These folks have a Kickstarter campaign, that runs thru next week. If you have already helped out with Dark Snow Project, and have some extra enthusiasm, check this out.

Rainforest Connection:

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) transforms recycled cell-phones into autonomous, solar-powered listening devices that can monitor and pinpoint chainsaw activity at great distance.

This changes the game by providing the world’s first real-time logging detection system, pinpointing deforestation activity as it occurs, and providing the data openly, freely, and immediately to anyone around the world.

For the first time on a scalable level, responsible agents can arrive on the scene in time to interrupt the perpetrators and stop the damage, and the world can listen in as it occurs.

Everyone that was alive can remember where they were when they heard of this.

From the Description:

Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20th, 1969, a little after 4:00in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time. The Lunar Module, nicknamed Eagle and flown by Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, touched down near the southern rim of the Sea of Tranquility, one of the large, dark basins that contribute to the Man in the Moon visible from Earth. Armstrong and Aldrin spent about two hours outside the LM setting up experiments and collecting samples. At one point, Armstrong ventured east of the LM to examine a small crater, dubbed Little West, that he’d flown over just before landing.

The trails of disturbed regolith created by the astronauts’ boots are still clearly visible in photographs of the landing site taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) narrow-angle camera (LROC) more than four decades later.

LROC imagery makes it possible to visit the landing site in a whole new way by flying around a three-dimensional model of the site. LROC scientists created the digital elevation model using a stereo pair of images. Each image in the pair shows the site from a slightly different angle, allowing sophisticated software to infer the shape of the terrain, similar to the way that left and right eye views are combined in the brain to produce the perception of depth.

Someone pointed me to the amusing tweet by the deranged blogger who goes by the name  “Steven Goddard”, fresh from the Heartland Climate Denial conference and feeling his oats apparently, @  Meteorologist Heidi Cullen.


Got me thinking there needs to be an Arctic ice Update. Fortunately Greg Laden has already given us one.

Yup, it’s melting.

Greg Laden’s Blog:

As it does every summer, the Arctic Sea ice is melting off. Over the last several years, the amount of sea ice that melts by the time it hits minimum in September has generally been increasing. So, how’s it doing now?

The graph above shows the 1981-2010 average plus or minus two standard deviations. Before going into more detail than that, you should look at the following graphic.


Read the rest of this entry »

I have some good news and some bad news.


The world’s average temperature is breaking records, and India’s monsoon is in shambles. Borderline El Niño conditions are already here. How much worse will it get?

New data released Thursday by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society—a climate forecasting partnership between Columbia University and NOAA—shows that while ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific are still above normal, the atmospheric response has so far been sluggish. After an impressive ramp upearlier this year, that means the coming El Niño is increasingly likely to fall a bit flat.


What’s going on is relatively straightforward: El Niño is a phenomenon that occurs simultaneously in the ocean and atmosphere, usually initiated by a subsea sloshing of warm water toward the typically cooler Eastern Pacific. That part has already happened. Since the Pacific is so huge, the gradual emergence of a big swath of warmer-than-normal water during an El Niño eventually prompts something else: a reversal in the local trade winds, which can shift weather patterns worldwide. That’s the part we’re still waiting on. This process needs a reinforcing shot of westerly winds (counter the trade winds’ typical direction) to help dampen the cold water thatnormally springs up from deep below the ocean’s surface in the East Pacific. So far, the westerly winds have not come, and cold water is beginning to eat away at the burgeoning El Niño.

According to the IRI, the most likely scenario now is a weak-to-moderate El Niño:

While forecasts of strength still have uncertainty, we think a weak or moderate event more likely than a strong one, and more likely than no event at all. A weak event now appears just slightly more likely than a moderate one.

Meanwhile, in California, new data on Thursday showed the state’s epic drought has continued to worsen. More than 80 percent of California is now classified as under “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. The prospect of a weaker El Niño bodes poorlyfor heavy drought-busting rains along the West Coast this winter.

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In closing my presentation at NetRoots last thursday, I summed up a number of simple things folks could do to fight climate change – one of the most important being, to vote for gosh sake.  I had spotted Congressional candidate Nancy Skinner in the back of the room and asked her to stand.
Fortunately, and this is the cool thing about NetRoots, a writer for Climate Progress, Katie Valentine, was in the room and taking notes.


DETROIT, MICHIGAN — Congressional candidate Nancy Skinner is taking a novel approach when it comes to the issue of climate change: she’s running on it.

Skinner, a Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 11th district, is making climate change a central part of her campaign, hoping her focus on an issue that so many other politicians have shirked or denied will make her stand out in the race, whose primary election is August 5. She told ThinkProgress that taking action to address climate change is particularly pertinent in Michigan, due to the state’s history in and capacity for manufacturing.

The state could be a hub for the production of renewable energy, she said, and could help slow a warming trend that threatens crop reductions, heat waves, longer periods of drought and decreased health of the Great Lakes in the Michigan and the rest of the Midwest.

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John Oliver is being recognized as one of the UK’s most valuable exports.

“WTF”  was a pretty typical reaction to video of a newly discovered physical feature on Siberia’s Yamal peninsula last week.

A lot of speculation about the crater-like formation has been around the possibility of methane gas release from thawing permafrost.
The video above is the first close-up I’ve seen. Russian speakers weigh in.

