Melting ice is fuelling sea-level rise around the coast of Antarctica, a new report in Nature Geoscience finds.
Near-shore waters went up by about 2mm per year more than the general trend for the Southern Ocean as a whole in the period between 1992 and 2011.
Scientists say the melting of glaciers and the thinning of ice shelves are dumping 350 billion tonnes of additional water into the sea annually.
This influx is warming and freshening the ocean, pushing up its surface.
“Freshwater is less dense than salt water and so in regions where an excess of freshwater has accumulated we expect a localised rise in sea level,” explained Dr Craig Rye from the University of Southampton, UK, and lead author on the new journal paper.
So this happened in mid August, and it’s an important step to get beyond ignorant catcalls of “Death Panels” to the important and meaty philosophical, metaphysical, and ethical implications that modern science is bringing to us, like it or not.
At Wednesday’s public meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission), Amy Gutmann, Ph.D., Commission Chair, announced that the Commission’s next topic would integrate education and deliberation.
“I am pleased to announce that we will begin work on a new project in the coming months: a report that will integrate two overarching themes of our work - education and deliberation. We will focus on their symbiotic relationship as twin pillars of public bioethics. Education is required for informed deliberation, and deliberation enhances education at all levels,” Gutmann said. “We are well positioned to make an important contribution in this area, and I look forward to working with all of you on it.”
The Bioethics Commission has noted the need for bioethics education improvement in many of its reports. A formal report with recommendations, plus continuing to develop easily accessible and free materials based on the Commission’s own analysis are efforts to help meet that need. The Commission believes that given the multidisciplinary nature of science and research, bioethics education should be available to a wide variety of disciplines at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.
It has been almost a year since the Bioethics Commission introduced its first educational modules based on contemporary issues addressed by the Commission. Since it posted that first round Commission staff has produced more than 15 modules and primers based on five Commission reports.
The materials are free for use by educators and professionals in traditional and non-traditional settings across a variety of fields. Additional modules in the Bioethics Commission’s pipeline will add to the growing body of pedagogical materials the Bioethics Commission has developed to support bioethics education. New modules will explore topics such as vulnerable populations, compensation for research-related injury, privacy, and research design in light of contemporary biomedical and scientific challenges. Like previous modules, future materials will facilitate teaching and discussion.
Vulnerable populations in human subjects research will be addressed by drawing from Bioethics Commission reports “Ethically Impossible” STD Research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 and Safeguarding Children: Pediatric Medical Countermeasure Research. “Ethically Impossible” examined the ethical violations that occurred during research on sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala in the 1940s. In Safeguarding Children, the Commission advised the U.S. government on the ethical considerations involved in evaluating and conducting pediatric research on medical countermeasures responding to a bioterrorism attack.
In addition, compensation for participants who are injured as a result of their taking part in research will be highlighted in a second set of modules using Safeguarding Children and the report Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research. In Safeguarding Children, the Commission considered the importance of compensation in the context of pediatric medical countermeasure research. In Moral Science, the Bioethics Commission assessed contemporary standards that protect participants in human subjects research, including those concerning treatment and compensation for research-related injury.
Community engagement rounds out the set of new modules and is based on New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technology. Before releasing New Directions, the Commission engaged with a wide variety of stakeholders to identify the appropriate ethical boundaries within the field of synthetic biology to maximize public benefits while minimizing harm. This module will add to an existing set of resources on community engagement from Moral Science and the report Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing. Additional module sets on privacy and research design are also planned to accompany the Commission’s reports Privacy and Progress and Safeguarding Children.
All of the educational materials released by the Bioethics Commission are versatile and can be used in many ways to integrate bioethics into course curricula, discussions, and professional development activities. This versatility underscores the Commission’s commitment to advancing bioethics education across the academic curriculum. Each module includes background information, learning objectives, discussion questions, suggested additional readings, and practice exercises to support instructors as they develop their presentations. For examples about how one module might be used to reach different class audiences, check out our webinar: “Multidisciplinary Implementation of Bioethics Commission Education Materials.”
More: Commission to Formally Take up Issue of Bioethics Education: Builds Growing Body of Educational Materials » blog.Bioethics.gov - The blog of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
An increasing frequency of computer resets on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has prompted the rover team to make plans to reformat the rover’s flash memory.
The resets, including a dozen this month, interfere with the rover’s planned science activities, even though recovery from each incident is completed within a day or two.
Flash memory retains data even when power is off. It is the type used for storing photos and songs on smart phones or digital cameras, among many other uses. Individual cells within a flash memory sector can wear out from repeated use. Reformatting clears the memory while identifying bad cells and flagging them to be avoided.
“Worn-out cells in the flash memory are the leading suspect in causing these resets,” said John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, project manager for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project. “The flash reformatting is a low-risk process, as critical sequences and flight software are stored elsewhere in other non-volatile memory on the rover.”
The project landed twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in early 2004 to begin missions planned to last only three months. Spirit worked for six years, and Opportunity is still active. Findings about ancient wet environments on Mars have come from both rovers.
The project reformatted the flash memory on Spirit five years ago to stop a series of amnesia events Spirit had been experiencing. The reformatting planned for early next month will be the first for Opportunity. Even after the rover has been active for more than a decade and is currently about 125 million miles (about 200 million kilometers) from JPL, the rover team can still perform this type of upkeep.
Is fracking for natural gas good for the planet?
