Advertisements

This Is Why We Don’t Shoot Earth’s Garbage Into The Sun

Imagine our planet as it was for the first 4.55 billion years of its existence. Fires, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, asteroid strikes, hurricanes and many other natural disasters were ubiquitous, as was biological activity throughout our entire measured history. Most of the environmental changes that occurred were gradual and isolated; only in a few instances — often correlated with mass extinctions — were the changes global, immediate, and catastrophic.

But with the arrival of human beings, Earth’s natural environment has another element to contend with: the changes wrought upon it by our species. For tens of thousands of years, the largest wars were merely regional skermishes; the largest problems with waste led only to isolated disease outbreaks. But our numbers and technological capabilities have grown, and with it, a waste management problem. You might think a great solution would be to send our worst garbage into the Sun, but we’ll never make it happen. Here’s why.

The very first launch of the Falcon Heavy, on February 6, 2018, was a tremendous success. The rocket... [+] reached low-Earth-orbit, deployed its payload successfully, and the main boosters returned to Cape Kennedy, where they landed successfully. The promise of a reusable heavy-lift vehicle is now a reality, and could lower launch costs to ~$1000/pound. Still, even with all these advances, we won't be launching our garbage into the Sun anytime soon.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Today In: Innovation

At present, there are a little more than 7 billion humans on the planet, and the previous century saw us at last become a spacefaring civilization, where we’ve broken the gravitational bonds that have kept us shackled to Earth. We’ve extracted valuable and rare minerals and elements, synthesized new chemical compounds, developed nuclear technologies, and produced new technologies that far exceed even the wildest dreams of our distant ancestors.

Although these new technologies have transformed our world and improved our quality of life, there are negative side-effects that have come along for the ride. We now have the capacity to cause widespread damage and destruction to our environment in a variety of ways, from deforestation to atmospheric pollution to ocean acidification and more. With time and care, the Earth will begin self-regulating as soon as we stop exacerbating these problems. But other problems just aren’t going to get better on their own on any reasonable timescale.

Nuclear weapon test Mike (yield 10.4 Mt) on Enewetak Atoll. The test was part of the Operation Ivy.... [+] Mike was the first hydrogen bomb ever tested. A release of this much energy corresponds to approximately 500 grams of matter being converted into pure energy: an astonishingly large explosion for such a tiny amount of mass. Nuclear reactions involving fission or fusion (or both, as in the case of Ivy Mike) can produce tremendously dangerous, long-term radioactive waste.

National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office

Some of what we’ve produced here on Earth isn’t merely a problem to be reckoned with over the short-term, but poses a danger that will not significantly lessen with time. Our most dangerous, long-term pollutants include nuclear by-products and waste, hazardous chemicals and biohazards, plastics that off-gas and don’t biodegrade, and could wreak havoc on a significant fraction of the living beings on Earth if they got into the environment in the wrong way.

You might think that the “worst of the worst” of these offenders should be packed onto a rocket, launched into space, and sent on a collision course with the Sun, where at last they won’t plague Earth anymore. (Yes, that was similar to the plot of Superman IV.) From a physics point of view, it’s possible to do so.

But should we do it? That’s another story entirely, and it begins with considering how gravitation works on Earth and in our Solar System.

The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity... [+] assist swingby of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. Several hundred images, taken with the wide-angle camera in MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), were sequenced into a movie documenting the view from MESSENGER as it departed Earth. Earth rotates roughly once every 24 hours on its axis and moves through space in an elliptical orbit around our Sun.

NASA / Messenger mission

Human beings evolved on Earth, grew to prominence on this world, and developed extraordinary technologies that our corner of the cosmos had never seen before. We all have long dreamed of exploring the Universe beyond our home, but only in the past few decades have we managed to escape the gravitational bonds of Earth. The gravitational pull exerted by our massive planet is only dependent on our distance from Earth’s center, which causes spacetime to curve and causes all objects on or near it — including humans — to constantly accelerate “downwards.”

There’s a certain amount of energy keeping any massive object bound to Earth: gravitational potential energy. However, if we move fast enough (i.e., impart enough kinetic energy) to an object, it can cross two important thresholds.

