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 The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread

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Azira
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PostSubject: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:28 pm

Woah, new thread! First off, what's earth sciences and geography?

Earth sciences study the physical earth beneath and around us. This includes the earth's crust, the water and air around us, the "biosphere" and the molten earth beneath us. Many of the subfields of study will overlap with themselves, and some of them vary based on the amount of "time" studied, such as meteorology and climatology.

Geography is frequently divided into two categories: the physical one that mainly deals with various earth sciences and human geography, which involves the study of human patterns and processes that shape our societies. Frequently these fields will affect each other, many of these interactions are still not completely understood due to the enormous complexity of our world.

Sometimes earth sciences and geography are separated and sometimes they're combined. Personally, I put them together because they're both studying the planet, even if they go about it in slightly different ways.

I'm planning on majoring in physical geography (no, I haven't narrowed it down further yet Razz ) and think all this stuff is really cool. As I find cool things I'll share them with you.

You can share too! Very Happy= :D

If it's in anyway related to earth sciences or geography, post it! Feel free to discuss any finds too. Smile Pictures, news articles, encyclopedia articles, anything! (Make sure you post the source of it if you can please, so we can see more awesomeness.)

I'll start with:

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GigaPan lets you see the world with high-resolution images. You can really zoom in when looking at these. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] You can explore not-geology related pics with this site, but when you can't go to these places but still want to take a look at them, this is really cool.
Also, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]. Really cool. Very Happy= :D

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Doesn't the name "biogeoclimatic zone" sound cool? Razz
While I'm going to guess many of you have heard of the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], frequently in geography you'll find very small scale topics and very large scale ones. BGC Zones lean toward the smaller end of the climate classification scales; frequently you can travel between them easily depending on what's around you. Due to the importance of the forestry industry in BC and the diversity of pretty much everything in BC a lot of research has gone into categorizing and mapping the 12-14 BGC zones in BC. The BC government information can really get into the small details, but if you just want a basic overview they provide that too. You can view all of the government's research publications for free, so if you're wondering what to do with yourself for an afternoon and are interested in this stuff, check it out.



Last edited by Azira on Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Cel
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:35 pm

THIS IS A FREAKING AWESOME THREAD!!! cheers
I did really well at Earth Science in school... Way back in the day.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:40 pm

Not gonna lie, that put a smile on my face. Very Happy= :D
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:03 am

Very Happy= :D

You know what I was always fascinated in?
Sounds lame but the Continental Drift. Excited
Blows my mind that it is still referred to as a Theory. Thinking
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:23 am

@ AZ I've been to Dinosaur National Monument and it is cool, most of it about 3/4 is in Colorado and the rest in Utah. Arches and Canyonlands Parks in Utah by Moab are some of my favorite places on earth.


@Cel
A theory doesn't ever stop being a theory just because sufficient evidence to support it has been discovered. Scientists use "theory" different than us laymen. Most non- scientific people think a theory is a hypothesis, something that can be proved or disproved. Thats why so many folks in the USA pooh pooh evolution or climate change as they are "only theories"


I was watching the Oscars and a local film about climate change " Chasing Ice" had a song nominated . I've seen excerpts from this film and it will make most people gaspor at least get really nervous about the future. It will be on National Geographic later this year.
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Azira
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:16 pm

Cel wrote:
Very Happy= :D

You know what I was always fascinated in?
Sounds lame but the Continental Drift. Excited
Blows my mind that it is still referred to as a Theory. Thinking

I'm pretty sure Continental Drift Theory has evolved into Plate Tectonics, since we now have a better understanding of the mechanisms behind it (although we still don't fully understand them). If you think about what it is and what it does it actually has a huge influence on pretty much everything. It's why the biology in Australia is so unique. It's the reason behind the Himalayas, and everything they affect. We could sit here all day and talk about the affect of plate tectonics.

I posted a clip of Chasing Ice in another thread, so I'm quite interested in watching it at some point. I keep wondering if I should go into glaciology, but then wonder if I'll have anything to study later in life. Puzzled
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The Last Ninja
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:16 pm

rrwatch wrote:
@Cel
A theory doesn't ever stop being a theory just because sufficient evidence to support it has been discovered. Scientists use "theory" different than us laymen. Most non- scientific people think a theory is a hypothesis, something that can be proved or disproved. Thats why so many folks in the USA pooh pooh evolution or climate change as they are "only theories"

Yep. From the scientific theory Wikipedia page:
Quote :

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.

Whereas normal "theories" are essentially guesses.

I've been interested in earth sciences/physical geography since I was a little kid. I think I was just fascinated in how things worked, because I remember being fascinated by the anatomy of animals and how the skeletal and nervous system worked.

My interest never really went away, but I haven't looked into this kind of stuff in quite some time.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:21 pm

Does digging holes count?
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Azira
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:17 pm

The Last Ninja wrote:
I've been interested in earth sciences/physical geography since I was a little kid. I think I was just fascinated in how things worked, because I remember being fascinated by the anatomy of animals and how the skeletal and nervous system worked.

My interest never really went away, but I haven't looked into this kind of stuff in quite some time.

I know that feeling. I'm like that when it comes to dinosaurs. Razz

Dingo wrote:
Does digging holes count?

Of course it does. Very Happy= :D



Fun fact: the equation used for determing the gravitational force between two masses has been adapted for determing the amount of travel between two locations based on the size of their populations and the distance between them. It works pretty well too. Wink
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Azira
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:00 am

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Lod
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:04 am

I keep forgetting that Antartica actually has land, keep thinking of it as a giant Ice block.

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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:16 am

What do you think that giant block of ice is sitting on? Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:21 am

Water... facepalm2

I understand now why my parents could barely help me with my homework. Older I get the more I'm losing.

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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:47 am

And more advanced topics are being introduced earlier in education. But yeah, even if a fairly short amount of time I've learnt that if you don't use it you lose it.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:48 pm

Think this is on topic.

I find it awesome that Iceland is inbetween two tectonic plates that are moving about 70 millimeters per year... Slowly splitting the country in two...

I've been there, You throw pennys into it and make wishes... None of them came true.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:10 pm

Yeah, that part of the planet is cool. Very Happy= :D They know the earth's magnetic field has changed orientation - and even flipped completely at various points in the past - by taking samples of rock and measuring what directions the iron filings "recorded".

Sort of the opposite, the Himalayas should be growing more based on tectonic activity, but due the the enormous mass of the mountains they actually sink into the earth while they grow.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:02 am

jolli wrote:
Think this is on topic.

I find it awesome that Iceland is inbetween two tectonic plates that are moving about 70 millimeters per year... Slowly splitting the country in two...

I've been there, You throw pennys into it and make wishes... None of them came true.

That's cause there is always someone else wishing that your wish doesn't come true.

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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:27 am

I knew it!
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Azira
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:11 pm

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Within the next 50 years, some ships will be able to travel from Europe to Asia by heading due north and then due south, by way of the North Pole, thanks to melting sea ice, a new study predicts.

At the same time, Canada's normally difficult and dangerous Northwest Passage will become accessible to light icebreakers year-round and to ordinary ships during the month of September, researchers from the University of California in L.A. say in a scientific paper published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers used computer models of sea ice thickness between 2006 and 2015 and between 2041 and 2059 to predict the fastest shipping routes for light icebreakers and regular open-water ships under those ice conditions.

The new route through the central Arctic Ocean highlighted in the study will only be navigable by light icebreakers in the summer and will remain ice-covered in the winter, said Laurence Smith, the UCLA earth sciences researcher who led the study.

"So I certainly don't imagine it somehow supplanting the activity to the Panama or Suez Canal or anything like that," he said in an interview with CBC's As It Happens.

However, it may still be appealing not just for its short length and speed, but also because it would allow ships to bypass the Russian Federation's Exclusive Economic Zone and the escort fees charged to international vessels through those waters, the paper noted.

In particular, it may attract those who want to exploit Arctic resources such as oil, gas, minerals and even fish, and then ship them to China.

"This might be exciting for business interests, but it should also be worrisome for environmental protection and also public safety in the area," Smith added.

He also expressed concerns about the opening up of the Northwest Passage, where he said an oil spill would be a "horrible tragedy."

The study also suggests that the dispute over whether the Northwest Passage is an internal Canadian waterway, as Canada maintains, or an international strait, as the U.S. and other countries argue, needs to be resolved sooner rather than later, Smith said.

"I would hope that this study will heighten the pressure or at least the motivation to adjudicate this difference."

