Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe.
“Currently, 86 percent of the primary energy consumption [USA] is derived from fossil fuels, the source of most greenhouse gases.”
Part Chapters pages
3 Sea Changes 73
4 Going to Extremes 95
5 The Life of the Party 113
6 Climate Drivers 135
7 Studying Climate 157
9 Getting our technological fix 213 solutions / mitigations
10 Preventative Planetary Care 251 costs, doing, politics
11 A final Note 279
p. 285, are sources.
Sunset Lagoon, by William [Billy] T. Ely, Rollins Alumnus, 2009.
1500s Galileo, perfected the thermometer
The prevailing westerly winds in the northern and southern latitudes are changing by characteristic storm tracking farther north and south.
Less than one in a billion odds for the clustering of evidence to be a chance event,
1. ocean sediments: radiolarians are warm water, coccolithophores are colder water – when they fall to the floor of the basin their skeletons track pervious climatic changes, silica in radiolarian mean warmer periods, calcium carbonate in coccolithophores accumulate in layers at the sea floor and reveal cooler periods in the geological past.
2. fossil pollen in lake sediments match the broad shifts revealed in other data
3. Tree ring data show that “modern temperatures are the warmest they have been in the last four hundred years.” (28)
4. coral reef data from the Indo-Pacific create a long baseline (29)
5. El Nino events becoming both more frequent and more intense (29)
6. the largest tropical glacier will be gone by 2012 (34)
7. phenology, the timing of natural events such as buds on plants, the egg laying of butterflies, the rut of mammals.
“they are so closely tied to them that changes in the proxy can give a strong clue to changes in climate.”
“a…warming is substantially more widespread than in any previous warm decade (1930s).”
“The bottom line is that although current warming is not unprecedented in all of Earth history, previous eras that were clearly warmer than today were accompanied by changes (particularly in sea level) that dwarf the variations that any modern humans have seen.”
i. “Virginia bluebell is flowering seventeen days earlier than bluebells would have a few decades ago.”
ii. Pine bark beetle infestations of white pine in Yellowstone, due to warmer winters and more extended growing seasons.
iii. See this time lapse as an example of landscape changes in Glacier National Park over 150 years:
“. . .patchier and thinner sea ice coupled with rising air and water temperatures are shifting the northern Bering Sea habitat to conditions usually found farther south. The native fish and other animals that the Inuit depend on for their subsistence and lifestyle are getting harder to find.”
“Each of the components of the polar fabric has a global connection. The extent of the sea ice affects planetary reflection of sunlight, the circulation of the world ocean, and the global transport of goods. The storage of water in glaciers affects sea level worldwide: the carbon stored in permafrost or sequestered in the deep ocean affects the global concentration of greenhouse gases; the resources such as fisheries, timber, minerals, and fuel sustain populations and development around the world.”
“what happens …affects us all.”
There are 500 billion tons of CO2 in the oceans
density of sea water
changes in density drive circulation up and down in deep and surface currents
Blue indicates colder deep water currents and red the warmer upper movement of sea water.
Thermohaline circulation as sea is diluted by fresh water from Greenland ice melt
Ocean absorbs and sequesters heat
“The enormous heat capacity of the ocean means that changes in the atmosphere take a long time to affect the ocean.”
Oceans are 20 times more thermically energized than is the air – that means the oceans can retain heat for longer periods of time and release that heat more slowly than surrounding terrain.
El Nino changes – more frequent
La Nina As Southern Ocean Oscillation
The lighthouse that once stood here at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina was moved inland.
The rise in sea level is different depending on the sources of ice on land that melt and flood the oceans:
existing land glaciers (that is occurring now), or Greenland ice melting, or the Antarctic ice sheets melting (unlikely).
East side of gulf stream is higher than the Floridian west side
Local sea level change due to El Nino
as opposed to
Eustatic [alterations in sea level throughout the world] changes
European coastal areas along the North Sea, if the South pole melted.
Volumetric increase = Ocean Thermal Expansion
“And as long as the ocean continues to warm, the rise will continue. Given the long time scales for reaching the deep ocean, this fact implies that sea levels will continue to rise for centuries after atmospheric temperatures have stabilized.”
mm rise / year
.05 baseline -- pre warming
Ocean thermal expansion accounts for half the rise, melting land glaciers the other.
4 to 8 inches in a century
Acid quality of increasing, salinity and nutrients
“Roughly one-third of the al the co2 created by fossil fuel burning and other human activities end up in the ocean.
ocean acidification 8.2-8.1 pH
warm oceans absorb less CO2 driving up the amount in the air.
Bleaching – expelling the symbiotic algae
ecosystem (fishery) collapse due to coral die off
difficult to produce calcium carbonate
“But climate change, at minimum, exacerbates an already serious problem.”
