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Accelerating Global Climate Change III

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Sore Throat

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Warm water threatens vast Anatarctic ice shelf PostWed May 09, 2012 8:07 pm  Reply with quote

Warm water threatens vast Anatarctic ice shelf

A new study indicates that a large ice sheet is at risk. Warm water from below is causing it to melt.

By Chris Wickham, Reuters / May 9, 2012

This file photo from Greenpeace shows a crack in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. A new study indicates that by the end of the century a huge ice shelf in Antarctica will melt, contributing to sea levels worldwide.

AP Photo/Greenpeace, Morgan


Scientists are predicting the disappearance of another vast ice shelf in Antarctica by the end of the century that will accelerate rising sea levels.

The Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea on the eastern side of Antarctica has so far not seen ice loss from global warming and much of the observation of melting has focused on the western side of the continent around the Amundsen Sea. But new research from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany says the 450,000-sq-km ice shelf is under threat.

"According to our calculations, this protective barrier will disintegrate by the end of this century," said Dr Harmut Hellmer, lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature this week.

The huge ice shelves that float on the seas fringing Antarctica provide a buffer against warming waters eating away at the base of the much larger glaciers behind them that sit on the land.

"Ice shelves are like corks in the bottles for the ice streams behind them," said Hellmer. "They reduce the ice flow.

"If, however, the ice shelves melt from below, they become so thin that the dragging surfaces become smaller and the ice behind them starts to move."

Hellmer and his team predict the melting of the Filchner-Ronne shelf could add up to 4.4 mm per year to rising global sea levels.

According to the latest estimates based on remote sensing data, global sea levels rose 1.5 mm a year between 2003 and 2010 due to melting glaciers and ice shelves, the scientists say. This is on top of an estimated 1.7 mm annual rise due to the expansion of the oceans as the water warms.

Costly Sea Defences

The research was funded by the European Union's ‘Ice2sea' program, set up in the wake of the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that highlighted ice-sheets as the most significant remaining uncertainty in projections of rising sea levels. Projections from the Ice2sea project will feed into the fifth IPCC report due in 2013/2014.

It will also inform plans for major capital spending on sea defenses to protect Europe's coastlines, particularly areas of economic importance like London, with its tidal barrier on the River Thames, and the port of Rotterdam. A large part of the Netherlands is below sea level and protected by an elaborate system of dykes.

Professor David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey, who heads the Ice2sea program, told Reuters the Alfred Wegener Institute's findings add to evidence that warming oceans are having the greatest impact on the ice sheets, as opposed to atmospheric changes or the legacy of some long-term change decades or even hundreds of years ago.

"What people need to know with a sense of urgency is what is going to happen to sea levels over the next few decades," said Vaughan. "In those terms, these results are very big news indeed."

Vaughan is cautious about precise projections of the impact on sea levels. "For me, those numbers are about what might be plausible," he said. "I think we need to do some more work with the ice sheet models to determine exactly what sea level rises we might expect, but those are plausible numbers."

All other things being equal, the polar ice sheets reach a balance where the amount of snow going in each year is broadly matched by the number of icebergs coming out, but subtle changes like those associated with global warming, can affect that balance quite rapidly.

Vaughan said there was clear evidence that the widely-reported disintegration of the Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves in 1995 and 2002 respectively, had led to the ice sheets that fed them moving faster into the sea, some of them many times the rate seen before collapse.

The scientific focus on the melting ice in the Amundsen sea is down to the fact that this is where it is happening now, but Vaughan said although the Weddell Sea is not seeing ice loss at the moment, the German research supports the view that it will spread to other areas.

If there is a lesson for climate scientists, it's "don't behave like the infant school football team and follow the ball," he said.
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Sore Throat

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Sea level in Northeastern US rising more than three times PostTue Jun 26, 2012 7:37 pm  Reply with quote

Sea level in Northeastern US rising more than three times faster than global average

Records revealed faster rates of sea-level rise both globally and for the East Coast. Rates are expected to continue increasing as global warming continues.

By Wynne Parry, LiveScience Senior Writer / June 26, 2012

As the world warms and seas rise, some spots are expected to take the brunt of the higher ocean levels, while others may not see such a deluge, new research by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reveals.

The study homed in on one "hotspot," where sea levels are rising more than three times faster than the global average: the 621-mile (1,000-kilometer) stretch along the eastern United States' Atlantic coast.

From Cape Hatteras, N.C., to north of Boston, Mass., tide-gauge records reveal sea levels have increased on average about 0.08 inches (2 millimeters) per year from 1950 to 2009. Globally, meanwhile, sea levels have increased about 0.02 inches (0.6 millimeter) per year during that window.

Records for a more recent, 40-year period, beginning in 1970, revealed faster rates of sea-level rise both globally and for this stretch of the U.S. East Coast. And rates are expected to continue increasing as global warming, which climate scientists agree is the result of greenhouse gas emissions, continues.

Researchers expected this to have a direct impact on people living in this area.

"Cities in the hotspot, like Norfolk, New York and Boston already experience damaging floods during relatively low-intensity storms," lead researcher Asbury Sallenger with the USGS said in a statement. "Ongoing accelerated sea-level rise in the hotspot will make coastal cities and surrounding areas increasingly vulnerable to flooding by adding to the height that storm surge and breaking waves reach on the coast."