  1. The threshold of a stable orbital speed to never collide with Earth: about 7.9 km/s (17,700 mph).
  2. The threshold of escaping from Earth’s gravity entirely: 11.2 km/s (25,000 mph).

It takes a speed of 7.9 km/s to achieve "C" (stable orbit), while it takes a speed of 11.2 km/s for... [+] "E" to escape Earth's gravity. Speeds less than "C" will fall back to Earth; speeds between "C" and "E" will remain bound to Earth in a stable orbit.

Brian Brondel under a c.c.a.-s.a.-3.0 license

For comparison, a human at the equator of our planet, where Earth’s rotation is maximized, is moving only at about 0.47 km/s (1,000 mph), leading to the conclusion that we’re in no danger of escaping unless there’s some tremendous intervention that changes the situation.

Luckily, we’ve developed just such an intervention: rocketry. To get a rocket into Earth’s orbit, we require at least the amount of energy it would take to accelerate that rocket to the necessary threshold speed we mentioned earlier. Humanity has been doing this since the 1950s, and once we’ve escaped from Earth, there was so much more to see occurring on larger scales.

Earth isn’t stationary, but orbits the Sun at approximately 30 km/s (67,000 mph), meaning that even if you escape from Earth, you’ll still find yourself not only gravitationally bound to the Sun, but in a stable elliptical orbit around it.

The Dove satellites, launched from the ISS, are designed for Earth imaging and have numbered... [+] approximately 300 in total. There are ~130 Dove satellites, created by Planet, that are still in Earth's orbit, but that number will drop to zero by the 2030s due to orbital decay. If these satellites were boosted to escape from Earth's gravity, they would still orbit the Sun unless they were boosted by much greater amounts.

NASA

This is a key point: you might think that here on Earth, we’re bound by Earth’s gravity and that’s the dominant factor as far as gravitation is concerned. Quite to the contrary, the gravitational pull of the Sun far exceeds the gravitational pull of Earth! The only reason we don’t notice it is because you, me, and the entire planet Earth are in free-fall with respect to the Sun, and so we’re all accelerated by it at the same relative rate.

If we were in space and managed to escape from Earth’s gravity, we’d still find ourselves moving at approximately 30 km/s with respect to the Sun, and at an approximate distance of 150 million km (93 million miles) from our parent star. If we wanted to escape from the Solar System, we’d have to gain about another 12 km/s of speed to reach escape velocity, something that a few of our spacecraft (Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, and New Horizons) have already achieved.

The escape speed from the Sun at Earth's distance is 42 km/s, and we already move at 30 km/s just by... [+] orbiting the Sun. Once Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter, which gravitationally 'slingshotted' it, it was destined to leave the Solar System.

Wikimedia Commons user Cmglee

But if we wanted to go in the opposite direction, and launch a spacecraft payload into the Sun, we’d have a big challenge at hand: we’d have to lose enough kinetic energy that a stable elliptical orbit around our Sun would transition to an orbit that came close enough to the Sun to collide with it. There are only two ways to accomplish this:

  1. Bring enough fuel with you so that you can decelerate your payload sufficiently (i.e., have it lose as much of its relative speed with respect to the Sun as possible), and then watch your payload gravitationally free-fall into the Sun.
  2. Configure enough fly-bys with the innermost planets of our Solar System — Earth, Venus and/or Mercury — so that the orbiting payload gets de-boosted (as opposed to the positive boosts that spacecraft like Pioneer, Voyager, and New Horizons received from gravitationally interacting with the outer planets) and eventually comes close enough to the Sun that it gets devoured.

The idea of a gravitational slingshot, or gravity assist, is to have a spacecraft approach a planet... [+] orbiting the Sun that it is not bound to. Depending on the orientation of the spacecraft's relative trajectory, it will either receive a speed boost or a de-boost with respect to the Sun, compensated for by the energy lost or gained (respectively) by the planet orbiting the Sun.

Wikimedia Commons user Zeimusu

The first option, in reality, requires so much fuel that it’s practically impossible with current (chemical rocket) technology. If you loaded up a rocket with a massive payload, like you might expect for all the hazardous waste you want to fire into the Sun, you’d have to load it up with a lot of rocket fuel, in orbit, to decelerate it sufficiently so that it’d fall into the Sun. To launch both that payload and the additional fuel requires a rocket that’s larger, more powerful and more massive than any we’ve ever built on Earth by a large margin.

