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After moving quite slowly for decades, the outlet glacier of Vavilov Ice Cap began sliding dozens of times faster than is typical. The ice moved fast enough for the fan-shaped edge of the glacier to protrude from an ice cap on October Revolution Island and spread widely across the Kara Sea. The Landsat images above were acquired on July 1, 2013, June 18, 2015, and June 24, 2018, respectively.
“The fact that an apparently stable, cold-based glacier suddenly went from moving 20 meters per year to 20 meters per day was extremely unusual, perhaps unprecedented,” said University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Michael Willis. “The numbers here are simply nuts. Before this happened, as far as I knew, cold-based glaciers simply didn’t do that…couldn’t do that.”
Willis and his colleagues are still piecing together what triggered such a dramatic surge. They suspect that marine sediments immediately offshore are unusually slippery, perhaps containing clay. Also, water must have somehow found its way under the land-based part of the glacier, reducing friction and priming the ice to slide.
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Today’s smartphones are as powerful as some computers, and technology is constantly improving. Here their pocket-sized processors are being put to good use for doctors – never without their phones to access records and messages – doing something that requires a little more power. Mathematical models simulate beating hearts (grey) – highlighting waves of electrical activity in each ventricle chamber in rainbow colours. Each virtual ventricle compares with similar patterns seen in living hearts (to the right) from pigs (top row) and rabbits (middle). Tweaking the model’s settings produces simulations to match human patients (bottom), potentially giving doctors a portable visual tool for studying, discussing and treating irregular beats, or arrhythmias. Heart simulations have their origins in the 1960s, when a computer the size of a small car might have been required to run much simpler models, begging the question – given another 60 years, what will smartphones be able to do for us?
Written by John Ankers
Explanation: Admire the beauty but fear the beast. The beauty is the aurora overhead, here taking the form of great green spiral, seen between picturesque clouds with the bright Moon to the side and stars in the background. The beast is the wave of charged particles that creates the aurora but might, one day, impair civilization. In 1859, following notable auroras seen all across the globe, a pulse of charged particles from a coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with a solar flare impacted Earth’s magnetosphere so forcefully that they created the Carrington Event. A relatively direct path between the Sun and the Earth might have been cleared by a preceding CME. What is sure is that the Carrington Event compressed the Earth’s magnetic field so violently that currents were created in telegraph wires so great that many wires sparked and gave telegraph operators shocks. Were a Carrington-class event to impact the Earth today, speculation holds that damage might occur to global power grids and electronics on a scale never yet experienced. The featured aurora was imaged in 2016 over Thingvallavatn Lake in Iceland, a lake that partly fills a fault that divides Earth’s large Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190421.html