Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Cambio climatico. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Cambio climatico. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, marzo 14, 2015

The Meaning of Siberia’s Mystery Craters

Ever since last July, when a Russian YouTube user uploaded “Giant Hole in the Ground,” a thirty-four-second video of, well, a giant hole in the ground—about two hundred and fifty feet across and more than a hundred and fifty feet deep—the world has been fascinated by a group of mysterious craters in the tundra of the Russian Arctic. On Thursday, Vasily Bogoyavlensky, the deputy director of the Oil and Gas Research Institute, at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Agence France-Presse that he and his colleagues have now identified seven of these “holes at the end of the world,” including one that is more than half a mile across. “But, in fact, there are plenty more,” Bogoyavlensky said.
Theories about the mystery craters have variously attributed them to meteorite impacts, missile strikes, explosions from nearby gas fields, and the melting of soil-covered ice mounds, known as pingos. The most likely explanation for the phenomenon, however, seems to be climate change. Underground temperatures in parts of Siberia have risen by nearly four degrees in the past fifteen years. As the ground there—mostly permafrost—warms, it releases methane. The methane builds up until there’s an explosion, which leaves behind a hole. “The phenomenon is similar to the eruption of a volcano,” Bogoyavlensky said.
Whether or not they end in explosions, these methane releases are a serious concern. Methane is a greenhouse gas, and on a molecule-by-molecule basis it is a far more potent warming agent than carbon dioxide (although it doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere). If the permafrost is leaking methane because of rising temperatures, a positive-feedback loop could be taking effect: more methane leads to further warming, which leads to further thawing, and so on.
But the holes in Siberia also point to another, stranger phenomenon. Global warming and geology turn out to be connected in unexpected ways. Consider, for example, earthquakes. Generally, earthquakes occur because of the movements of Earth’s tectonic plates; they tend to take place along plate boundaries. But recently Greenland has been experiencing an unusually large number of quakes. One widely discussed theory attributes this to the shrinking of the Greenland ice sheet. As the ice sheet melts, its weight declines, allowing the land underneath it to rise. The process, which is known as isostatic rebound, may well be responsible for the increase in seismic activity.
Iceland, too, is rising, and for similar reasons. As the country’s glaciers melt, the land is rebounding. A recent study showed that some parts of the country are gaining elevation at the astonishing rate of 1.4 inches a year. “What we’re observing is a climatically induced change in the earth’s surface,” Richard Bennett, one of the authors of the study and a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, told the Web site Live Science last month. In the case of Iceland, that change may lead to an increase in volcanic activity. As the land rises, the pressure on the rock beneath it changes. Lower pressure translates into a lower melting temperature, which could, in turn, translate into more (or at least more destructive) volcanic eruptions. The past five years have been packed with “interesting volcanic activity,” Sigrún Hreinsdóttir, Bennett’s fellow-researcher and a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, told the Washington Post. “You can’t make any statistics from those few data points, of course, but you do notice there might be a connection with the uplift,” And there’s a precedent: during the deglaciation that occurred at the end of the last ice age, some twelve thousand years ago, volcanic activity in Iceland is estimated to have increased by as much as a factor of thirty.
In Siberia, the enormous craters are rapidly filling with water. Soon, they’ll probably be lakes. Of course, by then, new craters may well have opened up, and with them new mysteries to investigate in a warming world.

viernes, octubre 10, 2014

NASA: Biggest Cap of Antarctic Sea Ice Since 1979

A new report from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) finds that the Antarctic ice cap has exceeded 20 million square kilometers, a freeze that hasn't been seen since 1979 when the agency began to compile records.

"Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s,"  the NASA website reported on October 7.
NASA went on to say:
Since the late 1970s, the Arctic has lost an average of 20,800 square miles (53,900 square kilometers) of ice a year; the Antarctic has gained an average of 7,300 square miles (18,900 sq km). On Sept. 19 this year, for the first time ever since 1979, Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 7.72 million square miles (20 million square kilometers), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The ice extent stayed above this benchmark extent for several days. The average maximum extent between 1981 and 2010 was 7.23 million square miles (18.72 million square kilometers).
The single-day maximum extent this year was reached on Sept. 20, according to NSIDC data, when the sea ice covered 7.78 million square miles (20.14 million square kilometers). This year's five-day average maximum was reached on Sept. 22, when sea ice covered 7.76 million square miles (20.11 million square kilometers), according to NSIDC.
The amount of ice did surprise many, and Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, noted that "not every location on the face of Earth is acting as expected." She went on to say that the readings make scientists ask "OK, this isn’t what we expected, now how can we explain it?"
"There hasn’t been one explanation yet that I’d say has become a consensus, where people say, ‘We’ve nailed it, this is why it’s happening,'" Parkinson added.
Regardless, Parkinson and others at NASA contend that all this is still a result of global warming.
"The planet as a whole is doing what was expected in terms of warming. Sea ice as a whole is decreasing as expected, but just like with global warming, not every location with sea ice will have a downward trend in ice extent," she said. 

