Friday, July 11, 2008

The Time Is Now, Climate Experts Warn

Earlier this week, renowned NASA climate scientist James Hansen warned Congress of the dangers of climate change, exactly 20 years after he did so for the first time.

The message he delivered was almost the same as it was in 1988, but there was one key difference: "The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb," he said.

Hansen's message painted a stark and urgent picture of a world already past the point where significant damage would occur. Discovery News wanted to know if other scientists shared his view. Are we really in for it and at what point? What are our options for avoiding the worst?

Earth's Carbon Budget

Hansen argued this week that the "safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is no more than 350 ppm (parts per million), and it may be less." This recommended level is less than the amount currently in the atmosphere -- 385 ppm. It may also be less than the commonly discussed stabilization target of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) of temperature increase, which probably corresponds to an atmospheric CO2 concentration of about 350-400 ppm.

Already, he argued, arid lands are expanding, glaciers are receding, and Arctic sea ice is shrinking, driven by cycles of positive feedback, where melting leads to more warming of the exposed dark ocean water, which leads to more melting.

"As a result, without any additional greenhouse gases, the Arctic soon will be ice-free in the summer," Hansen said.

To forest ecologist Lee Frelich at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Hansen's argument that a lower stabilization target is safer makes sense.

"If you look at the paleological record, in the last interglacial period 110,000 to 120,000 years ago, the world was thought to have a climate that was two degrees warmer than today," Frelich said. "The oceans were 20 to 25 feet higher, but CO2 was only 290 ppm. I've always thought that if a CO2 content of 290 could cause that, why won't it do it now? Maybe there's just a lag time."

"I'm sympathetic to a more aggressive goal," said glaciologist Jay Zwally of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The goal that people have adopted of keeping it to a total of two degrees [Celsius] rise since the preindustrial is still going to allow enough warming that we'll have an even more significant impact than we've already seen," he said.

While other scientists agree that 350 ppm is a safer target that increases the likelihood we will avoid many of the negative effects of climate change, some also think it's unrealistic.

"Three hundred and fifty is impossible," said climatologist Stephen Schneider of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. "We're going to overshoot 350 and 450 and probably 550, though I sure hope not."

Schneider's hope is that while it might still be 20 years before actions to reduce CO2 emissions really have an effect, innovations over the next two decades will make it possible to dramatically reduce emissions.

"My cynical scenario is that there will be more Katrinas, massive fires, melting of the Arctic, and people will say, 'Oh my God, what have we done. We'd better undo this,'" he said. Such catastrophes could finally spark the dramatic change that's needed, he suggests, if we don't take action sooner of our own accord.

"I try not to talk about a threshold of two degrees," Schneider added. "At 1.8 the world is not fine. At 2.2, we don't turn into a climatic pumpkin. We just have more severe events. The object is not to get hung up on the numbers. The object is to get out there and get solutions."

Others agreed.

Nevermind the Tipping Point

"Time is of the essence here. I don't know if targets like 350 ppm are that useful," said John Harte of the University of California, Berkeley. "We can't make a regulation on something we can't control. We don't regulate temperature, and we don't even regulate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, we control what our automobiles look like. We control the efficiency of our devices. We control what our energy looks like."

"I'm not so enthused about the concept of the tipping point," he added. "My view is that we've probably passed some tipping points. We've entered some realms of irreversibility. There are probably many more, but we don't know where they are."

"We know that if we don't take action, it will be a disaster," he said. "That's all we need to know."

Whether they focused on thresholds or not, the scientists all agreed that the problem is urgent and that not doing anything will lead to disaster: rising sea levels, food shortages, spread of infectious diseases and extinctions.

Starting From Here...

Hansen argued that to achieve the target of 350 ppm, we need to put a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants and phase out burning coal without capturing and storing the carbon.

While scientists agree that coal is a huge part of the problem, they also emphasized the need to apply every available sensible strategy to address the problem.

