Fire Earth

Mass die-offs from human impact and planetary response to the assault could occur by early 2016

Posts Tagged ‘Ice’

Snow covers 70 pct of the U.S.

Posted by feww on February 1, 2010

About 70% of the US blanketed in snow; winter’s largest snow cover

Late Spring, Summer and Fall May Well Prove to Be Entirely Different Scenarios with Soaring Temperatures throughout North America. Prepare for primordial, swampy weather!

The United States has recorded its most extensive snow cover of the winter.  Moderate to heavy snow and ice has covered up to 70% of the country in the past few days extending the snow coverage from 47.5% on January 27th to the largest snow cover of the winter at 69.7% on January 31st, the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) reported.


Source: National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC)
Click image to enlarge and update.

January 31, 2010 (Metric Units)

Area Covered By Snow: 69.7%
Area Covered Last Month: 60.3%
Snow Depth
Average: 19.1 cm
Minimum: 0.0 cm
Maximum: 2341.7 cm
Std. Dev.: 27.1 cm
Snow Water Equivalent
Average: 3.9 cm
Minimum: 0.0 cm
Maximum: 1154.8 cm
Std. Dev.: 6.8 cm

January 31, 2010 (English Units)

Area Covered By Snow: 69.7%
Area Covered Last Month: 60.3%
Snow Depth
Average: 7.5 in
Minimum: 0.0 in
Maximum: 921.9 in
Std. Dev.: 10.7 in
Snow Water Equivalent
Average: 1.5 in
Minimum: 0.0 in
Maximum: 454.6 in
Std. Dev.: 2.7 in

Snow Cover Animations:

Snow Reports

Top Ten: English Units…
Station ID Name Elevation
(meters)
Snowfall
(cm)
Duration
(hours)
Report Date / Time(UTC)
37.6075_077.4772 LAKESIDE (528387LA) 56 35.560 1 2010-01-30 22
37.7589_077.4803 ASHLAND (703ASHL) 66 35.560 1 2010-01-30 22
37.5947_078.0622 TRENHOLM (616122TR) 107 33.020 1 2010-01-30 21
37.6503_077.6128 SHORT PUMP (195SHOR) 91 33.020 1 2010-01-30 21
37.9586_076.7583 WARSAW (673WAR) 43 33.020 1 2010-01-31 03
37.6756_077.2911 STUDLEY (719417ST) 53 32.512 1 2010-01-30 19
37.5183_077.6433 SALISBURY LAKE DAM (467531SA) 96 31.750 1 2010-01-30 22
37.5500_077.3667 HENRICO COUNTY (456HEN) 48 31.242 1 2010-01-31 02
37.7258_077.6786 ROCKVILLE (2068ROCK) 95 30.480 1 2010-01-30 18
37.5058_077.6494 MIDLOTHIAN (603MID) 110 29.972 1 2010-01-31 0

Click Station ID links above for detailed information including charts and graphical analysis of snow measurements at each monitoring station.

Other NOHRSC Links:


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Posted in NOHRSC, Snow Analyses, tate of emergency, US Snow Precipitation, US snow storm | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

A Few Extreme Events Away

Posted by feww on June 22, 2008

Our world is a few extreme events away from total catastrophe

India

Widespread flooding caused by extreme monsoon rains has claimed about 100 lives in east and northeast India and left up to a million people homeless. As many as five million people are affected.

Philippines

As Typhoon Fengshen with gusts of of about 200kph lashed across the Philippines, flash floods and landslides killed about 155 people in south of the country. Dozens of people drowned, some of them buried alive after a landslide at a municipal garbage dump.

Meanwhile a 24,000-ton passenger and cargo ferry capsized off central Sibuyan island, with 626 passengers and 121 crew. Only 4 bodies have so far been found.

Guatemala

Large landslides caused by torrential rains have killed up to 10 people and injured others scavenging at a garbage dump near the Guatemalan capital.

California

An “unprecedented” lightening storm sparked about 840 fires in Northern Calif destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee the area. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the Calif National Guard to assist the firefighters.

