tagged w/ Global Warming
In the past week the Arctic sea ice cover reached an all-time low, several weeks before previous records, several weeks before the end of the melting season. The long-term decline of Arctic sea ice has been incredibly fast, and at this point a sudden reversal of events doesn’t seem likely. The question no longer seems to be “will we see an ice-free Arctic?” but “how soon will we see it?”. By running the Arctic Sea Ice blog for the past three years I’ve learned much about the importance of Arctic sea ice. With the help of Kevin McKinney I’ve written the piece below, which is a summary of all the potential consequences of disappearing Arctic sea ice.
Arctic sea ice became a recurrent feature on planet Earth around 47 million years ago. Since the start of the current ice age, about 2.5 million years ago, the Arctic Ocean has been completely covered with sea ice. Only during interglacials, like the one we are in now, does some of the sea ice melt during summer, when the top of the planet is oriented a bit more towards the Sun and receives large amounts of sunlight for several summer months. Even then, when winter starts, the ice-free portion of the Arctic Ocean freezes over again with a new layer of sea ice.
Since the dawn of human civilization, 5000 to 8000 years ago, this annual ebb and flow of melting and freezing Arctic sea ice has been more or less consistent. There were periods when more ice melted during summer, and periods when less melted. However, a radical shift has occurred in recent times. Ever since satellites allowed a detailed view of the Arctic and its ice, a pronounced decrease in summer sea ice cover has been observed (with this year setting a new record low). When the IPCC released its Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, it was generally thought that the Arctic could become ice-free somewhere near the end of this century. But changes in the Arctic have progressed at such speed that most experts now think 2030 might see an ice-free Arctic for the first time. Some say it could even happen this decade.
What makes this event significant, is the role Arctic sea ice plays as a reflector of solar energy. Ice is white and therefore reflects a large part of incoming sunlight back out to space. But where there is no ice, dark ocean water absorbs most of the sunlight and thus heats up. The less ice there is, the more the water heats up, melting more ice. This feedback has all kinds of consequences for the Arctic region. Disappearing ice can be good for species such as tiny algae that profit from the warmer waters and extended growing season, but no sea ice could spell catastrophe for larger animals that hunt or give birth to offspring on the ice. Rapidly changing conditions also have repercussions for human populations whose income and culture depend on sea ice. Their communities literally melt and wash away as the sea ice no longer acts as a buffer to weaken wave action.
But what happens in the Arctic, doesn’t stay in the Arctic. The rapid disappearance of sea ice cover can have consequences that are felt all over the Northern Hemisphere, due to the effects it has on atmospheric patterns. As the ice pack becomes smaller ever earlier into the melting season, more and more sunlight gets soaked up by dark ocean waters, effectively warming up the ocean. The heat and moisture that are then released to the atmosphere in fall and winter could be leading to disturbances of the jet stream, the high-altitude wind that separates warm air to its south from cold air to the north. A destabilized jet stream becomes more ‘wavy’, allowing frigid air to plunge farther south, a possible factor in the extreme winters that were experienced all around the Northern Hemisphere in recent years. Another side-effect is that as the jet stream waves become larger, they slow down or even stall at times, leading to a significant increase in so-called blocking events. These cause extreme weather simply because they lead to unusually prolonged conditions of one type or another. The recent prolonged heatwave, drought and wildfires in the USA are one example of what can happen; another is the cool, dull and extremely wet first half of summer 2012 in the UK and other parts of Eurasia.
Much more at linkIn the past week the Arctic sea ice cover reached an all-time low, several weeks... more
You may recall from a recent article how non-environmentally friendly our potential Republican VP is; with today’s article, further illustration is provided to how the onslaught against green policies continues from the republican side of the presidential race.
http://veracitystew.com/?p=41555You may recall from a recent article how non-environmentally friendly our potential... more
The planet could be facing a catastrophic 5 degree temperature rise, and we are losing time to address the threat of climate change, one of the government's leading scientists tells Channel 4 News.
(click on the link for the complete article)The planet could be facing a catastrophic 5 degree temperature rise, and we are losing... more
Carbon dioxide emitted by the United States reached its lowest level since 1992 earlier this year, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report.
