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Accelerating Global Climate Change III

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Sore Throat

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Fukushima and the End of Humanity (?) PostTue Oct 29, 2013 3:17 pm  Reply with quote

Fukushima and the End of Humanity (?)

"A True Apocalypse"

We know it's bad - but how bad?

Badder than bad...10 days ago,
from this writing, the sardine fishery
of British Columbia, Canada was
reported to have "inexplicably"
collapsed. Simply no sardines were
caught and the fleet went home,
empty-handed. Starfish and seal
populations in that region are also

We've heard now about the three
complete meltdowns that are
occurring at the afflicted power plant
at Fukushima - but we've never heard
about the fact that there are actually
6 reactors at the site!

We know that this week, 2 separate
typhoons (the term for hurricanes in
the western Pacific) will be colliding
exactly over Fukushima this week, all
the better to disperse the unfathomable
tonnage of hot particles into the Pacific
Ocean Basin, set to do further ruin to
the already-collapsing ecosystems
throughout this immense area.

Were there to be a fire spread, due
to the hundreds of unsecured nuclear
fuel rods at the plant today, a chain
reaction could occur and "The Northern
Hemisphere could easily be facing an
extreme fallout situation, where
everybody would have to shelter
indoors for several months or more,"

according to Christina Consolo,
Founder of Nuked Radio. When
interviewed by Russia Today,
Consolo's assessment was that the
worst-case scenario could play out
into the deaths of "billions of people.
A true apocalypse."

Video (almost 11 mins):

Fukushima and the End of Humanity (?)
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Sore Throat

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Posts: 1923
Location: x
Arctic temperatures are at a 44,000-year high PostWed Oct 30, 2013 4:18 pm  Reply with quote

Arctic temperatures are at a 44,000-year high - and greenhouse gases are to blame, claim scientists

•University of Colorado Boulder scientists said temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic could even be hotter than 120,000 years ago

•They claim their study is the first direct evidence that the present temperatures in the region exceed the peak warmth in the Early Holocene

•The researchers used dead moss clumps emerging from receding ice caps on Baffin Island as tiny clocks

By Sarah Griffiths

Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years, scientists warned.

The study said that temperatures in the region could even be hotter than as long as 120,000 years ago.

The U.S. researchers believe the 'unprecedented warming' of Arctic Canada is due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Gifford Miller, study leader and geological sciences professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, said: 'This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.'

Scientists at the university believe their study is the first direct evidence that the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly nine per cent greater than today.

The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth’s last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and continues today.

Professor Miller and his colleagues used dead moss clumps emerging from receding ice caps on Baffin Island as tiny clocks.

According to their paper, published in journal Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists compared 145 radiocarbon-dated plants with gas bubbles trapped in ice cores from the region, which show layers of snow over time and enable researchers to reconstruct past temperatures.

The plants were collected in the highlands of Baffin Island, which is located east of Greenland is the fifth largest island in the world and lies mostly inside the Arctic Circle.

The results showed the plants had been trapped in the ice for at least 44,000 years but could have been entombed for up to 120,000 years - suggesting that the temperatures in the area have not been so high for as long as 120,000 years.

'The key piece [of information] here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,' said Professor Miller, who is also a fellow at the university's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

'Although the Arctic has been warming since about 1900, the most significant warming in the Baffin Island region didn’t really start until the 1970s,' said Professor Miller.

'It is really in the past 20 years that the warming signal from that region has been just stunning. All of Baffin Island is melting, and we expect all of the ice caps to eventually disappear, even if there is no additional warming,' he added.

The scientists said temperatures across the Arctic have been rising substantially in recent decades as a result of the buildup of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

Studies in Greenland by other researchers at the university indicate temperatures on the ice sheet have climbed 7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1991.
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Sore Throat

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Climate Change Report Predicts Warming Will Only Make Human PostMon Nov 04, 2013 8:38 pm  Reply with quote

Climate Change Report Predicts Warming Will Only Make Human Ills Worse


WASHINGTON -- WASHINGTON (AP) — Many of the ills of the modern world — starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease — are likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts.

The report uses the word "exacerbate" repeatedly to describe warming's effect on poverty, lack of water, disease and even the causes of war.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report next March on how global warming is already affecting the way people live and what will happen in the future, including a worldwide drop in income. A leaked copy of a draft of the summary of the report appeared online Friday on a climate skeptic's website. Governments will spend the next few months making comments about the draft.

"We've seen a lot of impacts and they've had consequences," Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who heads the report, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "And we will see more in the future."

Cities, where most of the world now lives, have the highest vulnerability, as do the globe's poorest people.

"Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger," the report says. "Climate change will exacerbate poverty in low- and lower-middle income countries and create new poverty pockets in upper-middle to high-income countries with increasing inequality."

For people living in poverty, the report says, "climate-related hazards constitute an additional burden."

The report says scientists have high confidence especially in what it calls certain "key risks":

—People dying from warming- and sea rise-related flooding, especially in big cities.

—Famine because of temperature and rain changes, especially for poorer nations.

—Farmers going broke because of lack of water.

—Infrastructure failures because of extreme weather.

—Dangerous and deadly heat waves worsening.

—Certain land and marine ecosystems failing.

"Human interface with the climate system is occurring and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems," the 29-page summary says.

None of the harms talked about in the report is solely due to global warming nor is climate change even the No. 1 cause, the scientists say. But a warmer world, with bursts of heavy rain and prolonged drought, will worsen some of these existing effects, they say.

For example, in disease, the report says until about 2050 "climate change will impact human health mainly by exacerbating health problems that already exist" and then it will lead to worse health compared to a future with no further warming.

If emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas continue at current trajectories, "the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year will compromise normal human activities including growing food or working outdoors," the report says.

Scientists say the global economy may continue to grow, but once the global temperature hits about 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than now, it could lead to worldwide economic losses between 0.2 and 2.0 percent of income.

One of the more controversial sections of the report involves climate change and war.

"Climate change indirectly increases risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, intergroup violence and violent protests by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks," the report says.

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn't part of the international study team, told the AP that the report's summary confirms what researchers have known for a long time: "Climate change threatens our health, land, food and water security."

The summary went through each continent detailing risks and possible ways that countries can adapt to them.

For North America, the highest risks over the long term are from wildfires, heat waves and flooding. Water — too much and too little — and heat are the biggest risks for Europe, South America and Asia, with South America and Asia having to deal with drought-related food shortages. Africa gets those risks and more: starvation, pests and disease. Australia and New Zealand get the unique risk of losing their coral reef ecosystems, and small island nations have to be worried about being inundated by rising seas.

Field said experts paint a dramatic contrast of possible futures, but because countries can lessen some of the harms through reduced fossil fuel emissions and systems to cope with other changes, he said he doesn't find working on the report depressing.

"The reason I'm not depressed is because I see the difference between a world in which we don't do anything and a world in which we try hard to get our arms around the problem," he said.
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Sore Throat

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Concentrations of warming gases break record PostWed Nov 06, 2013 6:14 pm  Reply with quote

Concentrations of warming gases break record

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News

The levels of gases in the atmosphere that drive global warming increased to a record high in 2012.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), atmospheric CO2 grew more rapidly last year than its average rise over the past decade.

Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also broke previous records

Thanks to carbon dioxide and these other gases, the WMO says the warming effect on our climate has increased by almost a third since 1990.

The WMO's annual greenhouse gas bulletin measures concentrations in the atmosphere, not emissions on the ground.

Carbon dioxide is the most important of the gases that they track, but only about half of the CO2 that's emitted by human activities remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed by the plants, trees, the land and the oceans.

Upsetting the balance

Since 1750, global average levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased to 141% of the pre-industrial concentration of 278 parts per million (ppm).

According to the WMO there were 393.1ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2012, an increase of 2.2ppm over 2011.

This was above the yearly average of 2.02ppm over the past decade.

"The observations highlight yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

"It is a worry. The more we delay action the bigger the risk we cannot stay under the 2 degree Celsius limit that countries have agreed," he said.

While the daily measurement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded the symbolic 400ppm mark in May this year, according to the WMO the global annual average CO2 concentration will cross this point in 2015 or 2016.

Levels of methane also reached record highs in 2012 of 1,819 parts per billion. Concentrations have been increasing since 2007 after a period when they appeared to be leveling off.

The WMO report says that it is not yet possible to attribute the methane increase to either human activities like cattle breeding and landfills or natural sources such as wetlands.

They believe that the rising emissions come from the tropical and mid-latitude northern hemisphere and not from the Arctic, where methane from the melting of permafrost and hydrates has long been a concern.

Emissions of nitrous oxide have also grown, with the atmospheric concentration in 2012 at 325.1 parts per billion, 120% above pre-industrial levels.

Nitrous oxide gas, although its concentrations are tiny compared to CO2, is 298 times more warming and also plays a role in the destruction of the ozone layer.

Recent research indicates that the rate of increase in emissions might be slowing down, but the gases can continue to concentrate in the atmosphere and exert a climate influence for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Scientists believe that the new data indicates that global warming will be back with a vengeance, after a slowdown in the rate of temperature increases over the past 14 years.

"The laws of physics and chemistry are not negotiable," said Michel Jarraud.

"Greenhouse gases are what they are, the laws of physics show they can only contribute to warming the system, but parts of this heat may go in different places like the oceans for some periods of time," he said.

This view was echoed by Prof Piers Forster from the University of Leeds.

"For the past decade or so the oceans have been sucking up this extra heat, meaning that surface temperatures have only increased slowly.

"Don't expect this state of affairs to continue though, the extra heat will eventually come out and bite us, so expect strong warming over the coming decades."
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Sore Throat

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Location: x
Mass Methane Release Accelerating PostThu Nov 07, 2013 5:06 pm  Reply with quote

Mass Methane Release Accelerating

Mass methane release appears to be picking up speed by the day in the Arctic as well as countless other locations around the globe.

Dane Wigington

The atmospheric methane graphic below, released yesterday, should be a stark wake up call for any that understand the ramifications.

While CNN shows us 20 minutes at a time of the JonBenét Ramsey murder saga from seventeen years ago, which all the networks have done in recent days, globally game changing events are unfolding at blinding speed with not so much as a word from the media.

The Geoengineers are going for broke in their ever more destructive attempt to hide converging climate catastrophes while making the entire situation exponentially worse in the process. Geoengineering is ripping apart the web of life on our planet. The highly toxic fallout from the spraying is literally poisoning all that lives.

“Epic” methane release in the Laptev Sea and many other areas are cases in point. Even the recent quake off the coast of Fukushima appears to have triggered significant methane release in that region. Main stream media is doing their part to obscure such dire truths from the public till the last possible moment. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of the population is all to willing to ram their heads into the sand and gulp down whatever the corporate media machine feeds them.

In the meantime, skies around the globe are being covered with the toxic brew being spewed out by the geoengineering spray jets. Blocking out the sun is, after all, the expressed goal of the geoengineers and their many patents. Though all the spraying is indeed blotting out the sun and creating a temporary toxic cooling effect in some places, it is also creating unprecedented droughts in regions like the US west, Australia, Africa, etc, and at times catastrophic flooding in other regions. It seems that the climate engineers need only to whip up a few artificially nucleated snow storms from their massive continent covering toxic clouds to convince most that all is well. The unquantifiable damage done by the ongoing global geoengineering to the climate and life on earth goes completely unnoticed by most and certainly completely unreported by main stream media.

Global “cooling”? .

Unprecedented Arctic Warming: Average Summer Temperatures in Last 100 Years May Be Warmest in 120,000 Years

Methane over Arctic Ocean is increasing

Above image shows the Northern Hemisphere on October 26 – 27, 2013, a period of just over one day. Methane readings of 1950 ppb and higher show up in yellow. Peak reading on October 27, 2013, was 2369 ppb.

The image below, created by Harold Hensel with methanetracker, shows methane over the Arctic Ocean in three ranges, with the highest readings (1950 ppb and higher) in red.

Harold adds: “Methane increased again in the Arctic Circle yesterday, 10/27/2013. So what were the headlines in the news? It wasn’t this which is more important than anything the media has to report. This is surreal to me.” - at Facebook


- The Unfolding Methane Catastrophe

- Methane hydrates

- Myths about methane hydrates

- High Methane Readings continue over Depth of Arctic Ocean

- Abrupt Climate Change

- Just do NOT tell them the monster exists
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Sore Throat

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Posts: 1923
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Warning on Global Food Supply PostMon Nov 11, 2013 7:02 pm  Reply with quote

Warning on Global Food Supply


For a look at what climate change could do to the world’s food supply, consider what the weather did to the American Corn Belt last year.

At the beginning of 2012, the Agriculture Department projected the largest corn crop in the country’s history. But then a savage heat wave and drought struck over the summer. Plants withered, prices spiked, and the final harvest came in 27 percent below the forecast.

The situation bore a striking resemblance to what happened in Europe in 2003, after a heat wave cut agricultural production for some crops by as much as 30 percent and sent prices soaring.

Several researchers concluded that the European heat wave was made more likely by human-caused climate change; scientists are still arguing over the 2012 heat blast in the United States. Whatever their origin, heat waves like these give us a taste of what could be in store in a future with global warming.

Among those who are getting nervous are the people who spend their lives thinking about where our food will come from.

“The negative impacts of global climate change on agriculture are only expected to get worse,” said a report earlier this year from researchers at the London School of Economics and a Washington think tank, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The report cited a need for “more resilient crops and agricultural production systems than we currently possess in today’s world.”

This may be the greatest single fear about global warming: that climate change could so destabilize the world’s food system as to lead to rising hunger or even mass starvation. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of a report by the United Nations climate committee, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the group’s concerns have grown, and that the report, scheduled for release in March in Yokohama, Japan, is likely to contain a sharp warning about risks to the food supply.

The tone of the draft is strikingly different from that of a report from the same group in 2007, which discussed some risks, but saw global warming as likely to benefit agriculture in many important growing regions.

In the years since, new scientific research has checked those assumptions.

For one, a group of young scientists has pioneered more sophisticated ways of analyzing the relationship between agriculture and climate. People like David Lobell at Stanford and Wolfram Schlenker at Columbia have used elaborate statistical techniques to get a detailed picture of what heat does to crop yields. Their work suggests that rising heat stress in some major growing areas is already putting a drag on production, and raises the possibility of much more serious effects as global warming continues.

Scientists had long hoped that the effect of heat and water stress on crops might be offset by the very thing driving global warming: the sharp increase of carbon dioxide in the air. The gas is the main food supply for plants, and a large body of evidence suggested that the ongoing rise could boost crop yields.

But a lot of that evidence came from tests in artificial environments like greenhouses. Younger scientists, who insisted on testing crops in open-air conditions more closely resembling the real world, found that the bump in yield, while certainly real, was not as high as expected. And it may not be high enough to offset other stresses from global warming.

None of this work can be called definitive — experts say we need more studies, in more types of crops, under a wider variety of growing conditions. Because the body of science is so incomplete, our forecasts of future food supply are primitive, and that means the Yokohama report will certainly not be the last word.

The scientists writing the intergovernmental panel’s report appear to have taken the recent science seriously. The draft suggests that they intend to serve notice on the world’s leaders that the risks could be substantial.

Those political leaders have tended to take the security of the food supply for granted, until a crisis hits.

The biggest food scare of this young century occurred in 2007 and 2008. Several years of lagging agricultural production, caused in part by weather extremes, collided with rising demand. Prices for major grains more than doubled, entire countries slammed the door on food exports, panic buying ensued in many markets, and food riots broke out in more than 30 countries.

Rich countries tripped over one another to help poor countries and their small farmers, pledging $22 billion. But a recent report by the Group of 8 industrialized nations found that only 74 percent of the money has been disbursed, and some aid groups say the food supply is once again falling on the world’s priority list.

The good news is that agriculture has a tremendous capacity to adapt to new conditions, including a warming climate. Crops can be planted earlier, and new varieties that are more resistant to climate stress can be developed.

But experts say the research needed to make all this happen is getting short shrift.

“Our past successes in agriculture have lulled many of those in decision-making positions into a false sense of security,” said L. Val Giddings, a fellow with the Washington think tank and a co-author of its report. “It’s been so long since any of them were actually hungry.”
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Sore Throat

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2013 Likely To Be One Of The Hottest Years Ever As Warming T PostFri Nov 15, 2013 5:30 pm  Reply with quote

2013 Likely To Be One Of The Hottest Years Ever As Warming Trend Continues, WMO Says

By Alister Doyle and Michael Szabo

WARSAW, Nov 13 (Reuters) - This year is the seventh warmest since records began in 1850 with a trend to weather extremes and the impact of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines aggravated by rising sea levels, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday.

