Home > News > Climate Blog and News Recap: 2011 01 28

Climate Blog and News Recap: 2011 01 28

2011 January 28

Tamino @ Open Mind whips out a series on Glacial Cycles
Milankovitch Cycles
Glacial Cycles, part 1
Glacial Cycles, part 1b
Glacial Cycles, part 2

Pielke Ping Pong
Pielkes all the way down, revisited
James Annan Misses The Point (Again!)

And I note that Pielke Sr’s blog is quite a bit more active than I remember. Guess I’ll have to add it my frequent reader list.
http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com

Real Climate puts out a weekend reading list.

Kelly @ Charts and graphs shows us Comparison of 2011-11 El Nino – La Nina Cycle with Previous Cycle. He also adds a multiple climate series table for public use. Thank you.

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Warming North Atlantic Water Tied to Heating Arctic

The temperatures of North Atlantic Ocean water flowing north into the Arctic Ocean adjacent to Greenland — the warmest water in at least 2,000 years — are likely related to the amplification of global warming in the Arctic, says a new international study involving the University of Colorado Boulder.

Led by Robert Spielhagen of the Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Literature in Mainz, Germany, the study showed that water from the Fram Strait that runs between Greenland and Svalbard — an archipelago constituting the northernmost part of Norway — has warmed roughly 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century. The Fram Strait water temperatures today are about 2.5 degrees F warmer than during the Medieval Warm Period, which heated the North Atlantic from roughly 900 to 1300 and affected the climate in Northern Europe and northern North America.

The team believes that the rapid warming of the Arctic and recent decrease in Arctic sea ice extent are tied to the enhanced heat transfer from the North Atlantic Ocean, said Spielhagen. According to CU-Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, the total loss of Arctic sea ice extent from 1979 to 2009 was an area larger than the state of Alaska, and some scientists there believe the Arctic will become ice-free during the summers within the next several decades. …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127141659.htm
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6016/450.short
Romm @ Climate Progress

Water Temperature in the Subtropical Atlantic Falls Due to Wind Action

… Whilst the water temperature in this area, situated along the 24.5º north parallel, from the African coast to the Caribbean, rose by 0.27ºC between 1957 and 1998, researchers have recorded a drop of 0.15ºC in the same area between 1998 and 2006. …

… According to the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Physical Oceanography, this phenomenon should not be linked to climate change. “The ocean’s natural variability mechanisms are more significant than we thought,” declares Vélez Belchí. The team is considering various hypotheses to explain the change in temperatures. …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126081517.htm

More Frequent Drought Likely in Eastern Africa

The increased frequency of drought observed in eastern Africa over the last 20 years is likely to continue as long as global temperatures continue to rise, according to new research published in Climate Dynamics.

This poses increased risk to the estimated 17.5 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa who currently face potential food shortages.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California, Santa Barbara, determined that warming of the Indian Ocean, which causes decreased rainfall in eastern Africa, is linked to global warming. These new projections of continued drought contradict previous scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting increased rainfall in eastern Africa. …

…As the globe has warmed over the last century, the Indian Ocean has warmed especially fast. The resulting warmer air and increased humidity over the Indian Ocean produce more frequent rainfall in that region. The air then rises, loses its moisture during rainfall, and then flows westward and descends over Africa, causing drought conditions in Ethiopia and Kenya. …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110128113426.htm
USGS

Persistent Drought to Linger Across Southern United States

While wet and snowy weather has dominated the western U.S., persistent drought conditions are likely to linger in the Southern Plains and Southeast through mid to late spring, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. La Niña has kept storms and most of their precipitation in the north, leaving the South drier than normal.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110122105606.htm
NOAA

New Melt Record for Greenland Ice Sheet; ‘Exceptional’ Season Stretched Up to 50 Days Longer Than Average

New research shows that 2010 set new records for the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, expected to be a major contributor to projected sea level rises in coming decades.

“This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average,” said Dr. Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at The City College of New York (CCNY — CUNY), who is leading a project studying variables that affect ice sheet melting.

“Melting in 2010 started exceptionally early at the end of April and ended quite late in mid- September.” …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144011.htm
CUNY

‘Hidden Plumbing’ Helps Slow Greenland Ice Flow: Hotter Summers May Actually Slow Down Flow of Glaciers

… A letter published in Nature on 27 January explains how increased melting in warmer years causes the internal drainage system of the ice sheet to ‘adapt’ and accommodate more melt-water, without speeding up the flow of ice toward the oceans. The findings have important implications for future assessments of global sea level rise. …

… “It had been thought that more surface melting would cause the ice sheet to speed up and retreat faster, but our study suggests that the opposite could in fact be true,” said Professor Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment, who led the stud. …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126131538.htm

Debris on Certain Himalayan Glaciers May Prevent Melting

A new scientific study shows that debris coverage — pebbles, rocks, and debris from surrounding mountains — may be a missing link in the understanding of the decline of glaciers. Debris is distinct from soot and dust, according to the scientists. …

… Bookhagen explained the difference between debris and coverage by soot and dust on glaciers: “The debris cover has the opposite effect of soot and dust on glaciers. Debris coverage thickness above 2 centimeters, or about a half an inch, ‘shields’ the glacier and prevents melting. This is the case for many Himalayan glaciers that are surrounded by towering mountains that almost continuously shed pebbles, debris, and rocks onto the glacier …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110124162708.htm
UC:SB

Someone might mention the following to Richard Tol.
Mathematical Model Could Help Predict and Prevent Future Extinctions

In an effort to better understand the dynamics of complex networks, scientists have developed a mathematical model to describe interactions within ecological food webs. This research, performed by Northwestern University physics professor Adilson Motter and his student, Sagar Sahasrabudhe, is published in the January 25 issue of Nature Communications. The work illustrates how human intervention may effectively aid species conservation efforts.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125172439.htm
NSF

First-Ever Global Map of Surface Permeability Informs Water Supply, Climate Modelling

… sing recent world-wide lithology (rock type) results from researchers at the University of Hamburg and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Gleeson was able to map permeability across the globe to depths of approximately 100 metres. Typical permeability maps have only dealt with the top one to two metres of soil, and only across smaller areas.

“Climate models generally do not include groundwater or the sediments and rocks below shallow soils,” says Gleeson. “Using our permeability data and maps we can now evaluate sustainable groundwater resources as well as the impact of groundwater on past, current and future climate at the global scale.”

A better understanding of large scale permeability of rock and sediment is critical for water resource management–groundwater represents approximately 99 per cent of the fresh, unfrozen water on earth. Groundwater also feeds surface water bodies and moistens the root zone of terrestrial plants …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110124091245.htm

Humans Have Been Provoking Climate Change for Thousands of Years, Carbon History Shows

Agriculture — the story of a race for productivity …
The influence of the Roman Empire and the Black Death on the climate …
From the decline of the American indians to the minor ice age …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110124074009.htm

Climatic Fluctuations in Last 2,500 Years Linked to Social Upheavals

The team, consisting of climatologists and archeologists, managed for the first time to put together a complete history of rainfall and temperature over the past two and a half millennia in Central Europe. In order to do this, they analyzed the annual growth rings of some 9,000 samples of subfossil, archeological-historical and living wood originating from Germany, France, Italy, and Austria. The width of these tree rings was measured using dendrochronological techniques. The results were compared with weather data compiled by Central European meteorological stations in order to collate the findings with actual information on precipitation and temperature variations.

This enabled the scientists to consider major historical events and epochs in the context of the fluctuations of the European summer climate in the period from the late Iron Age 2,500 years ago right up to the 21st century. “During the Roman era, the climate was predominantly humid and warm, and also relatively stable,” explains the first author of the publication, Ulf Büntgen of Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL) in Zurich. The decline of the Western Roman Empire coincided with a period after 250 AD in which it became much colder and climatically changeable. This phase of more marked climatic variation persisted for 300 years, accompanying the age of Migration and the associated socio-economic destabilization. The cultural revival of the early Middle Ages occurred as both temperatures and rainfall began to increase with the dawn of the 7th century. It is also possible that climatic factors may have contributed towards the spread and virulence of the Black Death after 1347. In addition, the new findings suggest that a cold period during the Thirty Years’ War in the first half of the 17th century could have exacerbated the contemporary widespread famine. …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127090455.htm

Fall of Rome Recorded in Trees

When empires rise and fall and plagues sweep over the land, people have traditionally cursed the stars. But perhaps they should blame the weather. A new analysis of European tree-ring samples suggests that mild summers may have been the key to the rise of the Roman Empire—and that prolonged droughts, cold snaps, and other climate changes might have played a part in historical upheavals, from the barbarian invasions that brought about Rome’s collapse to the Black Death that wiped out much of medieval Europe.

“Looking back on 2500 years, there are examples where climate change impacted human history,” says the study’s lead author, Ulf Büntgen, a paleoclimatologist at the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape in Zurich. “This kind of information is not only relevant for ancient agrarian societies, it might also impact modern societies.”

Science
Dr Büntgen’s web site

In the geo-engineering the future…
What Impact Would Sun Dimming Have on Earth’s Weather?

Could Dimming the Sun Change Teleconnections in Weather Patterns as we Know Them?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110124074017.htm

Evidence that changing moisture will be as important, if not more, than warming temps …
Plants Moved Downhill, Not Up, in Warming World

In a paper published January 20 in the journal Science, a University of California, Davis, researcher and his co-authors challenge a widely held assumption that plants will move uphill in response to warmer temperatures.

Between 1930 and 2000, instead of colonizing higher elevations to maintain a constant temperature, many California plant species instead moved downhill an average of 260 feet, said Jonathan Greenberg, an assistant project scientist at the UC Davis Center for Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing.

“While the climate warmed significantly in this period, there was also more precipitation. These wetter conditions are allowing plants to exist in warmer locations than they were previously capable of,” Greenberg said.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110120142400.htm

Stratospheric Warmings: Meteorologists Identify Cause of Cold and Warm Periods During Winter

Meteorologists at Freie Universität have found a correlation between warming in the stratosphere and cold or warm winter periods. They observed that there is an increased number of stratospheric warmings, when the heat flow from the North Atlantic into the atmosphere is increased. Trends for winter temperatures can be derived from these new findings.

“This could mean that in Europe there will increasingly be periods lasting several decades with predominantly colder winters alternating with periods of warmer winters,” says Semjon Schimanke, who led the research, reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The meteorologists expect that in the long term their research will help weather forecasters make more accurate predictions. …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121081051.htm

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