Did a 6th Century Comet Bring Global Famine?
Evidence from tree rings and ice cores suggest that parts of Europe, Asia and North America saw protracted cooling in the 530′s, which has been linked to drought and famine. Some scientists hypothesize that Halley’s Comet may have caused this, by leaving a dust trail that the Earth later intercepted during its orbit. Dust in the air could have blocked the sun’s rays. Abbott finds evidence in ice cores drilled from Greenland: as much as 10 times more dust is found in the layer corresponding to 533 A.D. than at other intervals, she says. This dust is rich in markers of extraterrestrial origins such as nickel and iron oxide spherules. She finds that neither volcanism nor solar cycles can fully explain the cooling seen in various records during this decade. Furthermore, spikes of the ice-core dust appear to match the timing of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, known to be triggered by Halley.
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 8 a.m.-12:20 p.m., Posters A-C Moscone South. PP31B-1869
Readers will recall the awkwardly titled September post, “NatGeo actually calls Wally Broecker to discuss evidence for cosmic impact at Younger Dryas start.” The Tusk was trying to convey there my astonishment that a thoughtful and thorough article was written on recent advances in the study of the Younger Dryas Boundary. Only later, with very little digging, did I realize this was not simply a case of a reporter stumbling on to illuminating facts — but likely a “tell” of greater significance.
It turns out that eminent ancient climate scientist Broecker and reporter Robert Kunzig are hardly strangers. In fact, they share a deep and productive relationship pre-dating this particular National Geographic article on the Younger Dryas Boundary Hypothesis.
Interesting photo of Robert Kunzig
In 2009 Broecker and Kunzig co-authored a fine book, “Fixing Climate,” which the Tusk just finished reading. Fixing Climate is recommended to anyone who enjoys biography in the service of telling a good scientific tale. Nearly all of the book is the personal story of Wallace Broecker and his discovery and explanation of abrupt changes in climate, in particular our favorite period, the Younger Dryas. Broecker’s story is the story of Younger Dryas science in large measure, and a narrative of his life is a wonderful and exciting way to tell the story of the YD.
Which brings me to what I find most interesting about their relationship in the context of our subject. It seems to me the article from September was no accident. The Tusk is supposing that Wally was tipping his writer buddy off to what he knew was building evidence for something extraordinary — and cosmic — having initiated his signature climate period. (Recall that Paetev et. al., discovered a 1000 fold increase in Platinum at the YDB, gives first credit to Broecker (for obtaining access to the Greenland ice core from what I understand)).
As Wally is clearly coming around to the reality of the YD team’s claim, it seems obvious Kunzig was the recipient of a friendly tip from his pal that something big may be on the horizon.
Annelies Van Hoesel (Dr. Van Hoesel yet?) recently published an overview of Younger Dryas Boundary Hypothesis in Quaternary Science Reviews. I hear at least one of the YDB authors found it terribly biased against the impact. But it seems to me that she is implicitly admitting that the many obituaries of the YDB impact have been premature. In this game that counts as a win.
Clarifying note: The Tusk, not Dr. Burchard, suggested the name Crater Burchard for this feature. And yes, I know. Craters are named for nearby geographic features, not people.
The always smug but relatively well informed Paul Heinrich had a post on the Meteorite-list serve today disputing the cosmic origin of circular features identified by Hermann Burchard in the South China Sea and posted last month on the Cosmic Tusk. Paul is one of those guys that doesn’t sleep well if someone is still up having some fun. But nonetheless he is a fine scientist and always willing to dig deep in the literature and his own extensive knowledge base to dispute claims he finds thinly supported.
I’ll leave it to the crowd to sort through Heinrich’s criticisms, but they seem solid. However, I have to take issue with his claim that common folks using Google Earth to poke around for craters is simply “dubious” and cannot contribute to the search for craters. The world is a big place and crowd sourcing is a valid approach for citizens to scientists. A few meteor wrongs, or Google crater that are truly center-pivot irrigation, do not stress the system so badly that it deters professional research.
