March 21, 2013

A New World View From NASA

I've just stumbled across an exciting new (to me at least) section of the NASA web site. It's called Worldview, and it does what it says on the tin. It's part of NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS for short), and it gives you a satellite's view of planet Earth a bit like Google Earth, except that it's updated on a daily basis! To give you some idea of the power of Worldview, and also an insight into why I was wandering the virtual corridors of NASA late last night, here's a "close up" image of Cape Morris Jesup, the most northerly point in Greenland, taken on March 18th 2013:

Cracks appearing in the sea ice north of Cape Morris Jesup on March 18th 20

Cracks appearing in the sea ice north of Cape Morris Jesup on March 18th 2013

Two days later here is NASA Worldview's take on recent events in that one small part the Arctic:

Cracks in the sea ice north of Cape Morris Jesup have grown by March 20th 2013

Cracks in the sea ice north of Cape Morris Jesup have grown by March 20th 2013

As you can see, the United States Navy's predictions a couple of days ago about what would happen to the Arctic sea ice in the near future are starting to come true. There is a distance scale visible in the bottom right hand corner of those images, but to give my fellow Devonians a better feel for the scale of these momentous events thousands of miles away, here is NASA's view of our home county, taken from on high and to the same scale the last time it stopped raining here:

NASA's Worldview of South West England on March 14th 2013

NASA's Worldview of South West England on March 14th 2013

Careful comparison between the two images above will reveal that the biggest "crack" in the Arctic sea ice just at the moment is roughly the distance between Exeter and Newton Abbot across, and it literally opened up "overnight".

Worldview has many other tricks up its sleeve. Here's another one – A view of the West Country at night:

The lights of Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, burning bright in the forests of the night

The lights of Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, burning bright in the forests of the night

Do you think it would be a good idea if somebody turned out some of those lights?


It's now the evening of Thursday 21st March in not so sunny South West England. Here's what's happened in the Arctic over the last day or so:

"Cracks" now appearing down the east coast of Greenland, on March 21st 2013

"Cracks" now appearing down the east coast of Greenland, on March 21st 2013

As you can see, the "cracks" have now spread past Nordøstrundingen out into the Fram strait, and also down the east coast of Greenland towards the area often occupied by the North East Water polynya. Note that I've had to zoom out to fit everything in. The little scale in the bottom right now reads "20 miles" instead of the "10 miles" in the earlier images.

In a related local event, the path outside my front door has turned into a stream once again, and the Environment Agency has just issued it's first red flood warning for a while. This one is for the River Cober at Helston in Cornwall. I expect there'll be some in Devon too, before the night is out. There are currently 37 amber flood alerts across South West England:

River levels are very high following persistent heavy rainfall today. Further rainfall is expected throughout the night. Flooding is imminent.

[Addendum Friday March 22nd]

Here's a video showing the floods in Newlyn overnight, and the rain induced landslide which cost one Looe resident her life:

In other related events here in Devon, the BBC report that:

Jubilee Bridge, in Modbury, was destroyed when up to 50mm (2 ins) of rain fell in 24 hours.

Ashburton Primary School near Newton Abbot was closed after part of a road outside it collapsed.

Landslips were reported on the A383 near Bickington, Willow Park Lane in Kingskerswell, and the A379 near Shaldon, where there was also a fallen tree.

The River Otter burst its banks at Otterton. Sidmouth was also affected by flooding.

Filed under Science by

Comments on A New World View From NASA »

March 21, 2013

Timothy (likes zebras) @ 4:30 pm

Hello from a fellow Devonian. It's a fair old distance from Exeter to Newton Abbot!

Thought you might be interested to know that the Council do have some plans to turn off lights on residential streets in Exeter during the night – though there are some people who oppose this plan.

Personally, I think it would be great to be able to see the night sky more easily, and not to waste so much energy at the same time.

Jim Jim @ 8:27 pm

Hi Tim,

It certainly is! Has it by any chance ever previously struck you that there might be some sort of connection between floods in Devon and cracks tens of miles across in the Arctic ice cap?

Jim Jim @ 9:56 pm

As I surmised, there are now 2 red flood warnings in force for Devon, plus another 3 in Cornwall. There are also now 45 amber flood alerts in total. New ones are the River Dart from Buckfastleigh to Totnes, and the River Avon from Didworthy to Aveton Gifford.

[Addendum – Early Friday] The flood warnings are coming in from Dorset as well now, but sticking to Devon they now cover the rivers Dart, Avon, Teign, Lemon (and hence Newton Abbot!), Clyst, Sid and Axe. There are amber flood alerts for the Exe and North Devon rivers, but no warnings as yet.

