Land rises after Ice Age melt – oceans rise from climate change

Sheep graze in a field that was a harbor in the 15th Century

A Stone Age camp that used to be by the shore is now 200 km from the Baltic Sea. Sheep graze on what was the seabed in the 15th century. And Sweden’s port of Lulea risks getting too shallow for ships…

The uplift of almost a centimeter a year, one of the highest rates in the world, is part of a continuing geological rebound since the end of the Ice Age removed a vast ice sheet from regions around the Arctic Circle.

In the Lulea region just south of the Arctic Circle, mostly flat with pine forests and where the sea freezes in winter, tracts of land have emerged, leaving some Stone Age, Viking and Medieval sites inland.

That puts human settlements gradually out of harm’s way from sea flooding, unlike low-lying islands from Tuvalu to Kiribati or cities from New York to Shanghai. Facebook is investing in a new data center in Lulea on land that was once on the seabed….

Lulea’s old town, with a 15th century church and bright red-painted wooden houses, was originally built on an island for safety when it was as an outpost of the then Swedish-Finnish Kingdom to counter Russian influence near the Arctic Circle.

Now the village is high and dry, out of sight of the sea. Sheep graze on a field in what used to be the port. In one spot, Sweden’s coastline has risen about 300 meters since the Ice Age ended about 10,000 years ago.

Many places, from North Carolina to Australia, have struggled with sea level rise amid property developers’ fears that it could wipe billions of dollars off values if coastal areas are re-defined as flood zones.

Up in the north where land is rising most…there won’t be any problems this century,” said Thomas Hammarklint of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, since land rise would cancel out sea rise of up to a meter.

But he said that Stockholm, for instance, and areas in south and western Sweden where land is rising less fast might suffer.

The Earth provides us with an endless dialectic of change. We can use our skills as an adaptive species changing our own ways perhaps easier than trying to modify the landscape. Perhaps not.

NASA trying to come up with missions for spare spy telescopes

NASA is looking for new ideas on what to do with two space telescopes left over from a once-secret U.S. spy satellite program.

The U.S. space agency asked the scientific community on Tuesday for its input into possible missions for a pair of space telescopes donated last year to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the nation’s spy satellites…

Topping the list of existing proposals is to use one telescope for a mission to learn more about an anti-gravity force known as “dark energy,” which is believed to be responsible for speeding up the universe’s rate of expansion…

The National Academy of Sciences has made that mission, known as the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, its top choice for an astrophysics space mission for the next decade.

NASA estimates the WFIRST mission would cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion, but it cannot begin a major new astrophysics project until spending winds down on the over-budget and delayed James Webb Space Telescope, which is a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and is scheduled for launch in 2018.

Another option is to pair the WFIRST mission with a new initiative to view Earth-sized planets beyond the solar system, said Princeton University researcher David Spergel, who organized a workshop for scientists in September to discuss telescope proposals.

The extra-solar planet hunter also could be a stand-alone mission.

Another idea is to use one of the telescopes to study how the sun affects Earth’s magnetic field…

Too bad the red tape-rules of the transfer of ownership prohibit these being used to observe Earth. Bet we could sell them to Google or Apple.

If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never lived on a planet that experienced a colder-than-average month

Looking backwards…and then forwards

Nowhere on the surface of the planet have we seen any record cold temperatures over the course of the year so far. Every land surface in the world saw warmer-than-average temperatures except Alaska and the eastern tip of Russia. The continental United States has been blanketed with record warmth — and the seas just off the East Coast have been much warmer than average, for which Sandy sends her thanks.

The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature.

If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. That’s beyond astonishing…

Sandy is probably not even the deadliest or most expensive weather disaster this year in the United States — Sandy’s damages of perhaps $50 billion will likely be overshadowed by the huge costs of the great drought of 2012. While it will be several months before the costs of America’s worst drought since 1954 are known, the 2012 drought is expected to cut America’s GDP by 0.5 – 1 percentage points…

While Sandy’s death toll of 113 in the U.S. is the second highest death toll from a U.S. hurricane since 1972, it is likely to be exceeded by the death toll from the heat waves that accompanied this year’s drought. The heat waves associated with the U.S. droughts of 1980 and 1988 had death tolls of 10,000 and 7,500 respectively, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, and the heat wave associated with the $12 billion 2011 Texas drought killed 95 Americans.

Our politicians think long-range considerations mean a 4-year election cycle. Perish the thought they look at the growing sum of weather-related costs from climate change.

I’ve blogged previously on that portion of the equation. It is contemptible that so many of the elected officials we’re allowed – couldn’t care less about looking at the whole picture, the whole cost in lives, homes and dollars of climate change. Taking a few bucks away from whichever corporation funds their favorite lobbyist scares their timid butt more than the death of elderly voters or the destruction of arable land.