"There seems to be an emphasis on coal and a distraction from other things we can be doing as well," NASA's Zwally said.

"Some people think that climate change is just about saving a few rare species, and it's just environmentalists making a fuss," Frelich said. "That's really not it."

"It's really about the quality of life for people," he continued. The Earth has been through many big changes before. There have been big extinctions, and new species have evolved to fill the ecosystems. It's not a big deal to the Earth's ecosystems, but it will be a really big deal for the quality of life of humans."

Frelich points out that right now the best soil for growing crops in the United States aligns ideally with the right climate for agriculture. But if the favorable climate moves north, it will be over Canada in an area where bedrock lies at the surface, stripped of soil by the last glaciation.

"If the best climate for growing crops lines up with the Canadian shield, that's an issue for people," he adds.

The scientists also pointed out that countries that tackle this most aggressively will be the winners, regardless of what other nations have committed to.

"The economic giants of the rest of this century are going to be the nations that are selling wind turbines and solar panels and efficient cars to the rest of the world," said Harte. "I would think we'd want to be the leader in that."

"Solving this problem is technologically and economically not that difficult," Harte added. "It's proving to be politically difficult."

credited to Discovery News

Top 10 unusual places to stay

From converted train cars to converted prisons, travel Web site has come up with its picks of the 10 most unusual places to stay.

"With limited vacation time, there's no reason your lodging shouldn't be part of the travel experience," said general manager Giampiero Ambrosi.

1. Edisto River Treehouses - Canadys, South Carolina

For those who refuse to grow up, a stay in a tree house is a dream come true. Not only is it fun, but it's clean, safe, and very reasonable.

Each treehouse is tucked in the woods out of view of any other, nestled in the trees on the river's edge, located on its own private, gurgling creek, solidly constructed of completely natural, often local materials, fully furnished with kitchen, futons, outdoor grill, dining deck, screened with a well-vented sleeping area.

This small tree-house-sized cabin is nestled in the woods. It comes simply equipped with a gas stove and a gas lamp. Those not sleeping in the loft have a double futon. A charcoal grill and picnic table are just outside your door. Rental includes the use of a canoe.Cost: $100 per person per night.

2. Celica Hostel - Ljubljana, Slovenia

If you've always wanted to spend a night in the slammer, now's your chance. Once a military prison, this happening hot spot is now an art gallery/youth hostel

Hostel CELICA is a fully artistically renewed former prison on Metelkova street in the center of Ljubljana. The hostel is only 5 minutes walking distance from the main railway and bus station.

Hostel facilities: 24/7 service, Luggage room, Safety deposit box, Guests kitchen, Laundry, Wheelchair friendly, Friendly staff, Cyber point, Library, TV room, Souvenirs, Tourist information point, Hostel Information Point - HIP, Meeting rooms

3. Schottenstift Monastery - Vienna, Austria

If the bellboys look like monks, you're not imagining things. This hotel is actually a functioning monastery where your wake-up call might just be chanting.

Staying at the Schottenstift Monastery Guesthouse was the single best thing about my trip to Vienna. I can't imagine any hotel which would have pleased me so much or any more perfect location. The Schottenstift was founded in 1155 and while the gueshouse is relatively modern, the entry through the vast door and up the winding staircase is staight out of some medieval knight-templars tale. There is one triple room here and it is worth booking for two, just for the view.

Directly opening on to the street, every morning I could throw open the windows and savour all the sights and sounds of Freyung and the Christmas market. Waking up to pealing bells was a constant pleasure and coming home each evening to this warm, other-worldy haven right in the centre of everything was a thrill every time. Breakfast is included in the price and while it does not include any hot foods ( like bacon and eggs) there are loads of cheese, salami, breads, cereals, fruit etc.

There is a small extra charge for staying just one night. The Benedictushaus is open to all. though not very many people know about it.

4. The Red Caboose Motel - Strasburg, Pennsylvania

All aboard! Although they once traveled from city to city, these little red cabooses now function as private hotel rooms. Needless to say, kids go crazy for this place.

It all started in 1969 when Don Denlinger was dared to bid on 19 old cabooses being auctioned off by the Pennsylvania Rail Road. Although Don jokingly put in a bid below the scrap value of the cabooses, he still had the highest bid and was now stuck with the old train cabooses. What can you do with 19 Rail Road Cabooses???

What started off as a dare has grown into one of Lancaster County's most unusual motel, with over 40 rooms made from fully restored 25-ton cabooses. Located in the heart of Amish farmlands, the Red Caboose is now owned by Larry Demarco. After years of neglect, Larry has begun to fully restore the many colored cabooses to bring back the family fun.

5. Propeller Island - Berlin, Germany

Art lovers rejoice! From upside-down rooms to levitating beds, it's the next best thing to spending the night in a museum.

Propeller island - this means aesthetic sensation for the eye and the ear. propeller island is a pseudonym used by the german artist lars stroschen to publish his audio-visual creations. unlimited diversity, repeating nothing and copying nothing are the guiding principles here.
the most popular result: the CITY LODGE, a habitable work of art in the heart of berlin, whose wealth of ideas never fails to attract everyone into its gravitational field and to continue inspiring guests long afterwards. a magnet for creative individuals, those weary of consumption, those who see things differently, philosophers and seekers of perspective and vision. frequented by personalities from around the globe, this vision machine is a much-desired shooting site for photo sessions and video clips. is that perhaps the reason these rooms seem so familiar to you...?

6. Schlosshotel Schönburg - Oberwesel, Germany

For a true fantasy experience, nothing beats a night in a genuine castle. In spite of its long history, all modern amenities, including Internet service, are available to guests.

Schlosshotel Schönburg in Oberwesel - about 10km downstream from Bacharach - is certainly one of the most expensive, but also very best and most exclusive castle-hotels along the river Rhine. The old castle dates back to the 10th century and today the castle is used partly as a luxury hotel and another part of the old castle is used as a "Kolpingheim / hostel" and a hotel next to the castle.

7. Ariau Amazon Towers - Near Manaus, Brazil

Connected by a series of catwalks, eight buildings comprise this compound, which has become a favorite of celebrities and everyday travelers alike.

"Imagine a hotel built among Amazon treetops: catwalks 70 feet up leading from a great circular dining room of polished tropical woods, a bar like an eagle's nest, a honeymoon suite built 110 feet up a mahogany tree, and friendly monkeys, macaws, sloths, and parrots scampering, fluttering, and dangling all over the place."

Conde Nast Traveler, March 1996

Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel is located 35 miles from Manuas, Brazil at the confluence of the Rio Negro and Ariau Creek. Built entirely at the level of the Rainforest Canopy, Ariau's towers are linked together by 4 miles of sturdy wooden catwalks. This architectural wonder affords visitors a unique communion with the regions abundant flora and fauna while leaving the fragile eco-system completely undisturbed.

8. Hotel Sidi Driss - Matmata, Tunisia

The force was with the cast and crew of Star Wars when they filmed at this out-of-this-world property. The amenities are minimal, but at less than $20 a night, so is the price.

The Hotel Sidi Driss, where scenes from the Lars homestead in Star Wars were filmed. Accommodation is simple (the bedrooms are formed from individual caves hollowed out from the rock, with shared bathroom facilities), but unique; visit for a day trip or spend the night.

Ask your hotel if they can arrange a tour of a traditional troglodyte (cave) dwelling; many such properties are located around the village and are today still inhabited by local families. There is a small museum behind the Hotel Sidi Driss, displaying local history. The stone village of Tamezret, 10km west of town on the Douz road makes an interesting side trip.

9. Euromast - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

A tourist attraction by day, this imposing tower becomes an exclusive hotel at night. Those wishing to give it a go should book early; the tower's two suites fill up three months out.

