Continental-Scale Climate Studies, Climate Change on Mars and Miscellaneous Science News

From the Wall Street Journal,


Global-Warming Study Weighs Impact of Human Action


May 15, 2008; Page A10

A new study says humans have changed the world's environment more by warming the climate than by directly encroaching on habitats.

The research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, also establishes a link between climate change and narrower, continental changes such as the earlier spring flight of butterflies in California, the earlier release of pollen in the Netherlands and the increased growth of pine trees in Mongolia.

An international team of over a dozen scientists, led by Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University in New York, showed very strong indications based on studies done on a continental scale.

In other news,

Microsoft releases a free public beta of their web application WorldWide Telescope for desktop, PC-based amateur astronomers, while NASA prepares to drop a new spacecraft on Mars in order to check for evidence of how planetary climate change may have altered the environment, and whether that created conditions conducive to live along the way:


Equipped with a 7-foot robotic arm to dig beneath the surface, a dozen tiny ovens to cook soil and ice from permafrost samples and a suite of instruments and microscopes to analyze it all, Phoenix is the most complex Martian laboratory since the two historic Viking landers failed to find anything alive on the planet more than 30 years ago.


"We're really doing chemistry experiments to see if the active processes of climate change are written into the soil over a history of billions of years, and if they once created a habitable zone," said the mission's chief scientist, Peter Smith of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

The craft won't be landing with a protective cushion of airbags surrounding it, either -- it has to fire downward-facing rockets in the final 18 seconds of descent in order to land on its three rather spindly legs.

Some other CNET quickies that caught my eye this morning:

  1. Taxis of the future?
  2. "Enertech:" MIT's Energy Conference
  3. Leaving no surface untouched..., Microsoft's Surface Computing vision
  4. GM May Skip Vista, Hold XP until Windows 7 is out
  5. IBM helps solar power take the heat; perhaps this, with MIT's "enertech" intiative, Microsoft's surface-sweep and the Taxis of the future could all combine to form one truly interesting smorgasbord of technology and efficiency.


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