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Chain reaction shattered huge Antarctica ice shelf

By: RevElvis, 4:40 PM GMT on August 12, 2013

Chain reaction shattered huge Antarctica ice shelf

Draining of meltwater lakes from surface explains sudden demise of Larsen B.

It took decades for global warming to slowly melt the surface of the Larsen B Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, forming nearly 3,000 lakes. But at the end of the Antarctic summer of 2002, all the lakes drained away in the space of a week. And then the 2,700-square-kilometre ice shelf, which was some 220 metres thick and might have existed for some 12,000 years, rapidly disintegrated into small icebergs, leaving glaciologists scratching their heads.

Researchers have been wondering ever since what could have caused the sudden draining of the lakes, and whether this caused the demise of the ice shelf. Now, a study led by MacAyeal might answer both questions.

The researchers showed that if there are many lakes on an ice shelf, the disappearance of one lake could result in fractures under others - an effect that can spread rapidly throughout the ice shelf. "This chain reaction could explain why the lakes drained all together," MacAyeal said.

Most of the lakes were about 1,000 metres wide, according to a poster presentation at the same meeting by study co-author Alison Banwell. Once drained, each would leave behind a ring fracture about 4,000 metres wide. When lakes are tightly packed together, as they were on the Larsen B ice shelf, the chain of fracturing would result in thin icebergs calving off, Banwell said.

"This is a cool idea that could neatly explain the peculiar phenomenon of the Larsen B breakup," says Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

"It adds into a more complete picture of ice-shelf disintegration," says Christina Hulbe, a geophysicist at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. But, she says, it remains to be seen how it works together with other mechanisms %u2014 such as sustained propagation of natural fractures caused by prolonged surface melting, or ice-shelf thinning owing to warming oceans - to produce the catastrophic event seen with Larsen B.

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Keystone Light: The Keystone XL Alternative

By: RevElvis, 2:27 AM GMT on August 09, 2013

Keystone Light: The Keystone XL Alternative You've Never Heard of Is Probably Going to Be Built

While Keystone XL languishes, a rival pipeline plan is speeding through the approval process.

One of TransCanada's rivals, Enbridge Inc., has quietly been moving ahead with a slightly smaller pipeline project that could be piping 660,000 barrels of crude per day to the gulf by 2015. (The Keystone line would carry 700,000 barrels per day.) For environmentalists hoping that blocking the Keystone pipeline would choke the carbon-intensive development of the Canadian tar sands, the Enbridge Eastern Gulf pipeline would be a disaster.

The 774-mile pipeline would run from Patoka, Illinois, to St. James, Louisiana, alleviating a pipeline bottleneck in the Midwest, where the shale oil from North Dakota's Bakken formation meets the flow from Alberta's oil sands, overwhelming the capacity of the current pipelines. And although 200 miles of pipe destined for Keystone XL sits collecting dust in North Dakota with no shipping date in sight, the bulk of the Eastern Gulf project is already built—almost three quarters of it will be repurposed natural gas line. Without the public outcry that has bogged down Keystone, the project has flown along smoothly under the radar.

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Trouble in Fracking Paradise

By: RevElvis, 6:51 PM GMT on August 08, 2013

Trouble in fracking paradise ( 8/7/2013

Rising costs across the industry, and declining profitability for the supermajors in an era of triple-digit global prices, suggest that oil prices need to be higher to maintain output. Since domestic gasoline and diesel prices, which are strongly linked to global prices, have remained stubbornly high even while U.S. oil prices were falling this year, that suggests we will likely see gasoline prices pushing toward $4.50 a gallon next year in higher-priced U.S. markets like San Francisco and New York City.

Oil majors are whistling past the graveyard ( 3/20/2013

Peak oil was never about "running out." That's a strawman argument. The word "peak" in peak oil simply refers to the maximum production rate of oil, as I have explained ad nauseam. While oil producers constantly trumpet new discoveries and rising reserves, they tend to avoid talking about production rates.

But reserves are meaningless if they don't amount to an increasing rate of production. If you had a billion dollars to your name, but could only withdraw $1,000 a year, would you be worried about running out of money or paying your bills?

America's oil choice: Pay up, or get off ( 2/20/2013

It may seem strange to suggest that the United States should become a crude exporter, when it remains the world's top oil importer. In 2012, the country imported an average of 7.7 million barrels per day, or about 41 percent of its oil demand, according to EIA data. The second-largest importer is China, which currently imports 5.6 million barrels per day, according to Platts.

The Koch Brothers Really Don't Want You To See This Photo

By: RevElvis, 6:45 PM GMT on August 08, 2013

The Koch Brothers Really Don't Want You To See This Photo

NBC News:

"Ian Stirling, who has studied polar bears for nearly 40 years, told The Guardian newspaper that he found the animal on Svalbard in July.

“From his lying position in death the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped,” Stirling said. “He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone.”'

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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