Instead, we can use the gravity assist technique to either add or remove kinetic energy from a payload. If you approach a large mass (like a planet) from behind, fly in front of it, and get gravitationally slingshotted behind the planet, the spacecraft loses energy while the planet gains energy. If you go the opposite way, though, approaching the planet from ahead, flying behind it and getting gravitationally slingshotted back in front again, your spacecraft gains energy while removing it from the orbiting planet.

The Messenger mission took seven years and a total of six gravity assists and five deep-space... [+] maneuvers to reach its final destination: in orbit around the planet Mercury. The Parker Solar Probe will need to do even more to reach its final destination: the corona of the Sun. When it comes to reaching for the inner Solar System, spacecraft are required to lose a lot of energy to make it possible: a difficult task.

NASA/JPL

Two decades ago, we successfully used this gravitational slingshot method to successfully send an orbiter to rendezvous and continuously image the planet Mercury: the Messenger mission. It enabled us to construct the first all-planet mosaic of our Solar System’s innermost world. More recently, we’ve used the same technique to launch the Parker Solar Probe into a highly elliptical orbit that will take it to within just a few solar radii of the Sun.

A carefully calculated set of future trajectories is all that’s required to reach the Sun, so long as you orient your payload with the correct initial velocity. It’s difficult to do, but not impossible, and the Parker Solar Probe is perhaps the poster child for how we would, from Earth, successfully launch a rocket payload into the Sun.

Keeping all this in mind, then, you might conclude that it’s technologically feasible to launch our garbage — including hazardous waste like poisonous chemicals, biohazards, and even radioactive waste — but it’s something we’ll almost certainly never do.

Why not? There are currently three barriers to the idea:

  1. The possibility of a launch failure. If your payload is radioactive or hazardous and you have an explosion on launch or during a fly-by with Earth, all of that waste will be uncontrollably distributed across Earth.
  2. Energetically, it costs less to shoot your payload out of the Solar System (from a positive gravity assist with planets like Jupiter) than it does to shoot your payload into the Sun.
  3. And finally, even if we chose to do it, the cost to send our garbage into the Sun is prohibitively expensive at present.

This time-series photograph of the uncrewed Antares rocket launch in 2014 shows a catastrophic... [+] explosion-on-launch, which is an unavoidable possibility for any and all rockets. Even if we could achieve a much improved success rate, the risk of contaminating our planet with hazardous waste is prohibitive for launching our garbage into the Sun (or out of the Solar System) at present.

NASA/Joel Kowsky

The most successful and reliable space launch system of all time is the Soyuz rocket, which has a 97% success rate after more than 1,000 launches. Yet a 2% or 3% failure rate, when you apply that to a rocket loaded up with all the dangerous waste you want launched off of your planet, leads to the catastrophic possibility of having that waste spread into the oceans, atmosphere, into populated areas, drinking water, etc. This scenario doesn’t end well for humanity; the risk is too high.

Considering that the United States alone is storing about 60,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste, it would take approximately 8,600 Soyuz rockets to remove this waste from the Earth. Even if we could reduce the launch failure rate to an unprecedented 0.1%, it would cost approximately a trillion dollars and, with an estimated 9 launch failures to look forward to, would lead to over 60,000 pounds of hazardous waste being randomly redistributed across the Earth.

Unless we’re willing to pay an unprecedented cost and accept the near-certainty of catastrophic environmental pollution, we have to leave the idea of shooting our garbage into the Sun to the realm of science fiction and future hopeful technologies like space elevators. It’s undeniable that we’ve made quite the mess on planet Earth. Now, it’s up to us to figure out our own way out of it.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Ethan Siegel Ethan Siegel

I am a Ph.D. astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, who professes physics and astronomy at various colleges. I have won numerous awards for science writing since 2008 for my blog, Starts With A Bang, including the award for best science blog by the Institute of Physics. My two books, Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive, Beyond the Galaxy: How humanity looked beyond our Milky Way and discovered the entire Universe, are available for purchase at Amazon. Follow me on Twitter @startswithabang.

Source: This Is Why We Don’t Shoot Earth’s Garbage Into The Sun

30.2M subscribers
How to Stop Water Polution. In case you’re wondering what water polution has to do with a new continent discoevered in the Pacific Ocean, here’s the answer to this mystery. This new continent is an island that consists solely of garbage and plastic waste. Some countries are ready to announce an ecological disaster. Let’s see if there’s something we can all do to save the planet. TIMESTAMPS The popularity of plastic 0:26 Garbage islands 1:47 The Great Pacific Garbage Patch 2:30 Problems connected with the plastic pollution of the ocean 4:39 Bali ecological disaster 7:31 Several ways to solve problem 8:26 #newcontinent #garbageisland #ecologicalproblem Music: Butchers – Silent Partner https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/… SUMMARY -2 million plastic bags a minute are thrown away. As for bubble wrap, the amount produced in just one year would be enough to cover our planet around the equator. 500 billion plastic cups are used and disposed of annually. -There are 3 huge garbage islands in the world: in the central North Pacific Ocean, in the Indian Ocean, and in the Atlantic Ocean. -The size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is currently more than 600,000 square miles. According to the journal Scientific Reports, there are more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that have accumulated in this area. -Plastic objects in the ocean kill animals or get stuck in their bodies. Some types of plastic are toxic. In addition, plastic has the ability to absorb such poisonous substances as mercury. Birds often choke to death after trying to swallow a bright object that has caught their eye. -Indonesian authorities have recently declared a “garbage emergency.” More than 100 tons of waste brought ashore every day to beaches from Seminyak and Jimbaran to Kuta. -To solve the problem, people can find a way to remove the garbage that is already in the ocean. Another way out is to decrease pollution or stop it completely. Subscribe to Bright Side : https://goo.gl/rQTJZz —————————————————————————————- Our Social Media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brightside/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brightgram/ 5-Minute Crafts Youtube: https://www.goo.gl/8JVmuC —————————————————————————————- For more videos and articles visit: http://www.brightside.me/

Category

Howto & Style

 

Advertisements

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...

Current Hurricane Activity Raises Questions About The AMO – What Is It And Why Is it Relevant?

Have you taken a look at satellite view of the tropics right now? Hurricane Humberto, a major hurricane, threatens Bermuda. The remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda are drenching Southeast Texas, and several potential systems lurk in tropical regions that we look to at this time of the year. National Hurricane Center tropical meteorologist Eric Blake captures it best in this Tweet:

Anyone want a tropical storm? They are forming like roaches out there! 6 at once in both basins combined is thought to tie a modern NHC record , with two other disturbances adding the cherries on top of a crazy busy day!

Eric Blake, National Hurricane Center on Twitter

The hurricane basins of the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic are very active as seen in the picture below that I took at The Weather Channel early Wednesday morning. While likely not at the forefront of your thought processes this week, this active week prompted me to wonder about the status of something called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). What is it and why am I bringing it up during hurricane season?

According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) website, the AMO is:

a coherent mode of natural variability occurring in the North Atlantic Ocean with an estimated period of 60-80 years. It is based upon the average anomalies of sea surface temperatures (SST) in the North Atlantic basin, typically over 0-80N.

Kevin Trenberth, Rong Zhang, and NCAR Staff: The Climate Data Guide: Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO)

The AMO has been at the center of many of the discussions about whether hurricane activity changes naturally or is being affected by climate change. I remember a particularly vigorous debate about these topics after the anomalously active 2005 hurricane season that gave us Hurricane Katrina and a series of storms taking on “Greek-letter names.” I haven’t heard as much about it recently, but it is still a “thing.” I often found the AMO-natural variability or anthropogenic climate change debate to be silly. I continue to be baffled by why these things are framed as “either/or” rather than “and.” The current scientific literature suggests the climate change signal on hurricanes will likely be apparent in intensity, forward motion, and surge inundation. The outstanding NOAA GFDL page on hurricanes and climate change points out that there is less conclusiveness on frequency. However, natural climate variability like the AMS is certainly in the mix. A 2017 study in Nature Scientific Reports argues that a negative AMO is emerging in spite of a warm subtropical region. A negative or cool phase is typically associated with fewer Atlantic hurricanes (graphic below).

