Annals of global warming: Time to change maps of Arctic ice

August 11, 2015

National Geographic Society reminded us they’ve had to change maps of the arctic.

National Geographic Society composed this GIF to compare their maps over past 16 years: A GIF of National Geographic atlases from 1999 through 2014 shows how Arctic ice has melted over time.

National Geographic Society composed this GIF to compare their maps over past 16 years: A GIF of National Geographic atlases from 1999 through 2014 shows how Arctic ice has melted over time.

President Barack Obama noted the change in his announcement of U.S. actions to fight climate change. National Geo added details beyond what the president said.

As the ocean heats up due to global warming, Arctic sea ice has been locked in a downward spiral. Since the late 1970s, the ice has retreated by 12 percent per decade, worsening after 2007, according to NASA. May 2014 represented the third lowest extent of sea ice during that month in the satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Ice loss is accelerated in the Arctic because of a phenomenon known as the feedback loop: Thin ice is less reflective than thick ice, allowing more sunlight to be absorbed by the ocean, which in turn weakens the ice and warms the ocean even more, NASA says.

Because thinner ice is flatter, it allows melt ponds to accumulate on the surface, reducing the reflectiveness of the ice and absorbing more heat. (See pictures of our melting world in National Geographic magazine.)

“You hear reports all the time in the media about this,” Valdés said. “Until you have a hard-copy map in your hand, the message doesn’t really hit home.”

(More at National Geo’s site.)

At the last edition of the National Geographic Atlas, a video described why and how changes were made.

We used to think the old Earth was so massive, little could humans do to change it. While it’s probably still true the rock will survive after humans are extinct, we now know we can foul our nest enough to make it uncomfortable, or impossible for our species to stay here.

Global warming is changing the planet. Maps must be changed to show the new face.

Have we acted soon enough, and hard enough to save space for humans to live?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Chris Tackett on Twitter.


Scenes from a beach: At the edge of the sea

December 20, 2011

Interesting little bauble in the Biloxi-Gulfport (Mississippi) Sun-Herald, I think from their columnist George Thatcher:

Cover of Rachel Carson's "The Edge of the Sea"

Good teacher resource for National Environmental Week, April 15-21, 2012

December 20 Scenes from the beach

“To stand at the edge of the sea,” wrote Rachel Carson, “… is to have knowledge of things that are as eternal, as any earthly life can be.”* The things that we see this morning–a cerulean sea and sky, the shorebirds, the sun still near the horizon — are identically the same objects that could be seen in Cambrian times, eons ago. There is a sense of the eternal in the objects viewed today. And I suppose there will be little change in a faraway eon that lies in some future age. — Diary, autumn 2011

* At the Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson; Signet Books, New York (1955)

Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/2011/12/19/3641733/december-20-scenes-from-the-beach.html#storylink=cpy

One should read Rachel Carson to get closer to the universe, not for political reasons, not necessarily for the science.  But being scientifically accurate, and being close to the pulse of the universe, Carson’s views will change your politics for the better if you really read and listen.


Annals of Global Warming: NOAA team finds oceans heated up since 1993

May 21, 2010

News from NOAA and NASA:

The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet.

“We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

John Lyman and Gregory Johnson show instruments used to measure ocean temperature - NOAA photo, 2010

From NOAA: John Lyman (left) holds an expendable bathythermograph or XBT, a device that was dropped from ships to obtain temperature. Gregory Johnson (right) holds an ARGO Float, an autonomous, free-floating ocean device that collects a variety of data, including temperature. (NOAA photo, 2010)

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings will be published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.

“The ocean is the biggest reservoir for heat in the climate system,” said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the scientists who contributed to the study. “So as the planet warms, we’re finding that 80 to 90 percent of the increased heat ends up in the ocean.”

A warming ocean is a direct cause of global sea level rise, since seawater expands and takes up more space as it heats up. The scientists say that this expansion accounts for about one-third to one-half of global sea level rise.

