tagged w/ Sea Level Rise
One afternoon in the waning days of winter, the most powerful man in Newtok, Alaska, hopped on a plane and flew 1,000 miles to plead for the survival of his village. Stanley Tom, Newtok's administrator, had a clear purpose for his trip: find the money to move the village on the shores of the Bering Sea out of the way of an approaching disaster caused by climate change.
Newtok was rapidly losing ground to erosion. The land beneath the village was falling into the river. Tom needed money for bulldozers to begin preparing a new site for the village on higher ground. He needed funds for an airstrip, He came back from his meetings in Juneau, the Alaskan state capital, with expressions of sympathy – but nothing in the way of the cash he desperately needed. "It's really complicated," he said. "There are a lot of obstacles."
Those obstacles – financial, legal and a supremely frustrating bureaucratic process – had slowed down the move for so long that some in Newtok, which is about 400 miles south of the Bering Strait that separates the US from Russia, feared they would be stuck as the village went down around them, houses swallowed up by the river.
"It's really alarming," said Tom, slumped in an armchair a few hours after his return to the village. "I have a hard time sleeping, and I'm getting up early in the morning. I am worried about it every day."
The uncertainty was tearing the village apart. It also began to turn the village against Tom.
Over the winter, a large group of villagers decided that their administrator was not up to the job. By the time he returned from this particular trip, the dissidents had voted to replace the village council and to sack Tom – a vote that he ignored.
"The way I see it, we need someone who knows how to do the work," said Katherine Charles, one of Tom's most vocal critics. "I feel like we are being neglected. We are still standing here and we don't know when we are going to move. For years now we have been frustrated. I have to ask myself: why are we even still here?"
It's been more than a decade since Tom took charge of running Newtok, and leading the village out of climate disaster to higher ground.
Life in Newtok is difficult
By Richard Sprenger and Suzanne Goldenberg
In an isolated place where money is tight, climate change adds further pressure
The ground beneath Newtok is disappearing. Natural erosion has accelerated due to climate change, with large areas of land lost to the Ninglick river each year. A study by the Army Corps of Engineers found the highest point in the village would be below water level by 2017. The proximity of the threat to Newtok means that its villages are likely to be America's first climate refugees.
Officials in Anchorage say Tom has worked tirelessly to move the village out of the way of a rampaging river. Among the relatively small circle of bureaucrats and lawyers who concern themselves with the problems of small and remote indigenous Alaskan villages, the Newtok administrator has a stellar reputation. He has won leadership awards from Native American groups in the rest of the country.
Tom said he hoped to make a big push this summer, acquiring heavy equipment that locals could use to begin moving some of the existing houses over to the new village site at Mertarvik nine miles to the south.
"It's really happening right now. The village is sinking and flooding and eroding," he said. He said he was planning to move his own belongings to the new village site this summer – and that villagers should start doing the same.
But Tom, despite his lobbying missions to Juneau and strong reputation with government officials, has failed to inject federal and state officials with that same sense of urgency.
Melting permafrost, sea-level rise, erosion – these are some of the worst consequences of climate change for Alaska. But none of those elements in Newtok's slow destruction are recognised as disasters under existing legislation.
That means there is no designated pot of money set aside for those affected communities – unlike cities or towns destroyed by floods or tornados.
More at the linkOne afternoon in the waning days of winter, the most powerful man in Newtok, Alaska,... more
A new study suggests that permitting more tar sands oil to flow would raise greenhouse gas pollution by the equivalent of nearly 40 million cars and trucks
By David Biello
The Keystone XL Pipeline would move enough tar sands oil to result in another 181 million metric tons of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere yearly. A new report prepared by environmental group Oil Change International (OCI) analyzes what the climate change impacts of the proposed pipeline might be.
Consultants hired by the U.S. State Department determined that completing the Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport tar sands from Canada to Texas would have no impact on greenhouse gas emissions, largely because they assumed that the tar sands oil would flow regardless. But the new report challenges that assertion, noting that the tar sands are stranded in Alberta and face few good pipeline prospects, either to Canada's west coast or via reversing the flow of existing pipelines to North America's east coast. "Other options like rail or truck are not feasible for the transportation of large quantities," said Elizabeth Shope, anti–tar sands advocate with environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a conference call with reporters, noting that such alternative transportation more than triples the cost of moving tar sands oil. "It's increasingly clear that without Keystone XL, the tar sands will not be able to expand at such a reckless pace."
