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.