A shift in fuel from coal to less carbon-intensive natural gas, is partly responsible, as was the unusual warm winter, the Energy Information Agency reported.
This shift in energy use is part of a trend toward the use of natural gas in the United States, said A.J. Simon, an energy systems analyst at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
"It's been coming for a while, but it has accelerated significantly in the last couple of years," Simon said. [Top 10 Alternative Energy Bets]
As for temperature, typically, the first three months of the year — those assessed in the report — constitute the most energy-intensive time of the year, because of demand for heat from fossil fuels in the deep winter months. But this year, the continental United States saw its fourth warmest winter on record.
Carbon dioxide emissions are also dependent on the economy, with a stronger economy associated with more of the greenhouse gas. Since the recession, starting in 2007 and 2008, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have been declining on a somewhat jagged course, sometimes buoyed upward by growth, according to Simon.
The slowed economy plus a move toward more fuel-efficient vehicles drove a reduced demand for gasoline, which in turn, reduced emissions, he told LiveScience.
Carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, accounts for nearly 60 percent of humans' greenhouse gas emissions, according to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Nearly all of the excess carbon dioxide emitted in the United States comes from energy-related uses, such as power plants, cars and airplanes, and oil-heated homes. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas.
When used to generate electricity, natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide as coal, he said.
An energy trend
The shift away from coal toward natural gas began about a decade ago, as electricity producers became more wary of establishing new coal plants. In the last three years, the shift away from coal accelerated rapidly due to regulations to reduce pollution as well as extremely low prices for natural gas, Simon said.
The price of natural gas has dropped as natural gas from shale rock has become available through a technique called hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, which uses water and other substances to create cracks in rock formations permeated with natural gas so it can be extracted, is controversial because it has the potential to pollute water sources.
"Given how much shale gas is underground and given technology to extract shale gas is getting better every day, the expectation is the price will rise from where it is today, but should level off whereby it makes gas much more price competitive with coal," Simon said.
Natural gas prices are expected to level off at about $4 to $5 per gigajoule, a little less than twice its current range, he said.
Changes with the weather
However, one of the other factors behind the drop in emissions — the unusual weather — may mean this trend won't continue.
Six months from now, when all the energy data from this past summer is available, it's likely this summer saw higher carbon dioxide emissions than the past couple of summers, Simon said. The reason, the power needed to keep much of the nation cool during a summer that featured the warmest month on record — July —for the continental United States.
This may represent an even longer-term trend, he said.
Climate scientists expect global warming to bring more extreme weather, including more hot days and more heat waves.
Follow Wynne Parry on Twitter @Wynne_Parry or LiveScience @livescience.Carbon dioxide emitted by the United States reached its lowest level since 1992... more
Spanish researchers have discovered a novel way of removing carbon from the atmosphere - urine.
As the team points out, it's available across all human societies, and is produced in large quantities close to the pollution hubs of large cities. And, they say, their method not only captures CO2 but turns it into fertilizer.
"For every molecule of urea in urine, one mole (a chemical unit used to measure the quantity of a substance) of ammonium bicarbonate is produced along with one mole of ammonia, which could be used to absorb one mole of atmospheric CO2," says Manuel Jiménez Aguilar of the Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training of the Regional Government of Andalusia.
After absorbing the CO2, another unit of ammonium bicarbonate, which has been used in China as a nitrogen fertilizer for 30 years, is produced.
To prevent the urine from decomposing, the team adds a small proportion of olive waste water as a preservative. The mixture, they say, can absorb several grams of CO2 per litre in a stable manner and over more than six months.
The fluid created can be inserted into domestic and industrial chimneys to increase its absorption capacity.
"In developing countries this nutrient recovery system could be implemented thanks to its environmental advantages," says Jiménez. "If urine and faeces are recycled there and then, as much as 20 litres of water per person per day could be saved and this would reduce waste water treatment costs."
