The Eastward Wobble, The Dance of the Earth


In April of this year NASA released findings related to the Earth’s melting ice sheets. Often when the gringa things about climate change, warming temperatures and melting ice sheets, the only thing I consider is how sea levels will rise. It never occurred to me that ice sheet disintegration may result in a more wobbly world.

Think about the traditional children’s toy, the spinning top. It’s a bit like our world. As it slows its spin it begins to wobble. As ice sheets melt and the balance of Earth begins to shift, we will, indeed, experience a global wobble. Scientists officially define this as a “periodic wobble and drift of the poles”. All the gringa wants to know is, “What exactly does this mean for me? Am I going to fall on my patootie trying to walk to my car?”

NASA asserts that over the past sixteen years Antarctica and Greenland, combined, have averaged about 400 billion tons of ice loss annually. Before the year 2000, as Earth spun on its axis it had a gentle drift toward Canada (westward). Because of ice loss, now the drift is about 75 degrees in the opposite direction, eastward. This happens because as ice converts to water and moves elsewhere, the distribution of Earth’s mass changes. What this means exactly is that the location of the North and South poles will change. In other words, Earth’s axis is relocating.

Now, the traditional location of Earth’s North Pole may have to be renamed to the Northeastern Pole. Earth’s axis is like an invisible pin stuck through the Earth from North to South. The Earth spins on the tip of the pin, rotating with a slight wobble that is normal. However, if the geographic location of the Poles change, complete topographical and satellite telemetry systems have to be adjusted to accommodate this change. For the average person, this means that your GPS is going to deliver you to the wrong place!

Scientists have long known that the Poles shift by a few centimeters from time to time as a part of Earth’s natural climate adjustment cycles. But what we are dealing with now is much more dramatic. Experts estimate that the shift is averaging about ten centimeters Eastward annually. Our great-great-grandchildren may have to adjust Christmas stories to have Santa Claus living in Russia or Norway.

Although scientists understand that as ice continues to melt the Earth will adjust by shifting its axis to the place where it has lost mass, even their best predictions are really just a guess. This is an extremely complex problem. It’s not just melting ice sheets that affect the process but also loss of groundwater in above ground reservoirs and underground aquifers (which underground aquifers cannot be accurately measured) as well as glacier melt and glacier movement. Many glaciers float about the ocean as they please.

The Earth’s ice and water storage formula affects polar drift. Yet many of the variables in the formula cannot be measured or can change their individual affect. So, scientists are left scratching their heads, doing the best with what they’ve got, and hazarding their best guess on what humanity can expect.

Ice melt is not the only thing that can bump the North Pole to a different location. Enormous earthquakes and devastating tsunamis can do the job as well. Indonesia’s great earthquake moved the North Pole eastward by about 2.5 centimeters and also lengthened Earth’s day cycle by 2.68 microseconds. No wonder I’ve been so tired lately! The gringa is filled with wonder at how humans remain at the mercy of nature despite all of our technological advances.

Sources: www.nasa.gov

news.nationalgeographic.com

Image Credit:  www.worldatlas.com

 

 

How Climate Change Affects Vacation Priorities


So, when the climate change poop hits the fan, who is going to be in for the worst ride? What parts of the world should I vacation at now because they will be uninhabitable in the future? Exactly where will be the safest place for the gringa and the caveman to diddle away their golden years?

Well, we better get busy and visit all the beach hotspots that are alive and kicking right now. With sea levels rising, the coastal cabanas of today will be reef material tomorrow. And, considering that climate change creates erratic and extreme weather patterns such as: heavy rain here, drought there, devastating tornadoes everywhere; well, there is no uniform model of what’s going to change where or when. The only concrete expectation right now is what models predict about low elevation islands and coastal beachlands. They are pretty much going to be history, some maybe within my lifetime.

