It’s gettin’ hot in here: 'Rate of arctic summer sea ice loss is 50% higher than predicted'
From The Guardian:

Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth’s polar caps.
…
This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.
…
The consequences of losing the Arctic’s ice coverage, even for only part of the year, could be profound. Without the cap’s white brilliance to reflect sunlight back into space, the region will heat up even more than at present. As a result, ocean temperatures will rise and methane deposits on the ocean floor could melt, evaporate and bubble into the atmosphere. Scientists have recently reported evidence that methane plumes are now appearing in many areas. Methane is a particularly powerful greenhouse gas and rising levels of it in the atmosphere are only likely to accelerate global warming. And with the disappearance of sea ice around the shores of Greenland, its glaciers could melt faster and raise sea levels even more rapidly than at present.

Check out the rest of the article here.
(Infographic source: The Guardian)

It’s gettin’ hot in here: 'Rate of arctic summer sea ice loss is 50% higher than predicted'

From The Guardian:

Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth’s polar caps.

This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.

The consequences of losing the Arctic’s ice coverage, even for only part of the year, could be profound. Without the cap’s white brilliance to reflect sunlight back into space, the region will heat up even more than at present. As a result, ocean temperatures will rise and methane deposits on the ocean floor could melt, evaporate and bubble into the atmosphere. Scientists have recently reported evidence that methane plumes are now appearing in many areas. Methane is a particularly powerful greenhouse gas and rising levels of it in the atmosphere are only likely to accelerate global warming. And with the disappearance of sea ice around the shores of Greenland, its glaciers could melt faster and raise sea levels even more rapidly than at present.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Infographic source: The Guardian)

From Science Daily:

Earth’s oceans, forests and other ecosystems continue to soak up about half the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities, even as those emissions have increased, according to a study by University of Colorado and NOAA scientists published August 1 in the journal Nature.

Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere mainly by fossil fuel combustion but also by forest fires and some natural processes. The gas can also be pulled out of the atmosphere into the tissues of growing plants or absorbed by the waters of Earth’s oceans. A series of recent studies suggested that natural sinks of carbon dioxide might no longer be keeping up with the increasing rate of emissions. If that were to happen, it would cause a faster-than-expected rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and projected climate change impacts.

Ballantyne, Tans and their colleagues saw no faster-than-expected rise, however. Their estimate showed that overall, oceans and natural ecosystems continue to pull about half of people’s carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere. Since emissions of CO2 have increased substantially since 1960, Ballantyne said, “Earth is taking up twice as much COtoday as it was 50 years ago.”

The rest continues to accumulate in the atmosphere, where it is likely to accelerate global warming.

This new global analysis makes it clear that scientists do not yet understand well enough the processes by which ecosystems of the world are removing CO2 from the atmosphere, or the relative importance of possible sinks: regrowing forests on different continents, for example, or changing absorption of carbon dioxide by various ocean regions.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related: 

(Carbon cycle graphic: NOAA)

From Nature (subscription req’d):

We are scientists recently arrested in Canada for blockading a 125-car train carrying coal destined to release 26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We joined 11 other Canadians in this act, despite the personal risks and potential negative impact on our careers.

Time is running short and our dialogues on climate change with Canada’s conservative government have been futile, which is why we undertook this extreme action. We were following the example of NASA climatologist James Hansen, who has been arrested three times in the past three years for civil disobedience in protesting against the mining of coal or development of the Canadian oil sands.

If the rate of carbon emissions does not decrease soon, the 2 °C threshold for serious consequences of climate change could be broken this century (M. New et al. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 369, 6–19; 2011). Yet many nations, including Canada and the United States, remain more concerned with building infrastructure to extract and transport fossil fuels than with seeking alternative energy solutions.

Civil disobedience has a long-standing tradition of inducing social change when those in power fail to act. Governments are neglecting their responsibility to future generations. Because science is built on professionalism and objective evidence, media coverage of our arrests will ensure that they, and the voting public, receive a forceful message.

Related:

When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn’t yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers.

The First Number: 2° Celsius 

The Second Number: 565 Gigatons 

The Third Number: 2,795 Gigatons 

You can read the article here

From The Vancouver Sun:

Most of the world’s polar bears are likely to disappear in the next 30 to 50 years if the Arctic continues to heat up as climatologists predict, two University of Alberta scientists say.

