×
Earth

Thousands of Scientists Warn Climate Tipping Points 'Imminent' (aljazeera.com) 311

Thousands of scientists have repeated calls for urgent action to tackle the climate emergency, warning that several tipping points are now imminent. From a report: The researchers, part of a group of more than 14,000 scientists who have signed on to an initiative declaring a worldwide climate emergency, said in an article published in the journal BioScience on Wednesday that governments had consistently failed to address "the overexploitation of the Earth," which they described as the root cause of the crisis. Since a similar assessment in 2019, they noted an "unprecedented surge" in climate-related disasters, including flooding in South America and Southeast Asia, record-shattering heatwaves and wildfires in Australia and the US, and devastating cyclones in Africa and South Asia.

For the study, scientists relied on "vital signs" to measure the health of the planet, including deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, glacier thickness and sea-ice extent and deforestation. Out of 31 signs, they found that 18 hit record highs or lows. For example, despite a dip in pollution linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, levels of atmospheric CO2 and methane hit all-time highs in 2021. Greenland and Antarctica recently showed all-time low levels of ice mass and glaciers are melting 31-percent faster than they did just 15 years ago, the authors said. Ocean heat and global sea levels set new records since 2019, and the annual loss rate of the Brazilian Amazon reached a 12-year high in 2020. Echoing previous research, the researchers said forest degradation linked to fire, drought and logging was causing parts of the Brazilian Amazon to now act as a source of carbon, rather than absorb the gas from the atmosphere.

ISS

Astronaut Watches Russian Space Station Module Fall From Space In Fiery Demise (space.com) 25

On Monday, astronauts said goodbye to a cornerstone of the International Space Station and captured stunning images of the compartment burning up in Earth's atmosphere. Space.com reports: A Russian Progress cargo vehicle towed the module, called Pirs, away from the space station and down through Earth's atmosphere to ensure the module burned up completely and reduce the odds of any large chunks making it to Earth's surface. Russia had launched its Pirs module in 2001; since then, the module, which served as a port to the space station, hosted more than 70 different capsules and supported Russian cosmonauts conducting extravehicular activities, or spacewalks. To make room for Russia's new science module, dubbed Nauka, which launched on July 21 and will arrive at the station on Thursday (July 29), Pirs had to go. Yesterday's fiery retirement ceremony marks the first time a major component of the International Space Station has been discarded. The attached Progress vehicle, which had arrived at the space station in February, controlled Pirs' re-entry to ensure that the module was destroyed as thoroughly as possible. European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet shared the photographs on Flickr.
News

Harvard Professor Begins New Search For Alien Spaceships in Our Skies (cnet.com) 66

Harvard's controversial astronomer Avi Loeb is leading a new initiative, dubbed the Galileo Project, to check Earth's skies and the rest of the solar system for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. From a report: The longtime astronomy professor, who became well-known for his belief that interstellar object Oumuamua was likely an alien probe, announced the details of his plan via a virtual press conference Monday. Officially, the initiative is described as "a transparent scientific project to advance a systematic experimental search for cross-validated evidence of potential astro-archaeological artifacts or active technical equipment made by putative existing or extinct extraterrestrial technological civilizations (ETCs)."

Translation: The plan is to use a variety of telescopes to look for alien spaceships, probes or other debris left behind by intelligent beings who weren't born on Earth. "What we see in our sky is not something that politicians or military personnel should interpret because they were not trained as scientists," Loeb told reporters. "It's for the science community to figure out... based on non-governmental data that we will assemble as scientists." The first phase of the project involves setting up a network of dozens of relatively small telescopes around the globe that will attempt to capture new images of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP, the newly favored and more inclusive acronym designed to replace "UFOs").

