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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #41A

Posted on 8 October 2014 by John Hartz

2014 extreme weather: Looking for climate ties

The ongoing, intense drought in California; the nonstop storms that left parts of Great Britain waterlogged all winter; the bitter winter cold in the eastern U.S. — these are just some of the extreme weather events from this year that could be examined in an annual report that looks for the fingerprints of climate change in such occurrences.

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society since 2011, rounds up some of the most notable events from the previous year and tries to answer the question increasingly being asked: Did climate change cause this? Not only that, but it attempts to do so relatively quickly, (in the world of science, anyway) after the event, with the studies coming out in early October of the following year.

2014 Extreme Weather: Looking for Climate Ties, Climate Central, Oct 8, 2014 


California just entered 4th year of severe drought

In California, the start of October brings an anniversary with little cause for celebration.

The state ended its third driest year on record and entered a fourth consecutive year of drought, as the U.S. Geological Survey’s water calendar year came to a close Wednesday. Amid a rare autumn heat wave bringing triple-digit temperatures to the state, officials are warning Californians to prepare for the near certainty that the coming months will do little to relieve the parched state. 

It's Official: California Just Entered 4th Year Of Severe Drought by Lydia O'Connor, The Huffington Post, 


Different depths reveal ocean warming trends

The deeper half of the ocean did not get measurably warmer in the last decade, but surface layers have been warming faster than we thought since the 1970s, two new studies suggest.

Because the sea absorbs 90% of the heat caused by human activity, its warmth is a central concern in climate science.

The new work suggests that shallow layers bear the brunt of ocean warming.

Scientists compared temperature data, satellite measurements of sea level, and results from climate models.

Both the papers appear in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Different depths reveal ocean warming trends by Jonathan Webb, BBC News, Oct 5, 2014


Drought dries up California hydropower

As California’s historic drought dries up the state’s water supplies and withers its crops, it’s also shaking up the way electricity is produced there.

There’s so little water available in the state’s reservoirs that California’s ability to produce hydropower has been cut in half, while its use of renewables and natural gas power has spiked, a U.S. Energy Information Administration report published Monday shows.

Drought Dries Up California Hydropower by Bobby Magill, Climate Central, Oct 6, 2014


Fish failing to adapt to rising carbon dioxide levels in ocean

Rising carbon dioxide levels in oceans adversely change the behaviour of fish through generations, raising the possibility that marine species may never fully adapt to their changed environment, research has found.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change , found that elevated CO2 levels affected fish regardless of whether their parents had also experienced the same environment.

Spiny damselfish were kept in water with different CO2 levels for several months. One level was consistent with the world taking rapid action to cut carbon emissions, while the other was a “business as usual” scenario, in which the current trend in rising emissions would equate to a 3C warming of the oceans by the end of the century.

Fish failing to adapt to rising carbon dioxide levels in ocean by Oliver Milman, The Guardian, Oct 5, 2014


Getting beyond the 2-degree threshold on global warming

Updated, Oct. 6, 11:56 p.m. | Joe Romm has posted a long reaction to David Victor’s post, including an update from Stefan Rahmstorf.

Updated | On Wednesday, Nature published “Climate policy: Ditch the 2 °C warming goal,” a commentary criticizing the widely adopted threshold for climate safety and offering a new approach to characterizing risks.

The piece, written by David Victor and Charles Kennel, both affiliated with the University of California, San Diego, was quickly challenged by Stefan Rahmstorf on the Realclimate blog and Joe Romm at the Center for American Progress

Getting Beyond the 2-Degree Threshold on Global Warming by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Oct 11, 2014


How to lie with data (or, “Melting Away Global Warming”)

First, the truth:

After a summer of seasonal melting, on Sept. 17, 2014, Arctic sea ice extent* likely hit its minimum for the year. The official word is that it was measured at 5.02 million square kilometers (1.94 million square miles). This is the sixth-lowest minimum since satellite records began in 1979.

It also fits right in with the overall declining trend of Arctic sea ice:

How to Lie With Data (or, “Melting Away Global Warming”) by Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy, Slate, Oct 6, 2014


In Nobel season, Laureates fret for sickly Earth

PARIS: Eleven Nobel laureates will pool their clout next week to sound a warning, declaring that mankind is living beyond its means and darkening its future.

At a conference in Hong Kong coinciding with the annual Nobel awards season, holders of the prestigious prize will plead for a revolution in how humans live, work and travel.

Only by switching to smarter, less greedy use of resources can humans avert wrecking the ecosystems on which they depend, the laureates will argue.

The state of affairs is "catastrophic," Peter Doherty, 1996 co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, said in a blunt appraisal.

He is among 11 laureates scheduled to attend the four-day huddle from Wednesday — the fourth in a series of Nobel symposia on the precarious state of the planet.

In Nobel season, Laureates fret for sickly Earth, Agence France-Presse (AFP)/NDTV, Oct 4, 2014  


In the Age of Extinction, which species can we least afford to lose?

The threatened extinction of the tiger in India, the perilous existence of the orangutan in Indonesia, the plight of the panda: these are wildlifeemergencies with which we have become familiar. They are well-loved animals that no one wants to see disappear. But now scientists fear the real impact of declining wildlife could be closer to home, with the threat to creatures such as ladybirds posing the harshest danger to biodiversity.

Climate change, declining numbers of animals, rising numbers of humans and the rapid rate of species extinction mean a growing number of scientists now declare us to be in the Anthropocene – the geological age of extinction when humans finally dominate the ecosystems.

In the Age of Extinction, which species can we least afford to lose? by Tracy McVeigh, The Observer/The Guardian, Oct 4, 2014


Mystery of ocean heat deepens as climate changes

When British Capt. James Cook undertook his second voyage in the Southern Ocean in 1772, scientists on board measured the temperature 183 meters below the surface. It was colder than at the surface.

Scientists have since graduated to vastly improved technologies for measuring the ocean's temperatures. By 2004, they had launched Argo ("swift" in Greek), a network of 3,000 floating devices spread out throughout the world. The devices record the temperatures down to 6,500 feet, where only the deepest divers, like sperm whales and great white sharks, visit.

Scientists are decoding the oceans using these instruments. The oceans are major players in the climate system, absorbing about 90 percent of the heat of global warming. To understand global warming, scientists must first understand the oceans.

Mystery of Ocean Heat Deepens as Climate Changes by by Gayathri Vaidyanathan, ClimateWire/Scientific American, Oct 7, 2014


Oceans getting hotter than anybody realized

The RV Kaharoa motored out of Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, loaded with more than 100 scientific instruments, each eventually destined for a watery grave. Crewmembers will spend the next two months dropping the 50-pound devices, called Argo floats, into the seas between New Zealand and Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar. There, the instruments will sink and drift, then measure temperature, salinity and pressure as they resurface to beam the data to a satellite. The battery-powered floats will repeat that process every 10 days — until they conk out, after four years or more, and become ocean junk.

Under an international program begun in 2000, and that started producing useful global data in 2005, the world’swarming and acidifying seas have been invisibly filled with thousands of these bobbing instruments. They are gathering and transmitting data that’s providing scientists with the clearest-ever pictures of the hitherto-unfathomed extent of ocean warming. About 90 percent of global warming is ending up not on land, but in the oceans.

Oceans Getting Hotter Than Anybody Realized by John Upton, Climate Central, Oct 5, 2014 


UN alarm over shrinking biodiversity

Grim warnings on the earth's dwindling biodiversity have been given at the opening of a UN conference in South Korea. A UN report says governments are only on course to meet five of 53 goals by 2020.

UN alarm over shrinking biodiversity, Deutsche Welle (DW), Oct 6, 2014  


US east coast cities face frequent flooding due to climate change

Dozens of America’s east coast cities face routine tidal flooding under climate change, researchers said on Wednesday.

Miami – where the habitues of South Beach are used to sloshing through water at high tide – will deploy new pumps this week to hold back the waters of the King Tides, the highest annual high tides, which are projected to crest at 3.5 feet (1.07m).

