Four Decades of Sea Ice From Space:  A Decline

by Maria-José Viñas,
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

By the end of last century, scientists had painstakingly developed and tested the remote sensing techniques that allowed them to monitor sea ice from space.

In the 1980s, the scientific community started becoming more interested in watching for signs of climate change in various Earth systems — but through that decade, sea ice showed very little in the way of clear-cut trends. The drastic changes of the past 15 years weren’t even imagined back then.

“It was like watching paint dry,” said Jay Zwally, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., one of a handful of scientists who began in the early 1970s intensively working with satellite imagery to study sea ice.

Still, the new data allowed researchers to start analyzing the long-term behavior of the Arctic Ocean’s icy cap…

(read more and see video: Climate.NASA.gov)

images: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Tomb goods and historical texts show how a drying climate and an expanding human population took their toll on the region’s wildlife

Results, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer an unprecedented glimpse into the ways population growth and climate change can influence an ecosystem over millennia—perhaps giving scientists crucial insight into the long-term impacts of modern human activities...
dendroica
dendroica:

Iceland’s Seabird Colonies Are Vanishing, With “Massive” Chick Deaths

Iceland, circled by the food-rich currents of Atlantic, Arctic, and polar waters, is the Serengeti for fish-eating birds. Its rocky coast, hillocky fields, and jutting sea cliffs are breeding grounds for 23 species of Atlantic seabirds, hosting an indispensable share of Atlantic puffins, black murres, razorbills, great skuas, northern fulmars, and black-legged kittiwakes.
But the nests have gone empty in the past few years, and colonies throughout the North Atlantic are shrinking.
The suspected culprits are many. But the leading candidates are the array of profound changes under way in the world’s oceans—their climate, their chemistry, their food webs, their loads of pollutants.
Warming oceans and earlier thaws are driving away the seabirds’ prey; unleashing deadly, unseasonal storms; and knocking tight breeding schedules off-kilter. Mounting carbon dioxide absorption and melting glaciers are acidifying and diluting the aquatic balance, jeopardizing marine life and the creatures that depend on it for food.

(Read more)

dendroica:

Iceland’s Seabird Colonies Are Vanishing, With “Massive” Chick Deaths

Iceland, circled by the food-rich currents of Atlantic, Arctic, and polar waters, is the Serengeti for fish-eating birds. Its rocky coast, hillocky fields, and jutting sea cliffs are breeding grounds for 23 species of Atlantic seabirds, hosting an indispensable share of Atlantic puffins, black murres, razorbills, great skuas, northern fulmars, and black-legged kittiwakes.

But the nests have gone empty in the past few years, and colonies throughout the North Atlantic are shrinking.

The suspected culprits are many. But the leading candidates are the array of profound changes under way in the world’s oceans—their climate, their chemistry, their food webs, their loads of pollutants.

Warming oceans and earlier thaws are driving away the seabirds’ prey; unleashing deadly, unseasonal storms; and knocking tight breeding schedules off-kilter. Mounting carbon dioxide absorption and melting glaciers are acidifying and diluting the aquatic balance, jeopardizing marine life and the creatures that depend on it for food.

(Read more)

Modern Research Borne on a Relic
Airships That Carry Science Into the Stratosphere
by Joshua A. Krisch
Airships are dusty relics of aviation history. Lighter-than-air vehicles conjure images of the Hindenburg, in its glory and destruction, and the Goodyear Blimp, a floating billboard that barely resembles its powerful predecessors.
But now engineers are designing sleek new airships that could streak past layers of cloud and chart a course through the thin, icy air of the stratosphere, 65,000 feet above the ground — twice the usual altitude of a jetliner. Steered by scientists below, these aerodynamic balloons might be equipped with onboard telescopes that peer into distant galaxies or gather oceanic data along a coastline…
(read more: NY Times)
image by Keck Institute for Space Studies/Eagre Institute

Modern Research Borne on a Relic

Airships That Carry Science Into the Stratosphere

by Joshua A. Krisch

Airships are dusty relics of aviation history. Lighter-than-air vehicles conjure images of the Hindenburg, in its glory and destruction, and the Goodyear Blimp, a floating billboard that barely resembles its powerful predecessors.

