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Arctic ice melt doesn’t boost sea levels, so do we care? – FRANCE 24

Paris (AFP)

US government scientists reported Monday that the Arctic Ocean’s floating ice cover has shrivelled to its second lowest extent since satellite records began in 1979.

Until this month, only once in the last 42 years has Earth’s frozen skull cap covered less than four million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles).

The trend line is clear: sea ice extent has diminished 14 percent per decade over that period. The Arctic could see it’s first ice-free summer as early as 2035, researchers reported in Nature Climate Change last month.

But all that melting ice and snow does not directly boost sea levels any more than melted ice cubes make a glass of water overflow, which gives rise to an awkward question: who cares?

Granted, this would be bad news for polar bears, which are already on a glide path towards extinction, according to a recent study.

And yes, it would certainly mean a profound shift in the region’s marine ecosystems, from phytoplankton to whales.

But if our bottom-line concern is the impact on humanity, one might legitimately ask, “So what?”.

As it turns out, there are several reasons to be worried about the knock-on consequences of dwindling Arctic sea ice.

– Feedback loops –

Perhaps the most basic point to make, scientists say, is that a shrinking ice cap is not just a symptom of global warming, but a driver as well.

“Sea ice removal exposes dark ocean, which creates a powerful feedback mechanism,” Marco Tedesco, a geophysicist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, told AFP.

Freshly fallen snow reflects 80 percent of the Sun’s radiative force back into space.

But when that mirror-like surface is replaced by deep blue water, about the same percentage of Earth-heating energy is absorbed instead.

And we’re not talking about a postage stamp area here: the difference between the average ice cap minimum from 1979 to 1990 and the low point reported today — more than 3 million km2 — is twice the size of France, Germany and Spain combined.

The oceans have already soaked up 90 percent of the excess heat generated by manmade greenhouse gases, but at a terrible cost, including altered chemistry, massive marine heatwaves and dying coral reefs.

And at some point, scientists warn, that liquid heat sponge may simply become saturated.

– Altering ocean currents –

Earth’s complex climate system includes interlocking ocean currents driven by wind, tides and something called the thermohaline circulation, which is itself powered by changes in temperature (“thermo”) and salt concentration (“haline”).

Even small changes in this Great Ocean Conveyor Belt — which moves between poles and across all three major oceans — can have devastating climate impacts.

Nearly 13,000 years ago, for example, as Earth was transitioning out of an ice age into the interglacial period that allowed our species to thrive, global temperatures abruptly plunged several degrees Celsius. They jumped back up again about 1,000 years later.

Geological evidence suggests a slowdown in the thermohaline circulation caused by a massive and rapid influx of cold, fresh water from the Artic region was partly to blame.

“The fresh water from melting sea ice and grounded ice in Greenland perturbs and weakens the Gulf Stream,” part of the conveyor belt flowing in the Atlantic, said Xavier Fettweis, a research associate at the University of Liege in Belgium.

“This is what allows western Europe to have a temperate climate compared to the same latitude in North America.”

The massive ice sheet atop Greenland’s land mass saw a net loss of more than half-a-trillion tonnes last year, all of it flowing into the sea.

Unlike sea ice, which doesn’t increase sea levels when it melts, runoff from Greenland does.

That record amount was due in part to warmer air temperatures, which have risen twice as fast in the Arctic as for the planet as a whole.

But it was also caused by a change in weather patterns, notably an increase in sunny summer days.

“Some studies suggest that this increase in anticyclonic conditions in the Arctic in summer results in part from the minimum sea ice extent,” Fettweis told AFP.

– Bears on thin ice –

The current trajectory of climate change and the advent of ice-free summers — defined by the UN’s IPCC climate science panel as under one million km2 — would indeed starve polar bears into extinction by century’s end, according to a July study in Nature.

“Human-caused global warming means that polar bears have less and less sea ice to hunt on in the summer months,” Steven Amstrup, lead author of the study and chief scientist of Polar Bears International, told AFP.

“The ultimate trajectory of polar bears with unabated greenhouse gas emissions is disappearance.”

© 2020 AFP

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GeForce RTX 30 doesn’t include USB-C port because VirtualLink is dead – TweakTown

NVIDIA this week revealed the GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics card lineup, and you may have noticed that none of the cards include a USB-C port for VirtualLink support. It turns out that’s because the VirtualLink project is dead. Sadly, it never even got off the ground.

GeForce RTX 3src doesn't include USB-C port because VirtualLink is dead src1 | TweakTown.com

The VirtualLink connection was meant to be a revolutionary advancement in VR headset connectivity. It was supposed to be a single USB-C connection, which would deliver the video, audio, USB, and power signals from your computer to your VR headset in a single cable.

The specifications for the VirtualLink connection were established by the VirtualLink consortium, which comprised some of the VR industry’s biggest and most important players. Both NVIDIA and AMD were onboard, was were HTC, Oculus, Valve and Microsoft. With that kind of backing, VirtualLink appeared to have a lot of promise when it was announced in 2018.

