News aggregator

Scientists Explore Antarctica's Ghost Mountains - Daily Mail

Featured News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:00
Coverage of study led by Lamont's Tim Creyts.

How are Droughts, Floods and Climate Change Connected? - KALW San Francisco

Featured News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:00
Lamont's Adam Sobel speaks about California's drought, its causes, and how we can manage the increasing risk of future natural disasters.

Earth's Future? Ancient Warming Gives Ominous Peek at Climate Change - NBC News

Featured News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:00
New data from the Earth's last big warmup, some 56 million years ago, may offer a sneak peek into what today's climate change may eventually look like. Lamont's Baerbel Hoenish comments.

A Link Between Climate Change and Severe Weather? - WXXI Rochester

Featured News - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:00
NPR's Rochester affiliate speaks with Lamont's Adam Sobel about climate change and what to expect from storms in the future.

How One Woman's Discovery Shook the Foundations of Geology - Mental Floss

Featured News - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:39
A profile of the late Marie Tharp, a Lamont scientist who helped draw the first global map of the seafloor.

Earth, Wind and Data: Making Sense of Our Planet - New Scientist

Featured News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:42
Lamont's Ryan Abernathey explains how oceanographers are taking advantage of very large data sets.

The MESSENGER Mission to Mercury - Columbia Bwog

Featured News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:00
Recap of Lamont director Sean Solomon's University Lecture on NASA's MESSENGER mission to the planet Mercury.

Earthquake and Loud Booms May Be Related - Buffalo News

Featured News - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:34
A University at Buffalo geologist discusses whether seismic signals picked up on the Lamont-Doherty seismic network were related to loud booms heard at about the same time.

Asking What Caused California's Drought Misses the Point. - Slate

Featured News - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 20:35
Columnist Eric Holthaus compares a recent study led by Lamont's Richard Seager to earlier seemingly contradictory research.

Natural Causes Drive California Drought? Report Triggers Climate Storm - NBC News

Featured News - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 15:59
More coverage of NOAA/Richard Seager study.

New Study: California's Epic Drought Probably Not Caused by Climate - Mother Jones

Featured News - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 15:34
Quotes study lead author, Lamont's Richard Seager.

California Drought Due to Natural Variation, Says Study - USA Today

Featured News - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 15:05
Natural weather patterns, not man-made climate change, are the cause of the historic drought that's parching California, says a study led by Lamont's Richard Seager.

California Drought Is Said to Have Natural Cause - New York Times

Featured News - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 14:00
More coverage of study led by Lamont's Richard Seager.

NOAA: Climate Change Did Not Cause Calif. Drought - Climate Central

Featured News - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 13:00
A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study led by Lamont's Richard Seager shows that the 3-year California drought may have been caused by natural variability and not climate change.

Report Downplays Role of Global Warming in California Drought - National Geographic

Featured News - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:30
Cites research by Lamont's Richard Seager.

Exploring Antarctica by Sea, Air and Land

Peering Through Polar Ice - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:26
Antarctica map NASA

(Click on map for larger image)

Early winter in the Northern Hemisphere marks the start of austral summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and the beginning of the Antarctic field season. Each year, several thousand scientists head to the icy continent to take advantage of the relatively mild, though still very harsh, weather and the 24-hour daylight; the next time the sun will fall below the horizon at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station is February 20, 2015.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists are among the many researchers currently doing fieldwork in Antarctica. They’re leading and participating in expeditions near, above and on the continent, doing critical studies that will advance understanding of Antarctica’s land and sea processes.

Lamont biogeochemist Sonya Dyhrman is aboard an icebreaking ship, the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer, for one month. In that time she’ll slowly travel south from Punta Arenas, Chile to research sites located off the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Dhyrman, graduate student Harriet Alexander and the other cruise scientists are investigating polar food web dynamics, with a focus on the feeding and swimming behavior of krill, a small shrimp-like crustacean. During the research cruise, Dyhrman and Alexander will collect samples of water and phytoplankton from a number of different sites. Their goal is to understand the physiological ecology of phytoplankton, which form the base of the marine food web in the Southern Ocean, and are a major source of food for krill.

 Lamont-Doherty scientists Robin Bell, Chris Bertinato, Nick Frearson, Winnie Chu and Tej Dhakal with IcePod.

Lamont-Doherty scientists Robin Bell, Chris Bertinato, Nick Frearson, Winnie Chu and Tej Dhakal with IcePod.

More than two thousand miles south, six scientists from Lamont’s Polar Geophysics Group are at McMurdo Station, a U.S. Antarctic research center located on Ross Island. They’re deploying an ice imaging system, known as IcePod, which consists of ice-penetrating radar, infrared and visible cameras, a laser altimeter and other data-collection instruments. IcePod attaches to a New York Air National Guard LC-130 aircraft and measures, in detail, the ice surface and the ice bed; important data that enables the scientists to track changes in ice sheets and glaciers.

The scientists are testing the instrumentation and training the New York Air National Guard in the deployment and operation of the instrument; this is the first time IcePod is being used in Antarctica. After the testing and training, IcePod will be operated in up to 15 other flights for routine data collection.

Also at McMurdo Station are Lamont geologists Sidney Hemming and Trevor Williams. The two scientists and their colleagues Kathy Licht and Peter Braddock will soon fly to a field site in the remote Thomas Hills, near the Weddell Sea in the Atlantic sector of Antarctica. There they’ll spend four weeks making observations and collecting rock samples from the exposed tills on the edge of the massive Foundation Ice Stream, as well as from the Stephenson Bastion and Whichaway Nunataks.

Lamont-Doherty's Trevor Williams and Sidney Hemming (left), with colleagues Kathy Licht and Peter Braddock.

Lamont-Doherty’s Trevor Williams and Sidney Hemming (left), with colleagues Kathy Licht and Peter Braddock.

The group is examining how ice sheets in the Weddell Sea embayment will respond to changing climate, specifically how Antarctic ice retreats and which parts of the ice sheet are most prone to retreat. Understanding the behavior of the Antarctic ice sheets and ice streams provides critical information about climate change and future sea level rise.

Thanks to the Internet and the scientists’ dedication to outreach, it’s possible to join their Antarctic expeditions without donning extreme cold weather gear. Follow the Dyhrman’s cruise activities on Twitter via @DyhrmanLab and #TeamDyhrman, and learn more about their research on the cruise website.

The IcePod team is blogging about their fieldwork on State of the Planet, and updates from the Lamont geologists in the Thomas Hills can be found on Twitter via @Trevor_On_Ice and #AntarcticaG297.

 

Rapid Warming Hits Antarctica's Shallow Seas - LiveScience

Featured News - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 09:58
Shallow ocean waters everywhere around Antarctica have warmed steadily for the past 40 years. Lamont's Stan Jacobs comments.

Mysterious Mineral

Geopoetry - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 08:30
Bridgmanite was identified in a shock-melt vein within the Tenham meteorite. Photograph by Chi Ma, Caltech

Bridgmanite was identified in a shock-melt vein within the Tenham meteorite. The mineral was named in honor of Percy Bridgman, who pioneered the diamond anvil cell for high-pressure research. Photograph by Chi Ma, Caltech

 

So common, yet far out of sight,

Mineralogists longed for a bite.

Formed deep inside,

Or when rocks collide,

At long last, a name: bridgmanite!

 

__________________________________________________________

Further reading:

Discovery of bridgmanite, the most abundant mineral in Earth, in a shocked meteorite, Tschauner et al. (2014) Science

Earth’s Most Abundant Mineral Finally Gets a Name, National Geographic

Space Rock Sheds Light on Mysterious Mineral on Earth, LiveScience

This is one in a series of poems written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.

