2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #33B

A stark choice: extreme heat or dirty fuels

Two reports released Wednesday reveal the dangerous gap between science and politics. New climate research shows that extreme events such as the severe heat wave in the U.S. last year will double in 2020, increase 400 percent by 2040, and then get far worse without significant carbon reductions.

Meanwhile, an analysis shows Canada cannot meet its weak 2020 carbon emissions reduction target even as it plans to triple the size of its massive tar sands operations in coming decades.

A Stark Choice: Extreme Heat or Dirty Fuels by Stephen Leahy. Inter Press Service (IPS), Aug 15, 2013

Australian floods lowered worldwide sea levels

Flood-inducing rainfall in Australia in 2010 was so severe that it lowered worldwide sea levels.

Scientists have been puzzled by satellite data that shows sea levels fell in 2011. A paper published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters attributes a lot of the surprising sea-level decline to antipodean deluges — record-breaking rainfall that was linked to climate change.

Australian floods lowered worldwide sea levels by John Upton, Grist, Aug 15, 2013

Deep ocean to resolve human role in global warming

The world's oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of global warming since the mid-20th century, making accurate measurements of deep ocean temperatures vital to predicting how much global temperatures and sea levels are going to rise. 

Deep ocean to resolve human role in global warming, Analysis by Gerard Wynn,  Aug 16, 2013

Experts surer of manmade global warming but local predictions elusive

Climate scientists are surer than ever that human activity is causing global warming, according to leaked drafts of a major U.N. report, but they are finding it harder than expected to predict the impact in specific regions in coming decades.

The uncertainty is frustrating for government planners: the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the main guide for states weighing multi-billion-dollar shifts to renewable energy from fossil fuels, for coastal regions considering extra sea defences or crop breeders developing heat-resistant strains.

Drafts seen by Reuters of the study by the U.N. panel of experts, due to be published next month, say it is at least 95 percent likely that human activities - chiefly the burning of fossil fuels - are the main cause of warming since the 1950s. 

Experts surer of manmade global warming but local predictions elusive by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Aug 16, 2013

Four Hiroshima bombs a second: how we imagine climate change

The planet is building up heat at the equivalent of four Hiroshima bombs worth of energy every second. And 90% of that heat is going into the oceans.

Right, now I’ve got your attention.

It’s widely acknowledged that we need to keep climate change below 2C to avoid catastrophic impacts on society. To do so we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But this makes for tough choices for our leaders and for ourselves. Convincing people of the urgency of climate change is no mean feat.

Representing climate change and ocean warming as Hiroshima bombs attracted the attention of news media around the world.

Four Hiroshima bombs a second: how we imagine climate change by David Holmes, The Conversation, Aug 14, 2013

Keystone decision deen as climate change test for Obama abroad

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has become a top priority for environmental groups and some politicians who oppose the project—and not just in America.

With tensions over the controversial pipeline reaching fever pitch stateside, political activists and leaders abroad are closely watching the developments on the Keystone as a barometer of how willing and able President Obama is to make hard policy choices on global warming, according to an informal InsideClimate News survey.

Keystone Decision Seen as Climate Change Test for Obama Abroad by Katherine Bagely, Inside Climate News, Aug 15, 2013 

NASA: Climate change means ‘new normal’ for wildfires

Climate change, and the consistently hotter and drier weather that comes with it, is largely the cause of the recent “sharp increase” in the number and intensity of wildfires, NASA officials said Friday.

NASA and U.S. Forest Service officials, who have been using satellites to analyze weather patterns and better predict each wildfire season, said the new pattern is likely here to stay.

This is the “new normal,” said Doug Morton, research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. We need to be “planning for a warmer and drier future.”

NASA: Climate change means ‘new normal’ for wildfires by Jonathan Reid, Cronkite News Service, Tucson Sentinel, Aug 12, 2013 

New clues to Greenland's hidden plumbing

What happens under Greenland's ice sheet, where water, ice and rock meet, is key to predicting how its glaciers will react to global warming.

Turns out, beneath the island's mysterious middle, where the ice is thick and the bottom bedrock difficult to reach, meltwater flows through channels and voids that open when flowing ice travels over rough ground, a new study finds. The passageways are spaces between the rock and the overlying ice. The results, based on computer modeling and fieldwork observations in Greenland, were published today (Aug. 15) in the journal Science.

The study suggests that meltwater flows through a different network in the interior of the ice sheet than at its edges, said lead study author Toby Meierbachtol, a graduate student at the University of Montana.

New Clues to Greenland's Hidden Plumbing by Becky Oskin, LiveScience, Aug 15, 2013

On carbon taxes and competition

The United States and China are talking different languages when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

In the U.S. case, the Obama administration is the name of the game when it comes to federal action on climate change. (See here and here.) As for legislation? I would say there's a snowball's chance in our globally warming world that the 113th Congress will pass any climate bill aimed at reducing carbon emissions, let alone something as ambitious as a a carbon tax. Anybody care to debate?

On Carbon Taxes and Competition by Bill Chameides, The Green Grok, Scientific American, Aug 14, 2013

Redwood trees may help battle climate change

A study released Wednesday on the effect of climate change on old-growth redwood forests revealed a surprising silver lining: not only have the trees thrived as the temperature has risen, but they may also be an unparalleled tool in fighting global warming.

The Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative, a multiyear research study by UC Berkeley, Humboldt State University and Save the Redwoods League, examined the tree rings of coast redwoods in Northern California, providing the most comprehensive redwood chronology available today.

Researchers found that the trees have experienced an unprecedented growth spurt in recent decades, and that redwood forests can store up to three times more carbon than non-redwood forests worldwide.

Redwood Trees May Help Battle Climate Change, Study Finds by Robin Wilkey, The Huffington Post, Aug 14, 2013

Scientists have a moral obligation to take action on climate change

Calling on all scientists to refrain from public advocacy and leadership is wrong. We are in a global crisis, and the scientific fraternity has an ethical obligation to act. 

Scientists have a moral obligation to take action on climate change Op-ed by Dan Cass, The Guardian, Aug 15, 2013

The futility of “just the facts” climate science

To begin, let’s turn to a great recent post from Dan Kahan of Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project. It is built around a simple observation: Realists and “skeptics” hold very different views on climate science, but they share a deep cluelessness about how science is communicated, how people assess evidence, and how polarization occurs.

The futility of “just the facts” climate science by David Roberts, Grist, Aug 14, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 17 August, 2013

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