Sunday, February 23, 2020

Shocking satellite images reveal that 20 per cent of snow cover on an Antarctic island MELTED in just 10 days during record-breaking temperatures of more than 68°F earlier this month

Once again, notice the dog that didn't bark:  No mention of climate change.  And there is a good reason for that. The Antarctic peninsula is full of volcanoes so is often warm because of volcanic activity (among  other things). Global warming is irrelevant

Shocking satellite images reveal that 20 per cent of snow cover on an Antarctic island MELTED in just 10 days, during record-breaking temperatures.

The shots of the ice cap on Eagle Island — captured by the 'Operational Land Imager' on the Landsat 8 satellite on February 4 and 13, 2020 — show melt ponds appearing.

The warm spell began on February 5 and ran through to February 13, peaking on February 6, with temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula reaching 64.9°F (18.3°C).

This figure — the hottest on record for Antarctica — was the around the same temperature as in Los Angeles, California, on the exact same day.

'I haven’t seen melt ponds develop this quickly in Antarctica,' said glaciologist Mauri Pelto of Nichols College in Massachusetts. 'You see these kinds of melt events in Alaska and Greenland, but not usually in Antarctica.'

According to Professor Pelto, the warming event caused 0.9 square miles (1.5 square kilometres) of the snowpack on Eagle Island to become saturated with meltwater — a phenomena that shows up as blue patches in the satellite images.

Climate models suggest that Eagle Island experienced the most melt on February 6 — when temperatures peaked — losing around 1 inch (3 cm) of the snowpack.

In fact, 4 inches (10.6 centimetres) of the island's snowcap melted in the period from February 6–11 — the equivalent of 20 per cent of the seasonal snow accumulation.

Professor Pelto also used satellite images to identify widespread surface melting take place on the nearby Boydell Glacier.

Enduring warm spells have become a common phenomena in Antarctica in recent years, experts say.

The recent warm spell was triggered by a combination of different meteorological events, experts said.

These included a ridge of high pressure building up over Cape Horn, Chile, at the beginning of February, which allowed warm temperatures to build up.

The Antarctic peninsula is usually shielded from warm air masses by strong winds known as the Southern Hemisphere westerlies that circle the continent.

However, the westerlies were in a weakened state at the time of the warm spell , allowing extra tropical warm air to reach the ice sheet from across the Southern Ocean.

Sea surface temperatures were also elevated during this warm period, by around 3.6–5.4°F (2–3°C).

In addition, so-called 'foehn winds' — strong, dry gusts that travel down the sides of mountains — helped to bring warm air down onto the snowpacks.

These were caused in February by westerly winds running into the mountain chain that lies along the Antarctic Peninsula, causing the air to cool and condense out clouds — a process which releases heat into the surrounding air.

This warm, dry air then travels down the other side of the mountains, both heating up the region directly as well as indirectly by leading to fewer clouds and more direct sunlight bearing down on the ice.

'Two things that can make a foehn-induced melt event stronger are stronger winds and higher temperatures,' explained atmospheric researcher Rajashree Tri Datta of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The warm atmospheric and oceanic conditions this month would therefore have been conducive for foehn winds.

The recent heatwave has been the third major melting episode of the current Antarctic summer, following warm spells in November 2019 and January 2020.

'If you think about this one event in February, it isn’t that significant,' noted Professor Pelto. He added: 'It’s more significant that these events are coming more frequently.'


10 Plagues That Are Hitting Our Planet Simultaneously

The Pharaoh had a similar problem around 3,000 years ago.  You can read all about it in the Book of Exodus

All of a sudden, really crazy things are starting to happen all over the world.  Giant swarms of locusts are absolutely devastating entire regions, extremely unusual storms are confounding meteorologists, earthquake and volcanic activity are both on the rise, and five very dangerous diseases are sweeping across the globe.  So far in 2020, it has just been one thing after another, and many are speculating about what could be ahead if events continue to escalate.  The other day my wife mentioned that one of her friends suggested that I should put together a list of all the weird stuff that has been taking place, and so that is what I have decided to do.  The following is a list of 10 plagues that are hitting our planet simultaneously…

#1 Armies Of Locusts – As I detailed the other day, swarms of locusts the size of major cities have been devouring entire farms in Africa in as little as 30 seconds.  These swarms have also been spreading throughout the Middle East, and now we have learned that they have even reached China…

A gigantic swarm of locusts that belong to a plague that has ravaged millions of acres of crops across east Africa has been spotted reaching the Chinese border.

