Two new scary climate studies

November 9, 2008 at 4:15 am | Posted in Climate science research | 1 Comment
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Photo by Nick Russill, Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo by Nick Russill, Flickr Creative Commons.

People who are skeptical that global warming is something to worry about like to point out that the earth’s climate has gone through many warmings and coolings.  Hence, the term ‘ice age.’

Most scientists, however, agree that today’s climate change is different.  In the first place, it’s human-caused, brought on by increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.  And, as far as we know, it’s happening faster than has occurred in the past. 

A new study from Cornell University gives further proof for this point.  As reported by Agence France-Presse, the study found that the current rate of warming is more dramatic than in any other period over the last 5,000 years.  

For the study, researchers looked at temperatures, oceanic circulation and changes in migration patterns, and then compared their findings to the paleoclimate record. 

Scientists are able to understand paleoclimate, dating back to millions of years ago, by studying ice cores, lake levels, and cave deposits, among other natural records. 

The Cornell research team found that the melting of Arctic ice has brought on significant shifts in the location of plants and animals in the North Atlantic.  Of particular note, the researchers found that microscopic algae have moved from the Pacific to the Atlantic for the first time in 800,000 years. 

Continue Reading Two new scary climate studies…

Supercomputer launched to study sea level rise

November 2, 2008 at 5:48 am | Posted in Climate science research | Leave a comment
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If temperatures increase and ice sheets continue to melt, it’s certain sea level will rise.  What’s less certain is by how much and how much fast.

Answering those number questions will take more study of the ice sheets that sit atop Greenland and the Antarctic.

And lots of math.    

A new supercomputer being deployed in Wales is about to be set to work running the many numbers involved. 

The computer – called Blue Ice – will be used to study the behavior of melting polar ice sheets. 

Continue Reading Supercomputer launched to study sea level rise…

A biodiversity roundup

October 20, 2008 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Climate impacts, Climate science research | Leave a comment
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Polar bears may be the most high profile of the animals facing a loss of habitat in a warming world, but it’s safe to say they’re hardly alone. 

Just how many plant and animal species would be impacted by a changing climate, however, and in what way, are tough questions to answer. 

In fact, both questions have been in the news a lot the last few weeks, so read on if you’d like a biodiversity news roundup.    

Continue Reading A biodiversity roundup…

Little funding for study of climate change impacts

October 12, 2008 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Climate science funding, Climate science research | Leave a comment
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According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report, the earth’s average surface temperature will very likely increase by 2 to 11.5 degrees over the next century.

Knowing this range for average surface temperature, though, doesn’t give people a whole lot of information to go on about the future.  In the first place, it’s a range, and small differences in degrees can change what plants will grow well in a region. 

Add in the fact that projections for future precipitation have an even wider span, in part because of climate models’ inability to deal with clouds very well, and the unknowns multiply even more.  Not to mention that changes in climate will likely manifest differently by region. 

So, the question remains: what will climate change mean? And how do we prepare for it if we don’t understand what it will look like?

It’s a question that a story in the most recent issue of the journal Science reports has been neglected by the Bush administration. 

Continue Reading Little funding for study of climate change impacts…

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