Book the Euromast for a night and you’ll feel like playing the leading role in a Hollywood movie: A bottle of champagne is waiting for you and till 1 o’clock in the evening you can order room service, the view of Rotterdam is breathtaking and inside you’ll experience the charm and romance of the sixties. The building dates back from that period and high up on the Euromast you can feel it too when you’re rocking on the wind and when in winter frost flowers are covering the windows (no double glazing). Even the furnishing of the suites is completely ‘sixties’. And you can go outside as well. From 10 o’clock in the evening till 10 o’clock in the morning (from April to September till 9.30 hrs) the biggest and highest balcony in Rotterdam is all yours and yours alone.

10. The Giraffe Manor - Nairobi, Kenya

Don't bother with a "Do Not Disturb" sign. The long-necked visitors who peek in through the windows of this extraordinary compound will just ignore it.

The Giraffe Manor is an elegant, personally hosted, small and exclusive hotel, famous for its resident herd of giraffe. The Giraffe Manor offers a rich blend of welcoming accommodation, highly trained and friendly staff, as well as one of Nairobi's finest kitchens.

Travellers from all over the world now make The Giraffe Manor part of their East African safari, the only place in the world where you can enjoy the breathtaking experience of feeding and photographing the giraffe over the breakfast table and at the front door.

credited to and

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic storm season - Hurricane Bertha

Hurricane Bertha strengthened again into a Category 2 storm on Wednesday as it inched closer to Bermuda, but it remained uncertain whether the hurricane would actually strike the British mid-Atlantic colony, U.S. forecasters said.

The first hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic storm season surprised forecasters with the speed and vigor at which it strengthened into a "major" Category 3 hurricane on Monday, only to almost fizzle back into a tropical storm on Tuesday.

But warm waters and more favorable atmospheric wind conditions allowed the storm to once again gain traction and reach the second level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

"Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours and Bertha could again become a major hurricane," the Miami-based center said in an advisory.

Hurricanes of Category 3 and above are called "major" hurricanes and are the strongest and most destructive. Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005, was a monstrous Category 5 storm in the Gulf of Mexico before coming ashore as a Category 3.

Hurricane Bertha's top sustained winds had reached 105 miles per hour by 5 p.m. EDT, the hurricane center said.

The storm was around 600 miles southeast of Bermuda, a wealthy finance center whose 66,000 people are regarded as among the most storm-conscious and whose building codes rank among the strictest in the region.

It was moving northwest near 12 mph and was expected to slow down and turn north on a course that would take it well to the east of Bermuda. Bermuda, though, still needed to keep an eye on Bertha, the hurricane center said.

It was highly unlikely that the storm would target the U.S. East Coast, hurricane experts said, and the Gulf of Mexico, where the United States produces a third of its domestic crude oil, has been out of the firing line for days.

Bertha developed last week near the Cape Verde islands off Africa.

Its formation so far east so early in the season that began on June 1 and its explosive growth from a tropical storm into a major hurricane could be seen as harbingers of a busy summer.

Hurricane experts have predicted the six-month season, which rarely gets into high gear before August, would see an average or above-average number of storms, though nothing like record-busting 2005, when 28 formed.

credited to and

Beautiful Lake Western Brook in Canada

The Western Brook Pond is a Canadian fjord or lake located in Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. It is in the Long Range Mountains, the most northern section of the Appalachian Mountains.

It is surrounded by steep rock walls 600 m (2,000 ft) high., having been carved from the surrounding plateau by glaciers. After the glaciers melted, the land rebounded and the fjord was cut off from the sea. Salty water was eventually flushed from the fjord leaving it fresh. The catchment area is composed of igneous rock with relatively thin soil, so the waters feeding Western Brook Pond are low in nutrients and the lake is classified as ultraoligotrophic. It is fed by Stag Brook at the extreme eastern end of the lake and by numerous waterfalls cascading from the plateau above. One of these, Pissing Mare Falls at 350 m (1,100 ft), is one of the highest in eastern North America.