Music majors at Conservatory busted running a drugs lab

Four students from the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music led dual lives — successfully pursuing studies in voice, piano and violin while operating clandestine drug labs to manufacture the illegal drug Ecstasy…

Benjamin Knight, 24, Lauren Pajerski, 22, Max Cickovskis, 22, and Jonathan Beckwith, 23, were indicted Nov. 16 on numerous charges, including assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs and cultivating marijuana. Knight and Pajerski were also charged with theft and burglary.

Public records and interviews with police are filling in details of an unusual drug case that made news with the arrest of the students last month.

I am just grateful nothing blew up and no one got hurt,” said Berea police Detective Dennis Bort, the lead investigator who spent months gathering evidence. “The moral of this case is book-smart, street-stupid…”

Bort called them typical “suburban kids with silver spoons. … They were good students…”

…Bort investigated the case throughout the summer to determine who was involved and why they wanted chemicals and equipment. The case took time because Bort had to go to cellular service providers to obtain the students’ text messages, which outlined the drug-making plans, he said.

Bort said the students texted one another about ordering specific chemicals and equipment and how they should not order everything from the same place using the same name to avoid attracting attention from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency…

“Some of the messages were pretty funny,” Bort said. “He said he had a really sweet hat for [the break-in] and she said a fedora is not B-and-E [breaking and entering] wear.”

Information from text messages indicated the students cooked drugs in the garage at Knight’s home in Madison on June 12, in the same vacant dorm room in Findley Hall on June 20 and in a condominium at Geneva-on-the-Lake on June 22, Bort said…

“They were fairly diversified,” Bort said. “She had the technical knowledge to set it up, and Ben handled the logistics of acquiring. Max seems to be more sales-oriented.”

The investigation is still under way to determine who was buying the drugs, Bort said.

In other words, they could have had a terrific future in business if they had only turned their entrepreneurial talents to something legal.

Canada’s Mark Carney chosen to head the Bank of England

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney was unexpectedly named head of the Bank of England as the U.K. government looked abroad for a candidate untainted by financial turmoil to lead the beefed-up central bank.

Carney, a 47-year-old former Goldman Sachs managing director, will become the first foreigner to run the 318-year-old institution as it absorbs new powers to oversee banks. He’ll replace Mervyn King, 64, in July as policy makers pursue record-low interest rates and asset-buying to propel the economy from its first double-dip recession since the 1970s.

Carney’s London posting comes after a series of trading scandals dented the capital’s status as the world’s leading financial center, prompting a rejig of regulation that will test skills the Canadian gleaned as head of the world’s banking watchdog. His chief rival for the job, BOE Deputy Governor Paul Tucker, became entangled in the Libor rate-rigging scandal earlier this year.

“It’s incredibly bold of the government to appoint a foreigner,” said Steven Bell, chief economist at hedge fund GLC Ltd. in London and a former U.K. Treasury official. “He has experience of running the regulatory and monetary policy decisions. He’s highly regarded…”

Carney, who holds an economics degree from Harvard and a doctorate from Oxford University, swaps oversight of an economy which bounced back from the global recession without witnessing a single bank bailout for one which slipped back into recession in the second quarter and required multiple bank rescues…

“Most in the City of London had taken for granted that, despite the Libor scandal which may have damaged him more than many thought at the time, Deputy Governor Paul Tucker was probably the most likely appointment,” Rob Carnell, chief international economist at ING Groep NV in London, said in an e-mail.

Tucker’s chances may also have been undermined by his status as a BOE insider. Three reports commissioned by the central bank’s governing body and published this month criticized its hierarchical culture…The reports “highlight a culture that needs changing, a task that would probably have been more difficult for a candidate from within,” said Rob Wood, an economist at Berenberg in London who worked at the BOE until earlier this year…

The current bank regulator, the Financial Services Authority, will be dissolved and a new Prudential Regulatory Authority will oversee all deposit-taking institutions, insurers, investment banks and clearing houses. It will operate within the Bank of England, while Carney will lead the Financial Policy Committee, charged with addressing risks to the broader financial system.

At the Financial Stability Board, Carney has led the effort to rewire the rules of global finance. He pushed for tougher regulations for global lenders and clashed with banking executives such as JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon over requirements to hold more capital. He will keep his job as chairman of the FSB.

I only wish there was video available of the clash between Carney and Dimon. Both are knowledgeable, eloquent – and monumentally self-assured.

Just as surely as Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange consider themselves the center of world business – so does the City of London. I won’t venture an opinion on that; but, I watched a dynamic discussion on Carney between Tom Keene and Stephen Roach on early morning Bloomberg TV, today. Nothing but fun – and he’s definitely been chosen to jostle the old boys inside the “square mile”.