Daily Archives: April 7, 2018

World Health Day brings attention to superbugs becoming resistant to drugs

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‘Deadliest Catch’ Star: Climate Change Is Very Real

Bloomberg
Published on Apr 22, 2014

April 22 (Bloomberg) — “Deadliest Catch” Star Capt. Keith Colburn discusses king crab fishing, climate change and the dangers at sea. He speaks with Matt Miller on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

This new Antarctic Discovery will affect You massively-


Climate State
Published on Apr 6, 2018

Past studies of Antarctica’s accelerated glacier retreat focused on regional trends, a new study now finds continental trends of over ten percent of marine terminating glaciers moving inland. Current peak retreat has been documented to be in the ballpark of 25 meters each single year, with some even in the three digits. Read Chris Mooney’s Washington Post article study summary goo.gl/HuxtxL Press release University of Leeds, Antarctica is retreating across the sea floor http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/4…

Permafrost thaw might be even more potent than we thought

Climate State
Published on Mar 16, 2018

The trend from frozen tundra soils shifting to thermokarst erosion and thaw ponds, may in the future be exacerbated by increased rainfall and weather events. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10…
and http://www.inrs.ca/english/actualites… Correction: at ca. 9:36, it should read, the dark water surfaces of thaw ponds, rich in organic matter, absorb much more sunlight -hence decreases the landscape albedo. NASA map of soil degradation https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOT…
Photo, Tundra Fire, Kaminak Lake Area http://www.prairie.illinois.edu/shilt…
Horn Lake thermokarst https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKsZ…
Icicle melting by Jeffrey Beach (Beachfront Productions) https://archive.org/details/IcicleMel…
Permafrost warming Svalbard graphic https://twitter.com/Ketil_Isaksen/sta…

Further reading :
As the climate warms, the carbon balance of arctic ecosystems will respond in two opposing ways: Plants will grow faster, leading to a carbon sink, while thawing permafrost will lead to decomposition and loss of soil carbon. https://www.amap.no/documents/doc/sno…
The results presented here—that large C losses are possible from the permafrost region, whose magnitude is strongly governed by the dynamics of deeper decomposition, and that large losses are unlikely to be compensated by N fertilization accompanying decomposition—underscore the importance of considering permafrost carbon dynamics in ESMs. Permafrost soils may produce a strong, albeit delayed, C response to global change, and must therefore be included in assessments of long-term C cycle feedbacks to climate change. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/12/3752

Methanotroph https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methano…
Heterotroph https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterot…
Alaska Permafrost https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2…

As Ice Sheets Melt Faster, Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating Every Year


Climate Change News
Published on Apr 7, 2018
As Ice Sheets Melt Faster, Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating Every Year.
The melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is speeding up the pace of sea level rise a little bit every year, according to a new analysis of satellite data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If the current pace continues, the study estimates, seas could rise more than 2 feet by 2100.

But the authors note that sea levels could increase at a much more rapid rate if, as expected, the melting of polar ice sheets intensifies this century.

Global sea levels have risen 2.8 inches since the early 1990s. Over the long term, much of this rise has been driven by the expansion of water as it warms and from meltwater running off ice sheets and glaciers into the oceans. Scientists had previously estimated that global sea levels were increasing at a steady 3 millimeters (0.1 inches) per year. But the new analysis found that the annual rate has accelerated over the last 25 years — increasing at about 0.8 mm per year above the 3 millimeter baseline. This rise is due mainly to the increasing melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The latest paper relied not only on coastal tide gauge data, but also on a longer series of satellite records that now allow scientists to study changes in the open ocean as well.

The new data means the annual rate of sea level rise could be at least 10 mm per year by 2100, resulting in seas being 65 centimeters (26 inches) higher than they are today by the end of the century — double the amount if the rate had stayed constant at 3 mm.

Steve Nerem, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder and lead author of the new study, called the findings “almost certainly a conservative estimate.” Other recent studies have projected sea level increases of 3 to 6 feet by 2100.

“Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years,” he said in a statement. “Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that’s not likely.”

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Climate change information disappears from federal websites in ‘pervasive, systematic’ scrubbing | WGBH News

A screenshot of epa.gov/climatechange from Jan. 10, 2018.

January 10, 2018

Carolyn Beeler

A year ago, President Donald Trump was getting ready to take office and scientists and hackers around the world were backing up US environmental data before he did.

Canadian researcher Michelle Murphy summed up the fears of many environmental scientists who relied on that data for their work.

“We’re worried that the incoming administration is going to remove data sets that are available now, and once they’re offline, we don’t know what’s going to happen to them,” Murphy told The World last year.

Twelve months into the Trump administration, these fears have gone unrealized.

“No data has been removed, which was one of our significant concerns going into the Trump administration,” said Gretchen Gehrke from the watchdog group the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), which sprung up out of the data-back-up movement in 2016. “We haven’t seen either the raw data or even the synthesized reporting of that data blocked from public access.”

The story is different for climate change information aimed at the general public.

In a report released Thursday, EDGI documents major changes to climate change information across several government agency websites, from documents and webpages being removed to references to “climate change” being scrubbed from sites.

“There is a fairly pervasive, systematic alteration of climate change information and kind of a rhetorical shift across several agencies,” Gehrke said.

Hundreds of pages of climate change information have been removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Documents related to international climate agreements have been deleted from the State Department’s site.

“There are really large overhauls that have occurred,” Gehrke said.

The EPA’s climate change domain, she notes, has been down since April.

Elsewhere on the environment agency’s website, more than 200 pages of climate information for state, local and tribal governments have been deleted. Arctic researcher Victoria Herrmann said those resources and toolkits were designed to help local leaders plan for and adapt to climate change.

“Those are really important to smaller communities, like the many remote tribal communities in Alaska,” said Herrmann, who researches climate change in Alaskan communities and serves as managing director for The Arctic Institute.

An EPA spokesperson pointed out that the Obama-era website is archived online and linked to at the top of every agency page, so this information is still available.

“As we continue to make interagency reforms,” the EPA spokesperson wrote in a statement, “affiliated departmental websites will change as well.”

But the archived pages are harder to find, and Herrmann points out that in many remote areas, internet access often comes in the form of a slow dial-up connection at a community center or school.

“In those situations, spending time going through archived sites, Googling specifically what you want if you don’t know what the title is, means that you’re wasting valuable time, money and energy on something that was once very easily accessible,” Herrmann said.

Many federal webpages are being tweaked rather than taken down entirely. Words like “climate” and “climate change” are in some places being replaced by “resilience” and “sustainability.”

At the EPA, the report finds that a program formerly called “Climate Ready Water Utilities” was renamed “Creating Resilient Water Utilities.” Last December, the Department of Transportation changed the title of the Sustainable Transport and Climate Change group to the Sustainable Transport and Resilience group.

A Federal Highway Administration spokesperson told the

Washington Post last year that the change was made “to more accurately reflect our agency’s emphasis on resilience activities.”

The word “resilience” has become a catch-all term that’s less politically charged than “climate change.” Swapping out the terms may seem like semantics, but to experts, the wording change signals possible policy shifts.

Harvard’s Jesse Keenan, who studied federal resilience policy during the Obama era, says “in many cases, [wording] really does matter.”

Resilience can be used to describe preparedness for all kinds of threats, not just those related to climate change, and changing the name of a program could change its focus.

“It’s really about interpretation. It’s not just the people in Washington, it’s the people in the regional offices, and ultimately in some cases it’s courts that have to interpret the intent of these programs,” Keenan said, “so actually, the nomenclature is actually really important.”

Every administration has a right to change its public face, and in recent changes of administration that’s meant changes to White House and federal agency sites.

So these website changes are not all that surprising given the Trump administration’s policies.

As the error message at the now-defunct EPA climate change website says it’s being updated “to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.”

Why So Many Nor’easters In March? New Research Suggests Climate Change May Be A Factor | WGBH News

Snow falls onto Porter Square in Cambridge during a nor’easter on March 13, 2018. Credit: Amanda Beland/WGBH News

March 20, 2018 – Joe Mathieu Heather Goldstone

Joe Mathieu: You’re listening to WGBH’s Morning Edition. This winter started off bitterly cold, then turned mild for a month or so, and then March hit. Three major storms already and more snow in the forecast today into tomorrow. Ironically, new research suggests climate change could be a big part of the equation. WGBH Radio science correspondent Heather Goldstone joins us now with more. Good morning, Heather.

