Interesting news of Infrared satellite data being released to public (deniers time to write your papers for peer review). Short version: climate change is happening; water vapour is amplifying, not muting average temp rise; data shows storms becoming stronger and more frequent; AIRS could dramatically improve accuracy of forecasting models.
Large changes in climate likely over next century, daily carbon dioxide measurements suggest
ScienceDaily (Jan. 14, 2010) — Researchers studying climate now have a new tool at their disposal: daily global measurements of carbon dioxide and water vapor in a key part of Earth's atmosphere. The data are courtesy of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft and confirm the mainstream scientific view that large changes in the climate are likely over the next century.
Moustafa Chahine, the instrument's science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, unveiled the new measurements at a briefing on recent breakthroughs in greenhouse gas, weather and climate research from AIRS at this week's American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. The new data have been extensively validated against both aircraft and ground-based observations. They give users daily and monthly measurements of the concentration and distribution of carbon dioxide in the mid-troposphere — the region of the atmosphere located between 5 and 12 kilometers, or 3 to 7 miles, above Earth's surface and track its global transport.
Users can also access historical AIRS carbon dioxide data spanning the mission's entire seven-plus years in orbit. The product represents the first-ever release of global daily carbon dioxide data that are based solely on observations.
In another major finding, scientists using AIRS data have removed most of the uncertainty about the role of water vapor in atmospheric models. The data are the strongest observational evidence to date for how water vapor responds to a warming climate.
“The argument that the scientific community does not understand water vapor is one of the most durable urban legends in the climate change debate,” says Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.
“AIRS temperature and water vapor observations have corroborated climate model predictions that the warming of our climate produced by carbon dioxide will be greatly exacerbated — in fact, more than doubled — by water vapor.”
Dessler explained that most of the warming caused by carbon dioxide does not come directly from carbon dioxide, but from effects known as “feedbacks.” Water vapor is a particularly important feedback. As the climate warms, the atmosphere becomes more humid. Since water is a greenhouse gas, it serves as a powerful positive feedback to the climate system, amplifying the initial warming. AIRS measurements of water vapor reveal that water greatly amplifies warming caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide. Comparisons of AIRS data with models and re-analyses are in excellent agreement.
“The implication of these studies is that, should greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current course of increase, we are virtually certain to see Earth's climate warm by several degrees Celsius in the next century, unless some strong negative feedback mechanism emerges elsewhere in Earth's climate system,” Dessler said.
Originally designed to observe atmospheric temperature and water vapor, AIRS data are already responsible for a greater improvement to five- to six-day weather forecasts than any other single instrument, said Chahine. JPL scientists have shown a major consequence of global warming will be an increase in the frequency and strength of severe storms. Earlier this year, a team of NASA researchers showed how AIRS can significantly improve tropical cyclone forecasting. The researchers studied deadly Typhoon Nargis in Burma in May 2008. They found the uncertainty in the cyclone's landfall position could have been reduced by a factor of six had more sophisticated AIRS temperature data been used in the forecasts.
AIRS observes and records the global daily distribution of temperature, water vapor, clouds and several atmospheric gases including ozone, methane and carbon monoxide. With the addition of the mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide data set this week, a seven-year digital record is now complete for use by the scientific community and the public.
On Saturday 24 October 2009 Northern Beaches residents will join hundreds of thousands of people from around the world in taking a stand for a safe climate future as part of the largest global day of climate action ever witnessed.
The call to action by both Climate Action Pittwater and Manly Warringah Climate Action Group as well as local surf life saving clubs, and hosted by Pittwater, Warringah and Manly Councils, will spell out the numerals ‘350’ (i.e. 350 parts per million, signifying the safe upper level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere) via human signs on local beaches.
“People are turning out in great numbers in Australia and around the world on 24 October to call on global leaders to hear the public concern about climate change before the UN talks in Copenhagen in December,” said a spokesperson for the Climate Change Groups.
“Scientists are saying that our current greenhouse emissions at 385ppm are at a dangerous level. “350 sends a clear message to our community and our leaders that we cannot afford to be skeptical anymore and that we need to set a clear and ambitious goal to work towards at the Copenhagen meeting. “Individuals and families in every corner of the world will be taking similar action from Mount Everest and the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House.” The Northern Beaches climate action groups have the support of local Mayors, Councils, politicians and community groups who will be gathering at three locations (Mona Vale beach, Dee Why beach, and North Steyne beach) at 3.00pm on Saturday 24 October.
The events are three of more than 2,000 rallies in more than 140 nations coordinated by the organization ‘350.org’ and urging world leaders to take fast and effective action on climate change. “This is the first global campaign ever organised around a scientific data point,” said the climate change group spokesperson. “It’s also significant that we organize the human signs on our local beaches as increasing sea levels will see our iconic beaches disappear in the future. “Everyone has a responsibility in combating climate change. We can each make a difference to reducing our own carbon footprints. “We are encouraging the residents of the Northern Beaches to register their interest and to join us on this day so that we can to get our world back to 350 and a safe climate future.” To find out more about ‘350’ go to www.350.org/australia.
To register go to: Dee Why Beach http://www.350.org/node/7325; Manly Beach http://www.350.org/node/7523 Mona Vale Beach http://www.350.org/node/7327 Spokespersons to contact include: Iain McGregor (Manly): 0400 481 259. Kirsten Evans (Dee Why): 0438 177 088. Linda Haefeli (Pittwater) 0409 815 119. To make the sign more effective it would be suitable to wear something black, green, blue or red on the day. For media information contact Ron Krueger on 0418 617 680. ENDORSEMENTS “The gathering of world leaders in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference in December this year offers what may be the last, best chance for determining concerted action to prevent the worst effects of global warming. Representing a coastal community likely to be profoundly affected by rising sea levels, Manly Council is committed to developing strategies that promote the conservation of the natural environment to benefit current and future generations; including long term considerations of climate change. Therefore, as the Mayor of Manly, I fully support the objectives of the ‘350’ campaign and encourage all who love Manly to come along and take part on the day.” – Jean Hay, Mayor of Manly I am proud to support this initiative and encourage Warringah residents to take a stand on the sand on the day.” – Michael Regan, Mayor of Warringah. “I encourage Pittwater residents to get behind this great initiative and to send a clear message that we need to limit our emissions to avoid runaway climate change.” – Harvey Rose, Mayor of Pittwater. “This event is a great opportunity for the Northern Beaches community to show their support for more action on climate change. The lack of public transport on the Peninsula means more cars are clogging up the roads and that has to change. Our beautiful local environment is why we love living on the Northern Beaches and it must be protected for future generations.” – Mike Baird, Member for Manly
“Our coastline and particularly beaches are hugely threatened by rising sea levels and the predicted more numerous and potent storms bought on by climate change and here is an unmissable chance to send your message.” -Brendan Donohue, Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches Chapter. “Mona Vale SLSC is proud to be hosting Pittwater’s 350 event. Surf Life Saving Clubs, by their very nature, are particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion and the probable implications of sea level rise. Becoming involved in this public display of climate change action raises the awareness of our 700+ members and their families. Surf Lifesavers and ‘Nippers’ all have a role to play in addressing climate change, and this event is another way MVSLSC is taking action”. – Jon Dibbs – President and Life Member of Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club. ABOUT 350.ORG Founded by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, 350.org is the first large-scale grassroots global campaign against climate change. Its supporters include leading scientists, the governments of 89 countries, and a huge variety of environmental, health, development and religious NGOs. All agree that current atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases—385 parts per million—are causing damage to the planet and to its most vulnerable people, and that government action at the Copenhagen climate conference is required to bring the earth’s carbon level swiftly down.
A week ago I was looking for a poll idea and I happened across this article entitled “Climate Change Belief Research – great cause for concern by Mike Hanlon” on the gizmag site. As many of our regulars have no doubt worked out, I’m quite keenly interested in the topic and so I was intrigued to see just how successful denialist strategies to frame the debate have been in the US (where the poll was conducted). Curious to see how the RealSurf audience compares, I posted the same question and choice of responses.
Here’s how Hanlon summarised the US results:
It just goes to show you what a bad state the education system is in when just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities. Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 1,000 people in late January and found that 29% believe climate change is occurring naturally, 15% believe climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way and 3% believe climate change doesn’t exist.
And here’s how RealSurf’s audience responded:
Which one of the following describes your thoughts about climate change, or global warming?
Climate change is caused by human activities (51%, 175 Votes)
Climate change is occurring naturally (26%, 88 Votes)
Climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way. (17%, 58 Votes)
Just finished reading this lucid summation of where we stand with the science and politics of climate change.
A few illustrative quotes:
If you understand how compound interest works, you can understand the urgency of facing the issue today.
Because more CO2 remains in the atmosphere, and because CO2 in the atmosphere generates atmospheric heat,more atmospheric heat is being generated.
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, accounts for 85 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. As you may remember from high school biology, CO2 is absorbed by plant life as an essential part of photosynthesis. Also, CO2 dissolves in water, which is why the ocean absorbs a lot of it, over time. But after plants and the ocean have absorbed all they can absorb, the remaining CO2 remains in the atmosphere, for about 100 years. We have been generating a CO2 surplus since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
This is why the average CO2 count rises every year. (Within a single year, the CO2 count rises and falls according to the weather or the seasons.) Even if we cut back on the essentials of modern society – thermal power plants and motorized transportation -the CO2 count will continue its compound growth.
The United States emits, on a per capita basis, greenhouse gases at about twice the rate of any other major economy. So, from the vantage point of the rest of the world, C02 cutbacks imposed on Americans might offer the biggest bang for the buck, with comparatively minor hardship. It’s hard to see how we can ask for China’s forbearance without demonstrating our willingness to make concessions at home.
The best of the Australian surf cams I could find this morning was coastalwatch’s Margs cam. Proper waves out west for you lucky pups. Qld, NSW and Vic all look knee to waist high for the most part.
About the best live cam I could find overseas was wetsand.com’s Rocky Point unit on the north shore. Not super clean, but some size at least…
Looks as though today’s high tide spots will be the low tide spots for our kids and grandkids – according to the latest research from the CSIRO. Here’s a taste from the story on the ABC site.
Dr John Church told the committee a sea level rise of 80 to 90 centimetres by 2100 seems likely.
He says strong action now will not stop significant coastal disruption.
“We cannot prevent all sea level rise. We will have to adapt to some sea level rise,” he said.
The scientists say that uncertainty about melting icecaps means it is hard to predict the impact of rising sea levels on the Australian coastline.
I wonder what the rising tide’ll do to surf spots such as the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland? According to this write up in the Santa Barbara Independent, there’s a good new surf movie about Irish surfing making its world debut in my old home town. The doco is called Waveriders and is the work of a guy named Joel Conroy. Here’s a bit of the blurb from the film’s website:
Waveriders is the previously untold story of the unlikely Irish roots of the worldwide surfing phenomenon and today’s pioneers of Irish big wave surfing. The story unfolds through the inspirational and ultimately tragic history of Irish/Hawaiian legendary waterman, George Freeth. Freeth, son of an Irishman, was responsible for the rebirth of this sport of Hawaiian kings in the early twentieth century. With its distinguished cast of world-renowned Irish, British and Irish/American surfers WAVERIDERS journeys full-circle from Hawaii to California and back to Irish shores following Freeth’s wave of influence. This journey reaches a spectacular climax when the surfers conquer the biggest swell ever to have been ridden in Ireland catching monster waves of over fifty feet.