Posted on August 20, 2012 - 05:20 by Emma WoollacottSpanish researchers have discovered a novel way of removing carbon from the atmosphere... more
With water tables falling, fields are crusting and cracking, creeks are running dry. Water holes first shrink, then vanish altogether. And dozens of wildfires are consuming forests and grassland across the West.
AZTEC, N.M. — The land is parched, the fields are withering and thousands of the nation’s horses are being left to fend for themselves on the dried range, abandoned by people who can no longer afford to feed them.
They have been dropping dead in the Navajo reservation in the Southwest, where neighbors are battling neighbors and livestock for water, an inherently scant resource on tribal land. They have been found stumbling through state parks in Missouri, in backyards and along country roads in Illinois, and among ranch herds in Texas where they do not belong.
Some are taken to rescue farms or foster homes — lifelines that are also buckling under the pressure of the nation’s worst drought in half a century, which has pushed the price of grain and hay needed to feed the animals beyond the reach of many families already struggling in the tight economy.
And still the drought rages on. The most recent federal assessment is that parts of at least 33 states, mostly in the West and the Midwest, are experiencing drought conditions that are severe or worse. It is affecting 87 percent of the land dedicated to growing corn, 63 percent of the land for hay and 72 percent of the land used for cattle.
With water tables falling, fields are crusting and cracking, creeks are running dry. Water holes first shrink, then vanish altogether. And dozens of wildfires are consuming forests and grassland across the West.
While precise figures are hard to come by, rough estimates from the Unwanted Horse Coalition, an alliance of equine organizations based in Washington, puts the number of unwanted horses — those given up on by their owners for whatever reasons — at 170,000 to 180,000 nationwide, said Ericka Caslin, the group’s director.
Many more could be out there, though. The Navajos, for instance, have no tally on the number of feral horses on their land; a $2 million effort to count and round them up was vetoed by the tribe’s president because of the cost.
Here, in this speck of a city in northern New Mexico, just outside Navajo territory, Debbie Coburn has been scrambling to enlist volunteers and raise money to feed, clean and care for three times as many abandoned horses as she had in her rescue farm, Four Corners Equine Rescue, through all of last year.
She gets up almost every day to find messages in her computer from people whose horses are in desperate need of help. One recent morning, a woman writing on behalf of her elderly parents who live just east of Albuquerque said, “They have scraped by every week to purchase a bale of hay for their horse, but they just can’t do it anymore.”
At $8 to $12 for a bale of roughly 60 pounds, enough to feed a riding horse for maybe three days, hay already costs five times what it did 10 years ago, Ms. Coburn said. This summer’s anemic harvest has spurred competition for a limited supply among ranchers big and small, from nearby cities and also from out of state. And as a rule, the price of hay goes up in the cold months; it doubled last winter, when the drought’s devastating effects first began to sprout.
“This winter, to be quite blunt, scares the hell out of me,” Ms. Coburn said as she walked across the corrals where the horses are kept, some of them in improvised pens enclosed not by steel barriers, but by electric fence. (The horses have arrived faster than she has been able to make room for them.)
“At this point,” she added, “it’s just too late for rain alone to solve our problems.”
Tony Pecho, the president of Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County, some 50 miles south of Chicago, has been trying to get horses adopted straight from the homes of the people who call to say they can no longer keep them. There is no money to bring them all to his farm, he said. And while calls for abandoned horses were rare in years past, this year they are the most frequent, he said, sometimes coming from places as far as four hours away.
Mr. Pecho has been asking for donations, of money as well as hay, on Facebook. On Saturday, Connie Hendrix, the president of the Missouri Forget-Me-Not Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in Linn Creek, hosted a fund-raising ice cream social and pie auction at a church, and she plans a golf tournament and silent auction next month, just to feed the horses she already has.
Last week, Ms. Hendrix picked up a mare running in the woods behind a subdivision in a city 120 miles south of her facility, thirsty, malnourished and with an injured eye. Last Monday, she said, she got a call from a sheriff’s deputy asking if she could take in seven scrawny horses, three belonging to someone who is unemployed and the other four to an elderly man on disability. Neither, Ms. Hendrix said, could afford to keep the animals fed.
She is not sure if she can, either. “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to find hay or afford hay to take in that many,” she said.
