Typewriter of the moment, and cold: Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard

September 25, 2016

Wikipedia caption: Polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard in front of his typewriter in the Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans (Ross Island, Antarctica). August 30, 1911. British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13 (Ponting Collection)

Wikipedia caption: Polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard in front of his typewriter in the Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans (Ross Island, Antarctica). August 30, 1911. British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13 (Ponting Collection)

Even in the Antarctic, scientists and explorers need to write their findings down. A typewriter was the state-of-the-art tool in 1911. Here we see Apsley Cherry-Garrard with his typewriter, on expedition.

Cherry-Garrard probably used that machine to write the notes, if not the actual text, for his account of the expeditionThe Worst Journey in the World:

The Worst Journey in the World is a memoir of the 1910–1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott. It was written and published in 1922 by a member of the expedition, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, and has earned wide praise for its frank treatment of the difficulties of the expedition, the causes of its disastrous outcome, and the meaning (if any) of human suffering under extreme conditions.

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Annals of Global Warming: Warm the oceans, raise the sea level

September 15, 2015

Svein T veitdal is one of those rare scientists who can explain why science observations are important in effects on people in just living their lives. A good man to listen to (you can follow his Twitter account: @tveitdal).

Recently he sent this notice:

Critics of the science of climate change and the work to slow or halt warming don’t like charts like that. Sea level is something measured by humans, worldwide, for a long time. That’s real data.

And it’s scary.

T veitdal’s Tweet was just a small part of a very large graphic from NASA, explaining the observations that tell us sea levels rise, how the observations are made, and what it means to you and me.

NASA infographic on sea level rise

NASA infographic on sea level rise: We know seas are rising and we know why. The urgent questions are by how much and how quickly. Available to download, this infographic covers the science behind sea level rise, who’s affected, how much melting ice is contributing, and what NASA is doing to help.

Yeah. “Your planet is changing. We’re on it.”

As Ban-ki Moon said the other day, there is no Planet B. We have only one Earth.

General science teachers, geology teachers, physics and chemistry teachers, history, geography and human geography teachers should see if someone at your school has a plotter and can print this thing out for you, poster size.


Beautiful Antarctica: Photos, or painting?

January 27, 2014

This one is cropping up all over the internet.

But just try to get a commitment as to its origins.  Photographic, or artist’s image?

I wagered the latter. Note general lack of thick clouds, angle of sunlight, etc.

Beautiful Antarctica from space. Photographic image, or artist's rendering?  Who deserves credit for the image?

Beautiful Antarctica from space. Photographic image, or artist’s rendering? Who deserves credit for the image?

Then, at Twisted Sifter (shout out to Annette Breedlove; and everyone outside my family will be mystified by that reference) I found this, the full image from NASA.  Notice how some selective editing, changing the perspective, makes the image above more fascinating — while stripping out the identifying credits:

Image via Twisted Sifter; NASA image of Antarctica, available at Flickr Commons

Image via Twisted Sifter; NASA image of Antarctica, available at Flickr Commons

Well, that’s a different thing, then.

Twisted Sifter’s explanation of details, excerpt:

Seen above is a view of the Earth on September 21, 2005 with the full Antarctic region visible. The composite image shows the sea ice on September 21, 2005, the date at which the sea ice was at its minimum extent in the northern hemisphere. The colour of the sea ice is derived from the AMSR-E 89 GHz brightness temperature while the extent of the sea ice was determined by the AMSR-E sea ice concentration. Over the continents, the terrain shows the average land cover for September, 2004. The global cloud cover shown was obtained from the original Blue Marble cloud data distributed in 2002. [Source]

Due to the position of Antarctica in relation to our Sun it would not look like this to the naked eye. This is a composite that shows what Antarctica looks like if the entire continent were illuminated.

Click here for the full resolution 8400×8400 pixel TIFF version (63 mb) and click here for the 8400 x 8400 px JPG version.

NASA’s details, from the Flickr file:

NASA on The Commons

Global View of the Arctic and Antarctic on September 21, 2005

Collection: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio Collection

Title: Global View of the Arctic and Antarctic on September 21, 2005

Instrument: Terra/MODIS

Instrument: Aqua/AMSR-E

Description: This image shows a view of the Earth on September 21, 2005 with the full Antarctic region visible.

Abstract: In support of International Polar Year, this matching pair of images showing a global view of the Arctic and Antarctic were generated in poster-size resolution. Both images show the sea ice on September 21, 2005, the date at which the sea ice was at its minimum extent in the northern hemisphere. The color of the sea ice is derived from the AMSR-E 89 GHz brightness temperature while the extent of the sea ice was determined by the AMSR-E sea ice concentration. Over the continents, the terrain shows the average landcover for September, 2004. (See Blue Marble Next Generation) The global cloud cover shown was obtained from the original Blue Marble cloud data distributed in 2002. (See Blue Marble:Clouds) A matching star background is provided for each view. All images include transparency, allowing them to be composited on a background.

