This sounds like a straight-to-DVD sci-fi title. But the National Solar Observatory announcement last week that the Sun could be entering a grand minimum should probably be filed with cable TV’s “What Would Happen If…” documentaries. The last time the Sun went quiet for a long stretch – dubbed the Maunder Minimum — the world plunged into the “Little Ice Age.” But this time, there will probably be very little impact because of the long-term warming that is already underway, says Georg Feulner of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Where is Aquarius?
While we are waiting to get the first bits of data from Aquarius, NASA’s latest Earth observing satellite and first to measure ocean salinity, you can check out where the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft is orbiting at this site. Aquarius successfully reached orbit on June 10, after a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Predicting Climate Changes
Timothy Lenton of the University of Exeter (UK) argues that significant climate tipping points – when earth systems pass a point of change that is large and largely irreversible – are more predictable than scientists have thought. “Recent work shows that early warning of an approaching climate tipping point is possible in principle,” Lenton writes in Nature Climate Change, “and could have considerable value in reducing the risk that they pose.”
Wallowing in Fire
The Wallow Fire in Arizona became the largest wildfire in the state’s history last week. Discussion of the role a warming climate will play in increased wildfire began spreading like…nevermind. New West wrote about the future of the Rockies and fires, based on some recent and fascinating paleo-fire research from NASA; The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang dug through a National Academies of Science report from 2010 that also delved into topic.
Plankton on Ice
A team of 47 scientists will take an icebreaker, the Healy, to the extreme environment of the Arctic Ocean for about six weeks this summer, as the second and final leg in a NASA field campaign called ICESCAPE. The cruise is designed to study how ongoing climate changes are affecting ocean chemistry and physics and marine life. Check out science writer Kathryn Hansen’s blog from the ship beginning this week and lasting throughout the research cruise. (The blog updates will begin as soon as Kathryn gets aboard ship in the ironically named Unalaska, Alaska.)
A Plate of Water
And we thought we would share this from our friends at Earth Science Picture of the Day as a bit of solstice joy…