If Keystone XL is built, and an additional 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil flows south each day, the climate change impacts will be "unacceptable," said former NASA climatologist James Hansen on the conference call. "Yet, governments are not only allowing the development of any fossil fuel that can be found, but particularly unconventional oil like tar sands and shale oil." Based on an estimate of 598 kilograms of greenhouse gases per barrel of oil, Keystone's more than 300 million barrels a year would result in more pollution than that emitted by 37.7 million passenger cars.
Of course, Keystone XL might not be used at full capacity at all times and industry estimates of the greenhouse gases associated with producing and burning tar sands oil can be as low as 482 kilograms per barrel, depending on whether the tar sands were mined or not. "We'll continue to drive [that number] down," says Greg Stringham, vice president for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). "If the oil is going to be consumed anyway, then it has to come from some source, and we think we should be the preferred source."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that Keystone XL tar sands oil would result in additional greenhouse gas emissions of 27 million metric tons annually compared with conventional oil. Regardless, the tar sands represent a significant chunk of potential carbon emissions, and those from tar sands have increased in recent years—up 16 percent since 2009, according to CAPP. Keystone XL itself would exacerbate that—the U.S. State Department notes that the greenhouse gas emissions from just the pipeline's pumps would be 4.4 million metric tons per year, roughly the same as one average U.S. coal-fired power plant.
Present economic trends may help keep tar sands carbon underground, however. The recent gusher in shale oil from North Dakota and elsewhere may reduce the demand for tar sands oil here in the U.S., at least in the short term. But such shale oil may not represent a significant improvement in the long run for the climate. As Steve Kretzmann, executive director of OCI, noted in response to Scientific American, the flares of methane from such oil wells are visible from space. "Methane is a potent greenhouse gas as well," he added. "Frankly, I don't think we even have a very good estimate of how bad that [shale oil] is."
More at the link
Why aren't CEOS of fossil fuel companies that collude with governments and lie to people about matters that concern their health and lives considered terrorists? Why isn't the Arkansas oil spill, the BP ecocide, the Kalamazoo River spill and the countless other "spills" we don't hear about that threaten the lives and livelihoods of Americans and people globally because we are being lied to considered terrorist acts?A new study suggests that permitting more tar sands oil to flow would raise greenhouse... more
Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science.
Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides.
“The consequences are horrible,” Jonathan Bamber, a glaciologist at the University of Bristol and a co-author of the study published Jan. 6 in the journal Nature Climate Change, told NBC News. …
Full article at link. Check out the comments on the grist site, we aren't the only ones with troll problems.....Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3... more
by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Dec 26, 2012
Floods triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Malaysia forced almost 14,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter at relief centres, the official Bernama news agency said Wednesday.
Heavy rain coinciding with high tide flooded hundreds of homes in three northeastern states -- Terengganu, Pahang and Kelantan -- with some 13,746 people moved to evacuation centres, it said amid forecasts of more downpours.
Bernama said the flood situation was deteriorating as the number of evacuees continued to rise and some major roads in Pahang were closed as rivers burst their banks.
Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, the meteorological department's weather forecast director, warned that there could be more rain in Terengganu, Pahang and southern Johor state in the next few days.
"We expect intermittent rain to heavy showers in (some parts of) the states," he told AFP, adding that the northeast monsoon season would last until March and the affected states could experience at least three more "heavy rain" episodes.
Part of the $108 million Paya Peda irrigation dam wall under construction in Terengganu had to be broken to release pressure, according to Bernama.
The move caused flash floods in some parts of the oil-rich state.
Bernama also reported that a 36-year-old woman had drowned in Terengganu after she slipped and fell into a rain-swollen river on Tuesday while fishing in a water-logged area. No other deaths from the floods have been reported so far.
In the Pahang state capital Kuantan, thousands of people and some businesses were affected by flash flooding after three days of continuous rain, forcing around 3,000 people to relief centres housed in schools and community halls, where hot meals and blankets were provided.
Hundreds of motorists were caught in the floods which caused massive traffic jams, while hundreds of cars in parking lots and underground parking areas were submerged by fast-rising water.
Nagandran Bangariah, 31, from Kuantan said the floods he had seen there were the worst he had experienced in ten years.
"It was a terrible sight. There was rubbish floating everywhere. Motorists struggled to get their cars to high ground," he told AFP.
"Today, a major clean-up is going on. Furniture showrooms in Kuantan were dumping their damaged sofa sets and cabinets. My neighbour is busy cleaning his house after water and mud entered his home," he said.
Razali Sulong, a 52-year-old flood evacuee in Pahang state said he had sought shelter at a school along with his wife and five children.
"Floods are an annual affair for us but this time the water rose very fast."
More at the linkby Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Dec 26, 2012
Floods triggered by torrential... more
"Global climate change and pollution from the use of fossil fuels killed nearly 5 million people around the world in 2010, according to a report released earlier this year by climate change advocacy group DARA. By 2030, this figure will rise to nearly 6 million deaths, the group’s second annual climate vulnerability monitor estimates. Total global costs, which were estimated at more than $600 billion in 2010, are expected to rise to $4.35 trillion by 2030. Of the 4.95 million people who died in 2010 as a result of pollution and climate change, 3.49 million were located in just 10 countries. These nations are primarily highly populated developing African and Asian countries, which also are seeing a serious impact on their gross domestic product as the result of climate change. Here are the 10 countries where climate change is killing the most people:"
More at the link"Global climate change and pollution from the use of fossil fuels killed nearly 5... more
by Justin Guay
A few months back, Nancy Wimmer told us about Bangladesh’s solar success. In one of the poorest countries on earth, a renewable energy company, Grameen Shakti, is busy installing nearly 1,000 solar home systems each day. It turns out all that small-scale solar has achieved something quite big.
In November, Grameen Shakti hit one million Solar Home Systems installed. The company’s milestone reinforces a lesson that is increasingly clear: Whether it’s Germany, the U.S., or even China, distributed solar installations are driving the solar revolution.
The Bangladesh story is particularly exciting because Grameen has shattered the energy axioms on which the international policy community has relied for decades: that small-scale renewable energy is too expensive and not worth the effort. Wrong and wrong.
What Bangladesh does prove is that Carl Pope is right: deploying solar makes the most sense for off-grid areas where the economics are compelling and the need is great.
That’s what makes the next phase of the solar revolution even more exciting. Today we are talking about 1 million solar home systems in Bihar. But tomorrow we could easily be talking about tens of millions in either Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, Indian states that have off-grid populations larger than most European nations.
More at the linkby Justin Guay
A few months back, Nancy Wimmer told us about Bangladesh’s... more
By Laurie Goering
LONDON (AlertNet) - Increasingly extreme weather is worsening food insecurity, displacement and other problems for rural families in Bangladesh, effectively robbing them of basic human rights, argues a report released on Monday.
“Climate change has become one of the major challenges to the enjoyment of the basic rights to life, food, health, water, housing and self-determination,” the Environmental Justice Foundation, which produced the report, said in a statement.
As extreme weather becomes more frequent, recovery from disasters is “alarmingly slow” in Bangladesh, the authors said, with some rural areas continuing to experience food insecurity and high unemployment a year and a half after disasters like destructive floods or storm surges.
Such problems, together with erratic rainfall and greater temperature extremes, mean crop yields are falling or even failing in some rural areas, the report said.
In a country where half the population works in agriculture – the vast majority at subsistence level – and 80 percent live on less than $2 a day, that is putting huge strain on families already struggling to cope with problems such as inadequate farmland, poor rural infrastructure and widespread poverty, the report said.
Increasing saltwater intrusion into drinking water supplies and farm fields, as a result of sea-level rise and storm surges, is adding to rural misery, the authors said. Already 12,000 square kilometers of arable land in coastal and island regions are affected by salinity, the report said, with the Bangladesh environment and forest ministry describing the problem as a “major concern”.
More at the linkBy Laurie Goering
LONDON (AlertNet) - Increasingly extreme weather is worsening... more
Per NOAA Press Release:
The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012—among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This was true even though air temperatures in the Arctic were unremarkable relative to the last decade, according to a new report released today.
“The Arctic is changing in both predictable and unpredictable ways, so we must expect surprises,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, during a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. “The Arctic is an extremely sensitive part of the world and with the warming scientists have observed, we see the results with less snow and sea ice, greater ice sheet melt and changing vegetation.”
More at the linkPer NOAA Press Release:
The Arctic region continued to break records in... more
A major new international study reconciles “an ensemble of satellite altimetry, interferometry, and gravimetry data sets” to determine polar ice-sheet ice loss with the highest accuracy to date. The study, “A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance” (subs. req’d) was published in the journal Science Thursday.
The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory news release explains the study’s significance:
“Both ice sheets appear to be losing more ice now than 20 years ago, but the pace of ice loss from Greenland is extraordinary, with nearly a five-fold increase since the mid-1990s,” [JPL's Erik] Ivins said. “In contrast, the overall loss of ice in Antarctica has remained fairly constant, with the data suggesting a 50-percent increase in Antarctic ice loss during the last decade.”
More at the linkA major new international study reconciles “an ensemble of satellite altimetry,... more
Excerpt of two paragraphs of original article at link above:
By Dave Lindorff
"What if the leaders of the United States -- and by leaders I mean the generals in the Pentagon, the corporate executives of the country’s largest enterprises, and the top officials in government -- have secretly concluded that while world-wide climate change is indeed going to be catastrophic, the US, or more broadly speaking, North America, is fortuitously situated to come out on top in the resulting global struggle for survival?
Our leaders, political and corporate, may be puerile, egocentric greed-heads, but they are not stupid. They surely for the most part recognize that the Earth is heating up and heading at full speed towards ecological, social and political disaster. How else to explain, then, their astonishing unwillingness to take action?"
More at the link
Remember to abide by copyright laws when posting.Excerpt of two paragraphs of original article at link above:
By Dave Lindorff... more
Hurricane Sandy. A monster beyond any expectations of what I thought would be brought to us here. Hard for me to watch this, but it was necessary. We must heed the warnings.
More video segments at the link below including a link to watch the entire program.Hurricane Sandy. A monster beyond any expectations of what I thought would be brought... more
Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming and new research is said to reveal the reasons why.
The last official IPCC report in 2007 projected a global sea level rise between 0.2 and 0.5 meters by the year 2100. But current sea-level rise measurements meet or exceed the high end of that range and suggest a rise of one meter or more by the end of the century.
University of Colorado geologist Bill Hay explained: "What's missing from the models used to forecast sea-level rise are critical feedbacks that speed everything up.”
He will be presenting some of these feedbacks at the meeting of The Geological Society of America in Charlotte, North Carolina, this weekend.
One of those feedbacks involves Arctic sea ice, another the Greenland ice cap, and another soil moisture and groundwater mining.
"There is an Arctic sea ice connection," says Hay, despite the fact that melting sea ice - which is already in the ocean - does not itself raise sea level. Instead, it plays a role in the overall warming of the Arctic, which leads to ice losses in nearby Greenland and northern Canada.
When sea ice melts, Hay explains, there is an oceanographic effect of releasing more fresh water from the Arctic, which is then replaced by inflows of brinier, warmer water from the south.
"So it's a big heat pump that brings heat to the Arctic," added Hay. "That's not in any of the models." That warmer water pushes the Arctic toward more ice-free waters, which absorb sunlight rather than reflect it back into space like sea ice does. The more open water there is, the more heat is trapped in the Arctic waters, and the warmer things can get.
Then there are those gigantic stores of ice in Greenland and Antarctica. During the last interglacial period, sea level rose 10 meters due to the melting of all that ice -- without any help from humans. New data suggests that the sea-level rise in the oceans took place over a few centuries, according to Hay.
"You can lose most of the Greenland ice cap in a few hundred years, not thousands, just under natural conditions," says Hay. "There's no telling how fast it can go with this spike of carbon dioxide we are adding to the atmosphere."
This possibility was brought home this last summer as Greenland underwent a stunning, record-setting melt. The ice streams, lubricated by water at their base, are speeding up.
Hay notes, "Ten years ago we didn't know much about water under the Antarctic ice cap." But it is there, and it allows the ice to move -- in some places even uphill due to the weight of the ice above it.
"It's being squeezed like toothpaste out of a tube," explains Hay. The one thing that's holding all that ice back from emptying into the sea is the grounded ice shelves acting like plugs on bottles at the ends of the coastal glaciers. "Nobody has any idea how fast that ice will flow into the oceans once the ice shelves are gone."
Another missing feedback is the groundwater being mined all over the world to mitigate droughts. That water is ultimately added to the oceans.
All of these are positive feedbacks speeding up the changes in climate and sea-level rise.
"You would expect negative feedbacks to creep in at some point," says Hay. "But in climate change, every feedback seems to go positive." The reason is that Earth's climate seems to have certain stable states. Between those states things are unstable and can change quickly. "Under human prodding, the system wants to go into a new climate state."Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming and new research is... more
Sea-levels are rising unevenly around the world, with Pacific countries in particular suffering significant increases over the past two decades, according to accurate new satellite data.
