About Air and Water

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Massive ice island breaks off Greenland

By CNN - August 7, 2010
(CNN) -- A piece of ice four times the size of Manhattan island has broken away from an ice shelf in Greenland, according to scientists in the U.S.
The 260 square-kilometer (100 square miles) ice island separated from the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland early on Thursday, researchers based at the University of Delaware said.
The ice island, which is about half the height of the Empire State Building, is the biggest piece of ice to break away from the Arctic icecap since 1962 and amounts to a quarter of the Petermann 70-kilometer floating ice shelf, according to research leader Andreas Muenchow.
"The freshwater stored in this ice island could keep the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years. It could also keep all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days," Muenchow said.

Muenchow's team is studying ice in the Nares Strait separating Greenland from Canada, about 1,000 kilometers south of the North Pole.
Satellite data from NASA's MODIS-Aqua satellite revealed the initial rupture which was confirmed within hours by Trudy Wohlleben of the Canadian Ice Service, according to the University of Delaware website.
Muenchow said the island could block the Nares Strait as it drifts south, or break into smaller islands and continue towards the open waters of the Atlantic.
"In Nares Strait, the ice island will encounter real islands that are all much smaller in size," he said.

"The newly born ice island may become land-fast, block the channel, or it may break into smaller pieces as it is propelled south by the prevailing ocean currents. From there, it will likely follow along the coasts of Baffin Island and Labrador, to reach the Atlantic within the next two years."

Environmentalists say ice melt is being caused by global warming with Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reaching their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, according to a study published in 2009.
Current trends could see the Arctic Ocean become ice free in summer months within decades, researchers predict.

Read more on CNN

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Denton repeals item in new gas well drilling ordinance

By Lowell Brown - Staff Writer Denton Chronicle - Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Denton city leaders tweaked their new gas drilling ordinance Monday after having second thoughts about a fee for wells outside city limits.

The City Council voted 5-0 to repeal a $1,800 annual inspection and administration fee for natural gas wells in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ — land just outside the city where it has some limited powers. Council members Charlye Heggins and James King weren’t present for the vote.

The council approved the fee July 21 along with other drilling regulations in what city officials described as an interim ordinance that would apply until they could finish a comprehensive code review.

Energy industry representatives argued the fee was too high and questioned the city’s authority to expand its regulations outside city limits.

Council members voted to revoke the fee before it took effect at the request of city staff members but said they would revisit the issue in the second phase of the code overhaul.

City Attorney Anita Burgess said the action would allow the city time to make sure the fee was “tied to and consistent with” the city’s powers.

The city received “quite a few comments from the industry with regard to the assessment of these fees in the ETJ,” Burgess said during the meeting. “This is a little bit of a cutting-edge area and so it would be in the interest of the city to make sure that, as we proceed forward, we’re careful how we do it.”

Burgess said she remains confident that the city has the power to regulate the ETJ. The only question is the extent of that power, she said.

Council member Dalton Gregory, an advocate for stronger drilling regulations, said the city should be careful not to overcharge the industry.

At the same time, he said, inspection fees should be high enough to cover the city’s costs so taxpayers aren’t subsidizing drilling.

The new drilling rules are scheduled to take effect Wednesday. They include higher permit and inspection fees for wells within the city, stricter noise limits at drilling sites, and increased setbacks and screening between gas wells and structures such as homes and schools.

Council members, worried the city’s drilling rules were too lenient, passed the interim ordinance as an alternative to issuing a moratorium on new permits.

Mayor Mark Burroughs said he knew the swift approval process put a “healthy burden” on city staff and meant some regulations might need to be corrected along the way.

Travel to other worlds ... UTA Planetarium

Immersive full-dome 3-D Digital planetarium show narrated by Ewan McGregor (Obi wan Kepobi from Star Wars) - Astronaut takes you exporing the worlds of inner and outer space. The movie is projected all around you. You recline in specially constructed chairs which enables you to comfortably view the immersive full-dome planetarium show. Astronaut! (produced from the National Space Centre in England) goes beyond the stereotypical space movie. Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of the astronaut. Float around the international Space Station moving thorugh the microscopic regions of the human body! Discover the beauty and perils as "Chad", the test astronaut experiences everything thrown at him.

Summer Schedule (June 2-August 26):


shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Wed. through Saturdays at 11 a.m.
and Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

Cosmic CSI

shows at the UTA Planetarium 3-D Digital Dome.

Wed. through Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Rock Hall of Fame 1 (The Original)

shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Read more (Warning their flat dull website doesn't give much of a glimmer of the multi-dimensional experience you'll have once you enter the dome of the UTA Planetarium!)

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Call 817 272-1183 or e-mail planetarium@uta.edu