A consensus is emerging that in the past decade or so global surface temperatures have plateaued at a recorded-breaking level, not increasing. In fact the world's oceans can absorb up to 90% of all extra heat so global warming has not stalled, it is heating the pool. Predicting ocean heat is tricky, but one scientist's model got the past decade right (in retrospect). Her model shows that by 2020 or so, the ocean may begin to circulate heat back into the atmosphere and things will pick up for us on land. Maybe. Fred Pearce explains.
The prospects of keeping climate change below that (2-degree goal) are fading away. Scientists track carbon pollution both by monitoring what comes out of factories and what winds up in the atmosphere. Both are rising at rates faster than worst-case scenarios that climate scientists used in their most recent international projections.
"A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs. So, a paper about a tendency among this group to believe in conspiracy theories was met by … a conspiracy theory." - Unlocking the Conspiracy Mind-Set [more inside]
Melting Point Greenland has some sublime hi-def video of, well, Greenland melting. The summer 2012 melt was unprecedented, it alone rose global sea-levels by 1mm. The scientist-run blog Greenland Melting is following. Why Greenland's melting could be the biggest climate disaster of all.
How can we get CO2 out of the atmosphere? Get it out of the sea first. Making jet fuel from seawater is a pretty cool -- albeit energy intensive -- trick. But applying the same science to scrub CO2 out of seawater, where it is more densely concentrated than in the atmosphere -- and, by doing so, to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2 back to acceptable levels -- that's a game saver.
"what would it take to draw atmospheric carbon down to 350 ppm with just this technology? . . . we would require the power of about 700 AP-1000 nuclear reactors. At the Chinese cost of $1.3b apiece and an 80 year lifetime this would cost a bit over $1 trillion dollars. That sounds like a lot of money. But its only about the cost of America’s 2003 Iraq War spread over the century, so I guess it’s a question of priorities."
It's so hot in Australia they've added a new color to the weather map, a Tasmania-sized deep purple blob 50 degrees or more (123 F). In the USA 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded, smashing through previous records by a healthy margin. 2012 was also the second-worst on a measure called the Climate Extremes Index, surpassed only by 1998. Globally, 2012 is expected to be ranked as the eighth-warmest year on record, with that announcement coming later in the month. "Climate change has had a role in this,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA.
"It's like watching 'Manhattan breaking apart in front of your eyes', says filmmaker James Balog. He's describing the largest iceberg calving ever filmed, as featured in his movie, Chasing Ice."
At Cambridge University, the Project for Existential Risk is considering threats to humankind caused by developing technologies. It will be developing a prospectus for the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, to be launched by the Astronomer Royal, a co-founder of Skype and the Bertrand Russell professor of philosophy. More detail from the university, while the news excites some journalists. [more inside]
In a report released [Tuesday], the World Bank analyzed the consequences of allowing temperatures to reach 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. ... the report's authors admit that predications are a challenge. Still, they do their best to try to paint a picture, and boy, is it grim.
October 2012 is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature. If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. State of the Climate: Global Analysis October 2012 (NOAA). While $50 billion Sandy has had the spotlight, the biggest natural disaster of 2012 (in the US) has been the Great Drought still ongoing which is expected to cut America's GDP by 0.5 to 1% for the year. The death toll from the heat waves that accompanied this year's drought will exceed that of Sandy. This Sunday and Monday, Ken Burns premiers his new documentary "The Dust Bowl", on PBS. (via)
I love a sun-powered country, A land of deepening mines, of ragged nuclear plants, of biomass and hydropower
While developed countries are pondering whether they should sign up to The Kyoto 2 Protocol and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2020, based on 2000 levels which may be of questionable impact, the tiny Pacific territory of Tokelau has ditched its primary source of electricity generation, costly diesel imports, in favour of 100% renewable solar power, becoming the first nation in the world to do so, at a time when the global energy systems of the 21C are struggling towards decarbonisation. [more inside]
A new study in which researchers have compared the last 10 years of actual climate data with the world's most sophisticated climate simulations and found the models predicting the most extreme global warming have been the most accurate in predicting the actual climate over the last 10 years. That means if those models continue to hold true, the world could be in for a devastating worst case of 4 to 6 degrees C by 2100. There are scientists who lay out the logic why human civilization could not survive. "If you have got a population of 9 billion by 2050 and you hit 4 degrees, 5 degrees or 6 degrees, you might have half a billion people surviving." (Previously; via)
Meet The Climate Change Denier Who Became The Voice Of Hurricane Sandy On Wikipedia"Ken Mampel, an unemployed, 56-year-old Floridian, is in large part the creator of the massive Hurricane Sandy Wikipedia page. He's also the reason that, for nearly a week, the page had no mention of climate change."
The vanishing groves: A chronicle of climates past and a portent of climates to come – the telling rings of the bristlecone pine.
In 2003, the BBC reported that a population explosion of Great Gerbils had destroyed more than 4 million hectares of grasslands in China's north-western Xinjiang region -- an area about the size of Switzerland. By 2005 the damage covered 5 million hectares, and the Xinjuang Regional Headquarters for Controlling Locusts and Rodents were reported to be breeding and attracting pairs of golden eagles to curb the gerbil population. So McSweeney's Joshuah Bearman was assigned to the story. His report: An Investigation Into Xinjiang's Growing Swarm of Great Gerbils, Which May or May Not be Locked in a Death-Struggle With the Golden Eagle, With Important Parallels and/or Implications Regarding Koala Bears, The Pied Piper, Spongmonkeys, Cane Toads, Black Death, [and] Text-Messaging..
While the 2007 IPCC report showed Arctic sea-ice still present in 2100, it is now an unfolding "global disaster" according to Cambridge Professor Peter Wadhams. Climate Code Red summarizes the science, saying the sea-ice is "in a 'death spiral' and likely to be gone in summer within a few years" ... "The sea-ice volume is now down to just one-fifth of what it was in 1979", and paints a newly emerging, rapidly worsening climate picture, urging climate scientists to sound the alarm on new data showing a world on the brink of dramatic tipping points, far sooner than anyone anticipated
The world has ended many times - a supercut of apocalyptic visions.
Is climate change causing our recent extreme weather events? (pdf). A panel of eminent climate scientists lays out the current state of what we know, and what we don't know yet, in this forthcoming paper. Jason Samenow (of the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog) nicely summarizes the key points. [more inside]
The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic : Richard A. Muller is a physicist, teacher, and author. His popular "Physics for Future Presidents" course is available for free online (previously). Yet Muller has a more controversial side: Climate skeptic. But last year, his Koch-funded Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project confirmed global warming is real and today, an OpEd in the New York Times states that humans are almost entirely the cause. [more inside]
In the five day period between July 8th and July 12th, Greenland saw a dramatic and unprecedentedly rapid thawing across 97% of its surface ice cover. Initially, NASA and other experts questioned the satellite data, viewing such a rapid melting as too unlikely to be true, but NASA has since confirmed the results. [more inside]
Could global warming become an election issue? After the extreme weather last year and the likelihood that 2012 will reach a record high global temperature (which it almost has), it's possible that hot weather could become politically noticeable. Most Americans say they believe temperatures around the world are going up and that weather patterns have become more unstable in the past few years, according to this poll (and this other poll and this other poll.) Obama has said that climate change and the money being thrown into the denial of science is one of the most important issues in the coming campaign discussion. but Romney doesn't know.
As the world gets warmer from global warming more people use air conditioning which increases Co2 emissions which increases the warmth of the world which causes more people to use AC... this positive feedback loop turns out to be non-trivial. Cooling a Warming Planet: A Global Air Conditioning Surge. Some facts about air conditioning and the environment, by Stan Cox. [more inside]
Back in March, Samuel Smith wondered "Will 2012 be the summer when Colorado finally burns to the ground?" A perfect combination of record high heat, record low snow pack, low humidity and high levels of underbrush made Colorado (and elsewhere) a tinderbox ready to blow. Unfortunately, that is now playing out. The Denver post says the fires are "shaping up as one of the biggest disasters in Colorado history." Some of the best sources for following the fires.. [more inside]
"Climate change will take on a life of it's own and spiral out of control. Something like half the earth's currently-inhabited land would become too hot to survive on. I don't mean it's difficult to grow beans, or your air-conditioning bills are inconveniently high. I mean, if you go outside you die of hotness. Places that were an average of 80F will now be an average of 170, 180F. Will there still be human civilization under those circumstances?" - a TEDx talk on The Brutal Logic of Climate Change, by David Roberts of grist.org
Mexico passes ambitious climate change law to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, and 50 percent below 2000 levels by 2050. The law also stipulates that 35 percent of Mexico's electricity should come from renewable sources by the year 2024. It joins the United Kingdom in having legally binding emissions goals aimed at stemming the effects of climate change.
The Storm Prediction Center (NOAA) has issued a rare “high risk” outlook for severe weather more than a day in advance. A “high-end, life-threatening” tornado outbreak is likely on Saturday from Texas northeastward to Iowa. Weather briefing. More info. This is only the second time a 2-day forecast of this type has ever been issued, the last time was for an outbreak on April 7, 2006, when more than 70 tornadoes touched down, killing 13 and causing more than $1 billion in damage. Running total of tornadoes to date compared with historical averages.
Three startup companies led by prominent scientists are working on new technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These scientists have launched start-up companies and attracted well-to-do investors — most notably Bill Gates — along with venture capital and, most recently, the attention of Wall Street. [more inside]
"Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically." Link. [more inside]
"Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, there's no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths. The Debunking Handbook boils the research down into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation." Direct PDF link.
"From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 12 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages". The US National Weather service has put together a great online exhibit of what was a whirlwind (*ahem*) year for extreme weather events. The exhibit has lots of videos and photographs of these events, such as satellite imagery of the Grounhog Day Blizzard from back in February and a picture of a car damaged by a tornado in Ft. Benning, GA.
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane have been have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. [more inside]
Climate Variability and Climate Change: The New Climate Dice An excerpt from what should be a very incendiary academic paper by Hansen, J, et al: Thus there is no need to equivocate about the summer heat waves in Texas in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, which exceeded 3σ – it is nearly certain that they would not have occurred in the absence of global warming. If global warming is not slowed from its current pace, by midcentury 3σ events will be the new norm and 5σ events will be common.
A massive rare 'superstorm' is currently bearing down on Alaska, with hurricane force winds (100+mph gusts), blizzard, sea-surge flooding. "This is going to be one of the worst storms on record over the Bering Sea". The storm passed through an area of unusually high sea surface temperatures. "This may help explain why the storm is turning from an ordinary Bering Sea disturbance into a ‘superstorm’." [more inside]
Carbon dioxide emissions increased by the largest amount on record in 2010, exceeding the worst case scenario outlined by the IPCC four years ago.
Hedging the Apocalypse: Dornith Doherty’s documentary images of seed-saving facilities.
The Age of Dissolution. "Walking the Ganga river, from holy bacterial stews to crystalline glaciers: Shiva, eclipses, and the IPCC." [Via]
The chief of the world's leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions from a major experiment. The CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets") experiment examines the role that energetic particles from deep space play in cloud formation. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN, said in an interview: "I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters." [more inside]
Willie Soon Ph.D. is a member of the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences (SSP) group at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He is also the go to guy for cloaking climate denial in "science". A regular blogger at conservative web sites, he can be counted on to provide anti-global warming talking points such as here and here. He has also been linked to conservative funding sources and recently spoke at Heartland Institute's "denial fest". His scientific work has been the target of some dispute. Recently, RealClimate was able to access his publically accessible website where he has posted papers, emails, calculations and reviews going back to 2003. There seems to be evidence that Soon has been playing a little loose with the data
Although the past 12 years have seen the warmest 10 years on record, temperatures have remained fairly steady, even while CO2 emissions grew by nearly a third. Temperatures should have been increasing during this period, rather 1998 was tied with 2010 for hottest on record. Now a study suggests why (pdf): sulfur emissions from Asian coal plants (China mostly) are so high they mimic the effects of a volcano which can cause short term cooling by reflecting light back into space. Insidiously, the long-term warming caused by CO2 (coal) has been masked by short-term cooling of sulfur (coal).
Dr. Frank C. Baxter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He played Dr. Research in the Bell Labs Science Series, beginning in 1956 with Our Mr. Sun. [more inside]
When a TV meteorologist says "temperatures will be ten degrees above normal", the word "normal" has a specific meaning. Every 10 years NOAA re-calculates the "normal" temps for the USA based on the prior 30-year averages. The new normals have just been released, based on the 30 year period 1980-2010. Hotter is the new normal. With hotter weather comes more extreme weather. Extreme Weather and Climate Change, 3-part series from Scientific America .. and map of extreme weather events 1995-present.
Walking Home From Walden is a 5 part series by Wen Stephenson describing how a middle-aged resident of Wayland, MA got advice from Henry David Thoreau about responding to global warming while living in suburbia, by taking a 12 mile hike.
Every summer the arctic melt season plays out as the ice retreats in the summer sun. Are the monthly releases from NSDIC too infrequent for you? Is Cryosphere today lacking context? Neven's blog to the rescue.
Snowpack in the northern Rocky Mountains has declined over the past 30 years more than at any other time in a least 1,000 years (30-year decline is old news, 1000 year perspective is new). Snowmelt from the Rockies provide water for at least 70 million people. Snow is also melting weeks earlier in the American West. Some consequences of earlier snowmelt (of less snow) are drier forests, more wildfires and less water for people in a West heating up and drying out.
Agreeing with the scientific community when it comes to global warming could lose you an election if you are a Republican hopeful.
“certain styles of research were suggested to be prone to ‘groupthink, reduced creativity and the possibility of less-rigorous reviewing processes.’ Edward Wegman is a professor at George Mason and a distinguished statistician with a long career, a former winner of the ASA's Founders Award. In 2006 he testified before Congress on climate science, sharply criticizing the statistical methodology of Michael Mann's "hockey stick graph," which showed a sharp increase in global temperature in the last part of the 20th century. One section of Wegman's testimony concerned "social network analysis," and suggested that Mann's tightly-knit network of co-authors might have led to insufficiently aggressive peer review. USA Today reports that Wegman's testimony contained a substantial quantity of plagiarized material, and the peer-reviewed article derived from the testimony has been retracted by the journal that published it. John Mashey has compiled an obsessively thorough catalogue of the plagiarized text. (large .pdf.) [more inside]
In the media landscape there are climate change deniers and believers, but rarely those speaking about climate change are actual climate scientists... From the Power Episode of The Hungry Beast a weekly, half-hour, TV show on ABC (Australia) television combining journalism, comedy and the reportage of weird. It asks questions others don’t, covers stories others won’t and brings them to your screen in ways that only this unique team of broadcasters can do.
Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]