Record heat, fading ice, and rising seas show how climate change is affecting us. But there’s new hope we can cool the planet. Here’s how.
Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Record heat, fading ice, and rising seas show how climate change is affecting us. But there’s new hope we can cool the planet. Here’s how.
The National Geographic Magazine has recently created this interactive to accompany the magazine article on climate change (for those worried that the editorial direction would not be as environmentally focused because of the recent changes for the National Geographic Society, I think this is a resounding way for them to emphatically declare that they are committed as ever to their core values and mission). This interactive is richly-laden with videos, images and case-studies, showing the tangible impacts of climate change and lays out what the future implications of these changes. The interactive is organized to answer these main questions:
"Even as Europe wrestles over how to absorb the migrant tide, experts warn that the flood is likely to get worse as climate change becomes a driving factor." http://wp.me/P2dv5Z-1YS
This article from TIME and this excellent comic book-styled article both come to the conclusion that "drought, in addition to its mismanagement by the Assad regime, contributed to the displacement of two million in Syria." Climate change can exacerbate political, culture and ethnic tensions as well add stress to already stressed systems. This is a part of a the broader Syrian refugee issue.
"How deep is that icy blue water on Greenland's ice sheet? Dr. Allen Pope, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, is using data from the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite to find out. In this video, Dr. Pope shares what he sees when he looks at a Landsat image of the Greenland ice sheet just south of the Jakobshavn Glacier.
Because the lakes are darker than the ice around them, they absorb more energy from the sun. A little bit of melt concentrates in one place, and then melts more, establishing a feedback mechanism accelerating the growth of the lake. When the lakes get big enough they can force open fractures that then drill all the way down to the bed of the glacier, transporting this water to the base where it can temporarily speed up the flow of the ice."
We learned last year that many of the effects of climate change are irreversible. Sea levels have been rising at a greater rate year after year, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates they could rise by another meter or more by the end of this century.
You might not be feeling the effects of climate change, but Kiribati, a small country in the Pacific, is actually drowning because of rising sea levels. Check out how the government there is trying to run a country that might not exist in a few years.
The impacts of climate change might feel far off or something that will affect other places...not so for the citizens of Kiribati. This video is the 1 minute version of the political/environmental situation, and this is the 15 minute version.
If there is one thing that the modern political order can't stand it is letting unclaimed land remain unclaimed...even if it covered in frozen ice. See some of the competing claims (and international agreements) on the political status of Antarctica. Click here to see a similar analysis on competing claims over the North Pole.
What if all the ice melted in the world? Now whether you believe global warming happens because of human activities or naturally is another debate. The questions “How would the world look if ALL the ice melted?” How much would the sea rise by? What would be the average temperature on Earth? are of interest to everyone.
Trust National Geographic not only to capture such questions in the best manner possible but also to visualize it in such geoawesome manner! Here’s the super interesting map by National Geographic “IF ALL THE ICE MELTED“!
There may be a counterintuitive explanation for the deep freeze that hit New England this winter: The rapidly warming Arctic is causing big disruptions in the jet stream, which carries weather across North America. Is this the worst winter you've experienced?
"Trying to understand what’s actually going on in the world’s climate seems like it might be truly impossible. For one thing, there are so many different factors at work. Everything from how light travels through the atmosphere to how the winds move the ocean around to how rain hits the ground has an effect on what actually happens on Earth both now and in the future. That also means there’s absolutely no use in looking at each piece individually … to understand what’s really going on, the climate jigsaw puzzle needs to be complete.
That, says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, is where climate modeling comes in. The discipline synthesizes data from multiple sources, including satellites, weather stations, even from people camping in the Arctic and submitting measurements of the ice they see around them. Climate modeling, Schmidt says, gives us our best chance of understanding the bigger picture of the world around us. 'We take all of the things we can see are going on, put them together with our best estimates of how processes work, and then see if we can understand and explain the emergent properties of climate systems,' he says. These four silent animations show what he means."
"Though uninhabited and full of melting ice caps, the Arctic is surprisingly an appealing piece of real estate. Many countries have already claimed parts of the region. So who technically owns the North Pole? And why do these nations want it so bad?"
Denmark is now being more assertive in their claims. Why is this happening now? As climate change threatens polar ice caps, some see the receding ice as an economic and political opportunity. Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland) and the U.S. are all seeking to expand their maritime claims in the Arctic. When trapped under ice, extracting resources is cost prohibitive, but the melting sea ice will make the Arctic's resources all the more valuable (including the expanded shipping lanes). Even a global disaster like climate change can make countries behave like jackals, ready to feast on a dead carcass. For more, read this National Geographic blogpost.
"Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding is that the Arctic and Antarctic are similar. One’s in the north and the other is in the south; but other than that, they’re the same, right? No, this couldn’t be more wrong. These polar opposites are literally polar opposites.
For starters, the Arctic is a small, shallow ocean surrounded by land: Eurasia, Greenland, Canada and the United States. It’s only about 5 ½ million square miles, which is five times smaller than the Atlantic and 11 times smaller than the Pacific. Antarctica, on the other hand, is a continent surrounded by the entire Southern Ocean.
This may seem like no big deal, but it makes all the difference in the world. It takes a lot of energy to change water temperature compared to what it takes to change land temperature, which means Arctic seawater isn’t as cold as the continental ice sheet covering Antarctica. So, the Arctic sea ice (frozen sea water) is about 10 feet thick, whereas the Antarctic ice sheet (compacted freshwater ice) is over a mile thick."
