Climate Change is Real

Thanks to extensive research and noticeable changes in weather and storm prevalence, it’s getting harder to turn a blind eye to the reality of climate change. Since the Industrial Age spurred the increasing usage of fossil fuels for energy production, the weather has been warming slowly. In fact, since 1880, the temperature of the earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius.

climate_changeAlthough 72% of media outlets report on global warming with a skeptical air, the overwhelming majority of scientists believe that the extreme weather of the last decade is at least partially caused by global warming. Some examples of climate calamities caused partly by global warming include:

  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Drought in desert countries
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • Tornadoes in the Midwest

These storms, droughts, and floods are causing death and economic issues for people all over the world – many of whom cannot afford to rebuild their lives from the ground up after being wiped out by a tsunami or other disaster.

Evidence also indicates that the face of the Earth is changing because of warming trends. The ice caps of the Arctic are noticeably shrinking, the ice cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro alone has shrunk by 85% in the last hundred years, and the sea levels are rising at the rate of about 3 millimeters per year because of all the melting ice. Climate change is also affecting wildlife – for instance, Arctic polar bears are at risk of losing their environment; the Golden Toad has gone extinct; and the most adaptable species are evolving into new versions capable of withstanding warmer water.

Despite some naysayers with alternative theories about why global temperatures are rising – including the idea that the earth goes through natural temperature cycles every few millennia – the dramatic changes in the earth’s atmospheric makeup suggests humans are to blame. In fact, 97% of scientists agree humans are responsible for climate change. Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels increased 38% because of humans, methane levels have increased 148%, nitrous oxide is up 15% – and the list goes on and on, all because of human-instigated production, manufacturing, and organizations and individuals work hard to promote an Earth-friendly existence, resistance to change is rampant and actions are slow. For instance, while the US Environmental Protection Agency is still working on collecting data to support development of greenhouse gas reduction expectations for businesses, most of their efforts feel more like pre-research than actual change. Other countries have made efforts – such as signing to Kyoto Protocol to reduce their 1990 emission levels by 18% by 2020 – but the only solution will require the whole world band together.

Steps anyone can take to reduce global warming include:

  • Driving a car with good gas mileage, or investing in a hybrid or electric car
  • Switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED
  • Insulating your home and stocking it with energy efficient appliances
  • Recycling
  • Using green power available in your area

Check out the infographic here to see what else the changing climate is affecting http://www.learnstuff.com/climate-change/

Huge tongue of ice breaks off glacier

A massive iceberg twice the size of Manhattan has broken off of a glacier in Greenland, according to NASA satellite imagery, in what could be the latest indication of global warming.

The Petermann Glacier begins to grind and slide toward the sea, terminating in a giant floating ice tongue. Image: Nasa / Reuters

The images released Wednesday show the massive chunk of ice breaking off of the Petermann Glacier on the north-western coast of Greenland. The glacier produced a similar ice island twice as large in 2010.

NASA said the crack in the glacier had been visible since 2001, and that its polar-orbiting Aqua satellite had observed the break on July 16-17.

Oceanographer Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware said that while the icebergs seem large, most of the glacial melting takes place 600 meters (1,800 feet) below the surface, where the glacier meets bedrock and the ocean water is much warmer than at the surface.

“The dominant mass loss is via ocean melting from below. This dominant process is not visible, it is not possible to capture it with eye-catching images,” he wrote on his blog at icyseas.org.

“Furthermore, and this appears counter-intuitive, the loss of area will have little direct effect on the ocean melting, because the 100-150 (-meter) thick floating ice shelf is bathed in ocean water near the freezing point.”

Muenchow said the Atlantic waters melting the glacier appear to be warming, but that records only go back to 2003.

“Some changes are dramatically visible, such as the discharge of large ice islands,” he wrote. “Some changes, perhaps more important, are not.”

– Sapa

Sea water getting saltier

The water cycle is the worldwide phenomenon of rainwater falling to the surface, evaporating back into the air and falling again as rain.

Fresh water is getting fresher and saltwater saltier

The wetter parts of the world are getting wetter and the drier parts drier. The researchers know this because the saltier parts of the ocean are getting saltier and the fresher parts, fresher.

Records showed that the saltier parts of the ocean increased salinity — or their salt content — by 4 percent in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000. If the climate warms by an additional 2 or 3 degrees, the researchers project that the water cycle will turn over more quickly, intensifying by almost 25 percent.

Reporting in Science magazine, the researchers said the results of the change in climate would affect agriculture and the ability of drier areas to capture and use fresh water from rain, creating serious problems, including droughts and floods. But they had to look offshore to find their data.

“The oceans are really where the action is happening,” said Paul Durack, the lead author.

The study uses 50 years of data — from 1950-2000 — gathered by instruments, some adrift on the ocean currents, some tethered in place. Some of the instruments are tiers of bottles that open at various depths as they are lowered into the sea, and they take measurements as far down as 9,000 feet. Continue reading

Humans most likely to have caused extreme weather

Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were “very likely” caused by manmade global warming, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change said on Sunday.

The high amount of extremes is not normal

Scientists at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear.

“It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming,” said the study.

The past decade was probably the warmest globally for at least a millennium. Last year was the eleventh hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organization said on Friday.

Extreme weather events were devastating in their impacts and affected nearly all regions of the globe.

They included severe floods and record hot summers in Europe; a record number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic in 2005; the hottest Russian summer since 1500 in 2010 and the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history.

Last year alone, the United States suffered 14 weather events which caused losses of over $1 billion each. Continue reading

Missing energy is buried in the ocean

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 Sep 2011

Earth’s deep oceans may absorb enough heat at times to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade–even in the midst of longer-term warming. This according to a new analysis led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Excess energy entering the climate system due to greenhouse gas increases may not be immediately realized as warmer surface temperatures, as it can go into the deep ocean instead

The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend.

The findings also suggest that several more intervals like this can be expected over the next century, even as the trend toward overall warming continues.

“We will see global warming go through hiatus periods in the future,” says NCAR’s Gerald Meehl, lead author of the study.

“However, these periods would likely last only about a decade or so, and warming would then resume. This study illustrates one reason why global temperatures do not simply rise in a straight line.”

The research, by scientists at NCAR and the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia, was published online Sunday in Nature Climate Change.

Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NCAR’s sponsor.

“The research shows that the natural variability of the climate system can produce periods of a decade or more in which Earth’s temperature does not rise, despite an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations,” says Eric DeWeaver, program director in NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. Continue reading