Earth ChangesS


Flashback Polish Academy of Sciences Position on the Threat of Global Warming

The climate change of our planet, which can be observed more frequently in recent years, has become alarming for public opinion. Various methods to remedy the situation are elaborated on the international level by decision makers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (operating since 1988) and different ecologic organisations.

Having a part in this significant debate, the Geologic Science Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences wishes to turn to 10 fundamental aspects of the problem closely related to the functioning of geosystem - the complex interdependence of processes occurring in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. The knowledge of these factors should be the foundation for any rational and careful decisions, which could interfere in the geosystem.

Better Earth

Has the sun gone in? Earth's closest star 'dimmest it's been for a century'

Daily Mail Sun
© AFP/Getty ImagesBaffled: Scientists last year assumed the sun was entering an active phase but instead it has hit a 100-year low in sunspot activity
The sun is the dimmest it has been for almost a century, scientists say.

Leading astronomers admit they are baffled why the Earth's closest star has gone so quiet - and when it will burst back into life.

The sun normally goes through an 11-year cycle of activity. At its peak - a period known as the solar maximum - the sun is covered with dozens of sun spots as it spits out vast flares and balls of superheated gas the size of planets.


'Sun at its quietest for 100 years'

© Press Association

With fewer sunspots and solar flares, the sun is at its quietest for almost a century.

Scientists believe the conditions provide a new opportunity to study the sun's confusing cycle of activity.

Space telescopes can be used during the extended "solar minimum" to study the sun in more detail than ever before.

More than 1,000 astronomers and space scientists have gathered at the University of Hertfordshire for the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, where they are discussing the issue.

The sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle. At its peak the sun shoots out flares, gases and materials, and dozens of sunspots can be seen. It then goes through a period of calm. Scientists have little idea why these cycles happen, how they affect the earth and when the current low will end.

Better Earth

Our Oven Earth

The oven analogy was suggested to me by a firm proponent of anthropogenic climate change. The idea was that if one increases the insulation around an oven then it will reach a higher equilibrium temperature for the same energy input. Obviously the suggestion was that extra human greenhouse gases are analogous to extra insulation around an oven.

At first thought that seemed to be a fair and reasonable analogy but I did feel that it did not quite fit the Earth's climate system and it took me a few minutes to work out the flaw. The Earth may be like an oven but because Earth is exposed to space with a flow of energy out to space it is more like an oven with the door open.

So, the heating element represents the sun, the sides, top and base represent the Earth's oceans, the air in the interior cavity represents the air around the Earth, the flow of air in and out of the open door represents the movement of the air around Earth from surface to space as it transfers energy upwards.

Better Earth

Climate change science isn't settled

Yesterday's AFR had an Opinion diatribe by notorious left wing economist John Quiggin, from which the following abstracts come: "While most media outlets give at least some space to these conspiracy theorists (sceptics), the central role has been played by The Australian newspaper. Not only its opinion columnists (with a handful of honourable exceptions) and its editorials, but even its news reporting is dominated by the idea that mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs, publishing their findings not in the peer-reviewed literature but through blogs, think tanks and vanity presses".

"The maintenance of this (conservative/sceptical) viewpoint also requires a high degree of insulation from reality. To provide this insulation, the conservative movement has developed a network of think tanks, experts and news sources that amount to an alternative reality in which the inconvenient truths like climate change can be ignored." "Until conservatives adopt a reality-based approach to climate change, as they have done in Europe and the UK, they cannot be taken seriously as an alternative government."

Deliciously (and probably by happenstance, though I guess at the last moment the headline could have been changed to deliberately aim at the Quiggin piece) today's Australian contains the following superb riposte by Jan Veizer:

Cloud Lightning

Remarkable Cooling in the Atlantic May Decrease 2009 Hurricane Activity

Historical observations show that the Atlantic Ocean undergoes long-term shifts in ocean surface temperatures, a phenomenon known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). In 1995, a shift from the cool to the warm phase occurred, and for more than a decade Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures remained above average. However, since the second half of 2008 a remarkable shift has taken place as the Atlantic Ocean has abruptly cooled.

A cooler Atlantic may impact the upcoming hurricane season, as cooler ocean temperatures inhibit storm development. In 2005, when the AMO was near its peak warming, the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record occurred with 27 named storms. Between 2005 and 2009, there have been significant changes in Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies.

Bizarro Earth

US: 7 Earthquakes hit Yorba Linda, California

At least seven small earthquakes rattled Yorba Linda on Thursday and Friday, part of what appears to be a surge of seismic activity in the area in recent years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

No major damage or emergencies have been reported, said a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority.

The largest of the quakes, a magnitude 4 temblor with an epicenter about a mile north of the city, struck at 8:27 p.m. Thursday; the smallest registered 1.8.

A magnitude 3.1 quake hit at 4:06 p.m. Friday.

"It seems like that spot is relatively active, maybe a little more this last year," said Lucile Jones, a Geological Survey seismologist.

When Jones searched the historical catalog for earthquakes in a 150-square-mile area around Yorba Linda in the last 80 years, she found about 70 stronger than magnitude 3. About a third of those have struck in the last nine years.


US: Endless Caverns Bats Suspect

Endless Caverns Virginia
© Michael ReillyBats from Endless Caverns are being tested for white-nose syndrome.
Samples of bats found in the Endless Caverns show cave and suspected of having the deadly white-nose syndrome have been sent to a federal testing facility, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries confirmed Friday.

If the tests come back positive, it will be the first confirmed case in Rockingham County of the mysterious disease that has wiped out hundreds of thousands of bats in the Northeast. The disease showed up in Virginia for the first time earlier this year, but until now, no bats in the central Valley had been suspected of having the illness.

White-nose syndrome is named for the ring of white fungus that typically appears on infected bats' snouts, and sometimes on other body parts such as wings.

Bizarro Earth

US: Rare Magnitude 3.4 Earthquake In Southern Ohio, Felt In West Virginia

A 3.4 magnitude earthquake centered in Jackson County, Ohio, caused minor shaking this morning in Huntington, Ironton, Proctorville and Ashland, according reports received at the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency states the quake occurred at 9:42 a.m. It was centered in Oak Hill, Ohio. The depth was measured at 3.1 miles. The Jackson County town is located approximately 50 miles north of Huntington.


'Quiet Sun' baffling astronomers

© SOHO - NASASunspots could be seen by the Soho telescope in 2001 (l), but not this year (r)
The Sun is the dimmest it has been for nearly a century.

There are no sunspots, very few solar flares - and our nearest star is the quietest it has been for a very long time.

The observations are baffling astronomers, who are due to study new pictures of the Sun, taken from space, at the UK National Astronomy Meeting.

Last year, it was expected that it would have been hotting up after a quiet spell. But instead it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity.