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What Are You Planning To Do On March 26th, 8:30 PM?


It’s Earth Hour on March 26th, 8:30 PM, your local time. Individuals and businesses all over the globe switch off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour and organize events in order to raise awareness about taking positive action to address the issue of climate change. The event which was started in 2007 in Sydney has now spread all over the globe. This year’s theme is to go beyond an hour, take an extra step than just switching off the lights for an hour, to do something more than what you regularly do. So how are you planning to go beyond an hour? I am planning to eat more of locally grown produce, reduce my use of air conditioning, and maybe volunteer in local schools and organize events about 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Leave a Comment March 22, 2011

How Hot Was Summer 2010?

Summer of 2010 has experienced some extremely severe temperatures and drought like conditions especially in Eastern Europe, Russia and in some parts of Eastern USA. So how hot was summer of 2010? Was it the hottest summer globally or hot summers of Russia were more of local anomalies? NASA GISS has come up with analysis of measured temperature during Jun-Aug 2010 and can be seen in the above plot. The plot shows temperature anomalies as compared to base average temperature during 1951-1980. From the plot, its clearly seen that two region in the globe experienced severe hot summers namely Eurasia region and Antarctic Peninsula. So how were these temperature anomalies as compared to last year, lets have a look:

As can be seen from the 2009 temperatures, severe temperature anomalies like summers of Russia were not there in 2009. But what does that mean in terms of Global temperature trend, which was hotter: summer of 2009 or 2010?

Globally, 2010 was the 4th warmest summer in GISS’s 131-year-temperature record. The summer of 2009 was the 2nd warmest. The slightly cooler 2010 temperatures were primarily the result of a moderate La Niña replacing a moderate El Niño in the Pacific Ocean. Note in 2010 that much of the eastern Pacific, the west coasts of North and South America, and much of Antarctica were cooler than the long-term mean. Temperatures were extremely warm in western Russia and the Antarctic Peninsula. The unusually warm summer temperatures in the U.S. and Eurasia created the impression of global warming run amuck; last winter’s unusually cool temperatures created the opposite impression. But extrapolating global trends based on one or two regions can be misleading.

“Unfortunately, it is common for the public to take their most recent local temperature anomaly as indicative of long-term climate trends, ” James Hansen from NASA GISS noted. “People need to understand that the temperature anomaly in one place in one season has limited relevance to global trends. ” [NASA ESO]

So what it implies is that summer of 2010 was hot but it’s severity was dependent on where you lived. It also means that local temperature anomaly has limited relevance to global temperature trends. But that doesn’t  imply that extreme local temperature absurdities have nothing to do with global temperature trends but before jumping to any conclusions one has to look into long term statistics and trends. If we take a look at average data of past 10 years or so, we might see ups and downs in temperatures but in a long run there is a clear trend of temperature rise.

Data and Analysis credit: NASA ESO | GISS

Leave a Comment September 30, 2010

Climate Change Debate Visualized

David McCandless from Information is Beautiful has again come up with an awesome visualization, this time about climate change debate: believers vs deniers. It’s very informative sans any technical jargon which will be beneficial to people without much knowledge about climate science. You can click on the image to see the image in full size, which will make reading much easier.

Leave a Comment September 30, 2010

The Deep Blue: World Ocean Day

World Ocean day was celebrated yesterday, June 8th. The importance of protecting our Oceans and it’s ecosystem can not be emphasized more in the wake of BP oil spill disaster. But it’s not like we have not been polluting our Oceans before this spill. We keep doing that on a regular basis– industrial waters, overfishing, excessive usage of plastic bags ending up in ocean currents , Ocean acidification due to excessive anthropogenic CO2 and list goes on. It is likely that roughly one billion gallons of oil enters our oceans each year as a result of man’s activities. Only 8% of this input is believed to derive from natural sources. At least 22% is intentionally released as a function of normal tanker “operational discharges,” 12% enters from accidental tanker spills and another 36% from runoff and municipal and industrial wastes. [American Zoologist , 1993]. I keep hearing politicians and people talking about that our Oceans are resilient and it can tolerate any kind of garbage we put in. No it is not. It can do to a limit (depending on the type of waste we are putting in, amount of waste, and time available to the marine organisms to bounce back) and I think we have already  crossed that limit.

