Arctic

Scientists up their projections for sea level rise. #auspol 

Scientists keep upping their projections for how much the oceans will rise this century

 A 30-mile-long meltwater river runs through Petermann glacier, Greenland, on August 27, 2016. (Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

A report by a leading research body monitoring the Arctic has found that previous projections of global sea level rise for the end of the century could be too low, thanks in part to the pace of ice loss of Arctic glaciers and the vast ice sheet of Greenland.
It’s just the latest in a string of cases in which scientists have published numbers that suggest a grimmer picture than the one presented in 2013 by an influential United Nations body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The new Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic report presents minimum estimates for global sea level rise by the end of the century, but not a maximum. This reflects the fact that scientists keep uncovering new insights that force them to increase their sea level estimates further, said William Colgan, a glaciologist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, who contributed to the sea level rise section.
“Because of emerging processes, especially related to the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet, it now looks like the uncertainties are all biased positive,” Colgan said.
The assessment found that under a relatively moderate global warming scenario — one that slightly exceeds the temperature targets contained in the Paris climate agreement — seas could be expected to rise “at least” 52 centimeters, or 1.7 feet, by the year 2100. Under a more extreme, “business as usual” warming scenario, meanwhile, the minimum rise would be 74 centimeters, or 2.4 feet.
The new findings were published Tuesday as part of a broader overview report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, a working group of the intergovernmental Arctic Council, which unites eight Arctic nations, including the United States, and six organizations representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
It is the work of 90 scientists and 28 peer reviewers and is expected to be presented in Fairbanks, Alaska, next month at the next summit of Arctic political leaders.
The report bluntly contrasts its sea level findings with a previous 2013 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which had put the “likely” low end sea level rise number for these two scenarios at 32 centimeters (about 1 foot) and 45 centimeters (1.5 feet) for the period between 2081 and 2100. That global body — whose high end sea level rise number for the year 2100 was just shy of one meter, or 3.2 feet — has often seen its assertions on sea level rise faulted by scientists for being too conservative.
“These estimates are almost double the minimum estimates made by the IPCC in 2013,” said the new Arctic Council report, which is dubbed a “Summary for Policymakers” because the technical report underpinning it has not yet been released.
The new Arctic report is hardly the first of late to call the IPCC’s figures into question.
An influential study of Antarctica published last year in the journal Nature suggested that the frozen continent alone could nearly double the IPCC’s sea level projections for the end of the century.
(The IPCC did concede that sea levels could be higher than its “likely” forecast in the event of a “collapse of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet” — but it added that “there is medium confidence that this additional contribution would not exceed several tenths of a meter of sea level rise during the 21st century.”)
And since then, several other scientific documents — presumably aware of this Antarctic research — have cited the possibility of particularly extreme sea level rise by 2100, even if they cannot necessarily quantify the likelihood of it occurring.
At the close of the Obama administration, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggested that, at least as an “extreme” case, seas could possibly rise by as much as 8 feet by century’s end.
And yet another report, prepared for the state of California and released this month by a team of climate researchers, has now also presented the possibility of extreme sea level scenarios by 2100 — albeit ones that have either a low or an unknown probability of occurring.
That document looked specifically at California coastlines, and found that for San Francisco, for instance, the “likely” range for sea level rise in the year 2100 under a high global warming scenario would be 1.6 to 3.4 feet. But it also said there was a 1-in-20 chance of 4.4 feet, a 1-in-200 chance of 6.9 feet, and even a chance, whose probability could not be estimated, of 10 feet.
“We’re learning an increasing amount about the instability of marine based ice, and the amount of marine based ice that there is in Antarctica,” said Bob Kopp, a sea level researcher at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the California report. “And as we take more of these processes into account, the extent of the things that we don’t know that much about and aren’t yet able to quantify well has become clearer.”
The report for the Arctic Council, by contrast, focuses on a growing Arctic contribution to sea level rise, rather than an Antarctic one. Antarctica has far greater potential to raise seas over all, but the Arctic report emphasizes that for now, Greenland is actually raising seas the most and that it too has a great deal of potential sea level rise to contribute.
“These estimates of higher sea level contributions from the Arctic will only add to the new, higher estimates of potential sea level contributions from Antarctica — which is not good news,” said Rob DeConto, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who published the aforementioned Antarctica study and also worked on the California study. He was not involved in the new Arctic report.
Here’s a figure that the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland’s Colgan provided, showing the new sea level projections for a modest and more severe warming scenario, as well as the different and changing components of sea level rise over time:

 The sources and amounts of sea level rise from 1850 to the present, and then projected to the year 2100. RCP4.5 represents a modest global warming scenario that’s not too much warmer than the goals contained in the Paris climate agreement, whereas RCP8.5 represents a more severe “business as usual” scenario (William Colgan)

The Arctic report states that Greenland, in particular, lost 375 billion tons of ice per year from 2011 through 2014, enough to single-handedly raise the global sea level by about a millimeter per year. That annual loss, the document states, is “equivalent to a block of ice measuring 7.5 kilometers or 4.6 miles on all sides.”
Meanwhile, the melting glaciers of the Alaskan, Canadian and Russian Arctic are all steadily raising seas as well and could also see their contributions grow. The report therefore estimates that 19 to 25 centimeters (0.6 to 0.8 feet) of sea level rise in this century will come from the Arctic alone, and that must be combined with all the sea level rise contributed by Antarctica, other glacier systems and the steady expansion of seawater itself as it gets warmer.
Because of the difference between the worst case and more moderate sea level rise scenarios, the report concludes that the Paris climate agreement could substantially reduce the global sea level rise seen by 2100, even though seas will still rise considerably under any scenario.
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“You have to have a deliberate and sustained implementation of Paris for 30 years before you see a significant difference in the rate of global sea level rise,” Colgan said.
The Trump administration has been divided over whether to stick with the president’s campaign pledge and withdraw the United States from that agreement. Because of the upcoming G-7 meeting in May, where Trump is likely to be pressed on climate change, many observers expect a decision relatively soon.
It is unclear how the United States may react to the new Arctic report at the upcoming Arctic council meeting — the U.S. is currently chairing the council — or whether this will also put any additional pressure on the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, scientists studying the planet’s ice and its seas continue their work.
“If you look at the history of sea level rise projections over the last 20 years, they’re going up through time,” said Colgan. “Not just because of sea level actually rising, but also because of our understanding of the processes improving through time.”

Press link for more: Washington Post

Seas could rise by over a metre by 2100 #auspol #climatechange 

CSU hosts climate change symposium Thursday
Researchers once thought the more drastic effects of climate change were centuries away, leaving humans time to adjust their conduct to mitigate the damage.
Not anymore.
“The Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century,” reports the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, adding Greenland lost 36 to 60 cubic miles of ice each year from 2002 to 2006, and Antarctica lost 36 cubic miles of ice from 2002 to 2005.


It notes 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been reported since 2001. Last year was the warmest year on record, with eight of its 12 months the warmest months on record.
Because of melting ice, sea levels worldwide have risen 8 inches since 1880, and are expected to rise from one to four feet by the year 2100.
The warming caused by greenhouse gasses trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere wouldn’t stop now even if humans immediately quit adding more carbon dioxide.
“Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades if not centuries,” says NASA. “That’s because it takes a while for the planet to respond, and because carbon dioxide – the predominant heat-trapping gas – lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.”
The public’s invited to hear more about climate change 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Ave.
The symposium “Climate Change: The Facts, The Fiction, The Future” features speakers from CSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences.
Physics Professor Kimberly Shaw will lead off with “Venus and the Greenhouse Effect: How Scientists Talk About Scientific Knowledge,” followed by geology Professor David Schwimmer talk on “Paleoclimates and What They Tell Us About the Past and Present.”
Columbus has a connection to an ancient climate. The high sea levels of the Cretaceous Period, from 145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago, created Georgia’s Fall Line, the ancient seacoast. The state chose this site for the city of Columbus so mills here could harness the hydropower from the river’s abrupt drop in elevation.
Following Schwimmer will be William Scott Gunter, an assistant professor of atmospheric science, with “Taking Earth’s Temperature: What Global Measurements Tell Us About Climate Change,” and then environmental science Professor Troy Keller will talk about “’Hacking’ Your Carbon Footprint.”
After that, the audience gets about 30 minutes to ask questions, followed by a reception with refreshments.
“This is in a sense a followup to the march on Washington,” Schwimmer said, referring to Saturday’s “March for Science” at the capital.
Those who couldn’t travel to Washington wanted to have a local event, he said.

Press link for more: Ledger-enquirer.com

Arctic Ice Melt Could Cost Trillions by 2100 #auspol 

Arctic Ice Melt Could Cost The World Trillions Of Dollars By 2100

By Chris Di’Angelo
WASHINGTON — Climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is causing the Arctic to warm “faster than any other region on Earth,” according to a new international assessment. 

The thaw there is expected to have “major consequences for ecosystems and society,” potentially costing tens of trillions of dollars by the end of this century.
“The Arctic is showing clear evidence of evolving into a new state before mid-century,” with warmer, wetter and more variable conditions, according to the report from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.
By the late 2030s, the report suggests the Arctic could be completely free of summer sea ice, likely resulting in more extreme weather in southern latitudes. 

Without immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the melting of land-based Arctic ice could raise global sea levels an estimated 10 inches by 2100, threatening coastal communities around the globe. 
“The changes are cumulative, and so what we do in the next five years is really important to slowing down the changes that will happen in the next 30 or 40 years,” James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an author of the report, said during a media briefing Tuesday.

 “The emphasis on action and immediacy is one of the key findings [of the report].”
It’s yet another terrifying reminder of what’s in store if humans continue with business as usual. 

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
A polar bear looks for food at the edge of the pack ice north of Svalbard, Norway.

The new report adds to the findings of the 2011 “Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic” study, also coordinated by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.

 Dozens of scientists contributed to the latest assessment, which mainly covers the five years from 2011 to 2015.
The cumulative cost of the changes unfolding in the Arctic could range from $7 trillion to $90 trillion by 2100, researchers found. 
The 200-plus page report calls on governments around the world to take immediate action to cut carbon emissions and to follow through on commitments made as part of the historic Paris climate pact. 

Such steps could stabilize Arctic temperatures in the later half of the century and prevent nearly 8 inches of additional sea level rise, according to the report. 
“The main message that’s coming through in this report, the main message we’d like to convey, is that over the timescale of the next 50 to 100 years, human actions can make a difference in the trajectory of the Arctic climate system,” contributing author John Walsh, a chief scientist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska, said in a video accompanying the report.

 “The way the cryosphere — ice and snow — will respond to climate change will depend a lot on the emissions scenarios, which basically are determined by human actions.” 


The assessment comes as President Donald Trump moves to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at reducing the United States’ carbon footprint and fighting climate change. 

Trump previously vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries committed to cut carbon emissions (there is some indication that cooler heads may prevail).

 He has also dismissed climate change as “bullshit” and a “hoax.” And he has given encouragement to those who support oil and gas development in Arctic waters. 
Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program, said the new report underscores the urgency of reining in emissions and allowing only sustainable development in the Arctic.
“An intact Arctic is critical to our future, but the planet’s air conditioner is in jeopardy,” Williams, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement. “The staggering pace of Arctic warming reinforces the need for scientists to continually engage policymakers and the public about these changes. Smart Arctic policy will come from sound science and shared responsibility.” 
Earlier this month, the International Union for Conservation of Nature called on world leaders to safeguard the Arctic from such threats as oil development and shipping. It highlighted seven marine areas worthy of protection.
This weekend, on Trump’s 100th day in office, thousands of Americans are expected to descend on Washington, D.C., to participate in the People’s Climate March, a demonstration against the president’s environmental policies.

Press link for more: Huffingtonpost.com

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, it was announced that a March for Science would be held Washington DC and in a host of other cities in the United States and around the world to protest the new Administration’s apparent anti-science agenda—from denial of climate change to dismantling the EPA, to budget priorities that will cut key science programs throughout the country—and to lobby for science-based policymaking as well as support for scientific research to address the challenges of the 21st century.


Meanwhile the Trump administration’s anti-science actions continue.

 Attorney General Sessions announced just this week that he was disbanding the National Commission on Forensic Science, which advises the federal government to enhance national standards in this area.
I have no idea how the Marches for Science—now over 400 in number across the globe—will play out, and how the media will interpret them.

 A series of worrisome tweets emanating from the March for Science twitter account over the past week, following similar early statements made on the groups website that were subsequently removed, claimed that scientific research promotes violence and inequity in society. 

These have been disavowed but the variety of mixed communications from leaders of the march over the past months suggests at the very least that the organization encompasses a wide diversity of agendas.
This is not surprising. After all, the scientific community has never been a one-issue community, like, say, the anti-abortion movement.

 And the current administration is pushing so many different buttons at the same time, with various attacks on fundamental rights, privacy, diversity, and freedom of expression, that these are bound to get caught up in any movement that promotes openness and free-inquiry, the hallmarks of the scientific enterprise.
Despite any such concerns, a host major science organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Union of Concerned Scientists, have signed on as supporters of the March, and are urging their members to join their local marches and speak out for science-based public policy on April 22.


If the event becomes a ‘March By Scientists’ rather than a March for Science—namely if it is dominated by scientists labeling themselves as such, in costumes like white lab coats, rather than by members of the general public supporting evidence-based public policy—that too could be problematic. 

The March for science could then appear as a self-serving political lobbying effort by the scientific community to increase its funding base.
Let’s imagine that this is not the case, and the organizers are wildly successful in attracting hundreds of thousands or million of marchers across the globe this coming Saturday.

 It is still reasonable to wonder what the long-term impact of the marches might be. 

After all, following the worldwide March for Women, in which millions of people marched around the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump administration reacted with a deaf ear. 

Just this past week the President signed legislation allowing states and local governments to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood, for example.
The situation is different in this case however, and it may have nothing directly to do with science policy, or even in those areas where science should play a key role in affecting policy.
Every week, the alternative realities invoked by the Trump administration are being demonstrated, by events, to be vacuous. 

The administration claimed it would immediately end, and then fix, problems with Obamacare, and failed miserably. Donald Trump campaigned against foreign military intervention, and this week alone initiated unilateral bombings in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump pledged to immediately revise NAFTA, forcing Canada and Mexico to the table to make a better deal. 

Nothing has happened.
He promised Mexico would pay for a wall. 

However the first $2 billion installment for a wall was included in the budget proposal he presented to Congress, compensated by cuts in funding in key areas of science, but also in support of the arts and humanities in this country.
He promised to drain the swamp, but he removed restrictions on lobbyists entering government, and as the New York Times reported just this week, he has filled his administration with them, including individuals who are already facing conflict of interest allegations because of their former activities lobbying the organizations they now run.
He lobbied against Wall Street, but former Wall Street leaders dominate his cabinet and economic advisory groups.
He said he would release his taxes after his inauguration and has not. 

And he claimed he would immediate increase growth and the economy, but as the Wall Street Journal reported just this week, projections for growth of the economy have decreased sharply in recent months, as have retail sales, and the consumer price index.


These are just a few of the immediate and obvious inconsistencies. 

Further, as administration policies on energy and the environment take effect, citizens in communities with drinking water at risk from environmental threats will find that programs to avert further deterioration have been cut, and coal mining communities will find that the natural gas glut has much more to do with the continuing demise of coal than Obama’s efforts to improve air quality in the US by restricting coal plants, which, whatever Trump may claim, are bad for the environment. 

(Indeed as the New York Times reported this week, more than 200,000 tons of coal ash residue each year are produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this has been making its way into groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water supplies, even as the EPA is now delaying compliance with rules enacted to enhance the safe storage and disposal of coal ash.).
The very essence of science, indeed that which is motivating the March for Science, involves skeptical inquiry and a reliance on empirical evidence and constant testing to weed out false hypotheses and unproductive or harmful technologies as we move toward a better understanding of reality: A willingness, in short, to force beliefs and policies to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than vice versa.


Unlike its perception among much of the public and its presentation in many schools today, science is not simply a body of facts, but rather a process for deriving what the facts are. 

This process has helped us uncover hidden secrets of the Universe that never would have been dreamed of and producing technologies that have not only been largely responsible for the standard of living enjoyed by the first world today, but have also increased lifespans around the world. 

With this process the very possibility of “alternative facts” disappears.
By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. 

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.
In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. 

Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.
The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. 

The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. 

In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

Press link for more: Scientific American

The Science that reveals #ClimateChange is Sound. #auspol 

Valley Voice: The science that reveals climate change is sound

By Dwight Fine 

In his April 10 Valley Voice, “Another opinion on climate science,” Larry Wilhelmsen expresses skepticism over climate change and bases that skepticism, in part, on a petition signed by “31,000 people with various science-related degrees,” and on two publications by atmospheric scientists. 

This illustrates the denialist techniques of “fake experts” and “magnified minority.”
The “petition signed by 31,000 scientists” has long since been discredited. 

The petition was sent out by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a small group calling itself a research organization. 

Anyone with a bachelors degree or higher in a science-related field was invited to sign. 

Examination of the signatures showed that only about 0.1% of the signers had ever had any involvement with climate science research.

I do not feel that my own Ph.D. in chemistry qualifies me to speak with authority on climatology; instead, I look for the consensus of scientists who have actually done research in the field and have published their results in peer-reviewed journals.

Studies of publications of climatologists have been carried out at Queensland University, the University of Chicago and Princeton University. These studies examined some 12,000 publications.

 The average for the studies showed that 97 percent of climate scientists supported the hypothesis that global warming is real and mainly induced by human activity.

Furthermore, some 30 major scientific societies such as the American Chemical, Physical and Geological Societies have now endorsed this hypothesis, as have the national science academies of 80 countries. Are we to believe that all of these scientists, societies and academies are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to perpetrate a hoax?
Wilhelmsen states that climate has changed forever and that advocates of human-induced climate change have stopped calling it global warming because warming was stopping. Stopping? 2016 was the warmest year on record, according to data reported by NASA and NOAA, and 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Yes, the climate has always changed, but it has never changed at such an abrupt rate as we are observing now. The term ”climate change” came into use so as to be more inclusive of events other than increased surface temperatures.
Such events include:

1) increased severity of blizzards, tornadoes, flooding and wildfires;

2) sea level rise;

3) warming of oceans and increasing acidification of ocean waters due to increased concentrations of carbonic acid; this has led to extensive destruction of coral reefs;

4) declining Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets;

5) declining Arctic sea ice – we now have cruise ships sailing the once impenetrable Northwest Passage;

6) retreating of glaciers in the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, Rockies and Alaska.


As to the “pleasures” we owe to fossil fuels the Wilhelmsen referenced, such pleasures are becoming limited. Reserves of coal and oil are finite and non-renewable, and these fuels become increasingly difficult, expensive and hazardous to extract as reserves are depleted. Landscapes are littered with abandoned strip mines and oilfields, often laden with toxic chemicals. Renewable energy would seem to offer far greater potential in the way of jobs and development.
For readers confused by denialist rhetoric in regard to climate change, I recommend the websites climate.nasa.gov and skeptical science.com.
Dwight Fine is a retired research chemist living in Palm Springs. Email him at dwigf@msn.com.

Press link for more: Elpaso Times

Climate Change Predictions are accurate #auspol #science 

By Robert S. Eshelman 

Climate change contrarians have used many arguments to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that the atmosphere is warming and humans are to blame. 

They’ve alleged that tens of thousands of scientists, working across dozens of different disciplines, have organized a vast conspiracy to manipulate data. They’ve said more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will actually be a benefit because it will boost agricultural production. And they’ve even said that global warming has paused in recent years.

 

But their primary tactic these days appears to be to acknowledge that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing due to human causes, but suggest that the scientific community just can’t pin down what impact those emissions will have on the climate system.

 

Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt made that claim during his Senate confirmation hearing, as did former ExxonMobil CEO turned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

 

Kyle Armour of the University of Washington, writing in Nature Climate Change, says that, actually, the scientific community has done quite well at developing accurate predictions of how sensitive the atmosphere and oceans are to carbon pollution.

 

The debate, he says, pivots around a number called equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), which is the temperature change that scientists expect to occur with a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere compared to before the Industrial Revolution.

 

“This is the number that’s been essentially at the heart of climate change predictions for decades now,” he said. “It has a lot of policy relevance. If this number is high, we have a very sensitive Earth that will warm up a lot in response to greenhouse gases. If the number is low, we have a less sensitive climate system that would warm up a lot less.”

 

Put another way, climate sensitivity tells us how we need to limit greenhouse gas emissions in order to stay well below an average global temperature increase of 2°C compared to the mid-19th century, which many scientists say is a dangerous threshold to pass.

 

The problem is observations collected over the past 100 years have shown the climate to be less sensitive to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations than computer models of the climate have predicted.

 

And that’s where Armour got to work.

 

“It appeared that newer observations suggested a fairly low climate sensitivity in the range of about 2°C for a doubling of CO2, whereas the models suggested a higher climate sensitivity more in the range of 3°C for a doubling of CO2,” he said. “What I was interested in with the study was basically how much of the discrepancy between the observations and the models could be explained by the fact that climate sensitivity changes over time.”

 
 

There’s an incredible amount of inertia built into Earth’s climate system. The increased amount of energy trapped in the atmosphere due to all of the greenhouse gas emissions from our coal-fired power plants and internal combustion engines takes many decades to fully take effect.
And the climate system works in complex ways. When rising air temperatures in the Arctic melt summer sea ice, for example, it creates larger areas of dark, open ocean which absorb rather than reflect sunlight, which in turn causes more global warming. That type of feedback loop combined with the inertia of the climate system means climate change doesn’t move along smooth, linear plots on a line graph.

 

Armour found that while observations might show climate sensitivity to be on the lower end, the models are picking up quite well the amount of warming that emerges over the long-term.

 

“The conclusions are really two-fold,” said Armour. “When the models are treated consistently with the observations, that is measuring climate sensitivity within the models in the same way you would with the observations, it brings that value of sensitivity in the models downward, meaning they’re not too sensitive.”

 

“But the other way you could view the results,” he added, “is that the model range of future warming is rather realistic, meaning that our apparent climate sensitivity we get from the observations can be expected to increase in the future, meaning more global warming than you might naïvely expect from taking just that low value that people have been talking about from the observations.”

 

Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist not involved in the study, said Armour’s findings complemented the results of a 2016 report on climate sensitivity conducted by researchers at NASA and Columbia University. 

 

“What Armour finds is that [feedback loops] do change and in such a way that if you estimate the final sensitivity from just the early period you will end up underestimating the ECS,” he said in an email. “This is important because that’s almost exactly what’s happening when we try and use recent temperature trends to estimate the ECS. Those estimates have tended to come in lower than others, in ways that aren’t consistent with our understandings of processes or paleoclimate. So this result makes those studies much more consistent with other methods.”

 

Armour pointed to a pair of feedbacks that have yet to take effect, but are likely to lead to significant levels of warming.

 

“Over the next several decades to centuries we expect the Southern Ocean to warm up almost as much as the Arctic and get that big, positive feedback to start kicking in,” he said. “So it’s really that delay in the positive feedbacks kicking in that causes this increase in climate sensitivity into the future.”

 

That feedback in the southern hemisphere is projected to occur when ocean temperatures in the Southern Ocean warm, melting sea ice, like is already happening in the Arctic, causing the ocean to absorb more sunlight and leading to greater amounts warming.

 

Increased warming in the eastern tropical Pacific over the next several decades, he added, is is likely to diminish cloud cover in the region. That cloud cover, like sea ice in the Arctic and Southern Ocean, reflects incoming sunlight. 

 

“Initially in the very early stages of global warming, like today, like we’ve seen over the last hundred years, your clouds in the eastern tropical Pacific are actually acting to limit global warming, it has a negative, damping impact,” he said. “But in the future, say over the next several decades, we expect those to be a positive feedback, enhancing global warming.”

 

What Armour didn’t find was any suggestion that Earth’s climate might somehow absorb all of our increased greenhouse gas emissions and warm less than any climate model has predicted.

 

“There are no examples of models showing a decrease in sensitivity by any significant amount,” he said. “That range of predicted warming in the future, is actually, as far as we can tell, pretty accurate.”

 

And those predictions, whether gleaned from UN reports or NASA or any other peer-reviewed account, warn of dangerous changes to the climate, which could imperil millions of people and future generations.

 

“This is a good result for the scientists — because it closes a hole of inconsistency — but in terms of the ‘public’ argument, this won’t matter,” said NASA’s Schmidt. “The contrarians have been ignoring studies like this for years, and I doubt they will stop doing so now.”

Press link for more: Seeker.com

Climate Change rerouted a Yukon River. #auspol 

Climate change reroutes a Yukon river in a geological instant
Water from a melting Canadian glacier is flowing south into the Pacific Ocean rather than north to the Bering Sea. 

By John Schwartz New York Times APRIL 17, 2017 — 3:42PM

 

In a handout photo, an aerial view of the ice canyon that now carries meltwater from the Kaskawulsh Glacier away from the Slims River and toward the Kaskawulsh River. In the blink of a geological eye, climate change has helped reverse the flow of water melting from the glacier in Canada’s Yukon, a hijacking that scientists call “river piracy.”

In the blink of a geological eye, climate change has helped reverse the flow of water melting from a glacier in Canada’s Yukon, a hijacking that scientists call “river piracy.”
This engaging term refers to one river capturing and diverting the flow of another. It occurred last spring at the Kaskawulsh Glacier, one of Canada’s largest, with a suddenness that startled scientists.
Much of the meltwater from the glacier normally flows to the north into the Bering Sea via the Slims and Yukon rivers. A rapidly retreating and thinning glacier — accelerated by global warming — caused the water to redirect to the south, and into the Pacific Ocean.
Last year’s unusually warm spring produced melting waters that cut a canyon through the ice, diverting more water into the Alsek River, which flows to the south and on into the Pacific, robbing the headwaters to the north.
The scientists concluded that the river theft “is likely to be permanent.”
Daniel Shugar, an assistant professor of geoscience at the University of Washington-Tacoma and colleagues described the phenomenon in a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
River piracy has been identified since the 19th century by geologists, and it has generally been associated with events such as tectonic shifts and erosion occurring thousands or even millions of years ago. Those earlier episodes of glacial retreat left evidence of numerous abandoned river valleys, identified through the geological record.
In finding what appears to be the first example of river piracy observed in modern times, Shugar and colleagues used more recent technology, including drones, to survey the landscape and monitor the changes in the water coursing away from the Kaskawulsh Glacier.
The phenomenon is unlikely to occur so dramatically elsewhere, Shugar said in a telephone interview, because the glacier itself was forming a high point in the landscape and serving as a drainage divide for water to flow one way or another. As climate change causes more glaciers to melt, however, he said “we may see differences in the river networks and where rivers decide to go.”
Changes in the flow of rivers can have enormous consequences for the landscape and ecosystems of the affected areas, as well as water supplies. When the shift abruptly reduced water levels in Kluane Lake, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported, it left docks for lakeside vacation cabins — which can be reached only by water — high and dry.
The riverbed of the Slims River basin, now nearly dry, experienced frequent and extensive afternoon dust storms through the spring and summer of last year, the paper stated.
The impacts of climate change, like sea level rise or the shrinkage of a major glacier, are generally measured over decades, not months as in this case. “It’s not something you could see if you were just standing on the beach for a couple of months,” Shugar said.
The researchers concluded that the rerouted flow from the glacier shows that “radical reorganizations of drainage can occur in a geologic instant, although they may also be driven by longer-term climate change.” Or, as a writer for the CBC put it in a story about the phenomenon last year, “It’s a reminder that glacier-caused change is not always glacial-paced.”
The underlying message of the new research is clear, said Shugar. “We may be surprised by what climate change has in store for us — and some of the effects might be much more rapid than we are expecting.”
The Nature Geoscience paper is accompanied by an essay from Rachel Headley, an assistant professor of geoscience and glacier expert at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside who has studied river piracy incidents from thousands and even millions of years ago.
“That the authors were able to capture this type of event almost as it was happening is significant in and of itself,” she said in an interview via e-mail. As for the deeper significance of the incident, she said, “While one remote glacial river changing its course in the Yukon might not seem like a particularly big deal, glacier melt is a source of water for many people, and the sediments and nutrients that glacier rivers carry can influence onshore and offshore ecological environments, as well as agriculture.”
Her article in Nature Geoscience concludes that this “unique impact of climate change” could have broad consequences. “As the world warms and more glaciers melt, populations dependent upon glacial meltwater should pay special attention to these processes.”
Another glacier expert not involved in the research, Brian Menounos of the University of Northern British Columbia, said that while glaciers have waxed and waned as a result of natural forces over the eons, the new paper and his own research underscore the fact that the recent large-scale retreat of glaciers shows humans and the greenhouse gases they produce are reshaping the planet. “Clearly, we’re implicated in many of those changes,” he said.

Press link for more: Star Tribune

Sea Level Rise Will Be Catastrophic. #auspol 

A state-commissioned report on climate change released Wednesday raises the stakes for fighting global warming, offering a clearer and, in some cases, more catastrophic picture of how much sea levels will rise in California.

By Kurtis Alexander
The Bay Area will see the ocean swell as much as 3.4 feet by 2100 if significant action isn’t taken, the report says.

 The scientists who produced the study pegged the prospect of that outcome at 67 percent.

 Tougher action on greenhouse gases would mean a lesser rise of up to 2.4 feet, the study says.
The scope of the likely rise is largely in line with earlier estimates, but not completely. 

One worst-case scenario says ocean levels could rise 10 feet by century’s end, which would swamp countless homes, roads, harbors and even airports along the coast.

“We have learned that the potential for a higher sea level is greater than we thought,” said Gary Griggs, a professor of Earth sciences at UC Santa Cruz and one of seven climate experts who prepared the report.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency thinks the Paris climate change agreement is a “bad deal” for the US. According to Reuters, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not confirm in that same statement, given sunday, whether the United States would remain in the global climate change pact. 

In the 2015 agreement, nearly all countries agreed to halt or curb their greenhouse gas emissions, even the world’s biggest emitter China.

Media: WochIt Media

The 71-page document was requested by the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Ocean Protection Council, in collaboration with the governor’s office, to help state and local officials plan for rising seas.
The report, an update of a 2013 state analysis, lays out expected ocean levels through 2150 for a number of locations and scenarios varying with the amount of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Last year, nearly 200 nations committed in Paris to curb greenhouse gases enough so that the Earth’s temperature wouldn’t rise more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

The emission targets are not binding, however, and many scientists predict that President Trump’s executive order aimed at repealing Obama administration limits on coal-fired power plant pollution will prevent the U.S. from reaching its target.
The new analysis for California is based largely on recent, better information on ice melt at the Earth’s poles.


The main drivers of rising seas to date have been melting glaciers and the expansion of water that naturally occurs as temperatures warm. 

However, thawing ice sheets will soon become the primary contributor, according to the state-commissioned study.
The report indicates that Greenland has enough ice to raise global sea level by 24 feet while Antarctica has enough to lift oceans 187 feet. 

Glaciers, meanwhile, contain only enough ice to raise seas 1.5 feet.
While these continent-size masses of ice are not expected to completely melt, even a small amount of liquefaction could have big effects, particularly for California.
Because the ocean at the poles is lifted by strong gravitational forces, when that ice thaws and water is released toward the tropics, the liquid relaxes and spreads out, according to Griggs.
“It turns out for Antarctica, the biggest impact is along the California coast,” he said.
For every foot of global sea-level rise caused by melting ice in the western Antarctic, California will see the the ocean rise about 1.25 feet, according to the report.
The report emphasizes the importance of preparing for the spike.
“California leads the way in both addressing climate change and protecting our coastal and ocean communities and resources,” Jenn Eckerle, deputy director of the Ocean Protection Council, said in a statement.

 “Our statewide policy on sea-level rise is another example of that leadership.

 We provide guidance to state agencies and local governments for incorporating sea-level rise projections into planning, permitting, investment, and other decisions.”

Press link for more: SFGate.com

The Solution Is Global Equality #auspol 

The Solution To Extremism Is Global Equality

By Stephan Said
The solution to extremism surrounding us today is global equality. 

To stop the religious, ethnic, and political extremism killing people from Colorado Springs, to Baghdad, San Bernardino and Bamako — to stop the environmental extremism that is burning up our planet — we must stop global inequality, imperialism and greed.
The entire human race is faced with a great ideological dilemma. 

We cannot separate ISIL, planned-parenthood shooters, or global warming. From extreme violence to extreme weather, extremism is rising like the oceans around us because the moral bankruptcy of our troubled world is pushing people and our planet to extremes — suicide bombings and natural disasters.
What we are witnessing is the failure of all existing ideologies and socio-economic systems on earth to have created a sustainable society in which we live in peace. 

We are all responsible for this failure. 

We have destroyed the cradle of civilization, killed millions and created the biggest refugee crisis in generations, for the control of the oil that is making the ice caps melt. 

Anyone who is angry is justified.
However mistaken violent extremism is as a response, it is offering would-be recruits a way to do something to change this unjust world not tomorrow, but today. 

If we want to win this war, we can only do so by lifting a higher, universal ideology by which humankind can live in peace with each other and with nature.
This ideological war is as old as human civilization, and so is the answer. 

No civilization is sustainable unless all of its members are treated as equals, and unless that civilization lives in harmony with nature.

Writers such as Arundhati Roy, Thomas Piketty, Nicolas Henin and Naomi Klein have drawn these connections in recent articles. But, the fact is, humankind has known the deal for thousands of years. We don’t have time to waste restating the obvious. It is urgent. The human race is facing its long-anticipated day of reckoning with its own failure to create a just world.
We have to pick up the torch where Martin Luther King, Jr. left it. 

The cause of global warming and of rising violence between us on earth is due to social and economic inequality. The answer is to organize a mass, global non-violent movement for equality.
We must get beyond the institutional language of a “more equitable world.” Equality is a universal way of being that must become a new socio-economic order that commits to and promises the idea that all people everywhere live equally with each other and nature.
We must demand a united global society across borders. 

We must demand every human being is cared for, fed, housed, educated, given equal voice and dignity, everywhere. We must demand a world in which humankind restores everything we take from nature. 

We must demand that we leave our world better than we found it, not selfishly for our children, but out of deference to the laws of nature itself.


First and foremost we must demand this of ourselves, as it will take unbelievable tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness to do so. 

Then, we must demand this of our governments, religions, political parties, and economic forces, and we must be willing to go into the streets non-violently demanding this global shift.
When we accept that we are all equals with each other and nature, we will not be able to be manipulated and separated from each other by false notions such as ethnicity, religiosity, nationality, or superiority of any kind. This is the only way to peace.
Peace is not impossible. 

I know, because I am the impossible.

 My aunt and cousins from Mosul, Iraq are now refugees because ISIL occupied their next-door neighbors’ house. 

The U.S. sent fighter jets and bombed it to the ground. They had to abandon everything and are somewhere across the border in Turkey.
My father’s Iraqi, Muslim family are refugees for the same reason that my mother’s Austrian, part-Catholic part-Jewish family were refugees and imprisoned or died in Dachau, Mauthausen and Auschwitz.

 Including my cousins’ children today, 6 consecutive generations of my family have been refugees as Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, because of inequality.
With all sides of the prevailing conflict consuming our world today within me, I’ve spent my life studying the single cause of war and hatred simply to be at peace with and construct my own identity. Inequality is the single cause of the chaos enveloping our world.
The majority of us on earth, in every country, in every religion, of every ethnicity knows what we have to do. 

Many people, parents, teachers, governments, and organizations are already working on the systemic shift necessary for the survival of humankind and our planet.

 I have given my entire career and written countless songs to build such a movement. But now, we must come together and turn our demand into action.
We are faced with the task of creating a new global socio-economic model sufficient to create sustainable peace on earth. A mass non-violent movement demanding that all people live equally with each other, loving each other, caring for our planet, is the only solution. 

