Category Archives: antarctica

this can’t be good

Coldest, Deepest Ocean Water Mysteriously Disappears

OurAmazingPlanet Staff – Mar 21, 2012 03:43 PM ET

Layers of Antarctic Bottom Water and the rates it is disappearing at
A layer of Antarctic Bottom Water colder than 0ºC (colors, with darkest blue areas having the thickest layer, and white none) covers the ocean floor around Antarctica (center, shaded grey). Rates at which this layer is thinning during the study period (red numbers in meters per decade) are shown for for each deep basin (outlined by thin grey lines). These rates are estimated using data from repeated oceanographic expeditions (ship tracks shown by thick black lines). Note that seawater at the ocean surface stays liquid even at temperatures approaching -2ºC because of its high salt content.
CREDIT: NOAA

The coldest deep ocean water that flows around Antarctica in the Southern Ocean has been mysteriously disappearing at a high rate over the last few decades, scientists have found.

This mass of water is called Antarctic Bottom Water, which is formed in a few distinct locations around Antarctica, where seawater is cooled by the overlying air and made saltier by ice formation (which leaves the salt behind in the unfrozen water). The cold, salty water is denser than the water around it, causing it to sink to the sea floor where it spreads northward, filling most of the deep ocean around the world as it slowly mixes with warmer waters above it.

The world’s deep ocean currents play a critical role in transporting heat and carbon around the planet, which helps regulate the Earth’s climate.

 Previous studies had indicated that this deep water has become warmer and less salty over the past few decades, but a new study has found that significantly less of this water has also been formed during this time.

Oceanographers examined temperature data collected from 1980 to 2011 at about 10-year intervals by an international program of repeated ship-based oceanographic surveys in the Southern Ocean.

They found that Antarctic Bottom Water has been disappearing at an average rate of about 8 million metric tons per second over the past few decades, equivalent to about 50 times the average flow of the Mississippi River, according to statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which helped fund the data collection.

“In every oceanographic survey repeated around the Southern Ocean since about the 1980s, Antarctic Bottom Water has been shrinking at a similar mean rate, giving us confidence that this surprisingly large contraction is robust,” said lead author of the study Sarah Purkey, a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle.

What’s causing the reduction and what it means are things the researchers must still investigate.

“We are not sure if the rate of bottom-water reduction we have found is part of a long-term trend or a cycle,” said co-author Gregory C. Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Changes in the temperature, salt content, dissolved oxygen and dissolved carbon dioxide of this prominent water mass have important ramifications for Earth’s climate, including contributions to sea level rise and the rate of Earth’s heat uptake.

“We need to continue to measure the full depth of the oceans, including these deep ocean waters, to assess the role and significance that these reported changes and others like them play in the Earth’s climate,” Johnson said.

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pangea according to marvel

graphic novel notes


the rings are: the isles, the mountains, the lowlands, the wilderness, the hinterland, hell, the gamburtsevs

this is my first test of the directions i’m trying to follow about making your own graphic novel.  i’ve imported a line drawing and am adding layers for each of the rings of the quantum antarctica game.

next i have to go in and draw some more bounding areas and fill them with details, effects and so on on more layers.  i’m learning the principles, and so far the first one i have learned is that, like the silk painting serti technique, you have to have enclosed areas to put the colors in, so jim’s line drawing is going to have to mark where the color changes are, rather than the edges of objects.  i guess the lines usually do just that, but i’m going to have to go around his drawings after i scan them in, just like i do when he designs a scarf for me.

***

oh and i’ve been thinking about names.  quantum antarctica.  quant’artica.  q’ant.  i had some other names on the dog walk this afternoon, but they’re gone now.  must have been a lie, as my dad used to say.  wish i could remember.  they were good names.  not quantum quest.

we’ve been discussing which parts of the story to do as graphic novel.  we feel comfortable with maybe an eighth of the story illustrated as comic book pages.  most of it will be prose, just every now and then there’ll be up to 5 pages of full color insert.

i can see the finished book.  the cover is like an old worm bible, leather, embossed, worn down to the brown skin.  inside there’s marbling.  there’s a list of illustrations, and there loads of illustrations.  there’s a list of maps, and there are 46 maps at the very least.  there are maps of each level and each ring, and each town, and the trade routes, and the weather, and the heroic journeys, pirate maps and symbolic maps and flowcharts.  maybe we can switch typeface for different situations or developmental levels.  i hate stories without pictures, and i’m going to have loads of pictures in this one.  jim will do all the illustrations, i will do the maps and anything that’s better done on computer, like scanning and inking, coloring and lettering.  but especially i get to do all the maps, because jim’s never done it, and i’ve always loved drawing maps.

we can’t illustrate the whole story, but we could illustrate a thread, or two, that runs thru the story.  like the dragoncons.  like the real world events.  like the quantum lessons scattered about. that way we touch on everything with every graphic section, because everybody’s appearance and the appearance of the world, and the style we use to illustrate it, change thruout the story.  there would be other threads running thru the game that we could illustrate, and a lot of this could be covered by spot illustrations that appear at each level or ring or chapter heading and inside the level/ring/chapter wherever it needs it.

all of these threads, or pieces of the story can be really cool as a graphic novel, and so the question arises, why not do the whole thing that way?  but we’re talking about several hundred pages of written script (finished about like i did train wreck, which is first draft and might as well be notes) and several hundred pages of graphic novel, which jim doesn’t have time or energy to pencil, and i don’t have time or software to process into tiffs.  thanks gimp for not doing cmyk, me hole.

this is so much work it’s not funny.  we’d need a team to actually do this the right way.  but all there is is us, so we’ll do it our way.  the story comes first, however.  and it’s got to be a final, full outline before we can proceed to either scripting or prosing each chapter.  we’ll have figured out which ones to illustrate by then, i hope, but maybe not.  no, i’m pretty confident we’ll have it figured out.

the way this process is working is that i’m struggling along with one little aspect of it that seems to be going so slow (like rush-hour traffic in atlanta – bumper to bumper at 70 miles an hour), and it goes along and limps along, (notes on the political mind, research on graphic novels, doing character sketches) and i have to stop and do other things, and the days rush by without my doing very much at all, and then all of a sudden we go for a dog walk and i voice my frustrations, and jim comes up with a little twist that makes everything fit together in a really elegant way, and i start sputtering and flaming and pretty soon we have an entirely new understanding of how the story works, and i come home and scramble to write it all down before it’s tomorrow and a whole nother day.

of course, i stll have to go back to taking notes and figuring out what the characters look like.

***

on the dog walk this evening, jim and i went over the various aspects of the story that could be illustrated.

the seven dragoncons can be illustrated as a graphic novel. i can just see the hyatt flooded with people on two floors, a crowded escalator going diagonally across the page.  the fairy tale vision would work very nicely as a graphic novel.  illustrating all the dragoncons would function on its own as a summation of the action and progress.

creating and testing the game would be very easy as a graphic novel, because the scientific details escape me and have to be shortened to the rudiments to begin with, and because it’s easier to show a wireframe landscape than to describe it.  illustrating the principles of classical and relativistic (and quantum) physics is probably easier than talking about it.  especially judging by all the quantum physics books (without equations) that i’ve tried to get thru.

the seven rings of playing the game, which is essentially following the boy and girl as they play the game, as they change in their appearance and grow in their actions and responsibilities and finally face each other and let the add-ons drop away.

playing the game is a very large part of the story, about half, and as such you couldn’t illustrate all of the game.  this is where we might could illustrate learning the quantum lessons, doing the exercises that enable you to think quantum and act quantum.  it’d be a whole lot better to show this learning process than it would be to lecture about it.

the real world.  there is a lot of the real world, and it takes up the other half of the story, so you couldn’t illustrate all of it.  but there are various facets.

the public reaction goes the whole gamut from unease to rabid mob, a parody of the right wing reaction to socialism, for example.

their actions from installing spies to directing sabotage, to suppression and syrian military diplomacy.  this is a metaphor for all the uprisings against the elite now occurring in the world, and best left as indescriptive as possible, since i don’t really want to pay attention to it – it’s so unpleasant and i just get mad.

then there’s the pivotal dramatic sequence where the boy is coopted, but changes his mind after the game and is forced to watch as the girl is captured and tortured and the kernel is destroyed, but the boy fights them, rescues the girl, and seeks shelter and aid.

there are lots of realworld and game effects when the kernel is destroyed, and it goes from bad to worse, doing catastrophic things that would look really good visually, and the prose description would pale by comparison.

there’s the final realworld showdown, when we see the defeat of quantum, the cruel celebration of the victors, and find the losers in fema camps.  is irony best captured in visual or text?

and how to play it when people find themselves playing the game in their dreams, and the whole quantum thing finally reaches critical mass, where players go around creating the parallel worlds they want to live in, and they coalesce, and collapse into a new, shifted reality that doesn’t normalize a power-hungry, fear-based mindset.

as an epilog, at the final dragoncon, there’s a new baby who already thinks and acts in quantum, the first of her generation, an improved game, and a world settling in to a new reality where we are all one and love is all you need.

***

the character sketch

the boy is tall and lanky, unkempt and slouchy, a self-conscious wannabe geek who uses his smarts to get ahead.  in the course of the game he turns into a swashbuckler, a gengis khan, a red-haired fabio with a kirk douglas chin, and then an old bodybuilder in a khan suit.

the girl starts out as a waiflike thing half the boy’s size, pixy black hair, and grows thru a dumpy and somewhat bitchy and put-upon middle age to be a mother earth crone with a halo, leaving flowers where she steps, all that.

kurt looks like my ex the computer genius, and acts like those dysfunctional guys in project x, but once he becomes ex-kurt in the game, he is a bundle of light, a moving finger, a face in random patterns, and in the realworld he is a face in the clouds and a gust of wind and a shadow on the sun.

snake is lithe and quick and has triangular shaped head and fanged teeth, long fingernails, lots of tattoos, and shaves his greasy hair in diamonds.  he is smart, and snide, superior and snarky, and mean.  his appearance doesn’t change in essence but gets more exaggerated.  he dresses in black.  in the game, as pope, he is smarmy and perverted.

fairy is a plump little thing with frizzy hair and pimples, and she giggles and is quietly hostile when people go against what she thinks is right.  she hides her fear under a layer of saccharine optimism.  she quietly clones herself onto a good portion of the non-playing characters, who meet out information according to how players treat them, and have very long memories.

***

then let’s talk about art style, panel style, lettering style, coloring style.  and variation of styles, using what when and to show what?

but not tonight.

a more complicated map of the antarctica game

it’s a doozy of a map, too, with a base layer of bedrock, then a layer of ice stream flows and continental divides, then a longitudinal grid, then a contour map of the bedrock (contours adjusted according to my whim), then the seven rings in white, and colored in from red to purple with zone 7 being white (only it’s mostly transparent, this level), and then all the cities and villages in pink.

as you can see, there are very few settlements in ring 1, which is where the entry to the level is.  when this level is first experienced, there is practically nobody playing the game except the girl and boy.  the gameworld ages as the game is played, and with every ring the boy and girl grow older as well.  the landscape changes and becomes more temperate, even tropical as they go thru the rings, the civilization becomes more developed. by ring 6 the civilization is beginning to infest adjoining regions.  only in ring 7, that bird shape in the middle, are there no settlements.  there is  nobody in ring 7.  players actually can’t get there from ring 6.  it functions for most of the level as an impenetrable barrier, until the boy and girl find a way in, and then everybody in the game can see it, even on the cloud levels.

center of the gamburtsevs

this is the center of the gamburtsev mountains, under the ice in antarctica.  it’s where the climax of the antarctica game occurs.  as you can see, it’s fairly vulval in geography, with two winged mountains surrounding a central cleft, with a center ridge bisecting them.  just the place for a climax, wouldn’t you say?

i just love this process.

gamburtsev mountains

Dr Ferraccioli was a principal investigator on the AGAP (Antarctica’s Gamburtsev Province) project.

This multinational effort in 2008/2009 flew aircraft back and forth across the east of the White Continent, mapping the shape of the hidden mountain system using ice-penetrating radar.

Other instruments recorded the local gravitational and magnetic fields, while seismometers were employed to probe the deep Earth.

 

The AGAP team believes all this data can now be meshed into a credible narrative for the Gamburtsevs’ creation and persistence through geological time.

It is a story that starts just over a billion years ago, long before complex life had formed on the planet, when the then continents were drifting together to create a giant landmass known as Rodinia.

The resulting collision pushed up the mountains, and also produced an underlying thick, dense “root” that sat down in the crust.

Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, the peaks would have gradually eroded away. Only the cold root would have been preserved.

Then, about 250-100 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the planet, the crust started to pull apart in a series of rifting events close to the old root.

This rifting warmed and rejuvenated the root, giving it the buoyancy needed to lift the land upwards once more to re-establish the mountains.

Further uplift still was achieved as deep valleys were later cut by rivers and by glaciers.

