Global ocean circulation may be slowing down due to Arctic ice loss

August 16, 2017 by  
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Humanity is entering a phase of grave uncertainty as rising temperatures wreck havoc on our planet. Researchers from Yale University and the University of Southhampton have found evidence that Arctic ice loss may be having a negative impact on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) , the largest ocean circulation system on the planet. A complex system not easily explained by talking heads scoring political points, AMOC helps regulate ocean and atmospheric temperatures – and its collapse would have repercussions that not even scientists can properly predict. “The ongoing decline of Arctic sea ice exposes the ocean to anomalous surface heat and freshwater fluxes, resulting in positive buoyancy anomalies that can affect ocean circulation,” the researchers wrote in a new study published recently in Nature . “It is found that on decadal timescales, flux anomalies over the subpolar North Atlantic have the largest impact on the AMOC, while on multi-decadal timescales (longer than 20 years), flux anomalies in the Arctic become more important. These positive buoyancy anomalies spread to the North Atlantic, weakening the AMOC and its poleward heat transport. Therefore, the Arctic sea-ice decline may explain the suggested slow-down of the AMOC and the ‘Warming Hole’ persisting in the subpolar North Atlantic.” Related: How climate change could alter the environment in 100 years So what does this mean? Trevor Nace, a geologist, explains for Forbes : “This process whereby water is transported into the Northern Atlantic Ocean acts to distribute ocean water globally. What’s more important, and the basis for concern of many scientists is this mechanism is one of the most efficient ways Earth transports heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The warm water transported from the tropics to the North Atlantic releases heat to the atmosphere, playing a key role in warming of western Europe…” Since this is largely unprecedented, it is uncertain exactly what will happen if the AMOC collapses, or how it will affect global weather patterns. But we do know that even small shifts in climate can result in dramatic changes – evidenced by the growing number of droughts, floods and other natural disasters worldwide. In November, temperatures in the Arctic were 20C degrees higher than normal, according to an Arctic Resilience Report . The best way to slow down this trend is to release fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which requires a shift away from burning fossil fuels and other carbon-producing industries. And that requires leadership. Via Forbes Images via NOAA, NASA

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Global ocean circulation may be slowing down due to Arctic ice loss

Luxury Tree Villa communes with breathtaking nature in India

August 16, 2017 by  
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A picture-perfect getaway roosts in the treetops of west India. Architecture BRIO completed the Tree Villa, a two-story luxury getaway on the cliff of a 160-acre “treesort.” Set within the rich river landscape of Tala near the Kuda caves, the treehouse -like glass dwelling offers an immersive experience within a forested tropical setting. Architecture BRIO built the Tree Villa around existing mature trees, which grow up and through the roof, deck, and fencing, and give the structure its treehouse-like appearance. The dwelling blends into its surroundings with its thatched roof , predominately timber palette, and clean modern design. The architects wrapped the elevated Tree Villa in full-height glazing to optimize views of Tala’s stunning scenery. Tie-dyed bordered sheer curtains filter harsh sunlight during the day. The Tree Villa accommodates four adults and two children. The elevated ground floor is surrounded by an expansive timber deck and comprises a large luxurious bedroom, bathroom with mirrored slats, and a spiral staircase to the upper floor. The larger upper level also features a large timber deck in addition to a second bedroom, loft bed for children, living area, kitchen, dining room, west-facing patio, and a semi-outdoor bathroom that’s dramatically pierced by the enormous brand of an old Garuga fruit tree. The modern and minimalist open-plan interior and lack of walls reinforces the immersive experience in nature. Related: Bamboo-Veiled Dormitory by Architecture BRIO The architects write: “The volumetric compositions of partly white, partly reflective and transparent surfaces within a wooden framework animate and lighten up the space. It questions conventional definitions of exterior and interior and reinterprets notions of privacy and exposure within a hospitality environment. The spatial composition in an otherwise traditional tropical roof structure lends a sense of softness, sensuality, intimacy and complexity, making it a perfect setting for a retreat into the wilderness of Tala.” + Architecture BRIO Via ArchDaily Images © Photographix

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Luxury Tree Villa communes with breathtaking nature in India

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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ExxonMobil wants a sanctions waiver for Russian oil project

April 20, 2017 by  
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The United States imposed sanctions on Russia back in 2014 after Moscow annexed Crimea. But it appears oil giant ExxonMobil would like an exception for their own profit. They’re seeking a sanctions waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to pursue drilling in the Black Sea with Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft . It seems U.S. sanctions are just too inconvenient for ExxonMobil . Apparently they sent in their waiver application when Barack Obama was president, and did not drop it once Donald Trump entered office. The application didn’t come up during Senate hearings for former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson before he was confirmed as Secretary of State. Tillerson and other ExxonMobil officials then said they hadn’t lobbied against the sanctions on Russia. Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation Tillerson and the officials said ExxonMobil did receive a waiver to finish drilling an exploration well in Arctic waters near Russia. ExxonMobil officials also said they’d exhorted members of the Obama administration to align U.S. sanctions with European sanctions which allowed some flexibility for European companies to continue working on Russian projects. The Wall Street Journal first reported on ExxonMobil’s sanctions waiver request yesterday, and The New York Times confirmed the story with an oil industry official. An ExxonMobil spokesperson refused to comment to The New York Times on the waiver application. The application will go before the Trump administration at a tenuous time, as an inquiry into Russia’s potential influence on the American presidential election continues. At a 2014 Exxon annual meeting, Tillerson as CEO said, “We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively, and that’s a very hard thing to do.” But as Secretary of State he has not suggested sanctions be lifted. Rosneft and Exxon made a deal back in 2011 to invest $3.2 billion to explore the Black Sea and the Arctic Ocean, with the pledge to share in the findings if oil were discovered. Obama’s U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael A. McFaul, said on Twitter , “If the Trump administration approves this waiver, then all that tough talk last week about Russia was just that – talk.” Via The New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons and President of Russia