Combining multiple estimates of heat in the upper ocean – from the surface to about 2,000 feet down – the team found a strong multi-year warming trend throughout the world’s ocean. According to measurements by an array of autonomous free-floating ocean floats called ARGO as well as by earlier devices called expendable bathythermographs or XBTs that were dropped from ships to obtain temperature data, ocean heat content has increased over the last 16 years.

The team notes that there are still some uncertainties and some biases.

“The XBT data give us vital information about past changes in the ocean, but they are not as accurate as the more recent Argo data,” said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “However, our analysis of these data gives us confidence that on average, the ocean has warmed over the past decade and a half, signaling a climate imbalance.”

Data from the array of Argo floats­ – deployed by NOAA and other U.S. and international partners ­– greatly reduce the uncertainties in estimates of ocean heat content over the past several years, the team said. There are now more than 3,200 Argo floats distributed throughout the world’s ocean sending back information via satellite on temperature, salinity, currents and other ocean properties.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us on Facebook.

Note: Full name of the paper is Robust Warming of the Global Upper Ocean. Authors are John M. Lyman, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii at Manoa and NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle; Simon A. Good, Met Office Hadley Centre; Viktor V. Gouretski Klima Campus, University of Hamburg; Masayoshi Ishii, Climate Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Japan; Gregory C. Johnson, NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle; Matthew D. Palmer, Met Office Hadley Centre; Doug M. Smith, Met Office Hadley Centre; and Josh K. Willis, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Map showing 3,200 free-floating Argo floats, instruments used to measure ocean temperature - International Argo Project

From NASA: The international science team analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean, based on ocean temperature data from a global array of more than 3,200 Argo free-floating profiling floats and longer data records from expendable bathythermographs dropped from ships. Image credit: International Argo Project

Resources:

Update, February 16, 2011: Interesting that this research got so little play in mainstream media, more curious that those who contend global warming and/or the need to do anything about it have buried it so well.  RealClimate noted that denialist Larry Bell, writing in Forbes, even cited the work of this team, but claiming a contrary resultEven Watts Up appears to have gone silent on this after a curtain-raiser post on the project.  Odd.


Annals of Global Warming: Kiss goodbye the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay

May 5, 2010

Endangered beaches in Chesapeake Bay - map from Jim Titus, EPA

Endangered beaches in Chesapeake Bay - map from Jim Titus, EPA, via Wired

At Mother Jones Magazine’s website, “Buh-bye, East Coast Beaches”:

Over the past decade, [Jim] Titus and a team of contractors combined reams of data to construct a remarkably detailed model of how sea-level rise will impact the eastern seaboard. It was the largest such study ever undertaken, and its findings were alarming: Over the next 90 years, 1,000 square miles of inhabited land on the East Coast could be flooded, and most of the wetlands between Massachusetts and Florida could be lost. The favorably peer-reviewed study was scheduled for publication in early 2008 as part of a Bush Administration report on sea-level rise, but it never saw the light of day—an omission criticized by the EPA’s own scientific advisory committee. Titus has urged the more science-friendly Obama administration to publish his work, but so far, it hasn’t—and won’t say why.

So Titus recently launched a personal website, risingsea.net, to publish his work. “I decided to do my best to prevent the taxpayer investment from being wasted,” he says. The site includes “When the North Pole Melts,” a prescient holiday ditty recorded by his musical alter ego, Captain Sea Level, in the late ’80s.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Climate Desk.

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Arctic Ocean gives up more methane than scientists predicted

March 4, 2010

Here’s another point of science that will give rational people concern, and which cannot in any way be explained as “no problem” by stolen e-mails:  Methane releases from the floor of the East Siberian Arctic are much larger than predicted.

Methane hydrates releasing methane gas in bubbles in the ocean - i.treehugger image

Underwater methane gas plumes, Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013

Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Frozen forms of methane dot the bottoms of our oceans.  Warming of the oceans might be able to trigger an explosive thawing of the methane hydrates, as the frozen forms are known, seriously adding to our worldwide greenhouse gas problems.

Story here at Global ChangeScience article on which that post is based, here.

Cool SONAR pictures of methane bubbling up from the floor of the Arctic Ocean, but scary once you realize what they are, at this vintage post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Is there any chance this research will merit a mention at the climate denialist blogs?


Astounding manipulation of data — from the climate denialists

January 26, 2010

Especially since they purloined the e-mails from the Hadley Climate Research Unit (CRU), climate change denialists get bolder and bolder about making wilder and wilder statements of disinformation.

For example, our old friend Anthony Watts now makes criminal charges in his headlines, that scientists altered data to reflect the opposite of what their research found and then lied about it — but read the story, about Himalayan glaciers.  Watts quotes a story with a bad headline from The Daily Mail, in which a scientist tells how important scientisits consider the situation in the Himalayas, with glacier decline. There is no confession of any wrongdowing, but Watt’s headlines it “Scientist admits IPCC usied fake data to influence policy makers.”  There’s no confession.  Were it so wildly inaccurate, wouldn’t Watts post the science that rebuts the IPCC claim?

Anyway, Dale Husband takes a harder look at some of the denialist claims.  Nils-Axel Morner claims that, contrary to all measures and the actual submersion of islands, sea level rises do not occur.  Morner testified to that point to the British government in 2005, according to Dale Husband.

Can you detect the “trick” Morner used to deny sea level rise in his graph?

Morner's "data trick" to show no sea level rise, 2005

Morner's "data trick" to show no sea level rise, 2005

Morner’s work is the basis of Anthony Watts’ and Christopher Monckton’s claims that the Maldives are not sinking, and probably the “science” basis for almost all claims that the oceans do not rise.  You gotta follow the footnotes.

The intellectual execution, drawing and quartering of Morner’s claims is worth a read, at Dale Husband’s Intellectual Rants.

Good heavens.  Is Morner really the intellectual basis of this part of the denialists’ denial?  This isn’t an area I’ve followed closely.  My experience is that if Monckton cites him, he’s probably wrong.  But Morner is the major author on sea levels in the denialist compilation of what they claim is not crank science.

Maybe the denialists should just take up yoga.  If you stand on your head to look at the charts, they all look different, and the charts showing the temperature rising aren’t quite so scary.


More evidence of climate change: Arctic methane hydrates evaporating

August 21, 2009

It’s a pretty picture, but it should strike a bit of fear once you know what it is.

New Scientist explains:

Sonar image of methane plumes rising from methane hydrates on the Arctic Ocean floor; image from National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (Britain)

Sonar image of methane plumes rising from methane hydrates on the Arctic Ocean floor; image from National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (Britain)

It’s been predicted for years, and now it’s happening. Deep in the Arctic Ocean, water warmed by climate change is forcing the release of methane from beneath the sea floor.

Over 250 plumes of gas have been discovered bubbling up from the sea floor to the west of the Svalbard archipelago, which lies north of Norway. The bubbles are mostly methane, which is a greenhouse gas much more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The methane is probably coming from reserves of methane hydrate beneath the sea bed. These hydrates, also known as clathrates, are water ice with methane molecules embedded in them.

The methane plumes were discovered by an expedition aboard the research ship James Clark Ross, led by Graham Westbrook of the University of Birmingham and Tim Minshull of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, both in the UK.

Fortunately, the methane is not making it out of the water — yet.  The gases are absorbed before they get to the surface — but that increases ocean acidity.  If, and when, the methane hits the atmosphere, it will contribute to greenhouse warming of the planet.  This could create a runaway heat effect:  Warmer waters cause hydrates to release methane to the atmosphere, which causes the atmosphere to warm more, faster.

Scientists have not dismissed all other possibilities, but methane hydrate melting is the most likely cause:

Cohen cautions that the Arctic methane may not be from hydrate, but could be coming from the methane’s primary source, which might be deep within the Earth.

If that was the case, the warming of the West Spitsbergen current may not be to blame.

He says that the large amounts of methane being released make this unlikely, however: “If the methane is all primary, it would be an unprecedented amount.” So the idea that the hydrates are at least partly to blame is more plausible. “It’s not definitively proven, but it’s certainly reasonable,” he says.


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