Newsletter 9 – Global warming figures and predictions

Newsletter 9.
5th
August
2012

A Tranquility House Newsletter

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The very latest climate news

Almost never a week goes by without some news on climate that is significant at least to me, but I would rather develop the work for you through the Climate Book Series than pepper you with information as it arrives.  I am however going to make an exception for a few items that have hit us over the last few weeks.

  1. We have some smack up to date Landsat images of Greenland that surprised the monitoring scientists whose immediate assumption when they came in was that there was a satellite glitch.  Two more satellites took the images and to everybody’s surprise they corroborated Landsat.
    While Greenland is a very cold continent with nearly all of it north of the Arctic Circle, in late summer there is sufficient warmth to melt part of the surface – but only a part of it.  Till a month ago and since surface images have been available, the record surface melt area was 55%.
    On July 8th – see the left image below – 51% of the surface was water or wet ice which suggested the 55% record would be broken this year, but the right image, taken 4 days later on July 12th was what shocked.  This shows an incredible 97% surface melt.
    greenland surface melt 8th and 12th July 2012
  2. Still in Greenland, there has been another major glacial break.  It happened on Monday July 16th involving the Petermann glacier – again – and the image is below.  I say “again”, as my White Paper called ‘What is happening to the Ice?’ (found under 'Climate Change') showed the last huge break which occurred only 2 years ago on 5th August 2010.  At that time it was the biggest Greenland break since 1962.  From my analysis it would seem this glacier is now retreating at around 2½ kms/year.  The break is the U shaped curve just above the word ‘Petermann’ in the left image.
    petermann glacier break 16th July 2012
    Above – early on 16th

    Right – later on 16th

    petermann glacier calving 16 July 2012

    This glacier is in the extreme north almost at the northern end of the Nares Straight and therefore nearly discharging into the Arctic Ocean. This is about as far north as discharging glaciers get, but at this latitude in the Antarctic we would be at the landward end of the Ronne Ice Shelf which is crucial in the south.

  3. You may recall the ‘scandal’ of the hacked e-mails from the UEA (University of East Anglia) who’s Tyndall Centre (CRU on the chart below) is a global centre of excellence for climate modelling.  The sceptics who acquired the mails argued the scientists there were manipulating the data to show the climate is changing with man responsible.  An Independent group of 12 academics including this year’s physics Nobel Peace Prize winner was assembled and called ‘The Berkeley Earth Project’ to analyse all available data.  The intention was to show the climate is not changing (at least due to man’s activities).  The group was funded by major organisations that wish the sceptical view to prevail.
    Last year, so this part isn’t recent news, they reported with their comparative plot of global temperature since 1800 which is shown here:
    Berkeley Earth Project land temperature chart

    The Berkeley plot is the dark one, and you will see that far from finding the previous data in the IPCC reports to be overstated – it was understated.

    The temperature difference across the period between the HadCRU (Had is the Hadley Centre which is actually the MET office, and CRU stands for Climate Research Unit) plot and theirs is significant as the Berkeley plot starts lower and ends higher. They therefore concluded there has been a bigger temperature rise since 1800 than previously assumed.

    My analysis of it is that while the previous figure for the rise since 1800 had been given as 0.8°, their figure was around 0.96°.  You may wonder what such a small difference is between friends, but as it is generally accepted a 2.0° rise moves the climate outside the control of humanity – it really matters.

    But late last week they reported again, now saying they find the temperature rise since 1750 is already 1.5° and the rise just in the last 50 years is 0.9°.  This doesn’t surprise me as many of you will understand, but the implications of this are huge and that word cannot be overstated.  Unquestionably there is a great deal of temperature rise still to come from the atmosphere we already have, let alone the atmosphere we are moving towards, and the forcing value of that will far exceed the 0.5° we have left.  Through the Book Series we will evaluate that latent rise, but even the Berkeley report suggests we are about to lose control of climate if we have not done so yet.

    But they have reached another conclusion:  There is no other way to explain the temperature rise other than it is down to us.  The cause is our emissions of GHG.  Only one member of the Berkeley Group dissented from that view.

  4. Difficult to pick those items to write about here and now, but something else is going on that merits inclusion.
    At this moment right across the US the weather is behaving in what is historically an extreme way.  High temperature records are frequently being set, and there is a very widespread and prolonged drought right across the country.  Over 75% of all their agricultural land is under severe stress which is causing crop failures in all sorts of crops.
    The wheat, corn (maize to us) and soya crops have been badly impacted with around a 25% drop in yield, which has already caused a global increase in the price of those products of at least 25% and rising.  In northern Mexico around Chihuahua they grow grain, but the normal 100,000 ton harvest has been reduced to 500 tons.  Towns in Texas are being left to die, and the cotton crop is awful.  California is also seriously affected which will impact the US fruit and vegetable supply.
    Just in case you assume it is only the US affected – it isn’t – but crops are being both stressed or killed through drought or washed away or killed through flooding around the world.
    Increases in the price of the grains don’t hit consumers immediately as there is about a 6 to 8 month delay, but when that comes through expect further food riots across the world.
    We all know we have had an awful summer here (maybe it hasn’t started yet?) which has really affected the agricultural community and the supply and prices of our home grown produce.  As I only buy UK grown product I have been very aware of the impact with peas and beans particularly affected but the farmers couldn’t get the cauliflowers or cabbages off the wet fields earlier either.

Any which way you look at it things are not good are they?  Some would have us believe this is nothing to do with human activity or it is all in the natural cycle – but ‘the hottest ever’; ‘driest ever’; worst flood in 250 years etc can only be in the normal range if they occur once in 250 years etc.
I am doing all I can to get the climate Papers written and published, but there is a limited amount of time I have available for that.

Mike

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