Earth three-peats hottest year record

❝ Earth sizzled to a third-straight record hot year in 2016, with scientists mostly blaming man-made global warming with help from a natural El Nino that’s now gone.

Two U.S. agencies and international weather groups reported Wednesday that last year was the warmest on record. They measure global temperatures in slightly different ways, and came up with a range of increases, from minuscule to what top American climate scientists described as substantial.

They’re “all singing the same song even if they are hitting different notes along the way. The pattern is very clear,” said Deke Arndt of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…

“This is clearly a record,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. “We are now no longer only looking at something that only scientists can see, but is apparent to people in our daily lives.”

❝ Temperature records go back to 1880. This is the fifth time in a dozen years that the globe has set a new annual heat record. Records have been set in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2005…

Schmidt said his calculations show most of the record heat was from heat-trapping gases from the burning of oil, coal and gas. Only about 12 percent was due to El Nino, which is a periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that change weather globally, he said. Arndt put the El Nino factor closer to a quarter or a third…

❝ The effects are more than just records, but actually hurt people and the environment, said Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason Furtado. They’re “harmful on several levels, including human welfare, ecology, economics, and even geopolitics,” he said.

I’ll second that emotion.

Examination of Arctic warmth leads straight to the expected cause

Click to enlarge

❝ It normally takes many months to get a paper through peer review and into a journal, but a group of scientists has released their detection and attribution study early, and it’s a stunning indictment. We now know the culprit for the astonishing Arctic warmth of November and December. It seemed very likely that the guilty party was rising greenhouse gasses with Arctic amplification as the accomplice, and that’s JUST what the evidence shows. It’s overwhelming, and the defendants have no choice but to throw themselves upon the mercy of the court.

❝ The analysis shows that even in our present climate that is around a degree warmer than 1900, this heat is unusual, but would happen once every 50-200 years. The odds of it happening in the climate of 1900 are astronomically tiny, however, if we warm another degree, this will be a nearly commonplace event.

The study is here, and for those that do not want to read the whole thing RTFA for the conclusions.

❝ What this study took great pains to do was to show that this warmth is almost certainly not a natural oscillation in the Arctic climate. Such oscillations exist, but when they are subtracted out, this year stands out like a big red sore thumb. Chris Mooney at the Washington Post has a good summary of this study as well.

I’ll leave crayola-sophistry to the climate denial crowd. They have a good couple of years ahead with the government packed by both wings of the Republican Party.

Republicans end climate change the old-fashioned way — by censorship

…But I know what the Koch brothers say science is, and that’s good enough for me

❝ Remember when Scott Walker was a hot presidential prospect for about six minutes, and then he went to London and refused to venture a guess at whether evolution is real, and looked even more stupid than most Republicans while doing it? Well by golly, when it comes to other kinds of science, Walker is not confused at all. He knows, for instance, that climate change is a very controversial subject among people who are Koch Industries, so he’s made a concerted effort to make sure state policy is uncontaminated by too much science. That admirable decisiveness is showing, in the form of a state website that used to be about “Climate Change and Wisconsin´s Great Lakes,” but has now had every mention of “climate” — or for that matter, real science — carefully scrubbed away.

❝ As Scientific American reported way back in 2015, Walker has “moved to reduce the role of science in environmental policymaking and to silence discussion of controversial subjects, including climate change, by state employees.” He’s dismantled environmental regulations, and attempted to slash staff at the state Department of Natural Resources, getting rid of a third of its scientists and firing a bunch of the department’s “environmental educators,” because why would you waste state money on spreading liberal propaganda to innocent schoolchildren? And just like Rick Scott did in Florida, Wisconsin also tried to prohibit state workers from even saying the “C” word at all.

❝ And then there’s that website. Urban Milwaukee columnist James Rowen details how the DNR’s website has been purged of any science whatsoever, changing a page that had actually been a pretty decent introduction to how climate change is affecting the Great Lakes into a couple of paragraphs of shrugging and saying, gosh, we dunno…

RTFA. In case you need your understanding of Republican politics dragged away from the nuances of Trump’s flirtation with fascism. Neocons haven’t disappeared. They still don’t win primaries. They still retain control of states outside the Confederacy via reliance on gerrymandering and anti-voting regulations. Yes, they also get a bump in their national power from the Idiocracy perpetuated by the TweetFührer.

Climate Change in the Trumpocene Age


❝ In the year since the Paris climate agreement was concluded, the world’s efforts to limit global warming to 2º Celsius above pre-industrial levels seemed to gain momentum. Enough signatory countries took the necessary steps to formalize the agreement to ensure that it entered into force on November 4. Meanwhile, in October, the international community reached a separate aviation – related climate accord, which covers an area that the Paris agreement did not address; and agreed to amend the 1989 Montreal Protocol to phase out hydrofluorocarbons – a potent greenhouse gas.

But, following the United States’ presidential election, many observers fear that international efforts to combat climate change – such as the Paris accord and the Sustainable Development Goals…could be derailed. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump – who in 2012 took to Twitter to declare that climate change is a Chinese-created hoax – said that he would walk away from the Paris agreement. But, in a post-election interview with the New York Times, Trump said that he had an “open mind” about the Paris agreement, implying that he is now backing away from his previous statements.

❝ Given Trump’s belief that “unpredictability” is a virtue, no one can know for certain what he will do when he takes office in January…but, if Trump chooses to abandon the US government’s climate-related commitments, the rest of the world will have to find a way forward on its own…

Prospective solutions to the Trumpocene Age are useful, creative and probably necessary. Adding in his fellow Republican gangbangers brings additional intellectual dishonesty to his table.

❝ …bumptious unilateralism is a double-edge sword. As Stiglitz warns, if Trump does not pursue climate-friendly policies, other countries might “start imposing tariffs against US products made in ways that violate global climate-change rules.” And beyond the international community, “the market itself will be Trump’s biggest constraint,” says New York University economist Nouriel Roubini: “If he tries to pursue radical populist policies, the response will be swift and punishing: stocks will plummet, the dollar will fall, investors will flee to US Treasury bonds, gold prices will spike, and so forth.”…

❝ Similarly, even if Trump reneges on US commitments, and does not implement national policies to reduce emissions, such a move would kill the Paris agreement only if other countries decided to do the same, which is not likely to happen. For large emerging countries such as China and India, “the relatively rapid transition away from fossil fuels,” argues…John Mathews, “is driven not so much by concerns about climate change as by the economic benefits renewable energy sources are perceived as conveying.”

Thus, with China and India in the lead, the rest of the world will most likely continue to pursue carbon-emissions reductions, regardless of US participation, simply because it is profitable to do so. The US, meanwhile, will suffer more than the climate does if it does not move toward a green economy.

RTFA for a great deal more analysis, understanding and alternatives from Bo Lidegaard and more. Poisonally, I expect little sound economic sense within the framework of Trumponomics. Most is perfectly satisfactory to the Republican crew from Reaganites to Tea Party Trumpkins. They couldn’t care less about jobs, education or healthcare. They lie the nation they profess to love – dedicate all to the greed they love more than life.

Air Force ignored memos about rising seas – including those from island where they’re building

Click to enlargeRob Griffith/AP

❝ The U.S. Air Force is spending nearly $1 billion to build a radar installation that will help keep astronauts and satellites safe by tracking pieces of space junk as small as a baseball. That is, if global warming doesn’t get in the way.

❝ The Space Fence is being constructed on a tiny atoll in the Marshall Islands that scientists say could be regularly swamped by rising seas within a couple of decades as a result of climate change. The salt water could play havoc with the equipment…

The Associated Press found that neither the military nor its contractor, Lockheed Martin, gave serious consideration to that threat when designing the installation and choosing a site, despite warnings from the island nation’s environmental agency.

“The future “does not look good for a lot of these islands,” said Curt Storlazzi, an oceanographer with the U.S. Geological Survey who is leading a study at Kwajalein Atoll, where the Space Fence complex is being built.

Dana Whalley, a civilian who is managing the Space Fence program, said that the radar installation has a projected lifespan of 25 years and that he doesn’t expect sea levels to rise enough over that period to cause a problem. But if necessary, he said, the base could take steps to improve its seawalls.

Still, because of budget pressures, military equipment is often used well beyond its projected lifespan. In fact, a key part of the radar tracking system that the Space Fence replaces was built during the dawn of the space age and was badly outdated by the time it was shut down 50 years later in 2013…

❝ The military chose the Marshall Islands because the Space Fence works best near the equator. But it means the installation is being built just 10 feet above sea level…

RTFA for details and some truly disingenuous excuses from assorted bureaucrats.

Scientists work from above to learn how Greenland is melting from below

Click to enlargeNASA

❝ If the climate keeps warming the way it has, Greenland may finally live up to its name…The island’s glacier-crusted surface is melting, and a lot of this is from balmier atmospheric temperatures. But as the saying goes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The oceans are becoming more tepid as well, and that warmer water is causing the glaciers to thaw from below.

❝ Scientists have good measurements of how much ice melts due to warmer air. And now, thanks in part to torpedo-like probes, they are getting better data on the ice being lapped away by sea water. Those submarines are part of NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland campaign — OMG, for short. And that’s a fairly accurate acronym, because…those glaciers are melting fast…

❝ Greenland’s glacier-gouged coastline provides the deep, warm water a path to the inland ice. Ancient ice sheets carved subsurface fjords and canyons, many of which reach down to the same level as the Atlantic-Arctic currents at the continental shelf. Problem is, “the seafloor around Greenland’s coast isn’t very well known,” says Josh Willis, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the project lead for OMG. “The location and depths of these underwater fjords and canyons have just been poorly mapped out…”

Willis and his crew have spent the past five weeks flying over Greenland’s coastline, dropping torpedo-shaped probes into the underwater fjords. These units are called…AXCTDS, or Airborne Expendable Conductivity, Temperature and Depth Sensors…

❝ Mission OMG…spans five years and will look for ocean-caused changes to Greenland’s ice sheet. This spring, the team measured glacier height with aircraft radar, comparing past and future data to ascertain which glaciers are vanishing the fastest. The subsurface torpedo work took place this fall, when Arctic sea ice was at its minimum. It was the first time underwater probes had collected data on Greenland’s continental shelf depth, salinity and temperature.

Ultimately, the group wants to know how much of Greenland’s melting is because of air temperature, and how much is caused by water. Koppes, who has worked with the OMG team, believes air temperature and ocean water will play a 50/50 role in glacial melting.

❝ OMG will need time to analyze the data and confirm, but so far they’ve encountered some surprises. “The amount of warm water was bigger than expected, and we saw it in more places than expected,” continues Willis. “Almost everywhere along the shelf where the water was deep enough, we found Atlantic water interacting with the glaciers.”…

And the stakes are high. The deep current warming turns Greenland’s 27,000 miles of coastline — a distance greater than the Earth’s circumference at the equator — into a melt factory. The island’s interior is three times the size of Texas, and holds enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by 20 feet. More than enough to drown the Maldives, Venice, and New Orleans.

RTFA for detail about how research is proceeding, understanding all the processes contributing to the increased melt.

The West Is burning — How much blame goes to climate change?

Click to enlargeJohn McColgan, USDA

❝ So far this year, wildfires have scorched nearly 5 million acres in the U.S. That sounds like a lot, but compared to 2015, the season has been downright tame. Last year at this time, more than 9 million acres had already burned, and by the end of the year, that number would rise to more than 10 million — the most on record. In 2015, the Okanogan grew into the largest fire Washington had ever seen, breaking a record set just the year before. California recorded some of its most damaging fires, including the Valley Fire, which torched around 1,300 homes. More than 5 million acres burned in Alaska alone. But that’s not to say that this year has been without drama. For instance, California’s Soberanes Fire, which was sparked by an illegal campfire in July, is still smoldering. The effort it took to contain that blaze is believed to be one of the most expensive — if not the most expensive — wildfire-fighting operations ever.

❝ With wildfire, such superlatives have, paradoxically, become normal. Records are routinely smashed — for acreage burned, homes destroyed, firefighter lives lost and money spent fighting back flames. A study published earlier this year found that, between 2003 and 2012, the average area burned each year in Western national forests was 1,271 percent greater than it was in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Like the extreme hurricanes, heat waves and floods that have whipped, baked and soaked our landscape in recent years, such trends raise the question: Is this what climate change looks like?

❝ John Abatzoglou and his co-author, Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, estimate that human-caused climate change was responsible for nearly doubling the area burned in the West between 1984 and 2015. If the last few decades had been simply dry, instead of some of the hottest and driest on record, perhaps 10.4 million fewer acres would have burned, they say.

❝ Wildfire is particularly responsive to temperature increases because heat dries things out. It sucks moisture from twigs and needles in the forest the same way it does from clothes in a dryer, turning this vegetation into the kindling, or “fine fuel,” that gets wildfires going…

To shore up confidence in their estimates, they repeated the analyses in their study using eight different fuel-aridity metrics and then averaged the results. “One thing that gives me confidence is that all eight of these essentially lead to the same conclusion,” Williams said. “All eight have been increasing. All correlate well with fire.”

❝ In the end, they found that more than half of the observed increase in the dryness of fuels could be attributed to climate change. Fuel aridity, in turn, correlated very closely with fire activity for the time period they looked at — it explained about 75 percent of the variability in acreage burned from year to year. “That means that it is a top dog,” Williams said. “Correlation is not causation, but the correlation is so strong that it’s very hard to get a relationship like this if it’s not real.”

Williams added that as aridity increased, wildfire activity increased exponentially. “This isn’t a gradual process. Every few years we’re kind of entering a new epoch, where the potential for new fires is quite a bit bigger than it was a few years back.”

RTFA for more detail. Once again, science and maths point the finger at responsibility. Not only for cause; but, for the refusal to offer any constructive solutions. Congressional conservatives are so set in their commitment to stopping any change brought by our nation’s first Black president they’re willing to burn in a hell of their own creation.

Yes, of course, they won’t. Neither will the contributors to their demented campaign. The voters who keep them in office? That may be a different story.