Other areas scientists expect to change dramatically are regions that have a delicate ecosystem balance and are already experiencing hyper-sensitivity to environmental stressors. These areas include:

  • Arctic, specifically the tundra region
  • Boreal forest belt – This is the conifer forest that stretches across North America, particularly dense in the Pacific Northwest
  • Tropical Rainforest
  • Alpine regions
  • Steppes of Asia and the Americas
  • Prairies of Asia and the Americas
  • Deciduous forests of South America and Australia

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the Earth. The permafrost layer is melting. Glaciers are getting smaller and sea ice is disintegrating. The wildlife of the Arctic will probably be a loss to the world. They depend on a habitat that is going to grow too warm to support their needs. The indigenous people of this region will experience a loss of their culture that is strongly dependent on the wildlife and natural geography. The humans will have the adaptation advantage that the wildlife and fauna do not have. But the loss of their culture is still something to mourn over.

The boreal forests of North America are important carbon sponges for the earth. What will a degree or two warmer mean? As temperatures warm the center of the United States, the boreal forest will shift northward. Predictive models sees the United States losing its boreal forest as it relocates to Canada and Alaska. So, we won’t lose them, they will relocate. That’s good news in the aspect that at least the Earth will retain a critical carbon filter.

Researchers in tropical rainforests mark trees and track them for years, measuring them to see how they are responding to climate change. A group in the Bolivian Andes are studying a swath of diverse trees and plants that thrive in a limited temperature range. As temperatures rise, so do the trees. New, baby trees are growing uphill. Just as the North American model predicted a forest migration, the same is expected of the tropical rainforests. They will abandon the lowland jungle regions and migrate up the mountainsides, seeking cooler temperatures.

Alpine regions are going to experience the same forest creeping phenomena. As glaciers continue to recede, alpine plants will continue to move upwards looking for cooler temperatures and water. However, eventually, when all the glacier water has melted and run off or evaporated, this critical component of the annual water budget will be gone forever. Plants and trees dependent upon it will eventually be extinct. So Alpine ecosystems will not only migrate, they will migrate to a slow death.

The upside of forest migration is that the Earth is trying to compensate and save herself. The downside is that the migration process is slower than the warming process. This means there will still be catastrophic loss of tropical rainforest and alpine habitat. This will affect the wildlife dependent on these ecosystems as well as their indigenous people.

Experts predict the possibility of losing over half of the steppe habitats due to the effects of climate change. They are not modeling a migration of fauna, but a loss. Steppes are critical grazing areas. As the steppes experience habitat loss, growing smaller, overgrazing occurs on the remaining areas. The effects then are coupled: climate change related drought and overgrazing. Things look dire for the future of the steppes and the animals and shepherds and ranchers who depend on them. The steppes could become the Earth’s future Sahara’s.

Unlike a conifer boreal forest or tropical rainforest that are green year round, a deciduous forest becomes barren in the winter season as the trees lose their leaves. Deciduous forests exist in tropical and temperate climates. Climate change models predict warmer winters affecting deciduous forests. This could lead to tree loss from pests and disease. In regions where devastating drought occurs, there will be higher tree loss. When a tree dies in the forest it also becomes fuel. In regions experiencing drought related tree loss, the dry conditions and increased fuel of more dead trees makes conditions ripe for voracious wildfires. So, if the drought or the bugs don’t wipe out the deciduous forests, the wildfires probably will.

The gringa thinks the list of vacation priorities should go something like this:

  • Arctic expedition
  • Steppe pack-mule trip
  • Deciduous and Alpine forest camp outs
  • Beach parties around the world
  • Tropical rainforest excursion
  • Bigfoot safari in the boreal forests of the Pacific Northwest

I don’t think climate change is going to sound the death knell for planet Earth and mankind. The gringa does believe it will be the end of many species of animals and plants that are with us today. It is also highly likely that entire cultures will be wiped out when they lose the habitats they rely upon. And usually species loss does not mean a gaping hole is left behind. Usually, another species fills the gap or a species evolves and adapts. So, the key word to focus on is “change”. It’s climate “change” not climate “loss”. But the change is as significant as the past disappearances of entire civilizations such as the Maya or entire animal classes like the dinosaurs.

