Sunday, June 17, 2018

Climate Change Accelerating Sea Level Rise...Faster than Expected

An ice shelf near the Eqip Sermia glacier off the coast of Greenland.

CLIMATE CHANGE COULD be accelerating a rise in sea levels to a greater extent than previously thought, researchers have found.
A new study by an international team of polar scientists has discovered that the process of warmer ocean water destabilising ice shelves from below is also cracking them apart from above, increasing the chance they’ll break off.
“We are learning that ice shelves are more vulnerable to rising ocean and air temperatures than we thought,” Christine Dow from the University of Waterloo in Canada, who led the research, said.
“There are dual processes going on here. One that is destabilising from below, and another from above.
“This information could have an impact on our projected timelines for ice shelf collapse and resulting sea level rise due to climate change.”

Two-year study
Over the course of two years, researchers used radar surveys and Landsat imagery (from Earth-observing satellites co-managed by the US Geological Survey and Nasa) to monitor ice shelves in locations such as Antarctica and Greenland.
They found that as warmer salt water erodes channels into the ice that attaches glaciers to stable land, it also generates massive vertical fractures splitting glaciers from above and below. Surface water melting on top of the ice shelves then pours into these cracks, accelerating the problem further.
“This study is more evidence that the warming effects of climate change are impacting our planet in ways that are often more dangerous than we perhaps had thought,” Dow said.
“There are many more vulnerable ice shelves in the Antarctic that, if they break up, will accelerate the processes of sea level rise,” she added.
The study was recently published in Science Advances.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

NASA satellites reveal major shifts in global freshwater

News | May 29, 2018  
Time series showing global freshwater trends as measured by the NASA/German Aerospace Center (DLR) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission from 2002 to 2016. Freshwater increases above average are shown in blue, while decreases below average are in red. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio › Full view
In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists have combined an array of NASA satellite observations of Earth with data on human activities to map locations where freshwater is changing around the globe and why.
The study, published today in the journal Nature, finds that Earth's wet land areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier due to a variety of factors, including human water management, climate change and natural cycles.
Between 2002 and 2016, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) tracked the movement of freshwater around the planet. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Katy Mersmann 
Between 2002 and 2016, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) tracked the movement of freshwater around the planet. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Katy Mersmann
A team led by Matt Rodell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, used 14 years of observations from the U.S./German-led Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft mission to track global trends in freshwater in 34 regions around the world. To understand why these trends emerged, they needed to pull in satellite precipitation data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project, NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat imagery, irrigation maps, and published reports of human activities related to agriculture, mining and reservoir operations. Only through analysis of the combined data sets were the scientists able to get a full understanding of the reasons for Earth's freshwater changes, as well as the sizes of those trends.
"This is the first time that we've used observations from multiple satellites in a thorough assessment of how freshwater availability is changing everywhere on Earth," said Rodell. "A key goal was to distinguish shifts in terrestrial water storage caused by natural variability -- wet periods and dry periods associated with El Niño and La Niña, for example -- from trends related to climate change or human impacts, like pumping groundwater out of an aquifer faster than it is replenished."
Freshwater is found in lakes, rivers, soil, snow, groundwater and ice. Freshwater loss from the ice sheets at the poles -- attributed to climate change -- has implications for sea level rise. On land, freshwater is one of the most essential of Earth's resources, for drinking water and agriculture. While some regions' water supplies are relatively stable, others experienced increases or decreases.
"What we are witnessing is major hydrologic change," said co-author Jay Famiglietti of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which also managed the GRACE mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "We see a distinctive pattern of the wet land areas of the world getting wetter -- those are the high latitudes and the tropics -- and the dry areas in between getting dryer. Embedded within the dry areas we see multiple hotspots resulting from groundwater depletion."
Famiglietti noted that while water loss in some regions, like the melting ice sheets and alpine glaciers, is clearly driven by warming climate, it will require more time and data to determine the driving forces behind other patterns of freshwater change.
"The pattern of wet-getting-wetter, dry-getting-drier during the rest of the 21st century is predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models, but we'll need a much longer dataset to be able to definitively say whether climate change is responsible for the emergence of any similar pattern in the GRACE data," Famiglietti said.
The twin GRACE satellites, launched in 2002 as a joint mission with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), precisely measured the distance between the two spacecraft to detect changes in Earth's gravity field caused by movements of mass on the planet below. Using this method, GRACE tracked monthly variations in terrestrial water storage until its science mission ended in October 2017.
Artist's illustration of the twin spacecraft of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission. GRACE Follow-On will soon continue the legacy of the original GRACE mission, providing valuable data that will help manage Earth's critical water resources. › Full image and caption 
However, the GRACE satellite observations alone couldn't tell Rodell, Famiglietti and their colleagues what was causing the apparent trends.
"We examined information on precipitation, agriculture and groundwater pumping to find a possible explanation for the trends estimated from GRACE," said co-author Hiroko Beaudoing of Goddard and the University of Maryland in College Park.
For instance, although pumping groundwater for agricultural uses is a significant contributor to freshwater depletion throughout the world, groundwater levels are also sensitive to cycles of persistent drought or rainy conditions. Famiglietti noted that such a combination was likely the cause of the significant groundwater depletion observed in California's Central Valley from 2007 to 2015, when decreased groundwater replenishment from rain and snowfall combined with increased pumping for agriculture.
Southwestern California lost 4 gigatons of freshwater per year during the period. A gigaton of water would fill 400,000 Olympic swimming pools. A majority of California's freshwater comes in the form of rainfall and snow that collect in the Sierra Nevada snowpack and then is managed as it melts into surface waters through a series of reservoirs. When natural cycles led to less precipitation and caused diminished snowpack and surface waters, people relied on groundwater more heavily.
Downward trends in freshwater seen in Saudi Arabia also reflect agricultural pressures. From 2002 to 2016, the region lost 6.1 gigatons per year of stored groundwater. Imagery from Landsat satellites shows an explosive growth of irrigated farmland in the arid landscape from 1987 to the present, which may explain the increased drawdown.
The team's analyses also identified large, decade-long trends in terrestrial freshwater storage that do not appear to be directly related to human activities. Natural cycles of high or low rainfall can cause a trend that is unlikely to persist, Rodell said. An example is Africa's western Zambezi basin and Okavango Delta, a vital watering hole for wildlife in northern Botswana. In this region, water storage increased at an average rate of 29 gigatons per year from 2002 to 2016. This wet period during the GRACE mission followed at least two decades of dryness. Rodell believes it is a case of natural variability that occurs over decades in this region of Africa.
The researchers found that a combination of natural and human pressures can lead to complex scenarios in some regions. Xinjiang province in northwestern China, about the size of Kansas, is bordered by Kazakhstan to the west and the Taklamakan desert to the south and encompasses the central portion of the Tien Shan Mountains. During the first decades of this century, previously undocumented water declines occurred in Xinjiang.
Rodell and his colleagues pieced together multiple factors to explain the loss of 5.5 gigatons of terrestrial water storage per year in Xinjiang province. Less rainfall was not the culprit. Additions to surface water were also occurring from climate change-induced glacier melt, and the pumping of groundwater out of coal mines. But these additions were more than offset by depletions caused by an increase in water consumption by irrigated cropland and evaporation of river water from the desert floor.
The successor to GRACE, called GRACE Follow-On, a joint mission with the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), currently is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California undergoing final preparations for launch no earlier than May 22.
For more information on how NASA studies Earth, visit:
Thank NASA

Knight Jonny C.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

One Degree Change Doesn't Sound too Bad....What's the Big Deal??

What’s going to happen during that big question mark around the one-degree change? We’re already seeing the impacts of warming. Our weather is changing, and seasons are shifting. Droughts are becoming longer and well, drier. Then, when the rains come, they’re stronger and inundate the now-parched land, causing floods – and  the results are serious.

This Time, It’s Personal.

That’s what’s happening with our weather. But what else is going on? We wouldn’t put up with a person who behaves like that guy.... someone who moves into our environment and changes everything that was normal and comfortable. Why should we wait to take action on climate?

Climate Change Is Rough For People (And The Rest Of The Residents On Planet Earth)

As the seasons shift and unexpectedly extreme events become the norm, wildlife has to adapt – or die.  The climate change shuffle  indicates that species are trying to learn to stay alive.

  The Signs Are Everywhere

Let’s face it – the signs are everywhere. If these species could protest, they would – This is how it would look when a climate change denier is confronted with the wisdom of mother nature.

Despite All the Evidence, Some People Still Just Don’t Get It.

We’re seeing the signs more and more. Strange seasons, extreme weather, hotter heat waves, and species changing their behaviors just to survive. And yet every winter without fail, there’s that one guy who says “So much for global warming!” as soon as the thermometer drops below 32 degrees.

Risky Behavior

Say you surveyed 100 structural engineers, and 97 said a nearby bridge is structurally unsound and driving over it would be dangerous. Would you take the advice of the only three who disagreed, and proceed to drive over that bridge ?
It’s the same thing with climate change: 97 percent (or more) of climate scientists say climate change is real, and caused by humans. So do you believe that other remaining 3 percent and ignore the risks? Here’s what would happen if you apply that same reasoning to other areas.

Trust The Scientists. They Know What They’re Talking About.

That politician did not have a clue what the consensus of scientists believe. And I don't think he cared.
 Scientists are experts in their fields, much like the structural engineers you asked about that bridge. Or the doctors you see at the hospital. That’s why we trust their recommendations. You don’t have to know the minutiae of every scientific study on climate change – you just need to trust valid science on the subject. Most of all, please don’t believe this politician from a recent New Yorker cartoon!

The Times, They Are A-Changin’.

Together, we’ve solved a lot of tremendous problems the world has faced, and made wondrous advances in the span of decades, or even years that naysayers swore could never happen. Just look at computers: They used to take up an entire room. Now they fit in the palm of your hand.
'Not My Earth, Not My Problem' demonstrates the stark difference between advances in our computer technology and advances in our energy systems. Which sparks the question: with all the incredible advances in wind and solar we’ve seen recently, why aren’t we making bigger and faster changes to our energy system?

I have to say it....I'm a big fan of alternative, renewable energy

We can make changes to our energy. In fact, the shift to power our lives – and the economy – with clean, renewable energy is already underway. As Bob Dylan said, the answer is blowin’ in the wind. We can transition from dirty, dated fossil fuel energy to clean sources like wind and solar power. And when it comes to that plan, we’ve got to say it: We’re big fans!

Put Your Knowledge To Use.

Put Your Knowledge To Use. Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to take action. You’ve got the drive — help stop climate change by supporting leaders who make climate solutions, like more fuel-efficient vehicles. And who support research into alternative fuels.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Keeping Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Could Spare Millions Pain of Dengue Fever

The tropical disease is spread by mosquitoes that thrive in the wetter, hotter conditions that accompany climate change. 
By Neela Banerjee
May 2Under mosquito nets, young patients are treated for dengue fever at a hospital in Paraguay. Limiting global warming could avoid millions of new cases each year, research shows. Credit: Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images

Faster international action to control global warming could halt the spread of dengue fever in the Western Hemisphere and avoid more than 3 million new cases a year in Latin America and the Caribbean by the end of the century, scientists report.

The tropical disease, painful but not usually fatal, afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the world. There is no vaccine, so controlling its spread by reining in global warming would be a significant health benefit.

The study is one of several recently published that attempt to quantify the benefits of cutting pollution fast enough to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also projects infection patterns at 2 degrees of warming and 3.7 degrees, a business-as-usual case.

Scientists have predicted that climate change could create the wetter, hotter conditions that favor diseases spread by various insects and parasites. This study focuses on one widespread disease and on one geographical region.
Half a Degree Can Make a Big Difference
Published May 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ⦁ the study was conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and the Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso in Brazil.
It is part of an urgent effort by scientists around the world to collect evidence on the difference between 2 degrees of warming and 1.5 degrees, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is due to report on the latest science this fall.

Either target would require bringing net emissions of carbon dioxide to zero within the next several decades, the IPCC has projected, but to stay within 1.5 degrees would require achieving the cuts much more rapidly.
Avoiding 3.3 Million Cases a Year 
Without greater ambition, the study projected an additional 12.1 million annual cases of dengue fever in the Caribbean and Latin America by the end of the century.
By comparison, if warming is held to 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times—the longstanding international climate goal—the number of estimated additional cases in the region falls to 9.3 million.

Controlling emissions to keep the temperature trajectory at 1.5 degrees Celsius would lower that to an annual increase of 8.8 million new cases.
The increase in infection is driven in great part by how a warmer world extends the dengue season when mosquitoes are breeding and biting.

The study found that areas where the dengue season would last more than three months would be "considerably" smaller if warming is constrained to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Which Countries in the Region are Most at Risk?

The areas most affected by the increase in dengue would be southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and the coastal regions of Brazil. In Brazil alone, global warming of no more than 1.5 degrees might prevent 1.4 million dengue cases a year.

The study found that under the 3.7 degree scenario, considered "business as usual," dengue fever could spread to regions that have historically seen few cases. Keeping to 1.5 degrees could limit such a geographical expansion.

People living in previously untouched areas would have less built-up immunity and would be more likely to get sick, while public health providers in some such places "are woefully unprepared for dealing with major dengue epidemics," the authors warned.

                        Neela Banerjee
Neela Banerjee is a Washington-based reporter for Inside Climate News. She led the investigation into Exxon's early climate research, which was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service reporting and the recipient of nearly a dozen other journalism awards. Before joining ICN, she spent four years as the energy and environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau. Banerjee covered global energy, the Iraq War and other issues with The New York Times. She also served as a Moscow correspondent with The Wall Street Journal. Banerjee grew up in southeast Louisiana and graduated from Yale University.
You can reach her by email at For encrypted communication, use
Thanx Neela  Banerjee

Knight Jonny  C.