And it would have been those glaciers that also wrote the final chapter some 35 million years ago, when they spread out and merged to form the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, entombing the Gamburtsevs in the process.

map of the game rings

when the boy and girl have their vision, they are flying toward the first star on the left.  they see a ball of light in the distance, maybe a planet.  it reminds them of a cue ball.  as they get closer, they can see it is a ball covered in clouds.  as they get closer still, the clouds break apart and they can see rainbow colors in bands over the planet.  it kind of looks like a figure, with a head and one eye or maybe a mouth, and two arms raised, and two legs down, inside a circle.  as they get very close, they see fractal-like landmasses in a ringed sea, and finally they can see buildings and activity on the landmasses.

another antarctic map

this is  a map of the rings of the antarctica mmo game i’m creating for my quantum pirate novel.

there are 7 rings within each other, and each ring is a higher level of difficulty etc.  you must go thru all the levels to finish the game.

author’s note

as i was writing about the bunches of 7s that are winding thru this story, my friend jennifer stopped at pump 7 and jim received 7 packages in the mail.  so okay, fine.  i got out my tarot book and my esoteric numbers book and looked on the internet, and yes, 7 is one of those magic numbers, no doubt about it.

so, fine, i can add a level.  it’s easy to do in antarctica, where i’ve got the gamburtsev mountains that i haven’t gone into yet.  they’re way high.  they can have the final conflict there.  and it’s easy to do in the game levels, because the horizontal level in general is different than antarctica, which is one of the worlds of the horizontal level.  i’m still working on the 7 quantum lessons, or the 7 classical and relativistic lessons, or the 7 mind lessons that i only just now thought of.  i’m guessing i’ll need to have 7 of these groups of 7.  i’ve already got the 7 islands of the first level, and the 7 dragoncon years.  will there be 7 characters?  are there 7 ages of man?

it doesn’t matter.  i can fit anything anywhere; it’s all a metaphor anyway.  whatever framework you’re comfortable, but i love it when everything ties together in a beautiful way.

those undersea ridges

this is all from wikipedia

islands  on the mid-atlantic ridge

The islands, from north to south, with their respective highest peaks and location, are:

Northern Hemisphere (North Atlantic Ridge):

  1. Jan Mayen (Beerenberg, 2277 m (at 71° 06′ N, 08° 12′ W), in the Arctic Ocean
  2. Iceland (Hvannadalshnúkur in the Vatnajökull, 2109.6 m (at 64° 01′ N, 16° 41′ W), through which the ridge runs
  3. Azores (Ponta do Pico or Pico Alto, on Pico Island, 2351 m, (at 38°28′0″N 28°24′0″W / 38.466667°N 28.4°W / 38.466667; -28.4)
  4. Bermuda (Town Hill, on Main Island, 76 m (at 32° 18′ N, 64° 47′ W) (Bermuda was formed on the ridge, but is now considerably west of it)
  5. Saint Peter and Paul Rocks (Southwest Rock, 22.5 m, at 00°55′08″N 29°20′35″W / 0.91889°N 29.34306°W / 0.91889; -29.34306)

Southern Hemisphere (South Atlantic Ridge):

  1. Ascension Island (The Peak, Green Mountain, 859 m, at 7° 59′ S, 14° 25′ W)
  2. Tristan da Cunha (Queen Mary’s Peak, 2062 m, at 37° 05′ S, 12° 17′ W)
  3. Gough Island (Edinburgh Peak, 909 m, at 40° 20′ S, 10° 00′ W)
  4. Bouvet Island (Olavtoppen, 780 m, at 54° 24′ S, 03° 21′ E)

islands on the

the beauty of antarctica

or, why i want to go to antarctica.

here’re some of the reasons.

look at that underwater glow.  i want to paint that.

blue everywhere in the ice.  i want to paint that blue. how puny humans are.  sorry, that’s a penguin.

author’s note: i has a pifanee

this is repeated, before and after the break, because i lost the first post (on the bottom) and rewrote it (below).  just fyi

it came to me in a flash yesterday.  i can save myself a whole lot of level engineering if i have the same layout for as many levels as possible.  and i just saw a way to fit antarctica around levels 1 and 2..

so i’m in the middle of designing a map of the amusement park that looks just like antarctica from the air.  west antarctica, which has the peninsula and the transarctic mountains and marie byrd land, that’s all going to be the midway, where level 1 is.  and when it comes time to cross to level 2, you go thru a narrow little place and cross into east antarctica, where the carneys live.  and you play level 2 on both sides but mainly in east antarctica.

so that’s cool.

there are 7 island clusters in west antarctica, and i have to think of 7 classical physics lessons to learn there.

and on level 2 i have to figure out all the ways which quantum physics subverts these classical ways, or at least, how to rig all these classical ways, how to game them from another perspective.  which i don’t even understand at this point.  never having taken a classical physics course in high school or college.

anyway, i’m very excited, and now i’m figuring out all the things there are to do on level 2, like landscape gardening and grounds maintenance, surveillance, accounting, things like that.  there are a thousand jobs in a theme park.  which ones illustrate the classical / quantum frontier?

i’m working on the map now, but i just figured out the architecture of levels 1 and 2, the carnival.

there are two parts.  level 1 is the carnival midway, where players go on rides and play games.  level 2 is behind the scenes, where the carnival workers are.  there’s only one point of connection between the two, where you can cross from one to the other.

this is the map of antarctica.  tadah.

west antarctica is peninsula, the outer islands and whitmore, transantarctia and down into victoria and oates.  that’s 7 islands.  that’s all the areas where players can go.

and then the entire rest of antarctica is where the staff goes..  and there’s only one place where west and east antarctica is connected.  that’s going to have a sign saying you must be this tall.

this means that i only have to design one big room for the whole thing.  because levels 1 and 2 are antarctica, level 3 is up in the clouds, the horizontal level is antarctica, and levels ! and !n are up in the clouds again.  so all i need is to figure out what to put on each island, and where to put the various areas of the behind the scenes workings of the carnival.

so, west antarctica is the midway, and east antarctica is carneytown.

just like that, another piece of the puzzle slots into place.  i love this project.

the game: antarctica

after a lot of work, i’ve managed to squeeze everything i want to say about the horizontal level into the following description.

players land on one of the islands of west antarctica – marie byrd, ellsworth, or alexander. these start as barren, rocky islands, and players quickly learn survival skills. as players learn to work with earth energies, the islands become habitable, with surprising lush areas. players work with the sun, wind, and rain as well as earth spirits, and develop rudimentary skills in managing weather and growth.

players are free to band with old friends from other levels, and to form any kind of alliance they choose in antarctica. there are no rules.

when the player has reached a certain level of development, it becomes possible to cross the sea to explore the rest of antarctica. various methods may present themselves, including a friendly trading vessel, a band of roving pirates, a volunteer expedition to hunt aliens, a natural disaster, an abandoned boat, etc, according to each player’s profile and proclivities.

players journey by sea to peninsula, whitmore, transantarctica, or victoria. willpower is used to control the vessel’s journey, and skills with weather and water are enhanced by practice.

here players learn how to use their skills to actively develop their chosen area. players that become pirates develop companies of pirates and conduct business with ports and negotiate with kingdoms and become powerful and strong. players that become shamans start clinics and schools and become healers and leaders and their network becomes large and supple.

the earth responds, growing more supportive of the inhabitants and their agendas. peninsula becomes spiritual and open, transantarctica becomes militarized and fortressed. whitmore, in the middle, becomes the great compromise between love and hate – religion, the seat of quantum religion, the utterance of the principles of the eightfold path.

there are the powers of mind of the shamans, and the rulers by force and commerce – the material – of the pirates. they do cooperate, because this is a seat of great learning, where even pirates learn about quantum things.

some shamans use their powers to gain control and power. this is easy in whitmore. some pirates look to share the wealth – be robin hoods. but in general, the two societies treat each other with guarded respect, as pirates grow mighty and shamans grow powerful. they don’t have to face off because each is equally strong in quantum skills. laws are based on verbal contracts and justice is tribal. in conflicts between pirate and shaman, something quantum is done to decide it – or both players get kicked out to their own worlds, something.

when players are finished creating the pirate-shaman civilization, they journey into the interior, either to oates and adelie, or to ronne and coats. here they learn organizational skills, either socialist or capitalist in orientation. they develop networks and negotiate positions and lead missions.

when the players are finished learning these lessons, they journey thry wilkes to elizabeth and mary, or thru dronning maude to martha and schwabia and enderby. wilkes is peaceful and independent; elizabeth and mary are in the hinterland of hell city and have been controlled by hell city for a long time and are struggling to maintain their way of life. dronning maude is desert and steppe with nomadic tribes which players can join, the mountains of martha and schwabia and enderby are full of fortress strongholds and fierce warrior kingdoms where players fight to unite the clans under the most powerful warlord. here both sides learn strategy and negotiation, mind-reading and manipulation, consensus and treachery. all things are allowed, justified only by the player’s morality.

when sufficient progress has been made, the players journey to hell city. from the fortress strongholds, players can ride into the city with their riches and their people and carve out a piece of the corporate pie for themselves, becoming captains of industry and financial market whizzes. from the impoverished countryside, players can move to the city to find work, becoming droids and servants and activists for social change. even those players with cushy jobs and great income are droids, however; tied to the system by debt, they find themselves working harder and enjoying it less. everybody wants more. the conflict boils down to tactics, to the use of quantum skills for a small number against a vastly larger number.

the game is slanted toward those who use their quantum skills for all. and this is a function of quantum rules, rather than simply by design. the more entangled an action is, the more real it is.

so in this ultimate antarctic conflict, the outcome depends on the square of conscious intentions involved. the results of this contest result in the creation of another world, linked back to the fog hub of the horizontal level.

players land on one of the islands of west antarctica – marie byrd, ellsworth, or alexander.  these start as barren, rocky islands, and players quickly learn survival skills.  as players learn to work with earth energies, the islands become habitable, with surprising lush areas.  players work with the sun, wind, and rain as well as earth spirits, and develop rudimentary skills in managing weather and growth.
players are free to band with old friends from other levels, and to form any kind of alliance they choose in antarctica.  there are no rules.
when the player has reached a certain level of development, it becomes possible to cross the sea to explore the rest of antarctica.  various methods may present themselves, including a friendly trading vessel, a band of roving pirates, a volunteer expedition to hunt aliens, a natural disaster, an abandoned boat, etc, according to each player’s profile and proclivities.
players journey by sea to peninsula, whitmore, transantarctica, or victoria.  willpower is used to control the vessel’s journey, and skills with weather and water are enhanced by practice.
here players learn how to use their skills to actively develop their chosen area.  players that become pirates develop companies of pirates and conduct business with ports and negotiate with kingdoms and become powerful and strong.  players that become shamans start clinics and schools and become healers and leaders and their network becomes large and supple.
the earth responds, growing more supportive of the inhabitants and their agendas.  peninsula becomes spiritual and open, transantarctica becomes militarized and fortressed.  whitmore, in the middle, becomes the great compromise between love and hate – religion, the seat of quantum religion, the utterance of the principles of the eightfold path.
there are the powers of mind of the shamans, and the rulers by force and commerce – the material – of the pirates.  they do cooperate, because this is a seat of great learning, where even pirates learn about quantum things.
some shamans use their powers to gain control and power.  this is easy in whitmore.  some pirates look to share the wealth – be robin hoods.  but in general, the two societies treat each other with guarded respect, as pirates grow mighty and shamans grow powerful.  they don’t have to face off because each is equally strong in quantum skills.  laws are based on verbal contracts and justice is tribal.  in conflicts between pirate and shaman, something quantum is done to decide it – or both players get kicked out to their own worlds, something.
when players are finished creating the pirate-shaman civilization, they journey into the interior, either to oates and adelie, or to ronne and coats.  here they learn organizational skills, either socialist or capitalist in orientation.  they develop networks and negotiate positions and lead missions.
when the players are finished learning these lessons, they journey thry wilkes to elizabeth and mary, or thru dronning maude to martha and schwabia and enderby.  wilkes is peaceful and independent; elizabeth and mary are in the hinterland of hell city and have been controlled by hell city for a long time and are struggling to maintain their way of life.  dronning maude is desert and steppe with nomadic tribes which players can join, the mountains of martha and schwabia and enderby are full of fortress strongholds and fierce warrior kingdoms where players fight to unite the clans under the most powerful warlord.  here both sides learn strategy and negotiation, mind-reading and manipulation, consensus and treachery.  all things are allowed, justified only by the player’s morality.
when sufficient progress has been made, the players journey to hell city.  from the fortress strongholds, players can ride into the city with their riches and their people and carve out a piece of the corporate pie for themselves, becoming captains of industry and financial market whizzes.   from the impoverished countryside, players can move to the city to find work, becoming droids and servants and activists for social change.  even those players with cushy jobs and great income are droids, however; tied to the system by debt, they find themselves working harder and enjoying it less.  everybody wants more.  the conflict boils down to tactics, to the use of quantum skills for a small number against a vastly larger number.
the game is slanted toward those who use their quantum skills for all.  and this is a function of quantum rules, rather than simply by design.  the more entangled an action is, the more real it is.
so in this ultimate antarctic conflict, the outcome depends on the square of conscious intentions involved.  the results of this contest result in the creation of another world, linked back to the fog hub of the horizontal level.

author’s note: random bits

i’m working away on describing the video game i’m creating for this story.  and it’s so complex and so actively developing that i’ve gone thru all sorts of stages.  i just figure i’ll cut and paste a few paragraphs from the mess it’s currently in now.

so many things to think about.

you travel not by getting in a physical boat and rowing across the sea, because it’s a computer game after all and you can’t get wet. what you do is concentrate and move along a map, so you have this tiny boat icon and it traverses the map with sound effects – gulls and waves and creaking ropes, or horse hoofs and groaning boards, or crunching gravel or swishing grasses, all the sound effects of a varied world. then when you arrive at your destination, there’s a cut-scene showing a zoom into the map, establishment shots of the area you’re arriving in where you can hover and learn about the place, and then you’re down in the street. what powers the boat is your concentration, as well as the horse and cart or flying or whatever. the icon doesn’t move unless you will it.

how about walking around in the landscape? it’s not just a keyboard or joystick move. can we invent a glove that functions as your body, with feet and hands and your pinky for something else, like jumping, or speed? then people playing the game tap and rattle their fingers all the time. so for the mobile gamer, a pair of sunglasses with hud, a glove, and earbuds. and the game console, which is your online connection of choice.

you can walk around using your pointer and middle fingers, but you can also develop the skill of willing movement, which comes from your middle, and is expressed with the glove as a bowing forward, an extension of the wrist, a leading with the knuckles.

in the first two levels the boy and girl are keeping in touch because they’re testing and giving feedback, and their main concern is how the lessons work. they’re not caring about the details in the two levels, the two tutorial levels and they never care how many people understand the real work. their main care is for the real work, and they let everything else be player-driven or leave it up to the new programmer or a team of fans.

so they make it thru the two primer levels together. what diverges them? and what happens in the outside world when they enter antarctica? no, it starts in foggy level 3. as they learn how to shift the fog, there begin to be outgame effects. first seen in the clouds and rain, then in mirrors and glass, dust and wind, smoke and flame.