March 24, 2013

Jim Jim @ 9:24 am

Hello again Tim,

The Worldwide Fund for Nature's Earth Hour has now been and gone around the World, but the Arctic sea ice is still cracking at the seams.

Did you turn off all your lights? Did Exeter for that matter?

Personally I found that at that time of night I needed a little LED lighting directed at the keyboard of my laptop, so that I could continue with the project I was working on at the time.

Susan Anderson @ 7:20 pm

I had no idea the south coast of Wales was so populous. Issue there …

So much settlement is now at risk, with all those houses tucked into steep places.

March 26, 2013

Jim Jim @ 9:04 am

Hi Susan,

Yes. As you can see, the M4 corridor all the way from Bristol past Newport and Cardiff to Swansea shines brightly at night. So do the South Wales valleys. For a while Hirwaun at the head of the Cynon Valley even sported a couple of tower blocks "in the middle of nowhere". They are now no longer with us!

In my neck of the woods banks and walls that have survived for centuries are now collapsing into the roads. As recent events make abundantly clear, in some fishing villages the effects of all the rain are far more severe.

March 28, 2013

Susan Anderson @ 1:43 am

Please forgive the impassioned tones at the end …

With respect to the US response to climate change and Earth Hour (almost invisible AFAIK), we are very badly out of whack here. People seem to be unable to accept reality. They know it's bad, but are either addicted to things or desperately trying to survive. Much of the working class, particularly those with children, are ill able to afford basic necessities, while prices are going up. They mostly focus on the price of gas.

We are deeply divided. Any kind of activism is limited by the power and influence of the ownership classes, who have merged with marketing in such a seamless way that very few people are able to distance themselves from it. Even in Boston, my home, which is about as liberal as it gets, I notice tour groups are bigger than protests. City officials are well aware of the dangers, but nobody is able to stop development and the "jobs" cry (can't blame people for wanting work).

It is possible to ignore reality altogether in many states, where communities have no liberal component whatsoever.

The hopeful time I held the hand of the Gandhi statue in the nearly Occupy encampment is long gone, and though I know we must continue to do our best to get the public to understand and act on their danger, I am not optimistic.

We can't, but we must.

We must, but we can't.

We must …

March 31, 2013

Lawrence Coleman @ 9:11 am

Oh! I can relate to your sentiments 100%. I live on the sunshine coast in Australia and the incumbent gov according to the latest polls is going to get smashed by another whose leader doesn't even acknowledge the presence of climate change..let alone anthropogenic!. Yet I keep doing the right things for the installing solar panels recently on our house etc , but I'm beginning to what! It's like you are walking against an unstoppable tide of ignorance and self centerdness. My 7 year old son keeps me putting one foot in front of the next. See I know that when it becomes too bloody obvious for even the most hardened skeptic to deny ACC it will be well and truly too late to do anything meaningful and instead just numbly resign to the fate of the next 5-10 million years being a hell on earth.

April 3, 2013

Jim Jim @ 12:48 pm

Hi Susan and Lawrence,

Please forgive my tardy reply. I've foolishly spent the long All Fools' weekend banging my head against a brick wall over at The Economist "online".

Based on that experience it certainly looks like Susan is right when she says "We are deeply divided". This doesn't only apply to commenters on the Economist and Mail on Sunday web sites either.

At lunch at the Economist's recent Arctic Summit I found myself sat next to someone from Oak Ridge. He opined that there were lots of "silos" still in evidence, even in Oslo.

So what?

crandles @ 4:43 pm

>"banging my head against a brick wall"
Can understand that sentiment. Just posted following:

While I haven't attempted to specifically replicate this graph, I have done many calculations on ENSO, solar and volcanic effects on temperature records. So I have some knowledge to say that I don't see any evidence that the graph I posted is erroneous or fraudulent. Have you proved it is in error?

You start by assuming there is something to hold these models to account for. When I question you on this, you ignore the substance and throw ad hom attacks of fraud around.

Sorry but that just leaves me to say I see no point in attempting to talk to you.

For anyone else reading wondering about fraud

Correcting a mistake does not sound like fraud.

Wonder why you didn't mention the titles of the papers?
'NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax'
'Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation'

It wouldn't be that you just don't like the implications (and maybe due to that you assume fraud rather than error) would it?

"The article has not been retracted or withdrawn."

April 29, 2014

Jim Jim @ 8:56 am

A very belated reply crandles, but Lewandowsky et al. are in the news once again, and there's even an Arctic and Mail on Sunday connection!

Leave a Comment

Fields marked by an asterisk (*) are required.

Subscribe without commenting