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Posts Tagged ‘ESA’

PIG Calves a Massive Iceberg

Posted by feww on July 9, 2013

Pine Island glacier (PIG) spawns a huge iceberg in the Antarctic

The iceberg measures about 720 sq km, or eight times the size of Manhattan Island, said a report.

PIG
Credit DLR – Image taken by TerraSAR-X, Germany’s Earth-observation satellite.

The large crack spreading across the “longest and fastest flowing glacier” in the west Antarctic was first observed in October 2011.

“The PIG is the most rapidly shrinking glacier on the planet,” said a researcher.

“It’s losing more ice than any other glacier on the planet, and it’s contributing to sea level rise faster than any other glacier on the planet.”

The speed of Pine Island Glacier increased by 73 percent between 1974 and  2007. As a result, PIG had a negative mass balance of 46 gigatons per year, that is the glacier system drained more water into the sea than replaced by snowfall, researchers say.

Posted in environment, rising sea levels | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Antarctic Flood Forms ‘Ice Crater’

Posted by feww on July 2, 2013

Enormous flood under Antarctica drained six billion tons of water: Report

The ice surface collapsed as the water in Cook Sub-Glacial Lake drained away, probably into the ocean, according to a new report.

Antarctic Ice Crater - esa3D view of the crater created using CryoSat data. The ice surface collapsed as six cubic km of water drained away from Cook SGL. The crater is located in Victoria Land, East Antarctica at about 73ºS and 156ºE. Copyright: ESA/McMillan

ESA’s CryoSat satellite has discovered a massive ‘ice crater’ in Victoria Land, East Antarctica, which researchers believe was left behind when a lake lying under about 3 km of ice suddenly drained.

“It covers an area of about 260 sq km, which is about the size of Edinburgh, and was as much as 70m deep,” said Dr Malcolm McMillan from the UK’s University of Leeds and lead author of a report in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“We knew from the Icesat data there had been a big elevation change, but it’s only now with Cryosat that we’ve been able to appreciate the true scale of what happened.” He told reporters.

The event occurred during an 18-month period in 2007-2008 at the Cook Sub-Glacial Lake (SGL) in the east of the continent, says the report.

The water would have been flowing away from the SGL at a rate of 160 cubic meters per second during peak discharge, the report says.

Cook is one of about 400 SGLs believed to exist on the White Continent, which is losing mass at a rate of between 50-100 billion tons a year.

ESA PAGE

Posted in Global Disaster watch, global disasters, Significant Event Imagery, significant events | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Never Mind Venus, Let’s Keep Earth Alive

Posted by feww on April 9, 2010

Serial No  1,552. Starting April 2010, each entry on this blog has a unique serial number. If any of the numbers are missing, it may mean that the corresponding entry has been blocked by the authorities/Google in your country. Please drop us a line if you detect any anomaly/missing number(s).

At a time when all of our scientific efforts should be concentrated on saving this planet’s ability to support life, ESA and NASA, Adam’s two unruly children, are diverting attention and resources from Earth to Venus. Their efforts are wasteful and therefore UNINTELLIGENT.

The following was released by the European Space Agency, ESA

Venus is alive—geologically speaking

ESA’s Venus Express has returned the clearest indication yet that Venus is still geologically active. Relatively young lava flows have been identified by the way they emit infrared radiation. The finding suggests the planet remains capable of volcanic eruptions.


The image shows the volcanic peak Idunn Mons (at 46°S, 214.5°E) in the Imdr Regio area of Venus. The topography derives from data obtained by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft, with a vertical exaggeration of 30 times. Radar data (in brown) from Magellan has been draped on top of the topographic data. Bright areas are rough or have steep slopes. Dark areas are smooth. The colored overlay shows the heat patterns derived from surface brightness data collected by the visible and infrared thermal imaging spectrometer (VIRTIS) aboard ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft. Temperature variations due to topography were removed. The brightness signals the composition of the minerals that have been changed due to lava flow. Red-orange is the warmest area and purple is the coolest. The warmest area is situated on the summit, which stands about 2.5 km above the plains, and on the bright flows that originate there. Idunn Mons has a diameter of about 200 km. The VIRTIS data was collected from May 2006 to the end of 2007. Source: ESA/NASA/JPL

It has long been recognised that there are simply not enough craters on Venus. Something is wiping the planet’s surface clean. That something is thought to be volcanic activity but the question is whether it happens quickly or slowly? Is there some sort of cataclysmic volcanic activity that resurfaces the entire planet with lava, or a gradual sequence of smaller volcanic eruptions? New results suggest the latter.

“Now we have strong evidence right at the surface for recent eruptions,” says Sue Smrekar, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

That strong evidence comes in the form of compositional differences compared to the surrounding landscape in three volcanic regions. The data were collected by the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft, which has been orbiting the planet since April 2006.

VIRTIS records the brightness of surface rocks, providing an estimate of ’emissivity’. In 2008, Jörn Helbert and Nils Müller, Institute of Planetary Research, German Aerospace Center, Berlin and co-authors on this new work, published a map of the variation of infrared emissivity across the southern hemisphere of Venus.

Dr Smrekar and her colleagues targeted three regions that geologically resemble Hawaii, well known for its active volcanism. They show that the regions on Venus have higher emissivities than their surroundings, indicating different compositions.

On Earth, lava flows react rapidly with oxygen and other elements in the atmosphere, changing their composition. On Venus, the process should be similar, though more intense because of the hotter, denser atmosphere, chiefly of carbon dioxide.

