Monthly Archives: July 2012

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting fast

I wasn’t hugely surprised to see the news from Nasa about unprecedented melting of most of the Greenland ice sheet surface. Much of Greenland has been experiencing record warmth since May, and on the 29th of that month the weather station in the extreme south reached a positively balmy 24.8C, which set a new record May temperature for the country; this is significant because records from several weather stations extend back to the late 19th century.

greenland ice melt

The unusually warm conditions prevailed for much of June and into July, with the Danish Meteorological Institute website showing Greenland temperature anomalies about 2-4C higher than the 1961-90 baseline average during these last three months. Kangerlussuaq, the “gateway to Greenland” in the southwest, reached 24.6C on 10 July, just as the record melt reported by Nasa was under way.

This comes against a background of Greenland already having warmed 2.3C on average in summer over the past 20 years; this might not sound a great deal but is more than three times greater than the northern hemisphere average temperature increase of 0.5C in the same period.

For every 1C rise in temperature, the resulting effect is to increase the amount of melt by around a third, so we might expect double the climatological “normal” amount of meltwater being produced by the ice sheet during June and July this year.

click here for full article.

World in Serious Trouble on Food Front

In the early spring of 2012, U.S. farmers were on their way to planting some 96 million acres in corn, the most in 75 years. A warm early spring got the crop off to a great start. Analysts were predicting the largest corn harvest on record.

The United States is the leading producer and exporter of corn, the world’s feedgrain. At home, corn accounts for four-fifths of the U.S. grain harvest. Internationally, the U.S. corn crop exceeds China’s rice and wheat harvests combined. Among the big three grains ˆ corn, wheat, and rice ˆ corn is now the leader, with production well above that of wheat and nearly double that of rice.

For the whole of this important article, click here

Humans have reversed the cooling trend of the past 2,000 years.

On tree rings, 400 ppm CO2 and the Pliocene

In a recent paper “Orbital forcing of tree-ring data” by Esper et al. (May, 2012), the authors state “large-scale near-surface air-temperature reconstructions relying on tree ring data may underestimate pre-instrumental temperatures including warmth during Medieval and Roman times”. According to the paper at AD 21–50 temperatures were +1.05°C higher than the 1951–1980 mean.

Thus “Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low. ‘This figure we calculated may not seem particularly significant, however it is not negligible when compared to global warming, which up to now has been less than 1 deg C.”

This provided some people with an argument as if current warming is not related to anthropogenic carbon emission .

The extent to which the regional high latitude summer tree ring temperature reconstructions by Esper et al. (2012) reflect past mean global temperatures is debated. Michael Mann (director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University) argues that Esper’s tree-ring measurements come from high latitudes and reflect only summer temperatures, stating “The implications of this study are vastly overstated by the authors”. But, are they??

According to the IPCC 2007 late Holocene reconstructions of maximum temperatures during Medieval Warming Period (MWP) in some areas reached about 0.9C higher than mean global pre-industrial temperatures namely not all that different from Esper et al.’s 2012 estimates.

What implications do these regional high latitude temperature reconstructions have regarding the role of insolation vs greenhouse gases for post 18th century climate change?

During the first half of the 20th century, a rise in insolation levels was responsible for a temperature anomaly of approximately 0.3C and has stabilized since the mid-20th century.  Solanki states: “Hence the Sun cannot be the dominant source of this latest temperature increase, with man-made greenhouse gases being the likely dominant alternative. “.

Since the onset of the industrial age total Anthropogenic carbon release between 1750 to 2010 of about 540 GtC (billion ton carbon) (from both industrial emission and land clearing)  raised atmospheric carbon from ~590 to 820 GtC and CO2 levels from 275 to 395.7- 400 ppm. Current CO2 rise trends in ppm/year (2005 – 2.52; 2006 – 1.76; 2007 – 2.22; 2008 – 1.59; 2009 – 1.89; 2010 – 2.42; 2011 – 1.88 ppm/year) are the highest recorded in the Cainozoic (from 65 Ma) to the present.

Recent June 2012 measurements of at Mouna Loa at 395.77 ppm CO2 and over the Arctic of 400 ppm define new milestone in the rise of greenhouse gases (GHG) at levels not experienced since the Pliocene, (5.3 to 2.6 million years ago), a period during which
mean global temperatures were 2 to 3C and sea levels 25+/-12 meters higher than in the 18th century.

Mean global temperatures continued to rise notably in polar and sub-polar latitudes and Greenland May-2012 temperature reached an all-time high of 24.8C. The rise in temperature of about 0.8C since 1880 is compounded by latent rise of approximately 1.1C currently masked by industrially emitted sulphur oxide aerosols and sulphuric acid.

In accord with theoretical, laboratory experimental, paleoclimate proxies and direct measurements the rising levels of greenhouse gases are shifting the energy state of the atmosphere beyond that which allowed the relatively stable climate conditions from about 10,000 years ago, which allowed the development of agriculture and civilization and minimizing the disruptive
effect of extreme weather events such as have increased about the outset of the 21st century, as confirmed by Hadley, NOAA, CSIRO, BOM and other climate research organizations

To summarize, whereas both insolation and atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) levels constitute major climate drivers, during post-industrial times the measured and latent rise in GHG (3.1 Watt/m2) has superseded the rise in insolation (<0.4 Watt/m2) by at least a factor of 6, about half of which is masked by short-lived industrially emitted sulphur aerosols.

Andrew Glikson
Earth and paleoclimate science
Australian National University

America is going broke

More oil has been found than in Saudi Arabia, the military is stronger than ever before, yet the US is on the verge of collapse – morally, socially and economically. The gun and the dollar’s international primacy may keep it afloat, but the people are suffering.