Moon

50 Years Ago, NASA Put a Car on the Moon (nytimes.com) 32

The lunar rovers of Apollo 15, 16 and 17 parked American automotive culture on the lunar surface, and expanded the scientific range of the missions' astronaut explorers. From a report: Dave Scott was not about to pass by an interesting rock without stopping. It was July 31, 1971, and he and Jim Irwin, his fellow Apollo 15 astronaut, were the first people to drive on the moon. After a 6-hour inaugural jaunt in the new lunar rover, the two were heading back to their lander, the Falcon, when Mr. Scott made an unscheduled pit stop. West of a crater called Rhysling, Mr. Scott scrambled out of the rover and quickly picked up a black lava rock, full of holes formed by escaping gas. Mr. Scott and Mr. Irwin had been trained in geology and knew the specimen, a vesicular rock, would be valuable to scientists on Earth. They also knew that if they asked for permission to stop and get it, clock-watching mission managers would say no. So Mr. Scott made up a story that they stopped the rover because he was fidgeting with his seatbelt. The sample was discovered when the astronauts returned to Earth, Mr. Scott described what he'd done, and "Seatbelt Rock" became one of the most prized geologic finds from Apollo 15.

Like many lunar samples returned to Earth by the final Apollo missions, Seatbelt Rock never would have been collected if the astronauts had not brought a car with them. Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 are the NASA lunar missions that tend to be remembered most vividly. But at the 50th anniversary of Apollo 15, which launched on July 26, 1971, some space enthusiasts, historians and authors are giving the lunar rover its due as one of the most enduring symbols of the American moon exploration program. Foldable, durable, battery-powered and built by Boeing and General Motors, the vehicle is seen by some as making the last three missions into the crowning achievement of the Apollo era. "Every mission in the crewed space program, dating back to Alan Shepard's first flight, had been laying the groundwork for the last three Apollo missions," said Earl Swift, author of a new book about the lunar rover, "Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings. You see NASA take all of that collected wisdom, gleaned over the previous decade in space, and apply it," Mr. Swift said. "It's a much more swashbuckling kind of science."

NASA

Bezos Offers To Cover $2 Billion In NASA Costs In Exchange For Astronaut Lunar Lander Contract (cnbc.com) 195

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on Monday offered to cover billions of dollars of NASA costs in exchange for a contract to build a lunar lander to land astronauts on the moon. CNBC reports: Bezos said Blue Origin would waive all payments up to $2 billion from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the current and next two government fiscal years. Blue Origin would also fund its own pathfinder mission to low-Earth orbit, according to Bezos. In return, the company requested a fixed-priced contract from the government agency. "This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments. This offer provides time for government appropriation actions to catch up," Bezos said in an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

NASA in April awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX with a sole $2.89 billion contract to build the next crewed lunar lander under its Human Landing Systems program. Before selecting the winner of the contest, NASA gave 10-month study contracts to SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics to begin work on lunar landers. "Instead of this single source approach, NASA should embrace its original strategy of competition," Bezos said. "Without competition, a short time into the contract, NASA will find itself with limited options as it attempts to negotiate missed deadlines, design changes, and cost overruns."

Mars

Quake-Measuring Device on Mars Gets Detailed Look at Red Planet's Interior (apnews.com) 10

"A quake-measuring device on Mars is providing the first detailed look at the red planet's interior, revealing a surprisingly thin crust and a hot molten core beneath the frigid surface," reports the Associated Press: In a series of articles published this week, scientists reported that the Martian crust is within the thickness range of Earth's. The Martian mantle between the crust and core is roughly half as thick as Earth's. And the Martian core is on the high side of what scientists anticipated, although smaller than the core of our own nearly twice-as-big planet.

These new studies confirm that the Martian core is molten. But more research is needed to know whether Mars has a solid inner core like Earth's, surrounded by a molten outer core, according to the international research teams. Stronger marsquakes could help identify any multiple core layers, scientists said Friday. The findings are based on about 35 marsquakes registered by a French seismometer on NASA's InSight stationary lander, which arrived at Mars in 2018...