There is little logic to the hay market. Ms. Hendrix’s rescue gets its hay from Tennessee, while the rescue in Illinois brings it in from northern Wisconsin. Jennifer Williams, the executive director of the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, a network of foster homes for horses in Texas, said she gets it from wherever she can.
Ms. Coburn said she could still find New Mexico hay for her horses, but competition from out-of-state cattle ranchers is stiff. Big trucks that roll in empty leave packed to the brim, bound for places like Texas and Kentucky.
“My challenge now is to set as many bales aside as I can,” she said, “but that’s hard when you’re the little guy.”
At the Navajo reservation, where much of the once green grass is gone, leaving behind only sand, sheep herders have taken to bringing their animals to eat the scraps of hay that are left behind after bales are sold in open-air markets. Feral horses, free-roaming animals that once were domesticated, have been jumping over fences to eat the weeds that grow by the side of the road.
Forage “has shriveled and died on the range,” Kimberly Johnson, the acting supervisor of the tribe’s grazing management program, said from the headquarters of the Navajo Nation’s agriculture department in Window Rock, Ariz., near the New Mexico border. Ms. Johnson said that only 30 percent of the tribe’s livestock owners care for their animals on a daily basis, based on an informal survey this year.
So the horses have been searching for water wherever they can: in mills and troughs meant to supply the families that live around them, as well as the animals they own, and in lakes the drought has turned into puddles.
Stallions fight one another for food and water, their bites drawing flesh and blood. Atop a mesa near Many Farms, Ariz., in the heart of Navajo territory, horses were stomping the ground one recent afternoon, as if trying to draw water from a pond that is now just cracked dirt. Tribal rangers said carcasses dot the arid landscape.
Continued at linkWith water tables falling, fields are crusting and cracking, creeks are running dry.... more
"Better stay back. They're getting mad!" Jeremy Jelinek hollers over the angry buzzing of his beehives.
Jelinek, a Michigan beekeeper, has been stung more times than he can count. On this day, he is shipping his bees to Wisconsin where they will pollinate late blooming crops. The disruption has upset the bees, and to calm them, he wafts smoke over the hives as he loads them on the truck. That helps, but only a little.
Jelinek owns Jelinek Apiaries, a family business that provides honey bees to farmers to pollinate crops like cherries, apples, alfalfa and almonds. A single acre of sweet cherries requires roughly 140,000 bees.
In the past, farmers could rely on feral bees to do the job. But the number of bees in the United States has declined in recent years due to disease and colony collapse disorder. As a result, apiarists like Jelinek must transport their bees as far as California to get the work done.
It's been a bad season for the bees. During a typical year, Jelinek's bees work in the South until April or May before he ships them north. But in Michigan this year, fruit trees bloomed unseasonably early, prompting Jelinek to ship them in March instead. But upon arrival, a series of frosts killed 200 of his hives, each of which contained 70,000 bees. The bees that did survive found the weather too cool and windy to fly, so the remaining blossoms weren't well pollinated. Frozen blossoms also meant there was less food for Jelinek's bees, so he had to find other food for them.
Honey bees prefer warm temperatures and calm winds to gather nectar and pollinate. Nikki Rothwell, district horticulturist for Michigan State University, said weather is key to pollination; without mild weather, the honey bees won't fly. If bad weather kills blossoms, the bees have nothing to pollinate, and they starve. Entomologists fear that if spring continues arriving early, bees may not wake from hibernation in time to pollinate and feed on the spring blossoms. A study from Cornell University in 2011 said that while bees have been keeping up with earlier springs so far, they may not be able to do so forever.
Those changes are hard on apiarists, like Nancy Adams in Kentucky, who says she's been struggling to save her hives as weather patterns shift.
Nancy Adams in Kentucky struggles to save her small apiary. Courtesy: Nancy Adams via Public Insight Network.
"My bees stayed active throughout the record breaking warm winter and I lost two-thirds of my hives to starvation related to this," Adams said. "I am losing many of my hardwood trees to blight. Flooding has damaged my farm infrastructure. I have lived here for 25 years and have not experienced anything like this prior to the last three years. I really can't anticipate any reliable profit and cannot generate a business plan related to expansion. I need support."
