Friday, December 29, 2006

Of penguins and polar bears, of warming and freezing

Science stories that caught my eye or ear this week and that those of you on vacation might have missed.

Penguins
A biologist, a geographer, and a geologist proved that interdisciplinary research can generate some really fascinating results. This week, the journal Geology reports on their findings: A 45,000 year record of Adelie penguins and climate change in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. They used radiocarbon dates from penguin remains to construct a chronology of penguin habitation and ice sheet advances.

Polar Bears
Despite disavowing human-induced climate change and refusing to take actions to mitigate the threats posed by a changing climate (whether human or not, it's happening), apparently the Bush administration thinks it should list polar bears as threatened, specifically because melting Arctic sea ice is jeopardizing the bears' access to food. Listen to the NPR story (Climate Change may put polar bears on threatened lis) and see also the NY times article.

Warming
Speaking of meltic Arctic ice, CNN.com is running a story on the loss of a big ice shelf from Ellesmere Island last summer. I remember this generating some (scientific?) media attention when the even was first detected, and I'm not sure why it's in the news now. My guess is that the researchers have a paper coming out now.

Freezing
Some sleepless NPR staff member happened upon an error in the NWS forecast for San Jose this weekend. Apparently, a computer glitch caused the temperature to be forecast as -30,000 degrees (measurement scale not specified). It was a light news day, so they ran with it, talking to a local meteorologist and physicist about the consequences of such a chilly day. I'm so glad the physicist brought up absolute zero, and I can't believe the meteorologist didn't.

1 comment:

Sonnjea B said...

I have dear family friends -- sort of like an extra set of parents -- whose only flaw (a huge one) is that they don't believe in global warming. Just doesn't exist. Ayiyi. I sent them the NY Times article. I doubt if it'll do any good, but I keep trying.