2023-09-15. Exploring Just How Extreme Future Storms Could Get. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/exploring-just-how-extreme-future-storms-could-get] By Sarah Stanley, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Storms that drop exceptionally high volumes of precipitation often cause flooding and otherwise imperil human safety, infrastructure, and ecosystems. As climate change progresses, such extreme events are likely to become even more intense and more frequent in many regions around the world. …Gessner et al. demonstrate a novel way to combine storm simulations with statistical approaches to better estimate how extreme future precipitation events could become. …analysis suggested that precipitation events much more intense than previously have been recorded will be possible in the near future in the region. …estimates indicating that near-future extreme events might result in precipitation volumes that are 30%–40% higher than those seen in past events. The researchers note that even higher precipitation magnitudes cannot be ruled out. …The researchers say the findings together suggest that the ensemble boosting and statistical approaches can complement each other well in efforts to estimate the intensity of future extreme events, providing a way to “stress test” the resilience of infrastructure and ecosystems in the face of such events. (Earth’s Future, https://doi.org/10.1029/2023EF003628, 2023)….
2023-08-02. ‘We’re changing the clouds.’ An unforeseen test of geoengineering is fueling record ocean warmth. [https://www.science.org/content/article/changing-clouds-unforeseen-test-geoengineering-fueling-record-ocean-warmth] By Paul Voosen, Science. Excerpt: …Regulations imposed in 2020 by the United Nations’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) have cut ships’ sulfur pollution by more than 80% and improved air quality worldwide. The reduction has also lessened the effect of sulfate particles in seeding and brightening the distinctive low-lying, reflective clouds that follow in the wake of ships and help cool the planet. The 2020 IMO rule “is a big natural experiment,” says Duncan Watson-Parris, an atmospheric physicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “We’re changing the clouds.” By dramatically reducing the number of ship tracks, the planet has warmed up faster, several new studies have found. That trend is magnified in the Atlantic, where maritime traffic is particularly dense. In the shipping corridors, the increased light represents a 50% boost to the warming effect of human carbon emissions. …The natural experiment created by the IMO rules is providing a rare opportunity for climate scientists to study a geoengineering scheme in action—although it is one that is working in the wrong direction. Indeed, one such strategy to slow global warming, called marine cloud brightening, would see ships inject salt particles back into the air, to make clouds more reflective. In Diamond’s view, the dramatic decline in ship tracks is clear evidence that humanity could cool off the planet significantly by brightening the clouds. “It suggests pretty strongly that if you wanted to do it on purpose, you could,” he says….
2023-06-29. Volcanoes’ Future Climate Effects May Exceed Standard Estimates. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/volcanoes-future-climate-effects-may-exceed-standard-estimates] By Sarah Stanley, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When volcanoes erupt, they often spew large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. This toxic, foul-smelling gas may then form tiny sulfate particles that particularly in the stratosphere, can influence Earth’s climate for months to many decades. In modeling future climate change, scientists have therefore incorporated the effects of volcanic eruptions. However, Chim et al. now show that there is a 95% chance that volcanic eruptions between 2015 and 2100 will release more sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than standard climate models currently assume….
2023-05-08. The Greenhouse Gas Burden of Inland Waters. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/the-greenhouse-gas-burden-of-inland-waters] By Aaron Sidder, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In a new pair of studies, a global team of scientists reassessed greenhouse gas emissions stemming from rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs. …The study authors found that inland waters contribute 5.5 petagrams of CO2 per year, of which one third emanates from South American rivers. Meanwhile, inland waters emit 82–135 teragrams of CH4 annually, one third of which comes from North American and Russian lakes. N2O emissions were comparatively small at 248–590 gigagrams N2O per year, and a quarter of N2O emissions stem from North American inland waters. …Inland waters could represent approximately 20% of the total global CH4 emissions, the authors found. In contrast, the contributions of inland waters to the global CO2 and N2O budgets are relatively minor….
2023-04-11. Climate models warn of possible ‘super El Niño’ before end of year. [https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/apr/12/climate-models-warn-of-possible-super-el-nino-before-end-of-year] By Graham Readfearn, The Guardian. Excerpt: Some models are raising the possibility later this year of an extreme, or “super El Niño”, that is marked by very high temperatures in a central region of the Pacific around the equator. The last extreme El Niño in 2016 helped push global temperatures to the highest on record, underpinned by human-caused global heating that sparked floods, droughts and disease outbreaks. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said in a Tuesday update that all seven models it had surveyed – including those from weather agencies in the UK, Japan and the US – showed sea surface temperatures passing the El Niño threshold by August….
2023-02-22. Finding Climate History in the Rafters of New York City Buildings. [https://eos.org/features/finding-climate-history-in-the-rafters-of-new-york-city-buildings] By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When renovating in the Big Apple, you might acquire a several-hundred-year-old climate database along with your new kitchen and bath. …Hidden in wooden joists and beams in New York City’s oldest buildings is the largest repository of old-growth timber in the eastern United States, said Rao. These timbers can hold valuable information about past climates—but it can be uncovered only if scientists can get their hands on the timbers before they go to a landfill. …Scientists and engineers estimate that 14,000 cubic meters of old-growth wood are removed from buildings in New York City (NYC) each year during demolitions or renovations; the city is continuously being remade. …Dendrochronology emerged as a tool for studying past events in the late 1800s, when an astronomer, Andrew E. Douglass, recorded the patterns of wide and narrow rings on ponderosa pine stumps near the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz. …Since then, tree rings have become a popular proxy to estimate past meteorological conditions. Ice cores, speleothems, and even bat guano have all revealed Earth’s ancient and historical secrets, but tree rings are unique because trees are so widespread. …The International Tree-Ring Data Bank at NOAA has more than 5,000 tree ring measurements from six continents. …Scientific findings from tree rings can advance climate science and inform regional policies. In 2004, an influential paper in Science suggested that the U.S. Southwest was in the midst of a long-term drought on the basis of tree ring records from the West spanning 600 years. Today, knowledge of this 22-year-long “megadrought” has prompted the widespread adoption of sustainable water practices….
2023-02-16. Scientists Wondered if Warming Caused Argentina’s Drought. The Answer: No. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/16/climate/argentina-drought.html] By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: Lack of rainfall that caused severe drought in Argentina and Uruguay last year was not made more likely by climate change, scientists said Thursday. But global warming was a factor in extreme heat experienced in both countries that made the drought worse, they said. The researchers, part of a loose-knit group called World Weather Attribution that studies recent extreme weather for signs of the influence of climate change, said that the rainfall shortage was a result of natural climate variability. Specifically, they said, the presence of La Niña, a climate pattern linked to below-normal sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific that influences weather around the world, most likely affected precipitation. La Niña usually occurs once every three to five years, often alternating with El Niño, which is linked to above-normal sea temperatures. But La Niña conditions have persisted for most of the past three years, and central South America has been drier than normal for most of that time….
2023-01-09. Relentless rain, record heat: study finds climate crisis worsened extreme weather. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/09/climate-crisis-extreme-weather-heat-rainfall-drought] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: …some of the most severe weather events that have occurred around the world in the past few years were made far more likely due to the climate crisis, new research has found. …The fingerprint of climate change is being identified across the planet. The risk of extreme drought across California and Nevada was made six times worse by the climate crisis and a strong periodical La Niña climate event from October 2020 to September 2021, while, conversely, extreme rainfall that deluged parts of the UK in May 2021 was 1.5 times more likely due to global heating. A severe hot spell in China in February 2021 was made between four and 20 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, while acute drought in Iran, which it experienced in 2021, is now 50% more likely because of the greenhouse gases humanity has pumped into the atmosphere. …The compendium of research, presented by Noaa at a conference on Monday, draws together some of the latest examples of climate attribution, where scientists have managed to pinpoint the influence of human-induced climate change upon individual weather events and disasters….
2022-12-07. Supercomputer re-creates one of the most famous pictures of Earth. [https://www.science.org/content/article/supercomputer-re-creates-one-most-famous-pictures-earth] By Paul Voosen, Science. Excerpt: Fifty years ago today, astronauts aboard Apollo 17, NASA’s last crewed mission to the Moon, took an iconic photograph of our planet. The image became known as the Blue Marble—the first fully illuminated picture of Earth, in color, taken by a person. Now, scientists have re-created that image (above) during a test run of a cutting-edge digital climate model. The model can simulate climatic phenomena, such as storms and ocean eddies, at 1-kilometer resolution, as much as 100 times sharper than typical global simulations. …the European Union’s Destination Earth project …aims to create a “digital twin” of Earth to better forecast extreme weather and guide preparation plans….
2022-12-04. The Texas Group Waging a National Crusade Against Climate Action. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/04/climate/texas-public-policy-foundation-climate-change.html] By David Gelles. The New York Times. Excerpt: When a lawsuit was filed to block the nation’s first major offshore wind farm off the Massachusetts coast, it appeared to be a straightforward clash between those who earn their living from the sea and others who would install turbines and underwater cables that could interfere with the harvesting of squid, fluke and other fish. The fishing companies challenging federal permits for the Vineyard Wind project were from the Bay State as well as Rhode Island and New York, and a video made by the opponents featured a bearded fisherman with a distinct New England accent. But the financial muscle behind the fight originated thousands of miles from the Atlantic Ocean, in dusty oil country. The group bankrolling the lawsuit filed last year was the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based nonprofit organization backed by oil and gas companies and Republican donors. With influence campaigns, legal action and model legislation, the group is promoting fossil fuels and trying to stall the American economy’s transition toward renewable energy….
2022-07-28. Climate Change Worsened Britain’s Heat Wave, Scientists Find. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/28/climate/britain-heat-wave-climate-change.html] By Raymond Zhong, The New York Times. Excerpt: The heat that demolished records in Britain last week, bringing temperatures as high as 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit to a country unaccustomed to scorching summers, would have been “extremely unlikely” without the influence of human-caused climate change, a new scientific report issued Thursday has found. … those temperatures were at least 10 times as likely as they would have been in a world without greenhouse-gas emissions, and at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit hotter. …As the burning of fossil fuels causes average global temperatures to rise, the range of possible temperatures shifts upward, too, making blistering highs more likely. …trains were slowed out of fear that the steel rails could buckle in the heat. Grass fires spread to London homes, shops and vehicles in what the city described as the Fire Brigade’s busiest day since World War II. More than 840 more people may have died in England and Wales than would have been typical, according to preliminary analysis using peer-reviewed methodology. …The report on last week’s heat was produced by World Weather Attribution, an alliance of climate scientists that specializes in rapid studies of extreme weather events to evaluate the degree to which global warming was behind them. Using computer simulations, the scientists compare the existing world, in which humans have spent more than a century adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, to a world that might have been without that activity.…
2022-06-28. Climate change role clear in many extreme events but social factors also key, study finds. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/28/climate-change-heatwaves-droughts-study-weather] By Sofia Quaglia, The Guardian. Excerpt: Climate change is to blame for the majority of the heatwaves being recorded around the planet but the relation to other extreme events and their impacts on society is less clear, according to a study. “I think on the one hand we overestimate climate change because it’s now quite common that every time an extreme event happens, there is a big assumption that climate change is playing a big role, which is not always the case,” said Friederike Otto, a climate change and environment professor at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, who was one of the lead authors of the research. “But on the other hand, we really underestimate those events where climate change does play a role in what the costs are, especially the non-economic costs of extreme weather events to our societies.” In the study published in the journal Environmental Research: Climate fromIOP Publishing, Otto’s team used “attribution science” to pore over available international data, literature and climate models – as well as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports – and calculate how human-induced climate change is affecting the impact of five types of extreme weather events: heatwaves, heavy rainfall, drought, wildfires and tropical cyclones. They say that in the case of heatwaves, the role of climate change is unequivocal, and that the average and extreme heat levels in every continent across the globe are increasing specifically because of human-caused climate change.…
2022-06-24. A Hail of a Night in Mexico. [https://eos.org/articles/a-hail-of-a-night-in-mexico] By Humberto Basilio, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When a severe hailstorm hit Mexico’s capital last week, citizens began to wonder whether climate change could be the cause. But is that the right question to ask? …Approximately 20 metric tons of hail collapsed the 1,000-square-meter roof of the local supermarket. …more than a dozen other incidents were reported that night in the Álvaro Obregón, Benito Juárez, Iztapalapa, and Coyoacán municipalities. …Although hail is frequent in Mexico City during the spring-summer transition, citizens were surprised by the sheer volume covering the highways and houses on 12 June. …Still, for Jorge García, a climate physicist at Columbia University, the problem is that the question being asked (“Is this severe weather caused by climate change?”) is wrongly formulated from the start. Extreme weather events have always existed; none of them are specifically, solely “caused” by climate change. But climate change has affected the atmosphere in which all these events happen, and that influences the severity of the events. …So instead of asking whether anthropogenic climate change caused the hailstorm, García said that “what we can ask ourselves is how climate change affected the amount of hail and the probability of having this storm that turned the whole city white. Would this storm have been the same 100 years ago? Most likely not.”.…
2022-06-16. Record-shattering events spur advances in tying climate change to extreme weather. [https://www.science.org/content/article/record-shattering-events-spur-advances-in-tying-climate-change-to-extreme-weather] By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In June 2021, a jet stream charged with heat and chaotic energy from a nearby cyclonestalled over the Pacific Northwest. The mass of trapped air baked the already hot landscape below to a record 49.6°C. More than 1000 people died from heat exposure. Scientists quickly began working to figure out how much of the blame for the heat wave could be laid to global warming. …the World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative…ultimately issued a statement, finding the heat wave was “virtually impossible” without global warming. But…that statement masked plenty of doubts. …new approaches promise to increase the field’s rigor and more precisely capture the relationship between climate change and extreme weather—even for events so extreme that there is no historical record for comparison. …WWA no longer relies on a single climate model, says Friederike Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London; instead, it uses a suite of models to compare extreme events in preindustrial and greenhouse climates. The group has also standardized how it defines and categorizes an extreme event, a choice that’s critical when hunting for and tallying up similar events in the models.…
2022-05-04. Use of ‘too hot’ climate models exaggerates impacts of global warming. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: One study suggests Arctic rainfall will become dominant in the 2060s, decades earlier than expected. Another claims air pollution from forest fires in the western United States could triple by 2100. A third says a mass ocean extinction could arrive in just a few centuries. All three studies, published in the past year, rely on projections of the future produced by some of the world’s next-generation climate models. But even the modelmakers acknowledge that many of these models have a glaring problem: predicting a future that gets too hot too fast. Although modelmakers are adapting to this reality, researchers who use the model projections to gauge the impacts of climate change have yet to follow suit. That has resulted in a parade of “faster than expected” results that threatens to undermine the credibility of climate science, some researchers fear. Scientists need to get much choosier in how they use model results, a group of climate scientists argues in a commentary published today in Nature. Researchers should no longer simply use the average of all the climate model projections, which can result in global temperatures by 2100 up to 0.7°C warmer than an estimate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). …says Zeke Hausfather, climate research lead at payment services company Stripe and lead author of the commentary. “We must move away from the naïve idea of model democracy.” Instead, he and his colleagues call for a model meritocracy, prioritizing, at times, results from models known to have more realistic warming rates.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/use-too-hot-climate-models-exaggerates-impacts-global-warming]
2022-05-03. The Ocean Is Still Sucking Up Carbon—Maybe More Than We Think. By Nancy Averett, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Recent studies looking at carbon-sequestering microbes suggest we still have a lot to learn about the ocean’s biological carbon pump. The ocean plays a critical role in carbon sequestration. Phytoplankton, which live on the warm, light-filled surface, suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere for food. They also need nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from colder, heavier, saltier water that upwells into warmer layers. When phytoplankton die, they sink, bringing some of the carbon and other nutrients they consumed with them back to the ocean depths. Key to this circular process, known as the ocean’s biological carbon pump, is the vertical mixing of the surface and deeper water layers, which occurs through such mechanisms as currents, winds, and tides. …traditional scientific models have long predicted that as the planet warms, this process would be disrupted, phytoplankton would be unable to thrive, and the ocean would sequester less carbon. Now, two studies have shown the limits of such models. One found evidence that phytoplankton may become more efficient as the ocean warms. The other reported the discovery of a new, widely distributed ocean microbe species that also has the potential to sequester carbon.… [https://eos.org/articles/the-ocean-is-still-sucking-up-carbon-maybe-more-than-we-think]
2022-04-12. Most Active Hurricane Season Was Also Wetter Because of Climate Change. By Maggie Astor, The New York Times. Excerpt: During the record-setting 2020 Atlantic storm season, the most extreme three-hour rainfall rates were 10 percent higher than they would have been without climate change, a new study found. …During the official 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which ran from June through November, the average sea surface temperature in the Atlantic Ocean was more than 27 degrees Celsius, or 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used modeling to estimate that the average temperature would have been 0.4 to 0.9 degrees Celsius lower without the effects of climate change. The researchers then simulated a hypothetical season without those 0.4 to 0.9 degrees Celsius in human-caused warming, and compared the rainfall rates and totals to models of the actual season.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/12/climate/climate-change-hurricane-rain.html]
2022-02-11. New Perspectives on the Enigma of Expanding Antarctic Sea Ice. By Edward Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, Ian Eisenman, Sally Zhang, Shantong Sun and Aaron Donohoe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: …The extent of Antarctic sea ice varies greatly from year to year, but 40 years of satellite records show a long-term trend. Although some Antarctic regions have experienced reductions in sea ice extent, the overall trend since 1979 shows increased ice. The increase in Antarctic sea ice extent stands in stark contrast to conditions in the Arctic, where sea ice extent has declined significantly—by about 2 million square kilometers, or about 20%, over the past 40 years. Much of the observed loss of Arctic sea ice, which is in general agreement with expectations from climate models, has been attributed to anthropogenic global warming. The trend in Antarctic sea ice, meanwhile, has confounded scientists—most climate models indicate that Antarctic sea ice extent should have decreased over the past several decades. Here we discuss results from three recent independent studies that all applied a “nudging” technique to the same climate model to study the influences of different processes on Antarctic sea ice extent.… [https://eos.org/science-updates/new-perspectives-on-the-enigma-of-expanding-antarctic-sea-ice]
2021-04-19. The Science of Climate Change Explained: Facts, Evidence and Proof. By Julia Rosen, The New York Times. Excerpt: The science of climate change is more solid and widely agreed upon than you might think. But the scope of the topic, as well as rampant disinformation, can make it hard to separate fact from fiction. Here, we’ve done our best to present you with not only the most accurate scientific information, but also an explanation of how we know it. [Topics:]
- How do we know climate change is really happening?
- How much agreement is there among scientists about climate change?
- Do we really only have 150 years of climate data? How is that enough to tell us about centuries of change?
- How do we know climate change is caused by humans?
- Since greenhouse gases occur naturally, how do we know they’re causing Earth’s temperature to rise?
- Why should we be worried that the planet has warmed 2°F since the 1800s?
- Is climate change a part of the planet’s natural warming and cooling cycles?
- How do we know global warming is not because of the sun or volcanoes?
- How can winters and certain places be getting colder if the planet is warming?
- Wildfires and bad weather have always happened. How do we know there’s a connection to climate change?
- How bad are the effects of climate change going to be?
- What will it cost to do something about climate change, versus doing nothing?
[https://www.nytimes.com/article/climate-change-global-warming-faq.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.
2021-03-15. Building a Better Model to View Earth’s Interacting Processes. By Gokhan Danabasoglu and Jean-François Lamarque, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Earth’s climate is the result of a complex network of interacting systems: air currents, ocean biogeochemistry, mountain ranges, and ice sheets, to name a few. Understanding how our climate evolves and predicting what it will look like under various scenarios require comparing and combining multiple models and simulations, each with its own strengths and focus areas. Earth science researchers are currently putting the most recent release of one such modeling system through its paces. The open-source Community Earth System Model (CESM) modeling framework is used for many purposes, including investigations of past and current climate, projections of future climate change, and subseasonal-to-decadal Earth system predictions. Its latest version, CESM2, was released in June 2018, followed by several incremental releases that included additional, readily available model configurations. Compared with its predecessor, CESM2 offers researchers new capabilities, including more realistic representations of changes in Greenland’s ice sheet and interactions of agricultural crops with the Earth system, as well as detailed models of clouds and wind-driven ocean waves. …The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and the transient climate response (TCR) are two properties that emerge from the coupled simulations. ECS represents the equilibrium change in global mean surface temperature after a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), and TCR represents the change in global mean surface temperature around the time of CO2 doubling when CO2 increases by 1% per year. CESM2 ECS values of 5.1°C–5.3°C are considerably higher than those produced by its previous versions, which had ECS values of about 4.0°C…. [https://eos.org/opinions/building-a-better-model-to-view-earths-interacting-processes]
2021-01-12. A Late Burst of Climate Denial Extends the Era of Trump Disinformation. By Lisa Friedman and Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times. Excerpt: The White House science office on Tuesday reassigned two administration officials who posted a series of debunked scientific reports denying the existence and significance of man-made climate change, purportedly on behalf of the United States government. …David Legates, who served as the head of the United States Global Change Research Program, and Ryan Maue, a senior official at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, … worked together to post the reports on a climate denial website without the knowledge of the director of the White House science office, Kelvin Droegemeier, two administration officials confirmed…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/climate/trump-disinformation-climate-change.html]
2020-11-25. A 50-Year-Old Global Warming Forecast That Still Holds Up. By Andrei Lapenis, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In 1972, Mikhail Ivanovich Budyko used a simple methodology to make climate predictions that remain surprisingly accurate today and that could serve as a new “business-as-usual” scenario. …He predicted that Earth’s mean global temperature would increase about 2.25°C by 2070 and that the Arctic would no longer be covered by ice year-round by 2050 [Budyko, 1972]. (Budyko briefly discussed the part of his forecast dealing with Arctic ice in a 1972 Eos article cited more than 100 times since.) Despite his confidence in his work, he cautioned that his estimates were made under assumptions of a significantly simplified climate system and should be viewed accordingly [Budyko, 1972], so it might have surprised him to see how closely actual events aligned with his predictions. Comparing 2019 to 1970, Budyko predicted an increase in the global mean temperature of 1°C and the disappearance of about 50% of Arctic multiyear ice. Observations have borne out these trends, demonstrating that mean global temperature increased by 0.98°C over this period and that the extent of multiyear Arctic sea ice in September 2019 was about 46% smaller than in 1970… [https://eos.org/features/a-50-year-old-global-warming-forecast-that-still-holds-up]
2020-08-06. ‘Extremely active’ hurricane season possible for Atlantic Basin. By NOAA. Excerpt: Atmospheric and oceanic conditions are primed to fuel storm development in the Atlantic, leading to what could be an “extremely active” season, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. …Historically, only two named storms form on average by early August, and the ninth named storm typically does not form until October 4. An average season produces 12 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5). “This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks. …The updated outlook calls for 19-25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 7-11 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 3-6 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This update covers the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, and includes the nine named storms to date…. [https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/extremely-active-hurricane-season-possible-for-atlantic-basin]
2020-07-14. June 2020: third-hottest June on record. By Tom Di Liberto, NOAA. Excerpt: After five consecutive months to start the year that were either the warmest or second warmest on record, June 2020 finally broke the streak by becoming only the [drumroll] third-warmest June on record. 2020’s heat has been relentless. The blazing first half of 2020 has made it incredibly likely that 2020 will finish the year as one of the five warmest years on record. There’s even around a 35% chance 2020 will dethrone 2016 as the warmest on record. For more information on global temperatures and precipitation in June 2020, check out the June 2020 global climate summary [https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/202006] by the National Centers for Environmental Information…. [https://www.climate.gov/news-features/featured-images/june-2020-third-hottest-june-record].
2020-07-22. After 40 years, researchers finally see Earth’s climate destiny more clearly. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: It seems like such a simple question: How hot is Earth going to get? Yet for 40 years, climate scientists have repeated the same unsatisfying answer: If humans double atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from preindustrial levels, the planet will eventually warm between 1.5°C and 4.5°C—a temperature range that encompasses everything from a merely troubling rise to a catastrophic one. Now, in a landmark effort, a team of 25 scientists has significantly narrowed the bounds on this critical factor, known as climate sensitivity. The assessment [see the assessment], conducted under the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and publishing this week in Reviews of Geophysics, relies on three strands of evidence: trends indicated by contemporary warming, the latest understanding of the feedback effects that can slow or accelerate climate change, and lessons from ancient climates. They support a likely warming range of between 2.6°C and 3.9°C, says Steven Sherwood, one of the study’s lead authors and a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales. “This is the number that really controls how bad global warming is going to be.”… [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/after-40-years-researchers-finally-see-earths-climate-destiny-more-clearly] See also “Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenarios” by Andrew Freedman and Chris Mooney, The Washington Post [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/07/22/climate-sensitivity-co2/] and similar New York Times article [https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/22/climate/global-warming-temperature-range.html]
2020-06. Michael Mann Fought Climate Denial. Now He’s Fighting Climate Doom. By Bryan Schatz, California Magazine. Excerpt: The climatologist is taking on both the fossil fuel lobby and those who think the climate fight is futile. ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. …Death threats weren’t exactly the kind of thing Mann ’89 had imagined as an undergrad at Cal, when he was first thinking about a life in academia. But his career as a climate scientist had attracted some very powerful and determined enemies. Over the years, he’d gotten used to verbal attacks and idle threats, but this was on a different level. He began to worry about his family’s safety. In the end, the powder proved to be cornstarch, but police gave Mann a hotline number just in case. He and his wife put it on the refrigerator. Mann’s troubles started a decade earlier. It was 1998 and the young scientist, then a postdoc at UMass Amherst, co-authored a study with the innocuous title, “Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries.” [https://www.nature.com/articles/33859] Published in the journal Nature that April, the paper aimed to reconstruct Earth’s temperatures going back six centuries. …Mann and his collaborators relied on “proxy records”…. To climatologist Jerry D. Mahlman, the graph of the data looked like an upturned hockey stick—the long period of relatively stable temperatures formed the shaft, the last century’s spike was the blade. The image stuck, and it has been known ever since as the “hockey stick graph,” …. When Mann received the powder-filled envelope, he was in the thick of another hyped-up scandal dubbed “Climategate,” in which contrarians heisted more than 1,000 emails from Mann and other prominent climate scientists, took them out of context, and claimed they revealed an unparalleled level of scientific wrongdoing. (They didn’t.) …MANN WAS FURTHER VINDICATED in October 2007 when he was one of hundreds of scientists who shared in the Nobel Peace Prize, along with former Vice President Al Gore. Mann was one of two scientists the IPCC singled out for their personal sacrifices…. [https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/summer-2020/michael-mann-on-climate-denial-and-doom] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.
2020-05-14. A Revised View of Australia’s Future Climate. By David Shultz, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Efforts to understand how climate change will unfold under various emissions scenarios rely on the sophisticated computer models of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), which combines dozens of models to create as complete a picture of Earth’s climate as possible. … limiting global warming to less than 2°C—the goal established in the Paris Agreement—will require larger emissions reductions than previously thought. (Earth’s Future, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EF001469, 2020)…. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/a-revised-view-of-australias-future-climate]
2020-05-12. Aircraft spies gravity waves being sucked into Antarctica’s polar vortex. By Eric Hand, Science Magazine. Excerpt: The Southern Ocean is famously stormy, home to waves taller than telephone poles. Yet 50 kilometers overhead, the weather is just as tempestuous, if less obviously so. Powerful waves in the air break and crash, dumping energy into the stratosphere and disrupting winds that help control the climate. …Around the world, gravity waves often arise when winds shove air over a mountain range, although storms and jet streams can also touch them off. In each case, a parcel of air gets pushed up, and gravity pulls it down. It overshoots and bobs back up. When confined by overhead winds, the train of undulating air parcels plows ahead horizontally, leading to so-called lee waves that can shake up commercial flights. … Some gravity waves crash in the upper stratosphere, about 50 kilometers up, but most keep rising into the mesosphere, where they can be seen causing ripples in the fluorescent glow of air molecules 90 kilometers up. They are even thought to create giant bubbles of plasma in the ionosphere more than 200 kilometers up, halfway to the International Space Station, causing trouble for radio communications. …climate modelers struggle to take the waves into account. That’s not only because their sources are so variable, but also because their wavelengths of tens of kilometers can be smaller than the size of the grids that modelers break up Earth’s atmosphere into…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/aircraft-spies-gravity-waves-being-sucked-antarctica-s-polar-vortex]
2020-03-26. Ancient warming threw this crucial Atlantic current into chaos. It could happen again. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: The Atlantic Ocean’s “conveyor belt,” a powerful current that drags warm water north before submerging it in the North Atlantic, has been humankind’s constant companion. For 8000 years, it has held steady, nourishing Western Europe with tropical warmth. But a new study of the current’s strength over the past half-million years suggests global warming may not shut down the current any time soon, as some scientists fear. Instead, it could trigger a replay of ancient events, when multiple bouts of warming caused rapid, centurylong swings in the current’s strength, sowing climate chaos that may have alternately chilled and warmed Europe…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/ancient-warming-threw-crucial-atlantic-current-chaos-it-could-happen-again#]
2020-03-17. Prominent U.S. climate denial group fires president amid financial crisis. By Scott Waldman, E&E News. Excerpt: The Heartland Institute is undergoing its second leadership change in less than a year. The group, which rejects climate science, is ousting its president, Frank Lasée, after being buffeted by financial turbulence that led to significant layoffs, according to two sources close to Heartland…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/prominent-us-climate-denial-group-fires-president-amid-financial-crisis]
2019-12-04. Early climate modelers got global warming right, new report finds. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. [https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/12/04/early-climate-modelers-got-global-warming-right-new-report-finds] Excerpt: Climate skeptics have long raised doubts about the accuracy of computer models that predict global warming, but it turns out that most of the early climate models were spot-on, according to a look-back by climate scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA. Of 17 climate models published between the early 1970s and the late 2000s, 14 were quite accurate in predicting the average global temperature in the years after publication, said Zeke Hausfather, a doctoral student in UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group and lead author of a new paper analyzing the models. “The real message is that the warming we have experienced is pretty much exactly what climate models predicted it would be as much as 30 years ago,” he said. “This really gives us more confidence that today’s models are getting things largely right as well.” The results were published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and will appear, with Hausfather as a contributing author, as part of the first chapter of the next climate assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due out in 2021. …One of the iconic climate models, and one that first brought the issue of climate change to broad public attention, was published by James Hansen of NASA in 1988. However, his predictions for temperatures after 1988 were 50% higher than the actual global mean temperatures in those years. That is in part because Hanson did not anticipate the Montreal Protocol, a treaty that went into effect in 1989 and which banned chlorofluorocarbons, which are potent greenhouse gases. His estimates of future methane emissions were also off, Hausfather said. “If you account for these and look at the relationship in his model between temperature and radiative forcing, which is CO2 and other greenhouse gases, he gets it pretty much dead on,” he said. “So the physics of his model was right. The relationship between how much CO2 there is in the atmosphere and how much warming you get, was right. He just got the future emissions wrong.” Most of the other models also accurately predicted the average temperature when they were given real-world greenhouse gas levels….
2019-10-01. Human Activity Outpaces Volcanoes, Asteroids in Releasing Deep Carbon. By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/human-activity-outpaces-volcanoes-asteroids-in-releasing-deep-carbon] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7 and Life and Climate chapter 9. Excerpt: Of the 1.85 billion billion metric tons of carbon that exist on Earth, 99.8% exists belowground, according to new reports on deep carbon. The research estimates that human activity annually releases into the atmosphere around 40 to 100 times as much carbon dioxide as does all volcanic activity. That’s also a slightly higher rate of carbon emission than Earth experienced just after the asteroid impact that likely killed the dinosaurs, the researchers found. …The new reports summarize 10 years of field data collection, lab experiments, and computer modeling of the origin of Earth’s carbon, how it circulates throughout the Earth system, and extreme events that can upset Earth’s carbon balance….
2019-09-16. A New Proxy for Past Precipitation. By Kate Wheeling, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/a-new-proxy-for-past-precipitation] Excerpt: To understand our rapidly changing climate, researchers often look back at how Earth’s climate has behaved in the past. Marine sediment cores, like tree rings, can provide a log of former environmental conditions, allowing scientists to infer everything from the temperature and salinity of the oceans to precipitation rates on land. …Here Mendes et al. [https://doi.org/10.1029/2019PA003691] describe a new proxy for determining past precipitation from marine sediment cores using luminescence signals from feldspar and quartz grains. Together with other reconstructive methods, the new technique can provide a more complete picture of precipitation and continental erosion, the team notes. …The team showed that the results from the new proxy generally agree with those from other proxies of precipitation in marine cores, as well as model simulations. The authors also confirmed the occurrence of other, shorter periods of increased precipitation that were suggested in a 2009 analysis of stalagmites in Brazil. The new study provides an elegant and inexpensive way to bolster reconstructions of Earth’s paleoclimate—critical information for researchers and policy makers planning for the future….
2019-05-23. Humans held responsible for twists and turns of climate change since 1900. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/humans-held-responsible-twists-and-turns-climate-change-1900] Excerpt: While industry and agriculture belched greenhouse gases at an increasing pace through the 20th century, global temperature followed a jagged course, surging for 3 decades starting in 1915, leveling off from the 1950s to the late 1970s, and then resuming its climb. For decades, scientists have chalked up these early swings to the planet’s internal variability—in particular, a climatic pacemaker called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), which is characterized by long-term shifts in ocean temperatures. But researchers areincreasingly questioningwhether the AMO played the dominant role once thought. The oceanic pacemaker seems to be fluttering. It is now possible to explainthe record’s twists and turnsalmost entirely without the AMO, says Karsten Haustein, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and lead author of a new study published this month in the Journal of Climate. … “It’s very unlikely there’s this ocean leprechaun that produces cyclicity that we don’t know about,” Haustein says—which means it is also unlikely that a future cool swing in the AMO will blunt the ongoing human-driven warming. Others aren’t convinced the “leprechaun” is entirely vanquished. “They are probably right in that [the AMO] is not as big a player globally as has sometimes been thought,” says Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. …If a grand ocean oscillation isn’t shaping climate, a future ocean cooling is unlikely to buy society time to address global warming. But the demise of the AMO also might make it easier to predict what is in store….
2019-05-22. A 500-million-year survey of Earth’s climate reveals dire warning for humanity. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/500-million-year-survey-earths-climate-reveals-dire-warning-humanity] Excerpt: When it opens next month, the revamped fossil hallof the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., will be more than a vault of dinosaur bones. It will show how Earth’s climate has shifted over the eons, driving radical changes in life, and how, in the modern age, one form of life—humans—is, in turn, transforming the climate. To tell that story, Scott Wing and Brian Huber, a paleobotanist and paleontologist, respectively, at the museum, wanted to chart swings in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past 500 million years or so. The two researchers also thought a temperature curve could counter climate contrarians’ claim that global warming is no concern because Earth was much hotter millions of years ago. Wing and Huber wanted to show the reality of ancient temperature extremes—and how rapid shifts between them have led to mass extinctions. Abrupt climate changes, Wing says, “have catastrophic side effects that are really hard to adapt to.” But actually making the chart was unexpectedly challenging—and triggered a major effort to reconstruct the record. Although far from complete, the research is already showing that some ancient climates were even more extreme than was thought….
2019-04-11. Very Warm Water Observed Along West Antarctic Ice Shelf. By Terri Cook, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/very-warm-water-observed-along-west-antarctic-ice-shelf] Excerpt: Two years of mooring observations at the edge of the continental shelf show that wind stress and upwelling control the inflow of some of the warmest water observed at an ice shelf front in Antarctica. …One of the most important sources of the dense, oxygen- and nutrient-rich bottom waters that drive global ocean circulation is Antarctica’s Ross Sea. The cold, salty waters that form in this deep embayment play a crucial role in regulating heat and the availability of oxygen and vital nutrients throughout the world’s oceans. …The data show there is a continual flow of Circumpolar Deep Water through the Siple Trough. Although this water often undergoes slight cooling or freshening as it approaches the continent, the data indicate there are frequent occasions when undiluted deep water up to 1.5°C—some of the warmest ever observed at an ice shelf front in Antarctica—reaches the western Getz Ice Shelf front. The authors’ analysis indicates that a combination of wind stress and upwelling at the edge of the continental shelf controls the presence of the warm deep water in this area, although the authors caution that the paucity of data from this region limits their ability to draw robust conclusions. Regardless, this paper is likely to be of great interest to oceanographers and climate scientists who are grappling with the rapid changes occurring in a region with wide-ranging impacts on Earth’s oceans….
2019-04-05. What Climate Models Get Wrong About Future Water Availability. By Emily Underwood, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/what-climate-models-get-wrong-about-future-water-availability] Excerpt: One of the most challenging questions about climate change is how Earth’s warming atmosphere will affect water availability across the globe. Climate models present a range of possible scenarios—some more extreme than others [https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/todays-drought-in-the-west-is-nothing-compared-to-what-may-be-coming/2015/02/12/0041646a-b2d9-11e4-854b-a38d13486ba1_story.html]—which can make it difficult for cities, states, and countries to plan ahead. Now, however, in a new study, Padrón et al. [https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2018GL080521] suggest a way to reduce uncertainty using precipitation patterns from the past. …sometimes proposed in the past was that dry regions will get drier and wet regions will get wetter…. …historically accurate models lacked many of the extreme changes that the full ensemble of climate models predicted…. Although the possibility of extreme drying in Europe, western North America, and South Africa remained, for example, these models predicted that it would be 5 times less likely to occur compared to the prediction by the full 36-model ensemble. …previous projections of very extreme future changes in water availability were less likely to occur on more than 70% of Earth’s land surface. The historically skillful models held some other surprises, including a higher confidence of drying in the Amazon, where the 36-model ensemble predictions are inconclusive….
2019-03-05. Improving Estimates of Long-Term Climate Sensitivity. By Terri Cook, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/improving-estimates-of-long-term-climate-sensitivity] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7. Excerpt: New modeling casts doubt on the suitability of running experiments with fixed sea surface temperatures to understand the effects of cloud aggregation on Earth’s climate. One of the fundamental metrics in climate change research is equilibrium climate sensitivity: the amount that Earth’s long-term, near-surface temperatures will change in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Previous research has shown that two spatially dependent processes—the variability of sea surface temperatures and the organization of initially scattered convection (known as convective aggregation)—largely control climate sensitivity by regulating feedbacks related to clouds and water vapor that can amplify or moderate Earth’s ability to radiate heat into space. …aggregation could actually depend upon sea surface temperature patterns….
2018-10-24. How Scientists Cracked the Climate Change Case. By Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. [https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/24/opinion/climate-change-global-warming-trump.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7. Excerpt: The latest report from the world’s climate scientists has made clear the size of the challenge if the world is to stay below the global warming limit hoped for in the Paris climate agreement. Unfortunately, with current trends we are likely to cross this threshold within the next two decades because we are already two-thirds of the way there. But how do we know what is driving these climate trends? It comes down to the same kind of detective work that typifies a crime scene investigation, only here we are dealing with a case that encompasses the whole world. Let me give you my view, which does not necessarily represent the position of NASA or the federal government….
2018-09-21. This ice-covered Icelandic volcano may emit more carbon dioxide than all of the country’s other volcanoes combined. By Sid Perkins, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/ice-covered-icelandic-volcano-may-emit-more-carbon-dioxide-all-country-s-other] Excerpt: Despite being mostly smothered by a glacier averaging 200 meters thick, one of Iceland’s largest and most active volcanoes still manages to belch surprisingly large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, new research reveals. To help lift the veil on Katla … which lies near the southernmost tip of Iceland, researchers flew a sensor-laden aircraft around the peak at low altitude three times in 2016 and 2017. At some points near the volcano, CO2 levels were about 8% higher than normal. …Katla is emitting somewhere between 12,000 and 24,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each day … several times higher than previous estimates of emissions from all of Iceland’s volcanoes combined—which may be vastly underestimated because only two of that nation’s subglacial volcanoes have had their emissions measured in detail. Scientists estimate that volcanoes worldwide emit, on average, about 1.5 metric tons of CO2 per day (only about 2% of the amount that human activity causes). Yet that estimate may be far too low because it’s based on measurements from only 33 of the world’s most volcanically active peaks (only three of which are ice-covered), among the 1500 or so that have erupted in the past 10,000 years….
2018-09-04. Better Data for Modeling the Sun’s Influence on Climate. By T. Dudok de Wit, B. Funke, M. Haberreiter, and K. Matthes, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/project-updates/better-data-for-modeling-the-suns-influence-on-climate] Excerpt: Several international initiatives are working to stitch together data describing solar forcing of Earth’s climate. Their objective is to improve understanding of climate response to solar variability. …Compared to other stars, our Sun is a remarkably steady source of light and heat, but its output does vary. …how (and how much) does the Sun’s variability affect the climate here on Earth? The role of solar variability in recent global warming is not just a bone of contention; it is also a question of overriding importance for the scientific understanding of our Sun and of climate change. …Solar variability affects Earth’s climate in many intricate and nonlinear ways. Most effects are ultimately driven and modulated by the solar magnetic field and its conspicuous solar cycle, which repeats approximately every 11 years. …The effect of solar variability on climate is mostly hidden in the natural variability of the climate system; thus, careful statistical analysis is required to extract it from a noisy background. Such analyses require records that extend over a long period of time, but the paucity of observations in existing records poses a serious challenge. For example, scientists have been making direct measurements (from space) of the total solar radiative input into Earth’s atmosphere only since 1978, although there had been earlier attempts to measure it from the ground….
2018-08-20. Ecosystems Are Getting Greener in the Arctic. By Theresa Duque, Berkeley Lab. Excerpt: In recent decades, scientists have noted a surge in Arctic plant growth as a symptom of climate change. But without observations showing exactly when and where vegetation has bloomed as the world’s coldest areas warm, it’s difficult to predict how vegetation will respond to future warming. Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have …In a study published online Aug. 20 in Nature Climate Change, the researchers used satellite images taken over the past 30 years to track – down to a pixel representing approximately 25 square miles – the ebb and flow of plant growth in cold areas of the northern hemisphere, such as Alaska, the Arctic region of Canada, and the Tibetan Plateau. …At first, the satellite data showed what they expected – that as Arctic climates warmed, tree and plant growth increased. After comparing these observations with state-of-the-art climate models developed for CMIP5 – the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 …Their data analysis revealed that 16 percent of Earth’s vegetated land where plant growth was limited by cold temperatures three decades ago is no longer predominantly temperature-limited today, a result that was not reproduced by the CMIP5 models tested. “Our findings suggest that CMIP5’s predictions may have significantly underestimated changes in the Arctic ecosystem, and climate models will need to be improved to better understand and predict the future of the Arctic,” said first author Trevor Keenan….
2018-07-26. Why Are Siberian Temperatures Plummeting While the Arctic Warms? By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The answer involves the intricacies of stratospheric circulation, which, if better represented in climate models, could help predict extreme weather events in Siberia and elsewhere. …Climate change is warming the Arctic and melting sea ice, yet Siberia has experienced significantly colder and harsher winters for the past few decades. A study published yesterday in Science Advances shows that interactions between melting regional sea ice and the stratosphere—an atmospheric layer spanning about 10–50 kilometers above Earth’s surface—play a key role in creating these frigid winter conditions….https://eos.org/articles/why-are-siberian-temperatures-plummeting-while-the-arctic-warms
2018-03-30. Five Weird Archives That Scientists Use to Study Past Climates. By JoAnna Wendel and Mohi Kumar, AGU-Eos. Excerpt: It’s no secret that Earth scientists are obsessed with the past—what did our planet look like, how did its mountains and valleys evolve, where did it rain or dry up? For that last question, scientists can turn to proxies that reflect whether the climate was hot, cold, dry, or wet. Ratios of heavy and light isotopes, especially those of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, often serve as those proxies. Scientists measure these ratios in the layers of many different natural archives, such as ice cores, cave formations, tree rings, corals, and even ocean and lake sediments. But even though these materials have been integral to our understanding of the past, they have their limits—for example, you can’t find corals in all parts of all oceans, and they aren’t on land. Long-lived trees aren’t necessarily found everywhere. You can’t take an ice core in a desert. As a result, evidence for climate fluctuations on local and regional scales is lacking around the world. To solve this puzzle, scientists get creative. They’re examining nature for whatever they can find that lays down layer after layer over a large chunk of time in relatively undisturbed environments. And in the process, they’ve stumbled on some new, intriguing archives. Here are five of the weirdest ones we’ve found. Bat Guano: Smelly but Useful. …Roman Aqueducts. …Snail Shells. …Whale Earwax. …Sponge…. https://eos.org/features/five-weird-archives-that-scientists-use-to-study-past-climates
2018-03-09. The E.P.A. Chief Wanted a Climate Science Debate. Trump’s Chief of Staff Stopped Him. By Lisa Friedman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times. Excerpt: John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has killed an effort by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to stage public debates challenging climate change science, according to three people familiar with the deliberations, thwarting a plan that had intrigued President Trump even as it set off alarm bells among his top advisers. The idea of publicly critiquing climate change on the national stage has been a notable theme for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A. For nearly a year he has championed the notion of holding military-style exercises known as red team, blue team debates, possibly to be broadcast live, to question the validity of climate change. Mr. Pruitt has spoken personally with Mr. Trump about the idea, and the president expressed enthusiasm for it, according to people familiar with the conversations…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/climate/pruitt-red-team-climate-debate-kelly.html
2018-01-19. Global Average Temperatures in 2017 Continued Upward Trend. By JoAnna Wendel, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Earth’s average surface temperature in 2017 placed as the second or third highest on record, according to new analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NASA’s analysis, released yesterday during a press conference, showed that 2017 is the second-hottest year on record and that the average global temperature rose 0.9°C (1.6°F) above the 1951–1980 average. The size of the temperature increase was calculated from thousands of measurements from more than 6,000 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and measurements across Antarctic research stations. An analysis from NOAA, released during the same press conference, produced similar results: According to NOAA’s models, 2017 ranked as the third-warmest year on record. Specifically, NOAA scientists found that temperatures rose 0.84°C (1.5°F) above the 20th century average (1901–2000). “Despite colder than average temperatures in any one part of the world, temperatures over the planet as a whole continue the rapid warming trend we’ve seen over the last 40 years.”,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, at the press conference…. https://eos.org/articles/global-average-temperatures-in-2017-continued-upward-trend [See also New York Times article https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/18/climate/hottest-year-2017.html]
2017-12-26. Humans to Blame for Higher Drought Risk in Some Regions. By Sarah Stanley, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The world’s population relies on the global water cycle for food security and economic prosperity. However, human activities may be jeopardizing this critical resource; new research by Douville and Plazzotta confirms that human emissions of greenhouse gases have already begun to alter the water cycle, resulting in a drying trend and increased risk of drought in certain parts of the world. To many researchers, these new findings are not surprising. For more than a decade, observational and numerical modeling studies have predicted that anthropogenic emissions would cause warming that could change the water cycle and expand dry regions. Nonetheless, other recent studies have cast serious doubts on these predictions. Two studies cautioned that simplified calculations used to process observational data could result in incorrect predictions of evaporation due to warming over land. Other researchers uncovered large uncertainties in climate predictions made by the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), a widely used, multimodel tool for climate analysis. The authors of the new study set out to address these doubts. They performed a three-pronged analysis, investigating both recent observational data and long-term CMIP5 projections of drying trends over the midlatitudes of the northern continents in summertime. …Meanwhile, the authors say, addressing anthropogenic global warming should remain a central strategy to maintain water supplies and food security around the world…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/humans-to-blame-for-higher-drought-risk-in-some-regions
2017-09-13. Taking the Pulse of the Planet. By Lijing Cheng, Kevin E. Trenberth, John Fasullo, John Abraham, Tim P. Boyer, Karina von Schuckmann, and Jiang Zhu, Eos (AGU). Excerpt: How fast is Earth warming? Ocean heat content and sea level rise measurements may provide a more reliable answer than atmospheric measurements. Humans have released carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in sufficient quantity to change the composition of the atmosphere (Figure 1). The result is an accumulation of heat in Earth’s system, commonly referred to as global warming. Earth’s climate has responded to this influx of heat through higher temperatures in the atmosphere, land, and ocean. This warming, in turn, has melted ice, raised sea levels, and increased the frequency of extreme weather events: heat waves and heavy rains, for example. The results of these weather events include wildfires and flooding, among other things [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2013]. Decision-makers, scientists, and the general public are faced with critical questions: How fast is Earth’s system accumulating heat, and how much will it warm in the future as human activities continue to emit greenhouse gases? …ocean measurements could provide vital signs for the health of the planet. …we suggest that scientists and modelers who seek global warming signals should track how much heat the ocean is storing at any given time, termed global ocean heat content (OHC), as well as sea level rise (SLR). Similar to SLR, OHC has a very high signal-to-noise ratio; that is, it clearly shows the effects of climate change distinct from natural variability…. https://eos.org/opinions/taking-the-pulse-of-the-planet
2017-06-06. Report Heartland Institute sent to influence US teachers on climate change earns an “F” from scientists. By climatefeedback.org. Excerpt: Tens of thousands of science teachers in the US have recently received an unsolicited booklet titled “Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming”, which looks like a scientific report. It was published by the Heartland Institute (self-described as a “free-market think tank”), which plans to send a copy to every public school science teacher in the nation—more than 200,000 K-12 teachers. So how accurate is this book meant to teach elements of the science of climate change to teachers? Climate Feedback asked scientists who actually work on these topics. Their conclusion: it could hardly score lower. Scientists found that almost all the claims that made it to the “Key Findings” section are incorrect, misleading, based on flawed logic, or simply factually inaccurate. See the list of scientists’ comments…. http://climatefeedback.org/report-heartland-institute-sent-to-influence-us-teachers-on-climate-change-earns-an-f-from-scientists/
2016-12-30. With enough evidence, even skepticism will thaw. By Washington Post. Excerpt: Video & article about studies of Petermann Ice Shelf in Greenland. …Andreas Muenchow had his doubts about whether warming temperatures were causing one of the world’s great platforms of ice to melt and fall apart. He even stood before Congress in 2010 and balked on whether climate change might have caused a mammoth chunk of ice, four times the size of Manhattan, to break off from this floating, 300-square-mile shelf. The University of Delaware oceanographer said he wasn’t sure. He needed more evidence. …But then the Petermann Ice Shelf lost another two Manhattans of ice in 2012, and Muenchow decided to see for himself, launching a project to study the ice shelf intensively…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2016/12/30/with-enough-evidence-even-skepticism-will-thaw/
2016-12-27. Notorious Ocean Current Is Far Stronger Than Previously Thought. By Emily Underwood, EoS Earth & Space news, AGU. Excerpt: Notorious among sailors for its strength and the rough seas it creates, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the largest wind-driven current on Earth and the only ocean current to travel all the way around the planet. Now, researchers have found that the current transports 30% more water than previously thought. The revised estimate is an important update for scientists studying how the world’s oceans will respond to a warming climate. The ACC transports massive amounts of water between the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans in an eastward loop. …For the new study, Donohue et al. installed gauges along the bottom of Drake Passage, spanning an 800-kilometer passage between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. …The classic estimate used for the ACC’s transport is 134 sverdrups (Sv). One sverdrup is equivalent to 1 million cubic meters per second. Using 4 years of data collection from 2007 to 2011, the researchers found that the transport rate was 30% higher than historical estimates, around 173.3 Sv. Although it’s possible that stronger winds in the Southern Ocean over the past few decades may have caused the increase, satellite-based studies showing that transport has remained fairly steady during this time suggest that improved measurement tools, not increased wind, are responsible for the discrepancy. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2016GL070319, 2016)… https://eos.org/research-spotlights/notorious-ocean-current-is-far-stronger-than-previously-thought
2016-08-11. Does Water Vapor from Volcanic Eruptions Cause Climate Warming? By Alexandra Branscombe, Earth & Space News EoS (AGU). Excerpt: …A longstanding question involves whether gases emitted by volcanoes help trap energy on a global scale. Specifically, water vapor—which traps more radiation in the atmosphere than any other gas, alone accounting for half of the greenhouse gas effect—is of great interest to scientists studying volcanoes and global climate change. In theory, the force of eruptions could inject water vapor into the stratosphere, where the water vapor could reside for months and cause significant warming. …Sioris et al. took measurements from the 2015 eruption of the Calbuco volcano in Chile to see how much vapor a moderate-sized volcanic eruption would spew into the stratosphere. The researchers used the Aura satellite to take samples of the water vapor in the volcanic plume following the eruption. This is the first time that satellite observations have been used to determine the total amount of water vapor injected into the stratosphere by a volcanic eruption, giving researchers a more representative data reading than in situ observations used in an earlier study. The satellite data revealed that the ratio of water vapor to dry air reached 14 parts per million by volume in the stratosphere days after the eruption. The researchers found that this significant vapor enhancement from Calbuco, as had been observed following Mount St. Helens, persisted for only a few days in the stratosphere. Using the data in this study and the measurements of other eruptions, the authors confirm that moderate-sized volcanic eruptions do not deliver enough water vapor to the stratosphere on timescales long enough to consistently contribute to the greenhouse effect. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2016GL069918, 2016)… https://eos.org/research-spotlights/does-water-vapor-from-volcanic-eruptions-cause-climate-warming
2016-06-30. Crippled Atlantic currents triggered ice age climate change. By Eric Hand, Science. Excerpt: The last ice age wasn’t one long big chill. Dozens of times temperatures abruptly rose or fell, causing all manner of ecological change. Mysteriously, ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica show that these sudden shifts—which occurred every 1500 years or so—were out of sync in the two hemispheres: When it got cold in the north, it grew warm in the south, and vice versa. Now, scientists have implicated the culprit behind those seesaws—changes to a conveyor belt of ocean currents known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). …Still unclear is what triggered the AMOC’s sudden slowdowns. Many of the drops correspond to so-called Heinrich events: rapid releases of icebergs from Canada’s ice sheet. These iceberg armadas often chugged through the Hudson Strait of Canada and may have discharged more ice into the Atlantic Ocean than contained in the entire ice cap of Greenland, raising ancient sea levels by 10 meters. The meltwater brought incredible amounts of freshwater to the North Atlantic, precisely where ocean currents cool off and sink. Because freshwater is less dense than saltwater, it can plug up the AMOC, preventing the overturning and deep water formation the fuels the circulation’s engine. …Another question is whether the AMOC—currently known to be in decline—could drop off suddenly today, as depicted in the 2004 movie The Day After Tomorrow, causing temperatures to plummet across northwestern Europe…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/06/crippled-atlantic-conveyor-triggered-ice-age-climate-change
2016-05-25. Earth’s climate may not warm as quickly as expected, suggest new cloud studies. By Tim Wogan, Science. Excerpt: three new studies show how naturally emitted gases from trees can also form the seed particles for clouds. The results not only point to a cloudier past, but they also indicate a potentially cooler future: If Earth’s climate is less sensitive to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, as the study suggests, future temperatures may not rise as quickly as predicted…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/earth-s-climate-may-not-warm-quickly-expected-suggest-new-cloud-studies
2016-04-07. Climate Models May Overstate Clouds’ Cooling Power, Research Says. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: The computer models that predict climate change may be overestimating the cooling power of clouds, new research suggests. …The new paper suggests the effects of a flaw in the model could be serious: Based on its analysis of one model of climate change, the cloud error could mean an additional 1.3 degrees Celsius of warming than expected…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/08/science/climate-models-may-overstate-clouds-cooling-power-research-says.html
2016 Simplified Climate Models. by Scott Denning et al, Colorado State University BioCycle. Examples are CO2 and Climate Calculator; Terrestrial Carbon Cycle; Earth Carbon; … full list: http://biocycle.atmos.colostate.edu/toy-models/
2016-01-20. NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015. NASA Release 16-008. Excerpt: Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). …Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Last year was the first time the global average temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880-1899 average. …Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year. For example, NASA and NOAA found that the 2015 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the second warmest on record…. http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-noaa-analyses-reveal-record-shattering-global-warm-temperatures-in-2015
2016-01-11. Growth rings on rocks give up North American climate secrets. By Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley News. xcerpt: A research team led by UC Berkeley soil scientists obtained data about precipitation and temperature in North America spanning the past 120,000 years, which covers glacial and interglacial periods during the Pleistocene Epoch. They did this at thousand-year resolutions — a blink of an eye in geologic terms — through a microanalysis of the carbonate deposits that formed growth rings around rocks, some measuring just 3 millimeters thick. “The cool thing that this study reveals is that within soil — an unlikely reservoir given how ‘messy’ most people think it is — there is a mineral that accumulates steadily and creates some of the most detailed information to date on the Earth’s past climates,” said senior author Ronald Amundson, a UC Berkeley professor of environmental science, policy and management. The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the rich potential held within soil deposits known as pedothems, which form growth rings on rocks. The samples used in the study came from Wyoming’s Wind River Basin…. http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/01/11/rings-on-rocks-detail-north-american-paleoclimate/
2015-12-07. Model of Solar Cycle’s Impact on Climate Gets Upgrade. By Mark Zastrow, EoS Earth & Space Science News. Excerpt: …Over the course of the 11-year cycle, the rotation of the Sun slowly twists its magnetic field into knots, creating dark sunspots. Although the overall brightness of the Sun varies by only 0.1%, the twisted bundles of magnetic energy can boost its ultraviolet (UV) radiation by 4%–8% at the solar cycle’s peak. These powerful UV rays trigger chemical reactions in the stratosphere that bind oxygen atoms and molecules to form ozone. Since ozone itself is a good absorber of UV radiation, it can heat the stratosphere near the equator, which affects the winds that circle the globe. Increased solar activity also excites Earth’s magnetic field, sending high-energy particles hurtling into the upper atmosphere. During the long polar night, this can generate large amounts of the nitrogen compounds nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which eventually descend into the stratosphere and destroy ozone. To study the effects of these often-competing processes, scientists construct simulations using models such as the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/model-of-solar-cycles-impact-on-climate-gets-upgrade
2015-09-17. Global warming ‘pause’ never happened, scientists say. By Chelsea Harvey, Washington Post. Excerpt: The climate science sphere has been wrapped up in a major debate for the past several years: over the global warming “pause.” But now, a growing body of research has some scientists saying that the case may, in fact, be closed. They’re arguing that the pause never existed. The notion of a global warming pause, or “climate hiatus,” suggests that the rising of global surface temperatures has significantly slowed or even stopped during the past 15 years. …two new studies, released within days of each other, are adding to the evidence that the pause may not exist. …a statistical analysis of global temperature data and concludes that “there have been 6 occasions since 1970 when a 15-year trend would have failed to reach significance.” The authors argue that each of these cases, including the most recent 15-year stretch, constitutes a mere fluctuation in a much larger overall warming trend, and that none of these fluctuations statistically alters the trend. …a separate experiment that lead author Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Bristol, says is “the most exciting part.”…subjected the idea of a warming pause to something called a blind expert test. They presented the climate data to a group of 25 professional economists, but told them that the data represented world agricultural output, not temperature. They did this to prevent any personal biases the economists might have, essentially “dressing up the data as something different that doesn’t have any political or emotional connotations,” Lewandowsky says. They then asked the economists whether a pause in output had occurred in the period after 1998. The experts rejected this idea, and some even agreed that such a statement was “fraudulent.”…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/17/new-statistical-studies-dismantle-the-notion-of-a-global-warming-pause/?postshare=231442584982024
2015-07-15. Journalists link solar science news to climate—and to the climate controversy. By Steven T. Corneliussen, Physics Today. Excerpt: The Royal Astronomical Society press release “Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo” explains that at the recent National Astronomy Meeting in Wales, Northumbria University astrophysicist and mathematics professor Valentina Zharkova reported on a new model of the Sun’s solar cycle. The model suggests that “solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645.” The resulting media stir merits notice…. http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news/10.1063/PT.5.8127. See also The Guardian article No, the sun isn’t going to save us from global warming.
2015-04-07. Yale Climate Opinion Maps. Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Excerpt: Public Opinion Estimates, United States, 2014, on these statements: Global warming is happening; Global warming is caused mostly by human activities; Most scientists think global warming is happening; Worried about global warming; Global warming is already harming people in the US; Global warming will harm me personally; Global warming will harm people in the US; Global warming will harm people in developing countries; Global warming will harm future generations; Fund research into renewable energy sources; Set strict CO2 limits on existing coal-fired power plants; Require utilities to produce 20% electricity from renewable sources; A carbon tax if refunded to every American household. Charts are granular at national, state, congressional district, and county levels…. http://environment.yale.edu/poe/v2014.
2015-02-27. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes. U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society (United Kingdom). Excerpt: The leadership of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K.’s Royal Society convened a UK-US team of leading climate scientists to produce this brief, readable reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative information on the some of the questions that continue to be asked. The publication makes clear what is well-established and where understanding is still developing. It echoes and builds upon the long history of climate-related work from both national academies, as well as on the newest climate-change assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It touches on current areas of active debate and ongoing research, such as the link between ocean heat content and the rate of warming…. http://nas-sites.org/americasclimatechoices/events/a-discussion-on-climate-change-evidence-and-causes/
2015-02-26. Cold Pacific Ocean is offsetting global warming. By Carolyn Gramling, Science. Excerpt: …Greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, continue to be pumped into the atmosphere, but sometime around 1998, the rise in Earth’s average temperatures slowed, deviating from the rates predicted by models. …a new study suggests that natural cycles in the Pacific Ocean are the culprit. Since the end of last El Niño warming event of 1997 to 1998, the tropical Pacific Ocean has been in a relatively cool phase—strong enough to offset the warming created by greenhouse gas emissions. But, this is just a temporary balm: When the switch flips and the waters turn warm again, the researchers say, Earth will likely continue warming. “What this study addresses is what’s better described as a false pause, or slowdown,” rather than a hiatus in warming, says climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, University Park. …One of the biggest lingering issues in the global warming slowdown is the full impact of the natural temperature cycles of Earth’s oceans. The waters of the Pacific flip back and forth between warm and cool as part of a 16- to 20-year-long cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. That oscillation includes the 3- to 7-year-long warm El Niño/cold La Niña cycle. Overprinted on that is a longer term oscillation of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, a cycle that lasts perhaps 50 to 70 years. Similarly, in the Atlantic, sea surface temperatures go through a long-term natural cycle (the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) that lasts about 50 to 70 years. …Since the late 1990s, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has been in a cool phase…. http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2015/02/cold-pacific-ocean-offsetting-global-warming.
2014-07-23. A pause in global warming? Studies try to better explain what’s happened. Excerpt: Any pause in global warming, such as it may have been during the first decade of the 21st century, might seem to be on its way out. Global average temperatures for May and June 2014 reached record levels of warmth. Last year ranked as somewhere between the second and sixth warmest on record globally, depending on the temperature records you pick. But if history is any guide, expect more pauses in the thermometer’s climb toward a warmer world, thanks to the climate’s natural variability. That’s one implication of two recent studies exploring the pause with an eye toward testing the notions that global warming has ended, as some skeptics have asserted, and that fundamental problems with climate models prevented them from projecting the sudden slowdown in the rate of warming. …For the skeptic community, “this is proof that global warming stopped and it’s no longer a problem, so we don’t need to worry about it,” …For scientists seeking to better understand how the climate system works, “it’s a really compelling science problem,” …Modeling studies over the past several years have converged on natural variability as the most likely explanation for the hiatus in warming, with a decades-long cycle of warming and cooling of surface waters in the Pacific as the prime mover. …Shaun Lovejoy, a physicist at McGill University in Montreal, looked at the question model-free by conducting a statistical analysis of measured temperatures going back to the 1880s as well as records reconstructed from natural stand-ins for thermometers going back as far as the 1500s. The goal was to answer a basic question: How unexpected are such hiatuses? Modelers were concluding that a hiatus “doesn’t look that unlikely; it looks totally possible that it’s natural,” Dr. Lovejoy says. “But I actually tried to put a number on it, and the number in the end is that we expect such an event every 20 to 50 years.”…. http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2014/0723/A-pause-in-global-warming-Studies-try-to-better-explain-what-s-happened. By Pete Spotts, The Christian Science Monitor.
2014-02-26. Smell of forest pine can limit climate change. Excerpt: One of the biggest holes in scientific knowledge about climate change relates to the scale of the impact of atmospheric aerosols on temperatures. …New research suggests a strong link between the powerful smell of pine trees and climate change. …these scented vapours turn into aerosols above boreal forests. These particles promote cooling by reflecting sunlight back into space and helping clouds to form. …The research, published in the journal Nature, fills in a major gap in our understanding, researchers say. …the smell of pine, made up of volatile organic compounds, reacts with oxygen in the forest canopy to form these aerosols. …They’ve discovered ultra-low volatility organic vapours in the air that irreversibly condense onto any surface or particle that they meet. … this level of craziness is what gives them the special properties to stick to those smallest particles and help grow them up in size to become aerosols.” …The authors believe that this is playing a significant role in reducing the impact of rising temperatures. …”In a warmer world, photosynthesis will become faster with rising CO2, which will lead to more vegetation and more emissions of these vapours,” said lead author, Dr Mikael Ehn, now based at the University of Helsinki. “This should produce more cloud droplets and this should then have a cooling impact, it should be a damping effect.” …The scientists stress that the new understanding is not a panacea for climate change as forests will stop emitting vapours if they become too stressed from heat or lack of water…. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26340038. Matt McGrath, BBC News.
2013-11-13. Global warming since 1997 more than twice as fast as previously estimated, new study shows. Excerpt: A new paper published in The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society fills in the gaps in the UK Met Office HadCRUT4 surface temperature data set, and finds that the global surface warming since 1997 has happened more than twice as fast as the HadCRUT4 estimate. [see short video summarizing the study’s approach and results] …HadCRUT4 missing accelerated Arctic warming, especially since 1997. …NASA data fails to include corrections for a change in the way sea surface temperatures are measured – a challenging problem that has so far only been addressed by the Met Office. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project used a similar approach as NASA, but with a statistical method known as “kriging” to fill in the gaps by interpolating and extrapolating with existing measurements. However, BEST only applied this method to temperatures over land, not oceans…. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/nov/13/global-warming-underestimated-by-half. John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian.
2013-08-20. Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming. Excerpt: A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that the authors are now 95 percent to 100 percent confident that human activity is the primary influence on planetary warming. …warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace. The scientists, whose findings are reported in a draft summary of the next big United Nations climate report [published every five or six years by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], largely dismiss a recent slowdown in the pace of warming, which is often cited by climate change doubters, attributing it most likely to short-term factors. …. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/20/science/earth/extremely-likely-that-human-activity-is-driving-climate-change-panel-finds.html. Justin Gillis, New York Times.
2013-08-13. Timing a Rise in Sea Level. Excerpt: Thirty-five years ago, …John H. Mercer… paper, in the journal Nature, was titled “West Antarctic Ice Sheet and CO2 Greenhouse Effect: A Threat of Disaster.” …Mercer pointed out the unusual topography of the ice sheet sitting over the western part of Antarctica. Much of it is below sea level, in a sort of bowl, and he said that a climatic warming could cause the whole thing to degrade rapidly on a geologic time scale, leading to a possible rise in sea level of 16 feet. While it is clear by now that we are in the early stages of what is likely to be a substantial rise in sea level, we still do not know if Dr. Mercer was right about a dangerous instability that could cause that rise to happen rapidly, in geologic time. We may be getting closer to figuring that out. An intriguing new paper comes from Michael J. O’Leary of Curtin University in Australia and five colleagues scattered around the world …, published July 28 in Nature Geoscience, …confirmed something we pretty much already knew. In the warmer world of the Eemian, sea level stabilized for several thousand years at about 10 to 12 feet above modern sea level. …near the end of the Eemian, sea level jumped by another 17 feet or so, to settle at close to 30 feet above the modern level…in less than a thousand years…a geologic instant…. That, of course, augurs poorly for humans. Scientists at Stanford calculated recently that human emissions are causing the climate to change many times faster than at any point since the dinosaurs died out. We are pushing the climate system so hard that, if the ice sheets do have a threshold of some kind, we stand a good chance of exceeding it…. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/13/science/timing-a-rise-in-sea-level.html. Justin Gillis, New York Times.
2013-06-06. Slicing Open Stalagmites to Reveal Climate Secrets. Excerpt: …Stacy Carolin…, a PhD student at Georgia Tech, is breaking ground in the field of paleoclimatology, the study of ancient climates, using an unconventional but increasingly prevalent tool: “speleothems,” a catch-all term for cave formations that includes stalagmites…. In a study released today in the journal Science, Carolin and her colleagues outline 100,000-year-old rainfall conditions in Borneo, mapped from chemical clues in cave formations there. …Researchers look for formations that have already fallen over or broken off, so as not to damage the cave,…and study the ancient atoms within to discover how old they are and how much rainfall there was at different points in their past (speleothems form when rainwater drips through the limestone, picking up acid and minerals that pile up in the cave). …Stalagmites are “the next generation of climate records,” says Larry Edwards, an earth scientist at the University of Minnesota. …Edwards pioneered the isotope dating technique that catalyzed a boom in speleothem studies over the last decade. Until recently, dating speleothems…Scientists needed to track down thorium and uranium isotopes that existed in absurdly small quantities, around one part per trillion, and their tools could only locate one out of ten million of those… like finding a needle in a haystack in a cave on a different planet. In the late eighties, Edwards began experimenting with different ways to use a mass spectrometer to improve the search, and today …he says, “of all the climate records, [speleothems] are among the best dated.” …benefits to stalagmites abound: They reach deep into history, up to 500,000 years in some cases, longer than most ice cores and far longer than tree rings. …Where in the past paleoclimatologists had been mostly limited to ice at high altitudes and the poles, trees in temperate zones, and lakes with ancient sediment, once reading speleothems became easier “all of a sudden the rest of the world was opened for climate records,” Edwards says…. http://climatedesk.org/2013/06/slicing-open-stalagmites-to-reveal-climate-secrets/. Tim McDonnell, Climate Desk.
2013-05-15. Climate research nearly unanimous on human causes, survey finds. Suzanne Goldenberg, TheGuardian. Excerpt: …Of more than 4,000 academic papers published over 20 years, 97.1% agreed that climate change is anthropogenic. …The survey considered the work of some 29,000 scientists published in 11,994 academic papers. Of the 4,000-plus papers that took a position on the causes of climate change only 0.7% or 83 of those thousands of academic articles, disputed the scientific consensus that climate change is the result of human activity, with the view of the remaining 2.2% unclear. The study described the dissent as a “vanishingly small proportion” of published research. …. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/16/climate-research-nearly-unanimous-humans-causes
2013-05-14. For Insurers, No Doubts on Climate Change. Eduardo Porter, New York Times. Excerpt: If there were one American industry that would be particularly worried about climate change it would have to be insurance, right? …From Hurricane Sandy’s devastating blow to the Northeast to the protracted drought that hit the Midwest Corn Belt, natural catastrophes across the United States pounded insurers last year, generating $35 billion in privately insured property losses, $11 billion more than the average over the last decade. And the industry expects the situation will get worse. “Numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the U.S. East Coast in the long term,” said Peter Höppe, who heads Geo Risks Research at the reinsurance giant Munich Re. “The rise in sea level caused by climate change will further increase the risk of storm surge.” Most insurers, including the reinsurance companies that bear much of the ultimate risk in the industry, have little time for the arguments heard in some right-wing circles that climate change isn’t happening, and are quite comfortable with the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the main culprit of global warming. “Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,” Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, told me last week. “It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.” …the industry’s analysis of the risks it faces is evolving. One sign of that is how some top American insurers responded to a billboard taken out by the conservative Heartland Institute, a prominent climate change denier that has received support from the insurance industry. The billboard had a picture of Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who asked: “I still believe in global warming. Do you?” Concerned about global warming and angry to be equated with a murderous psychopath, insurance companies like Allied World, Renaissance Re, State Farm and XL Group dropped their support for Heartland. …Eli Lehrer, a Heartland vice president who at the time led an insurance-financed project, left the group and helped start the R Street Institute, a standard conservative organization in all respects but one: it believes in climate change and supports a carbon tax to combat it. And it is financed largely with insurance industry money. Mr. Lehrer points out that a carbon tax fits conservative orthodoxy. It is a broad and flat tax, whose revenue can be used to do away with the corporate income tax — a favorite target of the right. It provides a market-friendly signal, forcing polluters to bear the cost imposed on the rest of us and encouraging them to pollute less. And it is much preferable to a parade of new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. …“We are having a debate on the right about a carbon tax for the first time in a long time,” Mr. Lehrer said. …global warming isn’t just devastating for society, but also bad for business…. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/insurers-stray-from-the-conservative-line-on-climate-change.html.
2013-02-07. With a grain of salt — Ocean surface layer captures influence of human activity. | Rachel Berkowitz, Physics Today. Excerpt: …In a warming world, increased temperature means that the atmosphere can hold and transport more water vapor—a 7% increase in atmospheric moisture content for every degree Celsius of warming in Earth’s lower troposphere. This affinity for moisture affects the entire water cycle, throughout the global climate system. Change is especially reflected in increased patterns of evaporation and precipitation, and a corresponding increase in ocean surface salinity, since surface salinity patterns respond to water cycle changes. …In the past 50 years, salinity differences—the marker of the oceanic water cycle—have intensified in the upper 700 m of the ocean. “Think of the ocean as a big rain gauge,” says John Toole, physical oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Salty regions become saltier because more water is exported through evaporation, and fresh regions become fresher because increased rainfall dilutes those regions more. …Changing the ocean’s salinity and temperature also affects its water density, which in turn plays a key role in how water circulates. …it takes a long time for surface effects to change deep ocean circulation patterns…. See full article at http://www.physicstoday.org/daily_edition/down_to_earth/with_a_grain_of_salt?type=PTFAVE.
2013 March 03. Wash. state politician says bicycles bad for environment, need to be taxed. Mikael Thalen, examiner.com. Excerpt: Washington state Senate Democrats recently produced a $10 billion transportation package which supports a raise on gas taxes, car tabs, and even a $25 tax on bicycles that cost more than $500. …Washington Rep. Ed Orcutt (R), a member of the State Transportation Committee, defended the idea of a bike tax by saying, “Sorry, but I do think that bicyclists need to start paying for the roads they ride on rather than make motorists pay. When you are riding your bicycle, tell me what taxes are being generated by the act of riding your bicycle,” Orcutt said to the Seattle Bike Blog. Yet Orcutt’s main support for the tax comes from his belief that riding a bicycle is worse than driving a car for the environment. “A cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means that the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride,” he said…. [Note to GSS teachers: have your students write or verbalize what’s wrong with Rep. Orcutt’s argument that bicyclists are polluters.]
2013 Jan 08. Solar Variability and Terrestrial Climate | NASA Science News. Excerpt: …In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate” [at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13519] lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet. …Greg Kopp of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, pointed out that … “Even typical short term variations of 0.1% in incident irradiance exceed all other energy sources (such as natural radioactivity in Earth’s core) combined,” he says. Of particular importance is the sun’s extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation, which …varies not by a minuscule 0.1%, but by whopping factors of 10 or more. This can strongly affect the chemistry and thermal structure of the upper atmosphere. …In recent years, researchers have considered the possibility that the sun plays a role in global warming. After all, the sun is the main source of heat for our planet. The NRC report suggests, however, that the influence of solar variability is more regional than global…. Read the full article: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/08jan_sunclimate/
2012-12-23. Scientists Report Faster Warming in Antarctica | Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: West Antarctica has warmed much more than scientists had thought over the last half century, new research suggests, an ominous finding given that the huge ice sheet there may be vulnerable to long-term collapse, with potentially drastic effects on sea levels. A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience reports that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth …. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/science/earth/west-antarctica-warming-faster-than-thought-study-finds.html?ref=science
2012-12-19. An Odometer Moment on a Warming Planet | By Justin Gillis, New York Times. Excerpt: For those who might be keeping score, we just passed the 333rd consecutive month of global temperatures above the 20th-century average. November 2012 was the fifth-warmest November since records began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly climate report. The agency calculated that the 10 warmest Novembers on record have all occurred within the past 12 years. …NOAA will not make this official until early January, but it is now virtually certain that 2012 will set a high-temperature record for the contiguous 48 states. …La Niña years are usually cooler than average globally, so scientists say that to have such years coming in among the top 10 warmest in the historical record is a testament to how much the climate is changing. …The World Meteorological Organization …secretary general… Michel Jarraud, put it plainly. “Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records,” he said. …. Read the full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/an-odometer-moment-on-a-warming-planet/?ref=science
2012 Nov 27. Grappling With the Permafrost Problem. By Justin Gillis, The NY Times. Excerpt: The greatest single uncertainty about climate change is how much the warming of the planet will feed on itself. As the temperature increases because of human emissions, feedbacks could cause new pools of carbon to be released into the atmosphere, magnifying the trend. Other types of feedbacks could potentially slow the warming. Over all, climate scientists have only best guesses about how these conflicting tendencies will balance out, though most of them think the net result is likely to be a substantial rise in the planet’s average temperature…one of the most worrisome potential feedbacks involves the permafrost that underlies a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere. Buried in that frozen ground is a lot of ancient organic material, containing twice as much carbon as now exists in the atmosphere. The permafrost is starting to warm and the carbon to escape…In essence, the permafrost feedback is a big new emissions source that makes the math of controlling climate change harder than ever.….
2012 October. Cloud simulations improving in climate models. By Stephen G. Benka, Physics Today. Excerpt: …Currently there are about 20 climate models in use around the world that generate the indicators—including temperature, precipitation, clouds, and water vapor—on which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change bases its projections. The largest uncertainties in the IPCC assessments—the most recent was in 2007—arise from how the models handle the complex feedback mechanisms of clouds and water vapor. Until recently, the “ground-truth” data for the simulations were sparse and provided climate scientists with incomplete knowledge. But that has changed with data from the A-Train constellation of satellites during 2006–09….
2012-08-06. Climate change is here — and worse than we thought. Excerpt: When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988, I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic. My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather. In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present…. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-08-03/opinions/35491435_1_climate-change-climate-model-normal-climate. James Hansen, in Washington Post.
2012 July 02. A Climate Scientist Battles Time and Mortality. By Justin Gillis, The NY Times. Excerpt: Dr. Thompson, who has taught earth sciences at Ohio State University… routinely spent up to two months a year camped in dangerous conditions atop mountains…Hauling six tons of equipment to South America, Africa, Asia and Europe, he and his small team raced to recover long cylinders of ice from glaciers that had built up over thousands of years. The layers in those cylinders contained dust, volcanic ash, subtle variations in water chemistry, even the occasional frozen insect — a record of climatic and geologic changes that could be retrieved, preserved and interpreted like a series of tree rings. Dr. Thompson became one of the first scientists to witness and record a broad global melting of land ice. And his ice cores proved that this sudden, coordinated melting had no parallel, at least not in the last several thousand years. To some climate scientists, the Thompson ice core record became the most convincing piece of evidence that the rapid planetary warming now going on was a result of a rise in greenhouse gases caused by human activity….
2012 April 30. Clouds’ Effect on Climate Change Is Last Bastion for Dissenters | by Justin Gillis, NY Times. Excerpt: IFor decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong. Over time, nearly every one of their arguments has been knocked down by accumulating evidence, and polls say 97 percent of working climate scientists now see global warming as a serious risk. …They acknowledge that the human release of greenhouse gases will cause the planet to warm. But they assert that clouds — which can either warm or cool the earth, depending on the type and location — will shift in such a way as to counter much of the expected temperature rise and preserve the equable climate on which civilization depends. …“Clouds really are the biggest uncertainty,” said Andrew E. Dessler, a climate researcher at Texas A&M. “If you listen to the credible climate skeptics, they’ve really pushed all their chips onto clouds.”….
