Movie review: “Home”

October 17, 2009 at 1:50 am | Posted in Environment, Health, Movies, Problems, Wheater | Leave a comment
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“The average temperature of the last 15 years has been the highest since records began”

“The ice cap has lost 40% of its thickness in 40 years”

“There could be 200 million climate refuges by 2050”

“20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of the planet resources”

Should we be surprised by those sentences? Not really, actually… I think they have been outhere outside to be also inside, there in our mind. Even if we forget them the most of the time. But thanks to movies – better let’s say like this as the word “documentary” seems to scare people – like “Home”, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the evidence can no longer be hidden.

An aerial camera takes us to the most breathtaking places all over the world. In a combination of beauty and horror, we see everything, from the most amazing landscape to the most destructed one, cleverly remembering us that it is up to us to chose the one we would like to live in. Meanwhile, the movie explains to us, since the beginning of life in the Earth why we have arrived to the current situation.

The movie spends some time explaining the situation for the Arctic environment, some of the more affected by the global warming and, at the same time, one of the most important one for the Earth’s future. The ice on the poles, one of the most important reserves of water in the world, is now melting, and the consequences, such as increasing of the sea level or changing of the temperature of the air, are as dangerous as unpredictable in a long term time.

But after the dark side of the movie, it comes the light. As it says, “It’s too late to be a pessimistic, I know that a single human can knock down every wall”. All of us are a single human, and humanity is just all of us. So you and me have in (y)our hands the power to change our way to walk, the path we are tracing and the print we are leaving on the Earth, Home. The decision is up to us, so go and watch the movie, and if after doing that you think you agree with its ideas, move!

Get the movie and find more information in the Official Site.

Antarctic Images by Anthony Powell

July 14, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Posted in antarctica, Photography, Wheater | Leave a comment
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If you are reading this just right now, there is the chance that you have asked yourself, at some point, how would it be leaving in the North or South Pole. Since my friends know that, today Xarxes sent me this very cool site created and mantained by Anthony Powell. Anthony has been working as seasonal contract worker since 1998 as a Satellite Communications Tech. Just for personal pleasure, h’es been doing photography and time-lapse photography, figuring out systems that work in the extreme cold that will last over long periods of time. And this personal effort received finally recognition since he received the NSF Artists and Writers Grant to work on time-lapse footage full time.

Next year a comprehensive film of a time-lapse “Year on Ice”, edited thanks to this grant, will be released. You can start taking a look at this project through his site Antarctic Images, where you can find images or videos like this one, not to miss!

The photo gallery with pictures from the Northern Lights kept me speechless for a while. The world must beat differently there. And if you are half as curious as I am, I’ll be probably interested on his Youtube Channel or his blog Frozen South.  Thanks to Internet, no limits to satisfy your curiosity on what’s up in Antarctica 😉

UNESCO Conference: Confronting Climate Change in the Arctic

March 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Posted in arctic, Environment, North Pole, Problems, Wheater | Leave a comment

Recently, a conference about climate change in the Artic was held in Monaco, organized by Unesco. Here you can see the press new:

Confronting Climate Change in the Arctic

The Principality of Monaco hosted and supported a four-day meeting in early March, which was organized by UNESCO to address the concerns of the Arctic community and identify strategies for the sustainable development of the region. Experts in the social and natural sciences, ethics, education, and international affairs sought the local expertise of indigenous peoples in drafting a set of recommendations for follow-up action. The discussions engendered an integrated approach toward facing challenges in the Arctic.

“For the first time as an Alaskan Inuit I feel great hope because my words were taken seriously and weight was put on them,” said Mayor Edward Itta of the North Slope Borough in Alaska and president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). Instead of telling Itta how the Inuit population will need to change their way of life to adapt to the changes occurring around them, as he said was typical of other meetings he had attended over the past 15 years, the experts at this meeting made a pointed effort to draw on indigenous expertise and acknowledge the value of maintaining traditional cultures. “This is the first time in many, many meetings similar to this that I actually felt useful to my people,” Itta said.

The 42 participants of the meeting concluded that a key challenge to achieving sustainable development in the Arctic will be in coordinating the interdisciplinary and international effort necessary to confront the changes that an ice-free “blue” Arctic Ocean will bring to the northern ecosystem, the culture and livelihoods of indigenous peoples, and economic activities in general.

“The Arctic and its population engaged in traditional activities should not be viewed as a system of early warning but as a system of early rescue,” added Larissa Abryutina, vice-president of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON). There are 200,000 indigenous people living in Russia—80,000 of whom are living in the Arctic, she explained.

The group concluded that the challenges of maintaining and enhancing the prosperity and cultural well-being of the people of the Arctic are often complicated by drivers of change which have non-Arctic origins. In addition, scientific, developmental, and conservation efforts are often driven by interests outside the Arctic.