They conducted an exhaustive review of the scientific research that has been done on the bears.

In the recent issue of the journal Global Change Biology, Ian Stirling and Andrew Derocher suggest that the bears of Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea in Canada and Alaska are likely to go first. And while they believe a small population of bears in northern Greenland and the Canadian Arctic islands could persist in the foreseeable future, they warn that the long-term well-being of those animals is in doubt as well.

“I have been concerned about the longer term future, not just for polar bears, but for the whole of the arctic marine system for quite a while,” says Stirling, who has been studying polar bears longer than anyone else in the world.

“When I see the trends and projections for the future for warming and sea ice loss for the long term, I think the outlook is not good for ice-breeding species … It may be possible for a remnant population to survive for quite a while but that will also depend on what survives for them to eat.”

“The threat to polar bears is driven simply by habitat loss,” Derocher says. “It is no different than the situation in the Amazon. If you cut down the forest that an Amazon parrot relies on, most people grasp that the species is at risk. Unfortunately, sea ice is a much more foreign habitat for most people and its dynamic nature means that most fail to see it as a habitat.

“We can no more have polar bears with too little sea ice than we can have a forest without soil. Nobody expects a specialized parrot to suddenly adapt to a deforested habitat, yet some confer special adaptation abilities on polar bears. It’s wishful thinking for some but more often, it’s ignorance; it’s a malicious strategy intended to confuse people to create an illusion that everything’s fine.”

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Photo credit: ENS - News Service)

Connecting the Science Dots: Extreme Weather & Climate Change (Infographic)
Details here. 
Related:
'Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation' (IPCC, 2011)
(Infographic source: UCS)

Connecting the Science Dots: Extreme Weather & Climate Change (Infographic)

Details here

Related:

(Infographic source: UCS)

Globally, June was 4th warmest on record, NOAA announced today. And over the Northern Hemisphere, for the second consecutive month, temperatures were as warm as they’ve been in 133 years of records. Notably, the Arctic experienced its largest June sea ice loss since the start of satellite records in 1979.

It was the 36th consecutive June and 328th consecutive month with temperatures warmer than the 20th century average, NOAA said…

The decline of Arctic sea ice is one of the more telling indicators of recent warmth in the Northern Hemisphere. The Arctic lost the equivalent of 1.1 million square miles of ice in June (most on record), its extent falling to 9.8 percent below average, second lowest on record (since 1979).

Snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere, another indicator of temperature, reached its lowest extent in 45 years of June records.

Extreme Weather: What’s Causing Unusually Hot Temperatures in the U.S.?’

From PBS via YouTube:

Lack of water, “the great air conditioner”, is causing unusually high temperatures and extreme weather events in the United States, Kevin Trenberth with the National Center for Atmospheric Research tells Judy Woodruff.

Related:

(Map credit: NOAA via Climate Central)

From Earth Sky:

In what might be the first study to report continuous measurements of net CO2 exchange of urban vegetation and soils over a full year or more, scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the University of Minnesota conclude that not only is vegetation important in the uptake of the greenhouse gas, but also that different types of vegetation play different roles. Their findings will be published July 4 in the current issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

“There has been little research of this type in the urban landscape,” said Joe McFadden, an associate professor in the UC Santa Barbara Department of Geography, and a co-author of the study. While continuous CO2 measurements have been made in natural ecosystems all around the globe, only in the past few years have researchers attempted to use them in developed areas such as cities and suburbs, which often contain large amounts of green space.

The researchers found that typical suburban greenery, such as trees and lawns, played significant roles with respect to CO2 uptake. For nine months out of the year, the suburban landscape was a source of CO2 to the atmosphere; but during the summer, the carbon uptake by vegetation was large enough to balance out fossil fuel emissions of carbon within the neighborhood. Compared to the natural landscape outside the city, the peak daily uptake of CO2 in the suburbs would have been at the low end uptake for a hardwood forest in the region.

The study was funded by NASA and is a “first step” toward quantifying the role of vegetation in extensive developed areas, like suburbs, which are the parts of urban areas growing most rapidly in the country. Potential uses for this type of research include urban planning –– where land use and vegetation choices are major decisions –– and policy decisions based on reducing greenhouse gases.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Photo credit: ASLA)