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30 July 2015

Lednik Midagrabin Retreat, Caucasus, Russia

Lednik Midagrabin is a large glacier draining northwest from Gora Dzhimara in North Ossetia, Russia.  Stokes et al (2006)  examined Caucasus glaciers during the 1985-2000 period and found that 94% of the glaciers have retreated, 4% exhibited no overall change and 2% advanced. The mean retreat rate is 8 m/year, with the largest glacier retreating the fastest. Shahgedanova et al (2009) observed that the retreat was driven by a large rise in summer …


29 July 2015

USGS- The Chesapeake Bay Region Is Sinking While The Sea Rises

Sea level is rising rapidly around the Chesapeake Bay. Faster actually, than nearly any other place on the East Coast of North America, and only a few spots along the Gulf Coast are recording a faster rate. The reason has been suspected for quite a while, but now a new study published in the journal of the Geological Society of America has confirmed the cause, and the news is not good. …


Sol 1059: Drill Testing and Analyzing "Ch-paa-qn"

Today the main event is a “mini-start hole”, which is the name for a new type of initial drilling test that we are trying out on the target “Buckskin”. This test will drill a small hole in the rock to help determine whether it is safe to go ahead with the full hole. In addition to that test, we are planning a detailed study of the target “Ch-paa-qn” which means …


Dusty comet releases mysterious clumps

Images of an unusually dusty comet have revealed strange streaming clumps that could hold the secrets to how comets create their beautiful, sweeping, striated tails.

Comet C/2011 L4 barged into the research of solar physicist Nour E. Raouafi when he was studying the sun using images from the SECCHI/HI-1 telescope aboard the solar-observing spacecraft STEREO-B.


Two wonderful new landslide videos, one from Taiwan and one from Japan

In the last 24 hours two tremendous new landslide videos have appeared online, one from Japan and one from Taiwan


28 July 2015

Sol 1057-1058: Getting Ready to Drill Buckskin

The “bump” over the weekend was successful, so we are right where we want to be to attempt drilling at “Buckskin” in the “Lion” area. I was on duty as ChemCam sPUL (science payload uplink lead) today, and it was a fun day to be on duty. Sometimes it can be stressful trying to make sure that all the settings are correct and that the instrument will be safe, but …


Auyuittuq National Park Ice Cap Downwasting, Baffin Island

Just south of the Penny Ice Cap on Baffin Island in Auyuittuq National Park there are a large number of small ice caps.  We focus on three of these ice caps east of Greenshield Lake.  The region has been experiencing rapid ice loss, with 50 % of the ice cap area lost in the last few decades (Miller et al, 2008).  Miller et al (2008) also observe that these are thin …


27 July 2015

Europe Doesn’t Just Have Better Roads, Faster Trains, and Nicer Airports. They Have Better Weather Satellites, and More Accurate Weather Models.

..and don’t get me started about roundabouts either, because that’s a whole other blog post! Seriously though, our once number one position in atmospheric science is long gone, and there are few signs of that changing. Yes, we will launch a weather satellite next year that will be as good or perhaps better than Europe’s Meteosat, but they have an even better one on the drawing board,while Japan has us …


What’s Funny About That? Quite a Bit Actually!

 What happens when you write a blog that is so full of misinformation, and incorrect assumptions, that someone starts a separate a blog to correct the mistakes? Well, for one thing you get some good laughs, and at times a real feeling of Schadenfreude!  I’m talking about the blog What’s up With That (WUWT) and Hot Whopper which corrects the bad science posted there on a daily basis. If you don’t …


26 July 2015

Sol 1055-1056: Closing in on High-Silica Targets

The main priority in today’s plan is to nudge the rover a bit closer to the target “Buckskin”, which is in the area where we have discovered rocks high in silica and hydrogen. But before we do that, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe the targets “Marent”, “Pilcher”, and “Twinkle”, all of which may also have high silica. Navcam will also search for dust devils and do some atmospheric monitoring. On …


24 July 2015

Scientists must woo the public to get past the awkward “blind date” stage

Steady eye contact. Open body language. Warm, conversational tones. These are phrases not used often enough to describe scientists. Alan Alda wants to change that. Alda, an award-winning actor best known for his portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce on the T.V. show “M.A.S.H.,” has always been attracted to science. On July 15 Alda spoke at The National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., about his experiences hosting the PBS “Scientific American Frontiers” T.V. series and his work with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.