miércoles, abril 23, 2014

Scientists Monitor Huge Iceberg That Broke Off From Antarctica

Scientists are monitoring an iceberg roughly six times the size of Manhattan -- one of the largest now in existence -- that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean.
NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said on Wednesday the iceberg covers about 255 square miles (660 square km) and is up to a third of a mile (500 meters) thick. Known as B31, the iceberg separated from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier last November, Brunt added.
"It's one that's large enough that it warrants monitoring," Brunt said in a telephone interview, noting that U.S. government organizations including the National Ice Center keep an eye on dozens of icebergs at any given time.
The iceberg's present location is not in an area heavily navigated by ships.
"There's not a lot of shipping traffic down there. We're not particularly concerned about shipping lanes. We know where all the big ones are," she said.
Scientists are especially interested in this iceberg not only because of its size but because it originated in an unexpected location, said Brunt.
"It's like a large sheet cake floating through the Southern Ocean," she added.
The glacial crack that created the iceberg was first detected in 2011, according to Brunt, a scientist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Morgan State University in Maryland.
Pine Island Glacier has been closely studied over the past two decades because it has been thinning and draining rapidly and may be an important contributor to sea level rise, scientists say.
They say the iceberg has floated across Pine Island Bay, a basin of the Amundsen Sea, and will likely be swept up soon in the swift currents of the Southern Ocean.

sábado, abril 19, 2014

Shock: HuffPo finally admits the existence of global cooling

As of Wednesday, 37.1 percent of the lakes remain covered in ice. While that's way down from a high of 92.2 percent in early March, pictured above -- and the second-highest ice cover since recording began in 1973 -- it's still an unprecedented amount of ice to have at this time of year.

Scientists believe they have discovered a near-unprecedented phenomenon - rarer, more elusive and mysterious than even the God Particle: an article in The Huffington Post on the subject of the environment and climate change which doesn't once mention 'man-made global warming."

This extraordinary event was observed in an April 17th HuffPo article entitled 'The Great Lakes Are Still Almost Half Frozen, And It Could Affect The Environment For Years'. The article notes that ice coverage on the lakes remains unseasonally thick - the second highest ice-cover for the time of year since recording began in 1973. It also dutifully mentions, as all HuffPo pieces must, that there have been disastrous environmental consequences, in this case "unprecedented duck deaths" and "disruptions to the fish ecosystem."
However, what the piece doesn't do - and this is what is puzzling scientists around the world - is try to blame the phenomenon on carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, or man's selfishness, greed and refusal to amend his lifestyle.
"We're mystified, seriously. A HuffPo article on the environment which doesn't try to guilt-trip us into giving up meat and hot showers and bombing our economy back to the dark ages in order to combat man-made global warming. How can this possibly be?" asked Professor Otto Spengler of the University of East Anglia's Department of Environmentalist Bullshit Studies.
"Of course, everyone half-way sane in the world now recognises that Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is a busted flush and that global mean temperatures haven't risen since 1997," continued Prof Spengler. "But the thing you have to realise about HuffPo - and Slate and Salon and the Guardian and the New York Times - is that the whole global warming scare was never really about science at all. It was about religious belief."
"That's why, for example, a few years ago you had that wonderful article by George Monbiot in the Guardian claiming that even the unseasonally cold, snowy winter that year was yet another sign of global warming."
The article - entitled 'That Snow Outside Is What Global Warming Looks Like' - was widely considered at the time to be so self-parodically barmy that George Monbiot had disappeared up his own bottom while writing it.
"But the truth is much simpler than that," explained Prof Spengler. "Writing off these guys as simply nuts is cruel and demeaning. I prefer to think of these people as special - and in need of our gentle sympathy, much as we might apply to those Cargo Cult Pacific islanders who worship Prince Philip as their god. These people have dedicated their whole lives and spent many, many years worshipping their own environmental gods - variously known as Gaia, ManBearPig, and the IPCC - and it is proving deeply traumatic for them to have their dearest article of faith ripped away from them by harsh reality. Man-made global warming just isn't happening for them in the way they wanted it too and they're feeling a bit lost and bereft. It's like being suddenly told by the Rev Jones: "No more Kool-Aid for you!" Or like climbing the top of the mountain to be assumed to heaven by the great spaceship, only to realise that the spaceship just isn't coming."
Professor Spengler and his team have been working through the night to try to analyse the phenomenon and have come up with two competing theories.
1. It's a terrible accident. "Huff Po has a very strict rule which states that all environmental problems are the fault of mankind, that the planet is warming catastrophically and that only by funneling more money into the pockets of Al Gore and anyone, like those nice people at Solyndra, who donated to the Obama re-election campaign can it be preserved for future generations. Perhaps the author of the piece simply forgot this rule. The penalty will be severe: exile to one of HuffPo's Siberian yoghurt-weaving collectives, at least, if not actual death."
2. There has been an incredible, tectonic shift in HuffPo's understanding of the world. It is now swinging round to the more scientifically plausible viewpoint that climate is driven by solar activity and that this late season freeze on the Great Lakes is yet another sign that we may be entering a prolonged period of global cooling.
"But we think the first explanation is more likely," added Prof Spengler. 
"The HuffPo - like the Guardian and the BBC - doesn't really do science because the readers find it upsetting. They much prefer environmentalist propaganda about how it's all man's fault and we should sack the bankers now. Remember those Pacific Island Cargo Cultists: HuffPo readers really are pretty basic in their understanding of the world."
superior ice

