Critical climate record satellite program at risk after Congress slashes funding

November 6, 2017 by  
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Scientists all over Earth depend on sea ice data from United States military satellites . But one of those satellites recently broke down – and only three aging ones remain. Even worse, the United States Congress  said a new backup probe had to be dismantled because they reportedly didn’t want to pay to keep it in storage. Almost four decades of essential  Arctic and Antarctic sea ice satellite measurements could soon be disrupted. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) puts together a sea ice record used by scientists worldwide with satellite information. That record is at risk, as a new satellite can’t be launched until at least 2023, according to scientists. Related: Total sea ice levels on Earth lower than ever before recorded Satellites have aided scientists in measuring Earth’s dramatically shrinking sea ice. Over the years, America’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) has overseen the building of eight F-series satellites monitoring sea ice, but now just three aging probes, DMSP F16, F17, and F18, are operating. And they’re starting to drift out of their orbits. The satellites have lifespans of up to five years – but these three are over eight, 11, and 14 years old. F19 is the satellite that broke, and should have been replaced with F20, which was being stored by the United States Air Force . But it was dismantled in 2016 after Congress cut funding for the program, according to the Scientific American. The Air Force reportedly spent $518 million on F20. NSIDC satellite remote sensing expert David Gallaher said, “This is like throwing away the medical records of a sick patient. Our world is ailing and we have apparently decided to undermine, quite deliberately, the effectiveness of the records on which its recovery might be based. It is criminal.” Scientific American said a Japanese satellite is collecting sea ice data – but it was designed to last five years and is already five years old. A Chinese satellite might offer an alternative – and experts will discuss options at a December meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Via The Guardian and Scientific American Images via Depositphotos

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Critical climate record satellite program at risk after Congress slashes funding

Why Trump’s nominee to lead NASA is terrifying choice for the planet

November 6, 2017 by  
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In an administration that has been defined by its disdain for scientific concensus and even basic facts , it should come as no surprise that Jim Bridenstine, former Republican Congressman and President Trump’s nominee to lead NASA , has no scientific background. During a recent Senate confirmation hearing , Bridenstine claimed that while humans are contributing to climate change, there is no way of knowing to what extent – a statement that goes against scientific consensus. Bridenstine has aggressively denied climate science in the past , has gone so far as to introduce legislation that would eliminate Earth science from NASA’s mission statement, and seems poised to ignore scientific evidence even if appointed to lead what is perhaps the most iconic institution of engineering and science in American government . During his Senate hearing, Bridenstine was questioned by Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who took issue with Bridenstine’s failure to acknowledge current science. In response to a question on the factors that contribute to climate change, Bridenstine responded that “it’s going to depend on a lot of factors and we’re still learning more about that every day. In some years you could say absolutely, in other years, during sun cycles and other things, there are other contributing factors that would have maybe more of an impact.” Bridenstine’s statement revealed his failure to understand climate change , which is measured over decades, not in year-to-year variations. The most recent IPCC report concluded that there is a 95% chance that humans are mainly responsible for the changing climate. Even a report from the Trump Administration reached the same conclusion. Related: The isolated Pacific graveyard where spaceships go to die In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) offered his endorsement of Bridenstine in an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel . “Jim Bridenstine has a firsthand perspective on the need to better understand our Earth and the behavior of the atmosphere,” Perlmutter wrote. “He has a keen awareness of the important Earth science missions NASA is undertaking and wants to continue to advance our understanding of the planet.” Although Bridenstine has pledged to keep NASA “apolitical,” his previous career as a Republican congressman seems likely to haunt his tenure at NASA, if he is confirmed. “I believe you’re going to get confirmed,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to Bridenstine during his confirmation hearing. “But, I would say to my Democratic friends on this committee, that if the confirmation ends up going down to a party-line vote, I think that would be deeply unfortunate for NASA and for the space community .” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1) , lead image via Wikimedia

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Why Trump’s nominee to lead NASA is terrifying choice for the planet

1967 Volkswagen Camper transformed into ‘Back to the Future’ time machine

November 6, 2017 by  
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As Marty would say, “that’s heavy”. Velocity Motors gave this 1967 VW camper a Back to the Future -inspired renovation that would make Doc Brown proud. Complete with Delorean-esque gull-wing doors and even a Flux Capacitor, the vintage van is currently on sale for $89,995. The exterior of the renovated camper is painted a sleek, muted grey. However, once the gull-wing doors swing upwards, there’s no denying the personality behind the custom makeover. In the front seat, drivers will enjoy a nice wide windshield as they program the working Flux Capacitor to go back to the future on a moment’s notice. No word if the Capacitor needs a boost from a lighting bolt to jolt the car into action. Related: Iconic VW Camper van to be revived as a battery-electric vehicle The revamped VW camper ‘s interior goes full throttle on its cinematic homage. A bright yellow and orange retro scheme was used throughout. The side doors open up into the passenger area, complete with comfy sofas and retro chairs – perfect for watching the Back to the Future movies on the large flat screen. The vintage van has just over 50,000 miles and is currently on sale by Nashville-based Velocity Motors for $89,995. + Velocity Motorcars Via My Modern Met Images via Velocity Motorcars

