One of the most poignant climate moments of 2019 was a funeral for ice: an August ceremony in Iceland for the country’s Okjökull glacier. As can be seen in these NASA satellite images, the glacier declined dramatically between 1986 and 2019:
The Ok glacier in Iceland lost its designation as a glacier in 2014 and was mourned over the summer this year.Nasa Earth Observatory and NASA Earth Observatory
Mourners remembered the once-large patch of ice with a plaque.
“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path,” the plaque reads. “This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you will know if we did it.”
The loss of Okjökull (officially stripped of its glacier status in 2014) was one of many deeply troubling milestones this decade in the world’s frozen regions, known collectively as the cryosphere. The Arctic in particular is warming twice as fast as the global average and experienced many historic heat waves. The warming, in turn, is causing an unprecedented amount of melt in the world’s ice.
The ice sheets on land have critical effects on seawater levels around the world. If all the ice on Greenland were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by 20 feet. If all the ice in Antarctica melted, it would raise sea levels by 190 feet.
That’s just for ice on land. The melt of once-frozen waters is threatening vulnerable species, changing circulation patterns in the ocean, and fueling feedback loops that could cause even more ice to melt.
In this post, we’ll walk through some of the key markers of climate change in the polar regions this decade with visuals, as well as some of the key insights we gained. (We’ve omitted Greenland’s ice sheet only because there aren’t many good images available.) We learned that ice is declining at both poles at an accelerating rate the world hasn’t seen in centuries. We can now see these dramatic changes from space. And we have a much better grasp on what we’ll lose if we don’t slow the emissions destabilizing the global climate.
There are two main categories of ice in the cryosphere. One is the ice that forms on land from precipitation: Two-thirds of the planet’s freshwater is frozen in these ice caps, sheets, and glaciers. The other is the ice that forms from freezing the ocean, known as sea ice.
The extent of sea ice tends to ebb and flow with the seasons, but over the past decade, both the highs and lows have gotten lower.
“If you look at just the last decade, 2010 to 2019, eight out of those 10 years are among the lowest 10,” said Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
You can see that in this graph comparing the extent of Arctic sea ice over the course of a year. It grows in the winter and shrinks in the summer, but in recent years, there’s less of the former and more of the latter.
The record low was in 2012, but this year isn’t much farther behind. “It’s kind of reinforcing that we’re heading on a downward trend,” Meier said.
And you can see how this has played out in recent decades in this time lapse animation of ice at the North Pole:
But Meier notes that it’s not just the extent of sea ice that’s changing; the thickness is shrinking as well. It’s a key factor in how much ice survives the summer and how quickly it can regrow in the winter, and we’ve only recently gained a good handle on this with new satellite instruments that can track thickness over time. “The thickness is decreasing as rapidly or more rapidly than the extent,” he said.
The planet’s South Pole is one of its coldest regions, and it’s warming up as well, prompting the rate of ice melt to accelerate. In the past decade, the rate of ice melt in Antarctica tripled compared to 2007. This is on pace to cause six inches of sea level rise by 2100.
You can see some of these dramatic changes playing out in sections of Antarctica, like the Pine Island Glacier. Here is an animation showing the retreat of the glacier since 2000.
The trends in ice in Antarctica are a bit more complicated. There are sections of the Antarctic ice sheet where ice is growing in depth, and others where it is declining, as can be seen in this NASA visual looking at the last 25 years:
Currently, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, the larger, thicker, cooler, more stable sheet in Antarctica, is unlikely to see major changes in the coming years. But the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is showing signs of an accelerating rate of melt, driven in part by climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions, meanwhile, climbed ever higher this decade. In 2010, carbon dioxide concentrations peaked at 394 parts per million (ppm), according to observations at the Mauna Loa Observatory. This year, the observatory reported a record high of 414.8 ppm, a concentration not seen on Earth for millions of years.
“At our current rates of increasing emissions, it’s pretty inevitable we’re going to have ice-free summer conditions at some point in the future, probably within the next, three decades,” Meier said. “It’s a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if’ anymore.”
However, there is uncertainty in how many summers we’ll see without ice in the Arctic, and a key source of that uncertainty is what we’ll do about our greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris climate agreement set out to limit warming this century to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a more ambitious target of staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Hitting the latter target would require halving global emissions by as soon as 2030, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and then net reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere thereafter.
It’s a tall order, but reaching the more-ambitious goal would mean more ice would survive the summer. “In 2 degrees [Celsius] of warming, which is the target set in Paris, it’s likely that we’ll have ice-free summers pretty regularly under those conditions,” Meier said. “But if we hold things to 1.5 degrees [Celsius], which is kind of the ambitious goal, I’m not sure how realistic that is, we’ll likely keep a fair amount of ice around the summer.”
So we’ll likely lose even more from the coldest parts of the world in the coming decade. But the actions we all take will shape just how much is lost.
The astronomy community lit up earlier this week with news that hinted at possible signs of life on Venus. Among the most excited about the discovery were researchers at the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency, who just happened to already have spacecraft en route to Earth’s planetary neighbor.
A team of researchers using telescopes in Hawaii and Chile announced Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy that they spotted what appeared to be phosphine on Venus. Phosphine is a noxious gas that on Earth is only associated with living organisms.
While there were many caveats in linking the discovery directly to proof of life on Venus, it still set both the scientific community and the public abuzz with new wonder.
Missions to space can be costly and time consuming, but in a complete coincidence, the ESA and JAXA happened to already be planning a flyby of Venus next month as part of the BepiColombo mission to Mercury that launched in 2018.
“We are all very excited,” Johannes Benkhoff, a scientist for the BepiColombo mission, told ABC News.
“It was not expected and we would’ve never thought about looking for life on Venus using our instruments, because we are going to Mercury,” he added. “But nevertheless, when we heard about it, we were all excited and we immediately looked if we can do something.”
Benkhoff expressed some doubts that all of their equipment that was planned for exploring Mercury will end up being sensitive enough to do research into signs of life on Venus during the flyby, but said they are looking into any ways they can assist.
The purpose of these flybys for the BepiColombo mission is to de-accelerate the spacecraft so that it can stay on track to reach Mercury by 2025, according to Benkhoff.
“But of course, if we can do a little bit of science, we do that also,” he added.
Benkhoff said that the BepiColombo mission is in partnership with Japan, but they also have collaborators from the U.S. and Russia, and marveled at how exploring other planets has a way of bringing people on Earth closer together.
“That’s what I like about space,” he said. “It’s a very international community and you come together with different cultures.”
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The head of the Russian space agency has staked the country’s claim on Venus, saying this week that it is a “Russian planet.”
Dmitry Rogozin, who is the director general of Russian space corporation Roscosmos, revealed that the country plans to send its own mission to Venus.
This would be on top of an already-proposed joint venture with the United States called “Venera-D” that would include sending an uncrewed space mission to the planet in either 2026 or 2031.
Speaking to reporters at an international helicopter exhibition in Moscow on Tuesday, Rogozin said: “Our country was the first and only one to successfully land on Venus. The spacecraft gathered information about the planet — it is like hell over there,” according to The Times.
“Resuming Venus exploration is on our agenda. We think that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn’t lag behind,” he added, CNN reported.
“Our hoped-for impact in the planetary science community is to stimulate more research on Venus itself, research on the possibilities of life in Venus’ atmosphere, and even space missions focused to find signs of life or even life itself in the Venusian atmosphere,” Seager said, according to CNN.
Venus is the second furthest planet from the Sun and is considered one of the hottest in our solar system.
The planet’s atmosphere is made up almost entirely of carbon dioxide and is the second brightest object in the night sky, after the moon.
The Soviet Union became the first country to successfully land a spacecraft on Venus in 1970. The Venera 7 was one of many probes to be sent to the planet and became the first to transmit data from there back to Earth.
Although it made a successful soft landing, it melted within seconds.
Its successor Venera 9 — also launched by the Russians — took the first and only image of the Venusian surface from the ground-level perspective in 1975.
The country plans to send its own mission to Venus between 2021 and 2030, Rogozin said, according to CNN.
The correct (wrong) type of solar flare may have hindered your navigation. and Radio, affecting giantTrajectory and structure correspondence.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Just when we think we know everything there is to know about the Titanic—unsinkable ship, giant iceberg, "I’m the king of the world," etc.—along comes fascinating new research that raises big questions about what really transpired on the fateful night of April 14, 1912. Did a weather fluke from space actually cause the Titanic to sink? ” data-reactid=”37″>When you think you know everything we need to know giantIt comes with exciting new research that raises big questions about what really happened on the fateful night of April 14, 1912, including an irremovable ship, a huge iceberg, and “I’m the King of the World.” Weather coincidence from space in reality giant Sinking?
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The new study's key finding is that the northern hemisphere was in the grips of a “moderate to severe” magnetic storm that night, which could have altered the Titanic’s navigational readings, affecting both its planned course and the information the crew shared about their location during SOS signals.” data-reactid=”43″>The key finding of the new study was that the Northern Hemisphere was in the grip of a “middle to severe” magnetic storm that night. giantExplore readings of affecting all planned courses and Information shared by the crew about their location during the SOS signal.
