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Posts Tagged sea ice

NZCCC 2013: Jim Renwick on Antarctic sea ice, SAM and ozone Gareth Renowden Jun 11

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Here’s the final interview I recorded at last week’s NZ Climate Change Conference in Palmerston North: VUW’s Dr Jim Renwick1 talking about the complex relationship between the southern annular mode — a north-south movement of the westerly winds that blow around Antarctica — sea ice growth and the ozone hole. It’s interesting stuff, not least because SAM has a significant impact on NZ weather and climate, and how it might change in the future is a very big factor in projecting southern hemisphere climates in a warmer world. The abstract of his conference presentation, Antarctic sea ice, the SAM, and the future of the ozone hole, is here.

  1. Apologies to Jim for inadvertently using the British pronunciation of his surname in the introduction. I’m told that my usage is a reliable indicator of a migrant from the UK…

Arctic records tumble as ice melts: 2012 Arctic report card released at AGU Gareth Renowden Dec 06

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The latest Arctic Report Card was published yesterday at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco, and it makes grim reading. Apart from last summer’s new record low sea ice minimum, all the indicators of warming are pointing in the wrong direction. The Arctic is making a rapid transition to a new climate state. Highlights of the report (from the press release):

  • Snow cover: A new record low snow extent for the Northern Hemisphere was set in June 2012, and a new record low was reached in May over Eurasia.
  • Sea ice: Minimum Arctic sea ice extent in September 2012 set a new all-time record low.
  • Greenland ice sheet: There was a rare, nearly ice sheet-wide melt event on the Greenland ice sheet in July, covering about 97 percent of the ice sheet on a single day.
  • Vegetation: The tundra is getting greener and there’s more above-ground growth. During the period of 2003-2010, the length of the growing season increased through much of the Arctic.
  • Wildlife & food chain: In northernmost Europe, the Arctic fox is close to extinction and vulnerable to the encroaching Red fox. Massive phytoplankton blooms below the summer sea ice suggest that earlier estimates of biological production at the bottom of the marine food chain may have been ten times lower than was occurring.
  • Ocean: Sea surface temperatures in summer continue to be warmer than the long-term average at the growing ice-free margins, while upper ocean temperature and salinity show significant interannual variability with no clear trends.
  • Weather: Most of the notable weather activity in fall and winter occurred in the sub-Arctic due to a strong positive North Atlantic Oscillation, expressed as the atmospheric pressure difference between weather stations in the Azores and Iceland. There were three extreme weather events including an unusual cold spell in late January to early February 2012 across Eurasia, and two record storms characterized by very low central pressures and strong winds near western Alaska in November 2011 and north of Alaska in August 2012.

It’s well worth digging down beyond the executive summary to look at the individual reports for key elements in the Arctic — there’s a lot of detail to digest, all of it fascinating, much of it sobering, if not downright scary. This is rapid climate change, happening now. I wonder if anyone in Doha will notice?

The Climate Show #25: Box on ice (a polar special) Gareth Renowden Mar 23

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As the northern hemisphere starts to warm (rather rapidly in the USA), climate watchers’ thoughts turn to melting ice, and to tell us what happened last year and what might be in store this summer, Glenn and Gareth welcome back Greenland expert Jason Box from the Byrd Polar research Centre at Ohio State University. It’s a wide ranging and fascinating discussion, not to be missed. John Cook looks at the differences between sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, and we have news coverage of the new HadCRUT4 global temperature series, summertime in winter in the USA, worrying news about sea level from the Pliocene, a new report on climate change in the Pacific, and new developments in solar power and biofuels.

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The Climate Show

News & commentary: [0:03:30]

Hadley Centre publishes updated global temp series, includes Arctic for first time, shows 2010 was hottest year – formerly 1998.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17432194

Astounding US winter ’heatwave’ continues: Joe Romm at Climate Progress

From Jeff Masters on the day we were recording (21/3/12): http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2056

International Falls, Minnesota hit 78°F yesterday, 42° above average, and the 2nd hottest March temperature on record in the Nation’s Icebox. The record of 79°F was set the previous day. Remarkably, the low temperature for International Falls bottomed out at 60°F yesterday, tying the previous record high for the date. I’ve never seen a station with a century-long data record have its low temperature for the date match the previous record high for the date. Yesterday was the seventh consecutive day that International Falls broke or tied a daily record. That is spectacularly hard to do for a station with a century-long weather record. The longest string of consecutive records being broken I’m aware of is nine days in a row, set June 2 – 10, 1911 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with weather records going back to 1905.) International Falls has a good chance of surpassing nine consecutive records this week.

