December 31, 2016
The President Climate Deniers have always dreamed of.
December 26, 2016
Quartz – Dec. 24, 2016:
Since Dec. 20, the Arctic has lost 238,000 sq km (91,900 sq mi) of ice, according to preliminary data published by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. That’s an area about equal to that of the UK.
Temperatures on a scientific buoy in the Arctic showed the area around the North Pole was at the freezing point on Dec. 22, an unseasonably warm anomaly attributed to a storm east of Greenland pushing warmer air towards the Pole.
There has only been one other occasion since 1958 where temperatures have risen this sharply in the Arctic, according to the Washington Post. It was last month.
Since the National Snow and Ice Data Center started publishing data in October 1978, there have been only six other three-day periods during the winter months where the Arctic ice is supposed to grow that have seen a more rapid of a decline in ice. The last was in January, 2012.
The 174,000 sq km (about half the size of Germany) one-day drop recorded yesterday is the largest one-day drop during ice-expanding months since October 2007 and the seventh largest on record.
December 24, 2016
A defamation lawsuit filed by a high-profile climate scientist will be allowed to proceed, an appeals court ruled on Thursday.
The case is being brought by Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, who is perhaps best known for helping develop the famous “hockey stick” graph used to illustrate global warming. Mann is suing two bloggers who accused him of scientific and academic misconduct in 2012. On Thursday, the D.C. Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Mann has the right to proceed with the lawsuit.
“Dr. Mann has supplied sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that statements in the articles written by Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn were false, defamatory, and published by appellants to third parties, and, by clear and convincing evidence, that appellants did so with actual malice,” wrote Senior Judge Vanessa Ruiz in the court’s opinion.
The decision suggests that, even as the climate-skeptical Trump administration comes into office, a high profile lawsuit could be underway in Washington, D.C., that also partly turns on the evidence for, and against, climate change.
The origins of the lawsuit
Mann and several other colleagues first published the hockey stick graph in the late 1990s, and it has since become one of the most recognizable visual illustrations of human-caused–or anthropogenic–climate change. The graph used temperature data acquired from a variety of sources including tree rings, coral samples and ancient sediments to depicts a sharp uptick in global temperatures in the 20th century in comparison with prior centuries. Scientists attribute the rise to a spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations brought on by human industrial activities. (Here’s one depiction presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.)
December 24, 2016
A modest proposal.
When weather casters show that big map of North America with weather systems moving across it, at the end of the spot, the view should pull back, and show temperatures not only in North America, but across the globe, in relation to historical averages – like the image above from the U of Maine’s Climate re-analyzer.
Every day, just so folks who do not follow such stuff would gradually get it.
The Arctic continues to run a fever.
On Thursday, the temperature there was almost 30 C warmer than average, and it continued into Friday morning. Ocean buoys recorded temperatures near the North Pole of 0 C or warmer. That’s right: It’s warmer in the Arctic than it is in Thunder Bay, Ont.
This isn’t an isolated event. Arctic temperatures have been unusually warm for the past few months, though perhaps not quite as dramatically different as we’re seeing now.
In November, the region was 20 C warmer than average.
“The temperatures there of the atmosphere are on … any given day, like 20 C warmer than they should be for this time of year,” Jennifer Francis, a marine and coastal sciences research professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told CBC News at the time.
“The ocean temperatures there are also warmer than they should be. I’m really, really worried, and I think everyone should be.”
The core idea here begins with the fact that the Arctic is warming up faster than the mid-latitudes and the equator, and losing its characteristic floating sea ice cover in the process. This also changes the Arctic atmosphere, the theory goes, and these changes interact with large scale atmospheric patterns that affect our weather (phenomena like the jet stream and the polar vortex). We won’t get into the details yet, but in essence, the result can be a kind of swapping of the cold air masses of the Arctic with the warm air masses to the south of them. The Arctic then gets hot (relatively), and the mid-latitudes — including sometimes, as during the infamous “polar vortex” event of 2013-2014, the United States — get cold.
Here’s an animation, (Above) provided by Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, of what this might look like. It shows that both during the November major Arctic warming event, and again this week, temperatures over the Arctic ocean spiked far above their average, while temperatures over some high or mid-latitude land surfaces in the Northern Hemisphere fell well below average (the Arctic is at the far right):
Dr Friederike Otto, a senior researcher at Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute told BBC News that in pre-industrial times “a heatwave like this would have been extremely rare – we would expect it to occur about every 1,000 years”.
Dr Otto added that scientists are “very confident” that the weather patterns were linked to anthropogenic climate change.
“We have used several different climate modelling approaches and observations,” she told BBC News.
“And in all our methods, we find the same thing; we cannot model a heatwave like this without the anthropogenic signal.”
Temperatures are forecast to peak on Christmas Eve around the North Pole – at near-freezing. Read the rest of this entry »
December 22, 2016
Malicious software used in a hack against the Democratic National Committee is similar to that used against the Ukrainian military, a computer-security firm has determined, adding evidence to allegations that the hackers who infiltrated the DNC were working for the Russian government.
The malware used in the DNC intrusion was a “variant” of one designed to help locate the position of Ukrainian artillery units over the past two years, the security company, CrowdStrike, said in a report released Thursday. The artillery units were deployed to defend Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.
CrowdStrike concluded that the malware used against the Ukrainian military was designed by a hacker group known to security experts as Fancy Bear. The American security firm said the group works for the Russian military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, and was one of two Russian hacker outfits that stole emails from the DNC earlier this year.
All U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the hacks against the Democratic committee to hackers working at the direction of senior Russian government officials. CrowdStrike said it has concluded that Fancy Bear and another Russian group, which security experts call “Cozy Bear,” carried out the intrusion.
The larger problem with approaches that treat “Russia,” or “the Kremlin,” or “Putin” as something monolithic and unchangeable over time is just that – neither Russia nor Putin have been unchanged nor monolithic over the 15 years of his rule. Had Russia been a coherent unity, the Soviet Union would never have collapsed to begin with. But the observed inconsistency in the Kremlin’s behavior that realist theories struggle to explain is easily understood if we remember that rather than being “an insecure superpower” Russia is first and foremost a petrostate. Petrostates are empirically shown to become aggressive against their neighbors when oil prices skyrocket. In a study of 153 country cases in the last 50 years, political scientist Cullen Hendrix shows that high oil prices consistently make oil-exporters more aggressive toward their immediate neighbors, while they don’t affect the behavior of non-exporters. On average if the oil price hits a threshold of $77 per barrel in constant 2008 dollars, petrostates get 30 percent more aggressive than non-exporters
December 20, 2016