The idea is very simple. The sun is covered with sunspots, powered by an innate nuclear generator that burns at millions of degrees. These, in turn, are distinguished by massive explosions over the size of the Earth, i.e. solar flares.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“In a matter of just a few minutes they heat material to many millions of degrees and release as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT,” NASA explains. These flares are often caused by magnetic changes or crashes, and their explosions cause magnetic ripples through the solar system.” data-reactid=”45″>“In just a few minutes, it heats the material to millions of degrees and releases as much energy as billions of megatons of TNT.” NASA explains. These flares are often caused by magnetic changes or collisions, and explosions cause magnetic ripples through the solar system.
It is intuitively understandable that the hottest things in the solar system swirl and experience extreme responses to a changing magnetic field. One of the reasons Earth is a successful habitat for life is that humans have a protective magnetic field that reflects huge amounts of solar radiation and cosmic winds. Otherwise, it will blow us to the surface of a planet like the bald, lifeless Mars.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This magnetic field also shifts and changes over time, especially as the magnetic poles move around Earth’s surface. Both animals and humans have learned to rely on the magnetic poles, in the form of manmade devices like compasses as well as animals’ sense for migration and navigation. Compasses, like clocks, must be adjusted to the correct units—like accounting for magnetic north as it moves around in a normal way.” data-reactid=”47″>This magnetic field moves and changes over time, especially as the stimulus moves around the Earth’s surface. Both animals and humans have learned to rely on stimuli in the form of artificial devices such as compasses. Animal sense of movement and navigation. A compass like a watch should be adjusted in the correct units as follows: Explain magnetic north It moves in the normal way.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="It’s here that we rejoin the Titanic. Paper author Mila Zinkova has published four previous papers about the Titanic in the journal RMetS Weather, exploring a theory that mirages or other visual distortions played a part in the sinking. Now, Zinkova is using weather and space data to explore a different theory.” data-reactid=”48″>Here we are again giant. Paper author Mila Zinkova said Published 4 previous papers on giant In the journal RMetS Weather, A mirage, or other visual distortion contributed to the sinking. Now Zinkova is exploring other theories using weather and space data.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="If a solar flare is severe enough, marked on that historic night by the telltale Aurora Borealis, it can skew the Earth’s magnetic field and wreak havoc with magnetic instruments like compasses. Even today, solar flares interfere with the electrical grid and space traffic, and truly precious file backups may be kept in protective Faraday cages.” data-reactid=”49″>If the solar flare is severe enough, and marked by Aurora Borealis on that historic night, it can distort the Earth’s magnetic field and cause confusion with magnetic devices like compasses. Even today, solar flares disrupt power grids and space traffic, and prevent valuable file backups. Can be stored in a protective Faraday cage..
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Zinkova posits that the impact on compasses affected the coordinates reported in distress signals. “The Titanic’s Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall worked out the ship’s SOS position. Boxhall’s position was around 13 nautical miles (24 km) off their real position,” Zinkova writes.” data-reactid=”70″>Zinkova assumes that the effect on the compass affects the coordinates reported in the distress signal. “that much Titanic 4th Joseph Box Hall located the ship’s SOS. Boxhall’s location was about 24 kilometers (13 nautical miles) from its actual location,” wrote Zinkova.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But the rescue ship Carpathia likely had the same wrong information. “The compasses of the Carpathia could have been under the influence of the geomagnetic storm for 5.5 hours, before and after she received the Titanic’s SOS, and until she reached the lifeboats,” Zinkova continues. “Therefore, a possible combined compass error could have been one of the factors that contributed to the successful rescue of the Titanic survivors.”” data-reactid=”71″>But the rescue ship Carpathian You probably have the exact same misinformation. “Carpathia’s compass may have been affected by a geomagnetic storm. giantUntil she gets to the lifeboat, Zinkova continues. So the possible combined compass error could be one of the factors that contributed to the successful rescue of the Titanic survivors.”
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This also points to how localized the solar flare phenomenon was. Ships in a certain radius received scrambled radio calls or missed them altogether. Back on land or even outside of the affected radius, everything seemed normal except when trying to contact or be contacted by the Titanic and other ships near it.” data-reactid=”72″>This also indicates how localized the solar flare phenomenon is. Vessels in a certain radius receive scrambled cordless calls or missed them all. Everything seemed normal, even when returning to land or outside the affected radius. giant And other ships nearby.
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