“Nonetheless,” the group reported, “Arctic governments and Arctic residents welcome the growing global interest in this important region. Efforts to advance Arctic knowledge through scientific, traditional, and local means will be critically important to formulating responses to major challenges such as climate change. As work advances on all fronts, it will be important to acknowledge the people of the Arctic and their institutions as actors with valid interests and not simply treat the Arctic as a project to be acted upon.”

“Action formulated to address Arctic issues must begin from an understanding that many of the peoples of the Arctic have self-governing institutions. These peoples and their institutions have immense creativity and seek to advance the self-determination, prosperity and aspirations of their communities and their regions,” they added.

[…]

The recommendations include establishing “a working/advisory group to develop dialogue and strategy on the challenges of climate change for circumpolar indigenous peoples, including safeguarding intangible heritage and building synergies between indigenous and scientific knowledge.” Other objectives range from promoting employment opportunities through the conservation of traditional forms of activities for circumpolar indigenous peoples, to improving the access researchers have to exclusive economic zones in the Arctic.

The recommendations were the result of a consensus among the participants. Included at the meeting were indigenous peoples working with the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), and the Saami Parliament. Also attending were representatives of the Arctic Council, UNEP and UNESCO.

With participation not only from all Arctic States (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) but also elsewhere in Europe, and from as far away as New Zealand, South Africa, and Japan—the meeting provided testimony that what happens in the Arctic is of interest on a global scale.

[…]

You can read the whole article here.

The bad part about this is that politicians maybe listened to indigenous people, but they are not gonna change anything. Time will tell…

No two Christmas cards are alike

December 25, 2008 at 1:07 am | Posted in Chatting, Wheater | 1 Comment
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After a very unpolite break, I am happy to announce that “Melting the ice” is back. And I’m not goinna start posting without wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I chose this image as a Christmas card because, despite is not stylish, since I was a child I found it quite amazing how snowflakes can really look like that. I mean, this is the coolest design ever, isn’t it? And a but of scientific chatting before going to complete the daily knowledgement dose:

Ice crystals formed in the appropriate conditions can often be thin and flat. These planar crystals may be simple hexagons, or if the supersaturation is high enough, develop branches and dendritic (fern-like) features and have six approximately identical arms, as per the iconic ‘snowflake’ popularised by Wilson Bentley. The 6-fold symmetry arises from the hexagonal crystal structure of ordinary ice, the branch formation is produced by unstable growth, with deposition occurring preferentially near the tips of branches.

The shape of the snowflake is determined broadly by the temperature, and humidity at which it forms. Rarely, at a temperature of around −2 °C (28 °F), snowflakes can form in threefold symmetry — triangular snowflakes. The most common snow particles are visibly irregular, although near-perfect snowflakes may be more common in pictures because they are more visually appealing.

Planar crystals (thin and flat) grow in air between 0 °C (32 °F) and −3 °C (27 °F). Between −3 °C (27 °F) and −8 °C (18 °F), the crystals will form needles or hollow columns or prisms (long thin pencil-like shapes). From −8 °C (18 °F) to −22 °C (−8 °F) the habit goes back to plate like, often with branched or dendritic features. Note that the maximum difference in vapour pressure between liquid and ice is at approx. −15 °C (5 °F) where crystals grow most rapidly at the expense of the liquid droplets. At temperatures below −22 °C (−8 °F), the crystal habit again becomes column-like again, although many more complex habits also form such as side-planes, bullet-rosettes and also planar types depending on the conditions and ice nuclei.

Interestingly, if a crystal has started forming in a column growth regime, say at around −5 °C (23 °F), and then falls into the warmer plate-like regime, plate or dendritic crystals sprout at the end of the column producing so called ‘capped columns’.

There is a widely held belief that no two snowflakes are alike. Strictly speaking, it is extremely unlikely for any two macroscopic objects in the universe to contain an identical molecular structure; but there are, nonetheless, no known scientific laws that prevent it. In a more pragmatic sense, it’s more likely—albeit not much more—that two snowflakes are virtually identical if their environments were similar enough, either because they grew very near one another, or simply by chance.

See you soon, and thanks for waiting.

The NASA Climate Time Machine

September 8, 2008 at 8:39 am | Posted in Wheater | Leave a comment
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Thanks to a friend I received this website, with a name as cool as its desing: the Clime Time Machine. In this site, created by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, you can track the changes in our planet through the decades, in four different aspects:

Clime Time Machine

Ice melting:this visualization shows the annual Arctic sea ice minimum from 1979 to 2007. At the end of each summer, the sea ice cover reaches its minimum extent, leaving what is called the perennial ice cover. The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio).

Sea level
: recent satellite observations have dete

cted a thinning of parts of the Greenland ice sheet at lower elevations. A partial melting of this ice sheet would cause a 1-meter (3-foot) rise. If melted completely, the Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea level by 5-7 meters (16-23 feet). This visualization shows the effect on coastal regions for each meter of sea level rise, up to 6 meters (19.7 feet). Land that would be covered in water is shaded red.