But while Michigan state has provided some relief to farmers who lost their orchards this spring, there is no disaster relief for apiarists. The Farm Service Agency disaster relief program, a part of the 2008 Farm Bill that offered emergency assistance to livestock owners, including beekeepers, expired September 30, 2011.
"These programs were a lifeline to a lot of livestock producers out there and they no longer exist," said USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick.
As the drought across the United States threatens other livestock, there is renewed interest in creating a program that will aid ranchers and beekeepers in the upcoming Farm Bill.
More at the link"Better stay back. They're getting mad!" Jeremy Jelinek hollers over... more
Greenland has experienced an unprecedented meltdown so far this year, and there are still four more weeks of summer.
Greenland's massive ice sheet is melting at a record pace this summer.
By Aug. 8, this year's summer melt had shattered the record set in 2010, according to a new analysis of satellite data by glaciologist Marco Tedesco of the City University of New York.
With four weeks to go before the end of Greenland's melt season, Tedesco said this year could end up being "a goliath," far outranking any other in the 30-year satellite record.
Areas that don't normally melt or melt for just a few days each summer appear to have lost significant amounts of ice this year. That helped drive up this year's "cumulative melt index," a measure that takes into account the spatial extent and duration of thawing across the ice sheet.
"On the east coast, the west coast, at high elevations, in the north, there was a disproportionate amount of melting, both in terms of extent and duration, with respect to previous years," Tedesco said.
Thomas Mote, a climatologist at the University of Georgia, said his independent analysis of the same Air Force satellite data Tedesco used confirms that Greenland has broken its seasonal melt record this year.
More at the linkGreenland has experienced an unprecedented meltdown so far this year, and there are... more
A Canadian company opens a test pit in Utah and could be running a sizeable mine by early 2014. But is there enough water to support the industry?
To the ancient Indians who roamed the Colorado Plateau in what is now eastern Utah, the black globs of sticky, smelly bitumen they picked up from the sandy soil mystified them so much they called the strange substance "rocks that burn."
Today, the bitumen that fascinated the Indians for its mysterious quality of combustion is the focal point of a battle over whether bitumen—a thick, tarry substance also known as tar sands oil—should be mined in Utah, which harbors the nation's largest oil sands deposits.
According to the Utah Geological Survey, about 25 billion barrels of bitumen are buried on state and federal land. If every drop of that oil was extracted, it would supply all the nation's current oil needs for a little more than three years.
Utah regulators already have issued permits to an up-start Canadian energy development company that hopes to mine nearly 6,000 acres. The Calgary-based company, U.S. Oil Sands Inc., has scooped open a two-acre test pit in its first step toward full-scale production. If it keeps to its timetable, the nation's first sizeable oil sands mine will be operating in this largely unspoiled wilderness by early 2014.
But even as U.S. Oil Sands is finalizing its plans and calling its operation "shovel ready," two environmental organizations have stepped up their efforts to keep oil sands mining out of Utah. They say that ripping open the land for bitumen is an imprudent and desperate attempt to slake the national thirst for oil—and that it threatens what little water there is in a vast yet delicate ecosystem. According to a letter written by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, "It is expected that the mine will use 116 gallons of water per minute on a 24-hour basis."
"This is the time and place to stop it, stop the needless assault on our wilderness," said John Weisheit, a river guide who for the last decade has been the conservation director of Living Rivers, a Moab-based environmental organization.
Click here to view a slideshow of the U.S. Oil Sands test pit in eastern Utah
Living Rivers has joined with Western Resource Advocates, a nonprofit environmental law and policy organization, to appeal U.S. Oil Sands' mining permit. An administrative law judge in Salt Lake City is expected to rule soon on their argument that state regulators ignored threats to ground water when they granted the permit.
In a preface to a 2010 report on tar sands and oil shale, Western Resource Advocates President Karin P. Sheldon said oil sands mining offers too little energy in exchange for the water consumption and environmental destruction and expense it requires. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, at least 4,000 pounds of earth will be dug up for every 20 gallons of gasoline made from oil sands.
