Siberian Wildfires, Solstices, and Sea Level Rise

Here, we present our latest Best of Syndication post. From the past few weeks, we highlight our favorite news items such as satellite imagery of a large wildfire in Siberia and some truly amazing images of Earth during the solstices and equinoxes.

Also included are items covering one of the largest landslides in history and the slow but sure change in tundra vegetation cover.




Satellite image of Siberia burning. Credit NASA Earth ObservatorySiberia Burns – Originally Published by NASA Earth Observatory

Wildfires raged throughout central Russia, charring more than 8,000 hectares and prompting Russian officials to declare a state of emergency in numerous regions. Images of the fires, which were ignited by lightning, campfires, and out of control agricultural burns, were captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

 




View of the the northernmost foothills of the Polar Ural mountains on the southern Yamal Peninsula in West Siberia, Russia.  (Credit: BC Forbe)Warming Climate Sees Tundra Turn to Forest – Originally Published by ScienceDaily

The vegetation of the 100,000 km2 northwestern Eurasian tundra is slowly changing from shrubbery to trees as the climate warms. Using satellite imagery, field sampling, and expert observation scientists have tracked the changes over the past decades, noting an 8-15% increase in willow and alder plants over 2 meters in height. The change in vegetation – itself brought about by a warming climate – in turn affects warming by altering albedo, replacing light-reflecting snow cover with light-absorbing tree cover.

 




Images of the earth at solstices and equinoxes from space. Credit: EUMETSATSeeing Solstices and Equinoxes From Space – Originally Published by EUMETSAT

As the Solstice sails past us, those of us in the northern hemisphere prepare for Summer, while those in the southern hemisphere hunker down for Winter. EUMETSAT’s Meteosat Second Generation satellites brings us images of the “midnight sun” – visible at times around the Solstice when the sunlight is reflected off the Northern polar region – as well as a collection of images showing the change in the Sun’s illumination of the Earth during each solstice and equinox through the year.

 




Diver explores soft coral in Australia's Coral Sea. (Photo by Mike Ball, Australia's Department of the Environment, Navy Currents) Australia Creates World’s Largest Expanse of Marine Reserves – Originally Published by ENS

Following 12 months of public consultations and 250 meetings across the country, Australia’s government released final maps outlining the country’s expanded marine preserve system. The newly expanded system will now cover more than 3.1 million square kilometers of sensitive marine habitat. Despite these large steps towards protection, some groups say they will continue to work to include areas left out of the preserve system.

 




Image of the Eastern Coast of the United States.(Image: Stocktrek Images/Getty)Sea-level Rise Accelerates Faster On US East Coast – Originally Published by New Scientist

Looking at tide gauge data from 1950 to 2009, scientists at the United States Geological Survey have found that sea levels off the eastern coast of the United States is rising four times as fast as the global average. Climate models in the past have shown that the east coast could be a “hot spot” for rising seas, this study simply confirms those models. Some say this could be a sign that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation – responsible for Western Europe’s moderate climate – is slowing down.

 




Satellite imagery of a massive landslide in Tibet. Credit NASA Earth ObservatoryA Monster Slide – Originally Published by NASA Earth Observatory

NASA’s Earth Observatory chronicles one of the largest landslides in recorded history when more than 3.5 million cubic feet of boulders, snow, water, and sediment blocked the path of the Yigong River in Tibet. The slide created an earthen dam more than 90 feet tall, which promptly blocked the river. The dam backed up the river for two months before it collapsed, causing catastrophic flooding downstream. The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the Landsat 7 satellite captured images before, during, and after the dam was formed.

 




Photo of hurricane Irene in 2011 - a reminder that tropical systems can affect the Northeast and of the threat of inland flooding. (Credit: NOAA)NOAA Predicts a Near-Normal 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season – Originally Published by ScienceDaily

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) announced that oceanic and atmospheric conditions favor a “near-normal” hurricane season for 2012. The hurricane season, which started on June 1st and lasts for six months, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 70% chance of nine to 15 named storms this season.

 




Photograph of hot peppers. (Image: Imagenavi/Getty Images)Plants May Be Able To ‘Hear’ Others – Originally Published by New Scientist

It’s been long accepted that plants utilize many of the same senses that humans do, but the idea that they can hear has never gained a foot hold. Until now. A study out of the University of Western Australia shows that chilli peppers may have a hitherto-unrecognized sense which allows them to “hear” signals from other plants in their vicinity.

 




Satellite image of volcanic emissions on the South Sandwich Islands. Credit NASA Earth ObservatoryVolcanoes, Clouds, and Swirling Winds – Originally Published by NASA Earth Observatory

This natural-color image was acquired on April 27, 2012, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite over Zavodovski Island, a tiny uninhabited island in the South Sandwich Islands. It shows the interplay of clouds, islands, winds, and low-level volcanic emissions from Zavodovski’s volcanic Mount Curry in the South Atlantic.

 




Image of a factory in Norfolk, Virginia spewing greenhouse gases. (Photo by Justin Brown)Court Upholds U.S. EPA’s Right to Limit Greenhouse Gases – Originally Published by ENS

Following contention from 15 states, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act was unanimously upheld by U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The fifteen states challenged the EPA’s findings that greenhouse gases endanger human health and safety, saying the agency violated the law by relying almost exclusively on external data.