Other cities are going to have to undertake similar measures if they want to avoid soggy streets in the future, the researchers said.

The report, Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years, from the Union of Concerned Scientists  (UCS), found most of the towns on America’s east coast will see triple the number of flooding events by 2030.

US east coast cities face frequent flooding due to climate change by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Oct 8, 2014


Why you should be afraid of climate change in 10 charts

It's almost universally agreed now that climate change is caused by humans and it's on track to wreak havoc on the planet. 

Scientists release new studies every year (if not every month) demonstrating the effects climate change has already had on the Earth and projecting the damage it will cause in the future. Storms, droughts, floods, famines, and mass extinctions are just a few of the consequences in store for our home if humans don't do something about the problem - and fast.

We've put together these charts, taken from some of these studies, to help you visualize just how real the effects of climate change are. These are just a few of the reasons you should be very, very afraid.

Why You Should Be Afraid Of Climate Change In 10 Charts by Chelsea Harvey, Business Insider, Oct 2, 2014 


World falling behind 2020 plan for nature protection 

Governments are failing to meet goals to protect animals and plants set out in a biodiversity plan for 2020 that also aims to increase food supplies and slow climate change, a U.N. report showed on Monday.

Many rare species face a mounting risk of extinction, forests are being cleared by farmers at an alarming rate, and pollution and over-fishing are continuing despite the U.N. push agreed in 2010 to reverse harmful trends for nature.

"There has been an increase in effort (by governments) ... but this will not be enough to reach the targets," Braulio de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), told Reuters, citing a progress report. 

World falling behind 2020 plan for nature protection - UN by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Oct 6, 2014

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  1. The IPCC AR5 report is written as an update to the 2007 AR4. The information used to update the previous report was gathered between 2005 and 2009. Then that information was collected, analyzed and a peer review paper was submitted. The newest paper utilized in the AR5 was published in 2010.

    Since 2010 we have learned that the West Antarctic Ice Shelf is losing mass at twice the rate published in the AR5. We have also learned that the topography of the WAIS valleys will allow a steady increase in melt rates leading to eventual, unavoidable, collapse (Rignoit et. al). We have also found that the arctic sea ice is set to be ice free in September sometime closer to 2030, not "as early as September 2050". This means that by 2050 the arctic will be largely ice free in June, during the summer solstice when the arctic receives a higher daily solar insolation than occurs at the equator. This will produce significantly higher temperatures and regional melting of arctic permafrost and the Greenland ice sheet than is currently projected by the AR5.

    Additionally, the AR5, while showing permafrost area decomposition in the graph of this article, it does not include permafrost emissions as a contributor to global warming. The closest that the AR5 comes to including these is by showing a graph that indicates carbon feedbacks will reduce the amount of future emissions that are captured by the earth and sea (taken from the atmosphere) by 6%-29%. This means that an additional 160 Billion tons of CO2 will be effectively rejected by the earth and sent into the atmosphere by 2100. (IPCC AR5 WGI Fig. 6.27)

    If the emissions from thawing permafrost were included, especially with the new understanding of arctic feedbacks (ice loss) and the rapid rise of arctic temperature that it will bring was then applied to the thawing of permafrost in the arctic we would find that the arctic permafrost, on its own, has a very high likelihood of emitting between 200 and 600 billion tons of carbon (not CO2) into the atmosphere between now and 2100. This is enough to raise the global atmospheric CO2 burden by between 90 and 270 ppm, on its own.

    Finally, Lawrence Livermore Lab just released its study of the southern hemisphere oceans and found that the current warming rates are underestimated, by a vast amount. This means that global current warming rates have been underestimated by 9.4% to 30.3%, with the vast majority of that heat going into the oceans.

    This means that our current understanding of the basic heating effect of CO2 in our atmosphere has been underestimated, significantly. This makes worst-case projections much more likely.

    In summary, this current CO2 abundance of 402 ppmv in our atmosphere will likely lead to 4C of warming by 2100, even if all emissions were halted today. We have no more time to waste in our efforts to repair our broken biosphere.

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