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Ice melt projections may underestimate Antarctic contribution to sea level rise

Ice melt projections may underestimate Antarctic contribution to sea level rise
Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica, pictured in 2019. Credit: NASA

Fluctuations in the weather can have a significant impact on melting Antarctic ice, and models that do not include this factor can underestimate the global impact of sea level rise, according to Penn State scientists.

“We know ice sheets are melting as global temperatures increase, but uncertainties remain about how much and how fast that will happen,” said Chris Forest, professor of climate dynamics at Penn State. “Our findings shed new light on one area of uncertainty, suggesting climate variability has a significant impact on melting ice sheets and sea level rise.”

While it is understood that continued warming may cause rapid ice loss, models that predict how Antarctica will respond to climate change have not included the potential impacts of internal climate variability, like yearly and decadal fluctuations in the climate, the team of scientists said.

Accounting for climate variability caused models to predict an additional 2.7 to 4.3 inches—7 to 11 centimeters—of sea level rise by 2100, the scientists recently reported in the journal Climate Dynamics. The models projected roughly 10.6 to 14.9 inches—27 to 38 centimeters—of sea level rise during that same period without climate variability.

“That increase alone is comparable to the amount of sea level rise we have seen over the last few decades,” said Forest, who has appointments in the departments of meteorology and atmospheric science and geosciences. “Every bit adds on to the storm surge, which we expect to see during hurricanes and other severe weather events, and the results can be devastating.”

The Antarctic ice sheet is a complex system, and modeling how it will evolve under future climate conditions requires thousands of simulations and large amounts of computing power. Because of this, modelers test how the ice will respond using a mean temperature found by averaging the results of climate models.

However, that process smooths out peaks caused by climate variability and reduces the average number of days above temperature thresholds that can impact the ice sheet melt, creating a bias in the results, the scientists said.

“If we include variability in the simulations, we are going to have more warm days and more sunshine, and therefore when the daily temperature gets above a certain threshold it will melt the ice,” Forest said. “If we’re just running with average conditions, we’re not seeing these extremes happening on yearly or decadal timescales.”

To study the effects of internal climate variability, the researchers analyzed two large ensembles of climate simulations. Large ensembles are generated by starting each member with slightly different initial conditions. The chaotic nature of the climate system causes each member to yield slightly different responses, and this represents internally generated variability, the scientists said.

Instead of averaging the results of each ensemble, the scientists fed the atmospheric and oceanic data representing this variability into a three-dimensional Antarctic ice sheet model. They found atmospheric variations had a larger and more immediate impact on the ice sheet, but ocean variability was also a

Turkey to Revise Upward Its Major Gas Discovery in Black Sea

(Bloomberg) —

a bridge over a body of water

© Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

Turkey expects to raise its estimate for the amount of natural gas discovered in the Black Sea and plans to announce the new guidance as early as next week, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.


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The government will outline a sizable revision to the initial discovery of 320 billion cubic meters of recoverable gas, unveiled in August, once exploratory drilling is completed this month, the people said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the find.

The energy discovery in the Black Sea is critical for Turkey’s current-account balance which is dragged down by the need to import nearly all of the 50 billion cubic meters of gas the country consumes annually.

Drilling to a depth of around 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) at the Tuna-1 discovery would penetrate two additional formations that appear promising, a senior Turkish energy official said last month. A second drill ship is likely to be moved to the region next year.

Ankara has dramatically expanded energy exploration in the Black Sea and contested waters of the eastern Mediterranean. It’s keen to find sizable energy reserves to ease its heavy reliance on imports from Iran, Iraq and Russia, and support one of the biggest economies in the Middle East.

But the searches have mired the government in territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

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Thousands Of Sea Creatures Found Dead 5 Miles From Wakashio Wreck

The true scale of the devastating Wakashio oil spill is only just becoming apparent to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

Thousands of sea creatures have turned up dead around a small coral atoll five miles South West of the Wakashio wreck, called Ilot Brocus.

Local environmental NGO, Reef to Roots, were at the location of Ilot Brocus, a protected coral atoll, when they noticed how many sea creatures had died.

