An evening pause: I think I have posted previously about this 1930s engineering marvel, but no matter, this documentary does a very nice job of telling the wild story of biggest vehicle ever sent to Antarctica.
Hat tip Tom Biggar.
An evening pause: I think I have posted previously about this 1930s engineering marvel, but no matter, this documentary does a very nice job of telling the wild story of biggest vehicle ever sent to Antarctica.
Hat tip Tom Biggar.
An accident of some kind has apparently killed two individuals at the U.S. McMurdo station in Antarctica yesterday.
The National Science Foundation says two technicians working on a fire-suppression system at an Antarctica scientific station were found unconscious and died.
The foundation said Wednesday the two had been working in a building at McMurdo Station, which is on Ross Island. It says they were found on the floor by a helicopter pilot who had landed after spotting what appeared to be smoke from the building.
Nothing more is as yet known.
A greenhouse in Antarctica that is partly maintained remotely from Germany has survived through the polar winter for the first time.
Regularly withstanding temperatures below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius), the greenhouse provided herbs, lettuce and other vegetables to 10 people who were riding out the winter in the remote station, called the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Neumayer Station III. It’s the first time the greenhouse operated through the winter. “After more than half a year of operation in Antarctica, the self-sufficient greenhouse concept appears to be effective for climatically demanding regions on Earth, as well as for future manned missions to the moon and Mars,” DLR officials said in the statement.
“The harvests are now so plentiful that some of it does not always make it straight to the table, and we now have the luxury of spreading out our consumption of some refrigerated lettuce and herbs over several days,” Paul Zabel, a DLR researcher who works with EDEN ISS, said in the statement. “The overwintering team members are always looking forward to their next fresh meal.”
From a space exploration perspective, the most interesting aspect of this story is that, when the weather was too hostile for its Antarctic maintainer to reach it, the greenhouse was then maintained remotely from Germany, for up to three consecutive days. Clearly hands-on maintenance is necessary for such a facility, but to design it so that remote maintenance can occur is a technical capability that space-colonists are definitely going to want to have.
The uncertainty of science: Scientists have found that the coldest place on Earth in Antarctica is even colder than previously believed.
Scientists announced in 2013 they had found the lowest temperatures on Earth’s surface: Sensors on several Earth-observing satellites measured temperatures of minus 93 degrees Celsius (minus 135 degrees Fahrenheit) in several spots on the East Antarctic Plateau, a high snowy plateau in central Antarctica that encompasses the South Pole. But the researchers revised that initial study with new data and found the temperatures actually reach minus 98 degrees Celsius (minus 144 degrees Fahrenheit) during the southern polar night, mostly during July and August.
When the researchers first announced they had found the coldest temperatures on Earth five years ago, they determined that persistent clear skies and light winds are required for temperatures to dip this low. But the new study adds a twist to the story: Not only are clear skies necessary, but the air must also be extremely dry, because water vapor traps some heat in the air.
They say this is about as cold as it is possible on the Earth’s surface, as it presently exists.
We’re all gonna die! A giant section of the Antarctic ice shelf, about the size of the state of Delaware, has finally broken off from the main ice cap.
The Science article immediately tries to tie this event to global warming, as articles in this pro-global warming journal are always eager to do. The problem is that there is no way to really do that, as the author himself is forced to admit.
Climate change has a new poster child: a massive iceberg the size of Delaware—one of the largest ever recorded—that early this week calved off Larsen C, the largest remaining ice shelf off the Antarctic Peninsula, scientists announced today. Although researchers cannot explicitly connect the calving event to warming air or water, those monitoring the event are now concerned that the entire shelf, after shedding more than 12% of its area, could follow the fate of its more northern peers, Larsens A and B, which collapsed entirely in 1995 and 2002, respectively.
