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Tag: Climate

Global Warming Trend

Global Warming deniers should look at this plot depicting warming trends measured by four different institutes. Different agencies, independent measurements but the result remains the same– our earth is warming. 2010 has been declared to be the hottest year on record tied with 2005 by NASA GISS and NOAA. Japanese Meteorological Agency’s preliminary data shows that 2010 is the second hottest year. Absolute surface temperature is difficult to calculate, instead relative temperature is measured which is here referred to as temperature anomaly. Average temperature of a particular location is compared with average long term temperature (base temp) and the difference is termed as temperature anomaly. Different agencies use different base temperature, e.g. NASA GISS uses average temperature from 1951-1980 as the base temperature while Japanese Agency uses 1971-2000 as the base temperature. This may lead to some differences in the measurement by different agencies. Also, the way data is processed can lead to some differences in the temperature reported. This sometimes canlead to confusion in public as why the temperatures reported by different agencies are different and can give an impression that the temperatures reported are not accurate. If you look at the plot closely, you can see slight differences in the values, but the overall trend remains the same. Global temperatures are meaningful only when observed over a span of time rather than just for an year or two and you can clearly see the trend– the earth is warming.

Image and info credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Robert Simmon

1 Comment January 13, 2011

How Hot Was Summer 2010?

Summer of 2010 has experienced some extremely severe temperatures and drought like conditions especially in Eastern Europe, Russia and in some parts of Eastern USA. So how hot was summer of 2010? Was it the hottest summer globally or hot summers of Russia were more of local anomalies? NASA GISS has come up with analysis of measured temperature during Jun-Aug 2010 and can be seen in the above plot. The plot shows temperature anomalies as compared to base average temperature during 1951-1980. From the plot, its clearly seen that two region in the globe experienced severe hot summers namely Eurasia region and Antarctic Peninsula. So how were these temperature anomalies as compared to last year, lets have a look:

As can be seen from the 2009 temperatures, severe temperature anomalies like summers of Russia were not there in 2009. But what does that mean in terms of Global temperature trend, which was hotter: summer of 2009 or 2010?

Globally, 2010 was the 4th warmest summer in GISS’s 131-year-temperature record. The summer of 2009 was the 2nd warmest. The slightly cooler 2010 temperatures were primarily the result of a moderate La Niña replacing a moderate El Niño in the Pacific Ocean. Note in 2010 that much of the eastern Pacific, the west coasts of North and South America, and much of Antarctica were cooler than the long-term mean. Temperatures were extremely warm in western Russia and the Antarctic Peninsula. The unusually warm summer temperatures in the U.S. and Eurasia created the impression of global warming run amuck; last winter’s unusually cool temperatures created the opposite impression. But extrapolating global trends based on one or two regions can be misleading.

“Unfortunately, it is common for the public to take their most recent local temperature anomaly as indicative of long-term climate trends, ” James Hansen from NASA GISS noted. “People need to understand that the temperature anomaly in one place in one season has limited relevance to global trends. ” [NASA ESO]

So what it implies is that summer of 2010 was hot but it’s severity was dependent on where you lived. It also means that local temperature anomaly has limited relevance to global temperature trends. But that doesn’t  imply that extreme local temperature absurdities have nothing to do with global temperature trends but before jumping to any conclusions one has to look into long term statistics and trends. If we take a look at average data of past 10 years or so, we might see ups and downs in temperatures but in a long run there is a clear trend of temperature rise.

Data and Analysis credit: NASA ESO | GISS

Leave a Comment September 30, 2010

Climate Change Debate Visualized

David McCandless from Information is Beautiful has again come up with an awesome visualization, this time about climate change debate: believers vs deniers. It’s very informative sans any technical jargon which will be beneficial to people without much knowledge about climate science. You can click on the image to see the image in full size, which will make reading much easier.