At this point, I believe the consensus among scientists is that we have passed the tipping point. There is no going back and “fixing” things. We simply have to ride the lightning and deal with it. So, if a person is able and so inclined, they need to enjoy the world as we know it today and document it for the children of the future.

 

Source:  www.nasa.gov

Image Credit: http://www.notenoughgood.com

 

No, Virginia, There Is No Secret Base At Antarctica


The gringa promised to peruse Admiral Byrd’s diaries and report on any log he may have made to support the claims of conspiracy theorists (CTs) that there is a secret German military base at Antarctica. However, his authentic diary is a record of his flight across the North Pole in 1926. Although there is an Admiral Byrd diary website, it is a fraud and does not record any truthful occurrence of Operation Highjump.

The gringa did not want to disappoint the dear reader so she dug a bit further. She dipped her toe into the netherworld of Wikileaks. Here is a brief summary of the most interesting points of research on Pre-and Post- World War II era Antarctica. I have summarized the most important facts and added my own two cent’s worth at the end in a “NOTE”:

UK Polar Record of Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

Polar Record 43 (224): 1-21 (2007)

  • December 1938-April 1939 Pre-WWII German expedition to Antarctica on naval vessel Schabenland authorized by Herman Goering & led by Captain Alfred Ritscher (not a naval military captain but a merchant marine captain who served the German navy in a civilian capacity because he was the most experienced polar explorer in Germany). Mission objective was to evaluate viability of Germany’s whaling industry that supplied oil, lubricants, glycerin (for explosive nitroglycerin), margarine, etc. Their war effort would depend upon these supplies. Mission reports widely published in German scientific literature and eventually translated into numerous languages were later referred to by the British, Americans, Swedes, and Norwegians. The reports contained maps and photographic surveys. (3) landings made
  • January 14, 1939 Norway responds to Germany’s expedition to Antarctica and lays claim to the territory it had earlier discovered, Dronning Maud Land that Germany announced it was setting out to explore
  • Jan-Feb 1939 German expedition visits Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Mission objective: explore area discovered by Norwegian whaling fleets and lay claim to the territory before Norway did for the whaling rights. Any proposed base was not a military base but a whaling industry base for Germany’s fleet of whaling vessels. The outbreak of the war prevented a return expedition to begin construction of a whaling station. No official German expeditions returned until after 1959. Because of Norway’s official territory claim, Germany never disputed the issue (NOTE: this visit did not result in the construction of a secret German base in Antarctica, time, lack of adequate maps and ice conditions would have prevented the completion of any kind of base being constructed. In a later British expedition it took 18 days to complete a crude hut even with the support of specialized heavy equipment).
  • 1943-1945 Great Britain launches secret wartime mission “Tabarin” w/Special Air Services Regiment (SAS). Objective was to occupy Falkland Islands in order to deny use of harbours to German ships because Chile and Argentina were friendly with Germany during WWII. (NOTE: this was not a staged attack upon a secret German base)
  • July & August 1945 (after German surrender of WWII) 2 U-boats arrive in Argentina’s naval base Mar del Plata. Subs were Captained by Lieutenant Otto Wermuth and Oberleutnant Heinz Schaeffer. Rather than be the escape subs for Hitler, Hitler really did commit suicide and these were Germans stationed off the coast of New York when their country surrendered and they were just trying to escape to a friendly country. However, Wermuth, Schaeffer and their crews were taken prisoner by Argentina and officially became prisoners of war, interrogated by Argentine Navy, US Navy and British Royal Navy. (NOTE: these boats were not capable of operation in ice bound waters with pack ice up to 2m thick off the Antarctic coastline so they did not come from a secret German base there)
  • Summer 1946-1947 US Navy “Operation Highjump” (classified Confidential) performs mock invasion of Antarctica. The Operation was not a dark op. The exercise was widely publicized in the New York Times and 11 journalists were imbedded with the mission’s crews. This was Truman’s first Cold War exercise to flex US military muscle in the face of the Soviet Union (NOTE: not a staged attack upon a secret German base but a training operation for the possibility of war with the Soviet Union during a Russian winter)
  • 1958 (3) nuclear weapons exploded in Antarctic region in US classified Operation Argus (NOTE: this was not to destroy a secret German base at Dronning Maud Land. The nukes were detonated 2000km north of that location and again, the flex of US muscle in the face of the Soviets during the Cold War)
  • All classified documents for these operations have since been declassified.

