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Tag: Climate

Eyjafjallajökull: Fire in the Ice

Here is a live footage of recent volcanic activity in Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland. This is the second time this particular volcano has erupted this year, first time on March 20th and then second time on April 14th, the second one being much stronger and causing major air traffic shutdown in most of Europe. Last time the volcano was active was around 200 years ago in 1821-1823, the event lasted for about 13 months!! Iceland is one of the most active regions for volcanic activities along with Alaska and Pacific Ring of Fire. Iceland’s location makes it more prone to volcanic activities: Earth’s magma or lava is closest to earth’s surface in this region and combined with continental plate rift-zone makes Iceland prone to numerous and frequent volcanic activities. This particular volcano has caused ripples all around the world due to it’s impact on air traffic leading to closure of major airports in European countries including UK, Germany, Poland, Russia and Netherlands. Travelers all around the world are stranded leading to cancel or postponement of many events and activities.Plume of ash as high as 5.3 mile can bee seen coming out of this volcano which is filling up the European airspace. It might take sometime while the airspace clears up and change in wind direction will be needed to expedite the process. Click here to see some amazing pictures of Eyjafjallajökull.

Volcano eruptions can lead to Global Cooling in subsequent years which is attributed to release of sulfur di oxide gas from the volcanoes. Huge amounts of SO2 released from these volcanoes when reach stratosphere, gets converted to sulfate aerosols which reflects back the sunlight and prevents them from reaching the earth’s surface. Such major Global cooling was observed in 1991 due to eruption of Mount Pinatubo in Philippines. Eyjafjallajökull activity might continue for some time, maybe months , not sure; scientists have already reached the site and started collecting data and air samples to do further analysis. With all the air traffic chaos the volcano has caused, it’s also resulting in some very spectacular sunsets as a result of scattering of the sunlight by these very fine ash particles in the air (Picture by Danny Mekic’- used under Creative Commons License).

Iceland is already going through major economic crisis which started back in 2008, let’s hope this recent volcanic activity is not going to affect it’s tourism industry and further worsen the economic crisis. In another Iceland related news, today IMF approved release of $160 million loan package from a 2.1 billion package which was approved in 2008. But due to Iceland’s ongoing disputes with UK and Netherlands regarding settlement of money for UK and Netherlands citizens who lost their money in Iceland banks, IMF did not release the loan earlier and had to review the situation. “The crisis has taken a heavy toll on Iceland and its citizens, but I am confident that the policies and financing now in place will ease the burden of adjustment and help Iceland’s economy stage a recovery in the second half of 2010,” IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Chair, said.

(The picture shows the image of major bankers being used in one of the restaurant urinals in Reykjavík, Iceland capital. Photo credit:Olivier Morin/Agence France-Presse —Getty Images)

2 Comments April 17, 2010

Greenhouse Gases: Sources

Just uploading some Greenhouse gases related data. I will write some comments about it later in another post.

Leave a Comment April 16, 2010

Little Birdie Responds to Climate Change

Spring is here and it’s really beautiful to see the nature at it’s best. Spring knocked on my window a couple of weeks back at 4 AM when I could hear birds chirping outside my window. It’s beautiful to listen to them, but to enjoy them fully, you need to proper sleep first. For a person like me who sleeps at 2 AM, it’s a bit too early to enjoy the music at 4  AM. Spring is here and birds who have migrated back are going to stay for few months (or maybe even longer, read below) and I should rather enjoy the nature’s sound rather than complain about it. So, I am trying to change my sleeping pattern and sleep early, let’s see how this goes. Anyway let’s get to the main issue.

Migration of birds is a very interesting phenomenon which helps birds to cope up with changing weather conditions and food availability situations. Migratory birds travel to long distances which can be stressful as well as dangerous, but advantages offered by migration usually offsets these disadvantages. But Climate changes are making these birds to rethink their strategy and look for other viable options. A very recent study by Peter Berthold have shown that birds are changing their migration pattern in response to rise in temperatures and rapid climate changes by reducing their migration activity and moving very close to their breeding areas in winters rather than traveling hundreds and thousands of miles. This way they can conserve their energy and spend it on mating and eating.  According to abstract of this paper “Our findings suggest that current alterations of the environment are favoring birds wintering closer to the breeding grounds and that populations of migratory birds have strongly responded to these changes in selection. The reduction of migratory activity is probably an important evolutionary process in the adaptation of migratory birds to climate change, because it reduces migration costs and facilitates the rapid adjustment to the shifts in the timing of food availability during reproduction.” Changing of migration patterns can have overall large scale ecological impacts which I will try to post after discussing with my friend Vishwesha who is a physicist/ecologist at Princeton. So even though few people still don’t believe in Global Warming, but it’s happening, it’s real and it’s affecting the evolutionary process; our little birdie understands it and acting accordingly, why can’t we?

Sources: Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

Photo used under Creative Commons License

Leave a Comment April 8, 2010

It’s still March and three disasters already!!

It’s still beginning of the year and we already have witnessed three major natural disasters affecting millions of people. The year started with 7.0-magnitude Haiti earthquake where about 200,000 people died and millions were left homeless and then 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile where already 700 people have been reported dead and rescue operations are in progress. And now comes the devastating southern European storm ” Xynthia” which has already caused 55 deaths and millions homeless and without power.  I know predicting earthquakes is extremely difficult and they can’t be  linked to climate changes and global warming but the impact of Global warming on the increase in number of other natural disasters including storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, freezing winters etc. cant be totally ignored, even after IPCC’s recent debacle in Himalayan glacier report. These two earthquakes are the result of disturbances in tectonic plates along the San Andreas fault line caused by continental shifts. This ongoing process of continental shift might have been accelerated due to various changes in earth’s geology due to oil drilling and  coal mining activities  as coal mines can create huge voids in earth’s geological structures and can expedite the continental shifting process (source) . Even though these earthquakes and climate change are not linked directly, the can be linked to one possible common source- indiscriminate consumption  of fossil fuels leading to escalation of changes in earth’s geological activities  and climate patterns.

If anyone wants to help the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti and Chile , you can find detailed list of various agencies here through which you can contribute.

In another event which can impact weather changes in coming years and threaten marine life including Penguins, a giant iceberg of the size of Luxembourg (925 square miles)  got ripped off the glacier Mertz in Antarctica during Feb 12-13.  The event was not due to Global warming but due to a collision between the glacier and another moving iceberg. This giant chunk of ice could block ocean currents which could result in bitter cold winters and could also result in flooding in many areas.

2 Comments February 28, 2010

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