Climate Packing the Heat

June 16, 2016

2010HanSurprise sunshine this early Thursday on California’s north coast. Forecasters had predicted overcast-showers for last night and today — as I fell asleep, sure enough, drizzle pecking at the roof.
Expecting a dreary-gray AM — but alas! A bright, near-glaring glow to the morning.
The wet maybe swooshed back to this early afternoon — according to WunderBlog, a near 25-percent chance of rain in the PM, so there’s that…

Beyond guns and alligators, there’s still the above-mentioned weather, and with a measure of time, the climate — which is going to shit in a thin-wire basket.
WMO Climate Director Dr. David Carlson said on Tuesday: ‘“The state of the climate so far this year gives us much cause for alarm, The super El Niño is only partly to blame. Abnormal is the new normal.”

(Illustration found here).

Carlson was reacting to a terrible series of studies/research released the last few days — climate-change news gets back-burner status in the wake of mass shootings. Some recent highlights…

From Climate Central this week: ‘The streak continues: May was record warm for the globe, according to NASA data released Monday. It’s now even more likely that 2016 will be the hottest year ever recorded, despite the demise of one of the strongest El Niños on record.’

And from the UK’s University of Sheffield last week:

Following record-high temperatures and melting records that affected northwest Greenland in summer 2015, a new study has provided the first evidence linking melting in Greenland to the anticipated effects of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.
Following record-high temperatures and melting records that affected northwest Greenland in summer 2015, a new study has provided the first evidence linking melting in Greenland to the anticipated effects of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.
Arctic amplification is the faster warming of the Arctic compared to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere as sea ice disappears.
It is fuelled by a feedback loop: rising global temperatures are melting Arctic sea ice, leaving dark open water that absorbs more solar radiation which in turn warms the Arctic even more.
Arctic amplification is well documented, but its effects on the atmosphere are more widely debated.

Added woes to that factor — Joe Romm at Climate Progress yesterday:

Greenland in particular has been shockingly warm this spring….
NASA reports that some parts of Greenland were 36°F (20°C) warmer than “normal” — and remember, in this map, the new “normal” is the 2001–2010 average, which means it already includes a century of human-caused warming.

Greenland holds the second-biggest chunk of land-locked ice in the world (after Antarctica), and its melt, by itself, could raise sea levels 20 feet.
Moreover, recent studies have suggested human-caused climate change is acting to melt the ice sheet faster than previously expected.
An April study “found that the climate models commonly used to simulate melting of the Greenland ice sheet tend to underestimate the impact of exceptionally warm weather episodes on the ice sheet.”

And the future is still on crack — from the Guardian on Monday:

Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will shatter the symbolic barrier of 400 parts per million (ppm) this year and will not fall below it our in our lifetimes, according to a new Met Office study.
Carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii are forecast to soar by a record 3.1ppm this year — up from an annual average of 2.1ppm — due in large part to the cyclical El Niño weather event in the Pacific, the paper says.
The surge in CO2 levels will be larger than during the last big El Niño in 1997/98, because manmade emissions have increased by 25 percent since then, boosting the phenomenon’s strength.

Even in the way-way-off regions — also from Climate Central yesterday:

A little 400 ppm history.
Three years ago, the world’s gold standard carbon dioxide observatory passed the symbolic threshold of 400 ppm.
Other observing stations have steadily reached that threshold as carbon dioxide spreads across the planet’s atmosphere at various points since then.
Collectively, the world passed the threshold for a month last year.
In the remote reaches of Antarctica, the South Pole Observatory carbon dioxide observing station cleared 400 ppm on May 23, according to an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday.
That’s the first time it’s passed that level in 4 million years (no, that’s not a typo).

Another throw-back to the fabled, late-great El Niño and CO2 — from the BBC on Monday:

The scientists used a seasonal climate model to predict sea-surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific — where the El Niño shows itself most obviously — and then linked these to a statistical relationship with CO2 to generate a picture of what levels would probably look like across the calendar year.
This gives an average for 2016 of 404.45, with a September low of 401.48 (again with errors of plus or minus 0.53ppm).
The team has already had success in forecasting the 2016 high, recorded in May, of 407.7ppm.
The group had predicted 407.57.
“It’s important to note that this year’s rise in CO2 is bigger than the last El Niño, in 1997/8, because human emissions have gone up by 25 percent since then. So, it’s the natural effect on top of the increasing human effect,” said Prof Betts.

As our environment spins out of control — there was a 30-year anniversary this week where warnings were back-burned, too.
On June 10 and 11 of 1986, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works commenced two days of hearings, convened by Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.), on the subject of “Ozone Depletion, the Greenhouse Effect, and Climate Change.”
Chris Mooney at the Washington Post last Sunday took a look back:

“This is not a matter of Chicken Little telling us the sky is falling,” Chafee said at the hearing. “The scientific evidence … is telling us we have a problem, a serious problem.”

“There is no longer any significant difference of opinion within the scientific community about the fact that the greenhouse effect is real and already occurring,” said newly elected Sen. Al Gore, who, as a congressman, had already held several House hearings on the matter.
Gore cited the Villach Conference, a scientific meeting held in Austria the previous year (1985), which concluded that “as a result of the increasing greenhouse gases it is now believed that in the first half of the next century (21st century) a rise of global mean temperature could occur which is greater than in any man’s history.”
“They were the breakthrough hearings,” remembers Rafe Pomerance, then a staffer with the World Resources Institute, who helped suggest witnesses.
“You never saw front-page coverage of this stuff.”

Included in that gathering was NASA’s James Hansen, later to become the most visible scientist in the world on the topic, and Robert Watson, later chair of the UN’s IPCC — the message then was clear: ‘Human greenhouse gas emissions would cause a major warming trend, and sea level rise to boot.’

Nowadays:

“Thirty years ago we had a Republican senator who was leading the charge on addressing what he said then was a real and serious threat of climate change from the emission of gases from fossil fuel burning,” says Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), recalling the 1986 hearings.
“You can read through all the things that Senator Chafee said back then, and it has all been proven true. It’s very disappointing that thirty years later, there is no such voice anywhere in the Republican Senate, and if you look for a micron of daylight between what the fossil fuel industry wants, and what the Republican Party in the Senate does, you won’t find it.”

A climate of denial…

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