2012-04-12. A Tour of the New Geopolitics of Global Warming | By Joshua Zaffos and Daily Climate, Scientific American. Excerpt: Energy security and climate change present massive threats to global security, military planners say, with connections and consequences spanning the world….
…Here’s a look at several geopolitical hotspots that will likely bear the unpredictable and dangerous consequences of climate change and current energy policies….
2012 Feb 23. Heartland’s president once believed in climate change, but now says it’s a ‘myth. By Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter. Greenwire / ClimateWire Excerpt: For Joe Bast [president of the Heartland Institute] the public’s fascination with climate change is just about over, amounting to a fad perhaps as temporary as a former hippie phase in his life when he experimented with “deep ecology” and lived in a geodesic dome in the woods. “I’m confident that the scientific basis behind the threat has pretty much melted away….” “It’s like any other apocalyptic movement. These things crest, and then they start to retreat, until the next apocalyptic movement comes along and gives us something to get all worried about.” …Large scientific bodies, after synthesizing the world’s collection of individual research findings into international reports, have concluded that human activities are largely responsible for Earth’s warming over the past 50 years.
But Bast is not only unconvinced, he has become an evangelist against this message. With help from Heartland fellows, he bombards local, state and federal officials and others with a key theme: The human impact is so small that it won’t cause damage to the health of people, the environment or the economy….
2011 Nov 21. What Are Climate Change Skeptics Still Skeptical About? by Natalie Wolchover, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer. Summary of common points from climate change skeptics and deniers: It’s urban warming; It’s actually getting cooler; It’s natural; It’s an error; It’s unknowable.
2011 Nov 9. World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns. By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian. Excerpt: The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be “lost for ever”, according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.
Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this “lock-in” effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world’s foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous…. [International Energy Agency full report: http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/]
2011 October 22. The heat is on. The Economist. Excerpt: …There are three compilations of mean global temperatures, each one based on readings from thousands of thermometers, kept in weather stations and aboard ships, going back over 150 years… And all suggest a similar pattern of warming: amounting to about 0.9°C over land in the past half century….
…Yet the consistency among the three compilations masks large uncertainties in the raw data on which they are based. Hence the doubts, husbanded by many eager sceptics, about their accuracy. A new study, however, provides further evidence that the numbers are probably about right….
…Marshalled by an astrophysicist, Richard Muller, this group, which calls itself the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, is notable in several ways. …Its members (including Saul Perlmutter, who won the Nobel prize for physics this month for his work on dark energy) were mostly new to climate science. And Dr Muller, for one, was mildly sceptical of its findings….
…Yet Berkeley Earth’s results, as described in four papers currently undergoing peer review, but which were nonetheless released on October 20th, offer strong support to the existing temperature compilations. The group estimates that over the past 50 years the land surface warmed by 0.911°C: a mere 2% less than NOAA’s estimate. That is despite its use of a novel methodology—designed, at least in part, to address the concerns of what Dr Muller terms “legitimate skeptics”….
2011 Oct. Science controversies past and present. By Steven Sherwood, Physics Today / Vol 64 / Issue 10. Excerpt: Science—especially the science behind climate change—is under fire.
…[Copernicus] To most of those who were not concerned with the detailed study of celestial motions, Copernicus’s innovation seemed absurd and impious. Even when understood, the vaunted harmonies seemed no evidence at all. The resulting clamor was widespread, vocal, and bitter.
…The progression of the global warming idea so far has been quite similar to that of Copernicanism. The idea that changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations can and do cause significant climate changes… was proposed qualitatively in 1864 by renowned physicist John Tyndall, when he discovered carbon dioxide’s opacity to IR radiation. In 1896 Nobel laureate Svante Arrhenius quantitatively predicted the warming to be caused in the future by coal burning; the prediction was tested and promoted by steam engineer Guy Callendar in the late 1930s. At first few could accept that humans were capable of inﬂuencing the climate of an entire planet, but over time, and with more calculations, scientists found the possibility increasingly difficult to dismiss….
…[Einstein] Even Albert Einstein was not immune to political backlash. His theory of general relativity … undermined our most fundamental notions of absolute space and time… Though the theory predicted the anomalous perihelion shift of Mercury’s orbit, it was still regarded as provisional in the years following its publication in 1916. When observation, by Arthur Eddington and others, of a rare solar eclipse in 1919 confirmed the bending of light, it was widely hailed and turned Einstein into a celebrity. Elated, he was finally satisfied that his theory was verified. But the following year he wrote to his mathematician collaborator Marcel Grossmann:
“This world is a strange madhouse. Currently, every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on political party affiliation.”
2011 September 24. Scientists Want Publisher to Refreeze Greenland. By Felicity Barringer, The NY Times. Excerpt: The news release promoting the latest edition of Britain’s influential Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World hailed it as “the Greatest Book on Earth.”….
…The news release, echoed by the news media, claimed that Greenland had lost 15 percent of its permanent ice cover from 1999 to 2011. That translates to 125,000 cubic miles, according to a rough calculation by Etienne Berthier, a glaciologist with the University of Toulouse, enough melted ice to raise sea levels three to five feet.
The corresponding map in the atlas itself indicated that significant portions of Greenland’s coastline had become ice-free.
Glaciologists, previously bruised by an exaggerated claim about the melting of Himalayan glaciers in a 2007 United Nations report that became fodder for global warming skeptics, mobilized as a truth squad.
On blogs, on radio programs and in newspaper columns, they stated emphatically that Greenland has not lost 15 percent of its ice cover in recent years. The retreat, they said, is more like one-tenth of 1 percent. They were quick to add that nobody at the atlas had consulted them….
2010 November 16. Dire messages about global warming can backfire, new study shows. By Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley News [The Berkeleyan]. Excerpt: “Our study indicates that the potentially devastating consequences of global warming threaten people’s fundamental tendency to see the world as safe, stable and fair. As a result, people may respond by discounting evidence for global warming,” said Robb Willer, UC Berkeley social psychologist and coauthor of a study to be published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science.
…But if scientists and advocates can communicate their findings in less apocalyptic ways, and present solutions to global warming, Willer said, most people can get past their skepticism.
2010 September 3. How Warm Was This Summer? By Adam Volland, NASA Earth Science News Team. Excerpt:…But, from a global perspective, how warm was the summer exactly? How did the summer’s temperatures compare with previous years? And was global warming the “cause” of the unusual heat waves? Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, led by GISS’s director, James Hansen, have analyzed summer temperatures and released an update on the GISS website that addresses all of these questions….
…”Unfortunately, it is common for the public to take the most recent local seasonal temperature anomaly as indicative of long-term climate trends,” Hansen notes. “[We hope] these global temperature anomaly maps may help people understand that the temperature anomaly in one place in one season has limited relevance to global trends.”….
…There’s much debate and discussion about whether global warming can “cause” such extreme weather events. The answer — both no and yes — is not a simple one….
[The original paper can be found here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2010summer/]
2009 November 30. E-Mail Fracas Shows Peril of Trying to Spin Science. By John Tierney, NY Times. Excerpt: If you have not delved into the thousands of e-mail messages and files hacked from the computers of British climate scientists, let me give you the closest thing to an executive summary. It is taken from a file slugged HARRY_READ_ME, which is the log of a computer expert’s long struggle to make sense of a database of historical temperatures. Here is Harry’s summary of the situation:
That cry, in various spellings, is a motif throughout the log as Harry tries to fight off despair. …“It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity. …”
Harry, whoever he may be, comes off as the most sympathetic figure in the pilfered computer annals of East Anglia University, the British keeper of global temperature records. While Harry’s log shows him worrying about the integrity of the database, the climate scientists are e-mailing one another with strategies for blocking outsiders’ legal requests to see their data.
…As the scientists denigrate their critics in the e-mail messages, they seem oblivious to one of the greatest dangers in the climate-change debate: smug groupthink. These researchers, some of the most prominent climate experts in Britain and America, seem so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate their certitude — and ultimately undermine their own cause….
2009 May 4. Sun Oddly Quiet — Hints at Next “Little Ice Age”? By Anne Minard for National Geographic News. Excerpt: A prolonged lull in solar activity has astrophysicists glued to their telescopes waiting to see what the sun will do next—and how Earth’s climate might respond. The sun is the least active it’s been in decades and the dimmest in a hundred years. The lull is causing some scientists to recall the Little Ice Age, an unusual cold spell in Europe and North America, which lasted from about 1300 to 1850. The coldest period of the Little Ice Age, between 1645 and 1715, has been linked to a deep dip in solar storms known as the Maunder Minimum. During that time, access to Greenland was largely cut off by ice, and canals in Holland routinely froze solid. Glaciers in the Alps engulfed whole villages, and sea ice increased so much that no open water flowed around Iceland in the year 1695. But researchers are on guard against their concerns about a new cold snap being misinterpreted….
2009 March 8. Skeptics Dispute Climate Worries and Each Other. By Andrew C. Revkin, NY Times. Excerpt: More than 600 self-professed climate skeptics are meeting in a Times Square hotel this week to challenge what has become a broad scientific and political consensus: that without big changes in energy choices, humans will dangerously heat up the planet.
The three-day International Conference on Climate Change…brings together political figures, conservative campaigners, scientists, an Apollo astronaut and the president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus.
Organizers say the discussions, which began Sunday, are intended to counter the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers, who have vowed to tackle global warming with legislation requiring cuts in the greenhouse gases that scientists have linked to rising temperatures.
But two years after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with near certainty that most of the recent warming was a result of human influences, global warming’s skeptics are showing signs of internal rifts and weakening support….
2009 January 29. New data show much of Antarctica is warming more than previously thought. EurekAlert. Excerpt: Scientists studying climate change have long believed that while most of the rest of the globe has been getting steadily warmer, a large part of Antarctica – the East Antarctic Ice Sheet – has actually been getting colder.
But new research shows that for the last 50 years, much of Antarctica has been warming at a rate comparable to the rest of the world. In fact, the warming in West Antarctica is greater than the cooling in East Antarctica, meaning that on average the continent has gotten warmer, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences and director of the Quaternary Research Center at the UW.
…”Simple explanations don’t capture the complexity of climate,” Steig said. “The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling and that’s not the case. If anything it’s the reverse, but it’s more complex than that. Antarctica isn’t warming at the same rate everywhere, and while some areas have been cooling for a long time the evidence shows the continent as a whole is getting warmer.”
A major reason most of Antarctica was thought to be cooling is because of a hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer that appears during the spring months in the Southern Hemisphere’s polar region. Steig noted that it is well established that the ozone hole has contributed to cooling in East Antarctica.
“However, it seems to have been assumed that the ozone hole was affecting the entire continent when there wasn’t any evidence to support that idea, or even any theory to support it,” he said.
“In any case, efforts to repair the ozone layer eventually will begin taking effect and the hole could be eliminated by the middle of this century. If that happens, all of Antarctica could begin warming on a par with the rest of the world.”…
2008 October 27. Climate change ‘making seas more salty’. By David Adam, The Guardian. Excerpt: Global warming is making the sea more salty, according to new research that demonstrates the massive shifts in natural systems triggered by climate change.
Experts at the UK Met Office and Reading University say warmer temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean have significantly increased evaporation and reduced rainfall across a giant stretch of water from Africa to the Carribean in recent years. The change concentrates salt in the water left behind, and is predicted to make southern Europe and the Mediterranean much drier in future.
Peter Stott of the Met Office, who led the study, said: “With global warming we’re talking about very big changes in the overall water cycle. This moisture is being evaporated and transported to higher latitudes.”
The team wanted to see whether manmade climate change could be blamed for changes in salinity measured in the Atlantic….
…further south towards the tropics, Atlantic waters have been getting saltier – about 0.5% more since the 1960s.
Using state-of-the-art climate models, the scientists simulated events over both parts of the ocean with and without increased levels of greenhouse gases….
…for the mid Atlantic, the models showed that only human-driven global warming could explain the increase in saltiness – the first time such an explicit link has been made between climate change and salinity….
2008 October 13. Rising Temperatures May Dry Up Peat Bogs, Causing Carbon Release. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: …A study in Nature Geoscience suggests that northern bogs may lose a significant portion of their peat as global temperatures rise. Organic matter in the peat will decompose, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
Ordinarily peat bogs are a huge carbon sink. They consist of marsh grasses, trees and other organic matter that, because of the wet, oxygen-starved conditions, don’t decay much. What’s more, peat generally begets more peat: because it holds so much water and blocks drainage, as it accumulates the water table rises, reducing decay even further.
This water table-peat interaction is what scientists call a positive feedback loop. Takeshi Ise of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and colleagues looked at what would happen to this process when environmental conditions change.
…They found that higher temperatures would in effect reverse the feedback loop: the water table would drop, causing more peat to dry and decompose.
Over hundreds of years, their simulation suggests, 40 percent of organic carbon could be lost from bogs where the peat layer is shallow, while in deep bogs, the losses would be as much as 86 percent.
2008 September 15. Weather History Offers Insight Into Global Warming. By Anthony DePalma, The New York Times. Excerpt: NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — It is probably a good thing that the Mohonk Mountain House, the 19th-century resort, was built on Shawangunk conglomerate, a concrete-hard quartz rock. Otherwise, the path to the National Weather Service’s cooperative station here surely would have turned to dust by now.
Every day for the last 112 years, people have trekked up the same gray outcropping to dutifully record temperatures and weather conditions. In the process, they have compiled a remarkable data collection that has become a climatological treasure chest.
The problems that often haunt other weather records — the station is moved, buildings are constructed nearby or observers record data inconsistently — have not arisen here because so much of this place has been frozen in time. The weather has been taken in exactly the same place, in precisely the same way, by just a handful of the same dedicated people since Grover Cleveland was president.
For much of that time, those same weather observers have also made detailed records about recurring natural events, like the appearance of the first spring peeper or the first witch hazel bush to bud in the fall. Together, these two sets of data, meticulously collected in the same area, are beginning to offer up intriguing indicators about climate change — not about what is causing it but rather how it affects the lives of animals, plants, insects and birds….
…The record shows that on this ridge in the Shawangunk Mountains, about 20 miles south of the better-known Catskills, the average annual temperature has risen 2.7 degrees in 112 years. Of the top 10 warmest years in that time, 7 have come since 1990. Both annual precipitation and annual snowfall have increased, and the growing season has lengthened by 10 days.
But what makes the data truly singular is how it parallels a vast collection of phenological observations taken at this same place, and by many of the same observers, since 1925….
2008 August 8. The Coming Arctic Invasion. By Geerat J. Vermeij and Peter D. Roopnarine, Science. Excerpt: The current episode of climate warming is having drastic consequences for animal and plant life worldwide. …North Pacific lineages will resume spreading through the Bering Strait into a warmer Arctic Ocean and eventually into the temperate North Atlantic.
Trans-Arctic invasion began about 3.5 million years ago during the warm mid-Pliocene epoch. A combination of northward flow through the Bering Strait, high productivity in the Bering Sea (the geographic source of trans-Arctic invaders), favorable conditions for rapid growth and dispersal in the Arctic Ocean, and the removal through extinction of many species during the mid-Pliocene in the North Atlantic enabled hundreds of marine lineages to colonize and enrich the biotas of the Arctic and North Atlantic. …the presence of mid-Pliocene temperate marine mollusks in northern Alaska and Greenland indicates that coastal sectors of the Arctic Ocean were seasonally or perennially ice-free at that time.
…Climate models and recently observed trends toward contraction and thinning of Arctic sea ice predict seasonally or perennially ice-free conditions in the nearshore Arctic Ocean by 2050 or even earlier, reestablishing a regime of temperature and productivity similar to that of the mid-Pliocene. Marine mollusks, whose past and present distributions are well documented, offer unparalleled insight into how marine species and communities are likely to respond to these future conditions.
At least 77 molluscan lineages (35% of 219 shell-bearing, shallow-water mollusk species in the northern Bering Sea) have the potential to extend to the North Atlantic via the warmer Arctic Ocean without direct human assistance….
2008 August 7. Pacific shellfish ready to invade Atlantic. Eureka Alert. Excerpt: As the Arctic Ocean warms this century, shellfish, snails and other animals from the Pacific Ocean will resume an invasion of the northern Atlantic that was interrupted by cooling conditions three million years ago, predict Geerat Vermeij, professor of geology at the University of California, Davis, and Peter Roopnarine at the California Academy of Sciences.
Climate models predict a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean by 2050. That will restore conditions that last existed during the mid-Pliocene era around three to 3.5 million years ago. Several north Pacific species have relatives in the north Atlantic, and the fossil record shows a lot of invasion from the Pacific to the Atlantic at that time, Vermeij said.
When cold conditions returned, the Arctic route was cut off, mostly by a lack of food. As the ice melts, productivity in the Arctic will rise and the northward march of the mollusks will resume where it left off three million years ago.
…But the invaders will not wipe out native species, Vermeij said…. Instead, the invasion will add new species and hybrids and increase competition in the North Atlantic.
“The composition and dynamics of north Atlantic communities will change,” Roopnarine said. “But whether that will help or harm local fisheries is an open question. Humans may have to adapt as well.”
…”The interesting thing to me is that the fossil record has something to say about the consequences of global warming,” Vermeij said.
2008 August 6. Aphids are sentinels of climate change. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Ecxerpt: Aphids are emerging as sentinels of climate change, researchers at BBSRC-supported Rothamsted Research have shown. One of the UK’s most damaging aphids – the peach-potato aphid (Myzus persicae) – has been found to be flying two weeks earlier for every 1°C rise in mean temperature for January and February combined. This year, the first aphid was caught on 25 April, which is almost four weeks ahead of the 42-year average. This work is reported in BBSRC Business, the quarterly research highlights magazine of BBSRC (the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council).
Dr Richard Harrington of the Rothamsted Insect Survey said: “One of the most noticeable consequences of climate change in the UK is the frequency of mild winters. As a direct result of this, aphids seeking new sources of food are appearing significantly earlier in the year and in significantly higher numbers. … there are more aphids flying in spring and early summer, when crops are particularly vulnerable to damage.”….
2008 July 16. Eighth Warmest June on Record for Globe. NOAA. Excerpt: he combined average global land and ocean surface temperatures for June 2008 ranked eighth warmest for June since worldwide records began in 1880, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Also, globally it was the ninth warmest January – June period on record.
• The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for June 2008 was 60.8 degrees F, which is 0.9 degrees F above the 20th century mean of 59.9 degrees F.
• For the January – June period, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 57.1 degrees F, which is 0.8 degrees F about the 20th century mean of 56.3 degrees F.
• Northern Hemisphere Arctic sea ice extent for June 2008 ranked third lowest for June since records began in 1979. Southern Hemisphere Antarctic sea ice extent for June 2008 was above the 1979-2000 mean, ranking as the second largest June extent.
• El Niño-Southern Oscillation conditions transitioned to a neutral phase during June.
• Torrential rain lashed southern China from June 7-18. These were followed by more heavy rain from typhoon Fengshen late in the month. The downpours caused widespread floods and affected more than five million people. June 2008 was the wettest month ever for Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Macao based on records that began in 1884…
2008 July. Heat Wave in Northern Europe. By Holli Riebeek and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory. Excerpt: On the calendar, Scandinavian summer starts on June 21 in 2008, but summer temperatures had already settled over much of northern Europe by early June. This image shows land surface temperatures—how hot the ground is to the touch, a measure that is different than the air temperatures reported in the news—as observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite between June 2 and June 8, 2008.
The image compares the average temperature between June 2 and June 8, 2008, to average temperatures recorded during the same period in June 2000 through 2007…
The intense heat and dry weather led to dangerous fire conditions in Scandinavia. Both Norway and Sweden were plagued with several forest fires in early June. A fire that burned for several days in southern Norway was the largest in the country’s history, causing an estimated ten million dollars worth of damage, reported The Norway Post on June 17, 2008…
2008 July 1. A New Twist in Penguins’ Already Uncertain Future. By Cornelia Dean, The New York Times. Excerpt: P. Dee Boersma, a biologist at the University of Washington, has been watching the Magellanic penguins of Punta Tombo, in Argentina, for almost 30 years. For most of that time, their numbers have been declining: breeding pairs are down 22 percent there since 1987, she writes in Tuesday’s issue of BioScience.
But the dwindling numbers do not just mean the birds are suffering, Dr. Boersma writes. Because penguins are “marine sentinels,” their decline is a blunt message that their marine environment is in trouble, chiefly from overfishing and pollution from offshore oil operations and shipping.
Now, though, Dr. Boersma writes, they are also threatened by climate change, which is reducing sea ice and, as a result, the abundance of the marine creatures the birds eat. Magellanic penguins can swim almost 100 miles a day, she said in an e-mail message, but to get enough to eat now they must venture as much as 40 miles farther from their nests than they did a decade ago.
Some of the food shortage is fishing-related, Dr. Boersma said, but some appears to be caused by climate change. As glaciers and sea ice retreat, she writes in her article, “even small variations can have major consequences for penguins.”
Climate change further threatens the birds because about half nest in burrows vulnerable to flooding, which seems to be on the rise. “Climate variation that brings more water to desert environments may benefit humans, but it will not help penguins,” Dr. Boersma wrote Their troubles show that “we have entered a new era of unprecedented challenges for marine systems.”…
2008 June 27. Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole. By Steve Connor, The Independent. Excerpt: It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.
The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.
“From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water,” said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.
If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea ice above.
Seasoned polar scientists believe the chances of a totally ice-free North Pole this summer are greater than 50:50 because the normally thick ice formed over many years at the Pole has been blown away and replaced by huge swathes of thinner ice formed over a single year.
This one-year ice is highly vulnerable to melting during the summer months and satellite data coming in over recent weeks shows that the rate of melting is faster than last year, when there was an all-time record loss of summer sea ice at the Arctic.
“The issue is that, for the first time that I am aware of, the North Pole is covered with extensive first-year ice – ice that formed last autumn and winter. I’d say it’s even-odds whether the North Pole melts out,” said Dr Serreze…
2008 June 10. Permafrost Threatened by Rapid Retreat of Arctic Sea Ice, NCAR Study Finds. Excerpt: BOULDER—The rate of climate warming over northern Alaska, Canada, and Russia could more than triple during periods of rapid sea ice loss, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The findings raise concerns about the thawing of permafrost, or permanently frozen soil, and the potential consequences for sensitive ecosystems, human infrastructure, and the release of additional greenhouse gases.
“Our study suggests that, if sea-ice continues to contract rapidly over the next several years, Arctic land warming and permafrost thaw are likely to accelerate,” says lead author David Lawrence of NCAR.
The research was spurred in part by events last summer, when the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to more than 30 percent below average, setting a modern-day record. From August to October last year, air temperatures over land in the western Arctic were also unusually warm, reaching more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above the 1978-2006 average and raising the question of whether or not the unusually low sea-ice extent and warm land temperatures were related.
The team found that during episodes of rapid sea-ice loss, the rate of Arctic land warming is 3.5 times greater than the average 21st century warming rates predicted in global climate models. While this warming is largest over the ocean, the simulations suggest that it can penetrate as far as 900 miles inland. The simulations also indicate that the warming acceleration during such events is especially pronounced in autumn. The decade during which a rapid sea-ice loss event occurs could see autumn temperatures warm by as much as 9 degrees F (5 degrees C) along the Arctic coasts of Russia, Alaska, and Canada.
“An important unresolved question is how the delicate balance of life in the Arctic will respond to such a rapid warming,” Lawrence says. “Will we see, for example, accelerated coastal erosion, or increased methane emissions, or faster shrub encroachment into tundra regions if sea ice continues to retreat rapidly?”…
2008 May-June. Ecological Responses to Climate Change on the Antarctic Peninsula. Warming threatens a rich but delicate biological community. by James McClintock, Hugh Ducklow and William Fraser. The western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula is home to a thriving biological community that includes bottom-dwelling and free-swimming animals, giant algae much like the kelp of temperate latitudes, marine organisms that shelter under or within sea ice, as well as familiar avian and mammalian predators: penguins, seals and whales. But the authors of this article outline various ways in which the peninsular ecosystem is on the threshold of rapid change. Midwinter temperatures have increased by 6 degrees Celsius since the 1950s, sea ice has diminished in extent and longevity, and sea water temperatures are climbing. The loss of ice is detrimental to krill and other organisms at the base of the food chain. A once-common penguin species is in decline on the peninsula, whereas other species are expanding their range. Further warming could allow large predatory crabs to invade the bottom-dwelling community and greatly alter its composition. McClintock is University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Ducklow is co-director of the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole; and Fraser is president of the non-profit Polar Oceans Research Group in Sheridan, Montana.
2008 May. The Carbon Hoofprint. Lauren Wilcox, The WorldArk. Excerpt: A recent report from the United Nations contained a stunning statistic: One industry is responsible for nearly 20% of the greenhouse gases released int the atmosphere worldwide. It isn’t long-haul trucking, or air travel, or stell-smelting vactories, or any of the other exhaust-belching suspects ususally associated wtih environmental woes.
It is the livestock industry.
In “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” released in 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations freported that raising and processing cattle, hogs, poultry and other animals produces 18% of the greenhouse gases; just 13% comes from trucks, cars and other transportation. …The livestock industry’s transgressions include the deforestation of grazing land, the pollution of air and grondwater from animal waste, the excessive use of water to raise grain for feed and its threat on biodiversity….
2008 May 28. The Gathering Storm. By George Black, OnEarth (NRDC). Excerpt: What Happens When Global Warming Turns Millions of Destitute Muslims Into Environmental Refugees?
…water, from the rivers, from the ocean, from the ground, is this country’s existential curse. Bangladesh and its 150 million people — the world’s seventh-largest population, compressed into an area the size of Iowa — have somehow contrived to have too much water, too little water, and more and more water of the wrong kind.
The long-range apocalypse facing the country is global warming and the accelerating sea-level rise that will accompany it. …the daily short-term menace is the steady northward creep of salt from the Bay of Bengal. Today the land is saturated with people; little by little it is also becoming saturated with salt.