sábado, enero 25, 2014

Italian Global Warming Adventurer Will Live on Iceberg


An Italian adventurer will be packing his bags and moving to an iceberg in Greenland so he can reverse global warming. He plans on living there for eight to twelve months, which is the length of time he expects that his new home will exist before it melts into water.

In the Spring of 2015, Alex Bellini will bring his backpack, replete with 300 kilos of dehydrated food and some electronic equipment and his floating Kevlar survival capsule. This will come in handy down the road when he wakes up one morning floating adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.
Of course, that is if everything goes as planned. Last month, Russian climate change scientists aboard the 233-foot Akademik Shokalskiy learned a cold and lonely lesson about icebergs when they were trapped in the ice for three weeks off the coast of Antarctica. It took a rescue contingency of American, Chinese, and Australians icebreakers and helicopters to finally free the researchers from their icy prison. 
Ironically, the trapped scientists were on a mission to observe and report on the decline of polar ice, but to their chagrin there was quite a bit more than they had expected.
Bellini won’t let that episode get in his way of proving to the world that icebergs are melting, the seas ar rising, and coastal cities will soon be overwhelmed by the rising tides. “For me it’s a time to act, I will be alone,” he explains. However, not entirely alone; the Italian will, for short periods of time, be visited by writers, bloggers, and environmentalists which will form sort of a dream team of virtual global warmingists.
“I want to tell the story of how the ice can become icebergs, how the iceberg becomes water. I want to live on an iceberg for 12 months witnessing its last phase of life, the one that forces it to turn back to water,” Bellini declares. For the adventurer, it is an era of personal responsibility, and he has prepared himself for his journey to the tip of the iceberg. 
Bellini is no stranger to taking on unusual and challenging projects; in the past, he has crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean in a row boat and has run across the United States from coast to coast which he ascribes to using his powers of self-hypnosis.

viernes, noviembre 15, 2013

How Climate Change and Plate Tectonics Shaped Human Evolution

It should not be a surprise that East Africa was a hotbed of evolution, because over the last five million years everything about the landscape has changed.
The extraordinary forces of plate tectonics and a changing climate have transformed East Africa from a relatively flat, forested region to a mountainous fragmented landscape dominated by the rapid appearance and disappearance of huge, deep-water lakes. And from this highly variable landscape emerged an ape smart enough to question its own existence.
A cradle rocked by tectonics
Twenty million years ago the Indian and Asian continental plates clashed and pushed up the massive Tibetan plateau. In summer this plateau acts as a huge heat engine, absorbing solar energy which it transfers to the atmosphere, causing immense convection currents. With all this hot air rising, air is sucked in from all round, including moist air from the Indian Ocean that produces intense South East Asian monsoons.
This has a knock on affect of drawing moisture away from the African continent, and it was this that began the progressive drying out of East Africa. In terms of human evolution, this distinct split between the climate of Asia and Africa coincides with the split between Asian and African apes, the latter eventually evolving into us.
At the same time as the peaks of Tibet were thrusting upwards, the rifting process began in Ethiopia and gradually moved south finishing in Mozambique about one million years ago. This rifting was caused by a hotspot of magma under northern East Africa heating the crust causing it to split down the middle like an overdone apple pie.
The rifting process produced a deep, wide, hanging valley half a mile above sea level with uplifted shoulders or mountain ranges on either side rising up to two miles high. The affects of the Rift Valley formation on the local climate was dramatic.
Keep reading on scientificamerican >>

miércoles, agosto 21, 2013

UN Struggles with Data Suggesting No Global Warming

The United Nations, ever eager to embrace global warming, has a new climate report to be released that claims scientists are more certain than ever that global warming is real, but now there is hard evidence that global surface temperatures have stabilized over the last 15 years according to the U.K.’s weather-watching Met Office.

