Sonntag, 22. Juni 2008

Cold-Climate Landforms on Mars

So, after Ice on strange, distant planets, and space-monsters, here some more scientific, then fictionally content:
GASSELT (2007): Cold-Climate Landforms on Mars.
This work covers the dominant aspects of landforms and processes related to the cold-climate (periglacial) and hyperarid environment of Mars and relates the knowledge obtained from terrestrial research to possible Martian analogue landforms.
The entire PhD publication can be downloaded...
And here a publication about "Ice in the Solar System"

Samstag, 21. Juni 2008

Beware of the Blob!

I´m pretty sure that I encountered (and escaped) one of the most dangerous B-movie monster of all times - the BLOB!

........Nothing can stop it!

But, like always, every monster, after killing some people, encounter his hero, and fail at his weak point. In this case, low temperatures!

Freitag, 13. Juni 2008

Glaciers from outer space !!!

It seems that barren ice deserts are an important scenery for a science-ficton movie, even if, or maybe because there are not found exclusively on planet earth, but also on extrasolar planets, like Hoth, sixth planet of a remote system of the same name (so maybe we should call it Hoth VI), collocated in the outer rim territories.

It is a world covered entirely in snow and ice, with numerous moons, and pelted by meteorites from a nearby asteroid belt. But even on this frozen planet, you still can find an entire ecosystem, the tauntaun, a 2,5m tall bipedal herbivore, grazing on lichens, and hunted by the terrible Wampa. Wampas are mainly solitary hunters, like the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) from the planet earth, an example of convergent evolution.

Similarities of the scenery in the movie "The Empire Strikes Back", with the Finse and the Hardangerjøkulen glacier in Norway are unintentional and are for purposes of illustration only.

Only one place in space is more dangerous then Hoth, the high security penalty asteroid Rura Penthe.
Controlled by the Klingon empire, the planet hosts a penal colony, known for its harsh conditions and dilithium mines.
The surface temperature of Rura Penthe is extremely low, even if three weak suns are glooming in the sky, and the landscape is dominated by glaciers. Without proper clothing, no humanoid lifeform is able to survive for very long on the surface, so most of the mining and prison facility is located underground. A magnetic shield encased the mining facility and a vast area surrounding it in order to prevent prisoners from being beamed away. The prison complex is patrolled by armed klingon guards. Other security measures are minimal, as they were deemed largely unnecessary due to the harsh surface climate.
It was stated that no one had ever escaped Rura, because of the harsh conditions experienced on the surface, but it seems after some non confirmed informations, that Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy, from the U.S.S. Enterprise, managed to escape from the icy planetoid.

Similarities of the scenery in the movie with the moon Europa are also unintentional.

The surface scenes of Rura Penthe in Star Trek VI were filmed at Knik Glacier, east of Palmer, Alaska.

Dienstag, 10. Juni 2008

Climate Change in Art

Geological Musings in the Taconic Mountains is hosting Accretionary Wedge #10 on the subject of Geology in Art.

Classic art can be a source of inspiration to search for a different kind of "scientific data" and plays an important role in reconstructions of glacier extent or climate in the historic past.

There are a lot of pictures rappresenting different landscapes with views of glaciers - and surely I will dedicate them an apposite post in future times - showing how men was inspired by them, or what men think(ed) about glaciers (other imagines show what glaciers think about our behaviour on them...)

Cartoon by Reschreiter 1911

But even in a more indirect and not scientific view on nature, artists have provided valuable data for todays researchers. Climate, more precisely the daily weather, influenced the paintings of different artists. I will briefly present two pictures, that simbolize the beginning and the end of an important climate change in historic times.

A first example I chose, is maybe rappresented by the work of Caspar David Friedrich (September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840). Friedrich was a landscape painter of the nineteenth-century German Romantic movement, of which he is now considered the most important painter. As painter Friedrich is best known for his later allegorical landscapes, which feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees, and Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey the spiritual experiences of life.

A ice related picture is the "The Sea of Ice" or "Polar Sea" (mistakenly confused with "The Wreck of Hope", "The Wreck of the North Pole Expedition"), painted 1823-25.
The picture appears by itself cold and lost, seems frozen for all eternity in time. It was maybe inspired of the pronounced shift to a more humid and cold climate seen between 1500 and 1850 (the so called Little Ice Age), with glacier advances and for long periods frozen (North)sea and rivers.

An artist, where most researches will agree that the climate played an important role in the subject (of at least some pictures) he painted, is Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525 - September 9, 1569). He was a Netherlandish Renaissance painter and printmaker known for his landscapes and peasant scenes.

A known masterpiece of Bruegel shows a Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap (painted 1565). This picture is climate related for the fact, that it´s shows a frozen river, with people enjoying skating on it. Today only in the most severe winter this could be possible in the Netherlands. But between 1500 to 1600 it happened regularly, so that the rivers where used in the winter like streets.

Samstag, 7. Juni 2008

Beasts from the cold!

A research group from the university of Oregon has discovered footprints nearby the Beardmore Glacier (83°45′S, 171°00′E), distant only 650km from the southpole, on the frozen continent of Antarctica.
The fossils rappresents the tracks of early reptils, and also mammal-like reptils, dated to the lower Trias, some 250 Ma ago. Also in the Victoria-territory, an other kind of so called ichnofossils were found, similar to the first, but much smaller. The new found imprints shows similarities to fossils found in sediments from the transition Permian-Trias of Southafrica.