Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Larsen C ice shelf crack getting much larger

Larsen C is the most northern major ice shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula, and the fourth largest Antarctic ice shelf overall. It's “slightly smaller than Scotland.” It’s called an ice “shelf” because the entirety of this country-sized area is covered by 350 metre thick ice that is floating on top of deep ocean waters.

The crack in Larsen C grew around 30 kilometres in length between 2011 and 2015.
The rift had grown another 22 kilometres since it was last observed in March 2016, and has widened to about 350 meters, report researchers. The full length of the rift is now 130 kilometres.

It may be only a matter of time before the loss of an enormous chunk of Larsen C. In the 1980s the Larsen B ice shelf underwent a large iceberg calving event, setting off a series of similar episodes until the whole shelf disappeared.

Researchers have estimated that the loss of all the ice that the Larsen C ice shelf currently holds back would raise global sea levels by 10 centimetres.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Luxury cruise ship sets sail for the Arctic, thanks to climate change - Update

The once forbidding Arctic region, home to polar bears and ice-covered seas, has melted enough that this summer it’s open not only for shipping but high-end tourism. The proof lies in the Crystal Serenity cruise, a luxury tour of the Arctic that promises to carry passengers through the Northwest Passage and across the roof of the world.

The cruise set sail Tuesday from Seward, Alaska, and will dock 32 days later in New York City. Scientists have long predicted this moment, although as recently as last year, a scientific study found the Northwest Passage would remain too unpredictable for regular shipping.
1,700 passengers and crew were expected to be on board the Crystal Serenity, which will transit the Bering Strait and visit Greenland. Tickets for the historic journey started at $22,000.

That price doesn’t include extras that guests can book, such as helicopter rides. Despite the cost, the trip sold out quickly, and the company said a second journey is being planned. The location might be the Arctic, but the Crystal Serenity’s guests aren’t roughing it. The $350 million ship is 820 feet long and has 13 decks and 535 state rooms.
It has a driving range and putting green, a casino, a movie theatre, half a dozen restaurants, multiple pools and a library with thousands of books, games and DVDs. There’s also a spa, fitness centre, hair salon and 24-hour complimentary room service.

More than anything, the cruise is a symbol, a harbinger of the tourism and commercial traffic that is likely to fill the once-isolated waters of the Arctic.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of the Northwest Passage on August 9, 2016. A path of open water can be traced almost the entire distance from the Amundsen Gulf to Baffin Bay, encountering a scattering of broken ice just east of Victoria Island.

The nearly ice free Northwest Passage snaking through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago illustrates the Arctic’s “new normal” as climate change continues to transform the region.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

July hottest month ever seen on Earth

The Earth just had the hottest month in recorded history, and it’s even worse than normal.

The record comes in a run of unprecedentedly hot months. Not only does it break through the all-time record set a year before, it also continues a now 10-month long streak of months that are the hottest ever according to Nasa data. The NOAA calculates temperatures slightly differently and has said that there have been 14 months of record-breaking temperatures. It hasn’t yet released its data for July.
The new results are important “because global temperatures continue to warm even as a record-breaking El Nino event has finally released its grip”, said Kim Cobb. "The scary thing is that we are moving into an era where it will be a surprise when each new month or year isn't one of the hottest on record".

Nasa compares its temperature measurements with a base of 0.5C of global warming already factored in. That meant July was about 1.3C hotter than the pre-industrial average. The large anomaly seen during July 2016 means that the month was the hottest on Earth since instrumental records began in 1880.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Trump calls climate change 'hoax'

CO2 Spiral.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offer Americans starkly different views on global warming: Clinton sees it as an urgent concern, while Trump dismisses it.

The GOP nominee said nothing about climate change in his July 21 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. But he told a rally in South Carolina in December that global warming was "a hoax, a lot of it," a modest change from a tweet in 2013 that called global warming "bullshit." He's debunked climate science even though climate is likely the most thoroughly researched area on record.

The Democratic nominee said in her acceptance speech Thursday, "I believe climate change is real." Clinton said she was proud the U.S. had signed the Paris climate accord.
Temperature Spiral

Clinton's campaign website has more than 30 pages of proposals for fighting climate change. They include installing a half-billion solar panels by the end of her term, and ensuring that every U.S. home is powered by renewable energy within 10 years.

Trump has promised to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. Last week, he was asked if global warming was caused by human activity, as most climate scientists say. "It could have a minor impact," Trump said. "But nothing, nothing to what they're talking about." The Sierra Club issued a paper July 12 saying if Trump is elected, he would be the only world leader who did not believe in the science of climate change.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hottest June on record continues 14-month global heat wave

The first six months of 2016 were the hottest ever recorded, NASA announced on Tuesday, while Arctic sea ice now covers 40% less of the Earth than it did just 30 years ago. Temperatures were on average 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average between January and June this year, compared to the late nineteenth century. In total, the planet has now had 14 consecutive months of the hottest temperatures seen since records began in 1880.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Two Middle East locations hit 54 C this week — world record for heat

The temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait, surged Thursday to a blistering 54 C. And on Friday in Basra, Iraq, the mercury soared to 53.9. If confirmed, these incredible measurements would represent the two hottest temperatures ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere.

It’s also possible that Mitribah’s 54 C reading matches the hottest ever reliably measured anywhere in the world. Both Mitribah and Basra’s readings are likely the highest ever recorded outside of Death Valley, California.

If you discard the Death Valley record from 1913, the 54 C reading from Mitribah Thursday would tie the world’s highest known temperature. Air temperatures of about 38 C combined with astronomical humidity levels have pushed heat index values, which reflect how hot the air feels, literally off the charts. In Fujairah, on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates, the dew point — a measure of humidity — reached 32 C at 4 p.m. local time Thursday. The 90-degree dew point, combined with the air temperature of 36 C, computes to a heat index of over 60 C.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bouncy grass in Siberia hiding dangerous secret - Update

Scientists on a recent recent expedition to Belyy Island in the Kara Sea off the northern coast of Russia, just off the Yamal Peninsula came across dozens of patches of grass with bubbles of carbon dioxide and methane underneath.

It's likely a small sample of things to come as the planet warms. This summer has been unusually hot on the island. It's similar to a phenomenon that grabbed headlines when first detected in Siberia several years ago ... the formation of massive craters in parts of northern Siberia. Experts believe they were caused by explosions of methane that had built up. One such blast on the Taimyr Peninsula in 2013 could be heard 100 km away.
Melting permafrost gives off greenhouse gases such as methane. Vast tracts of permafrost have been frozen for thousands of years, trapping nutrients that are a feast for bacteria when they melt. These bacteria give off methane as a byproduct.

This is a major problem because methane is far more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide ... more than 70 times the short-term warming potential. This is a too real example of a feedback loop that will accelerate warming.
Siberia's blowholes are exploding in numbers: Up to 20 have now been located, raising new fears the warming permafrost is releasing its methane reserves. Expeditions to the bottom of several craters late last year appeared to support speculation that they may have been caused by pockets of defrosted methane gas erupting though the softening surface. Deep lakes of methane-infused “slurry” were found beneath.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

5 Charts

_____________________________________________________________________2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 is certain to be even hotter. It's becoming clear that these warmer weather trends are not arbitrary, but confirmation that climate change is upon us now.

Climate change is becoming a reality — not a problem on the horizon. WeatherDB, a weather data site by Graphiq, breaks down climate change into five charts illustrating three of the major players in the complicated climate change web: temperature, carbon dioxide and water.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Baked Alaska - Heat records shattered across state

Heat records have been shattered this week in Alaska, typically the USA's coldest state. Deadhorse, located near the coast of the Arctic Ocean, skyrocketed to a record 85 degrees Wednesday, the warmest temperature ever recorded in that area.

It was also the state's highest temperature ever measured within 50 miles of the Arctic.
It was 88 degrees in Fairbanks on Wednesday, hotter than New York City's 85 degrees. The heat wave follows a freakishly warm start to the year in Alaska. It was the warmest winter, spring and first six months of the year there, according to NOAA.