In June, David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation wrote, "The absence of any significant change in the global annual average temperature over the past 16 years has become one of the most discussed topics in climate science. It has certainly focused the debate about the relative importance of greenhouse gas forcing of the climate versus natural variability."
Of course, climate change advocates are trying their best to offer an explanation for the lack of global warming; a draft of the AR5 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is due to be published in Oct. 2014, tries its best to address the situation. As Reuters environment correspondent Alister Doyle cited from the report:
Scientists believe causes could include: greater-than-expected quantities of ash from volcanoes, which dims sunlight; a decline in heat from the sun during a current 11-year solar cycle; more heat being absorbed by the deep oceans; or the possibility that the climate may be less sensitive than expected to a build-up of carbon dioxide.
The draft hedges its bets, stating that it has “medium confidence: that the global warming halt is due “in roughly equal measure” to the aforementioned factors.
The U.N. hurriedly tried to hedge its bets, too, saying of the draft:
The text is likely to change in response to comments from governments received in recent weeks and will also be considered by governments and scientists at a four-day approval session at the end of September. It is therefore premature and could be misleading to attempt to draw conclusions from it.
But just as the report stated that 95% of scientists believe that man’s actions cause global warming, climate change advocates quickly reasserted their belief in their omniscience; climate scientist Michael Mann wrote, “The report is simply an exclamation mark on what we already knew: Climate change is real and it continues unabated, the primary cause is fossil fuel burning, and if we don’t do something to reduce carbon emissions we can expect far more dangerous and potentially irreversible impacts on us.”

martes, junio 25, 2013

Obama: No time for ’flat-earth society’ on climate change

President Barack Obama laid out a far-reaching set of proposals meant to address the driving causes of climate change, headlined by a new directive to begin limiting carbon emissions for new and existing power plants and the announcement of high environmental standards for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to be met before his administration signs off on the project.
The president outlined a series of climate proposals he intended to advance through executive action, sidestepping a Congress mired in gridlock in its handling of most matters, let alone politically touchy energy and climate issues. 
“The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements, has put all that to rest,” Obama said in a major policy address at Georgetown University. “So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late.”
While delivering a speech on climate change, President Obama tells the audience that how we choose to respond to climate change will have a profound effect on the world we leave to our children and grandchildren.
He later added, addressing those who deny climate change science: “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society.”
To that end, Obama issued a presidential directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to begin drafting new rules governing carbon emissions from power plants. 
“I'm directing the [EPA] to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants,” he said. 
And, as his State Department comes under pressure from Republicans, business groups and organized labor alike to approve the proposed trans-national Keystone XL oil pipeline, Obama said that project must be determined to not negatively affect the environment before it can move forward. 
“Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation's interest,” he said, explaining that "the net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project will go forward."
The plan has already received sharp criticism from Republicans in Congress, who have doggedly resisted the president’s climate change agenda from the 2009 fight over cap-and-trade legislation through present. 
“The president has always been hostile to affordable sources of American energy that power most of our economy, but this program – which amounts to a National Energy Tax – only escalates his attack,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement.
He and other Republicans gleefully seized on comments made by an Obama energy adviser to the New York Times suggesting the administration should pursue a “war on coal,” the fossil fuel which supplies both energy and jobs in a number of rural and Republican-leaning states. 
Obama’s proposals also face resistance from the business community. Thomas Donohue, the president of the politically influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce, demanded that the administration’s rule-making on carbon emissions be subjected to public scrutiny.
“It is unfortunate that on a matter of such importance to all Americans that the administration has chosen to bypass our elected representatives in favor of unilateral actions and go-it-alone tactics,” he said.  
Seeming to anticipate these attacks, Obama preemptively dismissed criticism from Republicans and business groups that his proposals would harm the economy, citing similar rhetoric unsuccessfully used by critics of the Clean Air Act or legislation to address acid rain. 
“At the time when we passed the Clean Air Act, to try to get rid of some of this smog, some of the same doom-sayers were saying, ‘New pollution standards will decimate the auto industry,’” Obama said. “Guess what? It didn't happen. Our air got cleaner.”
Obama’s new proposals do not require authorization from Congress, where lawmakers have been either loath or unable to cobble together the votes to advance any meaningful climate legislation. Republicans argue for an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy, which would loosen regulations on fossil fuel exploration. 
But the president’s initiatives seem to come in direct response to a growing perception that any climate legislation faces dim chances on Capitol Hill. Obama called climate change “a challenge that does not pause for partisan gridlock. It demands our attention now.”
Obama’s plans did generally win praise from the environmentalist community.
“The president nailed it: this can’t wait,” said Frances Beinecke, the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We will cut this carbon pollution today so our children don’t inherit climate chaos tomorrow.”
"Not only is this by far the most comprehensive and ambitious administrative plan proposed by any president, it’s also common sense and will be very popular with the public," said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski. "It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work implementing the president’s climate agenda."