The lake is accessible by a moderate-easy 3 km (1.9 mi) hiking trail over coastal bogs and low limestone ridges. Two tour boats, one with a capacity of 70 passengers and the other 90 passengers, cruise the lake from June to mid-October. The lake waters are pristine, having had very little impact from human activities. The tour boat operators had to undergo special certification to ensure that their operations would have minimal impact on the environment.

In the early part of the 20th century, a part of the surrounding cliff broke off and fell into the lake, causing a 30 m (98 ft) tsunami.

credited to wikipedia and flickr users: joanpopular, tmod, rjproduct, murrayrudd, hoodieR, learningful, prestonbromley

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sacred sites of Bali

The island of Bali is geographically located about 8 degrees south of the equator and about 18 degrees north of the western end of Australia. One of the thousands of islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is a relatively small island with an area of only 2147 square miles (5633 sq. kilometers). Originally inhabited by aboriginal peoples of uncertain origin, Bali was colonized by a seafaring people, called the Austronesians, some four of five thousand years ago. Since the seventh century AD, the animistic Balinese have absorbed diverse elements of Mahayana Buddhism, orthodox Shivaism and Tantrism. Today, the island is the only remaining stronghold of Hinduism in the archipelago, and Balinese religion is a fascinating amalgam of Hinduism, Buddhism, Malay ancestor cults, and animistic and magical beliefs and practices.

A range of towering volcanic mountains divides the island into northern and southern portions. For the Balinese these mountains are the homes of the gods. The range includes four primary sacred mountains: Agung, Batur, Batukao and Abang. Of these, Gunung Agung, Bali's highest mountain at 10,308 feet (3142 meters), is the most sacred to the island's Hindus, while Gunung Batur is considered most holy by the aboriginal people living in the remote jungles around Lake Batur. Mt. Agung is the abode of Batara Gunung Agung, also identified as Mahadewa, the supreme manifestation of Shiva. Mt. Batur and Lake Batur are sacred to Dewi Danu, the Goddess of the Lake. Also called Ida Ratu Ayu Dalem Pingit, this goddess is regarded as the provider of irrigation water in the form of bubbling natural springs that issue all over the lower slopes of Mt. Batur. An enormous fresh-water lake of 4240 acres, sacred Lake Batur is considered by farmers and priests to be the ultimate source of the springs and rivers that provide irrigation water for the whole of central Bali.

Bali is an island of temples. The Department of Religion has cataloged at least eleven thousand temples - small and large, local and regional. The Balinese call a shrine palinggih, which simply means "place" or "seat" and refers to any sort of temporary or permanent place toward which devotions and offerings are made. In no case is the shrine itself considered sacred; the shrine exists or is built as a residence for sacred, or holy, spirits - either ancestors or Hindu deities. Balinese temples are not closed buildings, but rectangular courtyards open to the sky, with rows of shrines and altars dedicated to various gods and deities. The gods are not thought to be present in the temples except on the dates of the temple's festivals, and therefore the temples are usually left empty. On festival days the congregation of each temple assembles to pray to and entertain the visiting deities. Most Balinese families belong to a half dozen or more temples and devote several weeks of labor each year to maintaining the temples and preparing them for numerous festivals.

