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Earth's Tilt May Exacerbate a Melting Antarctic

Earth's Tilt May Exacerbate a Melting AntarcticAs levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide rise and warm the globe, Antarctica's ice will become more vulnerable to cycles on an astronomical scale, particularly the tilt of our planet is as it spins around its axis. New research finds that over 30 million years of history, Antarctica's ice sheets responded most strongly to the angle of Earth's tilt on its axis when the ice extends into the oceans, interacting with currents that can bring warm water lapping at their margins and leading to increased melting. The effect of the tilt peaked when carbon dioxide levels were similar to what scientists predict for the next century, if humans don't get emissions under control. [Collapsing Beauty: Image of Antarctica's Larsen Ice Shelf] As carbon dioxide levels push past 400 parts per million, the climate will become more sensitive to the Earth's tilt, or obliquity, researchers reported Jan. 14 in the journal Nature Geoscience. "Really critical is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," said study co-author Stephen Meyers, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A scenario of high carbon dioxide and high tilt angle could be particularly devastating to the the miles-thick ice covering Antarctica. ## Reconstructing the past Over about 40,000 years, the Earth's axis tilts back and forth "like a rocking chair," Meyers said. Currently this obliquity is about 23.4 degrees, but it can be as little as 22.1 degrees or as much as 24.5 degrees. The tilt matters for when and where sunlight hits the globe, and can thus influence climate. To reconstruct a history of how Antarctica's ice has responded to this tilt, Meyers and his co-authors used a few sources of information on the Earth's climate past. One source was calcium carbonate from the ocean bottom, left behind by single-celled organisms called benthic foraminifera. These organisms excrete a calcium carbonate shell around themselves, locking in a global, continuous record of the chemistry of the oceans and atmosphere. Sediment records from right around Antarctica provided another source of climate history -- a specialty of study co-author and paleoclimatologist Richard Levy of GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. These sediments, drilled from the ocean bottom in long, columnar cores, also hold a record of the past. A glacier, for example, dumps a distinctive mixture of mud, sand and gravel where it sits. These cores provide a very detailed picture of where the ice sheets once were, Meyers said, but there are gaps in the record. ## Ice cycles With data from both sources, the researchers pieced together a history of Antarctica from 34 million to 5 million years ago. The first large ice sheets on Antarctica formed 34 million years ago, Levy said, and year-round sea ice became the norm only 3 million years ago, when carbon dioxide levels fell below 400 parts per million. From about 34 million years ago to about 25 million years ago, carbon dioxide was very high (600 to 800 ppm) and most of Antarctica's ice was land-based, not in contact with the sea. The continent's ice advance and retreat were relatively insensitive to the planet's tilt at this time, the researchers found. Between about 24.5 million and about 14 million years ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide dropped to between 400 and 600 ppm. Ice sheets advanced more often into the sea, but there wasn't very much floating sea ice. At this time, the planet became quite sensitive to the tilt of Earth's axis. [Images of Melt: Earth's Vanishing Ice] Between 13 million and 5 million years ago, carbon dioxide levels dropped again, going as low as 200 ppm. Floating sea ice became more prominent, forming a crust over open ocean in the winter and thinning only in the summer. Sensitivity to the Earth's tilt declined. About 15 million years ago, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels ranged from 400 to 600 ppms, Antarctica lacked sea ice (left). Today, the continent is surrounded by sea ice (right), which is threatened by climate change. Richard Levy It's not entirely clear why this change in sensitivity to obliquity occurs, Levy told Live Science, but the reason seems to involve the contact between the ice and the ocean. At times of high tilt, the polar regions warm and the temperature differences between the equator and the poles become less extreme. This, in turn, alters wind and current patterns -- which are largely driven by this temperature difference -- ultimately increasing the flow of warm ocean water to Antarctica's edge. When ice is mostly land-based, this flow doesn't touch the ice. But when the ice sheets are grounded against ocean bottom, in contact with the currents, the flow of warm water matters a lot. Floating sea ice appears to block some of the flow, decreasing the ice sheet's tendency to melt. But when carbon dioxide levels are high enough that floating sea ice melts, there's nothing stopping those warm currents. That's when Earth's tilt seems to matter the most, as occurred between 24.5 million and 14 million years ago. This history spells trouble for Antarctica's future. In 2016, the level of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere leapt past 400 ppm, permanently. The last time in Earth's geologic history that carbon dioxide was this high, there was no year-round sea ice in Antarctica, Levy said. If emissions continue as they are, the sea ice will falter, Levy said, "and we will jump back to a world that hasn't existed for millions of years." "Antarctica's vulnerable marine-based ice sheets will feel the effect of our current relatively high tilt, and ocean warming at Antarctica's margins will be amplified," he said. On Monday (Jan. 14), another group of researchers reported that the rate of Antarctic melt is already six times faster than it was just a few decades ago. The researchers found that the continent lost about 40 gigatons of ice per year between 1979 and 1990. Between 2009 and 2017, it lost 252 gigatons of ice per year, on average. The researchers are now looking into the small variations in sensitivity to Earth's tilt that occur across the three broad patterns that they found, but the main message is already clear, Levy said. "Antarctic sea ice is clearly important," he said. "We need to push on and figure out ways to meet emissions targets." Originally published on Live Science. ### Editor's Recommendations * Icy Images: Antarctica Will Amaze You in Incredible Aerial Views * Collapsing Beauty: Image of Antarctica's Larsen Ice Shelf * Images: Antarctic Odyssey - The Majestic Transantarctic Mountains

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 08:48:08 -0500
Don't Miss the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse Tonight! It's the Last Until 2021.