On average, global sea-levels have been rising at about three millimeters (mm) a year, however, this masks large differences between regions of the world.
While some regions have seen sea-level rises of 12 mm a year, others have actually seen decreases of about 12 mm a year.
The results are based on radar readings from the European Space Agency (ESA) over an 18-year period from October 1992 to March 2010.
ESA used its satellites to send radar pulses to the sea surface below, recording the time delay in its return and creating a precise measurement of their height above the surface.
Special report: Sea-level rises
Scientists say sea-level rises are the result of the expansion of water due to rising temperatures, melting of glaciers and the melting of polar ice sheets.
The worst hit regions over the past two decades, according to the ESA data, have been the Pacific countries of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and vulnerable Pacific islands like the Solomon Islands.
The Philippines for one is already frequently subjected to flooding and landslides caused by heavy rain, with seasonal monsoon rains in August killing at least 11 people
Scientists suggest regions that have seen high sea level rises over the past 20 years will not necessarily continue to see higher than average sea-level rises in the future.
"We suspect that the bigger the differences get, the more they will tend to level out in the future," says Robert Meisner, a spokesperson for ESA.
However, a recent study of coastal cities still predicted the Philippines' capital Manila would see its vulnerability to flooding double by the end of the century, due to sea-level rises.
In some regions of the world, the increasingly accurate sea level data is being used by planners to mitigate against the risk of flooding.
In Venice, where the sea-level data was released, engineers are constructing a new set of tidal barriers to protect the historic city.
The city, which attracts millions of tourists every year, is seeing sea-level rises of around 2 mm per year, together with slow, mostly natural, subsidence of about another 2 mm every year.
More at the linkSea-levels are rising unevenly around the world, with Pacific countries in particular... more
The Cerro Fitz Roy looms above the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on the border between Chile and Argentina. New research finds the ice field, even at the highest elevations, is thinning faster than earlier observations at the end of the 20th century. Photo by Dietmar Temps/flickr.
Sept. 5, 2012
'Patagonia is kind of a poster child for rapidly changing glacier systems'
Ice fields in southern South America are rapidly losing volume and in most cases thinning at even the highest elevations, contributing to sea-level rise at "substantially higher" rates than observed from the 1970s through the 1990s, according to a study published Wednesday.
The findings spell trouble for other glaciers worldwide
The rapid melting, based on satellite observations, suggests the ice field's contribution to global sea-level rise has increased by half since the end of the 20th century, jumping from 0.04 millimeters per year to about .07 mm, and accounting for 2 percent of annual sea-level rise since 1998.
The southern and northern Patagonian ice fields are the largest mass of ice in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica. The findings spell trouble for other glaciers worldwide, according to the study's lead author, Cornell University researcher Michael Willis.
"Patagonia is kind of a poster child for rapidly changing glacier systems," he said in a statement. The region, he added, "is supplying water to sea-level at a big rate compared to its size."
The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Melting glaciers, both in South America and the Himalaya, are a major concern to populations downstream who depend on the ice fields as a reservoir providing a steady summer water supply for drinking and agriculture.
Scientists suspect the Andes, for instance, have already surpassed "peak water" and that hundreds of thousands of people living downstream of the glaciers in Peru and Ecuador now face a future of lower flows and increased variability in local rivers.
On the whole, retreat and thinning is prevalant.
- Michael Willis,
The new study compared satellite imagery from two different missions over a 12-year period starting in 2000. On average, they found, the Southern Patagonian Icefield glaciers thinned by about six feet per year during that period.
Some glaciers were stagnant; others even advanced slightly, Willis said. "But on the whole, retreat and thinning is prevalent."
Warming air temperatures contributed to the thinning throughout the mountain range, Willis noted. And the warmer temperatures increased the chances that rain – as opposed to snow – would fall on and around the glaciers. That double threat increases the amount of water under the glaciers, decreasing friction and moving more ice to the oceans, he said.
Other researchers said the new study could provide valuable information for future predictions, said Alex Gardner, an assistant professor at Clark University in Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study but researches glaciers and ice sheets.
"A study like this really provides a strong data set to validate and calibrate glacial models," he said in a statement.
http://kathika.com/wp-content/uploads/cerro-fitz-roy--el-chalten--3.405-mts-r-i-o-m-a-n-s-o385-ll.jpgThe Cerro Fitz Roy looms above the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on the border... more
The United States ran into crossfire on Wednesday after it called for "flexibility" in climate talks yet acknowledged this may not guarantee meeting the UN's target on global warming.
Europe and Africa demanded that a two-degree-Celsius (3.6-degree-Fahrenheit) objective set at the 2009 Copenhagen summit be honoured while small island states, more vocal, accused Washington of backsliding.
The skirmishes came ahead of new talks in Bangkok starting at the end of the month for a global treaty to roll back greenhouse-gas emissions which stoke atmospheric warming, damaging Earth's climate system.
In a barely-noticed speech in New Hampshire on August 2, chief US negotiator Todd Stern said negotiations had to avoid a rigid formula that prompted nations to defend their own interests and avoid painful concessions.
Calling for "flexibility," he argued that a format that enabled progressively greater commitments would be easier to negotiate and ratchet up deeper cuts in the long run.
"This kind of flexible, evolving legal agreement cannot guarantee that we meet a two-degree goal," Stern acknowledged. "But insisting on a structure that WOULD guarantee such a goal will only lead to deadlock."
Stern's speech met with a hostile response from major parties in the climate parlay.
"World leaders pledged in Copenhagen to stay below the 2 C (3.6 F) temperature increase. What leaders promised must now be delivered," European Commission climate spokesman Isaac Valero Ladron said.
"Consolidated science continues to remind us of the dire consequences of going beyond such a temperature increase... Time is of the essence here."
Marlene Moses, chair of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), said Stern's speech "follows a well-established pattern of the United States lowering ambition at the climate talks.
"But it is particularly disturbing, coming as it does in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the country's history," Moses told AFP.
"If the US is prepared to abandon its own farmers, how are we supposed to believe it will do what is necessary to save small islands from sea-level rise and other devastating impacts?"
AOSIS, gathering low-lying nations in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Caribbean, is campaigning for warming to be limited to just 1.5 C (2.7 F), a goal that could only be achieved with far tougher emissions caps than most states currently accept.
At present, Earth is on track for warming of 3-4 C (5.4-7.2 F) by century's end, scientists say.
Christian Aid's climate specialist, Mohamed Adow, accused President Barack Obama of retreating on a target that he himself had set in Copenhagen, where the figure was reached in chaotic scenes by a small number of world leaders.
"This backflip with a twist would win a gold medal at the hypocrisy Olympics," he said.
Addressing such criticism, the State Department quoted Stern as saying the United States "continues to support" the 2 C goal.
"We have not changed our policy," Stern said in this clarification. "My point in the speech was that insisting on an approach that would purport to guarantee such a goal -- essentially by dividing up carbon rights to the atmosphere -- will only lead to stalemate."
But the bloc of African countries in the talks said the clarification itself was a worry.
"It is concerning that the US would now question the global goal it pushed for, and has agreed to numerous times internationally," said Seyni Nafo of Mali, spokesman for the 54-nation African Group.
"It is more disappointing that in clarifying its position the Obama administration has said it 'supports' the goal but does not support an approach that guarantees achieving it."
More at the linkThe United States ran into crossfire on Wednesday after it called for... more
Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found that greenhouse gases were responsible for warming oceans, further strengthening the claim that climate change is human-made.
"The bottom line is that this study substantially strengthens the conclusion that most of the observed global ocean warming over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities," said study author and climate scientist Peter Gleckler, according to Live Science.
It is estimated that the oceans account for 90 percent of the heat accumulated on Earth over the past 50 years, the study said.
Read more on GlobalPost: Climate change will produce more wildfires in the US
The research used computer models to test a variety of situations that could have caused ocean warming – a phenomenon that has not been contested.
When greenhouse gas emissions were added to the model, the temperature fluctuations began to make sense.
Indeed, the team of researchers from the US, Australia and Japan found that natural fluctuations by themselves do not explain warming in the ocean’s upper layers, said Discovery.
The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
More at the linkResearchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found that greenhouse gases... more
Greenland--Greenland's ice sheets are melting extensively, even in some inland areas, according to an image generated from data obtained by a Japanese climate-observation satellite.
Data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Shizuku satellite shows the ice has been in retreat most noticeably in the southern part of the vast island.
"In the south, ice is melting in many locations, even in inland areas at high altitudes," said Kazuhiro Naoki, who analyzed the satellite data.
In the image, the different hues of blue represent how many days the ice melted. Darker blue indicates where ice melted for longer periods.
The Shizuku satellite, which was carried into space on an H-2A rocket in May, observed the ice sheets between July 3 and 9. The data was analyzed at JAXA's Earth Observation Research Center.
Greenland's ice sheets have been surveyed since 2002. The extent of melting found in the satellite survey was similar to those seen in 2002 and 2007, when widespread melting was observed.
A team of researchers also recently visited Greenland to observe the conditions of the ice firsthand.
On July 16, they surveyed an ice sheet in the northwestern region of the land mass, located at an altitude of 1,500 meters. They found the surface of the ice had melted and become "like sherbet" as temperatures reached 2 degrees.
They also observed rainfall of around 10 centimeters over a three-day period.
Teruo Aoki, senior researcher at the Meteorological Research Institute of the Japan Meteorological Agency who took part in the observations for three weeks, expressed his surprise.
"I had not expected rain to fall there," he said. "The melting was greater than expected."
More at the linkGreenland--Greenland's ice sheets are melting extensively, even in some inland... more
LA PUSH, WA | With its craggy rocks rising from the sea, frequent whale sightings and white sand beaches, the Washington state community of La Push, located just west of Olympic National Park, is at first glance, idyllic.
But the beauty of the place is matched by the danger. Located at sea level, La Push lies directly in a flood and tsunami zone. It is home to the Quileute Indian Nation, a tiny tribe that gained popularity for their portrayal in the hit book and movie series "Twilight," and their square-mile reservation leaves little land to buffer storms and high waters.
For centuries, the Quileute tribe has relied on the area's ocean and rivers. Native fishermen and hunters once escaped dangerous weather along territory that stretched across the Olympic Peninsula. But that's no longer an option. In 1855, the tribe signed a treaty ceding thousands of square miles of land in exchange for fishing and hunting rights. Now, restricted to their small coastal plot, they are facing increasing risks.
University of Washington researchers say that rising temperatures have resulted in reduced snowpack and diminishing glaciers, but also more winter rainfall. Heavy rains have already destroyed vital hunting grounds and homes on the reservation.
"I see water running down the street in the wintertime," said Lonnie Foster, treasurer of the tribal council, adding that floods come on faster now than when he was a child. "Back then it would take two to three days before [the tides] would come up to the flood level. But now, when it rains hard, it comes up overnight."
In the nearby Olympic Mountains, glaciers have lost about one third of their mass in the past 30 years, and the resulting ice melt has led to sea level rise. For tribal elders like Chris Morganroth, that means one thing: tsunami danger.
"Because of the water rising and the ocean, a wave that's created by that tsunami is probably going to reach farther into the rivers," Morganroth said. "If it happened a hundred years ago, it was probably not as devastating as it might be today."
The Quileute are already preparing for the worst.
To ensure the survival of their tribe, the Quileute have been entrenched in a 50-year effort to reclaim part of the land that they ceded - most of it on high ground that could keep them safe, while at the same time providing land for tribal members who now live off the reservation. Complicating the struggle was the fact that the land was designated federal government land, part of Olympic National Park.
Quileute tribal chairman Tony Foster said there's irony in fighting so long and hard for land that was theirs to begin with. "If I could rewrite history, we would have had more land base for our community, so we wouldn't have the struggle that we face today," he said.
Several Washington Congressmen have taken up the cause including representative Norm Dicks who sponsored the bill.
But there's also been another, unexpected twist to the tale: Twilight's Jacob, a shapeshifting werewolf, belongs to the Quileute tribe. In the story, his clan has an ancient treaty with a family of vampires.
While Quileute members have somewhat mixed reactions to their tribe's role in the hit series, they're often quick to acknowledge that stardom has helped galvanize their cause.
"It's brought us a lot of national attention," said Ann Penn Charles, a tribal member, "You got all these Facebook pages and then, of course you got the media coming out, doing coverage of us, and they got to see that little glimpse of our reservation. It helped us a lot to push Congress."
That push finally paid off. In February of this year, Congress passed bill HR 1162 that transfers 785 acres of Olympic National Park back to the tribe.
"The National Park Service doesn't transfer park lands casually, and it doesn't happen often," says Karen Gustin, former superintendent of Olympic National Park who worked to resolve the boundary dispute between the tribe and the park. "The reason this is going through is because it's a serious life, health, and safety issue for the tribe." She adds that the park service will also gain something from yielding the land: public access to several of the landmark beaches located on the tribe's reservation and a large portion of land that the tribe will preserve as wilderness.
More at the linkLA PUSH, WA | With its craggy rocks rising from the sea, frequent whale sightings and... more
When writing The dark side of Greenland, a recent blog post on decreasing reflectivity of the Greenland ice sheet with images comparing the southwest of Greenland with satellite images from previous years, I of course realized that when that ice sheet becomes less reflective, it will soak up more solar energy and thus melt faster. But the practical aspect of this theory never really dawned on me, until I saw this video:
Levels in the Akuliarusiarsuup Kuua river, also knows as the Watson river, have reached such heights that they have smashed the two bridges connecting the north and south of Kangerlussuaq, a small settlement in southwestern Greenland, located at the head of the fjord of the same name. The river water stems from different meltwater outflow streams from Russell Glacier (an outflow of the Greenland ice sheet), and is a tributary of Qinnguata Kuussua, the main river in the Kangerlussuaq area.
Of course the local media are covering the story. Here are a few excerpts from different news articles from Sermitsiaq (via Google translate):
What has happened in detail over the inland ice, which caused this incident, is not yet known, but the fierce heat has certainly been an important player. And unfortunately it looks like the weather will not come to the Greenlanders' rescue, as the air temperatures over the ice sheet are expected to remain warmer than normal at least the next 7-10 days, writes Greenland meteorological Jesper Eriksen at dmi.dk.
However, it's not only hot on the icecap at Kangerlussuaq. Deep in the ice, there are also plus degrees:
In Greenland, it has been very hot over the inland ice in comparison to normal conditions. On July 11th at 15 UTC the recorded temperature at the Summit Camp weather station, which is located at the ice cap's highest altitude (3200 metres), was 2.2 degrees Celsius. That is quite high for this height, particularly in light of the fact that ice has a relatively high albedo.
Just 2.2 °C doesn't sound like much (although it looks to be a new record for July), until one realises that we are talking Summit Camp here. At an altitude of 3200 metres. In the middle of the Greenland ice sheet. Nothing but ice.
3.5 million liters of water pressed through the narrow river every second. It's almost a doubling of previous records. It's no wonder that a 20 ton wheel loader was torn away from the bridge in Kangerlussuaq like a toy.
It's difficult for me to assess whether this is correct, flipping through this research paper by Van As et al.: Large surface meltwater discharge from the Kangerlussuaq sector of the Greenland ice sheet during the record-warm year 2010 explained by detailed energy balance observations. I'll get back on this.
Quote from the conclusion:
"Due to the early onset of melt in 2010, combined with lower winter accumulation, surface albedo was below the 2000–2010 average as determined from calibrated MODIS imagery. This in turn allowed for larger solar radiation absorption, resulting in higher melt (melt-albedo feedback). As a consequence, energy available for surface melt was larger in 2010 than in 2009, particularly in the upper ablation zone. While the warmer atmosphere caused increased melt over the entire elevation domain, in the upper ablation zone the relatively low albedo allowed for higher solar radiation absorption rates, contributing over half to the melt increase."
During warm episodes in the future, a melt response of at least this magnitude should be expected unless large wintertime snowfall offsets the melt-albedo feedback.
Albedo of the Greenland ice sheet wasn't so great this year, judging from these regularly updated graphs on the Meltfactor blog, particularly at higher elevations:
More at the linkWhen writing The dark side of Greenland, a recent blog post on decreasing reflectivity... more
By 2050, more than 6 billion humans are expected to live in cities, according to the United Nations. Ports, which constitute more than half the world's largest cities, will face unique challenges as their populations swell.
More than 130 port cities around the world are at increasing risk from severe storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds, rising and warming global seas and local land subsidence. Poorly planned development often puts more people in vulnerable areas, too, increasing risk. About $3 trillion of assets are at risk today, a tally on track to reach $35 trillion by 2070, according to an ongoing study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
Here are the 20 port cities most vulnerable to climate extremes, ranked by assets at risk.
More at the link
When you think of the trillions wasted on war, it certainly puts the climate crisis into perspective. And some complain about the money necessary to prepare and adapt? Well the price of business as usual will be much higher and not just financially. By these assessments there will be close to a billion people affected directly in these locations alone which does not take into account other effects in other parts of the globe.By 2050, more than 6 billion humans are expected to live in cities, according to the... more