Neither rain nor snow nor heat sways views on climate scienceThink that people in upstate New York will more strongly believe climate change is upon us after an early November blizzard dumped 7 feet of snow, which then was turned to slush by spring-like temperatures? Think again.Runoff swells Buffalo Creek in West Seneca, N.Y., where snow from a freak early winter blizzard is melting. A new study says such aberrant events do little to change people’s views on climate change science. (Mike Groll / Associated Press)contact the reporterThink that people in upstate New York will more strongly believe climate change is upon us after an early November blizzard dumped 7 feet of snow, which then was turned to slush by spring-like temperatures? Think again.Freaky seasons and drastic weather anomalies do little to convince most people that climate change is real – political ideology does much more, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.The study found that people who saw the winter of 2012 as warmer than usual were right – it was, on any time scale. But that conclusion did not affect their views on the science behind climate change. Amy Hubbard The results further undermine a fundamental assumption that has driven science communication since a U.N. panel first announced, in 1990, that evidence pointed toward an increasingly warming Earth due to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.People may be hesitant to accept the consensus view now, scientists and policy makers have since assured, but that will change when their local climate starts changing. “There’s really little to no evidence of that” in the U.S., said sociologist Aaron McCright of Michigan State University, lead author of the study.McCright found that Americans’ perceptions of aberrant weather patterns matched the data. But he found that those individual perceptions did little to drive how strongly people believed climate change was underway, caused by man, and constituted an immediate threat. Nor did that personal experience with abnormal climate influence whether Americans thought the scientific community agreed on those counts.
Robot Sub Finds Surprisingly Thick Antarctic Sea Ice By Becky Oskin14 hours agoAntarctica’s ice paradox has yet another puzzling layer. Not only is the amount of sea ice increasing each year, but an underwater robot now shows the ice is also much thicker than was previously thought, a new study reports.The discovery adds to the ongoing mystery ofAntarctica’s expanding sea ice. According to climate models, the region’s sea ice should be shrinking each year because of global warming. Instead, satellite observations show the ice is expanding, and the continent’s sea ice has set new records for the past three winters. At the same time, Antarctica’s ice sheet (the glacial ice on land) is melting and retreating.Measuring sea ice thickness is a crucial step in understanding what’s driving the growth of sea ice, said study co-author Ted Maksym, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Climate scientists need to know if the sea ice expansion also includes underwater thickening. [Album: Stunning Photos of Antarctic Ice]”If we don’t know how much ice is there is, we can’t validate the models we use to understand the global climate,” Maksym told Live Science. „It looks like there are significant areas of thick ice that are probably not accounted for.”The findings were published today (Nov. 24) in the journal Nature Geoscience.Like icebergs, much of Antarctica’s floating sea ice is underwater, hidden from satellites that track seasonal sea ice. And it’s difficult to take direct measurements from ships or drilling, because the thickest ice is also the hardest to reach, Maksym said.The robot submarine ready for launch from an icebreaker offshore Antarctica.The researchers were stuck aboard an icebreaker in 20-foot-thick (6 meters) pack ice for more than a week after taking advantage of a lead, or open water, that accessed thick ice, he said. „Obviously that carried some risk, and we were stuck until the wind changed direction again,” he said.Pinging the ice Over the last four years, the international group of researchers has mapped the bottom of sea ice with an underwater robot, or autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), during two research cruises offshore Antarctica. The AUV can swim to a depth of about 100 feet (30 m) and has upward-looking sonar to survey the bottom of the sea ice.”With the AUV, you can get under ice that is either difficult to access or difficult to drill, and in each region, we found some really thick ice, thicker than had been measured anywhere else,” Maksym said.Almost all of the sea ice that forms during the Antarctic winter melts during the summer, so scientists had assumed most of the ice never grew very thick. Previous studies suggested the ice was usually 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m) thick, with a few rare spots reaching up to 16 feet (5 m) in thickness. For comparison, most of the Arctic sea ice is twice as thick (6 to 9 feet, or 2 to 3 m), with some regions covered with 12 to 15 