Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean:Tropical Cyclone Caleb forms in the South Indian Ocean. The system is in the Coral Sea, about 850 kilometres east of Lockhart River in Cape York, and is moving southeast at 11mph. It is uncertain where or whether the system will make landfall.

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Global Warming

End in Sight for an Ice Age Remnant

For eons, the Laurentide Ice Sheet has been a fixture of North America. At its peak, it covered the majority of Canada and sent icy tendrils down across the Midwest and Northeast, covering Chicago, New York and Toronto in a mile or more of ice. It helped carved mountains as it advanced, and it filled the Great Lakes as it receded at the end of the last Ice Age.

About 2,000 years ago, the ice sheet remnants reached equilibrium on Baffin Island, Canada’s largest island, now dubbed the Barnes Ice Cap. But that equilibrium has been disrupted by human-driven climate change.

A new study shows that the last vestige of the once-mighty ice sheet faces near certain death, even if the world rapidly curtails its carbon pollution. The results indicate the Arctic has entered a state nearly unheard of since the Pliocene, an epoch when the Arctic was largely free of ice.

The Barnes Ice Cap covers an area about the size of Delaware. After reaching a near steady state 2,000 years ago, the ice cap began shrinking in the late 1800s, with a marked increase in its decline since the 1990s. That coincides with the rapid rise in human carbon pollution, which has also driven a roughly 1.8°F increase in the global average temperature over that period.

But researchers can look back much deeper into the ice cap’s history using other clues. The new research, published on Monday in Geophysical Research Letters, looked at an array of amazingly named cosmogenic radionuclides in bedrock around the ice cap to tease out when the ground was free of ice.

Cosmogenic radionuclides are isotopes that form when exposed to cosmic rays. That can only happen when the ground isn’t covered by ice, giving researchers a way to see how rare the current shrinking ice cap is.

Their findings show that there were two periods where ice extent was roughly as tiny as it is now. Both periods came hundreds of thousands of years ago and were due to natural changes in the earth’s tilt and orbit that helped warm the planet.

Today’s rapid change is different because human carbon pollution is the main driver of the unrelenting warmth in the region, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. The findings indicate that the Arctic likely hasn’t been this warm in 2.6 million years.

Looking into the future using climate models, sustained warming almost certainly spells doom for the ice sheet. On our current trajectory of carbon pollution, the research indicates that the ice cap is likely to disappear in the next 300 years. That’s a geological blink of an eye for an icy legacy that stretched across millions of years.

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Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 15 March-21 March 2017

Bezymianny | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that lava continued to advance down Bezymianny’s NW flank during 10-17 March, and gas-and-steam plumes rose from the crater. A thermal anomaly was visible each day in satellite images. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Chirinkotan | Kuril Islands (Russia) : Based on satellite images, SVERT reported that on 21 March an ash plume from Chirinkotan rose to an altitude of 6 km (20,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 15 km E. The Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow (the second lowest on a four-colour scale).

Etna | Sicily (Italy) : INGV reported that during the morning of 15 March lava began to flow down the S flank of Etna’s Southeast Crater (SEC) – New Southeast Crater (NSEC) cone complex. Activity rapidly intensified at 0800, and by 1000 near-constant Strombolian explosions were generating ash plumes. The lava flow reached the base of the cone and traveled S. By late afternoon the lava was advancing on top of lava flows from the previous eruption. The intensity of the Strombolian activity reached a peak around 1840-1845, and by the evening both the eruptive activity and seismicity gradually diminished. Just before midnight a new lava flow began to effuse from a vent on the S flank of the cone. On 16 March at 1243 a phreato-magmatic explosion occurred at the front of a lava flow where it contacted an area covered with snow. An INGV-Osservatorio Etneo volcanologist was injured in the explosion, suffering minor bruises. A news article noted that about 10 people were injured during the event.

Manam | Papua New Guinea : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 21 March weak ash emissions from Manam rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and E.

Nevados de Chillan | Chile : Based on satellite and webcam views, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 15-17 March gas-and-ash plumes from Nevados de Chillán rose to altitudes of 4-5.5 km (13,000-18,000 ft) a.s.l. and sometimes drifted NE and SW.