News aggregator

This Year’s Wildfires May Change Western Forests Forever - Take Part

Featured News - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 12:00
Instead of aiding regeneration, the megafires we're seeing today are destroying forests, Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams says. "What comes back might not be anything like what we consider the natural state of the forest.”

Hurricanes May Get Stronger, and Society Needs to Prepare - The Chronicle Herald

Featured News - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Adam Sobel, head of the Extreme Weather and Climate Initiative and author of Storm Surge, speaks in Halifax about hurricane risk.

10 Years Later, No One Knows How Many People Died Because of Katrina - FiveThirtyEight

Featured News - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 12:00
After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Lamont's John Mutter and others began looking into the lack of standards for counting the human toll of hurricanes. They set out to develop new methods.

Sea Ice: Ancient Oceans Birthed Diamonds - Live Science

Featured News - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 06:00
"We can look at diamonds as time capsules, as messengers from a place we have no other way of seeing," says Lamont-Doherty's Yaakov Weiss.

Is New Jersey Overdue for Another Earthquake? - Asbury Park Press

Featured News - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Art Lerner-Lam discusses earthquake risks to infrastructure in New Jersey and the importance of resilient development.

Yes, Climate Change Has a Hand in the California Drought - Ars Technica

Featured News - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 04:00
Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams explains how warming-driven evaporation adds to the severity of the California drought.

Moving into the Realm of the Polar Bear

TRACES of Change in the Arctic - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 18:15
Looking out over the Arctic sea ice as the ship moves out over the deeper ocean. (Photo credit Tim Kenna)

Looking out over the Arctic sea ice as the ship moves out over the deeper ocean. Photo: Tim Kenna

The Healy has now moved off of the shallow continental shelf that extends around the Arctic land border (shown in white in the map below) into the deeper center of the Arctic Ocean. In our last blog we noted that some of the questions Arctic GEOTRACES is addressing include quantifying the fluxes of trace elements and isotopes into and out of the Arctic Basin from the two oceans through choke points like the Bering Strait, as well as characterizing how much comes from rivers. Arctic GEOTRACES is also studying what regulates the Arctic shelf to deep basin exchange, and the role of sea ice in the transport of trace elements and isotopes. (Follow the expedition here.)

The position of the research vessel Coast Guard cutter Healy on August 24, 2015.

The position of the research vessel Coast Guard cutter Healy on Aug. 24, 2015.

The oval shaped blue area in the map above is the basin of the Arctic Ocean, ranging from ~3,500 meters to ~5,000 meters at its deepest. The Healy is currently over a ridgeline named the Mendeleev Ridge, after a Russian chemist and inventor, Dmitri Mendeleev, long dead when the ridge was first discovered by fellow Soviets in 1948. Mendeleev Ridge is about 1,000 meters shallower than the deep Arctic, bottoming out at ~2,500 meters in depth. The Russians maintain that the ridge, with its long reach into the Arctic basin, gives them claim to large sections of the ocean stretching out to the North Pole. The claim remains unresolved, in part because there are so many questions that still remain about the Arctic. As we move into the basin, we will be sampling to try and better constrain what happens at the shelf/basin interface.

polar bear text

All hands on deck alert – huge polar bear 100 yards ahead! Photo: Tim Kenna

When we venture into the Arctic for research, for most of us there is the lingering hope that a polar bear will appear on our watch; at least as long as we are safely outside of its reach. Several polar bear have been spotted by the watchful eyes of the crew as we have moved into the more tightly packed heavy ice away from the marginal ice zone. However, today a very large bear (yes the alert text says “huge”!) was spotted, and it seemed to have us under thoughtful consideration. The following is a string of images that relay the majesty of this incredible creature in its natural environment, moving with great agility over the sea ice.

