December 20, 2014
I’m flying today from San Francisco back to home base in Michigan. My fourth American Geophysical Union conference has been extremely interesting and productive, and I hope the material I have gathered here, in concert with Bloggers John Cook and Collin Maessen, will make it easier to crank out more informative posts with greater ease.
The Greenland Ice Sheet in HD
The highest resolution satellite images ever taken of the Greenland ice sheets were announced Thursday in an initial data release. Ohio State University has partnered with the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota to capture images taken by DigitalGlobe’s Worldview-1 and -2 satellites and convert them into publicly available elevation maps for researchers who track the ice.
The imagery offers resolution down to half a meter. Researchers convert the images into digital elevation maps with a resolution down to 2 meters. One illustrative example of how powerful this imagery can be: a mosaic depicting the fast-moving Jakobshavn Glacier shows ice bergs floating out to sea but also cracks in the glacier itself hundreds of kilometers inland from Jacobshavn — where in the past there has been a flat expanse of ice. The cracks are signs that the flowing ice is accelerating toward the sea.
The imagery also covers parts of Alaska, including the Brooks Range Mountains and other areas. Check out some pretty impressive images here.
Early Data from NASA’s New Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO2)
December 19, 2014
Tea-leaf readers, heads up.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama downplayed the benefits of building the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada on Friday. He said it would not lower gasoline prices and argued more jobs would be created by repairing America’s infrastructure.
He said the pipeline would mainly benefit Canadian oil companies that need to get Canadian oil to the Gulf of Mexico.
He said the pipeline is “not even a nominal benefit for U.S. consumers.”
Obama has resisted efforts by Republicans to authorize the pipeline’s construction. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said it would be the first bill taken up in the new GOP-controlled Senate.
December 19, 2014
Above, Dr. Michael Mann displays his court awarded damages check, won against the climate and science denying, fossil fuel funded “think” tank, “American Traditions Institute” aka, the “Energy & Environment Legal Institute”, after judges realized that actions against Dr. Mann were pure anti-science harassment and had no basis in fact.
Dr. Mann donated the check to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, an organization devoted to providing a legal bulwark against attacks on climate science and scientists.
Holding the check with Dr. Mann, from left to right, CSLDF Executive Director Lauren Kurtz, and Board members Charles Zeller, Scott Mandia, and Josh Wolfe. The picture was taken December 18, 2014, in San Francisco, at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.
It’s not the size of the penalty, it’s the principle behind it, but that principle depends on which side you’re on.
The state Supreme Court has ordered the nonprofit Energy & Environment Legal Institute to pay $250 in damages to former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann and the school following the institute’s failed legal bid to obtain Mann’s emails regarding climate change research.
The institute, formerly known as the American Tradition Institute, filed the suit in 2011, after UVa refused to turn over about 12,000 emails requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Read the rest of this entry »
December 19, 2014
One of the distinguished experts we interviewed this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco was Peter Doran, a well known Antarctic researcher from the University of Illinois. Dr. Doran described how his lengthy stays in the dry valleys of Antarctica can help us better understand how life may have, at one time, existed on Mars.
Dr. Doran discusses here the way his work has been misused by the climate denial community, including everyone from “crazy Uncle Bob” to, famously, the late novelist Michael Crichton. Doran’s article refuting Crichton in the New York Times is must reading for everyone’s crazy uncle Bob.
Our results have been misused as “evidence” against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel “State of Fear” and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents — all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. One recent Web column even put words in my mouth. I have never said that “the unexpected colder climate in Antarctica may possibly be signaling a lessening of the current global warming cycle.” I have never thought such a thing either.
Our study did find that 58 percent of Antarctica cooled from 1966 to 2000. But during that period, the rest of the continent was warming. And climate models created since our paper was published have suggested a link between the lack of significant warming in Antarctica and the ozone hole over that continent. These models, conspicuously missing from the warming-skeptic literature, suggest that as the ozone hole heals — thanks to worldwide bans on ozone-destroying chemicals — all of Antarctica is likely to warm with the rest of the planet. An inconvenient truth? Read the rest of this entry »
December 18, 2014
I’m working with John Cook of Skeptical Science blog, interviewing an amazing list of some of the most productive researchers in the most critical areas of climate science.
We’ve been completely bowled over by the energy the subjects have brought to this project. Everyone has been on their “A” game.
Lonnie Thompson, above, makes a pretty good example.
In his 70s, with a new heart transplant, Dr. Thompson has just returned from his 58th(!) trip to New Guinea glaciers, where he was working at the 20,000 foot level with his team, gathering records from rapidly vanishing tropical glaciers that will soon be gone. The only records we will ever have.
Dr. Thompson described the urgency of the problem, as tropical glaciers disappear, of maintaining water supplies to populations that have depended on them for millennia.
I first interviewed Katharine Hayhoe a few years ago, shortly after she had come under attack by right wing radio shouter Rush Limbaugh as a “climate babe”.
Since then, she has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, for her outreach, as a scientist, to her fellow Christian evangelicals.
Dr. Eric Rignot is a glaciologist, highly esteemed in his community, working for NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.
His study last spring stunned the world with the confirmation that huge sections of the Antarctic Ice Sheet are now committed to collapsing into the sea, the only question being, how long it will take – an issue I covered in my video below.
December 18, 2014
Seth Borenstein of AP reports from AGU.
In the spring and summer of 2014, Earth’s icy northern region lost more of its signature whiteness that reflects the sun’s heat. It was replaced temporarily with dark land and water that absorbs more energy, keeping yet more heat on already warming planet, according to the Arctic report card issued Thursday.
Spring snow cover in Eurasia reached a record low in April. Arctic summer sea ice, while not setting a new record, continued a long-term, steady decline. And Greenland set a record in August for the least amount of sunlight reflected in that month, said the peer-reviewed report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.
Overall, the report card written by 63 scientists from 13 countries shows few single-year dramatic changes, unlike other years.
“We can’t expect records every year. It need not be spectacular for the Arctic to continue to be changing,” said report lead editor Martin Jeffries, an Arctic scientist for the Office of Naval Research, at a San Francisco news conference Wednesday.
The Arctic’s drop in reflectivity is crucial because “it plays a role like a thermostat in regulating global climate,” Jeffries said, in an interview. As the bright areas are replaced, even temporarily, with dark heat-absorbing dark areas, “That has global implications.”
The world’s thermostat setting gets nudged up a bit because more heat is being absorbed instead of reflected, he said.
December 17, 2014
For those of us fixated on whether 2014 will be the hottest year on record, the results are in. At least, we know enough that we can make the call. According theglobal data from NOAA, 2014 will be the hottest year ever recorded.
I can make this pronouncement even before the end of the year because each month, I collect daily global average temperatures. So far, December is running about 0.5°C above the average. The climate and weather models predict that the next week will be about 0.75°C above average. This means, December will come in around 0.6°C above average. Are these daily values accurate? Well the last two months they have been within 0.05°C of the final official results.
What does this all mean? Well, when I combine December with the year-to-date as officially reported, I predict the annual temperature anomaly will be 0.674°C. This beats the prior record by 0.024°C. That is a big margin in terms of global temperatures.
For those of us who are not fixated on whether any individual year is a record but are more concerned with trends, this year is still important. Particularly because according to those who deny the basic physics and our understanding of climate change, this year wasn’t supposed to be particularly warm.
For those who thought that climate change was “natural” and driven by ocean currents, this has been a tough year. For instance, using NOAA standards, this year didn’t even have an El Niño. NOAA defines an El Niño as 5 continuous/overlapping 3-month time periods wherein a particular region in the Pacific has temperatures elevated more than 0.5oC.
NOAA is more cautious, but with most of December behind us, an announcement seems imminent.
With November’s temperature numbers in the books, 2014 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded, newly released data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show.
During the month, the patterns that have been in place for much of the year held fast: While the eastern U.S. was plunged into a deep freeze, the world as a whole continued warming, fueled by the rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.