I have a feeling that if Heinrich falsely believed he had stumbled upon a previously un-noted math proof, Dr. Burchard would graciously walk him back. In fact I know he would.
Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2013 10:14:50 -0500
From: “Paul H.” <email@example.com>
Subject: [meteorite-list] An Evaluation of the Proposed Spratly
Islands Impact Structure
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
In November 3, 2013, on the Cosmic Tusk, Hermann G W
Burchard proposed that the region underlying the Spratly Islands
is the center of a multi-ring circular to oval impact structure,
informally called Crater Burchard, that has a diameter of
about 275 km (175 miles). Given that crater are not normally
named after people, but after geographic locations, this proposed
impact structure will be referred to as the ?Spratly Islands
Impact Structure? for purposes of discussion after the Spratly
Islands in the South China Sea. The center of this proposed
275 km (175 miles) in diameter impact structure is an atoll
called Union Reefs, or Union Bank at Latitude 9.788666? and
Longitude 114.351768?. Burchard speculates that the Union
Reefs atoll might lie on top of the top of the central uplift of
such an impact crater. he further speculates that this proposed
crater might be the long searched for Australasian tektite impact
crater Burchard (2013). The existence of this impact structure
is based entirely upon hypothetical circular features found by
the visual examination of bathymetry as portrayed by Google
Subject: Australasian Tektite Impact 780 Ka Crater Identified in Spratly Islands
From: Hermann GW Burchard
Date: November 3, 2013
There seems to be a recent update to Google Earth,– apologoizing for over-reliance on this dubious source — the ocean between Vietnam and the Phillipines, the South China Sea. At least, I have not seen this much detail on earlier visits to the site. There now is clearly in evidence what we have corresponded about earlier in the Spratly Islands (plural Spratlies uncommon), which are contested by at least half a dozen nations bordering the S China Sea, as well as the U.S. who claim this is international territory. The reason is that the islands are oil-rich.
The topic I am referring to is the Australasian tektite impact crater long rumored to be in this region. Because of ongoing oil drilling efforts — presumable efforts, I know of no specific news although it probably is out there — it is unlikely that specifics are easy to locate.
Anyway, a multiring circular to oval impact structure is now clearly evident on the latest Google Earth updates. The diameter is about 175 miles/ 275 km, i.e., gigantic as expected from the large tektite strewnfield (BTW, that’s a Germanism, Streufeld, as my daughter recognized immediately when I told her about it).
We all know the Tusk enjoys the study of past catastrophes but is less interested in blogging on space borne threats to our future. The intellectual real estate of future apocalypse — Repent! — is too well populated on the internet for us.
But great TV is great TV and Anderson Cooper did a surprising and praise worthy job last Sunday with a couple of Tusk-worthy follow-up questions regarding future impacts.
After the always glib Yeomans delivers his misdirecting meme that 95% of potentially destructive asteroids are discovered and catalogued, Cooper digs him just a bit about the teeny, tiny ones — the city killers.
Chodas responds by unexpectedly upping the scale of destruction and reports that NASA has yet to identify even those objects that could cause “continental extinction,” which he quickly modifies to ”continental destruction.” (A notable reflex designed to fend off addressing the Younger Dryas Boundary Hypothesis).
Yet then, with heavy heart, I heard and saw what always brings me down when teaching moments appear for our subject. They all laughed, smiled, smirked and giggled.
For the sake of pete, why does this subject always become humorous just when the facts might be taken seriously? Please tell me the last time 60 Minutes or any other news magazine covering Global Warming ever had time for a laugh?
Just what the hell is so funny?
I’ll tell you what is funny. He who shall not be named — Dr. V. — was right. Dr. V. laid it all out a long time ago in Mankind in Amnesia. Our collective Id simply cannot hack this subject. It is laugh or cry as far as our true history is concerned. Those that cry move on and contribute to our understanding. Those that laugh perpetuate our ignorance.
Yeomans and Chodras of NASA yuck it up with CBS about continent-wide extinction
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