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Photos of footprints left by icebergs on the seabed over 30,000 years ago show how they traveled from the North Atlantic to Florida

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New study by Alan Condron of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and Jenna C. Hill, a member of the US Geological Survey, reveals that about 31,000 years ago, icebergs flowed along 5,000 kilometers of the east coast of the United States to Florida.

High resolution images of the seabed indicate the presence of more 700 traces icebergs from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to the Florida Keys for depths between 170 and 380 meters. Numerical simulations of the movement of glacial layers indicate that their transfer to these sites occurred over short periods of time, due to the high flow of meltwater. “These floods create a cold coastal stream, flowing rapidly towards the south which carries the icebergs to Florida ”, commented Condron in a statement released this week.

This finding has direct implications for understanding the interactions between the cryosphere, ocean, and climate, as it suggests that a narrow, floating coastal current must have flowed from the northern hemisphere ice caps directly into the vortex. subtropical of the North Atlantic, and that south of Cape Hatteras this current was moving in the opposite direction of the Gulf Stream, flowing north.

Research over the past 30 years has repeatedly shown that increased freshwater flow due to massive discharges of meltwater into the Atlantic could weaken the southern circulation of overturning.

In turn, the the movement of the flow is essential to control the amount of heat that the ocean transports north to Europe. If areas off the Atlantic coast of the United States receive large amounts of fresh water, the amount of heat carried northward by the ocean could change dramatically, increasing the chances that temperatures in Europe will cool significantly. .

The study was published in the journal Nature.

Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and is not edited by our team.

Here’s the interesting way the first day of summer is determined – New Orleans, Louisiana

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Bring a barbecue, take out some outdoor games, and start filling those pools – summer is right here! Temperatures have risen steadily over the past few weeks, but the season for fresh watermelons, refreshing beach readings, and long vacation weekends in quaint little towns only officially begins halfway this year. .. So when is the first day of the summer solstice? Read everything you need to know to get the season off to a good start, including the heavenly issues that have been driving the transition since spring. When is the first day of summer? In the Northern Hemisphere this year, the first day of summer is Sunday, June 20, 2021. What determines the first day of summer? The first day of summer is determined by the tilt of the Earth’s axis as it revolves around the Sun. On the day the North Pole points closest to the Sun, the Northern Hemisphere receives the most light for the longest time. This day, known as the June or summer solstice, has an astronomical solstice that occurs twice a year when the Sun is furthest from the Earth’s equator. (If you are in the northern hemisphere, during the summer solstice, the sun is at the highest point in the sky. During the winter solstice, the sun is at the lowest point.) The 24-hour period the longest is the “day” of the 365-day calendar year. The shortest “night”, the day of the summer solstice, is the first day of the summer solstice. If you really want to get technical, the exact time for this summer solstice is 11:32 EST, is it the same day every year? It’s not precise, but it depends on how long it takes technically for the earth to revolve around the sun. The Gregorian calendar, an international standard used for social and scientific purposes, marks this passage of time (one year) as 365 days. However, the solar year is actually close to 365 days and 6 hours. This difference gives every four years a leap day, the summer solstice being one or two days depending on the year. The first day of summer is always between June 20 and June 22. When will summer end? In the northern hemisphere, the September or fall equinox marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The astrological equinox which occurs twice a year is the date when the sun crosses the equator and moves from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. (On this day, day and night will have the same length.) After the autumn equinox, the North Pole begins to move away from the sun, which begins the season of longer nights and shorter days. . This fall equinox is Wednesday, September 22, 2021. So it takes 94 days to make the most of this summer.

bring up To cook, Go out Outdoor games, And start filling those pools – summer is right here!

Temperatures have been rising steadily across the country in recent weeks, Fresh watermelon, Refreshing reading on the beach and long holiday weekends A quaint little town It will officially start until the middle of the year.

So when is the first day of the summer solstice? Read everything you need to know to get the season off to a good start, including the heavenly issues that have been driving the transition since spring.

