Earth Versus Humans

Author:Reginald R. Muskett

ESA funded Altimetry Corrected Eleva-tion Digital Elevation Model
ESA funded Altimetry Corrected Eleva-tion Digital Elevation Model

In the 1950s science fiction movie “Earth Versus The Flying Saucers,” the Earth is beset by an invading army from an alien world whose inhabitants having depleted their own natural resources sought to colonize Earth and enslave Humans for survival. With all the stories in the newspapers about ‘Global Warming and Climate Change’ one wonders if Humans are changing the Earth in irreversible ways. Surprisingly, the winter of 2013-14 seemed to be giving the peoples of North America the impression that “Earth Versus Humans” with the bitterly cold excursions of the Northern Polar Vortex. Of course Science Fiction is not Science.

A recent publication, “Multi-Satellite and Sensor Derived Trends and Variation of Snow Water Equivalent on the High-Latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere,” by Dr. Reginald R. Muskett of the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks investigates one aspect of the Earth, its Arctic snow cover on land and its changes over a period of 30 years. Datasets for the investigation are of snow

SSM/I snow water equivalent
SSM/I snow water equivalent

water equivalent derived through microwave remote sensing satellites since NASA Nimbus 7 in 1977 through the NOAA administered Defense Satellite Program F13 and the JAXA sensor on NASA-Aqua through 2009. Using Geostatistical analysis with co-located digital elevation models, Muskett identified significant trends of increasing snow water equivalent on the coastal tundra landscapes surrounding the Arctic Ocean. Then turning to techniques of Digital Signal Processing, he identified significant frequencies in the time-series power spectra that matched known physical frequencies of upper atmosphere circulation, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and ocean circulation perturbations from tides and the lunar nodal cycle. Furthermore, these physical drivers of the Arctic snow water equivalent (on land) are correlated with the ‘mystery’ of the reducing Arctic Ocean sea ice cover. With a ‘tip of the hat to Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Muskett had reduced a mystery down to its natural causative agents. And, no aliens were found either.

Image Credits: Scientific Research Publishing International Journal of Geosciences ,  Vol.3 No.1 2012

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