it’s when they start to learn how to affect the world that they diverge. she wants to use it for all good, he wants to use it for themselves. and when they land in antarctica, they are alone, and separately rescued by seals. they find each other in the settlement, and they could be on peninsula or marie byrd or ellsworth, or any of the small islands in the chain. how they get off is instructive. the boy goes off to fight the aliens in transantarctica, and becomes a pirate. the girl joins the crew of a ship and goes to ronne and the inland seas. then he goes around to martha and works his way down to dronning and becomes a warlord. then he goes to hell and becomes a captain of industry. she goes around to adelie (passing him) and becomes a healer, and to vostok and mary and up to hell thru elizabeth. in hell she helps organize the resistance. they meet again in hell.

someone turns the npcs into fairy characters. someone starts drilling in amery bay. someone builds that big city. was there supposed to be a city? they didn’t design one like what they found, but by the time they get there, the city is an inevitability. the civilization is actually developing as they play the game, altho they’re not directly responsible for building it. but as our attention broadens past the peninsula and archipelago these things appear.

at first there’s only rocks and what people can coax to grow by asking the fairies. they help the settlement grow, and at some crucial point of development they have contact with the outside world, and hear about new things.

the outside world is the next level of development, with farming and trading, or fishing and piracy. they work to build and grow this into networks and spheres of influence. at a crucial point they journey to another part and find new things.

warrior tribes with city-state strongholds and contested resources, versus cooperative farms and shared resources. at a crucial point, they go to the city.

hell city is full of businesses and corporations all out to win, versus masses of downtrodden people helping each other and finding ways to even wealth out.

this is a natural progression – within the plot of the story as well as the development of the game as well as the development of the conflict between the characters.

i’m going to need to describe his path as well as her path thru this level. and perspective from the other two (at least). maybe every character in the outside world has a counterpart in the game.

what’s a society predicated on quantum principles look like? it’s all relative, there’s no center of power. non-locality, interconnectivity, entanglement, discontinuity

players – at first the engine programmer who built the kernel. he’s still in there as an npc. then the boy and girl as creators of the game document. and the replacement programmer / mole. the players show off the features of the game, learn the lessons, practice the quantum exercises, experience the drama. so how many do we need? quantumly speaking we only need to do this once, but since there are multiple outcomes, we need more. both the boy and girl go thru to the end. the spy goes similarly to the boy but gets caught taking the dark side seriously. and we need a fan who is on the girl’s side but gets caught up in it.

antarctica changes over time, from a barren rock to a huge city, developing into all levels of subsistence in all areas of climate from desert to glacier. it develops as we follow the two players around in it.

he takes one route and she takes another. he’s going for power, trading, mineral, then financial and military. she’s going for community, connecting, sharing, healing, growing, song, story, helping, building, resisting. she naturally goes for the underclass, he hobnobs with powerful people. he likes things, she gives things away. the spy wants to conquer antarctica too, but goes around gaming the system. with the knowledge that you’re supposed to learn about quantum things, he invents a church of quantum that keeps quantum a secret and charges to tell people they’re unworthy, spreads intolerance of the open practice of dangerous powers, tries to suppress it. stays in this level of the game as the boss and tries to shut down the quantum stuff, but ends up in his own world as the game antarctica bounces back toward its created version.

you travel not by getting in a physical boat and rowing across the sea, because it’s a computer game after all and you can’t get wet.  what you do is concentrate and move along a map, so you have this tiny boat icon and it traverses the map with sound effects – gulls and waves and creaking roaps, or horse hoofs and groaning boards, or crunching gravel or swishing grasses, all the sound effects of a varied world.  then when you arrive at your destination, there’s a cut-scene showing a zoom into the map, establishment shots of the area you’re arriving in where you can hover and learn about the place, and then you’re down in the street.  what powers the boat is your concentration, as well as the horse and cart or flying or whatever.  the icon doesn’t move unless you will it.

author’s note: antarctica map

another map.  this time with rivers.  so many things to consider when making a world.  like where are the people going to live?  if you were designing a world, where would you put the population centers?  on the first map i made a stab at it, but you’ve got to look at the elevations and the rivers and how deep the ports are going to be, and whether the land is going to rise or sink and whether your area will silt up or flood.

all these various parts of antarctica will be drastically different from each other, even tho they’ll all be subject to long dark winters, and the most temperate part of the place will be the northern fringes, especially the peninsula.

so even tho everyone except the plains tribes will fish and farm and raise ruminant animals and build houses of wood, they’ll all have pretty much the same resources.  except for there’s coal in transantarctica, and oil and gas in the inner part of the ross sea and amery bay.

i haven’t yet found names for the seas around adelie, or the inner sea, and indeed haven’t come up with a name for the inner ross sea.  these will come as i consult more maps, or better yet make things up.

some thoughts on the process of writing this.

i’ve only been at it officially for about 3 weeks, and i’ve done tons of research in all the various topics this story will address – antarctica, the occupy movement, quantum physics, video gaming.  it’s exhausting, but i bound out of bed in the morning just thinking about it.  and it’s all coming together, but what a mass of details i have to master in order to write about it with any kind of sense at all.

the stuff i’m putting up on this blog about the plot is basically my first thoughts.  you’re actually seeing some of this as it comes out of my head (author’s notes) and you’re seeing the plot as it gets worked out.  but this is such a strange story that it can’t really be presented straightforward.

it’s a quantum story, and everything happens at once.

it’s more important to follow the principles of quantum mechanics in building the story than it is to follow a timeline, because in quantum physics there is no time.  it all happens simultaneously, and it’s our focus that determines the apparent time stream.

so, for instance, in the game.

the game is giving me fits.  because it’s a massively multiple game, for millions of simultaneous players around the globe, and there are very few rules about what you can and can’t do in the game.  the only limitations are within you the player.  so i’m having to construct a video game.

i don’t even play video games anymore.  i stopped with leisure suit larry and jazz jackrabbit and myst.  so i had to learn about game programming.  and game level design.

that’s why i love the library.  and internet search engines.

back to the game.  i’m in the middle of constructing the game document, the written description of the game and all its salient points.  but this game isn’t one long tunnel to the end that can be described by ‘and then, you…’  because at each turn you can do fucking anything you like.  there is no one path, or one right answer, or even a best path or answer.  because the outcome of the game depends entirely on you the player.  and you can spend all the time you want playing your own version of the game, and never once address the game’s actual purpose.

the game’s actual purpose is to teach you the player how to function in a quantum world, how to master the art of quantum thinking, and how to create the world you want to have.

which is a tall order, i know.  but not impossible.  in fact, it’s quantumly inevitable.

up until yesterday i was going to have the tester play the game.  in the beginning i was going to have ‘people’ play the game, but i realized that it wouldn’t be consistent enough unless it was one character.  one guy playing from start to finish.  but i can’t do that, because there are so many possibilities for the game that to track one would only give you the barest idea of the potential of the game.

and then there’s the interaction between the boy and the girl.  the two who had the quantum experience that started it all.  i need for their relationship to develop thru the whole story, and can’t take that much time off to have some third party play the game without them.

so they have to be playing the game.  both of them in there making unique decisions, having an entirely different game experience, learning different things.  that way i can have more experience and more choices and two branching paths.

and i will need others playing the game, filling other roles, showcasing other possibilities, developing other skills and other versions of the game.

so i’ve got to have a passel of characters.

boy
girl
kernel programmer
replacement programmer
them

that’s all i have so far.  them is rather nebulous, but at this point everybody is an npc to me, because i’m just laying them out.  when it comes time to write them they’ll become people.  their states will be chosen by being observed, and they’ll appear as they are in the story.

i could do it that way.  just materialize them into the story.  but it won’t make sense, so i’ll give them backstories and real pivotal roles in the story.  because there are so many damn crises that it’s not funny.

the talents are developed by playing over and over, until thinking quantum becomes a habit.  but in the story, we only need to play the game once, because it’s a quantum game.  the act of the boy and girl playing the game is the same thing, quantumly, as the universe of players playing a million times each.

and that’s where it gets mystical.

how the hell can i write this?  it’s already too complex and it’s only going to get more entangled as i figure it out and the pieces fall together.

but i can’t stop because the pieces are falling together.  the whole thing makes sense, and each part enriches the other, so i know i’m on the right track.  and my little voice is jumping up and down.

antarctica and a video game
quantum physics and the occupy movement

what have they got in common?

the links between quantum physics and the occupy movement are obvious to me.  horizontal organization and bottom up politics is very like quantum physics, but at the moment i’m having trouble saying why.  it’s very obvious in my head, however.  that’s the challenge.  how to make all this into a simple fairy tale, how to find the places where all these things intersect and describe that.

okay, time for dinner.  i just wanted to set down some of the process i’m in now.  i’m still trying to work thru the game and describe it, just taking one path and following it, even tho that’s against the spirit of quantum mechanics (multiple paths), just to get it written down so i can go on to the next part, which is the reaction of the outside world to the game, the actual action, and the real crisis.  but i’ve got to get thru scene 2 before i move to scene 3 or there’ll be hell to pay.

and it’s not like the scenes will be run one after the other, either.  there won’t be a break to go play the game and then come back to the real world.  the three scenes will be all tangled up, as is quantum mechanics, and it’ll take a better storyteller than i to put it together.

which is why i’m letting the fairies write this one.

map of the new antarctica

i hope it’s big enough.  i have taken the bedrock map of antarctica and transposed topographical features from the current surface map.  it’s a work in progress, and any corrections will be appreciated.

most of the labels came from the coastal features, because everything else is under ice at the moment.  but when the ice melts, there’ll be a bunch of interesting features.

like the peninsula.  and the outer islands of ellsworth and marie byrd lands.  most of wilkes land will be under water, and most of east antarctica will be rolling plains.

it’s a place i’d really like to live.

wow, i’m updating this one all the time.  as i learn more about antarctica, and think more about what i want to happen here, it changes my understanding of the map, so i’m redrawing it.

here’s the latest.

warm antarctica

here are a few science daily articles on a very much warmer historical antarctica, warmer than the horizontal level in the game.

Snapshot Of Past Climate Reveals No Ice In Antarctica Millions Of Years Ago

ScienceDaily (July 28, 2008) — A snapshot of New Zealand’s climate 40 million years ago reveals a greenhouse Earth, with warmer seas and little or no ice in Antarctica, according to research recently published in the journal Geology.

The study suggests that Antarctica at that time was yet to develop extensive ice sheets. Back then, New Zealand was about 1100 km further south, at the same latitude as the southern tip of South America – so was closer to Antarctica – but the researchers found that the water temperature was 23-25°C at the sea surface and 11-13°C at the bottom.

“This is too warm to be the Antarctic water we know today,” said Dr Catherine (Cat) Burgess from Cardiff University and lead-author of the paper. “And the seawater chemistry shows there was little or no ice on the planet.”

These new insights come from the chemical analysis of exceptionally well preserved fossils of marine micro-organisms called foraminifers, discovered in marine rocks from New Zealand. The researchers tested the calcium carbonate shells from these fossils, which were found in 40 million-year-old sediments on a cliff face at Hampden Beach, South Island.

“Because the fossils are so well preserved, they provide more accurate temperature records.” added Dr Burgess. “Our findings demonstrate that the water temperature these creatures lived in was much warmer than previous records have shown.”

“Although we did not measure carbon dioxide, several studies suggest that greenhouse gases forty million years ago were similar to those levels that are forecast for the end of this century and beyond.

Our work provides another piece of evidence that, in a time period with relatively high carbon dioxide levels, temperatures were higher and ice sheets were much smaller and likely to have been completely absent.”

The rock sequence from the cliff face covers a time span of 70,000 years and shows cyclical temperature variations with a period of about 18,000 years. The temperature oscillation is likely to be related to the Earth’s orbital patterns.

The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NOW) and GNS Science, New Zealand.

Issued jointly by the Natural Environment Research Council and Cardiff University.

and here’s one that would make antarctica much higher in elevation, a vast china-like continent and the archipelago.

Scientists Propose Antarctic Location For ‘Missing’ Ice Sheet

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2009) — New research by scientists at UC Santa Barbara indicates a possible Antarctic location for ice that seemed to be missing at a key point in climate history 34 million years ago. The research, which has important implications for climate change, is described in a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

“Using data from prior geological studies, we have constructed a model for the topography of West Antarctic bedrock at the time of the start of the global climate transition from warm ‘greenhouse’ earth to the current cool ‘icehouse’ earth some 34 million years ago,” explained Douglas S. Wilson, first author and an associate research geophysicist with UCSB’s Department of Earth Science and Marine Science Institute.

Wilson and his co-author, Bruce Luyendyk, a professor in the Department of Earth Science, discovered that, contrary to most current models for bedrock elevations of West Antarctica, the bedrock in the past was of much higher elevation and covered a much larger area than today. Current models assume that an archipelago of large islands existed under the ice at the start of the climate transition, similar to today, but Wilson and Luyendyk found that does not fit their new model. In fact, the authors state that the land area above sea level of West Antarctica was about 25 percent greater in the past.

The existing theory leaves West Antarctica in a minor role in terms of the ice accumulation beginning 34 million years ago. Ice sheet growth on earth is believed to have developed on the higher and larger East Antarctic subcontinent while West Antarctica joined the process later around 14 million years ago. “But a problem exists with leaving West Antarctica out of the early ice history,” said Wilson. “From other evidence, it is believed that the amount of ice that grew on earth at the 34 million year climate transition was too large to be accounted for by formation on East Antarctica alone, the most obvious location for ice sheet growth. Another site is needed to host the extra missing ice.”

Evidence for that large mass of ice comes from two sources: the chemical and isotopic composition in shell material of marine microfossils, which are sensitive to ocean temperatures and the amount of ice on land; and from geologic records of lowered sea level at the time that indicate how much ice formed on land to produce the sea level drop.

The new study, by showing that West Antarctica had a higher elevation 34 million years ago than previously thought, reveals a possible site for the accumulation of the early ice that is unaccounted for. “Preliminary climate modeling by researchers at Pennsylvania State University demonstrates that this new model of higher elevation West Antarctica bedrock topography can indeed host the missing ice,” said Luyendyk. “Our results, therefore, have opened up a new paradigm for the history of the growth of the great global ice sheets. Both East and West Antarctica hosted the growing ice.”