The gringa hates to burst the bubble of CTs who thoroughly enjoy entertaining the notion that there is a secret base of extra-terrestrials and Germans located beneath the ice of Antarctica. But there is nothing there. And since the whole premise of believing in a dark ops space program called “Dark Fleet” is dependent upon the secret Antarctica base existing, that, too, is just a fantasy.

Nothing would delight me more than to find an ET hide-out. The gringa would march right in and have a chat. Maybe even go for a ride, buzzing the horizon in one of their spaceships. I would even be thrilled if they “beamed” me about the globe on a world tour. But, alas, they are not to be found at Antarctica (or Egypt or Peru). But I’ll keep looking.

Source:  https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/attach/49/49783_.pdf

Image credit: http://www.artofadam.wordpress.com (modified by the gringa)

 

 

 

Operation Highjump – Not The Launch of a Dark Ops Space Program


Certain conspiracy theorists (CTs) have put forth that there is a dark ops space program called Dark Fleet that is an offshoot of technology and goals that originated with secret societies that organized during the heyday of Nazi Germany. The members of these organizations were not so much devoted Nazis but, rather, exploited the resources and power of the Nazi party in order to realize their fantastical dream of reuniting with a superpower, extra-terrestrial, master race.

After the Nazi empire crumbled when they lost World War II, many of the members of the secret societies relocated to other countries and kept their dreams and research alive, supposedly developing advanced weapons and spacecraft technology. As proof, CTs offer up the records of Admiral Byrd’s expeditions to the North and South Poles. The gringa says, “Well, let’s take a look at those records.”

There is a wealth of information about Admiral Byrd but the gringa wants to stick with facts and eyewitness accounts. To begin with, a look at official military records. Is there anything interesting there? Hmmm. Let us see…

From 1946-1947 the U.S. Navy had Operation Highjump underway. This operation was overseen by the U.S. Navy Antarctic Developments Program. Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. was Officer in Charge, leading Task Force 68, and Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen was commanding officer. When these two admirals put to sea, they were joined by 4,700 seamen and airmen, 13 military ships, and 33 military aircraft. To achieve the goal of establishing a research base, Little America IV, it sounds like an awful lot of firepower was put into play, but, that’s just the gringa’s curious little mind in overdrive. It could have been perfectly normal to pack all that weaponry on an Antarctic excursion.

The published objectives of the mission were:

  • Personnel training and equipment testing in subzero temperatures
  • Evaluate how to establish, maintain and utilize Antarctic military bases and scout sites
  • Develop techniques for creating, maintaining and using military bases in ice
  • Make new discoveries of the following Antarctic conditions: electromagnetics, geological, geographic, hydrographic, and meteorological

Up until this time it was primarily the British who had spent time exploring Antarctica with eleven expeditions from 1898-1945. Other countries who had explored the earth’s South Pole region: France (2 missions); Germany (3) missions; Belgium, Japan, Norway, and Sweden (all a single mission). Operation High Jump was the second U.S. mission, following the conclusion of Byrd’s initial exploratory expedition four years earlier.

