Climate-exodus expected in the Middle East and North Africa

May 4, 2016

More than 500 million people live in the Middle East and North Africa – a region which is very hot in summer and where climate change is already evident. The number of extremely hot days has doubled since 1970. “In future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy,” says Jos Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and Professor at the Cyprus Institute. Lelieveld and his colleagues have investigated how temperatures will develop in the Middle East and North Africa over the course of the 21st century. The result is deeply alarming: Even if Earth’s temperature were to increase on average only by two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, the temperature in summer in these regions will increase more than twofold. By mid-century, during the warmest periods, temperatures will not fall below 30 degrees at night, and during daytime they could rise to 46 degrees Celsius (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit). By the end of the century, midday temperatures on hot days could even climb to 50 degrees Celsius (approximately 122 degrees Fahrenheit). Another finding: Heat waves

Associated Press – Global warming is changing the way the Earth spins on its axis

April 11, 2016

Global warming is shifting the way the Earth wobbles on its polar axis, a new NASA study finds. Melting ice sheets — especially in Greenland — are changing the distribution of weight on Earth. And that has caused both the North Pole and the wobble, which is called polar motion, to change course, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances. Scientists and navigators have been accurately measuring the true pole and polar motion since 1899 and for almost the entire 20th century they migrated a bit toward Canada. But that has changed with this century and now it’s moving toward England, said study lead author Surendra Adhikari at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. “The recent shift from the 20th-century direction is very dramatic,” Adhikari said. While scientists say the shift is harmless, it is meaningful. Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona who wasn’t part of the study, said “this highlights how real and profoundly large an impact humans are having on the planet.” Since 2003, Greenland has lost on average more than 600 trillion pounds of ice a year and that affects the way the Earth wobbles in a manner similar to a

David Zetland – Climate Change Alert: Life Is About To Get Much Worse

March 31, 2016

Climate change is hard for people to understand or take seriously because its FUTURE impacts will be so vast in scale and intensity. It would be easier for people to “believe in”face if its signs were more local and present (one reason I suggested rebranding it “local warming” years ago). Sadly, it seems that we’re about the arrive in that moment of vast intensity a lot quicker than previously forecast. Last week, James Hansen (one of the first scientists to bring CC to public attention) and many co-authors published an article (link in this summary) explaining how previous estimates of glacial melting in Antartica and Greenland need to be updated to consider positive feedback effects that are hastening the process. These effects are due to the slowing of ocean circulation that will simulataneously mean warmer seas near the Antarctic ice shelves (helping those glaciers slide into the water more quickly) as well as colder seas near Northern Europe (as the “conveyor” of warm water from the Caribbean shuts down). Read

Jeff Masters & Bob Henson – February Smashes Earth’s All-Time Global Heat Record By A Jaw-Dropping Margin

March 15, 2016

On Saturday, NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global recordkeeping. NASA’s analysis showed that February ran 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 1951-1980 global average for the month, as can be seen in the list of monthly anomalies going back to 1880. The previous record was set just last month, as January 2016 came in 1.14°C above the 1951-1980 average for the month. In other words, February has dispensed with this one-month-old record by a full 0.21°C (0.38°F)–an extraordinary margin to beat a monthly world temperature record by. Perhaps even more remarkable is that February 2015 crushed the previous February record–set in 1998 during the peak atmospheric influence of the 1997-98 “super” El Niño that’s comparable in strength to the current one–by a massive 0.47°C (0.85°F). Read

Mediterranean may be driest for 900 years

March 14, 2016

The drought in the eastern Mediterranean is easily the worst in half a millennium, and perhaps for nearly twice as long, scientists find. The drought that has blighted the eastern Mediterranean since 1998 could be the worst in nine centuries, according to new research led by scientists from the US space agency Nasa. They report in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheresthat they used a tree-ring chronicle – trees accurately reflect the rainfall conditions of each year in their annual growth – to establish what had happened. They found that although the island of Cyprus and the bordering nations of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey have always tended to be dry, the latest drought is at least 50% drier than anything experienced in the region in the last 500 years, and up to 20% drier than anything 900 years ago. In effect, they have traced climate history back to a very different world, long before the European discovery of America; a world in which Christian crusaders fought the Saracen forces for control of Jerusalem; in which the armies of Byzantium held the eastern Roman Empire against assault from the Turks; in which the temples of Angkor Wat were first built; in which work on the

It’s Official: This Winter Was America’s Warmest on Record

March 10, 2016

This winter was the warmest on the record for the continental U.S., new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows, as average temperatures climbed nearly 5 F above normal. How temperatures compared to long-term averages across the contiguous U.S. during the winter of 2015-2016. Photo credit: NOAA Every state in the lower 48 saw temperatures at least 1.7 F above average. New England lead the pack, with all six states experiencing the warmest winter ever. Alaska was a “freakish” 10.6 F above average. The last six months were the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S. Global weather data will be released later this month, but scientists are already expecting February to once again smash global heat records as the warmest month on record. Read

Greenland’s darkening ice is melting faster

March 8, 2016

A dusty film of pollution is muting the reflective whiteness of Greenland’s pristine icecap and making it vulnerable to accelerated melting rates. Greenland is getting darker. Climatology’s great white hope, the biggest block of ice in the northern hemisphere, is losing its reflectivity. According to new research, the island’s dusty snows are absorbing ever more solar radiation, which is likely to accelerate the rate at which the icecap melts. The Greenland icecap covers 1.7 million square kilometres and contains enough ice to raise sea levels by seven metres. Right now, the rate of melting is on the increase, and meltwater flowing off the icecap could be raising sea levels by 0.6mm a year. A powerful contributing factor, scientists report in The Cryosphere journal, could be that the ice has darkened over the last two decades. By 2100, the albedo – the climatologists’ term for the reflectivity of rock, sand, water or ice – could have fallen by 10%. Feedback loop Read

CHRISTY RODGERS – Is the World Living or Dead?

March 6, 2016

Physicists announced recently that they had discovered gravitational waves, confirming a one hundred year-old prediction of Einstein’s General Relativity theory. As remarkable as the discovery seems, it does little or nothing to resolve a profound quandary in physics that is indicative of a larger dilemma within the whole idea of the “scientific world-view.” First let me say why this matters to me, as someone whose formal studies were in literature, that softest of all subjects. I’ve actually been fascinated by the world of cosmology and theoretical physics for a long time. I grew up with the ideas of two great humanist popularizers of science, Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent of Man) and Carl Sagan (Cosmos), intimately beamed into my brain by television. The story they told me was that modern science was a hard-won triumph over bigotry and ignorance; it was the ultimate homage to nature. It had discovered many of the laws that governed the physical world, and yet there was much more to know. Science was a great adventure, and there was room for us all to join. Carl Sagan said that we were “star stuff,” grown to be able to contemplate itself and the cosmos, and now longing

Clean energy could save hundreds of billions in health costs every year

March 2, 2016

In Paris late last year, the countries of the world pledged to reduce emissions to keep global warming “well below a 2 degree Celsius” rise in global average temperatures compared with preindustrial levels. As an advanced economy, the U.S. is expected to lead in making the required emissions reductions, which would be roughly 80 percent by midcentury compared with 2005. This would entail moving a large portion of U.S. power generation off fossil fuels and shifting the majority of our vehicles to electric power. That’s a tall order. Most existing energy policies focus on the nearer term, and as yet there is no roadmap to achieve this 2°C limit – or even less aggressive targets for emissions cuts in the next 15 years. Read

For Russian Farmers, Climate Change Is Nyet So Great

February 22, 2016

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad. That’s what many people are saying these days in Russia, where the expected icy winter has failed to materialize this year – to widespread joy. Of course, any climate scientist will tell you that an unusually warm month — or even a whole warm winter — doesn’t mean much. It’s the long-term trend that counts. But that’s not how it appears to the popular imagination, says George Safonov, who heads the Center for Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. He says there’s a big temptation in northern countries to believe that warmer weather can bring economic opportunities, such as improving conditions for farming. Read
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