…However, try asking the millions of people in the Ganges Delta if they have too much water — at least of the kind they can use. Over the last few centuries, the natural course of the sacred river has shifted eastward, redirecting the surge of freshwater that used to dilute the salt inflow from the Bay of Bengal. …in 1970, India made things worse by building a diversion dam across the Ganges at Farraka, a few miles short of the border. Indian engineers did this to increase the flow of water into the Hooghly River, which runs through Calcutta, … to provide a reliable supply of drinking water to the city and to flush out the silt that threatened to block navigation. Each of these natural and man-made changes has deepened Bangladesh’s freshwater crisis, …many of the smaller rivers and channels that used to thread through the Ganges Delta have dried up and disappeared.
It gets worse. There’s also the scourge that comes from the other direction, from the Bay of Bengal, in the form of catastrophic floods and cyclones.
… “Well, at the moment the sea level is rising at about three millimeters a year” — a little more than one-tenth of an inch — “but that’s going to get worse. The current projections deal with three grades of sea-level rise — 30 centimeters, 75 centimeters, one meter.” He pauses. “Under the most benign of these three scenarios, there’s going to be a permanent loss of 12 percent to 15 percent of our surface area, with a present population of five million to seven million.”….
2008 Apr 24. Sediment cores reveal Antarctica’s warmer past. Quirin Schiermeier, Nature. Excerpt: A unique drilling project in the western Ross Sea has revealed that Antarctica had a much more eventful climate history than previously assumed. A new sediment core hints that the western part of the now-frozen continent went through prolonged ice-free phases – presumably offering a glimpse of where our warming world might be heading.
Researchers reported initial results from ANDRILL, a US$30-million international drilling project, on 16 April at the assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna. During the past two years, the team has extracted two cores, each containing some 1,200 metres of sediment, from the seabed below the vast Ross Ice Shelf, a floating extension of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Together, the cores provide an almost uninterrupted 17-million-year record of Antarctica’s climatic past. Palaeoclimatological records from ice cores, although more detailed and easier to interpret, cover only the past 800,000 years or so. Now, geologists say, Antarctica’s history is laid out much more clearly.
“We have every page of the book,” says David Harwood, an ANDRILL scientist at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
…During a warm period some 3.5 million years ago, …the ice sheet may have disappeared completely for around 200,000 years, raising sea levels globally by up to 10 metres.
For the first time, the ANDRILL cores show exactly how ice retreated rapidly and quickly in Antarctica. “That happened at a time when it was three to four degrees warmer than today, owing to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, which we will very likely reach again soon,” says Tim Naish, a project leader at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in Lower Hutt, New Zealand….
2008 Apr 30. CU-Boulder researchers forecast 3-in-5 chance of record low Arctic sea ice in 2008. EurekAlert (30.4.08) New University of Colorado at Boulder calculations indicate the record low minimum extent of sea ice across the Arctic last September has a three-in-five chance of being shattered again in 2008 because of continued warming temperatures and a preponderance of younger, thinner ice.
The forecast by researchers at CU-Boulder’s Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research is based on satellite data and temperature records and indicates there is a 59 percent chance the annual minimum sea ice record will be broken this fall for the third time in five years. Arctic sea ice declined by roughly 10 percent in the past decade, culminating in a record 2007 minimum ice cover of 1.59 million square miles. That broke the 2005 record by 460,000 miles — an area the size of Texas and California combined.
“The current Arctic ice cover is thinner and younger than at any previous time in our recorded history, and this sets the stage for rapid melt and a new record low,” said Research Associate Sheldon Drobot, who leads CCAR’s Arctic Regional Ice Forecasting System group in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department. Overall, 63 percent of the Arctic ice cover is younger than average, and only 2 percent is older than average, according to Drobot.
2008 April 3, Are Carbon Cuts Just a Fantasy? By JOHN TIERNEY Excerpt: What if there’s no way to cut greenhouse emissions enough to make a real difference?
… It becomes a bit more clear that we may have set ourselves down the wrong path when we framed the challenge of mitigating greenhouse gases in terms of “reducing emissions”… We must acknowledge up front that the world needs more energy. The International Energy Agency projects that global energy demand will increase by 60% by 2030 and recent trends in China and elsewhere suggest that this may even be an underestimate. Consider also that published estimates suggest that 2 billion people or more currently lack access to electricity. Their energy needs have only one direction to go.
…There can be only two answers to this question. One is to develop new technologies of energy supply that are carbon neutral or, to take carbon dioxide out of the air in some manner.
…The conventional view is that putting a price on carbon will create incentives that motivate such innovation. “Incentives” mean (in the short term at least) creating economic discomfort and/or pain leading people to search for new technologies that cost less than those that emit carbon. But here is where the conventional approach founders on the realities of politics. Policy makers cannot be expected to impose upon their constituents discomfort and/or pain and expect to stay in office. So we see a lot of hand waving, talk of long term targets and timetables, emphasis on personal actions, while emissions continue to increase.
…Current efforts to price carbon may contribute in some small way to innovation, but they just as likely may lead to games/shenanigans or just expensive energy.
Instead we should skip all of the middle steps in trying to create incentives that stimulate innovation and focus on policies, and investments, that stimulate such innovation directly.
2008 Mar 11. Sea Levels Are Falling Over the Long Term Because of Lower Basins. By Henry Fountain, NY Times. Excerpt: The idea of sea level changes in this era of environmental concern and all the discussion is about the effect of melting glaciers and shrinking ice caps over the coming decades or centuries. But sea levels have fluctuated greatly over much longer time scales, and glaciers and ice caps have had little to do with it. Instead, the changing size and depth of the ocean basins is responsible. A study looked at factors that affect the size and depth of the basins, including the spreading of new crust at midocean ridges, the subsidence of this crust as it ages and the changes in area as the continents drift. The study, published in Science, suggests that in the late Cretaceous period, 80 million years ago, the oceans were shallow, and thus the sea level was high — about 550 feet higher than it is now. Since then, though, as the ocean floors have aged, they have become deeper and the sea level has fallen. Although in the near future sea levels may rise, the researchers say that in the long term the downward trend will continue. Over the next 80 million years, the sea level will fall by as much as 390 feet.
2008 Mar 4. REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK – Cool View of Science at Meeting on Warming.By ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt: Several hundred people sat in a fifth-floor ballroom at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square on Monday eating pasta and trying hard to prove that they had unraveled the established science showing that humans are warming the world in potentially disruptive ways. …One challenge they faced was that even within their own ranks, the group – among them government and university scientists, antiregulatory campaigners and Congressional staff members – displayed a dizzying range of ideas on what was, or was not, influencing climate.
On Sunday night, the dinner speaker was Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist with a paid position at the antiregulatory Cato Institute who says humans are warming the climate – he projects a three-degree Fahrenheit warming by 2100 – but disputes the value of cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases.
At lunch on Monday, the message from S. Fred Singer, a physicist who runs a group challenging climate orthodoxy, was that climate change was mainly driven by vagaries in the sun.
…The two-day gathering, which concludes Tuesday, was organized by the Heartland Institute, a Chicago group whose antiregulatory philosophy has long been embraced by, and financially supported by, various industries and conservative donors.
…A centerpiece of the meeting was a short report by 24 authors, led by Dr. Singer, provocatively described as the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.” Its main conclusion was this: “Our findings, if sustained, point to natural causes and a moderate warming trend with beneficial effects for humanity and wildlife.” …Kert Davies, a campaigner from Greenpeace, …”This is the largest convergence of the lost tribe of skeptics ever seen on the face of the earth”….
2008 February 20. Meltdown in your wineglass? A conference in Barcelona looks at the effects of global climate change on the world of wine. By Corie Brown, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer. Excerpt: BARCELONA, SPAIN — THE “post-classic” era of winemaking is dawning, according to experts at the second Climate Change & Wine conference in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of last week. …Scientists told winemakers and other industry professionals at the gathering to expect natural acidity to drop, colors to fade and alcohol levels to rise. Aromas could vanish. In short, wine may gradually lose the complexity wine lovers appreciate. And as rising levels of carbon dioxide encourage out-of-control vegetative growth, the green, herbaceous flavors consumers deplore may well increase.
…PRATS and Lurton predicted that, in Bordeaux, Merlot vineyards increasingly will be replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, Bordeaux varieties that do better in warmer weather. …Along Germany’s Rhine Valley, Loosen said he expects more Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah to be planted.
…Eventually, the global map of viable winemaking regions will shift toward the poles, northward in the Northern Hemisphere and southward in the Southern Hemisphere. Warm vineyards in today’s warmest areas, such as those in California’s Central Valley, may be abandoned. And new parts of the globe including England, Denmark, Belgium and the Patagonia regions of Chile and Argentina will emerge as high-quality producers.
… THE narrow coastal regions where cool ocean breezes provide relief from rising temperatures, including Russian River Valley, Tasmania and Puget Sound, will be premier wine areas — along with high-elevation deserts in places as different as China and Arizona. As for such seemingly self-defeating practices as the wine industry’s fuel-burning worldwide shipments of heavy glass bottles, for example, some in the industry are developing more environmentally sensitive alternatives, such as lightweight plastic containers. “We have to be able to hold our heads up on our packaging,” Smart said. Whoa! Screaming Eagle in a bag-in-a-box container? Not while international wine consultant Michel Rolland counts that Napa Valley winery among his clients. The naysayer at the conference, Rolland dismissed concerns about climate change. “Perhaps the warming will stop? We don’t know,” he said. “So far, climate change has been very good for us.”….
2008 January 23. ANTARCTIC ICE LOSS SPEEDS UP, NEARLY MATCHES GREENLAND LOSS. Excerpt: Ice loss in Antarctica increased by 75 percent in the last 10 years due to a speed-up in the flow of its glaciers and is now nearly as great as that observed in Greenland, according to a new, comprehensive study by NASA and university scientists. In a first-of-its-kind study, an international team led by Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the University of California, Irvine, estimated changes in Antarctica’s ice mass between 1996 and 2006 and mapped patterns of ice loss on a glacier-by-glacier basis. They detected a sharp jump in Antarctica’s ice loss, from enough ice to raise global sea level by 0.3 millimeters (.01 inches) a year in 1996, to 0.5 millimeters (.02 inches) a year in 2006. …The team found that the net loss of ice mass from Antarctica increased from 112 (plus or minus 91) gigatonnes a year in 1996 to 196 (plus or minus 92) gigatonnes a year in 2006. A gigatonne is one billion metric tons, or more than 2.2 trillion pounds. These new
results are about 20 percent higher over a comparable time frame than those of a NASA study of Antarctic mass balance last March …Rignot says the increased contribution of Antarctica to global sea level rise indicated by the study warrants closer monitoring… Results of the study are published in February’s issue of Nature Geoscience.
22 January 2008. New Antarctic Ice Core to Provide Clearest Climate Record Yet. Excerpt: After enduring months on the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth, researchers today closed out the inaugural season on an unprecedented, multi-year effort to retrieve the most detailed record of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere over the last 100,000 years. Working as part of the National Science Foundation’s West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) Ice Core Project, a team of scientists, engineers, technicians and students from multiple U.S. institutions have recovered a 580-meter (1,900-foot) ice core–the first section of what is hoped to be a 3,465-meter (11,360-foot) column of ice detailing 100,000 years of Earth’s climate history, including a precise year-by-year record of the last 40,000 years. The dust, chemicals and air trapped in the two-mile-long ice core will provide critical information for scientists working to predict the extent to which human activity will alter Earth’s climate, according to the chief scientist for the project, Kendrick Taylor of the Desert Research Institute of the Nevada System of Higher Education….
13 January 2008. Antarctic ice loss. Excerpt: Increasing amounts of ice mass have been lost from West Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula over the past ten years, according to research from the University of Bristol and published online this week in Nature Geoscience. Meanwhile the ice mass in East Antarctica has been roughly stable, with neither loss nor accumulation over the past decade….Over the 10 year time period of the survey, the ice sheet as a whole was certainly losing mass, and the mass loss increased by 75% during this time. Most of the mass loss is from the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica and the northern tip of the Peninsula where it is driven by ongoing, pronounced glacier acceleration. In East Antarctica, the mass balance is near zero, but the thinning of its potentially vulnerable marine sectors suggests this may change in the near future.
2007 Dec 2. Widening of the tropical belt in a changing climate. Dian J. Seidel, Qiang Fu, William J. Randel & Thomas J. Reichler. Abstract: Some of the earliest unequivocal signs of climate change have been the warming of the air and ocean, thawing of land and melting of ice in the Arctic. But recent studies are showing that the tropics are also changing. Several lines of evidence show that over the past few decades the tropical belt has expanded. This expansion has potentially important implications for subtropical societies and may lead to profound changes in the global climate system. Most importantly, poleward movement of large-scale atmospheric circulation systems, such as jet streams and storm tracks, could result in shifts in precipitation patterns affecting natural ecosystems, agriculture, and water resources. The implications of the expansion for stratospheric circulation and the distribution of ozone in the atmosphere are as yet poorly understood. The observed recent rate of expansion is greater than climate model projections of expansion over the twenty-first century, which suggests that there is still much to be learned about this aspect of global climate change.
18 November 2007. A world dying, but can we unite to save it? Excerpt: Humanity is rapidly turning the seas acid through the same pollution that causes global warming, …. The process – thought to be the most profound change in the chemistry of the oceans for 20 million years – is expected both to disrupt the entire web of life of the oceans and to make climate change worse.
The warning is just one of a whole series of alarming conclusions in a new report published by the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which last month shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president Al Gore.
…The new IPCC report, which is designed to give impetus to the negotiations, highlights the little-known acidification of the oceans, …. It concludes that emissions of carbon dioxide – the main cause of global warming – have already increased the acidity of ocean surface water by 30 per cent, and threaten to treble it by the end of the century.
…the seas have already absorbed about half of all the carbon dioxide emitted by humanity since the start of the industrial revolution,…. This has so far helped slow global warming – which would have accelerated even faster if all this pollution had stayed in the atmosphere, already causing catastrophe – but at an increasingly severe cost.
The gas dissolves in the oceans to make dilute carbonic acid, which is increasingly souring the naturally alkali seawater. This, in turn, mops up calcium carbonate, a substance normally plentiful in the seas, which corals use to build their reefs, and marine creatures use to make the protective shells they need to survive. These include many of the plankton that form the base of the food chain on which all fish and other marine animals depend.
… something similar happened when a comet hit Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago, blasting massive amounts of calcium sulphate into the atmosphere to form sulphuric acid, which in turn caused the extinction of corals and virtually all shell-building species.
“Two million years went by before corals reappeared in the fossil record,” … it took “a further 20 million years” before the diversity of species that use calcium returned to its former levels.
…Getting agreement on a new treaty to tackle climate change hangs on resolving an “after you, Claude” impasse between the United States and China, the two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming….
17 October 2007. Record September Temperatures Extend Southeast Drought. (ENS) Excerpt: ASHEVILLE, North Carolina. Temperatures in September 2007 were the eighth warmest on record, hot enough to break 1,000 daily high records across the United States, say scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville.
The global surface temperature was the fifth warmest on record for September, and the extent of Arctic Sea ice reached its lowest amount in September since satellite measurements began in 1979, shattering the previous record low set in 2005.
The heat extended the worsening drought to almost half of the contiguous United States, with the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Tennessee Valley experiencing the driest conditions. Thirty-eight of the 48 contiguous states were warmer than average, and no state was cooler than average for the month.
…Reports from farmers indicate that the state’s hay shortage could be as high as 800,000 round bales, forcing farmers to seek other options for feeding cattle through the winter. Farmers whose corn and soybean crops were damaged by the drought have offered to help livestock producers by baling and selling their crops for animal feed.
5 October 2007. Is Battered Arctic Sea Ice Down For the Count? Science Vol. 318. no. 5847, pp. 33 – 34. Richard A. Kerr. Excerpt: A few years ago, researchers modeling the fate of Arctic sea ice under global warming saw a good chance that the ice could disappear, in summertime at least, by the end of the 21st century. Then talk swung to summer ice not making it past mid-century. Now, after watching Arctic sea ice shrink back last month to a startling record-low area, scientists are worried that 2050 may be overoptimistic. “This year has been such a quantum leap downward, it has surprised many scientists,” says polar researcher John Walsh of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. “This ice is more vulnerable than we thought.” And that vulnerability seems to be growing from year to year, inspiring concern that Arctic ice could be in an abrupt, irreversible decline. “Maybe we are reaching the tipping point,” says Walsh. Bad sign. Arctic sea ice (gauged here using NASA’s measurement techniques) has been declining, but 2007’s unfavorable weather drove the increasingly vulnerable ice to a new record low. CREDIT: NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER SCIENTIFIC VISUALIZATION STUDIO; (DATA) ROB GERSTON, GSFC… last month, “we completely blew 2005 out of the water,” says sea ice specialist Mark Serreze of the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ice area plummeted to 4.13 million square kilometers, down 43% from 1979. That’s a loss equivalent to more than two Alaskas. …. A plus. The record-breaking loss of sea ice this summer opened the Northwest Passage.
CREDIT: IMAGE COURTESY OF MODIS RAPID RESPONSE PROJECT AT NASA/GSFC
3 October 2007. An interactive graphic from NY Times: Sea Ice in Retreat. A look at this summer’s record-breaking loss of Arctic sea ice. http://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/2007/10/01/science/20071002_ARCTIC_GRAPHIC.html?emc=th&th
2 October 2007. Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts
By ANDREW C. REVKIN. The Arctic ice cap shrank so much this summer that waves briefly lapped along two long-imagined Arctic shipping routes, the Northwest Passage over Canada and the Northern Sea Route over Russia.
Over all, the floating ice dwindled to an extent unparalleled in a century or more, by several estimates.
Now the six-month dark season has returned to the North Pole. In the deepening chill, new ice is already spreading over vast stretches of the Arctic Ocean. Astonished by the summer’s changes, scientists are studying the forces that exposed one million square miles of open water – six Californias – beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979.
…Scientists are also unnerved by the summer’s implications for the future, and their ability to predict it.
Complicating the picture, the striking Arctic change was as much a result of ice moving as melting, many say. A new study, led by Son Nghiem at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and appearing this week in Geophysical Research Letters, used satellites and buoys to show that winds since 2000 had pushed huge amounts of thick old ice out of the Arctic basin past Greenland. The thin floes that formed on the resulting open water melted quicker or could be shuffled together by winds and similarly expelled, the authors said.
The pace of change has far exceeded what had been estimated by almost all the simulations used to envision how the Arctic will respond to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. But that disconnect can cut two ways. Are the models overly conservative? Or are they missing natural influences that can cause wide swings in ice and temperature, thereby dwarfing the slow background warming?
The world is paying more attention than ever.
Russia, Canada and Denmark, prompted in part by years of warming and the ice retreat this year, ratcheted up rhetoric and actions aimed at securing sea routes and seabed resources….
7 September 2007. Buzzing about Climate Change. By Rebecca Lindsey. Excerpt: …Biological oceanographer Wayne Esaias … has made a career studying patterns of plant growth in the world’s oceans and how they relate to climate and ecosystem change, first from ships, then from aircraft, and finally from satellites. But for the past year, he’s been preoccupied with his bee hives, which started as a family project around 1990 when his son was in the Boy Scouts. According to his honeybees, big changes are underway in Maryland forests. The most important event in the life of flowering plants and their pollinators-flowering itself-is happening much earlier in the year than it used to.
…From spring until fall, worker bees forage from dawn until twilight over a radius of up to about 5 kilometers from the hive, bringing back pollen and nectar from plants that are blooming. They turn the nectar into honey, which feeds the colony in the winter or when nectar and pollen are scarce. As the bees stockpile honey, the hive weight goes up….
“During the peak of the nectar flow, a good, strong colony can gain 10 to 20 pounds in one day,” he says. “In Maryland, that goes on for a few weeks in late spring, and then, suddenly, it’s over.” For the remainder of the year, the weight of the hive dwindles as bees sustain themselves on the honey and pollen they have stockpiled during their three-to-four-week feeding frenzy. …”Nearly every night in the spring and summer someone would go out weigh the hives,” he said. “And I guess just because I am a scientist, I started writing these things down. …One day, I just decided to plot it all up [on a graph], just out of curiosity. And what I saw was that although you do see a lot of variability from year to year due to climate events, there was a very noticeable long-term trend, with flowering and nectar flows getting earlier and earlier in the year.”…records showed an advance in flowering (earlier blooming) beginning as far back as 1970.
…Esaias thinks that urbanization is mostly responsible for the changes in flowering. …Urbanization creates a heat island, an area where surface temperatures are much higher than surrounding rural areas. Pavement, less soil moisture, air pollution, and heat generated by energy use conspire to raise the city temperatures as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) over surrounding areas. …As temperatures rise, spring comes earlier. Earlier leaf emergence and flowering have been observed in numerous cities across the world.
“I am farther out from the city, and it took 15 years for the urban heat island effect to get here,” he concludes. Between urbanization and global warming from greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise in coming years; the acceleration in flowering times that Esaias’ honeybees have documented so far may not be the end of the changes….
4 September 2007. Loss of Arctic ice leaves experts stunned. David Adam, environment correspondent. Guardian Unlimited
Excerpt: The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at record lows, scientists have announced.
Experts say they are “stunned” by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as the UK disappearing in the last week alone. So much ice has melted this summer that the Northwest passage across the top of Canada is fully navigable, and observers say the Northeast passage along Russia’s Arctic coast could open later this month.
If the increased rate of melting continues, the summertime Arctic could be totally free of ice by 2030.
Mark Serreze, an Arctic specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University in Denver, said: “It’s amazing. It’s simply fallen off a cliff and we’re still losing ice.” The Arctic has now lost about a third of its ice since satellite measurements began thirty years ago, and the rate of loss has accelerated sharply since 2002.
Dr Serreze said: “If you asked me a couple of years ago when the Arctic could lose all of its ice then I would have said 2100, or 2070 maybe. But now I think that 2030 is a reasonable estimate. It seems that the Arctic is going to be a very different place within our lifetimes, and certainly within our childrens’ lifetimes.”
…Changes in wind and ocean circulation patterns can help reduce sea ice extent, but Dr Serreze said the main culprit was man-made global warming.
“The rules are starting to change and what’s changing the rules is the input of greenhouse gases.”
6 August 2007 The CO2 problem in 6 easy steps.
(From RealClimate website). We often get requests to provide an easy-to-understand explanation for why increasing CO2 is a significant problem without relying on climate models and we are generally happy to oblige. The explanation has a number of separate steps which tend to sometimes get confused and so we will try to break it down carefully. [Titles of steps:]
Step 1: There is a natural greenhouse effect…..
Step 2: Trace gases contribute to the natural greenhouse effect…..
Step 3: The trace greenhouse gases have increased markedly due to human emissions….
Step 4: Radiative forcing is a useful diagnostic and can easily be calculated….
Step 5: Climate sensitivity is around 3¼C for a doubling of CO2 ….
Step 6: Radiative forcing x climate sensitivity is a significant number….
2007 July 17, Glaciers in Retreat. By SOMINI SENGUPTA, NY Times. Excerpt: ON CHORABARI GLACIER, India – This is how a glacier retreats. At nearly 13,000 feet above sea level, in the shadow of a sharp Himalayan peak, a wall of black ice oozes in the sunshine. A tumbling stone breaks the silence of the mountains, or water gurgles under the ground, a sign that the glacier is melting from inside. Where it empties out – scientists call it the snout – a noisy, frothy stream rushes down to meet the river Ganges.
D.P. Dobhal, a glaciologist who has spent the last three years climbing and poking the Chorabari glacier, stands at the edge of the snout and points ahead. Three years ago, the snout was roughly 90 feet farther away. On a map drawn in 1962, it was plotted 860 feet from here. Mr. Dobhal marked the spot with a Stonehenge-like pile of rocks.
Mr. Dobhal’s steep and solitary quest – to measure the changes in the glacier’s size and volume – points to a looming worldwide concern, with particularly serious repercussions for India and its neighbors. The thousands of glaciers studded across 1,500 miles of the Himalayas make up the savings account of South Asia’s water supply, feeding more than a dozen major rivers and sustaining a billion people downstream. Their apparent retreat threatens to bear heavily on everything from the region’s drinking water supply to agricultural production to disease and floods.
…According to Mr. Dobhal’s measurements, the Chorabari’s snout has retreated 29.5 feet every year for the last three years, …. A recent study by the Indian Space Research Organization, using satellite imaging to gauge the changes to 466 glaciers, has found more than a 20 percent reduction in size from 1962 to 2001, with bigger glaciers breaking into smaller pieces, each one retreating faster than its parent. A separate study found the Parbati glacier, one of the largest in the area, to be retreating by 170 feet a year during the 1990s. Another glacier that Mr. Dobhal has tracked, known as Dokriani, lost 20 percent of its size in three decades. Between 1991 and 1995, its snout inched back 55 feet each year….
2007 July 12. Conservation Key as Climate Change Curtails Western Water. SAN FRANCISCO, California (ENS) – The drought now parching Western states is a taste of things to come, finds a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council that assesses the effects of global warming on water supplies in the West. …”Global warming will make it harder for farms and cities to find water,” said Barry Nelson, study co-author and co-director of NRDC’s western water project. “The latest global warming science is clear – drought-like conditions are likely to increase. This means that conservation and water use efficiency will become our most important sources of new water supply,” Nelson said. Over the past eight years, the Colorado River, which supplies water to parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, has received just over half its average flow.
Southern California is experiencing its driest year on record. The state Department of Water Resources predicts that every river in the southern Sierra Nevada will receive less than half of normal runoff this year.
Global warming may cause winter precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow, reducing water supply from the snowpack.
…The report calls on regions to develop cooperative solutions that meet their water needs together with other benefits. For example, groundwater de-salters in California’s Chino basin produce water supplies, while cleaning up contaminated underground aquifers. Urban stormwater retention programs designed to reduce flooding and pollution can also supply water. The report highlights wastewater recycling as a promising solution because it will not be affected by global warming, but advises that traditional approaches – dams, diversions and groundwater pumping – are likely to perform poorly in the future.
…The full report, “In Hot Water: Water Management Strategies to Weather the Effects of Global Warming,” is online at: http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/hotwater/contents.asp
2007 July 11. Balmy Weather May Bench a Baseball Staple. By Monica Davey, The New York Times. Excerpt: RUSSELL, Pa. — Careers at stake with each swing, baseball players leave little to sport when it comes to their bats. They weigh them. They count their grains. They talk to them.
But in towns like this one, in the heart of the mountain forests that supply the nation’s finest baseball bats, the future of the ash tree is in doubt because of a killer beetle and a warming climate, and with it, the complicated relationship of the baseball player to his bat.
…As early as this summer, federal officials hope to set loose Asian wasps never seen in this country with the purpose of attacking the emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle accused of killing 25 million ash trees in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Maryland since it was spotted in the United States five years ago.
…Along with the ash borer beetle, a warming of the local climate could also affect the ash used for bats, some scientists say. As temperatures rise, the ash wood that now makes an ideally dense but flexible bat might turn softer because of a longer growing season. Eventually, some scientists predict, the ash tree could vanish from the region.
…“We’re watching all this very closely,” said Brian Boltz, the general manager of the Larimer & Norton company, whose Russell mill each day saws, grades and dries scores of billets destined to become Louisville Slugger bats. “Maybe it means more maple bats. Or it may be a matter of using a different species for our bats altogether.”…
2007 July 8. Elevated Carbon Dioxide In Atmosphere Weakens Defenses Of Soybeans To Herbivores. Science Daily, July 8, 2007. Excerpt: Scientists have found that elevated carbon dioxide levels may negatively impact the relationship between some plants and insects. Elevated CO2 is considered to be a serious catalyst of global change. Its effects can be felt throughout the ecosystem, including the insect-plant food chain link… Many plants have inherent enzyme-based defenses that are released during insect attack. This study found that when soybeans were exposed to elevated amounts of CO2 the plants became more susceptible to attack by Japanese beetles… Dr. Jorge Zavala, Sr. of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, and his colleagues conducted tests in which they evaluated this herbivorous attack-defense cycle. They studied soybeans grown in traditional field conditions but with additional exposure to ambient CO2.
2007 July 2. Alaskan Wildlife-Rich Coastal Land Eroding Because of Disappearing Ice. By Yereth Rosen, Reuters, Excerpt: A swath of marshy, wildlife-rich coastal land in Arctic Alaska being eyed for oil drilling is eroding rapidly probably because of the disappearance of sea ice that used to protect it from the ocean waves, according to a study released on Monday. Using satellite data and maps compiled from aerial photographs, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, found that land lost to erosion north of Teshekpuk Lake, Arctic Alaska’s largest lake, was twice as fast in 1985 to 2005 period than in the previous 30 years… In addition, salty sea water has contaminated formerly freshwater lakes, migratory birds, caribou and other wildlife populations has lost habitat and the sparse human infrastructure along the coastline has been damaged, the study said… ‘The area (Teshekpuk Lake) is one of the most important areas in the entire Arctic, and I don’t just mean in Arctic Alaska,’ said Stan Senner, executive director of Audubon Alaska. ‘It is simply the most important goose-molting area in the Arctic.’ It is also believed to hold vast amounts of untapped oil. In recent years, the Bush administration lifted a decades-long ban on oil development and has tried to sell oil and gas exploration rights there. Environmentalists and the region’s Inupiat Eskimos have cited global warming impacts as a reason to oppose drilling in land near Teshekpuk Lake.
2007 July 1. Penguins Struggle in a Warning World. By William Mullen, The Chicago Tribune. Excerpt: On a cloudy spring day, the first gray Adelie penguin chicks are hatching out in round pebble nests strewn across a bleak, rocky coastline, poking their heads from beneath the snowy-white shirt front of an adult for their first blinking look at the world… These days, however, Adelies are being stalked by a threat they cannot see and cannot fight off: the weather. The birds, which have adapted over millions of years to the most extreme climate on Earth, are beginning to die off by the tens of thousands as a result of global warming. The Adelie penguin is regarded as an ‘indicator’ species, an animal so delicately attuned to its environment that its survival is threatened as soon as something goes wrong. So as temperatures rise, Adelies are among the first to feel the effects, early victims of the devastating worldwide changes that scientists expect if the warming persists and intensifies… In this vulnerable area, entire colonies of Adelie penguins have died because, researchers believe, the ice no longer extends far enough into the sea to allow the birds to reach their winter feeding grounds. Biologist William Fraser monitors a 50-square-mile area where 56,000 Adelies have perished… For now, such deaths represent a small fraction of the world’s estimated 8 million to 10 million Adelie penguins, which live only on Antarctica… But the die-offs scientists are seeing in the warmest areas of Antarctica are expected to spread as temperatures continue to rise… The reason is simple, he said: ‘Penguins don’t see well in the dark.’ Below the Antarctic Circle, the hours of sunlight shrink during winter until it is dark 24 hours a day. That is one key reason Adelie penguins migrate: They must travel far enough north so there is enough sunlight for a successful daily hunt. Otherwise, they will starve. A warmer Antarctic climate may shrink the winter ice so much that it strands the birds too far south, in places where the sun doesn’t rise, and the lights may go out permanently for the Adelies.
28 June 2007. Study Sees Climate Change Impact on Alaska. By William Yardley. New York Times.
Excerpt: Many of Alaska’s roads, runways, railroads and water and sewer systems will wear out more quickly and cost more to repair or replace because of climate change, according to a study released yesterday. Higher temperatures, melting permafrost, a reduction in polar ice and increased flooding are expected to raise the repair and replacement cost of thousands of infrastructure projects as much as $6.1 billion for a total of nearly $40 billion — about a 20 percent increase — from now to 2030, according to the study… The cost estimates are based on the needs of nearly 16,000 pieces of public infrastructure, including airports and small segments of roads. … Temperatures have risen by an average of two to five degrees in different parts of the state in recent decades, and the changes have already been linked to problems like coastal erosion in remote Alaskan villages and wildfires. …“There are a million other issues related to climate change,” said Peter Larsen, a natural resource economist at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and the lead researcher for the report. “This is just one component, but it’s a critical piece because this is where all the goods and services come through the state’s economy, is through the infrastructure.” …
27 May 2007. Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline. By WILLIAM YARDLEY. NY Times. Excerpt: NEWTOK, Alaska …”I don’t want to live in permafrost no more,” said Frank Tommy, 47, …”It’s too muddy. Everything is crooked around here.” The earth beneath much of Alaska … permanently frozen subsoil, known as permafrost, upon which Newtok and so many other Native Alaskan villages rest, is melting, yielding to warming air temperatures and a warming ocean. …The village is below sea level, and sinking. Boardwalks squish into the spring muck. …Studies say Newtok could be washed away within a decade. Along with the villages of Shishmaref and Kivalina farther to the north, it has been the hardest hit of about 180 Alaska villages that suffer some degree of erosion….
15 May 2007. Panel: Climate Change Will Hurt Africa. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – Seth Borenstein in Washington and Michael Casey in Bangkok, Thailand.. Excerpt: JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) — Global warming isn’t just a matter of melting icebergs and polar bears chasing after them. It’s also Lake Chad drying up, the glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro disappearing, increasing extreme weather, conflict and hungry people throughout Africa. According to a landmark effort to assess the risks of global warming, Africa — by far the lowest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world — is projected to be among the regions hardest hit by environmental change. ”We never used to have malaria in the highlands where I’m from, now we do,” said Kenyan lawmaker Mwancha Okioma, at a briefing on climate change at the Pan African Parliament Monday.
…”Planes used to take people through Kilimanjaro to see the snows, now it’s only at the very top. …On the Net: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: www.ipcc.ch
15 May 2007. Scientists Back Off Theory of a Colder Europe in a Warming World. Associated Press…By WALTER GIBBS. Excerpt: OSLO – Mainstream climatologists who have feared that global warming could have the paradoxical effect of cooling northwestern Europe or even plunging it into a small ice age have stopped worrying about that particular disaster, although it retains a vivid hold on the public imagination.
The idea, which held climate theorists in its icy grip for years, was that the North Atlantic Current, an extension of the Gulf Stream that cuts northeast across the Atlantic Ocean to bathe the high latitudes of Europe with warmish equatorial water, could shut down in a greenhouse world….
All that has now been removed from the forecast. Not only is northern Europe warming, but every major climate model produced by scientists worldwide in recent years has also shown that the warming will almost certainly continue.
“The concern had previously been that we were close to a threshold where the Atlantic circulation system would stop,” said Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We now believe we are much farther from that threshold, thanks to improved modeling and ocean measurements. The Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current are more stable than previously thought.”….
11 April 2007. Sea’s Rise in India Buries Islands and a Way of Life. By SOMINI SENGUPTA. New York Times. Excerpt: Shyamal Mandal lives at the edge of ruin. In front of his small mud house lies the wreckage of what was once his village on this fragile delta island near the Bay of Bengal. Half of it has sunk into the river. …The sinking of Ghoramara can be attributed to a confluence of disasters, natural and human, not least the rising sea. The rivers that pour down from the Himalayas and empty into the bay have swelled and shifted in recent decades, placing this and the rest of the delicate islands known as the Sundarbans in the mouth of daily danger. Certainly nature would have forced these islands to shift size and shape, drowning some, giving rise to others. But there is little doubt, scientists say, that human-induced climate change has made them particularly vulnerable. A recent study by Sugata Hazra, an oceanographer at Jadavpur University in nearby Calcutta, found that in the last 30 years, nearly 31 square miles of the Sundarbans have vanished entirely. More than 600 families have been displaced, according to local government authorities. Fields and ponds have been submerged. Ghoramara alone has shrunk to less than two square miles, about half of its size in 1969, Mr. Hazra’s study concluded. Two other islands have vanished entirely. ….
1 April 2007. 60 Minutes TV Program: The Age of Warming. Includes the following movie segments (on Yahoo site):
-DISAPPEARING ACT — How the loss of glaciers will impact mankind.
-PENGUIN PROBLEM — What’s behind a dramatic drop in a penguin population?
-THE CORE OF IT ALL — For Antarctic scientist Paul Mayewski, the answers are on ice.
-COASTAL COLLAPSE? — A dire prediction for mankind
-An Era Of Consequence
-A Skeptic No More
-Why Antarctica Matters
-Going. . . Going. . . Gone?
You have to suffer through the commercials, but the 60 Minutes piece is excellent
April 2007 The Global Warming Survival Guide. Time Magazine website. Includes 51 Things We Can Do [to slow global warming] http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/environment/0,28757,1602354,00.html
29 March 2007. On the Front Lines Of Climate Change. By MARK HERTSGAARD, Time Magazine http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1604879,00.html
29 March 2007. What Now For Our Feverish Planet? By JEFFREY KLUGER, Time Magazine. http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,1604908,00.html
27 March 2007. Cities at Risk of Rising Sea Levels. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Excerpt: LONDON (AP) — More than two-thirds of the world’s large cities are in areas vulnerable to global warming and rising sea levels, and millions of people are at risk of being swamped by flooding and intense storms, according to a new study released Wednesday. …threatened coastal areas worldwide — defined as those lying at less than 33 feet above sea level …More than 180 countries have populations in low-elevation coastal zones, and about 70 percent of those have urban areas of more than 5 million people that are under threat. Among them: Tokyo; New York; Mumbai, India; Shanghai, China; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. …”Migration away from the zone at risk will be necessary but costly and hard to implement, so coastal settlements will also need to be modified to protect residents,” said Gordon McGranahan of the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, a co-author of the study. …the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…warned of sea-level rises of 7-23 inches by the end of the century due to global warming, making coastal populations vulnerable to flooding and more intense hurricanes and typhoons. …The five nations with the largest total population living in endangered coastal areas are all in Asia: China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia.
23 March 2007. GRAVITY MEASUREMENTS HELP MELT ICE MYSTERIES. Earth Observatory. Excerpt: Greenland is cold and hot. It’s a deep freezer storing 10 percent of Earth’s ice and a subject of fevered debate. If something should melt all that ice, global sea level could rise as much as 7 meters (23 feet). Greenland and Antarctica – Earth’s two biggest icehouses – are important indicators of climate change and a high priority for research, as highlighted by the newly inaugurated International Polar Year. Just a few years ago, the world’s climate scientists predicted that Greenland wouldn’t have much impact at all on sea level in the coming decades. But recent measurements show that Greenland’s ice cap is melting much faster than expected. These new data come from the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace). …Grace measurements have revealed that in just four years, from 2002 to 2006, Greenland lost between 150 and 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year. ….”Before Grace, the change of Greenland’s ice sheet was inferred by a combination of more regional radar and altimeter studies pieced together over many years, but Grace can measure changes in the weight of the ice directly and cover the entire ice sheet of Greenland every month,” says Michael Watkins, Grace project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif…..”We have to pay attention,” Velicogna adds. “These ice sheets are changing much faster than we were expecting. Observations are the most powerful tool we have to know what is going on, especially when the changes – and what’s causing them – are not obvious.”
For more information and images, visit: NASA Looking at Earth
25 February 2007. Global warming: enough to make you sick Rising temperatures are redistributing bacteria, insects and plants, exposing people to diseases they’d never encountered before. By Jia-Rui Chong, Times Staff Writer. EXCERPT: CORDOVA, ALASKA – Oysterman Jim Aguiar had never had to deal with the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus in his 25 years working the frigid waters of Prince William Sound…. By summer 2004, the temperature had risen just enough to poke above the crucial 59-degree mark. Cruise ship passengers who had eaten local oysters were soon coming down with diarrhea, cramping and vomiting – the first cases of Vibrio food poisoning in Alaska that anyone could remember. As scientists later determined, the culprit was not just the bacterium, but the warming that allowed it to proliferate.”This was probably the best example to date of how global climate change is changing the importation of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, acting chief of epidemiology at the Alaska Division of Public Health, who published a study on the outbreak…. Incremental temperature changes have begun to redraw the distribution of bacteria, insects and plants, exposing new populations to diseases that they have never seen before……The temperature change has been small, about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 150 years, but it has been enough to alter disease patterns across the globe…….According to a landmark United Nations report released this month, global warming has reached a point where even if greenhouse gas emissions could be held stable, the trend would continue for centuries. The report painted a grim picture of the future – rising sea levels, more intense storms, widespread drought. Predicting the future of disease, however, has proven difficult because of myriad factors – many of which have little to do with global warming. Diseases move with people, they follow trade routes, they thrive in places with poor sanitation, they develop resistance to medicines, they can blossom during war or economic breakdowns…..
24 February 2007. VIDEO | Canaries in the Mine: Inuit Warn World of Human Cost of Climate Change – A Report by Sari Gelzer and Kelpie Wilson. “Global warming is a human rights issue,” says Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit activist and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. In her lifetime, Watt-Cloutier has witnessed the drastic effects of climate change that threaten her community’s livelihood and cultural identity. Watt-Cloutier testified in a hearing on March 1, 2007 to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights which was set up to investigate the relationship between human rights and climate change in North and South America. The hearing was a result of a petition that she and 62 other Inuit in Alaska and Canada filed in 2005 in an attempt to hold the United States accountable for its failure to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.
17 February 2007. THE INSIDES OF CLOUDS MAY BE THE KEY TO CLIMATE CHANGE — As scientists develop ever more sophisticated climate models to project an expected path of temperature change, it is becoming increasingly important to include the effects of aerosols on clouds.
16 February 2007. Warmest January ever recorded worldwide in 2007: US scientists. Excerpt: NEW YORK (AFP) – World temperatures in January were the highest ever recorded for that month of the year, US government scientists said. “The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest for any January on record,” according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century average of 53.6 degrees F (12 C) for January based on preliminary data, NOAA said. …Land surface temperature was a record 3.40 F (1.89 C) warmer than average, while global ocean surface temperature was the fourth warmest in 128 years, about 0.1 F (0.05 C) cooler than the record established during the very strong El Nino climate phenomenon in 1998.
A moderate El Nino started in September and continued into January before weakening, NOAA said. El Nino is an occasional seasonal warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean that upsets normal weather patterns from the western seaboard of Latin America to East Africa, and potentially has a global impact on climate. “The presence of El Nino along with the continuing global warming trend contributed to the record warm January,” NOAA said. “The unusually warm conditions contributed to the second lowest January snow cover extent on record for the Eurasian continent,” it said. “During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.11 F (0.06 C) per decade, but the rate of increase has been three times larger since 1976, or 0.32 F (0.18 C) per decade, with some of the largest temperature increases occurring in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere,” it said.
12 February 2007. NASA STUDY FINDS WARMER FUTURE COULD BRING DROUGHTS. Excerpt: NASA scientists may have discovered how a warmer climate in the future could increase droughts in certain parts of the world, including the southwest United States. The researchers compared historical records of the climate impact of changes in the sun’s output with model projections of how a warmer climate driven by greenhouse gases would change rainfall patterns. They found that a warmer future climate likely will produce droughts in the same areas as those observed in ancient times, but potentially with greater severity. …said Drew Shindell, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York “There is some evidence that rainfall patterns already may be changing. Much of the Mediterranean area, North Africa and the Middle East rapidly are becoming drier. If the trend continues as expected, the consequences may be severe in only a couple of decades. These changes could pose significant water resource challenges to large segments of the population.” …Increases in solar output break up oxygen molecules, raising ozone concentrations in the upper atmosphere. This adds to upper atmospheric heating that leads to shifts in circulations down to the surface. In turn, surface temperatures warm, and the Earth’s basic rainfall patterns are enhanced. For instance, in wet regions such as the tropics, precipitation usually increases, while dry areas become more prone to drought since rainfall decreases and warmer temperatures help remove the small amount of moisture in the soil. …According to the researchers, the same processes identified by this new research very likely also affected past civilizations, such as the Pueblo people of New Mexico and Arizona who abandoned cities in the 1300s.
6 February 2007. On the Climate Change Beat, Doubt Gives Way to Certainty. By WILLIAM K. STEVENS. NY Times. Excerpt: …it was said in the 1990s that while the available evidence of a serious human impact on the earth’s climate might be preponderant enough to meet the legal test for liability in a civil suit, it fell short of the more stringent “beyond a reasonable doubt” test of guilt in a criminal case. …I’ve been avidly watching from the sideline as the strengthening evidence of climate change has accumulated, not least the discovery that the Greenland ice cap is melting faster than had been thought. The implications of that are enormous, though the speed with which the melting may catastrophically raise sea levels is uncertain – as are many aspects of what a still hazily discerned climatic future may hold. Last week, in its first major report since 2001, the world’s most authoritative group of climate scientists issued its strongest statement yet on the relationship between global warming and human activity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the likelihood was 90 percent to 99 percent that emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, spewed from tailpipes and smokestacks, were the dominant cause of the observed warming of the last 50 years. In the panel’s parlance, this level of certainty is labeled “very likely.” …Some experts believe that no matter what humans do to try to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, a doubling is all but inevitable by 2100….
February 2007. The Sands of Time. By Kathleen Wong, ScienceMatters@Berkeley. Excerpt: Jere Lipps has an extraordinarily fine-grained view of history. As a professor of paleontology at UC Berkeley, Lipps examines records of the past written in layers of sediments and fossils. His work has shed light on ancient earthquakes and extinction patterns, the evolution of early life and even astrobiology, and taken him to more than 160 countries over the last 40 years. The common thread to Lipps’s far-ranging research? Foraminifera: tiny marine creatures easily mistaken for sand. Single-celled and quite separate from animals, foraminifera live in virtually every marine habitat explored by man. Even among scientists, foraminifera are chiefly known by their shells. These come in a galaxy of forms-stars and coils, turbans and disks, bulbous cones and simple tubes-segmented into chambers and pierced by patterns of pores….foraminifera may have evolved into more than 80,000 species during their 545 million years on Earth. …Recently, Lipps and his international team used foraminifera to analyze earthquake and tsunami frequency around the Pacific Rim. …”We estimate that along our coast, from Alaska to Baja, we get a really big earthquake and tsunami every 200 to 300 years,” Lipps says….
16 January 2007. The Warming of Greenland. By JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF, The New York Times
LIVERPOOL LAND, Greenland – Excerpt: Flying over snow-capped peaks and into a thick fog, the helicopter set down on a barren strip of rocks…..When it had disappeared over the horizon, no sound remained but the howling of the Arctic wind. “It feels a little like the days of the old explorers, doesn’t it?” Dennis Schmitt said. Mr. Schmitt, a 60-year-old explorer from Berkeley, Calif., had just landed on a newly revealed island 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle in eastern Greenland. ….Maps of the region show a mountainous peninsula covered with glaciers. …Now, where the maps showed only ice, a band of fast-flowing seawater ran between a newly exposed shoreline and the aquamarine-blue walls of a retreating ice shelf. The water was littered with dozens of icebergs, some as large as half an acre; every hour or so, several more tons of ice fractured off the shelf with a thunderous crack and an earth-shaking rumble. All over Greenland and the Arctic, rising temperatures are not simply melting ice; they are changing the very geography of coastlines. Nunataks – “lonely mountains” in Inuit – that were encased in the margins of Greenland’s ice sheet are being freed of their age-old bonds,… Arctic explorer Will Steger said,”This phenomenon – of an island all of a sudden appearing out of nowhere and the ice melting around it – is a real common phenomenon now.”…..The sudden appearance of the islands is a symptom of an ice sheet going into retreat, scientists say.…Tidewater glaciers, which discharge ice into the oceans as they break up in the process called calving, have doubled and tripled in speed all over Greenland. Ice shelves are breaking up, and summertime “glacial earthquakes” have been detected within the ice sheet…….Global warming has profoundly altered the nature of polar exploration, said Mr. Schmitt….
30 December 2006. Arctic Ice Shelf Broke Off Canadian Island. NY Times. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. Excerpt: A 25-square-mile shelf of floating ice that jutted into the Arctic Ocean for 3,000 years from Canada’s northernmost shore broke away abruptly in the summer of 2005, apparently freed by sharply warming temperatures and jostling wind and waves, scientists said yesterday. …The Arctic sea ice has experienced sharp summertime retreats for several decades, adding to evidence of significant warming near the North Pole. (Neither melting ice shelves nor sea ice contribute to rising sea levels because they sit in the sea already, like ice cubes in a drink.) Ninety percent of the 3,900 square miles of ice shelves that existed in 1906 when the Arctic explorer Robert Peary first surveyed the region are gone, said Luke Copland, the director of the University of Ottawa’s Laboratory for Cryospheric Research. …He said that it waspremature to attribute the breakaway to human-caused climate change, although he said that it was a clear sign the warming in the region was producing significant and abrupt changes, and more were likely in coming years. …The age of the Ayles ice shelf was estimated by using chemical means to date driftwood found behind it, said Derek Mueller, one of those who helped write the paper, from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
27 December 2006. Agency Proposes to List Polar Bears as Threatened. By FELICITY BARRINGER and ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 – The Interior Department proposed Wednesday to designate polar bears as a threatened species, saying that the accelerating loss of the Arctic ice that is the bears’ hunting platform has led biologists to believe that bear populations will decline, perhaps sharply, in the coming decades. … in a conference call with reporters, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said that although his decision to seek protection for polar bears acknowledged the melting of the Arctic ice, his department was not taking a position on why the ice was melting or what to do about it. …[he said] it was not his department’s job to assess causes or prescribe solutions. …The scientific analysis in the proposal itself, however, did assess the cause of melting ice. …buildup of heat-trapping gases was probably contributing to the loss of sea ice to date or that the continued buildup of these gases, left unchecked, could create ice-free Arctic summers …possibly in as little as three decades. The Interior Department …must also work out a recovery plan to control and reduce harmful impacts to the species, usually by controlling the activities that cause harm. It is unclear whether such a recovery plan could avoid addressing the link between manmade emissions of heat-trapping gases and the increase in Arctic temperatures. Kert Davies, the research director for Greenpeace U.S.A., one of three environmental groups that sued the Interior Department in 2005 to force it to add polar bears to the list of threatened species, said the administration was “clearly scrambling for credibility of any kind in this issue.” Kassie Siegel, the lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, …that took the lead in the lawsuit calling on the department to list the polar bear, added, “I don’t see how even this administration can write this proposal without acknowledging that the primary threat to polar bears is global warming and without acknowledging the science of global warming.” As a result of the lawsuit, the Interior Department had a court-ordered deadline of Wednesday to make a decision. The worldwide population of polar bears currently stands at 20,000 to 25,000, broken into 19 groups in Russia, Denmark, Norway, Canada and the United States. …The most-studied bear population, in the Western Hudson Bay in Canada, has dropped 22 percent, to 935 from 1,194 from 1987 to 2004….
19 December 2006. Global Warming Skeptics: A Primer Guess who’s funding the global warming doubt shops? For totally different view, see web page “GLOBAL WARMING: MYTH VS. REALITY” http://www.look-to-the-skies.com/new_page_3.htm Caution: please read this with especially mindful critical reading skills. See also
http://www.heatisonline.org/main.cfm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Singer and
16 December 2006. Global Warming Poses Threat to Ski Resorts in the Alps. By MARK LANDLER, The New York Times. KITZBYHEL, Austria. Excerpt: At the bottom of the Hahnenkamm, the famously treacherous downhill course in this Austrian ski resort, the slope peters out into a grassy field…Snow cannons are showering clouds of white crystals over the slopes, but by midmorning each day, the machines have to be turned off because the mercury has risen too far for the fake snow to stick…. The record warmth – in some places autumn temperatures were three degrees Celsius above average – has brought home the profound threat of climate change to Europe’s ski industry…. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsored the second study, stopped short of predicting ruin for Europe’s ski industry. But Bruno Abegg, a researcher at the University of Zurich who was involved in it, said low-lying resorts faced an insuperable problem… He said, “I wouldn’t invest in KitzbŸhel.” Because KitzbŸhel sits in a low Tyrolean valley, at an altitude of only 2,624 feet, it is viewed as particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming. For KitzbŸhel, a glamorous dowager among Alpine resorts, the only comfort in the warm spell is that it has afflicted rivals at all altitudes. Val d’Isare, in France, and St. Moritz, in Switzerland – which are twice as high – were forced to cancel recent World Cup races for lack of snow…. A few guests have canceled bookings for Christmas week, according to the local tourism office. But most are holding on to see if the weather changes; snow is forecast for Sunday. If it does not snow by New Year’s Day, however, people here say the trickle of cancellations could turn into a flood. As for the broader threat of global warming, townspeople react with a mixture of fatalism and mild skepticism to studies like the one coordinated by Austria’s Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, which says the Alps have not been this warm since the eighth century….. Climatologists, however, say the warming trend will become dramatic by 2020. The new studies are alarming, suggesting that the Alps are warming twice as fast as the average in the rest of the world. In 1980, 75 percent of Alpine glaciers were advancing; now, 90 percent are retreating. Reinhard Bšhm, a meteorologist who worked on the study of Alpine temperatures, said one explanation for the disparity was the region’s location in the middle of the European continent, far from any oceans, which react more moderately to global warming trends……
15 December 2006. OVERCONFIDENCE LEADS TO BIAS IN CLIMATE CHANGE ESTIMATIONS. NASA Earth Observatory News. – Overconfidence in projections of climate change may lead to inappropriate actions on the parts of governments, industries and individuals, according to an international team of climate researchers. “Climate researchers often use a scenario approach,” says Dr. Klaus Keller, assistant professor of geosciences, Penn State. “Nevertheless, scenarios are typically silent on the question of probabilities.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is in its third round of climate assessment, uses models that scenarios of human climate forcing drive. These forcing scenarios are, the researchers say, overconfident.
12 December, 2006. NASA ICE IMAGES AID STUDY OF PACIFIC WALRUS ARCTIC HABITATS. NASA Earth Observatory News. – NASA recently collaborated with the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the usefulness of satellite imagery for studying the effect of climate change on the Pacific walrus ice habitat in Alaska.
12 December 2006. By 2040, Greenhouse Gases Could Lead to an Open Arctic Sea in Summers. By ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt: New studies project that the Arctic Ocean could be mostly open water in summer by 2040 – several decades earlier than previously expected – partly as a result of global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gases….The projections come from computer simulations of climate and ice and from direct measurements showing that the amount of ice coverage has been declining for 30 years. The latest modeling study, being published on Tuesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was led by Marika Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo….In the simulations, the shift seems to occur when a pulse of warm Atlantic Ocean water combines with the thinning and retreat of ice under the influence of the global warming trend. …Separately, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder found that the normal expansion of sea ice as the Arctic chilled in fall had been extraordinarily sluggish this year, …. The November average ice coverage was by far the lowest since satellite measurements began in 1979, said Walt Meier, a scientist at the ice center. “It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that things will be able to turn around,” he said. “It would take several very cold winters and cool summers, which seems unlikely under global warming conditions.” Several experts not involved with the studies said they were significant for human affairs, as well as biology. Polar bears will struggle, these scientists said, and so will Arctic people who still go out on sea ice to hunt seals. By contrast, countries and businesses pursuing new shipping lanes, energy supplies and fishing grounds could profit….
6 December, 2006. NASA RESEARCH REVEALS CLIMATE WARMING REDUCES OCEAN FOOD SUPPLY. NASA Earth Observatory News. – In a NASA study, scientists have concluded that when Earth’s climate warms, there is a reduction in the ocean’s primary food supply
2006 December [Winter 2007] Himalaya Melting By Broughton Coburn, OnEarth [NRDC] – Glacial lakes pose a new peril as ice turns to water….Glaciologists … are seeing glacial lakes forming and filling faster than they can identify and catalog them. Ultimately, they fear, many will simply grow too large and burst through their moraines of unstable ice and rubble — as happened in northern Bhutan in 1994. That year, a mile-long glacial lake named Luggye Tsho, near Bhutan’s border with Tibet, ruptured catastrophically. Over a period of several hours, the entire lake — more than a billion cubic feet of water — emptied out, sending a rampaging torrent down valley that swept away an artisans’ colony near the town of Punakha, killing 23 people. …The Himalaya contains more than 18,000 glaciers covering an area of 13,000 square miles. Directly to the north on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau …46,298 glaciers blanket nearly 60,000 square miles. …Global warming has forced into retreat virtually all of these glaciers, which are shrinking at a rate of 100 to 230 feet per year …Lama Dorje, …says, …”We heard a low, whirring rumble that gradually grew in volume, like an approaching helicopter. …coming toward us — a wall of gray and brown water with what looked like steam or dust swirling crazily around it and above it. The wave itself was filled with boulders, dirt, firewood, and whole trees. The trees would run into an obstacle, be forcefully upended, and be tossed downriver, over and over again, like a kid kicking a stick down a trail. “When the wall of water reached the bridge just downstream from here, it simply picked up the bridge and took it away. Then it carried away four of our livestock, then our neighbors’ livestock. When it reached the houses located below ours, it swept those away too. We could only stand there helplessly.” Over the next six hours, …By the time it surged across the Indian border, 100 miles downstream, four people had drowned….
24 November 2006. IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA. From NASA Earth Observatory. A new study uncovers evidence for a drought that coincided
with a harrowing period of Maasai history.
14 November 2006. Climate Change Pushing Bird Species to Oblivion. Excerpt: NAIROBI, Kenya, Environment News Service (ENS) – Birds are suffering the escalating effects of climate change in every part of the planet, finds a new report released today by the global conservation group [World Wildlife Fund] WWF at the United Nations climate change conference in Nairobi. The report reveals a trend towards a major bird extinction due to global warming. The researchers found declines of up to 90 percent in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others. They estimate that bird extinction rates could be as high as 38 percent in Europe, and 72 percent in northeastern Australia, if global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – currently it is 0.8¼C above those levels. “Robust scientific evidence shows that climate change is now affecting birds’ behavior,” said Dr. Karl Mallon, scientific director at Climate Risk Pty. Ltd of Sydney, Australia, authors of the report. …”We are seeing migratory birds failing to migrate, and climate change pushing increasing numbers of birds out of synchrony with key elements of their ecosystems,” Mallon said. The report, “Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report,” reviews more than 200 scientific articles on birds in every continent to build up a global picture of climate change impacts. “Birds have long been used as indicators of environmental change, and with this report we see they are the quintessential ‘canaries in the coal mine’ when it comes to climate change,” said Hans Verolme, director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Program. The report identifies groups of birds at high risk from climate change – migratory, mountain, island, and wetland birds, Arctic and Antarctic birds, and seabirds. …Download the full report, “Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report” [75 pages], or a summary at: http://www.panda.org/climate/birds
14 November 2006. Global Warming Increases Species Extinctions Worldwide, University of Texas at Austin Researcher Finds AUSTIN, Texas-Global warming has already caused extinctions in the most sensitive habitats and will continue to cause more species to go extinct over the next 50 to 100 years, confirms the most comprehensive study since 2003 on the effects of climate change on wild species worldwide by a University of Texas at Austin biologist. Dr. Camille Parmesan’s synthesis also shows that species are not evolving fast enough to prevent extinction. “This is absolutely the most comprehensive synthesis of the impact of climate change on species to date,” said Parmesan, associate professor of integrative biology. “Earlier synthesis were hampered from drawing broad conclusions by the relative lack of studies. Because there are now so many papers on this subject, we can start pulling together some patterns that we weren’t able to before.” Parmesan reviewed over 800 scientific studies on the effects of human-induced climate change on thousands of species….
13 November 2006. Climate Change Melting Fabled African Glaciers. By Tim Cocks. Planet Ark – World Environmental News. Excerpt: KAMPALA – Climate change is melting a legendary ice field in equatorial Africa and may soon thaw it out completely, threatening fresh water supplies to hundreds of thousands of people, a climate expert said on Thursday. The fabled, snow-capped Rwenzori mountains — dubbed the “Mountains of the Moon” in travel brochures — form part of the Uganda/Democratic Republic of the Congo border and are one of Uganda’s top tourist destinations. But warmer temperatures are melting the glaciers sitting on their peaks, with some scientists predicting the ice could be gone within two to three decades. “Definitely, the glaciers are decreasing,” James Magezi-Akiiki, a climate change specialist at Uganda’s environment ministry told Reuters. “They have already decreased by 60 percent since 1910. If temperatures keep going up as they have, there’s a high chance of them disappearing.” …”The same thing is happening to Kilimanjaro… It’s gone from white to brown,” Magezi-Akiiki said. A study in 2002 showed Kilimanjaro to have lost more than 80 percent of its ice cap in the past 100 years, reducing water supplies to people living around it. …Glaciers are often a crucial store of fresh water. “The streams originating from the Rwenzori glaciers would disappear if they melt,” said Magezi-Akiiki. “And during the dry season they are the only source of water.” …
13 November 2006. THE DARKENING SEA. By ELIZABETH KOLBERT, Issue of 2006-11-20. What carbon emissions are doing to the ocean. …In the nineteen-nineties, researchers … collected more than seventy thousand seawater samples … analysis of …which was completed in 2004, … nearly half of all the carbon dioxide that humans have emitted …has been absorbed by the sea. …carbonic acid …can change the water’s pH. Already, humans have pumped enough carbon into the oceans…to produce a .1 decline in surface pH. Since pH … is a logarithmic measure, a .1 drop represents a rise in acidity of about thirty per cent. The process is … “ocean acidification,” … term coined in 2003 by two climate scientists, Ken Caldeira and Michael Wickett, …at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. …Caldeira …to brief some members of Congress… was asked, ‘What is the appropriate stabilization target for atmospheric CO2?’ ” … “And I said, ‘Well, I think it’s inappropriate to think in terms of stabilization targets. I think we should think in terms of emissions targets.’ And they said, ‘O.K., what’s the appropriate emissions target?’ And I said, ‘Zero.’ “If you’re talking about mugging little old ladies, you don’t say, ‘What’s our target for the rate of mugging little old ladies?’ You say, ‘Mugging little old ladies is bad, and we’re going to try to eliminate it.’ …Coral reefs are under threat…. When water temperatures rise too high, corals lose…the algae that nourish them. (The process is called “bleaching,” because without their zooxanthellae corals appear white.) …The seas have a built-in buffering capacity: if the water’s pH starts to drop, shells and shell fragments that have been deposited on the ocean floor begin to dissolve, pushing the pH back up again. This buffering mechanism is highly effective, provided that acidification takes place on the same timescale as deep-ocean circulation. (One complete exchange of surface and bottom water takes thousands of years.) …Currently, CO2 is being released into the air at least three times and perhaps as much as thirty times as quickly …so fast that buffering by ocean sediments is not even a factor….
12 November 2006. African nomads to be first people wiped out by climate change. Peter Beaumont, Foreign Affairs editor. Observer/Guardian. Kenya’s herdsmen are facing extinction as global warming destroys their lands. They are dubbed the ‘climate canaries’ – the people destined to become the first victims of world climate change. …Hundreds of thousands of these seasonal herders have already been forced to forsake their traditional culture and settle in Kenya’s north eastern province following consecutive droughts that have decimated their livestock in recent years. á Incidence of drought has increased fourfold in the Mandera region in the past 25 years. á One-third of herders living there – around half a million people – have already been forced to abandon their pastoral way of life because of adverse climatic conditions. á During the last drought, so many cattle, camels and goats were lost that 60 per cent of the families who remain as herders need outside assistance to recover. Their surviving herds are too small to support them. The new findings follow recent warnings from the UK Met Office that if current trends continue one-third of the planet will be desert by the end of 2100. The scientists modelled how drought is likely to increase globally during the coming century because of predicted changes in rainfall and temperature around the world….
9 Nov 2006. CLIMATE CHANGES ARE LINKED BETWEEN GREENLAND AND ANTARCTIC. From NASA Earth Observatory. Even if climate records from Greenland and Antarctic ice cores look different, the climate of the Artic and Antarctic are directly linked, scientists report.
9 November 2006. Climate change: The south-north connection Eric J. Steig, News and Views Nature Abstract: A new ice-core record from Antarctica provides the best evidence yet of a link between climate in the northern and southern polar regions that operates through changes in ocean circulation. Excerpt: Over the past 20 years, the analysis of ice cores has been transforming our understanding of past climate. Most notably, the Vostok core from Antarctica provided remarkable evidence of the correspondence between temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 420,000 years. And the GISP2, GRIP and NGRIP cores from Greenland offered a view in unprecedented detail of climate change over the past 100,000 years (including the revelation that abrupt warming events of 10 ¡C or more have taken place in Greenland). More recently, the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) obtained the longest ice-core record yet, one spanning 800,000 years of climate history, from Dome C, in the same sector of Antarctica as Vostok. …the Antarctic and Greenland ice-core records are meaningfully related, and on quite short timescales. …comparison of the oxygen-isotope records shows that one can make a direct link between the distinctive temperature maxima in the Antarctic record (at least going back 60,000 years) and the unambiguous abrupt warmings in Greenland …
8 November 2006. Australia suffers worst drought in 1,000 years. John Vidal, environment editor, The Guardian. Excerpt: Depleted reservoirs, failed crops and arid farmland spark global warming tussle. Australia’s blistering summer has only just begun but reservoir levels are dropping fast, crop forecasts have been slashed, and great swaths of the continent are entering what scientists yesterday called a “one in a thousand years drought”. With many regions in their fifth year of drought, the government yesterday called an emergency water summit in Canberra. …The drought is likely to affect drinking water supplies to many areas. …It is also expected to have a serious impact on crops. Last week, the government forecast its lowest wheat crop for 12 years, a 62% decrease on last year. …The drought has set off a fierce political debate in Australia about climate change. The country has maintained, with the US, a sceptical stance on the issue, and Mr Howard has refused to sign Australia up to the Kyoto agreement. However, polls suggest he is increasingly out of step with public and scientific opinion and the drought has forced him to demonstrate concern. …Australia now emits almost as much carbon and other greenhouse gases as France and Italy, which each have three times its population. …South Australia’s premier, Mike Rann, said yesterday: “What we’re seeing with this drought is a frightening glimpse of the future with global warming.”
But Mr Howard played down the assessment that the drought was the worst in 1,000 years, saying he doubted if anybody really knew.
31 October 2006. Building Resilience May Help Corals, Mangroves Survive. Excerpt: GENEVA, Switzerland, Environment News Service (ENS) – Survival strategies for coral reefs and mangroves threatened by climate change are outlined by scientists of IUCN-World Conservation Union and the Nature Conservancy in two new publications launched today. The strategies rely on managing stressors other than global warming so that corals and mangroves are more resilient and able to survive in a warming world. Climate change is destroying tropical marine ecosystems through sea temperature increase and ocean acidification. Scientists say 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs have already been ruined and a further 50 percent are facing immediate or long term danger of collapse. Yet, one of the reports published today shows that saving the world’s coral reefs may still be possible. By fighting other stress factors such as pollution or overfishing impacting coral reefs, the reefs will be able to better adapt to climate change impacts, according to the report, “Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching.” …Coral reefs only cover 0.2 percent of the ocean floor, but contain 25 percent of marine species globally. Coral reefs provide livelihoods to 100 million people and provide the basis for industries such as tourism and fishing, worth an annual net benefit of US$30 billion, the report states. One hectare of mangroves is estimated to deliver products and services worth up to $900,000. Examples of these products and services include timber and wood chips, an environment for fish spawning, and habitat for economically important species. …View the publications online: “Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching,” Gabriel D. Grimsditch and Rodney V. Salm and “Managing Mangroves for Resilience to Climate Change,” Elizabeth Mcleod and Rodney V. Salm.
30 October 2006. Insect population growth likely accelerated by warmer climate. Contact: Vince Stricherz <vincesATu.washington.edu> EurekAlert! Excerpt: Insects have proven to be highly adaptable organisms, able through evolution to cope with a variety of environmental changes, including relatively recent changes in the world’s climate. But like something out of a scary Halloween tale, new University of Washington research suggests insects’ ability to adapt to warmer temperatures carries an unexpected consequence – more insects. It appears that insect species that adapt to warmer climates also will increase their maximum rates of population growth, which UW researchers say is likely to have widespread affects on agriculture, public health and conservation. …”Enhanced population growth rates for butterflies might be a good thing, but enhanced growth rates for mosquito populations is much more dubious,” said Frazier, who is lead author of the new research, published in the October edition of the journal The American Naturalist. Co-authors are Raymond Huey, a UW biology professor, and David Berrigan, a former UW biology researcher now with the National Cancer Institute. …biochemical adaptation to warmer temperature is not the only possible insect response to climate warming. Some species might evade warmer temperatures by moving to cooler habitats, or they might alter their seasonal activity patterns. Others might not be able to adapt adequately and could become extinct. But those that do adapt should have elevated rates of population growth. “No matter which scenario plays out for a given species, local ecosystems will be profoundly altered,” Frazier said. For more information, contact Frazier at (206) 543-4859 or mfrazierATu.washington.edu, or Huey at (206) 543-1505 or hueyrbATu.washington.edu
4 October 2006. The Century of Drought. Excerpt: Leading climatologists in Britain recently predicted that global warming would result in extensive drought over the next century. The droughts, which are predicted to affect one third of the earth’s land mass, will likely devastate developing countries that already struggle to meet their populaces’ needs for food, safe sanitation and water. Some say that this forecast may underestimate the severity of the drought as it does not take into account the effects of changes to the carbon cycle resulting from global warming. The full study, produced by the Hadley Centre, will be published later in October in the Journal of Hydrometeorology.
3 October 2006. Global Warming on the Forest Floor. By HENRY FOUNTAIN, NY Times. Excerpt: Along with rising temperatures, global warming is very likely to cause a shift toward more extreme weather — stronger storms with more rainfall, and longer and more severe droughts. Those changes are likely to have large-scale, obvious effects on farmlands, grasslands and forests and on the creatures that inhabit them. … Researchers at the University of Kentucky looked at …the impact of climate change on the decomposition of leaf litter on the forest floor. The researchers, Janet R. Lensing and David H. Wise, studied the process of leaf decay in hardwood forests in central Kentucky. The main instigator in leaf decay is fungi, which get nutrients from the organic matter. But fungi don’t exist in a vacuum. They are grazed upon by springtails, primitive insects of the Collembola order. In turn, springtails are the prey of wandering spiders. The who-eats-whom makes for a complex web, where changes at one level can have cascading effects. Too much or too little grazing by springtails, for example, can reduce fungal activity and slow decay. …They didn’t see much change in leaf decomposition under higher-rainfall conditions. But under drought conditions, they found, decay accelerated significantly. …”Our hypothesis is that during drought conditions, the fungi are already drought-stressed, and the Collembola are overgrazing them, which slows down decay,” Dr. Lensing said. Under these circumstances, by preying on the springtails, the spiders reduce the pressure on the fungi, thus allowing for more leaf decay. Under wetter conditions the fungi are not so stressed and so easily overgrazed, so spider predation on springtails has less effect.
It’s not that the dryness has a direct influence on populations of spiders, say, or springtails. Instead, Dr. Lensing said, ”it affects how the cascading occurs” within the food web. This indirect impact on leaf decay, she added, ”shows how complex the effect of altered rainfall can be.”
25 September 2006. NASA STUDY FINDS WORLD WARMTH EDGING ANCIENT LEVELS. A new study by NASA climatologists finds that the world’s temperature is reaching a level that has not been seen in thousands of years. NASA Earth Observatory.
21 September 2006. SHORT-TERM OCEAN COOLING SUGGESTS GLOBAL WARMING ‘SPEED BUMP’. Excerpt: The average temperature of the water near the top of the Earth’s oceans has significantly cooled since 2003. New research suggests global warming trends are not always steady in their effects on ocean temperatures. Although the average temperature of the upper oceans has significantly cooled since 2003, the decline is a fraction of the total ocean warming over the previous 48 years. “This research suggests global warming isn’t always steady, but happens with occasional ‘speed bumps’,” said Josh Willis, a co-author of the study at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. …Willis said the findings have significant implications for global sea-level rise. “Average sea level goes up partly due to warming and thermal expansion of the oceans and partly due to runoff from melting glaciers and ice sheets,” Willis said. “The recent cooling episode suggests sea level should have actually decreased in the past two years. Despite this, sea level has continued to rise. This may mean that sea level rise has recently shifted from being mostly caused by warming to being dominated by melting. This idea is consistent with recent estimates of ice-mass loss in Antarctica and accelerating ice-mass loss on Greenland,” he said. …the cause of the recent cooling is not yet clear. Research suggests it may be due to a net loss of heat from the Earth. “Further work will be necessary to solve this cooling mystery….” NASA RELEASE: 06-318.
31 August 2006 Evolution of Old World fruit flies on three continents mirrors climate change. University of Washington News. Fast-warming climate appears to be triggering genetic changes in a species of fruit fly that is native to Europe and was introduced into North and South America about 25 years ago. “This is a clear signal on three different continents that climate change is occurring, and that genetic change is going along with it,” said Raymond Huey, a University of Washington biology professor who is co-author of a paper describing the findings, published Aug. 31 in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science. The research deals with an Old World fruit fly species called Drosophila subobscura, which originally ranged from the Mediterranean Sea to Scandinavia. …The fruit flies were accidentally introduced to the Pacific Coast of Chile in the late 1970s and to the North American West Coast in the early 1980s, probably on cargo ships. They spread rapidly, and in North America they are now found from near Santa Barbara, Calif., to northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
…In the paper, the researchers note that “the genetic shift is remarkably rapid and is detectable even for samples separated by fewer than two decades.” They add that such rapid genetic changes are likely to occur much more quickly in organisms with short life spans, such as a fruit fly, which can produce several generations in a single year. “In the long term, this suggests that climate warming is already having genetic effects, at least on these organisms,” Huey said.
8 July 2006. Readers Respond to Philip M. Boffey’s ‘The Evidence for Global Warming’. NY Times – TIMESSELECT – Excerpt: Ralph Deeds, Birmingham, Mich.: It appears to me that the politics of global warming is more difficult than the science. For example, existing automobile technology could produce a huge savings in oil if our Congress would stop debating flag burning and pass legislation to encourage more fuel-efficient motor vehicles. This could easily be done by gradually increasing the gasoline tax to bring pump prices up to European levels. ….
…Eugene I. Gordon, Mountainside, N.J.: The article makes a convincing case that we are experiencing global warming. I won’t attempt to debate that conclusion because I believe it. However, the article is incredibly one-sided concerning the cause of the current global warming. Mr. Boffey mentions the cooling experienced during a minor ice age a few hundred years ago but neglects to mention that it was accompanied by a virtual disappearance of the 11 year sunspot cycle, the Maunder Minimum. It is known that high sunspot activity increases the thermal flux incident on the Earth from solar radiation and high energy particles. Currently we are experiencing a maximum in sunspot activity that virtually perfectly parallels the increasing global temperature average including up and down variations. Fortunately, the sunspot activity has begun to decrease and we should get relief independent of what else we do.
In addition, Mr. Boffey completely ignores the fact that the dominant greenhouse gas is water vapor, which is 50 times more complicit in retaining IR [infrared] radiation than carbon dioxide. Anthropogenic carbon dioxide plays but a tiny role in the total greenhouse gas picture. Were it not for water vapor, the average temperature of the earth would be about 0 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 58 and there would be virtually no life on Earth. We should be glad for the water vapor and not worry so much about carbon dioxide….Mr. Boffey disparages oil interests without examining the interests of the scientific community that reaches a consensus while ignoring basic physics and the record.
20 June 2006. Next Victim of Warming: The Beaches. By CORNELIA DEAN – NY Times. Excerpt: NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. When scientists consider the possible effects of global warming, there is a lot they don’t know. But they can say one thing for sure: sea levels will rise. …This rising water will be felt along the artificially maintained beaches of New Jersey, in the vanishing marshes of Louisiana, even on the ocean bluffs of California. According to a 2000 report by the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, at least a quarter of the houses within 500 feet of the United States coast may be lost to rising seas by 2060. There were 350,000 of these houses when the report was written, but today there are far more. …Some of the rise – scientists argue over how much – is because of natural variation, like changes in atmospheric pressures and winds over the Southern Ocean. But much of it results from warming; as water warms, it expands, occupying more space. Also, warming melts inland glaciers and ice sheets, sending torrents of fresh water into the oceans. In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, convened by the United Nations, said that the rise in sea levels was accelerating. Their mid-range projection for 2100 was a rise of just under 20 inches from a 1990 baseline, partly because of this melting. Evidence reported since then suggests that the rise may be even faster. (If ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica melt significantly, seas will rise by 20 feet or more, but few scientists expect that to happen in this century.) …much of Florida is so low that a one-foot rise in sea level would send water 100 feet inland. Dr. Howd, 49, who lives in St. Petersburg, said that is one reason he does not expect to retire there. His house is about 600 feet from the beach, but only about 6 feet above sea level….
4 June 2006. Climate Change: The View From the Patio. By HENRY FOUNTAIN. NY Times. Excerpt: …It came from a North Carolina forest, at an experimental plot where scientists can precisely control the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. Duke researchers discovered that when exposed to higher levels of CO2, the greenhouse gas released in ever-increasing quantities from human activity, poison ivy goes haywire.
The researchers found that the weedlike plant grew much faster under CO2 conditions similar to those projected for the middle of the century. The plant also produced a more noxious form of its rash-causing chemical: a more poisonous poison ivy.
…Poison ivy isn’t the only plant whose growth is encouraged by additional carbon dioxide. In the Duke experiments, Dr. Schlesinger said, the trees themselves show an increase in growth under carbon dioxide concentrations roughly 50 percent higher than current conditions. “If you’re a timber products company, you look at that favorably,” he said….
24 May 2006. A new study just released by the World Conservation Union indicates that because of the consequences of global warming, the polar bear is listed for the first time as vulnerable species at risk of extinction. “The State of the Planet,” is part of the PBS series JOURNEY TO PLANET EARTH and is an investigation of the most critical questions of the 21st Century. Global warming, population growth, water and food.
18 May 2006. New century of thirst for world’s mountains. Bill Cannon, Pacific Northwest National laboratory (PNNL). Most detailed forecast to date shows sharp snowpack decline between now and year 2100; New Zealand, Latin America, Western U.S., European ranges hardest hit. Excerpt: RICHLAND, Wash. By the century’s end, the Andes in South America will have less than half their current winter snowpack, mountain ranges in Europe and the U.S. West will have lost nearly half of their snow-bound water and snow on New Zealand’s picturesque snowcapped peaks will all but have vanished. Such is the dramatic forecast from a new, full-century model that offers detail its authors call “an unprecedented picture of climate change.” The decline in winter snowpack means less spring and summer runoff from snowmelt. That translates to unprecedented pressure on people worldwide who depend on summertime melting of the winter snowpack for irrigation and drinking water….Ghan cautioned about “significant limitations” to the model. For example, field observations in Africa suggest the famous snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro will be gone within decades, and on Greenland signs point to accelerated snow and ice melt.
May 2006. While Washington Slept. Vanity Fair. BY MARK HERTSGAARD. If global warming isn’t halted, rising sea levels could submerge coastal cities by 2100. So how did this virtual certainty get labeled a “liberal hoax”? Article has photo Illustrations by John Blackford and sea level rise simulations from National Environmental Trust animations See still images of Washington DC and New York City.
2 May 2006. China: Global Warming Is Melting Glaciers. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. BEIJING (AP) Excerpt: Glaciers in western China’s Qinghai-Tibet plateau, known as the ”roof of the world,” are melting at a rate of 7 percent annually due to global warming, the country’s official Xinhua News Agency said. Xinhua said the figure is drawn from data from China’s 681 weather stations over four decades. Statistics from the Tibet weather bureau show that average temperatures in Tibet have risen by 0.9 degree Celsius (2 Fahrenheit) since the 1980s, Xinhua reported, quoting Han Yongxiang of the National Meteorological Bureau. …The melting glaciers will eventually lead to drought, more desertification and an increase in the number of sandstorms, Xinhua quoted researcher Dong Guangrong at the Chinese Academy of Sciences as saying. …The severity of China’s sandstorms was highlighted by the onslaught of 300,000 metric tons (330,000 short tons) of dust in capital Beijing two weeks ago. …Workers have already planted thousands of acres of vegetation to stop the spread of deserts in China’s north and west.