 

A Texas-Sized Block of Ice…

Peering Through Polar Ice - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 22:20
Icepod flying over the Antarctic ice towards Mt. Erebus (photo W. Chu)

Icepod and the LC-130 flying over the Antarctic ice towards Mt. Erebus. Photo: W. Chu

The first dedicated Antarctic Icepod mission was flown out across the center of the Ross Ice Shelf. Ice shelves are thick floating extensions of the ice sheet that form as the ice flows off the continent and into the surrounding ocean. These are critical ice features in Antarctica, bounding a full 44 percent of her coastline, where they serve as a buttress to slow the ice movement off the continent into the ocean.

Icepod flying over the front of the Ross Ice Shelf. Along the shelf edge sections of thinner sea ice appear grey on the water surface. (Photo W. Chu)

Icepod flying over the front of the Ross Ice Shelf. Along the shelf edge sections of thinner sea ice appear grey on the water surface. Photo: W. Chu

The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest of the Antarctic ice shelves, measuring just under the size of the state of Texas. It is several hundred meters thick, although most of this is below the water surface. Along the ~ 600 kilometer front edge of the shelf, the ice towers up to 50 meters in height; a sheer vertical wall of white and the iridescent blue of compressed ice. 

The goal of the six-and-a-half-hour mission was to test how the Icepod could image the varying processes at the base of the ice shelf and how well the gravimeter would work flying 90m/sec.

Sea ice covers much of the polar oceans both in the Arctic and Antarctic during the winter months.  Unlike the ice sheet which forms over land, sea ice freezes directly on the surface of the ocean when the temperature is cold enough. It influences our Earth's climate, and holds a critical place in the food web in these regions.

Sea ice covers much of the polar oceans both in the Arctic and Antarctic during the winter months. Unlike the ice sheet, which forms over land, sea ice freezes directly on the surface of the ocean when the temperature is cold enough. Sea ice influences our Earth’s climate, and holds a critical place in the food web in these regions. Photo: W. Chu

The gravimeter is a new addition to the Icepod suite of instruments. Housed separately inside the plane, the gravimeter requires a very stable platform. The instrument will be critical for determining the water depth beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, the least explored piece of ocean floor on our planet. The plan was to cross the front of the ice shelf towards Roosevelt Island, then fly inland until the plane crossed the J9 site where the first hole through the ice shelf was drilled in the early 1970s as part of the Ross Ice Shelf Project (RISP). Icepod would then fly back toward McMurdo along a line where there are plans for another science project to drill next year.

Roosevelt Island in the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica (Image from NSIDC)

High resolution satellite image of Roosevelt Island in the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Floating ice appears flat and smooth like the ice in this image from NSIDC.

The collected radar data showed remarkable variability over the ice. Crossing over Roosevelt Island, the change from floating shelf ice to marginal crevasses (deep cuts or openings in the ice) to ice sitting directly on the bedrock was imaged. The variation in the reflection from the bottom of the ice probably represented the different processes occurring at the ice sheet base. In some places there was evidence of ice being added to the bottom of the shelf.

When the RISP team, which included Lamont’s Stan Jacobs, drilled through J9 in the 1970s, they found refrozen ice with a structure that resembled waffles. That team also captured pictures of fish beneath the ice shelf, demonstrating that the area below was not the wasteland that it was originally believed to be. Icepod overflew the best fishing hole on the Ross Ice Shelf while the team looked at the pictures of the bright-eyed fish in the Science paper, and smiled. It is almost 50 years later, and while we have a much better understanding of Antarctica, there remains so much that is unexplored.

Icepod and the LC-130 returned to Willie Field and began immediately to plan for the next flight.

The LC-130 sitting on the ice runway (Credit N. Frearson)

The LC-130 sitting on the ice runway. Photo: N. Frearson

For more on the IcePod project: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/icepod/

 

Heat Turbocharged California’s Epic Drought - Climate Central

Featured News - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 12:00
California's rain shortfall isn't unprecedented, but its parched soils are. Researchers blame the heat. Lamont's Park Williams comments.
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