Carbone dioxide emissions: this visualization shows the amount of annual carbon dioxide emissions produced by the top 12 nations or regions from 1980-2004. Units are given in thousand metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel consumption.

Average Glogal Temperature:This color-coded map shows a progression of changing global surface temperatures from 1885 to 2007. Dark blue indicates areas cooler than average. Dark red indicates areas warmer than average.

You have to drag the handle over the years to see the which is quite alarming. Of this four point, specially two are affecting polar regions: the ice melting and the rising of temperature. But, of course, everything is linked. Global warming seems to be finally on the agenda of politicians – or at least they are pretending to – but there is still much more to do. How you or your country is reacting to global warming and its side effects?

How catching cold mountain air could save Europe’s glaciers

August 20, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Posted in Wheater | 1 Comment
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Another frozen new from The Independent. It is not strictly related with the topics of the blog, but it is quite interesting anyway. And is related with the global warming issue, which truly affects indigenous arctic peoples… and non-arctic!

How catching cold mountain air could save Europe’s glaciers

By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A German geography professor has developed a controversial system of mountain “wind-catching” screens which he claims could slow or even halt the dramatic rate at which Europe’s glaciers are melting.

Glaciers across the globe are shrinking fast as a consequence of global warming. In Europe alone, some researchers have predicted that all its glaciers will have vanished by 2100.

However, Professor Hans-Joachim Fuchs from Germany’s Mainz University claims to have found at least a partial answer to the problem. His technique involves capturing the power of cold mountain – so-called kabatic – air streams with wind-catching screens installed on melting glaciers.

The screens are designed to harness the dense kabatic air streams which flow downhill and deflect them directly on to the surface of the glaciers, thereby cooling them enough, it is hoped, to counteract the effects of global warming.

In early August, Professor Fuchs and a team of 27 student researchers from Mainz university travelled to the Rhône glacier in Switzerland. There they installed a 15 metre-long, 10 metre-high wind catching screen at an altitude of 2,280 metres on the glacier in the country’s Valais region.

Monitoring has shown that the Rhône glacier is shrinking seven metres a year. However, Professor Fuchs insists that his wind- catcher will help to combat this. “We hope that our installations will bring about a net cooling of the area,” he said in a statement. “If the meltdown is not stopped, we hope that it will at least be slowed down,” he added.

[Read more…]

Following Aftenposten

August 4, 2008 at 2:53 pm | Posted in News, Scandinavia, Wheater | Leave a comment
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The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten publishes regularly an English version, that now it is easily accessible thanks to the RSS feeder. They publish Arctic news like this one, coming straight from Svalbard:

Solar eclipse seen by thousands

Norway has experienced its first solar eclipse since 1954. Spectators gathered round a big screen in Oslo to see pictures relayed from a surveillance plane in the Arctic.

The sun was totally eclipsed when the moon passed in front of it on Friday.


PHOTO: STIG FOSS / LUFTFORSVARET

In Oslo approximately half the sun’s disk was covered by the moon. Further north, increasing parts of the sun were obscured. At Longyearbyen on Svalbard, 93 percent was covered by the moon. Kvitøya, an island North-East of the Svalbard archipelago, experienced a total eclipse for one and a half minutes.

Thousands gathered in Oslo’s Frogner Park to see live television coverage from the Arctic, and to see the local partial eclipse through safety glasses.

I will keep an eye on them, let’s say what they say about Nordic people!

Sundog Light Phenomenon in Manitoba

July 21, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Posted in Photography, Wheater | 1 Comment
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I just received this at my inbox from National Geographic:


Photo shot on assignment for, but not published in, “Refuge in White: Winter in a Canadian National Park,” December 2005, National Geographic magazine

A solar phenomenon known as a sundog arcs over the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Sundogs are fairly common occurrences in the Arctic and Antarctic. They form when the sun is near the horizon and ice crystals high in the sky line up in a way that bends the solar rays like a prism.

This is amazing, isn’t it? So I continued searching:

A sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion, plural parhelia, for “beside the sun”) is a common bright circular spot on a solar halo. It is an atmospheric optical phenomenon primarily associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Often, two sun dogs can be seen (one on each side of the sun) simultaneously.

Sundogs typically, but not exclusively, appear when the sun is low, e.g. at sunrise and sunset, and the atmosphere is filled with ice crystal forming cirrus clouds, but diamond dust and ice fog can also produce them. They are often bright white patches of light looking much like the sun or a comet, and occasionally are confused with those phenomena. Sometimes they exhibit a spectrum of colours, ranging from red closest to the sun to a pale bluish tail stretching away from the sun. White sundogs are caused by light reflected off of atmospheric ice crystals, while colored sundogs are caused by light refracted through them. White sundogs are also thought to be caused by the light from the sun reflecting off of water on the ground and focusing the reflected light on the clouds above.

More info on the Wikipedia.

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