The Ocean ecosystem is very fragile due to all the mess we have put in there and I would prefer to see beautiful marine life rather see images of dark crude oil gushing out incessantly. I have stopped updating about BP spill because its beyond my comprehension now seeing the response of BP, politicians, News channels. It’s not the time to get political mileage out of the disaster. When BP should be concentrating on the spill and cleaning beaches, paying out affected locals, it’s busy in PR campaign to clean it’s image. Search for BP spill on Google and you will find first sponsored link from BP.. then Tony Hayward, CEO BP, talking about how he and BP will make things right in a new BP commercial with beaches shown in the background… Action is the best PR not mere words, telling lies and getting exposed is worst PR.. Brown pelicans drenched in crude oil exposes all the lies of the amount of spill.. Is it 5,000 gallons per day, 10,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 or more, no one knows. Is it that hard to estimate the amount of spill knowing the dimensions of pipe, flow rates, temperature, viscosity etc?

Coming to politicians- one day they are bashing president for not acting tough, not showing anger and taking actions, the next day they want president to remove temporary offshore drilling ban asap. Wait a minute, you want drilling to continue even after seeing this disaster!! Why? Because banning offshore drilling will take away jobs of people who work on these rigs. What about fishermen, people employed in tourism industry- what will happen to their jobs if another such disaster happens- forget about brown pelicans which is also state bird of Louisiana and recently removed from endangered list? Jobs will come and go, newer markets will emerge, but if the ecosystem we live in is destroyed it’s irreparable. But looks like even if we are told that world will be destroyed tomorrow, we will be busy fulfilling our own interests to the last minute– BP will be doing PR and optimizing profits, politicians will be blaming each other to gain political mileage out of it, and rest of us will be saying ” I am too busy right now, maybe tomorrow I will jump into action, not today”.

Anyways, We need a collective action and that too everyday. There are certain things which we all can do and some of them have been compiled here by Smithsonian Ocean Portal .

  1. Ditch disposable lifestyle- bring your own reusable bags, containers coffee mugs etc.
  2. Check your car’s tire pressure regularly. Underinflated tires waste about 1.2 billion gallons of gas in US. This can save you some cash as well reduce usage of gas and thereby reduce some carbon emission– less ocean acidification.
  3. Unplug your electrical appliances- The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that this “phantom” energy use accounts for 75% of the power consumed by electronics in the average home.
  4. Choose wisely while eating seafood– some studies estimate that up to 90 percent of large predatory fish (those that eat other animals—and usually end up on our dinner plates) have disappeared since humans began heavy fishing. Look for sustainable seafood guide.
  5. Choose souvenirs carefully– steer clear of souvenirs, jewelry, and home furnishings that use real coral or other marine animal products. Deepwater pink and red corals in particular have been prized for their beauty in jewelry making, but they belong in the sea, not in our homes.
  6. Water system is all connected, reduce wastage of water. Finally, reduce dependence on fossil fuels whichever way possible.

Photo credit: Flickr, used under Creative Commons License.

Leave a Comment June 9, 2010

Hole in the Earth: Guatemala Sinkhole

This is a picture of an enormous sinkhole in Guatemala city which was created as a result of landslide after the city was hit by season’s first tropical storm Agatha. The storm has already resulted in more than 150 deaths and many people are missing. The sinkhole shown above is estimated to be about 200 feet deep and 60 feet wide. The sink swallowed a three storey building which housed a clothing factory , a house and also left one person missing.

Sinkholes are natural depressions that can form when water-saturated soil and other particles become too heavy and cause the roofs of existing voids in the soil to collapse.A burst sanitary or storm sewer may have been slowly saturating the surrounding soil for a long time before tropical storm Agatha added to the inundation.”The tropical storm came along and would have dumped even more water in there, and that could have been the final trigger that precipitated the collapse,” Currens said, a hydrogeologist at the University of Kentucky. [National Geographic]

Agatha has caused lots of damage to the city- 13 bridges collapsed and many people lost their houses due to mudslides and then the fomation of this giant sinkhole which could even grow bigger. Earlier in 2007 too, such sinkhole was formed in the city. Honduras and El Salvador are the other countries affected by this storm taking the total death toll to more than 175[CNN].

