Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Did Ancient Man Start Global Warming?

New research finds that ancient (or in this case pre-historic) man may have helped to jump start global warming. Details can be found in the CNN article Study: Global warming sparked by ancient farming methods by Shelby Lin Erdman.

Erdman wrote, "The study, published in the scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews and reported on the University of Virginia's Web site, says over thousands of years, farmers burned down so many forests on such a large scale that huge amounts of carbon dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere. That possibly caused the Earth to warm up and forever changed the climate."

Lead study author William Ruddiman noted, "It seems like a common-sense idea that there weren't enough people around 5, 6, 7,000 years ago to have any significant impact on climate. But if you allow for the fact that those people, person by person, had something like 10 times as much of an effect or cleared 10 times as much land as people do today on average, that bumps up the effect of those earlier farmers considerably, and it does make them a factor in contributing to the rise of greenhouse gasses."

Ironically, this kick starting of global warming in pre-history times may have allowed modern civilizations to develop. Ruddiman's study also postulates that the Earth was on its way to another ice age 10,000 years ago and that ice sheets were already forming in northern latitudes when ancient man started his slashing and burning method of farming. Early global warming may have averted an ice age which allowed us to be here today. Of course, the question now is, how to do we stop global warming so we can stick around? Man may be able to survive on a warmer world but our society almost certainly would be smaller and less advanced.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Birthplace of Emperor Vespasian Found?

The AP Wire has a story out titled Birthplace of Roman emperor found in Italy. Some archaelogists think this may have been were the future Emperor Vespasian came into the world. Vespasian would go on to win the civil war of AD 69 and found his own short lived dynasty.

From the article:

Archaeologists say they have unearthed a country villa believed to be the birthplace of Vespasian, the emperor who built the Colosseum.

Lead archaelogist Filippo Coarelli said Friday the 2,000-year-old ruins of the luxurious residence were found about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Rome.

There are no clear inscriptions on the 5.4-square-mile (14-square-kilometer) complex, but its location and decorations suggest it is from the right period and the emperor was born in the area.
The excavation was carried out by a group of Italian and British archaeologists.

Born in A.D. 9, Vespasian is known for launching a major public works program in Rome. The Colosseum is the most ambitious and best-preserved of his building projects.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Great Lakes Hurricane of 1996

I have lived in the Great Lakes region of the United States my entire life. I am a frequent visitor to three of the lakes and have seen all five. Bad weather is a fact of life sometimes on the Lakes and hurricane strength winds happen.

However, I would have never believed an actual hurricane had ever formed over the Great Lakes. But apparently, it happened. In 1996, the "Hurroncane" appeared in September.

Here is what the National Weather Service said about it:

The first likeness was its timing, forming over the Great Lakes right at the height of the typical hurricane season, September 11-15th, 1996. What started as a typical core-cold 500 MB low pressure system evolved into a warm-core system as it settled over the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, in particular, Lake Huron. The low pressure system actually had moved past Lake Huron but then retrograded, or was "drawn back", to the relatively warm waters of Lake Huron. (Similar to the tropics, the Great Lakes usually reach their warmest water temperatures late August into mid September.) The storm then deepened and intensified at the lower levels of the atmosphere compared to aloft, typical of a warm-core low. It is believed that the warm waters of Lake Huron and associated low level instability over the lake were, to a large extent, the major contributing factors in this storm's evolution. The storm went on to form a broad cyclonic circulation, including the "spiral bands and eye", typically seen in hurricanes! At one point, the cyclone produced tropical storm force winds (39 - 73 mph) and some of the spiral bands even had rainfall exceeding 10 cm (better than four inches), causing some flooding.

So I guess hurricanes are possible in the Great lakes and one may form again. I am sure if another one appears it will be pointed to as proof of global warming even though this has happened before. I hope my home is insured for hurricanes. I am not sure if our Great Lakes insurance policies include a clause for hurricanes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Southeast Colorado Heritage and History

The Southeast Colorado Heritage and History site has information on Native American history, bird species native to the area, and local historical sites. It has maps, an events calendar, and resources for visitors.

From the site:

In the southeast corner of Colorado lie the ancestral grounds of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Ute Indian tribes, biologically diverse prairie and riparian ecosystems containing the greatest concentration of North American bird species to be found anywhere on the continent, and places where human activities have shaped the course of world events.
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