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Tag Archives: climate change

A Record Warm March

A NOAA news report, Global Climate Report – March 2017 Monthly temperature anomalies versus El Niño, provides us with the graph here of monthly temperature colored coded by ENSO events. The report notes that

March 2017 marks the first time since April 2016 that the global land and ocean temperature departure from average is greater than 1.0°C (1.8°F).

This is also the first time a monthly temperature departure from average surpasses 1.0°C (1.8°F) in the absence of an El Niño episode in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

March 2017 tied with January 2016 as the fifth highest monthly global land and ocean temperature departure from average on record (1,647 monthly records).

Atmospheric CO2 growth

According to the NOAA report Carbon dioxide levels rose at record pace for 2nd straight year (graph here from their report).

“The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age,” Tans said. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”

Globally averaged CO2 levels passed 400 ppm in 2015 — a 43-percent increase over pre-industrial levels. In February 2017, CO2 levels at Mauna Loa had already climbed to 406.42 ppm.

NOAA provides an interactive website with data: Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. The calculus materials page here also has Mauna Loa CO2 data and a project.

The Great Barrier Reef Under Stress

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies released the statement Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching today (graphic here from them).

“The bleaching is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming. This year, 2017, we are seeing mass bleaching, even without the assistance of El Niño conditions.”

“Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts,” explains Prof. Hughes. “Without a doubt the most pressing of these is global warming. As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events: 1°C of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years.”

“Ultimately, we need to cut carbon emissions, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”

The Guardian also has a related article, Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at latest coral bleaching data, and in that there are graphs that could be used in classrooms if someone wants to track down the data. There are materials on the ARC Center’s page worth exploring.

Changes in the Jet Stream

The Washington Post article, One of the most troubling ideas about climate change just found new evidence in its favor, summarizes a recent study on the possible impact to the jet stream due to climate change.

The Northern Hemisphere jet stream flows in a wavy pattern from west to east, driven by the rotation of the Earth and the difference in temperature between the equator and the North Pole. The flow is stronger when that temperature difference is large.

But when the Arctic warms up faster than the equator does — which is part of the fundamental definition of global warming, and which is already happening — the jet stream’s flow can become weakened and elongated. That’s when you can get the resultant weather extremes.

 

The changes in the jet stream’s flow fixes weather patterns for a longer period of time. So, for better or worse, patterns in weather persist longer.

The study, its authors write, “adds to the weight of evidence for a human influence on the occurrence of devastating events such as the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood and Russian heat wave, the 2011 Texas heat wave and recent floods in Europe.”

What goes unmentioned in the article is that devastating weather events disproportionately impact the poor. The original paper, Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events, has all the technical details.

 

Proposed Cuts to Science Budgets

This blog is generally not meant to be explicitly political, although there is no doubt that the posts and data provided here are minimally implicitly political. There will be occasions where a more explicitly political post will appear and this is one of these times. The NYT has an article on the proposed presidential budget and how it will impact science research: Scientists Bristle at Trump Budget’s Cuts to Research.

Still, the extent of the cuts in the proposed budget unveiled early Thursday shocked scientists, researchers and program administrators. The reductions include $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, from the National Institutes of Health, which fund thousands of researchers working on cancer and other diseases, and $900 million, or a little less than 20 percent, from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds the national laboratories, considered among the crown jewels of basic research in the world.

“As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said at a White House briefing on Thursday. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

Methane Bubbles – A Feedback Loop

The Siberian Times brings us this article: 7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to ‘explode’ in Arctic

Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which in is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during last several decades,’ said a spokesman.

The summer was abnormally hot for the Yamal peninsula, with the air temperature reaching 35C.

This heat impacted on the depth of seasonal thawing which grew both deeper  spread wider than in the past, so causing the formation of new lakes and a noticeable change in the regional tundra landscape.

Scientists are simultaneously observing the sudden formation of the large craters, evidently caused by eruptions or explosions of methane gas which has melted below the surface.

This is another situation where warming permafrost is related to the release of the greenhouse gas methane, which then adds to warming. In other words, a positive feedback loop. There are some excellent photos in the article.

Antarctica Ice Hits a Record Low

The WunderBlog has an excellent summary of the current state of Antarctica Ice in their post Sea Ice Extent in Antarctica Bottoming Out at Lowest on Record.  The chart here comes from the NSIDC Interactive Chart and is a full version of the one in the article.

A few tips on using the interactive chart.  On the top left you can click to get a chart for Antarctic or the Arctic. In the top right of the years menu there is a button to press that allows you to download the chart you create as a jpeg or png file. The bottom of the years menu has a scroll down button to get to more recent years. The chart is updated daily.

 

Melting Permafrost and a Feedback Loop

The BBC has a great article on a Siberian crater, the Batagaika crater, that is growing quickly due to melting permafrost. Excerpt from the article:

As more permafrost thaws, more and more carbon is exposed to microbes. The microbes consume the carbon, producing methane and carbon dioxide as waste products. These greenhouse gases are then released into the atmosphere, accelerating warming further.

“This is what we call positive feedback,” says Günther. “Warming accelerates warming, and these features may develop in other places. It’s not only a threat to infrastructure. Nobody can stop this development. There’s no engineering solution to stop these craters developing.”

The article provides some great context in understanding the impacts of global warming.