In the largest state of California three cities have now filed for bankruptcy.

With the massive shift of wealth in the USA to the top 2% the bottom 50% now share only 2.5% of total wealth. Those at the bottom 25% (half of the bottom 50%) are basically destitute. More Americans need food-stamps now just to survive than just about any time in our history. Yet, no politician running for President mentions any of this. It is not a “plank” on any major (or minor) political parties agenda. None of the self proclaimed religious candidates mention poverty. It is a dirty big secret that we do not talk about in public. In fact, with nearly all attention being focused on cutting spending, only social spending not military spending, poverty is certainly going to increase even more.

In 2008, 17 million households, 14.6 percent of households (approximately one in seven), were food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United States. Four million households became food insecure in 2008, the largest increase ever recorded (p. iii, USDA 2008). (To get population figures from family size figures, multiply family size numbers by 2.58, the average family size.)

Researchers find 14.7 million children were poor in 2009, 2.5 million more than in 2000 hild poverty increased in 38 states from 2000 to 2009. As a result, 14.7 million children, 20 percent, were poor in 2009. That represents a 2.5 million increase from 2000, when 17 percent of the nation’s youth lived in low-income homes.

With the country in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, four million additional Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, with the total reaching 44 million, or one in seven residents. Millions more were surviving only because of expanded unemployment insurance and other assistance.

Using an expanded definition of poverty, the U.S. Census Bureau said it determined that 15.7 percent of Americans — 47.8 million — live in poverty. Some 43 Million Use Food Stamps  More than 14% of the population drew food stamps in November to purchase groceries as high unemployment and muted wage growth crimped budgets.

Projections of global warming by 2100 doubled to 5.1C.

For the no policy scenario, the researchers concluded that there is now a nine percent chance (about one in 11 odds) that the global average surface temperature would increase by more than 7°C (12.6°F) by the end of this century, compared with only a less than one percent chance (one in 100 odds) that warming would be limited to below 3°C (5.4°F).

mit-wheels.gif

On our current emissions path, we have a 9% chance of an incomprehensibly catastrophic warming of 7°C by century’s end, but less than a 1% chance of under 3°C warming.

“The take home message from the new greenhouse gamble wheels is that if we do little or nothing about lowering greenhouse gas emissions that the dangers are much greater than we thought three or four years ago,” said Ronald G. Prinn, professor of atmospheric chemistry at MIT. “It is making the impetus for serious policy much more urgent than we previously thought.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Climate Change has joined the climate realists. The realists are the growing group of scientists who understand that the business as usual emissions path leads to unmitigated catastrophe (see, for instance, “Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path” and below).

The Program issued a remarkable, though little-remarked-on, report in January, “Probabilistic Forecast for 21st Century Climate Based on Uncertainties in Emissions (without Policy) and Climate Parameters,” by over a dozen leading experts.

For whole text click here

Extreme weather isn’t that extreme any more

May was the second warmest ever recorded worldwide and the warmest on record for the northern hemisphere. The link between a warming atmosphere and individual climatic events is unclear but no one should doubt the physical turmoil. In the last few weeks we have seen the Arctic sea ice melting at a record pace, the Amazon reaching its highest level on record, massive forest fires in Siberia and the Russian east, temperatures climbing to a barely imaginable 48C in northern India, and an abnormally strong monsoon which has so far left many hundreds dead and nearly 7 million people homeless from floods in Assam and southern Bangladesh.

Interesting, an an important summary

This is a most dangerous period. We still have a very good chance of avoiding the worst of climate change but the collective will to try to do anything appears to be weakening and confidence in politicians is at rock bottom. Unless the climate of opinion changes, the present economic storms may seem as nothing.

Greenland Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’

The Greenland ice sheet is poised for another record melt this year, and is approaching a “tipping point” into a new and more dangerous melt regime in which the summer melt area covers the entire land mass, according to new findings from polar researchers. 

The ice sheet is the focus of scientific research because its fate has huge implications for global sea levels, which are already rising as ice sheets melt and the ocean warms, exposing coastal locations to greater damage from storm surge-related flooding.

Trend in the reflectivity of high elevation ice in Greenland, showing the record low as of June 26, 2012. Credit: Meltfactor.org.

Greenland’s ice has been melting faster than many scientists expected just a decade ago, spurred by warming sea and land temperatures, changing weather patterns, and other factors. Until now, though, most of the focus has been on ice sheet dynamics — how quickly Greenland’s glaciers are flowing into the sea. But the new research raises a different basis for concern.

For illustrations and text click here

 

100° temperatures span the US – and Alan Jones says GW is a Hoax (?)

100F warming across entire US

The U.S. surface temperature map from Unisys at 4 pm, June 29, 2012, shows 100° temperatures stretching almost continuously from California eastward to the Carolinas.

While Colorado burns, Washington fiddles
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/29/while-colorado-burns-washington-fiddles
Bill McKibben, Guardian, 29 June 2012
Drought, wildfires, storms, floods – climate change is happening, but the real disaster is our Big Energy-owned politicians’ inaction
AND
US wildfires are what global warming really looks like, scientists warn
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/29/us-wildfires-global-warming-scientists
Reuters/Guardian, 29 June 2012
The Colorado fires are being driven by extreme temperatures, which are consistent with IPCC projections
AND
Massive ‘Debilitating’ Heat Wave Expands Eastward
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/debilitating-heat-wave-expands-eastward
AND
NBC Meteorologist On Record Heat Wave: “If We Did Not Have Global Warming, We Wouldn’t See This.”
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/06/30/509246/nbc-meteorologist-on-record-heat-wave-if-we-didnt-have-global-warming-we-wouldnt-see-this

All from Code Red.