Fox News:

“6th, 7th Consecutive Days of Record-Warmth Likely Updated: Monday, 19 Mar 2012, 12:37 PM CDT Published : Monday, 19 Mar 2012, 7:38 AM CDT Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago – In what meteorologists are calling a ’historic and unprecedented’ streak, the Chicago area should hit the sixth day in a row of record warm temperatures on Monday, even on the last day of winter.”

Global Sea Level Likely to Rise as Much as 70 Feet for Future Generations

Even if humankind manages to limit global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends, future generations will have to deal with sea levels 12 to 22 meters (40 to 70 feet) higher than at present, according to research published in the journal Geology.

Climate change and the future of our Pacific neighbours

…until recently there has been limited reliable detailed scientific information available to [Pacific Island] countries. A major new report recently released by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO is helping to fill this gap. It provides the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date of climate change in the Pacific region.
The 530 page, two-volume scientific report called ’Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research’ shows clear evidence of how the climate in the Pacific has changed and may change in the future.

Entire nation of Kiribati to be relocated over rising sea level threat

Interview [0:22:30]

Jason Box, Assoc. Professor in the Department of Geography, Byrd Polar Research Center,
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

NASA MODIS Arctic mosaic

Arctic Report Card, highlights

  • Arctic average surface air temperature remained high in 2011, ~1.5 C above the 1981-2000 baseline
  • shift in the Arctic [Ocean] system since 2006
  • persistent decline in the thickness and extent of the summer sea ice cover, and a warmer, fresher upper ocean.
  • As a result of increased open water area, biological productivity at the base of the marine food chain has increased
  • sea ice-dependent marine mammals continue to lose habitat.
  • increases in the greenness of tundra vegetation
  • increases in permafrost temperature
  • more downward sensible heat and positive albedo feedback, reduced sea ice
  • loss of habit for walrus and polar bears.
  • less duration of solid platform for seal to ‘pup’
  • Possibly linked to recent changes in wind patterns, ozone concentrations in the Arctic stratosphere during March 2011 were the lowest ever recorded during the period beginning in 1979.
  • Higher temperatures in the Arctic and unusually lower temperatures in some low latitude regions are linked to global shifts in atmospheric wind patterns.

Links to ’Weird Weather’

  • While oceanic and atmospheric patterns such as El Niño, La Niña, and the North Atlantic Oscillation have been blamed for the spate of unusual weather recently, there’s now a new culprit in the wind: Arctic amplification…
  • new Arctic amplification (enhanced Arctic warming relative to that in mid-latitudes) news from: Francis and Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000
  • a slower eastward progression of Rossby waves in the upper-level flow
    1) weakened zonal winds,
    2) increased wave amplitude.
    may cause more persistent weather patterns in mid-latitude

Greenland

A persistent and strong negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index was responsible for southerly air flow along the west of Greenland, which caused anomalously warm weather in winter 2010-11 and summer 2011.

Albedo feedback…

  • Greenland ice sheet mass loss has accelerated in the past decade responding to combined glacier discharge and surface melt water runoff increases.
  • During summer, absorbed solar energy, modulated at the surface primarily by albedo, is the dominant factor governing surface melt variability in the ablation area.
  • Using satellite observations of albedo and melt extent with calibrated regional climate model output, we determine the spatial dependence and quantitative impact of the ice sheet albedo feedback in twelve summer periods beginning in 2000.
  • We find that while the albedo feedback is negative over 70 % of the ice sheet, concentrated in the accumulation area above 1500 m, positive feedback prevailing over the ablation area accounts for more than half of the overall increase in melting.
  • Over the ablation area, year 2010 and 2011 absorbed solar energy was more than twice as large as in years 2000—2004.
  • Anomalous anticyclonic circulation, associated with a persistent summer North Atlantic Oscillation extreme since 2007 enabled three amplifying mechanisms to maximize the albedo feedback:
  • (1) increased warm (south) air advection along the western ice sheet increased surface sensible heating that in turn enhanced snow grain metamorphic rates, further reducing albedo;
  • (2) increased surface downward solar irradiance, leading to more surface heating and further albedo reduction; and
  • (3) reduced snowfall rates sustained low albedo, maximizing surface solar heating, progressively lowering albedo over multiple years.
  • The summer net radiation for the high elevation accumulation area approached positive values during this period.
  • while negative feedback has been reducing impact of warming, the surface radiation budget has gotten more positive, seems a threshold is about to be crossed! All what is needed more is another decadal trend increase like the last decade, THIS IS LIKELY! It is reasonable to predict that we will observe mid summer (mid July) melting over 100% of the ice sheet surface. Max melt extent was ~65% in 2010.
  • The area and duration of melting at the surface of the ice sheet in summer 2011 were the third highest since 1979.
  • The area of marine-terminating glaciers continued to decrease, though at less than half the rate of the previous 10 years.
  • In situ measurements revealed near record-setting mass losses concentrated at higher elevations on the western slope of the ice sheet, and at an isolated glacier in southeastern Greenland.
  • Total ice sheet mass loss in 2011 was 70% larger than the 2003-09 average annual loss rate of -250 Gt y-1. According to satellite gravity data obtained since 2002, ice sheet mass loss is accelerating.

