Greenland Melt off to a Rather Early Start

Of the two great masses of land ice capable of dramatically raising sea levels and altering hemispheric weather patterns through global warming spurred melt, Greenland is the one closest to home for many humans living on Earth. And as fossil fuel burning keeps dumping more carbon into our atmosphere, Greenland melt continues to dump tens of billions of tons of water into the world’s oceans each year.

Greenland melt extent 2019

(Early bump in Greenland melt may be a blip — or a presage to another above average surface melt during summer. Image source: NSIDC.)

At present, Greenland contributes approximately 280 billion tons of water to global sea level rise through melt and mass loss per annum. And as the Earth warms, the potential for Greenland to spill still more into the North Atlantic is a rising concern.

So each spring through summer, we go through a ritual of anxiously monitoring the Greenland ice sheet for surface melt increases. Such monitoring is not without merit. According to recent reports in Nature, approximately 60 percent of mass loss in Greenland is driven by surface warming and melt. And during 2012, a major warming event resulted in practically all of the Greenland ice sheet experiencing surface melt during summer.

(Since surface mass loss is the primary driver of Greenland melt, the summer season is a big deal for the Northern Hemisphere’s largest cache of land ice.)

We haven’t had another melt year like 2012 in the intervening time through today. But we have seen continued net mass loss from Greenland — with the additional 40 percent coming from melt due to contact with warming oceans. In other words, we’re experiencing Greenland melt both at the surface and from below. And, sooner or later, so long as fossil fuel burning keeps dumping greenhouse gasses into Earth’s atmosphere, we’ll see another summer like 2012. Or worse.

So we watch.

For the present year, Greenland surface melt has gotten off to a relatively strong and early start. Melt extent jumped to around 7 percent in early May. A pace well beyond the top 10 percent of recorded melt years for the period in which the spike occurred. And it may presage another summer of ponding spreading across the face of Greenland. But the present mid-May bump is not a fully reliable indicator — as 2017’s melt progression featuring a strong start with a relatively moderate and late peak shows.

For further comparison, we saw some rather strong early melt spikes in March and April of 2012 prior to that record surface melt year. And during 2018, which was only a somewhat above average (1981-2010) melt year, there were practically no melt spikes during March through late May.

A primary driver for surface melt during the present years of record and rising global heat has been the formation of jet stream ridges and strong upper level high pressure systems over Greenland during spring and summer. To point, this year’s recent melt spike coincided with a strong ridge that locked into place during mid April through early May.

Over the next ten days, the atmosphere above Greenland is predicted to fluctuate as highs and lows progress. Temperatures are expected to remain somewhat above average near the surface of the ice mass. Compared to the stronger signal we saw earlier, the indicators here are somewhat mixed — at least for the next ten days. But if the ridge pattern reasserts from late May and on into June — watch out. Then, we could see another big melt spike coinciding with the onset of summer.

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  1. redskylite

     /  May 13, 2019

    Thanks and appreciation for your insightful commentary on the update on the Arctic ice sheet situation from the faithful and reliable monitors of NSIDC, many articles around of the changing lifestyles of the inhabitants, and the countries waiting to pounce on opportunities presented, rather than help with the misfortunes.

    Life in the ice in a warmer Arctic

    The diverse responses of sea-ice algae show that the impact of climate change on primary production in the region will likely to be complex – as will be the cascading impact on the rest of the food web, from fishes to whales, seals to polar bears.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Baker

     /  May 13, 2019

    Do you think the weather patterns are setting up similarly to 2012?
    We’re again a lot ahead of 2012 for this time of year as in 2016 where the summer had more low pressure around the Arctic. Right now, there’s quite a lot of high pressure around.


  3. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    May 9, 2019 By Jason Samenow
    ‘The United States just had its wettest 12 months on record. It’s nearly drought-free, but flooding is rampant.’

    “In just over a year’s time, the nation’s rainfall fortunes have shifted suddenly and dramatically. Rainfall famine has turned to rainfall feast.

    Thanks to its wettest 12-month period in recorded history, the amount of U.S. real estate covered by drought has plunged to its lowest level in recent decades, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday. But at the same time, excessive rainfall and flooding plague large areas of the country.
    The wettest 12 months in U.S. history

    Precipitation over the last year (May 2018 to April) in the United States has been extraordinary. An average of 36.2 inches has fallen over the Lower 48, the first time it has topped 36 inches over a 12-month period in over 120 years of record-keeping. This amount is more than six inches above average, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson, who first reported the record….”

    “Jason Samenow is The Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang’s chief meteorologist. He earned a master’s degree in atmospheric science and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.”


  4. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    ‘Mother’s Day weekend storm adds to New Mexico’s already impressive snowpack’
    May 11, 2019

    “The calendar may have turned to May more than a week ago, but that doesn’t mean winter is through with New Mexico, as a late-season storm has dumped significant snowfall on the state’s higher elevations and brought welcome rainfall to much of the rest of the state.

    The system moved into the state on May 9, and by the afternoon of May 10 it had made its presence felt across New Mexico. Snowfall totals above 9,000 feet in the Farmington area ranged from 10 to 20 inches, and an additional 3 to 6 inches was expected through May 11, according to Brian Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

    He said parts of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains around Angel Fire and Taos had seen upward of 18 inches of snow, and Santa Fe, Raton and Las Vegas, New Mexico, had experienced 1 to 2 inches of snowfall, though the ground was too warm for the snow to accumulate, Guyer said….

