Iceland’s largest volcano is on the verge of eruption

November 2, 2017 by  
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Bardarbunga, the largest volcano in Iceland , is preparing to erupt. And if it does, it could send an enormous ash cloud across Europe, affecting travel, air quality, and agriculture. Encased under the Vatnajokull glacier, the 6,590 foot volcano has been hit by four earthquakes measuring up to 4.7 on the Richter scale within the past week. “The reason for the earthquakes in this place is that the volcano Bardarbunga is inflating, i.e. the pressure of magma in the magma chamber is increasing,” said seismology expert Páll Einarsson to the Daily Star . “It has been doing this since the last eruption ended, in February 2015.” When Bardarbunga last erupted in 2014, it made news as the largest eruption Europe had seen in 240 years. Although the eruption did not affect travel, it did negatively impact air quality throughout Europe. Several years earlier, in 2010, volcanic eruptions at Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland spewed out a massive ash cloud, which caused enormous travel disruptions throughout Europe. During the relatively small eruptions and their aftermath, 20 countries shut down their airspace to commercial flights while 10 million travelers were affected by the disruptions. Related: Climate change and volcanic eruptions could lead to years without summer Although the recent earthquakes are signs of a future volcanic eruption, that does not mean that the eruption is imminent. “The volcano is clearly preparing for its next eruption, that may happen in the next few years,” said Einarsson. “The earthquakes last week are just the symptoms of this process, they do not cause the volcano to erupt.” However, it is better to prepare now than be caught off-guard later, particularly since Bardarbunga’s glacier-bound status may cause a particularly violent eruption. Dr. Thomas Walter of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences told the Daily Mirror , “In that case, we’d have had a water vapor explosion with a volcanic ash cloud even bigger and longer lasting than the one that followed the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010”. Via International Business Times Images via Peter Hartree/Flickr (1)

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Iceland’s largest volcano is on the verge of eruption

Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

November 2, 2017 by  
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Many people once thought Earth was unique in outer space in its ability to support life. Recent discoveries could shatter that notion, like one new analysis of information from the Kepler Space Telescope . An international team led by Susan Thompson of the SETI Institute has discovered there might be 20 worlds where life could dwell. There could be as many as 20 habitable planets in space , according to this new discovery. One of the most promising worlds is KOI-7923.01. It’s 97 percent Earth’s size, and has a year comprised of 395 days. It is a bit colder than Earth – think more tundra and less tropical island – but it is warm enough, and it’s big enough to hold liquid water so crucial for life. Jeff Coughlin of the NASA Ames Research Center told New Scientist, “If you had to choose one to send a spacecraft to, it’s not a bad option.” Related: First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets Many of the habitable worlds orbit stars similar to the sun. The star KOI-7923.01 orbits is a little colder than the sun, and that fact together with the exoplanet’s distance away makes KOI-7923.01 cooler than Earth. The time to complete an orbit varies among the potentially habitable worlds – at 395 days, KOI-7923.01 takes the longest. Some of the worlds finish an orbit in mere Earth weeks, or months. The quickest orbit is just 18 Earth days. Coughlin told New Scientist his team is around 70 to 80 percent sure these habitable worlds are solid candidates – they’ll need to confirm their hunch with further observations, such as from the Hubble Space Telescope or ground-based observatories. The original Kepler mission unearthed the planets, but it gazed at the same part of the sky for just four years until its reaction wheels broke, hindering its aiming ability. That means we’ve only glimpsed the planets just once or twice, and, according to New Scientist , the signals could be wobbly. The scientists recently submitted their research to a journal in the middle of October. Via New Scientist Images via NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle and NASA/W. Stenzel

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Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

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