Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Antarctica Melting or Not?

NASA reports on a new analysis of the Antarctic ice sheet and its apparent response to global warming.
NASA notes that one new paper states there has been less surface melting recently than in past years, and has been cited as "proof" that there’s no global warming. Other evidence that the amount of sea ice around Antarctica seems to be increasing slightly is being used in the same way. But both of these data points are misleading. Gravity data collected from space using NASA's Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveals that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too. How is it possible for surface melting to decrease, but for the continent to lose mass anyway? The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.
Two-thirds of Antarctica is a high, cold desert. Known as East Antarctica, this section has an average altitude of about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), higher than the American Colorado Plateau. There is a continent about the size of Australia underneath all this ice; the ice sheet sitting on top averages at a little over 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) thick. If all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meters (197 feet). But little, if any, surface warming is occurring over East Antarctica. Radar- and laser-based satellite data show a little mass loss at the edges of East Antarctica, which is being partly offset by accumulation of snow in the interior, although a very recent result from the NASA/German Aerospace Center's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) suggests that since 2006 there has been more ice loss from East Antarctica than previously thought5. Overall, not much is going on in East Antarctica — yet.
West Antarctica is a series of islands covered by ice. Think of it as a frozen Hawaii, with penguins.
West Antarctica is very different. Instead of a single continent, it is a series of islands covered by ice — think of it as a frozen Hawaii, with penguins. Because it's a group of islands, much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS, in jargon) is actually sitting on the floor of the Southern Ocean, not on dry land. Parts of it are more than 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) below sea level. Pine Island is the largest of these islands and the largest ice stream in West Antarctica is called Pine Island Glacier. The WAIS, if it melted completely, would raise sea level by 5 to 7 meters (16 to 23 feet). And the Pine Island Glacier would contribute about 10 percent of that.
Since the early 1990's, European and Canadian satellites have been collecting radar data from West Antarctica. These radar data can reveal ice motion and, by the late 1990s, there was enough data for scientists to measure the annual motion of the Pine Island Glacier. Using radar information collected between 1992 and 1996, oceanographer Eric Rignot, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, found that the Pine Island Glacier’s "grounding line" — the line between the glacier's floating section and the part of the glacier that rests on the sea floor — had retreated rapidly towards the land. That meant that the glacier was losing mass. He attributed the retreat to the warming waters around West Antarctica. But with only a few years of data, he couldn't say whether the retreat was a temporary, natural anomaly or a longer-term trend from global warming.
Rignot's paper surprised many people. JPL scientist Ron Kwok saw it as demonstrating that "the old idea that glaciers move really slowly isn't true any more." One result was that a lot more people started to use the radar data to examine much more of Antarctica. A major review published in 2009 found that Rignot's Pine Island Glacier finding hadn’t been a fluke: a large majority of the marine glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula were retreating, and their retreat was speeding up. Last summer, a British group revisited the Pine Island Glacier finding and found that its rate of retreat had quadrupled between 1995 and 20068.
The retreat of West Antarctica's glaciers is being accelerated by ice shelf collapse. Ice shelves are the part of a glacier that extends past the grounding line towards the ocean; they are the most vulnerable to warming seas. A longstanding theory in glaciology is that these ice shelves tend to support the end wall of glaciers, with their mass slowing the ice movement towards the sea. This was confirmed by the spectacular collapse of the Rhode Island-sized Larsen B shelf along the eastern edge of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2002. The disintegration, which was caught on camera by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imaging instruments on board its Terra and Aqua satellites, was dramatic: it took just three weeks to crumble a 12,000-year old ice shelf. Over the next few years, satellite radar data showed that some of the ice streams flowing behind Larsen B had accelerated significantly, while others, still supported by smaller ice shelves, had not. This dynamic process of ice flowing downhill to the sea is what enables Antarctica to continue losing mass even as surface melting declines.

Climate Change News

The Five Most Affordable, Fuel Efficient Cars of 2010

The 2010 model year has more to offer the cost-conscious car buyer than ever before. There are 20 cars, SUVs and hatchbacks that get better than 30 mpg. But while each will save you money at the pump, many come at a premium (the hybrid versions of some models cost from $6,000 to $11,000 more than their gasoline-fueled counterparts). Don't despair. If you're in the market for a new car, there are seven that both get better than 30 mpg and cost less than $20,000. Better, these five cost less than $15,000 (two even come in under $12,000). Of course, truly cost conscious consumers will want to look at used cars, which can also be a good choice for the environment (avoiding all the energy and materials that go into the manufacturing of a new car). Use to compare the efficiency of used and new cars, or check out The Daily Green's list of the 10 most reliable and fuel-efficient used cars.
If you're buying new, look no further:

2010 kia rio

2010 Kia Rio

Price: $11,495
The manual Kia Rio gets 31 mpg without the benefit of a hybrid engine, keeping its cost low. (The automatic drive comes in at a combined 30 mpg, but does better on the highway.)
28 mpg city (27 automatic)
34 mpg highway (36 automatic)
$2.15 to drive 25 miles
$1,294 annual fuel cost
5.9 tons of CO2 annually

2010 smart fortwo

2010 Smart ForTwo

Price: $11,990
Whether you pick up the classic coupe or the convertible (no, it's not a golf cart), the Smart ForTwo's 36 mpg make it the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car on the market. And at $11,990 it's also the most affordable. It was rated one of Greenopia's greenest cars of the year.
33 mpg city
41 mpg highway
$1.85 to drive 25 miles
$1,113 annual fuel cost
5.1 tons of CO2 annually

2010 toyota yaris

2010 Toyota Yaris

Price: $12,355
Whether the little Yaris you get is the 3-door hatch, the 5-door hatch (add $300) or the 5-door sedan (add $750), the little Yaris gets 32 mpg.
29 mpg city
36 mpg highway (35 for manual)
$2.09 to drive 25 miles
$1,254 annual fuel cost
5.7 tons of CO2 annually

2010 hyundai accent blue

2010 Hyundai Accent Blue

Price: $13,645
At 31 mpg, this new baseline version of the Accent (which otherwise gets 30 mpg) is among the more affordable fuel efficient 2010 cars.
27 mpg city
36 mpg highway
$2.15 to drive 25 miles
$1,294 annual fuel cost
5.9 tons of CO2 annually

2010 honda fit

2010 Honda Fit

Price: $14,900
If you're buying a new Fit, the automatic 5-speed gets the best mileage, with 31 mpg. It is rated one of the greenest cars of 2010 by Kelly Blue Book.
28 mpg city
35 mpg highway
$2.15 to drive 25 miles
$1,294 annual fuel cost
5.9 tons of CO2 annually

Huffington Post

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Polar Bears Forced to Leave

As Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears are changing their habitat, shifting from their preferred ice hunting grounds to land and open water, according to a new long-term study. The findings have implications for people as well as polar bears, since the shift makes it more likely that humans will encounter these large animals on land, the researchers say.
The study was conducted over a 27-year period, from 1979 to 2005. Polar bears were observed in and around the southern Beaufort Sea during the fall as part of an annual aerial survey to collect information on bowhead whale migration routes. The Beaufort Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean with shores on Alaska as well as Canada's Yukon, Northwest Territories and Arctic Islands.
Data showed that as ice conditions changed, bears were being found in different habitats. Between 1979 and 1987, 12 percent of bear sightings were on land or in open water, but not on ice. That number increased to 90 percent between 1997 and 2005.
In addition, the number of bears sighted steadily increased from 138 bears between 1979 and 1987, to 271 bears between 1988 and 1996, and finally to 468 bears between 1997 and 2005.
That doesn't mean polar bear numbers are on the rise in total or in nearshore areas. Karyn Rode, a polar bear biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska, warns that this study was not designed to estimate the number of bears using the nearshore area, and so it should not be concluded that more bears are occurring in the nearshore waters off the Southern Beaufort Sea coast.
However, Rode said, "Our results do suggest that bears that use the nearshore area are more likely to occur on land in recent years because their preferred habitat, sea ice, is unavailable."
In the Beaufort Sea region, there was less ice in 2005 than when the study period began in 1979. In general, freeze-up is later and spring melt comes earlier with measurements showing since 1979 the summer melt period has increased by 13 days per decade. This is one reason for the region's rapid retreat of multi-year ice, which provides a thicker, more stable platform for the bears to hunt and den.
Last year, international researchers involved in a separate study looking at melting Arctic ice and the effects on ecosystems concluded: "The Arctic as we know it may be a thing of the past."
The new study is helpful in highlighting the need to proactively develop programs to manage bear-human interactions in coastal areas, researchers said. Bear-human interactions in Native villages and with industry in Alaska have been on the rise in recent years.

Huffington Post

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


ANYONE! Who has clothes that you don't wear, or toiletries, kitchenwear, ANYTHING that you dont use or want you can drop off at my house for the families who lost everything in the appartment fires on Sunday. Men, women and children.... If you want to call me my number is 260.827.8255 or you can drop it off at my house... in a box/sack whatever at 322 E Arnold St. Thanks!