Greenland ice melt could raise seas less than feared, study says
May 3rd, 2012
05:05 PM ET

Greenland ice melt could raise seas less than feared, study says

(CNN) - Greenland's glaciers are sliding into oceans at a faster pace than previously known, but they may contribute less to an expected rise in global sea level than feared, scientists reported Thursday.

From 2000 to 2010, researchers at the University of Washington and Ohio State University monitored the vast rivers of ice that course across the world's largest island. Their results, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Science, found that glaciers in northwestern and southeastern Greenland flowing toward the Arctic and Atlantic oceans picked up speed by about 30%, on average.

"Glaciers are continuing to accelerate, which means they are continuing to put more ice into the ocean," said University of Washington at Seattle glaciologist Twila Moon, the paper's lead author. "And as soon as that ice hits the ocean, it's contributing to sea-level rise."

But Moon said her group's data suggests that contribution will be less than existing worst-case scenarios.

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Filed under: Global Warming • On Earth
Star wandering too close to a black hole gets ripped apart
Simulation of a black hole flare.
May 3rd, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Star wandering too close to a black hole gets ripped apart

Astronomers know that stars coming too close to the super-massive black holes at the center of most galaxies get ripped apart by extreme gravitational forces. They've even seen it happen, but up until know, scientists hadn't ever been able to tell what type of star got annihilated.

Suvi Gezari, from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, and her team of astronomers used a series of of telescopes both on Earth and in space to study the swallowed star, which is located in a galaxy 2.7 billion light-years away. Gezari likens her study to "gathering evidence from a crime scene."

Using spectroscopy to study the flare emitted by the gas being sucked into the black hole, as well being ejected from the black hole at high speed, astronomers can see that the gas is made up primarily of helium, marking the gravitational victim as a red giant star.

Observations of this tidal flare yielded insights about the environment around the super-massive black hole and the stars that orbit around it.

A similar system is expected to exist at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.
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Filed under: Discoveries • In Space
May 3rd, 2012
12:26 PM ET

Moon over Cinco de Mayo

Many of you are likely contemplating weekend plans since Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, but there may be another event to pencil into your calendar: viewing the "super moon." At 11:35 p.m. ET Saturday, the official full moon will occur at the same time its orbit brings the familiar white globe closest to Earth.

The moon will appear very large and bright in the sky, about 16% brighter than usual. The best location to view the moon at its largest is when it is along the horizon after rising and just before setting. Viewing the moon behind buildings and trees creates an optical illusion so it appears even larger, making it a perfect time to try and grab some beautiful pictures.

So why is this full moon "super"? As the moon orbits the Earth, there are specific times when it is closest to and farthest away from our planet. Apogee occurs when the moon is farthest away from Earth, and perigee occurs when it is closest. On Saturday, the moon will be at its perigee and thus very close to Earth about 221,000 miles away.
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Filed under: On Earth
Broken Sea
May 3rd, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Broken Sea

"The partially broken sea ice pack below NASA's ER-2 can be clearly seen through the pilot's cockpit viewing sight during one of the MABEL laser altimeter validation flights.

For more information go to http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/ER-2_completes_MABEL_deployment.html"

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen

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