MIT Researchers Propose Space Bubbles to Stop Climate Change

Artist's conception of bubbles used to reduce sunlight to combat climate change (Image credit: MIT)

Climate change is a real problem. Human caused outputs of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are the main driver of an unprecedented rise in global average temperatures at a speed never before seen in the Earth’s geologic record. The problem is so bad that any attempts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions may be too little and too late. And so a team based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have proposed a radical new solution: bubbles…in space.

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A New Instrument is Going to the ISS to Study the Climate Impact of Dust in Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

People often seem surprised when they learn that NASA doesn’t just look out to the other planets, stars, and galaxies. It’s also an agency that studies our own home planet—from space! And why not? Earth is part of the solar system, too. So, to that end, there’s a new Earth studies mission called EMIT on its way to the International Space Station. It’s designed to track dust as it moves from one place to another on our planet through through our atmosphere.

The official name of the mission is the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT, for short). It will use a high-tech imaging spectrometer to study dust around the globe over the next year.

A dust plume stretches over the eastern Mediterranean, shrouding parts of Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. The June 2020 image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. NASA’s EMIT mission will help scientists better understand how airborne dust affects climate. Credits: NASA
A dust plume stretches over the eastern Mediterranean, shrouding parts of Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. The June 2020 image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. NASA’s EMIT mission will help scientists better understand how airborne dust affects climate. Credit: NASA
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Antarctica Lost an Ice Shelf, but Gained an Island

The eastern coast of Antarctica has lost most of the Glenzer and Conger ice shelves, as seen in these satellite images taken between November 15, 1989 - January 9, 2022. Credit: NASA GSFC/UMBC JCET.

Collapsing ice shelves on the eastern coast of Antarctica has revealed something never seen before: a landform that might be an island. But this is not the first newly revealed island off the Antarctic coast. A series of islands have appeared as the ice shelves along the continent’s coastline has disintegrated over the past few years.

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Because of Extreme Drought, Lake Powell is Barely a Lake Anymore

This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image allows us a wider view of Lake Powell and its dwindling water levels amidst the climate crisis. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2022), processed by ESA.

The two largest reservoirs in the United States are now at their lowest levels since they were first created. After several decades of drought – with the past two years classified as intense drought in the US Southwest — both Lake Powell and Lake Mead are shrinking. Recent satellite images show just how dramatic the changes have been, due to the ongoing the climate crisis..

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The IPCC Releases its 2022 Report on Climate Change, in Case you Needed Something Else to Worry About

Since 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed and tasked with advancing knowledge of humanity’s impact on the natural environment. Beginning in 1990, they have issued multiple reports on the natural, political, and economic impacts Climate Change will have, as well as possible options for mitigation and adaptation. On Feb. 27th, the IPCC released the second part of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) – “Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” – and the outlook isn’t good!

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How did Earth go From Molten Hellscape to Habitable Planet?

An artist's impression of the Hadean eon. Image Credit: By Tim Bertelink - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48916334

Earth formed from the Sun’s protoplanetary disk about 4.6 billion years ago. In the beginning, it was a molten spheroid with scorching temperatures. Over time, it cooled, and a solid crust formed. Eventually, the atmosphere cooled, and life became a possibility.

But how did all of that happen? The atmosphere was rich in carbon, and that carbon had to be removed before the temperature could drop and Earth could become habitable.

Where did all the carbon go?

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As Temperatures Rise, Antarctica is Turning Green

Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands. Image Credit: By Ben Tullis from Cambridge, United Kingdom - Signy, the base and the bay, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5878735

The global climate is warming, and Earth’s polar regions are feeling the effects. A new study of the South Orkney Islands shows that the region has warmed significantly since the 1950s. The rise in warming in the South Orkneys exceeds the overall global warming.

As the islands warm, plant life is spreading.

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The Early Earth was Really Horrible for Life

The Blue Marble image of Earth from Apollo 17. Credit: NASA

Earth has had a long and complex history since its formation roughly 4.5 billion years ago. Initially, it was a molten ball, but eventually, it cooled and became differentiated. The Moon formed from a collision between Earth and a protoplanet named Theia (probably), the oceans formed, and at some point in time, about 4 billion years ago, simple life appeared.

Those are the broad strokes, and scientists have worked hard to fill in a detailed timeline of Earth’s history. But there are a host of significant and poorly-understood periods in the timeline, lined up like targets for the scientific method. One of them concerns UV radiation and its effects on early life.

A new study probes the effects of UV radiation on Earth’s early life-forms and how it might have shaped our world.

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The Recent Killer Tornado’s Track is Visible From Space

On December 12, 2021, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of the tornado track across western Kentucky near Mayfield. This area endured some of the worst damage of the fierce storm front. Credit: NASA/NOAA.

During the night of December 10, 2021, severe weather tore through several US states, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. At least 70 tornado-like events were reported, and one storm cell was tracked on radar for approximately four hours as it traveled for more than 400 km (250 miles.)

While the destruction these storms left behind is visible even from space, the heartbreaking devastation on the ground is sobering; over 100 people killed, with hundreds more injured.

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One Feature Mars has That we Don’t: Polar Megadunes

For fans of astrophotography, Kevin M. Gill needs no introduction. Even if you’re not up on the latest astronomical news and developments, chances are you’ve still seen some of his images over the years. From beautiful artist renditions to breathtaking photographs of far-off planets, Gill has covered it all. Among the latest images available on his official Flickr page are pictures of a unique feature on Mars: the Chasma Boreale Megadunes!

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