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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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Climate Hustle

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #13

Posted on 1 April 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. Articles of signifigance as determined by the editor are highlighted in the Editor's Picks' section.

Editor's Picks

One of the most troubling ideas about climate change just found new evidence in its favor

Jet Stream Visualization NASA

Visualization of a very wavy Northern Hemisphere jet stream. (NASA)

Ever since 2012, scientists have been debating a complex and frankly explosive idea about how a warming planet will alter our weather — one that, if it’s correct, would have profound implications across the Northern Hemisphere and especially in its middle latitudes, where hundreds of millions of people live.

The idea is that climate change doesn’t merely increase the overall likelihood of heat waves, say, or the volume of rainfall — it also changes the flow of weather itself. By altering massive planet-scale air patterns like the jet stream (pictured above), which flows in waves from west to east in the Northern Hemisphere, a warming planet causes our weather to become more stuck in place. This means that a given weather pattern, whatever it may be, may persist for longer, thus driving extreme droughts, heat waves, downpours and more.

This basic idea has sparked half a decade of criticism and debate, and at the cutting edge of research, scientists continue to grapple with it. And now, a new study once again reinforces one of its core aspects.

One of the most troubling ideas about climate change just found new evidence in its favor by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Mar 27, 2017 

Thinning Arctic sea ice lets in light, prompts algae bloom-study

Arctic Ocean ICESCAPE Mission June 2012

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, in the midst of their ICESCAPE mission, retrieves supplies for some mid-mission fixes dropped by parachute from a C-130 in the Arctic Ocean in this July 12, 2011 

Climate change is stirring life in the Arctic Ocean as thinning sea ice lets in more sunlight, allowing microscopic algae to bloom in the inhospitable region around the North Pole, scientists said on Wednesday.

The micro-algae may now be able to grow under the ice across almost 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean at the peak of the brief summer in July, up from about five percent 30 years ago, they wrote. Blooms may become even more widespread.

"Recent climate change may have markedly altered the ecology of the Arctic Ocean," wrote scientists in the United States and Britain led by Christopher Horvat of Harvard University.

The first massive under-ice bloom of algae was seen in 2011 in the Chukchi Sea north of the Bering Strait separating Alaska and Russia, a region until then thought too dark for photosynthesis.

Thinning Arctic sea ice lets in light, prompts algae bloom-study by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Mar 30, 2017


‘Critical’ NASA Climate Missions Targeted in Budget Cuts

Atmospheric C02 Concentration

Carbon dioxide concentrations across the globe as measured by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 in May 2016. (Credit: NASA)

In his most recent weekly address, President Trump praised NASA’s “mission of exploration and discovery” and its ability to allow mankind to “look to the heavens with wonder and curiosity.” But left out of his statements was the work NASA does to peer back at our home planet and unravel its many remaining mysteries — a mission targeted for cuts in his administration’s budget outline released earlier this month.

In a budget otherwise scant on specifics, four climate-related NASA satellite missions were proposed for termination, including one already in orbit.

Those missions are aimed not only at helping scientists learn more about key parts of the climate system and how global warming is changing them, but also at practical matters such as monitoring the health of the nation’s coastal waters and providing earlier warnings of drought stress in crops.

‘Critical’ NASA Climate Missions Targeted in Budget Cuts by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, Mar 31, 2017


Greenland's Coastal Ice Passed a Climate Tipping Point 20 Years Ago, Study Says

Greenland glaciers 

Credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images 

Ice caps and glaciers along the coast of Greenland passed a tipping point in 1997, when a layer of snow that once absorbed summer meltwater became fully saturated. Since then, the coastal ice fields—separate from the main Greenland Ice Sheet—have been melting three times faster than they had been, according to a new study published Friday in the journal Nature Communications.

"The melting ice caps are an alarm signal for the ice sheet. It means long-term ice mass loss is inevitable. It will increase and accelerate if nothing changes," said lead author Brice Noël, a scientist at the  University of Utrecht Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research. "It's very unlikely the ice caps will recover. It's a climate tipping point—the time at which a change or an effect cannot be stopped."

Climate scientists are wary of tipping points, when a series of small changes make a much larger change inevitable. The fear is a total meltdown of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which would raise global sea level by 24 feet, Noël said. Overall, the rate of ice sheet melting is accelerating, according to peer-reviewed studies cited in the most recent Arctic report from NOAA. 

Greenland's Coastal Ice Passed a Climate Tipping Point 20 Years Ago, Study Says by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, Mar 31, 2017


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Comments

Comments 1 to 2:

  1. The jetstream issue is interesting. We have just had historically record floods in Auckland NZ, the worst in a long time. The primary cause was a sub tropical low coming from the north west and stalling, as it met a stubborn high to the east of the country.

    I have seen no expert comment on whether it's linked to climate change, but the event included unprecedented short bursts of intense rainfall and this is consistent with higher atmospheric moisture. The stalled system is also consistent with changes to the jet stream discussed. However I don't know if these are happening with the southern jet stream as much as the northern one. 

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  2. The Antarctic is "inside out" compared to the Arctic. A big block of ice surrounded by water, rather than water surrounded by land, hence we aren't seeing the same strange new patterns.

    However, that doesn't mean we aren't seeing different strange new patterns, and more intense rainfall and prolonged droughts are just what was predicted with a more energetic atmosphere.

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