#FlashFiction: The End of Winter by Logan Streondj #robot #scifi #climate #jetstreams

nacreous_clouds_antarctica
A robot finds a climatic landmark in the green Arctic. about 800 words or a 4 minute read.

Mlahsh watched as Aqillutaq paddled his kayak to the shore of Little Cornwallis Island.
Softly the paddles descended and rose, with the rhythm of certainty and expectation.
The twilight grew brighter as the time approached the spring equinox.
Gently lapping the shore  the water looked to be near freezing in Mlahsh’s infravision.

“Here, in here. This is where I saw the ice when I was young, I’ll show you”, Aqillutaq got out of the kayak and lifted it upon the rocky shore. “Do you need help getting our Mlahsh?”

Mlahsh a  while cylinder with a dome on top, unfurled its arms and legs, and crawled towards the bow of the kayak. “no, but thank you for holding it steady”.  Mläsh’s rubber bottom feet contacted the shore, and it scrambled up the rocky slope to the bank.

Mläsh turned about, towards the Arctic ocean, — mentally noting Aqillutaq had still to secure the kayak. So Mläsh let his mind wander, he looked up at the twilight sky, and marvelled at the stratospheric clouds overhead — it hasn’t been since the early Eocene[1] that Earth has been crowned by them.  Some bubbles rose out of the water, more methane for the clouds.
nacreous_clouds_antarctica

Aqillutaq came along side and watched the iridescent nacreous clouds with Mläsh. “They are bigger and more beautiful than when I was young”. Aqillutaq had noticeable grey in his hair, Mläsh hypothesized that he either refused rejuvenating treatments on a traditional basis, or simply allowed his hair to go grey as a sign of his elder status. “This way, let me show you” Aqillutaq brushed aside some of the evergreen branches, that obscured a path into the forest[2].

“Thank you” Mläsh watched the branch drip onto the path, the fogs must have rolled through here only recently.  Mläsh recalled seeing a few wisps  hugging the waters as they paddled. It checked the seals on it’s dome, making sure they were water tight. “lead the way”.

They walked in silence for a while, as the forest dripped, and insects scurried. A few hares fled as they approached. “It wasn’t always like this, my great grandfather said, this was once a land of ice and snow for most of the year. We hunted on the great ice fields that grew, fishing, whaling, and catching seals for meat. Now, that is all gone, we raise musk ox and herd caribou for the tourists mainly.” His sentence ended in a sad note, perhaps disdain and a lack of acceptance for what was.

Mläsh made an acknowledging grunt, half wondering if being an environmental researcher lumped it in with the tourists. “As you may know Aqillutaq, once the cross equatorial jet streams[3] had stabilized, the subtropics and tropics blended, and eventually so did the poles. Now we have fairly homogeneous temperature worldwide, a greenhouse earth.”
beckwith1-800x430

Tfaf its weather baloon friend had once given Mläsh a ride along the jetstreams  which now that they spanned the globe, were high speed conduits for global blimp transportation.  While going a hundred or so kilometres an hour may seem slow by comparison to an airplane or ever a hyperloop, it is faster than sailing and the extremely low fuel requirements makes it worth while.

“Yes, I know little one. But you should know, that my ancestors were fierce hunters. And they shared the land with the fiercest of predators, bigger and hungrier than the lions of Africa.” Aqillutaq answered with a defensive tone as they continued going down the path,  the trees seeming to tower ever higher around them. Mläsh hypothesized that he was merely making rhetorical small talk, or informing it of things, he might tell other “tourists.”

starving_polar_bear_Svalbard
When the polar bears were dieing off from lack of sea ice[4], there was a short lived attempt to introduce them to Antarctica. But when they figured out they could eat breeding penguins, it was clear a choice would have to be made between the two. Naturally the United Sentients chose the Penguins, the mascots of their hereditary operating system, Linux[5]. The few that remain eat almost exclusively off the Arctic land.[6]

tux_in_android_robot_costume_1_by_whidden-d3aq9i2

“We’re here” Aqillutaq announced, as they reached a local depression in the terrain that had some water.  “It didn’t used to have so many trees,when I saw the ice and snow here last,  it was flatter, more open.”

“Thank you”, Mläsh  slowly walked around the large puddle, or perhaps small pond,  and scanned the area, with radar and other measurements.  “It seems by the local geography this is a frost pocket, so some of the coldest temperatures were reached here, even ones below freezing. But now, the trees are acting as a frost fence, so the local temperature stays above it.  I will add it to my records. The last known place of arctic winter”

FINISH

By Logan Streondj, inspired by the recent event of the jet stream becoming cross equatorial, and some other climate research.
CC-BY-SA

Glossary/ References
[1]Eocene polar stratospheric clouds https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eocene#Polar_stratospheric_clouds
[2] Redwood forests on Ellesmere Island https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metasequoia#Paleontology
[3]Equatorial jet stream http://www.rawstory.com/2016/06/unprecedented-scientists-declare-global-climate-emergency-after-jet-stream-crosses-equator/
[4] Polar bear starved to death http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/victim-climate-change-polar-bear-found-starved-death-looked-rug-f6C10865370
[5] Robot Operating System https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot_Operating_System
[6] Polar bears can survive on land http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140717-polar-bears-goose-eggs-global-warming-arctic-environment/

Aqillutaq: Inuit for “new snow”
Mlahsh/Mläsh: Pyash for “measure”

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