Unfortunately, NVIDIA was the only company that really embraced the connection standard, and its support didn’t last very long. When the RTX 20 Series debuted, NVIDIA’s Founders Edition cards included a USB-C VirtualLink connection. However, third party AIB partners weren’t so supportive of the connection, and few of their cards had the port. By the time NVIDIA refreshed the 20 Series with the Super lineup, the VirtualLink port was already absent, but few people seemed to notice. Meanwhile, AMD never released a GPU with a VirtualLink port.

When Valve announced the Index VR headset, it also revealed an options VirtualLink connection, which gave us a glimmer of hope for budding standard. However, that hope was dashed when the company subsequently cancelled the adaptor citing stability issues with the connection. That was the last news we heard from the VirtualLink consortium about the project. We predicted then that VirtualLink was dead, and it appears that we right on the ball.

Since then, the project’s website has gone down and is now redirecting to the VirtualLink Wikipedia page. The VirtualLink consortium’s Chairman, NVIDIA’s Rambod Jacoby, has also moved on to a different role within NVIDIA. According to his LinkedIn page, Jacoby left the VR division and took on the principal product manager role for NVIDIA’s autonomous driving division in April 2019.

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doesn't Galaxy

The Galaxy Note 20 doesn’t come with headphones and that’s a good thing – CNET

samsung-galaxy-note-2src-9842

The new Galaxy Note 20 Ultra packs a lot of new features. But its box is missing one important thing.


James Martin/CNET

When you buy a Galaxy Note 20 or Note 20 Ultra you might notice that the box feels a little lighter than normal. No, it’s not the new plastic back on the Note 20 that’s causing that light feeling. The actual reason is that Samsung no longer includes a pair of wired headphones in boxes of its high-end phones. Pause and let that sink in. Are you outraged? Are you indifferent? Do you even use the included headphones that come with your phone? Is this a deal-breaker for you?

The news of Samsung’s headphone omission comes on the heels of rumors that Apple won’t include headphones or a power adapter in the box of the next iPhone, aka the iPhone 12. If that’s too extreme for you, Samsung does still include a charger in the box

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On the Note 20’s website there’s a “what’s in the box” section that is absent of any headphones. Samsung confirmed that all of this is true and that it won’t include wired headphones in the box for tphones sold in North America.

To quote Kent Brockman from The Simpsons when he thought space ants were invading Earth, “I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.”

It’s wonderful that the new Galaxy Note 20 phones omit headphones from the box. Think about how much e-waste this will minimize. Samsung could become a role model for other phone-makers who will hopefully follow suit. Earth isn’t really designed to handle yearly phone upgrades.

Here’s my attempt to answer all your questions about Samsung’s missing headphones.

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Does it really come with less?

I know people will be pissed that they’re paying $1,000-plus (that’s $50 more than last year’s Note 10) for a phone that comes with fewer things. In a physical sense there are fewer things in the box, which again can be beneficial for the environment.

Yet, I’d argue that both the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra come with more. You get 5G, a high refresh rate display (on the Ultra only), a faster processor, better telephoto cameras, longer OS upgrade support, higher resolution video, Gorilla Glass Victus (on the Ultra only), a faster S-Pen and larger screens.

Are you getting less value?

It doesn’t help that for years, Samsung made a point of highlighting the $99 value of its “included” wired headphones. So if last year’s Note 10 cost $950, shouldn’t the Note 20 cost $851?

That comes down to how much you value the improvements and new features that I mentioned earlier. As we’ve seen with other phones this year, like the Galaxy S20 line and OnePlus 8 line, 5G phones cost more. At least they do right now.

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Notice anything missing? Luckily, a charger is still included in the box with the Galaxy Note 20. 


Samsung

Do you really need another pair of ‘free’ headphones?

I’d challenge you to look around your house, in your car, bags or office (if you’re fortunate enough to access it right now). You might actually already have a pair of wired headphones that can work.

But this is a little more complicated. You need a pair of headphones with a USB-C connector. Last year, Samsung eliminated the headphone jack from the Note 10. So even if you do have headphones lying around, chances are they have a 3.5mm headphone jack and won’t be compatible with the new Note phones. Also the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra don’t come with a headset jack to USB-C dongle.

I don’t live in North America, why do I care?

You make a good point. If you don’t live in North America, you have nothing to worry about. Samsung will continue to include a pair of wired headphones with a USB-C connector in the box.

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If you need a pair of USB-C headphones that will work with the new Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung will send you a pair free.


James Martin/CNET

If I don’t have USB-C headphones what am I supposed to do?

Samsung has your back. If you need a pair of USB-C wired headphones, Samsung’s customer service will give you a pair for free. The company will even cover shipping and handling.

What about Bluetooth headphones?

That’s what Samsung is hoping people opt for, I’d wager. Not only is the wire gone, but you can use a pair of Bluetooth earbuds across your devices. A pair of wireless headphones like the new Galaxy Buds Live (nicknamed “Galaxy Beans”) cost $170. That is definitely a lot more than free. But you’re likely to keep a pair of wireless earbuds longer than a wired freebie.

Keep in mind, the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra can work with a number of Bluetooth headphones and earbuds. In fact, read this list of the best true wireless earbuds. If you’re looking to save money, check out this list of the best cheap true-wireless earbuds, in which the most expensive option is $52.

I’m out of questions, what should I do next?

Take a look at our ongoing review of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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