"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Sunday, 1 February 2015

2014 officially the hottest year on record (So Far)

2014 officially the hottest year on record
(So Far)

Drought in California : hottest and driest on record  summer on record

Campaign groups say the milestone report should spur new efforts to fight climate change. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The numbers are in. The year 2014 – after shattering temperature records that had stood for hundreds of years across virtually all of Europe, and roasting parts of South America, China and Russia – was the hottest on record, with global temperatures 1.24F (0.69C) higher than the 20th-century average, US government scientists said on Friday.

A day after international researchers warned that human activities had pushed the planet to the brink, new evidence of climate change arrived. The world was the hottest it has been since systematic records began in 1880, especially on the oceans, which the agency confirmed were the driver of 2014’s temperature rise.

The global average temperatures over land and sea surface for the year were 1.24F (0.69C) above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) reported. Nasa, which calculates temperatures slightly differently, put 2014’s average temperature at 14.67C – 0.68C above the average – for the period 1951-80.

The scientists said 2014 was 0.07F (0.04C) higher than the previous records set in 2005 and 2010, and the 38th consecutive year of above-average temperatures.

That means nobody born since 1976 has experienced a colder-than-average year.

“Any one year being a record warm one is not in itself particularly significant, but this is one in a series of record warm years that are driven by the continuing underlying long-term global warming,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. “We expect that heat records will continue to get broken – not everywhere and not every year – but increasingly, and that does not bode well for a civilisation that is continuing to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at an increasing rate.”

“It is not just 2014, but the long-term trend, so we may anticipate further records in the years to come,” Schmidt said.

The odds of that temperature shift occurring because of natural climate variability were less than one in 27 million, according to the Climate Central research group.

“The data from Nasa and Noaa is the latest scientific evidence that climate change is real, and we must act now to protect our families and future generations,” said Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat and climate champion. “Deniers must stop ignoring these alarms if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

The findings from Nasa and Noaa were in line with reports from the United Nations weather organisation, the UK Met Office and Japan’s meteorological agency confirming the steadily upward march of temperatures over the last decades. Thirteen of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000. “Nineteen eighty-eight was also a record warm year at the time. Now it doesn’t even rank in the top 20,” Schmidt said.

“We can safely say it’s probably the warmest year in 1,700 and 2,000 years, and I think it’s probably safe to say 5,000 years,” said Don Wuebbles, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois who has worked on a number of IPCC reports. “You have a continuous upward trend over the last century and that is telling us something. We have a clear signal that our climate changing, and when you look at the evidence it’s because of human activities.”

“The evidence is so strong I don’t know why we are arguing any more,” Wuebbles said. “It’s just crazy.”

The last record cold year was more than a century ago in 1911.

The scientists noted that the 2014 record occurred without the help of a strong El Nino, a global weather phenomenon known for pushing more heat into the atmosphere.

Campaign groups said the milestone ought to spur new efforts to fight climate change. “The Obama administration must back international efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Shaye Wolf, the climate science director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need a global agreement that keeps most dirty fossil fuels in the ground and provides ample support for developing nations to leapfrog into clean energy economies.”

On the current emissions trajectory, the world will attain warming of 4 or 5C by 2100, which climate scientists say would be catastrophic.

Ocean surface temperatures were far warmer in 2014 than any year on record, especially in the northern Pacific. In April, westerly winds began spreading that very warm water out along the equator to the eastern Pacific and around to the Gulf of Alaska – releasing heat that had been locked in the depths for nearly a decade. The unusually warm waters shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and led to widespread bleaching of coral reefs in Hawaii. Vast expanses of the north-western and south-eastern Atlantic, most of the Norwegian Sea, and parts of the central to southern Indian Ocean were also extraordinarily warm. Global sea-surface temperatures were 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the 20th-century average.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7107/8157124567_5a08248540_k.jpgOn land, temperature records toppled almost everywhere.

Much of Europe and parts of North Africa sweated out heatwaves. Britain saw its hottest summer in three and a half centuries. Nearly every weather station set new records. Transport crew in Norway had to hose down runways to prevent them buckling in the heat. Finns were warned they may soon face Decembers without snow. Australia had a series of heatwaves.

“Every continent had some aspect of record high temperatures,” Thomas Karl, director of Noaa’s National Climatic Data Center.

For North America – aside from California and Alaska – it was the opposite story. The year was so cold it spawned two new meteorological terms: polar vortex for the Arctic blast at the beginning of the year and lake effect, for the 2ft of snow dumped on Buffalo in November.