"It has taken between 50-300 million years to form, and yet we have managed to burn roughly half of all global oil reserves in merely 125 years or so."
Many who research natural resources and their production believe in peak oil. Peak oil is defined as the maximum rate of the production of oil in any area under consideration, recognizing that it is a finite natural resource, subject to depletion. In essence, oil will run out some day because it is a non-renewable resources; so oil production will peak, and then permanently decline. Some are skeptical of these claims and feel that the oil industry is in a much stronger position than peak oil proponents suggest.
|Suggested by PIRatE Lab|
A new analysis of sea levels and flood risk around the world offers more evidence that the brunt of climate change will not be borne equally.
More than a quarter of Vietnam’s residents live in areas likely to be subject to regular floods by the end of the century. Globally, eight of the 10 large countries most at risk are in Asia. These figures are the result of a new analysis of sea levels and flood risk around the world, conducted by Climate Central and based on more detailed sea-level data than has previously been available. The analysis offers more evidence that the countries emitting the most carbon aren’t necessarily the ones that will bear the brunt of climate change.
Canada has dispatched two icebreakers to map the Arctic seabed beneath the North Pole to support a bid to extend the country's maritime territory deeper into the waterways at the top of the world.
Canada, Russia and Denmark (Greenland) are all seeking to expand their maritime claims in the Arctic. Globally speaking, the retreat of Arctic sea ice can be seen as a unmitigated disaster, but disasters for the many can open up new economic opportunities for the few. When trapped under ice, extracting resources is cost prohibitive, but the melting sea ice will make the Arctic's resources all the more valuable (including the expanded shipping lanes). This fits in with the APHG new course outline which includes political ecology (the study of the political and economic principles controlling the relations of human beings to one another and to the environment).
Scientists have issued a new warning to the world’s coastal megacities that the threat from subsiding land is a more immediate problem than rising sea levels caused by global warming.
A new paper from the Deltares Research Institute in the Netherlands published in April identified regions of the globe where the ground level is falling 10 times faster than water levels are rising - with human activity often to blame.
In Jakarta, Indonesia’s largest city, the population has grown from around half a million in the 1930s to just under 10 million today, with heavily populated areas dropping by as much as six and a half feet as groundwater is pumped up from the Earth to drink.
The same practice led to Tokyo’s ground level falling by two meters before new restrictions were introduced, and in Venice, this sort of extraction has only compounded the effects of natural subsidence caused by long-term geological processes.
"On May 28, 2008, Adam LeWinter and Director Jeff Orlowski filmed a historic breakup at the Ilulissat Glacier in Western Greenland. The calving event lasted for 75 minutes and the glacier retreated a full mile across a calving face three miles wide. The height of the ice is about 3,000 feet, 300-400 feet above water and the rest below water."
|Suggested by Sylvain Rotillon|
"It can be difficult to conceive of the long process that's led the world to having its nine hottest years on record all after 2000. That's why it's nice that NASA has generated this nifty animation, which shows temperature abnormalities for every month of the past 13 decades. Watch reddish warm zones spread over the globe as time rolls past, like a virulent fever covering the body of a sick host."
Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet.
If all the ice in the world melted, we wouldn't have a post-apocalytic scenario like Kevin Costner's "waterworld," but it still would have an enormous global impact. This interactive feature highlights the locations of places that would be submerged in the most extreme example of hypothetical sea level changes. What would some of these changes be?
The Maldives is a small country in the Indian Ocean composed of 1,200 islands. Virtually every spot in this country is under 8 feet in elevation. Pictured above is the capital of Malé, which has the largest population (explore these islands on a variety of scales).
Questions to Ponder: What physical forces and processes account for the presence of these islands in the Ocean? In a geological time scale, what does the future hold for these islands. What would be the main economic assets of the Maldives? What would be the main economic and environmental concerns of this country?
"Two things that helped make this rainfall historic are breadth and duration. Colorado can get much higher rainfall rates for brief periods and over small areas."
Our thoughts are with our colleagues and friends in Colorado as they are dealing with the impact of this historic weather event. The geographic factors that contributed to this flooding are explained in this article from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Some are calling this a millennial flood, as it is well past the 100-year stage of flooding. You may view the areas impacted on an ESRI storymap. and in this NASA imagery.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
The Siberian Times is reporting a record heatwave for towns such as Norilsk that are both North of the Artic Circle and built on permafrost. While on the global scale the climatic shifts are quite alarming, there are many in Siberia that see global warming as a mixed bag. In what some would have you believe is an unrelated news item, the North Pole is experiencing the formation of large meltwater ponds.
|Suggested by KEpps|
Climate change is dramatically altering the Swiss Alps, where hundreds of bodies of water are being created by melting glaciers. Though the lakes can attract tourists and even generate electricity, local residents also fear catastrophic tidal waves.
|Suggested by Brett Sinica|
From the food we eat to the energy, transportation, and water we all need, a warmer world will bring big changes for everyone.
B Sinica: This article touches every aspect of geography from culture to climate [considering] how the growing population plays the biggest role in determining the future of life on Earth. People need to recognize the problems and potential future issues with global warming and the rapidly changing environment. Though not many issues can be prevented or even solved, the least we can do is try to lessen the severity of devastation and prolong the current conditions as much as possible before the world becomes too extreme to manage.