 Tim Kenna

Polar bear taking a drink and assessing the ship full of researchers. Photo: Tim Kenna

Polar Bear (photo credit Tim Kenna)

Polar bear carefully testing the thinning stretch of sea ice.  Photo: Tim Kenna

Polar Bear (photo credit Tim Kenna)

The polar bear coloring matches easily to the Arctic ice surroundings. Photo: Tim Kenna

Polar bear live only in the Arctic and rely almost entirely on the marine sea ice environment for their survival. They use the ice in every part of their daily life, for travel, for hunting ringed seal, their favorite food, for breeding and in some cases for locating a birthing den. Their wide paws, which you might be able to see in these photos, distribute their weight when they walk on the sea ice, which late in the season can be quite thin in the annual ice region, melting down to only a thin crust over the water. Their large size, clearly visible in these photos, belies the fact that they are excellent swimmers, helped by their hollow fur, which traps air to keep them buoyant, as well as the stiff hair and webbing on their feet. For all their cuddly appearance, they are strong hunters. Currently polar bear range in conservation status from Vulnerable internationally, to Threatened in the U.S., primarily the result of a warming climate that is melting their habitat…sea ice.

Polar Bear moving easily across the ice. (photo credit Tim Kenna)

Polar bear move easily across the ice, even though males can weigh up to 1,500 lbs. Photo: Tim Kenna

Polar bear

Polar bear use their natural agility to avoid the thinner sections of sea ice. Photo: Tim Kenna

Polar Bear takes measure of the Healy. (Photo credit Tim Kenna)

Polar bear takes measure of the Healy. Photo: Tim Kenna

Polar bear taking a moment to drink. (Photo credit Tim Kenna)

Polar bear taking a moment to drink from an open lead in the Arctic. Photo: Tim Kenna

Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Daily Arctic sea ice extent Aug. 23, 2015. Source: National Sea Ice Data Center

The Arctic is approaching the annual low for sea ice extent, which occurs each year in September. An image of sea ice extent for today (shown in white) against an average of the last thirty years (outlines in yellow) shows how our annual sea ice cover has dropped. Today’s cover is 2.24 million square miles (5.79 million square kms), which is  521,200 sq. miles (1.35 million square kms) below the last 30 year average period. Aside from being of concern to the polar bear, this is part of why Arctic GEOTRACES is so important. We need to understand the role of sea ice in current circulation patterns and delivery of trace elements and isotopes in the Arctic, and then bring this more complete understanding forward to our careful examination of the changing Arctic.

Tim Kenna captures himself in the field surrounded by Arctic sea ice. (photo credit Tim Kenna)

Tim Kenna captures himself in the field surrounded by Arctic sea ice.

Margie Turrin is blogging for Tim Kenna, who is reporting from the field as part of the Arctic GEOTRACES, a National Science Foundation-funded project.

For more on the GEOTRACES program, visit the website here.

First to arrive and last to leave…

Sugar - Sun, 08/23/2015 - 18:17
It is hard to believe that just a few days ago, the hotel had 30+ college students
roaming the hallways and the parking lot was full of SUV’s washed in clay, sand and
mud. When most of the second phase of the SUGAR project had come to a halt, there
was still work to be completed by the Seismic Source Team (SST). In order to
understand why, let me take you through the work schedule of the SST.
Dr. Harder and I drove to Atlanta on July 1st after completion of the ENAM
project in North Carolina and began scouting the shot-holes we would need to drill, load
and stem i.e. fill before the shot dates, which were scheduled for August 7th and 8th for
Line 2 and August 14th for Line 3. When scouting, you want to ensure that the shot-hole
locations selected have good, accessible roads and enough space for the drillers as well as
work crew to move in and out of easily. However beforehand, you want to ensure that
you have the permits to access different properties and have the correct keys for the
property entrance/exit gates, which Donna took care of. Scouting holes took 4 days
before drilling began on July 7th until July 29th.
An example of a good, accessible road for the drillers and SST to use.Pick a lock, any lock. One of the entrance/exit gates to a shot location. Thankfully, we
had the key. I just had to test it on each lock to open the gate. A typical workday would consist of waking up at 6:30 am, eating breakfast at 7
am and leaving to work at 7:30/8 am. We would arrive on site about an hour later and the
drillers would set up and begin drilling. This would take about 2-3 hours at some holes
and 3-4 hours at others. The last hole composed of hard rock took about 14 hours to
complete. That does not include the time it took for us to stem the hole. We would
prepare the charges to load into the hole when the drillers had ~20 ft left to drill. They
drilled up to ~80 ft at the 2 shot-holes on the ends of Line 2 and ~70 ft for the remaining
13 shot-holes. For Line 3, they drilled all 11 holes to ~60 ft. After drilling and loading
the charges into the ground, Dr. Harder would lead the drillers to the next shot-hole while
Galen, Yogi and I would stay behind to stem the hole with gravel, sand and plug it with
bentonite. We would also check the detonators to make sure they worked before heading
off to the next shot-hole to repeat the process. On average, we would drive anywhere
from 100 – 200 miles per day depending on what we were doing and where we needed to

