2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #33B

Adaptation gaps mean African farmers fork out more money for reduced harvests

 In Cameroon’s Northwest Region, Judith Muma walks 9km from her home to her 300-square-metre farm. The vegetables she grows here are flourishing thanks to the money she has borrowed from her njangi (thrift group) and a local credit union to finance a small artisanal irrigation scheme.

“I spend more money today buying farm implements such as water tanks, watering pumps, fertilisers, insecticides and improved seeds. I think we must spend in farming today if we want to adapt to climate change,” Muma tells IPS.

Cameroon’s economy is primarily agrarian and about 70 percent of this Central African nation’s 21.7 million people are involved in farming. Changes in temperature and precipitation pose a serious threat to the nation’s economy where agriculture contributes about 45 percent to the annual GDP.

Adaptation Gaps Mean African Farmers Fork Out More Money for Reduced Harvests by Monde Kingsley Nfor, Inter Press Service (IPS), Aug 14, 2014

Antarctica may lift sea level faster in threat to megacities

Antarctica glaciers melting because of global warming may push up sea levels faster than previously believed, potentially threatening megacities including New York and Shanghai, researchers in Germany said.

Antarctica’s ice discharge may raise sea levels as much as 37 centimeters (14.6 inches) this century if the output of greenhouse gases continues to grow, according to a study led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The increase may be as little as 1 centimeter, they said.

“This is a big range, which is exactly why we call it a risk,” Anders Levermann, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Science needs to be clear about the uncertainty so that decision-makers at the coast and in coastal megacities can consider the implications in their planning processes.”

Antarctica May Lift Sea Level Faster in Threat to Megacities by Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg, Aug 14, 2014

Charles Mann and The Atlantic miss the mark in a confused climate change piece

A recent climate change article by Charles C. Mann in The Atlantic left me scratching my head. The title, “How to Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen” piqued my interest. It’s something I grapple with every day. But instead of focusing on how our public conversations about climate change are shifting, he lingers on what he sees as failed efforts to enact national climate policy. Mann is a serious and respected writer — who happens to work with some of my favorite magazines — so this piece felt like a missed opportunity.

Charles Mann and The Atlantic Miss The Mark in a Confused Climate Change Piece by Aaron Huertas, Union of Concerned Scientists, Aug 15, 2014

Dismantling Australian climate policy: a case study in disagreement

The federal government can’t convince the electorate of the ills of renewables. Perhaps they should listen instead, and leave the renewable energy target alone.

Dismantling Australian climate policy: a case study in disagreement, Op-ed by Ketan Joshi, The Guiardian, Aug 14, 2014

Heavy rain and floods: The 'new normal' with climate change?

As people clean up after torrential rains and heavy flooding in cities in the Midwest and along the Atlantic Coast, the events highlight what many climate researchers say is a new "normal" for severe rainfall in the US. 

Quite apart from what long-term changes in precipitation say about global warming, these events also provide a reality check on the ability of urban areas to cope with flooding from intense downpours in a warming climate.

They "definitely can tell us a lot about where our vulnerabilities are and what types of things might be on the checklist for fixing," says Joe Casola, staff scientist with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions in Arlington, Va.

Heavy rain and floods: The 'new normal' with climate change? by Pete Spotts, Christian Science Monitor, Aug 14, 2014

Montana: Big Sky country, big climate problems

No matter how far you go on vacation, sometimes you can't get away — especially if you write about science policy for a living.

I recently escaped the steamy confines of Washington, D.C., for the mountains of Montana for some sorely needed R & R. The last time I set foot in Big Sky Country was 10 years ago, when I attended a grizzly bear conference at a ranch just outside of Yellowstone National Park. And the first and only other time I visited the state was 35 years ago, when I backpacked in Glacier National Park.

From a climate perspective, things there have gotten worse.

Montana: Big Sky Country, Big Climate Problems by Elliott Negin, The Huffington Post, Aug 14, 2014

Recent glacial melt mostly caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions

More than two-thirds of the recent rapid melting of the world's glaciers can be blamed on humans, a new study finds. 

Scientists looking at glacier melt since 1851 didn't see a human fingerprint until about the middle of the 20th century. Even then only one-quarter of the warming wasn't from natural causes.

But since 1991, about 69 percent of the rapidly increasing melt was man-made, said Ben Marzeion, a climate scientist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

Recent Glacial Melt Mostly Caused By Man-Made Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Study Finds by Seth Borenstein, AP/The Huffington Post, Aug 14, 2014

Recent urban floods: A simple equation

Meteorology and climatology usually involve complex calculus and physics. However, as I watch breathtaking flooding in Boulder, Pensacola, Detroit, Baltimore, and Long Island, a rather simple equation comes to mind.

Urban Flooding = Increase in intensity of top 1% rain events + expanding urban impervious land cover + storm water management engineered for rainstorms of "last century"

I have researched and published on precipitation/urban hydrometeorological processes for over 2 decades. I am also a member of the NASA Precipitation Science team and was Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission that recently launched.

Recent Urban Floods: A simple equation by Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Weather Underground, Aug 13, 2014

Swamped by rising seas, small islands seek a lifeline

The world’s 52 small island developing states (SIDS), some in danger of being wiped off the face of the earth because of sea-level rise triggered by climate change, will be the focus of an international conference in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa next month.

Scheduled to take place Sep. 1-2, the conference will provide world leaders with “a first-hand opportunity to experience climate change and poverty challenges of small islands.”

According to the United Nations, the political leaders are expected to announce “over 200 concrete partnerships” to lift small islanders out of poverty – all of whom are facing rising sea levels, overfishing, and destructive natural events like typhoons and tsunamis.

Swamped by Rising Seas, Small Islands Seek a Lifeline by Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service (IPS), Aug 11, 2014

Thinning Arctic snow could alter North Pole ecosystem

Spring snow in the western Arctic has thinned by about a third and, in some regions, is less than half as thick as it was in the 1950s, decades of research has revealed.

A team of researchers analyzed data from NASA's IceBridge air surveys from 2009 to 2013, data from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers'buoys that were frozen into ice sheets and historic data collected by Russian scientists from 1954 to 1991. The results show that snow depth has thinned from 14 inches to 9 inches (36 centimeters to 23 centimeters) in the western Arcticand from 13 inches to 6 inches (33 cm to 15 cm) over the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, west and north of Alaska, respectively.

"Knowing exactly the error between the airborne and the ground measurements, we're able to say with confidence, yes, the snow is decreasing in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas," Ignatius Rigor, an oceanographer at the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory in Seattle, said in a statement. [On Ice: Stunning Images of Canadian Arctic]

Thinning Arctic Snow Could Alter North Pole Ecosystem by Kelly Dickerson, Live Science, Aug 14, 2014

Tibet's glaciers at their warmest in 2,000 years - report

The Tibetan plateau, whose glaciers supply water to hundreds of millions of people in Asia, were warmer over the past 50 years than at any stage in the past two millennia, a Chinese newspaper said, citing an academic report.

Temperatures and humidity are likely to continue to rise throughout this century, causing glaciers to retreat and desertification to spread, according to the report published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research.

"Over the past 50 years, the rate of temperature rise has been double the average global level," it said, according to the report on the website of Science and Technology Daily, a state-run newspaper.

Tibet's glaciers at their warmest in 2,000 years - report by by Stian Reklev and Kathy Chen, Reuters, Aug 14, 2014

Why are we not taking climate change seriously?

Climate scientists have issued a steady drumbeat of warnings and data pointing to profound changes that have already begun because of climate change.

Yet a survey from the United Kingdom finds that when it comes to climate denial, the United States leads the world. Only 54% of Americans agree that human activity is largely causing the climate change we're currently seeing.

Why is the U.S. the world leader in climate denial? And how can scientists and policymakers convert the "deniers?"

Why are we not taking climate change seriously?, NPR, Aug 14, 2014 

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 16 August, 2014

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