Completed: 2007-02-08

Credit: *Please give credit for this visualization to* NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).

Studio: SVS

Animator: Cindy Starr (Lead)

Scientist: Ronald Weaver (University of Colorado)

Data Collected: AMSR-E Sea Ice: 2005-09-21; Blue Marble cloud layer 2002; Blue Marble Next Generation Seasonal Landcover 2004-09

UID: SPD-SCIVS-http://svs .gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a 000000/a003400/a0034 02/NSIDCimages__SPcl ouds.2158-IMAGE

Original url: svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003400/a003402/index.html

SOURCE: nasaimages.org/luna/servlet/detail/NSVS~3~3~7128~107128

Visit www.nasaimages.org for the most comprehensive compilation of NASA stills, film and video, created in partnership with Internet Archive.

The image, and it’s odyssey and story, are reminders that reality is often better than the made up stuff; and it’s wise to properly attribute stuff you borrow.  Is this just a cool image, or an opportunity for teachers to enrich the classroom and an argument for boosting NASA’s budget?

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Annals of global warming: Climate change hammers the Adelie penguins

July 22, 2013

Adelie penguins struggle to survive changes in their nesting and feeding sites caused by warming air and waters around Antarctica

Adelie penguins struggle to survive changes in their nesting and feeding sites caused by warming air and waters around Antarctica

New, very short film from the E. O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation highlights threats to Adelie penguins from climate change, already.  Actor and conservation activist Harrison Ford narrated “Ghost Rookeries, Climate Change and the Adelie Penguin.”

Details from the Biodiversity Foundation at their YouTube site:

Published on Jun 26, 2013

“Ghost Rookeries,” narrated by actor, conservationist, and member of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation (EOWBF) Board of Advisors Harrison Ford, conveys the story of the Adelie Penguin, whose habitat—and thus the biodiversity of all of Antarctica—is being threatened by real-time environmental changes.

“The consequences of a loss of biodiversity could encompass everything from altering key Antarctic marine food chains to the loss of species that may hold cures to cancer,” writes Dr. James McClintock, whose recent book, ‘Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land’ (Palgrave/MacMilllan, 2012), forms the basis of “Ghost Rookeries.”

The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation (EOWBF) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) will be embarking on an exciting new initiative beginning in the summer of 2013. Beginning with “Ghost Rookeries: Climate Change and the Adelie Penguin” (4 minutes, 2013), short videos produced by the EOWBF will be shown at select AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums located in the United States. With the vast reach of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, “Ghost Rookeries” and future videos will be seen by millions of visitors.

Dr. Paula Ehrlich, President and CEO of the EOWBF, calls “Ghost Rookeries” and the partnership with AZA “. . . a wonderful way to engage audiences about the importance of preserving our biological heritage through story. The Adelie Penguin is an iconic story, a symbol, of the real-time effect of climate change on biodiversity.”

“Ghost Rookeries” was produced by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the the Tennessee Aquarium.

This film looks at a small part of the Adelie penguin population, on Torgerson Island, near Palmer Station.  This population symbolizes the difficulties of dealing with climate change, or even knowing what the effects will be.  Critics of pollution control to stop climate change argue that populations of all animals and plants will adapt.  Indeed the last decade saw a rise in total numbers of Adelies across Antarctic waters, and Gentoo penguins have set up new colonies to avoid warming air and waters.

More careful watchers note problems, though.  Warming air, and decreasing hard ice, brings more snow — nominally good, if one assumes the snow turns to ice.  In this case, the snows are brief, and they melt quickly.  It’s the cold meltwater that kills the chicks, drowning them.  This may be counterintuitive, or even ironic,  that warming causes a cold water seabird to drown, or die of hypothermia.  Nature is stranger than we can imagine, and often strange enough that it defies the understanding of scientifically-dilettante politicians.

Generally the loss of ice is the biggest problem for penguins; specific populations face entirely different threats, however, depending on the local effects of climate change.

Dr. Jim McClintock, in Antarctica.  A professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham

Dr. Jim McClintock, in Antarctica. A professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, he wrote Antarctica Lost, upon which the film about the Adelie penguins is based.

The film is a short project based off of the work of Dr. Jim McClintock, an almost-legendary Antarctic researcher based out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).  McClintock published a book on his work last year that deals with many different aspects of climate change in the Southern Ocean and its continental land mass, Lost Antarctica, Adventures in a Disappearing Land.

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