When is the first day of the summer solstice?

In the northern hemisphere this year The first day of summer is Sunday, June 20, 2021..

What determines the first day of summer?

The first day of summer is determined by the tilt of the Earth’s axis as it revolves around the Sun. On the day the North Pole points closest to the Sun, the Northern Hemisphere receives the most light for the longest time. This day, known as the June or summer solstice, has an astronomical solstice that occurs twice a year when the Sun is furthest from the Earth’s equator. (If you’re in the northern hemisphere, that means the sun is at the highest point in the sky during the summer solstice. winter solstice, It is at the lowest. )

The day of the summer solstice is the first day of the summer solstice, because the 365-day calendar year has the longest “day” and the shortest 24-hour “night”. If you want to get Really Technically, the exact time of summer solstice this year is 11:32 EST.

Is it the same day every year?

It’s not precise, but it depends on how long it takes technically for the earth to revolve around the sun. The Gregorian calendar, an international standard used for social and scientific purposes, marks this passage of time (one year) as 365 days. However, the solar year is actually close to 365 days and 6 hours. This difference gives every four years a leap day, the summer solstice being one or two days depending on the year. The first day of summer is always between June 20 and June 22.

When will summer end?

In the northern hemisphere, the September or fall equinox marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The astrological equinox which occurs twice a year is the date when the sun crosses the equator and moves from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. (On this day, day and night will be the same length.)

After the fall equinox, the Arctic begins to move away from the Sun, which begins the season with longer nights and shorter days. this year, The fall equinox is Wednesday, September 22, 2021.. This means we have 94 days to make the most of this summer.


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“It makes you wonder if we haven’t already stepped on this landmine”: Scientist who led largest Arctic expedition says heating could be irreversible

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The photo has been used for illustration purposes.

Gulf Today Report

The scientist who led the largest research expedition ever to the Arctic has suggested that the tipping point of irreversible global warming may already be reached.

Dr Markus Rex, an atmospheric physicist, made the comments earlier this week as he presented the first results of the North Pole expedition that involved 442 experts from 20 countries.


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“The disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic is one of the first landmines in this minefield, one of the tipping points we first trigger when we push warming too far,” said Dr Rex.

“And one can basically wonder if we haven’t already walked on this mine and already triggered the start of the explosion.”

The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of the Arctic Climate – or “MOSAiC” expedition – lasted 389 days and collected data on the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice and ecosystems. The objective was to assess the impact of the climate crisis on the Arctic region and more generally on the world.

Among the early findings, Dr Rex said the team found that the Arctic sea ice had retreated “faster in the spring of 2020 than since the records began” and that “the spread of sea ice in summer was not that’s half the size of the decades since “.

He added: “Only evaluation over the next few years will allow us to determine whether we can still save the Arctic sea ice year round through vigorous climate protection or whether we have already passed this important tipping point in the system. climate.

Man-made global warming is warming the world’s oceans and increasing the rate of melting of Arctic sea ice. White ice will reflect sunlight, so when the dark ocean is exposed, it absorbs even more sunlight, causing more heating, according to the Independent.

In the summer of 2020, the ice in the Arctic Ocean melted to its second lowest level on record, according to US scientists, due to a combination of global warming and natural forces.

The extent of the ice-covered ocean at the North Pole and extending further south to Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia hit a summer low of 1.4 million square miles last September. Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest point in September and its maximum in March.

He was only a finalist in 2012, when the ice shrank to 1.3 million m² (3.4 million km²), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which has kept satellite records since 1979.

In the 1980s, ice cover was approximately 1 million m² (2.7 million km2) greater than current summer levels.

Last year, scientists told The Independent that claiming the world is “doomed” can be detrimental to global efforts to tackle the climate crisis, and that it is important to understand that it is not. it wasn’t too late to act.

Leo Barasi, author of Climate Majority, said: “Claims that the world is irreversibly doomed to uncontrollable warming, and no reduction in emissions can help us, can still find an audience, as can claims that change climate has nothing to fear. But these claims are usually based on studies or outlier data that have been taken out of context and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

“Telling the world that we are doomed, when it is not supported by evidence, is irresponsible and unlikely to motivate the urgent action that can still prevent disastrous warming. “


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Valentine Frausto Reyes de Goleta, 1927-2021 | Obituary

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Posted on June 19, 2021
| 3:25 p.m.

Valentin Frausto Reyes

Valentine Frausto Reyes “Val” passed away peacefully surrounded by her loved ones at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. He received his angel wings on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at 5:23 p.m.

Valentine was a decorated veteran who served during the occupation of Germany after World War II and then served in the Korean War alongside his closest friend Joe Ortiz. He was honorably released on July 25, 1956.

Valentine was born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1927 in Oplin, Texas, to her parents Francisco and Ascencion Reyes. As a teenager, he grew up in Goleta, where he met the love of his life at 18.

Before marrying Joséphine Figueroa, he decided to do his military service and was first stationed at Fort Ord in California, before traveling to Germany during the Occupation after WWII, then to South Korea for the Korean conflict.

He returned to Josephine after her honorable release from the United States Army and began his family life with his one and only love, in his hometown of Goleta. Together, they successfully raised five children: Daniel Louis Brino, Delia Lynne Chavez, Valerie Marie Reyes, Valentine Reyes Jr. and Elizabeth Reyes.

Valentine is survived by six grandchildren: Cherie Marie Chavez, Jose Chavez, Jr., Elizabeth Marie Echevarria, Daniel Echevarria, Amanda Jewel Garza and Sophia Rose Garza. He also has four great-grandchildren: Robert Matthew Cuevas, 10; Siena Lynne Chavez, 7 years old; Sevi John Chavez, 5; and Sadie Kristina Chavez, 2.

Valentine Reyes is predeceased by her eldest son Daniel Louis Brino, who was a US Army veteran in Vietnam.

After Valentine Reyes returned from the Korean War, he worked at the Goleta Lemon Association for 38 years and retired as a foreman. He loved his job there and was admired and appreciated by his colleagues.

When not working he was a devoted father, taking his children on vacations, especially camping. He loved the outdoors and wildlife. Valentine Reyes was an animal lover and cherished her many dogs and birds. He is predeceased by Skippy, Lova, Bandit, Rocky, Aliska, Scooter, Lisette, Anais and more, all of whom have lived long, healthy and very happy lives.

Val was passionate about sports and loved all kinds of sports, especially baseball. He liked crosswords and math problems. He collected travel brochures and it was his dream to someday travel around the world. In fact, from the icebergs of Alaska to the great castles of Germany, he’s been fortunate enough to see much of this world.

He spread love and joy everywhere he went, and in return, he will be sorely missed.

May he continue to roam the world like an angel …

Valentine Frausto Reyes, your family loves you!

Services will be held at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23 at Santa Barbara Cemetery, 901 Channel Drive.

Huge “Doomsday Glacier” could be more stable than initially feared

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Study sheds light on the future of the massive Thwaites Glacier.

The world’s largest ice caps may be less at risk of sudden collapse than expected, new findings from the University of Michigan show.

The study, published in Science, included the simulation of the disappearance of the Thwaites Glacier from West Antarctica, one of the largest and most unstable glaciers in the world. The researchers modeled the collapse of varying heights of ice cliffs, almost vertical formations that occur where glaciers and ice shelves meet the ocean. They discovered that instability does not always lead to rapid disintegration.

“What we found is that over long periods of time, ice behaves like a viscous fluid, much like a pancake spreading out in a frying pan,” said Jeremy Bassis, associate professor of science and technology. of climate and space engineering at UM. “So the ice is expanding and thinning faster than it can fail and that can stabilize the collapse. But if the ice cannot thin out fast enough, then you have the possibility of a rapid glacier collapse. “

Researchers combined for the first time the variables of ice breakage and ice flow, finding that stretching and thinning of ice, as well as strengthening of trapped chunks of ice, can moderate the effects of l instability of the sea ice cliff induced by the fracture.

