Earth ChangesS

Better Earth

Polar 'bugs' may explain how life survived snowball Earth

© Ralph Maestas/ScienceAnalysing DNA fragments from the "blood falls" has revealed that the bacteria survive on organic compounds trapped with them all those years ago that will eventually run out.
A bacterial lost world trapped beneath Antarctic ice may help explain how life persisted during the "snowball Earth" period when almost all of the globe's surface was frozen over.

Isolated for at least 1.5 million years from close relatives that live in the ocean, the Antarctic microbes live in a super-salty lake sealed with a 400-metre slab of ice, called Taylor Glacier. But each summer, the temperature warms enough for a trickle of extremely cold water to flow to the surface.

Antarctic explorers and scientists noted the deep red colour left by these flows, created by iron in the water, and called them "blood falls".

Bizarro Earth

The Consequences of 'Drill, Baby Drill': More Than 90 Oil Spills a Day in the U.S.

© San Francisco Chronicle/Kurt Rogers
And that's just the fraction of reported spills. While big tanker disasters make the headlines, the daily toll of the oil industry is huge.

The 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska on March 24 got much attention, including reports that significant oil still pollutes the area and many fish and animal species and the Alaska Native economies that relied on them have still not recovered.

Meanwhile, the captain of the Cosco Busan oil tanker which slammed into San Francisco's Bay Bridge and caused a major spill in November 2007 is currently on trial.

Bizarro Earth

Bees in peril

Jean Vasicek seems to know almost everything about bees.

She knows the terrifying sound that the beating of thousands of tiny wings can make, and she knows that her bees get cranky when the citrus trees aren't in bloom. And she knows that honey bees like hers are facing serious problems on a national scale.

Since acquiring her first hive from her brother about 10 years ago, Vasicek has accumulated more than 100 hives throughout the Orlando area, and has become the official beekeeper for Winter Park Honey.

But the situation has changed since she first started, and for Vasicek, it's been for the worse. "Back then you could take care of bees and hardly touch them," she said. "Now it has gotten very hard to keep bees alive."


Cure For Honey Bee Colony Collapse?

© iStockphoto/Kamilla Mathisen
For the first time, scientists have isolated the parasite Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) from professional apiaries suffering from honey bee colony depopulation syndrome. They then went on to treat the infection with complete success.

In a study published in the new journal from the Society for Applied Microbiology: Environmental Microbiology Reports, scientists from Spain analysed two apiaries and found evidence of honey bee colony depopulation syndrome (also known as colony collapse disorder in the USA). They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Nosema ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.

Bizarro Earth

US: Historic Flood Crest Flows Down Suwannee River

Record-breaking floodwaters are working their way down the Suwannee River from the Withlacoochee and Alapaha rivers. Crews from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are in the field measuring the height and volume of water that is rushing downstream.

"Flooding continues to be a major problem in the Suwannee River basin," said USGS hydrologist Stewart Tomlinson, "The floods on the Withlacoochee and Alapaha have now crested and are in the mainstem of the Suwannee River."

Two major tributaries of the Suwannee River -- the Withlacoochee and the Alapaha -- set new flood records earlier this week. USGS data on the river's height and volume of water is used for forecasting the extent of flooding and preparing downstream communities for the flood crest.


Earth seems to be driven by the wave-like cycle of the solar system

Horoscope enthusiasts will be happy to hear that a grand cosmic force does indeed seem to be responsible for controlling the direction of all life on Earth. However, this grand cosmic cycle has more to do with extinction than finding a tall, handsome stranger.

Research has revealed that the rise and fall of species on Earth seems to be driven by the undulating motions of our solar system as it travels through the Milky Way. Some scientists believe that this cosmic force may offer the answer to some of the biggest questions in our Earth's biological history - especially where evolution has fallen short.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that marine fossil records show that biodiversity increases and decreases based on a 62-million-year cycle. At least two of the Earth's great mass extinctions-the Permian extinction 250 million years ago and the Ordovician extinction about 450 million years ago-correspond with peaks of this cycle, which can't be explained by evolutionary theory.


Hawaii's Big Island rattled by strong earthquake

Officials say a strong earthquake shook parts of Hawaii's Big Island but no damage has been reported.

U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says a temblor with a magnitude of 5.0 struck Tuesday at 12:44 p.m. about 8 miles southeast of volcano Kilauea's summit.

