The Climate Change Front: A Video Update from Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

If you’ve been thinking of taking the fam to spectacular Glacier National Park in Montana, you’d better do it soon. In fact, this summer would be a good time — unusually heavy winter snowfalls have added to the glaciers’ mass. But, says research ecologist Dan Fagre, the picture ten years out is far less promising.

“If you come here [then], you will find at least remnants of glaciers,” says Fagre in a USGS video released this month. “I think many of our glaciers will have become so small that they are hardly worthy of being called a glacier…”

The five-minute video features three scientists answering questions about climate change from visitors at the National Park. It’s a short, jargon-free report on how a changing climate is robbing future generations of one of our national treasures.

Video | Steve Chu’s Big News (Solar Panels Where?!)

Chu: "It's been a long time since we had them up there."

Courtesy of the good people at Planet Forward, here’s a video clip of Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Council of Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley announcing  the good news earlier today that the Obama administration will be installing solar panels (both PV and solar thermal) on the White House roof by next spring. (You can read the full story at OnEarth magazine, here.)

Sun-Day Matinee | ‘Singing in the Plasma Rain’

From the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

On April 19, AIA observed one of the largest prominence eruptions in years. The huge structure erupts, but a great deal of the plasma (hundreds of millions of tons) is unable to escape the gravitational pull of the Sun and falls back down as “plasma rain.” As the rain impacts the surface, bright flashes can be seen as the momentum is absorbed on impact. SDO is the first observatory to capture both the rain and the impacts, allowing us to learn a great deal from observations like this.

(Spoiler alert: Look for the plasma rain begin its fall at about eighteen seconds.)

And what is “plasma?” Glad you asked. According to NASA’s glossary:

A fourth state of matter (in addition to solid, liquid, and gas) that exists in space. In this state, atoms are positively charged and share space with free negatively charged electrons. Plasma can conduct electricity and interact strongly with electric and magnetic fields. The solar wind is actually hot plasma blowing from the sun.