View Full Version : Global warming? You better believe it

09-25-2005, 02:31 PM
Global warming? You better believe it
By Derrick Z. Jackson | September 24, 2005

AS THE MEDIA screams about the one-two punch of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the question becomes how many more times does America need to be knocked to the canvas before we answer the bell on global warming.

The only talk from our leaders is about rebuilding. In his address to the nation from a ghostly New Orleans, President Bush said, ''When one resident of this city who lost his home was asked by a reporter if he would relocate, he said, 'Naw, I will rebuild but I'll build higher.' That is our vision of the future, in this city and beyond. We will not just rebuild, we will build higher and better."

It figures that Bush would talk about building higher in the lowest city in the United States, in a presidency where he has ignored the rising waters of the planet. He said, ''Americans have never left our destiny to the whims of nature and we will not start now."

Actually, there is no better time to start understanding that nature is at the mercy of our whimsy. Our destiny depends on it.

In this tragic season of hurricanes, research continues to increasingly tie global warming to an increase in the intensity of tropical storms.

One was published last month in the journal Nature by Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another was published last week in the journal Science by atmospheric researchers at Georgia Tech and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

While there has been no increase in the actual number of storms worldwide, the Georgia Tech/NCAR study found the number of hurricanes that reached categories 4 and 5, with winds of at least 131 miles per hour, have gone from comprising 20 percent of hurricanes in the 1970s to 35 percent today. This is with only a half-degree centigrade rise in tropical surface water temperatures.

The percentage of big storms in the North Atlantic has increased from 20 percent to 25 percent. The rise is much worse in the rest of the world, where millions of less fortunate people cannot flee the coast in SUVs on interstate roads.

In the 1970s, no ocean basin saw more than 25 percent of hurricanes become a 4 or 5. Today, that percentage is 34, 35, and 41 percent, respectively, in the South Indian, East Pacific, and West Pacific oceans. The biggest jump was in the Southwestern Pacific, from 8 percent to 25 percent.

Emanuel, who formerly doubted that hurricane intensity was tied to global warming, said that he was stunned when his research showed that just that half-degree rise in tropical ocean temperatures has also seen a 50 percent rise in average storm peak winds in the North Atlantic and East and West Pacific in the last half century.

The accumulated annual duration of storms in the North Atlantic and the western North Pacific has shot up by 60 percent.

''I wasn't looking for global warming," Emanuel said by cell phone in Spain where he is conducting research on Mediterranean storms. ''But it stuck out like a sore thumb."

Emanuel originally thought that a half-degree rise in ocean temperatures should have resulted in wind speeds much lower than that. Emanuel said he hoped the more recent findings would be taken as a signal for action. The average hurricane, he said, releases the equivalent of worldwide electrical capacity. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are 10 times stronger.

Not surprisingly, these new findings have drawn skepticism from scientists who cling to past climate models and flat denials from a Bush administration that has all but censored serious talk about global warming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website says, ''The strongest hurricanes in the present climate may be upstaged by even more intense hurricanes over the next century as the earth's climate is warmed by increasing levels of greenhouse gases,"

But Max Mayfield, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, testified this week before a Senate committee that increased hurricane activity ''is due to natural fluctuations" and is ''not enhanced substantially by global warming."

The one-two punch of Katrina and Rita does not yet have us reaching for the smelling salts. We are still waiting for global warming to hit us below the belt.

web page (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/09/24/global_warming_you_better_believe_it/)

09-25-2005, 04:01 PM
And by the middle of the 21st Century we will have an Ice Age on our hands.


09-25-2005, 05:32 PM
STUDY: Expansion of snow-free days is accelerating climate change.

Anchorage Daily News

Published: September 24, 2005
Last Modified: September 24, 2005 at 06:19 AM

Melting snow has triggered the warmest summers across Arctic Alaska in at least 400 years, setting in motion tree and shrub growth that will accelerate warming by two to seven times as the century unfolds.

The slow expansion of the tundra's snow-free season by about 2.5 days per decade since the 1960s explains 95 percent of the recent rise in summer temperatures, and is far more influential than changes in vegetation, sea ice, atmospheric circulation or clouds, according to a report published this week in Science Express.

Those few extra days when the sun bakes brown tundra instead of getting reflected back into space by snow produces a surprising impact, wrote University of Alaska Fairbanks ecologist Terry Chapin and 20 co-authors. They have warmed the tundra by three watts for every square meter -- as much heating as you'd get from doubling the concentration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

"There's been a long-term interest in why it is that high latitude climate seems to be warming more rapidly than the rest of the world," said Chapin, a professor at the Institute of Arctic Biology and the first Alaska member of the National Academy of Sciences. "Basically, I thought that maybe vegetation would be having a large influence, but the bottom line of that paper is that snowmelt swamps the vegetation."

Even small increases in the time the landscape spends dark rather than white make a huge difference in how much solar energy gets absorbed, explained snow researcher Matthew Sturm, with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory at Fort Wainwright.

"If you sort of think about the short summer period, there's just a certain number of days when we have that nice dark tundra exposed," he said. "If we add a couple days where we don't have snow cover, we have a big impact. Just peeling that back a couple days per decade, and there's a lot of warming."

The paper, the "Role of Land-Surface Changes in Arctic Summer Warming," arose from a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Coordinated by Chapin and Sturm, it drew on a decade of work by 21 ecologists and biologists, snow and ice experts, climate researchers and supercomputer jockeys. It crunched a hemisphere of data -- shifts in temperature, cloud cover, solar energy, snow cover and vegetation.

"We argue that recent changes in the length of the snow-free season have triggered a set of interlinked feedbacks that will amplify future rates of summer warming," the authors wrote.

The study is only one of several new reports describing how climate change appears to be accelerating across the Arctic. Tundra has been greening up with more shrubs that, in turn, trap more solar energy, according to new papers published by scientists at Woods Hole Research Center and the Army research lab. At the same time, Interior spruce forests have declined, under stress from drought and wildfires.

Scientists say there's no question that overall Arctic warmth has been influenced both by increases in greenhouse gas concentrations and natural cycles, though the relative contributions are still not clear.

This newest study suggests that policy-makers should take Alaska's warming climate as a spur to action, regardless of the causes, said Chapin, the lead author. That means people ought to find ways to cut back on fossil fuel consumption while preparing for big changes in the landscape.

"It's a chance for policy-makers and industry to look for innovative ways to maximize the societal benefit of the fuels that we do use," he said. "I think there's lots that can be done to reduce fossil fuels that would have modest or even positive impacts on the economy."

The study found summer warming in Arctic Alaska and western Canada sped up over time, resulting in an increase of almost three-quarters of a degree Fahrenheit per decade over the past 40 years. But explaining why was complicated.

Changes in ocean cycles influence winter temperatures and don't fully explain summer warmth. Shrinking sea ice also has the biggest impact on fall and winter conditions. More summer cloudiness tends to "dampen" the amount of sun beating down over the seasons, the scientists said.

Vegetation has spread, too, with tall shrubs advancing into the tundra and the tree line slipping north. Spring leaf-out has come 10 to 12 days earlier in Alaska over the past half century. But all these shifts, while moving faster and faster, account for only about 2 percent of the summer warming observed so far, the scientists said.

"The summer warming in Alaska is best explained by a lengthening of the snow-free season, causing sensible warming of the lower atmosphere to begin earlier," they concluded.

But as the shrubs expand in the tundra, their influence will grow -- catching more solar heat, trapping more insulating snow, enriching the soil with nutrients. Eventually vegetation will take over.

"Because of these feedbacks, there are lots of reasons to think that this warming will continue," Chapin said.

Understanding what factors are pushing the shrub expansion "would reduce the likelihood of unexpected surprises" in future summer warming, the scientists wrote.

Chapin, one of the most influential scientists in Alaska, said he hopes to begin looking into what factors might pushing climate changes in other areas of Alaska.

"I'm interested in asking similar questions for the boreal forest, where there's an increase in forest fires," he said.

web page (http://www.adn.com/front/story/7007777p-6909325c.html)

09-26-2005, 05:38 AM
And by the middle of the 21st Century we will have an Ice Age on our hands.
<hr /></blockquote> And it will be all Bush's fault. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif


09-26-2005, 06:39 AM
AS THE MEDIA screams about the one-two punch of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the question becomes how many more times does America need to be knocked to the canvas before we answer the bell on global warming.

<font color="blue">I don't have to read any farther than this to know that this is total BS. I was listening to a couple of idiots ranting about this on national public radio the other day.

Global Warming has one simple cause. THE SUN. It ain't a light bulb. It doesn't burn at a constant rate.</font color>

09-26-2005, 08:22 AM
Some quotes by Kerry Emanual.....

"The people who are politicizing it are doing it behind my back -- pundits writing on blogs or editorials whom I don't actually talk to," says Emanuel. "They don't want to know the truth. They want to use something somebody wrote to advance their agenda."

"It would be absurd to attribute the Katrina disaster to global warming."

From http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/09/wo/wo_092405roush.1.asp

Gayle in MD
09-26-2005, 07:37 PM
Even if we took global warming out of the picture entirely, there are still many reasons why we need to decrease our dependency on fossil fuels.

Gayle in Md.