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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #35A

Posted on 27 August 2013 by John Hartz

  • Can cities adjust to a retreating coastline?
  • Can UN scientists revive drive against climate change?
  • Kevin Trenberth's take on climate change
  • Krill face greater risks in warming Antarctic waters
  • Ocean acidification will make climate change worse
  • Rising levels of acids in seas may endanger marine life
  • The next hurricane, and the next
  • The uncertain summer of our discontent
  • Time to stop dragging our feet on climate change
  • We’re already sick of climate change — and getting sicker
  • Yosemite fire example of how droughts amplify wildfires
  • Al Gore hurricane hubbub and climate change

Can Cities Adjust to a Retreating Coastline?

Last June, in rolling out an ambitious $20-billion plan to gird New York City against the impacts of rising seas and storm surges in a warming climate, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave a classic “no retreat” speech, including this line:

[A]s New Yorkers, we cannot and will not abandon our waterfront. It’s one of our greatest assets. We must protect it, not retreat from it.

Of course, who could ever imagine a politician standing on a coastline proclaiming, “We will retreat!”

But somehow, that’s what has to be done. Finding a way to have a realistic discussion of where to hold firm and where to pull back, where to gird and where to let nature dominate, has to happen to limit costs and other regrets in thousands of coastal cities and smaller communities around the world.

Can Cities Adjust to a Retreating Coastline? by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Aug 22, 2013

Can UN scientists revive drive against climate change?

A leaden cloak of responsibility lies on the shoulders of UN scientists as they put the final touches to the first volume of a massive report that will give the world the most detailed picture yet of climate change.

Due to be unveiled in Stockholm on September 27, the document will be scrutinized word by word by green groups, fossil-fuel lobbies and governments to see if it will yank climate change out of prolonged political limbo.

The report will kick off the fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an expert body set up in 1988 to provide neutral advice on global warming and its impacts.

Can UN scientists revive drive against climate change? by Richard Ingham, Agence France-Presse, Rappler, Aug 25, 2013

Kevin Trenberth's take on climate change

Next month, a scientific committee sponsored by the United Nations will put out its latest assessment of climate change. The report is expected to underscore yet again that climate change is a serious problem and human beings are largely responsible.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents a consensus view of hundreds of scientists from around the world. The effort shared the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

In some ways Kevin Trenberth personifies that consensus. He's been part of the IPCC since its early days in the 1990s and is outspoken in defense of the science.

The 'Consensus' View: Kevin Trenberth's Take On Climate Change by Richard Harris, National Public Radio (NPR), Aug 23, 2013

Ocean acidification will make climate change worse

But here’s one thing they do know: oceans are absorbing a large portion of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere—in fact, oceans are the largest single carbon sink in the world, dwarfing the absorbing abilities of the Amazon rainforest. But the more CO2 the oceans absorb, the more acidic they become on a relative scale, because some of the carbon reacts within the water to form carbonic acid. This is a slow-moving process—it’s not as if the oceans are suddenly going to become made of hydrochloric acid. But as two new studies published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change shows, acidification will make the oceans much less hospitable to many forms of marine life—and acidification may actually to serve to amplify overall warming.

Ocean Acidification Will Make Climate Change Worse by Bryan Walsh, Time magazine, Aug 26, 2013 

Krill face greater risks in warming Antarctic waters

They may not look very appetizing, but they are what sustains much of the marine life in the southern ocean. Antarctic krill, usually less than 2.36 inches long, are the primary food source for many species of whale, seal, penguin and fish.

But there’s a problem: the waters round Antarctica are warming, and it looks as if they will probably continue to do so. If they do, a team of UK researchers says, the area where the krill grow could shrink by a fifth.

It is the fact that krill are known to be sensitive to sea temperature, especially in the areas where they grow as adults, that prompted the scientists to try to understand how they might respond to the effects of further climate change. 

Krill Face Greater Risks in Warming Antarctic Waters by Alex kirby, Climate News Network, Climate Central, Aug 24, 2013

Rising levels of acids in seas may endanger marine life

Rapidly rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are causing a potential catastrophe in our oceans as they become more acidic, scientists have warned.

Hans Poertner, professor of marine biology at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, and co-author of a new study of the phenomenon, told the Guardian: "The current rate of change is likely to be more than 10 times faster than it has been in any of the evolutionary crises in the earth's history."

Seawater is naturally slightly alkaline, but as oceans absorb CO2 from the air, their pH level falls gradually. Under the rapid escalation of greenhouse gas emissions, ocean acidification is gathering pace and many forms of marine life– especially species that build calcium-based shells – are under threat.

Rising levels of acids in seas may endanger marine life, says study by Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, Aug 25. 2013

The next hurricane, and the next

Hurricane Sandy, the monster storm that hit the Atlantic Seaboard on Oct. 29, left at least 159 dead and caused $65 billion in damages. But as a presidential task force made clear this week, Sandy cannot be considered a seasonal disaster or regional fluke but as yet another harbinger of the calamities that await in an era of climate change. With that in mind, the report says that individuals, local governments and states that expect federal help cannot simply restore what was there but must adopt new standards and harden community structures to withstand the next flood or hurricane.

The Next Hurricane, and the Next, Op-ed by the Editorial Board, New York Times, Aug 23, 2013 

The uncertain summer of our discontent

Advance copies of the latest assessment by the global climate science communities have been leaked to Reuters and the New York Times. Their fundamental message -- man caused changes in climate patterns are no longer in even trivial doubt, the certainty is now over 95 percent. This is the conclusion of the 5th report of the IPCC.

But this latest news is unlikely to move politicians, media outlets and businesses to change the way they handle the question of loading up the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse pollutants.

The Uncertain Summer of Our Discontent by Carl Pope, The Huffinton Post, Aug 23, 2013

Time to stop dragging our feet on climate change  

Denial about the human role in climate change has to end if the world hopes to keep major coastal cities such as New York and London above water.

That's the startlingly blunt message from a new draft report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Time to stop dragging our feet on climate change and acknowledge the imperative of international cooperation, Op-ed by the Editorial Board, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Aug 23, 2013

We’re already sick of climate change — and getting sicker

If there’s any doubt remaining in your mind that climate change is a plague on humanity, Linda Marsa will take care of that for you. Marsa is a longtime medical writer. She’s made a career as a muckraker, taking on the pharmaceutical industry and dispensers of scientific snake oil. And she’s recently turned her attention to how our warming of the planet increases the chances for a wide array of epidemic illnesses.

For her new book, Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health — And How We Can Save Ourselves, Marsa, a contributing editor for Discover, traveled the country and the world, looking for communities on the front lines — “places that give us a glimpse of what’s coming in next 20, 30, 40 years,” she says. The result is a finely crafted and sobering tale on par with David Quammen’s recent tome, Spillover, only with a little less "Isn’t this fascinating" and a lot more, "Holy f***ing shit, people, wake the hell up!" 

We’re already sick of climate change — and getting sicker by Greg Hansocm, Grist, Aug 26, 2013

Yosemite fire example of how droughts amplify wildfires

The massive Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California is an example of how drought can amplify wildfires in a warming, drying West.

The fire, which now ranks as the 14th-largest wildfire in state history, has been racing through parched stands of oak and pine trees, and threatening some of the region’s iconic giant sequoia trees. The vegetation in the area, and indeed across much of central and southern California, is extremely dry, as the state has experienced its driest year-to-date.

Yosemite Fire Example of How Droughts Amplify Wildfires by Andrew Freedman, Clmate Central, Aug 26, 2013


Al Gore hurricane hubbub and climate change

Unfortunately, Vice President Gore took some heat for some comments he made about hurricanes and climate change in an interview with the Washington Post. Initially, the paper misquoted him as saying a new "Category Six" was being added to the familiar hurricane scale, which maxes out at Category Five. Category Five storms are those that have sustained winds of more than 157 miles per hour.

Al Gore hurricane hubbub and climate change, Op-ed by Gretchen Goldman, CNN, Aug 23, 2013

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  1. The link to 'Kevin Trenberth's take on climate change' is not working for me.

    I found a valid link at

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Link fixed. Thanks for bringing this glitch to our attention. 

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