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Tag Archives: climate change

What is the connection between Greenland and the East Coast of the U.S.?

In NASA’s post, Greenland melt speeds East Coast sea level rise, they explain:

The recent work reveals a substantial acceleration in sea level rise, roughly from Philadelphia south, starting in the late 20th century. And it is likely a strong confirmation of sea-level “fingerprints,” one of the most counter-intuitive effects of large-scale melting: As ice vanishes, the loss of its gravitational pull lowers sea level nearby, even as sea level rises farther away.

Their analysis shows that the Greenland and Antarctic influence alone would account for an increase in the rate of sea level rise on the East Coast of 0.0016 to 0.0059 inches (0.04 to 0.15 millimeters) each year, varying by location. That’s equivalent to 7.8 inches (0.2 meters) of sea-level rise on the northern East Coast over the next century, and 2.5 feet (0.75 meters) in the south, though the estimates are quantitative and not an attempt at an actual projection.

Emphasis here in increase as this is in addition to the increases based on the meted water and thermal expansion of the water. Connected to this article, is the graph here, change in Greenland ice in Gt, which is from NASA’s Greenland page where you can also get the data.

How are king tides changing?

King tides occur when the sun is closest to the earth and aligned with the moon. For the northern hemisphere this happens in the fall. The picture here from the climate.gov post, King tides cause flooding in Florida in fall 2017, is from October,17 2016 at Brickell Bay Drive and 12th Street in downtown Miami.

While the celestial mechanisms that cause these king tides are not changing anytime soon, the water levels of the oceans are. This means that as the sun and moon tug away at the ocean, they are tugging at an ever-larger amount of water, dragging more of it on-shore than they did during previous decades’ king tides.

The article includes the graph here of  maximum daily water levels during king tides near Miami, with a regression line. The trend shows a water level increase of almost 10 inches since 1994.  To get the data go to the Tides and Current page from NOAA, click on the pin by Miami, and then click on the station home page. Under the tides/water level tab go to water level. There is some work involved in the settings to get the data, but there is really interesting data available.

How much later are frosts occurring?

Climate Central has your answer with its post The First Frost is Coming Later. They provide graphs, like the one here for NYC (about 20 days later since 1970), for most major cities in the U.S.  They don’t provide the data, but you can try and send them an email and they may send it to you. Alternatively, this could be a great stats project where students get the data themselves for a city of their choice and create the chart. You can get weather data from NOAA Climate Data Online.

Do you know what is in the recent Climate Science Special Report?

There is a lot of information in the Climate Science Special Report, but you can read the Executive Summary, or this shorter summary from the Wunderground post Blockbuster Assessment: Humans Likely Responsible For Virtually All Global Warming Since 1950s. Posted here is a graph about global mean sea level (GMSL) rise from the executive summary. Yes, 8ft of sea level rise is a possibility by 2100.

Emerging science regarding Antarctic ice sheet stability suggests that, for higher scenarios, a GMSL rise exceeding 8 feet (2.4 m) by 2100 is physically possible, although the probability of such an extreme outcome cannot currently be assessed. Regardless of emission pathway, it is extremely likely that GMSL rise will continue beyond 2100 (high confidence). (Ch. 12)

Relative sea level rise in this century will vary along U.S. coastlines due, in part, to changes in Earth’s gravitational field and rotation from melting of land ice, changes in ocean circulation, and vertical land motion (very high confidence). For almost all future GMSL rise scenarios, relative sea level rise is likely to be greater than the global average in the U.S. Northeast and the western Gulf of Mexico. In intermediate and low GMSL rise scenarios, relative sea level rise is likely to be less than the global average in much of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. For high GMSL rise scenarios, relative sea level rise is likely to be higher than the global average along all U.S. coastlines outside Alaska. Almost all U.S. coastlines experience more than global mean sea level rise in response to Antarctic ice loss, and thus would be particularly affected under extreme GMSL rise scenarios involving substantial Antarctic mass loss (high confidence). (Ch. 12)

Plenty of graphs in the executive summary and the Wundergraound post of any QL course and much of the data is available.

People Impacted by Climate Change – The Nenets

The Nenets are reindeer herders in Russia’s Arctic that migrate 800 miles each year. The National Geographic Article, They Migrate 800 Miles a Year. Now It’s Getting Tougher, tells their story.

The Nenets have undertaken this annual migration for centuries, and at 800 miles round-trip, it’s one of the longest in the world. Yuri’s group, called Brigade 4, is a relic of a Soviet collective—under Soviet rule the Nenets endured decades of forced collectivization and religious persecution. They survived centuries of Russian rule before that. Through it all, they’ve managed to sustain their language, their animist worldview, and their nomadic traditions.

The Nenets are facing challenges.

As I talk to Yuri, the region is suffering another record-hot summer; the thermometer has already hit 94°F. It hasn’t rained for weeks, and it’s hard for reindeer to pull the loaded sleighs across the dry tundra. Before the summer is out, a boy and more than 2,300 reindeer will die from anthrax on southern Yamal, and dozens of people will get sick—a direct result of thawing permafrost, which allowed animal carcasses buried during an outbreak in the 1940s to reemerge, still bearing infectious microbes.

And it isn’t just climate related challenges.

Yet climate change isn’t even the greatest threat to the Nenets. Development is. Russia’s quest for new sources of hydrocarbons has encroached on pastures that were already tight for the estimated 255,000 reindeer and the 6,000 nomadic herders that live on Yamal.

Read the article, which includes a video and a number of great photos and maps: They Migrate 800 Miles a Year. Now It’s Getting Tougher.

Related permafrost articles from this blog: Climate Change, Melting Permafrost, and Disease, Melting Permafrost and a Feedback Loop, Climate Change – Impacts on People, and Methane Bubbles – A Feedback Loop.

Are Falls Getting Warmer?

Climate Central has your answer by providing graphs of the number of above average warm days in the fall since 1970, for most major cities in the U.S.  Here is their graph for Duluth MN from their article More Warm Fall Days Across the U.S.   In 2016 Duluth had over 70 days in the fall of above average temperatures, almost the entire fall. They don’t provide the data, but you can contact them and they might provide it to you. Alternatively, their methodology is listed and so you can create a graph for your town with some effort (maybe a student project?). There are potential linear regression assignments waiting to be created here that could include comparing cities.

How can we investigate snow cover?

NOAA has a page, Sea Ice and Snow Cover Extent, where you can create graphs for snow cover by four regions (Northern Hemisphere, North America and Greenland, Eurasia, and North America) for each month of the year. For example the graph here is for North America in March. The green line is the average and the red the trend. For each graph you can download the associated data or simply download the graph.

County Level Temperature Data and Projections

One of the best ways to engage students in sustainability discussions is to use local information. NOAA has you covered with The Climate Explorer.  You can type in your zip code and get historical and projected climate data.  Today we highlight temperature. For example, the associated graph is the average annual maximum temperature for Tompkins County (home of this blog). The dark gray boxes are historical data. The blue and red lines are projections based on low and high emission scenarios. You can download the graph (just like we did here) and the data. There are numerous choices including average annual minimum temperatures, days above 95 degrees and days below 32 degrees.  You can also select monthly or seasonal data. The site is phenomenal and there must be numerous courses that can take advantage of the graph and data.

The Human Impact of Climate Change – The Guna People

This blog focuses on data, but we pause periodically to put the data into perspective. When educating about sustainability we want stories along with the data. The BBC provides such a story: The island people with a climate change escape plan.  The Guna people live on small islands off Panama.

Most Guna communities live on the archipelago, and have done for centuries, after they were driven offshore by disease and venomous snakes. But now many believe that only a move back to the mainland can secure their future.

They have a plan, but completing the plan isn’t simple.

However, today work on the school and hospital has halted, as a result of a litany of contractual hiccups – and crucially, a failure to plan for adequate supplies of water and electricity. Work never began on the 300 houses.

Along with rising water there are other environmental issues.

“Coral reefs stop wave action. So when you remove the coral, even down to 3m in depth, you have no protection. This has created chaos for people,” says Dr Hector Guzman, a research scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Institute in Panama City.

This is an excellent story with great photos. Take the time to read it.

Ocean Heat Content and Climate Change

NOAA’s Climate Change: Ocean Heat Content page provides a summary of the role the Ocean plays in Climate Change.

Heat absorbed by the ocean is moved from one place to another, but it doesn’t disappear. The heat energy eventually re-enters the rest of the Earth system by melting ice shelves, evaporating water, or directly reheating the atmosphere. Thus, heat energy in the ocean can warm the planet for decades after it was absorbed. If the ocean absorbs more heat than it releases, its heat content increases. Knowing how much heat energy the ocean absorbs and releases is essential for understanding and modeling global climate.

The page is dated July 2015, but the interactive graph and the data, used to create the graph here, is up to date.  Connected to this is NOAA’s Hurricanes form over tropical oceans, where warm water and air interact to create these storms.

Recent studies have shown a link between ocean surface temperatures and tropical storm intensity – warmer waters fuel more energetic storms.