A build-up of manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere meant a warmer future was now inevitable, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks among almost 200 nations in Warsaw.

The WMO, giving a provisional overview, said the first nine months of the year tied with the same period of 2003 as seventh warmest, with average global land and ocean surface temperatures 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 1961-1990 average.

"This year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend," towards higher temperatures caused by global warming, Jarraud said. The WMO said it was likely to end among the top 10 warmest years since records began in 1850.

Among extremes have been super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most intense storms in history that smashed into the Philippines last Friday.

President Benigno Aquino said local officials had overstated the loss of life, which was closer to 2,000 or 2,500 than the 10,000 previously estimated. His comments, however, drew scepticism from some aid workers.


Other extremes this year have included record heatwaves in Australia and floods from Sudan to Europe, the WMO said. Japan had its warmest summer on record.

Apparently bucking a warming trend, sea ice around Antarctica expanded to a record extent. But the WMO said: "Wind patterns and ocean currents tend to isolate Antarctica from global weather patterns, keeping it cold."

In September, The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised the probability that mankind was the main cause of warming since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90 in a previous assessment in 2007.

It predicted impacts including more heatwaves, downpours and rising sea levels.

"2010 was the warmest year on record, ahead of 2005 and 1998," the WMO said.

The IPCC said the pace of temperature rises at the Earth's surface has slowed slightly in recent years in what the panel called a "hiatus" that may be linked to big natural variations and factors such as the ocean absorbing more heat.

The WMO said that individual tropical cyclones, such as Haiyan, could not be directly attributed to the effects of climate change.

But "higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines," Jarraud said. Seas have risen by about 20 cms (8 inches) in the past century.

As of early November 2013, there had been 86 tropical cyclones, from typhoons to Atlantic hurricanes, closing in on the 1981-2010 average of 89 storms, the WMO said. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; editing by Ralph Boulton)
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Climate Change Affecting Oceans At Unprecedented Rate, Scien PostFri Nov 15, 2013 5:38 pm  Reply with quote

Climate Change Affecting Oceans At Unprecedented Rate, Scientists Warn


WASHINGTON (AP) — Greenhouse gases are making the world's oceans hot, sour and breathless, and the way those changes work together is creating a grimmer outlook for global waters, according to a new report Wednesday from 540 international scientists.

The world's oceans are getting more acidic at an unprecedented rate, faster than at any time in the past 300 million years, the report said. But it's how this interacts with other global warming impacts to waters that scientists say is getting them even more worried.

Scientists already had calculated how the oceans had become 26 percent more acidic since the 1880s because of the increased carbon in the water. They also previously had measured how the world's oceans had warmed because of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas. And they've observed that at different depths the oceans were moving less oxygen around because of the increased heat.

But together "they actually amplify each other," said report co-author Ulf Riebesell, a biochemist at the Geomar Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Germany. He said scientists are increasingly referring to the ocean's future prospects as "hot, sour and breathless."

The 26-page report released by the United Nations and several scientific research organizations brings together the latest ocean science on climate change, stemming from a major conference of ocean scientists last year.

For example off the U.S. Pacific coast, the way the ocean is becoming stratified and less mixed means lower oxygen in the water, and the latest studies show that means "80 percent more acidification than what was originally predicted," said study co-author Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle.

And computer models predict that the American northwest coast will be hit harder because of the combined change than other places, Feely said.

The theory is that species like squid can only live in waters at certain temperature, acidity and oxygen levels, and the sweet spots where the factors combine are getting harder to find, Feely and Riebesell said.

The world ocean pH already has gone from 8.1 to 8.0 — it's considered a 26 percent increase in acidity because scientists measure hydrogen ions for this. But computer models predict the world will hit 8.0 in the next 20 years to 30 years and 7.9 in about 50 years, Riebesell said. At those levels shells of some mollusks, like clams and mussels, start corroding, he said.

"This is another loss that we're facing," Riebesell said. "It's going to affect human society."
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Climate Research: Lessons From Typhoon Haiyan PostMon Nov 18, 2013 5:02 pm  Reply with quote

Climate Research: Lessons From Typhoon Haiyan


The UN climate conference got off to a deeply emotional start in Warsaw on Monday.