Summer plans

  • ’holistic’ glacier study, Store Glacier, 70 N W Greenland…the idea is to observe the system not just make and analyze this or that measurement
  • in-situ crevasse widening measurements x 2
  • water filled crevasse depth measurements x 2
  • continuous GPS x 3
  • seismometers x 3
  • time lapse cameras
  • tide gauge
  • tidal modulation of flow dynamics
  • calving tsunamis
  • hydrophones
  • multi-beam swath sonar repeat survey of sub marine glacier front
  • hydrographic surveying (temperature, salinity, current; vs depth)
  • heat and water mass budget
  • acoustic doppler current profiler
  • aircraft and satellite remote sensing data

Debunking the sceptic [1:01:50]

John Cook from skepticalscience.com talks about Antarctic sea ice:

http://sks.to/antarctica

Solutions [1:17:00]

Waikato’s plan to harvest sunlight

Pretty pictures from National Geographic: solar thermal stations in Spain.

Electric Jeepneys to reduce pollution in Philippines.

NZ’s LanzaTech picked as one of world’s leading energy innovators

http://www.lanzatech.co.nz/content/lanzatech-process

Thanks to our media partners: Idealog Sustain, Sciblogs, Scoop and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

This edition of The Climate Show is our entry in TckTckTck‘s Rio Blogger competition. Wish us luck!

Early Warming Bryan Walker Jan 05

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Nancy Lord is a writer who has spent her adult life in Alaska. In her new book, Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North, she tells the stories of people and places and natural environments on whom climate change is impacting in her part of the world. She is climate science savvy, understanding why ’in the north we live with disappearing sea ice, melting glaciers, thawing permafrost, drying wetlands, dying trees and changing landscapes, unusual animal sightings, and strange weather events’.

The science is woven into a narrative of her visits to people living in the midst of the change, some of them tracking the changes, some facing the challenge of re-shaping their lives to adapt to what is happening. Always the landscape figures strongly as the writer communicates a lively sense of place, whether in the wild or in the crumbling coastal villages where the people wonder what the uncertain future holds for their communities.

In her own region of the Kenai Peninsula a crucial question is what the rising temperatures in the streams mean for the survival of the salmon which are such an important part of the local economy. Salmon are adaptive, but the changes to both freshwater and marine conditions are happening so rapidly and on such scale that the possibility of fishery collapse looms. Lord spends time with a stream ecologist measuring rises in stream temperatures and incidentally noticing the vast damage done to spruce forests by the spruce bark beetles which have flourished under the warming temperatures. Kenai wetlands generally are drying. Areas once dominated by herbaceous plants have been converting to shrub land, an invasion unique in the last eighteen thousand years and accelerating.

Lord travels into the remote Mackenzie Mountains of Canada’s Northwest Territories to look at the boreal forest region, that massive wilderness storehouse of carbon that circles the Northern Hemisphere. A ten day raft and canoe trip down the Mountain River led her party to the Mackenzie River Valley. Some promising conservation efforts are slowly moving ahead, but the development with which it is being ’balanced’, particularly in the form of an eight-hundred-mile-long pipeline to carry natural gas from Arctic gas fields to Alberta, moves more quickly. The irony of such a balance, which reminded me of the New Zealand government’s rhetoric, is difficult to miss. However the indigenous population who are urging conservation first seemingly also hope to share in the profits which will accrue from the pipeline.   In this section of the book Lord focuses as well on the permafrost and the huge amount, including that in the Mackenzie River Valley, which is now within two degrees Fahrenheit of thawing, with all the potential release of carbon that represents.

’O Canada, I thought with trepidation. Can your few people stand up to the power of corporations and the lure of economic development?’