Leave a Comment September 30, 2010

Earth Is Warming: Past Decade The Hottest

Well, the title says it all and it’s no news- Earth is warming. This past decade our earth has been the warmest and the temperature has been undoubtedly rising- says new report on climate published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today. 37 indicators of global warming were studied while detailed focus was on 10 key indicators of global warming namely- land surface air temperature, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, tropospheric temperature, ocean heat content, specific humidity, snow cover, sea-ice extent, and glacier mass. Of these 10 indicators, first seven of them are expected to increase in a warming world while rest of them (snow- cover, sea-ice extent and glacier mass) are expected to decrease. And all these indicators are following the trend of warming world confirming that Global Warming is real.

“For the first time, and in a single compelling comparison, the analysis brings together multiple observational records from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The records come from many institutions worldwide. They use data collected from diverse sources, including satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, buoys and field surveys. These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: our planet is warming,” [NOAA]

It’s important to note that climate phenomena has to be studied for long period of time to get some real sense of data. Periodic heating and cooling happens due to various phenomena such as Solar maximum/minimum, ElNino, La Nina etc, but looking at the data for many years and looking at average temperature anomalies (averaged over a decade) compared to a baseline average temperature can give clear picture of changing temperature pattern of the earth. In past 50 years global temperature has increased by 1 degree F and this figure shows the temperature rise pattern.

So where is the heat sink? Measurements show that more than 90% of heat is going to the oceans which partly explains rising sea-level due to expanding Ocean body. Warming of Ocean can have other serious implications. One such report is published in this week’s Nature  where scientists have shown that warm Oceans can be one of the major reason for depletion of phytoplankton, the microscopic organism which accounts for half of the photosynthetic activity on earth and releases 50% of the global Oxygen. As Ocean warms up surface water stays atop and prevents colder nutrient rich water to come up, thereby hindering phytoplankton’s photosynthesis process. Depletion of phytoplanktons implies decrease in number of fish and other species and then you can just imagine the disruption in food chain moving up.

It’s time to rise above petty politics and take some concrete steps in controlling Global Warming. The issue is bigger than any political ideology, any culture any nationality and the world has to reach to a consensus as soon as possible to tackle it. You can read the full report “State of Climate in 2009” and other supplementary documents here.

Picture credit: Flickr user johhlegear | Used under Creative Commons License

Global Warming plots credit: NOAA/ Arndt, D. S., M. O. Baringer, and M. R. Johnson, Eds., 2010: State of the Climate in 2009. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 91 (6), S1-S224.

Leave a Comment July 29, 2010

US Energy System

The above interactive illustration of US energy system has been created by Lawrence Livermore National Lab in 2009. Click on the image to see the interactive graphics in action. It’s interesting to see that more than 50% of energy supplied goes to waste, much of which is limited by the thermodynamics  of energy conversion processes, but that doesn’t imply that there is no scope in improving the efficiency. Measurements are in Btu units. 1 Quad = 1 million billion.

( I did not have much time today to write a full post and that explains such a short post. More detailed posts in coming days)

Leave a Comment July 27, 2010

The Deep Blue: World Ocean Day

World Ocean day was celebrated yesterday, June 8th. The importance of protecting our Oceans and it’s ecosystem can not be emphasized more in the wake of BP oil spill disaster. But it’s not like we have not been polluting our Oceans before this spill. We keep doing that on a regular basis– industrial waters, overfishing, excessive usage of plastic bags ending up in ocean currents , Ocean acidification due to excessive anthropogenic CO2 and list goes on. It is likely that roughly one billion gallons of oil enters our oceans each year as a result of man’s activities. Only 8% of this input is believed to derive from natural sources. At least 22% is intentionally released as a function of normal tanker “operational discharges,” 12% enters from accidental tanker spills and another 36% from runoff and municipal and industrial wastes. [American Zoologist , 1993]. I keep hearing politicians and people talking about that our Oceans are resilient and it can tolerate any kind of garbage we put in. No it is not. It can do to a limit (depending on the type of waste we are putting in, amount of waste, and time available to the marine organisms to bounce back) and I think we have already  crossed that limit.

The Ocean ecosystem is very fragile due to all the mess we have put in there and I would prefer to see beautiful marine life rather see images of dark crude oil gushing out incessantly. I have stopped updating about BP spill because its beyond my comprehension now seeing the response of BP, politicians, News channels. It’s not the time to get political mileage out of the disaster. When BP should be concentrating on the spill and cleaning beaches, paying out affected locals, it’s busy in PR campaign to clean it’s image. Search for BP spill on Google and you will find first sponsored link from BP.. then Tony Hayward, CEO BP, talking about how he and BP will make things right in a new BP commercial with beaches shown in the background… Action is the best PR not mere words, telling lies and getting exposed is worst PR.. Brown pelicans drenched in crude oil exposes all the lies of the amount of spill.. Is it 5,000 gallons per day, 10,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 or more, no one knows. Is it that hard to estimate the amount of spill knowing the dimensions of pipe, flow rates, temperature, viscosity etc?

Coming to politicians- one day they are bashing president for not acting tough, not showing anger and taking actions, the next day they want president to remove temporary offshore drilling ban asap. Wait a minute, you want drilling to continue even after seeing this disaster!! Why? Because banning offshore drilling will take away jobs of people who work on these rigs. What about fishermen, people employed in tourism industry- what will happen to their jobs if another such disaster happens- forget about brown pelicans which is also state bird of Louisiana and recently removed from endangered list? Jobs will come and go, newer markets will emerge, but if the ecosystem we live in is destroyed it’s irreparable. But looks like even if we are told that world will be destroyed tomorrow, we will be busy fulfilling our own interests to the last minute– BP will be doing PR and optimizing profits, politicians will be blaming each other to gain political mileage out of it, and rest of us will be saying ” I am too busy right now, maybe tomorrow I will jump into action, not today”.

Anyways, We need a collective action and that too everyday. There are certain things which we all can do and some of them have been compiled here by Smithsonian Ocean Portal .

  1. Ditch disposable lifestyle- bring your own reusable bags, containers coffee mugs etc.
  2. Check your car’s tire pressure regularly. Underinflated tires waste about 1.2 billion gallons of gas in US. This can save you some cash as well reduce usage of gas and thereby reduce some carbon emission– less ocean acidification.
  3. Unplug your electrical appliances- The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that this “phantom” energy use accounts for 75% of the power consumed by electronics in the average home.
  4. Choose wisely while eating seafood– some studies estimate that up to 90 percent of large predatory fish (those that eat other animals—and usually end up on our dinner plates) have disappeared since humans began heavy fishing. Look for sustainable seafood guide.
  5. Choose souvenirs carefully– steer clear of souvenirs, jewelry, and home furnishings that use real coral or other marine animal products. Deepwater pink and red corals in particular have been prized for their beauty in jewelry making, but they belong in the sea, not in our homes.
  6. Water system is all connected, reduce wastage of water. Finally, reduce dependence on fossil fuels whichever way possible.

Photo credit: Flickr, used under Creative Commons License.

Leave a Comment June 9, 2010

Clash of Reform Bills: Climate Change vs Immigration

Looks like the Senate Climate change bill, which was supposed to be introduced today is heading to dooms-ville, at least for now. The bill which was being authored by senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Lieberman, was a result of collaborative efforts between politicians, environmentalists, industry partners and oil companies.The bill, if introduced in the Senate had some chance of passing to the next level due to tri-partisan efforts by the authors of the bill. Senator Lindsey Graham was the lone supporter from Republicans but he was getting the heat from his fellow party members and ultimately he caved in this weekend and decided to pull off the support. The blame also lies on Democrats part as they started pushing for immigration reforms motivated by political gains (as they are eyeing on upcoming elections in Nevada). Immigration reforms are needed but timing of pushing the bill,I guess, was not right. Senator Lindsey Graham was opposed to this immediate pushing of Immigration reforms and ultimately pulled out of the Cimate Change Bill and the introduction of the proposed bill has now been postponed sine die. So here goes in vain all bi or tri-partisan efforts; partisan politics trumps climate reforms. Both the issues, immigration and climate change reforms, are important and it’s sad that one issue is leading to demise of the other. For climate change, background work has been done by bringing various stakeholders together and chances of getting it to next level were good this year but for immigration reforms the background work has not even started as of now. Still hoping the bill to be introduced this year. It’s ironic that just few days after the celebration of 40th anniversary of Earth Day, much awaited climate change bill seems to be hitting the dead end even before the discussion started.

Talking about immigration reforms, what prompted Democrats to focus on immigration with such an emergency? The reason lies in the controversial immigration law passed by Arizona last week which requires all immigrants to carry immigration documents with them, failure to show the document can end them up in jail. According to NYtimes:

The bill requires police officers, “when practicable,” to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment.It also makes it a state crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced.

The bill has caused furor all over Arizona including other parts of the country forcing Democrats to focus on immigration reform as Senate majority leader Harry Reid is facing re-election this year and immigration issue is more politically saleable for election purposes than climate reforms. This ultimately led Lindsey Graham to walk off the climate bill. Way to go Politicians!! Here is a nice article by Paul Krugman about how both the parties look at the immigration issue differently. According to him:

Democrats are torn individually (a state I share). On one side, they favor helping those in need, which inclines them to look sympathetically on immigrants; plus they’re relatively open to a multicultural, multiracial society…On the other side, however, open immigration can’t coexist with a strong social safety net; if you’re going to assure health care and a decent income to everyone, you can’t make that offer global.

So Democrats have mixed feelings about immigration; in fact, it’s an agonizing issue.

Republicans, on the other hand, either love immigration or hate it. The business-friendly wing of the party likes inexpensive workers (and would really enjoy a huge guest-worker program that would both provide such workers and ensure that they can neither vote nor, in practice, unionize). But the cultural/nativist/tribal conservatives hate having these alien-looking, alien-sounding people on American soil.

So immigration is an issue that divides Republicans one from another, not within each individual’s heart.

Photo credit: Toonpool.com by Barbeefish

Leave a Comment April 27, 2010

Meet The Green Nobel Prize Winners

“It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act” said Dalai Lama and there are few ordinary people who follow this maxim and take actions on issues they feel passionate about. Goldman Environmental prize or alternatively called “Green Nobel Prize” recognizes efforts of such grass root level activist who follow their passion to save the environment. These are ordinary peoples who do extraordinary works and their efforts need to be applauded and supported by all of us and April 22nd being the Earth Day, this is the perfect time to salute these real life heroes. Goldman prizes were first given in 1990 and previous recipients include Medha Patkar from India and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai from Kenya.  Each year Goldman prize is given to six environmentalist from six different geographical areas. This year the award was given on April 19th to following grass-root level environmentalist:

Tuy Sereivathana: He is affectionately called “Uncle Elephant” back in Cambodia where he is a peacemaker between the wild elephants and poor villagers who were forced to kill the wild elephants who destroyed their farms in order to save their crops. The elephant population has been dwindling (currently 400 in Cambodia) and to rescue came Tuy Sereivathana who taught villagers how to save their farms from elephants without killing them and thus conserving the endangered species.

Humberto Rios Labrada: He is a singing scientist and also called “seed man” of Cuba who promotes seed diversity in farming along with low-input farming methods so that to reduce extensive use of chemicals and thereby making food chemical free and agriculture more sustainable.

Lynn Henning: She tracks pollution from large farms, known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). She exposed the egregious polluting practices of livestock factory farms in rural Michigan, gaining the attention of the federal EPA and prompting state regulators to issue hundreds of citations for water quality violations.

Malgorzata Gorska: She continued her struggle for eight years and ultimately was successful in changing the route of highway project Via Baltica between Warsaw and Helsinki in Poland which otherwise would have resulted in large scale destruction of natural landscape and ecosystem in the area which is one of the last wilderness areas left in Europe.

Thuli Brilliance Makama: After a grueling three-year legal battle, Swaziland’s only public interest environmental attorney, Thuli Brilliance Makama, won a landmark case to include environmental NGO representation in the Swaziland Environment Authority, reinforcing the right to public participation in environmental decision making.

Randall Arauz: Drawing international attention to the inhumane and environmentally catastrophic shark finning industry, Randall Arauz led the campaign to halt the practice in Costa Rica, making his country the international model for shark protection.

You can  watch this playlist showcasing their stories and work:

Source: Goldman Environmental Prize

Randall Arauz

Leave a Comment April 20, 2010

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