jueves, abril 11, 2013

AFP: Cuba podría perder 2.700 km2 de tierra por avance del mar en 2050

Playa Jiguey costa norte de Camaguey / http://www.panoramio.com/user/3580178
LA HABANA — Cuba corre el peligro de perder 2.700 kilómetros cuadrados de tierra y varios miles de viviendas en 2050 por el ascenso del nivel del mar, a pesar de un programa del Gobierno para disminuir su impacto, alertó este jueves el principal directivo medioambiental.
"Si se mantiene el actual índice de aumento del nivel medio del mar, para el 2050 habremos perdido casi 2.700 kilómetros cuadrados de superficie terrestre y cerca de 9.000 viviendas", aseguró el director de la Agencia Nacional de Medio Ambiente, Tomás Escobar.
El archipiélago cubano tiene una superficie de 109.884 km2 y sus costas se extienden por 5.746 km de forma irregular y con variados accidentes, desde abruptos acantilados, playas de arena fina, extensas zonas litorales bajas y cenagosas, arrecifes coralinos que bordean la línea costera, terrazas marinas, ensenadas, deltas y bahías de bolsa que proporcionan excelentes puertos, según los especialistas.
En un panel sobre la política ambiental cubana, reportado por Prensa Latina, Escobar dijo que el alza del nivel del mar "afectará los ecosistemas, la productividad de los suelos agrícolas, incrementará la vulnerabilidad de los asentamientos costeros, reducirá las áreas forestales y de cultivos, y la calidad y disponibilidad del agua".
El directivo señaló que el Gobierno de Raúl Castro estableció una política para tratar de amortiguar sus consecuencias.
"Cuba ha establecido prioridades en función de reducir esas vulnerabilidades, identificadas en estudios de prevención y riesgo de desastres realizados por científicos del país", agregó.
Entre ellas citó la conservación y rehabilitación de los ecosistemas protectores de la línea de costa: arrecifes de coral, manglares y playas de arena.
"Hay lugares que perdieron la franja protectora litoral y allí la misión es preparar a los habitantes para que ayuden a rehabilitar estos elementos de protección natural mediante ecotecnologías", dijo.
También mencionó la recuperación del hábitat de especies de interés comercial y conservacionista, a través de la cría artificial de esponjas y el cultivo natural de ostiones.
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"EN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES" - Heberto Padilla

A aquel hombre le pidieron su tiempo

para que lo juntara al tiempo de la Historia.

Le pidieron las manos,

porque para una época difícil

nada hay mejor que un par de buenas manos.

Le pidieron los ojos

que alguna vez tuvieron lágrimas

para que contemplara el lado claro

(especialmente el lado claro de la vida)

porque para el horror basta un ojo de asombro.

Le pidieron sus labios

resecos y cuarteados para afirmar,

para erigir, con cada afirmación, un sueño


le pidieron las piernas

duras y nudosas

(sus viejas piernas andariegas),

porque en tiempos difíciles

¿algo hay mejor que un par de piernas

para la construcción o la trinchera?

Le pidieron el bosque que lo nutrió de niño,

con su árbol obediente.

Le pidieron el pecho, el corazón, los hombros.

Le dijeron

que eso era estrictamente necesario.

Le explicaron después

que toda esta donación resultaria inútil.

sin entregar la lengua,

porque en tiempos difíciles

nada es tan útil para atajar el odio o la mentira.

Y finalmente le rogaron

que, por favor, echase a andar,

porque en tiempos difíciles

esta es, sin duda, la prueba decisiva.


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