below the water and out of eyesight, as mussels are a critical species within their ecosystem. “Mussels are known as a foundation species . The equivalent are the trees in a forest– they provide shelter and habitat for a lot of animals, so when you impact that core habitat it ripples throughout the rest of the system,” said marine research coordinator, Jackie Sones. “These events are definitely becoming more frequent, and more severe. Mussels are one of the canaries in the coal mine for climate change, only this canary provides food and habitat for hundreds of other species,” said Christopher Harley, a biologist at the University of British Columbia. Much research about rising sea levels and temperatures focuses on nearshore tropical ecosystems, where coral reefs are sensitive to even the slightest shifts in temperature or acidity. Less research exists for cooler coastlines and open waters such as Northern California, but the mussel die-off is evidence that the negative impacts of climate change have already reached these waters. Via The Guardian Image via joycemay

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Greenland ice sheet is melting faster and earlier in the year than ever

April 13, 2016 by  
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Climate scientists are beside themselves this month as record-breaking ice melt in Greenland devastates the nation’s ice sheet. New measurements from the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) estimate there is melting over 12 percent of Greenland ’s ice sheet. That amount is considerably higher than previous records, and the melt is occurring much earlier this year than normal, leaving scientists with lots of concerns about the future. Read the rest of Greenland ice sheet is melting faster and earlier in the year than ever

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James Hansen warns dangerous effects of climate change could hit much sooner than we think

March 23, 2016 by  
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Last year a working paper led by retired NASA scientist James Hansen incited controversy , and now, the final version of the research is stirring debate once again. In the paper, Hansen and other international scientists warn that the 2°C Paris limit could still cause irreparable damage to our planet, specifically through polar ice melts , superstorms , and rising sea levels that could demolish coastal cities. And those effects could be felt within decades, not centuries. Read the rest of James Hansen warns dangerous effects of climate change could hit much sooner than we think

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Record high air and water temperatures in the Arctic are threatening walrus and fish at an alarming rate

December 17, 2015 by  
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Tuesday that the Arctic is “warming twice as fast as other parts of the planet.” Arctic temperatures hit a record high this year , more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average, with some areas seeing a 2 degree increase over average temps. Scientists say the higher temperatures are drastically changing the habitat of marine life, like walruses, who rely on the sea ice for survival. The melting ice also contributes to rising sea levels around the globe, posing an increased threat to low-lying coastal regions. Logically, warmer air and water temperatures lead to increased ice melting, sending ever more fresh water into the oceans. The NOAA report indicates the largest warming trend is occurring in Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, and Baffin Bay, off the west coast of Greenland. Scientists say Greenland has experienced “extensive” melting over 50 percent of its ice sheet, which leaves ocean water vulnerable to the sun’s rays, resulting in warmer water temperatures. Less ice and warming ocean water pose a threat to the entire ecosystem, with negative impacts on everything from weather to marine life. Related: Greenland’s ice is melting faster than previously thought In particular, NOAA scientists are concerned about fish and walruses. “The decline in sea ice is dramatically changing the habitat for walruses,” the report states, largely because the mammals “traditionally use sea ice for mating, giving birth to young, finding food and shelter from storms and predators.” With less territory to support their livelihoods, walrus are moving to new locales in large numbers. Recently, an estimated 35,000 walruses hauled out (the term for walruses coming out of the water) on a barrier island near Point Lay, Alaska, and other large groups have been spotted through aerial surveys. The large-scale haul outs are problematic to walrus survival, as the overcrowding leads to stampedes that kill calves and increase competition for limited food resources. Via Al Jazeera America and NOAA Images via Corey Accardo, NOAA/NMFS and Dan Pisut, NOAA/Climate.gov

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