The new findings add a nuance to a previous theory called sea ice cliff instability, which suggested that if the height of an ice cliff reaches a certain threshold, it can suddenly disintegrate under its own weight in a chain reaction. of ice fractures. The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, sometimes referred to as the “Doomsday Glacier,” is approaching this threshold and could contribute nearly 3 feet to sea level rise in the event of a complete collapse. At 74,000 square miles, it is roughly the size of Florida and is particularly sensitive to climate and ocean changes.

Thwaites Glacier

Thwaites Glacier. Credit: NASA / James Yungel

The research team also found that icebergs that crack and fall from the main glacier in a process known as “iceberg calving” can actually prevent, rather than contribute to, catastrophic collapse. If the chunks of ice get stuck on outcrops on the ocean floor, they can put back pressure on the glacier to help stabilize it.

Bassis notes that even if the glacier does not collapse catastrophically, the exposure of a high cliff could still trigger a retreat of a few kilometers per year, the equivalent of the length of about twenty sites. football, which would make a significant contribution to future sea level rise.

How fast is the sea level rising?

While it is clear that Thwaites and other glaciers are melting, the speed of their disappearance is of great interest to coastal areas as they develop strategies to adapt and build resilience. But predicting the retreat of glaciers is an incredibly complex endeavor, as they are affected by the interplay of a myriad of factors – the stress and strain of billions of tons of moving ice, changes in air temperature and of water and the effects of liquid water flow. on ice, to name a few.

As a result, predictions of the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier range from a few decades to several centuries. The new study, says Bassis, is an important step towards producing accurate and actionable predictions.

Thwaites Glacier NASA

Thwaites Glacier. Credit: NASA

“There is no doubt that the sea level is rising and that this will continue in the decades to come,” Bassis said. “But I think this study offers hope that we are not approaching a complete collapse – that there are measures that can ease and stabilize things. And we always have the opportunity to make a difference by making decisions on things like energy emissions, methane and CO2.

The fate of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps

In addition to Bassis, the research team includes UM graduate student research assistant Brandon Berg, and Anna Crawford and Doug Benn of the University of St. Andrews.

Crawford says the study’s results will also be useful in predicting the fate of other glaciers and ice formations in the Arctic and Antarctic.

“This important information will inform future research on the retreat of the Thwaites Glacier and other large outlet glaciers from the West Antarctic ice sheet that are likely to retreat due to the ice cliff breaking and the instability of the sea ice cliff, ”she said. “They highlight the conditions that facilitate recoil, demonstrate the terminal’s stabilizing potential, and show how sea ice can actually slow down the collapse process.”

Bassis says the research team is already working to further refine their models by incorporating additional variables that affect glacial retreat, including how the shapes of individual glaciers affect their stability and the interaction between glacial ice and ice. liquid ocean surrounding it.

“The ocean is still there, sort of tickling the ice in a very complex way, and we’ve only known for a decade or two how important that is,” he said. “But we’re starting to understand that this is causing a lot of the changes we’re seeing, and I think this will be the next big frontier in our research.”

Reference: “Transition to marine ice cliff instability controlled by ice thickness gradients and velocity” by JN Bassis, B. Berg, AJ Crawford and DI Benn, June 18, 2021 Science.
DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf6271

The study is part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. The research was supported by the DOMINOS project, a component of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, and by the National Science Foundation (grant number 1738896) and the Natural Environment Research Council (grant number NE / S006605 / 1).


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Kynzie Mohl of Kalispell Glacier named Montana Gatorade Softball Player of the Year

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CHICAGO – Kynzie Mohl of Kalispell Glacier was named the 2020-2021 softball player of the year in Gatorade Montana, Gatorade announced Friday.