I reached out to tropical expert Dr. Phil Klotzbach to get his latest thoughts on the AMO, and how this all aligns with what he is seeing in recent years. His group at Colorado State University issues seasonal hurricane forecasts. In their August update, they called for a “near normal” season in terms of activity.

I posed the question to Dr. Klotzbach, “So what’s going on with the AMO right now?” His answer:

That’s the million dollar question. The winters have looked like a very negative AMO with a cold SST tripole. But those cold anomalies have been much weaker in the summer when the far North Atlantic has a much shallower mixed layer.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU Tropical Meteorology Project

Dr. Klotzbach also told me that when he examined sea surface temperature differences (SSTs) from 2014-2019 minus 1995-2012 averaged over the period August to October (excluding 2019), the far North Atlantic remains colder but the tropical Atlantic SSTs haven’t shown much change. Klotzbach goes on to say:

There has been quite a bit of discussion about a weakening of the Atlantic Meriodional Ocean Circulation (AMOC) in the literature – including a couple of high profile papers published in Nature. The cold SST in the far North Atlantic bares that point out. However, the connection between the polar regions and the tropical regions doesn’t seem to be there during the summer months. Normally a cold far North Atlantic drives a stronger subtropical which drives stronger trade winds that then anomalously cool the tropical Atlantic. This has certainly been the case in the winter months, but the relationship has broken down in the summer

Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU Tropical Meteorology Project

I am providing links to 2017 and 2019 studies, respectively, in the Nature Climate Change.

Ultimately, September is a climatologically-active month so there is nothing unusual about seeing tropical waves, depressions, storms and hurricanes at this time of year. Eric Blake’s tweet just inspired me to revisit what people are thinking about the AMO since it was such a hot topic after the 2005 hurricane season.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS) and is Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program. Dr. Shepherd is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and hosts The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks Podcast, which can be found at all podcast outlets. Prior to UGA, Dr. Shepherd spent 12 years as a Research Meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. In 2004, he was honored at the White House with a prestigious PECASE award. He also has received major honors from the American Meteorological Society, American Association of Geographers, and the Captain Planet Foundation. Shepherd is frequently sought as an expert on weather and climate by major media outlets, the White House, and Congress. He has over 80 peer-reviewed scholarly publications and numerous editorials. Dr. Shepherd received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in physical meteorology from Florida State University.

Source: Current Hurricane Activity Raises Questions About The AMO – What Is It And Why Is it Relevant?

Why The Track Forecast For Hurricane Dorian Has Been So Challenging

Here is something that you can take to the bank. We will not see the name “Dorian” used in the Atlantic basin for any future hurricane. The names of particularly destructive or impactful storms are retired. According to the National Hurricane Center, Dorian is now tied with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record. In a 3 pm advisory on September 1st, the National Hurricane Center warned of gusts to 220 mph and 18 to 23 feet storm surges for parts of the Abacos.

I have been in the field of meteorology over 25 years and do not recall seeing warnings about 220 mph gusts for a hurricane. Hurricane watches have also been issued for Andros Island and from North of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard County Line in Florida. At the time of writing, the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is for a northward curve and no direct Florida landfall. This is dramatically different from forecasts only a few days ago.

There is still uncertainty with the forecast so coastal Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas should remain on high alert. Why has the track forecast been so challenging with Hurricane Dorian?

Historically, hurricane track forecasts have outpaced intensity forecasts. I discuss the reasons why in a previous Forbes article at this link. With Hurricane Dorian, uncertainty about the forecast track and timing of the storm forced officials to move the Florida State – Boise State football game from Jacksonville, slated for a 7 pm kickoff on Saturday, to noon in Tallahassee. I am certain that many businesses and people are questioning the move given that timing of when impacts are now expected. Unfortunately, officials and emergency managers often must make decision on the best information at the moment.

Some people may be tempted to use uncertainty with this forecast to spew vitriol or skepticism at meteorologists and our models. However, challenges with Hurricane Dorian’s track forecast do not define the legacy of weather forecasts. It would be silly to say that the NFL’s best field goal kicker is terrible based on a few misses.

So what’s going on? I asked a panel of tropical meteorology experts.

