Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Archive for February 26th, 2010

Iceberg off Mertz Glacier ‘disrupt ocean currents’?

Posted by feww on February 26, 2010

A large iceberg which calved from The Mertz Glacier Tongue in January [see Addendum] could ‘disrupt the ocean currents,’ and weather patterns globally, sensationalist scientists say.

The Mertz Glacier Tongue, which protrudes from East Antarctica, spawned the iceberg pictured below on or about January 10, 2010. The Iceberg is currently floating south of Melbourne, Australia.

The Mertz Glacier routinely spawns icebergs into the Southern Ocean, some of which drift north and disintegrate rapidly in warmer surroundings, while others circle the frozen continent and could stay relatively intact for many years, provided that they remain in cold waters.

Australian scientists have warned, however, that the 80-square-km iceberg (30 sq miles) could block a region which allegedly produces 25 percent of the world’s cold and dense seawater, BBC reported.

On January 10, 2010, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this true-color image of an iceberg that had broken off the glacier tongue. Similar to the glacier that spawned it, this iceberg sports a rippled surface, accentuated by the Sun’s relatively low elevation in the sky when the image was collected. Measuring roughly 8.5 by 9.5 kilometers (5 by 6 miles), this iceberg is surrounded by smaller chunks of ice, which may have broken off the Mertz Glacier Tongue at the same time as the large iceberg, or after it calved.  NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, Caption by Michon Scott. Edited by FEWW. Click here for ESA image of the entire
glacier tongue.

A glaciologist at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Research Center in Tasmania, was quoted by the BBC as saying that any disruption to the production of the super cold water – known as bottom water – in the region would be detrimental to ocean currents, and therefore the weather patterns, for many years.

“This area accounts for about 25% of the production of bottom water in Antarctica, and therefore it will reduce the overturning circulation rate,” he said.

“You won’t see it immediately, but it has downstream effects. And it will also have implications for penguins and other wildlife in the region that normally use this area for feeding.”

The iceberg is floating in a polynya, an area of open water surrounded by sea-ice.  Latent heat polynyas are responsible for high ice production and possibly dense (high salinity) water production.

“Bottom water produced by polynyas sinks to the bottom of the sea and drives the conveyor-belt like ocean circulation around the globe.” BBC claimed.

“The ice tongue was almost broken already. It was hanging like a loose tooth,”  BBC quoted a French glaciologist as saying.

“If they [the icebergs] stay in this area – which is likely – they could block the production of this dense water, essentially putting a lid on the polynya.”

This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation also known as “meridional overturning circulation”. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes  about 2000 years. Credit NASA.

Climate Change is bad news of epic proportions, of course,  and the accelerating rate of calving of icebergs is very alarming, indeed. However, despite its deep injuries, planet earth and its thermoline circulation system are far more resilient than to undergo dramatic changes due to a single iceberg.


Since posting the above, Fire-Earth moderators have been advised that the iceberg featured above is NOT the one which is the subject of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center.

The new iceberg apparently calved off from Mertz Glacier Tongue on or about February 13, 2010.

ESA © ENVISAT ASAR image from the 16th of February 2010 showing the iceberg newly calved from the Mertz Glacier Tongue. The final separation did not simply occur along all the line of the two pre-existing rifts but sheared across some sections to produce a clean line. The iceberg is now turning about a point at its north-west corner which confirms our belief that is has been resting against a relatively shallow point of the sea-floor. Caption: ACECRC.

According to the ACECRC website the iceberg that calved from the Mertz Glacier is 78 km long and has a surface area of 2,500 square km. The new iceberg broke off the Mertz Glacier Tongue after a 97km long iceberg smashed into it.

Although the new iceberg is about 30 times larger than the one featured in NASA image (Top of the page), the Fire-Earth Moderators’ initial assessment remains UNCHANGED.

The Moderators do NOT believe the new calving would ADVERSELY affect the large scale ocean circulation, or have any significant climatic impact.

Further more, they see absolutely NO reason why the iceberg may cause significant modifications in the local marine environment.

Additional Notes:

The BBC Himalayan Straw Man?

The Moderators also note that the BBC has since changed the text of the page linked to above

However, the page was accidentally saved on disk …

BBC’s initial post, which has since been replaced by an entirely different text. Click image to enlarge. Image may be subject to copyright.

BBC’s 2nd version using the same URL was a pathetic dolphin tearjerker, which has since been removed.
Click image to enlarge. Image may be subject to copyright.