Mohl, a 5-10-10 senior catcher and right-handed pitcher, is Glacier’s first Gatorade softball player of the year. She posted a batting average of 0.634 with 18 home runs last season, helping the Wolfpack (23-5) at the State Class AA tournament. Mohl, the Western AA Offensive Player of the Year and All-State First Team Selection, also had 11 doubles, scored 45 points and hit 67 points while recording a 0.706 baseline percentage and hitting percentage. of 1.451. As a pitcher, Mohl was 8-2 with an earned run average of 4.30.

“Kynzie is one of those special players who learned the power of discipline and dedication early on in her softball career,” said Glaciers coach Abby Connolly. “It paid dividends both at plate and defensively.”

Mohl, who signed a national letter of intent to play softball at the University of Montana, volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Western Montana and the Glacier High Freshman Mentor program. She also donated her time as a youth softball and volleyball coach. Mohl maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.51 in class.

Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” cause marketing platform, Mohl has the opportunity to award a $ 1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choice. Mohl is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization she has chosen deserves one of 12 Flagship $ 10,000 grants, which will be announced throughout the year.

Anna Toon of Great Falls High won the 2019-2020 and 2018-19 Gatorade Montana Player of the Year awards.


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What we know this week (06/18/21)

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“Spring being a difficult act to follow, God created June. Al bernstein

The official start of summer is fast approaching. Time in the Queen City looked like August early June.

New Kids On The Block has been very successful. Chinese food makes me sick. And I think it flies when the girls stop. For summer, for summer. I love girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch. I would take it if I had a wish. But she’s been gone since that summer, that summer.“- LFO

We all know that as soon as the pool is open and the water is fit for swimming; crisp, windy and rainy weather will be upon us.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t give up. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. “- Mohamed Ali

The pools will get cold. The lack of sun will make you choose indoor activities. Exactly what the Doctor orders in a city with gray skies and no sun. But we have four seasons, no hurricanes, sandstorms, volcanoes, earthquakes or icebergs. icebergs? Sold yet? Ok, it is known that WNY does not deal with icebergs. Ships like the Titanic do not sail near Goat Island on the Niagara River. These famous Finger Lakes do not report any iceberg shipwreck incidents. Where are we going with this? I digress …

Accept some inalienable truths: Prices will rise, politicians will flirt, you too will age – and when you do, you will fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders. Wear sunscreen. If I could only offer you one piece of advice for the future, Solar cream would it be. The long-term benefits of Solar cream have been proven by scientists while the rest of my advice has no more reliable basis than my own curvy experience. I will dispense this advice now. Baz Luhrmann

OTA and Mini Recruit Camps have come and gone. The mandatory mini-camp is in effect right now. Teams are allowed to hold meetings, classroom training, and film study, all of which are allowed NOW speak ABC. The iron pumping lasted the entire off season. Taking care of their bodies has become a 12 month responsibility.

“It’s that time of year when all the teams are involved in making, to some extent, painful decisions.“- Former Buffalo Bills HC Marv Levy

Physical representatives are both extremely valuable and unquestionably coveted by coaches and scouts. Representatives in the NFL rankings are similar to cigarettes in prison. Precious but so vital. Coaches crave one last puff of cigarettes, getting as many reps as possible for players without triggering a response from the Players Association.

“And it’s you and me in the summer
We will be hand in hand in the park
With a squeeze and a sigh
And that twinkle in your eyes
And all the sun banishes the darkness … “- Sundays

What we know about the Bison Tickets this week:

-Withdrawal last season due to Wuhan virus, Star Lotulelei officially returned to One Bills Drive. Happy to see you again.

-The Bills players have made it clear this offseason that they will keep their private vaccination status. TO TOUCH.

Stefon Diggs and Cole beasley both “placed” on the Focus on professional football List of the 32 best wide receivers. Not too bad.

“Doomsday Glacier” could be more stable than expected

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The world’s largest ice caps may be less at risk of sudden collapse than expected, a new study finds.

The study in Science includes the simulation of the disappearance of the Thwaites Glacier from West Antarctica, one of the largest and most unstable glaciers in the world.