Billions of the insects have destroyed food supplies across Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia in what has been described as the worst plague for decades.

#2 Extremely Bizarre Weather Patterns – It is almost as if virtually all of the old rules have suddenly been thrown out the window.  An all-time record 209 mph wind gust just hit Calfiornia, and absolutely crazy storms are happening all over the planet.  For example, just check out what just took place in Australia…

Sydney has been thrown into chaos by a devastating storm that saw two months of rainfall in just two days – forcing mass evacuations, leaving 150,000 homes without power, and prompted warnings not to drive to work. The storm dumped 400mm of rain on the city over the weekend, causing mayhem for commuters on Monday morning with roads blocked, ferries canceled and trains suffering major delays across the network.

#3 Unprecedented Flooding – We are seeing unusual flooding all over the world right now, and the flooding that is devastating the southern U.S. at this moment is being called “unprecedented”…

In Jackson, Mississippi, hundreds of residents either watched their homes flood over the weekend or worried their residence would soon be drenched as the Pearl River crested Monday at 36.8 feet, its third-highest level ever recorded – behind only 1979 and 1983.

Calling the Jackson floods “historic” and “unprecedented,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a Sunday press conference that “we do not anticipate this situation to end anytime soon. It will be days before we are out of the woods and the waters recede.”

#4 Major Earthquakes – Really big earthquakes are happening with such frequency now that it is very difficult for me to write about them all.  For example, a magnitude 7.7 quake recently struck off of the coast of Jamaica, but I have been so busy writing about other disasters that I have not even mentioned it until now…

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Tuesday about 80 miles from Jamaica, shaking people in the Caribbean and as far away as Miami.

A tsunami of 0.4 feet was recorded in the Cayman Islands at George Town, but no tsunami was observed at Port Royal, Jamaica, or Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

#5 Unusual Volcanic Eruptions – Seismic activity has been rising all over the globe, and over the past couple of months we have seen volcanoes all over the world pop off like firecrackers.  One of the most notable eruptions that we have seen in recent days was the most powerful eruption of Mount Merapi in 90 years…

One of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, Mount Merapi just experienced its most powerful eruption since 1930! The eruption reportedly took place on Thursday and was caught on video displaying a powerful and terrifying eruption showing the moment the crater exploded and launched lava and ash an estimated 2,000 meters into the air forcing local residents to stay outside of the designated no-go zone 3km (1.8 miles) from the crater.

#6 The Coronavirus – Needless to say, the coronavirus outbreak in China has been getting more headlines than anything else on this list.  The numbers continue to rise, and many are speculating that this could potentially become the worst global pandemic since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.  In a desperate attempt to keep the truth from getting out, the World Health Organization is asking the major social media companies to censor their users…

The World Health Organization has held talks with tech giants to stop the spread of coronavirus “misinformation,” despite the fact that some things once labeled “misinformation” have since turned out to be true.

The meeting was organized by the WHO but hosted by Facebook at its Menlo Park campus in California. Attendees included representatives from Amazon, Twilio, Dropbox, Google, Verizon, Salesforce, Twitter, YouTube, Airbnb, Kinsa and Mapbox.


Climate activists have a target: Harvard’s endowment

Good show!  Cheap shares for climate skeptics

Climate change activists delayed the storied Harvard-Yale football game by rushing onto the field in protest last fall. This month, Harvard’s largest faculty group overwhelmingly urged the university to divest its massive endowment from fossil fuel companies. And earlier this week, five pro-divestment candidates captured spots on the ballot for election to Harvard’s powerful board of overseers.

Environmentalists have been encouraging Harvard for years to divest from fossil fuels. But the campaign has intensified in recent months, and the university is being hammered on multiple fronts to pull its endowment — with $41 billion in assets at last count — out of investments in oil, gas, and coal companies and those that drill and extract fossil fuels.