The researchers interpret the fact that the lava flows appear to have different compositions from their surroundings as being evidence of a lack of surface weathering, indicating that the flows erupted relatively recently. They estimate that the flows are possibly as geologically recent as 2 500 000 years – and likely much less, possibly even currently active. “This is a significant result,” says Håkan Svedhem, ESA Venus Express Project Scientist.

Whilst the gradual resurfacing scenario might not be the most spectacular, it does make Venus look a little more Earth-like.

“There are some intriguing models of how Venus could have completely covered itself in kilometres of volcanic lava in a short time, but they require that the interior of Venus behaves very differently from Earth. If volcanism is more gradual, this implies that the interior may behave more like Earth, though without plate tectonics,” says Dr Smrekar.

Contact: Håkan Svedhem
Hakan.Svedhem@esa.int
European Space Agency

Posted in Idunn Mons, Plate Tectonics, Venus, volcanic eruption | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Arctic Marine Mammals on Thin Ice

Posted by feww on April 24, 2008

(source: Ecological Society of America)

Experts outline primary risks of climate change to natives of the Arctic

The loss of sea ice due to climate change could spell disaster for polar bears and other Arctic marine mammals. The April Special Issue of Ecological Applications examines such potential effects, puts them in historical context, and describes possible conservation measures to mitigate them. The assessment reflects the latest thinking of experts representing multiple scientific disciplines.

Sea ice is the common habitat feature uniting these unique and diverse Arctic inhabitants. Sea ice serves as a platform for resting and reproduction, influences the distribution of food sources, and provides a refuge from predators. The loss of sea ice poses a particularly severe threat to Arctic species, such as the hooded seal, whose natural history is closely tied to, and depends on, sea ice.

The Arctic undergoes dramatic seasonal transformation. Arctic marine mammals appear to be well adapted to the extremes and variability of this environment, having survived past periods of extended warming and
cooling.


Walrus – Odobenus rosmarus divergens – hauled out on Bering Sea ice, Alaska. (Photo Credit: Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps)

“However, the rate and scale of current climate change are expected to distinguish current circumstances from those of the past several millennia. These new conditions present unique challenges to the well-being of Arctic marine mammals,” says Sue Moore (NOAA/Alaska Fisheries Science Center).

Climate change will pose a variety of threats to marine mammals. For some, such as polar bears, it is likely to reduce the availability of their prey, requiring them to seek alternate food. Authors Bodil Bluhm and Rolf Gradinger (University of Alaska, Fairbanks) note that while some Arctic marine mammal species may be capable of adjusting to changing food availability, others may be handicapped by their very specific food requirements and hunting techniques. Species such as the walrus and polar bear fall under this category, while the beluga whale and bearded seal are among those who are more opportunistic in their eating habits and therefore potentially less vulnerable, at least in this regard.


Look here, General George, I can’t unzip the fur! (Photo Credit:Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Office.)

Using a quantitative index of species sensitivity to climate change, Kristin Laidre (University of Washington) and colleagues found that the most sensitive Arctic marine mammals appear to be the hooded seal, polar bear, and the narwhal, primarily due to their reliance on sea ice and specialized feeding.

Shifts in the prey base of Arctic marine mammals would likely lead to changes in body condition and potentially affect the immune system of marine mammals, according to Kathy Burek (Alaska Veterinary Pathology Services). She and fellow researchers point out that climate change may alter pathogen transmission and exposure to infectious diseases, possibly lowering the health of marine mammals and, in the worst case, their survival. Changing environmental conditions, including more frequent bouts of severe weather and rising air and water temperatures, also could impact the health of Arctic marine mammals.


Exasperated polar bears shoo the submarine USS Honolulu off their melting porch (450 km from the North Pole).

The effects of climate change will be compounded by a host of secondary factors. The loss of ice will open the Arctic to new levels of shipping, oil and gas exploration and drilling, fishing, hunting, tourism, and coastal development. These, in turn, will add new threats to marine mammal populations, including ship strikes, contaminants, and competition for prey.

Timothy Ragen (US Marine Mammal Commission) and colleagues describe how conservation measures may be able to address the secondary effects of climate change, but that only reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can-over the long-term-conserve Arctic marine mammals and the Arctic ecosystems on which they depend.

Ragen talks more about the issue on an Ecological Society of America podcast. Visit http://www.esa.org/podcast/ to listen to this latest edition of ESA’s podcast, Field Talk.

Lead authors of the collection of papers in the Special Supplement to Ecological Applications are:

John Walsh (U. of AK, Fairbanks)–climatological understanding C.R. Harrington (Canadian Museum of Nature)–evolutionary history of arctic marine mammals Maribeth Murray (U. of AK, Fairbanks)–past distributions of arctic marine mammals Gregory O’Corry-Crowe (Southwest Fisheries Science Center)–past and current distributions and behaviors Bodil Bluhm (U. of AK, Fairbanks)–food availability and implications of climate change Kristin Laidre (U. of WA)–sensitivity to climate-induced habitat change Kathy Burek (Alaska Veterinary Pathology Services)–effects on Arctic marine mammal health Grete Havelsrud (Center for International Climate & Environmental Research-Oslo)–human interactions Vera Metcalf (Eskimo Walrus Commission, Kawerak)–walrus hunting Sue Moore (NOAA/Alaska Fisheries Science Center)/Henry Huntington (Huntington Consulting)–resilience of Arctic marine mammals to climate change Timothy Ragen (U.S. Marine Mammal Commission)–conservation in context of climate change

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four journals and convenes an annual scientific conference. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

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Posted in Climate Change, coastal development, energy, environment, exploration, food, gas, Global Warming, health, hunting, oil, polar bears, politics, shipping, Tourism, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »