Climate Predictions and the Sun

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 6:42 PM GMT on October 05, 2008

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The Sun (5): This is the last of a series on the Sun in the Earth-Sun climate system. The first four entries are linked at the end. I want to first thank both Judith Lean at the Naval Research Laboratory and David Rind of NASA for their introduction to the current literature and insights into the problem. Lean and Rind have a new paper How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006. This appears in Geophysical Research Letters. To entice you to their paper I provide the following quote from their abstract: “We find a response to solar forcing quite different from that reported in several papers published recently in this journal, and zonally averaged responses to both natural and anthropogenic forcings that differ distinctly from those indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose conclusions depended on model simulations.” Their calculation of the solar contribution to temperature trends is 0.007 degrees C per decade. The part of the trend from the enterprise of humans (OK “manmade”) is 0.05 degrees C per decade – 7 times larger. At the end, I list a set of references with much information on the solar influence on climate change. (Some of them are quite long, so don’t click casually!)

This series of blogs was motivated by several comments on previous blogs asking for general information about solar variability and the Earth’s climate, how solar variability is incorporated into climate predictions, and questions about the current lack of sunspots. This is, at last, the one about the inclusion of solar variability in models. The short answer is that many climate models include the variability associated with the sunspot cycle. Basically, they extend the sunspot cycle that has been observed in the past decades in to the future; they use a measure of average solar irradiance variability that is characteristic of the sunspot cycle. In general, a trend in solar irradiance is not included.

If one were to look into the literature of solar variability in climate models, one does find than many of the simulations of the past century include a representation of a trend in solar irradiance. Looking at those papers that have simulated the past 2000 years, there are changes associated with the Maunder Minimum and the Medieval Warm Period. There are also a set of papers that look at the impact of similar changes in the future climate. The bottom line from these experiments is that compared with temperature changes due to increasing carbon dioxide is that both observations and model estimates of solar-induced temperature changes is small. (A good summary of this is Chapter 2 of the IPCC report linked at the end.)

The earlier blogs, I hope, clarified the point about the relative size of the solar and greenhouse contributions to the warming of the Earth’s surface. Also, it documented that the current sunspot minimum is not, as of yet, outside of our realm of experience.

These blogs also stated that our ability to model the impacts of solar variability on the Earth’s climate has significant shortcomings. Broadly, the impact that we model is weaker than the impact that we observe. These leads to the idea that we need to understand what is missing in this link … current knowledge would suggest the need to find what “amplifies” the solar signal. This is a source of uncertainty in climate change projections, but it is quantifiable, and like the solar signal itself, the uncertainty is relatively small.

In the references listed below is a comprehensive review of solar variability and its inclusion in climate models by Leslie Gray and coworkers. At the end of that document is a list of challenges for climate change modelers. Their recommendations prescribe a method for including irradiance measures, considering the variation in several spectral bands, and a better representation of solar-induced changes in ozone. They also recommend several experiments to investigate the uncertainties associated with solar variability. This is a good example of how the climate community operates.

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News from NASA: Blankest Year for Sunspots in the Space Age


Some references on solar variability:

How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006 by Judith Lean and David Rind. A newly published data and model paper that includes a excellent analysis of solar variability.

Living with a Variable Sun by Judith Lean. An excellent readable document for science-interested people.

The Sun and the Earth’s Climate by Joanna Haigh An online document that summarizes the state of knowledge of solar variability and the Earth’s climate.

The Influence of Solar Variability on the Earth’s Climate L. J. Gray, J. D. Haigh, and R. G. Harrison. (This is large file and document from the Hadley Center, published in 2005.)

Chapter 2 of the IPCC report A summary of the literature on solar variability in about 2005-2006, with documentation of some important changes for the previous five years. See page 188.


Blogs on the Sun.

The Sun (1)

The Sun (2)

The Sun (3)

The Sun (4)



This figure shows how solar (visible) and terrestrial (infrared) radiation flows through the atmosphere. This is an updated figure provided by Kevin Trenberth and will appear in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in the article “Earth’s global energy budget,” by Kevin E. Trenberth, John T. Fasullo and Jeffrey Kiehl.


Blogs on radiative balance

Absorbing
Reflections
Ice Water
Clouds Cool and Warm
Aerosols Cool and Warm

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31. cyclonebuster
5:27 PM GMT on October 13, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) -- If you can't stand global warming, get out of the tropics.
While the most significant harm from climate change so far has been in the polar regions, tropical plants and animals may face an even greater threat, say scientists who studied conditions in Costa Rica.

"Many lowland tropical species could be in trouble," the team of researchers, led by Robert K. Colwell of the University of Connecticut, warns in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"The tropics, in the popular view, are already hot, so how could global warming harm tropical species? We hope to put this concern on the conservation agenda," Colwell said.

That's because some tropical species, insects are an example, are living near their maximum temperatures already and warmer conditions could cause them to decline, Colwell explained.

"We chose the word 'attrition' to emphasize slow deterioration," he said. "How soon that will be evident enough for a consensus is difficult to say."


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30. cyclonebuster
1:57 PM GMT on October 13, 2008
"Juan Casavelos, WWF Antarctica Climate Change Coordinator said: “Penguins are very well adapted to living in the cold and extreme conditions of Antarctica, so the continued increase in global temperature and resulting loss of feeding areas and nesting zones for their chicks has already led to notable reductions in their populations."
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27. cyclonebuster
1:10 AM GMT on October 13, 2008
Climate Change To Devastate Or Destroy Many Penguin Colonies
ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2008) — Half to three-quarters of major Antarctic penguin colonies face decline or disappearance if global temperatures are allowed to climb by more than 2°C.
A new WWF report – 2°C is Too Much – shows that the colonies of 50 per cent of the iconic emperor penguins and 75 per cent of the Adélie penguins are under threat.

Climate change models forecast that a 2°C temperature rise above pre-industrial level could be a reality in less than 40 years, producing a strong reduction in the sea ice cover of the Southern Ocean which is an essential nesting and feeding ground for Emperor and Adélie penguins.

A reduction in the sea ice is also likely to have a knock-on effect on the abundance of krill, which is a vital food source for penguins.

Juan Casavelos, WWF Antarctica Climate Change Coordinator said: “Penguins are very well adapted to living in the cold and extreme conditions of Antarctica, so the continued increase in global temperature and resulting loss of feeding areas and nesting zones for their chicks has already led to notable reductions in their populations.

“If temperatures increase by another two degrees these icons of the Antarctic will be seriously threatened.”

A rise in global average temperatures of 2°C is widely regarded as a threshold level for unacceptable risks of dangerous climate change. Many recent climate models forecast likely temperatures rises in excess of this.

2°C is Too Much was launched at the IUCN World Conservation Congress taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain.

The only way to significantly reduce the risks of climate change in Antarctica, as well as globally, is to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

WWF is calling for all nations to work together to agree on a new global deal that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol and tackle climate change beyond 2012.

This should include an obligation on developed countries to cut 25-40 per cent of their emissions by 2020 and 80-90 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

WWF also proposes the establishment of a network of marine protected areas to reduce pressure on the species, and the implementation of precautionary management measures that ensure the future of the krill and finfish fisheries and all Southern Ocean species – including penguins – that are dependant on them.

Juan Casavelos said: “The predicted threat to Emperor and Adélie penguin populations is a clear incentive for the world to agree on a set of measures to reduce global emissions.

“It is imperative that the international community analyses all possible ways to limit climate change and improve the resilience of the penguin population.”


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26. cyclonebuster
12:52 AM GMT on October 13, 2008
Future Risk Of Hurricanes: The Role Of Climate Change
ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2008) — Researchers are homing in on the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea to assess the likely changes, between now and the middle of the century, in the frequency, intensity, and tracks of these powerful storms. Initial results are expected early next year.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., working with federal agencies as well as the insurance and energy industries, has launched an intensive study to examine how global warming will influence hurricanes in the next few decades.

The goal of the project is to provide information to coastal communities, offshore drilling operations, and other interests that could be affected by changes in hurricanes.

"This science builds on years of previous investment," said Cliff Jacobs, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Atmospheric Sciences, which is funding the project. "The outcome of this research will shed light on the relationship between global warming and hurricanes, and will better inform decisions by government and industry."

The project relies on an innovative combination of global climate and regional weather models, run on one of the world's most powerful supercomputers.

"It's clear from the impacts of recent hurricane activity that we urgently need to learn more about how hurricane intensity and behavior may respond to a warming climate," says NCAR scientist Greg Holland, who is leading the project. "The increasingly dense development along our coastlines and our dependence on oil from the Gulf of Mexico leaves our society dangerously vulnerable to hurricanes."

The new study follows two major reports, by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that found evidence for a link between global warming and increased hurricane activity.

But many questions remain about future hurricane activity. For example, the CCSP report concluded that future changes in frequency were uncertain, and that rainfall and intensity were likely to increase, but with unknown consequences.

Improved understanding of climate change and hurricanes is an especially high priority for the energy industry, which has a concentration of drilling platforms, refineries, pipelines and other infrastructure in the region that are vulnerable to severe weather.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike damaged offshore oil production and several refineries, disrupting gasoline supplies.

The project is part of a larger effort examining regional climate change between 1995 and 2055.

The simulations are being run on NCAR's bluefire supercomputer with support from NSF, NCAR's sponsor, and through a long-term collaboration with the insurance industry through the Willis Research Network.

"This research program by NCAR is a major contribution to the insurance industry and public policy makers," says Rowan Douglas, managing director of Willis.

"The primary way to improve our understanding of present and future hurricane risk is to generate computer simulations of storms in unprecedented detail."

For the project, the model will examine three decades in detail: 1995-2005, 2020-2030, and 2045-2055. Scientists will use statistical techniques to fill in the gaps between these decades.

A major goal is to examine how several decades of greenhouse-gas buildup could affect regional climate and, in turn, influence hurricanes and other critical weather features. Scientists will also investigate the impact of the powerful storms on global climate.

One of the most difficult technical challenges for such a project is to create a model that can capture both the climate of the entire world and the behavior of a single hurricane.

To get around this roadblock, NCAR has developed an approach called Nested Regional Climate Modeling (NRCM). The center "nests" a special version of its high-resolution weather model (the Weather Research and Forecasting model, or WRF) inside its lower-resolution, global climate model (the Community Climate System Model, or CCSM).

The resulting simulations show fine-scale detail for certain regions, like the Gulf of Mexico, while also incorporating global climate patterns.

For each of its decade-long time slices, the NRCM's resolution will be about 20 miles across Africa, Europe, and the South Atlantic, 7.5 miles across the tropical Atlantic and northeastern United States, and an even sharper 2.5 miles over the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, southeastern United States, and drought-prone western United States.

"Combining weather and climate models in this way enables more detailed projections of hurricanes in a warming world than any study to date," says Holland. "These projections will help reduce the uncertainty of current assessments, and they also serve the very important role of providing experience about applying future predictions of changes to high impact weather systems in general."


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25. counters
5:05 AM GMT on October 12, 2008
Steve, I had no idea that that was how the Byrnes story ended up playing out. I always suspected it was a scam, but gee golly, who would've thought that people would take advantage of the knee-jerk actions of the skeptic community? I have no idea if "Eloise" is any different, but based on what she's written on her site thus far, I think it's a sad affair; there's no AGW to be found in this story, just a young girl and an unhealthy obsession with Al Gore.


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23. crucilandia
9:32 PM GMT on October 11, 2008
Sun’s magnetic field still in a funk during September
11

10

2008
While the sun puts out a new and significant cycle 24 spot, the real news is just how quiet the suns magnetic field has been in the past couple of years, and remained during September 2008. From the data provided by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) you can see just how little magnetic field activity there has been. I’ve graphed it below with the latest available data from October 6th, 2008:


click for a larger image

What I find most interesting about the Geomagnetic Average Planetary Index graph above is what happened around October 2005. Notice the sharp drop in the magnetic index and the continuance at low levels.

This looks much like a “step function” that I see on GISS surface temperature graphs when a station has been relocated to a cooler measurement environment. In the case of the sun, it appears this indicates that something abruptly “switched off” in the inner workings of the solar dynamo. Note that in the prior months, the magnetic index was ramping up a bit with more activity, then it simply dropped and stayed mostly flat.

Currently the Ap magnetic index continues at a low level, and while the “smoothed” data from SWPC is not made available for 2008, I’ve added it with a dashed blue line, and the trend appears to be going down.

However, it will be interesting to see if an uptick in the Ap index occurs, now that a significant SC24 spot has emerged. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until early November for SWPC to update the data set.
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22. SteveBloom
9:27 PM GMT on October 11, 2008
Re #20: What do you suppose the chances are that there's really an unassisted 14 year old behind that site? Byrnes was at least a verifiable actual person, although I suspect her effort was much more related to her father and his interest in collecting college money for her than any real interest in climate (noting how quickly she abandoned the project in favor of her new preferred field of architecture).

Re #21: And now their beautiful Maunder Minimum redux is melting before their eyes. But that's OK, they'll be happily speculating about the solar cycle 25 before long. Scientists see a star with little variability, while astrologers (at some point this goes beyond mere climate denialism) see a huge ball of pony poop.
20. counters
1:35 PM GMT on October 11, 2008
Crucilandia, if you're going to copy verbatim a post by a different author at another site, the least you can do is link to that author's source material.

Indoctrination. LOL. The only indoctrination occurring here is the skeptics' encouraging her to seek answers to her legitimate questions from biased source acting with a clear agenda.
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19. cyclonebuster
9:46 AM GMT on October 11, 2008
18. crucilandia

Right and the same people think smoking cigarettes doesn't cause lung cancer.
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18. crucilandia
9:25 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
There’s been some discussion about the “indoctrination” of AGW theory in school systems worldwide, mostly by teachers showing Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, in schools.

As a former school trustee in my town of Chico, CA, I can vouch for the fact that AIT has been shown in some local schools, with student discussions centered around it. It is of course not on the approved curriculum, but some teachers take it upon themselves to introduce it into the classroom on their own. Since most teachers have leeway in choosing films to show to classes, unlike with textbooks, which are chosen by the school board, films generally “fly under the radar” requiring only a form approved by the school principal.

So it was with interest that I was advised of a new website, Kids Against Anthropongenic Global Warming, put together by 14 year old girl from Far North Queensland, Australia. I see it as an antithesis to the horrible website that was put together by Australia’s ABC TV network:

TV Network Tells Kids How Long Their Carbon Footprint Should Allow Them to Live

I’ve never seen a more disgusting kid-theme for “science” education than the above link.

This Kids againts AGW site is done in the spirit of Krysten Byrnes, who wrote an essay that caught worldwide attention and then launched a website with more essays and ideas, this website is in it’s infancy. As we saw with Krysten, it takes courage to go against what is generally accepted by your peers at school. Unfortunately, she’s using a pseudonym, which is something I discourage with adults, since I think you should stand behind your words. But maybe this is the only way mum and dad would allow her to do it. Here’s a bit about her from her website:

Hi, my name’s Eloise (pseudonym) and I am a 14 year old girl from Far North Queensland, Australia. My dad first informed me that the concept of Anthropogenic Global Warming was nothing but a theory presented as fact. It really started to annoy me that people would just believe what anyone *Al Gore* says, without asking for any evidence to support what was said. My dad showed me some online links and pushed me to find a conclusion myself. My conclusion: Al Gore is a hypocrite and scaremongers people into paying him to lecture without even letting himself be challenged by skeptics, people usually want to think that man is evil and imposing on the earth and most importantly that Anthropogenic Global Warming is nothing but an unproven theory. And that is the most “Inconvenient Truth”.

Emphasis hers. Let’s give the kid some encouragement. - Anthony

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17. cyclonebuster
8:44 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Animals
Scientists: 1 in 4 Mammals Faces ExtinctionBy Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press

posted: 06 October 2008 12:01 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservationists have taken the first detailed look at the world's mammals in more than a decade, and the news isn't good.

"Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide," the team led by Jan Schipper of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland, concluded.

"We estimate that one in four species is threatened with extinction and that the population of one in two is declining," the researchers said in a report to be published Friday in the journal Science. The findings were being released Monday at the IUCN meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

Gallery: See the Mammals Facing Extinction

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview.

"How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report.

"Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."

The IUCN describes itself as the world's oldest and largest global environmental network. It is made up of more than 1,000 government and nongovernment organizations and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. The research for the report took five years and involved more than 1,700 scientists around the world.

The report updates the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species, which overall includes 44,838 species, of which 16,928 are threatened with extinction. Of these, 3,246 are in the highest category of threat, critically endangered, 4,770 are endangered and 8,912 are vulnerable to extinction. The IUCN estimated that 76 mammal species have gone extinct since 1500.

While the new report estimated that one-in-four mammals is threatened with extinction, the actual numbers listed were 1,141 out of 5,487 species. That comes out to 20.8 percent, closer to one in five.

However, the researchers noted that there were several hundred species about which they don't have enough data to classify. They believe that the lack of information about those animals indicates that they exist in such small numbers that many could be endangered, raising the total to 25 percent or higher, Smith explained.

Among the mammals particularly in danger are primates, used for bush meat in parts of Africa and facing major loss of habitat in Southeast Asia, Smith noted.

The report also notes unusually high threats to tapirs, hippos, bears, pigs and hogs, while among the less threatened are moles, opossums and free-tailed bats.

In general, larger mammals were found to be more threatened than smaller ones. Larger species tend to have lower population densities, grow more slowly and have larger home ranges.

For land species, habitat loss is a major threat across the tropics, including deforestation in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Hunting is having devastating effects in Asia, but African and South American species are also affected.

For marine mammals the major threat is accidental death, especially fisheries by-catch and vessel strike.

Climate change is also affecting sea ice dependent species such as polar bears and harp seals.

Even though most of the world has been explored, new mammal species continue to be discovered. This year's species total of 5,487 is up 19 percent since 1992.

Many newly discovered species are among those that are not well documented, living in regions in need of future research such as tropical forests in West Africa and Borneo. Marine mammals are not as well studied as land mammals and are more difficult to survey.

While it raises concerns, the new analysis isn't all bad news. It found about five percent of currently threatened mammals showing signs of recovery.

The black-footed ferret moved from extinct in the wild to endangered after a successful reintroduction by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in eight western states from 1991-2008. Also, wild horses moved from extinct in the wild in 1996 to critically endangered this year after successful reintroductions started in Mongolia in the early 1990s.

In addition to raising concern about mammals, new additions to the IUCN Red List include:

— Indian tarantulas, sought by collectors and threatened by the international pet trade.

— The Rameshwaram parachute spider has been listed as critically endangered due to habitat loss.

— The squaretail coral grouper from the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific has been listed as vulnerable because it has become a luxury food.

— In Costa Rica, Holdridge's toad moved from critically endangered to extinct, as it has not been seen since 1986 despite intensive surveys.

— La Palma giant lizard, found on the Canary Island of La Palma and thought to have become extinct in the last 500 years, was rediscovered last year and is now listed as critically endangered.

IUCN also said it is issuing a Sampled Red List Index, developed in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London. The index takes a random sample of species from a taxonomic group to calculate the trends in extinction risk within that group. It can be used to calculate trends much like an exit poll from a voting station.

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16. cyclonebuster
8:39 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Animals
Global Warming Costs Starfish an Arm and a Leg
By Stephan Reebs, Natural History Magazine

posted: 29 September 2008 01:40 pm ET
The oceans absorb about half the carbon dioxide humankind releases into the atmosphere, and seawater is consequently acidifying.

That's a big problem for shellfish, corals, and certain other calcareous creatures, because lowered pH dissolves their shells and skeletons. Echinoderms — starfish and their relatives — have calcium-based skeletons, too, and so researchers have assumed they are likewise subject to slow dissolution.


Hannah L. Wood of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in England and two co-workers decided to check. They took brittlestars (Amphiura filiformis), removed an arm or two, and then, to test how acidity affected regeneration of the lost arms, exposed the animals to seawater that was either normal (pH 8.0) or acidified (pH 7.7) — the standard worst-case prediction for the year 2100 — and pH 7.3).

To Wood's surprise, the brittlestars actually regenerated their arms faster in the acidified seawater than in the normal stuff, showing that they could lay down calcium effectively even under adverse conditions.

But there was a hidden cost. Both intact and regenerated arms had considerably less muscle mass in acidified seawater than they did in normal seawater. The low-pH animals consumed extra oxygen, so they were working hard, and Wood thinks they had to burn muscle to fuel the laborious regeneration. Weakened arms would undoubtedly affect feeding and reproduction.

Thus, even if it doesn't affect their calcification, low pH still costs echinoderms an arm and a leg.
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15. cyclonebuster
8:36 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Greenhouse Gas Up 3 Percent From Last YearBy Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

posted: 26 September 2008 01:01 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The world pumped up its pollution of the chief man-made global warming gas last year, setting a course that could push beyond leading scientists' projected worst-case scenario, international researchers said Thursday.

The new numbers, called "scary" by some, were a surprise because scientists thought an economic downturn would slow energy use. Instead, carbon dioxide output jumped 3 percent from 2006 to 2007.

That's an amount that exceeds the most dire outlook for emissions from burning coal and oil and related activities as projected by a Nobel Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007.

Meanwhile, forests and oceans, which suck up carbon dioxide, are doing so at lower rates than in the 20th century, scientists said. If those trends continue, it puts the world on track for the highest predicted rises in temperature and sea level.

The pollution leader was China, followed by the United States, which past data show is the leader in emissions per person in carbon dioxide output. And while several developed countries slightly cut their CO2 output in 2007, the United States churned out more.

Still, it was large increases in China, India and other developing countries that spurred the growth of carbon dioxide pollution to a record high of 9.34 billion tons of carbon (8.47 billion metric tons). Figures released by science agencies in the United States, Great Britain and Australia show that China's added emissions accounted for more than half of the worldwide increase. China passed the United States as the No. 1 carbon dioxide polluter in 2006.

Emissions in the United States rose nearly 2 percent in 2007, after declining the previous year. The U.S. produced 1.75 billion tons of carbon (1.58 billion metric tons).

"Things are happening very, very fast," said Corinne Le Quere, professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey. "It's scary."

Gregg Marland, a senior staff scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said he was surprised at the results because he thought world emissions would drop because of the economic downturn. That didn't happen.

"If we're going to do something (about reducing emissions), it's got to be different than what we're doing," he said.

The emissions are based on data from oil giant BP PLC, which show that China has become the major driver of world trends. China emitted 2 billion tons of carbon (1.8 billion metric tons) last year, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.

"We're shipping jobs offshore from the U.S., but we're also shipping carbon dioxide emissions with them," Marland said. "China is making fertilizer and cement and steel and all of those are heavy energy-intensive industries."

Developing countries not asked to reduce greenhouse gases by the 1997 Kyoto treaty — and China and India are among them — now account for 53 percent of carbon dioxide pollution. That group of nations surpassed industrialized ones in carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, a new analysis of older figures shows.

India is in position to beat Russia for the No. 3 carbon dioxide polluter behind the United States, Marland said. Indonesia levels are increasing rapidly.

Denmark's emissions dropped 8 percent. The United Kingdom and Germany reduced carbon dioxide pollution by 3 percent, while France and Australia cut it by 2 percent.

Nature can't keep up with the carbon dioxide from man, Le Quere said. She said from 1955 to 2000, the forests and oceans absorbed about 57 percent of the excess carbon dioxide, but now it's 54 percent.

What is "kind of scary" is that the worldwide emissions growth is beyond the highest growth in fossil fuel predicted just two years ago by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

Under the panel's scenario then, temperatures would increase by somewhere between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 to 6.3 degrees Celsius) by the year 2100.

If this trend continues for the century, "you'd have to be luckier than hell for it just to be bad, as opposed to catastrophic," said Stanford University climate scientist Stephen Schneider.
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14. cyclonebuster
8:34 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Environment
Pollution Makes Oceans NoisierBy Andrea Thompson, Senior Writer

posted: 03 October 2008 09:33 am ET
The ocean may soon begin to sound more like New York City to dolphins and whales.

As carbon dioxide levels rise and make the world's oceans warmer and more acidic, the increasing amounts of the gas could also make the seas noisier, especially in the soprano range, a new study suggests.

The increased burning of fossils fuels such as coal and oil in the last few decades has injected more and more carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. The oceans absorb a large chunk of this extra carbon dioxide (about 40 percent).

The more carbon dioxide that water absorbs, the more acidic it becomes; this is why sodas, with their carbon dioxide bubbles, are acidic. This change in seawater chemistry alters the way sound moves through the ocean, allowing it to propagate farther, particularly for sounds two and a half octaves above "middle C," said researcher Keith Hester of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

Ocean acidity

Here is a sketch of how it works: The slow absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean changes the water's pH.

The pH of a liquid is gauged on a scale of about -1 to 14, where 7 is neutral. Anything above that is basic (for example, household bleach has a pH of about 13), anything below is acidic (lemon juice has a pH of about 2). The standard pH of ocean water is about 8.3, or slightly basic/alkaline.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the pH of ocean waters has decreased by about 0.02 units per decade over the last 20 years. The most conservative projections of the IPCC suggest that the pH of seawater could drop by a total of 0.3 units by 2050.

Not only does this increasing acidity threaten the ocean food chain by hampering the formation of shells and corals, it could also affect the communication of marine mammals by changing the way sound travels through the seawater.

Essentially, the more acidic seawater gets, the farther sound travels in it.

Sending sound farther

While the interactions causing this phenomenon aren't completely understood, chemists do know that seawater of different pHs absorbs specific frequencies differently. The more acidic that seawater is, the less low- and mid-frequency sound that it absorbs, letting those frequencies travel farther. With sounds traveling farther, the level of noise in the ocean will increase, Hester and his colleagues found in their study, detailed in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Hester's calculations predict that the change in chemistry will have the greatest effect on sounds below about 3,000 cycles per second (or about two and a half octaves above "middle C" on the piano).

This range includes most of the frequencies that marine mammals, such as whales, use to communicate to find food and mates, as well as many of the underwater sounds generated by industrial activity and ships. (This human-generated noise has also increased in recent years, with evidence that it is affecting marine mammal communication.)