But California saw its hottest year, with annual average temperatures 4.1F (2.3C) higher than 20th century average, and scant relief for a punishing drought.

Elsewhere, Argentina was plagued by water shortages and power blackouts as extreme heat engulfed South America, setting new temperature records in Brazil and Bolivia.

The year also brought heavy rainfall and flooding in some countries.

Parts of Turkey saw five times the normal amount of rain, and France experienced its wettest summer since 1959. Rivers broke up earlier than ever recorded in Siberia. Millions of people were affected by heavy rains and severe flooding in northern Bangladesh, northern Pakistan and India.

Sea ice extent was below average on the Pacific side of the Arctic and near-average on the Atlantic side.

It was another year of declining sea ice in the Arctic. However, Antarctica actually saw the highest sea ice extent. “There are some interesting things going on in Antarctica,” Nasa’s Schmidt said. [The increasing sea ice around Antarctica is due to rapid ice melt on the continent - NI Ed]

From The Guardian @ http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/16/2014-hottest-year-on-record-scientists-noaa-nasa

Watch 63 Years of Global Warming in 14 Seconds

 Watch 63 Years of Global Warming in 14 Seconds

This iconic animation from our friends at NASA depicts how temperatures around the globe have warmed since 1950. You’ll note an acceleration of the temperature trend in the late 1970s as greenhouse gas emissions from energy production increased worldwide and clean air laws reduced emissions of pollutants that had a cooling effect on the climate, and thus were masking some of the global warming signal.

The data come from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York (GISS), which monitors global surface temperatures. As NASA notes, “All 10 of the warmest years in the GISS analysis have occurred since 1998, continuing a trend of temperatures well above the mid-20th century average."

From Climate Central @ http://www.climatecentral.org/news/watch-63-years-of-global-warming-in-14-seconds-17012

Doomsday ticks closer to midnight: 'the probability of global catastrophe is very high'

by Doyle Rice

Citing unchecked climate change and the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons, scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight in January.

The scientists created the clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey threats to humanity and the Earth.

"It is now three minutes to midnight," said Kennette Benedict, the executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at a news conference in Washington, DC. "The probability of global catastrophe is very high. This is about the end of civilization as we know it."

Climate scientist Richard Somerville, a member, Science and Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, unveils the new Doomsday Clock in Washington.
Climate scientist Richard Somerville, a member, Science and Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, unveils the new Doomsday Clock in Washington. Photo: AP

Three minutes is the closest to midnight the clock has been since 1984 during the Cold War. The closest it has ever been to midnight -- two minutes-- was in 1953, when the hydrogen bomb was first tested. The closer to a setting of midnight it gets, the closer it's estimated that a global disaster will occur.

"In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernisations and outsised nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity," the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said in a statement.

"World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth."

The clock is symbolic and has been maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947. The group was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project.

Before Thursday, the Doomsday Clock was most recently moved ahead from six to five minutes to midnight in 2012, also in a response to nuclear proliferation and climate change.

"Human influence on the climate system is clear," Richard Somerville of the Bulletin said at the conference on Thursday. "Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any preceding on record." 


From The Sydney Morning Herald @ http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/doomsday-ticks-closer-to-midnight-the-probability-of-global-catastrophe-is-very-high-20150122-12wd4s.html

Catastrophic Dangers


The climate change science presented here (including the IPCC) is agreed that global climate change can be catastrophic, abrupt and irreversible.

​We are in a state of planetary emergency because we face a number of global climate catastrophes.

There are two obvious greatest catastrophes.

1. Agricultural collapse - The collapse of regional or global agriculture would be a global catastrophe for humanity​​.
2. Arctic methane feedback, rapid warming and runaway ​climate change would be a planetary catastrophe to all life.

Scientists in general avoid using the term climate catastrophe or even dangerous climate change.

​The scientists refer to climate catastrophe as 'rapid temperature increase' , 'abrupt' global climate change, 'irreversible' climate change impacts, and 'large scale singularities'. The IPCC AR4 did refer to catastrophes in the technical report.

Under these headings the scientists generally cite the following:

o Shutdown of the thermohaline/meridional overturning circulation/'deep ocean conveyer' current- freezing Europe.
o Irreversible destabilization (slide into the ocean) of the Greenland ice sheet - sea level rise.
o Collapse of West Antarctic peninsula - sea level rise.
o Acceleration in the already rapid (6th mass Extinction event) extinction of species.
o Arctic summer sea ice tipping point has been recently included. ​

The IPCC assessments have recognized the possibility of climate change induced catastrophes. The unrealistic linear treatment of global warming projections however incorrectly reduces the risk of tipping points. By excluding the carbon feedbacks from these global temperature projections the IPCC introduces another huge source of error excluding the greatest tipping point risk of all - carbon feedback runaway.