The videos, that have been widely circulated by local news in Mauritius since Monday September 28, describe the scene at low tide between the beach of Le Bouchon and Ilot Brocus the weekend prior.

Jose Berchand, Vice President of Reef to Roots explains what he saw. “At low tide between Le Bouchon beach and Ilot Brocus, there is a terrible smell. There are many sea creatures that we have found dead in the lagoon. There are many dead sea snakes, many dead eels, dead Madagascan Mud Crabs (Crabe Malgaches), dead octopus, a lot of dead fish and a really high number of dead shell creatures. You can see that they are dead within their shells.”

In the video (shown above), he also explains the smell of oil around the coral atoll, and traces of the thin oil film that can be seen floating on the surface.

The samples of the residue and dead sea creatures were taken away for analysis by the Government of Mauritius.

A coastline that was vibrant with marine life

This part of Mauritius had beaches that are usually full of cone snails, hermit crabs, sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers and other shell fish. The most vibrant corals and sponges of Mauritius grew in this region, and they had been more resilient to bleaching that impacted reefs in different areas of the world.

The Southern Eastern part of the coastline of Mauritius is known for being the most unspoilt and protected from the effects of large scale tourism in Mauritius, and was an important site for scientific study. 

It contains some of the greatest coastal and marine biodiversity in Mauritius due to its isolation from the more touristic areas of the North. Whales migrating from Antarctica can often be seen off the South coast of Mauritius from there. 

The beaches are important breeding grounds of

The Marangoni Effect can be used to obtain freshwater from the sea

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A study conducted at the Politecnico di Torino, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, presents a solar desalination device capable of spontaneously removing accumulated salt. In the future, this discovery could lead to the development of sustainable desalination systems with stable efficiencies over time

The Achilles’ heel of water desalination technologies is the crystallization of salt particles within the various components of the device. This clogging phenomenon causes a reduction in performance over time, thus limiting the durability of these devices. Tackling this problem is important to ensure a constant production of freshwater over time. Recently, innovative nanostructured materials with anti-clogging properties have been proposed, with the potential of limiting salt accumulation. However, the high cost of these materials makes large-scale production of commercial prototypes difficult.

Starting from this problem, a team of engineers from the Energy Department of the Politecnico di Torino (SMaLL), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has thoroughly studied the mechanisms underlying the transport of salt particles in desalination devices. The study started after noting an inconsistency between experimental observations and classical theoretical models of salt transport. In particular, the engineers of the Politecnico di Torino, after more than two years of numerical and laboratory research funded by the Compagnia di San Paolo (MITOR project) and the CleanWaterCenter (CWC), have shown that this large difference in the salt transport is due to the so-called Marangoni effect. Based on this discovery, the researchers of the Politecnico di Torino (Matteo Morciano, Matteo Fasano, Eliodoro Chiavazzo and Pietro Asinari, who also holds the position of Scientific Director of the National Institute of Metrological Research—INRiM) and of MIT (Svetlana V. Boriskina) have created a prototype capable of desalting seawater in a sustainable way and spontaneously removing the salt accumulated during operation.

The Marangoni effect is a phenomenon also present in nature, which can be observed in everyday life: “In an aqueous solution, liquid molecules interact with each other through intermolecular bonds that generate forces called ‘cohesion forces.’ Two solutions with different concentrations will have different cohesion forces. The presence of this concentration variation, and therefore of cohesion forces, causes the liquid to flow away from regions of low concentration, generating a re-mixing process. This effect is responsible for the ‘tears’ of wine that are observed on the walls of the glass when shaken.

The Marangoni effect, due to a change in concentration in the liquid, can therefore be engineered and exploited to increase the re-mixing of solutions with different concentrations. In our desalination device (where the treated solutions are based on sea water at different concentrations), this phenomenon allows to avoid the accumulation of salt in the evaporators, ensuring constant and lasting productivity of distilled water, and safeguarding the components subject to deterioration. Our strategy was therefore to design a device capable of taking full advantage of this effect, achieving a further step towards future commercial applications of the device”,