From Charles Q. Choi, OurAmazingPlanet Contributor: If melting ice caps trigger rapid sea level rise, the strain that the edges of continents could experience might set off underwater landslides, new research suggests.
Submarine landslides happen on every continental margin, the underwater parts of continental plates bordering oceanic plates. These underwater avalanches, which can happen when underwater slopes get hit by earthquakes or otherwise have too much weight loaded onto them, can generate dangerous tsunamis.
A staggering half of all the Earth moved by submarine landslides over the past 125,000 years apparently happened between 8,000 and 15,000 years ago. "This time period coincides with the period of most rapid sea level rise following the end of the last ice age," said study co-author Daniel Brothers, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass. [10 Tsunamis That Changed History]......
Since these prehistoric disasters coincided with changes in climate, previous research suggested natural global warming might have been their cause, but what exactly the link might be was unclear. To learn more, Brothers and his colleagues generated 3D computer models of the effects of 395 feet (120 meters) of sea level rise on the continental margins off North Carolina and Brazil's Amazon coast.........
National Trust study warns of threat to wildlife as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns transform UK coastlines
Puffins, terns and butterflies are among the key species in the UK being put at risk from global warming, which is transforming the UK's coastal areas as sea levels rise and storms grow fiercer, a study by the National Trust has found.
Sea levels are predicted to rise by up to half a metre by the turn of the century, and coastal erosion is accelerating, with a fourfold increase in landslips reported.
Puffin chicks are having a particularly hard time – their preferred meal of sand eels is disappearing, owing to overfishing and changing ocean temperatures, and in their place a new fish has moved into UK waters that the chicks find indigestible. The newcomer is the snake pipefish, normally found in warmer waters but moving northwards as the climate changes – with devastating effects for puffins, as it is bony and hard for the birds to eat. Some chicks have been found dead, the trust reports, having choked trying to swallow pipefish.
Another problem for the species, colonies of which can be found in the Farne Islands and at Lundy Island in Devon, is that their burrows were flooded during last year's exceptionally wet summer, which was followed by the unusually long winter, causing many to die of starvation.
Little terns are another species that could suffer: they are vulnerable to unusually high tides and storms, both of which are likely to hit more frequently as climate change takes hold. When they migrate to the UK each spring, they tend to site their colonies just above the high tide line, so when storm surges strike their nests can easily be flooded..................
Man-made perils to the universe's garden of life are evident from space.
By MICHAEL BENSON In 1961, Yuri A. Gagarin, the first man to orbit the Earth, issued his initial impressions from an altitude of more than 100 miles. The sky was deep black, he said, and the Earth’s horizon crowned with “a beautiful blue halo.” Between bright white clouds, he enthused, he could make out “snow, forest, mountains.” It was an Edenic picture.
In the subsequent depths of the cold war, with nuclear weapons racing off the assembly lines of the Soviet Union and the United States, succeeding cosmonauts and astronauts contributed their own observations. Like Mr. Gagarin, they found their world mesmerizingly beautiful. They also reported a singularly intriguing fact: no borders or political boundaries could be seen from space.......................
Images laced together from NASA’s Visible Earth show the cycling seasons of our planet reduced to just a few seconds of ceaseless movement.
You can almost hear it sigh. Our third rock from the sun inhaling the solid ice of winter and exhaling in the heat of summer, as the world keeps turning and spinning.
John Nelson, a user-experience expert for the software firm IDV Solutions, posted this GIF, which laces together NASA's Visible Earthimages. The GIF is made up of 12 NASA photographs, one taken each month in 2004.
The GIF reveals the dramatic way Earth freezes over each season, only to thaw into the infinite blue deep in the warmth of a summer sun.
Unfortunately, climate change has the power to skew the yin-yang balance. Unprecedented Arctic ice cap loss could tip the scale in favor of the great watery drink, to the detriment of human and fauna alike.
Divers from Silliman University, Coastal Conservation and Education foundation, and Greenpeace today surveyed the massive coral damage in Apo Island. The documentation of the reef check in Apo Island is part of the activities around the visit of the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza which arrived yesterday in the Philippines.
Reefs in Apo Island’s Marine Sanctuary, in the southeastern side of the island were severely damaged by typhoon Sendong in 2011 and Typhoon Pablo in 2012. Researchers estimate coral damage at 99%. Coral reef fish abundance also declined by 50%. Reefs on the Northern side of the island were unaffected by the storms and remain intact.
Apo Island’s community-managed marine sanctuary is considered one of the best of its kind in the world. Established in the mid1980s, the sanctuary became a beacon of hope that damaged reefs can, with proper protection, management, and community buy-in, be restored back to health. The sanctuary was key to the increase of fish populations in the area, providing multiple benefits to coastal folk.......
Vast reserves of methane and carbon dioxide have been found in Arctic permafrost by a team of NASA scientists, a discovery that foreshadows a big uptick in the release of greenhouse gases if the planet's warming continues on its current course.
Rapidly rising temperatures already have had an "amazing and potentially troubling" impact in the Arctic, a group of scientists reported in June after a year-long mission to study how global warming is changing the vast ice- and permafrost-covered region that surrounds the North Pole.
The NASA-sponsored mission, called CARVE -- an acronym for "Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment" -- uses a specially-outfitted plane that flies low and slow above the pristine wilderness of Alaska's North Slope and the Yukon River Valley, allowing it to measure the interaction ofgreenhouse gases between Earth's surface and the atmosphere.
After its first three flights for 2013 (of a planned seven) concluded in June, the study already had its members re-thinking how quickly the Arctic's permafrost is melting and what that might mean for the carbon stored deep in its frozen soil and sediments.
"Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures -- as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit in just the past 30 years," the mission's principal investigator, Charles Miller of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in an interview.
"As heat from Earth's surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic's carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming," he added.
What has these scientists alarmed isn't just current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, whichreached an all-time high of 400 ppm in May, breaking through a threshold long considered the benchmark for "a new danger zone."
Melting permafrost potentially poses a much greater danger because it could release massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is much more potent as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, with more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 100-year period.................
By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle WARSAW, Nov 11 (Reuters) - World governments meeting in Poland from Monday are likely to make only modest progress in reaching a 2015 deal to fight climate change, with concern over economic growth at least partially eclipsing scientists' warnings of rising temperatures.
"We can't expect a grand agreement that solves the problems in one fell swoop," said Elliot Diringer, executive director of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a U.S. think-tank.
The best hope, he said, was for a 2015 accord in which countries would agree limits on emissions of greenhouse gases with a mechanism to compare and strengthen them over time.
The outline of a deal, to be discussed by negotiators in Warsaw from Nov. 11-22, is emerging that will not halt a creeping rise in temperatures but might be a guide for tougher measures in later years.
Environmentalists warned about the dangers of delaying action to avert more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels.
They point to super typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 10,000 people in the Philippines last week, as a reminder of the risks of extreme weather. A U.N. scientific panel says cyclones may become more intense in some regions by 2100 as the planet warms.
Global average temperatures have risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) since the Industrial Revolution and are set to exceed 2C - a target ceiling agreed at a previous U.N. summit - on current trends, despite a hiatus in the pace of warming so far this century.
In September, the U.N. panel of climate experts raised the probability that mankind is the main cause of recent warming to 95 percent or "extremely likely" from 90 percent "very likely".
The World Meteorological Organisation said this month atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gases reached a new record in 2012, driven up by growth in emerging economies led by China.
$100 BILLION AID
Developed nations are putting most emphasis on spurring economic growth after the financial crisis, rather than making big investments in renewable energies such as wind or solar power. Economic slowdown has - at least temporarily - cut greenhouse gas emissions in many nations.
The U.S. shale boom helped push U.S. carbon emissions to an 18-year low last year, but also shifted cheap, polluting coal into Europe where it is used in power stations.
Many governments, especially in Europe, are concerned climate policies, such as generous support for renewables, push up energy bills for consumers, a major political issue in countries such as Britain.
The Warsaw meeting will also seek ways to raise aid to help developing nations cope with climate change. They have been promised $100 billion a year by 2020, from $10 billion a year from 2010-12.
On Monday, aid charity Oxfam estimated that climate aid totalled between $7.6 billion and $16.3 billion in 2013, but said "murky accounting and a lack of transparency by rich countries" made it hard to know.
Christiana Figueres, the U.N. climate chief, said Warsaw was a "pivotal moment" when it was still possible to limit rising temperatures to 2C above pre-industrial times. "Global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak this decade," she said........
From Climate Central's Andrew Freedman: The Boulder, Colo. area is reeling after being inundated by record rainfall, with more than half a year’s worth of rain falling over the past three days. During those three days, 24-hour rainfall totals of between 8 and 10 inches across much of the Boulder area were enough to qualify this storm as a 1 in 1,000 year event, meaning that it has a 0.1 percent chance of occurring in a given year.
At least four people have been confirmed dead so far, and thousands have been evacuated from their homes and businesses. All along Colorado’s Front Range from Denver northward to Boulder and in nearby areas, small creeks have been transformed into raging rivers, and surges of water, mud, and debris have blasted their way through canyons, at one point trapping a firefighter on a treetop before being rescued. Numerous longstanding records have been smashed, including the all-time 24-hour rainfall record in Boulder.
“This is clearly going to be a historic event," National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said in an interview. “The true magnitude is really just becoming obvious now.”
