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Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?

 


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #8, 2020

Posted on 26 February 2020 by doug_bostrom

BAMS survey of 2018 extreme weather

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has published a collection of articles examining unusually extreme weather events of 2018 and connections of those to climate change. These investigations are listed separately below but thanks to the generosity of AMS appear free for public access as a single PDF, Explaining Extreme Weather Events of 2018 from a Climate Perspective. It's a fascinating collation. 

84 Articles

Physical science of global warming & effects

Defining Southern Ocean fronts and their influence on biological and physical processes in a changing climate

Observational evidence that a feedback control system with proportional-integral-derivative characteristics is operating on atmospheric surface temperature at global scale (open access)

Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects

The recent state and variability of the carbonate system of the Canadian Arctic in the context of ocean acidification (open access)

Observed Evolution of the Tropical Atmospheric Water Cycle with Sea Surface Temperature

Evidence suggests potential transformation of the Pacific Arctic ecosystem is underway

Rapid warming in summer wet bulb globe temperature in China with human-induced climate change

Trends and spatial shifts in lightning fires and smoke concentrations in response to 21st century climate over the forests of the Western United States (open access)

The effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols on the inter-decadal change of the South China Sea summer monsoon in the late twentieth century

Climate changes in the Lhasa River basin, Tibetan Plateau: irrigation-induced cooling along with a warming trend

Analyses of the Northern European Summer Heatwave of 2018 (open access)

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0 comments


Upcoming Cranky Uncle events

Posted on 25 February 2020 by John Cook

The Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change book is now available! The book uses cartoons, humor, and critical thinking to expose how and why some people reject climate science. It's now available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets.

Cranky Uncle vs Climate Change cover

If you're near the DC area, you're very welcome to attend our launch event at the George Mason University Arlington campus on March 4. I'll be talking about how my psychological and critical thinking research was applied in the creation of this book, and will be signing books afterwards. There'll also be some limited edition Cranky Uncle swag for some lucky attendees! You can register for this free event here.

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0 comments


How much would planting 1 trillion trees slow global warming?

Posted on 24 February 2020 by dana1981

This post has been incorporated into the new rebuttal to the myth 'Planting a trillion trees will solve global warming' with the short URL sks.to/trees

During his 2019 State of the Union address, Donald Trump announced that the United States will join the Trillion Trees Initiative. House Republicans plan to introduce legislation to plant 3.3 billion trees per year domestically over the next 30 years (an 800 million increase over the 2.5 billion per year that are already planted in the U.S.), as well as encouraging carbon capture and sequestration from power plants by providing research & development funding and creating a tax incentive for using the technology. This poses the question – how much impact would these carbon sequestration proposals (especially the tree planting initiative) have on atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and global warming?

Bastin et al. (2019) sought to quantify the potential global tree restoration potential and the carbon sequestration associated with that reforestation and afforestation. The study concluded, “there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon [GtC] in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests.” For comparison, humans have emitted approximately 640 GtC, so this would represent a significant chunk of human emissions to date. 900 million hectares of land is approximately the size of the United States.

However, several comments identified flaws in the Bastin et al. estimate. Friedlingstein et al. (2019) noted that their estimate of the potential carbon storage of trees in each biome did not account for the carbon already stored in those regions, and thus concluded:

the potential carbon storage would be substantially lower than reported … Moreover, forests affect climate through biophysical feedbacks, such as changes in albedo or evapotranspiration, which can counteract the cooling effect from CO2 uptake … These biophysical feedbacks were not discussed in the article and could substantially reduce the potential of forest reforestation in some of the considered regions.

Veldman et al. (2019) in concluding that the true maximum tree carbon sequestration potential is closer to 42 GtC, noted:

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6 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #8

Posted on 23 February 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Climate change leads to more violence against women, girls

Rape, domestic violence, forced marriages: A new study shows the effects of climate change are leading to an increase in violence against girls and women in many corners of the world.

Woman waiting for food distribution in Kenya

Woman waiting for food distribution in Kenya

Ntoya Sande was 13 years old when she got married — against her will. "I was sent to be married because of a shortage of food in the house," she said. Her parents used to have a small piece of land, but floods wiped out their harvest. "I tried to negotiate, to tell my parents that I wasn't ready, that I didn't want to get married, but they told me that I had to because that would mean one mouth less at the table."

Sande lives in Malawi's Nsanje province. Her story is one of thousands of cases highlighted in a recent study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Two years in the making, the report is the largest and most comprehensive study to date on the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on gender-based violence.

"This study shows us that the damage humanity is inflicting on nature can also fuel violence against women around the world — a link that has so far been largely overlooked," said Grethel Aguilar, IUCN's acting director general. "This study adds to the urgency of halting environmental degradation alongside action to stop gender-based violence in all its forms, and demonstrates that the two issues often need to be addressed together." 

Climate change leads to more violence against women, girls by Jeanette Cwienk, Environment, Deutsche Welle (DW), Feb 20. 2020

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0 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #8

Posted on 22 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 16, 2020 through Sat, Feb 22, 2020

Editor's Pick

JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race

Leaked report for world’s major fossil fuel financier says Earth is on unsustainable trajectory

C02 emissions from coal-fired power plants

The JP Morgan paper said ‘catastrophic outcomes’ could not be ruled out. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

The world’s largest financier of fossil fuels has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory, according to a leaked document.

The JP Morgan report on the economic risks of human-caused global heating said climate policy had to change or else the world faced irreversible consequences.

The study implicitly condemns the US bank’s own investment strategy and highlights growing concerns among major Wall Street institutions about the financial and reputational risks of continued funding of carbon-intensive industries, such as oil and gas. 

JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race by Patrick Greenfield and Jonathan Watts, Environment, Guardian, Feb 21, 2020

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6 comments


Community choice aggregation: A brief introduction

Posted on 20 February 2020 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman

CARLSBAD, CA. – When it comes to paying the electric bill, most people don’t give it a second thought – it’s something that in effect is “baked in.”

But across California and several other states, local governments increasingly are thinking anew about how their residents get their power – with big potential implications for Americans’ impact on climate change.

In the San Diego area this fall, several cities have moved toward community choice aggregation (CCA) – an arrangement in which local governments take over the job of buying electricity for their residents. Many cities and counties that run CCAs hire third parties with expertise in navigating energy markets, but the overall goal is to offer residents cheaper rates and more choices for renewable sources of energy. Residents and businesses situated within the boundaries of a local jurisdiction that launches a CCA are automatically signed up in it – although they can opt out and stay as customers of their traditional utility.

The interest in the approach extends beyond California.

So far, most if not all CCAs still rely on traditional utilities to manage the transmission of power and the billing of customers.

Where is community choice aggregation allowed?

Around the country, the formation of CCAs has been authorized in nine states: California, Illinois, Massachusetts (the first state to authorize CCAs in 1994), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia, according to the website of Lean Energy U.S. Another five states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, and Oregon – are investigating CCAs.

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0 comments


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #7, 2020

Posted on 19 February 2020 by doug_bostrom

"You're going to need a longer runway"

Gratton et al explore the ongoing effects of upward-creeping temperatures on aviation in Greece in the period since 1955 at a range of airports in that country. For longer runways impacts are measurable but with little impact on operations. For airports with shorter runways, there's quite a difference, measurable over the service life of a single model of aircraft. From the abstract (open access paper):

At the most extreme case, results show that for an Airbus A320, operating from the, relatively short, 1511m runway at Chios Airport, the required reduction in payload would be equivalent to 38 passengers with their luggage, or fuel for 700 nautical miles (1300 km) per flight, for the period between the A320’s entry to service in 1988 and 2017.

"Mitigation is too expensive." Really?

Two articles look at sea level rise and problems arising from that in the same region of the world, from different perspectives. Uncertainty about our success at mitigation leads to high costs one way or another, and uncertainty about the scale of threat from SLR also pushes costs higher if a precautionary stance is adopted. 

Groeskamp and Kjellson explore the concept of a massive dam to protect Northern Europe in the event of global warming mitigation failures. Such a dam would be costly but the cost pales in comparison to what it would protect. As the authors remark:

The mere realization that a solution as considerable as NEED might be a viable and cost-effective protection measure is illustrative of the extraordinary global threat of global-mean sea level rise that we are facing. As such, the concept of constructing NEED showcases the extent of protection efforts that are required if mitigation efforts fail to limit sea level rise.

Haasnoot et al explore how stubborn uncertainties in contribution to SLR from Antarctica pop up in the Netherlands (open access), having large impacts on decision paths and adaptation costs. For the Netherlands there's no option to be wrong, so— failing any improvement in our understanding future behavior of Antarctic land ice--  the conclusion is that adaptation efforts and hence costs must be fast and large.

We find that as sea levels rise faster and higher, sand nourishment volumes to maintain the Dutch coast may need to be up to 20 times larger than to date in 2100, storm surge barriers will need to close at increasing frequency until closed permanently, and intensified saltwater intrusion will reduce freshwater availability while the demand is rising. The expected lifetime of investments will reduce drastically. Consequently, step-wise adaptation needs to occur at an increasing frequency or with larger increments while there is still large SLR uncertainty with the risk of under- or overinvesting. Anticipating deeply uncertain, high SLR scenarios helps to enable timely adaptation and to appreciate the value of emission reduction and monitoring of the Antarctica contribution to SLR.

64 Articles

Physical science of global warming & effects

Response of precipitation extremes to warming: what have we learned from theory and idealized cloud-resolving simulations, and what remains to be learned? (open access)

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0 comments


How deniers maintain the consensus gap

Posted on 18 February 2020 by John Cook

An excerpt from the book Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change, released Feb 25. First posted here.

A number of studies have quantified the level of scientific agreement on climate change. In 2009, a survey by Peter Doran found that 97.4% of publishing climate scientists agreed that humans were changing global temperature. In 2010, Bill Anderegg analyzed public statements about climate change. He found 97–98% agreement among the most actively publishing climate scientists that humans are causing global warming.

In 2013, I led a team of researchers analyzing 21 years of scientific papers about global warming. Among relevant climate papers, 97% affirmed the consensus. Three different studies all found overwhelming scientific agreement.

The scientific consensus has also been endorsed by many scientific organizations around the world, such as the American Geophysical Union, European Geosciences Union, Royal Meteorological Society, and Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The National Academies of Science from eighty countries have all affirmed human-caused global warming.

Deniers argue that there’s no scientific consensus on climate change because thirty-one thousand science graduates signed a petition rejecting the consensus. This argument appeals to fake experts. The only requirement for the Petition Project is an undergraduate degree in any kind of science. Only 0.1% of the signatories are climate scientists. Asking for nonexpert opinion on a complex topic is like asking a computer scientist to perform heart surgery.

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27 comments


Australia's wildfires: Is this the 'new normal'?

Posted on 17 February 2020 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Peter Sinclair

Hotter across the board” is how University of Melbourne climate scientist Linden Ashcroft describes the overheated and dried-out climate that has given rise to Australia’s ravaging bush fires over the past several months.

The prolonged lack of rainfall that has characterized both Australia and the American Southwest over recent years “isn’t like a drought of yore,” University of Michigan scientist Jonathan Overpeck says in a brief new video produced for Yale Climate Connections. “It’s actually an aridification,” Overpeck says, as the warming atmosphere is leading to atmospheric circulation patterns that “are drying up in a way that is changing some of these drier regions.”

Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explains that with increasing temperatures, evaporation speeds up: “So you need more water to provide the same amount of irrigation.”

One troubling manifestation of the stressful heat and drought patterns is that rampant bush fires are occurring in unexpected places. “What we’re seeing is places burning that aren’t supposed to burn,” Ashcroft says. She points to fires in high-country places that had burned just two years earlier. Overpeck and meteorologist Jeff Masters agree, Masters pointing to a 2018 fire in an Australia World Heritage rainforest.

The new video was produced as part of a monthly YCC “This Is Not Cool” video series by independent videographer Peter Sinclair of Midland, Michigan.

 

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32 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #7

Posted on 16 February 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 

Story of the Week...

Iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C., breaks off Pine Island glacier in Antarctica

Pine Island Glacier

 

Story Highlights:

  • The Pine Island glacier "is one the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica."
  • Over the past 8 years, the Pine Island glacier is losing about 58 billion tons of ice per year.
  • This "reveals the dramatic pace at which climate is redefining the face of Antarctica."

Global Warming: Pine Island loses 58 billion tons of ice every year by Doyle Rice, World, USA Today, Feb 13, 2020

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1 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #7

Posted on 15 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 9, 2020 through Sat, Feb 15, 2020

Editor's Pick

ANALYSIS-Climate change opens up 'frontier' farmland, but at what cost to the planet?

Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third but would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased emissions from soils

Organic Carrot Harvest in Germany 

Kenya's livestock herders planting chilli peppers, Pakistan's mountain farmers rearing fish and tropical fruits in Sicily - farmers around the world are already shifting what they grow and breed to cope with rising temperatures and erratic weather.

In a few more decades, potatoes from the Russian tundra and corn from once-frigid areas of Canada could be added to the list as vast swathes of land previously unsuited to agriculture open up to farmers on a hotter planet.

Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third, a study by international researchers found this week.

They examined which new areas may become suitable for growing 12 key crops including rice, sugar, wheat, oil palm, cassava and soy.

"In a warming world, Canada's North may become our breadbasket of the future," the scientists wrote.

But, they warned, opening up new "agricultural frontiers" would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased planet-warming emissions from soils. 

Climate change opens up 'frontier' farmland, but at what cost to the planet?, Analysis by Thin Lei Win, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Feb 15, 2020

Click here to access the entire article.

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5 comments


Climate goes extreme!

Posted on 13 February 2020 by John Cook

An excerpt from the book Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change, released Feb 25.

Every weather event is affected in some way by global warming, including the buildup of heat, more moisture in the atmosphere, and rising sea levels. A direct impact of the extra heat is more intense and frequent heatwaves.

Warming also accelerates evaporation of water from the ground and water sources. As the ground dries out, drought intensifies and fire danger increases. Extra evaporation also puts more moisture into the atmosphere, and warmer air can hold more water vapor. Both these factors result in heavier downpours. The warmer oceans also provides additional energy for hurricanes, making them more intense.

Weather is somewhat unpredictable, like rolling dice. Global warming increases the occurence and/or strength of many types of extreme weather. It’s like drawing extra dots on the dice, increasing the odds of a higher roll.

People often ask: “Was a specific weather event caused by climate change?” That’s the wrong question. A more appropriate question is: “Are weather events being affected by climate change?” The answer is yes, global warming is increasing the occurence and/or strength of extreme weather. As NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt says, "weather throws the punches, but climate trains the boxer."

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6 comments


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #6, 2020

Posted on 12 February 2020 by doug_bostrom

New Research article selection

It's possible to be too close to a job, forget to step back and look at it from all angles.

Skeptical Science was recently contacted by an author of a paper listed here in the weekly research list, with the concern that our citation of the work meant we felt there was a problem with it. Not at all, because that's not how Research News works or its purpose. We've cleared up that particular misunderstanding in correspondence and with a happy outcome. This is however an indicator and good opportunity to explain how papers in the weekly listing are selected, so as to be quite clear in our intentions with Research News.

We rely entirely on the judgement of journal editors and peer reviewers for estimating the worth of any paper listed in Research News. Weekly assembly includes human assessment of relevancy of items delivered by filtered RSS feeds from academic journals but purely in a mechanical fashion. "Relevancy" in this context means that the article includes anthropogenic climate change as a significant element— regardless of findings, affiliations etc. Passage through the review and publication process is the best indicator we have of the validity of any given work. It would be folly to second-guess successful publication outcomes and indeed overcoming this common error is Skeptical Science's main reason for being.

