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Accelerating Global Climate Change III

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Sore Throat

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Sea Level Rise to Play Bigger Role in NYC Storms: Study PostMon Aug 12, 2013 7:24 pm  Reply with quote

Sea Level Rise to Play Bigger Role in NYC Storms: Study

Andrew Freedman, Climate Central

Hurricane Sandy caused upward of $60 billion in damage, including an estimated $19 billion in damage and economic losses in New York City alone. Sea level rise played a relatively minor role in contributing to these losses.

However, a new study finds that that might not be the case for future storms, even those that pack less of a punch than Sandy.

The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Quaternary Science, also found that the record 13.88 foot storm tide Sandy brought to New York Harbor was driven more by the fact that the storm's strongest winds and peak surge arrived right as an astronomical high tide was peaking as well.

"The timing of a hurricane's landfall with respect to high tides and the individual meteorological conditions of each storm (i.e. the storm surge) are the dominant factors in determining flood height," said Ben Horton, one of the study's co-authors, in an email conversation. "But the additional sea-level rise from 1788 and 1821 to Sandy in 2012 exaggerated and caused (more) flooding."

Using marsh sediments from nearby Barnegat Bay, N.J., the researchers determined the relative sea level at The Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan rose by about 20.1 inches between a storm in 1788 and Hurricane Sandy.

Of this increase, about 6 inches was due to the gradual settling of the land, which has been ongoing since the end of the last Ice Age, with the remainder being the result of global warming.

The impact of sea level rise on storm surge flooding is similar to raising the floor of a basketball court. The higher the floor, the easier it is for players to dunk the ball, so that even shorter players will be able to dunk. However, the floor hasn't been raised that far yet.

In an interview, co-author Andrew Kemp, who now teaches at Tufts University, said the 20-inch decrease in flood height if Sandy had struck in 1788 is a "pretty small number compared to how big a storm tide can be."

But as oceans rise, more storms will be able to clear that bar with less help from tides. New York and other coastal cities will see more extensive flooding from weaker storms, while stronger storms will more easily set storm tide records.

In June, a New York City climate panel reported that sea levels could rise at a faster rate than was forecast just a few years ago. New York Harbor could see up to 11 inches of sea level rise by the 2020s, and up to or more than 2.5 feet of sea level rise by the 2050s.

"When it does happen . . . you're going to need smaller and smaller storms to overtop those thresholds as you go forward in time," Kemp said. According to revised flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, hundreds of thousands more New Yorkers have been placed in the 100-year floodplain compared to the maps that existed when Hurricane Sandy struck.

With sea level rise, the city expects that up to one-quarter of all New York City's land area, with 800,000 residents, will be in the floodplain.

"If we do nothing, more than 40 miles of our waterfront could see flooding on a regular basis, just during normal high tide," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said while rolling out the city's post-Sandy climate resilience plan in June.

"We can think of these things as tipping points and sea level rise will cause them to be exceeded more often in the future because the baseline for hurricanes is raised and storms with smaller surges and not necessarily arriving on the highest tides will be able to overtop those physical structures," Horton said.
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Sore Throat

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This Is What It Looks Like When Glaciers Melt And The West B PostFri Aug 16, 2013 5:28 pm  Reply with quote

This Is What It Looks Like When Glaciers Melt And The West Burns

By James Gerken

What if you could peer back in time to see how glaciers melted over generations? Or how a major wildfire scarred the earth in a few days?

Launched in 2010, NASA's "State of Flux" image gallery shows the impacts of climate change, urbanization, natural disasters and other events in both the short and long term.


Between 1941 and 2004, Alaska's Muir Glacier retreated more than seven miles and thinned by more than 875 yards, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Bruce Molnia.

Before: Muir Glacier, Alaska on August 13, 1941
After: August 31, 2004

Before: McCarty Glacier, Alaska on July 30, 1909
After: August 11, 2004
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Sore Throat

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Scientists nearly certain that humans have caused global war PostTue Aug 20, 2013 11:26 pm  Reply with quote

Scientists nearly certain that humans have caused global warming

By Darryl Fears

It is all but certain that human activity has caused a steady increase in global temperatures over the past 60 years, leading to warmer oceans and an acceleration in sea-level rise, according to findings in the most recent climate change report by an international panel of scientists.

In a draft summary of the fifth climate assessment since its creation in 1988, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that continued greenhouse gas emissions “would cause further warming” and induce changes that could “occur in all regions of the globe . . . and include changes in land and ocean, in the water cycle, in the cryosphere, in sea level . . . and in ocean acidification.”

Six years ago, in its last report, the IPCC concluded that there was a 90 percent certainty that human activity was responsible for most of Earth’s warming. The 2013 draft summary increased that certainty to 95 percent.

“Human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global surface temperature from 1951-2010,” the report said. “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level, and changed some climate extremes, in the second half of the 20th century.”