The researchers modeled the collapse of varying heights of ice cliffs, almost vertical formations that occur where glaciers and ice shelves meet the ocean. They discovered that instability does not always lead to rapid disintegration.

“What we found is that over long time scales, ice behaves like a viscous fluid, much like a pancake spreading out in a frying pan,” says Jeremy Bassis, associate professor at climate and space science and engineering at the University of Michigan. “So the ice is expanding and thinning faster than it can fail and that can stabilize the collapse. But if the ice can’t thin out fast enough, then you have the possibility of a rapid glacier collapse. “

Researchers combined the variables of ice breakage and ice flow for the first time, finding that stretching and thinning of ice, as well as the strengthening of trapped chunks of ice, can moderate the effects of l fracture-induced sea ice cliff instability.

Iceberg calving

The new findings add nuance to a previous theory called sea ice cliff instability, which suggests that if the height of an ice cliff reaches a certain threshold, it can suddenly disintegrate under its own weight in a chain reaction. of ice fractures.

The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, sometimes referred to as the “Doomsday Glacier,” is approaching this threshold and could contribute nearly 3 feet to sea level rise in the event of a complete collapse. At 74,000 square miles, it is roughly the size of Florida and is particularly sensitive to climate and ocean changes.

“The ocean is still there, tickling the ice in a very complex way, and we’ve only known for a decade or two how important that is.”

The researchers also found that icebergs that crack and fall from the main glacier in a process known as “iceberg calving” can actually prevent, rather than contribute to, catastrophic collapse. If the chunks of ice get stuck on outcrops on the ocean floor, they can put back pressure on the glacier to help stabilize it.

Bassis notes that even if the glacier does not collapse catastrophically, the exposure of a high cliff could still trigger a retreat of a few kilometers per year, or the length of about 20 football fields, which would result in a important contribution to future sea level rise.

The complete collapse of the Thwaites Glacier?

While it is clear that Thwaites and other glaciers are melting, the speed of their disappearance is of great interest to coastal areas as they develop strategies to adapt and build resilience.

But predicting the retreat of glaciers is an incredibly complex endeavor, as they are affected by the interplay of a myriad of factors – the stress and strain of billions of tons of moving ice, changes in air temperature and of water, and the effects of liquid flow. water on ice, to name a few.

As a result, predictions of the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier range from a few decades to several centuries. The new study, says Bassis, is an important step towards producing accurate and actionable predictions.

“There is no doubt that sea levels are rising and that this will continue for the next several decades,” says Bassis. “But I think this study offers hope that we are not approaching a complete collapse, that there are measures that can ease and stabilize things. And we always have the opportunity to make a difference by making decisions about things like energy emissions – methane and CO.2. “

The fate of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps

The study results will also be useful in predicting the fate of other glaciers and ice formations in the Arctic and Antarctic, says Anna Crawford of the University of St. Andrews.

“This important information will inform future research on the retreat of the Thwaites Glacier and other large outlet glaciers from the West Antarctic ice sheet that are likely to retreat due to the breaking of ice cliffs and instability. sea ​​ice cliffs, ”she said. “They highlight the conditions that facilitate recoil, demonstrate the terminal’s stabilizing potential, and show how sea ice can actually slow down the collapse process.”

The research team is already working to further refine their models by incorporating additional variables that affect glacial retreat, including how the shapes of individual glaciers affect their stability and the interaction between glacial ice and the liquid ocean that l ‘surrounds, explains Bassis.

“The ocean is still there, sort of tickling the ice in a very complex way, and we’ve only known for a decade or two how important that is,” he says. “But we’re starting to understand that this is the root of a lot of the changes we’re seeing, and I think this will be the next big frontier in our research.”

Additional researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of St. Andrews contributed to the work.

The study is part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. The DOMINOS project, a component of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, the National Science Foundation and the Natural Environment Research Council funded the work.