Don't Miss the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse Tonight! It's the Last Until 2021.The moon will pass through Earth's shadow tonight in the only total lunar eclipse of 2019 and you won't want to miss it! If you do, you'll have to wait two years for the next one. And if you're in North America, you'd have to wait even longer, until 2022! Skywatchers in North America will get a celestial treat late Sunday (Jan. 20) and early Monday (Jan. 21), when the moon goes into eclipse and turns blood red. While the weather will be very cold for many in North America, astronomers say to bundle up and check out the sight now. That's because the next total eclipse won't happen until 2021, and North Americans will have to wait until 2022 for a blood moon to be visible from their location. Tonight's total lunar eclipse is occurring while the moon is near it's closest point to Earth for the month, which some call a "supermoon." Since January's full moon is also known as the Wolf Moon, that's led some to christen tonight's lunar event a Super Blood Wolf Moon. The partial stage of the lunar eclipse begins at 10:34 p.m. EST Sunday night (0334 GMT Monday morning) with the total eclipse beginning at 11:41 p.m. EST (0441 GMT Monday morning). Totality lasts for about an hour, and then the moon will exit the partial eclipse phase at 1:51 a.m. EST Monday morning (0651 GMT). Webcasts are available at Slooh.com, timeanddate.com and several other sites, as well as at Space.com, courtesy of Slooh. [Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse of 2019: Complete Guide] The major stages of the total lunar eclipse of Jan. 20-21, 2019 are shown in this Sky & Telescope graphic. Times are listed in EST. Sky & Telescope Lunar eclipses happen when the moon passes into the Earth's shadow. During a total eclipse, the moon passes so deep into the shadow that any light reaching its surface only comes from the edge of Earth, where sunrises and sunsets are taking place. That light falls on to the moon and turns it red, or sometimes appearing as a more ruddy brown depending on how dusty your local atmosphere is (among other factors). Because of the geometry of Earth, sun and moon, sometimes there are periods during which no lunar eclipses happen for a long time. This situation happens every 19 years, David Dundee, an astronomer at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Ga., told Space.com. "There are actually more than one set of patterns all running concurrently," he wrote in an email. "[It all] has to do with how the orbit of the moon oscillates north and south. When the orbit passes through the plane of the Earth's orbit, this is a 'node'; this is when an eclipse can happen if the moon phase is correct." So in other words, the moon won't experience a total eclipse for a while because the orbital nodes of the moon aren't happening at the right time for the full moon to pass through the Earth's shadow. This Sky & Telescope map shows the visibility region for the total lunar eclipse of Jan. 20-21, 2019. Sky & Telescope; source: Fred Espenak The sun also goes through a cycle of lulls for solar eclipses, which occur when the moon passes in front of the sun. However, solar eclipses are much more complicated -- and not only because they require special protection for your eyes. While skywatchers coast to coast in the United States got the chance to see a solar eclipse in 2017, the shadow of the moon is so small that it a total lunar eclipse passes over a band that only stretches 70 to 100 miles (112 to 161 kilometers), Dundee said. Total lunar eclipses, by contrast, are visible over an entire hemisphere of Earth. Whether you watch this weekend's lunar eclipse by webcast or in person, Dundee has some tips about what to look for. "Look for the edge of the shadow covering the moon. It will be fuzzy or ragged," he said. "This is because of the Earth's atmosphere; [it] will cause the edge of the shadow to be ill defined. Plus as the eclipse progresses, you can see the shape of the shadow is round, a consequence of living on a round planet. Finally, the color of the fully eclipsed moon depends on the amount of dust in the Earth's atmosphere and the cloud cover on other parts of the Earth." No special equipment is needed for the lunar eclipse -- just your own eyes and some warm clothing. If you have binoculars or a telescope handy, you might see a little more detail on the lunar features, but mostly you can expect more mottled red inside the viewfinder. Editor's note: If you snap an amazing photo of the January 2019 total lunar eclipse that you'd like to share with Space.com and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, send comments and images in to: spacephotos@space.com. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook. Original article on Space.com. ### Editor's Recommendations * Amazing Photos: The 'Blood Moon' Eclipse and Mars Opposition of July 27, 2018 * In Photos: The Rare Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse of 2018 * 'Blood Moon' Total Lunar Eclipse of Oct. 8, 2014 (Photos)

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 08:47:16 -0500
Trump confuses weather with climate change again: 'Wouldnt be bad to have a little good old fashioned Global Warming right now!'

Trump confuses weather with climate change again: 'Wouldnt be bad to have a little good old fashioned Global Warming right now!'Donald Trump has again confused weather with climate change, after suggesting the US would benefit from a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now amid forecasts of snow and cold conditions. Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. In November, Mr Trump conflated seasonal weather with climate change, suggesting chilly conditions meant global warming wasnt real.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 08:46:00 -0500
Lunar eclipse 2019: Blood Moon on Monday will be the last eclipse to be seen in Britain for 10 years

Lunar eclipse 2019: Blood Moon on Monday will be the last eclipse to be seen in Britain for 10 yearsThe Moon will turn red tomorrow as Britain experiences its last total lunar eclipse for 10 years. The eclipse will happen in the early morning of Monday January 21 when the Moon start to darken at 2.35am with full eclipse beginning at 4.40am. It will be free of the Earths shadow by 7.49am. It is the last chance for UK observers to see a total lunar eclipse in its entirety until 2029. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes exactly between the Sun and the Moon creating a shadow which stops solar rays reaching the lunar surface. Spectators can expect the Moon to begin to darken slowly before turning red as it becomes completely caught in Earths shade. Sometimes the eclipsed Moon is a deep red colour, almost disappearing from view, and sometimes it can be quite bright. Next weeks Super Blood Wolf Moon will be the last for a decade Credit: Chris J Ratcliffe Januarys full Moon is also known as a wolf moon, a name deriving from Native American Tribes who said wolves would howl outside villages during full moons at the beginning of the year. And the eclipsewill occur when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth - making it a supermoon, so it will appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter. In Britain the Moon will be above the horizon throughout the eclipse, though from the extreme southeast of England the Sun will have risen as it comes to an end. The red effect is due to Earths atmosphere. Without an atmosphere the Moon would appear black or even totally invisible when it was within Earths shadow. But because Earths atmosphere extends about 50 miles up, during a total eclipse, although the Moon is in shadow, there is a ring around our planet through which the Suns rays still pass. Unlike the other wavelengths the Sun's red light is scattered much less by air allowing it to travel through the atmosphere where other colours are lost. Finally it is bent by a process of refraction as it leaves the atmosphere on the opposite side, channelling it on to the Moons surface. Lunar eclipses always happen at a full Moon as this is when it moves behind the Earth and into line with the Earth and Sun but most of the time no eclipse takes place because the e Moon's orbit is slightly tilted so it normally passes a little above or below the Earths shadow.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 08:38:27 -0500
At Arab summit, Lebanon's Aoun calls for Syrian refugee returns

At Arab summit, Lebanon's Aoun calls for Syrian refugee returnsLebanese President Michel Aoun urged world powers on Sunday to step up efforts for Syrian refugees to return home, regardless of any political solution to the war there. Aoun told an Arab economic summit in Beirut that Lebanon had suggested solutions for safe returns for the meeting to agree. Since conflict broke out in Syria in 2011, more than 1 million people have fled across the border to Lebanon, where aid agencies say most live in extreme poverty.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 07:52:52 -0500
Your Horoscope This Week

Your Horoscope This WeekThis super moon in Leo is no ordinary eclipse as it will square Uranus, the planet of innovation. Jupiter is here to help cheer us up on Tuesday when he conjoins with sweet Venus. On Wednesday, we could have tense conversations as Mercury, the planet of communication squares the spicy troublemaker Uranus.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 07:00:00 -0500
Total lunar eclipse set to wow star gazers, clear skies willing

Total lunar eclipse set to wow star gazers, clear skies willingStar gazers from Los Angeles to New York will keep their eyes on the sky for the eclipse, known as a super blood wolf moon, expected to appear at 11:41 p.m. EST. Although it is a total eclipse, the moon will never go completely dark but rather take on a coppery red glow - called a blood moon. It is also a full moon that is especially close to Earth, called a supermoon.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 06:44:31 -0500
Climate combat: Democrats say Pentagon puts troops at risk by downplaying global warming

Climate combat: Democrats say Pentagon puts troops at risk by downplaying global warmingDemocrats are confronting the Trump administration on climate change. The latest flareup is over a Pentagon report detailing risks of a warming planet.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 06:00:00 -0500
Facebook, Airbus and BMW Tackle the Future: DLD Show Update

Facebook, Airbus and BMW Tackle the Future: DLD Show UpdateThe upbeat slogan belies the more critical tone to the proceedings as attendees and consumers realize the darker side of techs biggest companies. Issues like regulation, privacy, fake news and the rise of xenophobic nationalism will highlight the second day, as executives such as Facebook Inc.s Sheryl Sandberg and BMW AGs Harald Krueger take the stage. Time stamps are local for Munich.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 05:24:15 -0500
Saudi-led coalition's planes pound Yemen's capital

Saudi-led coalition's planes pound Yemen's capitalADEN/SANAA (Reuters) - Saudi-led forces launched overnight air strikes on Yemen's capital, described by one resident on Sunday as the worst in a year, as the United Nations struggles to implement a peace deal. A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said its warplanes attacked seven military facilities used for drone operations in Sanaa, which is held by rival Houthi forces. Yemen's nearly four-year-old civil war, which pits the Iran-aligned Houthi movement against the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi, has killed tens of thousands and left millions on the brink of starvation.

Sun, 20 Jan 2019 04:33:07 -0500
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