The purpose of Research News is to provide at least a sampling of the scope and direction of scientific inquiry driven by anthropogenic climate change, lend a toehold for the average person into the rich veins of literature citations underpinning this work. In their respective lists of citations each paper we list here is a portal into a world of specialized inquiry, a ticket into an amazing continuum of investigation. By looking at categories of papers we can get some notion of where interest is hot, where concern may be concentrated. As a case in point, agronomic adaptation research at has featured prominently and consistently in the weekly list, reflecting concern over food supplies in a changing climate, with each publication resting on a prior body of research as reflected in citations.

Unlikely as the eventuality is, Research News would quickly reflect any genuine scientifically grounded reversal in the rather grim picture we now see regarding our climate. Such a happy eventuality would come out of the familiar and statistically reliable publication process and our standard operating procedure, not as a matter of our own local judgement.

94 Articles

Physical science of global warming & effects

Energy budget constraints on historical radiative forcing

Increased subglacial sediment discharge in a warming climate: consideration of ice dynamics, glacial erosion and fluvial sediment transport

The empirical basis for modelling glacial erosion rates (open access)

The effect of melt pond geometry on the distribution of solar energy under first‐year sea ice

Sensitivity of the latitude of the westerly jet stream to climate forcing

Diagnosing the sensitivity of grounding line flux to changes in sub-ice shelf melting (open access)

Source attribution of Arctic aerosols and associated Arctic warming trend during 1980–2018 (open access)

Observations & observational methods of global warming & effects

Algal lipids reveal unprecedented warming rates in alpine areas of SW Europe during the industrial period (open access)

Sea Ice and Atmospheric Parameter Retrieval From Satellite Microwave Radiometers: Synergy of AMSR2 and SMOS Compared With the CIMR Candidate Mission

Describing the relationship between a weather event and climate change: a new statistical approach

How robust is Asian Precipitation-ENSO relationship during the industrial warming period (1901–2017)? (open access)

Melt in Antarctica derived from Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) observations at L band (open access)

Present-day and future Greenland Ice Sheet precipitation frequency from satellite observations and an Earth System Model (open access)

Changes of temperature and precipitation extremes in a typical arid and semiarid zone: Observations and multi‐model ensemble projections

Increasing occurrence of heat waves in the terrestrial Arctic (open access)

Does elevation dependent warming exist in high mountain Asia? (open access)

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1 comments


On climate misinformation and accountability

Posted on 10 February 2020 by dana1981, John Cook

Lately there has been a great deal of misinformation regarding the origins and purpose of Skeptical Science.  As John Cook wrote nearly a decade ago, Skeptical Science is primarily a website that debunks climate misinformation with peer-reviewed science.  Despite the ever-worsening impacts from climate change, with record after record being broken in our warming climate, misinformation casting doubt on climate science is rampant and showing no signs of going away. Sadly, a resource that shines disinfecting daylight on climate misinformation is needed more than ever.

When we find ourselves frequently debunking myths from the same sources, we collect that information in our 'Misinformation by Source' database. There are several reasons why we created that particular database. 

First, because we at Skeptical Science simply love data.  That's the backbone of our website.  We love to gather it, analyze it, and organize it for easy reference. One of the strengths of our site is making our debunkings accessible in different ways for ease-of-use, such as our multi-level rebuttals, translations, short URLs for easy sharing, and organized in a fact-myth-fallacy format.

Second, for the sake of accountability.  If an individual propagates a climate myth to the public via a setting like a blog or media interview or congressional testimony, it's useful to have a resource documenting if that individual has frequently promoted climate myths in the past.  If so, that individual should be considered a relatively unreliable source of accurate climate science information. 

To those who object to being included on the 'Misinformation by Source' database, the remedy is simple – stop purveying climate myths.  Perhaps acknowledge the mistakes you made in communicating those myths.  Take responsibility for your own actions.

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20 comments


Why coal use must plummet this decade to keep global warming below 1.5C

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Simon Evans

The next 10 years are crucial for tackling climate change, with widespread recognition that CO2 emissions must fall 45% by 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5C.

Yet global emissions are expected to continue rising, despite the pledges made by every country of the world under the 2015 Paris Agreement. This ambition gap is getting larger over time.

New Carbon Brief analysis of scenarios gathered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other data, shows that the ambition gap is particularly large for coal. Emissions from coal fall by around four-fifths this decade on a 1.5C pathway, twice as fast as for oil or gas.

Moreover, CO2 from burning coal must still be roughly halved over the next 10 years to keep warming “well-below 2C” at the lowest cost, the analysis shows.

Carbon Brief’s animation, below, shows how coal, oil and gas emissions change in just one pathway to keeping warming below 1.5C. This article explains where the numbers come from and how they change if the world chooses other – or less ambitious – routes to limiting warming.

 

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4 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #6

Posted on 9 February 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Australian smoke plume sets records

The recent wildfires in Australia sent one of the largest plumes of smoke higher into the  stratosphere than satellites have ever before observed.

Australian Bushfire Plumes Worldwide

January 26, 2020. Image via NASA Earth Observatory.

Bushfires have raged in Victoria and New South Wales since November 2019, yielding startling satellite images of smoke plumes streaming from southeastern Australia on a near daily basis. The images got even more eye-popping in January 2020 when unusually hot weather and strong winds supercharged the fires.

Narrow streams of smoke widened into a thick gray and tan pall that filled the skies on January 4, 2020. Several pyrocumulus clouds rose from the smoke, and the towering clouds functioned like elevators, lifting huge quantities of gas and particles well over 6 miles (10 km) above the surface – high enough to put smoke into the stratosphere

Australian smoke plume sets records by NASA Earth Observatory/EarthSky, Feb 6, 2020

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0 comments


2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #6

Posted on 8 February 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Feb 2, 2020 through Sat, Feb 8, 2020

Editor's Pick

New Report Details How Fossil Fuel Industry's Climate Destruction Also Exacerbates Human Rights Abuses

"Even in the face of the clearest scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels is literally setting the planet on fire, this sector continues to invest in the same old model and often misinforms society about the climate crisis and its causes."

Oil Polluion in Nigeria

Claimant Eric Dooh shows the crude oil that has damaged the banks of the creek through his village of Goi (Ogoniland). Multiple leaks in a Shell pipeline have heavily contaminated the creek over many miles, eliminating fish, and other life from the tidal area. (Photo: Milieudefensie)

In addition to having a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities around the globe which have contributed the least to climate-warming fossil fuel emissions, the climate crisis has exacerbated the human rights violations already perpetrated by the fossil fuel industry, according to a new report.

The grassroots climate action group 350.org examined ten global communities which have suffered from heavy pollution, deforestation, displacement, and other violations as multinational corporations like Chevron and Shell—in addition to smaller fossil fuel entities and corrupt governments—have placed profits over human rights.

"The pollution and contamination often caused by fossil fuel industry activities mainly affect the poorest populations, as well as the climate crisis," said Aaron Packard, manager of the Climate Defenders program at 350.org, in a statement. "Vulnerable communities are being doubly exposed to losses or scarcity of land, fish stocks and water, for example."

New Report Details How Fossil Fuel Industry's Climate Destruction Also Exacerbates Human Rights Abuses by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, Feb 7, 2020 

Read more...

1 comments


Earth is heating at a rate equivalent to five atomic bombs per second

Posted on 6 February 2020 by dana1981

This is a re-post from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The heat absorbed in Earth’s oceans reached a new record in 2019, found a recent study published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. Despite the fact that this has been the case for almost every year over the past decade, this information dominated the news cycle, with some particularly viral headlines noting that the amount of energy accumulating in the oceans is equivalent to detonating five Hiroshima atomic bombs per second, every second over the past 25 years.

While stunning, this isn’t a new analogy. After we published a paper about Earth’s energy accumulation in 2012, my colleagues and I at Skeptical Science created a website called 4Hiroshimas.com that provided a widget that websites can include on their homepages to illustrate the amount of heat accumulating on Earth as compared to the energy in the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The widget also uses other analogies to get the idea across, such as how the amount of heat accumulated compares to the energy in Hurricane Sandy, or 6.0 magnitude earthquakes, or Big Bens full of dynamite, or millions of lightning bolts. Improved ocean heat measurements have since revised the rate of warming upwards from four to five ‘Hiros’ per second. (For the record, as of the writing of this article, our climate has accumulated the equivalent of a total of more than 2.8 billion Hiroshima bombs’ worth of heat since 1998.)