Brick Wall

Atlantic dynamo turned up the heat over Medieval Europe

© unknown

In the April 3rd edition of Science a collaborative group of scientists from Switzerland, California and the UK report that medieval climate over Europe was heated by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). This oscillation pattern, defined as the pressure difference between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High, also influences modern-day weather conditions and has contributed to the recent droughts in North Africa and floods in North-Central Europe.

Critique of PhysOrg article.

A comparison of tree rings from 1000-year old trees in Morocco and growth layers in a stalagmite from a cave in Scotland now reveal the mechanism behind the 'Medieval climate anomaly' - a period of global warmth between 1000 and 1400 AD. During this period, the pressure difference between the Azores High and the Icelandic Low was large and, by driving warm Atlantic winds over the cold European continent in winter time, was heating the European mainland.

Trees and stalagmites are "proxy archives", meaning that they are natural data sources from which past climatic conditions can be derived. Old cedar trees from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco grew extremely slowly during Medieval Times and thus reflect much drier conditions during this period compared to following centuries. These dry conditions, in turn, are an indicator for a strong Azores High. Opposite to the African tree rings, the Scottish stalagmite shows that during the same period it was much wetter than normal in northern Europe, reflecting a strong Icelandic Low.

Comment: Take notice of the use of the language here. Specifically this article's minimization of the Medieval Warm Period is now the 'Medieval climate anomaly'.

Comment: The attention focused on this article is because of the work and intent of the authors' of the paper discussed. The paper basically reduces the Medieval Warm Period to a regional European phenomenon using the old bag of tricks employed by Michael Mann of the infamous hockey-stick graphic (used to eliminate the Medieval warm period and show man-made global warming).

The discussion is rather in depth but it does show how low the man made global warming proponents will go to validate their beliefs.

Climate Audit's discussion has become quite expansive with several articles demonstrating the deceptiveness of the methods used in the paper.

Discussions can be reviewed here:

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Additionally the Medieval Warm Period was a world wide climatic event. As IceCap pointed out CO2 Science has setup a database to track research on the medieval Warm period. (Interactive map here java plugin)

The database preface reads:
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 693 individual scientists from 404 separate research institutions in 40 different countries ... and counting! This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Buddha Cave, Qin Ling Mountains, Central China. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.


Passion for global warming cools in the face of evidence

Former believer Paul Sheehan, in The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, develops a new respect for informed dissent.

What I am about to write questions much of what I have written in this space, in numerous columns, over the past five years. The subject of this column is a book entitled Heaven and Earth, written by one of Australia's foremost earth scientists, Ian Plimer.

Much of what we have read about climate change, he argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modelling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as "primitive".

Plimer does not dispute the dramatic flux of climate change but he fundamentally disputes most of the assumptions and projections being made about the current causes, mostly led by atmospheric scientists.

"To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable - human-induced CO2 - is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly. Yet when astronomers have the temerity to show that climate is driven by solar activities rather than CO2 emissions, they are dismissed as dinosaurs undertaking the methods of old-fashioned science."

Bizarro Earth

Solar Activity Lowest in Almost 100 Years, Implications for Climate Potentially Significant

Sunspots are relatively cooler and darker areas on the sun's surface caused by intense magnetic activity. Approximately every 11 years, the sun undergoes cyclic periods of high and low sunspot activity related to a 22-year reversal of the sun's magnetic field. From the sunspot maxima to the sunspot minima solar radiation impacting Earth decreases by approximately 0.1%. Although this seems like an insignificant change, such decreases in solar output over an extended period of time are integrated and can have considerable impacts on Earth's climate. Moreover, some radiative spectra such as ultraviolet and cosmic rays vary significantly more than 0.1% and can affect cloud cover and other feedbacks on the earth-climate system.

Occasionally, the sun undergoes periods lasting several decades when sunspots are less frequent or may not occur at all. The last significant period of decreased sunspot activity occurred from 1795 to 1830, known as the Dalton Minimum. During this period global temperatures decreased and after significant volcanic eruptions in 1816, temperatures plummeted across the Northern Hemisphere. 1816 became known as the "year without a summer". A severe frost in May 1816 destroyed most of the planted crops in North America, and in June two major snowstorms impacted New England and eastern Canada. Ice remained on lakes and rivers as far south as Pennsylvania through July and August.