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Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change

August 18, 2016 by  
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Two days ago the small village of Shishmaref in Alaska faced a vote. Threatened by rising sea levels , they had to decide whether to stay in the village they and some of their ancestors have called home for around 400 years , or relocate. The results are in, and it was a close vote. Around 600 people reside in Shishmaref, and the majority are Inupiat Inuit. Both tribal and non-tribal people were invited to vote. Shishmaref voted to leave in a 89 to 78 vote. Those are the unofficial numbers; city council secretary Donna Burr says the vote has yet to be certified. It appears locals grappled with the decision as they tried to decide what would be best for future generations. Related: Five Pacific Ocean islands have already disappeared because of climate change Resident Tiffany Magby has a son who is three, and she’s afraid away from Shishmaref, he won’t have as much contact with traditional values. She told Grist, “I waited until the last hour to vote. I…am worried about what it means for his upbringing.” She says others also waited until near the end to cast their vote. Because of rising sea levels due to climate change , however, in the next few decades the residents may or may not have a choice. According to NOAA’s Arctic Change website , reduced sea ice stemming from climate change has led to “higher storm surges.” Infrastructure, homes, and even the village water system are at risk. Shishmaref also voted to leave and go to the mainland in 2002, but there wasn’t enough federal funding for them to actually make the move. They’d likely need around $200 million to relocate, but the U.S. Department of the Interior has only offered $8 million for tribes looking to move. Burr said the village would have to work around the limited funds. She told Grist, “It’s not going to happen in our lifetimes. We just want to take the right steps forward for our children.” Via Grist Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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First mammal species succumbs to climate change

June 15, 2016 by  
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Scientists from Australia’s University of Queensland and the Queensland government suspect the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent likely only found on the island of Bramble Cay, is the first species to go extinct because of climate change. The rodents were last spotted in 2009, and a thorough search in 2014 yielded not a single one. The scientists prepared a report and said the rodent’s status should be altered from ‘endangered’ to ‘extinct.’ The Bramble Cay melomys, or Melomys rubicola , was thought to live only on the tiny island of Bramble Cay, which is about 340 meters by 150 meters , or 1,115 feet by 492 feet. The Queensland government reports the size of Bramble Cay changes with the seasons, and the scientists think rising sea levels contributed to the Bramble Cay melomys’ demise. The waves destroyed much of their habitat and possibly even some of the rodents themselves. Related: Human activity will wipe out 41% of the world’s amphibians by 2200 Over the course of six nights, the scientists set up 150 mammal traps a night, and came up empty. They also ran 60 camera traps and conducted two hours of ” active daytime searches .” They also spoke with a fisherman who visits the island every year, who confirmed the rodent hadn’t been sighted since 2009. They finally concluded the Bramble Cay melomys is very likely extinct, and is possibly the first mammal species to perish because of climate change caused by humans. There might be a small hope for the species: the researchers think there could be some yet undiscovered on nearby Papua New Guinea . They think the Bramble Cay melomys could have arrived on the tiny island in the first place by floating on debris from Papua New Guinea. If that was the case, the rodents could still be there. The scientists suggested surveys of that island to search for any Bramble Cay melomys that may be lingering. Ecologist John White from Deakin University told The Guardian, “I am of absolutely no doubt we will lose species due to the increasing pressure being exerted by climate change. Species restricted to small, low lying islands, or those with very tight environmental requirements are likely to be the first to go.” Via The Guardian Images via The University of Queensland and screenshot

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HafenCity’s flood-proof design in Germany can cheat rising sea levels

December 14, 2015 by  
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Hamburg, Germany is one of the world’s many cities threatened by rising sea levels , yet its development of the eco-friendly HafenCity district may be part of the solution. The island sits a mere 4.5 or 5 meters above sea level, yet instead of abandoning the area and moving inward, the city has developed HafenCity into a model of sustainability for its 2,000 residents. Even more impressive is its simple solution to annual flooding and the effects of climate change. Read the rest of HafenCity’s flood-proof design in Germany can cheat rising sea levels

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Eerie blue men submerged under water warn of climate change

October 13, 2015 by  
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The West Coast is still on track for a huge El Niño event this year

August 7, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. NASA and other agencies are finding indications that an intense El Niño event may be heading to the west coasts of North and South America. NASA JPL climate scientist Bill Patzert stated , “It’s no sure bet that we will have a strong El Niño, but the signal is getting stronger. What happens in August through October should make or break this event.” While this may sound dandy for drought-stricken areas , the event could bring more hazards than respite. Read the rest of The West Coast is still on track for a huge El Niño event this year

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Watch this amazing machine transform plastic bags into fuel

August 7, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. Plastic bags have become the bane of our existence. They pollute our waterways, get tangled in trees and bushes, and take hundreds of years to break down into smaller pieces. But Japanese inventor Akinori Ito has created a household appliance that converts the ubiquitous plastic annoyance into fuel. A video shows Ito placing plastic bags, styrofoam containers, and other random bits of trash into a tabletop machine that melts them and condenses the gas released to produce usable oil. The highly efficient, non-polluting machine can process polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene (but not PET bottles), and it can convert 2 lbs. of plastic into a quart of oil using just 1 kilowatt of power. Read the rest of Watch this amazing machine transform plastic bags into fuel

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