The new hypothesis may solve another conflict among climate scientists. Given that more ice grew than could be hosted on East Antarctica alone, some researchers have proposed that the missing ice formed in the northern hemisphere. This would have been many millions of years before the well-known documentation of ice growth there, which started about three million years ago; evidence for ice sheets in the northern hemisphere prior to that time is not established. The new bedrock model shows it is not necessary to have ice hosted in the northern polar regions at the start of global climate transition; West Antarctica could have accommodated the extra ice.

Maps of Antarctic topography with restorations for removal of the load of modern ice only (left), and additionally for erosion, sedimentation, thermal contraction, and horizontal plate motion in geologically active regions (right). Models correcting only for ice load have been used in all simulations of ice growth to date, but significant changes result from additionally correcting for other geologic processes. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California – Santa Barbara)

the game: the horizontal level

players go thru the wormholes in groups, to quest. you can visit an unlimited number of worlds in the horizontal level. you can explore and establish trade, or join raiding parties and wreak havok, or anything you like. you learn different physics skills on every world and practice communicating thru the wormholes, including quantum tunneling, clairvoyance, and action at a distance.

one of the skills you learn is the ability to tweak the game conditions in that world. starting at the horizontal level it’s possible to take over and remake a world your way, changing the rules and resetting the quests. a world so altered becomes a new world, with you as god, taking its place in the multiverse of the horizontal level. like other worlds, it is accessible from level 4, and can be cross-linked to other worlds by the players.

eventually you get stranded in an alternative antarctica when your wormhole closes unexpectedly. in this antarctica, the ice has recently melted away and a vast and varied land has emerged. you can go where you want in this new land, and do what you like using your many skills, and there are special challenges you must pass before you exit the level. gameplay is difficult and strenuous, and you must solve problems using quantum tools and working with others to overcome obstacles. faster and more complete change is possible when players build cross-challenge alliances.

the cut scene

as the level begins, you are drifting on the southern ocean. it’s very cold, and you are thankful there’s no wind – it’s as calm as glass thru the drake passage. and this is good because you are adrift on a tiny, leaky raft, with only a few provisions. among the most helpful are a blanket and a stick. it is summer, and the sky stays light all evening. eventually – you’re not sure – but you think you see land far to the south, so you head that way. seabirds appear and follow your raft. so do sharks. as you approach land, the wind picks up, the waves grow rough, and you try to outrun a storm blowing from the west. but your raft breaks apart – too far from shore to swim. the water is cold, and you quickly lose command of your arms and legs, but a passing seal notices you and shepherds you to shore – mostly dead

back to the land

you wake in a crude stone shelter wrapped in seal skins. strange players tend your scrapes, congratulate you on making it to shore alive, and fill you in on where you are and what’s going on.

you’re in an ex glacial valley full of barren rock. a stream trickles down the middle, all that is left of a mile high river of ice. there might still be a glacier or two far inland. a few tufts of grass grow in sheltered areas. penguins nest here, and seals, and there is plentiful fish. there are a few other players; they seem to have come here as refugees from the harsh northlands, seeking survival and a better life. conditions are harsh, there are frequent storms, there isn’t enough to eat, it is cold and dark for six months of the year, and life is short and brutal. it’s the garden spot of the planet at the moment, however, so you get to work making your living.

the grind is survival – hunting and fishing, making things grow. but hunting and fishing are not firstperson shooter skills. in antarctica, the skills you learn are cooperative and quantum. there is always someone who will trade you something you desperately need for anything you have, no matter how pitiful, but you will make a better trade if you are honest and generous. you can trap and kill to find your food, but you will get better quality food if you negotiate with the animals. you can plant seeds if you can find any, but you will get better results if you work to improve the land and coax the fairies to grow things. you can erect massive walls against the storms, but you’ll get better results if you talk to the wind and ask it to go easy on your shelter.

your task is to cooperate with everybody, to learn strength in numbers, and to use your quantum skills to help terraform antarctica. as you practice your skills you gain the power to change the climate, the ocean’s circulation, even the tilt of the poles to bring antarctica to a more temperate latitude. you can leave at any time, and are free to behave any way you want. there are opportunities to cheat and steal if you like, but in this environment the victim usually dies.

alien attack

evil vampire aliens have almost captured the planet and they have to be found and fought wherever they appear in antarctica. the grind is searching and finding clues. finding them takes you all over, gives you essential knowledge about the way things are, and teach you about hunches and intuition. you learn visualization and extrasensory communications skills, as well as the use of force fields and psychic weapons. captured aliens reveal vital information about their mission without being waterboarded, but you can torture them if you want to.

droid life

in a vast gray city there is a vast gray corporation where you are a droid. based on a short interview you are assigned a job title and duties, and are expected to give 110% to the job. the grind is makework. you have bills to pay and mouths to feed at home, and you’re in the hole with all kinds of credit card debt. the wolf is constantly at your door, but you have friends and family who help you find solutions to your problems, and get back at your employers – evil vampire aliens. your quest is to find ways of getting all your work done and still have time to enjoy yourself.

revolution

you are caught in a bleak totalitarian society where the hopeful thing to do is die, but you keep incarnating again in equally bad situations. the evil vampire aliens run everything to benefit themselves, and have so oppressed the people that the death rate is enormous. your grind is to find something to eat and stay away from the forces of evil.  you starve to death, are beaten and stabbed and robbed and shot and run over and exploded by practically everybody you meet. teams of riot police with tanks and grenades mow down desperate starving masses in the squares, and players cower in their homes in fear of being turned in to the secret police. your only hope is to join the resistance and defeat the aliens. you learn all about urban nonviolence and the techniques of social movements. you join different workgroups and help create alternative food supply chains, healthcare, education, a new money supply and economics based on a horizontal structure. your challenge is to help recreate society and destroy the power of the evil vampire aliens.

players go thru the wormholes in groups, to quest.  you can visit an unlimited number of worlds in the horizontal level.  you can explore and establish trade, or join raiding parties and wreak havok, or anything you like.  you learn different physics skills on every world and practice communicating thru the wormholes, including quantum tunneling, clairvoyance, and action at a distance.
one of the skills you learn is the ability to tweak the game conditions in that world.  starting at the horizontal level it’s possible to take over and remake a world your way, changing the rules and resetting the quests.  a world so altered becomes a new world, with you as god, taking its place in the multiverse of the horizontal level.  like other worlds, it is accessible from level 4, and can be cross-linked to other worlds by the players.
eventually you get stranded in an alternative antarctica when your wormhole closes unexpectedly.  in this antarctica, the ice has recently melted away and a vast and varied land has emerged.  you can go where you want in this new land, and do what you like using your many skills, and there are special challenges you must pass before you exit the level.  gameplay is difficult and strenuous, and you must solve problems using quantum tools and working with others to overcome obstacles.  faster and more complete change is possible when players build cross-challenge alliances.
the cut scene
as the level begins, you are drifting on the southern ocean.  it’s very cold, and you are thankful there’s no wind – it’s as calm as glass thru the drake passage.  and this is good because you are adrift on a tiny, leaky raft, with only a few provisions.  among the most helpful are a blanket and a stick.  it is summer, and the sky stays light all evening.  eventually – you’re not sure – but you think you see land far to the south, so you head that way.  seabirds appear and follow your raft.  so do sharks.  as you approach land, the wind picks up, the waves grow rough, and you try to outrun a storm blowing from the west.  but your raft breaks apart – too far from shore to swim.  the water is cold, and you quickly lose command of your arms and legs, but a passing seal notices you and shepherds you to shore – mostly dead.

author’s note

i’ve been working all day on creating my ideal game antarctica.  mainly i’ve been researching what it looks like without ice, which thanks to modern technology we can figure out.

the picture above shows the plain raster outline of present day antarctica, which is mainly ice sheet with a few mountains.  the second picture is a topographic of the ice.  the third is the underlying topology of the bedrock, underneath the ice – subglacial.  some of it is under sea level.  this is shown in the fourth picture, which is a differently colored third picture to make sea level more apparent.  the fifth picture is the isostatic picture of how the land will rebound once there’s not a mile and some of ice on top of it.  and the sixth picture shows the sea level rise (80m) that occurs when you melt off all the ice, presumably all over the world.

personally, i like the fourth picture, with all the water and all the islands.  i’ll probably use something in between the two, but i am not fond of the huge landmass idea.  we’ll see how it works out.  it’s only a cosmetic issue, but as we know, half of a video game’s attraction is the artwork.

***

while discussing the horizontal level with jim – which is where i’ve left off in the plot – i realized that i can combine all four horizontal worlds into one actual world, which would save one hell of a lot of work just describing it in the novel, never mind coding the game.

this means i have to go and tweak this part of the plot, so i will do that and reissue it.  it’s cool to do this at this stage; it becomes a lot more difficult once you’ve actually built the world and let the testers run wild in it.

***

as for characters, we have the boy and the girl, and the genius programmer who builds the kernel, and his replacement.  and the tester, who actually plays the game.  then there’s various other people but they’re all functional (npcs)

i guess in the horizontal level people can play both parts.  they can play the evil alien vampires, i mean the banksters, corporate execs and wealth-hoarders.  they can play the police and the army and the teapartiers, out to maintain the status quo  and the rest of us can play progressives and  occupiers and other radicals out to change the world.

author’s note

i’m actively working on this story now. it takes bits and pieces i’ve been collecting and researching for years, and pulls t hem all together in a quantum way that does just what i need to make a good story.

so the ideas are spilling out of my fingers, and the research just brings up more questions, and i have to be dragged from the computer when it gets dark, and if we didn’t have someone staying in the studio at night these days, and if it wasn’t so cold, i would be down here in the middle of the night writing and reading.

i’m very glad that i’m going to be using all my story ideas in this one story.

antarctica

piracy

amusement park

quantum physics

accelerated evolution / freedom year

even tho i’m nowhere near writing the story, i’m looking up all the shit and figuring out how to link it to something else, and then it all looks different, and i go off into an alternate universe…

in the last week i’ve researched and thought about and written about the occupy movement, tactics of social change, horizontal organization, quantum thought, quantum mechanics, quantum philosophy, magic, tarot, language, neurochemistry, epigenetics.  and a bunch of stuff i’ve hopefully bookmarked.

if i do this to enough of my story, then by the time i start writing i’ll have it all ready to flow out of my fingers.

usually i bail on my impulse to write down my inspiration of the moment, but this time i’m finding too many echoes of it in the real world, and it’s too physically and emotionally compelling for me not to do it.  so i’m writing it online and i’m hoping people who are interested will get involved and help me write it, but i don’t depend on it, as it’s never happened yet and i’ve been writing otherwise unpublished novels online since 2005.

but i’ve got a vision of how i want to see the world, and i’m doing my best to manifest it.  if we all do this, we’ll chnge the world.  it’s a quantum law.

how antarctica works

a new radar map of antarctica shows a north-south ridge nobody expected.

NASA Engineers Map to Track ‘Amazing’ Antarctic Ice Flow

By IBTimes Staff Reporter | August 20, 2011 5:32 PM EDT

In a bid to track future sea-level increases from climate change, researchers at NASA have come out with the first complete map of the speed and direction of ice flow in Antarctica.

First complete map of the speed and direction of ice flow in Antarctica, derived from radar interferometric data. Credit. NASA/JPL
The result is a possible “game changer” for the scientific community says Eric Rignot, a Professor at Earth System Science School of Physical Sciences at UC.

Rignot, also the Principal Scientist at the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), lead the team of researchers in piecing together the arctic map.

“This is like seeing a map of all the oceans’ currents for the first time. It’s a game changer for glaciology,” Rignot said. “We are seeing amazing flows from the heart of the continent that had never been described before.”

The map, NASA said, will be critical for tracking future sea-level increases from climate change, who created it by using integrated radar observations from a consortium of international satellites.

Scientists say they were surprised when they step back and glanced at the full picture, as they discovered a new ridge splitting the 5.4 million-square-mile (14 million-square-kilometer) landmass from east to west.”The map points out something fundamentally new: that ice moves by slipping along the ground it rests on,” said Thomas Wagner, NASA’s cryospheric program scientist in Washington, in a statement.

The team also found unnamed formations moving up to 800 feet (244 meters) annually across immense plains sloping toward the Antarctic Ocean and in a different manner than past models of ice migration, NASA said.

“That’s critical knowledge for predicting future sea level rise. It means that if we lose ice at the coasts from the warming ocean, we open the tap to massive amounts of ice in the interior.”

For 15 years, NASA worked in conjunction with various space agencies across the world to collect the data points that helped create this map. While some of the information was already known, the scientists made certain discoveries.

With the help of NASA technology, the team took the time to pieced together the shape and velocity of glacial formations, including the previously uncharted East Antarctica, which makes up 77 percent of the continent.

for a video go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlDO0C8r_ws&feature=player_embedded

that japanese earthquake/tsunami

not only did it alter the position of japan, but it tore up a bunch of ice shelf in antarctica, and caused ripples in the ionosphere.

everything is connected to everything else.

Aug 12, 2011

Japan tsunami also shook up Earth’s atmosphere

By Michael Winter, USA TODAY

Earlier this week scientists reported that the tsunami unleashed by the March earthquake off Japan calved off icebergs from Antarctica 8,000 miles away. Today comes the news that the disaster also shook up Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Blog:  Japan tsunami tore off icebergs from Antarctica

Using about 1,000 global positioning receivers in Japan and Taiwan, researchers detected waves in the electrically charged particles of the ionosphere, more than 200 miles high, LiveScience writes. It was the largest such disturbances ever seen.

LiveScience says the finding could lead to new warning systems for tsunamis and earthquakes.

if antarctica is rising, are the rest of us sinking?

boing.

Antarctica rising as ice caps melt

31 July 2011

ANTARCTICA is rising like a cheese soufflé: slowly but surely. Lost ice due to climate change and left-over momentum from the end of the last big ice age mean the buoyant continent is heaven-bound.

Donald Argus of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and colleagues used 15 years of GPS data to show that parts of the Ellsworth mountains in west Antarctica are rising by around 5 millimetres a year (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2011gl048025). Elsewhere on the continent, the rise is slower.

