Global Warming Info For Doubters

For those who still doubt or deny the existence of global warming, or who are not convinced that burning of fossil fuels is contributing to the heating of the planet, here are a few facts and figures* to consider:

Land Temperatures: 2016 marks the 40th consecutive year that the average global temperature has been above the 20th century average. The January-July 2016 global land surface temperature was 1.66°C (2.99°F) above the 20th century average. 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000.

Sea Surface Temperatures worldwide have mirrored the year-to-year increases in land temperatures. The January-July 2016 ocean surface temperatures were 0.79°C (1.42°F) above average, the warmest in the last 137 years.

Sea Level Rise has been slow but steady, having risen 7 inches (17.78cm) since 1900. The UN estimates an additional 2.5 to 6.0 foot sea level increase by 2100, depending on how rapidly the ice caps and glaciers melt. Some of the Marshall Islands and other low-lying atolls already have been vacated due to sea level rise. Miami has been flooding at high tide.

Ice Caps & Glaciers are melting and shrinking fast. The Greenland Ice Sheet is losing ice at the rate of 270 billion tons a year, and glaciers around the world lose another 400 billion tons each year. 

Ocean Acidification: The world’s oceans absorb a quarter of all CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning. When CO2 mixes with seawater, a chemical reaction increases the acid content of the water. Ocean acidity has increased 30% in the past 200 years, softening the shells of oysters, clams, and other calcifying species, threatening the world’s food chain, and eroding coral reefs. 

Increase of the CO2 Level in the atmosphere caused by the burning of oil, gas, and coal has increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) preindustrial, to over 400 ppm, creating a greenhouse effect that radiates heat back to earth.

Storms, Floods, & Droughts get more robust and last longer as the planet’s oceans, land, and air get hotter.

Snowpack Levels in mountain ranges throughout the world, including the Sierra Nevada, the Rockies, the Alps, and the Himalayas are getting thinner and melting faster, providing less water to populations relying on the runoff.

Carbon Emissions into the atmosphere from the burning of oil, coal, and gas exceed 9.7 billion tons per year. 97% of publishing climate scientists around the world concur that the rapid increase in global warming is due, at least in part, to human activity, namely the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels. 200 worldwide scientific organizations hold that climate change has been caused by human action. Unfortunately, the heating of earth over the past 100 years indicates the planet will keep getting hotter until the burning of fossil fuels to run our cars and factories can be replaced by non-polluting alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar.

 *Data as reported by NASA, NOAA, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and as published in scientific journals.

Earth’s Climate — Year 2300

Although we won’t be around to experience earth’s climate in the year 2300 in person, a computer-simulation study released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in January, 2013, takes us to that future world. According to the Livermore team, led by physicist Govindasamy Bala, 2300 is when the world’s supply of fossil fuels will likely be depleted. No more oil, coal, or natural gas. What will the world look like at that point? Bala’s team used a combination of climate and carbon-cycle computer simulations to find out.

According to the study, the world will be much hotter. Average world temperature will increase by 8°C (14°F). Arctic temperature will increase a whopping 20°C (36°F). The polar cap, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Arctic tundra will have melted. Instead of ice and snow, boreal forest will cover the land, and Arctic seas will be ice free. Tropical vegetation will also expand, as present-day temperate areas become hotter.  

Parts per million of CO2 in the air will triple. From the present approximately 400 ppm of CO2, our atmosphere will be saturated with 1,200 ppm of CO2, bringing the world close to some prehistoric CO2 levels.

There will come a time when the oceans can no longer absorb CO2.The world’s oceans now function as a carbon sink, eventually absorbing 80% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. But the more CO2 the oceans take in, the higher the acid content of the water becomes. Computer simulations predict that extreme acidification will wipe out much of marine life, including hundreds of food fish species, and destroy the world’s coral reefs. The destruction of coral systems will hamper the ocean’s ability to absorb additional CO2. With the oceans no longer able to absorb CO2, about 45% of the emitted carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere, intensifying the heating of the planet.

The melting of glaciers and polar ice will eventually raise world sea level by 7 meters (34 feet). Many populated islands will be under water, as will many of the world’s major port cities. The sea level rise will be gradual, but populations on low-lying islands and in seacoast communities should start preparing for the future.

According to physicist G. Bala, it is now evident that a great deal of damage has already been done. Years of unrestricted carbon pollution has started a process called committed warming. Bala said, “No matter what we do – even if we completely stop burning fossil fuels today – we are committed to future increases in global temperature … Our present trajectory is risking severe environmental damage that could last for hundreds of years.”

Is there anything we can do to reverse the trend? Even though committed warming is already in motion, reducing carbon emissions as much as possible and as quickly as possible can hopefully still serve to mitigate future damage. The Livermore team is using integrated computer simulations to assess to what extent and how soon the damage can moderated, depending on pace of emissions reduction. It is urgent that the governments and industries of the world take note, and shift their emission reduction efforts into high gear.


An Ice-Free Arctic Ocean?

Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate, according to figures released by the National Snow & Ice Data Center in Colorado Springs. On August 13, 2012, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean had fallen 2.69 square kilometers (1.97 million square miles) below the 1979-2000 average for the same date, and 483,000 sq. km (186,000 sq. mi) below the same date in 2007, the previous record low year. The data was supplied by the European Space Agency’s radar-equipped satellite Cryoset, launched in 2010 to monitor changes in the thickness of arctic sea ice.  Measurements from overflying aircraft and sonar buoys confirm the Cryoset figures.

With two weeks still to go in the arctic melt season, NASA scientists believe that arctic sea ice will drop to its lowest point ever recorded. Computer models developed by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center project an ice-free Arctic Ocean during the summer months by 2035. According to the model, Arctic ice will become seasonal, allowing ships to sail the fabled Northwest Passage “over the top of the world” for a good part of the year. Some Chinese container ships have already started using the shortened route to ship goods directly to Europe and U.S. East Coast ports.

Not only are the boundaries of the Arctic ice cap shrinking, but the ice is thinning in some areas. In the past decade alone, sea ice thickness north of Greenland has fallen 65%, from 5 to 6 meters (16 to 20 ft) to 2 meters (6.6 feet).

As the Arctic ice melts faster, and the fall freeze continues to start later, there will be less ice to reflect the sun’s rays back into space, which allows the sun to heat the Arctic Ocean water. A warmer Arctic Ocean will contribute to sea level rise and warmer oceans worldwide, and overall global warming. Aquatic  wildlife species that depend on sea ice and colder water will disappear. Humans will have to adjust to rising ocean levels around the world, plus a warmer climate  with longer, hotter droughts and more destructive floods and storms.