Hester and his team found that sound may already be traveling 10 percent farther than it did a few hundred years ago because of the carbon dioxide the ocean has already absorbed since the beginning of the industrial revolution. By 2050, they predict that sound could travel as much as 70 percent farther in some ocean areas (particularly the Atlantic Ocean).

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13. cyclonebuster
8:31 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Climate Change vs. the EconomyBy Jim Dawson, Inside Science News Service

posted: 06 October 2008 03:44 pm ET
COMMENTARY

As the second term of the George W. Bush's Administration nears its end, policy makers, scientists, environmentalists and others long-concerned about the planet-wide changes being triggered by global warming are optimistic that with a new president, the United States will finally take concrete steps to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change.

While it seems certain that the dithering in the executive branch that has marked the last eight years of U.S. global warming policy will end following the November elections, the path to regaining world leadership in the efforts to slow climate change is not necessarily a smooth one. And given the current collapse of Wall Street and the $700 billion bailout, passing any new legislation that involves carbon taxes or increased energy costs – the favored first steps in combating climate change – may be difficult, no matter how well intended.

But as the glaciers melt and the latest scientific evidence of global warming showing it is happening very quickly, the political landscape for dealing with climate change is shifting.

Both presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, not only acknowledge that global warming is a serious threat, but that it is being caused by the release of carbon into the atmosphere by human activities. The statements of both candidates are strong.

"There can no longer be any doubt that human activities are influencing the global climate and we must react quickly and effectively," Obama said in a recent written answer to a question posed by the non-profit Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA). "First, the U.S. must get of the sidelines and take long-overdue action here at home to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions."

While that statement reflects the long-held Democratic position on global warming, John McCain's views on climate change are also strong. "We know that greenhouse gas emissions, by retaining heat within the atmosphere, threaten disastrous changes in the climate," the Republican said in his response to the SEA question. "The same fossil-fuels that power our economic engine also produced greenhouse gases that retain heat and thus threaten to alter the global climate."

Despite the "drill here, drill now," rhetoric that McCain as adopted in recent weeks in his presidential campaign, he has long been a leading advocate in the Senate – to the consternation of many of his Republican colleagues – of policies that would limit carbon emissions through a system called "cap and trade." Indeed, he and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Con.) introduced a bill in Congress to limit greenhouse gas emissions in 2003.

Although it seems likely that the U.S. will pick up the mantle of global leadership on climate change, the questions of when and how climate change laws will be enacted remain open. In the current Congress, which is nearing the end of its two-year session, there have been seven different cap-and-trade bills introduced to deal with climate change. The most successful made it out of committee and was debated on the floor of the Senate. But it died a procedural death and never came up for a vote.

The cap-and-trade approach sets a cap on how much carbon can be released, and allows polluting industries to trade "pollution credits." The system worked well in the 1980s to cut the acid rain problem in the U.S., but determining the cap and figuring out the number of credits industry should have are tied up in both economics and politics.

The carbon tax option would charge emitters a set fee, or tax, based on how much carbon they release into the atmosphere. The fee makes industries pay for the carbon they emit, but it doesn't guarantee a limit on the emissions.

But both cap and trade and the carbon tax have problems in the context of the current economic crisis, said Mike Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society. "Unfortunately, a carbon tax, or anything with the word 'tax' in it, will be a very hard sell," he said. "And cap and trade would increase the price of energy, so that isn't likely in the short term given the pain people are feeling in their pocketbooks."

Paul Higgins, a senior policy fellow with the American Meteorological Society, said all of the various climate change proposals in the current Congress, be they cap and trade, carbon fees, or a blend of the two, will expire with the end of the congressional session. "I expect we will be starting over in the next session, but they will rewrite, slightly modify, and reintroduce the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill."

That is the bill that made it to the Senate floor for debate after being repeatedly amended to make sure that, among other things, it didn't cost industry too much, that it dealt with international energy imports, and that it established a commission to determine the structure for a greenhouse gas marketplace that couldn't be manipulated. The issues involved in climate change legislation are myriad and complex, with competing interests championed by hosts of lobbyists.

"If something doesn't pass in 2009," Higgins said, "the most likely reason is that we are still seeing Congress figuring out what it wants to do."

Both McCain and Obama favor the cap-and-trade approach and, "if they submit a plan early on then it could be done in the next Congress," said James Warner, a congressional affairs fellow with the Pew Center for Global Climate Change. He noted that several states, both in the Northeast and the West, have established or are preparing regional cap-and-trade programs.

More pressure to get something done resulted from a 2007 Supreme Court decision ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority and the obligation to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. EPA officials, following White House policy, have continued to object to regulating greenhouse gas emissions, despite warnings from EPA scientists that the emissions are a threat to human health. The EPA's resistance to regulation is almost certain to change after the November elections.

Pew's Warner also noted that international negotiations about climate change are ongoing and "the president would like to have made some progress towards a domestic emissions cap by the end of 2009 [for the International Climate Conference in Copenhagen]." A study by climate policy analysts at the non-profit German Marshall Fund notes that having legislation prior to the conference "would give the negotiators a clear sense of the level of emissions reductions the United States could commit to under a future international climate agreement without risking the possibility of the Senate opposing U.S. ratification of the agreement."