Posted in australia, glaciology, Latent heat polynya, polynya, The Mertz Glacier Polynya, thermohaline circulation | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Drug Related Violence in Mexico A Major Disaster

Posted by feww on February 26, 2010

Who Is Profiting from Booming Cocaine Trade in the US?

Cocaine Demand in the United States Fuels the drug related Massacres in Mexico

Why isn’t the US government stemming the flow of cocaine to the United States, or making it legal like alcohol?

The mayor of a city in Durango state, a deputy police chief in Chihuahua and five local police officers are among the latest toll in drug related murders in Mexico.

More than 50 people have been killed in Mexico in the past few days, bringing the drug related death toll to more than 15,000 since 2006.

“Last year, according to the El Universal newspaper, was the deadliest in Mexico in the past decade, with 7,724 people killed in violent incidents attributed to organized crime groups.” LAHT said.

In the Ciudad Juarez, a region on the US -Mexico border, some 2,700 murders were recorded in 2009.

So far this year, drug-related violence has claimed at least 1,400 lives, local media reports say.

World annual cocaine consumption is estimated at 600 to 700 metric tons, with the United States responsible for more than 50% of the total. US remains the largest single market for cocaine (Europe 25% of the total, and the rest of the world less than 25%).

The body of “fugitive” U.S. marshal Vincent Bustamante was found in the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on March 25, 2009. AP photo. Image may be subject to copyright.

An estimated 200,000 people have left Ciudad Juarez [population:  1.5 million] since the middle of 2008  from fear of a turf war between the Mexican cartels, according to a number of reports.

“The government of Felipe Calderon is 3 years old and in Sinaloa, we have not seen decisive action against the narcos,”  a Mexican politician said. “Nothing serious is being done.”

As Mexico’s drug cartels battle  for control of the smuggling routes into the United States, the questions Americans should ask is:

Why isn’t the US government stemming the flow of cocaine to the United States, or making it legal like alcohol?

[NOTE: Fire-Earth does NOT condone the use of narcotics, but shares the belief that alcohol consumption is equally, if not more, dangerous than cocaine use.]

Related News Links:

Posted in Drug Demand in US, drug violence, mayor of a city in Durango, Mexico drug cartels, police chief in Chihuahua | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

More Activity at Soufriere Hills Volcano

Posted by feww on February 26, 2010

Soufriere Hills Hellbent on Blowing Up Montserrat Island

In Montserrat: What Next? Fire-Earth wrote that Montserrat island could become completely uninhabitable by 2013 or earlier.

“Based on the pattern of volcanic activity at Soufriere Hills volcano since 1995, evidence of increased volcanism globally and a number of other  factors, the FEWW EarthModel forecasts the probability of Montserrat island becoming completely uninhabitable by by 2013 was equal or greater than 80 percent.”

Meanwhile, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory on February 21 reported that “the drainages leading down from Soufrière Hills, including the White River Valley, the Tar River Valley, and the Belham River Valley, were filled with fresh debris,” NASA Earth observatory said. The pyroclastic flows entered the sea via Aymers Ghaut more than a month ago, and the flows reached the sea near Plymouth on February 5, 2010.

Image # 1 (reportedly acquired by NASA on Feb 21, 2010)

Image # 2 (reportedly acquired by NASA on March 17, 200y – used for comparison)
A massive eruption of Montserrat’s Soufrière Hills Volcano triggered by a collapse of Soufrière Hills’ summit lava dome  covered large portions of the island in debris on February 11, 2010. Pyroclastic flows raced down the northern flank of the volcano, leveling trees and destroying buildings in the village of Harris, already abandoned after Soufrière Hills activity in 1995. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory reported that some flows, about 15 meters (49 feet) thick, reached the sea at Trant’s Bay, extending the island’s coastline up to 650 meters (2,100 feet). These false-color satellite images show the southern half of Montserrat before and after the dome collapse. The top image was taken on February 21, 2010, 10 days after the event. The bottom image shows the same area on March 17, 2007. Red areas are vegetated, clouds are white, blue/black areas are ocean water, and gray areas are covered by flow deposits. Fresh deposits are lighter than older deposits. On February 21, the drainages leading down from Soufrière Hills, including the White River Valley, the Tar River Valley, and the Belham River Valley, were filled with fresh debris. Pyroclastic flows reached the sea through Aymers Ghaut on January 18, 2010, and flows entered the sea near Plymouth on February 5, 2010, Montserrat Volcano Observatory said.

Note: Links to Montserrat Volcano Observatory have been removed because the site is used for commercial advertising and promotion of tourism.

Related Links:

Posted in Aymers Ghaut, Plymouth, volcanic activity, volcanism, volcano | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »