Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier lost another large chunk of ice at the end of January. The section of ice that broke off the glacier on the western coast of Antarctica was roughly the size of Manhattan. It was 10 times smaller than the piece the same glacier sloughed in July 2015.
After the enormous piece of ice broke off The Pine Island Glacier in 2015, cracks were spotted during a late 2016 flyover, Climate Central reported. The recent smaller, though still substantial, ice breakage is considered an "after-shock" event, Ohio State glaciologist Ian Howat told NASA. NASA's Operational Land Imager captured a series of images documenting the ice loss.
The Pine Island Glacier is known as a fast stream glacier because it moves quickly and commonly sheds ice. It is already responsible for 25 percent of Antarctica's ice loss, according to Digital Journal.
The phenomenon of rapid glacial calving or ice loss "fits into the larger picture of basal crevasses in the center of the ice shelf being eroded by warm ocean water, causing the ice shelf to break from the inside out," Howatt said. Basal crevasses are cracks that extend upward from the base of the body of ice.
Sometimes, basal ice cracks are not visible. Small rifts of this nature exist about six miles into the Pine Island Glacier and are expected to result in further calving.
Also in Antarctica, a crack longer than 80 miles in the Larsen C ice shelf is currently being monitored. As the rift grows, the shelf gets closer to shedding a more than 3,000 square mile iceberg.
Shocking Crack in Ice Shelf Grows Another 11 Miles https://t.co/Kqf8TnKxXo @TheCCoalition @climateinstitut— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1483792220.0
In March 2016, a study, Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise, in the journal Nature explained how ocean warming was driving rising sea levels and the collapse of the Western Antarctic ice sheet.
"Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a meter of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500, if emissions continue unabated. In this case atmospheric warming will soon become the dominant driver of ice loss, but prolonged ocean warming will delay its recovery for thousands of years," the study states.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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