Environment

2018 Arctic Summertime Sea Ice Minimum Extent Tied for Sixth Lowest on Record

2018 Arctic Summertime Sea Ice Minimum Extent Tied for Sixth Lowest on Record

Arctic sea ice likely reached its 2018 lowest extent on Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 23, according to NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Analysis of satellite data by NSIDC and NASA showed that, at 1.77 million square miles (4.59 million square kilometers), 2018 effectively tied with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest summertime minimum extent in the satellite record.

NASA Balloon Mission Captures Electric Blue Clouds

NASA Balloon Mission Captures Electric Blue Clouds

On the cusp of our atmosphere live a thin group of seasonal electric blue clouds. Forming 50 miles above the poles in summer, these clouds are known as noctilucent clouds or polar mesospheric clouds — PMCs. A recent NASA long-duration balloon mission observed these clouds over the course of five days at their home in the mesosphere. The resulting photos, which scientists have just begun to analyze, will help us better understand turbulence in the atmosphere, as well as in oceans, lakes and other planetary atmospheres, and may even improve weather forecasting.

Rogue hurricanes that head northwards may be new normal

Rogue hurricanes that head northwards may be new normal

Shortly after Hurricane Helene formed off the coast of West Africa on September 7, it did something unusual. Instead of following most hurricanes westward across the Atlantic, Helene turned north towards the UK and Ireland. Now downgraded to an “ex-hurricane”, Storm Helene is nonetheless expected to bring strong winds across much of England and Wales when it hits on September 17.

At its current rate, Australia is on track for 50% renewable electricity in 2025

 At its current rate, Australia is on track for 50% renewable electricity in 2025

The Australian renewable energy industry will install more than 10 gigawatts of new solar and wind power during 2018 and 2019. If that rate is maintained, Australia would reach 50% renewables in 2025.

Massive solar and wind farms could bring vegetation back to the Sahara

 Massive solar and wind farms could bring vegetation back to the Sahara

Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important and necessary step towards averting climate change. However, in our efforts to go green, we also need to be mindful of other consequences, both intended and unintended – and that includes how a mass deployment of renewable technology might affect its surrounding climate.

Hothouse Earth: our planet has been here before – here’s what it looked like

 Hothouse Earth: our planet has been here before – here’s what it looked like

Even if carbon emissions are reduced to hold temperature rises at the 2°C guardrail of the Paris Agreement, changes already afoot in the environment such as melting permafrost and forest die-back could accelerate warming well into the future, potentially pushing our planet into what is being called a “Hothouse Earth” state.

Curious Kids: How was the ocean formed? Where did all the water come from?

 Curious Kids: How was the ocean formed? Where did all the water come from?

On Earth there is more ocean than land. Of course, there is also a lot of water locked up as ice at the North and South Poles. Where all that water came from is a very good question. Scientists have been wondering about it for a long time. We are still not exactly sure but it is probably a combination of two places.

20 Years of Earth Data Now at Your Fingertips

20 Years of Earth Data Now at Your Fingertips

Powerful Earth-observing instruments aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively, have observed nearly two decades of planetary change. Now, for the first time, all that imagery — from the first operational image to imagery acquired today — is available for exploration in Worldview.

As more solar and wind come onto the grid, prices go down but new questions come up

 As more solar and wind come onto the grid, prices go down but new questions come up

Wind and solar energy are growing rapidly in the U.S. As these energy sources become a bigger part of the electricity mix, their growth raises new questions: How do solar and wind influence energy prices? And since power plants last for decades, what should policymakers and investors think about to ensure that investments in power infrastructure pay off in the future?