The Ivy League university is far from the only campus feeling the pressure, but as the owner of the world’s largest education endowment, it has also become the biggest target for activists.

“Because of the brand name…. the type of message it sends is really, really loud,” said Nath├ín Goldberg, a 2018 Harvard graduate and an organizer for the Harvard Forward campaign. Harvard Forward is trying to get alumni who back climate change-specific policies onto the board of overseers, one of two governing boards.

If Harvard divested, “It would be one of the bigger dominoes to fall,” Goldberg said.

Harvard officials have thus far resisted calls to divest from fossil fuels, and its leaders have long been reluctant to use the endowment to make a political statement. But Harvard president Lawrence Bacow said this month that he will present the faculty vote on climate change and divestment to the Harvard Corporation, which would ultimately make such a decision.

“I am confident that the Corporation will give it the thought and consideration it deserves,” Bacow said in a statement.

How much of Harvard’s endowment is invested in fossil fuels is publicly unknown. Only a fraction of its $41 billion is invested directly in public energy companies, but the university likely holds funds that include oil and gas companies, and many of them are potentially tied in complex contracts that could take years to get out of, environmentalists and financial experts agree.

But considering the attention that divesting college endowments from fossil fuels is gaining across the country, it would be surprising if Harvard officials aren’t reviewing their funds to determine exactly how much they hold and what it would take to truly divest, said Charles Skorina, a San Francisco executive recruiter who closely tracks Harvard’s investments and other large endowments.

“This is not going away,” Skorina said.

Last September, the University of California system announced that its $13.4 billion endowment was fossil-fuel free and that its $70 billion pension fund would soon follow. The California university system said it sold about $150 million in fossil fuel assets, including exposures to coal and oil sands, four years ago, because they were too risky. Returns on energy stocks have slumped in recent years, likely making it easier for some endowments to pull out of the sector.

“We believe hanging onto fossil fuel assets is a financial risk,” Jagdeep Singh Bachher, the system’s chief investment officer, co-wrote in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times in September. “Some might see our action as born of political pressure, or as green movement idealism or perhaps political correctness run amok. … The reason we sold some $150 million in fossil fuel assets from our endowment was the reason we sell other assets: They posed a long-term risk.”

This month, Georgetown University announced that it will withdraw its money from public securities in fossil fuel companies in the next five years and divest private investments in those companies over the next decade. The Catholic university also pledged to use those freed up funds to invest more in renewable energy.

Between 2011 and 2018, 35 American universities and colleges pulled their endowments, either partially or completely, from fossil-fuel holdings, including the University of Massachusetts system, Boston University, Stanford University, Syracuse University, and Middlebury College, according to a study published last year that explored the impact of divestment. The study also said universities generally hold only a small share of fossil fuel-related stocks, but by divesting they can stigmatize these funds and change how companies do business.

But swaying Harvard may be more difficult. In a few high profile cases, the university has divested from funds to make a political statement, but usually only after considerable pressure.

This week a group of Harvard students ratcheted up their prison divestment campaign with plans to file a lawsuit in Massachusetts state court to block the university from spending endowment funds on companies tied to the prison industry.

It took years of criticism and lobbying, before Harvard partially divested from companies that did business in apartheid South Africa in the mid-1980s.

Harvard also divested from tobacco companies in 1990, and in 2005, in response to the genocide in Darfur, the university sold off stocks in companies that did business in Sudan and were linked to the human rights crisis. But in the Sudan case, Harvard still held shares in those companies when they were part of larger mutual funds.

Divesting from fossil fuels could be just as challenging for Harvard, because it could have financial interests not just directly in these energy companies, but through third parties, Skorina said.

And there’s disagreement even among advocates about what level of divestment is appropriate — should Harvard just sell its interest in oil giants, or should it consider pipeline companies too, Skorina said.

Furthermore, it’s unclear whether divesting is an effective strategy to combat climate change. If Harvard sells its shares, another investor is likely to pick them up quickly, he said.

“Asset managers and chief investment officers, they’re in a difficult position,” Skorina said. “Social media has created a wave of outrage, but hasn’t supplied a clear path forward.”

