Pluto’s strange atmosphere just collapsed + It hit 80 degrees in the Arctic

Pluto’s strange atmosphere just collapsed

EXCERPT: Pluto’s atmosphere [...] can only be studied when Pluto passes in front of a distant star, allowing astronomers to see the effect the atmosphere has on starlight. When this happened in 2016, it confirmed that Pluto’s atmosphere was growing, a trend that astronomers had observed since 1988, when they noticed it for the first time. Now, all that has changed — Pluto’s atmosphere appears to have collapsed.

[...] Astronomers have long known that Pluto’s atmosphere expands as it approaches the sun and contracts as it recedes. When the sun heats its icy surface, it sublimates, releasing nitrogen, methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When it moves away, the atmosphere is thought to freeze and fall out of the sky ... Pluto reached its point of closest approach to the sun in 1989, and has since been moving away. But its atmosphere has continued to increase to a level that is about 1/100,000 of Earth’s.

Astronomers think they know why, thanks to the images sent back by the New Horizons spacecraft that flew past Pluto in 2015. These images revealed an unexpectedly complex surface with widely varying colors. [...] a large, white, ice-covered basin called Sputnik Planitia stretched across a large part of one hemisphere. Planetary geologists think Sputnik Planitia plays an important role in regulating Pluto’s atmosphere. That’s because, when it faces the sun, it releases gas into the atmosphere. Simulations suggest that this is why Pluto’s atmosphere has continued to grow, even as it has begun to move away from the sun... (MORE - details)

It Hit 80 Degrees in the Arctic This Week

EXCERPT: . . . in Siberia -- you know, the region of world we reference when we want to connote something cold -- it was 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Arctic sea ice in the neighboring Kara Sea took the deepest May nose dive ever recorded. Oh, and random swaths of the region are on fire. Things are extremely wrong.

Let’s start with the heat above Arctic Circle. [...] “The primary reason for the heat is a so called upper-level ridge, am omega-shaped high pressure system which allows clear skies and sinking air motion,” Mike Rantanen told ... “However, what I think is the most noteworthy aspect is that that particular area in Russia has been record-warm in winter. So I believe that lack of snow can play a role as the heat us not consumed into melting of snow.”

On land, it means wildfires continue to spread. [...] Most of the blazes he’s documented are in the eastern portion of Siberia, which also dealt with its fair share of heat all year in addition to low snowpack. Seeing fires burn next to braided rivers and large patches of unmelted snow is truly a mood for our current era of climate destabilization.

Then there are the ocean impacts, because climate change doesn’t just stop at the water’s edge. Warmth has washed over the seas that border Siberia, and the Kara Sea north of the western part of the region has seen the most precipitous decline in sea ice. [...] Numerous other seas that ring the Arctic have also been losing ice.

[...] These impacts are the latest in a litany of climate horrors for the Arctic as a whole. Last summer, it reached nearly 95 degrees Fahrenheit above the Arctic Circle in Sweden. The same summer, the mercury hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit at the northernmost settlement on the planet. Greenland also melted and burned. That’s just some of what happened last year. I could list the same for 2018. And 2017. And you get the point... (MORE - details)

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