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Windows to the Universe
Greenland’s <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/polar/cryosphere_glacier1.html">ice sheet</a> saw a record <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/headline_universe/olpa/greenland_10dec07.html">melt</a> in July 2012.  Scientists studying this event have found that this melting event was triggered by an influx of unusually warm air and amplified by the presence of a blanket of thin low-level <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/cloud.html">clouds</a> which pushed temperatures up above freezing.  For more information see the <a href="http://www.news.wisc.edu/21638">press release</a> from the University of Wisconsin Madison.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison</em></small></p>As permafrost thaws, the land, atmosphere, water resources, ecosystems, and human communities are affected. Coastal areas and hillsides are vulnerable to erosion by thawing of permafrost.  Thawing permafrost also causes a positive feedback to global warming, as carbon trapped within the once-frozen soils is released as <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/physical_science/chemistry/methane.html&edu=elem">methane</a>, a powerful <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/climate/cli_greengas.html&edu=elem">greenhouse gas</a>.
Watch the NBC Learn video - <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/changing_planet/permafrost_methane_intro.html&edu=elem">Thawing Permafrost and Methane</a> to find out more.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of the    USGS</em></small></p>The massive 9.0 magnitude <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/geology/quake_1.html&edu=elem">earthquake</a> off of Honshu, Japan on <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/headline_universe/march112011earthquaketsunami.html&edu=elem">11 March 2011</a> generated a <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/tsunami1.html&edu=elem">tsunami</a> that exceeded 10 meters on the coast near the epicenter.  This image shows model projections for the tsunami wave height in cm which are in good agreement with the observed waves. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were lost, and their families, as we remember this event.<p><small><em><a href="http://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/files/2011/03/680_20110311-TsunamiWaveHeight.jpg">NOAA Tsunami Wave Height Projections image</a></em></small></p>This historic image is the first ever taken from a spacecraft in orbit about <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/mercury/mercury.html&edu=elem">Mercury</a>, the innermost planet of the solar system.  Taken on 3/29/2011 by <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/space_missions/robotic/messenger/messenger.html&edu=elem">MESSENGER</a>, it shows numerous craters across the <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/mercury/Interior_Surface/Surface/surface_overview.html&edu=elem">surface</a> of the planet.  Temperatures there can reach over 800°F because Mercury is so close to the Sun and rotates so slowly.  MESSENGER entered orbit around Mercury earlier in March 2011.<p><small><em>NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington</em></small></p>On May 20, 2013, a massive EF5 <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/tornado.html">tornado</a> hit Moore, Oklahoma, devastating communities and lives.  The tornado, on the ground for 40 minutes, took a path through a subdivision of homes, destroying block after block of homes, and hitting two elementary schools just as school was ending as well as a hospital. Hundreds of people were injured, and 24 were killed.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Ks0stm, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license</em></small></p>An artist's rendering of the moment of impact of a massive <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/our_solar_system/meteors/meteors.html&edu=elem">meteorite</a>
  at the end of the Cretaceous (at the end of the <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/geology/hist_mesozoic.html&edu=elem">Mesozoic
  Era</a>). Many
  scientists have concluded for decades that a meteorite four to six kilometers
  in diameter impacted the Earth at this time, resulting in a <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/past/KTextinction.html&edu=elem">mass extinction
  of dinosaurs</a> and many other life forms.  Recent research suggests that
 perhaps <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/headline_universe/olpa/chicxulub.html&edu=elem">massive
  volcanic eruptions</a> may be been responsible for the extinction.<p><small><em>Courtesy of Don Davis, NASA</em></small></p>

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF