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Accelerating Global Climate Change III

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Sore Throat





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Extreme Arctic Warming Breaks Color Barrier Into Hot Pink PostSat Apr 09, 2011 1:37 am  Reply with quote  

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2011/04/07/hot-pink-arctic/

Extreme Arctic Warming Breaks Color Barrier Into Hot Pink

As global warming from unlimited fossil fuel burning accelerates, the Arctic is being radically transformed. This winter saw large regions of Canada and Greenland about 10°C (about 15-20°F) above the historical average. Temperatures in eastern Canada in the dead of winter were a staggering 21°C (37.8°F) above average. The extreme Arctic warming is wreaking havoc with the polar ecosystems and is linked to the catastrophic snowstorms that pummeled the United States. In a summary of how global climate change is becoming observable to people in their daily lives, NASA scientist James Hansen was forced to redraw his global map with hot pink:

The temperature anomaly in the Arctic — the amount that current temperatures differ from historical norms — is now so severe that NASA’s James Hansen had to add a new color to his charts in order to accurately depict it: Hot pink.



“One sure bet is that this decade will be the warmest in history,” Hansen writes in his survey. Globally, extreme summer temperatures are becoming even more pervasive than warmer winters. “If people cannot recognize that summers are becoming more extreme they may need to have their senses examined or their memories.”

This is not the first time climate change has broken through scientists’ temperature scales. Updating from 2002 to 2009, MIT scientists were forced to add new colors to their “Greenhouse Gamble” roulette wheels for projected future warming.
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Experts: Severe weather across South could set tornado recor PostThu Apr 28, 2011 4:49 pm  Reply with quote  

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/04/27/tornado.outbreak/

Experts: Severe weather across South could set tornado record

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- A rare mix of factors combined to cause widespread severe weather and dozens of reported tornadoes across the southern United States Wednesday, experts said.

The National Weather Service had already received more than 100 reports of tornadoes by Wednesday night, and that number appeared to be climbing rapidly.

"This could be one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the nation's history by the time it's over," CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris said.

Several meteorological conditions combined Wednesday to create a particularly dangerous mix, he said. A storm system that brought severe weather to parts of the South Plains earlier this week was heading east, a cold front was moving across the Deep South and upper levels of the atmosphere were conducive for severe storms.

"It is tornado season, but an intensive event like this only will occur maybe once or twice a year," he said. "It's very rare to have all these ingredients come together."

The worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history occurred in April 1974, when 148 twisters touched down in 13 states over a 16-hour period, according to the National Weather Service. The agency said 330 people died and 5,484 were injured in a path of damage that covered more than 2,500 miles.

That month saw a total of 267 tornadoes -- the largest number recorded since 1950, according to the weather agency.

Authorities are still assessing damage from Wednesday's storms, and it could be days before officials establish how many tornadoes hit.

By Wednesday night, authorities said dozens of people had been killed as storms swept through Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.

And dramatic images of massive funnel clouds and flattened buildings left little doubt about the storms' strength.

"The storms are just amazingly explosive and they're covering a very large area," said Greg Carbin with the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

With the latest outbreak, April may turn out to be a historic month for tornadoes, he said.

The Weather Service received unofficial reports of 39 tornadoes on Tuesday alone. The long-term average for confirmed tornadoes in April is 116.

"We may finish out April with more than 300 tornadoes," Carbin said. "It looks like it will be a record-breaker as far as sheer numbers go. The numbers for April are definitely on a record pace."
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Sore Throat





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Ozone Layer Hole Over South Pole a Major Problem PostThu Apr 28, 2011 4:52 pm  Reply with quote  

http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_8813.shtml


Ozone Layer Hole Over South Pole a Major Problem

by David Hope

The ozone layer hole in Earth's atmosphere, located over the South Pole, has affected the climate of the Southern Hemisphere all the way to the equator, a study says.

A Columbia University study says previous work has shown the ozone hole is changing the atmospheric flow in the high latitudes, but the ozone hole is also able to influence the tropical circulation and increase rainfall at low latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.

This is the first time that ozone depletion, an upper atmospheric phenomenon confined to the polar regions, has been linked to climate change from the pole to the equator, a Columbia release said Thursday.

"It's really amazing that the ozone hole, located so high up in the atmosphere over Antarctica, can have an impact all the way to the tropics and affect rainfall there -- it's just like a domino effect," said Sarah Kang of Columbia's Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and lead author of the paper.

During the last half-century, widespread use of aerosols containing chlorofluorocarbons significantly and rapidly broke down the ozone layer, to a point where the hole in the Antarctic ozone layer was discovered in the mid 1980s.

Thanks to the 1989 Montreal Protocol signed by 196 countries, global chlorofluorocarbon production has been phased out and ozone depletion has largely halted. Scientists expect it to fully reverse and the ozone hole to close by mid-century.

"While the ozone hole has been considered as a solved problem, we're now finding it has caused a great deal of the climate change that's been observed," Lorenzo M. Polvani, co-author of the paper, said.
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Sore Throat





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UV Index PostThu Apr 28, 2011 5:01 pm  Reply with quote  

Time to start using sunblock when outdoors.

Unfortunately there is no effective radiation block to protect us from emissions from the Fukushima reactor disaster. And what is the chance that the EPA would tell us if there truly were health issues, such as the inhalation of plutonium. For that there is NO SAFE LEVEL.


http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html

http://www.chemtrailcentral.com/forum/album_picm.php?pic_id=1673&user_id=45

Consider just how much of the continental US is facing EXTREME levels of UV radiation.

Is the Montreal Protocol "sufficient" to deal with this condition?


UV levels extra high this summer

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/06/03/technology-ultraviolet-ozone-sun-summer.html


Last edited by Sore Throat on Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:13 pm; edited 6 times in total
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Sore Throat





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Extreme Weather...the new "Normal" PostSat Jun 11, 2011 4:39 pm  Reply with quote  

Extreme Weather...the new "Normal"


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/11/arizona-wildfire-health-conditions_n_875327.html

Arizona Wildfire Spreads, Health Conditions Worsen


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/02/2011-tornadoes-record-most-in-day_n_856542.html

April 2011 Tornadoes Break Record For Most Twisters Ever In A Day


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/08/us-weather-heat-idUSTRE75765220110608

Killer heat wave enters third day


More fuel for the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd.


Last edited by Sore Throat on Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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Global warming since 1995 'now significant' PostSun Jun 12, 2011 6:43 pm  Reply with quote  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13719510

Global warming since 1995 'now significant'

By Richard Black

Climate warming since 1995 is now statistically significant, according to Phil Jones, the UK scientist targeted in the "ClimateGate" affair.

Last year, he told BBC News that post-1995 warming was not significant - a statement still seen on blogs critical of the idea of man-made climate change.

But another year of data has pushed the trend past the threshold usually used to assess whether trends are "real".

Dr Jones says this shows the importance of using longer records for analysis.

By widespread convention, scientists use a minimum threshold of 95% to assess whether a trend is likely to be down to an underlying cause, rather than emerging by chance.

If a trend meets the 95% threshold, it basically means that the odds of it being down to chance are less than one in 20.

Last year's analysis, which went to 2009, did not reach this threshold; but adding data for 2010 takes it over the line.

"The trend over the period 1995-2009 was significant at the 90% level, but wasn't significant at the standard 95% level that people use," Professor Jones told BBC News.

"Basically what's changed is one more year [of data]. That period 1995-2009 was just 15 years - and because of the uncertainty in estimating trends over short periods, an extra year has made that trend significant at the 95% level which is the traditional threshold that statisticians have used for many years.

"It just shows the difficulty of achieving significance with a short time series, and that's why longer series - 20 or 30 years - would be a much better way of estimating trends and getting significance on a consistent basis."

Professor Jones' previous comment, from a BBC interview in Febuary 2010, is routinely quoted - erroneously - as demonstration that the Earth's surface temperature is not rising.

Globally consistent

The dataset that Professor Jones helps to compile - HadCRUT3 - is a joint project between the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA), where he is based, and the UK Met Office.

Phil Jones is back at the scientific helm of CRU, though relieved of administrative leadership
It is one of the main global temperature records used by bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

HadCRUT shows a warming 1995-2010 of 0.19C - consistent with the other major records, which all use slightly different ways of analysing the data in order to compensate for issues such as the dearth of measuring stations in polar regions.

Shortly before the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Phil Jones found himself at the centre of the affair that came to be known as "ClimateGate", which saw the release of more than 1,000 emails taken from a CRU server.

Critics alleged the emails showed CRU scientists and others attempting to subvert the usual processes of science, and of manipulating data in order to paint an unfounded picture of globally rising temperatures.

Subsequent enquiries found the scientists and their institutions did fall short of best practice in areas such as routine use of professional statisticians and response to Freedom of Information requests, but found no case to answer on the charges of manipulation.

Since then, nothing has emerged through mainstream science to challenge the IPCC's basic picture of a world warming through greenhouse gas emissions.

And a new initiative to construct a global temperature record, based at Stanford University in California whose funders include "climate sceptical" organisations, has reached early conclusions that match established records closely.
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World's oceans move into 'extinction phase' PostWed Jun 22, 2011 3:52 am  Reply with quote  

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8587354/Worlds-oceans-move-into-extinction-phase.html

World's oceans move into 'extinction phase'

The next generation may lose the opportunity to swim over coral reefs or eat certain species of fish, scientists have warned, as the world's oceans move into a 'phase of extinction' due to human impacts such as over-fishing and climate change.


By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent


A preliminary report from an international panel of marine experts said that the condition of the world's seas was worsening more quickly than had been predicted.

The scientists, gathered for a workshop at Oxford University, warned that entire ecosystems, such as coral reefs, could be lost in a generation.

Already fish stocks are collapsing, leading to a risk of rising food prices and even starvation in some parts of the world.

The experts blamed the increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for pushing up ocean temperatures, boosting algae so there is less oxygen and increasing acidity of the water.

The conditions are similar to every previous mass extinction event in the Earth's history.

Dr Alex Rogers, scientific director of the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) which convened the panel with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said the next generation would suffer if species are allowed to go extinct.

"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications became far worse than we had individually realised," he said.

"This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level.

"We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime and, worse, our children's and generations beyond that."


The marine scientists called for a range of urgent measures to cut carbon emissions, reduce over-fishing, shut unsustainable fisheries, create protected areas in the seas and cut pollution.
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World's oceans in 'shocking' decline PostWed Jun 22, 2011 11:31 pm  Reply with quote  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13796479


World's oceans in 'shocking' decline

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News

The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.

In a new report, they warn that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history".

They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised.

The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.

The panel was convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), and brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists.

Its report will be formally released later this week.

"The findings are shocking," said Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.

"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.

"We've sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we're seeing, and we've ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we're seeing changes that are happening faster than we'd thought, or in ways that we didn't expect to see for hundreds of years."

These "accelerated" changes include melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, sea level rise, and release of methane trapped in the sea bed.

Fast changes

"The rate of change is vastly exceeding what we were expecting even a couple of years ago," said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coral specialist from the University of Queensland in Australia.

Some species are already fished way beyond their limits - and may also be affected by other threats.

"So if you look at almost everything, whether it's fisheries in temperate zones or coral reefs or Arctic sea ice, all of this is undergoing changes, but at a much faster rate than we had thought."

But more worrying than this, the team noted, are the ways in which different issues act synergistically to increase threats to marine life.

Some pollutants, for example, stick to the surfaces of tiny plastic particles that are now found in the ocean bed.

This increases the amounts of these pollutants that are consumed by bottom-feeding fish.

Plastic particles also assist the transport of algae from place to place, increasing the occurrence of toxic algal blooms - which are also caused by the influx of nutrient-rich pollution from agricultural land.

In a wider sense, ocean acidification, warming, local pollution and overfishing are acting together to increase the threat to coral reefs - so much so that three-quarters of the world's reefs are at risk of severe decline.

Carbon deposits

“The challenges are vast; but unlike previous generations, we know what now needs to happen”

Dan Laffoley

IUCN

Life on Earth has gone through five "mass extinction events" caused by events such as asteroid impacts; and it is often said that humanity's combined impact is causing a sixth such event.

The IPSO report concludes that it is too early to say definitively.

But the trends are such that it is likely to happen, they say - and far faster than any of the previous five.

"What we're seeing at the moment is unprecedented in the fossil record - the environmental changes are much more rapid," Professor Rogers told BBC News.

"We've still got most of the world's biodiversity, but the actual rate of extinction is much higher [than in past events] - and what we face is certainly a globally significant extinction event."

The report also notes that previous mass extinction events have been associated with trends being observed now - disturbances of the carbon cycle, and acidification and hypoxia (depletion of oxygen) of seawater.

Levels of CO2 being absorbed by the oceans are already far greater than during the great extinction of marine species 55 million years ago (during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum), it concludes.

Blue planet

The report's conclusions will be presented at UN headquarters in New York this week, when government delegates begin discussions on reforming governance of the oceans.

In the long run, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut to conserve ocean life, the report concludes.

IPSO's immediate recommendations include:

stopping exploitative fishing now, with special emphasis on the high seas where currently there is little effective regulation

mapping and then reducing the input of pollutants including plastics, agricultural fertilisers and human waste

making sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon dioxide levels are now so high, it says, that ways of pulling the gas out of the atmosphere need to be researched urgently - but not using techniques, such as iron fertilisation, that lead to more CO2 entering the oceans.

"We have to bring down CO2 emissions to zero within about 20 years," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg told BBC News.

"If we don't do that, we're going to see steady acidification of the seas, heat events that are wiping out things like kelp forests and coral reefs, and we'll see a very different ocean."

Another of the report's authors, Dan Laffoley, marine chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas and an adviser to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), admitted the challenges were vast.

"But unlike previous generations, we know what now needs to happen," he said.

"The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now."
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Fastest sea-level rise in 2,100 years linked to climate chan PostFri Jun 24, 2011 1:46 am  Reply with quote  

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2011/06/sea-level-rise-linked-climate-change/1

Fastest sea-level rise in 2,100 years linked to climate change

By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

The sea-level is now rising faster along the U.S. Atlantic coast than at any time in the past 2,100 years, and this surge is linked to increasing global temperatures, an international research team reports.

"Sea-level rise is a potentially disastrous outcome of climate change, as rising temperatures melt land-based ice and warm ocean waters," said study co-author Benjamin Horton of the University of Pennsylvania. The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team found that sea level was relatively stable from 200 BC to 1,000 AD. Beginning in the 11th century, sea level rose by about half a millimeter each year for 400 years during a warm climate period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Sea level was stable again during a period, called the Little Ice Age, that persisted until the late 19th century. But since then, sea level has risen more than 2 millimeters per year on average, the steepest rate for more than 2,100 years.

To reconstruct sea level, the scientists used microfossils preserved in sediment cores taken from coastal salt marshes in North Carolina. They estimated the age of the cores using radiocarbon dating and other techniques. They tested their approach by comparing their calculations with tide-gauge measurements from North Carolina for the past 80 years and global ones for the past 300 years. They also confirmed their findings with a second reconstruction from Massachusetts.

The research was done by, in addition to Horton, Andrew Kemp of Yale University, Jeffrey Donnelly of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, Martin Vermeer of Aalto University School of Engineering in Finland and Stefan Rahmstorf of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Funding for the work was provided by the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey, the Academy of Finland, the European Science Foundation through European Cooperation in Science and Technology and the University of Pennsylvania.
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PostSat Jun 25, 2011 1:37 am  Reply with quote  

The 'Most Extraordinary Year Of Extreme Weather' In Decades

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/article.html

2010 - 2011: Earth's most extreme weather since 1816?

By Dr. Jeff Masters

Every year extraordinary weather events rock the Earth. Records that have stood centuries are broken. Great floods, droughts, and storms affect millions of people, and truly exceptional weather events unprecedented in human history may occur. But the wild roller-coaster ride of incredible weather events during 2010, in my mind, makes that year the planet's most extraordinary year for extreme weather since reliable global upper-air data began in the late 1940s. Never in my 30 years as a meteorologist have I witnessed a year like 2010--the astonishing number of weather disasters and unprecedented wild swings in Earth's atmospheric circulation were like nothing I've seen. The pace of incredible extreme weather events in the U.S. over the past few months have kept me so busy that I've been unable to write-up a retrospective look at the weather events of 2010. But I've finally managed to finish, so fasten your seat belts for a tour through the top twenty most remarkable weather events of 2010. At the end, I'll reflect on what the wild weather events of 2010 and 2011 imply for our future.

Earth's hottest year on record

Unprecedented heat scorched the Earth's surface in 2010, tying 2005 for the warmest year since accurate records began in the late 1800s. Temperatures in Earth's lower atmosphere also tied for warmest year on record, according to independent satellite measurements. Earth's 2010 record warmth was unusual because it occurred during the deepest solar energy minimum since satellite measurements of the sun began in the 1970s. Unofficially, nineteen nations (plus the the U.K.'s Ascension Island) set all-time extreme heat records in 2010. This includes Asia's hottest reliably measured temperature of all-time, the remarkable 128.3°F (53.5°C) in Pakistan in May 2010. This measurement is also the hottest reliably recorded temperature anywhere on the planet except for in Death Valley, California. The countries that experienced all-time extreme highs in 2010 constituted over 20% of Earth's land surface area.



Figure 1. Climate Central and Weather Underground put together this graphic showing the nineteen nations (plus one UK territory, Ascension Island) that set new extreme heat records in 2010.

Most extreme winter Arctic atmospheric circulation on record; "Snowmageddon" results

The atmospheric circulation in the Arctic took on its most extreme configuration in 145 years of record keeping during the winter of 2009 - 2010. The Arctic is normally dominated by low pressure in winter, and a "Polar Vortex" of counter-clockwise circulating winds develops surrounding the North Pole. However, during the winter of 2009 - 2010, high pressure replaced low pressure over the Arctic, and the Polar Vortex weakened and even reversed at times, with a clockwise flow of air replacing the usual counter-clockwise flow of air. This unusual flow pattern allowed cold air to spill southwards and be replaced by warm air moving poleward. Like leaving the refrigerator door ajar, the Arctic "refrigerator" warmed, and cold Arctic air spilled out into "living room" where people live. A natural climate pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and its close cousin, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) were responsible. Both of these patterns experienced their strongest-on-record negative phase, when measured as the pressure difference between the Icelandic Low and Azores High.

The extreme Arctic circulation caused a bizarre upside-down winter over North America--Canada had its warmest and driest winter on record, forcing snow to be trucked in for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the U.S. had its coldest winter in 25 years. A series of remarkable snow storms pounded the Eastern U.S., with the "Snowmageddon" blizzard dumping more than two feet of snow on Baltimore and Philadelphia. Western Europe also experienced unusually cold and snowy conditions, with the UK recording its 8th coldest January. A highly extreme negative phase of the NAO and AO returned again during November 2010, and lasted into January 2011. Exceptionally cold and snowy conditions hit much of Western Europe and the Eastern U.S. again in the winter of 2010 - 2011. During these two extreme winters, New York City recorded three of its top-ten snowstorms since 1869, and Philadelphia recorded four of its top-ten snowstorms since 1884. During December 2010, the extreme Arctic circulation over Greenland created the strongest ridge of high pressure ever recorded at middle levels of the atmosphere, anywhere on the globe (since accurate records began in 1948.) New research suggests that major losses of Arctic sea ice could cause the Arctic circulation to behave so strangely, but this work is still speculative.

Arctic sea ice: lowest volume on record, 3rd lowest extent

Sea ice in the Arctic reached its third lowest areal extent on record in September 2010. Compared to sea ice levels 30 years ago, 1/3 of the polar ice cap was missing--an area the size of the Mediterranean Sea. The Arctic has seen a steady loss of meters-thick, multi-year-old ice in recent years that has left thin, 1 - 2 year-old ice as the predominant ice type. As a result, sea ice volume in 2010 was the lowest on record. More than half of the polar icecap by volume--60%--was missing in September 2010, compared to the average from 1979 - 2010. All this melting allowed the Northwest Passage through the normally ice-choked waters of Canada to open up in 2010. The Northeast Passage along the coast of northern Russia also opened up, and this was the third consecutive year--and third time in recorded history--that both passages melted open. Two sailing expeditions--one Russian and one Norwegian--successfully navigated both the Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage in 2010, the first time this feat has been accomplished. Mariners have been attempting to sail the Northwest Passage since 1497, and have failed to accomplish this feat without an icebreaker until the 2000s. In December 2010, Arctic sea ice fell to its lowest winter extent on record, the beginning of a 3-month streak of record lows. Canada's Hudson Bay did not freeze over until mid-January of 2011, the latest freeze-over date in recorded history.



Figure 3. The Arctic's minimum sea ice extent for 2010 was reached on September 21, and was the third lowest on record. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Record melting in Greenland, and a massive calving event

Greenland's climate in 2010 was marked by record-setting high air temperatures, the greatest ice loss by melting since accurate records began in 1958, the greatest mass loss of ocean-terminating glaciers on record, and the calving of a 100 square-mile ice island--the largest calving event in the Arctic since 1962. Many of these events were due to record warm water temperatures along the west coast of Greenland, which averaged 2.9°C (5.2°F) above average during October 2010, a remarkable 1.4°C above the previous record high water temperatures in 2003.



Figure 4. The 100 square-mile ice island that broke off the Petermann Glacier heads out of the Petermann Fjord in this 7-frame satellite animation. The animation begins on August 5, 2010, and ends on September 21, with images spaced about 8 days apart. The images were taken by NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.

Second most extreme shift from El Niño to La Niña

The year 2010 opened with a strong El Niño event and exceptionally warm ocean waters in the Eastern Pacific. However, El Niño rapidly waned in the spring, and a moderate to strong La Niña developed by the end of the year, strongly cooling these ocean waters. Since accurate records began in 1950, only 1973 has seen a more extreme swing from El Niño to La Niña. The strong El Niño and La Niña events contributed to many of the record flood events seen globally in 2010, and during the first half of 2011.



Figure 5. The departure of sea surface temperatures from average at the beginning of 2010 (top) and the end of 2010 (bottom) shows the remarkable transition from strong El Niño to strong La Niña conditions that occurred during the year. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.

Second worst coral bleaching year

Coral reefs took their 2nd-worst beating on record in 2010, thanks to record or near-record warm summer water temperatures over much of Earth's tropical oceans. The warm waters caused the most coral bleaching since 1998, when 16 percent of the world's reefs were killed off. "Clearly, we are on track for this to be the second worst (bleaching) on record," NOAA coral expert Mark Eakin in a 2010 interview. "All we're waiting on now is the body count." The summer 2010 coral bleaching episodes were worst in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, where El Niño warming of the tropical ocean waters during the first half of the year was significant. In Indonesia's Aceh province, 80% of the bleached corals died, and Malaysia closed several popular dive sites after nearly all the coral were damaged by bleaching. In some portions of the Caribbean, such as Venezuela and Panama, coral bleaching was the worst on record.



Figure 6. An example of coral bleaching that occurred during the record-strength 1997-1998 El Niño event. Image credit: Craig Quirolo, Reef Relief/Marine Photobank, in Climate, Carbon and Coral Reefs

Wettest year over land

The year 2010 also set a new record for wettest year in Earth's recorded history over land areas. The difference in precipitation from average in 2010 was about 13% higher than that of the previous record wettest year, 1956. However, this record is not that significant, since it was due in large part to random variability of the jet stream weather patterns during 2010. The record wetness over land was counterbalanced by relatively dry conditions over the oceans.



Figure 7. Global departure of precipitation over land areas from average for 1900 - 2010. The year 2010 set a new record for wettest year over land areas in Earth's recorded history. The difference in precipitation from average in 2010 was about 13% higher than that of the previous record wettest year, 1956. Image credit: NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

Amazon rainforest experiences its 2nd 100-year drought in 5 years

South America's Amazon rainforest experienced its second 100-year drought in five years during 2010, with the largest northern tributary of the Amazon River--the Rio Negro--dropping to thirteen feet (four meters) below its usual dry season level. This was its lowest level since record keeping began in 1902. The low water mark is all the more remarkable since the Rio Negro caused devastating flooding in 2009, when it hit an all-time record high, 53 ft (16 m) higher than the 2010 record low. The 2010 drought was similar in intensity and scope to the region's previous 100-year drought in 2005. Drought makes a regular appearance in the Amazon, with significant droughts occurring an average of once every twelve years. In the 20th century, these droughts typically occurred during El Niño years, when the unusually warm waters present along the Pacific coast of South America altered rainfall patterns. But the 2005 and 2010 droughts did not occur during El Niño conditions, and it is theorized that they were instead caused by record warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic.

We often hear about how important Arctic sea ice is for keeping Earth's climate cool, but a healthy Amazon is just as vital. Photosynthesis in the world's largest rainforest takes about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the air each year. However, in 2005, the drought reversed this process. The Amazon emitted 3 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, causing a net 5 billion ton increase in CO2 to the atmosphere--roughly equivalent to 16 - 22% of the total CO2 emissions to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels that year. The Amazon stores CO2 in its soils and biomass equivalent to about fifteen years of human-caused emissions, so a massive die-back of the forest could greatly accelerate global warming.



Figure 8. Hundreds of fires (red squares) generate thick smoke over a 1000 mile-wide region of the southern Amazon rain forest in this image taken by NASA's Aqua satellite on August 16, 2010. The Bolivian government declared a state of emergency in mid-August due to the out-of-control fires burning over much of the country. Image credit: NASA.

Global tropical cyclone activity lowest on record


The year 2010 was one of the strangest on record for tropical cyclones. Each year, the globe has about 92 tropical cyclones--called hurricanes in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, typhoons in the Western Pacific, and tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere. But in 2010, we had just 68 of these storms--the fewest since the dawn of the satellite era in 1970. The previous record slowest year was 1977, when 69 tropical cyclones occurred world-wide. Both the Western Pacific and Eastern Pacific had their quietest seasons on record in 2010, but the Atlantic was hyperactive, recording its 3rd busiest season since record keeping began in 1851. The Southern Hemisphere had a slightly below average season. The Atlantic ordinarily accounts for just 13% of global cyclone activity, but accounted for 28% in 2010--the greatest proportion since accurate tropical cyclone records began in the 1970s.

A common theme of many recent publications on the future of tropical cyclones globally in a warming climate is that the total number of these storms will decrease, but the strongest storms will get stronger. For example, a 2010 review paper published in Nature Geosciences concluded that the strongest storms would increase in intensity by 2 - 11% by 2100, but the total number of storms would fall by 6 - 34%. It is interesting that 2010 saw the lowest number of global tropical cyclones on record, but an average number of very strong Category 4 and 5 storms (the 25-year average is 13 Category 4 and 5 storms, and 2010 had 14.) Fully 21% of 2010's tropical cyclones reached Category 4 or 5 strength, versus just 14% during the period 1983 - 2007. Most notably, in 2010 we had Super Typhoon Megi. Megi's sustained winds cranked up to a ferocious 190 mph and its central pressure bottomed out at 885 mb on October 16, making it the 8th most intense tropical cyclone in world history. Other notable storms in 2010 included the second strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea (Category 4 Cyclone Phet in June), and the strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit Myanmar/Burma (October's Tropical Cyclone Giri, an upper end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds.)



Figure 9. Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Phet on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Record heat over southern Asia in May helped heat up the Arabian Sea to 2°C above normal, and the exceptionally warm SSTs helped fuel Tropical Cyclone Phet into the second strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Arabian Sea. Phet peaked at Category 4 strength with 145 mph winds, and killed 44 people and did $700 million in damage to Oman. Only Category 5 Cyclone Gonu of 2007 was a stronger Arabian Sea cyclone.

A hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season: 3rd busiest on record

Sea surface temperatures that were the hottest on record over the main development region for Atlantic hurricanes helped fuel an exceptionally active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. The nineteen named storms were the third most since 1851; the twelve hurricanes of 2010 ranked second most. Three major hurricanes occurred in rare or unprecedented locations. Julia was the easternmost major hurricane on record, Karl was the southernmost major hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico, and Earl was the 4th strongest hurricane so far north. The formation of Tomas so far south and east so late in the season (October 29) was unprecedented in the historical record; no named storm had ever been present east of the Lesser Antilles (61.5°W) and south of 12°N latitude so late in the year. Tomas made the 2010 the 4th consecutive year with a November hurricane in the Atlantic--an occurrence unprecedented since records began in 1851.



Figure 10. Hurricane Earl as seen from the International Space Station on Thursday, September 2, 2010. Image credit: NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock.

A rare tropical storm in the South Atlantic

A rare tropical storm formed in the South Atlantic off the coast of Brazil on March 10 - 11, and was named Tropical Storm Anita. Brazil has had only one landfalling tropical cyclone in its history, Cyclone Catarina of March 2004, one of only seven known tropical or subtropical cyclones to form in the South Atlantic, and the only one to reach hurricane strength. Anita of 2010 is probably the fourth strongest tropical/subtropical storm in the South Atlantic, behind Hurricane Catarina, an unnamed February 2006 storm that may have attained wind speeds of 65 mph, and a subtropical storm that brought heavy flooding to the coast of Uruguay in January 2009. Tropical cyclones rarely form in the South Atlantic Ocean, due to strong upper-level wind shear, cool water temperatures, and the lack of an initial disturbance to get things spinning (no African waves or Intertropical Convergence Zone.)



Figure 11. Visible satellite image of the Brazilian Tropical Storm Anita.

Strongest storm in Southwestern U.S. history

The most powerful low pressure system in 140 years of record keeping swept through the Southwest U.S. on January 20 - 21, 2010, bringing deadly flooding, tornadoes, hail, hurricane force winds, and blizzard conditions. The storm set all-time low pressure records over roughly 10 - 15% of the U.S.--southern Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Old records were broken by a wide margin in many locations, most notably in Los Angeles, where the old record of 29.25" set January 17, 1988, was shattered by .18" (6 mb). The record-setting low spawned an extremely intense cold front that swept through the Southwest. Winds ahead of the cold front hit sustained speeds of hurricane force--74 mph--at Apache Junction, 40 miles east of Phoenix, and wind gusts as high as 94 mph were recorded in Ajo, Arizona. High winds plunged visibility to zero in blowing dust on I-10 connecting Phoenix and Tucson, closing the Interstate.



Figure 12. Ominous clouds hover over Arizona's Superstition Mountains during Arizona's most powerful storm on record, on January 21, 2010. Image credit: wunderphotographer ChandlerMike.

Strongest non-coastal storm in U.S. history

A massive low pressure system intensified to record strength over northern Minnesota on October 26, 2010, resulting in the lowest barometric pressure readings ever recorded in the continental United States, except for from hurricanes and nor'easters affecting the Atlantic seaboard. The 955 mb sea level pressure reported from Bigfork, Minnesota beat the previous low pressure record of 958 mb set during the Great Ohio Blizzard of January 26, 1978. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin set all time low pressure readings during the October 26 storm, and International Falls beat their previous low pressure record by nearly one-half inch of mercury--a truly amazing anomaly. The massive storm spawned 67 tornadoes over a four-day period, and brought sustained winds of 68 mph to Lake Superior.



Figure 13. Visible satellite image of the October 26, 2010 superstorm taken at 5:32pm EDT. At the time, Bigfork, Minnesota was reporting the lowest pressure ever recorded in a U.S. non-coastal storm, 955 mb. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Weakest and latest-ending East Asian monsoon on record

The summer monsoon over China's South China Sea was the weakest and latest ending monsoon on record since detailed records began in 1951, according to the Beijing Climate Center. The monsoon did not end until late October, nearly a month later than usual. The abnormal monsoon helped lead to precipitation 30% - 80% below normal in Northern China and Mongolia, and 30 - 100% above average across a wide swath of Central China. Western China saw summer precipitation more than 200% above average, and torrential monsoon rains triggered catastrophic landslides that killed 2137 people and did $759 million in damage. Monsoon floods in China killed an additional 1911 people, affected 134 million, and did $18 billion in damage in 2010, according to the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). This was the 2nd most expensive flooding disaster in Chinese history, behind the $30 billion price tag of the 1998 floods that killed 3656 people. China had floods in 1915, 1931, and 1959 that killed 3 million, 3.7 million, and 2 million people, respectively, but no damage estimates are available for these floods.

No monsoon depressions in India's Southwest Monsoon for 2nd time in 134 years

The Southwest Monsoon that affects India was fairly normal in 2010, bringing India rains within 2% of average. Much of the rain that falls in India from the monsoon typically comes from large regions of low pressure that form in the Bay of Bengal and move westwards over India. Typically, seven of these lows grow strong and well-organized enough to be labelled monsoon depressions, which are similar to but larger than tropical depressions. In 2010, no monsoon depressions formed--the only year besides 2002 (since 1877) that no monsoon depressions have been observed.


The Pakistani flood: most expensive natural disaster in Pakistan's history

of moisture that helped trigger the deadly Pakistan floods of 2010. The floods were worsened by a persistent and unusually-far southwards dip in the jet stream, which brought cold air and rain-bearing low pressure systems over Pakistan. This unusual bend in the jet stream also helped bring Russia its record heat wave and drought. The Pakistani floods were the most expensive natural disaster in Pakistani history, killing 1985 people, affecting 20 million, and doing $9.5 billion in damage.


The Russian heat wave and drought: deadliest heat wave in human history

A scorching heat wave struck Moscow in late June 2010, and steadily increased in intensity through July as the jet stream remained "stuck" in an unusual loop that kept cool air and rain-bearing low pressure systems far north of the country. By July 14, the mercury hit 31°C (87°F) in Moscow, the first day of an incredible 33-day stretch with a maximum temperatures of 30°C (86°F) or higher. Moscow's old extreme heat record, 37°C (99°F) in 1920, was equaled or exceeded five times in a two-week period from July 26 - August 6 2010, including an incredible 38.2°C (101°F) on July 29. Over a thousand Russians seeking to escape the heat drowned in swimming accidents, and thousands more died from the heat and from inhaling smoke and toxic fumes from massive wild fires. The associated drought cut Russia's wheat crop by 40%, cost the nation $15 billion, and led to a ban on grain exports. The grain export ban, in combination with bad weather elsewhere in the globe during 2010 - 2011, caused a sharp spike in world food prices that helped trigger civil unrest across much of northern Africa and the Middle East in 2011. At least 55,000 people died due to the heat wave, making it the deadliest heat wave in human history. A 2011 NOAA study concluded that "while a contribution to the heat wave from climate change could not be entirely ruled out, if it was present, it played a much smaller role than naturally occurring meteorological processes in explaining this heat wave's intensity." However, they noted that the climate models used for the study showed a rapidly increasing risk of such heat waves in western Russia, from less than 1% per year in 2010, to 10% or more per year by 2100.


Record rains trigger Australia's most expensive natural disaster in history

Australia's most expensive natural disaster in history is now the Queensland flood of 2010 - 2011, with a price tag as high as $30 billion. At least 35 were killed. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's annual summary reported, "Sea surface temperatures in the Australian region during 2010 were the warmest value on record for the Australian region. Individual high monthly sea surface temperature records were also set during 2010 in March, April, June, September, October, November and December. Along with favourable hemispheric circulation associated with the 2010 La Niña, very warm sea surface temperatures contributed to the record rainfall and very high humidity across eastern Australia during winter and spring." In 2010, Australia had its wettest spring (September - November) since records began 111 years ago, with some sections of coastal Queensland receiving over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain. Rainfall in Queensland and all of eastern Australia in December was the greatest on record, and the year 2010 was the rainiest year on record for Queensland. Queensland has an area the size of Germany and France combined, and 3/4 of the region was declared a disaster zone.


Heaviest rains on record trigger Colombia's worst flooding disaster in history

The 2010 rainy-season rains in Colombia were the heaviest in the 42 years since Colombia's weather service was created and began taking data. Floods and landslides killed 528, did $1 billion in damage, and left 2.2 million homeless, making it Colombia's most expensive, most widespread, and 2nd deadliest flooding disaster in history. Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos said, "the tragedy the country is going through has no precedents in our history."


Tennessee's 1-in-1000 year flood kills 30, does $2.4 billion in damage

Tennessee's greatest disaster since the Civil War hit on May 1 - 2, 2010, when an epic deluge of rain brought by an "atmospheric river" of moisture dumped up to 17.73" of rain on the state. Nashville had its heaviest 1-day and 2-day rainfall amounts in its history, with a remarkable 7.25" on May 2, breaking the record for most rain in a single day. Only two days into the month, the May 1 - 2 rains made it the rainiest May in Nashville's history. The record rains sent the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville surging to 51.86', 12' over flood height, and the highest level the river has reached since a flood control project was completed in the early 1960s. At least four rivers in Tennessee reached their greatest flood heights on record. Most remarkable was the Duck River at Centreville, which crested at 47', a full 25 feet above flood stage, and ten feet higher than the previous record crest, achieved in 1948.


When was the last time global weather was so extreme?

It is difficult to say whether the weather events of a particular year are more or less extreme globally than other years, since we have no objective global index that measures extremes. However, we do for the U.S.--NOAA's Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which looks at the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top 10% or bottom 10% monthly maximum and minimum temperatures, monthly drought, and daily precipitation. The Climate Extremes Index rated 1998 as the most extreme year of the past century in the U.S. That year was also the warmest year since accurate records began in 1895, so it makes sense that the warmest year in Earth's recorded history--2010--was also probably one of the most extreme for both temperature and precipitation. Hot years tend to generate more wet and dry extremes than cold years. This occurs since there is more energy available to fuel the evaporation that drives heavy rains and snows, and to make droughts hotter and drier in places where storms are avoiding. Looking back through the 1800s, which was a very cool period, I can't find any years that had more exceptional global extremes in weather than 2010, until I reach 1816. That was the year of the devastating "Year Without a Summer"--caused by the massive climate-altering 1815 eruption of Indonesia's Mt. Tambora, the largest volcanic eruption since at least 536 A.D. It is quite possible that 2010 was the most extreme weather year globally since 1816

Where will Earth's climate go from here?

The pace of extreme weather events has remained remarkably high during 2011, giving rise to the question--is the "Global Weirding" of 2010 and 2011 the new normal? Has human-caused climate change destabilized the climate, bringing these extreme, unprecedented weather events? Any one of the extreme weather events of 2010 or 2011 could have occurred naturally sometime during the past 1,000 years. But it is highly improbable that the remarkable extreme weather events of 2010 and 2011 could have all happened in such a short period of time without some powerful climate-altering force at work. The best science we have right now maintains that human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like CO2 are the most likely cause of such a climate-altering force.

Human-caused climate change has fundamentally altered the atmosphere by adding more heat and moisture. Observations confirm that global atmospheric water vapor has increased by about 4% since 1970, which is what theory says should have happened given the observed 0.5°C (0.9°F) warming of the planet's oceans during the same period. Shifts of this magnitude are capable of significantly affecting the path and strength of the jet stream, behavior of the planet's monsoons, and paths of rain and snow-bearing weather systems. For example, the average position of the jet stream retreated poleward 270 miles (435 km) during a 22-year period ending in 2001, in line with predictions from climate models. A naturally extreme year, when embedded in such a changed atmosphere, is capable of causing dramatic, unprecedented extremes like we observed during 2010 and 2011. That's the best theory I have to explain the extreme weather events of 2010 and 2011--natural extremes of El Niño, La Niña and other natural weather patterns combined with significant shifts in atmospheric circulation and the extra heat and atmospheric moisture due to human-caused climate change to create an extraordinary period of extreme weather. However, I don't believe that years like 2010 and 2011 will become the "new normal" in the coming decade. Many of the flood disasters in 2010 - 2011 were undoubtedly heavily influenced by the strong El Niño and La Niña events that occurred, and we're due for a few quiet years without a strong El Niño or La Niña. There's also the possibility that a major volcanic eruption in the tropics or a significant quiet period on the sun could help cool the climate for a few years, cutting down on heat and flooding extremes (though major eruptions tend to increase drought.) But the ever-increasing amounts of heat-trapping gases humans are emitting into the air puts tremendous pressure on the climate system to shift to a new, radically different, warmer state, and the extreme weather of 2010 - 2011 suggests that the transition is already well underway. A warmer planet has more energy to power stronger storms, hotter heat waves, more intense droughts, heavier flooding rains, and record glacier melt that will drive accelerating sea level rise. I expect that by 20 - 30 years from now, extreme weather years like we witnessed in 2010 will become the new normal.

Finally, I'll leave you with a quote from Dr. Ricky Rood's climate change blog, in his recent post,Changing the Conversation: Extreme Weather and Climate: "Given that greenhouse gases are well known to hold energy close to the Earth, those who deny a human-caused impact on weather need to pose a viable mechanism of how the Earth can hold in more energy and the weather not be changed. Think about it."

Related blog posts

U.S. had most extreme spring on record for precipitation in 2011
Is the U.S. climate getting more extreme?

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1824

The Atlantic is quiet

The Atlantic is quiet, but several models, including the NOGAPS and GFS, are predicting that a tropical disturbance capable of becoming a tropical depression could form in the southern Gulf of Mexico in the Bay of Campeche Tuesday or Wednesday. There will be a strong ridge of high pressure over the Gulf next week, which would tend to keep any storm that might form far to the south, with impacts limited to Mexico and perhaps South Texas.
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Climate Change Denial Research Funded By Big Oil PostFri Jul 01, 2011 9:29 pm  Reply with quote  

http://www.care2.com/causes/climate-change-denial-research-funded-by-big-oil.html


Climate Change Denial Research Funded By Big Oil

by Shannon M.

Would it matter to you if you found out your doctor, who had been prescribing you medications, was accepting money from the pharmaceutical company who made your medications all along? Would you wonder about the doctor’s motives for prescribing those drugs? Would you wonder if the doctor really had your best interest at heart?

Let’s say you found out a scientist who makes very clear pronouncements on the state of climate change was being paid substantial amounts of money from Big Oil, the very industry whose products are accused of contributing the most to climate change. Would you wonder about that person’s motives? Would you wonder if that person really had your — or the planet’s — best interests at heart?

This is the question raised today by revelations that Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a very vocal denier of climate change, has been given over $1,000,000 for research grants over the last ten years from the very companies who stand to benefit from society maintaining the climate status quo. His benefactors include ExxonMobil, the Charles G. Koch foundation, the American Petroleum Institute and other sources, all of whom have an interest in debunking theories that humans have caused climate change through the use of the very products these organizations represent.

Certainly, to an ethical researcher, funding is funding is funding — or at least, it should be. The source of the funding should not matter one whit to any research outcomes. However, it also stands to reason that if the researcher were to arrive at findings the fund granter did not agree with, he wouldn’t receive funding from similar sources anymore. And yet, Soon has continued to receive funding from Big Oil and Big Coal — despite, or perhaps because, his research is contradictory to the findings of almost all other researchers.

Does Big Oil like to give Soon funding because he says what they want to hear, thus giving them ammunition to fight climate-change initiatives? Or are Big Oil and Big Coal simply giving him funding because they truly want to fund climate change research?

I’ll leave that up to you.


Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/climate-change-denial-research-funded-by-big-oil.html#ixzz1QtKYNnmv
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Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Chan PostFri Jul 01, 2011 9:39 pm  Reply with quote  

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=extreme-weather-caused-by-climate-change

Storm Warnings: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change
More violent and frequent storms, once merely a prediction of climate models, are now a matter of observation. Part 1 of a three-part series


By John Carey

In North Dakota the waters kept rising. Swollen by more than a month of record rains in Saskatchewan, the Souris River topped its all time record high, set back in 1881. The floodwaters poured into Minot, North Dakota's fourth-largest city, and spread across thousands of acres of farms and forests. More than 12,000 people were forced to evacuate. Many lost their homes to the floodwaters.

Yet the disaster unfolding in North Dakota might be bringing even bigger headlines if such extreme events hadn't suddenly seemed more common. In this year alone massive blizzards have struck the U.S. Northeast, tornadoes have ripped through the nation, mighty rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri have flowed over their banks, and floodwaters have covered huge swaths of Australia as well as displaced more than five million people in China and devastated Colombia. And this year's natural disasters follow on the heels of a staggering litany of extreme weather in 2010, from record floods in Nashville, Tenn., and Pakistan, to Russia's crippling heat wave.

These patterns have caught the attention of scientists at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They've been following the recent deluges' stunning radar pictures and growing rainfall totals with concern and intense interest. Normally, floods of the magnitude now being seen in North Dakota and elsewhere around the world are expected to happen only once in 100 years. But one of the predictions of climate change models is that extreme weather—floods, heat waves, droughts, even blizzards—will become far more common. "Big rain events and higher overnight lows are two things we would expect with [a] warming world," says Deke Arndt, chief of the center's Climate Monitoring Branch. Arndt's group had already documented a stunning rise in overnight low temperatures across the U.S. So are the floods and spate of other recent extreme events also examples of predictions turned into cold, hard reality?

Increasingly, the answer is yes. Scientists used to say, cautiously, that extreme weather events were "consistent" with the predictions of climate change. No more. "Now we can make the statement that particular events would not have happened the same way without global warming," says Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo.

That's a profound change—the difference between predicting something and actually seeing it happen. The reason is simple: The signal of climate change is emerging from the "noise"—the huge amount of natural variability in weather.

Extreme signals

There are two key lines of evidence. First, it's not just that we've become more aware of disasters like North Dakota or last year's Nashville flood, which caused $13 billion in damage, or the massive 2010 summer monsoon in Pakistan that killed 1,500 people and left 20 million more homeless. The data show that the number of such events is rising. Munich Re, one of the world's largest reinsurance companies, has compiled the world's most comprehensive database of natural disasters, reaching all the way back to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Researchers at the company, which obviously has a keen financial interest in trends that increase insurance risks, add 700 to 1,000 natural catastrophes to the database each year, explains Mark Bove, senior research meteorologist in Munich Re's catastrophe risk management office in Princeton, N.J. The data indicate a small increase in geologic events like earthquakes since 1980 because of better reporting. But the increase in the number of climate disasters is far larger. "Our figures indicate a trend towards an increase in extreme weather events that can only be fully explained by climate change," says Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re's Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center: "It's as if the weather machine had changed up a gear.

The second line of evidence comes from a nascent branch of science called climate attribution. The idea is to examine individual events like a detective investigating a crime, searching for telltale fingerprints of climate change. Those fingerprints are showing up—in the autumn floods of 2000 in England and Wales that were the worst on record, in the 2003 European heat wave that caused 14,000 deaths in France, in Hurricane Katrina—and, yes, probably even in Nashville. This doesn't mean that the storms or hot spells wouldn't have happened at all without climate change, but as scientists like Trenberth say, they wouldn't have been as severe if humankind hadn't already altered the planet's climate.This new science is still controversial. There's an active debate among researchers about whether the Russian heat wave bears the characteristic signature of climate change or whether it was just natural variability, for instance. Some scientists worry that trying to attribute individual events to climate change is counterproductive in the larger political debate, because it's so easy to dismiss the claim by saying that the planet has always experienced extreme weather. And some researchers who privately are convinced of the link are reluctant to say so publicly, because global warming has become such a target of many in Congress.

But the evidence is growing for a link between the emissions of modern civilization and extreme weather events. And that has the potential to profoundly alter the perception of the threats posed by climate change. No longer is global warming an abstract concept, affecting faraway species, distant lands or generations far in the future. Instead, climate change becomes personal. Its hand can be seen in the corn crop of a Maryland farmer ruined when soaring temperatures shut down pollination or the $13 billion in damage in Nashville, with the Grand Ole Opry flooded and sodden homes reeking of rot. "All of a sudden we're not talking about polar bears or the Maldives any more," says Nashville-based author and environmental journalist Amanda Little. "Climate change translates into mold on my baby's crib. We're talking about homes and schools and churches and all the places that got hit."

Drenched in Nashville

Indeed, the record floods in Nashville in May 2010 shows how quickly extreme weather can turn ordinary life into a nightmare. The weekend began innocuously. The forecast was a 50 percent chance of rain. Musician Eric Normand and his wife Kelly were grateful that the weather event they feared, a tornado, wasn't anticipated. Eric's Saturday concert in a town south of Nashville should go off without a hitch, he figured.

He was wrong. On Saturday, it rained—and rained. "It was a different kind of rain than any I had experienced in my whole life," says Nashville resident Rich Hays. Imagine the torrent from an intense summer thunderstorm, the sort of deluge that prompts you to duck under an underpass for a few minutes until the rain stops and it's safe to go on, Little says. It was like that, she recalls—except that on this weekend in May 2010 it didn't stop. Riding in the bus with his fellow musicians, Normand "looked through a window at a rain-soaked canopy of green and gray," he wrote later. Scores of cars were underwater on the roads they had just traveled. A short 14-hour bus gig turned out to be "one of the most stressful and terrifying we had ever experienced," Normand says.

And still it rained—more than 13 inches (33 centimeters) that weekend. The water rose in Little's basement—one foot, two feet, three feet (one meter) deep. "You get this panicky feeling that things are out of control," she says. Over at Hays's home, fissures appeared in the basement floor, and streams of water turned into a "full-on river," Hays recalls. Then in the middle of night, "I heard this massive crack, almost like an explosion," he says. The force of the water had fractured the house's concrete foundation. He and his wife spent the rest of the night in fear that the house might collapse.

Sunday morning, Normand went out in the deluge to ask his neighbor if he knew when the power might go back on—it was then he realized that his normal world had vanished. A small creek at the bottom of the hill was now a lake one-half mile (0.8 kilometer) wide, submerging homes almost up to their second stories. "My first reaction was disbelief," Normand says. He and his family were trapped, without power and surrounded by flooded roads. "We were just freaked out," he recalls.

And all across the flooded city the scenes were surreal, almost hallucinatory, Little says. "There were absurdities heaped upon absurdities. Churches lifted off foundations and floating down streets. Cars floating in a herd down highways." In her own basement her family's belongings bobbed like debris in a pond.

By time the deluge ended, more than 13 inches (33 centimeters) of rain had fallen, as recorded at Nashville's airport. The toll: 31 people dead, more than $3 billion in damage—and an end to the cherished perception that Nashville was safe from major weather disasters. "A community that had never been vulnerable to this incredible force of nature was literally taken by storm," Little says.

But can the Nashville deluge, the North Dakota floods and the many other extreme weather events around the world be connected with the greenhouse gases that humans have spewed into the atmosphere? Increasingly the answer seems to be yes. Whereas it will never be possible to say that any particular event was caused by climate change, new science is teasing out both the contributions that it makes to individual events—and the increase in the odds of extreme weather occurring as a result of climate change.

Tomorrow: Part 2, Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather

Reporting for this story was funded by Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
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Climate change will increase threat of war, Chris Huhne to w PostFri Jul 08, 2011 4:57 am  Reply with quote  

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/06/climate-change-war-chris-huhne

Climate change will increase threat of war, Chris Huhne to warn

UK climate secretary to tell defence experts that conflict caused by climate change risks reversing the progress of civilisation

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent

Climate change will lead to an increased threat of wars, violence and military action against the UK, and risks reversing the progress of civilisation, the energy and climate secretary Chris Huhne will say on Thursday, in his strongest warning yet that the lack of progress on greenhouse gas emission cuts would damage the UK's national interests.

"Climate change is a threat multiplier. It will make unstable states more unstable, poor nations poorer, inequality more pronounced, and conflict more likely," Huhne is expected to say in a speech to defence experts. "And the areas of most geopolitical risk are also most at risk of climate change."

He will warn that climate change risks reversing the progress made in prosperity and democracy since the industrial revolution, arguing that the results of global warming could lead to a return to a "Hobbesian" world in which life is "nasty, brutish and short".

Huhne believes the UK and other countries must act urgently to prepare for the threat. "We cannot be 100% sure that our enemies will attack our country, but we do not hesitate to prepare for the eventuality," he plans to say. "The same principle applies to climate change, which a report published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified as one of the four critical issues that will affect everyone on the planet over the next 30 years."

His comparison of climate change and terrorism echoes Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the government who warned in 2004 that global warning posed "a bigger threat than terrorism". The warning so incensed the then US president George W Bush that he phoned Tony Blair to ask him to gag the scientist.

Huhne argues that it is clearly in the UK's national interest to cut carbon dioxide emissions sharply, and persuade other nations to join in the effort.

His speech comes at a delicate time for the prime minister, David Cameron, who was embarrassed earlier in the week by an open revolt over climate issues staged by his members of the European parliament. MEPs were voting on whether to adopt more ambitious emissions reduction targets that would raise the goal from a 20% cut in carbon by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, to a tougher 30% cut.

Despite Downing St intervention, more than two-thirds of Tory MEPs rebelled against the party line, to support the tougher target. Their revolt was instrumental in defeating the proposal, part of a complex series of votes in the parliament.

Green campaigners hope to revive the issue in future votes, and with member states and the European commission, but the vote revealed the depths of climate scepticism within the Tory party.

Huhne has scored key victories in recent months in his attempts to put climate change at the centre of coalition policy. He helped to persuade Cameron to accept the "fourth carbon budget" - a plan that would see the UK halve emissions by 2025, the stiffest target of any developed country. Yesterday the prime minister announced tough new energy efficiency standards, supported by Huhne, that would require central government to cut emissions by 25% in the five-year term of this parliament.

Huhne will quote military experts, including the MoD and the US Pentagon, who have warned that climate change will increase the risk of conflict and potentially terrorism. Climate change intensifies security threats in three ways: increasing competition for resources; more natural and humanitarian disasters, such as the droughts now causing famine in Africa, which will also lead to mass migration and the conflicts that ensue; and threats to the security of energy supplies.
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Aerosols affect climate more than satellite estimates predic PostTue Aug 02, 2011 5:31 am  Reply with quote  

http://weeklyintercept.blogspot.com/2011/08/aerosals-blamed-for-lack-of-global.html

Aerosols affect climate more than satellite estimates predict

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Aerosol particles, including soot and sulfur dioxide from burning fossil fuels, essentially mask the effects of greenhouse gases and are at the heart of the biggest uncertainty in climate change prediction. New research from the University of Michigan shows that satellite-based projections of aerosols' effect on Earth's climate significantly underestimate their impacts.

The findings will be published online the week of Aug. 1 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aerosols are at the core of "cloud drops"---water particles suspended in air that coalesce to form precipitation. Increasing the number of aerosol particles causes an increase in the number of cloud drops, which results in brighter clouds that reflect more light and have a greater cooling effect on the planet.

As to the extent of their cooling effect, scientists offer different scenarios that would raise the global average surface temperature during the next century between under 2 to over 3 degrees Celsius. That may not sound like a broad range, but it straddles the 2-degree tipping point beyond which scientists say the planet can expect more catastrophic climate change effects.

The satellite data that these findings poke holes in has been used to argue that all these models overestimate how hot the planet will get.

"The satellite estimates are way too small," said Joyce Penner, the Ralph J. Cicerone Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric Science. "There are things about the global model that should fit the satellite data but don't, so I won't argue that the models necessarily are correct. But we've explained why satellite estimates and the models are so different."

Penner and her colleagues found faults in the techniques that satellite estimates use to find the difference between cloud drop concentrations today and before the Industrial Revolution.

"We found that using satellite data to try to infer how much radiation is reflected today compared to the amount reflected in the pollution-free pre-industrial atmosphere is very inaccurate," Penner said. "If one uses the relationship between aerosol optical depth---essentially a measure of the thickness of the aerosols---and droplet number from satellites, then one can get the wrong answer by a factor of three to six."

These findings are a step toward generating better models, and Penner said that will be the next phase of this research.

"If the large uncertainty in this forcing remains, then we will never reduce the range of projected changes in climate below the current range," she said. "Our findings have shown that we need to be smarter. We simply cannot rely on data from satellites to tell us the effects of aerosols. I think we need to devise a strategy to use the models in conjunction with the satellite data to get the best answers."

The paper is called "Satellite-methods underestimate indirect climate forcing by aerosols." The research is funded by NASA.

PNAS Early Edition: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/recent

Joyce Penner: http://aoss.engin.umich.edu/people/penner

The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At $180 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments, numerous research centers and expansive entrepreneurial programs. The College plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world-class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. Michigan Engineering's premier scholarship, international scale and multidisciplinary scope combine to create The Michigan Difference. Find out more at http://www.engin.umich.edu/.

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Forests Across the World Dying Off as Climate Warms PostSun Oct 02, 2011 10:41 pm  Reply with quote  

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Forests-Across-the-World-D-by-Press-Release-111001-814.html


Forests Across the World Dying Off as Climate Warms


By Press Release Posted by Mac McKinney

Houston (and New York and Moscow and Rio and Cairo and Sydney and London, etc., etc.), we have a PROBLEM! The Earth's forests are dying off in droves around the planet, forests that not only manufacture much of the oxygen that keeps us alive, but that have been, you could almost say "heroically", absorbing vast amounts of the CO2 inundating our biosphere and atmosphere daily from carbon emissions. This does not bode well for the future of life as we know it on our planet, as delineated in this excerpt from a new New York Times article on the environment:



WISE RIVER, Mont. -- The trees spanning many of the mountainsides of western Montana glow an earthy red, like a broadleaf forest at the beginning of autumn.

But these trees are not supposed to turn red. They are evergreens, falling victim to beetles that used to be controlled in part by bitterly cold winters. As the climate warms, scientists say, that control is no longer happening.

Across millions of acres, the pines of the northern and central Rockies are dying, just one among many types of forests that are showing signs of distress these days.


From the mountainous Southwest deep into Texas, wildfires raced across parched landscapes this summer, burning millions more acres. In Colorado, at least 15 percent of that state's spectacular aspen forests have gone into decline because of a lack of water.

The devastation extends worldwide. The great euphorbia trees of southern Africa are succumbing to heat and water stress. So are the Atlas cedars of northern Algeria. Fires fed by hot, dry weather are killing enormous stretches of Siberian forest. Eucalyptus trees are succumbing on a large scale to a heat blast in Australia, and the Amazon recently suffered two "once a century" droughts just five years apart, killing many large trees.
Experts are scrambling to understand the situation, and to predict how serious it may become.

Scientists say the future habitability of the Earth might well depend on the answer. For, while a majority of the world's people now live in cities, they depend more than ever on forests, in a way that few of them understand. (FOR THE FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44740060/ns/technology_and_science-the_new_york_times/#.TodBE8ObyAo
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