Climate

Rain in Australia
July 7, 2011 04:43 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Decreasing autumn and winter rainfall over southern Australia has been attributed to a 50-year decrease in the average intensity of storms in the region – a trend which is forecast to continue for another 50 years. In an address to the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics conference in Melbourne, CSIRO climate scientist, Dr Jorgen Frederiksen, said these changes are due to reductions in the strength of the mid-latitude jet stream and changes in atmospheric temperatures. The jet stream comprises fast moving westerly winds in the upper atmosphere. A long, severe drought, the worst on record is being experienced in many parts of Australia. As of November 2006, the late-winter to mid-spring rainfalls had failed. The average rainfall in the state of South Australia was the lowest since 1900. Across Victoria and the Murray-Darling Basin the season was the second driest since 1900. New South Wales' rainfall was boosted by above normal falls along the north coast of the state, however the state average rainfall for the season is the third driest since 1900. The situation has been worsened by temperatures being the highest on record since the 1950s.

How Hot Was It Long Ago
July 7, 2011 07:48 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The question seems simple enough: What happens to the Earth’s temperature when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase? It has happened in the past. The answer is elusive. However, clues are hidden in the fossil record. A new study by researchers from Syracuse and Yale universities provides a much clearer picture of the Earth’s temperature approximately 50 million years ago when CO2 concentrations were higher than today. The results may shed light on what to expect in the future if CO2 levels keep rising. The study which for the first time compared multiple geochemical and temperature proxies to determine mean annual and seasonal temperatures, is published online in the journal Geology, the premier publication of the Geological Society of America, and will be published in print on August 1.

Did Asia air pollution reduce global warming?
July 5, 2011 06:33 AM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters, LONDON

Smoke belching from Asia's rapidly growing economies is largely responsible for a halt in global warming in the decade after 1998 because of sulphur's cooling effect, even though greenhouse gas emissions soared, a U.S. study said on Monday. The paper raised the prospect of more rapid, pent-up climate change when emerging economies eventually crack down on pollution. World temperatures did not rise from 1998 to 2008, while manmade emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel grew by nearly a third, various data show. The researchers from Boston and Harvard Universities and Finland's University of Turku said pollution, and specifically sulphur emissions, from coal-fueled growth in Asia was responsible for the cooling effect. Sulphur allows water drops or aerosols to form, creating hazy clouds which reflect sunlight back into space.

Climate change is endangering the Polar Bears, court rules
July 1, 2011 06:20 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON

A U.S. federal judge upheld the status of polar bears as a species threatened by climate change, denying challenges by a safari club, two cattlemen's organizations and the state of Alaska. The ruling on Thursday by District Judge Emmet Sullivan confirmed a 2008 decision that polar bears need protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because their icy habitat is melting away. The legal challenges -- some contending polar bears don't need this protection, others maintaining the big white bears need more -- were launched after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service included this Arctic mammal on its list of threatened species.

Average U.S. Temperature Increases by 0.5 Degrees F
June 30, 2011 08:35 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 29, 2011) — According to the 1981-2010 normals to be released by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on July 1, temperatures across the United States were on average, approximately 0.5 degree F warmer than the 1971-2000 time period.

El Nino and Southern Oscillation in 2010
June 28, 2011 03:09 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Worldwide, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record according to the 2010 State of the Climate report, which NOAA released today. The peer-reviewed report, issued in coordination with the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 368 scientists from 45 countries. It provides a detailed, yearly update on global climate indicators, notable climate events and other climate information from every continent. This year’s report tracks 41 climate indicators ― four more than last year ― including temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, precipitation, greenhouse gases, humidity, cloud cover, ocean temperature and salinity, sea ice, glaciers, and snow cover. Each indicator includes thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets that allow scientists to identify overall trends.

Economic Indicators Point Toward Growth in Renewable Energy
June 27, 2011 09:29 PM - Doug Elbinger, Environmental Issues Editor GreeningDetroit.com

While scanning the horizon in sea of mostly grim economic news, I found three gems - - - news reports or economic indicators, if you will, that point to solid and profitable growth in the renewable energy sector of the economy in the near, 3-5 year term. These indicators point toward a shift in the financing, production, consumption and distribution of alternative energy, predicated on advances in technology that will bring the productions costs down to a competitive plateau with conventional fossil fuels. I suspect the time it takes from "innovation in the laboratory" to diffuse into the commercial market place has to be reduced from years to months or less, in order for this to work. When investors like General Electric, Google, and MIT, direct research and investment on this scale - - - it just might tip the balance. 1. The cost benefit ratio of "coal fired" electricity vs "solar" will equalize or fall in favor of solar. In a recent report from Bloomberg news, Mr. Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric Co., predicts that solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels within 3-5 years. A combination of rising energy prices with lower production cost and higher efficiency will make solar cost competitive with conventional coal fired electric generation. General Electric (GE) plans to invest in "advanced" solar panel manufacturing and expects to open a plant in 2013, employing over 400 people and make enough solar panels to power 80,000 homes. If this business plan unfolds as predicted, watch for explosive growth on all fronts the Solar industry.

Biofuels in Europe for Airlines
June 27, 2011 02:24 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

European airlines, biofuel producers and the European Commission signed an agreement on June 22 to produce two million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020 even as debate rages over how green such fuels actually are. Airlines are keen to use biofuels as a way of cutting down on pollution from jet fuel but the use of food crops, such as palm oil, in their production has come under fire for taking land that could be used to grow food to feed people. A report by 10 international agencies including the World Bank and World Trade Organization earlier this month said governments should scrap policies to support biofuels, because they are forcing up global food prices. Almost anything done takes from the left pocket and pots it in the right pocket; food or fuel in this case. Biofuel is a type of fuel which is in some way derived from biomass. The term covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases. Biofuels are gaining increased public and scientific attention, driven by factors such as oil price spikes, the need for increased energy security, concern over greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and government subsidies.

Warm Ocean Under Antarctic Glacier
June 27, 2011 01:14 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Pine Island Glacier is a large ice stream flowing west-northwest along the south side of the Hudson Mountains into Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. It was mapped by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from surveys and United States Navy air photos, 1960–66, and named in association with Pine Island Bay. The area drained by Pine Island Glacier comprises about 10% of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Satellite measurements have shown that the Pine Island Glacier Basin has a greater net contribution of ice to the sea than any other ice drainage basin in the world and this has increased due to recent acceleration of the ice stream. An international team of scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and British Antarctic Survey has discovered that due to an increased volume of warm water reaching the cavity beneath Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, it’s melting 50 percent faster than it was 15 years earlier. The glacier is currently sliding into the sea at a rate of 2.5 miles a year, while its ice shelf (the part that floats on the ocean) is melting at about 80 cubic kilometres a year.

The Weather
June 22, 2011 12:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

We all complain about the weather. It is a great topic of conversation. Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather is part of what life is about. However, everything has its price. New research indicates that routine weather events such as rain and cooler-than-average days can add up to an annual economic impact of as much as $485 billion in the United States based on 2011 data. Rain, snow, and hot or cold temperatures can all have economic impacts. The study, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), found that finance, manufacturing, agriculture, and every other sector of the economy is sensitive to changes in the weather. The impacts can be felt in every state.

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