Balloon spider migration


Click to enlarge

The annual migration of balloon spiders started a week or so ago. Always look for their webs tangled in our East-facing fenceline. A usual sign that summer is here.

Took this iPhoto about 5 minutes after sunrise on my first walk of the morning, today.

100 degrees F in Siberia!


Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

The Arctic heat wave that sent Siberian temperatures soaring to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day of summer put an exclamation point on an astonishing transformation of the Arctic environment that’s been underway for about 30 years.

As long ago as the 1890s, scientists predicted that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a warming planet, particularly in the Arctic, where the loss of reflective snow and sea ice would further warm the region. Climate models have consistently pointed to “Arctic amplification” emerging as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.

Well, Arctic amplification is now here in a big way. The Arctic is warming at roughly twice the rate of the globe as a whole. When extreme heat waves like this one strike, it stands out to everyone. Scientists are generally reluctant to say “We told you so,” but the record shows that we did.

The question now on the table is will nations led by fools who continually reject science change their practices in the least? Or are the residents of the planet stuck into a downward spiral, refusing to act – for whatever excuses they adopt – until it is too late to halt our collective demise?

Solar Eclipse this Sunday the 21st


JAXA/ISAS/NAOJ

An annular solar eclipse (like this one imaged by JAXA’s Hinode spacecraft in 2010) happens when the Moon is at its furthest distance from Earth and passes in between the Earth and the Sun, leaving the Sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire,” or annulus, around the Moon. This kind of eclipse will happen this Sunday, 21 June. The ring of fire will be visible from central Africa and through Asia. Many other locations from southeastern Europe to the northern tips of Australia will experience a partial annular eclipse. Elsewhere, you can watch a live stream of the eclipse. Learn more about annular solar eclipses.

We won’t get to see this live in North America; but, click the 2nd link and you’ll find directions for a live feed on that page.

A walk just after sunset

Returned, late, from my last walk of the day. Sky looking like an early French Impressionist painting at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. I felt like an Impressionist walking in the evening mist.

Virga dropping from low clouds. Every color in the sky from grays and pinks to green flashes and blue where the clouds hadn’t reached though half-an-hour past sunset.

The middle portion of my exercise lap along the fence line drops down to the level of the bosque del Rio Santa Fe. On an evening like this one, all you can small is the perfume of the few Russian Olive trees flowering, scattered through the bosque. It could be overwhelming to someone who hasn’t had their senses wrapped in the richness of that wild perfume before. Sometime before this evening.

Such a lovely way to finish with daylight.

Fuzzy green “glacier mice”


Glacier mice in IcelandRuth Mottram

In 2006, while hiking around the Root Glacier in Alaska to set up scientific instruments, researcher Tim Bartholomaus encountered something unexpected…

Scattered across the glacier were balls of moss. “They’re not attached to anything and they’re just resting there on ice,” he says. “They’re bright green in a world of white.”…

…In the journal Polar Biology, they report that the balls can persist for years and move around in a coordinated, herdlike fashion that the researchers can not yet explain.

“The whole colony of moss balls, this whole grouping, moves at about the same speeds and in the same directions,” Bartholomaus says. “Those speeds and directions can change over the course of weeks.”

Similar “mice” are found on many glaciers around the world. And the whole picture, a complete understanding of how these “herds” move in unison, hasn’t yet been proven. They are being tagged – and tracked. They change direction sometimes. There are individual “mice” scientists have watched for years. RTFA. Stay in touch. The suspense is unbearable!