Sea-level rise is primarily driven by two factors. Melting ice, from mountain glaciers to ice sheets, is an important contributor. Ultimately, the ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica are expected to make massive contributions. Warmth also causes water to take up more space, a phenomenon called thermal expansion. [Stunning Photos of Antarctic Ice]

But the effects don't play out evenly everywhere for a number of reasons. For instance, melting ice can cause land to rebound as weight is lifted, causing relative sea level to fall. Melting ice redistributes mass on the planet, and as a result, changes the distribution of the oceans. Likewise, changes in currents and winds alter the distribution of ocean-expanding heat.

The research team links rapid sea-level rise within this hotspot to a slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current, which transports warm water from the tropics into the higher latitudes. Fluctuations in this current have profound implications for climate, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The results of the research were detailed in Sunday's (June 24) issue of the journal Climate Change.
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Sore Throat

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Ocean Acidification Is Climate Change's 'Equally Evil Twin,' PostMon Jul 09, 2012 7:24 pm  Reply with quote

Ocean Acidification Is Climate Change's 'Equally Evil Twin,' NOAA Chief Says

SYDNEY (AP) — Oceans' rising acid levels have emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs, acting as the "osteoporosis of the sea" and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Monday.

The speed by which the oceans' acid levels has risen caught scientists off-guard, with the problem now considered to be climate change's "equally evil twin," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco told The Associated Press.

"We've got sort of the perfect storm of stressors from multiple places really hammering reefs around the world," said Lubchenco, who was in Australia to speak at the International Coral Reef Symposium in the northeast city of Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef. "It's a very serious situation."

Oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing sea acidity. Scientists are worried about how that increase will affect sea life, particularly reefs, as higher acid levels make it tough for coral skeletons to form. Lubchenco likened ocean acidification to osteoporosis — a bone-thinning disease — because researchers are concerned it will lead to the deterioration of reefs.

Scientists initially assumed that the carbon dioxide absorbed by the water would be sufficiently diluted as the oceans mixed shallow and deeper waters. But most of the carbon dioxide and the subsequent chemical changes are being concentrated in surface waters, Lubchenco said.

"And those surface waters are changing much more rapidly than initial calculations have suggested," she said. "It's yet another reason to be very seriously concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere now and the additional amount we continue to put out."

Higher acidity levels are especially problematic for creatures such as oysters, because acid slows the growth of their shells. Experiments have shown other animals, such as clown fish, also suffer. In a study that mimicked the level of acidity scientists expect by the end of the century, clown fish began swimming toward predators, instead of away from them, because their sense of smell had been dulled.

"We're just beginning to uncover many of the ways in which the changing chemistry of oceans affects lots of behaviors," Lubchenco said. "So salmon not being able to find their natal streams because their sense of smell was impaired, that's a very real possibility."

The potential impact of all of this is huge, Lubchenco said. Coral reefs attract critical tourism dollars and protect fragile coastlines from threats such as tsunamis. Seafood is the primary source of protein for many people around the world. Already, some oyster farmers have blamed higher acidity levels for a decrease in stocks.

Some attempts to address the problem are already under way. Instruments that measure changing acid levels in the water have been installed in some areas to warn oyster growers when to stop the flow of ocean water to their hatcheries.

But that is only a short-term solution, Lubchenco said. The most critical element, she said, is reducing carbon emissions.

"The carbon dioxide that we have put in the atmosphere will continue to be absorbed by oceans for decades," she said. "It is going to be a long time before we can stabilize and turn around the direction of change simply because it's a big atmosphere and it's a big ocean."
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Summer weather extremes: ‘This is just the beginning’ PostMon Jul 09, 2012 7:32 pm  Reply with quote

Summer weather extremes: ‘This is just the beginning’

By Amy Goodman

Evidence supporting the existence of climate change is pummeling the United States this summer, from the mountain wildfires of Colorado to the recent "derecho" storm that left at least 25 dead and 1.4 million people without power from Illinois to Virginia. The phrase "extreme weather" flashes across television screens from coast to coast, but its connection to climate change is consistently ignored, if not outright mocked. If our news media, including – or especially – the meteorologists, continue to ignore the essential link between extreme weather and climate change, then we as a nation, the greatest per capita polluters on the planet, may not act in time to avert even greater catastrophe.

More than 2,000 heat records were broken last week around the U.S. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the government agency that tracks the data, reported that the spring of 2012 "marked the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States." These record temperatures in May, NOAA says, "have been so dramatically different that they establish a new 'neighborhood' apart from the historical year-to-date temperatures."

In Colorado, at least seven major wildfires are burning at the time of this writing. The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs destroyed 347 homes and killed at least two people. The High Park fire farther north burned 259 homes and killed one. While officially "contained" now, that fire won't go out, according to Colorado's Office of Emergency Management, until an "act of nature such as prolonged rain or snowfall."

The "derecho" storm system is another example. "Derecho" is Spanish for "straight ahead," and that is what the storm did, forming near Chicago and blasting east, leaving a trail of death, destruction and downed power lines.

Add drought to fire and violent thunderstorms. According to Dr. Jeff Masters, one of the few meteorologists who frequently makes the connection between extreme weather and climate change, "across the entire Continental U.S., 72 percent of the land area was classified as being in dry or drought conditions" last week. "We're going to be seeing a lot more weather like this, a lot more impacts like we're seeing from this series of heat waves, fires and storms... This is just the beginning."

Fortunately, we might be seeing a lot more of Jeff Masters, too. He was a co-founder of the popular weather website Weather Underground in 1995. Just this week he announced that the site had been purchased by The Weather Channel, perhaps the largest single purveyor of extreme weather reports. Masters promises the same focus on his blog, which he hopes will reach the much larger Weather Channel audience. He and others are needed to counter the drumbeat denial of the significance of human-induced climate change, of the sort delivered by CNN's charismatic weatherman Rob Marciano.

In 2007, a British judge was considering banning Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" from schools in England. After the report, Marciano said on CNN, "Finally. Finally… you know, the Oscars, they give out awards for fictional films, as well... Global warming does not conclusively cause stronger hurricanes like we've seen."

Masters responded to that characteristic clip by telling me, "Our TV meteorologists are missing a big opportunity here to educate and tell the population what is likely to happen."

Beyond the borders of wealthy countries like the United States, in developing countries where most people in the world live, the impacts of climate change are much more deadly, from the growing desertification of Africa to the threats of rising sea levels and the submersion of small island nations.

The U.S. news media have a critical role to play in educating the public about climate change. Imagine if just half the times that they flash "Extreme Weather" across our TV screens, they alternated with "Global Warming." This Independence Day holiday week might just be the beginning of people demanding the push to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, and pursue a sane course toward sustainable energy independence. (c) 2012 Amy Goodman. Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.
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Sore Throat

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Summer Storms to Create New Ozone Holes as Earth Warms? PostThu Jul 26, 2012 10:32 pm  Reply with quote

Summer Storms to Create New Ozone Holes as Earth Warms?

More storms may trigger ozone depletion in populated areas far from the Poles.

John Roach
for National Geographic News

Summer storms may create new holes in our protective ozone layer as Earth heats up—bringing increased solar ultraviolet radiation to densely populated areas, a new study says.

What's more, if more sunlight reaches Earth, skin cancer could become the new marquee risk of global warming.

As the planet warms, some studies have suggested summer storms may become more frequent and intense. This would send more water vapor—a potent greenhouse gas—into the stratosphere, the middle layer of Earth's atmosphere, which sits between 9 and 22 miles (14 and 35 kilometers) above Earth's surface.

In a recent series of research flights over the United States, Harvard University atmospheric chemist James Anderson and colleagues found that summer storms often loft water vapor into the stratosphere.

"It was an unequivocal observation," he said. "We had a number of flights, and this was an abiding feature" of the storms.

Under the right conditions, this water vapor could trigger chemical reactions that deplete the ozone layer, which prevents harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching Earth's surface, the study says.

Even small reductions in the ozone layer can make people more susceptible to skin cancer and eye damage, experts say.

(See "Whatever Happened to the Ozone Hole?")

Ozone-Attacking Conditions Occur in U.S.?

The finding concerned Anderson, whose research in the 1980s and '90s played a pivotal role in establishing the Montreal Protocol. The international treaty phased out the production of ozone-depleting chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were found in a variety of products, including hairsprays and refrigerators.

CFCs produce a form of chlorine that degrades ozone particles in the stratosphere, most signifcantly over the Arctic and Antarctic.

Subsequent studies in the Arctic and in the laboratory revealed that both temperature and water vapor concentrations are crucial in a chemical reaction that makes chlorine attack ozone.

Now, the new observations over the United States suggest summer storms create the same combination of temperature and water vapor conditions at mid-latitudes. (Interactive Map: Global Warming Effects.)

"We essentially have the chemistry that's present in the Arctic that is clearly very potent for destroying ozone," Anderson said.

The findings, published today in the journal Science, calculate ozone loss at a rate between 4 and 6 percent per day in water vapor-rich areas of the stratosphere. The effect could persist for several weeks after a storm, he added.

What worries Anderson most is where and when this phenomenon appears to occur.

"It is not ozone loss in Antarctica and the Arctic under winter conditions. It is an attack on the ozone layer in the summer over populated regions of the Northern Hemisphere," he said.

(See "Rocket Launches Damage Ozone Layer, Study Says.")

Ozone Loss Not Yet Confirmed

Simone Tilmes, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, views the new findings with caution.

Research does indicate that more water vapor in the stratosphere will lead to greater ozone loss under the right conditions, said Tilmes, who was not involved with the current research.

But the study found no direct evidence of a simultaneous observation of water vapor and the presence of destructive chlorine, she said.

"This raises attention," she said, emphasizing that more research is needed to determine if such ozone depletion will occur.

Study leader Anderson and colleagues acknowledged that they haven't yet measured the ozone-destroying chlorine in the North American stratosphere.

However, he noted that, though chlorofluorocarbons are no longer released into the atmosphere, the compounds already there can persist for decades.

(Related: "Old Fridges, Cars Slow Ozone Hole Recovery, Scientists Say.")

Cancer Risk May Spur People to Action

If there's a silver lining to the research, it's that the results could have a tangible impact on people's behavior, Anderson said.

Unlike with the "out of sight, out of mind" nature of melting glaciers and carbon dioxide and methane emissions, he said, "most people know that skin cancer is highly prevalent and increasing its frequency."

If the new findings are confirmed, people may see a direct link between climate change and their health.