feet (4 to 5 m) of ice. [50 Amazing Facts About Antarctica]The robot sub surveys, which were spot-checked by drilling and shipboard tests, suggest Antarctica’s average ice thickness is considerably higher than previous estimates. On average, the thickness of the ice was 4.6 to 18 feet (1.4 to 5.5 m). In the three regions it surveyed, the robot sub found that deformed, thickened ice accounted for at least half of and as much as 76 percent of the total ice volume, the researchers report.”Our study shows that we’re probably missing some of this thick ice, and we need to try to account for that when we try to compare what we see in models and satellites to what we see in the field,” Maksym said.The thickest ice measured during the survey was about 65 feet (20 m) thick, in the Bellingshausen Sea, Maksym told Live Science. In the Weddell Sea, the maximum ice thickness hit more than 45 feet (14 m), and offshore of Wilkes Land, the ice was about 53 feet (16 m) thick.Next steps These thick, craggy floes likely wouldn’t exist without the fierce winds that circle Antarctica from west to east, the researchers said. Winter storms bash up the ice, freezing and reforming the rubble into new, thicker ice. „It must have been crunched up a tremendous amount and [the floes] piled up on top of each other,” Maksym said. „The ice can generate enormous amounts of force if you have these strong winds. [The wind] is like an accordion, stretching it out and squishing it back together again.”The researchers’ next step is to measure how much of Antarctica’s total sea ice this thick ice represents. Maksym said it could be a „reasonably significant area of the pack.”The sea ice growth around Antarctica has averaged about 1.2 percent to 1.8 percent per decade between 1979 and 2012, according to the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report. The increases are concentrated primarily in the Ross Sea in western Antarctica. Sea ice in the nearby Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas has significantly decreased. Researchers suspect these regional differences could result from stronger winds or increased meltwater from the Antarctic ice sheet, or a combination of both factors.Follow Becky Oskin @beckyoskin. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+.Originally published on Live Science.
Secrets Cracked in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows By Becky Oskin16 hours agoTabular fracture clusters in granodiorite south of Tuolumne Meadows, near Budd Lake.The broad, grassy plain of Yosemite National Park’s Tuolumne Meadows is a welcome stop for visitors driving California’s steep and winding Highway 120.But the wildflower-studded field is an oddball inYosemite’s iconic landscape of deep valleys and rugged peaks. The flat valley floor is a striking contrast to the smooth granite domes and finlike ridges that surround the valley like sentinels. Geologists now say the answer to this long-standing puzzle lies in the molten rock that shaped the Sierra Nevada mountain range.Granite near Tuolumne Meadows is shot through with unusual clusters of cracks, according to findings published in the November 2014 issue of GSA Today. When ice age glaciers carved Yosemite’s distinctive features, flowing ice easily scooped out the shattered granite, leaving only intact rock behind, the researchers think. [Photos: The World’s Weirdest Geological Formations]”We’ve known for a long time that granite and glaciers played a fundamental role in the history of Tuolumne Meadows, but only recently have we recognized this relatively unique style of fracturing and how it influences the landscape in this popular location,” said lead study author Richard Becker, a doctoral student in geomorphology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW).Dramatic history The Sierra Nevada mountains are glued together by large masses of cooled magma called plutons. Each pluton was once a blob of rising molten rock that stalled underground and slowly crystallized miles from the surface.Several plutons form the stunning domes and steep walls of Yosemite National Park, each one overlapping the next, like a pile of sleeping puppies. One of the youngest, called the Cathedral Peak granodiorite, crosses through the Tuolumne Meadows region. (A granodiorite is a gray and white rock similar to granite.)The Cathedral Peak granodiorite was shattered and cracked about 85 million years ago, when new magma pushed upward into the cooling pluton, according to earlier research by Becker’s UW colleagues. Gas or fluids from the younger magma blasted open escape routes in the older granite.”These volatiles explosively fractured the rock,” Becker told Live Science.The peculiar cracks, called tabular fracture clusters (TFCs), are tightly spaced within Tuolumne Meadows and few and far between elsewhere. The clusters are zones of intensely fractured rock about 3 feet to 320 feet long (3 to 100 meters), with at least four cracks within a 4-inch (10 centimeters) span. The researchers say the valley’s vanished rock was likely pulverized, too. Clumps of clusters plunge toward the meadows on rocky slopes