The Arctic may be free of ice for the first time in 10,000 years. Wadhams shows how sea ice is the ‘canary in the mine’ of planetary climate change. He describes how it forms and the vital role it plays in reflecting solar heat back into space and providing an ‘air conditioning’ system for the planet.
Prof. Peter Wadhams is the UK’s most experienced sea ice scientist, with 48 years of research on sea ice and ocean processes in the Arctic and the Antarctic. This has focused on expeditions and measurements in the field, which has involved more than 50 expeditions to both polar regions, working from ice camps, icebreakers, aircraft, and, uniquely, Royal Navy submarines (6 submerged voyages to the North Pole ). His research group in Cambridge has been the only UK group with the capacity to carry out fieldwork on sea ice.
He is Emeritus Professor of Ocean Physics and is the author of numerous publications on dynamics and thermodynamics of sea ice, sea ice thickness, waves in ice, icebergs, ocean convection and kindred topics. The current main topics of research in the group are sea ice properties, dynamics, and distributions in thickness and concentration. He is also a pioneer in the use of AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) under sea ice, using multibeam sonar to map bottom features, work which he has also been done from UK nuclear submarines.
Malaysian-born film star and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh put the spotlight on the role that clothing manufacture and consumer fashion can have for a better planet with a new video, called “Made in Forests.” “Made in Forests” highlights how conventional material choices rely predominantly on cotton and polyester – two materials with a high environmental impact.
Cotton uses large amounts pesticides and insecticides, and very large amounts of water. Polyester is made from fossil fuels: each time polyester clothes are washed they release tiny plastic microfibers that often end up in the oceans, harming marine life and polluting our food chain.
“Made in Forests” was produced by the UN Economic Commission for Europe / Food and Agriculture Organization’s (UNECE/FAO) Forestry and Timber Section together with the United Nations Television in Geneva (part of the UN Information Service Geneva / DPI) and launched at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, 16 July 2018, in New York.
Caption: Portion of the Indian stalagmite that was sectioned and analyzed layer by layer, and contains the layers chosen to define the beginning of the Late Holocene Meghalayan Age, 4200 years ago.
The Late Holocene Meghalayan Age, newly-ratified as the most recent unit of the Geologic Time Scale, began at the time when agricultural societies around the world experienced an abrupt and critical mega-drought and cooling 4,200 years ago. This key decision follows many years of research by Quaternary scientists, scrutinized and tested by the subcommissions of the International Commission on Stratigraphy under the chairmanship of Professor David Harper, Durham University, UK.
Agricultural-based societies that developed in several regions after the end of the last Ice Age were impacted severely by the 200-year climatic event that resulted in the collapse of civilizations and human migrations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley. Evidence of the 4.2 kiloyear climatic event has been found on all seven continents.
The Meghalayan Age is unique among the many intervals of the Geologic Time Scale in that its beginning coincides with a global cultural event produced by a global climatic event, said Dr. Stanley Finney, Professor of Geological Sciences at Long Beach State University and Secretary General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).
The convergence of stratigraphy and human cultural evolution is extraordinary, according to Professor Martin Head, a geologist at Brock University in Canada and Chair of the International Commission on Quaternary Stratigraphy.
Yale University’s Harvey Weiss, Professor of Environmental Studies and Near Eastern Archaeology, considers this decision to be a significant moment in the history of Holocene climate and archaeology science.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is responsible for standardizing the Geologic Time Scale, approved the definition of the beginning of the youngest unit of the Geologic Time Scale based on the timing of this event. Furthermore, it approved proposals for two other ages: the Middle Holocene Northgrippian Age and the Early Holocene Greenlandian Age with beginnings defined at climatic events that happened about 8,300 years and 11,700 years ago, respectively. The three ages comprise the Holocene Epoch, which represents the time since the end of the last Ice Age. The Commission then forwarded these proposals to its parent body, the IUGS, for consideration, and the executive committee of IUGS voted unanimously to ratify them.
Units of the Geologic Time Scale are based on sedimentary strata that have accumulated over time and contain within them sediment types, fossils and chemical isotopes that record the passage of time as well as the physical and biological events that produced them.
The three new ages of the Holocene Epoch are represented by a wealth of sediment that accumulated worldwide on the sea floor, on lake bottoms, as glacial ice, and as calcite layers in stalactites and stalagmites. Those intervals of sedimentary strata on which the ages are based are referred to as stages, and together the strata of three new stages comprise the Holocene Series. The lower boundary of the Greenlandian and Northgripppian stages are defined at specific levels in Greenland ice cores. The lower boundary of the Meghalayan Stage is defined at a specific level in a stalagmite from a cave in northeast India. The ice cores and the stalagmite are now identified as international geostandards, and have been placed in protected archives accessible for further study.
The decision to define these new stages of the Holocene Series and thus the three new corresponding ages of the Holocene Epoch allows for an update to the International Chronostratigraphic Chart (www.stratigraphy.org), which depicts the timeline for the earth’s full geologic history.
This is a key achievement for the International Union of Geological Sciences and particularly for its Commission on Stratigraphy. The proposals were developed by a dedicated, international team of Holocene scientists led by Professor Mike Walker of the University of Wales. They were subsequently approved by the International Subcommission of Quaternary Stratigraphy and the International Commission on Stratigraphy before being forward to IUGS for ratification. According to Professor David Harper, the many years of scientific research and international collaboration followed by intense scrutiny of the proposals as they were evaluated at several levels in the IUGS organization give legitimacy to the new units as global standards.
China is on its way to becoming a socialist world power. After a time of revolution and reform, the country is entering a new era. As President Xi Jinping forges the path forward, a question remains: will the Chinese people continue to support him? At the Chinese Communist Party’s convention in fall of 2017, President Xi Jinping sent a clear message to the world: China is entering a new era. Many believe President Xi Jinping has brought the party back on track and has secured the support of the Chinese people. Speaking to delegates in October, Xi said it was time for the nation to be a global leader that could set an example on economic, political and environmental matters. Part of his plan for economic growth is Made in China 2025, an initiative that draws from Germany’s Industry 4.0 plan and aims to make advancements across many industries, including automotive, aircraft, pharmaceutical, and artificial intelligence.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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