16 February 2006. Greenland Ice-Loss Doubles in Past Decade, Raising Sea Level Faster. NASA RELEASE: 06-066 (Revised) The loss of ice from Greenland doubled between 1996 and 2005, as its glaciers flowed faster into the ocean in response to a generally warmer climate, according to a NASA/University of Kansas study. …The evolution of Greenland’s ice sheet is being driven by … accumulation of snow in its interior, which adds mass and lowers sea level; melting of ice along its edges, which decreases mass and raises sea level; and the flow of ice into the sea from outlet glaciers along its edges, which also decreases mass and raises sea level. …From 1996 to 2000, widespread glacial acceleration was found at latitudes below 66 degrees north. This acceleration extended to 70 degrees north by 2005. The researchers estimated the ice mass loss resulting from enhanced glacier flow increased from 63 cubic kilometers in 1996 to 162 cubic kilometers in 2005. Combined with the increase in ice melt and in snow accumulation over that same time period, they determined the total ice loss from the ice sheet increased from 96 cubic kilometers in 1996 to 220 cubic kilometers in 2005. To put this into perspective, a cubic kilometer is one trillion liters (approximately 264 billion gallons of water), about a quarter more than Los Angeles uses in one year. …For University of Kansas Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets information, visit: http://www.cresis.ku.edu/flashindex.htm
4 February 2006. NASA Chief Backs Agency Openness. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: A week after NASA’s top climate scientist complained that the space agency’s public-affairs office was trying to silence his statements on global warming, the agency’s administrator, Michael D. Griffin, issued a sharply worded statement yesterday calling for “scientific openness” throughout the agency.”It is not the job of public-affairs officers,” Dr. Griffin wrote in an e-mail message to the agency’s 19,000 employees, “to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA’s technical staff.” The statement came six days after The New York Times quoted the scientist, James E. Hansen, as saying he was threatened with “dire consequences” if he continued to call for prompt action to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming…In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word “theory” after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times. And in December 2004, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory complained to the agency that he had been pressured to say in a news release that his oceanic research would help advance the administration’s goal of space exploration…
29 January 2006. Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. Excerpt: The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists. Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. “They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public,” he said…In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA’s mission statement includes the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet.” See also related article of NY Times 31 January 2006.
27 December 2005. Past Hot Times Hold Few Reasons to Relax About New Warming. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. Excerpt: Earth scientists with the longest frames of reference…often seem to be the least agitated about human-caused global warming … even in 2005, a year that saw the biggest summer retreat of Arctic sea ice ever measured… and global temperatures continuing a sharp climb that began around 1990 and appears unmatched in 2,000 years. But these backward-looking experts have seen it all before. … 49 million years ago the balmy Arctic Ocean, instead of being covered in ice, was matted with a cousin of the duckweed that cloaks suburban frog ponds. The forests on the continent now called Antarctica and on shores fringing the Arctic were once thick and lush. And through hundreds of millions of years, concentrations of carbon dioxide and the other trace gases that trap solar energy and prevent the planet from being an ice ball have mostly been far higher than those typical during humankind’s short existence. …the planet has nothing to worry about from global warming. A hot, steamy earth would be fine for most forms of life. Earth and its biological veneer are far more resilient than human societies, particularly those still mired in poverty or pushed to the margins of the livable… and species like polar bears that, like the poorest people, are pushed to an edge – in the bear’s case the tenuous ecosystem built around coastal sea ice. …Studies of the past also show that pace matters. The rise in temperature and greenhouse gases during the great heat wave 55 million years ago, while instantaneous on a geological time scale, took thousands of years to unfold. But the pace of the recent rise in carbon dioxide is as much as 200 times as fast as what has been estimated in past rapid climate transitions. …Even for polar bears, there are reasons to think the end is not necessarily nigh. There was at least one significant period – the last gap between ice ages 120,000 years ago – when the global climate was several degrees warmer than it is today and they clearly squeaked through. So at least slowing or blunting the warming might allow them to squeak through once again…
11 December 2005. Record Drought Cripples Life Along the Amazon. By LARRY ROHTER. NY Times. Excerpt: MANAQUIRI, Brazil – The Amazon River basin, the world’s largest rain forest, is grappling with a devastating drought that in some areas is the worst since record keeping began a century ago. It has evaporated whole lagoons and kindled forest fires, killed off fish and crops, stranded boats and the villagers who travel by them, brought disease and wreaked economic havoc. …”There have been years before in which we’ve had a deficit of rainfall, but we’ve never experienced drops in the water levels of rivers like those we have seen in 2005,” said Everaldo Souza, a meteorologist at the Amazon Protection System …They also worry that if global warming is involved, as some of them suspect, it may be the beginning of a new era of more severe and frequent droughts in the region that accounts for nearly a quarter of the world’s fresh water. “The Amazon is a kind of canary-in-a-coal-mine situation,” said Daniel C. Nepstad, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and the Amazon Institute of Ecological Research in Belém. “We have no idea of the game we have played into by running this worldwide experiment of pumping so much greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Mr. Nepstad said….Even as the drought begins to subside, scientists are still debating what caused it. The explanation accepted most widely pins primary responsibility on higher water temperatures in tropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean, the same phenomenon being blamed for the increase in the number of hurricanes forming in the Northern Hemisphere this year. “A warmer Atlantic not only helps give more energy to hurricanes, it also aids in evaporating air,” said Luiz Gylvan Meira, a climate specialist at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo. “But when that air rises over the oceans in one region, it eventually has to come down somewhere else, thousands of miles away. In this case, it came down in the western Amazon, blocking the formation of clouds that would bring rain to the headwaters of the rivers that feed the Amazon.”…While scientists largely agree that higher temperatures in the Atlantic are responsible for the severity of this year’s drought, they are still searching for an explanation for that phenomenon. It could be just a one-time disturbance, or it could be more permanent, perhaps brought on by greenhouse gas emissions. “Yes, a global warming effect would explain increases in ocean temperatures, but no one is saying that yet, because it is still very early, and we don’t yet have enough data,” said Carlos Nobre, director of Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research, which monitors climatic patterns in the Amazon. “Droughts like this one are very rare, but one consequence of a warmer planet would be that they occur with more frequency, which is something we are going to have to be watching for.”
25 October 2005. No Escape: Thaw Gains Momentum. By ANDREW C. REVKIN, The New York Times. Excerpt: In 1969 Roy Koerner, a Canadian government glaciologist, was one of four men (and 36 dogs) who completed the first surface crossing of the Arctic Ocean, from Alaska through the North Pole to Norway. Now, he said, such a trek would be impossible: there is just not enough ice. In September, the area covered by sea ice reached a record low. “I look on it as a different world,” Dr. Koerner said. “I recently reviewed a proposal by one guy to go across by kayak.”… Many scientists say it has taken a long time for them to accept that global warming, partly the result of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, could shrink the Arctic’s summer cloak of ice. But many of those same scientists have concluded that the momentum behind human-caused warming, combined with the region’s tendency to amplify change, has put the familiar Arctic past the point of no return.
10 October 2005. THE BIG MELT – As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound. By CLIFFORD KRAUSS, STEVEN LEE MYERS, ANDREW C. REVKIN and SIMON ROMERO. Excerpt: CHURCHILL, Manitoba – It seems harsh to say that bad news for polar bears is good for Pat Broe. Mr. Broe, a Denver entrepreneur, is no more to blame than anyone else for a meltdown at the top of the world that threatens Arctic mammals and ancient traditions and lends credibility to dark visions of global warming. …Still, the newest study of the Arctic ice cap – finding that it faded this summer to its smallest size ever recorded – is beginning to make Mr. Broe look like a visionary for buying this derelict Hudson Bay port from the Canadian government in 1997. Especially at the price he paid: about $7. By Mr. Broe’s calculations, Churchill could bring in as much as $100 million a year as a port on Arctic shipping lanes shorter by thousands of miles than routes to the south, and traffic would only increase as the retreat of ice in the region clears the way for a longer shipping season. With major companies and nations large and small adopting similar logic, the Arctic is undergoing nothing less than a great rush for virgin territory and natural resources worth hundreds of billions of dollars. … All told, one quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources lies in the Arctic, according to the United States Geological Survey. The polar thaw is also starting to unlock other treasures: lucrative shipping routes, perhaps even the storied Northwest Passage; new cruise ship destinations; and important commercial fisheries.
29 September 2005. In a Melting Trend, Less Arctic Ice to Go Around. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: The floating cap of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank this summer to what is probably its smallest size in at least a century of record keeping… a team of climate experts reported yesterday. That shift is hard to explain without attributing it in part to human-caused global warming, the team’s members and other experts on the region said. The change also appears to be headed toward becoming self-sustaining: the increased open water absorbs solar energy that would otherwise be reflected back into space by bright white ice, said Ted A. Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. …The data was released on the center’s Web site, http://www.nsidc.org. …One of the most important consequences of Arctic warming will be increased flows of meltwater and icebergs from glaciers and ice sheets, and thus an accelerated rise in sea levels, threatening coastal areas. The loss of sea ice could also hurt both polar bears and Eskimo seal hunters. …Other experts on Arctic ice and climate disagreed on details. For example, Ignatius G. Rigor at the University of Washington said the change was probably linked to a mix of factors, including influences of the atmospheric cycle. But he agreed with Dr. Serreze that the influence from greenhouse gases had to be involved. …Other experts expressed some caution. Claire L. Parkinson, a sea ice expert at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said a host of changes in the Arctic – including rising temperatures, melting permafrost and shrinking sea ice – were consistent with human-caused warming. But she emphasized that the complicated system was still far from completely understood.
22 September 2005. Hurricanes and Climate Change — Fact sheet. In a distressing new development, scientific evidence now suggests a link between hurricane strength and duration and global warming. See also, Hurricane Destructiveness in a Warmer World (PDF version: with color graphics and science references)
15 September 2005. Study Attributes Stronger Storms to Warmer Seas. WASHINGTON, (ASSOCIATED PRESS) – Storms with the power of Hurricane Katrina are becoming more common, in part because of global warming, according to a report from a team of researchers that will be published Friday. The number of storms in the two most powerful categories, 4 and 5, rose to an average of 18 a year worldwide since 1990, up from 11 in the 1970’s…. The researchers were led by Peter J. Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology. There was no increase in storms over all, the researchers said, just in their intensity. But the rise in intensity, they said, coincided with an increase of nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit in the surfaces of tropical seas around the world…. Not all scientists were convinced by the findings. Some said the changes in storms are part of natural variability. Christopher Landsea, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, questioned the data showing an increase in major storms, saying the estimates of the wind speeds in storms in the 1970’s might not be accurate….
12 August 2005. Global-Warming Discrepancy Solved. WASHINGTON — A dispute over whether global warming is really happening may have been caused by the placement of sensors on weather balloons when studies were done in the 1970s, researchers said on Thursday.
11 August 2005. Scientists find errors in global warming data. By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY. Satellite and weather-balloon research released Friday removes a last bastion of scientific doubt about global warming, researchers say. Surface temperatures have shown small but steady increases since the 1970s, but the tropics had shown little atmospheric heating – and even some cooling. Now, after sleuthing reported in three papers released by the journal Science, revisions have been made to that atmospheric data. Climate expert Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, lead author of one of the papers, says that those fairly steady measurements in the tropics have been a key argument “among people asking, ‘Why should I believe this global warming hocus-pocus?’ ” After examining the satellite data, collected since 1979 by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellites, Carl Mears and Frank Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems in Santa Rosa, Calif., found that the satellites had drifted in orbit, throwing off the timing of temperature measures. Essentially, the satellites were increasingly reporting nighttime temperatures as daytime ones, leading to a false cooling trend.
7 July 2005. NASA RELEASE: 05-175. NASA Satellites Measure and Monitor Sea Level. For the first time, NASA has the tools and expertise to understand the rate at which sea level is changing, some of the mechanisms that drive those changes and the effects that sea level change may have worldwide. “It’s estimated that more than 100 million lives are potentially impacted by a one-meter increase in sea level,” said Dr. Waleed Abdalati, head of the Cryospheric Sciences Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “When you consider this information, the importance of learning how and why these changes are occurring becomes clear,” he added.
24 May 2005. Ocean Warmth Tied to African Drought. NY Times. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. Excerpt: Few places are more vulnerable to drought than Africa. From the Sahel south of the Sahara to the southern lobe of the turbulent continent, there is a simple calculus, said Dr. Richard Washington, an expert on the region’s climate at Oxford: “When the rains fail, people die.” …One new study bodes particularly poorly for southern Africa, indicating that a 50-year-long drying trend there is likely to continue and appears tightly linked to substantial warming of the Indian Ocean. The authors of the study say that the heating of that ocean, which lacks the natural variability of the Pacific and Atlantic, is one of the clearest fingerprints pointing to human-caused climate change. “In our models, the Indian Ocean shows very clear and dramatic warming into the future, which means more and more drought for southern Africa,” said Dr. James W. Hurrell, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and an author of the study. “It is consistent with what we would expect from an increase in greenhouse gases.”
4 March 2005. Canada’s Shrinking Ice Caps. Earth’s ice-covered polar regions help to keep our climate cool and hold tremendous amounts of fresh water locked up in their glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets. The ice contained in these vast freshwater reservoirs is the equivalent of nearly 220 feet of sea level. However, when most people think of polar ice, they usually do not think of Canada, the location of only a small percentage of the Arctic’s polar land ice. Recent research conducted by NASA scientists has revealed that Canada’s ice caps and glaciers have important connections to Earth’s changing climate, and they have a strong potential for contributing to sea level rise.
23 March 2005. NASA RELEASE: 05-084. NASA Study Finds Soot May be Changing the Arctic Environment. NASA continues to explore the impact of black carbon or soot on the Earth’s climate. … New findings show soot may be contributing to changes happening near the North Pole, such as accelerating melting of sea ice and snow and changing atmospheric temperatures. Dorothy Koch of Columbia University, New York, and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, and James Hansen of NASA GISS are co-authors of the study that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. “This research offers additional evidence black carbon, generated through the process of incomplete combustion, may have a significant warming impact on the Arctic,” Koch said. “Further, it means there may be immediate consequences for Arctic ecosystems, and potentially long-term implications on climate patterns for much of the globe,” she added. The Arctic is especially susceptible to the impact of human-generated particles and other pollution. In recent years the Arctic has significantly warmed, and sea-ice cover and glacial snow have diminished. Likely causes for these trends include changing weather patterns and the effects of pollution. Black carbon has been implicated as playing a role in melting ice and snow. When soot falls on ice, it darkens the surface and accelerates melting by increasing absorbed sunlight. Airborne soot also warms the air and affects weather patterns and clouds. …For more information and images related to this story on the Internet, visit the NASA site.
22 February 2005. Venice Turns to Future to Rescue Its Past. By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, International Herald Tribune. VENICE – When Jane da Mosto scrambles from the water taxi onto the front steps of her family’s ancient palazzo on the Grand Canal, her gaze is tinged with mourning. The once glorious Casa da Mosto is now little more than a decaying, waterlogged shell of a building, the rising and increasingly salty water of Venice lapping at the door and eating away at its walls.
“One day it will just fall into the canal,” said Ms. da Mosto, a researcher with Corila, a consortium of groups studying the Venice lagoon in hopes of saving it…. From an evolutionary standpoint, Venice’s decline is perhaps inevitable. Lagoons, with their marshes and brackish waters, are transitional coastal ecosystems, tending to become freshwater lakes or to blend in with the adjacent sea over time. That process accelerates when man cohabits with this unstable bit of nature, as he has here for well over 1,000 years…. But the rapid changes in the ecosystem have occurred with modernization in the 20th century. Starting in the 1930’s, an industrial zone and other lands were created by pumping groundwater out of the marsh, seriously accelerating sinkage. Shipping and pollution that followed eroded many of the crucial defensive features of the lagoon that for centuries helped to keep the sea at bay…. Global warming has not yet contributed substantially to rising water levels here, Ms. da Mosto said. Predictions of the phenomenon’s eventual effect on the Adriatic vary widely: some scientists estimate a rise due to global warming of just three inches and others suggest the change may be nearly a yard….
18 February 2005. Experts: Global Warming Is Real. Reuters. A parcel of studies looking at the oceans and melting Arctic ice leave no room for doubt that it is getting warmer, people are to blame, and the weather is going to suffer, climate experts said on Thursday. New computer models that look at ocean temperatures instead of the atmosphere show the clearest signal yet that global warming is well underway, said Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. …The report was published one day after the United Nations Kyoto Protocol took effect, a 141-nation environmental pact the United States government has spurned for several reasons, including stated doubts about whether global warming is occurring and is caused by people. Barnett urged U.S. officials to reconsider….”The debate is what are we going to do about it.” …Ruth Curry of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that melting ice was changing the water cycle, which in turn affects ocean currents and, ultimately, climate. “As the Earth warms, its water cycle is changing, being pushed out of kilter,” she said. “Ice is in decline everywhere on the planet.”
February 2005. Dealing with Cloudy Data. by David Pescovitz. Science Matters@Berkeley. Looking up, it’s easy to spot the clouds. The white fluff is strikingly contrasted by the blue sky. It’s not so easy from space, especially above the Earth’s poles. The clouds blend in against the vast expanses of snow and ice. This is a problem for scientists who use satellites to study clouds and climate. Recently though, UC Berkeley statistician Bin Yu, her graduate student Tao Shi, and their collaborators have devised a new algorithm that detects clouds even when the poles play tricks on the satellites’ electronic eyes.
23 December 2004. NASA RELEASE: 04-404. NASA Finds Polluted Clouds Hold Less Moisture & Cool Earth Less. A NASA study found some clouds that form on tiny haze particles are not cooling the Earth as much as previously thought. These findings have implications for the ability to predict changes in climate. Andrew Ackerman, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and his colleagues found, when the air over clouds is dry, polluted clouds hold less water and reflect less solar energy. … Low clouds cool the planet by reflecting sunlight away from the Earth’s surface, and more water makes a cloud more reflective. Previously, scientific consensus was, since polluted clouds precipitate less, they should contain more water and reflect more sunlight back into space. Most predictions of global climate change assume less precipitation will result in clouds holding more water, reflecting more sunlight and counteracting greenhouse warming. … The measurements show cloud water decreases more often than it increases in polluted clouds.
3 December 2004. Study of climate change-related articles within scientific journals: “This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.”
1 December 2004. Fastest Glacier in Greenland Doubles Speed. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. When people talk about something moving at a glacial pace, they are referring to speeds that make a tortoise look like a hare. … researchers who study Earth’s ice and the flow of glaciers have been surprised to find the world’s fastest glacier in Greenland doubled its speed between 1997 and 2003. … The finding is important for many reasons. For starters, as more ice moves from glaciers on land into the ocean, it raises sea levels. Jakobshavn Isbrae is Greenland’s largest outlet glacier, draining 6.5 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet area. The ice stream’s speed-up and near-doubling of ice flow from land into the ocean has increased the rate of sea level rise by about .06 millimeters (about .002 inches) per year, or roughly 4 percent of the 20th century rate of sea level increase. Also, the rapid movement of ice from land into the sea provides key evidence of newly discovered relationships between ice sheets, sea level rise and climate warming. The researchers found the glacier’s sudden speed-up also coincides with very rapid thinning, indicating loss of ice of up to 15 meters (49 feet) in thickness per year after 1997. Along with increased rates of ice flow and thinning, the thick ice that extends from the mouth of the glacier into the ocean, called the ice tongue, began retreating in 2000, breaking up almost completely by May 2003.
12 October 2004. RESEARCHERS FIND FROZEN NORTH MAY ACCELERATE CLIMATE CHANGE. NASA News. NASA-funded researchers have found that despite their sub-zero temperatures, a warming north may add more carbon to the atmosphere from soil, accelerating climate warming further. “The 3 to 7 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature predicted by global climate computer models could cause the breakdown of the arctic tundra’s vast store of soil carbon,” said Michelle Mack, an ecologist at the University of Florida, Gainsville, Fla., and one of the lead researchers on a study published in last week’s issue of Nature. It would release more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the air than plants are capable of taking in.
6 October 2004. STUDY SHOWS POTENTIAL FOR ANTARCTIC CLIMATE CHANGE. NASA News. While Antarctica has mostly cooled over the last 30 years, the trend is likely to rapidly reverse, according to a computer model study by NASA researchers. The study indicates the South Polar Region is expected to warm during the next 50 years.
July 2004. Disastrous year for Scotland’s seabirds Unexpected breeding failures make this year the worst on record for Shetland and Orkney’s teaming seabird colonies. They have produced fewer young than in any previous year because of a severe shortage of food. Almost all seabirds breeding in Shetland’s internationally important colonies feed on sandeels, a small silvery shoaling fish, which spends part of the time buried in the sandy seabed. Recently, however, these fish have become increasingly scarce….One possible explanation for shortages of sandeels may be that changes in climate have affected sea temperatures and currents. This may have affected the plankton on which the sandeels feed forcing these small fish to move out of reach for many of our seabirds. It’s thought that many of the small fish are not surviving or growing to full size as a result too.
22 April 2004. NASA RELEASE: 04-132. NASA Arctic Sea Ice Study May Stir Up Climate Models. Contrary to historical observations, sea ice in the high Arctic undergoes very small, back and forth movements twice a day, even in the dead of winter. It was once believed ice deformation at such a scale was almost non-existent. According to a recent NASA-funded study, the finding is significant. Such movements may substantially increase the production of new ice and should be factored into Arctic climate models. The phenomenon of short-period Arctic sea ice motion was investigated in detail in 1967 and has been the subject of numerous research studies since. A 1978 study found short-period ice motions disappeared almost entirely during the winter once the Arctic Ocean froze. A subsequent investigation in 2002, conducted using measurements from ocean buoys spaced hundreds of kilometers apart, found sea ice movement occurs during all seasons.
8 March 2004. From science@NASA — A Chilling Possibility. By disturbing a massive ocean current, melting Arctic sea ice might trigger colder weather in Europe and North America.
February 2004. Physics Today, p. 24. Sea-Level Rise Exacerbates Coastal Erosion. A recent analysis of more than a century’s worth of data forebodes severe losses of coastal land.
13 December 2003. Heat, Pollution Changing Precipitation, by ANDREW BRIDGES, AP Science Writer. The massive amounts of heat and pollution that rise from the world’s cities both delay and stimulate the fall of precipitation, cheating some areas of much-needed rain and snow while dousing others, scientists said. The findings support growing evidence that urbanization has a sharp and alarming effect on the climate, and those changes can wreak havoc with precipitation patterns that supply life’s most precious resource: water.
30 September 2003. Observations of a “weekend effect” in diurnal temperature range, Piers M. de F. Forster and Susan Solomon , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aeronomy Laboratory, Boulder, CO 80305; and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AH, United Kingdom. Using surface measurements of maximum and minimum temperatures from the Global Daily Climatological Network data set, we find evidence of a weekly cycle in diurnal temperature range (DTR) for many stations in the United States, Mexico, Japan, and China….We conclude that the weekend effect is a real short time scale and large spatial scale geophysical phenomenon, which is necessarily human in origin. We thus provide strong evidence of an anthropogenic link to DTR, an important climate indicator. Several possible anthropogenic mechanisms are discussed; we speculate that aerosol-cloud interactions are the most likely cause of this weekend effect, but we do not rule out others. PNAS | vol. 100 | no. 20 | 11225-11230.
24 June 2003. ScientificAmerican.com. Hot Words: A claim of nonhuman-induced global warming sparks debate. By David Appell. Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have concluded that “across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climate period of the last millennium.”
Petition and article, Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide; http://www.oism.org/pproject/. Opposes Kyoto treaty restricting emissions of greenhouse gases and doubts man-made warming trend. Agrees that CO2 levels have increased substantially since the Industrial Revolution, are expected to continue doing so, and that it is reasonable to believe that humans have been responsible for much of this increase. But the effect on the environment is likely to be benign.
2003. Forecasting the Future: Exploring Evidence of Global Climate Change Alibrandi, Marsha, GIS in the Classroom and CD-Rom. Heinemann Educational Books, Inc. Portsmouth, NH. ISBN 032500479X. Grade level: 9-12. Reviewed here (10/15/2003) by Eloise Farmer [GSS teacher leader and] Biology Teacher retiring in June after 37.5 years. The book would be useful with Life and Climate, since many suggested activities have students monitoring the effects of human activities on a variety of things on local bodies of water, or ecosystems in general. It also could be used with Ecosystem Change, or Changing Climate for the same reason. Students could use GIS to map changes in coastlines due to erosion, the effects of storms on an area, etc. It really emphasizes systems, so it could be used with any of the GSS books. This link tells how it has been used in a high school.
20 July 2001. EARTH LIKELY TO WARM 4-7 DEGREES BY 2100. There’s a nine out of ten chance that global average temperatures will rise 3-9 degrees Fahrenheit over the coming century, with a 4-7 degree increase most likely, according to a new probability analysis by scientists in the United States and Europe. The most likely projected increase is five times the one-degree temperature rise observed over the past century. As early as 2030 the planet is likely to heat up 1-2 degrees, say the scientists. The study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) appears in the July 20 issue of the journal Science.
11 July 2001. CERTAIN KINDS OF AIR POLLUTION MAY PRODUCE COOLING EFFECT New NASA-funded research at Texas A&M University indicates that a limited amount of aerosol pollutants in the air could partially counteract global warming, at least on a local scale.
6 June 2001. Leading Climate Scientists Advise White House on Global Warming (NAS) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010608081115.htm
Ecological Impacts of Climate Change. Free booklet, with powerpoints on current effects of climate changes for different parts of the country—from the National Academy Press. Each example is of a specific species.
Climate Time Machine – NASA JPL. Visualizations of changes in ice melt, sea level, CO2, and global temperatures.
Realclimate — a commentary site—a quick response to developing stories on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. …provides context missing in mainstream commentary. Discussion is restricted to scientific topics, not any political or economic implications of the science.
Blog: SCIAM OBSERVATIONS – GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE–Opinions, arguments and analyses from the editors of Scientific American.
New maps of potential U.S. coastal areas to be inundated by global warming—maps for a one meter rise in sea level—the amount scientists predict will occur whether or not we cease emitting carbon today.
Simplified Climate Models. by Scott Denning et al, Colorado State University
More denials of Climate Change, and answers, from Grist magazine.
Climate change & CO2 effects on vegetation