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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #51B

Posted on 20 December 2014 by John Hartz

2014 will be the hottest year on record

For those of us fixated on whether 2014 will be the hottest year on record, the results are in. At least, we know enough that we can make the call. According the global data from NOAA, 2014 will be the hottest year ever recorded. 

I can make this pronouncement even before the end of the year because each month, I collect daily global average temperatures. So far, December is running about 0.5°C above the average. The climate and weather models predict that the next week will be about 0.75°C above average. This means, December will come in around 0.6°C above average. Are these daily values accurate? Well the last two months they have been within 0.05°C of the final official results. 

What does this all mean? Well, when I combine December with the year-to-date as officially reported, I predict the annual temperature anomaly will be 0.674°C. This beats the prior record by 0.024°C. That is a big margin in terms of global temperatures.

2014 will be the hottest year on record by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - The 97%, The Guardian, Nov 17, 2014

Aboriginal knowledge could unlock climate solutions

As a child growing up in Far North Queensland, William Clark Enoch would know the crabs were on the bite when certain trees blossomed, but now, at age 51, he is noticing visible changes in his environment such as frequent storms, soil erosion, salinity in fresh water and ocean acidification.

“The land cannot support us anymore. The flowering cycles are less predictable. We have to now go much further into the sea to catch fish,” said Enoch, whose father was from North Stradbroke Island, home to the Noonuccal, Nughie and Goenpul Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who comprise only 2.5 per cent (548,400) of Australia’s nearly 24 million population, are part of the oldest continuing culture in the world. They have lived in harmony with the land for generations.

Aboriginal Knowledge Could Unlock Climate Solutions by Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service (IPS), Dec 17, 2014

Acidic oceans could quiet coral reefs

Doug E. Fresh may have some competition in the beatboxing arena from unlikely source. It’s not from some underground phenom but rather an underwater rising star, or well, fish.

Take a listen to this beat laid down by a croaker fish off the coast of Indonesia. A rhythmic thumping provides the beat for an otherwise ambient ocean noise track.

“This one has just stuck with me,” said Julius Piercy, a PhD candidate studying underwater acoustics at the University of Essex, who discovered this particular virtuoso.

Piercy has been recording the sounds of fish and crustaceans at tropical coral reefs around the world. The thumps, whistles, grunts and snaps of those reef inhabitants are more than just fodder for multi-platinum recordings. They give Piercy and other marine scientists a snapshot of reef health and biodiversity that can be done at a fraction of the cost of traditional reef monitoring.

Acidic Oceans Could Quiet Coral Reefs by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, Dec 16, 2014

A lump of coal for fossil fuels

The fossil-fuel divestment movement got the perfect holiday gift in 2014: tumbling stocks.

Founded only two years ago by experts and students fed up with the glacial pace of climate action, this global effort is already liquidating more than $50 billion of the oil, gas, and coal assets owned both by individuals and institutions like colleges and dioceses.

What’s moving that mound of money? For the most part, divestors heeded moral questions of the “how will your grandchildren survive once the seas swallow Florida” variety. But they’re also wagering that fossil fuel investments aren’t the sure bets they used to be.

A lump of coal for fossil fuels by Emily Schwartz Greco, OtherWords, Dec 17, 2014

Arctic is warming twice as fast as world average

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Jackie Richter-Menge, a polar scientist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who collaborated with NOAA on the analysis, says the findings demonstrate the "power of persistence" in the Arctic — "persistence in the warming air temperatures and the impact that is having on this icy environment."

That's largely because of arctic amplification. Here's how it works: Normally, snow and ice cool the surface by reflecting a lot of the sun's energy back up into the atmosphere. But warming air temperatures melt snow and ice. "And when they melt," says Richter-Menge, "they expose darker regions."

Arctic Is Warming Twice As Fast As World Average by Christopher Joyce, NPR, Dec 18, 2014

As world leaders try to reduce emissions, carbon dioxide levels keep rising

Diplomats just finished a marathon round of climate talks in Lima, Peru, which resulted in an agreement that for the first time ever will commit each country to taking action to reduce their emissions of global warming pollutants, such as carbon dioxide. The agreement leaves much still to be decided next year, with a looming deadline for a new climate treaty that will go into effect in 2020.

What negotiators have been trying to do for much of the past two-plus decades is to address the accelerating increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the planet's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is released when burning coal and other fossil fuels for energy, and it lasts hundreds to a thousand years once it is in the air, making a failure to cut emissions now a problem for future generations.

As world leaders try to reduce emissions, carbon dioxide levels keep rising by Andrew Freedman, Mashable, Dec 16, 2014

Climate change could cut world food output 18 percent by 2050

Global warming could cause an 18 percent drop in world food production by 2050, but investments in irrigation and infrastructure, and moving food output to different regions, could reduce the loss, a study published on Thursday said.

Globally, irrigation systems should be expanded by more than 25 percent to cope with changing rainfall patterns, the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters said.

Where they should be expanded is difficult to model because of competing scenarios on how rainfall will change, so the majority of irrigation investments should be made after 2030, the study said. 

Climate change could cut by world food output 18 percent by 2050 by Chris Arsenault, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Dec 18, 2014

Climate change divide widens on Senate Energy panel

The ideological divide over climate change widened this week in the Senate committee charged with shaping America's energy policy, setting the stage for a partisan showdown over the new Republican majority's plans to attack the Environmental Protection Agency, build the Keystone XL pipeline and drive fossil fuel expansion.

Democrats' replacement of three pro-fossil-fuel lawmakers with more pro-climate-action senators means that any across-the-aisle cooperation on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is probably dead, according to political strategists. While Republicans will control the panel 12-10 in 2015, Democrats could delay—or even potentially derail—the GOP's pro-fossil-fuels agenda by nitpicking bills during committee mark-up or by threatening a presidential veto.

Climate Change Divide Widens on Senate Energy Panel by Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News, Dec 17, 2014

Climate change mea non culpa

In 1975, I wrote an article for Newsweek about “global cooling.” Climate change deniers have been using it ever since.

Climate Change Mea Non Culpa by Peter Gwynne, Slate, Dec 17, 2014

If you don’t accept that climate change is real, you’re not a skeptic. you’re a denier.

A few months ago, I appeared on a Q&A, a popular Australian television news program with a prominent Australian politician and a well-known Australian journalist. Both flatly denied that climate change was human-induced. Both referred to themselves as skeptics.

This label successfully undermines the heart of what skepticism is all about, however, and it is unfortunate that journalists often don’t get the subtle bait-and-switch that is being performed here. For example, to take a U.S. example, in a Nov. 10, 2014, New York Times article “Republicans Vow to Fight EPA and Approve Keystone Pipeline” Sen. James Inhofe was referred as “a prominent skeptic of climate change.” Two days later Scott Horsley of NPR’s Morning Edition called him “one of the leading climate change deniers in Congress.” These are not equivalent statements.

Skepticism is all about critical examination, evidence-based scientific inquiry, and the use of reason in examining controversial claims. Those who flatly deny the results of climate science do not partake in any of the above. They base their conclusions on a priori convictions. Theirs is an ideological conviction—the opposite of skepticism.

If You Don’t Accept That Climate Change Is Real, You’re Not a Skeptic. You’re a Denier. by Lawrence Krauss, Slate, Dec 16,l 2014

Mount Kenya’s vanishing glaciers

This past October, the English photographer Simon Norfolk spent 18 days on Mount Kenya, camping in an old mountaineering hut at nearly 16,000 feet. Norfolk was there to document the gradual disappearance of one of the mountain’s many glaciers, the Lewis, which happens to be one of the most thoroughly surveyed tropical glaciers in the world. Its ice mass has been mapped periodically since 1934, and in recent decades, as the earth has warmed, scientists have reported on its catastrophic recession in their own quiet, peer-­reviewed way. In 1979, for example, glaciologists mapped the Lewis from an airplane and discovered ‘'drastic ice loss'’ since the last mapping four years earlier. In 1983, another survey found the same thing. There was similar bad news in a 1995 study (“climatic forcing of the glacier recession has accentuated in recent years”) and, likewise, a decade after that (“a drastic and progressive shrinkage.”) In 2010, scientists found that the Lewis had shrunk by 23 percent in just the previous six years. Worse still, a neighboring glacier — the Gregory — “no longer exists.”

Mount Kenya’s vanishing glaciers by Simon Norfolk, New York Times, Dec 18, 2014

NASA reveals what carbon dioxide looks like from space

NASA revealed the first-ever images of the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the key long-lived global warming gas. The imagery, taken over the course of three months, reveals details about springtime biomass being burned in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as photosynthesis from plants worldwide.

The data comes from a new NASA satellite known as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) that was launched on July 2 of this year.

At a media briefing on Thursday at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as several universities discussed the data's importance for monitoring the global carbon cycle and improving the reliability of global climate models.

NASA reveals what carbon dioxide looks like from space by Andrew Freedman, Mashable, Dec 18, 2014

Record of past warming event shows carbon was emitted fast—and twice

Periods of rapid change are among the most interesting things in the geologic record, but that rapidity also makes them hard to study. While 10,000 years sounds like an eternity to us, it’s just a blip in the humbling expanse of Earth’s history. The stories that rocks can tell usually cover too much time to reveal all the details of a blip that short, which challenges geologists’ detective skills.

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM to its friends) occurred about 10 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs and 56 million years before the present. It involved the addition of enough carbon to Earth’s atmosphere to cause 5-8°C of global warming, which lasted almost 200,000 years. That caused a considerable amount of change in the biosphere, including a mass extinction among a group of bottom-dwelling marine organisms. Given that we’re also messing with the climate system today, we have good reason to be curious about the warming of the PETM. 

Record of past warming event shows carbon was emitted fast—and twice by Scott K. Johnson, ArsTechnica, Dec 18, 2014

The combined forces of herpes and global warming are threatening to wipe out the world’s oysters

An viral disease with a 100 percent mortality rate is decimating the world’s oyster populations, Bloomberg reports, threatening the $4.1 billion industry.

Climate change, needless to say, isn’t helping the situation.

Oyster herpes (no relation to human herpes), also known as Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome, has killed the shellfish across Europe, New Zealand and Australia — in one particularly brutal case, the University of Sydney’s Richard Whittington told Bloomberg, wiping out 10 million oysters in just three days. France has been hit especially hard, its harvest now 26 percent below where it was in 2008, when the virus first appeared.

The combined forces of herpes and global warming are threatening to wipe out the world’s oysters by Lindsay Abrams, Salon, Dec 16, 2014

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Comments 1 to 1:

  1. Second word of second title needs to be corrected: "Aboriginal kowledge could unlock climate solutions"

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Done. Thank you.

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