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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Global Warming - Changing Climate

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Our Changing Climate Climatologists Forecast Completely New Climates

September 1, 2007 — Geographers have projected temperature increases due to greenhouse gas emissions to reach a not-so-chilling conclusion: climate zones will shift and some climates will disappear completely by 2100. Tropical highlands and polar regions may be the first to disappear, and large swaths of the tropics and subtropics will reach even hotter temperatures. The study anticipates large climate changes worldwide.

The eastern United States has a mild, humid, temperate climate, while the western United States has a dry climate, right?

Well, according to climate models, global warming could change our current world climate zones, which would affect where crops are grown and even drive some plant and animal species to extinction, all in the next 100 years.

Al Gore brought the issue to the big screen. Global warming -- what impact could it really have on our world? Geographer Jack Williams says, based on his new analyses of climate forecasting models, we're headed for major change -- fast.

"One of the things that we can definitely say that the more carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere, the models very clearly show more of a warming that takes place in the U.S. and worldwide," said Williams, of the University of Wisconsin.

How much warming? With levels of CO2 continuing to rise, Williams suggests areas of the world that currently have a tropical climate will be much warmer and drive vegetation and animal life north. Williams believes these changes would lead to the spreading of Malaria northward, more catastrophic natural disasters and overall greater human health risks.

"Even a few degrees Celsius can make a major difference in terms of where species grow and how well they thrive," Williams said.

As North America came out of the last Ice Age, spruce trees moved northward. Williams said the same thing will happen, potentially driving plant and animal species into extinction if they can't adapt to the changes fast enough. "Species can migrate in response to climate change, but there's the question of how quickly can they migrate, and will these climate changes over the next century be so rapid that species will be unable to keep up," Williams said.

Williams said that's why we need to take action now -- because later will be too late.

The American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

BACKGROUND: A new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wyoming predicts that by the year 2100, many of today's familiar climates will be replaced by climates unknown in today's world, if current rates of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions continue. The new global climate models for the next century forecast the complete disappearance of several existing climates currently found in tropical highlands and regions near the poles, while large swaths of the tropics and subtropics may develop new climates unlike anything seen today.

ABOUT THE STUDY: The climate modeling study translates CO2 and other greenhouse gas emission levels into climate change. It uses average summer and winter temperatures and precipitation levels to map the differences between climate zones today and in the year 2100. The most severely affected parts of the world span both heavily populated regions, including the southeastern United States, southeastern Asia, and parts of Africa, as well as known hotspots of biodiversity, such as the Amazonian rainforest and South American mountain ranges. The predicted changes also anticipate dramatic ecological shifts, with extensive effects on large segments of the Earth's population.

CARBON IN THE AIR: Carbon, in the form of CO2, is a greenhouse gas continually released into the atmosphere as a direct result of human activities. This in turn raises the temperature of the earth, leading to global climate change. The concentrations of atmospheric CO2 has already increased by about 30% since the dawn of the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Most of this increase comes from the use of fossil fuel -- coal, oil and natural gas -- for energy, but approximately one-quarter of it can be attributed to changes in land use, such as the clearing of forests and the cultivation of soils for food production. Natural sources of atmospheric carbon include gases emitted by volcanoes, and respiration of living things. We breathe in oxygen, and breathe out CO2.

ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING: Global warming refers to an increase in the earth's average temperature -- which has risen about 1 degree F over the past 100 years. A warmer earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, and a rise in sea level, for example, as polar glaciers melt. Some of this rise is due to the greenhouse effect: certain gases in the atmosphere trap energy from the sun so that heat can't escape back into space. Without the greenhouse effect, the earth would be too cold for humans to survive, but if it becomes too strong, the earth could become much warmer than usual, causing problems for humans, plants and animals.


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Global Warming Humor Top 10 things about global warming 1. Three thongs and you're dressed! astore.amazon.com/solarcafe-20

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Oldest Rocks = Quebec

Rocks May Be Oldest on Earth, Scientists Say
Rocks May Be Oldest on Earth, Scientists Say
© Science/AAAS
Researchers report that this rock is 4.28 billion years old and formed when the Earth was less than 300 million years old. ..................................................
  1. ... scientists, the Quebec rocks are among the oldest-known in Earth's ... Oxygen May Be Cause Of First Snowball Earth (Oct. 29, 1999) — Increasing amounts of ...
    www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070205130615.htm - 54k - Cached
  2. Ancient Rocks Show How Young Earth Avoided Becoming Giant Snowball

    ScienceDaily (Feb. 5, 2007) — A greenhouse gas that has become the bane of modern society may have saved Earth from completely freezing over early in the planet's history, according to the first detailed laboratory analysis of the world's oldest sedimentary rocks.

    Scientists have for years theorized that high concentrations of greenhouse gases could have helped Earth avoid global freezing in its youth by allowing the atmosphere to retain more heat than it lost. A team at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado has now analyzed ancient rocks from the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec, Canada, which has yielded the first preliminary field evidence supporting this theory.

    "Our study shows the greenhouse gas that could have sustained surface temperatures above freezing 3.75 billion years ago may have been carbon dioxide," said Nicolas Dauphas, Assistant Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. Dauphas and his co-authors, Nicole Cates and Stephen Mojzsis of the University of Colorado, and Vincent Busigny, now of the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, present their data in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

    In a companion article in the same issue of the journal, Cates and Mojzsis establish with certainty the antiquity of the rocks and discuss their origin in a wider context.

    The study led by Dauphas helps explain how the Earth may have avoided becoming frozen solid early in its history, when astrophysicists believe the sun was 25 percent fainter than today. Previous studies had shown that liquid water existed at the Earth's surface even though the weak sun should have been unable to warm the Earth above freezing conditions. But high concentrations of carbon dioxide or methane could have warmed the planet.

    Discovered in 2001 by a team of Canadian scientists, the Quebec rocks are among the oldest-known in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history. Slow-acting geologic processes destroy and recycle the Earth's crust on vast time scales, leaving only scraps of land containing remains of the planet's oldest rock.

    The only other outcropping of rocks that are about as old occur in western Greenland. Scientists have studied those rocks exhaustively for more than three decades. But the limited extent of the rocks of this antiquity may have provided only a biased view of the early Earth, Dauphas said.

    Mojzsis and Cates revisited the Canadian site to pursue new but as yet unrealized opportunities for analysis and comparison. Today Mojzsis describes the area as a landscape of rolling hills of grass and marsh, punctuated by lakes, streams and craggy rock outcroppings. Stunted trees of willow grow no more than six feet high, leaving unobstructed views all around.

    "It is a grand landscape of water, wind and rock carved by glaciers and only lightly touched by the people who live there," Mojzsis said. But the region would have looked much different 3.8 billion years ago.

    "At that time it would have appeared to be a totally alien world to us, with a dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide and methane that would have imparted a reddish cast to the sky, and deep dark greenish-blue oceans of iron-rich water washing onto beaches of small continents scattered across the globe," Mojzsis said.

    The Chicago-Colorado scientists focused their analysis on rocks they suspected contained chemical sediments that precipitate like salt from seawater. "A critical issue with these rocks is that they have been cooked and deformed during burial in the crust for several hundred million years, which makes it difficult to identify their nature," Dauphas said.

    First they dissolved the rock, separating iron oxides and iron carbonates from other constituents. Then they used a mass spectrometer to measure the isotopic composition of the iron. All iron atoms have 26 protons at their core, but they can be accompanied by a varying number of more numerous neutrons.

    "Iron has several isotopes, and the ratio of these isotopes changes from one to another," Dauphas explained. "Sediments that formed by precipitation from seawater have a very distinct signature of iron isotopes." When the Chicago scientists analyzed the iron composition of the rocks, "We found that indeed they had the typical signature of something that formed by precipitation in a marine setting."

    The iron probably was released with other metals in hydrothermal vents called black smokers found along mid-ocean ridges, where molten lava emerges on the sea floor to create new oceanic crust. In today's oxygen-rich oceans, the iron rapidly precipitates and concentrates near these vents. But in the oxygen-starved oceans of 3.8 billion years ago, oceanic currents could transport the iron long distances before becoming partially oxidized and deposited in sea-floor sediments.

    Some of these sediments survive today as banded iron formations. "There are no banded iron formations being produced at present because there is too much oxygen," Dauphas said.

    Previous research on the rocks from Greenland had already revealed the existence of ocean water at that early stage in Earth history, known as the Precambrian Period. But the Canadian rocks showed something else: the first hints that Precambrian oceans also contained iron carbonates. Iron carbonates can only form in an atmosphere that contains far higher levels of carbon dioxide than are found in Earth's atmosphere today, Dauphas said. This carbon dioxide would have played an important role as a planetary thermostat in the support of life on Earth.

    "If it gets cold, ice caps form, chemical weathering decreases, carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, which increases the greenhouse effect and surface temperatures. If it gets hot, the rate of chemical weathering increases, the rate of burial of sedimentary carbonates increases, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and surface temperatures decrease," Dauphas said.

    Other factors are involved in this simplified scheme. "Still, it is possible that such a thermostat was at work as early as 3.75 billion years ago," he said.


    Adapted from materials provided by University of Chicago.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ancient Jewish Capital Discovered - Russia

Russian archaeologists find long-lost Jewish capital

Wed Sep 3, 12:08 PM ET

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian archaeologists said Wednesday they had found the long-lost capital of the Khazar kingdom in southern Russia, a breakthrough for research on the ancient Jewish state.

"This is a hugely important discovery," expedition organiser Dmitry Vasilyev told AFP by telephone from Astrakhan State University after returning from excavations near the village of Samosdelka, just north of the Caspian Sea.

"We can now shed light on one of the most intriguing mysteries of that period -- how the Khazars actually lived. We know very little about the Khazars -- about their traditions, their funerary rites, their culture," he said.

The city was the capital of the Khazars, a semi-nomadic Turkic peoples who adopted Judaism as a state religion, from between the 8th and the 10th centuries, when it was captured and sacked by the rulers of ancient Russia.

At its height, the Khazar state and its tributaries controlled much of what is now southern Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan and large parts of Russia's North Caucasus region.

The capital is referred to as Itil in Arab chronicles but Vasilyev said the word may actually have been used to refer to the Volga River on which the city was founded or to the surrounding river delta region.

Itil was said to be a multi-ethnic place with houses of worship and judges for Christians, Jews, Muslims and pagans. Its remains have until now never been identified and were said to have been washed away by the Caspian Sea.

Archaeologists have been excavating in the area if Samosdelka for the past nine years but have only now collected enough material evidence to back their thesis, including the remains of an ancient brick fortress, he added.

"Within the fortress, we have found huts similar to yurts, which are characteristics of Khazar cities.... The fortress had a triangular shape and was made with bricks. It's another argument that this was no ordinary city."

Around 10 university archaeologists and some 50 students took part in excavations in the region this summer, which are partly financed by the Jewish University in Moscow and the Russian Jewish Congress

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Friday, September 19, 2008

New Species - Australia - Great Barrier Reef

Video-Treasure Trove of new species around Great Barrier Reef, Australia

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/index.php?cl=9810806

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