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Strange Antarctic Rectangular Iceberg

Just past the rectangular iceberg, which is visible from behind the outboard engine, IceBridge saw another...
Just past the rectangular iceberg, which is visible from behind the outboard engine, IceBridge saw another relatively rectangular berg and the A68 iceberg in the distance(Credit: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck CC BY 2.0)

A few days ago NASA’s IceBridge project hit the news, but not for any of its impressive scientific observations. Instead, a casually tweeted photo of a strange rectangular iceberg captured people’s imagination. Now, NASA has offered up a few more shots, and video, of this unusual sight, helping explain this common yet rarely seen phenomenon. read more

Surprise! … Antarctic Melting Reports Omit Key Facts

from CFACT:
You just can’t beat the timing of two breathlessly announced reports suggesting that global warming is causing irreversible melting of Antarctic glaciers which will cause a catastrophic sea level rise.
Their non-accidental tandem release follows hyperventilating primal scream conclusions chronicled in the Obama Administration’s new National Climate Assessment that “climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.”
Yup. Another meltdown issue is now absolutely clear. Climate changes!
One of those studies conducted by a group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California-Irvine used satellite measurements to track “six rapidly melting glaciers” between 1992 and 2011.
antsheetThe other, conducted at the University of Washington, developed computer models to predict that coastal melting could cause the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet within 200 to 900 years. This, they claim, might cause global sea levels to rise by as much as 10 feet.

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Europa gets Drilled

A laser-powered drill could be used to penetrate the thick layers of ice on Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa, allowing robot probes to explore the oceans beneath.

The problem scientists who hope to study the oceans beneath the crust of Europa have faced has always been the amount of energy needed to melt through the miles of ice.

Batteries would not last long enough, even a small nuclear reactor would be too big, and solar power would be absolutely useless so deep in the depths of the moon’s oceans.

But the VALKYRIE drill would leave its bulky power plant on the surface of the moon, with a high-powered laser shooting down a fibre-optic cable to run the device.

Once it had penetrated icy crust of Europa, it could then explore the oceans beneath collecting and analysing samples before melting its way back to the surface, sealing the hole behind it.

Inventor and explorer Bill Stone unveiled the design yesterday at Nasa’s Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

He told Wired Science: ‘Our modest goal over the next three years is to use a 5,000-watt laser to send a cryobot through up to 250 meters of ice.’

‘All the data show there are no show-stoppers for doing that. But from my standpoint, this is child’s play compared to what we could do.’

Dr Stone’s team combined several simultaneous advances in different fields, where researchers weren’t necessarily aware of each others’ work.

Bart Hogan, an optics expert and principal engineer on the project, told Wired: ‘It’s like you have all these groups making lenses for better eyeglasses, and someone says, “Hey, we can put these lenses together and build a telescope,”‘

With a doctorate in structural engineering and 11 patents to his credit, Dr Stone has already designed a range of robot explorers, of which VALKYRIE is just the latest.

His first robot, DEPTHX, descended deep into flooded Mexican hydrothermal springs to to find and collect samples of previously unknown microbial species between 2003 and 2007.

The next, called ENDURANCE, did the same thing in a freshwater lake hidden beneath a permanent ice cap in Antarctica in 2008 and 2009, creating the first 3-D chemistry map of a sub-glacial lake.

It was while testing ENDURANCE in advance of the Antarctic mission that Dr Stone came up with the novel power solution for VALKYRIE.

ENDURANCE used a tiny fibre optic cable – thinner than a strand of human hair – to communicate with the team sitting at the surface.

Dr Stone was suddenly struck with the idea that a much bigger cable could carry immense amounts of energy in the form of photons.

Researching the possibilities, he found that while there had been huge developments in both industrial lasers and fibre optic cables, no one had tried to fire the former down the latter.

Most development in the technology of fibre optic cables had been in the field of telecommunications, which uses very low power, Dr Stone told Wired.

While big industrial lasers, which can be powerful enough to cut a car in half, were usually only used in sealed units, with safety as the overriding concern, he added.

However, whether the new concept works or not, it is unlikely to make a mission to Europa anytime soon.

Nasa still have no clear, high-resolution pictures of what the surface of the moon is like and whether or not it is possible to land a spacecraft on there.

Mr Stone’s team has already built and tested the laser-fibre-optic power system at his laboratory in Texas.

They now plan to test a prototype of VALKYRIE at the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, in June 2013.

Attribution: Wired Science, Mail Online

Feeling the Heat

As promised, here’s the follow-up to “None of the Above”.

Current theories of the causes and impact of global warming have been thrown into question by a new study which shows that during medieval times the whole of the planet heated up.

It then cooled down naturally and there was even a ‘mini ice age’.

A team of scientists led by geochemist Zunli Lu from Syracuse University in New York, has found that contrary to the ‘consensus’, the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ approximately 500 to 1,000 years ago wasn’t just confined to Europe.

In fact, it extended all the way down to Antarctica – which means that the Earth has already experience global warming without the aid of human CO2 emissions.

At present the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe – therefore that the warming we’re experiencing now is a man-made phenomenon.

However, Professor Lu has shown that this isn’t true – and the evidence lies with a rare mineral called ikaite, which forms in cold waters.

‘Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,’ said Lu. ‘The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.’

It turns out the water that holds the crystal structure together – called the hydration water – traps information about temperatures present when the crystals formed.

This finding by Lu’s research team establishes, for the first time, ikaite as a reliable way to study past climate conditions.

The scientists studied ikaite crystals from sediment cores drilled off the coast of Antarctica. The sediment layers were deposited over 2,000 years.

The scientists were particularly interested in crystals found in layers deposited during the ‘Little Ice Age,’ approximately 300 to 500 years ago, and during the prior Medieval Warm Period.

Both climate events have been documented in Northern Europe, but studies have been inconclusive as to whether the conditions in Northern Europe extended to Antarctica.

Lu’s team found that in fact, they did.

They were able to deduce this by studying the amount of heavy oxygen isotopes found in the crystals.

During cool periods they are plentiful. During warm periods there aren’t.

‘We showed that the Northern European climate events influenced climate conditions in Antarctica,’ Lu says. ‘More importantly, we are extremely happy to figure out how to get a climate signal out of this peculiar mineral. A new proxy is always welcome when studying past climate changes.’

The research was recently published online in the journal Earth And Planetary Science Letters and will appear in print on April 1.

As evidence mounts that neither CO2 nor man is the cause of planetary warming, the question becomes; how long will the alarmists and false prophets continue to push this fallacy?

Attribution: Daily Mail