Andrea Germanos – NASA: World ‘Locked Into’ at Least 3 Feet of Sea Level Rise

August 28, 2015

New research underway indicates that at least three feet of global sea level rise is near certain, NASA scientists warned Wednesday. That’s the higher range of the 1 to 3 feet level of rise the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave in its 2013 assessment. Sea levels have already risen 3 inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise. “Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet of sea level rise, and probably more,” said Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Read

July Was Warmest Month On Record NOAA Reports, Lists All “Signifiicant Climate Anomalies And Events”

August 21, 2015

While some, perhaps not California farmers, will disagree with NOAA’s assessment of the world’s atmospheric conditions, earlier today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared that July was the warmest month ever recorded for the globe and was also the record warmest for global oceans, putting a full stop to a year that has been characterized by numerous perplexing atmospheric outliers around the globe but perhaps none other more so than NOAA’s earlier assessment that the winter of 2015 was also the warmest on record despite the much discussed US winter, where for the second year in a row the economic slowdown was blamed on a colder than usual winter. Go figure: perhaps here too we need double seasonal adjustments. Read

Brian Merchant – By 2100, Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean

August 14, 2015

The ocean is in the midst of a radical, manmade change. It can seem kind of crazy that one of the most immense properties on Earth—the ocean washes over 71 percent of the planet—could be completely transformed by a swarm of comparatively tiny, fleshy mammals. But humans are indeed remaking the ocean, in almost every conceivable way. The ocean we know today—that billions swim, fish, float, and surf in—that vast planetary body of water will be of an entirely different character by the end of the century. “There is only one global ocean,” as NOAA likes to say. While it’s changing in different ways and to different degrees in different places, it’s a single, huge, interconnected system. Trash dumped in Oregon can end up in the great Pacific Garbage Patch. Pollution from China drifts overseas into North America. All of our carbon emissions end up partially absorbed by oceans everywhere—your actions in Sheboygan, USA have affected, in some minute way, the future of the seas in Bangladesh. That’s the thing about climate change. Read

Eric Holthaus – The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here

August 6, 2015

Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state’s Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide. On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that

Leading climate scientist: Future is bleaker than we thought

July 30, 2015

Highly speculative. Full of conjecture. Based on flimsy evidence. Not supported by mainstream science. Not peer reviewed. Not suitable for basing policy on. It sounds like climate scientists are talking about the claims of climate deniers. But this time they are talking about a 23 July discussion paper by James Hansen, the most famous and respected climate scientist on the planet. In it, Hansen starts by arguing that the ice melting on and around Greenland and Antarctica will cause rises in sea level that are much faster than mainstream predictions, meaning that we are likely to see several metres of sea level rise this century. It is an argument he has been making for a long time: for instance in his 2007 feature for New Scientist. Read

Alex Hutchinson – How Trees Calm Us Down

July 29, 2015

In 1984, a researcher named Roger Ulrich noticed a curious pattern among patients who were recovering from gallbladder surgery at a suburban hospital in Pennsylvania. Those who had been given rooms overlooking a small stand of deciduous trees were being discharged almost a day sooner, on average, than those in otherwise identical rooms whose windows faced a wall. The results seemed at once obvious—of course a leafy tableau is more therapeutic than a drab brick wall—and puzzling. Whatever curative property the trees possessed, how were they casting it through a pane of glass? That is the riddle that underlies a new study in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of researchers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, led by the University of Chicago psychology professor Marc Berman. The study compares two large data sets from the city of Toronto, both gathered on a block-by-block level; the first measures the distribution of green space, as determined from satellite imagery and a comprehensive list of all five hundred and thirty thousand trees planted on public land, and the second measures health, as assessed by a detailed survey of ninety-four thousand respondents. Read

Smashing All Previous Records, 2015 on Track to Be Hottest Year Yet – Lauren McCauley

July 22, 2015

The planet Earth, with mankind’s help, is leap-frogging into sweltering new territory. With the monthly update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) out Monday, three of the world’s official climate reporting agencies agree that June 2015 was the hottest on record, and that this year is shaping up to be the hottest year yet. What’s more, scientists say this trend is likely to continue and that 2016 could very well surpass 2015’s record-breaking temperatures. According to NOAA, “The June globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.27°F (1.26°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2012 by 0.11°F (0.06°C).” This followed reports from NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency last week which found similar results. According to both NASA and NOAA, the year-to-date period (January-June) was also the warmest such period on record, with four of the six warmest months in recorded history occurring so far in 2015, putting us on the path to breaking 2014’s record as the hottest documented year. As journalist Andrew Freeman notes, “the heat in 2015 isn’t just breaking records, it’s smashing them.” Scientists attribute this heat to human-induced global warming

A third of the world’s biggest groundwater basins are in distress

June 17, 2015

Two new studies led by UC Irvine using data from NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites show that civilization is rapidly draining some of its largest groundwater basins, yet there is little to no accurate data about how much water remains in them. The result is that significant segments of Earth’s population are consuming groundwater quickly without knowing when it might run out, the researchers conclude. The findings appear today in Water Resources Research. “Available physical and chemical measurements are simply insufficient,” said UCI professor and principal investigator Jay Famiglietti, who is also the senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Given how quickly we are consuming the world’s groundwater reserves, we need a coordinated global effort to determine how much is left.” The studies are the first to characterize groundwater losses via data from space, using readings generated by NASA’s twin GRACE satellites that measure dips and bumps in Earth’s gravity, which is affected by the weight of water. For the first paper, researchers examined the planet’s 37 largest aquifers between 2003 and 2013. The eight worst off were classified as overstressed, with nearly no natural replenishment to offset usage. Another five aquifers were found, in descending order,

New tool could predict large solar storms more than 24 hours in advance

June 10, 2015

Large magnetic storms from the Sun, which affect technologies such as GPS and utility grids, could soon be predicted more than 24 hours in advance. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are eruptions of gas and magnetised material from the Sun that have the potential to wreak havoc on satellites and Earth-bound technologies, disrupting radio transmissions and causing transformer blowouts and blackouts. These mass ejections can cause problems with GPS technology – used by all kinds of vehicles, from cars to oil tankers to tractors. For example, they can affect the ability of aircraft systems to judge precisely a plane’s distance from the ground for landing, leading to planes being unable to land for up to an hour. However, not every mass ejection from the Sun that travels past the Earth causes this much disturbance; the power depends on the orientation of magnetic fields within the mass ejection. Currently, satellites can only tell the orientation of a mass ejection’s magnetic field with any certainty when it is relatively close to the Earth, giving just 30-60 minutes’ notice. This is not enough time to mitigate the impacts on utility grids and systems operating on GPS. Now, a new measurement and modelling tool could

It Takes HOW Much Water to Make That Smoothie?! – Maddie Oatman

June 2, 2015

In March, amid a worsening drought, California barred restaurants from serving water to customers except upon request. Though the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that most of a restaurant’s water usage takes place in the kitchen or bathroom instead of at the table, the policy is “more of a reminder to people that we’re in a drought, as opposed to saving millions of millions of gallons of water,” as a San Francisco water conservation manager told the San Francisco Chronicle. Which got me thinking: What about other beverages you might order along with brunch or dinner? There’s a good chance their raw ingredients include crops like grapes, oranges, barley, or apples harvested in California. The state produces 105 million gallons of craft beer and 729 million gallons of wine every year—90 percent of the country’s native vino. In the past, we’ve shown you how many gallons of water go into irrigating crops like almonds, tomatoes, and alfalfa. The chart below shows the amount of water needed to irrigate the California-grown raw ingredients in common drinks. (We chose common serving sizes for each beverage: 8 ounces for juice, 12 ounces for beer, and 4 ounces for a glass of wine.) Read
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