A faster rise has been seen in Greenland, which is thought to be popping up by 4 centimetres a year.

Ongoing climate change could be partly to blame: Antarctica is losing about 200 gigatonnes of ice per year, and for Greenland the figure is 300 gigatonnes. Earth’s continents sit on viscous magma, so the effect of this loss is like taking a load off a dense foam mattress.

But there is another possible contributor. “The Earth has a very long memory,” says Argus. As a result, “there is also a viscous response to ice loss from around 5000 to 10,000 years ago going on”.

Despite this effect, the known ice loss at both poles suggests that embedded in the local rises is a signal of current climate change – researchers just have to tease it out.

buried cities in antarctica

From the ‘X-File’ Dept: “Spy Satellite Detects an Ancient 12,000-Year-Old Structure Under Antarctica Ice”

The_thing_antarctic_base

According to the European Union Times, disturbing news has been leaking out from the giant continent at the bottom of the world. During April 2001 an ancient structure or apparatus that lay encased miles under the hard Antarctic ice was detected by a roving spy satellite. The US military immediately moved to quash the reports and the mainstream news media dutifully complied.

Despite the news blackout, reports still surfaced that a secretive excavation project had commenced on the heels of the discovery. Some European countries formally protested the excavation by the US military.

“If it’s something the US military has constructed down there, then they’re violating the international Antarctic Treaty,” said an aide to Nicole Fontaine, at the time he was the European Parliament’s French president. “If not, then it’s something that’s at least 12,000 years old, which is how long ice has covered Antarctica. That would make it the oldest man-made structure on the planet. The Pentagon should heed the calls of Congress and release whatever it’s hiding.”

The Daily Galaxy via eutimes.netGet ‘The Daily Galaxy’ in Your Facebook News Feed!

May 17, 2011

they call it a big deglaciation event

Study: Antarctica’s “Achilles’ Heel” Ice Sheet Once Collapsed

Similar populations of seabed-rooted animals separated by 1,500 miles of ice, researchers say, could mean that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was once a trans-Antarctic seaway. This surprising find has also led researchers to wonder if a warming planet could again cause the thick ice sheet to collapse and give way to a swath of open water.

The team, which published their study in Global Change Biology, found similar but separated bryozoans–creatures also called moss animals–in both the Ross and Weddell Seas while conducting the Census of Antarctic Marine Life. Given that bryozoans don’t move all that much, lead author David Barnes suggests that the isolated populations came from the same, connected habitat.

“Because the larvae of these animals sink and this stage of their life is short–and the adult form anchors itself to the sea bed–it’s very unlikely that they would have dispersed the long distances carried by ocean currents,” Barnes said. “Our conclusion is that the colonization of both these regions is a signal that both seas were connected by a trans-Antarctic sea way in the recent past.” [Wired]

If that’s the case, Barnes says, this past disappearance of the mile-thick ice sheet, possibly as recently as 125,000 years ago, hints at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s fragility. Calling the ice sheet Antarctica’s “Achilles’ Heel” in a press release, he says it might not withstand a warming planet.

“The most likely explanation of such similarity is that this ice sheet is much less stable than previously thought and has collapsed at some point in the recent past,” he told Reuters. “And if the West Antarctic ice shelf has been lost in recent times we have to re-think the possibility of loss in future with climate change,” he said. [Reuters]

Studying how Antarctica’s geography has changed in the past may give researchers a better understanding of how sea levels will change if the sheet melts.

“[B]ecause any collapse will have implications for future sea level rise, it’s important that scientists get a better understanding of big deglaciation events,” Barnes said. Scientists estimate that a complete collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would raise global sea levels by around 11 to 16 feet (3.3 to 5 m). “This biological evidence is one of the novel ways that we look for clues that help us reconstruct Antarctica’s ice sheet history,” Barnes said. [Live Science]

Related content:
80beats: Antarctic Sea Ice Grows Despite Global Warming—But It Won’t Last
80beats: Robot Sub Dives Deep for Clues To a Fast-Melting Antarctic Glacier
80beats: An Iceberg the Size of Luxembourg Breaks Free from Antarctica
DISCOVER: The Ground Zero of Climate Change
DISCOVER: Antarctica’s Hot Spot
DISCOVER: The Coolest Science Experiments in Antarctica (gallery)

abandoned stations in antarctica

here’s a bunch of photos of abandoned stations and housing in antarctica.  doesn’t it make you want to go see it for yourself?  no?  well, it does me.

More ghosts per capita than any continent

Does Antarctica have the most ghosts of any continent? On a per capita basis, the answer is yes.

While the South Pole and environs doesn’t have a permanent population, there are on average 2,500 people living there during the year — approximately 4000 in summer and 1000 incredibly hardy ones in winter (source). While no complete necrologies exists for the Antarctic, at least 268 people have died there since humanity first decided it was a good place to visit. So if the ghosts divvie the work evenly, each one only has to haunt 9.68992 inhabitants. (Some lists of who has died way down south include a certain Mrs. Chippy. I have chosen to leave her out of my calculations as she was a cat and if we include her we have to include penguins and then it’s Katy bar the door.)

Antarctica is a very popular place to abandon

In addition to having a light work load, Antarctic spirits also have an abundance of residences to choose from thanks to the huge number of ghost towns and other such haunts. For obvious reasons, Antarctica is a very popular place to abandon. Below is a map of places abandoned by just the British on the Antarctic Peninsula.


(image credit: United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust)

The most famous and disturbingly well-preserved of these places is the camp built by Robert Scott and his party on Ross Island in 1911. The seaweed-insulated wooden cabin and its outbuildings were supposed to be the team’s shelter when they returned from their attempt to be the first people to visit the South Pole.


(images credit: 1, 2)

Robert Falcon Scott is shown on the top right (photos by John Weaver and Herbert Ponting)

Scott and four others — Edward Wilson, H. R. Bowers, Laurence Oates and Edgar Evans — set out from the base to reach the pole. They reached it on Jan. 17, 1912 only to find that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had gotten there weeks before them. All five men died trying to get back to the base camp. The final three – Scott, Wilson and Bowers – were just 11 miles from it when they died.


photos by John Weaver

Today this hut can easily be visited as it close to both the US Base at McMurdo or New Zealand’s Scott Base. Be warned though, global warming is beginning to take its toll and the 100-year-old seal blubber which had been in deep freeze has begun to smell “quite rancid.” Go here if you would like to support efforts to preserve the huts. Here is the Evans Hut; on the right is the seal blubber…


(images credit: 1 and 2)

Deception Island is a deceptive place indeed

The oldest actual ghost town can be found at Whaler’s Bay on Deception Island. Here is an abandoned Deception base:


(images credit: Lyubomir Ivanov and Sergio Pitamitz)

and a Deception hangar –


(images credit: David Zaks and Lyubomir Ivanov)

In 1906 a Norwegian-Chilean whaling company started using Whalers Bay as a base for a factory ship. Other whaling operations followed suit and a boom town was born. Whalers Bay was abandoned in 1931 following a precipitous decline in the market for whale oil, a result of the Great Depression.


(image credit: David Zaks)

Do not be deceived, however. The rest of Deception Island is actually a fairly hopping place. In addition to science bases operated by Spain and Argentina, it is also one of the more popular tourist destinations in the Antarctic. This is probably because (thanks to volcanic activity) the island actually has places where one can be warm.



(images credit: David Zaks)

Creepy whaling outposts, left to wither in the winds of time


(image credit: expeditions.com)

South Georgia is another Antarctic island that people rushed to abandon. At least seven whaling communities existed there during the first half of the 20th century. When all were up and running the island was estimated to have 2,000 people living on it. Most of the towns are in the process of returning to a state of wilderness but some buildings – notably in the town of Grytviken – have been kept up and are also becoming a tourist destination.


(image credit: Wolfratz)

Stromness Harbour boilers and power generators:



(images credit: mclaren.gs)

Portuguese graveyard, and a huge Leith Harbour whaling ghost station:

Grytviken ships “Dias” and “Albatros”:

The whaler’s cinema… and some old harpoon guns.


(images credit: mclaren.gs)

It is worth noting that these frozen islands have been the subject of heated arguments over who actually owns them – mostly by the UK and Argentina. Deception was initially claimed by the UK and then apparently ceded to the Argentines. South Georgia and the South Shetland islands are still possessed by the UK. The dispute over ownership of South Georgia was a contributing factor in The Falklands War (described by Argentine writer Jorge Louis Borges as “two bald men fighting over a comb”) and was briefly occupied by the Argentines. It is possible wars have been fought over more useless pieces of real estate but none come to mind.


(photos by Richard Harrington)

Slicing through the silence…

…the ghastly tall ship arrives. The Almirante Brown Research Station – abandoned by Argentina, awaits in the mist:


(image credit: Scotus)

The Real “Mountains of Madness”

One other thing that would attract ghosts to Antarctica: It’s the only place on the planet where they have their own mountain range. The Gamburtsevs is a range of mountains practically at the center of the continent which geologists call the “ghost range”. Despite being of a size comparable to the Alps they have never been seen by humans, nor is it likely they ever will because they are covered by up to 4km of ice. Researchers are currently seeking to map the mountains using radar and other methods. (more info)

And then, there are meteorites bombarding Antarctica (which is considered to be a “meteorite collector” – most of our knowledge about meteorites comes from there) Scientists go out in snowmobiles to hunt for meteorites (kind of like picking mushrooms), spotting and recovering them from the East Antarctic Icesheet:


(images credit: The Antarctic Search for Meteorites)

Some meteorites arrive from Mars, some come from further reaches of space… All this somehow gets me thinking about unmentionable parasitic alien organisms, so I better stop at this point.

notes: antarctica, secrets of the southern continent, by david mcgonigal

antarctica: secrets of the southern continent, chief consultant david mcgonigal, firefly books 2008

“the antarctic peninsula formed as a volcanic arc during the mesozoic era (248-65 mya).  by 30 million years ago, in the mid-cenozoic, south america stretched northward from antarctica, became disrupted, and formed the small, new plate of the scotia sea.  the very active volcanoes of the south sandwich islands at the easternmost end of the scotia plate mark its collision with an oceanic plate to the east.” p25

“around 50 to 60 million years ago, australia was separated by rift-faulting.  the final phase in antarctica’s isolation was its stretching apart from south america about 35 to 40 million years ago, during the formation of the scotia sea.  growth of that new sea, as well as the southeastern indian ocean, had important climatic and biological consequences in the ensuing development of one of the earth’s greatest currents, the southern ocean’s circumpolar current, also known as the west wind drift.  this current kept warm northern waters from reaching the coasts of antarctica and, it is believed, it allowed the growth of the ice sheets.  the migration routes of animals such as early marsupials were cut off.  fossils of a number of species of dinosaurs found in antarctica – some near-cousins of australian species – show that such migration routes had extended far back in to mesozoic times.” p29

“australia’s separation from antarctica began in the late cretaceous period, although opportunities for plants and animals to cross water gaps might have persisted for a long time after that.  the drake passage probably began to open about 23 to 25 million years ago, but there is little information about how much dry land there was between the antarctic peninsula and south america before then.” p33

notes: life on the ice, by roff smith

life on the ice: no one goes to antarctica alone, by roff smith, national geographic society, 2005

“it was another dazzling morning, the sun bright in a flawless sky and the air moist and cool.  it felt good to be walking again, and on bare rock too, instead of ice and snow, hearing the reassuring crunch of gravel and the clink of stone underfoot.  the landscape was magical, tolkienesque, with flocks of beautiful white snow petrels nesting in the crags, the bare hilltops strewn with garnets the size of knucklebones, and the level places dotted with jewel-like freshwater lakes – a remarkable rarity in antarctica – whose water was so limpid and clear it was virtually invisible, like air.  the huge hush and the unblinking sunshine and the far-ends-of-the-earth feeling you get from being in such an otherworldly place, with those pure white snow petrels wheeling about, created an impression of great peacefulness.  but then you come upon the remains of one of those very petrels, killed by a skua and picked over so that only the breastplate and the pair of still-feathered white wings remain, and you’re reminded at [sic] how violent a place this is; they look like the remains of murdered angels.  and then when you look around you the big silence seems more conspiratorial than placid. ” p19-20

“i received, by e-mail, a nice batch of photos from the event [cocktail party at pole].  they were taken outside the radio shed, in the unheated confines of the dome, everyone cheery, huddled together in their bulky parkas, holding their breath in the -90. cold.  breathing creates so much steam at those temperatures that if they hadn’t been holding their breaths the picture would have been totally obscured by the mist.” p110

“…the antarctic peninsula, the wild, storm-lashed maritime face of antarctica that lay 600 miles south of cape horn.  the old hands back at mcmurdo and the south pole jokingly called this part of the continent the banana belt, because of its damp, moist, and relatively warm summer climate, and the seemingly un-antarctic lushness of grass, moss, and lichen that clung to life on the rocks and crevices of its island arcs.

“the nickname, with its implication of tropical indolence and ease, is a little misleading.  winter temperatures on the peninsula still drop to -40.f, or worse, and the wild storms and fearsome seas that battered the barely charted coasts have claimed far more lives than the bitter polar plateau.

“some of that loss of life is because this part of antarctica is so much easier to reach and the human history in these stormy waters reaches back so much further.  buccaneering adventurers, privateers, and explorers have prowled the tip of south america for centuries, ever since the ruffed-collar days of magellan and sir francis drake.” p136

“the drake [passage] was kind.  two more days of easy rollers brought us to the antarctic convergence, one of nature’s loneliest frontiers, where the cold, dense, nutrient-rich waters meet the warmer but less fertile currents from the north.  it is a surprisingly sharp boundary, generally around 60. south.  within a few miles, the air becomes damp and chilly and the water a deep, translucent blue.  flocks of seabirds – albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters – swoop over the waves, feasting noisily on the rich pickings that well up.” p145

“king george island has always been the busiest picket of antarctica.  a century ago, this was the crossroads for the world’s whaling fleet; today it is antarctica’s manhattan.  argentina, brazil, chile, china, poland, russia, south korea, and uruguay all maintain year-round bases here, practically cheek by jowl in maxwell and admiralty bays, while the u.s., ecuador, peru, germany, the netherlands, and the czech republic operate summer camps as well.  it is the only part of antarctica ever to host a rock concert or a convention, or to have been visited by a head of state.

