Posts Tagged ‘Earth’

What scientists just discovered in Greenland

A new study finds that climate change may affect the Greenland ice sheet more seriously than scientists could imagine.

The new study , published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, focuses on a part of the ice sheet known as “firn” – a porous layer of built-up snow that slowly freezes into ice over time. It’s considered an important part of the ice sheet because of its ability to trap and store excess water before it’s able to run off the surface of the glacier, an essential service that helps mitigate the sea-level rise that would otherwise be caused by the runoff water.

“As this layer is porous and the pores are connected, theoretically all the pore space in this firn layer can be used to store meltwater percolating into the firn whenever melt occurs at the surface,” said the new paper’s lead author, Horst Machguth of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland , in an email to The Washington Post. Over time, the percolating meltwater trickles down through the firn and refreezes.

Washington Post

Space junk is on a collision course with Earth

A mysterious object named by scientists as WT1190F is expected to hit Earth on Friday the 13th. But researchers don’t currently have any idea what it is. Reportedly WT1190F will plunge to Earth from above the Indian Ocean about 65km off the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Scientists say its impact is accurately predicted. More unusual still, WT1190F was a ‘lost’ piece of space debris orbiting far beyond the Moon, ignored and unidentified, before being glimpsed by a telescope in early October. The object is only 1 to 2 meters in size, and its trajectory shows that it has a low density, and is perhaps hollow.

The home we’ve ever known

We succeeded taking that picture (Voyager 1, in 1990 (NASA)from deep space), and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

From Dr. Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot