Sunday, 24 June 2012

Climate stuff from the week 18-24/6/12

The big stats on how the world's changed since the original Rio conference, 20 years ago:
Temperature: mean annual global temperature up 0.32 Kelvin (ten year running average though, so will be larger)
Pollution: CO2 pp increased 10% from 358 to 394 parts per million
Disasters: 4.4 billion people affected, 1.3 million killed, $2 trillion in damages
Forests: primary forest areas hacked back by 300 million hectares (an area larger than Argentina, less than India)

[video] 'Soil moisture climate data record observed from space'
Three decades of soil moisture data, observed by satellite, have now been compiled by the European Space Agency, the Vienna University of Technology and the Free University of Amsterdam.
The data video shows the drier places of the world (in red) and the wetter places (blue), and clearly picks out the droughts in the US and Brazil, and the recent flooding in Queensland.

'Report: US to get seas rising by 2030'
Californians should expect to see a 15cm rise in mean sea-levels by 2030 - actual tidal heights and wave heights will be larger than this, of course.

[video] A curiosity, in the Arctic lake of El'gygytgyn (no - i spellt that right (and that!)).
Sediment core analysis agrees with climatic fluctuations measured via other techniques, but they also show oddly-large fluctuations in the local environment, that correlate with fluctuations in Antarctic ice.
The researchers posit mechanisms by which the two could be connected, but don't forget the Ocean Dilemma - it could just be a coincidence. And if it is, what caused the fluctuations? [Cue X-files theme...]

'Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in Arctic coastal seas'
"Approximately half of the emission of carbon dioxide from human combustion of fossil fuels was absorbed by the oceans up until 1994. As the amount of carbon dioxide in the oceans rises, however, their capacity to absorb the gas falls, and it remains in the atmosphere."

'Research shows the response of the carbon cycle to climate change'
Marine researchers have found that, because ocean-borne ecosystems are more responsive to temperature increases, their respiration rates will increase faster than terrestrial ecosystems' species.
Respiration is the combustion of sugars, to produce energy, water, and carbon dioxide - the reverse process of photosynthesis.
The balance between photosynthesis and respiration determines the equilibrium point of an ecosystem's carbon store - if respiration increases faster, then there will be a net loss of carbon to the atmosphere, which will of course exacerbate the greenhouse effect.

'Water mismanagement threatens Moroccan oasis'
"From the 1970s, farmers have introduced water pumps, leading to the progressive depletion of the water table. Fields, once steadily cultivated and green, are now wasteland abandoned by the oasis dwellers."
This is a behaviour recently condoned by BBC TV News, to bypass restricted mains water access.
The trouble is this -- it's a temporary solution, which makes the problem worse, and just pushes it into the future.
Eventually, the water table will drop beyond your reach, and you'll be left high and... dry. And so will everyone else be.
"Golf courses, racecourses, people with small holdings, farmers, have always have been our biggest customers."

'climate change is causing decline of specialised plant species'
More specialised species are coming off worse, as a result of climatic change, and in this case, in Scotland.

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