Both Warner and Higgins agree that limiting greenhouse emissions involves the creation of a "new market" in which money gained from the program through taxes, fees, or trading credits, could be used to offset higher energy prices through rebates or other mechanisms.

Higgins noted that regulating greenhouse gases has a large long-term economic benefit for the U.S., but it does involve winners and losers, and the losers in the short term would be the companies that operate power plants and other big industrial sources of pollution. Those also are the organizations that have money and know how to lobby Congress.

Despite that, he said, the next Congress will have to pass climate change legislation. "I'm not sure if it will happen in 2009 or 2010," he said, "but I don't think we'll go through another election without passing something meaningful on climate change."

"There is never going to be a perfect moment for this," Warner said. "I think it will be presented as a threat we have to deal with, and we're Americans and have to step forward and deal with it."

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12. cyclonebuster
8:29 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Environment
Arctic Grows StormierBy Andrea Thompson, Senior Writer

posted: 06 October 2008 05:24 pm ET
The Arctic has become more stormy in the past 50 years due to the warming climate, which in turn has quickened the pace of drifting sea ice, a new NASA study finds.

Based on model results, climate scientists had long predicted that a warming climate would increase the frequency and intensity of Arctic storms as ocean waters became progressively warmer.

Now, a team of climate scientists has analyzed 56 years on data of the paths that storms took, as well as annual data on general storm activity, which confirmed an accelerating trend in Arctic storm activity 1950 to 2006.

They also looked at data on ice drift in the Arctic collected during the same 56-year period and found that the pace of sea ice movement along the Arctic Ocean's Transpolar Drift Stream from Siberia to the Atlantic Ocean also accelerated.

Because wind at the ocean surface is known to be the driving force behind the movement of sea ice, the researchers concluded that the increase in Arctic storminess and the sea ice drift speeds are linked. The finding, detailed in the Oct. 3 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, could reinforce the critical role that changes in the Arctic Ocean play in global ocean circulation and climate change.

"Gradually warming waters have driven storm tracks — the ocean paths in the Atlantic and Pacific along which most cyclones travel — northward. We speculate that sea ice serves as the 'middleman' in a scenario where increased storm activity yields increased stirring winds that will speed up the Arctic's transition into a body of turbulently mixing warm and cool layers with greater potential for deep convection that will alter climate further," said study team member Sirpa Hakkinen of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Progressively stronger storms over the Transpolar Drift Stream forced sea ice to drift increasingly faster in a matter of hours after the onset of storms, Hakkinen and her colleagues found. They saw an increase over 56 years in maximum summer sea ice speeds from about 8 inches per second (20 centimeters per second) to more than 24 inches per second (60 centimeters per second), and wintertime speeds from about 6 inches per second (15 centimeters per second) to about 20 inches per second (50 centimeters per second).

The moving sea ice forces the ocean to move, which then sets off significantly more mixing of the upper layers of the ocean than would occur without the "push" from the ice. The increased mixing of the ocean layer forces increased ocean convection, which could create a counteracting force to climate warming, as it could help the ocean absorb more of the carbon dioxide accumulating in Earth's atmosphere.

"Although it remains to be seen how this may ultimately play out in the future, the likelihood this increasing trend and link between storminess and ice drift could expand the Arctic's role as a sink for extracting fossil fuel-generated carbon dioxide from the air is simply fascinating," Hakkinen said. "If it unfolds in the way we suppose, this scenario could, of course, affect the whole climate system and its evolution."


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11. cyclonebuster
8:17 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
AHHH!! Don't worry about it guys this is just part of the cycle. Lets drill for more oil under those glaciers now that all that ice is gone!!
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10. cyclonebuster
8:11 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Environment
Most Alaskan Glaciers Retreat and ThinBy Andrea Thompson, Senior Writer

posted: 06 October 2008 03:14 pm ET
Most of Alaska's glaciers are retreating or thinning or both, a new book by the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

About 5 percent of Alaska's area is covered by more than 100,000 glaciers — that's about 29,000 square miles (75,000 square kilometers), or more than the entire state of West Virginia.

While a few of Alaska's large glaciers are advancing, 99 percent are retreating, the book, "Glaciers in Alaska," states. The book was written by USGS research geologist Bruce Molina.

A USGS project to photograph the glaciers of Montana's Glacier National Park also showed significant retreat. Based on these photos and glacier recession rates, scientists predicted the park could lose its namesakes by 2030.

Greenland, which is covered by more ice than anywhere else in the world outside Antarctica, has also seen significant melt of its glaciers in recent decades.

The new book on Alaska's glaciers used satellite images, aerial photos, maps and other studies to document the retreat of the glaciers, which began as early as the mid-19th century. Some glaciers have even disappeared since being mapped in the mid-20th century, the report found.

The report also said that glaciers in Alaska saw "significant retreat" in the last two decades of the 20th century.

Glaciers at lower elevations have been hit particularly hard: More than 95 percent of the glaciers that end below an elevation of about 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) are retreating and thinning. (The glaciers that have advanced are all at higher elevations, where it is colder.)

Alaska's two largest glaciers, Bering and Malaspina, are losing several cubic kilometers of ice to melting and calving (where chunks of the glacier break off into the sea) each year.

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9. cyclonebuster
8:04 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Gas From The Past Gives Scientists New Insights Into Climate And The Oceans
ScienceDaily (Oct. 4, 2008) — In recent years, public discussion of climate change has included concerns that increased levels of carbon dioxide will contribute to global warming, which in turn may change the circulation in the earth's oceans, with potentially disastrous consequences.Gas From The Past Gives Scientists New Insights Into Climate And The Oceans
ScienceDaily (Oct. 4, 2008) — In recent years, public discussion of climate change has included concerns that increased levels of carbon dioxide will contribute to global warming, which in turn may change the circulation in the earth's oceans, with potentially disastrous consequences.

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8. cyclonebuster
7:53 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Satellite Data Reveals Extreme Summer Snowmelt In Northern Greenland
ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2008) — The northern part of the Greenland ice sheet experienced extreme snowmelt during the summer of 2008, with large portions of the area subject to record melting days, according to Dr. Marco Tedesco, Assistant Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York (CCNY), and colleagues. Their conclusion is based on an analysis of microwave brightness temperature recorded by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) onboard the F13 satellite.

“Having such extreme melting so far north, where it is usually colder than the southern regions is extremely interesting,” Professor Tedesco said. “In 2007, the record occurred in southern Greenland, mostly at high elevation areas where in 2008 extreme snowmelt occurred along the northern coast.”

Melting in northern Greenland lasted up to 18 days longer than previous maximum values. The melting index, i.e. the number of melting days times the area subject to melting) was three times greater than the 1979–2007 average, with 1.545•106 square kilometers x days.

“The results obtained from SSM/I are consistent with the outputs of the MAR (Modèl Atmosphérique Régional) regional climate model, which indicated runoff 88 percent higher than the 1979 – 2007 mean and close to the 2007 value,” Professor Tedesco noted. In addition, analysis of ground measurements from World Meteorological Organization automatic weather stations located close to where the record snowmelt was observed indicate surface/air maximum temperatures up to 3° Celsius above average.

The snowmelt and temperature anomalies occurred near Ellesmere Island, where several ice shelf break-ups were observed this summer. The region where the record melting days were recorded includes the Petermann glacier, which lost 29 square kilometers in July.

Professor Tedesco and his colleagues are currently analyzing possible causes for the high snowmelt in northern Greenland. High surface temperatures are, so far, the most evident factor. However other factors, such as solar radiation, could play a role, as well, he noted.

“The consistency of satellite, model and ground-based results provides a basis for a more robust analysis and synthesis tool,” Professor Tedesco added. Next June, he and his colleagues plan to conduct field work in northern Greenland.

The findings were reported in the October 6 edition of “EOS,” a weekly newspaper published by the American Geophysical Union.



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7. cyclonebuster
7:44 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Arctic Soil May Contain Nearly Twice Greenhouse-Gas Producing Material Than Previously Estimated
ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2008) — Frozen arctic soil contains nearly twice the greenhouse-gas-producing organic material as was previously estimated, according to recently published research by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists.Arctic Soil May Contain Nearly Twice Greenhouse-Gas Producing Material Than Previously Estimated
ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2008) — Frozen arctic soil contains nearly twice the greenhouse-gas-producing organic material as was previously estimated, according to recently published research by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists.



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5. cyclonebuster
7:37 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
Scientists: Global Warming May Spread 'Deadly Dozen' Diseases

Bird flu is just one of 11 diseases that may worsen with global warming, scientists are warning.

Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society have nicknamed 12 diseases the “deadly dozen” and say they are spreading across the globe and becoming increasingly dangerous to wildlife and humans.

William Karesh, of the WCS, told the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conference in Barcelona Tuesday that there is increasing concern about the impact that climate change would have on the spread of disease. Changes in rainfall patterns and temperatures were known to have an effect, though the reason was not always clear, he said at the launch of the report called The Deadly Dozen.

Researchers called for wildlife monitoring systems to be set up around the globe to watch for signs of disease among animals before it spreads and kills people. Monitoring networks have already been introduced in parts of the world and have proved successful in saving lives.

The deadly dozen diseases include:

Avian influenza: An increase in stormy weather can disrupt flights and force infected wild birds into new areas — and into greater contact with domestic birds.
Babesiosis: A tick-borne disease that is increasingly a problem for humans. Climate change is thought to have aided a tick boom among lions and buffalo in East Africa.

Cholera: Warmer water suits the pathogen perfectly. Global warming will cause widespread outbreaks.

Ebola: Has been linked to variations in rainfall patterns. It kills gorillas, chimpanzees and people.

Intestinal and external parasites: Both rising temperatures and increased rainfall help the parasites to survive. They are an increasing problem for humans and animals.

Lyme disease: Changes in population patterns of white-tailed deer and white-footed mice have promoted a spread northwards of the tick-borne disease in the U.S. and into Canada.

Click here for the other six diseases and for more on this story from the Times of London.


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4. cyclonebuster
7:12 PM GMT on October 08, 2008
3. MichaelSTL,

"September was the third month in a row that the Southern Hemisphere was warmer than the Northern Hemisphere, and much warmer than the recent yearly average, according to GISS, which is very interesting (why would this be happening; some sort of climate shift? Although I realize it is only three months; something similar also occurred in 1996 when the SH was warmer for four consecutive months):


July August SeptemberNorthern Hemisphere 0.61 0.53 0.58Southern Hemisphere 0.85 0.59 0.76
That is pretty significant because recent years have averaged 0.8*C in the Northern Hemisphere and 0.4*C in the Southern Hemisphere."


Perhaps, the Earth is tilting more on its axis?????
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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.