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Tag: Global Warming

Picture of The Day: Cliff Climibing Polar Bear

This is an award winning picture by photographer Jenny E. Ross where a polar bear can be seen carefully climbing the cliff above the ocean to feed on seabird eggs. Typically polar bears feed on sea seals but due to climate change and subsequent melting and receding of the polar ice it has been unable to find it’s natural food. This is a desperate attempt by the bear for it’s survival. The picture won the world press photo award in Nature category.

Image credit: Boston.com/Bigpicture | Jenny E. Ross

Leave a Comment February 18, 2012

What Are You Planning To Do On March 26th, 8:30 PM?


It’s Earth Hour on March 26th, 8:30 PM, your local time. Individuals and businesses all over the globe switch off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour and organize events in order to raise awareness about taking positive action to address the issue of climate change. The event which was started in 2007 in Sydney has now spread all over the globe. This year’s theme is to go beyond an hour, take an extra step than just switching off the lights for an hour, to do something more than what you regularly do. So how are you planning to go beyond an hour? I am planning to eat more of locally grown produce, reduce my use of air conditioning, and maybe volunteer in local schools and organize events about 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Leave a Comment March 22, 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

Devastating Floods In Pakistan

The flood situation in Pakistan is getting bad to worse day by day and the image above shows what is left behind in most parts of north-western Pakistan, broken homes, lost lives, livelihood, spread of diseases, lack of basic amenities and total chaos. It’s one of the worst flood disaster that has happened in recent times, caused due to incessant month long monsoon rains. Currently 1/5th of Pakistan is under floods and it can get even worse in coming days.Blame it on Global warming or anything else, but the event is bizarre and has costed lives of so many people. While this single isolated event can’t be taken as proof of Global warming, but if you take into accounts all the climate extremities we have been observing in recent time, freezing cold winters, extreme hot and prolonged summers, prolonged rains such as these and earlier in other parts of India– it all points towards global warming as one of its cause. Indian Ocean has warmed up by 2 degree F since 1970. Warm oceans means more evaporation of water, it also heats up the air making it capable of holding more moisture: results- air can contain more moisture which then move into land where they trigger storms and bizarre rainfall patterns.

These images above shows the situation in Pakistan before and after the floods. The picture above was taken in 2009, while picture below was taken by satellite on Aug 19, 2010. Swollen Indus river can be clearly seen and the water is heading towards Kotri barrage before it flows into the sea. Barrage is still holding the water, but the level is rising and if it does overflow,  it will wreak havoc in the city of Hyderabad with a population of more than 1.5 million people.

Picture credit: Boston.com/Bigpicture/AP photo

Satellite Image and info : NASA/ESO

Leave a Comment August 24, 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

Mile Long Tube Sucking Oil From Leaking Well

Finally, some success in controlling the oil leak; BP engineers were able to hook up a mile long pipe in the leaking oil well and are able to suck some of the oil and thus preventing it to go into the ocean. But maybe, it’s too little and too late. Nevertheless, it’s a positive move so lets keep our fingers crossed. Govt and BP estimates give the rate of oil leak as close to 5000 barrels per day which some scientists and analysts believe to be on overtly-conservative side. After BP released the underwater video of the leak, scientists did some analysis on the flow rate and estimated the amount of oil gushing out of the well. Some estimates were done by using computational methods while some were just done as back of the envelope calculations and all these calculations show that the rate of oil leak is 5-15 times more than the current estimates provided by BP. That means, we are very close to surpass the largest oil leak in US history, Exxon Valdez, if not already exceeded that amount.

Scientists have also found huge plumes of oil under the Ocean surface, as large as 10 miles long and 3 miles wide!! Already at some places the oxygen level has dropped by 30% and this will continue to decrease until the oil leak stops causing severe damage to the whole Ocean ecological system of the area. One of the reasons why we might not be able to see all the oil on the surface is due to the use of dispersant which BP has been using excessively. There are various theories for dispersant as well, some say that by using dispersant, the oil layer is broken down to small droplets which is not able to rise to the surface, so much of the oil remains below the surface, unseen. Also, the dispersant which are being used have not been studied for being used at such deep levels below the sea, so no one knows how much damage these dispersant might be causing. Meanwhile BP has said NO to any kind of interference by the scientists to study or estimate the gulf oil spill as it will divert their attention to control the leak. I just hope they know what they are doing, because all the steps they have taken untill now seem to me like a last minute thought and doesn’t seem to be technologically advanced in anyway. I guess, they spent most of their technological advancements in drilling the oil and no thoughts on how to control any kind of disaster that might occur during the process. Here is a hilarious take on BP efforts in controlling the leak by Jon Stewart. Also you can see some of the recent pictures from the Gulf, embedded after the video.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
There Will Be Blame
www.thedailyshow.com

Photo Credit: Boston.com

Leave a Comment May 17, 2010

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