Sea ice and the bears whose habitat it provides is the subject of another section of the book, when Lord spends a week with teacher friends in Kaktovik village on Barter Island in the Beaufort Sea. It was winter, but there was sufficient light for a three hour walk along the beach before early afternoon dusk.  The coastal erosion was obvious. It’s always a factor along this coast, but Lord points out how the warming climate exacerbates it in two ways: thawing permafrost loosens the earth and the loss of sea ice leaves coastline open to sea action, especially storms. She dwells on the frightening implications of the acceleration of sea ice summer melt, remarking that white sea ice reflects about 80 percent of the sun’s heat whereas blue water absorbs about 90 percent.  She  patiently explains the effects on the polar bear population for which the village is famous. The 300 Inupiat who inhabit the village are threatened by the washing away of the land. Lord reflects on the young people of the school she had spoken with:

’They may see within their lifetimes physical changes that, in earlier eras, took place over thousands of years. All of them will have to decide how, and where, and for what, they’ll live.’

The Alaskan village most famous as a victim of climate change is Shishmaref, and Lord records a visit during which she was taken to Tin Creek, the preferred mainland location for a new site for the island village under severe siege from the sea.  But possible relocation is a long tedious business, and the conclusion is by no means assured. The cost is great and the impediments many. And Shishmaref is only one of six villages on the ’immediate action’ list. For that matter the vast majority of the 213 villages in Alaska are seriously affected by erosion and flooding. It’s not hard to believe the US will avoid the issue and simply wait for the villagers to finally disperse when the anxieties and strains become too great, surrendering their community bonds and culture. Lord records that she was often asked direct questions when she met villagers, such as ’What do you think of us?’ She interprets them as in part an expression of pride but also in part a show of insecurity: Do we matter? Are we important enough to save?  Is anyone going to help?

Finally the book turns to the oceanic realm, specifically the Bering Sea. It sketches a complex picture. Fishing management in the face of pressure to allow bottom trawling is demanding enough but it assumes added complexity from the changes in sea ice cover and the movement of species as the region warms and a primarily cold Arctic ecosystem changes rapidly to sub-Arctic conditions. Lord movingly records a gathering of tribal elders to share their perspectives and local knowledge with field scientists. She also reminds readers that the climate change threats becoming apparent in the Bering Sea’s rich ecosystem extend in a variety of ways to the oceans which cover three quarters of the earth and house 90 percent of the planet’s biomass. The effects of ocean acidification, on track by the century’s end to be at a level last seen more than 20 million years ago, are highlighted in her descriptions of  the work of scientists measuring the pH of Alaskan seawater, ’already low enough to be corrosive to shell building’. One of the scientists declares:

’Alaska will be ground zero for ocean acidification, just as it is for climate change.’

There is no hype in Lord’s book. The many human stories which it touches on are respectful of the capacity of the people involved to respond to the challenges that face them. The threats to whole eco-systems are described in restrained terms. The book takes pleasure in the landscapes and peoples of the north. But there is no mistaking the magnitude of the changes that are upon them, or the ever-growing threat from the fossil fuels that continue to be tapped even in a region so gravely threatened by their exploitation. Alaska’s congressional representative dismisses global warming as a myth and champions the production of fossil fuels.

Against the bluster of denial, Nancy Lord’s sane, educated and humane writing chronicles the reality that is already upon us in a key region of the planet.

[Support Hot Topic by purchasing this book (or any book) through our affiliates: The Book Depository (UK, free shipping worldwide), Fishpond (NZ) and Amazon.com.]

Shapes of things (2012 and all that) Gareth Renowden Dec 29

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‘Tis the silly season, time for journalists with little real news to report to reflect on the year past and make predictions for the year to come. I don’t normally play that game because there are too many interesting things to write about on the climate beat, but this year I’m going to make an exception. Glenn “Climate Show” Williams persuaded me to have a chat with him on his summer Radio Live show — and yes, we did cover the last year, and the prospects for 2012. The audio’s available to stream for the next week from the Radio Live site (select Dec 28th, then the 1-15pm segment — my bit starts after about 5 minutes). You may regard this post as an expanded version of my comments there (and a bit of recap on the last Climate Show of the year).

So: 2011 was the year of extremes, beyond any shadow of doubt. Wherever you looked around the world, there were record-breaking floods, heatwaves and hugely damaging extreme weather events. The USA alone had 14 separate extreme weather events with billion dollar plus damage bills (NOAA puts it at 12 with 2 more to finalise, the World Meteorological Organisation plumps for 14). The year broke no records for global average temperature — 2011 will probably end up as the 10th or 11th warmest year in the long term record — but it will be the warmest ever La Niña year. Here’s a WMO graph to illustrate the point:

2011LaNina

The prospects for 2012 depend in large part on what happens to the El Niño Southern Oscillation this year. Will the current La Niña hang around for another year, decay to neutral conditions, or swing round to an El Niño? The odds, according to NOAA’s Klaus Wolters (on Dec 7th) are interesting:

Based on current atmosphere-ocean conditions, I believe the odds for this La Niña event to continue right through early spring (March-April 2012) are higher than 50%. Beyond that, it is worth noting that of the ten two-year La Niña events between 1900 and 2009, four ended up as a three-year event, so I would put the odds for this to occur in 2012-13 at 40% right now. Interestingly, the other six all switched to El Niño, leaving no ENSO-neutral case. Will be interesting to see how 2012 evolves.

It will indeed. A return to El Niño conditions in the first half of 2012 would boost global average temperatures, and that, coupled with the currently active phase of the 11 year solar cycle, might be enough to push 2012 above 2010 and 2005 for a new record. But more importantly, a return to El Niño would also change the patterns of weather around the world, and with them change the places that experience record extremes. Exactly how this will play out is impossible to predict, because the timing of a move out of La Niña conditions is difficult to forecast, and because the nature of El Niño’s impacts on weather patterns around there planet depend on the season (see Wikipedia, NOAA and NIWA for more).

So what do am I looking out for in 2012?

  • More extreme weather events, with a pattern shift if ENSO changes phase.
  • Possible new global temperature record, if El Niño arrives early enough in the year.
  • Continued Arctic sea ice melt (in both volume and area), with a possibility1 of a new record minimum in September.
  • Lots of fine words at the Rio +20 conference in June, but little concrete action. Ditto for COP 18 in Qatar in December.
  • At least one nasty surprise emerging from current research. I hope it isn’t East Siberian seabed methane, but we’ll know more when the papers describing the 2011 Arctic research season are published.

And a very happy new year for all Hot Topic readers…

[Update 31/12: Jeff Masters' end of year review counts "32 weather disasters costing at least $1 billion worldwide. Five nations experienced their most expensive weather-related natural disasters on record during 2011--Thailand, Australia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia." The year of extremes, indeed...]

  1. No I’m not betting, but greater than 50% chance, I’d say, because at some point volume reductions have to show up in extent/area numbers.

The Climate Show #21: carbon, coal and Cook on BEST Gareth Renowden Nov 10

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Bad news on carbon emissions balanced by good news on solar photovoltaics, a Medicane bringing dramatic flash flooding to Italy and France, a scientist who thinks the Arctic could be effectively ice free in late summer in only four years, and the inside story on what the New Zealand election might mean for climate policy down under. John Cook joins us to talk about the new BEST temperature record (great gifs, Dana!), and in the solutions section Gareth and Glenn talk about solar powered airships, China’s plans to ban incandescent light bulbs, and a continent spanning €400bn solar thermal power plan for North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. All this and more as The Climate Show comes of age with its 21st show…

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold…

Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.

The Climate Show

News & commentary: [0:04:50]

Record carbon emissions

Levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago: The Guardian.

Chinese economic miracle fuels surge in carbon emissions – greenhouse gas output hits record high as China overtakes US to become world’s biggest polluter: The Independent.

Global carbon intensity on the rise for first time in a decade, and PwC Report here.

The Triumph of King Coal: Hardening Our Coal Addiction by Fred Pearce.

Still raining…

More on floods in Italy and France (not forgetting Thailand and Cambodia).

Six killed in Genoa: 356 mm of rain in 12 hours — Daily Telegraph, and photos from the Telegraph and the BBC.

Rare storm with tropical features forms in Mediterranean: Jeff Masters

Bering Sea storm, aka the snowicane: Jeff Masters and the Alaska Daily News.

Arctic forecast: Peter Wadhams thinks there’s a good chance the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2015:

“It is really showing the fall-off in ice volume is so fast that it is going to bring us to zero very quickly. 2015 is a very serious prediction and I think I am pretty much persuaded that that’s when it will happen.”

[0:24:00]It’s election time in New Zealand:

Three years of “very serious” climate policy failure.

NATIONAL: From The Listener‘s excellent election blog:

The National party’s climate change policy, which is being released today in Nelson by the prime minister, has appeared. The important bit is this, from Key’s statement: ’We intend to slow the phasing in of the emissions trading scheme from 2013 to 2015, at which point we will look to align our scheme with that adopted by Australia. Any change to our emissions trading scheme will be fiscally neutral.’ Fiscally neutral, maybe, but not environmentally neutral. The door to a teal deal creaks closer to shutting.

Policy PDF.

LABOUR TV 3 News: The Labour Party will not allow Solid Energy to mine for liquid fuels in Southland because of the increase to greenhouse gas emissions, it has been announced today.
Full Labour climate policy here.

GREEN PARTY climate policy here.

Debunking the skeptic, John Cook from skepticalscience.com [0:38:40]

The BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) of times…

“I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong’
Anthony Watts, March 2011

DENIAL STAGE 1: ’IT’S NOT HAPPENING’

’I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be reworked….it appears they have circumvented the scientific process in favor of PR.’
Anthony Watts, October 2011

DENIAL STAGE 2: ’IT’S HAPPENING BUT IT’S NOT US’

“All sceptics believe in “global warming” (depending on what time scale you use); what they doubt to various degrees is the “man made” element.”
James Delingpole

DENIAL STAGE 3: BACK TO ’IT’S NOT HAPPENING’

Daily Mail showed cooling from BEST data (animated GIF):

Animated GIF of cooling trends throughout warming period:

http://sks.to/best

Australia joins the grown-ups.

Solutions [00:58:30]

China phasing out incandescent light bulbs

Paul Krugman in the NY Times: Here comes the sun. See also Bryan Walker’s post at Hot Topic: Let The Sun Shine In.

Desertec: how green energy could power Europe, north Africa and the Middle East – The Guardian, and Ecogeek.

Solar Ship Is Half Airship and Half Flying Wing.

Cloud computing can cut corporate carbon emissions.

Thanks to our media partners: Idealog Sustain, SciblogsScoop and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

No Penguin Café when the ice melts Bryan Walker Jun 30

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At Yale Environment 360 Fen Montaigne provides a fascinating, if disturbing, report on the findings of scientists working on the effects of sea ice retreat on the polar marine food chain. Montaigne is the author of the book Fraser’s Penguins which I reviewed earlier this year and of an earlier article at Yale Environment about the melting at the periphery of the Antarctic ice dome discussed here.

This is how it has been in the Antarctic Peninsula for a very long time:

’Marine algae, or phytoplankton, trapped in the ice and floating in the water column have burst into life as the sun catalyzes the photosynthetic process. In addition, melting freshwater from the sea ice formed a buoyant cap atop the heavier salt water, trapping the algae in the upper layer of the ocean, where it was exposed to the sun’s rays and bloomed.

’These seasonal phytoplankton blooms have fed the entire food web around Antarctica: shrimp-like krill and fish ate the phytoplankton, and virtually everything else – from Adélie penguins to humpback whales – ate the krill, which are part of the crustacean family.’

It has changed in recent decades. Due to warming, sea ice now blankets the Southern Ocean off the western Antarctic Peninsula nearly three fewer months a year than 30 years ago. Martin Montes-Hugo, an oceanographer and remote sensing expert at the University of Quebec who has studied the impact of sea ice declines on the marine food web along the western Antarctic Peninsula, observes that over the last three decades phytoplankton production declined by nearly 90 percent in the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula. He puts the decline down to the shorter duration of the sea ice season.

’Less sea ice has meant two things. First, it has reduced the size of the freshwater layer that kept phytoplankton trapped in the upper layer of the Southern Ocean, where they bloomed when exposed to sunlight. Second, the region’s nearly three-month decline in sea ice duration means that the ocean’s surface is more exposed to winds, which stir up the water and mix the upper layers with lower layers. The upshot is that phytoplankton blooms have been sharply reduced as the algae are driven deeper into the water column, where they are not exposed to the bloom-producing energy of the sun.’

The decline in phytoplankton is believed to be a major reason for a regional decrease in Antarctic krill. And that loss of krill, coupled with the shrinking of the sea-ice that Adélies use as a feeding platform in winter, is a major reason why Adélie penguin populations in the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula have plummeted by more than 80 percent in the last 35 years.

It’s a different story further south where the waters off the Antarctic Peninsula were covered in extensive sea ice nearly year-round, inhibiting phytoplankton growth. But as the region has warmed and sea ice has retreated, the growing expanses of open water have actually led to an increase in phytoplankton production of more than 60 percent, which may well boost production of krill and the creatures that feed upon them.