Yogi (Victor Avila, left) and Galen preparing 2  charges to be lowered into the shot-hole. Each charge contains 2 detonators attached  to 2 boosters indicated by the sets of wires.The drillers lowering the charge into the hole with Yogi carefully holding the detonator (orange wire) chords. On the left is the water truck and to the right is the drill rig."The Beast" with a 1.1 Explosives placard after transporting the source materials to the shot location.Galen taking a GPS waypoint of the loaded shot-hole while Ashley tests the detonators to ensure that they are working.Dr. Harder (left) and Kent splicing the wires at one of the shot-holes to connect the detonators in order to shoot. The routine changed once drilling was complete. We made our way to Vidalia
where we met with Donna, Dan and everyone at the instruments center and began
preparing our equipment for the nights we were going to shoot. Shots would start at 11
pm and last until as late/early as sunrise depending on the weather conditions as well as if
the detonators would connect. The days that the deployment team members were
flagging and deploying instruments, we were busy driving to shot-holes and cleaning the
ones that blew out. The idea is that you make the shot-hole location look the way it did
before the shot took place.
Shot-hole 7 on Line 3. It looks like a regular hole, but it is actually about 5ft deep and has a 5ft diameter cavity.Using the backhoe to clean up the above shot-hole.After clean up!!
I can honestly say there was never a dull moment while working on the SST. I
remember Donna saying at our farewell dinner something along the lines, “We do all this
work for just a disk of data, but it’s all worth it.” She could not have summed it up any
better than that.

Here’s to another successful project….salud!

Ashley Nauer - UTEP

An Unstoppable Force is Making California's Drought Worse - Business Insider

Featured News - Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:00
A report from Lamont's Park Williams suggests that the current California drought is just one in a series of dry spells that could cripple the state over the coming decades.

Climate Change Intensifies California Drought, Scientists Say - New York Times

Featured News - Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:00
A new study finds that global warming has measurably worsened the California drought by as much as a quarter, Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams, the lead author, explains how how a warming climate drives moisture from plants and soil into the air, changing the baseline amount of water available.

Hotter Equals Drier - On Earth Magazine

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
A new study from Lamont's Park Williams shows how climate change is making the California drought worse.

Scientists See Link Between Global Warming, California Drought - McClatchy

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
New research from Lamont's Park Williams shows the fingerprints of global warming in worsening the California drought and suggests a future of more dryness for the suffering state.

Long-Suffering California Can Blame Drought on Global Warming - Guardian

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
A new report from Lamont's Park Williams finds climate change intensified the drought in California from 2012 to 2014 and predicts ‘enhanced drought’ throughout 21st century.

How Much Has Global Warming Worsened California's Drought? We Now Have a Number - The Conversation

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
In an essay for The Conversation, Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams describes his new study on the California drought.

Climate Change is Deepening California's Drought Crisis by as Much as a Quarter - International Business Times

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams discusses the first study to quantify just how much global warming is exacerbating California's drought.

The Climate Change "Bully" in California's Drought - Climate Central

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams discusses his study on the California drought. "From a method standpoint, it’s a big advancement," he says. "It’s the first time I know of that data has been parsed apart this way for any drought on the planet."

Climate Change Is Intensifying the California Drought - The Hill

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams explains how global warming has worsened the California drought, now entering its fourth year.

Scientists Strengthen Link Between Climate Change and Drought - High Country News

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
In a new study led by Park Williams, researchers found that unusually hot temperatures attributable to anthropogenic climate change intensified the California drought.

Scientists Say Global Warming Has Made California Drought Worse - Washington Post

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
Lamont's Park Williams explains that while natural weather patterns that push away atmospheric moisture that carries rain are normal for California, warming adds to the resulting dryness and heat. A small amount of moisture stored in plants and the soil evaporates into the drier atmosphere.

Park Williams on How Global Warming has Worsened the California Drought - Democracy Now

Featured News - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Park Williams talks with Democracy Now about a new study gauging the role of a warming climate in worsening the California drought.



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