“there is a reason this 520-square mile island is the trendiest and most cosmopolitan piece of real estate in antarctica, but it has little to do with lovely views, let alone science, which in theory at least is why all the bases are here.  its appeal comes straight from the realtors’ big three: location, location, and location.  king george island is simply, and by far, the handiest part of antarctica to get to – only a quick hop by air from south america – making it the easiest and cheapest place for an aspiring nation to set up a base and thereby earn the status of full voting member of the antarctic treaty.” p158

“…seymour island, antarctica’s own jurrassic park, a remote and oddly ice-free island covered with the fossils of gigantic penguins that stood as tall as michael jordan, prehistoric tortoises that reached the size of volkswagens, and an ancient spicies of marsupial – the first discovery of land mammals in antarctica – that roamed these parts during the eocene period, between 40 million and 120 million ears ago.

this is the only place in all of antarctica where rocks from this era are exposed, giving paleontologists a unique view of what life here was like just before the continent made its final break away from the rest of the world.” p172

“beneath all the pretty snowscapes and elfin mountains, this is a ruthless place.  the hush in the air isn’t blessed tranquility; it’s conspiratorial silence.” p191

notes: terra antarctica by william fox

terra antarctica: looking into the emptiest continent, by william l. fox, trinity university press, 2005

“we’re in a marginal condition one whiteout, following each other in a tight pack, eyes focused on the single red parka visible in front of us.  my head is swathed in the thich coyote fur-trimmed hood of my parka, a bulky down-filled nylon garment that resembles a sleeping bag more than a jacket – and is meant to perform exactly that function in an emergency.  my head is further covered by a pile hat, balaclava, neck gaiter, and neoprene face mask.” p10

“ice began to accumulate here during the miocene, 25 million years ago; by 15 million years ago the continent was covered.  scientists estimate that there’s about 700,000 years’ worth of accumulated ice on the plateau, and that the ice sheet puts one ton per square inch of pressure on the bedrock more than two miles beneath us, which helps explain why the continent is depressed, up to 1,400 feet below sea level in places.” p116

asteroids and the birth of the antarctic

why is there ocean between tierra del fuego and the antarctic peninsula?  a bunch of asteroids apparently whacked the earth 35m years ago and broke up gondwanaland.  cool.

Asteroid strike may have frozen Antarctica

16:05 1 June 2010

According to Australian Geographic, these ice sheets in combination with newly-emerging currents around Antarctica may have allowed cooler water into the world’s ocean, and possibly resulted in a well-documented cooling of the planet.

Wendy Zukerman, Australasia reporter

A massive asteroid hit the Timor Sea around 35 million years ago – and the impact apparently contributed to the formation of the Antarctic ice sheets.

So says Andrew Glikson, a specialist in the study of extraterrestrial impacts, from the Planetary Science Institute at the Australian National University in Canberra, who analysed a dome found 2.5 kilometres below the Timor Sea, about 300 kilometres off Australia’s north west coast.

Based on the structure of the dome, called Mount Ashmore, there were two obvious explanations for its formation: from a mud volcano or from the movement of tectonic plates.

But using a barrage of tests including scanning electron microscopy and seismic surveys, as well as chemical analysis of the rocks, Glikson concluded that the dome was the result of an asteroid crashing into the Earth at such speeds that it caused the Earth’s crust to rebound (Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/08120099.2010.481327).

Images from scanning electron microscopy showed that the cracks and pulverised rocks throughout the dome were unlike those seen in tectonic plate movements.

100601_crater_timor.jpgSeismic section displaying chaotic deformation in the inner core of the Mount Ashmore structural dome.

Seismic surveys and above-ground magnetic studies revealed the dome’s massive dimensions. Its diameter of over 50 kilometres and vertical axis several kilometres in height are significantly larger than previously found mud volcanoes – making this an unlikely candidate for one. So far the largest mud volcanoes, found in Azerbaijan, are only 10km in diameter.

According to ABC News, Glikson says the asteroid that created the dome was probably 5 to 10km wide.

Discovery News reports that:

“Smaller [asteroid] impacts only create an impact crater. But during larger impacts, something different may happen: an impact dome or central peak rises up in the middle of the crater.”

In the case of Mount Ashmore, rock rebounded upwards at the point of impact, compensating for the huge compressive punch of energy delivered in collision.

And when this asteroid collided with Earth, it wasn’t alone.Australian Geographic reports:

“Several other craters have been documented from a similar time, including one of the Western Australian coast measuring 120km in diameter. Another asteroid impact structure in Siberia is 100km in size.”

Glikson believes that this asteroid storm may have shifted the Earth’s plates to create a gap between Antarctica and South America, known as the Drake Passage, which still exists today.

Discovery News writes:

“The rush of water through Drake Passage isolated Antarctica’s climate from the rest of the globe, and fostered the growth of a large ice sheet.”

asteroid swarm

Does Asteroid Crater in Ocean Explain Birth of Antarctica?

Published May 28, 2010 | NewsCorp Australian Papers

A giant crater found under the Timor Sea could turn out to be the biggest known to have hit the Earth and — may even have been responsible for creating Antarctica.

The crater was discovered by scientists from the Australian National University.

A crater in Siberia currently weighs in as the largest asteroid strike on Earth, at 62 miles wide. However, the crater discovered by the ANU has so far only been measured according to the width of the base of the mountains surrounding it.

The biggest — Mount Ashmore — measures 31 miles at its base, according to ANU extraterrestrial impact specialist Dr Andrew Glikson.

“The minimum size of the Mount Ashmore dome … is 50km at the base, but the full size of the impact crater — not yet defined — may be significantly larger,” Dr Glikson said. Only one other crater compares to the pair — the 53-mile-wide Chesapeake Crater in the ocean floor off Virginia.

Dr Glikson said the asteroid hit the Earth during a period of intense bombardment 35 million years ago. Its strike coincided with a sharp fall in global temperatures which in turn preceded the formation of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Both the Siberian and Chesapeake asteroids hit at roughly the same time. And a million years later, the Drake Passage cut South America off from the Antarctica land mass, providing a constant flow of water around the ice sheet already forming as the Earth cooled.

Dr Glikson said the Antarctic has since acted as a “‘thermostat’ for the Earth’s climate.” His research has been published in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences.

the greening of antarctica

Summer rain replaces snow as Antarctica ‘turns green’

From correspondents in London, From:AAP, December 01, 2009 11:54AM

The SCAR report, Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment, was based on work from 100 scientists in 13 countries.

ANTARCTICA is turning green.

Images of a white, barren continent could need updating as climate change brings more plants to Antarctica’s formerly frozen shores.

An international report issued today has found that winter temperatures in west Antarctica have increased by as much as five degrees Celsius – and that allows cushion plants and grasses to thrive.

“We’re seeing more plant growth,” Dr Colin Summerhayes, executive director of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, said.

“It’s getting a bit greener.”

The SCAR report found warm temperatures brought summer rain instead of snow to western Antarctica – that’s the bit near South America – so more rock and soil was exposed to the sky and to plants.

And thanks to human visitors, ‘alien’ species like flies and bacteria were also increasing.

Dr Summerhayes, speaking from Cambridge University in the UK, said part of Antarctica was starting to look like Macquarie Island.

But scientists and tourists heading to the South Pole shouldn’t leave behind their snow shoes just yet.

Antarctica’s climate is a mixed bag, the report found.

Part of the continent is warming up, but other areas are stable or cooling – which has prompted some to question whether climate change is actually happening.

The report’s authors said its findings were consistent with human-induced climate change and the explanation for the warming was the hole in the ozone layer, which has brought stronger, cooler winds.

The report found there had been little change in temperature over most of Antarctica and sea ice had increased by 10 per cent in the last 30 years.

But sea ice doesn’t affect sea levels – it’s the ice which sits on land that counts.

And Antarctica’s land ice, in the form of ice shelves and glaciers, is melting.

Dr Summerhayes said some western Antarctic glaciers were retreating 10 metres a day.

“Icebergs are spinning off the end of that glacier much faster than they ever did and they are melting and contributing to sea level rise,” he said of the Amundsen glacier.

The SCAR report found that melting of the western Antarctic ice sheet would likely contribute “tens of centimetres” to a global sea level rise of up to 1.4m by 2100, which is a greater rise than UN scientists have predicted.

Dr Summerhayes said the ozone layer was tipped to close later this century – good news for Aussie beachgoers who may escape skin cancer, but bad news for Antarctic penguins because warming would accelerate.

notes: “the frozen ship” by sarah moss

“the arctic becomes a kind of prototype for heaven, the scene of the ultimate victorian quest narrative.

“much of the writing coming out of robert falcon scott’s journeys in the antarctic can be seen to continue this tradition in a deeply conservative way.  antarctica can be less problematically assimilated into a quest narrative because no one has ever lived there.  nineteenth-century accounts of arctic survival against all the odds or eventual, inevitable but heroic defeat by unbelievably difficult conditions are always to some extend undermined by the continuing progress of inuit cultures and societies in precisely the same locations and conditions.  antarctica on the other hand lends itself much more readily to representations of an almost entirely metaphorical landscape, where extreme cold is simply a challenge to planning /moral fiber and storms are sent to define the limits of travelers’ ability to cope.  in the years after the first world war the minimalist aesthetic of antarctica combined with this abstract understanding of the place to make it appealing to modernist writers and painters, but in scott’s journal and his subsequent hagiography, antarctica figures mostly as a stage setting for an ‘artistic, christian’ progress toward a glorious martyrdom for men who were too good for the post-war world.”  p.26

“it is hard to write about robert falcon scott becuase he has come to typify a kind of englishness, and particular a kid of english masculinity, that is historically and culturally specific.  over ninety years after his death, it is difficult to come to a serious understanding of scott’s status as a popular hero and very easy to mock the rhetoric that made a disastrous expedition into a moral triumph.  scott, whose body was found early in 1913, became an iconic figure for an england desperate to persuade the brightest and best to leave their work, their studies and their families for the near certainty of death on the battlefields of northern france.  british schools were still teaching ten-year-olds in the 1980s that the deceitful foreigner amundsen had used dishonorable means to stop the noble english scott from reaching the south pole first, but even then it was hard to make the leap of imagination to understand why scott was any more than wrong and dead.

“it is trite to say that the establishment made a hero of him on purpose in order to glorify knowing self-sacrifice as a prelude to conscription in the first world war, especially as most of the military and academic establishment seem to have thought (more or less privately) that scott got just about what he was asking for.  on the other hand, the parallel between the men who could see that scott was irresponsible but obeyed him unquestioningly as he led them to their deaths and those who knew that they were being used as cannon-fodder in the trenches but followed orders anyway is interesting.  historical generalizations are misleading – particularly those relying on hindsight – but there seems to have been a cultural moment on the eve of the great war in which it was uniquely possible for scott’s colleagues both to recognize and articulate his manifest failings and to obey him anyway.  it is perhaps this insistence on the heroic status of those who die willfully for a specious principle that is peculiarly english.  scott certainly did his own mythmaking, but the point of mythmaking is to attract and deploy cultural energies that are already there.  he could not have turned himself into a hero without the popular readiness to regard failure as heroic, and potentially more heroic than success.”  p97-99.

” perhaps, finally, this offers a key to the british treasuring of robert falcon scott,and explains why other nations find it both typical and incomprehensible.  the era that cherry-garrard describes as ‘artistic and christian’ was no more of a golden age than any of the other periods so called.  a substantial minority of the population were starving, and the majority cared so little that this only came to light when most of the poorer young men proved untit for active service in the war.  maternal and infant mortality rates were higher than they had been since the seventeenth century and most people had little access to healthcare and education, while the elite passed lives of leisure with unrivaled opportunities for conspicuous consumption.  but because the first world war forced the governent to depend on women (to keep the country runng while the men were at war) and the working classes (cannon fodder), and left an urgent need for capital, which made taxing the rich inevitable, the pace of political change between 1918 and 1922 was greatly accelerated.  women voted, the great country houses began to close, the empire started to slip away.  war marked the ‘end of an era’ in a way that nothing else could, and made a space for yearning.  there was so much grief for so many men that perhaps scott, dying far from the bloody brutality of war and dying in innocence of the wholesale slaughter of an entire european generation, became an emblem of all that was lost.  if he died partly because he insisted on regarding polar exploration as a mythic quest rather than a matter of warm shoes and good engineering, perhaps he is mourned because of rather than despite this romanticism.  others of his generation also thought themselves as capable of things that mattered, and their ambitions and personal achievements counted for nothing in front of the bayonets and guns in the trenches.  scott’s death is not an obliteration, and so he can stand for those who had no chance of an idiosyncratic end.”  p115-116

“they [scott and his comrades] may emerge ‘always young,” and the evidence from the exhumations of the arctic dead suggests that they would be recognizably themselves and recognizably youthful, but barrie bizarrely glosses over the fact that they are also always dead, as if his need for them to be alive effects a resurrection.  this casts light on the children’s literature of the day because it shows how much the prizing of youth is to do with the abandoned hopes of adulthood rather than the celebration of present childhood, a trope which is particularly marked in those whose childhoods were divided from their maturity by war.  childhood is by definition a dynamic time, shaped by a rapid succession of milestones on the way to less changeful years, but scott’s beloved barrie and his fellow writers glorify unnaturally static children, and it is not surprising that so many of the fantasy children’s books of these years end in death.  better, it seems, to be young and dead than to live to maturity.  in the aftermath of the first world war, it is not a surprising sentiment, but coming from a writer for children it is distinctly sinister.  this craving for frozen childhood is one that can be traced through the great english children’s books from lewis carroll to c.s. lewis.” p220-221

“where charles dodgson’s christianity would be impossible to deduce from lewis carroll’s fantasy worlds of random violence, [george] macdonald’s books are firmly in the victorian tradition of improving allegory.  as such, they purvey all the social ideals that later generations have found both powerful and distasteful.  good children are characterized by unthinking obedience, deference to their elders, and abasement before adults and children of higher social class than themselves.  their reward is in heaven because they would not dream of seeking earthly satisfactions.  bad children insist on thinking for themselves and attending to their own needs and interests, and they must be taught a lesson.  increasing maturity brings wider opportunities to behave well, but in general, adults are morally disabled by compromise, and it is better to die young.”  p.226

notes taken from ‘the frozen ship:  the histories and tales of polar exploration” by sarah moss, blue bridge, 2006

real-life tales of antarctica

Sailing out to sea on thin ice

Adriaan Dreyer has been leading South African expeditions to the treacherous Antarctica for years and loving it, writes Tiara Walters

Apr 11, 2010 11:31 PM | By Tiara Walters

SNOWMAN'S LAND: the SA Agulhas off-loading on the ice shelf Picture: TIARA WALTERS

SNOWMAN’S LAND: the SA Agulhas off-loading on the ice shelf Picture: TIARA WALTERS

quote ‘Blunder into these subzero currents and you’ve got about seven seconds to live’ quote

Antarctica is a place so solitary, surrounded as it is by 360 degrees of the world’s iciest and most tempestuous seas, that no one lives there permanently – neither is there any evidence of prehistoric societies who might have once lived and loved in this frigid zone.