In Bali are found six supremely holy temples, called Sad Kahyangan, or the "six temples of the world". They are Pura Besakih, Pura Lempuyang Luhur, Pura Gua Lawah, Pura Batukaru, Pura Pusering Jagat, and Pura Uluwatu. The most famous temple in all Bali is the triple shrine located in the courtyard of the Pura Penataran Agung at Pura Besakih. At this shrine three Padmasanas (a type of shrine) are arranged side by side. Although it is often said that the three shrines are for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, all are fundamentally dedicated to Shiva. The elaborate tiered shrine is called a meru and symbolizes the world mountain, Gunung Maha Meru. Something like a Chinese pagoda, a meru is constructed of an odd number - up to eleven - of thatched tiers. The laws of traditional Balinese architecture carefully specify the dimensions of a meru, the way it must be constructed, the types of wood appropriate for each part, and the ceremonies involved in its dedication. If, for some reason, a shrine must be moved to another location, the spirit of the shrine is first transferred to a daksina, a special offering, which is then placed nearby in a temporary shrine. The original shrine is completely destroyed. None of its components may be reused for any purpose. Often the materials are dumped into the sea to insure that they are not unwittingly used again. This practice is in contrast to certain other religious traditions where the reuse of the remains of earlier temples is considered to actually increase the sanctity and power of newer temples.

Other important Balinese temples are Pura Ulun Danu Batur, the Temple of the Crater Lake, dedicated to the Lake Goddess Dewi Danu, and Tirta Empul, where flow the holiest waters of Bali, believed to possess magical curative powers.

credited to and flickr users: xdawnx, ashkani, alfianz, natureschild, usch150905

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Most beautiful beaches in Dubai

I would add Dubai beaches to the best beaches in the world list. Dubai has a few magnificent white sandy beaches. Water is crystal clear. So if you are a beach lover then you will love Dubai beaches.
My favourite Dubai beaches are Jumeirah beach and Mamzar park beach.

Jumeirah Beach

Jumeirah is about 25 minutes drive from the Dubai city centre. Jumeirah beach is world famous because of Burj Al Arab 7 Star Hotel and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. You can visit the 7 star hotel if you are planning visit this beach.

Jumeirah beach is a few kilometres long. Not very crowded. Barbecue facilities are available in many places. Lifesavers are on duty throughout the day.

Jumeirah beach is a very safe place even for children. Water is very shallow. There is a road parallel to the beach. You can drive and select the best spot for you.

Mamzar Beach

Mamzar is a famous park in Dubai. One border of the park is the lovely Mamzar beach. Therefore you need to buy tickets to the park to access the beach.

Mamzar is also about 25 minutes drive from the city centre, but in a different direction from Jumeirah beach. This beach is made for holidaymakers. It has barbecue spots, chalets and many more facilities to attract visitors.

Jebel Ali Beach in Dubai

Jebel Ali is about 40 KM away from the Dubai city. Jebel Ali is famous due to various things. Most of the duty free industrial zones are located in Jebel Ali. It is also known as a place of good Golf Clubs, holiday resorts and hotels.

But Jebel Ali is more famous because of the beautiful beach and proposed Palm Island development. Also there are lot of luxury apartment buildings are in Jebel Ali.

The Dubai beach does not have large waves. Especially Mamzar beach is almost like a swimming pool. However, Jumeirah beach has waves on windy days. You will have to wait for a good day if you are planning windsurfing.

Friday is the weekend in Dubai. Dubai beaches are a bit crowded on Thursday evenings and Fridays.

The bad news is alcohol is not permitted in public places in Dubai. That includes Dubai beaches. Therefore don’t expect beach bars along the beach.

credited to flickr users: chrised, bigblue, radziun, ttva, spoonfork, chrisdubai, wackospecialist, nuppo, asteyn, eidetic-images, dnilo

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Arctic ice melting at record speed

Tens of thousands of years ago, "armadas of ice" crumbled off of the ice sheet covering North America into the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away on the other side of the continent, icebergs calved off of another ice sheet into the Pacific.

Their synchrony -- just uncovered by new research -- suggests the events might be connected in a long-distance domino effect. The fact that melting at one location may influence ice sheets afar may be useful in understanding the behavior of ice today, according to the study's authors.

"What it is saying is that these ice sheets are connected," said lead author Ingrid Hendy of the University of Michigan. "If we melt Greenland, we could raise sea level and affect Antarctica. Or, if we melt Greenland, we can affect the tidewater glaciers up in Alaska."