The IPCC — composed of hundreds of scientists, including from federal agencies — tracks the impact of global warming on specific regions and species and won a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former vice president Al Gore. The body plans to release its massive final report in four stages over the next year, starting with a meeting next month in Stockholm.

The draft summary, completed in June, was leaked and first reported last weekend by the Reuters news service and later by the New York Times. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the draft Tuesday afternoon.

In remarks to the British Broadcasting Corp., a spokesman said that the report is far from complete and that conclusions should not be drawn from it.

“It is guaranteed it will change,” said Jonathan Lynn, spokesman for the IPCC. He said the document was provided to U.N. member governments and has drawn 1,800 comments, many of which will be considered as the assessment is debated and edited.

But the leaked draft mirrors previous assessments in many ways, and asserts that its changed predictions are the result of significant improvements in the way scientists study the rise in temperature and sea levels.

Some say the draft’s predictions are too conservative. The prediction that ocean levels could rise as much as three feet by the end of the century conflicts with those of other scientists who envision even more dire consequences.

A report on Maryland sea-level rise released in June by the state’s Climate Change Commission estimated that the rise would range from slightly less than a foot to two feet by 2050, and from two to six feet by 2100, depending on several factors, including glacial ice melt.

Up to six feet of sea-level rise can be devastating when effects from storm surge are factored in, said Donald F. Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

In addition to projections, the document reported several facts. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by more than 20 percent since 1958 and 40 percent since 1750, “virtually all due to burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, and a small contribution from cement production.”

In many ways, climate change will continue for centuries even if emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped. “This represents a substantial multi-century commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.”

Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the draft a sober snapshot of how climate science has evolved since the last report.

“Scientists have a clearer picture of how our climate is changing,” she said. The bad news: “The problem is getting worse because countries keep dumping more heat-trapping emissions into the atmosphere.

Ekwurzel said this draft has a more realistic estimate for global sea-level rise than the last report. Still, scientists are estimating a far more rapid sea-level rise “for planners in places like the East Coast.”

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.
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Sore Throat

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Report: U.S. West Coast to be hard-hit by Fukushima ocean co PostFri Aug 23, 2013 4:51 pm  Reply with quote

Report: U.S. West Coast to be hard-hit by Fukushima ocean contamination — North Pacific Gyre transporting radioactive material to America

US West Coast to be hard-hit by Fukushima radiation

An ocean current called the North Pacific Gyre is bringing Japanese radiation to the West Coast of the US. While many people assume that the ocean will dilute the Fukushima radiation, a previously-secret US government report revelas [sic] that the ocean may not adequately dilute radiation from nuclear accidents, and there could be “pockets” and “streams” of highly-concentrated radiation.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and 3 scientists from the GEOMAR Research Center for Marine Geosciences show that radiation on US West Coast could end up being 10 times higher than in Japan. [...]

Indeed, another team of top Chinese scientists have just published a study in the Science China Earth Sciences journal showing that Fukushima nuclear pollution is becoming more concentrated as it approaches the West Coast of the United States, that the plume crosses the ocean in a nearly straight line toward North America, and that it appears to stay together with little dispersion.

The time scale of the nuclear pollutants reaching the west coast of America is 3.2 years if it is estimated using the surface drifting buoys and 3.9 years if it is estimated using the nuclear pollutant particulate tracers. [...]
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Sore Throat

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Fukushima leak is 'much worse than we were led to believe' PostFri Aug 23, 2013 7:14 pm  Reply with quote

Fukushima leak is 'much worse than we were led to believe'

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News

A nuclear expert has told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than the authorities have stated.

Mycle Schneider is an independent consultant who has previously advised the French and German governments.

He says water is leaking out all over the site and there are no accurate figures for radiation levels.

Meanwhile the chairman of Japan's nuclear authority said that he feared there would be further leaks.

The ongoing problems at the Fukushima plant increased in recent days when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.

Moment of crisis

The Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale that measures the severity of atomic accidents.

This was an acknowledgement that the power station was in its greatest crisis since the reactors melted down after the tsunami in 2011.

But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit.

They are worried about the enormous quantities of water, used to cool the reactor cores, which are now being stored on site.

Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added.

"The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic," said Mycle Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues.

"What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else - not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that.

"It is much worse than we have been led to believe, much worse," said Mr Schneider, who is lead author for the World Nuclear Industry status reports.

At news conference, the head of Japan's nuclear regulation authority Shunichi Tanaka appeared to give credence to Mr Schneider's concerns, saying that he feared there would be further leaks.

``We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more. We are in a situation where there is no time to waste," he told reporters.

The lack of clarity about the water situation and the continued attempts by Tepco to deny that water was leaking into the sea has irritated many researchers.

Dr Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has examined the waters around Fukushima.

"It is not over yet by a long shot, Chernobyl was in many ways a one week fire-explosive event, nothing with the potential of this right on the ocean."

"We've been saying since 2011 that the reactor site is still leaking whether that's the buildings and the ground water or these new tank releases. There's no way to really contain all of this radioactive water on site."