1997-98 collapse of the California squid fishery due to el Nino.
Orca (toothed whales) changed their diets from seals and seal ions to sea otters as Aleutian Island arc waters warmed
• ESTUARIES AND COASTAL REGIONS
increased rate of coastal erosion
Miss Delta and Venice are vulnerable to ocean thermal expansion.
Methane clathrates or hydrates frozen at depth and pressure
Warming could release the
uncertainties point to how little the ocean is understood.
A shift “Toward a different average state”
“We experience the climate through weather.”
“We keep putting more infrastructure in harm’s way along the coasts”
SAHEL – is the sub Saharan region of Africa, drought began there in the 1970s & 1980s
models and the sea surface temperatures related to the SAHEL drought and drying up of Lake Chad
“was in part caused by anthropogenic emissions.”
American southwest droughts
Dust Bowl 1930s (mild but persistent) La Nina conditions.”
sub tropical dry zones get larger as the storm tracks shift poleward [towards either the north or south poles]
√ “shifts may be to a permanently drier state.”
Greater intensity of storms due to increased humidity at warmer temperatures
“Analyses have shown that the amount of rain falling in the most intense downpours has increased faster than mean rainfall amounts over the last thirty years.”
HEAT WAVES & COLD SNAPS
“As the planet gets warmer, there will be more heat waves, and worse ones.”
Pine bark beetle infestations – moving north due to a lengthening of the growing season and delay of the cold, which inhibits the beetle.
• increase droughts
• heat waves
• intense rainfall events
“may have already been detected in observations.”
threats to biotic diversity
HUMANS AND CHANGING BIODIVERSITY
The absence of red, blue and ultra-violet reflection from the earth due to the planet and the stratosphere absorbing UV
The biosphere absorbs red and blue bands of the spectrum
1000 billion tons is the combined weight of all living things on earth
move billions of tons of elements, compounds and materials among the Earth’s spheres every.
“They do this using chlorophyll—an incredible protein that can collect energy across the visible spectrum”
“The biosphere has created this environment, and it is this environment that allows the biosphere to persist.”
“The biosphere is undoubtedly a lead character in the climate change drama.”
“It is the biodiversity of life that truly astonishes.”
There are “between 10 and 30 million different species.”
ORDER AND STRUCTURE in THE BIOSPHERE
“an organism unit that breeds true for many generations.”
“mesmerized by life’s extraordinary variety”
“Earth’s diversity defies easy description.”
“Life is surprisingly ordered.”
“the banded pattern of biomes, the major climate-controlled ecosystem types.”
“biodiversity has helped to create the earth’s anomalous climate, but climate governs the well-ordered patterns of distribution and abundance …on Earth.”
“Climate and biodiversity are thus inextricably linked.”
“This envelope of conditions is what ecologists refer to as niche….”
“A Second key is that temperatures, moisture, and other environmental factors . . .are very diverse.”
“The third point… is that biodiversity is structured.”
CLIMATE CHANGE & BIODIVERSIY
Biological diversity “both contributes to and is affected by climate.”
“What they have found is staggering. Almost anywhere anyone looks, on average, climate change in recent decades is changing the order and structure of life on Earth.”
6000 years ago the Sahara was grassland.
“current climate change is occurring very quickly.”
Small differences can have dramatic impacts.”
order (where and when) and structure (predator/prey) are adversely affected
CHANGES IN SPACE AND TIME
“When conditions change species either, move, adapt, or perish
Of 1600 species studies up to half have changed their phenology or range in the last 20-140 years.
“Unfortunately, the current rate of change is so fast that evolution is not going to be able to catch up.”
”surprising and worrisome consequences.”
Birds nesting in the Netherlands too late for the peak insect boom on which it feeds pied flycatchers
“Which s a common characteristic of complex ecosystems” as dramatic shifts that derives from often merely slight changes.
loss of stability
“So their mismatch in seasonality could spell trouble for the community.”
Chytrid fungus infecting amphibians and pine bark beetles spread to higher elevations and northern latitudes in the Rocky Mountains due to new climate conditions.
the coral algae polyp relation has been disrupted – affecting ¼ of marine inverts!
how sensitive biodiversity is to climate change
HUMANS AND CHANGING BIODIVERSITY
“provides ecosystem services”
“supplying provisions that humans need.”
Shifts in maple syrup production and tree yields.
So are we at the point of no return?
“nature may no longer exist.”
“the effects of climate change are much more haphazard.”
“The evidence is overwhelming: the biosphere is changing. The order and structure of its biospheres components, namely its species, are being reconfigured. We face a potential biospheric meltdown.”
6: CLIMATE DRIVERS
"The Earth is currently warming."
solar radiation -- flux of
"infrared from the surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases, heating up the atmosphere."
"clear signs of human activity changing the composition of the atmosphere.
"This may not sound like much, but it is more than 36 percent greater than the 280 ppm at the dawn of the industrial era."
"the radiative forcing concept" Green house gases "positive forcing"
"expressed as an energy flow"
Radiative forcing "in watts per square meter" W/m2
The so-called greenhouse effect or heat trapping gas impacts raise the planet's temperature naturally.
36 percent growth in CO2 so far over the industrial era is about 1.5W/m2
"How does climate respond to radiative forcings?"
"As the Earth warms, the air has more capacity to hold more water as vapor"
"Water vapor,...absorbs additional heat radiating from the surface."
defense discussion treating water vapor as a feedback and not as a forcing (stimuli, or agent affecting an initial condition)
The natural carbon cycle is complex."
"Anthropogenic carbon is such an abrupt perturbation to the natural carbon cycle that many components of climate have not had time to respond and interact with the new carbon."
"anthropogenic carbon budget"
"the sink is partitioned into land and ocean" "ocean carbon uptake is best"
"1.5 to 2.5 gigatons of carbon [GtC] per year has taken place over the last decade [1998-2008]"
"Melting permafrost in high latitudes may release CO2 and methane currently stored in the soil."
"TWO IMPORTANT POINTS TO ADD"
"1st, CO2 concentrations will take decades and centuries to come back down"
"2nd, simply stabilizing CO2 at the concentration it is now requires a reduction in emissions of around 60 percent, and because of climate feed backs, the reduction may need to be closer to 80 percent in the long term."
"...but climate is not presently in equilibrium:"
"Things are instead changing quickly, and this fact has important implications for the future.
"This lag of water (boiling) is thermal inertia, the larger the inertia, the larger the lag." of the water reaching the ambient air temperature
"Earth's climate system has considerable inertia."
"As heat is added to the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems due to radiative forcing, the temperature gradually responds." heats up
"The upper ocean takes several decades to equilibrate with an increase in heat input."
"if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were stabilized now, the Earth’s temperature would continue to increase, because the oceans are still responding to forcings of several decades ago."
"Attribution and the nature of 'Proof' "
"Our climate is unequivocally warming, and it is very likely due to human activity–principally the emission of greenhouse gases."
√ The most succinct paragraphs on human caused warming
¶ 1 -- on "testing of various possible explanations of global warming"
¶ 2 -- "explanations…make distinct predictions about other observations"
"The theory of the anthropogenic role in global warming is" = theories of gravity --plate tectonics -- evolution
"Climate researchers have a simple reason to think that humans play a dominant role in warming . . .. spatial variation and 'fingerprints' can be matched reasonably well."
"When only the natural forcings are used, the temperature evolution can not be reproduced, especially the rapid warming after 1970. Conclusions have not been reached simply because of lack of imagination in thinking of other explanations."
"But when applied to the current climate change, these theories are inadequate."
"explanations bases on solar activity fail, because observed solar variations have shown no trend in recent decades."
"Warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases is the best explanation for current trends, it has survived many tests, and it has no viable competitor."
"In the late 1970s scientists realized that increased greenhouse gases would lead to global warming and the consequences could be grave."
7, Studying Climate
Da Vinci & Thoreau
"One of the most complex and lively branches in all of Earth science."
Observing climate processes is climatology
"fundamental studies on how the reflectivity of the snow and ice changes as a function of temperature and surface conditions, and how clouds and sea ice interact to control the heat balance of this crucial component of the climate system."
four branches of the climate science division of the Earth sciences
1. climatologists and meteorologists
2. reconstructing paleo-climates
3. tracking ecosystem changes
"These empirical formulas are called parameterizations. The uncertainty in these formulas accounts for a lot of the differences between the models."
"much of the interesting behavior of the climate system is emergent. For instance we have no formula for modeling a mid latitude storm track across North America, yet all models show one."
"The models are not perfect." "This makes it difficult to model El NiĖo events properly and gives rise to systematic biases in tropical rainfall."
"the models give very consistent answers for how sensitive climate is to increases in greenhouse gases or to the spatial patterns of ocean temperature variations."
"generate new ideas that can be tested against observations."
"Ocean mud accumulates year after year and can provide information about past climate."
"Current GMCs (Global Climate Models) assume that the response times for ice sheets are centuries or longer and so, historically, they have not included a dynamic ice sheet component."
"they know how interconnected the climate system is. They also know that the answers we need are often only be sought in inaccessible, cold, dirty and difficult environments."
analyzing tree rings from trees uncovered by the Columbia glacier's retreat in Alaska and measuring lake ice thickness on Lake Mendota in Wisconsin
"lowly bryophytes ...can be sensitive indicators for alpine change."
Wallace S. Broecker, on the "the nature of abrupt climate change"
humanity should be extremely wary of 'prodding the climate beast.' "
8, The Prognosis for Climate
Niels Bohr -- accuracy
"A clear need to explain the implications of our scientific understanding for future climate."
the medical analog
"global mean temperature predictions" based on forecast, predictions, projections"
"• low emission futures"
"–or what if scenarios "
"The IPCC projections are not forecasts."
1. the forced or driven response, which is to a large extent predictable, and
2. the unforced weather component -- storms, ocean currents, volcanic--"which is contingent..."
"The price we pay for not being able to do this modeling at the moment is today's projections are only good for average changes over the long term and not for the next season or next year."
"describe the change in external conditions."
"climate impacts under any particular scenario are closely tied to the temperature change."
"The worst and best cases cannot simply be dismissed as outliers. Sensible policymaking needs to factor in these possibilities as well."
uncertainty is due" to either 1) the scenarios counting on technology, 2) climate model uncertainty.
"Turning roofs into solar power plants . . . ."
America’s fuel options are, currently, coal for electricity and oil for transportation.
Is that a wise energy policy?
The photograph above is of a solar powered (photo-voltaic ) electric vehicle charging station at the Sacramento airport built by the local public utility to capture sunlight and shade the parking lot.
√ The nation imports more than half of our oil [transportation mainly] and has since 1960.
• Coal is subsidized
• oil is also subsidized
“In general there are three basic ways to do this: one can improve energy efficiency, use emission-free energy sources (renewable), or prevent emissions from reaching the atmosphere (carbon capture and storage).”
“Mitigation strategies” “to moderate, or make less severe.”
“This type of analysis is a useful tool for comparisons between products.”
A: corn ethanol “is actually worse than gasoline.”
The Energy Portfolio
Mobile Sources of Carbon
“For some final thoughts on renewable energy systems, lets return to the laws of thermodynamics which clearly state that you can’t get something for nothing, and in fact, you’re lucky if you get even close.”
“The production of electrical energy must result in the removal of another form of energy from somewhere else.”
At the other end, wherever electricity is used, heat is released.”
“Given our current urban environment, solar roof panels may result in the smallest net changes. These effects of renewable energy sources may eventually need to be compared with the (usually much larger) effects of resource extraction.”
“Currently, 86 percent of the primary energy consumption is derived from fossil fuels, the source of most greenhouse gases.”
“…technologies for carbon capture and storage would increase the cost of producing electricity by 20 to 100 percent.”
“Passive systems can also remove trace pollutants in ways that are barely noticeable.“
“Titanium dioxide has the ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation . . . . operate without energy inputs.”
Solving the Problem one wedge at a time
“Mitigating climate change is a complex problem, that can seem overwhelming.”
“Each grouping of technological solutions, such as renewable power and efficiency, constitute a wedge.”
“If our goal is to produce a sustainable society, then to a certain extent, we will eventually need to mimic natural systems.”
“waste is food,” or “cradle to cradle”
“Within the forest, little of that material is wasted, and much is recycled to the benefit of the few seedlings that germinate.”
“installment of small scale renewable energy systems seems a promising path.”
“save us from more drastic solutions.”
"The general idea is to move toward a zero waste society. A flowering tree provides an apt analogy... an abundance of flowers and seeds that interact with the entire forest."
"Within the forest little of that material is wasted, and much of it is recycled."
"the ubiquitous  installment of small-scale renewable energy systems seems a promising path."
"These could save us from more drastic solutions."
10, Preventative Planetary Care
Tony Blair actively pursued measures to reduce carbon-laden fuels and promote renewable energy as opposed to the US that did not follow the model set by the United Kingdom.
The focus on international climate talks
"The tragedy of the commons clearly applies to the climate change problem–the benefit from using fossil fuels goes to the users, while the costs are paid by the entire world"
Sir Nicholas Stern: "a colossal market failure."
UNFCCC Climate Treaty 1992 -- 190 signatories Rio Earth Summit
Climate on the Hill & Final Note:
Congressional actions and stalled legislation in Washington D.C.
everywhere, present, appearing, or found everywhere, ever-present, everywhere, all over the place, pervasive, universal, worldwide, global; rife, prevalent, far-reaching, inescapable.
The loss of wild areas in the northern hemisphere and fragmentation elsewhere have together with pollution contributed to a decline in species called a bottleneck in evolution.
Climate Change: Picturing the Science, Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe.
Notes on an overview of their concepts, evidence and meaning.