Saturday, March 2, 2019

How much Greenhouse Gas is in the Atmosphere?

The following graph shows the proportions of atmospheric gases as reported by NASA.  The vast majority of the atmosphere is Nitrogen and Oxygen, which account for about 99% of the atmosphere.  Of the remaining 1% (the expanded pie slice on the right), almost all of it is Argon (0.93%).  The tiny red slice is Carbon Dioxide, which accounts for 0.035% of the Earth's atmosphere.  On days with normal or higher humidity, water is the third largest component gas in the atmosphere.  Water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas , but water vapor's concentration in the atmosphere is highly variable. Of all the greenhouse gases,water vapor has the largest impact on global temperature because of its relatively high concentration in the atmosphere, far outstripping the effects of methane and Carbon Dioxide combined (water vapor accounts for 2/3 of today's greenhouse gas warming). In fact, without the warming effect of water vapor, Earth would have an average temperature below freezing (this actually occurred at the end of the Precambrian).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Global warming. The good, the bad, the ugly and the efficient
A view of Earth seen from the International Space Station (ISS) taken by current ISS crew member, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko.

Global climate change has been portrayed largely as an unmitigated catastrophe for humans and the environment but, in reality, the topic is more nuanced. Although scientists agree that the climate is changing and many accept that anthropogenic increases in CO2are to blame, there is actually both good and bad news about global warming—and some ugly news about abatement strategies. The media and the scientific literature pay little attention to the possible benefits for some parts of the world of a warming climate; bad news always attracts more attention.-A warmer climate, especially during the winter months, would mean a longer growing season in all parts of the world that now experience frost and snow during the winter. Any part of the world above 40ยบ North will probably enjoy less ice and freezing weather, and a greater number of warmer days in the future. 
So far from being a villain, carbon dioxide is essential to life on earth.- Why is plant growth way up? Because of all the extra carbon dioxide in the air. According to the study, which was published this week in the scientific journal Nature, the total area of the planet that's covered by plants has increased by more than 11 million square miles in the last 33 years.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ancient Fresh Water Lake On Mars Could Have Sustained Life

Drill hole in an ancient mudstone on Mars. (Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London).
Scientists have found evidence that there was once an ancient lake on Mars that may have been able to support life, in research published recently in the journal Science.
The team's analysis showed that the lake was calm and likely had fresh water, containing key biological elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur. Such a lake would provide perfect conditions for simple microbial life such as chemolithoautotrophs to thrive in.
"It is exciting to think that billions of years ago, ancient microbial life may have existed in the lake's calm waters, converting a rich array of elements into energy. The next phase of the mission, where we will be exploring more rocky outcrops on the crater's surface, could hold the key whether life did exist on the red planet." Cited from Science

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Etna eruption produces beautiful steam rings

Etna continues to produce beautiful steam rings.
Update Sat 23 Nov 10:37
The latest paroxysm at the New SE crater started this morning. Strombolian explosions increased quickly and are now merging into lava fountains. You can follow the activity live at 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fish in the Santana Formation of Brazil

Fish remains of remarkable state of preservation and beauty have been found in calcareous concretions in the Santana Formation of north-east Brazil. The fossil-bearing concretions occur in the Araripe Basin at various localities at the boundary between Ceara, Pernambuco, and Piaui provinces. The strata containing the fish concretions lie at the base of the Araripe Plateau and are of Cretaceous age (Aptina-Albain, about 100 million years). At that time, Africa and South America were starting to rift apart and the South Atlantic was opening up in a narrow shallow sea. It is thought that salinity changes may have been responsible for the mass deaths of the marine fish fauna. The fish shown here has a length of 43 cm. Photos by P.Stacher.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig owned by Transocean has drilled the deepest oil well in history (35,050 feet) in September 2009 in the Gulf of Mexico. In January, the rig started operation at a British Petroleum project, approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252. On April 20 a fatal explosion occurred on the rig. Of the 126-member crew, 115 were safely evacuated. Despite exhaustive rescue efforts, eleven crew members lost their lives, nine of which were Transocean employees. After an unsuccessful effort to douse the fire, the remains of the rig sank to the ocean floor 5,000 feet below.
The cause of the incident is not known at present. It is assumed that a minor blow-out has occured. Oil and gas, was flowing from the formation into the wellbore and was rising undetected up to the rig floor where the gas was ignited. After the explosion it was not possible anymore to shut the well by activating the underwater blowout-preventer (BOP). It was reported that the rig had apparently just finished cementing steel casing before the well was to be suspended. The plan was to re-enter the well later with another rig to complete the work and bring the well into production.
The Transocean Deepwater Horizon is a floating rig that moves with the waves. The pressure control equipment sits on the seabed and is controlled remotely from the platform. Although there are enormous safety measures in place to prevent drilling incidents the risks are always present in the industry. Transocean is one of the industry's most safety-conscious and experienced deep-water company that has recently moved head quarters to Zug, Switzerland.
A catastrophic amount of oil is spreading over the ocean and threatens land, wildlife and the seafood industry. An oil spill quite this bad had not been seen since the Exxon Valdez incident some twenty years ago.