That, he said, "might spur them to "step up and take responsibility for what is actually occurring."
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Weather Extremes Leave Parts of U.S. Grid Buckling PostThu Jul 26, 2012 10:39 pm  Reply with quote

Weather Extremes Leave Parts of U.S. Grid Buckling


WASHINGTON — From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation’s infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms.

On a single day this month here, a US Airways regional jet became stuck in asphalt that had softened in 100-degree temperatures, and a subway train derailed after the heat stretched the track so far that it kinked — inserting a sharp angle into a stretch that was supposed to be straight. In East Texas, heat and drought have had a startling effect on the clay-rich soils under highways, which “just shrink like crazy,” leading to “horrendous cracking,” said Tom Scullion, senior research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. In Northeastern and Midwestern states, he said, unusually high heat is causing highway sections to expand beyond their design limits, press against each other and “pop up,” creating jarring and even hazardous speed bumps.

Excessive warmth and dryness are threatening other parts of the grid as well. In the Chicago area, a twin-unit nuclear plant had to get special permission to keep operating this month because the pond it uses for cooling water rose to 102 degrees; its license to operate allows it to go only to 100. According to the Midwest Independent System Operator, the grid operator for the region, a different power plant had had to shut because the body of water from which it draws its cooling water had dropped so low that the intake pipe became high and dry; another had to cut back generation because cooling water was too warm.

The frequency of extreme weather is up over the past few years, and people who deal with infrastructure expect that to continue. Leading climate models suggest that weather-sensitive parts of the infrastructure will be seeing many more extreme episodes, along with shifts in weather patterns and rising maximum (and minimum) temperatures.

“We’ve got the ‘storm of the century’ every year now,” said Bill Gausman, a senior vice president and a 38-year veteran at the Potomac Electric Power Company, which took eight days to recover from the June 29 “derecho” storm that raced from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power for 4.3 million people in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

In general, nobody in charge of anything made of steel and concrete can plan based on past trends, said Vicki Arroyo, who heads the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, a clearinghouse on climate-change adaptation strategies.

Highways, Mr. Scullion noted, are designed for the local climate, taking into account things like temperature and rainfall. “When you get outside of those things, man, all bets are off.” As weather patterns shift, he said, “we could have some very dramatic failures of highway systems.”

Adaptation efforts are taking place nationwide. Some are as huge as the multibillion-dollar effort to increase the height of levees and flood walls in New Orleans because of projections of rising sea levels and stronger storms to come; others as mundane as resizing drainage culverts in Vermont, where Hurricane Irene damaged about 2,000 culverts. “They just got blown out,” said Sue Minter, the Irene recovery officer for the state.

In Washington, the subway system, which opened in 1976, has revised its operating procedures. Authorities will now watch the rail temperature and order trains to slow down if it gets too hot. When railroads install tracks in cold weather, they heat the metal to a “neutral” temperature so it reaches a moderate length, and will withstand the shrinkage and growth typical for that climate. But if the heat historically seen in the South becomes normal farther north, the rails will be too long for that weather, and will have an increased tendency to kink. So railroad officials say they will begin to undertake much more frequent inspection.

Some utilities are re-examining long-held views on the economics of protecting against the weather. Pepco, the utility serving the area around Washington, has repeatedly studied the idea of burying more power lines, and the company and its regulators have always decided that the cost outweighed the benefit. But the company has had five storms in the last two and a half years for which recovery took at least five days, and after the derecho last month, the consensus has changed. Both the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Md., have held hearings to discuss the option — though in the District alone, the cost would be $1.1 billion to $5.8 billion, depending on how many of the power lines were put underground.

Even without storms, heat waves are changing the pattern of electricity use, raising peak demand higher than ever. That implies the need for new investment in generating stations, transmission lines and local distribution lines that will be used at full capacity for only a few hundred hours a year. “We build the system for the 10 percent of the time we need it,” said Mark Gabriel, a senior vice president of Black & Veatch, an engineering firm. And that 10 percent is “getting more extreme.”

Even as the effects of weather extremes become more evident, precisely how to react is still largely an open question, said David Behar, the climate program director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “We’re living in an era of assessment, not yet in an area of adaptation,” he said.

He says that violent storms and forest fires can be expected to affect water quality and water use: runoff from major storms and falling ash could temporarily shut down reservoirs. Deciding how to address such issues is the work of groups like the Water Utility Climate Alliance, of which he is a member. “In some ways, the science is still catching up with the need of water managers for high-quality projection,” he said.

Some needs are already known. San Francisco will spend as much as $40 million to modify discharge pipes for treated wastewater to prevent bay water from flowing back into the system.

Even when state and local officials know what they want to do, they say they do not always get the cooperation they would like from the federal government. Many agencies have officially expressed a commitment to plan for climate change, but sometimes the results on the ground can be frustrating, said Ms. Minter of Vermont. For instance, she said, Vermont officials want to replace the old culverts with bigger ones. “We think it’s an opportunity to build back in a more robust way,” she said. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency wants to reuse the old culverts that washed out, or replace them with similar ones, she said.

Ms. Arroyo of Georgetown said the federal government must do more. “They are not acknowledging that the future will look different from the past,” she said, “and so we keep putting people and infrastructure in harm’s way.”

Matthew L. Wald reported from Washington, and John Schwartz from New York.
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Koch-funded climate change skeptic reverses course PostMon Jul 30, 2012 3:45 pm  Reply with quote,0,7372823.story

Koch-funded climate change skeptic reverses course

By Neela Banerjee

WASHINGTON – The verdict is in: Global warming is occurring and emissions of greenhouse gases caused by human activity are the main cause.

This, according to Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at UC Berkeley, MacArthur Fellow and co-founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project. Never mind that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of other climatologists around the world came to such conclusions years ago. The difference now is the source: Muller is a long-standing, colorful critic of prevailing climate science, and the Berkeley project was heavily funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which, along with its libertarian petrochemical billionaire founder Charles G. Koch, has a considerable history of backing groups that deny climate change.

In an opinion piece in Saturday’s New York Times titled “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” Muller writes: “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

The Berkeley project’s research has shown, Muller says, “that the average temperature of the Earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”

He calls his stance now “a total turnaround.”

[Updated, 4:17 p.m., July 29: Tonya Mullins, a spokeswoman for the Koch Foundation, said the support her foundation provided, along with others, had no bearing on the results of the research. "Our grants are designed to promote independent research; as such, recipients hold full control over their findings," Mullins said in an email. "In this support, we strive to benefit society by promoting discovery and informing public policy."]

Some leading climate scientists welcomed Muller’s comments, proof, they argued, that the science is so strong that even those inclined to reject it cannot once they examine it carefully. Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, said that Muller’s conversion might help shape the thinking of the “reasonable middle” of the population “who are genuinely confused and have been honestly taken in” by attacks on climate science.

On his Facebook page, Mann wrote: “There is a certain ironic satisfaction in seeing a study funded by the Koch Brothers – the greatest funders of climate change denial and disinformation on the planet – demonstrate what scientists have known with some degree of confidence for nearly two decades: that the globe is indeed warming, and that this warming can only be explained by human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. I applaud Muller and his colleagues for acting as any good scientists would, following where their analyses led them, without regard for the possible political repercussions.”

Muller’s conclusions, however, failed to sway the most ardent climate contrarians, like Marc Morano, a former top producer for Rush Limbaugh and communications director for the Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who now runs the website “Muller will be remembered as a befuddled professor who has yet to figure out how to separate climate science from his media antics. His latest claims provide no new insight into the climate science debate,” Morano said in an email.

Muller’s New York Times commentary follows research he did last year that confirmed the work of scientists who found the Earth’s temperature was rising. In the past, Muller had criticized which global temperatures were used in such research, contending that some monitoring stations provided inaccurate data. Now, Berkeley’s research has weighed in on the causes of the temperature rise, testing arguments climate contrarians have used.

“What has caused the gradual but systematic rise of two and a half degrees?” Muller writes. “We tried fitting the shape to simple math functions (exponentials, polynomials), to solar activity and even to rising functions like world population. By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice.”

Muller asserted that his findings were ‘stronger’ than those of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental panel. Yet, neither Berkeley’s research from last year or the new findings on causality have been published in peer-reviewed journals, which has raised criticism and concerns among climatologists and contrarians alike.

Benjamin D. Santer, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a lead author of the 1995 U.N. climate report, said he welcomed the involvement of another research group into “detection and attribution” of climate change and its causes. But he also said he found it troubling that Muller claimed such definitive results without his work undergoing peer-review.

“If you go into the public arena and claim to have generated evidence that is stronger than the IPCC, where is the detailed, scientific evidence? Has he used fundamental new data sets?” Santer said. “Publish the science and report on it after it’s done.”

He added: “I think you can do great harm to the broader debate. Imagine this scenario: that he makes these great claims and the papers aren't published? This (op-ed) is in the spirit of publicity, not the spirit of science.”

Elizabeth Muller, co-founder and executive director of the Berkeley project and Richard Muller’s daughter, said the papers had been peer-reviewed, but not yet published. But because of the long lead-up to publication, the Berkeley team decided to place its papers online, in part to solicit comment from other scientists. She said all the papers, including the latest, would be on the website by Sunday evening.

“I believe the findings in our papers are too important to wait for the year or longer that it could take to complete the journal review process,” Elizabeth Muller wrote in an email. “We believe in traditional peer review; we welcome feedback [from] the public and any scientists who are interested in taking the time to make thoughtful comments. Our papers have received scrutiny by dozens of top scientists, not just the two or three that typically are called upon by journalists.”
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Western North America Faces 21st Century 'Mega-drought' PostMon Jul 30, 2012 3:56 pm  Reply with quote

Western North America Faces 21st Century 'Mega-drought'

CORVALLIS, Oregon, July 30, 2012 (ENS) - The climate's "new normal" for most of the coming century will parallel the long-term drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 - the most severe drought in 800 years - scientists report in a study published Sunday.

"The severity and incidence of climatic extremes, including drought, have increased as a result of climate warming," the researchers said, adding that these long-term trends are consistent with a 21st century "megadrought."

Crops and forests died and river basins dried, but as bad as conditions were during the 2000-04 drought, in the future they may be seen as the good old days, a group of 10 researchers warned Sunday in the journal "Nature Geoscience."

Climate models and precipitation projections indicate this period will be closer to the "wet end" of a drier hydroclimate during the last half of the 21st century, the scientists said.

"Climatic extremes such as this will cause more large-scale droughts and forest mortality, and the ability of vegetation to sequester carbon is going to decline," said Beverly Law, a co-author of the study, professor of global change biology and terrestrial systems science at Oregon State University, and former science director of AmeriFlux, an ecosystem observation network.

The 2000-04 drought had the effect of amplifying climate change as vegetation withered and could no longer take up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This drought cut carbon sequestration by an average of 51 percent in the western United States, Canada and Mexico, the scientists calculate, although some areas were hit much harder than others. As the plants died, they released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with the effect of amplifying global warming.

"During this drought, carbon sequestration from this region was reduced by half," Law said. "That's a huge drop. And if global carbon emissions don't come down, the future will be even worse."

The effects are driven by human-caused increases in temperature, with associated lower soil moisture and decreased runoff in all major water basins of the western United States, researchers said in the study.

It is not clear whether or not the current drought in the West and Midwest, now being called one of the worst since the Dust Bowl, is related to these same forces, Law said. This study did not address that, and there are some climate mechanisms in western North America that affect that region more than other parts of the country.

But in the West, this multi-year drought was unlike anything seen in many centuries, based on tree ring data. The last two periods with drought events of similar severity were in the Middle Ages, from 977-981 and 1146-1151. The 2000-04 drought affected precipitation, soil moisture, river levels, crops, forests and grasslands.

Ordinarily, Law said, the land sink in North America is able to sequester the equivalent of about 30 percent of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by the use of fossil fuels in the same region.

But based on projected changes in precipitation and drought severity, scientists said that this carbon sink, at least in western North America, could disappear by the end of the century.

"Areas that are already dry in the West are expected to get drier," Law said. "We expect more extremes. And it's these extreme periods that can really cause ecosystem damage, lead to climate-induced mortality of forests, and may cause some areas to convert from forest into shrublands or grassland."

During the 2000-04 drought, runoff in the upper Colorado River basin was cut in half. Crop productivity in much of the West fell five percent. The productivity of forests and grasslands declined, along with snowpacks.

Evapotranspiration decreased the most in evergreen needleleaf forests, about 33 percent.

Although regional precipitations patterns are difficult to forecast, the researchers said in this report that climate models are underestimating the extent and severity of drought, compared to actual observations.

They say the situation will continue to worsen, and that 80 of the 95 years from 2006 to 2100 will have precipitation levels as low as, or lower than, this "turn of the century" drought from 2000-04.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, U.S. Department of Energy, and other government agencies. The lead author was Christopher Schwalm at Northern Arizona University. Other collaborators were from the University of Colorado, University of California at Berkeley, University of British Columbia and San Diego State University.
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NASA: Strange and sudden ice melt in Greenland PostMon Jul 30, 2012 4:02 pm  Reply with quote

NASA: Strange and sudden ice melt in Greenland

WASHINGTON -- Nearly all of Greenland's massive ice sheet suddenly started melting a bit this month, a freak event that surprised scientists.

Even Greenland's coldest and highest place, Summit station, showed melting. Ice core records show that last happened in 1889 and occurs about once every 150 years.

Three satellites show what NASA calls unprecedented melting of the ice sheet that blankets the island, starting on July 8 and lasting four days. Most of the thick ice remains. While some ice usually melts during the summer, what was unusual was that the melting happened in a flash and over a widespread area.

"You literally had this wave of warm air wash over the Greenland ice sheet and melt it," NASA ice scientist Tom Wagner said Tuesday.

The ice melt area went from 40 percent of the ice sheet to 97 percent in four days, according to NASA. Until now, the most extensive melt seen by satellites in the past three decades was about 55 percent.

Wagner said researchers don't know how much of Greenland's ice melted, but it seems to be freezing again.

"When we see melt in places that we haven't seen before, at least in a long period of time, it makes you sit up and ask what's happening?" NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati said. It's a big signal, the meaning of which we're going to sort out for years to come."

About the same time, a giant iceberg broke off from the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland. And the National Snow and Ice Data Center on Tuesday announced that the area filled with Arctic sea ice continues near a record low.

Wagner and other scientists said because this Greenland-wide melting has happened before they can't yet determine if this is a natural rare event or one triggered by man-made global warming. But they do know that the edges of Greenland's ice sheets have already been thinning because of climate change.

Summer in Greenland has been freakishly warm so far. That's because of frequent high-pressure systems that have parked over the island, bringing warm, clear weather that melts ice and snow, explained University of Georgia climatologist Thomas Mote.

He and others say it's similar to the high-pressure systems that have parked over the American Midwest bringing record-breaking warmth and drought.

Ohio State University ice scientist Jason Box, who returned Tuesday from a three-week visit, said he ditched his cold weather gear for the cotton pants that he normally dons in Nevada.

"It was sunny and warm and all the locals were talking about how sunny it was," Box said after getting off a plane. "Beyond T-shirt weather."
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PostThu Aug 02, 2012 2:36 am  Reply with quote  

I don't's got much.
Cannot get online much these days....
But people.
Visit this link and find out the debunkers once funded an honest scientist who, after his study, now agrees with us real people.,0,7372823.story
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NASA scientist ties heat waves to global warming PostMon Aug 06, 2012 7:55 pm  Reply with quote

NASA scientist ties heat waves to global warming

Twenty-four summers ago, NASA scientist James Hansen first warned the world about what he called the dangers of global warming.

In front of a Senate panel, he said he was "99% certain" that a recent warming trend was not a natural variation but caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

Now, a study released this weekend by Hansen, the dean of climate scientists, concludes that the recent heat waves and extreme summers likely were caused by climate change.

"We can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming, because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small," Hansen and his NASA co-authors write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2011, Texas and Oklahoma had their hottest summer on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The summer of 2010 in much of Russia was the hottest in 130 years of records.

Hansen says the likelihood of such temperatures occurring from the 1950s through the 1980s was rarer than 1 in 300, but now, because of climate change, the odds are closer to 1 in 10.

Atmospheric scientist Clifford Mass of the University of Washington is highly skeptical of Hansen's findings.

"I can't agree with his conclusions," Mass says, saying there is no evidence that the weather patterns that caused the heat waves were associated with global warming. He says the heat waves were due to large-scale, naturally occurring weather patterns, which he says cannot be linked to climate change.

Also, he says that Hansen's study looks back only to the 1950s, ignoring the heat waves of the 1930s, "which dwarf what we have now," Mass says.

He says there is little doubt Earth is warming from a combination of natural and human effects, "but the evidence suggests that the big weather/climate events have little to do with global warming," Mass says.

The NASA study was written before this year's extreme heat and drought in the USA. Through the end of June, the nation was experiencing its hottest year on record, according to the data center. July data will be available this week. For the world as a whole, it has been the 11th warmest through June.
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Ocean acidification could disrupt marine food chains PostMon Aug 06, 2012 7:55 pm  Reply with quote

Ocean acidification could disrupt marine food chains

By Jim Drury

6 (Reuters) - Ocean acidification caused by climate change is making it harder for creatures from clams to sea urchins to grow their shells, and the trend is likely to be felt most in polar regions, scientists said on Monday.

A thinning of the protective cases of mussels, oysters, lobsters and crabs is likely to disrupt marine food chains by making the creatures more vulnerable to predators, which could reduce human sources of seafood.

"The results suggest that increased acidity is affecting the size and weight of shells and skeletons, and the trend is widespread across marine species," the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said in a statement of the findings.

Human emissions of greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, and some of that carbon dioxide ends up in the oceans, where it dissolves to form acid.

The ocean acidification makes it harder for creatures to extract calcium carbonate - vital to grow skeletons and shells - especially from chill waters in the Arctic Ocean and around Antarctica, according to the study in the journal Global Change Biology.

"Where it gets colder and the calcium carbonate is harder to get out of the seawater the animals have thinner skeletons," Professor Lloyd Peck of the BAS told Reuters TV in an interview.


So a shift towards acidification in the ocean was likely to force animals to have smaller skeletons, he said of the study by scientists in Britain, Australia and Singapore.

"We think that the polar regions, and especially Antarctica, are likely to be the first places where animals reach these critical problems for making skeletons," he said.

Changes under way in the chill waters were likely to be a sign of what to expect in future in temperate zones and the tropics, he said.

The experts studied four types of creatures - clams, sea snails, lamp shells and sea urchins - at 12 sites, stretching across the globe from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

"The fact the same effect occurs consistently in all four types suggests the effect is widespread across marine species, and that increasing ocean acidification will progressively reduce the availability of calcium carbonate," it said.

In the past, animals had evolved to be able to live in places where calcium carbonate is relatively difficult to obtain - such as off Antarctica - by forming lighter skeletons, it said.

So there was hope that they might be able to evolve again to adapt.

"Given enough time and a slow enough rate of change, evolution may again help these animals survive in our acidifying oceans," said Sue-Ann Watson, of James Cook University in Australia.

(Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Pravin Char)
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Arctic melt bottoms out at new record low PostFri Sep 21, 2012 12:13 am  Reply with quote

Arctic melt bottoms out at new record low

And the Antarctic sea ice coverage expands—as predicted by climate models.

by John Timmer

This year's melt (blue) has ended up well below 2007's record (green).

Yesterday, the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced that the Arctic melt season was probably over. This year's melt had already set records back in August, so the only real question was just how low it would go. Assuming there's not a downward fluctuation during the next couple of weeks, the answer is 3.41 million square kilometers, or about half of the typical low point observed from 1980-2000. That's about 750,000 square kilometers below the previous low (set in 2007), an area roughly equivalent to that occupied by Texas.

In fact, as the NSIDC notes, every year since 2007 has seen unusually strong summer melts: "The six lowest seasonal minimum ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the last six years." Although weather has undoubtably played a role in making this year's melt unusually severe, the strong tendency toward record amounts of open water in the Arctic Ocean seems to lend credence to the ideas of Cornell professor Charles H. Greene, who has referred to recent trends as signs that we've entered what he called an "Arctic warm period."

One of the surprising aspects of all of this is that it's happening much faster than most climate models have predicted. Many of them had been indicating the ice would be relatively stable for most of the current century.

This is even more surprising considering that the models appear to get the Antarctic, where sea ice is expanding, largely right. A 2010 study used climate models to track the impact of warming waters in the Southern Ocean. It found that the warming produced increased snow, which contributed to keeping existing ice cold and added to the glaciers that feed floating ice sheets. It also created a layer of fresh water that stays on the surface, insulating the ice from warmer ocean waters below. The result is an ice sheet that is growing despite the warming climate. These models do suggest that a turning point is likely to be reached by mid-century under most emissions scenarios, as more of the moisture will start falling as rain.

It may be tempting to dismiss these projections, given that the Arctic is melting so much faster than predicted. But the two poles have radically different behavior, at least in part due to the fact that one is an ocean that is largely surrounded by land, while the other is a continent surrounded by ocean. As a result, the models have to contend with very different things in each location, and they may handle some of these much better than others.
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Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Hit New Record in 2011 PostTue Nov 20, 2012 5:23 pm  Reply with quote

Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Hit New Record in 2011, Survey Shows

GENEVA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change hit a new record in 2011, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin on Tuesday.

The volume of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, grew at a similar rate to the previous decade and reached 390.9 parts per million (ppm), 40 percent above the pre-industrial level, the survey said.

It has increased by an average of 2 ppm for the past 10 years.

Fossil fuels are the primary source of about 375 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere since the industrial era began in 1750, the WMO said.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said the billions of tonnes of extra carbon dioxide would stay in the atmosphere for centuries, causing the planet to warm further.

"We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs," he said in a statement.

Levels of methane, another long-lived greenhouse gas, have risen steadily for the past three years after levelling off for about seven years. The reasons for that evening out are unclear.

Growth in volumes of a third gas, nitrous oxide, quickened in 2011. It has a long-term climate impact that is 298 times greater than carbon dioxide.

The WMO, the United Nations' weather agency, said the three gases, which are closely linked to human activities such as fossil fuel use, deforestation and intensive agriculture, had increased the warming effect on the climate by 30 percent between 1990 and 2011.

The prevalence of several less abundant greenhouse gases was also growing fast, it said.

Sulphur hexafluoride, used as an electrical insulator in power distribution equipment, had doubled in volume since the mid-1990s, while hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were growing at a rapid rate from a low base.

But chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and most halons were decreasing, it said.
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Study on rising sea levels likely confirms existence of glob PostSat Dec 01, 2012 10:27 pm  Reply with quote

Study on rising sea levels likely confirms existence of global warming

A newly released study finds that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are disappearing three times faster than they were two decades ago, the latest evidence supporting the existence of global warming.

The study was published in the journal Science and is considered an extremely accurate portrayal of ice melts in these polar regions. According to the paper’s authors, the rapid polar ice melting has caused an increase in sea level that may become problematic to low coastal regions.

Perhaps the most alarming data found by the researchers was in Greenland where the ice was melting an estimated five times the rate it was in the mid-1990s. Melt from Greenland accounted for a whopping two-thirds of the polar ice melt. Due to a slower melt rate, just one-third of the world’s melted ice came from Antarctica, despite being larger in size than Greenland.

The published data was collected by 47 experts over the span of two decades. The journal article compiled results taken from 50 separate ice melt studies around the world and is the first of its kind. Erik Ivins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Andrew Shepherd, a professor at the University of Leeds, led the massive project and coordinated the dozens of scientists involved.

Shepherd estimates that the data compiled in the new study is two to three times more reliable than previous studies on melting ice and rising sea-level. The current go-to report on this subject, which is used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, was created in 2007.

The study used by the IPCC covers the increasing ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica and even reports a sheet loss within the range of the new study. However, the IPCC report did not consider a crucial question answered by Shepherd and Ivans’ team: could Antarctica be growing instead of shrinking?

Shephard thinks that without answer this question and others like it, scientists would not be able to announce, with confidence, how the ice sheets have changed for certain.

“This will give the wider climate science community greater confidence in ice losses and lead to improved mode predictions of future sea-level rise,” he said.

The team of scientists credited advancements in satellite technology, saying coordinated efforts among the international scientific community will eventually allow for more accurate predictions of how the climate will be affected by global warming.

“The success of this venture is due to the cooperation of the international scientific community, and due to the provision of precise satellite sensors by our space agencies,” said Shepherd. “Without these efforts, we would not be in a position to tell people with confidence how the Earth’s ice sheets have changed, and to end the uncertainty that has existed for many years.”

Julie Brigham Grette, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, believes the recent Hurricane Sandy demonstrates just how important a solid understanding of the rising sea-level is. “People don’t understand why we’re talking about a few millimeters,” she said. “A half-foot of rise on the Eastern Seaboard makes it easier for a storm coming up the East Coast to cause flooding.”

It may seem as though ice melt, and thus sea-level rise is to blame for intense hurricanes, like Sandy, however, according to Grette, the real problem is global warming. According to Grette, increased temperatures from trapped greenhouse gases are causing oceans to warm and expand. She expects sea level to move up the coast by at least 40 inches in the next 90 years.

The study is likely to reinforce concerns that low-lying cities are not taking adequate precautions to avoid rising sea levels. A number of international organizations have begun discussing possible impacts of rising sea levels, including the possibility to widespread population displacement. Still, the scientific community welcomed the study’s results, saying it will lay the groundwork for better predictive models that could aid policy makers in their decision-making.

“This project is a spectacular achievement. The data will support essential testing of predictive models, and will lead to a better understanding of how sea-level change may depend on the human decisions that influence global temperatures,” said Professor Richard Alley, a climate scientist at Penn State University who was not involved in the study.
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