Monday, July 18, 2016
Reconstructing Arctic History | CIRES
There's little doubt that Arctic sea ice is shrinking, but a new study looking back to the 1850s reveals that today's ice loss is unprecedented in extent and rate. To understand what’s happening with the Arctic ice pack, scientists need access to as much data as they can get their hands on. But reliable satellite data on the frozen north extends back only to 1978 and most historical sources cover only the twentieth century. John Walsh, Chief Scientist at the International Arctic Research Center with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, knew they could do better. “We knew there was useful information out there that goes back into the 1800s,” he says. “We wanted to provide some benchmarks so we could place the retreat we’ve seen in Arctic sea ice in a longer context.”
Other scientists wanted to do the same. Walsh heard from climate change modelers who needed more information to reconstruct the Arctic’s atmospheric history. So, Walsh went to NOAA with a proposition: To make a data product that could be used by modelers to characterize sea ice back to 1850. And a natural partner for building this database was the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), part of CIRES, where a small team funded by NOAA was already experienced in using data from sources such as the military and old charts and maps to create a more robust picture. The final product, “Gridded Monthly Sea Ice Extent and Concentration, 1850 Onward," is described in a paper out in the July issue of Geographical Review.
This data set expands on an earlier product that begins in 1901. “We wanted to extend and improve on the data we already had,” says CIRES' Florence Fetterer, the NOAA liaison at NSIDC. “So we gathered historical sources of sea ice information and filled spatial and temporal gaps using an analog method.” More
Sunday, July 17, 2016
The Great Change: Cuba's Second Special Period - 2016
Cuba’s economy minister told the Cuban Parliament last week, in a closed session, that the country would have to cut fuel consumption nearly a third in the second half of this year because the Venezuelan spigot was slowly squeezing shut. Venezuelan oil exports to Cuba have dropped 40% since January. As the news rippled out through Havana there was a universal sense of Déjà vu. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t be fooled again (as George W. Bush said in his being-folksy mode, unable to recall where he was in the fool-me-twice-shame-on-me proverb and so reverting to a rock anthem lyric from his Yale fraternity days).
Venezuela is running dry, as is neighboring Mexico, and bargain basement crude sales to bolster Venezuela’s economy don’t help. Venezuela can no more supply the Citgo stations in Havana than it can keep the lights on in hospitals in Caracas.
With air routes opening, tourist hotels being planned, and Havana’s notorious nightclubs a shorter hop than Las Vegas for half the population of the United States, Cubans only have to hold their breath while they turn off the fans 8 hours per day.
|Batista and his rival Ernesto "Che" Guevara|
Friday, July 15, 2016
We have entered a new era of conflict, warns new book by Emeritus Professor Paul Rogers IB Tauris) , he reflects on Isis, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, and the Taliban - all separate manifestations, he says, of a new non-state dynamic driving international conflict through asymmetric and hybrid warfare. But their significance is more fundamental. They are part of what Rogers calls “an historical shift towards revolts from the margins”. And such revolts are made more likely by “the widening global socio-economic divide and the onset of climate disruption”. In this holistic approach, he points to the enormous and growing gap between the world’s rich and poor. But the old division between rich countries and poor countries no longer applies as figures from the US demonstrate dramatically. Rogers points to David Hulme’s book, Global Poverty: Global Governance and Poor People in the Post-2015 Era – while the global poverty rate may be declining slowly, the relative poverty rate in high-income countries has increased, and has more than doubled in the developing world. Meanwhile, the global military-industrial complex consumes some $1,700 bn a year. There are likely to be two fundamental trends threatening world security, according to Rogers. One is “the increasing marginalisation of the majority of the world’s people caused by the workings of the neo-liberal system of international economic activity” which concentrates most of the fruits of economic growth in the hands of a transglobal elite of some 1.5bn people. More