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This is something to keep an eye on. The melting of the ice caps will have impacts on sea levels and ocean currents, as well as the effects on humans concerning trade and borders. There are already disagreements concerning borders in the Arctic Ocean, and those issues are likely going to come up more and more frequently when travelling up there becomes easier.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:55 am

I saw this today and it's related:

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The glaciers of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago will undergo a dramatic retreat this century if warming projections hold true.

A new study suggests the region's ice fields could lose perhaps as much as a fifth of their volume.

Such a melt would add 3.5cm to the height of the world's oceans. Only the ice of Greenland and Antarctica is expected to contribute more.

The assessment is reported in the Geophysical Research Letters journal.

"This is a very important part of the world where there has already been a lot of change," said lead author Jan Lenaerts from Utrecht University, Netherlands.

"And it is all the more important that we talk about it because it has been somewhat overshadowed by all the news of Greenland and Antarctica," he told BBC News.

The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is a vast area, comprising some 36,000 islands.

Being so far north, much of region - some 146,000 square km - is covered by glaciers and ice caps (a type of ice field where glaciers flow off in many directions).

Current data indicates all this ice is already thinning at a rapid rate. Gravity measurements from space suggest the annual loss since 2003 has been running at about 70 billion tonnes, and it is accelerating.

With snowfall reasonably constant over the period, it appears that melt as a result of the 1-2-degree rise in air temperatures has tipped the ice out of balance.
Arctic amplification

Dr Lenaerts' team wanted to understand how this retreat might progress in the decades ahead if the warming continues.

They developed a climate computer model for the archipelago that was based on a mid-range temperature projection being used for a big upcoming UN global-climate report - the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

First of all, they ran the model backwards to check that it could accurately recreate conditions seen in the region since the 1960s.

They then ran it forwards to simulate the possible shrinking and growth of glaciers right up to 2100.

What they found was that the annual ice loss by this date would be running at about 145 billion tonnes, with the north of the archipelago, on and around the likes of Ellesmere Island, experiencing the greatest retreat.

Added to the general atmospheric warming in the region, the researchers also describe an amplification process whereby reduced snow cover on the surrounding tundra and less sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean push up temperatures still further.

This is a consequence of darker surfaces absorbing more heat from the Sun rather than reflecting it back out into space.

"What we find is that the processes that are currently ongoing will actually continue and be re-enforced, so the mass loss will increase in time," said Dr Lenaerts.

"Our model estimates that in 2100, we have lost about 20% of the volume of Canadian Arctic Archipelago glaciers, which is a really large amount. It is equivalent to 3.5cm of global sea-level rise."
Similar systems

The Utrecht study was funded by the European Union's Ice2Sea project, which aims to tie down some of the major uncertainties that surround the possible contribution to ocean rise from melting in Earth's cryosphere.

Ice2Sea's project leader is Prof David Vaughan from the British Antarctic Survey.

He said the Canadian Arctic Archipelago was an important region for study because it was not very well mapped, was already experiencing major change and because in some places the ice had "its toes in the water", which meant it was subject to both atmospheric and ocean impacts.

"We've got similar systems in Alaska, in Svalbard, in Patagonia and the Russian high Arctic, and we really need to understand them better," he told the BBC.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:11 pm

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The great Tohoku earthquake in Japan two years ago was so big its effects were even felt at the edge of space.

Scientists say the Magnitude 9.0 tremor on 11 March 2011 sent a ripple of sound through the atmosphere that was picked up by the Goce satellite.

Its super-sensitive instrumentation was able to detect the disturbance as it passed through the thin wisps of air still present 255km above the Earth.

The observation is reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

It has long been recognised that major quakes will generate very low-frequency acoustic waves, or infrasound - a type of deep rumble at frequencies below those discernible to the human ear. But no spacecraft in orbit has had the capability to record them, until now.

"We've looked for this signal before with other satellites and haven't seen it, and I think that's because you need an incredibly fine instrument," said Dr Rune Floberghagen from the European Space Agency (Esa).

"Goce's accelerometers are about a hundred times more sensitive than any previous instrumentation and we detected the acoustic wave not once, but twice - passing through it over the Pacific and over Europe," the mission manager told BBC News.

Goce's prime purpose is to map very subtle differences in the pull of gravity across the surface of the Earth caused by the uneven distribution of mass within the planet.