Uccellini said the Weather Service has initiated a review of its performance leading up to and during the event. Although the potential for heavy rainfall was in the agency's forecasts a week in advance, he said, “Clearly the magnitude of the rainfall and the repetivieness of it in some critical areas was not pinpointed” well ahead of time. Uccellini said that this event will be the new historical high water mark for many affected rivers and streams. In a technical discussion on Thursday, the NWS described the rainfall amounts as "biblical."
On average, Boulder gets about 1.7 inches of rain during September, based on the 1981-2010 average. So far this month, Boulder has received 12.3 inches of rain. This smashes the record for the wettest month ever in Boulder, which was set in May 1995 when 9.59 inches of precipitation fell — and September isn’t even half over! Not only that, but the average yearly rainfall in Boulder is 20.68 inches. This means that Boulder picked up well over half its annual precipitation in just a couple of days.
This comes on the heels of a summer when Boulder experienced a moderate drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This summer also featured the Colorado's most destructive wildfire on record.
During the past couple of weeks, the weather across the West has featured both an active Southwest Monsoon and a broad area of low pressure at upper levels of the atmosphere, which has been pinned by other weather systems and prevented from moving out of the region. It was this persistent low pressure area that helped pull the moisture out of the tropics and into Colorado. Signs point to the tropical Pacific being the source of the abundant moisture according to the University of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. From there, the moisture plume was transported northeastward, over Mexico and into Texas, and then northward by upper level winds.
This tropical air mass, which is more typical of the Gulf Coast than the Rocky Mountains, has been forced to move slowly up and over the Front Range by light southeasterly winds. This lifting process, known as orographic lift, allowed the atmosphere to wring out this unusually bountiful stream of moist air, dumping torrents of rain on the Boulder area for days on end. There was also broader-scale lifting of the air that resulted in heavy rain in areas of eastern Colorado and western Kansas as well.
According to meteorologist Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, or "precipitable water," as measured by a weather balloon over Denver on Sep. 12, reached record values for the month of September..........
What if you could peer back in time to see how glaciers melted over generations? Or how a major wildfire scarred the earth in a few days?
Launched in 2010, NASA's "State of Flux" image gallery shows the impacts of climate change, urbanization, natural disasters and other events in both the short and long term.
Between 1941 and 2004, Alaska's Muir Glacier retreated more than seven miles and thinned by more than 875 yards, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Bruce Molnia.
Before: Muir Glacier, Alaska on August 13, 1941 After: August 31, 2004
(Photos: William O. Field, NSIDC / Bruce F. Molnia, USGS)
Before: McCarty Glacier, Alaska on July 30, 1909 After: August 11, 2004
(Photos: Ulysses Sherman, NSDIC / Bruce F. Molnia, USGS)
According to NASA, Bear Glacier retreated by 1300 feet in 140 years after 1809. Between 1950 and the mid-1990s, it retreated another 0.9 miles. By 2010, it had retreated an additional 1.9 miles in about 15 years. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Bear Glacier thinned by about 2.5 feet every year between the early 1950s and the 1990s.
Check out a ground level view of Bear Glacier's retreat here.
Before: Bear Glacier Alaska on May 16, 1989 After: May 26, 2010
(Photos: USGS Landsat Missions Gallery, U.S. Department of the Interior / U.S. Geological Survey)
Note: The area depicted in the photos above is about 25 miles wide.
NASA and the USGS explain, "Though a relatively small number of people may live near Alaskan glaciers, shrinking ice on that northern land may indicate bigger changes for millions of people living elsewhere because the meltwater from shrinking glaciers flows to the ocean and raises sea level."
As we emit more carbon dioxide, the oceans will become more acidic. That will be bad for sealife—but it may also speed the rate of global warming
Given that they cover 70% of the Earth’s surface—and provide about 90% of the planet’s habitable space by volume—the oceans tend to get short shrift when it comes to climate change. The leaked draft of the forthcoming coming new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the atmospheric warming we’re likely to see, the rate of ice loss in the Arctic and the unprecedented (at least within the last 22,000 years) rate of increase of concentrations of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. But when it came to the oceans, press reports only focused on how warming would cause sea levels to rise, severely inconveniencing those of us who live on land.
Some of that ignorance is due to the out of sight, out of mind nature of the underwater world—a place human beings have only seen about 5% of. But it has more to do with the relative paucity of data on how climate change might impact the ocean. It’s not that scientists don’t think it matters—the reaction of the oceans to increased levels of CO2 will have an enormous effect on how global warming impacts the rest of us—it’s that there’s still a fair amount of uncertainty around the subject............................
Flood damage in the world's major coastal cities may top $1 trillion a year by 2050 due to rising seas and subsiding land, according to a new study.
The startling figure is "not a forecast or a prediction," but rather a means to "show that not to adapt and not to improve protection is impossible," Stéphane Hallegatte, a senior economist with the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and the study's lead author, told NBC News. "We have to do something."
The finding, which comes nearly 10 months after Superstorm Sandy's destruction, is shared by Hallegatte and colleagues in a report Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers considered current flood protections in 136 cities around the world, and found that in many instances they are inappropriate for sea levels that rise a projected 8 inches by the year 2050........
By Nina Chestney LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - A release of methane in the Arctic could speed the melting of sea ice and climate change with a cost to the global economy of up to $60 trillion over coming decades, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University in the Netherlands used economic modelling to calculate the consequences of a release of a 50-gigatonne reservoir of methane from thawing permafrost under the East Siberian Sea.
They examined a scenario in which there is a release of methane over a decade as global temperatures rise at their current pace.
They also looked at lower and slower releases, yet all produced "steep" economic costs stemming from physical changes to the Arctic.
"The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb," said Gail Whiteman, an author of the report and professor of sustainability, management and climate change at the Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University.
"In the absence of climate-change mitigation measures, the model calculates that it would increase mean global climate impacts by $60 trillion," said Chris Hope, a reader in policy modelling at the Cambridge Judge Business School, part of the University of Cambridge.
That approaches the value of the global economy, which was around $70 trillion last year............
By Erik Kirschbaum BERLIN, July 15 (Reuters) - Sea levels could rise by 2.3 metres for each degree Celsius that global temperatures increase and they will remain high for centuries to come, according to a new study by the leading climate research institute, released on Monday.
Anders Levermann said his study for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research was the first to examine evidence from climate history and combine it with computer simulations of contributing factors to long-term sea-level increases: thermal expansion of oceans, the melting of mountain glaciers and the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
Scientists say global warming is responsible for the melting ice. A U.N. panel of scientists, the IPCC, says heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels are nudging up temperatures. A small number of scientists dismiss human-influenced global warming, arguing natural climate fluctuations are responsible.
"We're confident that our estimate is robust because of the combination of physics and data that we used," Levermann told Reuters. "We think we've set a benchmark for how much sea levels will rise along with temperature increases."
Sea levels rose by 17 cm last century and the rate has accelerated to more than 3 mm a year, according to the IPCC. A third of the current rise is from Antarctica and Greenland.
Almost 200 governments have agreed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times and plan to agree, by the end of 2015, a deal to curb emissions.
Global average surface temperatures have risen by 0.8C (1.4F) since the Industrial Revolution and the IPCC has said temperatures are likely to be 0.4 to 1.0 degrees Celsius warmer from 2016-35 than in the two decades to 2005.
"In the past there was some uncertainty and people haven't known by how much," Levermann said. "We're saying now, taking everything we know, that we've got a robust estimate of 2.3 meters (7 feet, 6.6 inches) of rising sea per degree (Celsius) of warming........"
By T.G. Branfalt Jr. ALBANY, N.Y., July 16 (Reuters) - The northeastern United States sweltered on Tuesday in a scorching summer heat wave, complete with stagnant, sticky air and no winds for relief, forecasters said.
Even in a summer already filled with stretches of very hot weather, this week will be stubbornly brutal, with no relief in sight until the weekend brings thunderstorms to the region, they said.
"Plain and simple, this week may feel the worst of any week for this summer in the Northeast," said Accuweather.com meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
"The I-95 region will be a virtual sauna bath," he said.
The thunderstorms predicted for Friday and Saturday are likely to be severe, forecasters warned.
The National Weather Service issued heat advisories for dozens of northeastern cities and surrounding areas in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, upstate New York and Long Island.
A heat advisory is issued if the heat index - a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with air temperature - reaches 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 40 degrees Centigrade), it said.
"It feels like I am in Florida again, the way that the humidity mixes with the heat," said musician Brad Hester, 26, sitting shirtless on his porch in Albany. "We're getting a tropical kind of consistency."
The NWS warned of the dangers of heat-related illnesses, asking area residents to be on the lookout for signs of fatigue, sunstroke, muscle cramps and heat exhaustion.
Through Friday, places such as Baltimore, Washington, Hartford, Connecticut, and Philadelphia can expect temperatures in the high 90s F (mid 30s C).
"A lack of a breeze in the humid conditions at night will make it very rough in urban areas without air conditioning or a fan," Sosnowski said.
Locals used their imaginations to stay cool.
In Brooklyn, New York, sound designer Jamie McElhinney, 37, said riding his skateboard creates a welcome breeze for his long beard.
"I try to aerate my beard and move around a lot," he said. "That and just going from shaded spot to shaded spot, kind of like a fish swimming upstream - going from rock to rock to rock."
In Albany, Walmart worker Jay Sebastiano, 31, recommended "air-conditioner and beer," while Price Chopper employee Ally Cunniff, 24, said: "I stay inside in front of the A.C. and waste my days on the Internet."...