U.S. Oil Sands estimates that as much as two barrels of water will be used for each of the 2,000 barrels of bitumen it expects to produce each day. (Converted into gallons, that means the company needs as much as 168,000 gallons of water to produce 84,000 gallons of bitumen.) Company officials say 85 percent of the water will be recycled, with the remainder lost to evaporation or returned to the pit as moisture in the leftover sand.
More at the linkA Canadian company opens a test pit in Utah and could be running a sizeable mine by... more
“People can handle maybe a couple of days of extreme heat, but when you start getting into so many days in a row, their bodies don’t have a chance to recover.”
By FERNANDA SANTOS
Published: August 15, 2012
PHOENIX — Hot is a relative term for people used to the scorching summer weather in this city built on land better suited for cactus than lawns. But nine straight days of excessive heat seem to have stretched even the most elastic tolerance levels to their limits.
It is too hot here for anyone to laugh at jokes about rattlesnakes battling humans for the littlest piece of shade, too hot for spicy Mexican food in the barrio, too hot for the lone protester who has been camping out in front of the county courthouse to maintain his vigil past 5 p.m.
“That’s when I pack up and go home,” the protester, Chet Molandis, who was born in Texas and raised in Arizona, said at high noon on Monday before taking a drink of water from the canteen he keeps close by. “There’s no outlasting this heat.”
The temperature rises cruelly here as the day goes on — hot in the morning, very hot by midday and still hot late at night. While that is not uncommon for August, when the mercury breaches the triple digits practically every day, it has been particularly vicious of late as the same routine has played out day after day.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning on Aug. 6 and has extended it all the way through 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Ken Waters, the agency’s warning-coordination meteorologist in Phoenix, spoke cautiously, though, saying there is “a little bit of relief” in sight, but “not much, really,” just “a bit of a drop in temperatures.”
Another sign it is hot? The tone of resignation in a meteorologist’s forecast.
The proof is in the numbers.
The last time the temperature dipped below 90 degrees in Phoenix was at 6 a.m. on Aug. 6. Two days later came the hottest day of the current heat wave — “I guess we can call it that,” Mr. Waters conceded — and the hottest Aug. 8 ever in Phoenix, when the high reached 116. (The record of 122 degrees was reached on June 26, 1990.)
As of Monday, the average August temperature was 100.2 degrees, or 6.2 degrees higher than normal, Mr. Waters said. By Tuesday, the temperature had reached 110 degrees for nine consecutive days; last year, the longest stretch where temperatures reached or surpassed 110 degrees was six days. Tuesday was also the 31st consecutive day the mercury hit 100 degrees.
“People can handle maybe a couple of days of extreme heat, but when you start getting into so many days in a row, their bodies don’t have a chance to recover,” he said.
Playgrounds are busy at 7 a.m., and in most schools, children do not get to play outside after 10 a.m. Hotels’ bustling business is selling day passes for their pools to locals who do not have a pool of their own.
Streets are deserted, even in the city’s downtown business district. People walk at a pace somewhere between a stroll and a quickstep — not too fast, but fast enough to get them inside as fast as they can.
The heat is so intense it feels as if it is searing the exposed skin. Cracking the front door feels like opening the oven to check the cookies. To enter a car that has been parked in the sun for some time is like stepping inside a wood-burning stove; steering wheels are so hot sometimes they might burn a driver’s fingers. Parents take to draping child seats with sun shades, like the ones they use on windshields.
In Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, health officials have been paying close attention to men in their 20s — “They’re tough, they’re young and they don’t think the heat affects them,” said Jeanene Fowler, a spokeswoman for the county’s health services department. At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, workers are instructed to keep an eye on one another, looking for signs of heat exhaustion. (Heat does not affect airport operations, but haboobs, the dust storms that are a common occurrence this time of the year, do, as they affect visibility, said Deborah Ostreicher, a deputy aviation director.)
Marcus Freeman, a maintenance worker for the City of Phoenix who was cleaning the windows at the Orpheum Theater downtown on Tuesday afternoon, had his own weather wishes and advice.
“If it rains,” said Mr. Freeman, who has lived here all his life, “hope that it rains hard so there’s no moisture left to make a hot day humid. Because that’s just misery.”
And, he went on, “if you’ve got to be outside, find a piece of shade, any shade, and plant yourself on it.”“People can handle maybe a couple of days of extreme heat, but when you start... more
Pretty scary column by three scientists printed today in the New York Times
Droughts are becoming more common and chronic drought may be the new "normal"
The authors are: Christopher R. Schwalm is a research assistant professor of earth sciences at Northern Arizona University. Christopher A. Williams is an assistant professor of geography at Clark University. Kevin Schaefer is a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
"Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a “threat,” sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires."
"In terms of severity and geographic extent, the 2000-4 drought in the West exceeded such legendary events as the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. While that drought saw intervening years of normal rainfall, the years of the turn-of-the-century drought were consecutive. More seriously still, long-term climate records from tree-ring chronologies show that this drought was the most severe event of its kind in the western United States in the past 800 years. Though there have been many extreme droughts over the last 1,200 years, only three other events have been of similar magnitude, all during periods of “megadroughts.”
Most frightening is that this extreme event could become the new normal ..."
http://www.apexchange.com/Content/preview/2012/20120810/15/744a4717717ddf16170f6a70670083ba.jpgPretty scary column by three scientists printed today in the New York Times... more
In Northern California we look jealously at fuel prices in the rest of the nation. The rest of the nation looks at ours slack-jawed. The Bay Area and Los Angeles usually trade places with the highest costs in all 50 states. When they don’t lead, they are almost always in the Top 3.In Northern California we look jealously at fuel prices in the rest of the nation. The... more
Last month was the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the contiguous United States, 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average, scientists said.
The average of 77.6 degrees topped the previous warmest July, which was in 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4 degrees, a release from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday.
July capped the warmest 12-month period the United States has experienced since weather record keeping began in 1895, NOAA said.
Drought accompanied the record temperatures, expanding to cover around 63 percent of the lower 48 states, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.
The peak value of 63.9 percent reached on July 24 is a record in the 13-year history of the USDM, climatologists said.
The area of the country suffering the worst drought categories -- extreme to exceptional drought -- doubled from 10 percent in June to 22 percent in July,
Drier-than-average conditions continued across the Central Plains and Midwest during July, as Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri had July precipitation totals ranking among their 10 driest, NOAA said.Last month was the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the contiguous... more
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla) calls renowned National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist James Hansen "an extremist"
By Randy Krehbiel, World Staff Writer
Published: 8/7/2012 2:25 AM
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe downplayed the latest claims by climate-change activist James Hansen on Monday, calling the National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist an extremist in his own camp and admonishing the press "to be balanced in its representation" of Hansen's claims.
Hansen released a paper Monday that he says backs up his assertion that last year's record heat and drought - and the accompanying forest and range fires - in Oklahoma and Texas were related to manmade climate change.
Hansen argues that incidents of extreme heat have become more common in the past 30 years, which would be consistent with his theory of climate shift.
"Hot summer anomalies occur when and where weather patterns yield an extended period of high atmospheric pressure," Hansen wrote. "This condition is amplified by global warming and the ubiquitous surface heating due to elevated greenhouse gas levels, thus increasing the chances of an extreme anomaly.
"Yet global warming also increases atmospheric water vapor overall, causing, at other times or places, more extreme rainfall and floods, consistent with documented changes over Northern Hemisphere land and the tropics."
Hansen is the latest climate-change advocate to make the searing heat and cloudless skies over middle America for the past 15 months a focal point for their arguments.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held its first hearings on the matter in more than three years last week, and Inhofe twice came under fire on the Senate floor for his insistence that climate change is a hoax.
As if to get in one last shot before the current five-week recess, Inhofe filed a bill late last week that, among other things, would eliminate federal funding for all climate-change research and activities.
On Monday, Inhofe cited one of Hansen's most steadfast opponents, Alabama State Climatologist John Christy.