The Antarctic icecap has been growing in recent decades. Just because a big piece broke off this week tells us nothing about the overall global climate. Furthermore, take a look at the map at the link. On the scale of the entire Antarctica icecap this iceberg is actually only a tiny piece. Such calving events are actually the normal process that occurs at the icecap, and every scientist who studies this subject knows it. Like a glacier, the icecap accumulates snow and ice in its center, which slowly flows outward to the sea, where it eventually breaks off to rejoin the Earth’s normal water cycle. There presently is little evidence that more ice is exiting the icecap than is accumulating at its center.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a project to tow an iceberg more than 5,500 miles from Antarctica in order to provide that arid nation drinking water for about five years.
The National Advisor Bureau, headquartered in Masdar City, Abu-Dhabi, plans to source the massive blocks of ice from Heard Island, around 600 miles (1000 kilometres) off the coast of mainland Antarctica. It will then transport them around 5,500 miles (8,800 km) to Fujairah, one of the seven emirates which make up the UAE. One iceberg could provide enough for one million people over five years, according to the company.
And the scheme could begin as early as the start of 2018.
According to Buzz Aldrin his health problems in Antarctica last week was caused by altitude sickness.
Because of the thick ice that blankets Antarctica, the South Pole sits at an elevation of 2,835 meters (9,300 feet). Aldrin said in a statement he still has some congestion in his lungs and so has been advised to rest in New Zealand until it clears up and to avoid the long flight back to the U.S. for now. Aldrin, his son Andrew and manager Christina Korp had been visiting Antarctica as tourists on a trip organized by the White Desert tour company. They left last Tuesday from South Africa. “South Pole here I come!” Aldrin wrote on Twitter at the time.
He said the trip began well, and that he’d been planning to spend time with scientists who were studying what it would be like to live on Mars because the conditions in Antarctica were similar. “I had been having a great time with the group at White Desert’s camp before we ventured further south,” he said. “I started to feel a bit short of breath so the staff decided to check my vitals. After some examination they noticed congestion in my lungs and that my oxygen levels were low, which indicated symptoms of altitude sickness.” Aldrin said he was put on the next flight, a ski-equipped LC-130 cargo plane that took him to McMurdo Station, a U.S. research center on the Antarctic coast. “Once I was at sea level I began to feel much better,” he said.
Using new drill technology scientists are now searching for the best place in Antarctica to obtain the oldest ice core ever drilled.
More than a decade ago, the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) drilled the oldest existing core, which contains 800,000-year-old ice, from an ice dome in East Antarctica known as Dome C. The core reaches only as far back as the latter part of the Pleistocene epoch, when Earth began cycling between warm and cold periods every 100,000 years. Before 1 million years ago, the cycle occurred every 40,000 years (L. E. Lisiecki and M. E. Raymo Paleoceanography 20, PA1003; 2005), so scientists want an ice core that is twice as old as EPICA to better understand this transition.
Digging such a core would cost about US$50 million and take several years, so researchers want to be sure that the location is optimal — with ice that is sufficiently deep but not melted at the bottom by geothermal activity. “It’s absolutely crucial to thoroughly investigate all options,” says Eisen. Enter a new breed of drill, designed to do fast, cheap reconnaissance instead of extracting a single, intact ice core, as previous deep drills have done.
One promising location, ‘little Dome C’, lies just 40 kilometres away from the EPICA site — and is where the £500,000 (US$620,000) Rapid Access Isotope Drill (RAID) will start boring this month, led by climate scientist Robert Mulvaney of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. A narrow drill, RAID will excavate to 600 metres in about 7 days — compared with 5 years for a 3.4-kilometre core such as EPICA’s. And rather than extract a core, RAID will measure the ice’s temperature and collect chips of ice. Scientists will then comb these for clues from isotopes as to the age and temperature of the ice at the bottom of the sheet.
There is competition here as well. Another more conventional drill operation, run by Chinese scientists, has already been drilling for several years and might actually obtain a core sample 1.5 million years old first.
The uncertainty of science: Despite numerous climate model predictions during the past two decades predicting that the ice cap in Antarctica will shrink because a global warming, recent data shows its ice cap to have grown to record size.