Our team wasn’t the first to use this analogy. In 2010, oceanographer John Lyman compared the rate of ocean warming to atomic bombs, and James Hansen used the Hiroshima atomic bomb analogy in his February 2012 TED talk. One might say that the comparison has come under heat, however. Some criticize the analogy for exploiting or being insensitive to the horrors suffered by the people of Hiroshima. Others have complained that the analogy is imperfect, as all analogies are, by definition.

On the other hand, the use of Hiros has one major upside. Earth and especially its oceans have been accumulating such a vast amount of heat due to human-caused global warming that it’s difficult to comprehend. Most people have little if any sense what 10 zettajoules per year—the amount of heat energy absorbed per year by the Earth—means. That’s why climate communicators have searched for a metric of comparison that the public can grasp. It’s relatively easy to visualize five atomic bombs detonating every second, and consequently comprehend the vast amount of energy being absorbed by the Earth’s climate system.

For those who nevertheless object to the Hiros analogy, perhaps microwaves offer a more palatable comparison. The heat accumulating in Earth’s oceans over the past 25 years is also equivalent to every person now on Earth running 35 standard household microwave ovens nonstop during Justin Bieber’s entire lifetime.

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21 comments


Skeptical Science New Research for Week #5, 2020

Posted on 5 February 2020 by doug_bostrom

More Thwaites

This past week we heard disturbing news about Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier. Helping to fill in the longer term history of Thwaites' behavior and especially helpful in interpreting results of the recent drilling project and what it may say about the future of this unstable mass of ice is Revealing the former bed of Thwaites Glacier using sea-floor bathymetry, by a heavy duty multi-institutional team of authors. Happily this work is open access. Abstract excerpts:

The geometry of the sea floor beyond Thwaites Glacier (TG) is a major control on the routing of warm ocean waters towards the ice stream’s grounding zone, which has led to increased mass loss through sub-ice-shelf melting and resulting accelerated ice flow. Nearshore topographic highs act as pinning points for the Thwaites Ice Shelf and potentially provide barriers to warm water incursions. To date, few vessels have been able to access this area due to persistent sea-ice and iceberg cover. This critical data gap was addressed in 2019 during the first cruise of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) project, with more than 2000 km2 of new multibeam echo-sounder data (MBES) were acquired offshore TG. Here, these data along with legacy MBES datasets are compiled to produce a set of standalone bathymetric grids for the inner Amundsen Sea shelf beyond both Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers.

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Using existing ice-flow theory, we also make a first assessment of the form drag (basal drag contribution) for ice flow over this topography. Ice flowing over the sea-floor troughs and ridges would have been affected by similarly high basal drag to that acting in the grounding zone today. We show that the sea-floor bathymetry is an analogue for extant bed areas of TG and that more can be gleaned from these 3D bathymetric datasets regarding the likely spatial variability of bed roughness and bed composition types underneath TG. Comparisons with existing regional bathymetric compilations for the area show that high-frequency (finer than 5 km) bathymetric variability beyond Antarctic ice shelves can only be resolved by observations such as MBES and that without these data calculations of the capacity of bathymetric troughs, and thus oceanic heat flux, may be significantly underestimated. 

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Why is the Keeling curve so curvy?

Posted on 4 February 2020 by John Cook

An excerpt from the book Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change, released Feb 25.

In 1958, Charles Keeling began measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. He found CO2 rising and falling from year to year. This graph became known as the Keeling Curve.

This yearly cycle is due to CO2 moving between the atmosphere and vegetation. In spring, plants convert CO2 into foliage. In autumn, the leaves fall and rot, emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

Keeling also found that over time, the amount of CO2 in the air was increasing. All our fossil fuel burning is causing a rise in atmospheric CO2.

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