   

Picture credit: Flickr user gobiernodeguatemala | Used under Creative Commons License

Leave a Comment June 2, 2010

30 Years From Today When Mt St. Helens Erupted

May18th, 1980, thirty years from today, earth shook, mountain fell , lives were lost and hot magma swallowed the greenland and turned into a wasteland. That was the day Mt St. Helens erupted and changed the lives of many people and also changed the face of the earth in that part of the region. It was one of the largest natural disaster in US history. The events started with a number of earthquakes in March. But on May 18th, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake completely sheared northern flank of mountain shearing off 1300 ft high summit leading to one of the largest recorded landslide on earth (see the video below). As the mountain collapsed, the hot magma which was building up inside, just erupted violently and spewed out rocks , ashes, hot gases and the sideways eruption added to the devastation.

When the mountain collapsed, it was like uncorking a bottle of champagne: hot rocks, ash, gas, and steam exploded upward and outward to the north. The outward blast spread volcanic debris (gray in the images) over 230 square miles (600 square kilometers) and blew down 4 billion board feet of timber. A raft of dead trees drifts around Spirit Lake throughout the series. All around the southern half of the mountain, volcanic mudflows (lahars) poured down rivers and gullies. [NASA]

The signs of life and greenery have started showing up in the region. But the volcano is still active and fuming.You can read more about St. Helens in detail in the following websites: National Geographic , USGS, NOVA PBS. For more pictures you can visit BigPicture from Boston.com. All the pictures are courtesy Bigpicture/USGS/AP. You can see in the picture below taken on May 20th, 1980 a car is totally covered under volcanic ash. Also you can see various colors of ponds being formed on the slopes of Mt Helens as a result of chemical cocktail coming out of the volcano. The third image of the colorful ponds was taken in August 1980.

You can watch the first shots of the volcanic eruption taken by Gary Rosenquist. You can see in the video how the north side of the mountain collapses causing the largest landslide and then followed by volcanic eruption ( lateral orientation of the eruption can also be seen). The second clip shows time-lapse video from NASA/USGS images from 1979 until today.

Leave a Comment May 18, 2010

The Eyjafjallajökull Show

My fascination with the stunning visuals of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano continues. This  recent video by Sean Stiegemeier was filmed during May 1st and 2nd, 2010 who took a trip to Iceland just to shoot this event. Landscape of Iceland looks just stunning, makes me want to visit Iceland. Well, sometime soon… Anyways, you can also view the volcano live in action 24 hours a day!! A website from iceland MILA has set up a camera to provide the live action. You can also check out the thermal images of the eruption. Here is the link for the Live camera. Right now when I checked, it was bit dark but I could see random eruptions and smoke plume, probably during the daytime the view will be much better.

Ok, enough of Eyjafjallajökull, there are some other volcanoes too which deserve attention and they too are equally tough to pronounce. So let’s take a look at another volcano located nearby to Eyjafjallajökull and was erupting the same time as Eyjafjallajökull, but it didnt create any havoc to the air traffic by spewing out smoke and ash, so it was lost into oblivion.  Here is volcano Fimmfördurhals, shot beautifully by Marc Szeglat. Anyways, which one is tough-er to pronounce Fimmfördurhals or Eyjafjallajökull?

Eyjafjallajökull – Fimmförduháls Eruption on Iceland from Marc Szeglat on Vimeo.

Leave a Comment May 13, 2010

Life of a Plastic Bag

Here is a very interesting 18 minute video depicting perinnial life and journey of a plastic bag starting from the grocery store where it’s life originates to landfills and ultimately to the Pacific Ocean trash vortex. The film takes on the issue of how we have been treating our world as a trash can. Interesting watch.

Source: Futurestates.tv

2 Comments April 26, 2010

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