bordering the valley. „When we go to higher elevations, we see TFCs heading straight for the valley air, so we infer that the ghost rocks were filled with TFCs as well,” Becker said.Ice age story Glaciers plucked away the granodiorite that once covered Tuolumne Meadows between 30,000 to 10,000 years ago. Piles of river and glacial deposits now obscure the valley’s rocky floor. But the few granite outcrops that do bob above the sediment are „absolutely hammered” with tabular fracture clusters, Becker said.The position of the fractures was also essential in shaping Tuolumne Meadows, according to Becker’s new research.The Tuolumne Meadows cracks were oriented perpendicular to glaciers that flowed through the region, the study reports. The blemished bedrock was likely a chessboard of fractures, easily eroded compared to its more intact neighbors.North and south of the valley, where the fractures ran parallel to the ice flow, the glaciers chiseled away loose rock but left behind the solid rock in between, creating strong, finlike ridges such as Matthes Crest. These vertical walls are now popular with rock climbers.”All the great climbing in Tuolumne Meadows in the high country is linked to this situation,” Becker said. And to the east and west rise the sturdy lumps of Lembert Dome and Pothole Dome, both nearly untouched by tabular fracture clusters.While Becker and his colleagues say glaciers likely account for the flat valley, there are other candidates for shaping the landscape, such as the Tuolumne River. For instance, the fracture sets could have also speeded erosion by water, helping the current wash away unstable rock.Becker said the profound influence of fractures in Tuolumne Meadows make the features worth investigating elsewhere. „They could play an important role in carving granite landscapes,” he said. „I think we should be looking for these features elsewhere in the world.”Follow Becky Oskin @beckyoskin. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+.Originally published on Live Science.
1,700-Year-Old Silk Road Cemetery Contains Mythical Carvings By Owen Jarus10 hours agoA cemetery dating back around 1,700 years has been discovered in Kucha, a city in China. The city played …A cemetery dating back roughly 1,700 years has been discovered along part of the Silk Road, a series of ancient trade routes that once connected China to the Roman Empire.The cemetery was found in the city of Kucha, which is located in present-day northwest China. Ten tombs were excavated, seven of which turned out to be large brick structures.One tomb, dubbed „M3,” contained carvings of several mythical creatures, including four that represent different seasons and parts of the heavens: the White Tiger of the West, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East. [See photos of the ancient Silk Road cemetery]The M3 tomb also „consists of a burial mound, ramp, sealed gate, tomb entrance, screen walls, passage, burial chamber and side chamber” the researchers wrote in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.The cemetery was first found in July 2007 and was excavated by the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, with assistance from local authorities. The research team, led by Zhiyong Yu, director of the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute, published the findings in Chinese in the journal Wenwu. The article was recently translated into English and published in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.Who was buried here?The identity of the people buried in the cemetery is a mystery. The cemetery had been robbed in the past and no writing was found that indicates the names of those buried or their positions in life.The seven large brick tombs were likely constructed for people of wealth, the researchers said.But, when the skeletal remains were analyzed, the researchers found that the tombs had been reused multiple times. Some of the tombs contain more than 10 occupants, and the „repeated multiple burials warrant further study,” the researchers wrote.City on the Silk Road The excavators think the cemetery dates back around 1,700 years, to a time when Kucha was vital to controlling the Western Frontiers (Xiyu) of China. Since the Silk Road trade routes passed through the Western Frontiers, control of this key region was important to China’s rulers.”In ancient times, Kucha was called Qiuci in Chinese literature. It was a powerful city-state in the oasis of the Western Frontiers” the researchers wrote.For the dynasties that flourished in China around 1,700 years ago „the conquest and effective governance of Kucha would enable them to control all the oasis city-states in the Western Frontiers,” the researchers said.In fact, one ancient saying was, „if you have Kucha, only one percent of the states in the Western Frontiers remain unsubmissive.”Chinese Cultural Relics is a new journal that translates Chinese-language articles, originally published in the journal Wenwu, into English. The discovery of the 1,700-year-old cemetery was included in its inaugural issue.Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.
The Era Of The Flying Car Has Finally Arrived By Matthew DeBord14 hours agoPeter Thiel is wrong. His famous comment on the failed promise of the internet — „We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters” — is about to be upended as the first actual flying cars take to the roads and skies.Bloomberg reported on the progress of the biggest name in the flying car business, Terrafugia, which is nearing the culmination of a decade-long effort to build, drive, fly, market and, yes, sell flying cars to the dreamers who have always wanted one.OK, the Terrafugia Transition is more of a „roadable airplane” than a flying car. But as Terrafugia founder Carl Dietrich notes in the Bloomberg profile by Josh Dean, that’s a market that’s crying out to be served:Critics say flying cars are unlikely to be both great airplanes and great automobiles. But that misses the point, says Dietrich, who explains the Transition is intended to expand the definition of an airplane, solving a number of persistent problems in the process.The Transition is a versatile vehicle, as flying cars go. It runs on regular gas, can be parked in a regular garage, and provides the flexibility to fly when the weather is good and drive when it isn’t, as Dean points out.At about $280,o0o, it’s priced in the ballpark of some exotic supercars. So it could be a very cool toy, but there’s also a business case: If you need to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, the Transition unlocks America’s underutilized network of small, regional airfields.So Thiel is right: We have had to get by with 140 characters of innovation, up to this point.But the flying cars we always wanted are finally coming. And if Thiel wants to get a „light sport aircraft” license and is willing put down a $10,000 deposit, he can both have one — and fly it.
Palawan, The Most Beautiful Island In The World, Is Sheer Perfection The Huffington Post | By Carly Ledbetter Posted: Updated: It’s hard to believe the Philippines are an under-appreciated tropical travel destination, especially with their extraordinary hiking, diving, beaches and of course — islands that are THIS beautiful.And while we’d like to visit every single island in the Philippines, there’s one island in particular we’re zeroing in on — Palawan, a hidden piece of paradise that was recently named „The Top Island in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards.There, beautiful blue water mixes with emerald green, jungle-filled mountains that appear to rise up from the ocean, and small fishing villages dot the island. Together with its neighboring islands, it creates the Palawan province, aka paradise.
Described as „the last frontier,” Palawan has artifacts that date back 50,000 years. The island is accessible by either boat or airplane — it’s about an hour and a half by air from Manila– although you can also get there from Iloilo and Cebu. Many say the ideal time to head to Palawan is between about October and May, so we suggest booking tickets ASAP.
High points include island-hopping around the Bacuit archipelago for the cliffs, sinkholes and lagoons, venturing to Puerto Princesa for its culinary delights and staying in one of Coron’s „otherworldly” luxury hotels.
Incredible (and rare) wildlife can be found on the islands, from purple crabs and Philippine mouse-deer to Philippine pangolin and beautiful butterflies. Just be sure to avoid the creepy-looking Palawan bearcat at night.We suggest heading into the water and going below the surface. Palawan has some of the best spots to scuba dive in the world — barracuda-filled shipwrecks, for example, line the bottom of Coron Bay.
If diving sounds too scary, try a tour of Palawan’s subterranean river (which UNESCO calls „one of the most unique” in the world) or take a bangka boat to travel between the islands.Once you’re back on land, hop on a „tricycle,” one of the preferred methods of transportation on Palawan. We’re pretty sure that after all the biking, swimming and exploring you’ll do — you’ll never want to leave.ALSO ON THE HUFFINGTON POSTBoy In The Philippines Helps Stray DogsHAPPYANIMALSCLUB INC.