Scientists return from Arctic with wealth of climate data

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BERLIN (AP) — An icebreaker carrying scientists on a year-long international effort to study the high Arctic has returned to its home port in Germany carrying a wealth of data that will help researchers better predict climate change in the decades to come.

The RV Polarstern arrived Monday in the North Sea port of Bremerhaven, from where she set off more than a year ago prepared for bitter cold and polar bear encounters — but not for the pandemic lockdowns that almost scuttled the mission half-way through.

“We basically achieved everything we set out to do,” the expedition’s leader, Markus Rex, told The Associated Press by satellite phone as it left the polar circle last week. “We conducted measurements for a whole year with just a short break.”

The ship had to break away from its position in the far north for three weeks in May to pick up supplies and rotate team members after coronavirus restrictions disrupted carefully laid travel plans, but that didn’t cause significant problems to the mission, he said.

“We’re bringing back a trove of data, along with countless samples of ice cores, snow and water,” said Rex, an atmospheric scientist at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Ocean Research that organized the expedition.

More than 300 scientists from 20 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China took part in the 150-million-euro ($177-million) expedition to measure conditions in one of the most remote and hostile parts of the planet over the course of a whole year.

Much of the information will be used to improve scientists’ models of global warming, particularly in the Arctic, where change has been happening at a faster pace than elsewhere on the planet.

As part of the expedition, known by its acronym MOSAiC, the Polarstern anchored to


Ocean patterns help scientists forecast drought, water flow in the Colorado river

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Oct. 9 (UPI) — By analyzing what researchers call “long-term ocean memory,” scientists have been able to identify connections between flow rates in the Colorado River and sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The breakthrough analysis — described Friday in the journal Communications Earth and Environment — allowed scientists to develop a forecasting model capable of predicting the Colorado River water supply on multi-year timescales.

The Colorado River, the most important water resource in the West, is essential to energy production, food and drinking water security, forestry and tourism in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.

Access to more accurate long-term forecasting models could aid water resource management decisions.

“Using our tool we can develop an operational forecast of the Colorado River’s water supply,” lead study author Yoshimitsu Chikamoto, assistant professor of earth systems modeling at Utah State University, said in a news release.

Current forecasting models for predicting droughts and Colorado River flow are over-reliant on short-term weather patterns. The models are easily skewed by short-term weather phenomena — a big storm or an especially dry couple of months, for example.

“This new approach is robust and means that water managers, for the first time, have a tool to better estimate water supply in the Colorado River for the future,” said study co-author Robert Gillies, director of the Utah Climate Center and professor at Utah State University. “The model can be run iteratively so every year a new forecast for the next three years can be created.”

A two to three year lead on water flow and drought forecasts can allow farmers to make important decisions on crop rotations.

To build their model, scientists used their ocean memory analysis to draw connections between sea surface temperature and subsequent atmospheric effects. Next, researchers accounted


Stop Looking For An ‘Earth 2.0,’ Say Scientists As They Detect An Even Better ‘Superhabitable’ World

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Our planet is the best there is, right? Not necessarily, say researchers at Washington State University who have produced a list of 24 planets outside our Solar System that are not only Earth-like, but may even be better than Earth. 

The list—which is intended to be a “to do” list for a bunch of powerful telescopes due to go live in the next few years—includes planets that are older, a little larger, slightly warmer and possibly wetter than Earth, and which orbit stars with longer lifespans than our Sun. 

The researchers—whose work is published this week in the journal Astrobiology—think the worlds in the list contain some that could be called “super-habitable.” That means they could be places where life could more easily thrive than on Earth. 

Cue an MVP—Most Valuable Planet—which is likely to be larger than Earth and easier to detect than Earth-like planets. 

If we want to find life elsewhere in the galaxy then “superhabitable” planets may deserve higher priority than most Earth-like planets, say the researchers. 

How could another planet possibly be more suitable for life than Earth? To an Earthling with only one reference point, it sounds like a crazy question.

Here’s everything you need to know about the search for “super-habitable” planets where life may not only exist, but thrive. 

Where are the ‘super-habitable’ planets? 

Sadly, all of the 24 planets are in star systems that are over 100 light-years from the Solar System. The researchers went through the list of the over 4,500 known exoplanets in our Milky Way. They didn’t look for life, but only for the general conditions that would be conducive to complex life—defined as


North Korea scientists criticize Oracle’s database system as slow, costly

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Oct. 7 (UPI) — North Korean engineers gave Oracle’s database management system low marks in a research paper published by Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University, according to a South Korean press report.

NK Economy reported Wednesday the second issue of Volume 66 of
an academic journal of geo-environmental studies from the university included a paper about “indexing for constructing a large-scale panorama image database management system.”

North Korean researchers wrote that “database management systems such as those of Oracle take a great deal of time” to process and store large amounts of data.

“It’s time consuming, it’s expensive and impossible to search for [storage] space.”

North Korean engineers also claimed they researched methods of storing and managing image data using file indexing and basic search methods. The paper compared the North Korean method to those of Oracle. The North Korean method of data management “cut processing time by about half,” and the North Koreans were able to “speed up search in very large databases.”

North Korean evaluations of U.S. database systems come at a time when North Korea is under heavy international sanctions. Pyongyang could be referring to an older generation of Oracle DBMS products. The paper also indicates demand is high in North Korea for database management systems capable of processing large numbers of photos and other images, according to NK Economy.

Kim Jong Un has declined to meet with world leaders amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the regime could be building new defense systems.

The office of South Korean lawmaker Yoon Joo-kyung said Wednesday North Korea may have completed a “square structure” about 10 meters long on all sides in North Hamgyong Province that is designed to resist penetration of bunker busters, or missiles built to destroy hardened bunkers, News 1 reported.

The structure may have been built


There May Be Two Dozen Superhabitable Planets Outside the Solar System, According to Scientists

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There May Be Two Dozen Superhabitable Planets Outside the Solar System, According to Scientists

They’re more than 100-light-years away!

Looking for a safe place to travel on vacation with your family? Instead of an island getaway or road trip across the country, how about any of the 24 recently discovered superhabitable planets in outer space? Astronauts have discovered two dozen planets that are capable of sustaining human life, according to a report published in the journal Astrobiology. The study, which was led by Washington State University geobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, found that these “super-habitable” worlds are older, larger, warmer, and moister than Earth.

Getty / Lev Savitskiy

“With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets,” said Schulze-Makuch in a statement. “We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth, because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours.”

Related: Astronomers Discovered a New Planet Deep in the Galaxy That Could Be Another Earth

Each of the 24 planets met a certain list of criteria pre-determined by researchers. One of the key factors is that all of the planets exist in the habitable orbit around a star where liquid water can exist due to an ideal temperature. Other conditions that were considered for a superhabitable planet include the life expectancy of the host star; size and mass of the planets; and surface temperature of the planets. The planets are all also significantly larger than Earth, which means that there is even more habitable land available. The warm temperature and larger mass could also mean that the planets are well suited to supporting

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