To understand the pitched fight over this question, you first need to realize that for many years, we’ve been burning huge volumes of coal to get electricity—and coal produces a ton of carbon dioxide, the chief gas behind global warming. Natural gas, by contrast, produces half as much carbon dioxide when it burns, and thus, the fracking boom has been credited with a decline in US greenhouse gas emissions. So far so good, right?
Umm, maybe. Recently on our Inquiring Minds podcast, we heard from Anthony Ingraffea, a professor of engineering at Cornell University, who contends that it just isn’t that simple. Methane (the main component of natural gas) is also a hard-hitting greenhouse gas, if it somehow finds its way into the atmosphere. And Ingraffea argued that because of high leakage rates of methane from shale gas development, that’s exactly what’s happening. The trouble is that methane has a much greater “global warming potential” than carbon dioxide, meaning that it has a greater “radiative forcing” effect on the climate over a given time period (and especially over shorter time periods). In other words, according to Ingraffea, the CO2 savings from burning natural gas instead of coal is being canceled out by all the methane that leaks into the atmosphere when we’re extracting and transporting that gas. (Escaped methane from natural gas drilling complements other preexisting sources, such as the belching of cows.)
“Methane mitigation is like trying to stockpile bananas to eat during retirement,” says University of Chicago geoscientist Raymond Pierrehumbert.
But not every scientist agrees with Ingraffea’s methane-centered argument. In particular, Raymond Pierrehumbert, a geoscientist at the University of Chicago, has prominently argued that carbon dioxide “is in a class by itself” among greenhouse warming pollutants, because unlike methane, its impacts occur over such a dramatic timescale that they are “essentially irreversible.” That’s because of carbon dioxide’s incredibly long-term effect on the climate: Given a large pulse of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, much of it will still be there 10,000 years later. By contrast, even though methane is much more potent than carbon dioxide over a short timeframe, its atmospheric lifetime is only about 12 years.
The new research has stated that the Paleo-Eskimos community was the first community to settle in the New World Arctic. According to the research, the group has not left any biological descendants in the New World or anywhere in America.
The newest study also shows that the Dorset people, earliest inhabitants of the North American Arctic, had lived alone for about 4,000 years. According to the research, the people of the community had lived in isolation because they refused to adapt to new ideas.
Researchers have analyzed the remains of 169 ancient people from Canada, Arctic Siberia, Greenland and Alaska. They have taken samples of teeth, bone and hair. They have also sequenced the complete genomes of seven modern-day Eskimos.
Eske Willerslev, professor at the University of Copenhagen, said, “Our genetic studies show that, in reality, the Paleo-Eskimos-representing one single group-were the first people in the Arctic, and they survived outside contact for over 4,000 years”.
George Dvorsky at Io9 has some really bad news for us. If only all those people out there denying that our actions are effecting the climate, had stopped and actually helped us solve the problem instead. Maybe than we wouldn’t be facing this terrifying prospect in the future.
During the 1930s, America’s High Plains were ravaged by an 8-year long drought, resulting in the dreaded Dust Bowl. Scientists now warn that, owing to global warming, this could happen again — and that by next century many parts of the world could experience “megadroughts” lasting for several decades.
The new study, which was conducted by Cornell University, the University of Arizona, and U.S. Geological Survey researchers, used climate model simulations and paleoclimate data to predict that the chances of the southwestern United States experiencing a decade-long drought is at least 50%. The analysis suggests that the risk is at least 80%, and possibly as high as 90%, in certain areas.
Astronomers have shown that dead stars known as white dwarfs can re-ignite and explode as supernovas.
The discovery appears to solve a mystery surrounding the nature of a particular category of stellar explosions known as Type Ia supernovas.
Theorists suspected that white dwarfs could explode due to a disruptive interaction with a companion star, but lacked definitive evidence until now.
Details of the research appear in the journal Nature.
The “smoking gun” in this case was the detection of radioactive nuclei being generated by nuclear fusion in the cosmic blast.
The Icelandic Met Office has raised its aviation warning level near the Bardarbunga volcano to red after an eruption began overnight.
Scientists said a fissure eruption 1km (0.6 miles) long started in a lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier.
Civil protection officials said Icelandic Air Traffic Control had closed the airspace above the eruption up to a height of 5,000ft (1,500m).
The volcano has been hit by several recent tremors.
Here are a couple of really good youtube science channels that I just found out about. They both were created by Henry Reich. He’s the sole creator of MinutePhysics and a co creator of MinuteEarth. They have a similar style, but deal with different subject matter.
With all the stupidity on Youtube, and the internet in general, its nice to know there are a few genuinely educational channels out there. This is made even more so, given the fact that most of what passes for “educational TV” nowadays is a joke. Television networks like the Discovery Channel often seem to care more about money than facts, and have even lied to scientists, to get them to appear on their dumb shows.
Both these youtube channels on the other hand, appear to be totally legit. They’re also family friendly, which is another positive thing about them. Both channels are great, especially if you have children who or interested in science, or if are a mom or dad who wants to spark your kid’s interest. The videos are also incredibly cute, and many of the videos include some nice humor if you watch the cartoon while listening.
First lets check out MinutePhysics
Here are just three videos he posted on that channel.
Why is the Solar System Flat?
Why are Stars Star-Shaped?
How to Find an Exoplanet
Now Lets checkout, MinuteEarth
Why is it Hot Underground?
The Secret Social Life of Plants
How to Build a Better City