"Once it gets into the ground water, like a river flowing to the sea, you can't really stop a ground water flow. You can pump out water, but how many tanks can you keep putting on site?"

Several scientists also raised concerns about the vulnerability of the huge amount of stored water on site to another earthquake.

Water from the storage tanks has seeped into the groundwater and then into the sea. Efforts to use a chemical barrier to prevent sea contamination have not worked.

New health concerns

The storage problems are compounded by the ingress of ground water, running down from the surrounding hills. It mixes with radioactive water leaking out of the basements of the reactors and then some of it leaches into the sea, despite the best efforts of Tepco to stem the flow.

Some of the radioactive elements like caesium that are contained in the water can be filtered by the earth. Others are managing to get through and this worries watching experts.

"Our biggest concern right now is if some of the other isotopes such as strontium 90 which tend to be more mobile, get through these sediments in the ground water," said Dr Buesseler.

"They are entering the oceans at levels that then will accumulate in seafood and will cause new health concerns."

There are also worries about the spent nuclear fuel rods that are being cooled and stored in water pools on site. Mycle Schneider says these contain far more radioactive caesium than was emitted during the explosion at Chernobyl.

"There is absolutely no guarantee that there isn't a crack in the walls of the spent fuel pools. If salt water gets in, the steel bars would be corroded. It would basically explode the walls, and you cannot see that; you can't get close enough to the pools," he said.

The "worsening situation" at Fukushima has prompted a former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland to call for the withdrawal of Tokyo's Olympic bid.

In a letter to the UN secretary general, Mitsuhei Murata says the official radiation figures published by Tepco cannot be trusted. He says he is extremely worried about the lack of a sense of crisis in Japan and abroad.

This view is shared by Mycle Schneider, who is calling for an international taskforce for Fukushima.

"The Japanese have a problem asking for help. It is a big mistake; they badly need it."
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Sore Throat

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Fukushima operator pleads for international help as radiatio PostFri Aug 23, 2013 8:23 pm  Reply with quote

Fukushima operator pleads for international help as radiation crisis deepens

TEPCO, operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, admits it needs overseas help to contain the radioactive fallout, after 18 months of trying to control it internally. It comes after the latest leak at the facility was deemed a “serious incident.”

"Many other countries outside of Japan have experienced decommissioning reactors, so we hope we can consult them more and utilize their experience,” TEPCO’s vice president, Zengo Aizawa, said at a news conference on Wednesday night.

"In that sense, we need support, not only from the Japanese government but from the international community to do this job."

The call comes after one of the 1,060 temporary tanks used to store highly contaminated water sprang a leak on Wednesday, discharging as much as 300 tons of radioactive liquid containing large amounts of cesium. Further tests revealed excessive radiation levels elsewhere in the facility.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) rated the incident 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, which spans from 1 to 7.

"The current situation is at the point where more surveillance won't be enough to keep the accidents from happening," declared Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the NRA.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that it is “taking this matter seriously and remains ready to provide assistance on request."

In the past, Japan has been averse to letting foreign entities help with eradicating the nuclear fallout from the Tohoku Disaster of March 2011. The vast majority of clear-up tenders were won by local companies, and outside experts have observed from afar.

The leak is the latest - and most serious - in a string of accidents that have kept the station in the headlines throughout the summer.
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Sore Throat

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Arctic Ocean Losing Sea Ice At An Alarming Rate: NASA PostMon Aug 26, 2013 5:48 pm  Reply with quote

Arctic Ocean Losing Sea Ice At An Alarming Rate: NASA

By Kukil Bora

Although the ice cover at the North Pole has rebounded from last year’s record-breaking low with this year’s summer low also not likely to break any new record, NASA said sea ice in the Arctic still continues to retreat and melt at rates that are in line with a sustained downward trend, which has been observed over the last several decades.

“Even if this year ends up being the sixth- or seventh-lowest extent, what matters is that the 10 lowest extents recorded have happened during the last 10 years,” Walt Meier, a glaciologist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement. “The long-term trend is strongly downward.”

Scientists said the Arctic ice cover, on Aug. 21, was measured at 2.25 million square miles, compared to only 1.67 million square miles in 2012, which was the smallest Arctic sea ice extent on record for this date. The largest recorded Arctic ice extent for this date was 3.16 million square miles in 1996.

According to NASA, the size of the minimum ice extent of the Arctic Ocean has been diminishing at a rapid pace over the last few years. On Sept.16, 2012, Arctic sea ice reached its smallest extent ever at 1.32 million square miles, about half the size of the average extent from 1979 to 2010.

During the first half of July this year, scientists observed a fast retreat of the sea ice. But, the melting slowed down eventually due to low atmospheric pressures and clouds over the central Arctic, which kept temperatures cooler in the northern region.

Even if ice melting will likely continue for about three more weeks, scientists believe that the summer minimum in 2013 is unlikely to be a record low.

However, according to Joey Comiso, a senior scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, “average temperatures in the Arctic fluctuate from one week to another, and the occurrence of a powerful storm in August, as happened in 2012, could cause the current rate of decline to change significantly.”

Ironically, something completely contradictory is taking place on the opposite side of the planet.

According to NASA, Antarctic sea ice is currently in the middle of its yearly growing cycle and is moving toward the largest sea ice extent ever, with 7.45 million square miles recorded on Aug. 21, compared to 7.08 million square miles for the same date in 2012.

“The phenomenon, which appears counter-intuitive but reflects the differences in environment and climate between the Arctic and Antarctica, is currently the subject of many research studies. Still, the rate at which the Arctic is losing sea ice surpasses the speed at which Antarctic sea ice is expanding,” NASA said in the statement.
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Sore Throat

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US Death Rates Increase from Fukushima Fallout PostTue Aug 27, 2013 8:53 pm  Reply with quote  

US Death Rates Increase from Fukushima Fallout

Dr. John Apsley reports on the increased
deaths in North America that he believes
are associated with the Fukushima
catastrophe and radiation leaks.

There was a spike in infant mortality rates
within the first 10 weeks of the catastrophe
in cities across the US, and the radiation
contamination likely came through rainfall,
he said, adding that infants were particularly
susceptible because of their reduced thyroid

He attributes 14,000 deaths in the US so
far to the fallout from Fukushima.

Video (about 29 mins):

US Death Rates Increase from Fukushima Fallout
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New research pins some extreme weather events on climate cha PostFri Sep 06, 2013 11:16 pm  Reply with quote

New research pins some extreme weather events on climate change

By Elizabeth Barber

A new report plumbing 12 extreme weather events from 2012 for the degree to which human factors, especially carbon dioxide emissions, contributed to the disasters has identified anthropogenic underpinnings in some of the events, but not others.

The paper, a collaborative effort between 18 different research teams, is the latest effort to pinpoint the causes behind the storms, droughts, and warm spells that befell countries all over the world last year, in hopes of better understanding what climate trends can be expected in the future.

In recent years, how much climate change has been a factor in the hurricanes slamming into the US East Coast or the droughts parching farmland in the Midwest has been an outstanding question in climate science. Answering that question has acquired high-octane urgency, as scientists now suggest that better understanding the human origins of extreme weather could help scientists predict when, where, and how those events might impact people.

“People can actually use some of this information to make decisions,” says Thomas Peterson, principal scientist at the National Climactic Data Center and one of the lead editors on the report. For example, it makes a difference to a Midwestern farmer who has just weathered a punishing drought whether or not that experience is rare event or part of a long-term trend toward a drier climate, he said.

The report cautions against the idea that climate change causes extreme weather, suggesting that while climate change is a factor in such events, it is in none of the studied cases the sole factor. In the paper, the team likens the influence of climate change on superstorms to speeding while driving: If a crash happens, it might be because the driver was texting or because the roads were wet, but the speeding made it more likely that the crash would happen or be more catastrophic.

That in mind, climate change did not necessarily cause Hurricane Sandy, but it did contribute to its severity, the scientists said. The report, looking at just the hurricane’s flooding patterns, said that sea levels up from their 1950 values caused a storm surge that was also unusually high, plunging low-lying areas along the East coast under a barrage of water: storm tide levels broke 16 records along western Atlantic coastline.

The results also suggest that future storms, whirling in on the backs of swelled-up seas, could do increasingly catastrophic damage within longer and longer ranges.

But a peculiar event in the Netherlands, where the temperatures dropped low enough that thrilled citizens hurried to host the annual 11-cities ice skating race, only to find that the ice was not thick enough to support the deluge of skaters, was pinned not on climate change, but on a natural weather fluke: Heavier-than-unusual snowfall had served as a kind of tea cozy for the ice, preventing it from thickening, the report said.

Similarly, the drought that unfurled across the Midwest – the most extensive drought there since around 1950 – occurred regardless of humans, the teams found. In their research on that event, the scientists noted that increased greenhouse gas emissions increase surface heating, which affects the hydrological cycle. Yet in the computer models the scientists with modern greenhouse gas levels and then those predating the Industrial Revolution, the difference in greenhouse gas levels did not bear on the frequency of droughts in the region.

Still, the scientists cautioned that long-term studies, including a 2012 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), suggest that the central US will experience longer and more crippling droughts if current emissions trends continue.

The scientists were also split on the causes of some events, underscoring the difficulties involved in piecing out climate change's effects on extreme weather. In one example, whether or not the rainfall that smacked the UK over the summer had anthropogenic causes was unclear, the report said, declining to make a formal statement on human contribution to that event.

Much as determining exactly how much speeding increases the odds of a car crash or worsens the damage is exceedingly complicated, teasing out just what caused what and how in an extreme weather event is a taxing and fallible exercise, the authors said, noting that the results detailed in the paper come with substantial qualifications.

