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Fri, 23 Oct 2020
The World for People who Think

Extreme Temperatures

Red Flag

Global warming may cause ice age: UN scientist blames humans

Last week, the heaviest snowfall since the '90s blanketed the U.K., disrupting bus, rail and air transportation and costing areas like London a cool billion in lost revenue.

Meanwhile, in Australia, a punishing, record drought was worsened by the nation's worst heat wave and worst wildfires, wherein over 400 conflagrations killed over 200 people (and counting), torched a thousand homes and renewed calls for a country with its environmental head up its ass to finally launch its still-hibernating national warning system.

Those who would argue that these are isolated events do so at their own peril. The more time passes, the more both examples of extreme weather resemble two sides of the same fearsome coin known as catastrophic climate change.

Network

Ice Age or global warming?

Norway Newspaper dumping snow at sea
© unknown
It looks more like an Ice Age than global warming.

There is so much snow in Oslo, where I live, that the city authorities are resorting to dumping truckloads of it in the sea because the usual storage sites on land are full.

That is angering environmentalists who say the snow is far too dirty - scraped up from polluted roads - to be added to the fjord. The story even made it to the front page of the local paper ('Dumpes i sjøen': 'Dumped in the sea').

In many places around the capital there's about a metre of snow, the most since 2006 when it was last dumped in the sea. Extra snow usually gets trucked to sites on land, where most of the polluted dirt is left after the thaw. Those stores are now full - in some the snow isn't expected to melt before September.

Network

Ice Ages and Sea Level

The Earth is currently in an interglacial period of an ice age that started about two and a half million years ago. The Earth's current ice age is primarily caused by Antarctica drifting over the South Pole 30 million years ago. This meant that a large area of the Earth's surface changed from being very low-albedo ocean to highly reflective ice and snow. The first small glaciers were formed in Antarctica perhaps as long ago as 40 million years. They expanded gradually until, about 20 million years ago, a permanent ice sheet covered the whole Antarctic continent. About 10 million years later, glaciers appeared on the high mountains of Alaska, and about 3 million years ago, ice sheets developed on lower ground in high northerly latitudes.

Telescope

Ice Age Ends Smashingly: Did a comet blow up over eastern Canada?

Evidence unearthed at more than two dozen sites across North America suggests that an extraterrestrial object exploded in Earth's atmosphere above Canada about 12,900 years ago, just as the climate was warming at the end of the last ice age. The explosion sparked immense wildfires, devastated North America's ecosystems and prehistoric cultures, and triggered a millennium-long cold spell, scientists say.

Ark

Vast Cache of Ice Age fossils found in Los Angeles

Image
© Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Exposed left acetabulum of Zed's pelvis. The fossil is from the first complete individual mammoth to have been found in Rancho La Brea.

The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County family of museums, has announced an endeavor of discovery and research so enormous that it could potentially rewrite the scientific account of the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits and their surrounding area - one of the richest sources of life in the last Ice Age, approximately 40,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Project 23: New Discoveries at Rancho La Brea, undertaken in the heart of urban Los Angeles, has to date uncovered over 700 measured specimens including a large pre-historic American Lion skull, lion bones, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, juvenile horse and bison, teratorn, coyotes, lynx, and ground sloths. Most rare of all is a well-preserved male Columbian mammoth fossil, about 80% complete, with 10-feet long intact tusks found in an ancient river bed near the other discoveries. This latter fossil is the first complete individual mammoth to have been found in Rancho La Brea. In recognition of the importance of the find, paleontologists at the Page Museum have nicknamed the mammoth "Zed."

"The name signifies the beginning of a new era of research and discovery," according to Dr. John Harris, Chief Curator, Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. "Zed is a symbol of the potential of Project 23 to revolutionize our knowledge about this area."

Bizarro Earth

Climate 'Flickering' Ended Last Ice Age in North Atlantic Region

Lake Kråkenes
© UIB/BCCR
Sediment cores were obtained from Lake Kråkenes in western Norway and from the Nordic seas in order to document the last part of the ice age.
An article published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows that the period towards the end of the ice age was engraved by extreme and short-lived variations, which finally terminated the ice age.

A group of scientists at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research and the University of Bergen in Norway, together with colleagues at ETH, Zürich, combined terrestrial and marine proxy palaeo-data covering the latest part of the ice age to improve our understanding of the mechanisms leading to rapid climatic changes.

The Younger Dryas event, which began approximately 12,900 years ago, was a period of rapid cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, driven by large-scale reorganizations of patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Environmental changes during this period have been documented by both proxy-based reconstructions from sediment archives and model simulations, but there is currently no consensus on the exact mechanisms of onset, stabilization, or termination of the Younger Dryas. In contrast to existing knowledge, the Nature article shows that the climate shifted repeatedly from cold and dry to wet and less cold, from decade to decade, before interglacial conditions were finally reached and the climate system became more stable.

Satellite

How to Search for Ice Age Aliens

Ice Age
© Unknown
Could an alien astronomer have detected life on Earth during an ice age? Recent work has calculated how past climate extremes affected the light reflected from vegetation out into space. The results could give hope to our own search for life on distant worlds.

From far away, our planet is a single faint speck of light in the sky. Although we have sent radio messages out to potential extraterrestrial listeners, none of these signals have traveled more than a few tens of light years.

However, Earthlings have been broadcasting their presence to the galaxy for millions of years. Terrestrial plants reflect strongly in the infrared, resulting in a distinctive feature (called the vegetation red edge or VRE) in the light bouncing off the Earth's surface.

Igloo

Kelp genetics reveals Ice Age climate clues

Ice berg

Sea ice extended further north in the Southern Ocean during the last Ice Age than previously thought, a New Zealand research team has found in a study that could improve predictions of climate change.

The team from the University of Otago, led by PhD student Ceridwen Fraser, delved deep into the genetic code of modern-day bull kelp from samples taken from many sub-Antarctic islands, as well as New Zealand and Chile.

The findings showed that southern bull kelp, Durvillaea antarctica, had only recolonised the sub-Antarctic islands in the past 20,000 years after the retreat of sea ice.

Clock

Slippery Slope: Ice Age Cometh in Five Years

It's time for some straight talk. No more beating around the bush. I no longer want to evade an issue around whose edges I've been skirting for 12 years. So I'll come right and say it loud and clear: In all probability, we've come to the end of the line.
Unless I'm grievously mistaken, we are about to go extinct. Soon. In 1997 I warned that we are approaching the onset of a new ice age. I wrote that the record shows that ice ages are preceded by a period of about 20 years, and things get very unpleasant as the end of that period approaches.

Contrary to poor Al Gore's alarmist prediction that the planet is approaching the boiling point, it's getting colder - a lot colder. And it's going to get even colder. Spring and fall will disappear, summers will be short and winters longer and increasingly more frigid.

Telescope

Mature Arctic Ivory Gull spotted In Massachusetts for first time in over a century

The temperatures were in the single digits, but not low enough to keep the gawkers away. A celebrity was in town, behind the East Bay Grille, a visitor not seen in these parts in decades, if not longer.

But these weren't paparazzi, and this wasn't a Hollywood star. Rather, they were avid birdwatchers - about 20 in all - braving the frigid air as they scanned the bay and the edges of the breakwater with binoculars and spotting scopes.
Ivory Gull
© Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger
An ivory gull, a native of the Arctic, has been attracting bird watchers from across New England to Plymouth Harbor.