InSight has been hit with a power crunch in recent months. Dust covered its solar panels, just as Mars was approaching the farthest point in its orbit around the sun. Flight controllers have boosted power by using the lander's robot arm to release sand into the blowing wind to knock off some of the dust on the panels. The seismometer has continued working, but all other science instruments remain on hiatus because of the power situation — except for a German heat probe was declared dead in January after it failed to burrow more than a couple feet (half a meter) into the planet.

The three studies and a companion article appeared in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

Earth

Two US Companies Propose Thousands of Miles of Pipelines - for Capturing Carbon (apnews.com) 85

"Two companies seeking to build thousands of miles of pipeline across the Midwest are promising the effort will aid rather than hinder the fight against climate change," reports the Associated Press, "though some environmental groups remain skeptical.

"The pipelines would stretch from North Dakota to Illinois, potentially transforming the Corn Belt into one of the world's largest corridors for a technology called carbon capture and storage." Environmental activists and landowners have hindered other proposed pipelines in the region that pump oil, carrying carbon that was buried in the earth to engines or plants where it is burned and emitted. The new projects would essentially do the opposite by capturing carbon dioxide at ethanol refineries and transporting it to sites where it could be buried thousands of feet underground.

Both companies planning the pipelines appear eager to tout their environmental benefits. Their websites feature clear blue skies and images of green fields and describe how the projects could have the same climatic impact as removing millions of cars from the road every year. However, some conservationists and landowners are already wary of the pipelines' environmental benefits and safety, raising the chances of another pitched battle as the projects seek construction permits...

Supporters say the pipelines are a much-needed win for both agricultural businesses and the environment. The two projects are expected to run into the billions of dollars, spurring construction jobs. And they advance a technology crucial to achieving a 2050 goal of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions — in which every gram of emissions is accounted for by providing a way to eventually suck it back out of the atmosphere. "All sides win. You significantly reduce carbon emissions, but you can also maintain those industries that are the lifeblood of different regions of the country," said Brad Crabtree, who oversees carbon management policy at the Great Plains Institute, a Minnesota-based organization that works with energy companies to develop environmental sustainability.

Ethanol production creates "a steady, easily-captured stream of carbon dioxide," the article points out — and the long pipelines would transport it off to porous rock formations "where it eventually dissolves or hardens into minerals."
NASA

Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson Not Yet Astronauts, US Says (bbc.com) 80

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules say astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety. That means Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not yet be astronauts in the eyes of the US government. The BBC reports: These are the first changes since the FAA wings program began in 2004. The Commercial Astronaut Wings program updates were announced on Tuesday -- the same day that Amazon's Mr Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space. To qualify as commercial astronauts, space-goers must travel 50 miles (80km) above the Earth's surface, which both Mr Bezos and Mr Branson accomplished. But altitude aside, the agency says would-be astronauts must have also "demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety." What exactly counts as such is determined by FAA officials.

In a statement, the FAA said that these changes brought the wings scheme more in line with its role to protect public safety during commercial space flights. On July 11, Sir Richard flew on-board Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo to the edge of space as a test before allowing customers aboard next year. Mr Bezos and the three other crew members who flew on Blue Origin's spacecraft may have less claim to the coveted title. Ahead of the launch, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said that "there's really nothing for a crew member to do" on the autonomous vehicle. Those wishing for commercial wings need to be nominated for them as well. An FAA spokesperson told CNN they are not currently reviewing any submissions.

There are two other ways to earn astronaut wings in the US - through the military or Nasa. However, a glimmer of hope remains for Sir Richard, Mr Bezos and any future stargazers hoping to be recognized as astronauts. The new order notes that honorary awards can be given based on merit -- at the discretion of the FAA's associate administrator. Astronaut wings were first awarded to astronauts Alan Shepard Jr and Virgil Grissom in the early 1960s for their participation in the Mercury Seven program.