Climate models predicted Antarctic sea ice would shrink as a result of global warming, but the opposite happened. Antarctic sea ice actually increased in the last two decades. Chinese scientists compared climate model sea ice predictions to actual observations from 1979 to 2005 and found “the main problem of the [climate] models is their inability to reproduce the observed slight increase of sea ice extent.” As it turns out, natural variability plays a big role here as well. “Sea ice extent is strongly influenced by the winds and these have increased from the south over the Ross Sea, contributing to a small increase in total Antarctic sea ice since the late 1970s,” Turner said. “The increase in ice seems to be within the bounds of natural variability.”
Had Chinese researchers gone beyond 2005, they would have found more than just a slight increase. 2014 was the first year on record that Antarctic sea ice coverage rose above 7.72 million square miles. By Sept. 22, 2014, sea ice extent reached its highest level on record — 7.76 million square miles.
The data overall suggests that all the fluctuations seen so far Antarctica appear to be entirely attributable to natural variation, not climate change.
The uncertainty of science: Scientists have found that the ability of the southern ocean surrounding Antarctica to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide varies much more drastically than they had predicted.
In 2011, the ocean took in 4.4 gigatonnes of CO2, according to the study — more than 10% of the CO2 emitted by human activity at the time. That was roughly double what it absorbed a decade earlier. The increase marks a sharp turnaround from simulations published a few years ago, which suggested that the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2 had dropped in the 1980s and 1990s, and predicted that this trend would continue.
“It doesn’t mean that our [climate-change] projections for the future are going to change dramatically,” says Nicolas Gruber, an environmental physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who co-authored the latest paper. Rather, he says, the study shows that the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon changes more drastically than researchers had anticipated. [emphasis mine]
Typical of much of the climate research community, the scientist above insists that just because their models were wrong is no reason to change them, or the reasoning behind them. We are going to charge ahead, regardless of the facts!
In an article on the possibility that a section on the edge of the Antarctica icecap might be melting, the journal Nature illustrated some of the political agenda-driven science that corrupts climate science and the journalism that covers the field by never noting that the icecap is presently setting size records.
Read the article at the link. Though they never mention global warming, they hint at it repeatedly by noting the arrival of new warm ocean currents. More importantly, they fail to place the whole issue in context by never noting the record-setting growth of the icecap in recent years. For a section of the icecap fringe to suddenly accelerate its “surge to the sea five years ago” during a period when the icecap has been expanding in an unprecedented manner is hardly surprising, and is hardly an indication of global warming. Instead, it suggests the icecap is behaving exactly as one would expect, shedding excess ice as it expands.
By not mentioning the icecap’s recent growth the article allows an uneducated reader to come the incorrect conclusion: that only global warming could cause this melting. It also avoids revealing the complexity and uncertainties that surround this climate research.
Guess what debate is over and for what reason. Link here.
The uncertainty of science: Even as global warming protesters gather in New York to push their political agenda and fear-monger the threat of global warming, the Antarctic ice cap has set a record for its greatest extent ever measured.
No one really has a convincing explanation for why the south pole ice cap is so large even as the north pole ice cap remains relatively small (though recovering from the record lows from earlier in this century).
American scientists have confirmed that water samples from the buried Antarctic Lake Whillans, first obtained in January 2013, contained almost 4,000 different species of life.
Samples from the lake show that life has survived there without energy from the Sun for the past 120,000 years, and possibly for as long as 1 million years. And they offer the first look at what may be the largest unexplored ecosystem on Earth — making up 9% of the world’s land area. “There’s a thriving ecosystem down there,” says David Pearce, a microbiologist at Northumbria University, UK, who was part of a team that tried, unsuccessfully, to drill into a different subglacial body, Lake Ellsworth, in 2013.
The fantasy land of global warming science: Despite a stable and robust population for emperor penguins, combined with a new record in Antarctica this very week for the size of its icecap, scientists today issued a report demanding that this species be declared endangered because global warming will make them all die.