We have to start today.
Press link for more: Huffington Post

“The Anthropologist ” 

Susan Crate visited Siberia with her daughter and a film crew in tow.
Thus began a seven-year journey that crisscrossed the globe and resulted in a concise yet urgent documentary on how climate change has affected communities from Siberia and the South Pacific to the Andes and Chesapeake Bay.
The Anthropologist follows George Mason University environmental anthropology professor Susan Crate and her daughter, Katie Yegorov-Crate, as they talk to primarily indigenous people about the effects of disappearing permafrost, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and other climate-related phenomena.
Released in 2015 by Ironbound Films, the 78-minute movie will be screened in multiple venues around Fairfax County throughout the next month in celebration of Earth Day on Apr. 22.
GMU will host a 4:00 p.m. screening of The Anthropologist on Apr. 17 at the Johnson Center Cinema as part of the office of sustainability’s Earth Week.
Crate helped organize the first Earth Day at GMU with English professor David Kuebrich in 2005.
The film will also screen at 4:00 p.m. on Apr. 23 at the Stacy C. Sherwood Center in Fairfax during the city’s 32nd annual Spotlight on the Arts Festival, and the Northern Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club will sponsor a 6:30 p.m. screening on May 16 at the Angelika Film Center in Merrifield’s Mosaic District.
Crate, who will be present for question-and-answer sessions at all three scheduled showings, hopes to see a continuation of the “very positive” response that the documentary has gotten from audiences since its world premiere on Nov. 13, 2015 at the documentary film festival Doc NYC.


“I’m hoping that it will do what it’s done in other places in terms of raising local awareness about climate change and helping people to see the importance of how we make decisions in our own lives,” Crate said.
Crate started working with indigenous communities in Siberia in the late 1980s, when it was part of the Soviet Union.
Since 1991, she has focused specifically on the Viliui Sakha, a Turkic-speaking group living on the Viliui River in the country’s northeastern region, since she studied their summer solstice festival for her master’s thesis in folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Ironbound Films first approached Crate about recording her field work for a documentary in 2008.
Directors Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger had previously done a film called The Linguists that examined disappearing languages, and they were interested in following it up with a look at how communities are responding to climate change.
The filmmakers received Crate’s name from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which provides funding for her expeditions through its office of polar programs.
Crate says that she was initially hesitant about allowing a film crew to join her at the field site, since she worried that their presence would interfere with her research. However, she changed her mind after considering that a movie could raise more awareness about climate change, making the issue more accessible to general audiences.
“I realized that a lot of people did not get climate change just with the science shown to them,” Crate said. “They really needed something different to understand it, so I thought maybe this will contribute to a greater understanding by the public of climate change if they could actually see people who are being affected now.”
Crate helped the documentarians file a proposal with the NSF, and they eventually got a $50,000 grant to film her summer 2010 expedition to Sakha villages in Siberia.
As they watched Crate’s work with different communities, the filmmakers realized that there was another more personal angle that they could explore: the parallel mother-daughter relationships between Crate and her daughter, and famed 20th-century anthropologist Margaret Mead and her still-living daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson.
Katie Yegorov-Crate, who was 13 when filming on The Anthropologist started, has accompanied her mother on trips to Siberia since she was six months old. She also has family in the region, since that is where Crate met her father.
“The problems with climate change and the way that it’s affecting her family there really hit home for [Katie],” said Crate, who made sure that her daughter had some say in what would be included in the documentary. “[The filmmakers] thought this would be a great way to engage young people in the film and get their attention.”
After filming Crate’s work in Siberia, the documentary crew asked if they could accompany her to other regions where they could observe the effects of climate change on local communities.
She ultimately traveled to Kiribati, a nation composed of islands in the South Pacific that is being affected by rising sea levels, and the Andes in Peru, where local residents are observing the impact of melting glaciers.
Crate also visited coastal communities along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia to get a glimpse of how climate change is affecting people in the U.S.
While she describes the experience less as a surprise than a confirmation of her understanding of the effects that climate change is having on indigenous communities, Crate says that she was struck by people’s resilience and ability to adapt even as environmental challenges, such as diminishing water and other resources, substantially altered their daily lives.
Most of the people that Crate met over the course of the documentary rely on nature to make a living, either growing their own crops or herding animals for food. They had a range of reactions to their newfound circumstances and uncertain future, from apathy or defeatism to calls to action.
As an anthropologist, Crate sees the world’s hesitant response to climate change as the result of “western consumer societies” where humans have become disconnected from the natural world, making it difficult for people to truly grasp the consequences of climate change since they often do not directly see them.
“Our culture is very separated,” Crate said. “We buy everything from the store. We don’t grow our own food. We don’t have that understanding of that dependence, because we think we can just go to the store.”
Though she says that she does not want to get political, Crate argues that the U.S. has a particular responsibility to address climate change due to the amount of influence it wields on the world stage.
The current White House administration’s decision to roll back regulations designed to enforce compliance with the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sends an unfortunate message to the rest of the world, Crate says.
Regardless of what the federal government does, though, taking action and building communities on local, regional, and state levels continue to be crucial to protecting the environment and fighting climate change, according to Crate, a Fairfax City resident who serves on the city’s environmental sustainability committee.
The City of Fairfax environmental sustainability committee advises the city council on policies and programs related to the environment, promoting resource conservation, self-sufficiency, and the use of alternative and renewable energy.
Crate hopes that the upcoming screenings of The Anthropologist will give Fairfax County residents a better understanding of climate change while also inspiring them to get involved in their communities.
“People are very moved by the human stories that [the documentary] shows,” Crate said. “It’s more like storytelling than trying to jam science down people’s throats or force people to think a certain way based on scientific fact. When you actually can see the effect that it’s having on people’s lives, I think it’s much more powerful.”

Press link for more: Fairfax Times