But now engineers are designing sleek new airships that could streak past layers of cloud and chart a course through the thin, icy air of the stratosphere, 65,000 feet above the ground — twice the usual altitude of a jetliner. Steered by scientists below, these aerodynamic balloons might be equipped with onboard telescopes that peer into distant galaxies or gather oceanic data along a coastline…

(read more: NY Times)

image by Keck Institute for Space Studies/Eagre Institute

Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought. 
A new joint study identified methane plumes in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts. The methane plumes are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps, mostly on the upper continental slope. For more info see our news release: U.S. Geological Survey

Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought.

A new joint study identified methane plumes in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts. The methane plumes are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps, mostly on the upper continental slope.

For more info see our news release: U.S. Geological Survey

HOT SCIENTISTS IN THE NEWS:

Watch this adorable climate scientist explain sea-level rise with a gin & tonic

by Darby Minow Smith

A stranger at a bar challenged scientist Adam Levy on climate change. In a video response, Levy uses a classic cocktail to show how rising temperatures affect sea-level rise. Climate science, booze, and adorable Commonwealth accents? Count us in.

Remember: Do not try this at home (adding salt to a beautiful gin & tonic, that is).

(via: Grist.org)

* JESUS F’n CHRIST, I’M IN LOVE!!!

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) totally owns Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for blocking a resolution that would have formally acknowledged the fact that climate change is real, and that carbon pollution is causing it.

Having had the opportunity to hear those words which I can only describe as being from an alternate reality" will now become my new go-to phrase whenever I need to win an argument on the internet…

A new study finds a discrepancy in the satellite data

Despite global warming, the fringe of sea ice around Antarctica is expanding slightly, in contrast to the marked decline of sea ice in the Arctic.

Scientists have blamed this curious fact on various forces, from shifting winds to smaller waves, but a new study suggests a more mundane culprit: an error in the way the satellite data have been processed. The miscalculation, the authors say, might be making the sea ice increase appear larger than it is…

Can Snowshoe Hares Evolve to Cope With Climate Change?
The color-changing North American animals may adapt by staying brown for longer periods.
by Emma Marris
There’s something odd about a bright white snowshoe hare motionless and alert—without any hint of snow nearby.
Gleaming white on a brown background of dirt and leaves, the hares, which are native to the mountain ranges of North America, might as well be wearing an “eat me” sign for lynx and other predators.

Scott Mills and Marketa Zimova of North Carolina State University call this “mismatch”—when the hare, which turns from brown to white as the fall becomes winter and back again in spring, doesn’t match its background.

Usually, hares seem to time their color change pretty well. Now the average hare is mismatched only about a week out of the year.But climate change is likely to make such awkward—and potentially fatal—mismatches much more common, the team said this week at the North America Congress for Conservation Biology in Missoula, Montana…
(read more: National Geographic)
photo by Robert Harding/World Imagery/ CORBIS

Can Snowshoe Hares Evolve to Cope With Climate Change?

The color-changing North American animals may adapt by staying brown for longer periods.

by Emma Marris

There’s something odd about a bright white snowshoe hare motionless and alert—without any hint of snow nearby.

Gleaming white on a brown background of dirt and leaves, the hares, which are native to the mountain ranges of North America, might as well be wearing an “eat me” sign for lynx and other predators.

Scott Mills and Marketa Zimova of North Carolina State University call this “mismatch”—when the hare, which turns from brown to white as the fall becomes winter and back again in spring, doesn’t match its background.

Usually, hares seem to time their color change pretty well. Now the average hare is mismatched only about a week out of the year.But climate change is likely to make such awkward—and potentially fatal—mismatches much more common, the team said this week at the North America Congress for Conservation Biology in Missoula, Montana…

(read more: National Geographic)

photo by Robert Harding/World Imagery/ CORBIS

The effects of a meatless population on climate and economy.

The meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change, directly and indirectly producing about 14.5 percent of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and global meat consumption is on the rise.

People generally like eating meat—when poor people start making more money, they almost invariably start buying more meat. As the population grows and eats more animal products, the consequences for climate change, pollution, and land use could be catastrophic…