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NASA-JPL

NASA-JPL | climate science | Scoop.it

"Ocean waters melting the undersides of Antarctic ice shelves are responsible for most of the continent's ice shelf mass loss, a new study by NASA and university researchers has found."

"Scientists have studied the rates of basal melt, or the melting of the ice shelves from underneath, of individual ice shelves, the floating extensions of glaciers that empty into the sea. But this is the first comprehensive survey of all Antarctic ice shelves. The study found basal melt accounted for 55 percent of all Antarctic ice shelf mass loss from 2003 to 2008, an amount much higher than previously thought."

John Russell's insight:

The two poles are very different. The Antarctic is a land mass on which an ice sheet sits, surrounded by water over a continental shelf; the Arctic is deep water on which ice floats, surrounded by land. The Antarctic therefore has very different melt mechanisms to the Arctic, where, with the exception of the calving Greenland glaciers, the ice forms as sea ice.

 

The significance of this research is that for the first time scientists have put a figure to the amount of the ice shelf lost by basal melt in the Antarctic and found that its extent is much greater than previously thought, as the ice is undermined by warmer Southern Ocean currents.

 

So now we know that the melt is greater from underneath, this probably doubles the rate at which it's anticipated the Antarctic ice shelf is likely to disappear. In turn this reduces the buttressing effect of the ice shelf on the land ice and that increases the speed by which the ice sheet's glaciers migrate from land to sea.

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Is this the ancestor of all primates?

Is this the ancestor of all primates? | climate science | Scoop.it

"Could this tiny animal, with a body just seven centimetres long, be the ancestor of all living primates – including humans?"

John Russell's insight:

Nigel Lawson, his climate-complacency GWPF lobby group and many others in denial, like to point to the Eocene—55m years ago—as a time when atmospheric CO2 concentrations were much higher than today at 700-900ppm and yet the Earth was lush, green and rich with life.This they say proves that "CO2 is plant food"; and good for us.

 

Of course, in the Eocene all the mammals were no larger than small dogs and, according to this article, our ancestors might well have been no larger than this fossil primate. The reason? Only small mammals could cope with the heat.

 

So, the Anthropocene: something to look forward to?

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Global literary circles warm to climate fiction - FT.com

Global literary circles warm to climate fiction - FT.com | climate science | Scoop.it

"The literary world already has plenty of genres, from chick lit to gran lit, cyberpunk and sci-fi. But as the Arctic melts, the planet warms and carbon dioxide levels reach their highest point in human history, a new class of fiction is being added to the list: climate fiction, or cli-fi."

John Russell's insight:

Interesting article: can 'cli-fi' interest new people in climate science?

 

I don't agree with the comment that "fiction that is written with the purpose of changing attitudes" is propaganda. Good fiction can change people's attitudes: for instance '1984', or 'The Ragged-Trousered Philanphropists'. But when it comes to climate science it's vitally important though that such books stick to the scientific facts.

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No relief as climate change accelerates

No relief as climate change accelerates | climate science | Scoop.it
John Russell's insight:

There's an important point made here, which is always ignored by those wishing to deny the reality of climate change...

 

"Temperature is not always a good measure of heat. There can be a significant time lag between heat absorption and temperature rise (particularly in the case of water because it has a high specific heat capacity). Another effect is where heat absorption occurs without a change in temperature, as happens when ice melts. Just such a process is already under way on a massive scale in the Arctic and the Antarctic."

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Paul Beckwith ~ Status report on climate Earth - THE CANADIAN

Paul Beckwith ~ Status report on climate Earth - THE CANADIAN | climate science | Scoop.it
Always look at the bright side of life. And remember, “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic”. Unlike Las Vegas.
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Locust plagues point to grim future of climate change

Locust plagues point to grim future of climate change | climate science | Scoop.it
Climatic changes in China, the Middle East and Africa could see more severe outbreaks of locusts devastating food crops
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Climate Change and Carbon Capture and Storage | The Energy Collective

Climate Change and Carbon Capture and Storage | The Energy Collective | climate science | Scoop.it
To capture half of global CO2 emissions would involve shoving around, and pumping underground, volumes of liquefied CO2 that are more than four times greater than that of the global oil industry.
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“Regret-free” approaches for adapting agriculture to climate change - University of Leeds

“Regret-free” approaches for adapting agriculture to climate change - University of Leeds | climate science | Scoop.it

A new study calls for governments and farmers to adapt to climate shifts, despite uncertainties about what growing conditions will look like decades from now.

 

The study, from the CGIAR research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which involves researchers from the University of Leeds, shows how decision-makers can sift through scientific uncertainty to understand where there is a general consensus.

 

John Russell's insight:

In the absence of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it makes sense to look to adapt in order to anticipate the problems climate change will cause in future years.

 

It's to be hoped that at some point politicians will look at the sums and realise it makes no sense to keep the price of carbon as low as possible, while at the same time putting increasing amounts of money into adapting to the problems brought about by profligate use of fossil fuels. 

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'Plant Growth Surges As CO2 Levels Rise'

'Plant Growth Surges As CO2 Levels Rise' | climate science | Scoop.it

"Australian scientists have solved one piece of the climate puzzle. They have confirmed the long-debated fertilization effect."

 

"Plants build their tissues by using photosynthesis to take carbon from the air around them. So more carbon dioxide should mean more vigorous plant growth—though until now this has been very difficult to prove."

John Russell's insight:

Re: the CO2 fertilisation effect.

 

Note that foliage is not everything, unless you like lettuce. In many cases—particulary some of the biggest and most important food crops on the planet; such as rice, tomatoes, wheat, barley, oilseed rape, soya, corn—it's the seeds that are used as a food. As growers know, plants that put on a lot of foliage growth tend to do it at the expense of seed.

 

It's also worth being sceptical about this research for two other reasons.

 

1) Climate change to date is telling us to expect extremes—dry areas will tend to become drier and wet areas will tend to become wetter. CO2 fertilisation is no substiture for a lack, or surfeit, of water.   

 

2) Research has shown that increased foliage growth in many cases increases infestation by pests.

 

So overall, while it's been known for a long time that there is a CO2 fertilisation effect, any short term benefit is likely to diminish as temperatures rise.  

 

More reading in support of my comment:

 

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/probing_impact_of_warming_on_the_worlds_food_supply/2616/

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1569568/

 

http://tnfarchives.nofa.org/?q=article/climate-change-how-will-it-affect-crops-livestock-and-farming-northeast

 

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'The Burning Question' by Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark – review

'The Burning Question' by Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark – review | climate science | Scoop.it
Peter Forbes on a book showing how the City has already factored burning all available fossil fuels into share prices
John Russell's insight:

Powerful article, and it would seem, book. I worry about the length of time -- and if -- carbon capture and storage can come online to save us:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9zHpdkGFtQ

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Watch the weather to know the climate

Watch the weather to know the climate | climate science | Scoop.it
Martin Parry, a leading British climate scientist, has highlighted the importance of regional weather data in determining climate policy.
John Russell's insight:

Quote: “Look at the way the North Atlantic jet stream has been varying over the last two or three years, bringing unseasonally cold and wet weather to countries like the UK. That’s a nice little microcosm of granularity.”

 

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Geoengineering: Our Last Hope, or a False Promise?

Geoengineering: Our Last Hope, or a False Promise? | climate science | Scoop.it
We should not try to play God with the planet.
John Russell's insight:

Excellent article summarising geoengineering. But if we go down this route who decides what the ideal #climate is?

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Why the world struggles to prevent climate chaos

Why the world struggles to prevent climate chaos | climate science | Scoop.it
Fear of the distant horrors of climate change isn't enough to drive anything more than just political talk and hand-wringing
John Russell's insight:

But as CCS lifts fossil fuel consumption by 20%, it needs to be very effective.

 

Loved the para: "What makes the inaction more remarkable is that we have been hearing so much hysteria about the dire consequences of piling up a big burden of public debt on our children and grandchildren. But all that is being bequeathed is financial claims of some people on other people. If the worst comes to the worst, a default will occur. Some people will be unhappy. But life will go on. Bequeathing a planet in climatic chaos is a rather bigger concern. There is nowhere else for people to go and no way to reset the planet’s climate system. If we are to take a prudential view of public finances, we should surely take a prudential view of something irreversible and much costlier."

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