Tourists go there every year, yes, in their well-heeled hundreds. They fork out the price of a house for a cruise, which takes them through seas that squeeze at their stomachs and make them curse the fact that sea legs cannot be bought in stores. They step onto the ice for a couple of hours, snap a few thousand penguin shots, shutter fingers shaking in cold-weather gloves. And then they leave, possibly quite delighted to have breathed a glimpse of paradise and to return to a life sponsored by supermarkets and satellite TV.

So what, I wondered one night in late December on the SA Agulhas, South Africa’s polar research vessel, would drive one South African to sacrifice almost 40 months of temperate summers to live in this iced-up Heaven-Hell?

That night, Adriaan Dreyer, the leader of the South African National Antarctic Programme’s 50th expedition to the white wilderness, looked like a man trying to keep up appearances. A loner with a cool, steely gaze and a habit of watching the crowd from the fringe, Dreyer, the chief of 12 expeditions to Antarctica and several more to Marion Island, had been venting in his cabin about the skirmish this year’s voyage had become.

“It’s been the most difficult off-loading I can remember. We’ve driven our stress levels to the max,” the 46-year-old Pretoria native said crisply. And then he pursed his lips, because there was much more to say, but he is not given to displays of emotion.

In a good year, provided the bay ice has thawed sufficiently for the SA Agulhas to break through and reach our off-loading zone on the ice shelf near the German station, Neumayer, the ship’s entire payload can be deported for the 315km trek to Sanae IV, the South African research base, within three days.

This December, however, the bay ice was too thick for the SA Agulhas – an ice-strengthened vessel, not an ice breaker – to penetrate. So she dropped anchor miles from the shelf, forcing the drivers, cold-hardened bruisers from the defence force, to haul heavy-duty cargo across 30km of bay ice only 1.8m thick in parts.

“If you drive on ice thinner than 1.6m or 1.7m, you risk lives. Here, in front,” Dreyer explained, gesturing towards the prow that had been thrust into the bay ice, “where we off-loaded the cargo, the ice is just 1.4m thick, which was why getting those 18t Challengers off the ship was so damn hair-raising.”

“Blunder into these subzero currents and you’ve got about seven seconds to live.

“In 1992, conditions were similar and we had to back-load all our cargo from the bay ice,” Dreyer, who began with the Antarctic programme back in 1985 as a supply clerk, recalled.

“It was around -25 and, as [engineer] Phillip de Wet and I drove across the ice, this hairline crack we hadn’t seen opened up beneath the Caterpillar.

“I yelled at Phillip to jump – he escaped out of the right door and I jumped out of the left and, when I landed on the ice and turned round, the vehicle was gone and the crack had closed up. In less than five seconds. Like nothing had happened. We weren’t even 80m from the ship – all the passengers were just hanging over the sides, gaping at us.

“On that same expedition, I jumped over another crack but I didn’t make it and plunged into the sea up to my waist. I remember clinging onto the side and everybody came running, hauled me out of there, covered me in blankets. Then they flung me onto a skidoo and sped to the emergency base, about 8km away, to warm me up.

“I’d been wearing my full protective clothing but still my legs had turned blue. Nothing a bottle of OBS couldn’t fix . but it changed the way I looked at things.”

After those gut-punching moments, Dreyer turned into an obsessive-compulsive list man. There’s nothing, he said, he wouldn’t put on a list.

“You don’t play with Antarctica. My experiences here have made me very meticulous. I’m never late. I double-check everything I do. And I don’t go anywhere without a list in my pocket.”

But, after leading more expeditions to Antarctica than any other South African, even Dreyer – especially Dreyer – knows things can, and still do, go wrong.

“At about 5pm yesterday, Eberhardt [Kohlberg, the German station commander], radioed us. He’d been out on the ice and was the first to see these cracks splitting up the bay, which was why we evacuated everybody immediately and put a dead halt to the final cargo hauls,” he sighed, recalling how he had never seen the drivers, in spite of having racked up many ice years between them, so scared.

“They were shaking when they got back on board.

“We can’t stay here. We need to retrace our tracks, find another off-loading zone,” he said.

“RSA Bukta?” I asked tautly, because that would mean another day’s sailing and even more time at sea after leaving Table Bay almost a month before.

“RSA Bukta. As in Plan G forward slash F stroke 14,” he replied, because RSA Bukta was exactly where we were headed.

As I left Dreyer’s cabin in a funk, feeling like a hard whisky from the bar and wondering whether we’d ever make it to Sanae IV, I asked him why he did this: swapped summers on the beach for the ice of Antarctica; sacrificed valuable family time with his wife and two girls, year after year, to face this kind of logistical nightmare.

“Antarctica, it’s the most beautiful thing on Earth. There’s nothing – just whiteness; it’s nothing but white and yet it’s a canvas for colour, for blue ice, for these spectacular rivers of ice,” Dreyer replied, unexpectedly morphing into a spoken-word poet.

“When things at Sanae get a little rough, I get on my skidoo and ride into the white fields, where you can see 200km into the distance. Then you sit there, for a long time, and you listen to your heart, and the blood pumping in your ears. If you’ve never had the opportunity for real introspection, never had the chance to clear your head, you can do it there.

“And when it’s a beautiful day, say -3 or -4, you whip off your kit and tan on the ice.”

“What? That’s like lolling in your home freezer – are you crazy?”

“Probably,” Dreyer said and, for the first time since I’d met him two months before, I saw him laugh so hard his entire boep shook.

The SA Agulhas embarked on its latest expedition on April 8 to complete the construction of South Africa’s base on Marion Island, one of the South African National Antarctic Programme’s scientific-study areas. The ship is expected to return to Cape Town on May 20.

For more on the programme and its 50-year legacy, visit www.sanap.ac.za

solar storm lights up over antarctica

THE VIEW FROM ANTARCTICA: A high-speed solar wind stream has been blowing around Earth for three days, sparking some of the strongest geomagnetic storms and brightest auroras in years. Here is the view, yesterday, from Antarctica:

“This was the most intense and amazing natural phenomenon I have ever had the privilege of observing,” says photographer André Harms. “It was such an exhilarating feeling when the sky just exploded in a kaleidoscope of moving colors.”

Harms works at SANAE IV, the South African Antarctic research station in coastal Dronning Maud Land just inside the Antarctic Circle. The base itself is located on top of a distinctive flat-topped nunatak, which offers observers a fine view of the sky. The view could remain colorful for some days to come as the solar wiind continues to blow. Stay tuned!

antarctic rift valley

just like the african rift valley, antarctica is spreading.  so right after the heights of the transantarctic mountains there’s a big dip, which at some point (when it’s above sea level) will become increasingly volcanic.

an under-the-ice volcano has been found under the west antarctic ice sheet.  here’s a quote:

The subglacial volcano has a ‘volcanic explosion index’ of around 3-4. Heat from the volcano creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow towards the sea.

The volcano is located beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet in the Hudson Mountains at latitude 74.6°South, longitude 97°West. Volcanoes are an important component of the Antarctic region. They formed in diverse tectonic settings, mainly as a result of mantle plumes acting on the stationary Antarctic plate. The region also includes amongst the world’s best examples of a long-lived continental margin arc (Antarctic Peninsula), a very young marginal basin (Bransfield Strait) and an oceanic island arc (South Sandwich Islands). Many extinct volcanoes are very well preserved and others are still active (e.g. Deception Island, Mount Erebus, and the South Sandwich Islands).

this shows the edge of the rift in green, along the transantarctic mountains and marie byrd land.

and then there’s this – the executive committee range of mountains in marie byrd land.  named for an executive committee.  it’s very democratic.  it’s probably payback for allowing the expedition to be funded.

and then there’s this – there’s an apparent asteroid crater in wilkes land, in antarctica, right in the middle of a rift, which may or may not have caused the breakup of the original gondwanaland.

The Antarctic Ocean has rifted all around, 360 degrees. There is no subduction noted around Australia, and yet it spreads. There are no subduction zones to take up the spread.

Antarctic topography and bathymetry. East Antarctica is subdivided into four provinces (Lythe et al., 2000): DML, LHB, RAY, and a large undivided unit (EANT). West Antarctica consists of five major distinctive terranes: AP (comprising Eastern-Central-Western domains: ED-CD-WD), TI, FB, MBL, and EWM. The three northern Victoria Land terranes are grouped together (NVL). ROSS = extended continental crust between MBL and EANT; TAM = Transantarctic Mountains (red and black lines). Most of the circumAntarctic continent ocean boundaries (outermost polygon boundaries) are the result of nonvolcanic breakup except NW of DML (volcanic; red line) and Western AP (inactive trench, white and red lines) (see Table 1 for more abbreviations).

Antarctica is subdivided in two main parts (East and West Antarctica) by the Transantarctic Mountains. In East Antarctica, the immense icecap seats on the continental crust that, for the most part, is above sea level: it is a continental icecap. Instead, in West Antarctica, ice largely covers areas below sea level and, therefore, they form a seacap.

the arctic farts

there’s a great scifi story about someone accidently shooting a missile into the arctic ice shelf, which suddenly releases all the methane stored at the bottom of the sea, and turns the climate into an instant global superstorm.  here’s the latest research, released just today.

lots of farts.  flatulence in fact.  hold your nose.

Methane Releases from Arctic Shelf May Be Much Larger and Faster Than Anticipated

ScienceDaily (Mar. 5, 2010) — A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov.

The research results, published in the March 5 edition of the journalScience, show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is leaking large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.

“The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world’s oceans,” said Shakhova, a researcher at UAF’s International Arctic Research Center. “Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap.”

Methane is a greenhouse gas more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is released from previously frozen soils in two ways. When the organic material — which contains carbon — stored in permafrost thaws, it begins to decompose and, under oxygen-free conditions, gradually release methane. Methane can also be stored in the seabed as methane gas or methane hydrates and then released as subsea permafrost thaws. These releases can be larger and more abrupt than those that result from decomposition.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a methane-rich area that encompasses more than 2 million square kilometers of seafloor in the Arctic Ocean. It is more than three times as large as the nearby Siberian wetlands, which have been considered the primary Northern Hemisphere source of atmospheric methane. Shakhova’s research results show that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is already a significant methane source: 7 teragrams yearly, which is equal to the amount of methane emitted from the rest of the ocean. A teragram is equal to about 1.1 million tons.

“Our concern is that the subsea permafrost has been showing signs of destabilization already,” she said. “If it further destabilizes, the methane emissions may not be teragrams, it would be significantly larger.”

Shakhova notes that Earth’s geological record indicates that atmospheric methane concentrations have varied between about .3 to .4 parts per million during cold periods to .6 to .7 parts per million during warm periods. Current average methane concentrations in the Arctic average about 1.85 parts per million, the highest in 400,000 years, she said. Concentrations above the East Siberian Arctic Shelf are even higher.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a relative frontier in methane studies. The shelf is shallow, 50 meters or less in depth, which means it has been alternately submerged or terrestrial, depending on sea levels throughout Earth’s history. During Earth’s coldest periods, it is a frozen arctic coastal plain, and does not release methane. As the planet warms and sea levels rise, it is inundated with seawater, which is 12-15 degrees warmer than the average air temperature.

“It was thought that seawater kept the East Siberian Arctic Shelf permafrost frozen,” Shakhova said. “Nobody considered this huge area.”

Earlier studies in Siberia focused on methane escaping from thawing terrestrial permafrost. Semiletov’s work during the 1990s showed, among other things, that the amount of methane being emitted from terrestrial sources decreased at higher latitudes. But those studies stopped at the coast. Starting in the fall of 2003, Shakhova, Semiletov and the rest of their team took the studies offshore. From 2003 through 2008, they took annual research cruises throughout the shelf and sampled seawater at various depths and the air 10 meters above the ocean. In September 2006, they flew a helicopter over the same area, taking air samples at up to 2,000 meters in the atmosphere. In April 2007, they conducted a winter expedition on the sea ice.

They found that more than 80 percent of the deep water and greater than half of surface water had methane levels more than eight times that of normal seawater. In some areas, the saturation levels reached at least 250 times that of background levels in the summer and 1,400 times higher in the winter.

They found corresponding results in the air directly above the ocean surface. Methane levels were elevated overall and the seascape was dotted with more than 100 hotspots. This, combined with winter expedition results that found methane gas trapped under and in the sea ice, showed the team that the methane was not only being dissolved in the water, it was bubbling out into the atmosphere.

These findings were further confirmed when Shakhova and her colleagues sampled methane levels at higher elevations. Methane levels throughout the Arctic are usually 8 to 10 percent higher than the global baseline. When they flew over the shelf, they found methane at levels another 5 to 10 percent higher than the already elevated arctic levels.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf, in addition to holding large stores of frozen methane, is more of a concern because it is so shallow. In deep water, methane gas oxidizes into carbon dioxide before it reaches the surface. In the shallows of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, methane simply doesn’t have enough time to oxidize, which means more of it escapes into the atmosphere. That, combined with the sheer amount of methane in the region, could add a previously uncalculated variable to climate models.

