How did the water get there, and where does it go?

Subglacial Lakes from NASA Model — Public Domain NASA

Our ultimate reservoir of freshwater resides at the South Pole. Ninety percent of the world’s ice is in Antarctica. Now satellites have detected lakes and flowing water thousands of feet below the surface of the ice. Lakes there are constantly filling and subsequently draining. But how do we see them, why did they form, and where does their water go when they drain?

The first of these questions is the easiest to answer. ICESat and ICESat-2 detected the lakes. These are NASA satellites, and ICESat stands for Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite. These guys float around in low orbit…

Fragmentation of a Message

Abraham and the Three Angles (Modified by ArchenArt)— after Gustave Doré 1866 — originally uploaded by Neutrality, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

A medium-sized, round table and four seats were the only pieces of furniture in the interview room. I sat with three others, each an adherent of one of the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The interview only had one question, “Do you believe in the one God, the God of Abraham?” They all answered in the affirmative, and the interview was over. I had my answer. They all believed in the same God, worshiped the same God, and studied the words and messages of the same God. …

Temperature and life hang in a delicate balance at the earth’s surface.

Hot Sun and a Warm Earth (Modified by ArcheanWeb) — Original Credit: By RepelSpaceThreats — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Earth’s heat budget is shifting as Anthropocene warming progresses, and rising global temperatures tell us the earth now collects more thermal energy than it dissipates. The planet’s mechanisms for maintaining a temperature range suitable for life are complex, and seemingly small changes make a notable difference. Today the same heat keeping the planet habitable is also forcing unwanted change across the globe. What is the earth’s heat budget, and why has it changed?

The primary component of the earth’s heat budget is the sun. It lies 150 million kilometers from the earth, and temperatures on the surface of our star…

Considering the Inerrancy of the Bible

Forbidden Delight (Art by WM House @ ArcheanArt)

I am befuddled and bemused when I read accounts of Biblical inerrancy. The logic declaring its infallible status holds that the Bible is the word of God, God is perfect, ergo his words must be true, correct, and without fault. Therefore, any line of thought differing from the words of the Bible is false. However, this type of justification conveniently overlooks a gaping hole in the inerrancy premise. We need to clarify whose Bible and whose interpretation we are talking about.

One of my many shortcomings is an inability to read ancient Greek or Hebrew texts. Of course, what we…

Warming From Above and Below

Edge of an Ice Shelf (Modified by ArcheanWeb) — Original Credit: Ice Shelf Antarctica (By Georges Nijs) Wikimedia Commons

Antarctica holds approximately 90 percent of the world’s freshwater, locked away in ice. The mean thickness of the Antarctic ice is 2.2 km (just under 1.4 miles) due to the massively thick continental ice cap and its associated glaciers. However, along the coasts of this southernmost continent, the Antarctic ice sheets extend out over the coastal seas, forming thick, floating ice shelves.

Several of these prominent ice shelves collapsed during the past 50 years, and conventional thinking has been that the primary culprit for these collapses was atmospheric warming. …

Coastal towns, pumping their way into oblivion

Sinking Cities (Art by WM House; ArcheanArt — Contributing credits to The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai — Public Domain)

Jakarta, Venice, Miami, Houston, New Orleans, and Lagos all have one characteristic in common. They are physically sinking into the ground while global sea levels rise. They are receiving the double whammy. Of course, they are a small sample of the total land area submerging itself below the world’s oceans, but they make the headlines because of their large urban populations. The implication is, if we stopped climate change and sea level rise tomorrow, these cities would continue to disappear below the sea as their foundation sinks. It is reasonable to ponder how they got themselves into this mess. The…

Fused Glass Magic (Photo by WM House)

Color and Flowing Form on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Many paintings and almost all photos are a subset of a larger reality. A landscape takes only a portion of the whole vista. The chosen part of the view has a composition desired by the artists to make the viewer’s eye flow through the artwork. Even within a single painting, portions of the work can become art in their own right. One of Rembrandt’s more famous paintings, “The Night Watch,” has been on display since 1715, with only a portion of the original available for viewing. Its edges were cut off to fit the painting onto a wall in Amsterdam’s…

Exotic Terrane, Geologically Speaking

Coastal Mist (Art by WM House)

Oregon’s coastal mountains plunge into the Pacific Ocean, creating wet temperate rain forests along the northern coastline. There you can walk the beaches observing ever-changing scenery as ocean fog rolls in off the Pacific, and coastal mist flows oceanward from the mountains. This back and forth opens up stunning views and just as quickly closes them again.

The road trip from Portland, Oregon, to the northern coast takes about ninety minutes. State Highway 26, aka Sunset Highway, is a popular route for a summer day at the beach. But take a jacket since 80 degrees F in Portland can often…

What’s been going on for all this time?

Hey, Something’s Going on Over There — (Art by WM House)

Human beings are naturally egocentric and a bit self-absorbed. After all, we spend our days interacting with the world around us and we define the world through these daily interactions, with us as the center of attention. Of course things happen to other people, but we experience their responses remotely or second-hand, not as direct give and take between the world and our inner self. It’s understandable that we see ourselves as the center of action and meaning, and how this carries over into religion. But the reality is, Homo sapiens are latecomers to the party, and we may overrate…

Crimson, Violet, and Yellow (by WM House)

Scrolling Pictures

As human beings, we sometimes find ourselves trapped by our assumptions. What should a picture look like on a page? Landscape, portrait, square, and sometimes round are our usual choices. We see art in a gallery and, while it comes in various sizes, we can encompass the work in a single glance. I’m not saying we can understand or appreciate it in a single glance, but certainly, we see its top, bottom, and sides.

Art on a computer screen in Medium is a bit different. Formatting constraints can limit the width, and we strive to provide a height that accommodates…

William House

Exploring relationships between people and our planet — Stories and articles promoting science, art, environmental awareness, and human insights.

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