Heather Goldstone: Good morning.

JM: This is something, because a lot of people like to say ‘So much for global warming, look how cold it is in March!’

HG: Happy Spring.

JM: You too, by the way.

HG: Well, I mean, the thing is we have to realize that it’s not like March storms are something new. A few years ago, I actually, with the help of some of the meteorologists over it Weather Underground, put together a list of historic march snow storms going all the way back to the great snow of 1717, which was actually four storms in about a week and a half that dumped at least five feet of snow. So if we think we’ve had a bad March, that one really started off like a lion.

JM: Wow.

HG: And then people may remember the April Fool’s Day blizzard of 1997, about three feet of snow on April 1st. You know, so definitely these are not the first March storms ever, but this year storms, perhaps record-setting, specifically for the coastal flooding that we’ve been seeing and also the extent of the power outages that have hit us.

JM: I guess it speaks to why climate change is a more appropriate term to use than global warming. How does that tie in, Heather?

HG: Right. So this is an interesting one that the science really started emerging — and this idea that the Arctic, in particular, could be influencing our winter weather — started emerging several years ago, and it’s been a little controversial because it’s been hard to nail down exactly how warming in the Arctic would influence our winters. But the basic idea is that it’s the temperature difference — the cold in the Arctic and the warmer temperatures farther south — that really fuel things like the jet stream and the prevailing winds that determine our weather, and the Arctic is warming at least twice, maybe as much as four times faster than the global average.

And so, as it’s getting warmer, that temperature difference can actually break down and that starts to affect the jet stream. We’ve heard these terms like polar vortex in recent years, and then there was this new study which ironically was published last week as the storm was hitting on Tuesday, which kind of added to this and said, OK, there’s another piece to this, which is that if that warming is strong enough it can reach all the way up high up into the atmosphere well above where planes fly up into the stratosphere, and the stratosphere can kind of act like a memory mechanism, hold onto that energy, radiate it back down to the jet stream later, and actually, the connection is strongest in the late winter, kind of like we’re seeing right now.

JM: So is that — that is, in fact, then, what’s been going on this month, this March.

HG: Well, you know, we don’t have any formal attribution. Nobody’s gone, as we can at this point, with computer models and said, you know, these storms are are 20 percent more likely with climate change, or that sort of thing. But this is certainly what the senior author of that study, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, who’s really pioneered this work, this is exactly what she says you would expect.

(SOUND CLIP OF JENNIFER FRANCIS)

Jennifer Francis: Mother Nature seems to really agree with us and has been giving us quite a few examples this winter. And this past nor’easter that we just had a couple days ago was the fifth what we’d call a bomb cyclone that we’ve had this year. It’s really been an incredible winter.

HG: And to add to how incredible it’s been, if you go up to the Arctic, the opposite of what we’ve been seeing, there have been temperatures above freezing at the North Pole; open water in the Arctic north of Greenland, where there would normally be thick sea ice. So we are seeing that pattern of a very warm Arctic can lead to a cold, snowy pattern here in New England.

JM: We’re talking with WGBH science correspondent Heather Goldstone. Sounds like our weather patterns, then, are truly upside down.

HG: Yeah, I mean, that’s basically — there are certain metrics of, you know, this difference in temperature that have, in past years, literally flipped where we may even be warmer than the Arctic in some cases. And then in other cases, as I said, it’s just that the temperature difference isn’t as much and we get these dips in the Gulf Stream, we get kind of that cold arctic air spilling down as it did in Europe a few weeks ago, and as we’ve been experiencing here for for the month of March.

JM: And here we are with our fourth nor’easter. Heather Goldstone is our science correspondent and host of Living Lab Radio, which airs Sundays at noon here on WGBH. Major support provided by the Kendeda fund, investing in transformative leaders and ideas. Heather, thanks. Good luck with the storm.

HG: Yeah, you too.