23 July 2015

Domes galore: Obsidian Dome, Long Valley

For the final dome in our volcanology day back in my May Long Valley field trip, the W&M students and I took a short hike up to Obsidian Dome. The Obsidian, Glass Creek and Deadman Creek domes all erupted around 1350 CE, which makes them some of the youngest features in the Long Valley area. The three domes are aligned north-south and probably all erupted from the same dike, which …


Artesonraju Glacier, Peru Retreat & Lake Development

Artesonraju Glacier is a 3.3 km long glacier in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru drains west from Nevado Artesonraju. It is fed by steep heavily crevassed slopes. The glacier feeds both Lake Artesonraju, a new lake that formed after 1930 and Lago Paron. The two lakes are dammed by glacier moraines and together have posed a hazard of a glacier dammed lake outburst. In 1951 an outburst of water and alluvium …


Ambunti, Papua New Guinea: an interesting riverbank landslide

On Saturday a landslide developed on a riverbank in Ambunti, Papua New Guinea, displacing 16 families. Reports that this is a sinkhole are probably incorrect


22 July 2015

Sols 1051-1054: Approaching "Lion"

After driving just over 20 meters, the rover stopped 4.4 meters short of the Sol 1049 drive goal because the vehicle pitch exceeded the 15-degree limit set by the rover drivers.  So another 6.4-meter drive toward the bright outcrop of interest, dubbed “Lion,” was planned for Sol 1051.  That  drive completed successfully, providing a good view of the outcrop.  ChemCam and Mastcam observed the sand ripple “Agency” and bedrock target …


Be sure to #FindYourPark for the National Park Service Centennial

The National Park Service has kicked off a year-long celebration, building up to its 100th birthday in 2016. NPS is encouraging everyone to get out and #FindYourPark!


Warmer air, less sea ice lead to mercury decline in Arctic Ocean

The amount of mercury in the Arctic Ocean is declining as the region rapidly warms and loses sea ice, according to a new study.


21 July 2015

Study: Most rain comes from ice clouds

Benjamin Franklin was the first to surmise that, even on a hot summer’s day, the raindrops falling on our heads might begin life as ice particles at high altitudes. In the centuries since 1780 it became possible to probe the atmosphere directly by balloon and by aircraft, and remotely from the ground and from satellites. These observations confirmed Franklin’s suspicion. However, two questions remain: how large are the fractions of rain produced by liquid clouds and by ice clouds? And how variable are they over the globe and over time?


Sharing Science with the ten hundred most common English-language words

What if you were limited to using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language to explain your science? That’s what groups of scientists did this summer at several AGU Sharing Science communications skills-building workshops. This year, for the first time, AGU’s Sharing Science program is offering on-site workshops at universities and scientific institutions. During each of these workshops, we ask participants to break into small groups and use the 1,000 most common words in the English language to describe a scientific concept of their choosing. The exercise was inspired by an xkcd comic in which the artist, Randall Munroe, drew a diagram of the Saturn V rocket – the rocket that took astronauts to the moon – using only the “ten hundred” most common words in the English language.


Hindle Glacier, Accelerating Retreat, South Georgia

Landsat Image of Ross Hindle Glacier 1989 left and 2015 right.  Something changed. South Georgia sits amidst the furious if not screaming fifties latitude belt, the circum Antarctic westerlies. This region is famous for the endless march of storms parading around Antarctica. The island is south of the Antarctic Convergence, preventing any truly warm season from persisting. The cool maritime climate leads to numerous glaciers covering a majority of the …