The fleet of ships arrived in the Antarctic December 12, 1946 and immediately set up weather monitoring stations. Within 12 days of arrival aircraft was in the air flying reconnaissance missions. Some of the ships that were in the flotilla:

  • Henderson – Destroyer class, commissioned in 1945 and served with distinction for 35 years receiving (8) battle stars for service in the Korean War and (7) battle stars and a commendation for service in the Vietnam War; armament at the time of Operation Highjump: (6) 5” guns, (12) 40mm anti-aircraft (AA) guns; (11) 20mm AA guns; (10) 21” torpedo tubes
  • Cacapon – Cimarron class fleet oiler; commissioned 1943, decommissioned 1973 and scrapped; armament: (1) 5” gun; (4) 3” guns; (4) twin 40mm AA guns; (4) twin 20mm AA guns
  • Currituck – Currituck class seaplane tender, nicknamed “Wild Goose”; commissioned June 1944, decommissioned October 31 1967, scrapped 1971; armament: (4) 5” guns

Eighteen days after arrival (3) men were killed when their plane crashed during a blizzard. Six crewmen survived the crash and were rescued two weeks later. The remains of the plane and the three lost airmen have never been recovered. The aircraft they were flying was a Martin PBM Mariner. This craft is a patrol bomber flying boat. Standard armament for the Mariners were: (8) 50” machine guns, 2 tons of bombs or depth charges or (2) Mark 13 torpedoes. The gringa can only ask why a bomber would be needed in an exploratory, scientific expedition in Antarctica?

An interesting thing to note is that there was a Navy chaplain serving on the mission. He held a religious service and consecrated Antarctica. The gringa scratches her head and wonders if this is typical or strange? I’m no Catholic so I wouldn’t know.

New Year’s Day, 1947, American dive team began exploring underneath Antarctic ice shelves. The gringa supposes this may have been related to search efforts to locate the downed bomber. No big mystery there.

Two weeks later an airfield was constructed and named “Little America IV”. Within a month, late February, weather conditions worsened and the expedition was terminated. The return trip home would have the expedition making a stop in March along the South American coast. Admiral Byrd gave interviews and a Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio, reported. The most interesting quote the gringa will share is often cited by CTs to prove that something dark was afoot underneath the ice:

“… Byrd warned today that the United States should adopt measures of protection against the possibility of an invasion of the country by hostile planes coming from the polar regions.”

Now, was Byrd’s warning because he thought something sinister was going on secretly at either the North or South Pole? No. That’s not what his warning was about. CTs take that important quote out of context. They don’t usually reveal the rest of the interview which explains Byrd’s reasoning.

He recognized that technology meant the world was shrinking. America was no longer safe from enemy invasion because of isolation and distance. It was well within the capabilities of other nations to fly from one side of the globe, passing over either pole, and reach the U.S. Byrd was not fearful of a threat from an extra-terrestrial master race living within the earth and Antarctica being its headquarters.

So why all the firepower on an exploratory mission? It was right after World War II. The U.S. had already experienced the surprise air assault of Pearl Harbor. The militaries of the Allied Powers knew that Germany had been developing new weapons and technologies. The Navy had no idea what to expect and was taking no chances. The gringa says, “I don’t blame them.” So, no big suspicious, nefarious plot behind packing all the big guns on an expedition to Antarctica.

Just a few of the vessels that comprised the fleet’s complement:

  • Sikorsky R-4 helicopter
  • (2) Coastguard icebreakers
  • US Navy icebreaker
  • (2) Seaplane Tenders
  • (2) Destroyers
  • (2) Tankers
  • Battleship
  • (2) Supply ships
  • Submarine
  • Aircraft carrier (Byrd’s ship)

The gringa thinks that the main reason behind U.S. interest in Antarctica at that time is the same ol’, same ol’ imperialistic territory seeking mentality that has motivated the country’s interest throughout history. Great Britain had spent a lot of time in Antarctica. They also created all sorts of problems over the Falkland Islands. When the U.S. decided to stick their big nose in and establish a military base in Antarctica most of Latin America was none too happy about it.

The Cold War was getting under way and Russia was perfectly suited to wage war in the bitter conditions of a European winter. Americans? Not so much. So, according to official records the expedition to Antarctica was absolutely about military strategy. Not about little green men living under the ice. But, then, there’s Admiral Byrd’s personal diaries. What do they say? Well, come back and see what the gringa finds out!