Today In: Innovation

Speed of motion of Hurricane Dorian has been a significant challenge. Professor John Knox, a recent recipient of the American Meteorological Society’s Edward Lorenz Teaching Award, offers an important lesson. The University of Georgia atmospheric sciences professor pointed out:

Before you bash the meteorologists for being stupid: one reason the forecasted track has changed is because the forecasts of the forward speed of Dorian have slowed it down more and more. If it had chugged along as originally forecast, it likely would have hit east-central Florida and then maybe gone into the Gulf, before the high pressure above us in the Southeast would break down. But, because it’s moving more slowly, the high-pressure break down is opening the gate, so to speak, for Dorian to go more northward and eastward. So, the change in forecast is tied tightly to the arrival timing.

Professor John Knox, University of Georgia

Dr. Phillippe Papin is an Atmospheric Scientist and Associate Postdoctoctor Scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Papin also points to the high pressure as being a factor. He wrote:

the ridge to the north of Dorian has been steering Dorian off to the west the last few days….But there is a weak trough that is swinging into the eastern US that is going to erode the strength to the ridge enough so that a gap forms to the north of Dorian and it begins to move further to the north.

Dr. Phillippe Papin, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The timing of when that weakness develops and on how far Dorian makes it west in the meantime has been the source of uncertainty in the model guidance for the last 2-3 days according to Papin. At the time of writing, there is still some spread in the model solutions.

Dr. Michael Ventrice is a tropical weather expert with IBM and The Weather Company. He has been concerned about the storm environment and how well the models are capturing the rapidly evolving situation. He told me:

I believe the uncertainty is derived from how the models are resolving Dorian, locally. The recent intensification of the storm today is not being resolved by the models properly at the time of the 12z initialization. The interaction with the Bahamas, how that interaction might alter the mesoscale structure of the Hurricane, if that interaction induces a wobble, are all valid questions at this point in time

Michael Ventrice — IBM/The Weather Company

A hurricane of this size and intensity can certainly modify its environment and be modified by that environment. Sam Lillo, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma, tweeted an interesting point on the afternoon of September 1st about how worrisome the rapid intensification and track uncertainty of Hurricane Dorian has been:

The track uncertainty in NWP at under 3-day lead-time is very uncomfortable, especially considering proximity to land. This would be uncomfortable for any hurricane. But then make it a category 5.

Sam Lillo, doctoral candidate in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma

Our best models have oscillated (and in some cases continue to do so) within the past 24-36 hours on just how close Dorian will get to Florida before curving northward. Lillo offers some further insight into what Dr. Ventrice was alluding to about the environment:

As Dorian strengthened faster than expected, diabatic outflow developed an upper level anticyclone to the southwest, adding southerly and westerly components to the steering flow. The westerly component in particular slowed the forward motion of the hurricane, and now its track across the Bahamas coincides with a trough that sweeps across the Mid Atlantic and Northeast on Monday. This trough cuts into the ridge to the north of Dorian, with multiple steering currents now trying to tug the hurricane in all different directions. The future track is highly sensitive to each of these currents, with large feedback on every mile the hurricane jogs to the left or right over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Sam Lillo, doctoral candidate in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma

Lillo offers a nice meteorological explanation. In a nutshell, he is saying that the rapid intensification perturbed the near-storm environment and now there may be other steering influences besides the ridge of high pressure that the models are struggling to resolve.

In a previous Forbes piece last week, I mentioned that forecasts in the 5+ day window and beyond can have errors of 200 miles and that the information should be used as “guidance” not “Gospel.” Because there is still uncertainty with the models and Dorian is such a strong storm, residents from coastal Florida to the Carolinas must pay attention and be prepared to act. I have complete confidence in my colleagues at the National Hurricane Center, and they should always be your definitive source with storms like this. They still maintain an eventual curve northward before the storm reaches the Florida coast. However, the issuance of hurricane watches in Florida also indicates that they know the margin of error is razor thin.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS) and is Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program. Dr. Shepherd is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and hosts The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks Podcast, which can be found at all podcast outlets. Prior to UGA, Dr. Shepherd spent 12 years as a Research Meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. In 2004, he was honored at the White House with a prestigious PECASE award. He also has received major honors from the American Meteorological Society, American Association of Geographers, and the Captain Planet Foundation. Shepherd is frequently sought as an expert on weather and climate by major media outlets, the White House, and Congress. He has over 80 peer-reviewed scholarly publications and numerous editorials. Dr. Shepherd received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in physical meteorology from Florida State University.

