Faster, Faster

October 6, 2012

Lost in all the political donkey/elephant shit spewed last week over the presidential debate, and, yesterday’s right-wing absurd silliness about the drop in the employment rate, was this, which should-have-been a headline-grabbing horror:

“We know Arctic sea ice is declining faster than the models predict,” Mann told the Guardian at the SXSW Eco conference in Austin, Texas.
“When you look at the major Greenland and the west Antarctic ice sheets, which are critical from the standpoint of sea level rise, once they begin to melt we really start to see sea level rises accelerate.
“The models have typically predicted that will not happen for decades but the measurements that are coming in tell us it is already happening so once again we are decades ahead of schedule.”

(Illustration found here).

And this one of the top climate-change guys, Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University (via UK’s Guardian), who despite all the science concedes even environmental brainiacs don’t really have a clear handle on what’s happening with the planet.
Scary — then there’s that nefarious methane:

Mann, who is one of the primary targets for attacks by “climate deniers,” said that there is still uncertainty about the speed of global warming as it is not clear what the impact of feedback mechanisms could be.
In particular, he pointed to the release of methane that will come as the permafrost in the arctic melts.
“We know there is methane trapped and as it escapes into the atmosphere it accelerates the warming even further,” he said.
“But we don’t know quite how much of it there is, but there is definitely the potential to lead to even greater warming than the models predict.”

Those feedback mechanisms are scary, too — Monash University (Australia) plant physiologist Roslyn Gleadow explains:
“Ice is white and reflects sunlight, ensuring that our polar regions keep cold…Areas that are ice-free are darker in colour and thus absorb sunlight; they also warm faster than if they were covered with ice.”
This is called positive feedback and makes for more heat.

And this bit from ScienceBlog on Friday:

A new study reveals that a significant amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from lakes and rivers in Southern Québec, Canada, is very old — approximately 1,000 to 3,000 years old — challenging the current models of long-term carbon storage in lakes and rivers.
Previous studies have suggested that there is a tight coupling between the terrestrial and aquatic environment such that aquatic bacteria rapidly consume modern carbon.
The new findings of the respiration of old carbon in aquatic systems suggests there may be significant lags in the coupling between these systems and further represents an additional, unaccounted for source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

While these findings are regional, McCallister and del Giorgio noted that if most northern waterways are likewise selectively processing older carbon, the global output of carbon dioxide from these ancient sources could be significant.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and its increase in the atmosphere provides a positive feedback to climate change, meaning it amplifies it.

(Via Skeptical Science)

People who aren’t curious and don’t go online are f*cked.
From the 2010 AAAS Presentation: New scientific findings are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected…”

The line might have already been crossed — we’re all f*cked.

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