Sources: Wikipedia and http://www.navy.mil

Photo credit: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz

 

 

Beneath the Ice & Snow


What is the meaning of the discovery of the pyramids of Antarctica? Is this even true? The gringa scratches her head, quite skeptical but still curious. Where did my snooping take me?

First, I went to Google and did a search on my topic. Out of the many crazy things that popped up, I selected the few options that looked as if they may have some credibility. This is what I found out:

In 1910-13 a British Antarctic expedition led by R.F. Scott referred to “Pyramid Mountain”. It was a pyramid shaped mountain with an elevation of 6,955 ft/2,120 meters, almost one mile high. Trusty ol’ Google Earth, generated by NASA imaging technology, was the gringa’s next stop.

I attempted to get directions on Google Maps/Earth view from Antarctica to Pyramid Mountain. Even when I zoomed in as much as possible, it still looked nothing like a pyramid and nothing like any of the photos above that claim to be the reported “pyramids of Antarctica”. The search continued.

I then removed the word “Mountain” from my directions. I then asked Google to give me directions from Antarctica to Pyramid, Antarctica. I was redirected to “Pyramid Peak”. I zoomed. I saw. I was disappointed. None of the above pictures could have been this location. The gringa moves on undeterred.

I then do a Google search for “GPS coordinates for pyramids of Antarctica”. I get:

  • 77°47′S 160°40′E77.783°S 160.667°E

That is supposed to be the coordinates for Pyramid Mountain. I GOT NUTHIN’! BUT!… I shan’t give up!

I go back to my coordinate search results. I find a questionable YouTube video but it features one of the above photos and claims to have the GPS coordinates, which are:

  • 71° 56′ 55.29″ S 23° 20′ 42.94″ E

These coordinates take me to what appears to be a ridgeline of a mountain range. And is supposed to be the source of the above photo that is a distinct, black pyramid formation discovered about 16 miles inland by Russian scientists. At maximum zoom the gringa doesn’t believe it.

My last ditch effort was to go to good, ol’, trusty Wikipedia. I went to its listing of Pyramid Peak and clicked on the GPS coordinate link and it took me to a Google map location and images that look exactly like the very distinct black pyramid above.

So, now that I have verified the images are real, does it matter? Is there a story there?

NASA hasn’t seemed interested in the matter. The gringa sees no documentation or data among reputable Universities. It seems the only folks talking about it are the ufologists. Perhaps people should take a cue from NASA. NASA would like nothing more than to discover and engage with an extra-terrestrial civilization. If they are willing to invest the time and money to travel to Mars to find something worth talking about don’t you think they would take a peek at Antarctica if there was really something there?

So, no, the gringa does not think there are ancient structures of pyramids in Antarctica. I don’t believe aliens or ancient civilizations lived there in glory way back when. I don’t believe that the Nazis or their ilk snuck down there in submarines and constructed secret military bases.

I do believe that some writers will beat this dead horse for all it’s worth for the purpose of a hoax, a bit of fun, at the expense of vulnerable people. Some people speculating on these images as actual pyramids have claimed that they were produced not by NASA but by Integrated Ocean Drilling program, an international underwater exploration group who study Earth’s history through ocean research of the seafloor, its sediment and underwater environment.

The gringa went through all of their media images and also did a search on their website, www.iodp.org, of all things Antarctica. Although I did find some interesting things, nothing was there that indicated these were their images or that they suspected pyramids existed on Antarctica as the by-product of a long lost terrestrial or extra-terrestrial civilization. The images are NASA satellite produced and NASA considers them no big deal.

Although the gringa will remain a healthy skeptic on the subject of pyramids built by ancient Antarctic civilizations, I will not declare that it is absolutely impossible. Until all the ice and snow is removed and I can see it with my own two eyes, I will consider the possibility, however doubtful. After all, stranger things have happened.

 

Sources: www.iodp.org, www.thedailyjournalist.com, www.en.Wikipedia.org

 

Photo credit: www.skeptics.stackexchange.com, www.lamentiraestaahifuera.com