Royal Society's remarkable 2016 nature photo finalists

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Tane Sinclair-Taylor's image of a clownfish and a bleached anemone is one of the many remarkable biological photographs chosen as finalists and winners in Royal Society Publishing's 2016 contest. Read the rest

Earth's wilderness decimated

Earth as seen on July 6, 2015 from a distance of one million miles by a NASA scientific camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft. Image: NASA

A new study shows that our planet has 10% less wilderness than in the 1990s.

Via the CS Monitor:

Ten percent of Earth's wilderness has disappeared since the 1990s, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology.

Over the last 20 years, we've lost a total area amounting to twice the size of Alaska, researchers report. But, experts say, there's still time to save the remaining wilderness areas – and they hope the recent findings will spur change.

At the moment, only about 23 percent of the world's land area is made up of wilderness, the study found. Most of this wilderness can be found in North Asia, North Africa, Australia, and North America (primarily the northern parts of Canada). South America has experienced the greatest loss, with a 30 percent decrease since the '90s, and Africa follows with 14 percent.

"The wilderness decline around the world is most in the tropical biomes​, the tropical rain forests​ have lost a lot of wilderness," study co-author Oscar Venter, of the University of Northern British Columbia, told CBS News. "A lot of the Amazon has been lost, the mangrove ecosystems, which are really important wilderness areas have been hit. They are a nursery ground for a lot of the world’s wildlife – young fish are reared in these mangrove ecosystems​, they are a base for a lot of the fisheries. Now, there is almost no wilderness left in the mangroves."

Other things from the '90s we have less of: golf visors and light up sneakers, so it isn't all bad. Read the rest

Bill Nye: What if all the ice melted on Earth?

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It would not be cool. At all. (AsapSCIENCE)

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CO2 in Antarctica reaches 400 PPM for first time in 4 million years

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Earth's most remote continent finally caught up with its more populated counterparts. “Carbon dioxide has been steadily rising since the start of the Industrial Revolution, setting a new high year after year,” writes Brian Kahn at Climate Central. “There’s a notable new entry to the record books. The last station on Earth without a 400 parts per million (ppm) reading has reached it.”

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A First: from space, NASA spots a single methane leak from Earth's atmosphere

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“For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth's surface,” NASA announced Tuesday.

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Most world maps wipe out much of Oceania

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"The truncated continent," Oceania is bisected if not plainly obliterated by most world maps, straddling the edges and hidden under captions and legends. Lightly populated as Pacific islands are, when it comes to climate change, the omission is a cruel one.

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Animation of atmospheric carbon dioxide

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Check out A Year In The Life of Earth's CO2, a visualization of greenhouse gases swirling in the atmosphere. A voice-over explains what you're seeing as the months roll by, such as summer carbon monoxide blooms in the southern hemisphere. Tip: change the projection by dragging the map. Read the rest

Dwindling of Arctic's oldest ice since 1990

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This is one of the most alarming videos about global warming I've seen.

From the YouTube description:

Time lapse of the age of sea ice in the Arctic from week to week since 1990, updated through the March 2016 winter maximum. The oldest ice (9 or more years old) is white. Seasonal ice is darkest blue. Old ice drifts out of the Arctic through the Fram Strait (east of Greenland), but in recent years, it has also been melting as it drifts into the southernmost waters of the Beaufort Sea (north of western Canada and Alaska).

From NOAA's website:

Sea ice grows throughout the winter and melts throughout the summer, reaching its maximum extent in late February or March, and its minimum extent in September. The ice that survives at least one summer melt season is typically thicker and more likely to survive future summers. Since the 1980s, the amount of this perennial ice (or multiyear) has declined dramatically.

This animation tracks the relative amount of ice of different ages each week from 1990 through early November 2015. The first age class on the scale (1, darkest blue) means "first-year ice,” which formed in the most recent winter. The oldest ice (9, white) is ice that is more than nine years old. Dark gray areas indicate open water or coastal regions where the spatial resolution of the data is coarser than the land map.

