Archive for January 2011
NASA has made a this striking animation that shows a 130-year history of how global temperatures have become warmer in most parts of the world. The polar regions are warming fastest and quickest as is clearly shown. Here’s the temperature scale and more detailed explanation from NASA follows. — Stephen
Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Five-Year Average Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2010
This analysis concerns only temperature anomalies, not absolute temperature. Temperature anomalies are computed relative to the base period 1951-1980. The reason to work with anomalies, rather than absolute temperature is that absolute temperature varies markedly in short distances, while monthly or annual temperature anomalies are representative of a much larger region. Indeed, we have shown (Hansen and Lebedeff, 1987) that temperature anomalies are strongly correlated out to distances of the order of 1000 km
This color-coded map displays a progression of changing global surface temperatures anomalies from 1880 through 2010. The final frame represents global temperature anomalies averaged from 2006 to 2010.http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003800/a003817/2010updatewithdates_30fps.m4v
Although cooler in the south where every one lives, Canada’s north has been breaking records for warmth in the middle of winter in a region where there is no sun until spring! I’ve covered this a couple of weeks ago and the reasons why Arctic Hothouse Turns Europe into an Icebox
This is a more recent report from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder by Bob Henson. — Stephen
“Just how mild has it been? The map at right shows departures from average surface temperatures for the period from 17 December 2010 to 15 January 2011, as calculated by NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory.
The blue blip along the southeast U.S. coast indicates readings between 3°C and 6°C (5.4–10.8°F) below average for the 30-day period as a whole…
What really jumps out, though, is a blob of green, yellow, orange, and red covering a major swath of northern and eastern Canada. The largest anomalies here exceed 21°C (37.8°F) above average, which are very large values to be sustained for an entire month.
To put this picture into even sharper focus, let’s take a look at Coral Harbour, located at the northwest corner of Hudson Bay in the province of Nunavut. On a typical mid-January day, the town drops to a low of –34°C (–29.2°F) and reaches a high of just -26°C (–14.8°F). Compare that to what Coral Harbour actually experienced:
- On the 6th of the month, the low temperature was –3.7°C (25.3°F). That’s a remarkable 30°C (54°F) above average.
- On both the 5th and 6th, Coral Harbor inched above the freezing mark. Before this year, temperatures above 0°C (32°F) had never been recorded in the entire three months of January, February, and March.
‘Governments Fail to Understand Gravity of the Situation’ – Stern
By Stephen Leahy
[I wrote this piece 16 December 2009 and it remains fully relevant today and is posted here for 1st time. And please note that the +5C cited here is the global average which means the warming could easily be 10 C warmer where you live. All of this is well beyond anything humanity has ever faced -- Stephen]
On its current carbon emissions path, humanity faces a 50-percent chance of warming the planet a whopping 5.0 degrees C by the end of this century, warned Nicholas Stern, an economist who is chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.
“Hundreds of millions of people will be forced to move. It will be the most severe global conflict in human history. That is what the science is telling us,” said Stern, author of the well-known Stern Review, the 2006 report that documented the effect of global warming on the world economy.
Humanity’s other option is to embrace a new energy revolution unlike anything ever seen.
And cities will be on the leading edge of this revolution, he said.
Cities use 80 percent of all energy and are responsible for the bulk of emissions. The good news is that cities are also the easiest places to get major emissions reductions because energy services are centralised and collaboration is easier.
“Local mayors and councils can more easily agree on policies and direct their administration to take action,” he said.
“Cities are already doing the work of national governments on climate,” said David Cadman, president of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, an international association of local governments that is hosting a mayors’ conference featuring mayors from more than 100 cities as part of the climate negotiations here.
Copenhagen to be carbon-neutral by 2025
Report: +2.4C by 2020 leaves Billions Hungry? Scary but Untrue. Inside Story of Good Intentions Gone Wrong (and how the media fell for it)
Food Report Released Knowing the Science Was Wrong
By Stephen Leahy
Jan 19 2011
In the year 2020 climate change will devastate much of the world’s harvest leaving one in five people starving because the global temperature will have shot up an average of 2.4 degrees C a new report released Tuesday shows.
Shocking. Stunning. Scary even. And completely untrue.
Days before the report’s release I told the author Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund (FEU), an Argentina-based NGO, it was impossible to get to 2.4 degrees of warming by 2020. Global temperatures have increased 0.8C in the last century and the 64-page report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Food Production: A 2020 Perspective,” is based on additional 1.6C degree increase in just nine years time.
I asked several climate experts if it was possible to reach a +2.4 degree average global temperature by 2020. Their answer: “No way”.
The reason is that the oceans absorb 93 per cent of the additional heat being trapped in the atmosphere due to the burning fossil fuels. If we stopped burning all fossil fuels and emitting other greenhouse gases today, the atmosphere would still continue to slowly heat up over the next 50 to 100 years as the oceans released that stored heat.
So ‘thank God for the oceans’ I said to Hisas who is also Executive Director of FEU-US when I explained all this via emails. And in an interview with Hisas on Monday I suggested the report be withdrawn. She refused, saying her organization had worked on the report for more than a year and the science was solid. It was all based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report and had been vetted by Osvaldo Canziani, a former co-chair of the IPCC she said.
Unfortunately Canziani was in hospital and unavailable for an interview. Read the rest of this entry »
[UPDATE 19 Jan - 25 % of state of Victoria underwater]
While flood levels drop in Queensland and Brisbane, Australia’s state of Victoria has now been hit with historic levels of flooding.
A strong La Nina enhanced by global warming seems to be behind the record flooding in Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka and elsewhere as documented in my earlier article. Part of the reason for the severity of the flooding is that the atmosphere now contains 4 per cent more water vapour as a result of the increased global temperature of roughly 0.8C.
As the planet continues to warm from the burning of fossil fuels floods will get worse, but so will droughts.
Australia’s La Niña flooding is unprecedented. At least 20 people have died, with damage and losses estimated in the many billions of dollars.
Much of the flooding is in the northeastern state of Queensland, whose rivers flow into the Coral Sea, and is expected to have a major impact on the nearby Great Barrier Reef.
Enormous amounts of sediments and pollutants are being washed off the land and are likely to have “a huge impact” on the world’s largest coral reef system, said Charlie Veron, former chief scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
“The very strong La Niña is certainly causing the floods, but climate change would seem to be enhancing the effects,” Veron wrote in an email.
See full story on how climate change is worsening the effects of the Na Nina-El Nino (ENSO) cycle.
Global Warming Worsening Impacts; Creating New ENSO ‘Flavors’
By Stephen Leahy*
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 11, 2011 (Tierramérica)
The strongest La Niña weather system in 50 years has brought historic flooding to Australia and drought to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, driving up food prices.
Scientists now believe climate change is likely enhancing the impacts of the famous El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a cyclical climate phenomenon that affects weather patterns around the world.
La Niña and El Niño are, respectively, the cold and warm phases of the ENSO cycle, and form part of the system that regulates heat in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
Both accompany simultaneous changes in surface ocean temperature and air pressure.
In conditions defined by climatologists as “neutral,” high air pressure predominates in the eastern Pacific, while low pressure predominates in the west.
The difference in pressure generates the trade winds, which blow east to west over the surface of the tropical Pacific, pushing the warm waters westward. The deeper, cooler waters then surface in the east, replacing the warm waters.
During episodes of La Niña, the differences in pressure are more marked, the trade winds blow more strongly, and the cold-water currents in the eastern Pacific intensify.
On the other hand, during El Niño, high surface air pressure in the western Pacific and lower pressure on the coasts of the Americas cause the trade winds to weaken or change direction, resulting in warmer water temperatures in the eastern Pacific.
“There has been a very rapid transition from El Niño to La Niña in 2010,” Kevin Trenberth, a senior climate scientist with the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the central U.S. state of Colorado, told Tierramérica. Read the rest of this entry »
That’s a great cartoon.
Climate change seems to be behind the shockingly warm temps across much of the eastern Arctic all winter and is likely responsible for the snow has fallen across much of the southern US. Much of Arctic ice sea melted last summer, allowing the Arctic ocean to warm up which then took longer to freeze i.e. late Dec/ Jan. And that changed the wind circulation patterns bringing polar air far south. (See my previous post that explains what is happening East Coast Blizzard and Europe’s Snowmaggddon Reveal Fingerprints of Climate Change
And for a collection of global temp graphs see this post
Arctic Hothouse Turns Europe into an Icebox )
And finally here’s a short video by Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week explaining this: Global Warming. Winter Weirding.
Africa’s Future Lies in a Green Energy Grid – Universal Access to Electricity Less Than Cost of Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Kenya switched to green energy and now more people than ever have electricity
Universal access to modern electricity would cost much less than current subsidies to fossil fuel industry
By Stephen Leahy*
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 14, 2010 (IPS)
Development in Africa could falter as climate change grips the continent, increasing the length and severity of droughts and floods by altering precipitation patterns, among other impacts.
The region needs a major shift in its economic development policies and thinking towards decentralised, green economic development, experts now say.
“The world’s big economies are largely living off financial transactions which are unconnected to development,” warns Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
“Export growth does not automatically result in green economic growth, we must look at trade for development,” said Panitchpakdi.
In a rejection of failed neoliberal economic policies, Panitchpakdi said strong national policies on investments, taxation, protection of local industries, including subsidies, and changes to less restrictive intellectual property regimes are what is needed to green economies in Africa and elsewhere.
“Green economic development underpins environmental protection, economic growth and development,” he said.
Extreme weather accounted for 76 percent of all disasters over the past 20 years. Recovery is often impossible even in the US, i.e. New Orleans 5 years after Hurricane Katrina where poor neighborhoods remain devastated
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Oct 13, 2010 (Tierramérica)
The floods that affected 20 million people in Pakistan and the devastating six-week heat wave in Russia in recent months are tragic climate events — and they’re closely linked.
“The Pakistan floods and Russia heat wave were directly connected, the atmospheric science makes that clear,” Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the U.S. National Centre for Atmospheric Research, told Tierramérica.
A long-lasting high pressure system called a “blocking high” essentially gave western Russia a dry Mediterranean summer, which in turn shifted more- than-normal moisture into the Indian monsoon, resulting in record-breaking rainfall in northern Pakistan and India, Trenberth explained.
It is difficult to determine whether climate change caused this extraordinary event, but it certainly made it much worse, according to Trenberth. “Without global warming these extremes are unlikely to have occurred,” he added.
The drought in Russian and the heavy rains in Pakistan are exactly what are expected to happen with climate change, said the expert.
“Changes in extreme weather events are the main way climate change is manifested,” he said, noting that the storms or floods that used to occur once every 200 years may now occur every 30 years.