These variations produce almost imperceptible changes in the velocity of the satellite as it flies overhead and which it records with those high-precision accelerometers.

This gravity signal is very weak, however, and that means Goce must fly incredibly low to sense it - so low, in fact, that it actually drags through the top of the atmosphere.
Tsunami Monday marks the second anniversary of the quake and tsunami that claimed more than 15,000 lives

It is these special circumstances that put the satellite in a position to detect the infrasonic disturbance on 11 March 2011.

The acoustic waves perturbed the density of air molecules and changed their speed. It was the faintest of winds at an altitude of 255km, but strong enough to be registered by Goce.

The Esa spacecraft encountered the signal as it passed over the Pacific some 30 minutes after the onset of the M9.0 event, and then again 25 minutes later as it moved across Europe.

Because of the way the accelerometers are arranged in Goce, it was possible to reconstruct the detection in three dimensions and so confidently trace the infrasound back to its source - the earthquake.
Goce geoid (Esa) Goce's principal objective is to make maps of the variation in the pull of gravity across the Earth

"If you have a small ripple in density, it would be hard to conclude beyond any reasonable doubt that this was due to the earthquake," explained Dr Floberghagen. "But the fact that we have a very significant density perturbation, with the shape predicted by all the acoustic models, and the fact that we picked it up again on the other side of the Earth where you would expect to find it - that's perfect."

Scientists can already study earthquakes from space, in particular through the use of radar to map the deformation of the ground that results when faults rupture. But it remains to be seen how useful an acoustic sensor placed in a low-Earth orbit might be.

Tohoku was an exceptional event and this may explain why Goce, on this occasion, was able to pick it up.

Buoyed by their success, however, scientists on the mission are checking through the satellite's data to see if an infrasonic signal was also recorded when an asteroid entered the atmosphere over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk last month. The entry's infrasound signature was certainly evident to listening stations on the ground.
Meteor The Chelyabinsk meteor is known to have produced a big infrasound signal - but is it in Goce's data?

"Ever since we've flown this type of instrument - accelerometers - in space, people have been looking for the acoustic beat from earthquakes, because that could be used to understand the way tremors propagate not only through the Earth but through the Earth environment.

"We'll see; time will tell. But just the idea of an acoustic sensor in space is pretty cool," Dr Floberghagen told BBC News.

Goce itself is running low on fuel and is nearing the end of its mission.

Esa will lower its orbit in June to below 230km to try to obtain even finer detail on Earth's gravity field. The agency is then expected to command the satellite to come out of the sky and fall back to Earth in November.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:22 am

Hmmm that could lead to an early warning system for detection.

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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:33 pm

I'm not sure. When it comes to earthquakes predicting them is next to impossible. I'm not sure using air to detect earthquakes is the best method anyhow: this is the first time we've heard of such a thing probably because of the physics involved. It's much easier to detect waves through solid material than gaseous, not to mention waves can travel faster through denser material.
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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:13 am

Checking for minute changes in the pressure and finding the common reaction before an earthquake could help couldn't it? I have no idea I'm just being all guessy.

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You don't say much do you? :3" - vengeance7times

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Fuxkjb touch screeb ketboards." - iRideAPalmer


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PostSubject: Re: The Earth Sciences and Geography Thread   Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:29 am

The problem is is that these little changes are occurring all the time. We can't ever be sure if a little slip will produce a noticeable earthquake. If you go to Earthquakes Canada you'll see a bunch of recorded earthquakes up and down the west coast. They're happening all the time, yet none of them were able to help us predict a fairly large one off the west coast of Haida Gwaii in October (I think). We're pretty good at pin-pointing where earthquakes are occurring, but we're still not good at predicting them. You could probably thank plate tectonics for that.

Yes, we know that due to a subducting plate here near Vancouver we're due for a really big earthquake. We know that much. It could be tomorrow or 200 years from now though. There's really no way for us to say "yes, it's going to happen on this day" yet.

Earthquakes can also be the symptoms of events not solely leading to other events: volcanic activity and HUGE land mass movements (rock falls, or other types of movement under "landslides") can also create what we record as earthquakes.

TL;DR: We're really good at recording earthquakes but terrible at predicting them. Earthquakes can also occur before and after other natural phenomena.
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