Mars

Meanwhile, as climate change melts the arctic ice mush faster than most scientist had anticipated, NASA reported that the Phoenix Lander has discovered ice on the surface of Mars, near its arctic circle [where else !] The discovery of ice/water on Mars is a key step in establishing whether life has ever existed on the red planet.

It really makes a whole lot of sense worrying about life on Mars as life becomes extinct on Earth! Right?

Related Links:

mars

Posted in Climate Change, energy, environment, food, Global Warming, health, politics, Tourism, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Arctic Marine Mammals on Thin Ice

Posted by feww on April 24, 2008

(source: Ecological Society of America)

Experts outline primary risks of climate change to natives of the Arctic

The loss of sea ice due to climate change could spell disaster for polar bears and other Arctic marine mammals. The April Special Issue of Ecological Applications examines such potential effects, puts them in historical context, and describes possible conservation measures to mitigate them. The assessment reflects the latest thinking of experts representing multiple scientific disciplines.

Sea ice is the common habitat feature uniting these unique and diverse Arctic inhabitants. Sea ice serves as a platform for resting and reproduction, influences the distribution of food sources, and provides a refuge from predators. The loss of sea ice poses a particularly severe threat to Arctic species, such as the hooded seal, whose natural history is closely tied to, and depends on, sea ice.

The Arctic undergoes dramatic seasonal transformation. Arctic marine mammals appear to be well adapted to the extremes and variability of this environment, having survived past periods of extended warming and
cooling.


Walrus – Odobenus rosmarus divergens – hauled out on Bering Sea ice, Alaska. (Photo Credit: Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps)

“However, the rate and scale of current climate change are expected to distinguish current circumstances from those of the past several millennia. These new conditions present unique challenges to the well-being of Arctic marine mammals,” says Sue Moore (NOAA/Alaska Fisheries Science Center).

Climate change will pose a variety of threats to marine mammals. For some, such as polar bears, it is likely to reduce the availability of their prey, requiring them to seek alternate food. Authors Bodil Bluhm and Rolf Gradinger (University of Alaska, Fairbanks) note that while some Arctic marine mammal species may be capable of adjusting to changing food availability, others may be handicapped by their very specific food requirements and hunting techniques. Species such as the walrus and polar bear fall under this category, while the beluga whale and bearded seal are among those who are more opportunistic in their eating habits and therefore potentially less vulnerable, at least in this regard.


Look here, General George, I can’t unzip the fur! (Photo Credit:Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Office.)

Using a quantitative index of species sensitivity to climate change, Kristin Laidre (University of Washington) and colleagues found that the most sensitive Arctic marine mammals appear to be the hooded seal, polar bear, and the narwhal, primarily due to their reliance on sea ice and specialized feeding.

Shifts in the prey base of Arctic marine mammals would likely lead to changes in body condition and potentially affect the immune system of marine mammals, according to Kathy Burek (Alaska Veterinary Pathology Services). She and fellow researchers point out that climate change may alter pathogen transmission and exposure to infectious diseases, possibly lowering the health of marine mammals and, in the worst case, their survival. Changing environmental conditions, including more frequent bouts of severe weather and rising air and water temperatures, also could impact the health of Arctic marine mammals.


Exasperated polar bears shoo the submarine USS Honolulu off their melting porch (450 km from the North Pole).

The effects of climate change will be compounded by a host of secondary factors. The loss of ice will open the Arctic to new levels of shipping, oil and gas exploration and drilling, fishing, hunting, tourism, and coastal development. These, in turn, will add new threats to marine mammal populations, including ship strikes, contaminants, and competition for prey.

Timothy Ragen (US Marine Mammal Commission) and colleagues describe how conservation measures may be able to address the secondary effects of climate change, but that only reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can-over the long-term-conserve Arctic marine mammals and the Arctic ecosystems on which they depend.

Ragen talks more about the issue on an Ecological Society of America podcast. Visit http://www.esa.org/podcast/ to listen to this latest edition of ESA’s podcast, Field Talk.

Lead authors of the collection of papers in the Special Supplement to Ecological Applications are:

John Walsh (U. of AK, Fairbanks)–climatological understanding C.R. Harrington (Canadian Museum of Nature)–evolutionary history of arctic marine mammals Maribeth Murray (U. of AK, Fairbanks)–past distributions of arctic marine mammals Gregory O’Corry-Crowe (Southwest Fisheries Science Center)–past and current distributions and behaviors Bodil Bluhm (U. of AK, Fairbanks)–food availability and implications of climate change Kristin Laidre (U. of WA)–sensitivity to climate-induced habitat change Kathy Burek (Alaska Veterinary Pathology Services)–effects on Arctic marine mammal health Grete Havelsrud (Center for International Climate & Environmental Research-Oslo)–human interactions Vera Metcalf (Eskimo Walrus Commission, Kawerak)–walrus hunting Sue Moore (NOAA/Alaska Fisheries Science Center)/Henry Huntington (Huntington Consulting)–resilience of Arctic marine mammals to climate change Timothy Ragen (U.S. Marine Mammal Commission)–conservation in context of climate change

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four journals and convenes an annual scientific conference. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

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Posted in Climate Change, coastal development, energy, environment, exploration, food, gas, Global Warming, health, hunting, oil, polar bears, politics, shipping, Tourism, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Arctic Melting FAST!

Posted by feww on April 24, 2008

Rocket Science: Ice + Heat = Water


Arctic summer sea ice. Image taken by NASA satellite September 16, 2007.

News Reports:

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Posted in environment, food, Global Warming, health, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Vanishing Lakes

Posted by feww on April 18, 2008

Source: Media Relations

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Washington (UW) have for the first time documented the sudden and complete drainage of a lake of meltwater from the top of the Greenland ice sheet to its base.

From those observations, scientists have uncovered a plumbing system for the ice sheet, where meltwater can penetrate thick, cold ice and accelerate some of the large-scale summer movements of the ice sheet.

According to research by glaciologists Sarah Das of WHOI and Ian Joughin of UW, the lubricating effect of the meltwater can accelerate ice flow 50- to 100 percent in some of the broad, slow-moving areas of the ice sheet.


WHOI glaciologist Sarah Das stands in front of a block of ice that was raised up 6 meters by the sudden drainage of a meltwater lake in Greenland. (Photo by Ian Joughin, UW Polar Science Center)” Image may be copyrighted. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

“We found clear evidence that supraglacial lakes—the pools of meltwater that form on the surface in summer—can actually drive a crack through the ice sheet in a process called hydrofracture,” said Das, an assistant scientist in the WHOI Department of Geology and Geophysics. “If there is a crack or defect in the surface that is large enough, and a sufficient reservoir of water to keep that crack filled, it can create a conduit all the way down to the bed of the ice sheet.”

But the results from Das and Joughin also show that while surface melt plays a significant role in overall ice sheet dynamics, it has a more subdued influence on the fast-moving outlet glaciers (which discharge ice to the ocean) than has frequently been hypothesized. (To learn more about this result, read the corresponding news release from UW.)

The research by Das and Joughin was compiled into two complementary papers and published on April 17 in the online journal Science Express. The papers will be printed in Science magazine on May 9. Full press release Copyright ©2007 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, All Rights Reserved.

Posted in geology, Geophysics, glaciers, hydrofracture, Oceanography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Canceling Your Life Insurance Policy with Nature

Posted by feww on April 15, 2008

WILD FACTS SERIES

Ice and Snow

Humans are in a great hurry to cancel their life insurance policy with nature, melting the snow and ice. As a result of climate change, mountain snow and glaciers are melting earlier, in the spring instead of summer, resulting in water scarcity during the hotter summer months when the precious water is most needed.


Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 (Image credit: Luca Galuzzi via wikimedia commons)

“This is just a time bomb,” said hydrologist Wouter Buytaert at a meeting of geoscientists in Vienna.

Areas most at risk from water shortages include the United States, South America, Australia, the Middle East, southern Africa, and the Mediterranean.

The most vulnerable places are earth’s sub-tropic zones, where 70 percent of the world’s population live. Report

The following information is mirrored from the USGS Webpage

Ice caps influence the weather

Just because water in an ice cap or glacier is not moving does not mean that it does not have a direct effect on other aspects of the water cycle and the weather. Ice is very white, and since white reflects sunlight (and thus, heat), large ice fields can determine weather patterns. Air temperatures can be higher a mile above ice caps than at the surface, and wind patterns, which affect weather systems, can be dramatic around ice-covered landscapes.

Some glacier and ice cap facts

Picture of Stephens Glacier, Alaska.

  • Glacial ice covers 10-11 percent of all land.
  • According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), if all glaciers melted today the seas would rise about 230 feet (70 meters).
  • During the last ice age (when glaciers covered more land area than today) the sea level was about 400 feet (122 meters) lower than it is today. At that time, glaciers covered almost one-third of the land.
  • During the last warm spell, 125,000 years ago, the seas were about 18 feet (5.5 meters) higher than they are today. About three million years ago the seas could have been up to 165 feet (50.3 meters) higher.
  • Largest surface area of any glacier in the contiguous United States: Emmons Glacier, Washington (4.3 square miles or 11 square kilometers)

ice caps and global water distribution

Charts showing that 1.7 percent of Earth's water is ice and 68.7 percent of freshwater on Earth is ice. Even though the amount of water locked up in glaciers and ice caps is a small percentage of all water on (and in) the Earth, it represents a large percentage of the world’s total freshwater. As these charts and the data table show, the amount of water locked up in ice and snow is only about 1.7 percent of all water on Earth, but the majority of total freshwater on Earth, about 68.7 percent, is held in ice caps and glaciers.

One estimate of global water distribution
Water source Water volume, in cubic miles Water volume, in cubic kilometers Percent of total water Percent of total freshwater
Ice caps, Glaciers, & Permanent snow 5,773,000 24,064,000 1.7% 68.7%
Total global freshwater 8,404,000 35,030,000 2.5%
Total global water 332,500,000 1,386,000,000
Source: Gleick, P. H., 1996: Water resources. In Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather, ed. by S. H. Schneider, Oxford University Press, New York, vol. 2, pp.817-823.

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Posted in agriculture, Drought, flood, freshwater, water shortage | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The myth of keeping CO2 under 450ppm

Posted by feww on April 8, 2008

E = mc²

Therefore, CO2 ≤ 450ppm = NO Climate Change!

Yay! We can keep the CO2 under 450ppm AND stop the climate change!

Posted in Climate Change, CO2, environment, GHG, myth | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Only Zero Emissions Would Avert Dangerous Warming

Posted by feww on October 15, 2007

The following is a response to an article in the New Scientist titled Zero emissions needed to avert ‘dangerous’ warming. The response was submitted by The Management School of Restorative Business. The original article is posted below.

RE: Zero emissions needed to avert ‘dangerous’ warming

MSRB concurs with the overall conclusion of the University of Victoria report that the only way to stabilize the temperature is by total elimination of industrial emissions.

However, according to our model, even with the total elimination of industrial emissions effected immediately the temperature would stabilize above 3.2oC probably by 2025.

Further, their timeline appears to be too optimistic. According to our model the global warming “tipping point” occurred in mid 2006, beyond which all changes are irreversible [in the short run.] We expect to experience catastrophic climatic events starting by 2009-2010. By as early as 2015, we believe dramatic ecosystems collapses including ozone holes, global heating, extreme climatic events, toxic pollution, depletion of food and natural resources, unethical conduct, war and disease pandemics would result in the depopulation of most of our population clusters.

The world entered a double exponential* phase in 1980, when Earth’s “torching energy,” exceeded 9.51 terawatts {q[torch] > 9.51TW.} According to MSRB model the countdown toward the Earth’s “Terminal Energy” had started. The q[torch] for the first half 2007 averaged at 16.8TW. See http://msrb.wordpress.com/2007/08/25/the-point-of-no-return/ and http://msrb.wordpress.com/stop-burning-earth/

*[Note: Double exponential functions grow even faster than exponential functions.]

Apart from the obvious political reasons, most climate models are fundamentally flawed because they (i) use tired old formula to “predict” the future changes based on empirical analysis, (ii) base their calculations on the “official” data, (iii) are “one-dimensional” and therefore unable to model accurately or forecast the behavior of sophisticated, highly interdependent systems such as Earth’s ecosystems.

The best [and the only intelligent] course of action on global and national levels would be an immediate “powerdown” to the “safe” energy consumption levels of about 60EJ, while allocating most of the resources to creating low-energy communities that provide food, shelter, education and safety for as many people as possible.

The Management School of
Restorative Business (MSRB)

Related Links:

Original Article:

http://environment.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn12775&print=true

Zero emissions needed to avert dangerous warming
16:56 11 October 2007
NewScientist.com news service
Catherine Brahic

Only the total elimination of industrial emissions will succeed in imiting climate change to a 20C rise in temperatures, according to omputer analysis of climate change. Anything above this target has been identified as “dangerous” by some scientists, and the limit has been adopted by many policymakers.

The researchers say their study highlights the shortcomings of governmental plans to limit climate change.

A warming of 20C above pre-industrial temperatures is frequently cited as the limit beyond which the world will face “dangerous” climate change. Beyond this level, analysis suggests the continents will cease to absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce. As the tundra and other regions of permafrost thaw, they will spew more gas into the atmosphere, adding to the warming effect of human emissions.

The end result will be dramatic ecological changes, including widespread coastal flooding, reduced food production, and widespread species extinction.

Established model

In January 2007, the European Commission issued a communication stating that “the European Union’s objective is to limit global average temperature increase to less than 20C compared to pre-industrial levels”.

Andrew Weaver and colleagues at the University of Victoria in Canada say this means going well beyond the reduction of industrial emissions discussed in international negotiations.

Weaver’s team used a computer model to determine how much emissions must be limited in order to avoid exceeding a 20C increase. The model is an established tool for analysing future climate change and was used in studies cited in the IPCC’s reports on climate change.

They modelled the reduction of industrial emissions below 2006 levels by between 20% and 100% by 2050. Only when emissions were entirely eliminated did the temperature increase remain below 20C.

A 100% reduction of emissions saw temperature change stabilise at 1.50C above the pre-industrial figure. With a 90% reduction by 2050, Weaver’s model predicted that temperature change will eventually exceed 20C compared to pre-industrial temperatures but then plateau.

Stark contrast

The researchers conclude that governments should consider reducing emissions to 90% below current levels and remove what is left in the atmosphere by capturing and storing carbon (see Chemical ‘sponge’ could filter CO2 from air).

There is a stark contrast between this proposal and the measures currently being considered. Under the UN’s Kyoto protocol, most developed nations have agreed to limit their emissions to a minimum of 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. What happens beyond this date is the subject of ongoing debate and negotiation.

The European Union nations have agreed to limit their emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and support dropping global emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

“There is a disconnect between the European Union arguing for a 20C threshold and calling for 50% cuts at 2050 – you can’t have it both ways,” says Weaver, who adds: “If you’re going to talk about 20C you have got to be talking 90% emissions cuts.”

Vanishing point

Tim Lenton, a climatologist at the University of East Anglia in the UK, agrees that even the most ambitious climate change policies so far proposed by governments may not go far enough. “It is overly simplistic assume we can take emissions down to 50% at 2050 and just hold them there. We already know that that’s not going to work,” he says.

Even with emissions halved, Lenton says carbon dioxide will continue building up in the atmosphere and temperatures will continue to rise. For temperature change to stabilise, he says industrial carbon emissions must not exceed what can be absorbed by Earth’s vegetation, soil and oceans.

At the moment, about half of industrial emissions are absorbed by ocean and land carbon “sinks”. But simply cutting emissions by half will not solve the problem, Lenton says, because these sinks also grow and shrink as CO2 emissions change.

“People are easily misled into thinking that 50% by 2050 is all we have to do when in fact have to continue reducing emissions afterwards, all the way down to zero,” Lenton says.

Journal reference: Geophysical Research Letters ( DOI: 0.1029/2007GL031018 )

Fair Use Notice: See Article 107, CHAPTER 1, TITLE 17 of U.S. Copyright Code

Posted in collapse, double exponential phase, ecosystems, environment, fossil fuels, Global Warming, lifestyle, Zero emissions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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