Source: University of Michigan


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China and Russia team up for space race with the United States

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Luna 27 and Chang’e-6, for example, are expected to drill the surface and return samples to Earth – a feat China already accomplished last December with Chang’e-5 and the Soviet Union with the three-way Luna landers. times in the 1970s. In a second stage, between 2026 and 2030, the Chang’e-8 and Luna 28 missions will land separately with the first constituent elements of the new station.

The first of the Russian missions is scheduled for October, although the Russian space program has experienced long delays.

Ultimately, China hopes the station will demonstrate its ability to develop water, mineral and energy resources that could enable the short-term survival of astronauts and serve as a basis for deeper space exploration.

“A permanent base has both symbolic and power projection capabilities,” said Namrata Goswami, independent analyst and co-author of a new book on space exploration, “Scramble for the Skies.”

NASA has its own plans to send astronauts back to the moon – and one day send them to Mars – and has recruited partners under a deal, called the agreements of Artemis, governing space activities, including operations, experiments and the extraction of natural resources.

China is not explicitly excluded but seems almost certain not to sign, given US restrictions on space cooperation and its own determination to build an indigenous program. Russia, too, seems unlikely to sign, given its tilt towards China.

As Dr Johnson-Freese of the United States Naval War College said, “China is keeping Russia in the space game to a much greater extent than the Russian economy would otherwise support.”

Andrew E. Kramer reported from Moscow, and Steven Lee Myers from Seoul. Claire Fu in Beijing and Oleg Matsnev in Moscow contributed to the research.


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Methane on Enceladus: a possible sign of life?

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View of the moon Enceladus from Saturn via the Cassini probe. A new study by a group of biologists shows that something produces a lot of methane in the moon’s underground ocean. Could this be life? Image via NASA / ESA / JPL / SSI / Cassini Imaging Team / Carnegie Science.

With its global ocean of groundwater, Saturn’s moon Enceladus is considered one of the best places to seek life. Now, new research from a team of biologists suggests that life on Enceladus may indeed be entirely possible … and that we strength already have evidence for this. Something is producing a lot of methane on Enceladus, or rather in its underground ocean. And methane can be a sign of life. Charlie wood discussed these curious results on June 8, 2021, Popular science. Oddly, according to Wood’s article, the initial analysis suggests that methane is produced in a manner similar to methanogen microbes in Earth’s oceans.

It is not yet proof of life on, or rather in, Enceladus, but it is certainly interesting.

the Peer reviewed the conclusions were published June 8, 2021 at Nature astronomy.

Methane in Enceladus: hydrothermal vents and methanogens

The original detection of methane comes from the analysis of data obtained by the Cassini spatialship. The probe made several close flights of the moon. At one point, it passed through plumes of water vapor bursting through cracks at the south pole of Enceladus. The water vapor in the plumes originates from the ocean deep below the icy outer surface.

Additionally, Cassini found particles of ice, salts, hydrogen, and organic molecules in the plumes, provisional clues to an ocean similar in composition to Earth’s oceans. There is also evidence of hydrothermal vents on the Enceladus seabed, similar to those that support methanogens in Earth’s oceans. As stated in the article summary:

Observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have established that Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an internal liquid ocean. Analysis of a plume of oceanic material ejected into space suggests that alkaline hydrothermal vents are present on the seabed of Enceladus. On Earth, such underwater vents harbor microbial ecosystems rich in methanogenic archaea.

Planet with a large slice revealing a gray core surrounded by a thick blue layer with many small geysers at the bottom.
Cutaway view of the interior of Enceladus, showing the underground ocean and jets of water vapor erupting through cracks in the icy surface of the South Pole. Image via Popular science.

So what is it that produces methane on Enceladus?

Scientists already knew methane existed, but the new study shows that its surprisingly high amount is difficult to explain. Basically the most likely chemical process that could produce methane on Enceladus, serpentinization, would not be able to create as much as what is observed. So what could? As Antonin Affholder, at ENS Paris and main author, confided Popular science:

Methanogens are able to explain the amount of methane.

