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2011 Was A Year of Weather Extremes, With More to Come

February 2, 2012 Comments off

treehugger.com

The global average temperature in 2011 was 14.52 degrees Celsius (58.14 degrees Fahrenheit). According to NASA scientists, this was the ninth warmest year in 132 years of recordkeeping, despite the cooling influence of the La Niña atmospheric and oceanic circulation pattern and relatively low solar irradiance. Since the 1970s, each subsequent decade has gotten hotter — and 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the twenty-first century.


© Earth Policy Institute

Each year’s average temperature is determined by a number of factors, including solar activity and the status of the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon. But heat-trapping gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere, largely from the burning of fossil fuels, have become a dominant force, pushing the Earth’s climate out of its normal range. The planet is now close to 0.8 degrees Celsius warmer than it was a century ago. Hidden within Read more…

Sun Delivered Curveball Of Powerful Radiation At Earth Say UNH Scientists

February 2, 2012 Comments off
nanopatentsandinnovations
A potent follow-up solar flare, which occurred Friday (Jan. 17, 2012), just days after the Sun launched the biggest coronal mass ejection (CME) seen in nearly a decade, delivered a powerful radiation punch to Earth’s magnetic field despite the fact that it was aimed away from our planet.According to University of New Hampshire scientists currently studying and modeling various aspects of solar radiation, this was due to both the existing population of energetic particles launched by the first CME and a powerful magnetic connection that reeled particles in towards Earth from the Sun’s blast region, which had spun to an oblique angle.”Energetic particles can sneak around the ‘corner,’ as was the case in Friday’s event when it was launched at the Sun’s limb, or edge,” says astrophysicist Harlan Spence, director of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS) and principal investigator for the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) instrument onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. CRaTER is designed to measure and characterize aspects of the deep space radiation environment.

Caption: Particle radiation from the Jan. 23, 2012 solar flare speeds away from the Sun along curved magnetic field lines (blue lines) and arrives before the coronal mass ejection (orange mass from the Sun) and its driven shock.

Image courtesy of Nathan Schwadron, UNH-EOS.
Space weather events can disrupt Earth-based power grids, satellites that Read more…

Are Jellyfish Increasing in World’s Oceans?

February 2, 2012 Comments off

sciencedaily.com

Giant jellyfish clog fishing nets in Japan. (Photo Credit: Shin-ichi Uye)

A global study has questioned claims that jellyfish are increasing worldwide.

Blooms, or proliferation, of jellyfish have shown a substantial, visible impact on coastal populations — clogged nets for fishermen, stinging waters for tourists, even choked intake lines for power plants — and recent media reports have created a perception that the world’s oceans are experiencing increases in jellyfish due to human activities such as global warming and overharvesting of fish. Now, a new global and collaborative study questions claims that jellyfish are increasing worldwide and suggests claims are not supported with any hard evidence or scientific analyses to date.

Dr Cathy Lucas, a marine biologist at the University of Southampton, who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton was involved in the study, which appears in the latest issue of BioScience. Her co-authors are composed of experts from the Global Jellyfish Group, a consortium of approximately 30 experts on gelatinous organisms, climatology, oceanography and socioeconomics from around the globe, that Read more…