Global warming will cut Antarctica’s 600,000-strong emperor penguin population by at least a fifth by 2100 as the sea ice on which the birds breed becomes less secure, a study said on Sunday. The report urged governments to list the birds as endangered, even though populations in 45 known colonies were likely to rise slightly by 2050 before declining. Such a listing could impose restrictions on tourism and fishing companies.
It’s insane. It is as if facts have no relevance. For example, the recommendation of the report is based entirely on computer models, the same models that have failed 100% to predict anything in the past twenty years. Moreover, the report admits the emperor penguin population is stable and large and is likely to increase in the next three decades.
But who cares! We have to save these cutsy penguins, so let’s make them endangered so they can be used as a political weapon against any disagreement about global warming!
The uncertainty of science: The Antarctic ice cap set a record for size this past week.
The sea ice coverage around Antarctica over the weekend marked a record high, with the ice surrounding the continent measuring at 2.07 million square kilometers, according to an environmentalist and author who says the ice there has actually been increasing since 1979 despite continued warnings of global warming.
The article notes how global warming climate scientists conveniently insist that the growing south pole ice cap and the extended cold temperatures there are irrelevant to their theirs. A real scientist, however, would dismiss no data, as to do so skews the results.
Using computer models and data collected in the past decade, some climate scientists now believe that a major Antarctica ice sheet is in the process of collapsing.
One team combined data on the recent retreat of the 182,000-square-kilometer Thwaites Glacier with a model of the glacier’s dynamics to forecast its future. In a paper published online today in Science, they report that in as few as 2 centuries Thwaites Glacier’s outermost edge will recede past an underwater ridge now stalling its retreat. Their modeling suggests that the glacier will then cascade into rapid collapse. The second team, writing in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), describes recent radar mapping of West Antarctica’s glaciers and confirms that the 600-meter-deep ridge is the final obstacle before the bedrock underlying the glacier dips into a deep basin.
Because inland basins connect Thwaites Glacier to other major glaciers in the region, both research teams say its collapse would flood West Antarctica with seawater, prompting a near-complete loss of ice in the area. “The next stable state for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet might be no ice sheet at all,” says the Science paper’s lead author, glaciologist Ian Joughin of the University of Washington (UW), Seattle.
This result really falls under the category of the uncertainty of science. Though the data suggests a glacier that is part of the much larger West Antarctica ice sheet is melting, the prediction that the ice sheet itself will collapse sometime in the next two centuries is solely based on computer models that have all too often turned turned out to be wrong.
The project had been under development for ten years, and yet:
According to the paper, problems started when the boiler that was intended to melt large quantities of snow to provide hot water for the drill failed to work properly because of short-circuiting in its control panel. More severe problems followed. The two parallel drills — one to drill the main borehole to reach the lake, and one to create a reservoir cavity to recirculate drilling water — ran too slowly. Other failures, including of components designed to ensure vertical drilling, exacerbated the problems.
“The drilling was essentially undertaken blindly,” says Siegert. Probably because one or both holes were not drilled vertically, the cavity failed to link with the main borehole. Water also leaked into the cavity drill and froze the hose in the drill hole. Attempts to remove the hose failed, so it had to be cut. At that point, and with not enough fuel left to reach the lake, Siegert gave up.
Seems to me that these problems — some very basic engineering design errors — are a good example of some basic incompetence. If I was providing financial backing to this project I would probably demand that a lot of people be fired before I would give them anymore money.
The report also has this interesting detail which confirms the doubts about the Russian drilling effort:
In 2012, Russian scientists broke into Lake Vostok, by far the largest of Antarctica’s hidden lakes, using a kerosene-fuelled drill. But their samples are spoiled with drill fluid and the bacteria they contain are probably contaminant species.
A box of 100-year-old negatives from the Shackleton expedition, discovered in an abandoned supply hut in Antarctica, have been processed and printed.
How global warming activists ended up getting stuck in the ice fields surrounding Antarctica.