Curved edge of a cracked, cratered moon with very large geysers erupting in space.
The geysers of the moon Enceladus of Saturn. These enormous plumes of water vapor erupt through the cracks of the South Pole of Enceladus. The Cassini spacecraft analyzed the plumes, finding water vapor, ice particles, salts, methane, and a variety of complex organic molecules. Scientists believe the plumes originate from a global ocean below the moon’s icy surface. Image via Nasa.

Methanogens are microbial life forms that eat hydrogen and carbon dioxide and produce methane as a by-product. On Earth, they are found in deep-water hydrothermal vents like those thought to exist on the seabed of Enceladus.

So, could this really be the explanation for the methane on Enceladus?

Organic or non-organic?

With this in mind, the researchers considered all possible scenarios where methane could be produced in the Enceladus Ocean. In serpentization, the interaction of hot water and minerals in rocks can create hydrogen. Subsequently, chemical reactions can then combine hydrogen and carbon dioxide to produce methane.

It seemed plausible, so the researchers took a closer look at the possibility. They wanted to see how much methane could realistically be produced on Enceladus. They then compared these results, using Bayesian analysis, to a scenario where methanogens were involved. In fact, the researchers used real organisms on Earth for the comparison. Overall, it was important to keep their expectations realistic, as Affholder explains:

We cannot just imagine what we want to imagine. We need to base our assumptions on what we know.

Young smiling man with glasses, short beard and messy hair.
Antonin Affolder at the ENS in Paris led new research into the mystery of Enceladus methane. Image via ENS.

“Too much” methane

The results were surprising: the amount of methane detected by Cassini was significantly higher than what could be easily explained by serpentization alone. Affholder said:

The first hypothesis is totally disqualified, score of zero.

As stated in the summary, there was apparently “too much” of methane to be easily explained by inorganic chemistry alone. Extract from the summary:

Here, we use a Bayesian statistical approach to quantify the probability that methanogenesis (production of biotic methane) can explain the escape rates of molecular hydrogen and methane in the Enceladus plume, as measured by Cassini instruments.

We note that the observed escape rates (1) cannot be explained solely by the abiotic alteration of the rock core by serpentinization; (2) are compatible with the assumption of habitable conditions for methanogens; and (3) mark the highest probability under the methanogenesis hypothesis, assuming that the probability of emergence of life is high enough.

Too much hydrogen?

In addition, Cassini also found an abundance of hydrogen in the ocean, which could be used as a food source for microbes. But, it seemed that there was more of it left than there should be if it was consumed as food. Ultimately, there could also be an answer to this mystery. It is believed that most of the hydrogen molecules are very close to the vents, where it would be too hot for the methanogens. Instead, organisms could feast on hydrogen molecules farther away from the vents. In this scenario, there would be little impact on the overall abundance of hydrogen.

Ocean floor with insets showing hydrothermal features that could release methane over Enceladus.
Sectional view of the underground ocean of Enceladus. There is evidence of hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, just like on Earth. Could methane come from methanogenic microbes? Image via Nasa/ JPL-Caltech / SwRI.

More data needed

Serpentization, at least on its own, seems like an unlikely solution to the methane mystery. It is always possible that there is an excess of primordial methane, left over from the formation of Enceladus, bubbling from its core. Or another still unknown process at work. As Affholder points out, we still don’t know enough about Enceladus to be sure:

We do not know the origin of Enceladus. We do not know the age of Enceladus. We do not know the precise nature of methane. To find out more, we might need a mission to examine methane.

In short, answering these questions will require more data. Unfortunately, no return mission is planned at this time. Cassini analyzed the plumes in detail, but it goes without saying that a probe that could specifically look for evidence of life itself in them would be even better. Here’s hoping!

Conclusion: something produces a lot of methane in the ocean of Enceladus. Could this be life? Although not yet proven, a new study by a team of biologists appears to support this exciting possibility.

Source: Bayesian analysis of data from the Enceladus plume to assess methanogenesis

Via popular science


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