The President Climate Deniers have always dreamed of.

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.


Big Win for Climate Scientist

December 24, 2016

Washington Post:

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.)

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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.”

Washington Post:

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 »

Wall Street Journal:

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.

Washington Post:

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

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Katharine Hayhoe is everyone’s favorite climate expert. Here new series “Global Weirding is good messaging.

I have some recent videos of my own that deal with issues of extreme weather.

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Alex Steffen in Medium:

If you’re an American, you’re likely misinformed about the most dire crisis in our world.

American journalists, pundits and media executives have largely convinced themselves that climate change is not a serious political issue, because they think the polls tell them that. A majority of American voters regularly tell pollsters they don’t think climate change is a critically important election issue, so therefore the media decides it must not be an important political issue at all.

Unfortunately, that conventional wisdom blinds us to both to the actual bedrock reality of this era, and to — as I see it — the defining aim of the in-coming Trump administration: delaying climate action.

Trump has surrounded himself with more oil industry and oil industry connected people than any president in history (even George W. Bush). You can’t understand what’s going on with Trump unless you understand the oil industry… and you can’t understand the oil industry without understanding climate change.

Understanding Climate Change

In case you’re just joining us here on Earth, we’re making the planet hotter. The science is incontrovertible that by burning fossil fuels, we’re changing the planet’s climate. Because the consequences worsen dramatically as we emit more climate pollution and the planet gets hotter, every nation on Earth agreed last year in Paris to hold that temperature rise to two degrees Celsius (2ºC).

This means we must limit the total amount of CO2 and other greenhouse pollution we put into the sky: we have to meet a “carbon budget.” To meet that budget, we have to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions — burning way less oil, coal and gas — in the next two decades, and set the global economy on a steep path to zero emissions.

Again, the American media has failed to convey the magnitude of the costs of unchecked global warming. Those costs are profound already, today, as the Arctic heatwave, Syrian civil war, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, worsening storms, droughts, wildfires and freak weather events all show. Those costs will only grow, and they will grow more dire, more quickly as the planet heats.

At the same time, the innovations we need to create zero-carbon prosperity are already here. From plummeting costs for solar, wind, electric vehicles and green buildings to better approaches to urban planning, agriculture and forestry, we already have the tools we need to start building a much more prosperous world, producing hosts of new companies and millions of jobs. Indeed, a giant building boom is what successful climate action looks like. Read the rest of this entry »