The first error expedition leaders made was under-estimating the prevailing sea ice conditions at Mawson Station, their destination. The scientists seemed to be convinced that Antarctica was a warmer place today than it had been 100 years earlier, and thus perhaps they could expect less sea ice there. This in turn would allow them to charter a lighter, cheaper vessel.
And then there’s this:
Why the vessel got trapped in the first place may be because [project leader and professor Chris] Turney never bothered to look at sea ice charts, which showed near record high levels of sea ice surrounding Antarctica. Moreover, Turney even denied that the overall sea ice trend was expanding around the continent. Fox News writes, “Turney said it was ‘silly’ to suggest he and 73 others aboard the MV Akademic Shokalskiy were trapped in ice they’d sought to prove had melted. He remained adamant that sea ice is melting, even as the boat remained trapped in frozen seas.”
Did he expect to find less ice than Mawson did 100 years earlier? This appears to be what he expected, given his expedition’s planning. [emphasis mine]
In other words, this group and its so-called scientific leader are typical of the entire global warming climate community. Facts are irrelevant. The Earth is warming, the icecaps are disappearing, and to hell with any data that says otherwise.
Eventually, however, reality bites. Personally, I would much rather focus on reality first, so that I am prepared to deal with it when it jumps up at me.
The uncertainty of science: Global sea ice area is now at its second highest level ever recorded and is closing in on an all time record.
The link is also amusing in that it includes some interesting predictions made by global warming scientists and politicians in recent years, all predicting that the Arctic Ocean would be ice free by 2013.
Welcome to the movies: The head of India’s research team at its Antarctica base has been recalled after he ordered the shut down of power at the station.
From October 7 to 12, ISRO’s satellite ground station at Antarctica, lost all transmission when its power supply was allegedly shut down by the team leader of the 32nd winter expedition to Bharati. The scientist, whose name was not revealed, has since been suspended and brought back to Goa. On October 14, NCAOR had also filed a police complaint against the scientist for the ‘wanton act of shutting down power’, said a statement released by the Ministry of Earth Sciences on Saturday.
This story had this tidbit:
It is believed the probe was ordered after the team leader allegedly ordered for the station’s power supply, which is obtained from diesel generators, to be cut off. A former chairman of ISRO, on the condition of anonymity, said: “If shortage of fuel was the issue, why would the ISRO station not take stock of fuel two months before it was to get exhausted and make arrangements for additional supply from South Africa? It is the most obvious thing to do. Unless there is some confusion or some issues, such a thing in Antarctica is unheard of. If power is switched off, people inside will freeze. So why was the power ordered to be cut off and why wait for diesel to get over?”
It also appears that three people are involved in this story, though details remain scant.
Seismic data now suggests that a volcano is beginning to stir far beneath the Antarctica icecap.
The article can’t resist noting how a really big eruption could melt a lot of ice and change the climate, neither of which is very likely.
The uncertainty of science: The Antarctica icecap is now grown to be the largest it has been in 35 years.
Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record large extent for a second straight year, baffling scientists seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world. On Saturday, the ice extent reached 19.51 million square kilometers, according to data posted on the National Snow and Ice Data Center Web site. That number bested record high levels set earlier this month and in 2012 (of 19.48 million square kilometers). Records date back to October 1978.
Uh, maybe the world isn’t warming as predicted?
The uncertainty of science: Ice core data from the last 800 years from Antarctica suggest that the icecap has been growing over the last century.
The changes also appear to correlate with solar fluctuations, though there are so many uncertainties here that no single explanation can yet be accepted as the answer.
The Russians have announced that their samples from Lake Vostok, buried deep under the Antarctic icecap, contains life, one of which is never before seen.
An American team who grabbed a sample from buried Lake Whillans in Antarctica last month now claim their work obtained the first evidence of microbial life from below the icecap.
More Antarctica news: An American team has successfully obtained samples from Lake Whillans, buried half a mile under the Antarctic icecap.
No survivors from last week’s Antarctica airplane crash.