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1967 Volkswagen Camper transformed into ‘Back to the Future’ time machine

Total sea ice levels on Earth lower than ever before recorded

January 19, 2017 by  
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Arctic sea ice levels have been plummeting, and once again, the total amount of sea ice we have on our planet is currently at a record low. One meteorologist said, based on reconstructions, we probably have the least amount of sea ice Earth has seen in millennia. The area covered by sea ice floating on Earth’s oceans is the smallest we’ve ever recorded since we started monitoring via satellite in the 1970’s. National Snow and Ice Data Center measurements reveal global sea ice levels are low in 2017 after setting similar dubious records in 2016 . Related: Here’s how much Arctic sea ice melt you are personally responsible for Low levels of Arctic sea ice can be connected back to both climate change and strange weather events that were probably impacted by climate change. Sea ice extent should be growing right now, as it’s winter in the Arctic, but warm air incursions have raised temperatures in addition to the effects of climate change. The case is slightly different in the Antarctic ; there, scientists say low levels of seasonal sea ice could have resulted because of natural variability, although sea ice area has been plunging even swifter than expected for summer. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus said on Twitter , we have “the least area of sea ice on our planet that we’ve ever measured – probably the lowest in millennia” and pointed to a PAGES (Past Global Changes) article written by two scientists who reconstructed past sea ice extent for evidence. It’s possible sea ice levels could rise in the near future, but then fall back down to levels even lower than what we’re experiencing today. Climate scientist Ed Hawkins said Arctic sea ice decline is like a ” ball bouncing down a bumpy hill ” – sea ice will continue to decline, but might rise up temporarily before continuing its distressing descent. Via New Scientist Images via Pixabay and National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Total sea ice levels on Earth lower than ever before recorded

Here’s how much Arctic sea ice melt you are personally responsible for

November 8, 2016 by  
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Our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels is melting the Arctic . According to a new study in Science, for every ton of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere, we lose 32 square feet of Arctic sea ice. The EPA estimates that total US emissions in 2014 was 6,870 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, so that would have caused 219,840 square feet of Arctic sea ice to vanish. The average American emits more than 16 metric tons of carbon each year, according to the World Bank, amounting to 512 square feet of lost Arctic sea ice. The study’s lead author Dirk Notz, a climate scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, calculates that 32 square feet of Arctic sea ice melts for every person who drives a car 1,000 miles or takes a round-trip flight from New York to London. “This makes it possible to intuitively grasp how we all contribute to global warming,” said Notz. “It’s really possible to translate how individual actions contribute to sea-ice loss.” Co-author Julienne Stroever, a senior research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, said the results of the study take climate change from an abstract notion to something that is concrete. Related: The Arctic is greening and scientists confirm it’s due to human activity The Arctic acts as the Earth’s refrigerator with sea ice regulating the global climate system by reflecting sunlight back into space. But the Arctic is rapidly warming, leading to an alarming retreat of sea ice that is causing the Arctic to absorb more solar radiation. A warming Arctic alters planetary weather and ocean patterns. At some point, perhaps sooner than later, there will be a blue ocean event, an ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer that could further destabilize the global climate system and trigger feedbacks that accelerate global warming such as the release of seabed methane from the continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean. The study predicts that another 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions will cause the sea ice to disappear throughout September, the lowest month each year for Arctic sea ice. However, there is a silver lining in the research. If emissions are brought down in an effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as the Paris climate agreement has called for, Arctic sea ice loss and the associated impact to the global climate system could be slowed down. The authors write that “our results also imply that any measure taken to mitigate CO2 emissions will directly slow down the ongoing loss of Arctic summer sea ice.” + Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO2 emission Via Grist Images via Wikimedia

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Here’s how much Arctic sea ice melt you are personally responsible for

Crazy low Arctic sea ice levels will likely smash records this summer

June 10, 2016 by  
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Arctic sea ice levels continue to plummet. Researchers from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center tracking sea ice levels have found results that aren’t too surprising: Arctic sea ice extent is likely to break records for the lowest level this summer. Data from May revealed Arctic sea ice extent levels were ” two to four weeks ahead ” of the levels in 2012, the year that currently holds the dubious record. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center , the “average ice loss” every day in May was around 23,600 square miles. That’s far faster than the 1981-2010 average, which was 18,000 square miles daily. Another factor to take into account is the type of ice . “Multiyear ice” is ice that doesn’t melt and helps keep Arctic ocean temperatures cool. If that ice melts – and it is right now – next winter there will only be “first-year ice” which then melts easier than multiyear ice. If there’s not as much multiyear ice, Arctic ocean temperatures will likely warm. According to Gizmodo, the Arctic is warming up at ” twice the rate ” as other areas on earth. Related: Arctic sea ice levels hit a new winter low – again Are there any weather patterns that can help explain these crazy low numbers? The National Snow and Ice Data Center noted that winds from Alaska and northern Europe bringing “pulses of warm air” led to “hot spots” across the Arctic. Central Siberia was the only area where temperatures were lower than the average recorded between 1981-2010. Then there’s the “early retreat” in the Beaufort Sea of ice – and as more ice melts, the Arctic warms . According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the numbers are “tentative” due to the “preliminary nature” of satellite data. However, they’re backed up by other sources, and it’s probable we’ll watch those numbers continue to plummet. Via Gizmodo Images via Land Atmosphere Near-Real Time Capability for EOS (LANCE) System, NASA/GSFC ; W. Meier, NASA ; and National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Crazy low Arctic sea ice levels will likely smash records this summer

Watch a little polar bear cub experience snow for the first time

December 22, 2014 by  
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Apparently it’s not just human kids who react adorably the first time they play in the snow. Although polar bears live in icy environs, their young are born in relatively warm dens and only experience real snow once they venture out for the first time. This little guy is catching a glimpse of the snowy world around him, and his reactions are just priceless. Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Read the rest of Watch a little polar bear cub experience snow for the first time Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Arctic , arctic ice , arctic pollution , baby bear , baby polar bear , bear cub , bear cubs , Climate Change , endangered , endangered species , habitat loss , polar bear , polar bear cub , polar bear cubs , polar bear endangered , polar bears , sea ice

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New treeless, inkless paper could save entire forests of trees

December 22, 2014 by  
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In research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, a team at the  University of California  developed a multi-use option for one of our most ancient mediums: a reusable “paper” that has been created without harming a single tree. Right now,  the “paper”  is actually a thin plastic film that comes coated in one of three shades of nontoxic dye: blue, red, or green. To “write” on the paper, it’s exposed to ultra-violet light and the dye is rendered colorless in the areas of text. It can be reused up to 20 times and never needs new ink. Read the rest of New treeless, inkless paper could save entire forests of trees Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco-friendly products , rewritable paper , treeless paper , ultraviolet imaging

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New treeless, inkless paper could save entire forests of trees

Sea Ice Loss Blamed for Huge Spike in Alaskan Average Temperatures

October 19, 2014 by  
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Think Alaska is too cold for you ? Well, it seems that average fall temperatures there are increasing at a rapid rate. The most northerly community in the U.S., the town of Barrow, Alaska, has recorded an incredible 12.96 degree Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius) increase in its average October temperature over the 34 years from 1979 to 2012. The team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks who made the discovery also observed that the most notable average temperature increases in summer and fall correlated with  significant losses in sea ice concentrations. Read the rest of Sea Ice Loss Blamed for Huge Spike in Alaskan Average Temperatures Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alaska , Alaska average temperature soars , Alaska temperature increase , Barrow , sea ice loss , sea ice loss blamed for rising Alaska average temperatures , University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Sea Ice Loss Blamed for Huge Spike in Alaskan Average Temperatures

A Darker Arctic is Making the Earth Warm Faster

February 20, 2014 by  
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A new study from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reveals a troubling trend in the Arctic: as the planet warms and the ice caps melt , the Earth is losing its ability to reflect heat back into space. This natural amount of light reflected from planet’s surface, called albedo, is incredibly important. In the 70s, scientists discovered that a full 52% of the sun’s rays simply bounced off the surface of the Arctic, with only 48% absorbed. But by 2011, the situation had flipped, with only 48% of the light reflected back into space. Read the rest of A Darker Arctic is Making the Earth Warm Faster Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arctic albedo , arctic ice , Climate Change , global warming , melting ice , melting ice caps , polar ice caps , reflecting sunlight , reflective sea ice , sea ice        

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A Darker Arctic is Making the Earth Warm Faster

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