Something(s) for the long weekend

By Gareth Renowden 23/04/2011

It’s Saturday afternoon, and there’s a large piece of pig in the oven — which will, if all goes well, provide the first of two family meals scheduled for this long weekend. I also have a browser stuffed with open tabs, each containing climate stuff of interest — so here’s a random dump of material that will repay the diligent reader.

First: Stephan Lewandowsky and a team of academics from Western Australia have launched Shaping Tomorrow’s World, a web site (coding by John & Wendy Cook) devoted to discussing solutions to the climate, energy and resource crises:

From climate change to peak oil and food security, our societies are confronted with many serious challenges that, if left unresolved, will threaten the well-being of present and future generations, and the natural world. This new website is dedicated to discussion of those challenges and potential solutions based on scientific evidence and scholarly analysis.

Well worth checking out, and it’ll be interesting to see how the site develops.

New Zealand’s net carbon emissions fell 3 per cent in 2009, thanks to full hydro lakes and the recession (No Right Turn, NZ Herald). A reduction in forestry harvest and an increase in planting also helped — the only impact the emissions trading scheme has so far had on emissions. Meanwhile, a UN report (pdf here) has noted a large gap between the likely impact of the ETS and the government’s target of a 10% or 20% reduction in emissions by 2020.

For glacier geeks: helium-4/helium-3 thermochronometry (try saying that after a few glasses of wine) applied to glaciated valleys in Fiordland shows that the glaciers cut their mouths first then cut back up their valleys towards the mountain ridges.

On global temperatures: Arthur Smith has a bash at projecting global temperature over the next few years, while Robert Grumbine explains why global temperatures can only change by a limited amount year to year.

In the Arctic: analysis of mollusk shells dated to the early Pliocene (3.5 – 4 million years ago) from a Canadian lake suggest that summer temperatures were as much as 15ºC higher than present. CO2 was at 400 ppm at the time, giving us a strong hint of where we may be heading (UCLA release, abstract).

More from Canada: melting glaciers and ice caps on the islands of the Canadian archipelago are having a bigger impact on sea level rise than expected, according to new research. “During the first three years of this study, from 2004 through 2006, the region lost an average of 7 cubic miles of water per year. That increased dramatically to 22 cubic miles of water—roughly 24 trillion gallons—per year during the latter part of the study. Over the entire six years, this added a total of 1 millimeter to the height of the world’s oceans” (e! Science News).

Still up North: a new report on Arctic coasts — State of the Arctic Coast 2010 — finds that melting is “particularly dramatic in the Laptev, East Siberian and Beaufort Seas, where coastal erosion rates reach more than 8 metres a year” (Science Daily, Yahoo! News).

Down South: it appears that the ozone hole that appears over Antarctica every spring can influence rainfall patterns as far North as the subtropics — showing just how sensitive the climate system is to regional change (e! Science News, Independent).

And finally: two good reads. Chris Mooney in Mother Jones on The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science (cognitive dissonance, cultural cognition et al), and Alyson Kenward at Yale e360 on What’s With the Weather? Is Climate Change to Blame? (Trenberth and extremes).

And now I have to get that pig out of the oven… Compliments of the season to all HT’s readers.