So far in 2016, the state's average temperature is 30.4 degrees, some 9 degrees higher than normal.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Global jellyfish population exploding

Jellyfish populations the world over are exploding. More jellyfish are coming and that’s cause for alarm. The undulating, translucent creatures are notorious for their stings, which can be lethal. About 40 people are killed by jellyfish every year, compared to about eight killed by sharks.
Pollution and over-fishing may be the biggest culprits. The fewer fish that swim in the seas, the more food — such as plankton — is left for the jellies.

Overfishing also means that jellyfish have fewer encounters with the ocean-dwelling predators such as salmon.
Jellyfish wreak havoc by choking seawater intake valves and drainpipes, and clogging fishermen’s nets. “Jellies” have even been known to capsize fishing boats.

Researchers examined data and anecdotal evidence going back 60 years. They report that jellyfish populations are on the rise virtually everywhere, most acutely in areas with heavy concentrations of human activity. Coastal Europe and Asia and the Black Sea seem hardest hit.

Humans have little love or use for the creatures, which are sometimes called the “cockroaches of the sea.” Very few of the 2,000 known jellyfish species are considered fit for human consumption.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Toxic Algae Attacking Florida

The putrid algal blooms, which have been described as “guacamole-like”, have plagued the state’s waterways since last month.
A thick and toxic algae has spread throughout the waterways of Florida.
The toxic sludge can cause rashes and respiratory problems in humans, is killing wildlife and dramatically impacting on the area’s tourism industry. The blue green algae blooms — known as cyanobacteria — often form in warmer water when nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, found in fertilizers, pollute the water.
Climate change is also a major contributing factor as the warmer waters create the perfect conditions for the noxious algae.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Clouds Shifting Toward Poles With Climate Change

Over the last three decades, global cloud patterns have changed, and mid-latitude storm tracks--the paths that cyclones travel in the Northern and Southern hemispheres--have been drifting toward our planet's poles, according to a new study published in Nature.

The changes match those predicted by climate model simulations, and they've probably added to global warming that is causing climate change. Those findings are good news for scientists who for years have struggled to model the role of clouds in climate change. According to scientists the movement of clouds toward the polls is "problematic for our future" and makes efforts to slow warming more urgent.
About 70 percent of Earth is covered by clouds at any given moment. Their interaction with climate isn't easy to study.

Climate modelers have to take into account clouds can have two different effects on temperatures. During daytime thick clouds will keep the temperature cooler because clouds reflect incoming sunlight back to space. But thick clouds can also act like a blanket that keeps the Earth's warmth in. Clouds have been called the wild card of climate science. Researchers argue over how exactly global warming will affect clouds and vice versa.

Friday, July 8, 2016

US experiences hottest June ever recorded

June 2016 was the hottest on record for the contiguous United States, scientists from NOAA announced on Thursday.

The average temperature of 71.8 degrees Fahrenheit is 3.3 F (1.83 C) hotter than a typical June. The record was broken with none of the Lower 48 turning in below-average temperatures for the month. NOAA said 17 states in the West, Great Plains and Southeast were well above average, rising the national average temperature to the highest ever recorded for the month of June in the national climate record starting 122 years ago in 1895.
The contiguous U.S. finished the first six months of 2016 at 3.2 degrees above the 20th-century average, and with an average temperature of 50.8 degrees, it was the third-warmest first half to any year on record.

Heat wasn't the only problem in the Lower 48 last month. With an average of 2.47 inches of precipitation, last month was the 14th-driest June on record. The lack of precipitation allowed drought conditions to worsen in parts of the Southeast, Northwest, Northeast and Plains.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Toronto to see the hottest July 5 in almost 20 years

With a daytime high of 34 C, today will mark the hottest July 5 in Toronto since 1999. Humidity is nudging the mercury ever higher.

Overnight lows will be near 20 degrees, providing little relief. A heat warning was issued Monday by Environment Canada, and remains in effect for Toronto, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Mississauga, Markham, Oshawa and Hamilton. The UV index is at 9, which is very high. The rest of the week promises no respite.