April 08, 2014

7:06 AM | The Earth split Westeros from Essos – 25 Mya
Twenty-five million years ago (Mya), a line of fire and molten rock cut through the planet’s crust – like Wildfire cut through the ships at Blackwater Bay – and separated the previously joined continents of Westeros and Essos.  This spreading … Continue reading →
7:06 AM | When Dorne boiled – 30-40 Mya
The salt of the Salt Shore, almost certainly an evaporite deposit, suggests that the region south of the Red Mountains, known as Dorne, was once submerged beneath a shallow sea.  Some time in the past, sea level was lower as … Continue reading →
7:05 AM | Land of ice – 40 Mya
It was a land of ice indeed.  Forty million years ago, a giant ice sheet, likely over a mile thick, covered nearly two-thirds of Westeros, and extended as far south as 40° north latitude, just shy of King’s Landing.  This … Continue reading →
7:05 AM | The rise of the Black (Mountains) – 60-80 Mya
Determining the age of the various Westeros mountain ranges is problematic without geochemistry; the wildlings make sample collection difficult.  However, we can infer ages based on the current shape, or morphology, of the mountains.  As Jon Snow and the men … Continue reading →
7:04 AM | As the Moon rose, so did the Lannisters – 80-100 Mya
The rise of the Mountains of the Moon is perhaps the best-documented geologic event on Westeros, and is directly responsible for the tremendous wealth of the House Lannister.  Similar to the Black Mountains to the north, the Mountains of the … Continue reading →
7:04 AM | Diving the tropical reefs of Winterfell – 300 Mya
Long ago, the territory surrounding Winterfell was not prowled by direwolves, but rather by corals, fish, and perhaps the occasional reef shark.  While we know that Winterfell’s protective walls are made of granite, the grey hue of the majority of … Continue reading →
7:03 AM | The sand ran red – 450 Mya
The scandalous wedding of young Robb Stark to Jeyne Westerling isn’t the only thing to have been stained red in the history of Westeros (spoiler!).  The Red Keep, home to the Iron Throne in King’s Landing, appears to be made … Continue reading →
7:03 AM | The first mountains – 500 Mya
The Red Orogeny is the earliest piece of Westeros’ geologic history that we can infer with the available data.  From our analysis of the Red Keep Sandstone and the Winterfell Limestone, we know that Westeros has moved gradually north throughout … Continue reading →
7:03 AM | BONUS: The Iron Islands – 2,000 Mya
On Earth, nearly all iron ore comes from specific rocks called banded iron formations, the vast majority of which originate around 2,000 million years ago (2,400-1,800 Mya to be more precise).  At this time, the world’s oceans were far more … Continue reading →
5:57 AM | Fox News climate change coverage is now 28% accurate, up from 7%
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has just published an analysis of 2013 climate coverage by the three major American cable news networks. The report and data are available online, and the results are summarized in the figure below. UCS reviewed nearly 600 segments mentioning "global warming" or "climate change" across the networks' most prominent evening and weekend programs during the 2013 calendar year. Segments that contained any inaccurate or misleading representations of climate […]

April 07, 2014

10:57 PM | Testing the Waters: First Experience of Research
By Rachel Kirby Last week I completed my first seminar as a research student. I was nervous, very nervous. Not so much about standing up and presenting, but about the questions that would inevitably follow. As an Honours student it … Continue reading →
6:17 PM | Skills needed for a successful PhD
My department is busy revising the set of milestones our PhD students need to meet in the course of their studies. The milestones are intended to ensure each student is making steady progress, and to identify (early!) any problems. At the moment they don’t really do this well, in part because the faculty all seem […]

April 06, 2014

9:57 PM | Roughan’s relaxed, world drowns
Insouciance is the new face of climate change denial. John Roughan’s column in Saturday’s New Zealand Herald was a typical example. Half a metre sea level rise by the end of the century? What’s there to be concerned about in that, he scoffs. A bach at the water’s edge might no longer be a good […]
3:02 PM | Unforced varaitions: Apr 2014
More open thread. Unusually, we are keeping the UV Mar 2014 thread open for more Diogenetic conversation and to keep this thread open for more varied fare.
5:32 AM | 2014 SkS Weekly Digest #14
SkS Highlights Howard Lee's Alarming new study makes today’s climate change more comparable to Earth’s worst mass extinction attracted the most comments of the articles posted on SkS during the past week. Earth has a fever, but the heat is sloshing into the oceans by John Abraham garnered the second highest number of comments. Dana's IPCC report warns of future climate change risks, but is spun by contrarians was the third most commented upon. Toon of the Week   h/t […]
12:45 AM | 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #14B
Arctic sea ice falls to fifth lowest level on record B.C. climate change expert sees ‘brighter, smarter’ future for planet Bumpy start for the UN mechanism on climate change 'loss and damage' Changing our climate of indifference China faces a unique challenge in adapting to climate change Climate change will 'lead to battles for food', says head of World Bank Germany boosts wind power at green energy summit Global warming forcing Mongolian nomads to change lifestyles How climate […]

April 05, 2014

7:07 AM | Weather extremes take twin crop and disease toll
Extreme rain has boosted harvests and droughts have harmed them, but both are linked to outbreaks of deadly viruses show NASA's Assaf Anyamba and his colleagues.

