Climate Change Roundup

Greenhouse gas bubbling from melting permafrost feeds climate warming

A study co-authored by a Florida State University scientist and published in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Nature has found that as the permafrost melts in North Siberia due to climate change, carbon sequestered and buried there since the Pleistocene era is bubbling up to the surface of Siberian thaw lakes and into the atmosphere as methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Urgent call on carbon emissions

Kevin Andersen from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at the University of Manchester, said the government had no time to waste.

“For the UK we’ve seen emissions in carbon dioxide going up year on year since 1990 and we don’t envisage an immediate change in that trend.

“The government needs to set some policies in train now, and I literally mean now – within the next few months; so that say by 2010/2012, we have reversed our current growth in emissions and we then start to see very significant reductions year on year for the next 20, 30 and 40 years.

Human activities are boosting ocean temperatures in areas where hurricanes form, new study finds

Rising ocean temperatures in key hurricane breeding grounds of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are due primarily to human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations, according to a study published online in the September 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Using 22 different computer models of the climate system, Benjamin Santer and six other atmospheric scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, together with Tom Wigley, Gerald Meehl, and Warren Washington from the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and scientists from eight other research centers, have shown that the warming sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of the tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans over the last century is linked to human activities.

Arctic ice meltdown continues with significantly reduced winter ice cover

As far as temperatures drop in the Arctic winter — on average to -34°C (-29°F) — a new study shows that in the last two years sea ice is shrinking on the surface of Arctic waters to record low levels. Using satellite data, scientists have observed unusually warm wintertime temperatures in the region and a resulting decline in the length of the Arctic ice season.

The maximum amount of sea ice in the Arctic winter has fallen by six percent over each of the last two winters, as compared to a loss of merely 1.5 percent per decade on average annually since the earliest satellite monitoring in 1979. This is happening as summer sea ice continues its retreat at an average of ten percent per decade.

Arctic sea ice diminished rapidly in 2004 and 2005

he Arctic Ocean’s perennial sea ice, which survives the summer melt season and remains year-round, shrank abruptly by 14 percent between 2004 and 2005, according to a newly published study. Researchers found that the loss of perennial ice in the East Arctic Ocean, above Europe and Asia, neared 50 percent during that time as some of the ice moved to the West Arctic Ocean, above North America.

The overall decrease in winter Arctic perennial sea ice totaled 730,000 square kilometers [280,000 square miles]–an area the size of Texas. Perennial ice can be three meters [10 feet] thick, or more. It was replaced in the winter by new, seasonal ice, which was only about 0.3 to two meters [one to seven feet] thick and more vulnerable to summer melt. The research was published 7 September in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The last two deal with readily-quantifiable measures of global climate change, showing that there is an effect. The first indicates that there is at least one positive-feedback loop involved in consideration of global warming. For those who pay attention to the properties of feedback systems, this is a very disturbing development. Once you have triggered a positive-feedback system, trying to get it back into its original state is a difficult task. There has been discussion of manmade means of subterranean carbon sequestration, none of which are anywhere near deployment on a scale that might impact global climate change. In the meantime, the article indicates that a vast natural carbon sequestration system may be currently dumping its load of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.