​​​IPCC 2001 3rd assessment

​​​The 2001 assessment recognized a number of potentially catastrophic effects​

​ Projected climate changes during the 21st century have the potential to lead to future large-scale and possibly irreversible changes in Earth systems resulting in impacts at continental and global scales.

​Examples include significant slowing of the ocean circulation that transports warm water to the North Atlantic, large reductions in the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets,
​accelerated global warming due to carbon cycle feedbacks in the terrestrial biosphere, and releases of terrestrial carbon from permafrost regions and ​methane from hydrates in coastal sediments.

​​The likelihood of many of these changes in Earth systems is not well-known, however, their likelihood is expected to increase with the rate, magnitude, and duration of climate change​

If these changes in Earth systems were to occur, their impacts would be widespread and sustained. For example, significant slowing of the oceanic thermohaline circulation would impact deep-water oxygen levels and carbon uptake by oceans and marine ecosystems, and would reduce warming over parts of Europe. Disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet or melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet could raise global sea level up to 3m each over the next 1,000 years 8 , submerge many islands, and inundate extensive coastal areas. Depending on the rate of ice loss, the rate and magnitude of sea-level rise could greatly exceed the capacity of human and natural systems to adapt without substantial impacts. Releases of terrestrial carbon from permafrost regions and methane from hydrates in coastal sediments, induced by warming, would further increase greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and amplify climate change.

​​​IPCC 2007 4th assessment

In 2007 for the first time the IPCC reported on such 'catastrophic'  impacts and gave more details.  

Climate change is likely to lead to some irreversible impacts. There is medium confidence that approximately 20 to 30% of species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average warming exceed 1.5 to 2.5°C (relative to 1980-1999). As global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5°C, model projections suggest significant extinctions (40 to 70% of species assessed) around the globe. 

Note, the actual extinction effect would be far larger than these numbers as climate change impacts on top of the ongoing species extinctions (6th mass extinction event) due to direct destruction of habitat, which is included in the published research on the issue. .

Abrupt climate change on decadal time scales is normally thought of as involving ocean circulation changes.

Deep ocean conveyor

Impacts of large-scale and persistent changes in the MOC are likely to include changes in marine ecosystem productivity, fisheries, ocean CO2 uptake, oceanic oxygen concentrations and terrestrial vegetation. Changes in terrestrial and ocean CO2 uptake may feed back on the climate system


In addition on longer time scales, ice sheet and ecosystem changes may also play a role.

Ice Sheets ​

Partial loss of ice sheets on polar land and/or the thermal expansion of seawater over very long time scales could imply metres of sea level rise, major changes in coastlines and inundation of low-lying areas, with greatest effects in river deltas and low-lying islands. Current models project that such changes would occur over very long time scales (millennial) if a global temperature increase of 1.9 to 4.6°C (relative to pre-industrial) were to be sustained. Rapid sea level rise on century time scales cannot be excluded 

Irreversibility is a general feature climate change because of:

  •  preexisting multiple ongoing vulnerabilities,
  •  multiple impacts,
  •  cumulative impacts,
  •  climate system inertia, and
  •  global warming duration of milennia. 

Arctic summer sea ice loss

by increasing all catastrophic impacts and risks. 

Food productivity decline- global or regional.

Potable water supplies- regional.

Vector borne diseases-  increase and/or spread, global and regional 

Anthropological warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate and magnitude of the climate change.

The possibility of abrupt climate change and/or abrupt changes in the earth system triggered by climate change, with potentially catastrophic consequences, cannot be ruled out. (Meehl et al., 2007). 

Disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (See Meehl et al., 2007), if it occurred, could raise sea level by 4-6 meters over several centuries. 

Deep ocean conveyor

A shutdown of the North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation (See Meehl et al., 2007) could have far-reaching, adverse ecological and agricultural consequences, 


Increases in the frequency of droughts (Salinger, 2005)


or a higher intensity of tropical cyclones (See Meehl et al., 2007) could occur. 

Carbon feedback

Positive feedback from warming may cause the release of carbon or methane from the terrestrial biosphere and oceans (See Meehl et al., 2007), which would add to the mitigation required.

From the Climate Emergency Institute @ http://www.climateemergencyinstitute.com/catastrophe.html


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