Communications

Judges Reject Viasat's Plea To Stop SpaceX Starlink Satellite Launches (arstechnica.com) 14

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: SpaceX can keep launching broadband satellites despite a lawsuit filed by Viasat, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. Viasat sued the Federal Communications Commission in May and asked judges for a stay that would halt SpaceX's ongoing launches of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that power Starlink Internet service. To get a stay, Viasat had to show that it is likely to win its lawsuit alleging that the FCC improperly approved the satellite launches. A three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was not persuaded, saying in a short order that "Viasat has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review." The judges did grant a motion to expedite the appeal, however, so the case should move faster than normal.
Power

Startup Claims Breakthrough in Long-Duration Batteries (wsj.com) 103

A four-year-old startup says it has built an inexpensive battery that can discharge power for days using one of the most common elements on Earth: iron. From a report: Form Energy's batteries are far too heavy for electric cars. But it says they will be capable of solving one of the most elusive problems facing renewable energy: cheaply storing large amounts of electricity to power grids when the sun isn't shining and wind isn't blowing. The work of the Somerville, Mass., company has long been shrouded in secrecy and nondisclosure agreements. It recently shared its progress with The Wall Street Journal, saying it wants to make regulators and utilities aware that if all continues to go according to plan, its iron-air batteries will be capable of affordable, long-duration power storage by 2025.

Its backers include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate investment fund whose investors include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Form recently initiated a $200 million funding round, led by a strategic investment from steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal one of the world's leading iron-ore producers. Form is preparing to soon be in production of the "kind of battery you need to fully retire thermal assets like coal and natural gas" power plants, said the company's chief executive, Mateo Jaramillo, who developed Tesla's Powerwall battery and worked on some of its earliest automotive powertrains. On a recent tour of Form's windowless laboratory, Mr. Jaramillo gestured to barrels filled with low-cost iron pellets as its key advantage in the rapidly evolving battery space. Its prototype battery, nicknamed Big Jim, is filled with 18,000 pebble-size gray pieces of iron, an abundant, nontoxic and nonflammable mineral.

For a lithium-ion battery cell, the workhorse of electric vehicles and today's grid-scale batteries, the nickel, cobalt, lithium and manganese minerals used currently cost between $50 and $80 per kilowatt-hour of storage, according to analysts. Using iron, Form believes it will spend less than $6 per kilowatt-hour of storage on materials for each cell. Packaging the cells together into a full battery system will raise the price to less than $20 per kilowatt-hour, a level at which academics have said renewables plus storage could fully replace traditional fossil-fuel-burning power plants. A battery capable of cheaply discharging power for days has been a holy grail in the energy industry, due to the problem that it solves and the potential market it creates.

The Almighty Buck

Jeff Bezos On Critics of Billionaires Going To Space: 'They're Mostly Right' (cnbc.com) 238

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Jeff Bezos has heard the complaints about billionaires like himself funneling their money into private rocket companies instead of donating to causes on Earth, and he doesn't disagree. In an interview with CNN ahead of his planned Tuesday morning space voyage in a rocket built by his company Blue Origin, Bezos was asked for his thoughts on critics who call the extraterrestrial flights "joyrides for the wealthy, and [who say] you should be spending your time and your money and energy trying to solve problems here on Earth." "Well, I say they are largely right," said Bezos, who Bloomberg estimates is worth $206 billion. "We have to do both. We have lots of problems here on Earth and we have to work on those."

Bezos and fellow billionaires [...] have been characterized by critics as deaf to issues on the ground and too obsessed with making space more accessible when they could put their resources elsewhere. The 57-year-old Bezos, who earlier this month stepped down as CEO of Amazon, said it's important to "look to the future ... as a species and as a civilization." In his view, the work being done today will lay the foundation for future generations to work in space, which "will solve problems here on Earth."
In an opinion piece for MSNBC, Talia Lavin views billionaires going to space through a more incendiary lens, writing: "What they seek to leave behind is a planet burning and flooding and full of the kind of small and ordinary suffering such fortunes could alleviate in an instant."

The space program of the 1960s, which resulted in the first crewed mission to land on the Moon, "may have been mired in the bitter and petty rivalries of the Cold War, and limned by prejudice about who could excel," writes Lavin, "but it was a project funded and created by our government, an achievement held in common by the masses. No such common pride can be held in the launch of the titans of capital."