Source: Why The Track Forecast For Hurricane Dorian Has Been So Challenging

National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham provides an update on Hurricane Dorian. RELATED: https://bit.ly/2NFZCak Dorian’s slow crawl, estimated at about 7 mph on Sunday afternoon, placed it within 185 miles of West Palm Beach, Florida. But forecasters remained unsure of whether, or where, it might make landfall in the U.S. after it makes an expected turn to the north.

That left millions of people from South Florida to North Carolina on alert and preparing for the worst. » Subscribe to USA TODAY: http://bit.ly/1xa3XAh » Watch more on this and other topics from USA TODAY: https://bit.ly/2JYptss » USA TODAY delivers current local and national news, sports, entertainment, finance, technology, and more through award-winning journalism, photos, videos and VR. #hurricanedorian #dorian #hurricanes

We Have a Decade to Prevent a Total Climate Disaster – Brian Kahn

1.jpg

By 2030, we as a collective 7 billion humans will know our fate, or at the very least, the fate of the most vulnerable among us. A landmark report released on Sunday sets the clock ticking for humanity and its quest to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlines what a world warmed by 1.5 degree Celsius would look like compared with the 2 degree Celsius warmer world enshrined in the Paris Agreement, and the pathways to get there…….

Read more: https://earther.gizmodo.com/we-have-a-decade-to-prevent-a-total-climate-disaster-1829585748

 

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

 

Climate Change & The Giant Iceberg Off Greenland’s Shore – Carolyn Kormann

1.jpg

For a week, an iceberg as colossal as it is fragile held everyone in suspense. It arrived like a gargantuan beast that you hope won’t notice you, at the fishing village of Innaarsuit, Greenland, about five hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. The iceberg posed a mortal threat to the village population of about a hundred and seventy people.

Standing three hundred feet tall (the height of the Statue of Liberty) and weighing an estimated ten million metric tons (equal to thirty Empire State buildings), it’s riven with cracks and holes. If a big enough part of it sloughed off, in a process known as “calving,” it would cause a tsunami, immediately destroying the little settlement on whose shore it rested.

“You don’t want to be anywhere near the water when it’s happening,” a glaciologist who does research in Greenland said. “It’s just incredibly violent.” People began to evacuate.

Innaarsuit residents are a hardy bunch, living in the sort of climatic extremes that temperate zoners might call otherwordly. For much of the summer, the sun is always up. This year, it won’t set again until in early August. The temperature on Friday was thirty-nine degrees Fahrenheit—about as warm as it ever gets—and in the darkness of February and March, the average remains below zero.

There are no trees. People hunt narwhals (polar unicorns), whales, and seals. The single road dead-ends at a cemetery. Boat captains (the only people who can get you off the island, apart from helicopter pilots) are constantly navigating an endless parade of baby icebergs, set loose from their mothers, drifting with the current past the village, often close enough to touch. They tend to be the size of a beach ball, a dinghy, a shack.

The most recent visitor is different, obviously. “This iceberg is the biggest we have seen,” a village council member named Susanne K. Eliassen said. Karl Petersen, the village council chair, called on the press, asking the world for assistance if the berg were to calve. For the crowd watching online, it was like “Jaws.” We hoped desperately that the great white thing would just continue on its way.

Big icebergs are nothing new, but they usually remain far offshore. Ocean currents and wind push the icebergs along, sometimes five or more miles a day. In this case, the berg got stuck in the shallow waters of the bay. Eric Rignot, a glaciologist from the University of California, Irvine, said that it probably originated from one of the nearby glaciers that flow down the fjords along Greenland’s west coast.

Those glaciers have long been notable for pushing a lot of icebergs out into the sea. But nowadays they are in retreat—more ice is more rapidly breaking from the glacier’s face than snow is accumulating on its back. With climate change, what happened in Innaarsuit, Rignot said, is expected to occur more frequently. Joshua Willis, a glaciologist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, put it in simple terms:

“As things continue to warm up, more ice is gonna come off and float around.” Drought-stricken South Africa wants to tow one such berg to Cape Town, to prevent the country’s taps from running dry.

Drought and torrid heat waves are scorching Europe, too. In England, the land is so dry that archaeologists are discovering new ruins (they hold underground moisture differently than undisturbed land, changing the way crops grow). In Ireland, a five-thousand-year-old henge came into view. Mostly, however, the news is bad.

Sweden is burning as far north as the Arctic Circle, causing evacuations; last week, it was Norway. Wildfires have even broke out in Northwest England, near Manchester. Great clouds of smoke, visible from space—from wildfires in Siberia (there was an unusually bad wave in May) and in the far north of North America, in boreal and subalpine forests and even out on the tundra—blow over Greenland and stay for a while.

The soot and ash blacken the island’s ice sheet and hasten its melting, leading to more tragedy. Last summer, there was a tsunami in a village near Innaarsuit, called Nuugaatsiaq. Thawing permafrost provoked a landslide so massive that it caused a three-hundred-foot wave, one of the largest ever recorded on camera. Four people died, eleven buildings were washed away, and dozens were injured. For the people of Innaarsuit, the danger posed by their stranded iceberg was reinforced by the recent memory of that disaster.

Coincidentally, or not, a few days before the iceberg showed up in Innaarsuit, on July 9th, Denise Holland, a glaciologist from New York University, released a video of what is almost certainly the largest glacial calving event ever recorded on camera. Holland and her husband, David, a scientist who works with her at N.Y.U., and who also studies ice at the poles, were camping at the Helheim glacier, on Greenland’s east coast, in fiberglass igloos they built themselves.

By chance, after twenty years of returning to the same spot to collect data, their camera happened to be on and filming when the calving event began. It lasted thirty minutes. All together, the ice that fell was as big as half of Manhattan, and weighed roughly ten gigatons, making it a thousand times larger than Innaarsuit’s iceberg. “I was speechless, you can’t believe you are seeing something like that,” David told me.

“There are very few photographs or videos of this actually happening,” Willis, from NASA, said. (Holland does research with him at NASA, too.) “They are happening a lot, but they are hard to catch. This only lasted thirty minutes. It’s weeks or months before something like that would happen again.” Although that glacier is located about sixteen hundred miles from Innaarsuit, Holland said it is a typical case of how the village’s berg was born.

It’s also an invaluable document for studying how ice sheets fall apart, to project future sea-level rise. “Ice is a material that we don’t fully understand,” Holland said. Greenland, a field site much easier and cheaper to get to, also acts as a proxy for studying the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—the most vulnerable of Earth’s three major ice sheets, and the biggest polar threat to civilization.

Many scientists believe that the WAIS has started to retreat irretrievably, but no one has a clear picture of how or how quickly it will break apart. One possible theory is that calving could go into overdrive, and the ice sheet’s dissolution could happen catastrophically fast. The evidence is piling up. A Nature study published in June found that, roughly ten thousand years ago, West Antarctica retreated a hundred and thirty-five thousand square miles, when the planet was significantly cooler than it is today.

In another study, published in the previous issue of Nature, researchers found that, from 1992 until 2017, Antarctica had lost three billion tons of ice, and that the annual rate of loss due to melting from the WAIS increased from fifty-three billion tons to a hundred and fifty-nine billion tons. On July 12, 2017, an ice shelf (akin to a dam that slows a glacier’s flow into the ocean) named Larsen C collapsed, launching an iceberg the size of Delaware (ten times as big as the one that the Hollands recorded in Greenland) into the Weddell Sea.

As the ice shelves that border West Antarctica crumble, the glaciers behind them hasten their retreat. The quantity of ice is unfathomably greater than what Greenland holds, capable of raising global sea level by roughly ten feet, and, Willis said, “it’s kind of poised on a precipice.”

Back in Innaarsuit, the great white iceberg remained mostly intact and, with some help from a new-moon tide and benevolent winds, continued drifting north. By Wednesday, everybody felt safe enough to go home. The store opened, the fishermen got back in their boats and resumed catching green halibut. It’s nice when a story about an iceberg has a happy ending, at least for now.

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

https://www.paypal.me/ahamidian

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar