Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘climatology’

Global Sea Surface Temperatures

Posted by feww on April 7, 2013

Image of the Day:  Global Sea Surface Temperatures

NOAA/NESDIS  SST (deg C) – 50km Global Analysis


 Sea Surface Temperature Animation (Global) – Most Recent 2 Months

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Another Ocean Record Broken

Posted by feww on August 19, 2009

Congratulations! We’ve broken another ocean record!

Warmest Global Ocean Surface Temperatures on Record for July: NOAA

Our planet experienced the  warmest ocean surface temperature on record for July, exceeding the previous record established in 1998, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., reported.

As for the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature records, July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since 1880 when world-wide records began,  NOAA said.

Atlantic Ocean Daily Sea Surface Temps – POES Composite. Source: NOAA

East Pacific Ocean Daily Sea Surface Temps – POES Composite. Source: NOAA

The following stats were provided by NOAA:

Global Climate Statistics

  • The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the fifth warmest on record, at 1.03 degrees F (0.57 degree C) above the 20th century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.8 degrees C).
  • The global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record, 1.06 degrees F (0.59 degree C) above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C). This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The July ocean surface temperature departure of 1.06 degrees F from the long-term average equals last month’s value, which was also a record.
  • The global land surface temperature for July 2009 was 0.92 degree F (0.51 degree C) above the 20th century average of 57.8 degrees F (14.3 degree C), and tied with 2003 as the ninth-warmest July on record.

Notable Developments and Events

  • El Niño persisted across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during July 2009. Related sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies increased for the sixth consecutive month.
  • Large portions of many continents had substantially warmer-than-average temperatures during July 2009. The greatest departures from the long-term average were evident in Europe, northern Africa, and much of western North America. Broadly, across these regions, temperatures were about 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) above average.
  • Cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across southern South America, central Canada, the eastern United States, and parts of western and eastern Asia. The most notably cool conditions occurred across the eastern U.S., central Canada, and southern South America where region-wide temperatures were nearly 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) below average.
  • Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles during July. This is 12.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the third lowest July sea ice extent on record, behind 2007 and 2006. Antarctic sea ice extent in July was 1.5 percent above the 1979-2000 average. July Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 6.1 percent per decade since 1979, while July Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 0.8 percent per decade over the same period.

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Posted in dying oceans, oceans warming, POES, Record Ocean Surface Temps, Reynolds SST Analysis, Sea Surface Temp | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Wildfires Worsen Climate Change Positive Pull

Posted by feww on April 24, 2009

National Science Foundation: Press Release 09-081

Fire Is an Important and Under-Appreciated Part of Global Climate Change

Study identifies significant contributions of fire to climate change and identifies feedbacks between fire and climate change

April 23, 2009

Fire must be accounted for as an integral part of climate change, according to 22 authors of an article published in the April 24 issue of the journal Science. The authors determined that intentional deforestation fires alone contribute up to one-fifth of the human-caused increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that increases global temperature.

California Fires (June 2008)

A heat wave and windy weather plagued firefighters in California in mid-June 2008 as they worked to contain hundreds of fires across the state. Many of the fires were triggered by lightning on Friday, June 20. This natural-color image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on Monday, June 23, shows places where the sensor detected actively burning fires (red outlines). Fires appear most numerous in Northern California. The Northern region of California has experienced record low levels of rainfall this spring, leaving dry vegetation in the area. This in conjunction with windy weather has made firefighting efforts difficult. Image and Caption: MODIS Web.

Fires in Texas and Oklahoma (April 2009)

Severe weather in the second week of April 2009 fanned wildfires in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma. This image of the area was captured on April 9, 2009, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Places where the sensor detected active fires are outlined in red. A line of fires stretched across the plains west of Dallas-Forth Worth, and strong winds were driving smoke plumes from the fires toward the cities. Several people died, and hundreds of homes were destroyed according to the Texas Forest Service. NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response [sic] Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

The work is the culmination of a meeting supported by the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), both based at the University of California, Santa Barbara and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The authors call on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to fully integrate fire into their assessments of global climate change, and consider fire-climate feedbacks, which have been largely absent in global models.

The article ties together various threads of knowledge about fire, which have, until now, remained isolated in disparate fields including ecology, global modeling, physics, anthropology and climatology.

Increasing numbers of wildfires are influencing climate as well, the authors report. “The tragic fires in Victoria, Australia, emphasize the ubiquity of recent large wildfires and potentially changing fire regimes that are concomitant with anthropogenic climate change,” said David Bowman of the University of Tasmania. “Our review is both timely and of great relevance globally.”

Carbon dioxide is the most important and well-studied greenhouse gas that is emitted by burning plants. However, methane, aerosol particulates in smoke, and the changing reflectance of a charred landscape each contribute to changes in the atmosphere caused by fire. Consequences of large fires have huge economic, environmental, and health costs, report the authors.

The authors state, “Earth is intrinsically a flammable planet due to its cover of carbon-rich vegetation, seasonally dry climates, atmospheric oxygen, widespread lightning and volcano ignitions. Yet, despite the human species’ long-held appreciation of this flammability, the global scope of fire has been revealed only recently by satellite observations available beginning in the 1980s.”

They note, however, that satellites cannot adequately capture fire activity in ecosystems with very long fire intervals, or those with highly variable fire activity.

Jennifer Balch, a member of the research team and a postdoctoral fellow at NCEAS, explains that there are bigger and more frequent fires from the western U.S. to the tropics. There are “fires where we don’t normally see fires,” she said, noting that it is in the humid tropics that a lot of deforestation fires are occurring, usually to expand agriculture or cattle ranching. “Wet rainforests have not historically experienced fires at the frequency that they are today. During extreme droughts, such as in 97-98, Amazon wildfires burned through 39,000 square kilometers of forest.”

Balch explains the importance of the article: “This synthesis is a prerequisite for adaptation to the apparent recent intensification of fire feedbacks, which have been exacerbated by climate change, rapid land cover transformation, and exotic species introductions–that collectively challenge the integrity of entire biomes.”

The authors acknowledge that their estimate of fire’s influence on climate is just a start, and they highlight major research gaps that must be addressed in order to understand the complete contribution of fire to the climate system.

Balch notes that a holistic fire science is necessary, and points out fire’s true importance. “We don’t think about fires correctly,” she said. “Fire is as elemental as air or water. We live on a fire planet. We are a fire species. Yet, the study of fire has been very fragmented. We know lots about the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, but we know very little about the fire cycle, or how fire cycles through the biosphere.”

“The large and diverse group of authors on this paper typifies an increasing trend across many sciences,” said Henry Gholz, an NSF program director. “NSF explicitly supports this by funding “synthesis centers,” such as NCEAS and KITP. Instead of focusing on generating new data, these centers synthesize the results of literally thousands of completed research projects into new results, theories and insights. The conclusions of this paper–that fire is important to the global carbon cycle and global climate, and that our ignorance about fire at this scale is vast–and could not have otherwise been obtained.”


NOTE:  Wildfires are a part of Mother Nature’s defense mechanism to ensure the cycle of life.  Our lifestyles, however, have transformed this natural mechanism into a full-scale anthropogenic catastrophe.

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Posted in aerosol particulates in smoke, ecosystems, global carbon cycle, holistic fire science, western U.S. fires | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

350 or 450ppm? Neither, Actually!

Posted by feww on June 18, 2008

Submitted by Dione, CASF Member

What would the future be like for my daughter?

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about science books
Don’t know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love her

What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I know that one and one is two

What a wonderful world this would be

[From a Herman’s Hermits song, Wonderful World, lyrics by Cooke/Alpert/Adler. Lyrics may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!]

Creating A Sustainable Future (CASF) received an emotional email from a young mother, “Kay,” who wishes to remain anonymous. Kay has a 6-year-old daughter and lives with her family in NW United States. Kay says she is not high on science, “in all probability the Herman’s Hermits famous song, ‘don’t know much about history, biology, science books, geography, trigonometry, algebra, and slide rule’ was written about me!”

She says her knowledge of climatology is even poorer than her French(!) “But I do know that I love my daughter and husband and ‘what a wonderful world this would be’ if we could rein in the greenhouse gases, and reverse the global warming.”

“I have read a number of articles about CO2 pollution in the atmosphere including a few written by the famed NASA scientist, Dr J. Hansen … but he is a government scientist …”

She wants to know the safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere and asks which of the 350, 450, or higher levels of CO2 pollution would be a “safe” level, and whether our reply could be put simply so that a “layperson” could understand the answer.

Hi, Kay – thanks for visiting our blog and email!

The CASF members believe even the lower atmospheric CO2 levels of 350ppm CO2 are unsafe! Here are the reasons why. Our findings put as simply as we could:

  1. Our climate models show that when the atmospheric CO2 levels leaped over the 330ppmv “threshold” in the mid 1970s it triggered a positive feedback loop, which is now impacting the climate. [The atmospheric CO2 inventory has risen by about 17 percent since then.]
  2. The “acid test,” if you’ll excuse the pun, of the accuracy of our models lies in the future, namely how much worse the environmental impacts will be in the 2008-2010 period. If the impacts of CO2 pollution worsened significantly, by a factor of 20% or more, by 2010 (we have a system for quantifying the adverse effects, see Index of Human Impact on Nature for an introduction), as we expect them to do so, then we know our models are accurate.
  3. The catch? By 2010 it would be too late to do anything to slow down the runaway positive feedback system [other than say a prayer for the dead!]
  4. While the preindustrial levels of 260-270ppm were [and they probably still would be ] “safe,” the longer term environmental impacts of CO2 at levels of about 290-300ppm, even if those levels were achievable [assume some miraculous means were introduced to wipe the slate clean,] in the current climatic state are uncertain!
  5. Based on the above, we recommend an immediate shift to zero-emissions, the benefits of which, although by no means immediate, would far outweigh the ultimate cost of playing Russian roulette with climate change.

We hope the above helps. Feel free to visit us anytime!

Best wishes
Dione, FEWW Moderators and rest of CASF Team

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