“The attribution conclusions for such relatively complex events remain somewhat equivocal,” the authors write in the paper. “The results in general contained in this special issue are not necessarily the final word nor the definitive treatments on these cases.”

Another difficulty is that analyzing the origins of a particular event, especially one confined just to a swath of one state, must rely on a small number of data points, says Peterson.

“Where climate change research excels is when you’re looking at lots and lots of data points,” says Peterson. “With smaller and smaller regions, or with smaller and smaller events, it becomes much trickier.”

This is the second report from the team assessing human contributions to extreme weather. The paper is published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
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Climate change may disrupt vital ocean chemical cycles, stud PostMon Sep 09, 2013 5:56 pm  Reply with quote

Climate change may disrupt vital ocean chemical cycles, study finds

Ocean warming will negatively impact plankton colonies, resulting in a rough climate change cycle.

Science Recorder | Jonathan Marker

A September 8 news release from the UK’s University of East Anglia (UEA) details the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers, which show that rising ocean temperatures will interrupt the natural cycles of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and phosphorous – in addition to having a direct impact on the plankton ecosystem of the world’s oceans. The findings appear in Nature Climate Change in an article entitled, “The impact of temperature on marine phytoplankton resource allocation and metabolism.”

As plankton play an important role in the natural carbon cycle of the world’s oceans – by removing nearly half of all atmospheric CO2 during photosynthesis and storing it in the ocean depths for hundreds of years – ocean warming will negatively impact plankton colonies, resulting in a rough cycle of climate change. So, researchers from the School of Environmental Sciences and the School of Computing Sciences at UEA assessed microscopic phytoplankton, which rely on photosynthesis to reproduce and grow, to understand more fully the potential impact of ocean warming.

“Phytoplankton, including micro-algae, are responsible for half of the carbon dioxide that is naturally removed from the atmosphere,” said lead researcher Dr. Thomas Mock. “As well as being vital to climate control, it also creates enough oxygen for every other breath we take, and forms the base of the food chain for fisheries so it is incredibly important for food security.”

In addition, Mock said, “Previous studies have shown that phytoplankton communities respond to global warming by changes in diversity and productivity. But with our study we show that warmer temperatures directly impact the chemical cycles in plankton, which has not been shown before.”

Along with colleagues from the University of Exeter, the researchers produced computer models to create a simulated global ecosystem that incorporated global ocean temperatures, 1.5 million plankton DNA sequences acquired from samples and biochemical data.

“We found that temperature plays a critical role in driving the cycling of chemicals in marine micro-algae. It affects these reactions as much as nutrients and light, which was not known before,” said Mock.

“Under warmer temperatures, marine micro-algae do not seem to produce as many ribosomes as under lower temperatures,” he added. “Ribosomes join up the building blocks of proteins in cells. They are rich in phosphorous and if they are being reduced, this will produce higher ratios of nitrogen compared to phosphorous, increasing the demand for nitrogen in the oceans. This will eventually lead to a greater prevalence of blue-green algae called cyanobacteria which fix atmospheric nitrogen.”

Funding for this research was provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), 454 Life Sciences (Roche), the Leverhulme Trust, the European Union (FP7), the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Earth and Life Systems Alliance (ELSA).
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Arctic Sea Ice Closes In on Summer Low PostThu Sep 19, 2013 7:21 pm  Reply with quote

Arctic Sea Ice Closes In on Summer Low

By Becky Oskin, Staff Writer

The Arctic icepack appears to have reached its summer low this week. The annual summer melt season shrank the polar ice cap down to 5.10 million square kilometers (2.00 million square miles) on Sept. 16, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo. Now, NSIDC scientists are tracking the Arctic icepack's shifting boundaries via satellite to confirm whether the Sept. 16 extent was the minimum, a spokeswoman for the research center said. The ice can wax and wane before heading into the fall refreeze.

This year saw much more ice cover than 2012, which set an all-time record for the lowest summer ice extent. The Northwest Passage was closed for the first time since 2007. But if Sept. 16 was the summer low, then 2013 was still a sixth place finisher for the lowest amount of summer ice since record-keeping started in the Arctic 30 years ago. And the overall volume of ice — a measure of its thickness — continues to decrease as well.

Climate models predict that climate change will cause large variations in the summer ice from year to year, according to a statement from the NSIDC. This year, cool summer weather in the Arctic helped the ice stick around for the summer, the NSIDC said. Air temperatures were colder than average in the Arctic, which helps retain a thin layer of ice, increasing the overall ice extent.
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By 2047, Coldest Years May Be Warmer Than Hottest in Past PostWed Oct 09, 2013 7:16 pm  Reply with quote

By 2047, Coldest Years May Be Warmer Than Hottest in Past


If greenhouse emissions continue their steady escalation, temperatures across most of the earth will rise to levels with no recorded precedent by the middle of this century, researchers said Wednesday.

Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa calculated that by 2047, plus or minus five years, the average temperatures in each year will be hotter across most parts of the planet than they had been at those locations in any year between 1860 and 2005.

To put it another way, for a given geographic area, “the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past,” said Camilo Mora, the lead scientist on a paper published in the journal Nature.

Unprecedented climates will arrive even sooner in the tropics, Dr. Mora’s group predicts, putting increasing stress on human societies there, on the coral reefs that supply millions of people with fish, and on the world’s greatest forests.

“Go back in your life to think about the hottest, most traumatic event you have experienced,” Dr. Mora said in an interview. “What we’re saying is that very soon, that event is going to become the norm.”

The research comes with caveats. It is based on climate models, huge computer programs that attempt to reproduce the physics of the climate system and forecast the future response to greenhouse gases. Though they are the best tools available, these models contain acknowledged problems, and no one is sure how accurate they will prove to be at peering many decades ahead.

The models show that unprecedented temperatures could be delayed by 20 to 25 years if there is a vigorous global effort to bring emissions under control. While that may not sound like many years, the scientists said the emissions cuts would buy critical time for nature and for human society to adapt, as well as for development of technologies that might help further reduce emissions.

Other scientists not involved in the research said that slowing emissions would have a bigger effect in the long run, lowering the risk that the climate would reach a point that triggers catastrophic changes. They praised the paper as a fresh way of presenting information that is known to specialists in the field, but not by the larger public.

“If current trends in carbon dioxide emissions continue, we will be pushing most of the ecosystems of the world into climatic conditions that they have not experienced for many millions of years,” said Ken Caldeira, a climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif.

The Mora paper is a rarity: a class project that turned into a high-profile article in one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.

Dr. Mora is not a climate scientist; rather he is a specialist in using large sets of data to illuminate environmental issues. He assigned a class of graduate students to analyze forecasts produced by 39 of the world’s foremost climate models. The models, whose results are publicly available, are operated by 21 research centers in 12 countries, and financed largely by governments.

Thousands of scientific papers have been published about the model results, but the students identified one area of analysis that was missing. The results are usually reported as average temperature changes across the planet. But that gives little sense of how the temperature changes in specific places might compare with historical norms. “We wanted to give people a really relatable way to understand climate,” said Abby G. Frazier, a doctoral candidate in geography.

So Dr. Mora and his students divided the earth into a grid, with each cell representing 386 square miles. Averaging the results from the 39 climate models, they calculated a date they called “climate departure” for each location — the date after which all future years were predicted to be warmer than any year in the historical record for that spot on the globe.

The results suggest that if emissions of greenhouse gases remain high, then after 2047, more than half the earth’s surface will experience annual climates hotter than anything that occurred between 1860 and 2005, the years for which historical temperature data and reconstructions are available. If assiduous efforts were made to bring emissions down, that date could be pushed back to 2069, the analysis found.

With the technique the Mora group used, it is possible to specify climate departure dates for individual cities. Under high emissions, climate departure for New York City will come in 2047, the paper found, plus or minus the five-year margin of error. But lower emissions would push that to 2072.

For Beijing, climate departure would come in 2046 under high emissions, or 2078 under lower emissions. The dates for Moscow are 2063 and 2092; for Washington, 2047 and 2071.

Perhaps the most striking findings are in the tropics. Climate variability there is much smaller than in high latitudes, and the extra heat being trapped by greenhouse gases will push the temperature beyond historical bounds much sooner, the research found. Under high emissions, the paper found a climate departure date of 2031 for Mexico City, 2029 for Jakarta and for Lagos, Nigeria, and 2033 for Bogotá, Colombia.

Many people perceive climate change to be most serious at the poles, and indeed the largest absolute changes in temperature are already occurring in the Arctic and parts of Antarctica. But the Mora paper dovetails with previous research suggesting that the biggest risks to nature and to human society, at least in the near term, may actually be in the tropics.

People living in the tropics are generally poor, with less money to adapt to climate change than people in the mid-latitude rich countries that are burning the most carbon-based fuels and contributing most of the emissions. Plants and animals in the tropics also are accustomed to a narrow temperature range. Organisms that do not have the genetic capacity to adapt to rapid climatic changes will be forced to move, or will be driven to extinction, climate scientists say.

“I am certain there will be massive biological and social consequences,” Dr. Mora said. “The specifics, I cannot tell you.”
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Climate Change Could Lead to Widespread Chemical Changes In PostWed Oct 16, 2013 4:37 pm  Reply with quote

Climate Change Could Lead to Widespread Chemical Changes In The Ocean, Affecting Humans By 2100

By Charles Poladian

Climate change will lead to a ripple effect of chemical changes in ocean systems that will affect all habitats, organisms and humans by 2100. The conclusion reached by researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa after analyzing other aspects of marine ecosystems, such as the depletion of oxygen, states “that no corner of the world ocean will be untouched by climate change by 2100.”

While other models focus on well-known effects of climate change like ocean warming and ocean acidification, there are still other aspects of marine ecosystems that will be affected, according to the research, which was published in the journal PLOS Biology. Scientists from UH Manoa worked with an international group of oceanographers to develop this model of marine ecosystems. Some of the data used by the researchers came from the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Changes in temperature, pH and oxygen were factored into the new models and run through two scenarios, a “business-as-usual” one that saw atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reaching 900 parts per million, and another that saw, through an immediate and concentrated effort to reduce CO2 emissions, CO2 levels rising to 550 ppm. The current CO2 level is at 393.31 ppm.

Based on the two scenarios, the researchers discovered that nearly all of the global ocean will be affected by climate change, save for small sections near the polar caps. According to the study, different levels of ocean warming, acidification, oxygen depletion and productivity shortfall, or lack of phytoplankton and other microorganisms necessary for photosynthesis, will affect the global ocean all at once. Specifically, researchers saw an increase in surface temperature ranging from 1.2 degrees Celsius to 2.6 degrees Celsius, a 2 to 4 percent decrease in dissolved oxygen, a decrease in phytoplankton production by 4 to 10 percent of current values, and a pH decrease of 0.15 to 0.31, notes the university.
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Sore Throat

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Arctic Temperatures Reach Highest Levels In 44,000 Years, St PostThu Oct 24, 2013 10:33 pm  Reply with quote

Arctic Temperatures Reach Highest Levels In 44,000 Years, Study Finds

From LiveScience staff writer Douglas Main:

Plenty of studies have shown that the Arctic is warming and that the ice caps are melting, but how does it compare to the past, and how serious is it?

New research shows that average summer temperatures in the Canadian Arctic over the last century are the highest in the last 44,000 years, and perhaps the highest in 120,000 years.

"The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is," Gifford Miller, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a joint statement from the school and the publisher of the journal Geophysical Researcher Letters, in which the study by Miller and his colleagues was published online this week. "This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

The study is the first to show that current Arctic warmth exceeds peak heat there in the early Holocene, the name for the current geological period, which began about 11,700 years ago. During this "peak" Arctic warmth, solar radiation was about 9 percent greater than today, according to the study.

Miller and his colleagues gauged Arctic temperatures by looking at gas bubbles trapped in ice cores (cylinders drilled from the ice that show layers of snow laid down over time) taken from the region, which allows scientists to reconstruct past temperature and levels of precipitation. They paired this with radiocarbon dating of clumps of moss taken from a melting ice cap on Canada's Baffin Island. Their analysis shows that these plants have been trapped in the ice for at least 44,000 years, and perhaps as long as 120,000 years. Taken together, that data suggest temperatures in the region haven't been this high since perhaps as long as 120,000 years ago, according to the study.

The Arctic has been heating up for about a century, but the most significant warming didn't start until the 1970s, Miller said in the statement. "And it is really in the past 20 years that the warming signal from that region has been just stunning," he added. "All of Baffin Island is melting, and we expect all of the ice caps to eventually disappear, even if there is no additional warming."
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28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With PostThu Oct 24, 2013 10:43 pm  Reply with quote

28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima

By Michael Snyder

The map above comes from the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center. It shows that radiation levels at radiation monitoring stations all over the country are elevated. As you will notice, this is particularly true along the west coast of the United States. Every single day, 300 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima enters the Pacific Ocean. That means that the total amount of radioactive material released from Fukushima is constantly increasing, and it is steadily building up in our food chain. Ultimately, all of this nuclear radiation will outlive all of us by a very wide margin. They are saying that it could take up to 40 years to clean up the Fukushima disaster, and meanwhile countless innocent people will develop cancer and other health problems as a result of exposure to high levels of nuclear radiation. We are talking about a nuclear disaster that is absolutely unprecedented, and it is constantly getting worse. The following are 28 signs that the west coast of North America is being absolutely fried with nuclear radiation from Fukushima…

1. Polar bears, seals and walruses along the Alaska coastline are suffering from fur loss and open sores…

Wildlife experts are studying whether fur loss and open sores detected in nine polar bears in recent weeks is widespread and related to similar incidents among seals and walruses.

The bears were among 33 spotted near Barrow, Alaska, during routine survey work along the Arctic coastline. Tests showed they had “alopecia, or loss of fur, and other skin lesions,” the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement.

2. There is an epidemic of sea lion deaths along the California coastline…

At island rookeries off the Southern California coast, 45 percent of the pups born in June have died, said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service based in Seattle. Normally, less than one-third of the pups would die. It’s gotten so bad in the past two weeks that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an “unusual mortality event.”

3. Along the Pacific coast of Canada and the Alaska coastline, the population of sockeye salmon is at a historic low. Many are blaming Fukushima.

4. Something is causing fish all along the west coast of Canada to bleed from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.

5. A vast field of radioactive debris from Fukushima that is approximately the size of California has crossed the Pacific Ocean and is starting to collide with the west coast.

6. It is being projected that the radioactivity of coastal waters off the U.S. west coast could double over the next five to six years.

7. Experts have found very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast.

8. One test in California found that 15 out of 15 bluefin tuna were contaminated with radiation from Fukushima.

9. Back in 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that cesium-137 was being found in a very high percentage of the fish that Japan was selling to Canada…

• 73 percent of mackerel tested

• 91 percent of the halibut

• 92 percent of the sardines

• 93 percent of the tuna and eel

• 94 percent of the cod and anchovies

• 100 percent of the carp, seaweed, shark and monkfish

10. Canadian authorities are finding extremely high levels of nuclear radiation in certain fish samples…

Some fish samples tested to date have had very high levels of radiation: one sea bass sample collected in July, for example, had 1,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium.

11. Some experts believe that we could see very high levels of cancer along the west coast just from people eating contaminated fish…

“Look at what’s going on now: They’re dumping huge amounts of radioactivity into the ocean — no one expected that in 2011,” Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy lecturer at the University of California-Santa Cruz, told Global Security Newswire. “We could have large numbers of cancer from ingestion of fish.”

12. BBC News recently reported that radiation levels around Fukushima are “18 times higher” than previously believed.

13. An EU-funded study concluded that Fukushima released up to 210 quadrillion becquerels of cesium-137 into the atmosphere.

14. Atmospheric radiation from Fukushima reached the west coast of the United States within a few days back in 2011.

15. At this point, 300 tons of contaminated water is pouring into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every single day.

16. A senior researcher of marine chemistry at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Meteorological Research Institute says that “30 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium and 30 billion becquerels of radioactive strontium” are being released into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every single day.

17. According to Tepco, a total of somewhere between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium have gotten into the Pacific Ocean since the Fukushima disaster first began.

18. According to a professor at Tokyo University, 3 gigabecquerels of cesium-137 are flowing into the port at Fukushima Daiichi every single day.

19. It has been estimated that up to 100 times as much nuclear radiation has been released into the ocean from Fukushima than was released during the entire Chernobyl disaster.

20. One recent study concluded that a very large plume of cesium-137 from the Fukushima disaster will start flowing into U.S. coastal waters early next year…

Ocean simulations showed that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 could begin flowing into U.S. coastal waters starting in early 2014 and peak in 2016.

21. It is being projected that significant levels of cesium-137 will reach every corner of the Pacific Ocean by the year 2020.

22. It is being projected that the entire Pacific Ocean will soon “have cesium levels 5 to 10 times higher” than what we witnessed during the era of heavy atomic bomb testing in the Pacific many decades ago.

23. The immense amounts of nuclear radiation getting into the water in the Pacific Ocean has caused environmental activist Joe Martino to issue the following warning…

“Your days of eating Pacific Ocean fish are over.”

24. The Iodine-131, Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 that are constantly coming from Fukushima are going to affect the health of those living the the northern hemisphere for a very, very long time. Just consider what Harvey Wasserman had to say about this…

Iodine-131, for example, can be ingested into the thyroid, where it emits beta particles (electrons) that damage tissue. A plague of damaged thyroids has already been reported among as many as 40 percent of the children in the Fukushima area. That percentage can only go higher. In developing youngsters, it can stunt both physical and mental growth. Among adults it causes a very wide range of ancillary ailments, including cancer.

Cesium-137 from Fukushima has been found in fish caught as far away as California. It spreads throughout the body, but tends to accumulate in the muscles.

Strontium-90’s half-life is around 29 years. It mimics calcium and goes to our bones.

25. According to a recent Planet Infowars report, the California coastline is being transformed into “a dead zone”…

The California coastline is becoming like a dead zone.

If you haven’t been to a California beach lately, you probably don’t know that the rocks are unnaturally CLEAN – there’s hardly any kelp, barnacles, sea urchins, etc. anymore and the tide pools are similarly eerily devoid of crabs, snails and other scurrying signs of life… and especially as compared to 10 – 15 years ago when one was wise to wear tennis shoes on a trip to the beach in order to avoid cutting one’s feet on all the STUFF of life – broken shells, bones, glass, driftwood, etc.

There are also days when I am hard-pressed to find even a half dozen seagulls and/or terns on the county beach.

You can still find a few gulls trolling the picnic areas and some of the restaurants (with outdoor seating areas) for food, of course, but, when I think back to 10 – 15 years ago, the skies and ALL the beaches were literally filled with seagulls and the haunting sound of their cries both day and night…

NOW it’s unnaturally quiet.

26. A study conducted last year came to the conclusion that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster could negatively affect human life along the west coast of North America from Mexico to Alaska “for decades”.

27. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is being projected that the cleanup of Fukushima could take up to 40 years to complete.

28. Yale Professor Charles Perrow is warning that if the cleanup of Fukushima is not handled with 100% precision that humanity could be threatened “for thousands of years“…

“Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo. Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.”

Are you starting to understand why so many people are so deeply concerned about what is going on at Fukushima?

For much more on all of this, please check out the video posted below…
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