Siberian Times:

The crater on the Yamal Peninsula was caused by aliens, a meteorite, a stray missile, or an explosive gas cocktail released due to global warming, according to various theories in recent days.

Images of the remarkable phenomenon have gone round the world since The Siberian Times highlighted helicopter images of the giant hole earlier this week.

The first expedition to the scene – the scientists have just returned – took these epic pictures of the hole, including the darkening pattern on the inner rim.

Now they are using Russian satellite pictures to fix the moment when it suddenly formed.

They found the crater – around up to 70 metres deep – has an icy lake at its bottom, and water is cascading down its eroding permafrost walls.

It is not as wide as aerial estimates which suggested between 50 and 100 metres.

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Science writer Mason Inman is crowd sourcing The Frack Lab, to help underwrite his reporting on Fracking and exotic fossil fuel production, such as this example.

Mason Inman in Scientific American:

Shale gas now accounts for half of all U.S. production, according to EIA statistics—a milestone that many studies expected wouldn’t be reached until the mid-2020s or later. “Assuming that technology will allow ever more shale gas production at low prices—and betting energy policy and the future energy security of the country on it—is risky business,” says geologist David Hughes, who retired from the Canadian Geological Survey and is now doing assessments of shale gas and oil for the nonprofit Post Carbon Institute, a California-based environmental think tank.

The EPA’s proposal for cutting power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 is based partly on the expectation that natural gas will play a crucial role, especially during the next five to 10 years. The agency laid out various scenarios under which states might meet targets for cutting their emissions. Overall, all the scenarios foresee an increased reliance on natural gas; the EPA calls for switching over coal-fired power plants to burn natural gas and for more use of existing natural gas plants that are idle.

With the increased reliance on natural gas, the agency’s lower-emission scenarios foresee U.S. natural gas production continuing to rise, increasing nearly 15 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, natural gas prices would rise only about 50 cents over what they otherwise would be, to about $5.50 rather than $5 per thousand cubic feet.

Further, there are hopes for relatively low-cost natural gas to revive U.S. industries—from steel to plastics—that could take advantage of current prices, which by world standards are cheap.

At the same time, there is a hope that the U.S. will be able to export large amounts of natural gas. The EIA expects the nation to be a net importer for a few more years but then for net exports to soar through the 2020s, reaching about 10 percent of the nation’s production. “Certainly a couple of years back, before the Marcellus Shale added so much low-cost resource…we would have worried about the upward price pressure associated with adding that amount of new market in the gas space,” says Jen Snyder, a gas analyst with the research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. Now, Snyder says, Wood Mackenzie’s outlook is that “the resource base can handle the added demand, even with proposed LNG [liquid natural gas] export facilities, even with planned gas-intensive industrial projects.”


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California Dryin’

July 21, 2014



Now in its third year, the drought in California grows worse with each month. 2013 was the driest calendar year in 119 years of records, and 2014 has not brought much relief, even as scientists and residents wait hopefully forEl Niño moisture. From stream gauges and reservoir levels to ground-based photos and satellite images, the landscape seems to grow browner and drier with each month.

In a weekly report issued on July 17 by the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire state of California was classified as being in severe drought. The situation was declared extreme for 79 percent of the state’s land area and exceptional in 36 percent. For more information on drought classification levels, read this.

The pair of images above from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captures a wide view of the situation. The top image was acquired on June 25, 2014; the lower image shows the landscape on July 2, 2011, just as the latest dry period began. Turn on the image comparison tool to see the changes.

Near the Pacific coast, some mountain forests are holding on, but much of area around the Coast Range has browned considerably. The green farmlands visible in the state’s Central Valley in 2011 are much less robust in 2014, with some lands dried out and many fields left fallow for lack of water. Just north of Yosemite National Park, the land is not only brown from drought; it is also scarred from the Rim Fire and other blazes in 2013.

In the Sierra Nevada, the snow cover has decreased significantly, and what remains has a tan or gray tint from dust and soil. On April 1, 2014, California Department of Water Resources noted that snow-water content was just 32 percent of the historical average at a time when snow cover is usually at its yearly peak. By May 1, snow-water content was 18 percent of normal.

This browning of California has been underway for quite some time, with precipitation averaging just 67 percent of normal over the past three years. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor and the National Climatic Data Center,the July 2013 to June 2014 period has been the warmest on record for the state and the third driest since 1895. Precipitation in the current water year (which started October 1, 2013) is just 56 percent of normal, and since May through September are typically dry even in normal years, drought relief is not likely any time soon.

“Eleven of the past fifteen years have been drier than normal, with the past three years delivering about 45 percent of normal rain and snowpack in Southern California,” noted Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “This follows two of the wettest decades in California’s history—the 1980s and 1990s—when population more than doubled and the economy of the state exploded. So that makes this drought more punishing than those in the past.”

I’ve got a week to review and upgrade my video kit next week’s jump to Greenland, so I spent some welcome time outside over the weekend playing with video cameras and time lapse sequences.

Here are some raw results, which are pretty interesting in themselves, showing rolling clouds of moisture as my local corner of the upper midwest slipped out of a cool snap, and into a warm, humid regime normal for July.


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