Anyamba, A., Small, J., Britch, S., Tucker, C., Pak, E., Reynolds, C., Crutchfield, J. & Linthicum, K. (2014). Recent Weather Extremes and Impacts on Agricultural Production and Vector-Borne Disease Outbreak Patterns, PLoS ONE, 9 (3) DOI:

6:13 AM | The climate change uncertainty monster – more uncertainty means more urgency to tackle global warming
A new two-part study published in Climatic Change by a team of scientists led by Stephan Lewandowsky examines mathematically what happens to the risks posed by climate change when the scientific uncertainty increases. Part 1 of the study explores two important points. First, the probable range of climate sensitivity to the increased greenhouse effect isn't symmetrical. Instead, based on the available evidence and research, it's more likely that we'll see a large amount of global warming than a […]

April 04, 2014

9:08 AM | Citizen science: how can we all contribute to the climate discussion?
Until the turn of the 20th century, science was an activity practiced by amateur naturalists and philosophers with enough money and time on their hands to devote their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and the understanding of the natural world. Today, scientific research is an industry of its own, carried out by highly trained […]
8:41 AM | Impacts of Climate Change – Part 2 of the new IPCC Report has been approved
The second part of the new IPCC Report has been approved – as usual after lengthy debates – by government delegations in Yokohama (Japan) and is now public. Perhaps the biggest news is this: the situation is no less serious than it was at the time of the previous report 2007. Nonetheless there is progress […]

April 03, 2014

5:42 AM | Earth has a fever, but the heat is sloshing into the oceans
Much has been made about the Earth's energy imbalance (extra energy absorbed by the Earth). It is clear the Earth is out of balance, in laypersons' terms, it has a "fever". What isn't clear is how bad the fever is. A new study by Dr. Matt Palmer and Dr. Doug McNeall moves us closer to answering this "fever" question.   Matt Palmer and Doug McNeall These scientists used data from the latest group of climate computer models (CMIP5) to look at the relationships between the energy flows at […]

April 02, 2014

11:18 PM | 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #14A
4 takeaways from report reveal worsening impacts of climate change If we want to adapt to climate change, we need to start now MIT climate scientist responds on disaster costs and climate change Risk game: What a warmer planet means to the bottom line Teaching about climate change with the New York Times The global reaction to the latest IPCC climate report The U.S. House Committee on Science is a national embarrassment Unnatural disaster Unrestrained oil and gas is the future, ExxonMobil […]
9:34 PM | Nanoporous silicon a promising material for next-generation lithium-ion batteries
Tiny batteries for your cell phone or camera that can hold days of charge?  Although it may seem like fantasy, this is the goal for researchers looking into new materials for lithium (Li) – ion batteries.  Current state-of-the-art technology uses … Continue reading →

Ge, M., Lu, Y., Ercius, P., Rong, J., Fang, X., Mecklenburg, M. & Zhou, C. (2014). Large-Scale Fabrication, 3D Tomography, and Lithium-Ion Battery Application of Porous Silicon, Nano Letters, 14 (1) 261-268. DOI:

6:52 PM | O Best Beloved: Just-so stories in ecology and evolution
Sloth-moth symbiosis. Dinosaur-devestating asteroid impacts. Girl’s preference for pink. Are these fact, or fiction? It turns out that often what we think we know about the world is more based on story-telling than the byproduct of the scientific method. In science, calling something a ”just-so story” is almost universally a criticism. The term is a direct reference […]
3:22 PM | Snowy Owl Irruption
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – This winter snowy owls were on the move; unusually large numbers of the magnificent birds made their way to the Lower 48 United States. With a wing span greater than four feet and distinctive plumage, snowy owls are a glorious sight. The birds' winter migrations normally take them to Canada's southern provinces. Some birds come all the way to the northern U.S. – especially near the coasts. Yet this year snowy owls winged their... Read more

April 01, 2014

11:00 PM | The Amazon rainforest tipping point
By Biance Last night I watched an interesting documentary on the Amazon rainforest dealing with the consequences of a changing climate. The documentary is part of the 6-prt TV climate series ‘Tipping points’ and investigates how the rainforest manages to … Continue reading →
9:34 AM | Climate crisis? What Crisis? NZ right ignore IPCC call for action
New Zealand political reaction to the IPCC’s WG2 report has divided along expected lines: the Green Party and Labour used the findings to call for more action, the National-led government “welcomed” the report but said it is already doing enough, while the fringe right wing ACT party issued a press release making the abolition of […]
8:01 AM | 2014 SkS News Bulletin #2: IPCC Report
Climate change action is the best insurance policy in world history Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind IPCC climate report sounds humanitarian 'clarion call' Little time left to turn down the world's heat, U.N. says More flooding, hunger ahead due to climate change Terrifying report of what we're doing to planet Earth The food-pocalypse is already upon us The hellish monotony of 25 years of IPCC climate change warnings U.N. climate report offers lots of bummer news World […]

March 31, 2014

6:00 AM | IPCC report warns of future climate change risks, but is spun by contrarians
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just published its latest Working Group II report detailing impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability associated with climate change. The picture it paints with respect to the consequences of continued climate change is rather bleak. For example, the report discusses the risk associated with food insecurity due to more intense droughts, floods, and heat waves in a warmer world, especially for poorer countries. This contradicts the claims of climate […]
1:29 AM | IPCC WG2 report now out
Instead of speculations based on partial drafts and attempts to spin the coverage ahead of time, you can now download the final report of the IPCC WG2: “Climate Change 2014:Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” directly. The Summary for Policy Makers is here, while the whole report is also downloadable by chapter. Notably there are FAQ for […]
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