"It's time to stop this madness," said Yeb Sano, the lead Filipino delegate, fighting tears over the death toll of an estimated 10,000 from the typhoon catastrophe, in an address to his counterparts from almost 200 countries. The world must finally reach an agreement, he continued, to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to halt global warming.

"We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life," Sano said.

Environmental organizations back Sano's stance.

"While we can't yet say how much climate change influenced this monster typhoon, we do know that extreme weather events are becoming more extreme and frequent because of climate change," wrote Daniel Mittler, the political director of Greenpeace International, on Sunday.

Like other environmental activists, Mittler believes governments "in cahoots with the fossil fuel industry" have helped cause such extreme weather events, which they expect to become more frequent. Stefan Rahmstorf, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), outside Berlin, also agrees.

"How can those who do all they can to fight climate-protection measures sleep in view of the images coming out of the Philippines?" he asks.

The Decisive Lesson

Can the deadly typhoon really be attributed to man-made climate change? Statistics reveal other causal connections. For example, the way in which houses, dikes and settlements are built plays a decisive role in determining how many people will be hurt by a storm.

In the United States, this has led to a steady decrease in hurricane-related deaths since 1900 despite significant rises in both the population densities and storm frequencies in at-risk areas. For Haiti, there are studies claiming that "urbanization in and migration into storm hazard prone areas could be considered as one of the major driving forces of (its) fragility" when affected by storms.

As a result of such factors, storms even weaker than Haiyan could result in even extremer catastrophes. For example, tropical cyclone Nargis killed almost 140,000 people in Burma when it struck in May 2008 even though it was two categories on the hurricane scale below "Haiyan" when it made landfall.

In March, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its fifth and newest assessment report on the state of climate change. In the second part of a draft of the report, the organization stresses the importance of constructing more robust buildings that can better withstand storms. A richer world might be able to protect itself better: Measured in terms of global economic output, one study finds, increasing prosperity could cut storm-caused damage in half by the end of the century.

But that is only one side of the story. The other is the long-debated question of whether global warming can change the nature of storms. A lack of data makes analysis more difficult, and it wasn't until roughly 30 years ago that it became possible to make systematic observations based on satellite data. Before that, storms were appraised in large part based on data related to damage and sea level.

No Identifiable Trends

In its most recent assessment on global warming, released in September, the IPCC stated that there were no identifiable long-term trends when it comes to tropical cyclones, which are also known as hurricanes or typhoons. However, there are fears that the strongest storms could grow even more destructive.

Tropical storms draw their energy from warm water. But the equation "warmer oceans equals more storms" doesn't hold true. The phenomenon known as wind shear as well as airborne dust particles can weaken them. Indeed, some have posited that reductions in air pollution in the Western world since the late 1970s have contributed to an increase in hurricane activity over the Atlantic since then.

In 2012, researchers from the University of Copenhagen reported that hurricane activity in the Atlantic had been rising for decades and had now grown as strong as it was at the end of the 19th century. However, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) states that this trend was broken in the Atlantic at the turn of the millennium. The 2013 storm season, which ends in November, has so far been especially mild, with only two hurricanes, especially considering all the pessimistic forecasts published at the beginning of the year.

Fewer Storms, Higher Floods?

The WMO also reports that, over the last decade, there has been below-average tropical storm activity. In fact, Ryan Maue, a climate researcher at Florida State University, wrote in 2011 that worldwide tropical storm activity has reached a low point. Another study, from 2012, calculates that the number of storms has been declining since 1872.

Nevertheless, there is still the question of where things will go from here. The IPCC states that simulations predict there will be fewer tropical storms as the global temperature rises. But the most unsettling finding is that the strongest storms could get even stronger.

The consequences of this could be grave, writes Yale University researcher Robert Mendelsohn. According to his estimates, the strongest 1 percent of storms could cause more than half of the damage of all storm activity combined. However, since these giant storms come so infrequently, experts say it might be centuries before it is possible to actually measure the effects of climate change.

For the Philippines, other changes in the earth's climate might prove much more worrisome. For example, there are hardly any other places where the sea level is rising as quickly, and storm floods there continue to get higher. What's more, climate researchers expect to see more precipitation in a warmer world, as milder air can retain more moisture. As a result, typhoons could trigger even greater flooding.
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