Arctic sea ice moves continually. East of Greenland, the Fram Strait is an exit ramp for ice drifting out of the Arctic Ocean.

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To imagine the ocean of the future: picture a writhing mass of unkillable tentacles, forever

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In Global proliferation of cephalopods a paper in Current Biology, an esteemed group of marine biologists reports that the population of octopuses (and other cephalopods) is booming thanks to its ability to adapt quickly to ocean acidification and temperature change, which is killing off other types of marine life at alarming rates. Read the rest

Tar sands production in Canada pretty much shut down by Fort McMurray wildfire

Flames rise in area south of Fort McMurray, Alberta May 3, 2016.  [Reuters]

Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region.

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Canada's Fort McMurray wildfire is so massive, you can see it from space

On May 8, 2016, the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite captured this image of Ft. McMurray Fire in Alberta, Canada.
[NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team]

The massive wildfire that continues to burn in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta, Canada has been captured from space by NASA imaging satellites.

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Why is Congress so clueless about tech? Because they fired all their experts 20 years ago

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It's been 21 years since the Republican Congress zeroed out the $20M budget of the Office of Technology Assessment, a casualty of Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" that deprived Congress of its principal source of technological expertise. Read the rest

Blizzard shuts down Denver International Airport, impacting air traffic across country

pic: weathernationtv.com

Officials shut down Denver International Airport on Wednesday, canceling over 1,000 flights after a mega snowstorm temporarily knocked out power and created conditions unsafe for plane takeoffs and landings unsafe.

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February was Earth's hottest month on record ever. Yes, you should freak out.

Shanghai, China, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

NASA, the Japan Meteorological Agency and other climate research groups report that February was the planet's warmest seasonally adjusted month on record. Last month was also the world's most unusually warm month since 1880, when instrument records began.

Gavin Schmidt at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who isn't one for getting too excited over things, had only one word for this significant and concerning data milestone: "Wow."

Mashable's listicle is right. The numbers are shocking. The February 2016 climate records are notable for the unusual heat more than any other recorded month in our history.

Here's a good related piece about the challenge of connecting the climate change dots to specific extreme weather events, like a major hurricane or drought.

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Undercover Greenpeace activists buy off corrupt academics in a climate science sting

L-R: Dr. Will Happer, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Patrick Moore.

The environmental activism group Greenpeace today disclosed that it led an undercover investigation to expose how easy it is for big oil, gas, or coal companies to pay academics at leading U.S. universities to write research that sheds doubt on climate science, and promotes the commercial interests of the fossil fuel industry.

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Which Presidential candidates are climate change deniers?

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From Columbia University's Earth Institute:

Ben Carson (retired neurosurgeon) believes that climate change is happening in the sense that there’s “always going to be either cooling or warming going on” and has called the climate debate “irrelevant.” While he has no plans to combat climate change, he does believe it’s important to protect the environment. If elected, he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and develop oil resources while also investing in renewable resources; however, he would not support any government subsidies because he feels they interfere with the free market.

Donald Trump (real estate developer) doesn’t believe in climate change and asserts that the changes we see are actually just weather, unaffected by human actions. He puts climate change low on the list of problems we need to address. In 2012, Trump said global warming was a hoax created by China to make U.S. manufacturing uncompetitive. He supports regulating air pollution.

Hillary Clinton (former U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state) believes climate change is real and manmade. She has called it “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world.” Clinton unveiled a plan that would install half a billion solar panels across the country by 2020 (a 700 percent increase in solar capacity); and expand renewable energy (including geothermal and hydro) sufficiently to produce 33 percent of U.S. electricity by 2027. Her Clean Energy Challenge, partnering with states, cities and communities, will include incentives, competitions, and investment in transmission and R&D.

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Bill Nye: "5 Things You Need to Know About Climate Change"

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Learn it. Know it. Live it. (National Geographic)

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