Christy, Inhofe said, "disputed the link between man-made global warming and heat waves in Oklahoma, testifying that instead of saying that this summer is 'what global warming looks like,' it is 'scientifically more accurate to say that this is what Mother Nature looks like.'"
Even among climate-change believers, Hansen has been criticized for his activism and what some believe is an overstatement of the threat from climate change.
"Many in the media will no doubt latch onto Hansen's alarmism because he is going well beyond what any other scientist will claim," said Inhofe. "At a recent conference call held by Climate Communication between scientists and reporters, even some of the most committed alarmist scientists would not directly make that link or say if any percentage of today's warm temperatures could be attributed to man-made causes."U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla) calls renowned National Aeronautics and Space... more
So team Obama has decided the way to win votes in Ohio is with a very targeted radio ad touting his pro-coal record.
They actually attack Romney for his 2003 remarks about a Massachusetts coal plant that was responsible for dozens of premature deaths and 14,400 asthma attacks each year (according the Harvard School of Public Health):
I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that plant kills people….
A year ago Climate Progress used the exact same clip that Obama does in his ad — except we were slamming Romney for having Etch-a-Sketched away his previous pro-environmental record, whereas team Obama is slamming Romney for supposedly not being as pro-coal as the President is!
I hope you have multiple head vises on for this ad:
I asked Bill McKibben for a comment. He wrote:
Romney says so many untrue things that it’s deeply ironic and deeply troubling when he gets attacked for one of the few straightforward and accurate charges he ever made.
In “The Toll from Coal,” The American Lung Association found that coal-powered electricity alone caused “over 13,000 premature deaths in 2010, as well as almost 10,000 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks per year.”
What next for team Obama — bragging about boosting coal exports to China, the only country with higher emissions of carbon pollution than we have?
More at the linkSo team Obama has decided the way to win votes in Ohio is with a very targeted radio... more
On July 1st 2012, Australia joined nations around the world in their move towards a carbon economy through the implementation of a Carbon Tax, which will become an Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015. Yet the underpinning justification for this move, the science behind man-made global warming, is not even close to being settled. In fact, an increasingly large body of scientists and researchers are telling us the exact opposite of what the United Nations and governments around the world would have us believe.
It is now evident that the science behind man-made global warming that dictates government policy is false, manipulated and corrupt and exists solely to meet a pre-determined political agenda whilst attempting to pass it off as credible science.
http://globalpoliticalawakening.blogspot.com/2012/08/climate-change-is-carbon-tax-death-of.htmlOn July 1st 2012, Australia joined nations around the world in their move towards a... more
By PHILIP SHABECOFF, Special to the New York Times
Published: June 24, 1988
The earth has been warmer in the first five months of this year than in any comparable period since measurements began 130 years ago, and the higher temperatures can now be attributed to a long-expected global warming trend linked to pollution, a space agency scientist reported today.
Until now, scientists have been cautious about attributing rising global temperatures of recent years to the predicted global warming caused by pollutants in the atmosphere, known as the ''greenhouse effect.'' But today Dr. James E. Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration told a Congressional committee that it was 99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere.
Dr. Hansen, a leading expert on climate change, said in an interview that there was no ''magic number'' that showed when the greenhouse effect was actually starting to cause changes in climate and weather. But he added, ''It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.''
An Impact Lasting Centuries
If Dr. Hansen and other scientists are correct, then humans, by burning of fossil fuels and other activities, have altered the global climate in a manner that will affect life on earth for centuries to come.
Dr. Hansen, director of NASA's Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, testifed before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
He and other scientists testifying before the Senate panel today said that projections of the climate change that is now apparently occurring mean that the Southeastern and Midwestern sections of the United States will be subject to frequent episodes of very high temperatures and drought in the next decade and beyond. But they cautioned that it was not possible to attribute a specific heat wave to the greenhouse effect, given the still limited state of knowledge on the subject.
(more at link)
Note that this dates from 1988, and that the term "climate change" was already in usage then and is not an expression used for replacing "global warming" as so many deniers claim!By PHILIP SHABECOFF, Special to the New York Times
Published: June 24, 1988