Hendy and colleagues analyzed a sediment core collected off the western coast of Vancouver Island, in southern British Columbia. They analyzed the grain sizes of the sand and pebbles in the 130-foot core, using zooplankton remains to determine the date when the debris was deposited. The team published their results in Paleoceanography.

Because the core was taken offshore, past where waves could carry large particles of sand, large debris inside it is assumed to come from an iceberg -- laden with larger sand and pebbles trapped in the ice -- that floated out to sea and melted overhead, dropping the grains to the sea floor.

Such events in the sediment record indicate times when icebergs calved off a nearby ice sheet, in this case the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, which grew down from Alaska into northern Washington, reaching its maximum size 17,500 years ago.

Hendy identified three calving events, but they did not occur in synchrony with major climate swings in the Pacific.

"I was anticipating that I'd see the ice sheets responding to the rapid climate events," Hendy said. "What I found was that the ice sheet doesn't really care."

But the two major events both coincided with enormous so-called Heinrich events approximately 16,000 and 47,000 years ago, when huge numbers of icebergs broke off of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which covered most of Canada and much of the northern United States, into the north Atlantic.

"Heinrich events are armadas of ice," said John Clague of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, who was not a part of the study. "They are massive discharges of ice."

Hendy proposes two explanations for how the Heinrich events in the north Atlantic may have influenced melting in of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet in the Pacific.

One possibility is that the Heinrich events triggered sea-level rise, which caused the margins of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet to float up and destabilize.

However, there is no strong evidence that a change in sea level occurred at these times. "But there's something going on then, because the corals don't seem to be growing," Hendy said.

Another possibility, she said, is that continental temperatures had increased, especially in summertime, leading to calving from both ice sheets.

"If you warm up the North American continent, you connect the Laurentide to the Cordilleran," she said.

"The relation between the events in the west and the east is good enough that coincidences and accidents won't work," said Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University in State College, "but I'm not positive whether one can tell whether the [ice debris] is a warming or a cooling signal in the west, or maybe a sea-level signal."

Alley thinks sea level is least likely.

Understanding the connection between the ice sheets could be helpful for predicting what will happen under today's climate change.

"We know that our climate models now can't predict the full amount of climate change that we see," Hendy said, "If we know what the connections were in the past, we could say whether they would happen again."

credited to

Vatnajokull - Iceland

Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Iceland. It is located in the south-east of the island, covering more than 8% of the country. With a size of 8,100 km², it is the largest glacier in Europe in volume (almost 3,000 km²) and the second largest (after Austfonna on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard) in area (not counting the still larger ice cap of Severny Island of Novaya Zemlya, Russia, which is located in the extreme northeast of Europe).

The average thickness of the ice is 400 m, with a maximum thickness of 1,000 m. Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur (2,110 m), is located in the southern periphery of Vatnajökull, near Skaftafell National Park. It is classified as an ice cap glacier.

Under the glacier, as under many of the glaciers of Iceland, there are several volcanoes. The volcanic lakes, Grímsvötn for example, were the sources of a large glacier run in 1996. The volcano under these lakes also caused a considerable but short-time eruption in the beginning of November 2004. During the last ice age, numerous volcanic eruptions occurred under Vatnajökull, creating many subglacial eruptions. These eruptions formed tuyas, such as Herðubreið which originally sat beneath Vatnajökull during the last ice age.

Vatnajökull has been shrinking for some years now, possibly because of climatic changes and recent volcanic activity.

According to Guinness World Records Vatnajökull is the object of the world's longest sight line, 550 km from Slættaratindur, the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands. GWR state that "owing to the light bending effects of atmospheric refraction, Vatnajökull (2119m), Iceland, can sometimes be seen from the Faroe Islands, 340 miles (550km) away". This may be based on a claimed sighting by a British sailor in 1939.

credited to wikipedia and flickr users: patmueller, brostad, snorkstelp, steverideou, cuba_photos, bigfez, rossinblu, sverre_klein