There are other complications. Montaigne reports another researcher in the area, Hugh Ducklow, a biological oceanographer from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. He and his colleagues are observing another important change related to the loss of sea ice. Antarctica has long been characterized by a relatively simple marine ecosystem with few links in the food chain, which is dominated by large species at every level. A large type of phytoplankton, called diatoms, has prevailed, as has the large Antarctic krill.

’Now, however, Ducklow said that smaller phytoplankton – which Antarctic krill do not customarily eat – are becoming more prevalent, which he says is related to rising water temperatures and changes in ocean stratification. In addition, researchers in the region are finding that Antarctic krill are beginning to be replaced by a creature known as a salp – a clear, barrel-shaped, jellyfish-like tunicate that is 99 percent water and therefore has little nutritional value. These developments, said Ducklow, could bode ill for the penguins, seals, and whales so dependent on Antarctic krill.’

Montaigne provides summary quotes from the two experts:

Ducklow: ’This indicates fundamental changes in the food chain as a result of the loss of sea ice.’

Montes-Hugo: ’There is definitely large-scale ecosystem change, and where it’s heading, nobody knows.’

I won’t pursue the detail of Montaigne’s article into the Arctic, where he reports how the much earlier phytoplankton blooms are causing problems for whales and seabirds which have long timed their seasonal arrival in the Arctic to coincide with the peak of zooplankton, whose populations eat phytoplankton.  Complex interrelationships between zooplankton and phytoplankton populations related to the sea ice are also affecting the food supply of clams and other bottom-dwelling organisms. Populations of spectacled eiders and marine mammals which eat this bounty resting on the bottom in the shallow waters of the continental shelf are consequently diminished.  Other species, however, are favoured by the ice decline.

The ultimate effects of these changes at the base of the food chain in the polar regions are not yet clear, but it is already apparent that some individual populations and species are being relentlessly pressured and that long-established ecosystems are severely jolted. The discoveries of the scientists Montaigne reports are yet another indication of the far-ranging turmoil our continuing rapid release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is causing. We are playing havoc with the intricate web of life.

[Penguin Café Orchestra]

The Climate Show #6: Monckton and the iron in the ocean Gareth Renowden Feb 03

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A very wide ranging Climate Show this week, with Dr Philip Boyd of NIWA and Otago University explaining why fertilising the oceans to soak up more carbon is not likely to be our “get out of jail free” card, John Cook of Skeptical Science introducing the new Monckton Myths section of the site, plus interesting new papers on Atlantic warming adding to the Arctic’s problems, an accurate prediction of last year’s Pakistan flooding, and the coolest 1970s Datsun on the planet.

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, or listen direct/download here:

The Climate Show

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Show notes below the fold.

Arctic currents warmer than at any time in last 2000 years: Discovery blog with nice map.

Press release: e! Science News

Cite: Enhanced Modern Heat Transfer to the Arctic by Warm Atlantic Water
Robert F. Spielhagen, Kirstin Werner, Steffen Aagaard Sørensen, Katarzyna Zamelczyk, Evguenia Kandiano, Gereon Budeus, Katrine Husum, Thomas M. Marchitto, and Morten Hald
Science 28 January 2011: 331 (6016), 450-453. [DOI:10.1126/science.1197397]

Abstract: The Arctic is responding more rapidly to global warming than most other areas on our planet. Northward-flowing Atlantic Water is the major means of heat advection toward the Arctic and strongly affects the sea ice distribution. Records of its natural variability are critical for the understanding of feedback mechanisms and the future of the Arctic climate system, but continuous historical records reach back only ~150 years. Here, we present a multidecadal-scale record of ocean temperature variations during the past 2000 years, derived from marine sediments off Western Svalbard (79°N). We find that early—21st-century temperatures of Atlantic Water entering the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented over the past 2000 years and are presumably linked to the Arctic amplification of global warming.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/31/world-carbon-dioxide-emissions-country-data-co2#

Source data: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=90&pid=44&aid=8

Pakistan floods ’could have been predicted”.

ECMWF long range forecasts here (click on the map, and then select the part of the world you want to see).

Feature interview

Dr Philip Boyd of NIWA and the University of Otago discusses the new IGBP report on ocean fertilisation as a means of sequestering carbon. He’s phytoplankton ecologist whose research interests include the environmental control of phytoplankton processes, the oceans iron biogeochemical cycle, and the biogeochemical coupling of surface ocean with deep water processes (the so-called biological pump).

Press release

Report pdf

The Monckton Special, with John Cook of Skeptical Science.

Monckton Myths

Climate Sensitivity

Sea level rise

It was Tom Lehrer, Glenn…

Solutions:

It’s the year of green vehicles, and EVs in particular:

Tesla announce an electric SUV

EV racing is
http://www.evcup.com/EVCUP-English/race-series”>taking off
.

Quite some Datsun…

Thanks to our media partners: Celsias.co.nz, Scoop and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

The Climate Show #2: Oreskes and the Merchants of Doubt Gareth Renowden Nov 19

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Cracking episode of The Climate Show this week, featuring a must-listen interview with Naomi Oreskes discussing the background to her book Merchants of Doubt. The people who attacked her 2004 paper on the scientific consensus about global warming didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for. Also in the show: excellent infographics, Arctic warming bringing colder winters to the northern hemisphere, European biofuels, John Cook of Skeptical Science discusses the new Twitter bot that auto argues with denier tweets, electric cars again, and steady state economics. Not wide-ranging at all, really… ;-)

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, or listen direct/download here:

The Climate Show

Follow The Climate Show on Facebook and Twitter, and soon at The Climate Show web site.

Show notes below the fold.

For the interesting temperature graphic, see this post and follow the links therein.

Climate Vulnerable Forum held in Kiribati — small island states prepare ’Ambo Declaration’ for delivery to UN meeting in Cancun in December
Island life, covered by Bryan Walker here and here. Kiribati government climate change site here.

The steady loss of sea ice in the eastern Arctic could produce significant changes in the region’s atmospheric circulation, possibly resulting in a period of colder winters in the planet’s northern latitudes, even as the global climate warms, according to a new study. Via Yale e360.

The first independent analysis of Europe’s biofuel plans to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2020 has reported the plans may, in fact, produce more emissions, not less. In order to grow crops for biofuel along with Europe’s food, millions of hectares would need to be cleared, releasing more than twice as much carbon as Europe’s cars would produce if they stuck with petrol.

Feature interview:

Naomi Oreskes is a science historian, and Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming [review]. It’s a book that exposes the influence of these scientists on political and public opinion and how they misrepresented science, and in fact, turned science in on itself to further the cause of the free market.

Naomi joined us from Brisbane, (many thanks to Rob Mackay-Wood at the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland for finding a time slot in her schedule) during her current Australian lecture tour. We did try to get Skype video working, but it was not to be, sadly.

Debunking the skeptic with John Cook from Skeptical Science. This week:

Twitter Bot Auto-Debates Climate Change Critics

Mashable

Technology Review

Hacker News

The Many Parts Solution

Over 1 million electric cars expected to be on Asian roads by 2015

Steady State Economics: a huge subject — not something we can deal with in depth, but a part of any solution because we have to learn to live within our planetary means. Web site with lots of info: Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE).

Climate Wars review.

Thanks to our media partners: Celsias.co.nz and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

The Climate Show #1 (Astral Express) Gareth Renowden Nov 04

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[Video]

The Climate Show comes out of beta testing today, with the release of the first full show, code-named Astral Express after the yacht that kiwi yachtsman Graeme Kendall sailed through the North West Passage in record time a couple of months ago. Graeme’s our star guest, but we’re also pleased to welcome to the programme John Cook, the creator of that superb climate science resource Skeptical Science. John will be joining us on a regular basis to look at favourite climate sceptic arguments, but for his first appearance we talk about the so-called Climategate emails. Also covered: what may be the worst ever coral bleaching event, narwhals as oceanographers, geoengineering, and GM’s EV with a petrol engine, the Chevy Volt, aka Vauxhall/Opel Ampera.

The Climate Show is also available as a podcast via iTunes, or listen direct/download here:

The Climate Show

Follow The Climate Show on Facebook and Twitter, and soon at The Climate Show web site.

Show notes below the fold.

Coral bleaching in the Caribbean and SE Asia: Maribo and Climate Shifts.

Next IPCC report will consider geo-engineering schemes: Reuters

Narwhals measure sea temps off Greenland: Nature News.

Feature interview – Graeme Kendall’s Astral Express web site (with lots of nice pics).

Debunking the skeptic with John Cook from Skeptical Science. This week: Climategate.

Solutions: This week: electric cars with two motors — the Chevy Volt (etc) at The Economist’s Intelligent Life.

New climate computer game Fate Of The World released: Guardian coverage.

Not forgetting our media partners: Celsias.co.nz and KiwiFM.

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