"In this billionaire battle, there is no pretense at a sense of collective pride or communal achievement. Even the drumbeat of nationalism would be better than this obscene egotism, whose fumes are more putrid than rocket-jet emissions. It feels like a parody of hubris, and a colossal celebration of the social failure to moderate preposterous accumulations of wealth."

Thoughts?
Space

Astronomers Push for Global Debate on Giant Satellite Swarms (nature.com) 98

Aerospace companies have launched about 2,000 Internet satellites into orbit around Earth over the past 2 years, nearly doubling the number of active satellites. This has sparked concerns among astronomers and other skygazers, who worry about interference with observations of the night sky. From a report: Now, in what would be the biggest international step yet towards addressing these concerns, diplomats at a United Nations forum next month might discuss whether humanity has a right to 'dark and quiet skies.' The debate could initiate a framework for how scientists and the public would deal with the flood of new satellites -- with many more expected.

Tens of thousands of satellites could be added to Earth orbit in the next few years to provide broadband Internet, if companies and governments build and launch all the networks, or 'megaconstellations,' they have publicly announced. The sheer number of these could mean that hundreds are visible all night long, affecting the sky like never before in human history. "These constellations are changing dramatically the way space has been used," says Piero Benvenuti, an astronomer at the University of Padua in Italy and a former general secretary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). He and other astronomers have been working through the IAU to raise international awareness of how the megaconstellations are affecting scientists and members of the public. They say the goal is not to pit astronomers against satellite companies, but to develop a vision of how to fairly use the shared realm of outer space.

Space

Blue Origin Auction Winner Backs Out, 18-Year-Old Flies Instead (theatlantic.com) 98

18-year-old Oliver Daemon will become the youngest person ever to travel to space as the fourth passenger on Blue Origin's first crewed mission this week to the edge of outer space (flying with Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, and 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk).

The Atlantic calls it "a rather unusual bunch": When they take off on Tuesday, they will each fulfill a personal dream, but as a crew, they're making history: No group like this one has ever gone to space together before. Even the participants of the most diverse missions to the International Space Station have had far more in common with one another than this quartet. They were all professional astronauts, with comparable ages, educational backgrounds, and even temperaments, given that potential astronauts must undergo psychological screenings before getting the job. The motley crew of Blue Origin's first passenger flight seems closer to a cast of offbeat characters gathered together for a zany adventure: If The Breakfast Club had the brain, the jock, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal, this Blue Origin flight has the boss, the tag-along, the real deal, and the kid...

Blue Origin has conducted 15 test flights of the New Shepard rocket, but has never before flown the vehicle with people on board.

Of the passengers on Bezos's debut flight, Daemen might be the most unexpected pick. In fact, Daemen wasn't supposed to be on this flight. Blue Origin had held an auction for one of the seats on the flight, culminating in a top bid of a whopping $28 million. But the company said today that the winner, whose name has not been disclosed, decided to skip this particular flight and go later, citing "scheduling conflicts," so the company slotted in Daemen, a soon-to-be physics student at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands. (Blue Origin said the teen was "a participant in the auction," but did not disclose how much the seat cost.)

Daemen and Funk, as Blue Origin pointed out in its announcement, "represent the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space." But describing them by age alone elides the very different journeys they have taken to reach this point. Funk is an aviation legend who underwent more difficult tests than John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, had to, and has waited 60 years for this moment. Daemen is a teenager who took a gap year to get his pilot's license, and the son of a private-equity executive... Daemen represents a new class of spacefarers; in the coming years, as private companies such as Blue Origin, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, and Elon Musk's SpaceX make people into astronauts more readily than government agencies like NASA can, the distance between a childhood dream and reality is bound to shrink. Expect more smorgasbord space crews like the Blue Origin one, filled with an assortment of very wealthy individuals and the people they choose to go with them...

The rules about who can become an astronaut have changed, and the new "right stuff" is money and luck.

