Climate-Conscious Monday

December 16, 2013

Surreal-Artworks-Made-by-Xetobyte-1Monday again and there ain’t much I can do about it — chilly and a bit overcast this morning on California’s north coast with a near-full moon (Waxing Gibbous, 99 percent illuminated) hanging majestically out over the Pacific Ocean.

Weather is returning to about normal for these parts, but some US residents are still feeling the smack of pre-winter weather, the cold spot, the northeast where attitude is the difference: “We can’t do anything about the weather,” she said. “Just bundle up, warm up with hot coffee, cocoa or tea and stay positive.”

An ominous omen.

(Illustration found here).

In that we could have done something about the weather years ago, but most-likely we’re now too late. Staying positive really won’t accomplish much, beyond just feeling better.
And the earth isn’t feeling too-all right at present. Over the weekend a couple of reports indicating climate change is going to screw-up the weather even more — as in past science, underestimation is a key finding.
As in the ice melt at the poles, the north, the wonder — via Slate on Friday:

The situation for the two poles is different.
In the north the Arctic ice floats on the ocean, and on the south the Antarctic ice is over land and sea.
This means that they way they melt — how quickly, how much, even where specifically in those regions — are different.
Still, the fact is the ice at both poles is melting.
We’ve known this for quite some time.
And some new data show it’s even worse than we thought.
Measurements of Antarctic ice made by the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite show that it’s losing about 150 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice on average every year just from the West Antarctica ice sheet alone.
This is notably more than what had been previously estimated, and is likely to be more accurate due to the satellite’s better coverage and use of radar to measure ice thickness.

This amount of loss is staggering; it’s equivalent to about a hundred billion tons.
That’s equivalent in volume to a mountain about four kilometers (2.5 miles) high, roughly the size of a medium-size mountain in the Rockies.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell, it’s not clear what exactly will happen as more ice is lost at the poles; but it’s a safe bet we’ll get more extreme weather as it occurs.
And it’s also a safe bet these changes won’t be beneficial.
They’re happening too quickly.
Plants, animals, humans: We can’t adapt quickly enough to our rapidly fluctuating environment.
That’s what worries me.
Not so much cripplingly hot summers or more severe winters — as bad as those will be — but also the changes in rainfall, flooding, fires, and more.
Our ability to feed ourselves depends very strongly on the weather, and that weather is changing.
The house odds are getting worse, and the stakes are very high indeed.

Indeed, stay positive. And we’re positive the melting ice does really, really have an effect on the earth, and starting with greenery.
From Nature World News last Thursday — I didn’t notice it until this weekend:

The Arctic continues to get warmer and greener, even though this summer was cooler than the last, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday with the release of its Arctic Report Card 2013.
Cooler temperatures in the summer helped curb the Arctic region’s sea ice loss and extensive melting along the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, but there were still regional weather extremes such as record low May snowfall in Eurasia and record high summer temperatures in Alaska.

“The Arctic Report Card presents strong evidence of widespread, sustained changes that are driving the Arctic environmental system into a new state and we can expect to see continued widespread and sustained change in the Arctic,” said Martin Jeffries, principal editor of the 2013 Report Card.
“But we risk not seeing those changes if we don’t sustain and add to our current long-term observing capabilities.
Observations are fundamental to Arctic environmental awareness, government and private sector operations, scientific research, and the science-informed decision-making required by the U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic.”
Among the report card’s key observations were that as much as 44 percent of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet experienced melting and that the region is showing a trend toward greening as vegetation responds to a longer growing season.
Caribou and reindeer herds continue to have unusually low numbers, the report said, while muskox numbers have been increasing.
In the Arctic waters there is an increased presence of some fish, including the Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic cod.

The warming environment is sucking in all the natural plant and animal life, either eliminating them, or forcing them to seek life elsewhere — soon there will be no ‘elsewhere.’
Mainly because ‘elsewhere’ is everywhere.
The Italian Alps are also melting faster than expected — from Climate News Network this morning:

It was only a single, withered conifer needle, but it told a dramatic story of climate change.
Glaciologists found it in a set of ice cores drilled through a glacier on top of Mount Ortles, in the Italian Alps.
It lay about 80 metres below the glacial surface, encased in solid ice, and carbon dating confirmed that it had blown from the branches of Larix decidua, the European larch, 2,600 years earlier.
It was found about 30 kilometres from a far more dramatic exposure: the body of Ötzi the Iceman, a mummified Bronze Age corpse revealed by a melting glacier in 1991.
Both finds deliver the same uncompromising message: for at least 5,000 years – because Ötzi perished around that time – the Italian Alps had continued to stay frozen throughout the year.
And now they are melting.
Or, to put it the scientific way, in the words of Paolo Gabrielli, of Ohio State University, who led the project:
“Our first results indicate that the current atmospheric warming at high elevation in the Alps is outside the normal cold range held for millennia.
“This is consistent with the rapid, ongoing shrinking of glaciers at high elevation in this area.”

And to make you feel better, this from Climate Central:

A new greenhouse gas that is 7,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the Earth has been discovered by researchers in Toronto.
The newly discovered gas, perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), has been in use by the electrical industry since the mid-20th century.
The chemical, that does not occur naturally, breaks all records for potential impacts on the climate, said the researchers at the University of Toronto’s department of chemistry.
“We claim that PFTBA has the highest radioactive efficiency of any molecule detected in the atmosphere to date,” said Angela Hong, one of the co-authors.

The good, ‘feel better’ part to this shit? Concentrations of PFTBA in the atmosphere are low – 0.18 parts per trillion in the Toronto area – compared to 400 parts per million for carbon dioxide. So PFTBA does not in any way displace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal as the main drivers of climate change.

That’s a relief.
Discussing climate change craziness is even worse on a Monday.

(Illustration out front found here).

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