Harvard officials have argued that divesting would be hypocritical given that the university still relies on fossil fuels to power the campus. The university has instead argued that a better path forward is to invest in research to combat climate change and innovations in renewable energy. The university points to its goal of making the campus fossil-fuel free by 2050.

“I, like my predecessors, believe that engaging with industry to confront the challenge of climate change is ultimately a sounder and more effective approach for our university,” Bacow wrote in a column last fall in the university’s internal magazine.

But climate change activists hope the momentum they’ve gained will push administration officials to change their minds.

Danielle Strasburger, a 2018 graduate and the campaign manager for Harvard Forward, said she is prepared for a long battle. But she is optimistic — in the past few months, the group successfully collected more than 4,500 signatures from alumni around the world and got pro-divestment candidates on the ballot for the board of overseers this spring.

“The tide is turning,” Strasburger said. “There are a lot of moving parts. Somewhere, eventually, something is going to give.”


New breakthroughs help pluck water from thin desert air

Getting water out of desert air is an old idea that has been used on a small scale for many years.  But more efficient ways of doing it are of course welcome

As everyone knows, deserts lack water. Or do they?

While it may be true water is scant on their dry grounds, deserts actually do have significant amounts of water lingering in the air. It is for this reason a number of scientists are looking for creative ways to capture it and provide new sources of nourishment for those living in arid regions.

Among those engaged in the challenge include researchers from the University of Connecticut. They have devised a so-called “trap” that uses birnessite, a type of manganese dioxide. To capture water, these scientists riddle the birnessite with small holes that allows air to pass and H20 to collect. A key advantage of their contraption is that birnessite is found commonly in nature and cheap to create. More conventional water traps in use today, on the other hand, rely upon zirconium that is both rare and very expensive.

Another research team, this one from the University of California, Berkeley, has also weighed into the effort. They propose replacing the pricy zirconium with “aluminium.” Aluminium, like birnessite, is cheaper than zirconium, and it is also better at binding to and then releasing water, making this particular trap’s operation also smoother.

But do they actually work in the field? The results, thus far, are promising. As reported in the Economist:

“Both proposals work. Tested in desert-like conditions in a laboratory … they absorb and regurgitate reasonable fractions of their weight of water every day. They are nothing like as productive as desalination plants, and so would have to be built at large scale to generate water in commercially useful quantities. But one thing deserts do have is lots of cheap land. If either or both of these inventions can be manufactured at scale, then the deserts may bloom—if not with plants, at least with water-collection farms.”



New wave of coral bleaching raises concerns for Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Given the Greenie lies about the last bleaching  -- Peter Ridd won a court case over his criticisms of them --  this report is fit only to be ignored

Perhaps the most amusing part of the previous scare was when the Federal minister visited the reef to see for herself how bad it was.  She found it looked fine.  We read:  "The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has supported Environment Minister Sussan Ley's appraisal that the reef is "good" and has "a vibrant future"."

They completely walked back their cries of doom.  I guess not all Greenies are crooks but most of them seem to be

Another wave of coral bleaching is hitting the Great Barrier Reef as temperature levels surge above average.

The federal government’s lead reef protection agency on Wednesday discovered significant bleaching on three reefs in the far north of the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem.

“That is the first time we’ve seen significant bleaching so far this summer,” said David Wachenfeld, chief scientist with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

“It is a confirmation of our growing concern about what is happening out on the reef at the moment.” Heat stress that has built up on the far northern, central and southern parts of the reef over the summer has intensified over the last week. “These levels of heat stress are definitely capable of causing coral bleaching and we are now at a heightened level of alertness for what is happening out there in the park,” Dr Wachenfeld said.

A bleaching warning has been issued for large parts of the Torres Strait and far northern management areas of the marine park, where significant bleaching across multiple hot spots is likely.

Most of the area covered by the marine park was 0.5 to 1.5C above average as of February 11, with some central and southern parts being 2 to 3C warmer. “February is the hottest month of the year on the reef so these anomalies are really very concerning,” Dr Wachenfeld said.

The reef authority has been told of bleaching in other areas and is sending staff to survey the damage.

Further heat stress is expected over the next few weeks as temperatures remain high.



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