Science

Scientists Find Evidence of Mile-high Tsunami Generated By Dino-killing Asteroid (sciencemag.org) 21

slashdot reader sciencehabit shares news from Science magazine: When a giant space rock struck the waters near Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula 66 million years ago, it sent up a blanket of dust that blotted out the Sun for years, sending temperatures plummeting and killing off the dinosaurs. The impact also generated a tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico that some modelers believe sent an initial tidal wave up to 1500 meters (or nearly 1 mile) high crashing into North America, one that was followed by smaller pulses.

Now, for the first time, scientists have discovered fossilized megaripples from this tsunami buried in sediments in what is now central Louisiana.

"It's great to actually have evidence of something that has been theorized for a really long time," says Sean Gulick, a geophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin. Gulick was not involved in the work, but he co-led a campaign in 2016 to drill down to the remains of the impact crater, called Chicxulub... Cores from the 2016 drilling expedition helped explain how the impact crater was formed and charted the disappearance and recovery of Earth's life. In 2019, researchers reported the discovery of a fossil site in North Dakota, 3000 kilometers north of Chicxulub, that they say records the hours after the impact and includes debris swept inland from the tsunami.

"We have small pieces of the puzzle that keep getting added in," says Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza, a paleontologist at the University of Vigo who was not involved with the new study. "Now this research is another one, giving more evidence of a cataclysmic tsunami that probably inundated [everything] for thousands of miles."

Space

Exploding Stars May Have Assaulted Ancient Earth (sciencemag.org) 24

sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: Over the past 2 decades, researchers have found hundreds of radioactive atoms, trapped in seafloor minerals, that came from an ancient supernova explosion marking the death of a nearby star. Erupting from hundreds of light-years away, the flash of x-rays and gamma rays probably did no harm on Earth. But the expanding fireball also accelerated cosmic rays -- mostly nuclei of hydrogen and helium -- to close to the speed of light. These projectiles arrived stealthily, decades later, ramping up into an invisible fusillade that could have lasted for thousands of years and might have affected the atmosphere -- and life. In a flurry of studies and speculation, astronomers have sketched out their potential effects, including a depleted ozone layer, cancer-causing particles, wildfires, and a cooling of the climate that could have helped initiate the ice ages 2.5 million years ago. Most paleontologists are yet to be convinced, but astronomers argue that such supernovae could explain some extinction events that lack customary triggers like volcanic outbursts or asteroid impacts.
Earth

NASA: Moon 'Wobble' In Orbit May Lead To Record Flooding On Earth (cbsnews.com) 117

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: Every coast in the U.S. is facing rapidly increasing high tide floods. NASA says this is due to a "wobble" in the moon's orbit working in tandem with climate change-fueled rising sea levels. The new study from NASA and the University of Hawaii, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, warns that upcoming changes in the moon's orbit could lead to record flooding on Earth in the next decade. Through mapping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) sea-level rise scenarios, flooding thresholds and astronomical cycles, researchers found flooding in American coastal cities could be several multiples worse in the 2030s, when the next moon "wobble" is expected to begin. They expect the flooding to significantly damage infrastructure and displace communities.

While the study highlights the dire situation facing coastal cities, the lunar wobble is actually a natural occurrence, first reported in 1728. The moon's orbit is responsible for periods of both higher and lower tides about every 18.6 years, and they aren't dangerous in their own right. "In half of the Moon's 18.6-year cycle, Earth's regular daily tides are suppressed: High tides are lower than normal, and low tides are higher than normal," NASA explains. "In the other half of the cycle, tides are amplified: High tides get higher, and low tides get lower. Global sea-level rise pushes high tides in only one direction -- higher. So half of the 18.6-year lunar cycle counteracts the effect of sea-level rise on high tides, and the other half increases the effect." But this time around, scientists are more concerned. With sea-level rise due to climate change, the next high tide floods are expected to be more intense and more frequent than ever before, exacerbating already grim predictions.
The study says these floods will exceed flooding thresholds around the country more often, and can also occur in clusters lasting more than a month. "During curtain alignments, floods could happen as frequently as every day or every other day," the report adds. "Almost all U.S. mainland coastlines, Hawaii and Guam are expected to face these effects."
Space

