Ocean CO2 will accelerate warming

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 April 2011

Global warming of the world’s oceans can return huge stores of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere quicker than previously thought, Australian researchers say.

Air bubbles in an ice core; these bubbles preserve an archive of CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere.

The oceans can take in and hold about 30 percent of human carbon dioxide emissions dissolved in their depths, slowing the rise of global warming somewhat, but as the warming continues the oceans emit CO2 and accelerate the warming, researchers say.

However, while previous studies have suggested it requires between 400 and 1,300 years for this to happen, a new study has reduced that time period significantly, NewScientist.com reported Monday.

“We now think the delay is more like 200 years, possibly even less,” says Tas van Ommen from the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart, who led the study.

Van Ommen and colleagues studied CO2 bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice cores and compared their measurements with records of atmospheric temperatures from the same time period.

When temperature went up carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased, as expected, but the ice core data showed the lag was about 200 years, much shorter than previous studies found, the researchers said.

Climate modeling will need to be done before any speculation on how the results relate to current warming, Van Ommen said.

Source: UPI

Plants release less water as CO2 increases

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 March 2011

As carbon dioxide levels have risen during the last 150 years, the density of pores that allow plants to breathe has dwindled by 34 percent, restricting the amount of water vapor the plants release to the atmosphere, report scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and Utrecht University in the Netherlands in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].

The shade of an oak tree may not be as cool of a respite as it used to be

In a separate paper, also to be published by PNAS, many of the same scientists describe a model they devised that predicts doubling today’s carbon dioxide levels will dramatically reduce the amount of water released by plants.

The scientists gathered their data from a diversity of plant species in Florida, including living individuals as well as samples extracted from herbarium collections and peat formations 100 to 150 years old.

“The increase in carbon dioxide by about 100 parts per million has had a profound effect on the number of stomata and, to a lesser extent, the size of the stomata,” said Research Scientist in Biology and Professor Emeritus in Geology David Dilcher, the two papers’ sole American coauthor. “Our analysis of that structural change shows there’s been a huge reduction in the release of water to the atmosphere.” Continue reading

Ross Ice Shelf drilling programme to resume

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 03 October 2010

ANDRILL site

The programme, known as ANDRILL, aims to give more information about climate change.

It is funded by the US National Science Foundation with support from the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science & Technology.

A joint team will use hot water drills to melt through 250 metres of ice to take samples from the ice, the sea beneath it, and the rocks beneath the seabed.

Earlier ANDRILL expeditions melted through 80 metres of ice.

Team leader Frank Rack says the new mission aims to go back 40 million years, to record the transition from an ice-free Antarctica to the creation of the ice sheet.

This will allow scientists to look at a warmer interval on Earth, with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, to get an idea of what higher levels might do in future.

Source: Radio New Zealand

Efforts to protect ozone layer successful

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 17 September 2010

International efforts to protect the ozone layer-the shield that protects life on Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays-are a success and have stopped additional ozone losses and contributed to mitigating the greenhouse effect, according to a new report.

The "hole" is actually a depletion of ozone concentrations in the stratosphere.

The executive summary of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2010 provides new information about the effects of climate change on the ozone layer, as well as the impact of ozone changes on the Earth’s climate.

The report was written and reviewed by some 300 scientists and launched on the UN International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. It is the first comprehensive update in four years.

The report reaffirms that the Montreal Protocol is working. “It has protected the stratospheric ozone layer from much higher levels of depletion by phasing out production and consumption of ozone depleting substances.”

Given that many substances that deplete the ozone layer are also potent greenhouse gases, the report says that the Montreal Protocol has “provided substantial co-benefits by reducing climate change.” In 2010, the reduction of ozone depleting substances as a result of the Montreal Protocol, expressed in CO2-equivalent emissions (about 10 Gigatonnes per year), were five times larger than those targeted by the first commitment period (2008-2012) of the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse emissions reduction treaty.

The report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that an important remaining scientific challenge is to project future ozone abundance based on an understanding of the complex linkages between ozone and climate change.

Changes in climate are expected to have an increasing influence on stratospheric ozone in the coming decades, it says. “These changes derive principally from the emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, associated with human activities.”

Source: UNEP

Arctic faces growing threat of acidification

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 July 2010

The icy Arctic waters around Norway’s archipelago of Svalbard may seem pristine and clear, but like the rest of the world’s oceans, they are facing the threat of growing acidity.

The European Centre for Arctic Environmental Research in Ny-Ålesund

Oceans have always absorbed part of the carbon dioxide, or CO2, present in the air, which in turn makes them acid. But with CO2 levels soaring, the scientific community is getting worried about acidification harming marine life.

Off the coast of Ny-Aalesund, a tiny coalmine village turned scientific outpost just 1 200km from the North Pole, researchers from nine European countries conducted in July an unprecedented effort to analyse the phenomenon.

To do so, they submerged nine tubes, each weighing two tonnes and the height of two double-decker busses, in the icy waters of the remote fjord framed by snow-capped mountains.

They then injected the watertight tubes, called mesocosms, with CO2, to reproduce sea life under different acidity levels expected from now until 2150 with the aim of studying the potentially disastrous effects of acidification on marine life.

“It’s here in the Arctic that the ocean will become corrosive the fastest,” Jean-Pierre Gattuso, with France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, said, explaining why the researchers chose to turn these waters thick with icy slush into a laboratory. Continue reading