Climate Change: Picturing the Science, Gavin Schmidt & Joshua Wolfe.

 

Notes on an overview of their concepts, evidence, and meaning.

satellites orbiting the Earth.

red line

Part           chapters                        page

I Symptoms

1               Taking the Temperature                  19

2               Changes in the North (Arctic)           45

3               Sea Changes                                 73

4               Going to Extremes                          95

5               The Life of the Party                      113

II Diagnosis

6               Climate Drivers                            135

7               Studying Climate                          157

8               The Prognosis for the Climate         195   

III Possible Cures

9               Getting our technological fix           213    solutions / mitigations

10           Preventative Planetary Care           251    costs, doing, politics

11           A final Note                                 279

Science Friday

 

p. 285, are sources

 

impacts

red line

 

I. Symptoms

 

1              Taking the Temperature of the Planet:

 

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.

p. 27.

Less than one in a billion odds for the clustering of evidence to be a chance event,

“proxy evidence”

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 reveal cooler periods in the geological past.

2. fossil pollen in lake sediments match the broad shifts

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.”

p. 27


Climate Change: Picturing the Science, Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe. Notes on an overview of their concepts, evidence and meaning.

 

 

“recent warming as ‘unequivocal’,”

p. 34.

“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.”

p. 34

 

  Vostok ice core

Vostok Ice core, called proxy data, showing the relation between temperature and CO2 over time.

 

”some impacts are more subtle though. Changes in phenology, the timing of natural events, can illuminate the trends in US ecosystems.”

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 longer growing season.

 

p. 36

red line

 

 

2.   Changes in the North (Arctic)

 

“. . .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.”

 p. 65.

 

“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.”

p. 69.

red line
 

 

3. SEA CHANGES   There are 500 billion tons of CO2 in the ocean      73

 

conveyor belt

Floating duckies

74

density of sea water

 

changes in density drive circulation up and down in deep and surface currents

 

Thermohaline circulation as sea is diluted by fresh water from Greenland ice melt

74

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

75

Oceans are changing

75-76

El nino changes – more frequent

 

La nina       As SO Oscillation

 

SEA LEVEL

East side of gulf stream is higher than the Fla side

 

Local sea level changes El Nino

Versus

Eustatic changes

 

Volumetric increase = Ocean Thermal Expansion

 

“And as long as the ocean continues to warm, the rise will continue. Given the long timescales for reaching the deep ocean, this fact implies that sea levels will continue to rise for centuries after atmospheric temperatures have stabilized.”

77

mm rise / year

   .05          baseline  -- pre warming

 2.              past

 3.              now

 

Ocean thermal expansion accounts for half the rise, melting land glaciers the other.

4 to 8 inches in a century

 

OCEAN CHEMISTRY

 

Acid quality of increasing, salinity and nutrients

78

“Roughly one-third of the al the co2 created by fossil fuel burning and other human activities end up in the ocean.

79

ocean acidification 8.2-8.1 pH

79

warm oceans absorb less CO2 driving up the amount in the air.

80

OCEAN BIOLOGY

 

CORALS

Bleaching – expelling the algae

81

ecosystem (fishery) collapse due to coral die off

difficult to produce calcium carbonate

82

 

“Bur climate change, at minimum, exacerbates and already serious problem.”

83

FiSHERIES

1997=98 collapse of the California squid fishery due to el nino.

83-84

Orca changed diets from seals and seal ions to sea otters as Aleutians warmed

 

ESTUARIES AND COASTAL REGIONS

85

increased rate of coastal erosion

subsidence

Miss Delta and Venice

86

OCEAN SURPRISES

Methane clathrates or hydrates frozen at depth and pressure

88

Warming could release the

89

uncertainties point to how little the ocean is understood.

89

red line

 

 

4. GOING TO EXTREMES                       [Abrupt climate change]      95

a shift “Toward a different average state”

 

“We experience the climate through weather.”

90

TROPICAL CYCLONES

91

“We keep putting more infrastructure in harm’s way along the coasts”

101

DROUGHTS

SAHEL – Africa 1970s & 80s

102

models and the sea surface temperatures related to the SAHEL drought and drying up of Lake Chad

103

“was in part caused by anthropogenic emissions.”

104

American southwest droughts

 

Dust Bowl 1930s (mild but persistent La Nina conditions.”

105

sub tropical dry zones get larger as the storm tracks shift pole ward

“shifts may be to a permanently drier state.”

106

FLOODS

Greater intensity of storms due to increased humidity at warmer temperatures

107

“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.”

108

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.

109

• increase droughts

• heat waves

• intense rainfall events

 

“may have already been detected in observations.”

111

red line

 

5. THE LIFE OF THE PARTY         yep                                                               113

 

 

Threats to biotic diversity             113

 

ORDER AND STRUCTURE in THE BIOSPHERE

115

CLIMATE CHANGE & BIODIVERSIY

118

CHANGES IN SPACE AND TIME

119

HUMANS AND CHANGING BIODIVERSITY

125

BIOSPHERIC MELTDOWN

128

 

The absence of red, blue and ultra-violet reflection from the earth due to the planet and the stratosphere absorbing UV

113

The biosphere absorbs red and blue bands of the spectrum

114

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.

114

“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.”

114

“It is the biodiversity of life that truly astonishes.”

There are “between 10 and 30 million different species.”

 

ORDER AND STRUCTURE in THE BIOSPHERE

114

an organism unit that breeds true for many generations.”

115

“mesmerized by life’s extraordinary variety”

115

“Earth’s diversity defies easy description.”

“Life is surprisingly ordered.”

“the banded pattern of biomes, the major climate-controlled ecosystem types.”

116

 

ORDER AND STRUCTURE in THE BIOSPHERE continued

“biodiversity has helped to create the earth’s anomalous climate, but climate governs the well-ordered patterns of distribution and abundance …on Earth.”

117

“Climate and biodiversity are thus inextricably linked.”

117

“This envelope of conditions is what ecologists refer to as niche….”

 

“A Second key is that temperatures, moistures, and other environmental factors . . .are very diverse.”

“The third point… is that biodiversity is structured.”

117

CLIMATE CHANGE & BIODIVERSIY

118

Biological diversity “both contributes to and is affected by climate.”

“Phenology”

“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.”

118

6000 years ago the Sahara was grassland.

119

“current climate change is occurring very quickly.”

 

Small differences can have dramatic impacts.”

119

order (where and when) and structure (predator/prey) are adversely affected

 

CHANGES IN SPACE AND TIME

119

“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.

119

“Unfortunately, the current rate of change is so fast that evolution is not going to be able to catch up.”

120-121

”surprising and worrisome consequences.”

Birds nesting in the Netherlands too late for the peak insect boom on which it feeds  pied flycatchers

121

tipping point “Which s a common characteristic of complex ecosystems” as dramatic shifts that derives from often merely slight changes.

121-122

CHANGES IN SPACE AND TIME continued

119

loss of stability

“So their mismatch in seasonality could spell trouble for the community.”

124

Chytrid fungus and pine bark beetles spread due to new climate conditions.

124

the coral algae polyp relation has been disrupted – affecting ¼ of marine inverts!

124

how sensitive biodiversity is to climate change

125

HUMANS AND CHANGING BIODIVERSITY

125

“provides ecosystem services”

“supplying provisions that humans need.”

125

Shifts in maple syrup production and tree yields.

pp. 125-127

BIOSPHERIC MELTDOWN

“nature may no longer exist.”

128

red knot“the effects of climate change are much more haphazard.”

131

 

“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.”

131

A feeding Red Knot; the birds are migratory and are an estuarine dependent indicator of abrupt climate change.

red line

 

 

6 CLIMATE DRIVERS                                                                        135

 

"The Earth is currently warming."

 

solar radiation -- flux of

"infrared from the surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases, heating up the atmosphere."

137

"clear signs of human activity changing the composition of the atmosphere.

137

"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."

138

"the radiative forcing concept"      GHgases "positive forcing"

"expressed as an energy flow"

139

6 CIMATE DRIVERS             continued                                              135

 

Radiative forcing  "in watts per square meter" W/m2

 

36 percent growth in CO2 so far over the industrial era is about 1.5W/m2

139

"How does climate respond to radiative forcings?"

140

"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)

142

The natural carbon cycle is complex."

144

"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."

145

"anthropogenic carbon budget"

146

"the sink is partitioned into land and ocean"     "ocean carbon uptake is best"

147

"1.5 to 2.5 gigatons of carbon [GtC] per year has taken place over the last decade [1998-2008]"

147

"Melting permafrost in high latitudes may release CO2 and methane currently stored in the soil."

147-148

"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."

148

Thermal Inertia

"...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."

150

"As heat is added to the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems due to radiative forcing, the temperature gradually responds."           heats up

150

"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."

150

"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."

151

*

√ 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"

151

"The theory of the anthropogenic role in global warming is" = theories of gravity --plate tectonics -- evolution

151

"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."

152

"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."

152

The Scientific consensus on climate change

153-55

"In the late 1970s scientists realized that increased greenhouse gases would lead to global warming and the consequences could be grave."

153

red line

 

7, Studying Climate                      Da Vinci & Thoreau

157-177

"One of the most complex and lively branches in all of Earth science."

157

Observing climate processes                  is climatology

158

"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."

161

four branches of the climate science division of the Earth sciences

1.    climatologists and meteorologists

2.    reconstructing paleo-climates

3.    tracking ecosystem changes

4.    modelers

160-175

"These empirical formulas are called parameterizations. The uncertainty in these formulas accounts for a lot of the differences between the models."

171

"much of the interesting behavior of the climate system is emergent. For instance we have no formula for modeling a midlatitude storm track across North America, yet all models show one."

171-72

"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."

173

"generate new ideas that can be tested against observations."

173

"Ocean mud accumulates year after year and can provide information about past climate."

174

"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."

176

"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."

177

analyzing tree rings from trees uncovered by the Columbia glacier's retreat in Alaska and measuring lake ice thickness on Lake Mendota in Wisconsin

178.

"lowly bryophytes ...can be sensitive indicators for alpine change."

178-179

 

Broecker's signalWallace S. Broecker,  on the "the nature of abrupt climate change"

humanity should be extremely wary of 'prodding the climate beast.' "

179

red line

8, The Prognosis for Climate                Niels Bohr -- accuracy

195-209

"A clear need to explain the implications of our scientific understanding for future climate."

195

the medical analog

195

"global mean temperature predictions" based on forecast, predictions, projections"

"• high

 • medium

   low emission futures" –or what if scenarios

196

"The IPCC projections are not forecasts."

two things:

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..."

197

"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."

197-98

"describe the change in external conditions."

198

"climate impacts under any particular scenario are closely tied to the temperature change."

199

"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.

199

red line

9, Getting our Technological Fix           Holmes & Watson

213-234

America’s fuel options are, currently, coal for electricity and oil for transportation.

Is that a wise energy policy?

• The nation imports more than half of our oil and has since 1960.

• Coal is 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).”

p. 214

“Mitigation strategies”         “to moderate, or make less severe.”

p. 214-15.

Life cycle analysis

“This type of analysis is a useful tool for comparisons between products.”

215

A bcorn ethanol “is actually worse than gasoline.”

215

 

The Energy Portfolio

216

Energy Efficiency

217

Renewable Energy

220

Carbon Capture and Storage

224

“Currently, 86 percent of the primary energy consumption is derived from fossil fuels, the source of most greenhouse gases.”

p. 224.

 

Mobile Sources of Carbon

227

Other Greenhouse Gases

228

Geo-engineering

230

Solving the Problem one wedge at a time

233

“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.”

p. 223

Carbon Capture and Storage

 

“Currently, 86 percent of the primary energy consumption is derived from fossil fuels, the source of most greenhouse gases.”

p. 224.

“…technologies for carbon capture and storage would increase the cost of producing electricity  by 20 to 100 percent.”

p. 227.

Other Greenhouse Gases

“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.”

229

 


Solving the Problem one wedge at a time

wedge is a step to solving the problem

These wedges are ways to alter or impede policies; BAU means business as usual.

 

“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.”

233

“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.”

234

"If our goal is to produce a sustainable society, then to a certain extent, we will eventually need to mimic (and possibly enhance) natural systems."

 

"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."

p. 234.

 

"the ubiquitous [1]installment of small-scale renewable energy systems seems a promising path."

 

"These could save us from more drastic solutions."

p. 234.

red line

10, Preventative Planetary Care          Tony Blair          251-275

 

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."

252.

UNFCCC     Climate Treaty 1992    -- 190 signatories Rio Earth Summit

 

Climate on the Hill & Final Note:          276-280

6/7/12 2:17 PM

red line

social sciences directory


playe

Search this site.

[1] everywhere, present, appearing, or found everywhere, ever-present, everywhere, all over the place, pervasive, universal, worldwide, global; rife, prevalent, far-reaching, inescapable.