To Catch Deep-Space Neutrinos, Astronomers Lay Traps In Greenland's Ice (sciencemag.org) 25

sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: High on Greenland's ice sheet, particle astrophysicists are this week drilling boreholes in a search for the cosmic accelerators responsible for the universe's most energetic particles. By placing hundreds of radio antennas on and below the surface, they hope to trap elusive particles known as neutrinos at higher energies than ever before. Detectors elsewhere on Earth occasionally register the arrival of ultra-high-energy (UHE) cosmic rays, atomic nuclei that slam into the atmosphere at colossal speed. Researchers want to pinpoint their sources, but because the nuclei are charged, magnetic fields in space bend their paths, obscuring their origins. But theorists believe that as UHE cosmic rays set out from their sources, they spawn so-called cosmogenic neutrinos in collisions with photons and, because neutrinos are not charged, they travel to Earth as straight as an arrow. The hard part is catching them.
Earth

US Pacific Northwest Heat Wave Bakes Wheat, Fruit Crops (reuters.com) 117

An unprecedented heat wave and ongoing drought in the U.S. Pacific Northwest is damaging white wheat coveted by Asian buyers and forcing fruit farm workers to harvest in the middle of the night to salvage crops and avoid deadly heat. From a report: The extreme weather is another blow to farmers who have struggled with labor shortages and higher transportation costs during the pandemic and may further fuel global food inflation. Cordell Kress, who farms in southeastern Idaho, expects his winter white wheat to produce about half as many bushels per acre as it does in a normal year when he begins to harvest next week, and he has already destroyed some of his withered canola and safflower oilseed crops.

The Pacific Northwest is the only part of the United States that grows soft white wheat used to make sponge cakes and noodles, and farmers were hoping to capitalize on high grain prices. Other countries including Australia and Canada grow white wheat, but the U.S. variety is especially prized by Asian buyers. "The general mood among farmers in my area is as dire as I've ever seen it," Kress said. "Something about a drought like this just wears on you. You see your blood, sweat and tears just slowly wither away and die."

Earth

Extreme Heat Has Killed an Estimated 1 Billion Small Sea Creatures (axios.com) 53

The combination of extreme heat and drought that has scorched the Western United States and Canada over the past two weeks has killed hundreds of millions of mussels, clams and other marine animals, the New York Times reports. From a report: An estimated 1 billion small sea creatures died during the heat wave in the Salish Sea at the end of June, according to marine biologist Chris Harley, per the Washington Post. The sea creatures' deaths coincide with the heat wave that hit the Pacific Northwest last week, which led to more than a hundred human deaths. A study by an international team of climate researchers said the heat wave would have been "virtually impossible without human-caused climate change." Mussels attach themselves to rocks and other surfaces, but they generally can't survive temperatures over 100 degrees for extended periods of time, CNN reports.
Earth

30 Million Americans Face 'Excessive Heat Alerts'. Death Valley, California Hits 130 Degrees (cnn.com) 199

"Death Valley, California, recorded high temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday and 129.4 degrees on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service..." reports NPR. "Experts need to verify the 130-degree records from this year and last year, but if correct they would be the hottest temperatures reliably recorded on Earth."

"Interestingly, it could happen again Sunday, and perhaps even Monday as well," adds CNN. But they also report that nearly a tenth of all Americans are now facing a hot weekend: More than 30 million people in the West are under excessive heat alerts. The heat alerts stretch from northern Washington state down to the Arizona/Mexico border. Grand Junction, Colorado, set a new all-time temperature record of 107 on Friday. Las Vegas tied its all-time temperature record of 117 degrees on Saturday. Fresno, California, could also near its all-time temperature record of 115 degrees on Sunday.

But none of these quite compares to the staggering 130 in Death Valley — 13 degrees above normal.

slashdot Top Deals