“The release to the atmosphere of only one percent of the methane assumed to be stored in shallow hydrate deposits might alter the current atmospheric burden of methane up to 3 to 4 times,” Shakhova said. “The climatic consequences of this are hard to predict.”

Shakhova, Semiletov and collaborators from 12 institutions in five countries plan to continue their studies in the region, tracking the source of the methane emissions and drilling into the seafloor in an effort to estimate how much methane is stored there.

Shakhova and Semiletov hold joint appointments with the Pacific Oceanological Institute, part of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Their collaborators on this paper include Anatoly Salyuk, Vladimir Joussupov and Denis Kosmach, all of the Pacific Oceanological Institute, and Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University.

why do i want to go there?

antarctica’s past

or so goes the current theory.  theories are only metaphors at their very best, so don’t get lost in it.

it started out as a tropical paradise, when it was part of theoretical gondwanaland.  back when i was in college, the head of the school of environmental sciences was dead set against this theory, and for our final exam he had us ‘prove’ that the new theory was wrong.  this was the university of virginia, and even in 1977 some people were still resistant to what seems obvious to every second grader – the earth’s landmasses fit together in one big splotch of an island.

there is coal in the transantarctic mountains.  they’ve found oil and gas as well, and it’s only a matter of time before someone strikes gold.

from polar discovery. click to see it animated.

so, what does this mean for my pirate novel?  well, if it happened once, it could happen again.  in fact, there’s a theory that says the continents break up and form repeatedly over time.  long time.  let’s see if i can find it in the research i read the other day and then failed to note…

yeah, and the sea levels fluctuate, being lower when the continents are all together, and higher when they’re apart.  here’s a quote:

There are two types of global earth climates: Icehouse and Greenhouse. Icehouse is characterized by frequent continental glaciations and severe desert environments. We are now in the icehouse phase, moving towards Greenhouse. Greenhouse is characterized by warm climates. Both reflect the supercontinent cycle.

  • Icehouse Climate
    • Continents moving together
    • Sea level low due to lack of seafloor production
    • Climate cooler, arid
    • Associated with Aragonite seas
    • Formation of Supercontinents
  • Greenhouse Climate
    • Continents dispersed
    • Sea level high
    • High level of sea floor spreading
    • Relatively large amounts of CO2 production at oceanic rifting zones
    • Climate warm and humid
    • Associated with Calcite seas

Periods of Icehouse Climate: Much of Neoproterozoic, Late Paleozoic, Late Cenozoic.

Periods of Greenhouse Climate: Early PaleozoicMesozoic-Early Cenozoic.

and here’s a lovely picture of what antarctica would look like without ice, showing all the lakes and rivers, and the parts of the continent that are currently below sea level.

another huge iceberg breaks off in antarctica

this is so exciting.  terraforming, going on right before our eyes.

Giant iceberg breaks off from Antarctic glacier

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – An iceberg the size of Luxembourg has broken off from a glacier in Antarctica after being rammed by another giant iceberg, scientists said on Friday, in an event that could affect ocean circulation patterns.

The 2,500 sq km (965 sq mile) iceberg broke off earlier this month from the Mertz Glacier’s 160 km (100 miles) floating tongue of ice that sticks out into the Southern Ocean.

The collision has since halved the size of the tongue that drains ice from the vast East Antarctic ice sheet.

“The calving itself hasn’t been directly linked to climate change but it is related to the natural processes occurring on the ice sheet,” said Rob Massom, a senior scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center in Hobart, Tasmania.

Both organizations, along with French scientists, have been studying existing giant cracks in the ice tongue and monitored the bumper-car-like collision by the second iceberg, B-9B.

This 97 km long slab of ice is a remnant of an iceberg of more than 5,000 sq km that broke off, or calved, in 1987, making it one of the largest icebergs ever recorded in Antarctica.

The Mertz glacier iceberg is among the largest recorded for several years. In 2002, a iceberg about 200 km long broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. In 2007, a iceberg roughly the size of Singapore broke off from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica.

Massom said the shearing off of the ice tongue and the presence of the Mertz and B-9B icebergs could affect global ocean circulation.

The area is an important zone for the creation of dense, salty water that is a key driver of global ocean circulation. This is produced in part through the rapid production of sea ice that is continually blown to the west.

“Removal of this tongue of floating ice would reduce the size of that area of open water, which would slow down the rate of salinity input into the ocean and it could slow down this rate of Antarctic bottom water formation,” he said.

He said there was a risk both icebergs would become grounded on banks or shoals in the area, disrupting the creation of the dense, salty water and the amount that sinks to the bottom of the ocean, he said.

Oceans act like a giant flywheel for the planet’s climate by shifting heat around the globe via myriad currents above and below the surface.

(Reporting by David Fogarty; Editing by Alex Richardson)

and here’s more from science daily

Two large rifts cutting through the southern part of the glacier tongue have been developing over many years. Rifting progressed from the eastern margin of the Mertz Glacier in the 1990s until 2002 when another rift started to develop from the western side. Recently the two rifts had almost joined and the western rift subsequently became very active, leaving the northern part of the glacier tongue attached like a “loose tooth.” The final break when B-9B collided with the eastern flank of the glacier tongue. But it did not simply separate along the line of these pre-existing rifts. The break followed most of the western rift and the ice sheared across the section with the eastern rift to produce a clean line which is allowing the southern end of the iceberg to move freely past the remainder of the tongue.

B-9B, itself about 97 km by 20-35 km, is a large part of the B9 iceberg that calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in 1987 and drifted westwards until it ran aground in 1992 on the Ninnis Bank, less than 100 km to the east of the Mertz Glacier Tongue. After remaining in roughly the same location for about 18 years, B-9B recently ungrounded and rotated to collide with the Mertz Glacier Tongue. The Mertz Glacier Tongue originates in a 60km long fjord and had extended a further 100km into the Southern Ocean. It advanced into the ocean at slightly more than 1 km per year. The new iceberg thus represents about 70 years of glacier advance.

the south shetland islands

i just can’t stop thinking about islands, pirate castaways, ports in storms.  so i’m google earthing and not really caring where these islands are.  or what the weather’s like.  i want to go.

the south shetland islands, off the antarctic penninsula

The South Shetland Islands are a group of over twenty islands approximately 60 -150 miles (100- 240km) north and north east of the Antarctic Peninsula and 530 miles (850 Km) south and south west of Cape Horn Several of the islands are, or include, active volcanoes. The islands were heavily exploited for seal hunting in the early nineteenth century. Now they include numerous research stations and are popular with antarctic tourists.

deception island.  cool thermal core.

Protected by high cliffs and a narrow entrance (Neptune’s Bellows) this 12km wide amphitheatre is one of the safest natural harbours in the world. It was first used by sealers as a base for operations and then later by whalers.

By the 1914-1915 season, thirteen whaling factories had been built here and many relics from this time can still be seen abandoned in various places. Deception Island is a very popular place to stop for tourist ships as you can go “swimming” in the waters of Pendulum Cove that are heated by ongoing volcanic activity about a mile below the waters inside the collapsed caldera. “Swimming” is a relative term as the reality consists of sitting in the shallows between the too-hot volcanically heated waters and the icy cold Antarctic ocean waters. If it starts to get cold, stir up some of the black volcanic sand to release some more heat, if it gets too warm, move towards the cooler open sea.

In the 1920-1921 season, the water here boiled and stripped the paint from the hulls of the whaling ships, an eruption in 1969 destroyed the British base. Deception Island last erupted as recently as 1991-1992 with more activity reported in 1994.

trilogy???

oh no, i’m not prepared for a trilogy.  but this is how it seems to be going.

our heroine and all the other kids on the island are the kids of a pirate dynasty.  in volume one, their parents raided the caribbean, using a secret underwater passage to travel in time, and had many glorious tales to tell, but they’re tired now.

in volume two, our heroine gets stranded in the past, learning a part of her elders’ secret.  she spends a good deal of time trying to get back home.  when she returns, the old ways aren’t enough for her, and she organizes the kids and strikes out as a real pirate.  this causes all sorts of grown-up trouble, and in the end our heroine is the one who has to save her entire pirate clan as their enemies are poised to strike.  she comes up with a novel method of saving them.

volume three would be the new world that the clan encounters after they escape from the modern menace, a twist on the traditional pirate tale – modern pirates in a warped version of 17th century caribbean.

and this is all because i can’t get over the idea of having the caribbean set in the antarctic – or the antarctic set in the caribbean.  and the idea of piracy in the far distant future.  and the idea of modern pirates going back to the 17th century, when things were a lot tougher than they are now.   and the idea of the parents earning the scorn of the righteous youth by slacking off as pirates and getting all consumer and always stoned and just not being good parents.  these are powerful ideas to me.

pirate map

whenever i think about a pirate story, i think about maps.  old maps, drawn with ink on parchment, with unknown places illustrated fancifully.  a map is necessary for many kinds of stories, and this story is rapidly approaching the fantasy genre, which would in fact require a map.

but not a regular historical map.  i want a fantastic caribbean, something in between what sailors knew about the waters they sailed in in the 16th and 17th centuries, and what we know now with google earth and disney animation.

so i was reading michael crichton’s posthumous novel about pirates, and it has a nice map of the caribbean in the endpaper.  i was thinking about drawing the negative space of the map, that is, drawing the water, and doing strange things with the features of the area, like number and placement of islands.  my mind began to work, and for several days i’ve been obsessed with the caribbean, even to the point of looking at real estate in the tropics.  i also admit to a certain fascination with google earth, and have been spending a lot of time cruising around looking at shorelines and natural ports (and never mind the cities that have grown up around every one).

the sargasso sea, where since the middle ages there’ve been tales of ships lost and ghost ships.  yes, way before the same region became knows as the bermuda triangle.  gotta have that, just thought i’d put it in while i was thinking about it.

this is an early map (early 1500s) showing the caribbean islands all out of proportion to their actual size, but reflecting the importance to the early explorers.  they knew of rich lands to the south of the islands (quick thinking on the part of the natives) and to the west, but at this point they still thought china was just over the horizon.

i like this map because it doesn’t show anything beyond the coast of south america.  hispaniola is the center of this area, and altho they’ve got the coast of venezuela, colombia, panama, and on up into the gulf and then up the eastern seaboard, these are all sketchy details, as if the islands were the important feature of this particular universe.

this one also shows huge islands and tiny continents.  look, you can see both right and left coasts of the u.s.

and these days, who can do without google earth?  even movies are using it, the news, the weather, kids’ films.  yay.  wish i’d bought google stock back in the day.  so i’m like sitting on google earth looking at my caribbean, where my pirate novel will be set.  and i’m thinking that the caribbean that’s sticking in my mind, my dream caribbean, if you will, the caribbean i would go hang out in while dreaming at night.  my caribbean is more like the old maps, where you don’t care what’s past the coast, and all you’re really interested in is the island chain, and the places you can get to by boat.

now, i’ve got to say i’ve always been interested in antarctica, too. i wanted to go on the nsf artist and writer’s residency, boy oh boy, but because i’m totally unknown as an artist, and because i’ve had cancer, they wouldn’t want to approve my application, so i just haven’t bothered.  but that doesn’t mean i haven’t spent a great deal of time fantasizing about it.  i blame kim stanley robinson.

i’ve always been interested in questions of extremity.  for example, what if all the ice were to melt off of the continent of antarctica?  what if there were a physical polar shift, such that antarctica was now in the tropics?  and what would be the new poles?  turns out the new poles would be anywhere i wanted them to be (i mean, anywhere they ended up), because i can set antarctica

(and thus the north pole (here’s what greenland would look like without ice.  it’d be ferociously fertile; make a great jungle in fact))

at the equator and spin the google planet around on its axis running thru loads of other-than-traditional pairs of points.  like, i could make the north pole run thru the northeastern part of the united states.  i could make the middle east the south pole.  politically, that would tend to stifle the energies of these rather warlike countries.  as would putting europe flat on the equator stifle their energies.  cultures do better, speaking economically, industrially, when they’re in the mid latitudes, around 40-60 degrees.  so in order to have anything much happen to antarctica, you’d have to physically move it into at least the temperate zones.  i’m just saying.

when you strip off all the ice, you get a nice little group of islands, rather than a continent.

the northwestern arm is the antarctic peninsula, and adjoins the tip of south america.  look at those adorable bays and those fierce mountains.  wouldn’t this make a great map for a fantasy novel?  and when you add the islands that lie outside the antarctic landmass(es), you get a nice bunch of really great islands that absolutely nobody lives on now except for a few shepherds and a military outpost or two.

the south shetlands are so near to the antarctic peninsula as to be part of it, so of course nobody lives there.  at the moment it’s cold and stormy most of the time.  penguins and climatologists.

the south orkneys are a little balmier, the south sandwich  islands are warmer still, and then there’s south georgiaand the falklands where people actually live.

i like the idea of putting antarctica in the tropics.  there’s this cool archipelago between the antarctic peninsula and the tip of south america, called the scotia sea.  it curves out and around, and makes a nice basin, fringed with islands.

cool islands.  the south sandwich islands

and this is the scotia sea basin.  you can see the falkland islands plainly, the south orkneys are the white slash to the east, at the beginning of the curve south.  the south sandwich islands are along the easternmost curve of the chain, and running along the southern edge to the west are the south shetlands.  altogether a lovely bunch of islands.

and in case you missed my point, i find these two areas to be quite similar.  so, what would happen if a comet hit the earth and put the scotia sea at about 20 north latitude, and what if it dried up alot of the oceans’ water, whereupon the landmass south of the scotia sea would rise up and become continental, and the landbridge between south america and antarctica would emerge.  you wouldn’t believe how much like the pacific northwest the pacific southwest looks.

there.  a bunch of islands, wonderful places for piracy.  and it would be awhile before civilization got to that point, and with similar scientific and technical advances.  what a great idea for a book.  copyright 2010.