    The snow may have come as a surprise to those who assumed a comparatively warm April across most of New Mexico meant they had seen the last of winter. The state experienced a handful of relatively minor storms in the northern, central and south-central mountains throughout the month, but April was marked mostly by strong wind conditions that caused serious damage early in the month.

    Then came this week’s storm, which made much of the state feel more like the middle of March than early May.

    “Last year at this time, parts of the state were in the 80s or 90s, so it’s quite a difference,” he said.

    Nevertheless, the system that has enveloped the state is far from unheard of for this time of year.

    “It’s really not terribly unusual for us to see significant snowfall in the high terrain (in early May),” he said. “But it’s been a while.”

    More significant than the precipitation has been the cool temperatures the system brought with it. Mid-day temperatures across the state on May 10 ranged from 49 degrees in Farmington, 42 in Santa Fe and 43 in Albuquerque, to 51 in Roswell, 47 in Socorro and 39 in Sierra Blanca.

    “The temperatures we’re seeing range from 20 to 30 degrees below normal for (May 10),” Guyer said…

    Overall, this winter was a welcome change from many of those that preceded it over the past several years.

    “I believe we’re looking at one of the best seasons we’ve had since 2004,” Guyer said. “There have been some other good years, but in terms of runoff, we’re thinking this is probably a lot like 2004. … The good thing about this season is it stayed cool and stayed moist, so we’re maximizing the water that we can for the watersheds.”…

    “Although river flows on the main stem of the Rio Grande due to snowmelt are anticipated to increase between now and June, we are confident that the water can be safely managed to control the risk of flooding,” he stated. “The good news is that it will be the best year in quite a long time for people who enjoy canoeing and river rafting. However, people who live in the Rio Grande Valley will see higher than normal flows, and should take proper precautions when walking, picknicking, or working in the bosque near the river.

    Guyer sounded an optimistic note about a possible end to the drought that has had most of New Mexico in its grip for the past few years.

    “Oh, it’s provided a significant improvement,” he said of the strong winter. “Most of the state, except for the northwest, is already out of severe drought, and I think this storm system will likely put an end to that.”

    The U.S. Drought Monitor map backs up Guyer’s assessment. Nearly half the state has emerged completely from the drought, although most of northern and western New Mexico — along with a portion of south-central New Mexico — are still classified as experiencing a moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions….”


    • eleggua

       /  May 13, 2019

      ‘Wet storm system breaks NM records’
      May 10th, 2019

      “…the below-average temperatures and moisture won’t be going away until the early part of next week.

      “This is part of an El Niño pattern that is continuing into spring,” National Weather Service meteorologist Sharon Sullivan said. “We’re (the Albuquerque area) off to the wettest start since 2007.”

      The high temperature at the Albuquerque International Sunport was 51 degrees Friday, shattering the record for the lowest high temperature of 55 degrees for May 10 set in 1932. The temperature on the date in 2018 was 92 degrees.

      Highs in many parts of the state were in the 40s and 50s, with the exception of the southwestern region.

      “Many areas were 20 to 30 degrees below normal,” Sullivan said….

      …Chaco Culture National Historical Park tweeted a rain photo and said the park received 10% of its annual average rainfall in one night on Thursday. The park, which averages eight inches of rainfall, received 0.85 inch of rain….

      Showers and thunderstorms remain in the forecast for much of the state through the weekend. Temperatures will gradually climb but still remain below normal.”


  5. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    Folks in El Paso are drinking their own waste.

    ‘El Paso residents to drink treated sewage water due to climate change drought’
    December 5, 2018

    El Paso is on track to become the first large city in the United States to treat its sewage water and send it directly back into its taps.

    Increasing temperatures will make the dry region even more vulnerable to drought, according to the federal government’s most recent national climate assessment. Already challenged with balancing the demands of about 700,000 thirsty El Pasoans along with agriculture and industry needs, El Paso must also face the fact that climate change is literally drying up one of its major sources of water.

    Analyzing tree ring records, scientists have been able to reconstruct the climate history of the region as far as the late 1500s and have found that as temperatures have risen, the amount of snow melting and feeding the Rio Grande has dropped.

    “We’re getting less runoff now than we would have gotten as recently as the ’80s or ’90s,” said J. Phillip King, a professor of civil engineering at New Mexico State University. King has tracked the river’s water levels for the past 27 years as an adviser to the Elephant Butte Irrigation District. The district manages the water distribution of some 90,000 acres of farmland along the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico and Texas.

    King told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta that there is simply less snowmelt coming from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado to feed the river. Since 1958, the amount of early April snowmelt going into the Rio Grande has dropped 25% due to less snowpack and evaporation.

    What’s happening in the Rio Grande is not unique. It’s a phenomenon happening throughout the Western United States.

    King called the Rio Grande a harbinger of what’s to come. “You know we’ve already gotten critically low here, and you can think of the Colorado as a few years away from a similar fate,” he said.

    Drought isn’t anything new for the 1,800-mile long river. The Rio Grande has survived severe and sustained droughts, King said. But an increase in temperature is pushing both a warmer and dryer climate. And that means not only potentially less snowfall but a greater chance for water to evaporate.

    The federal government projects that temperatures could rise an additional 8 degrees Fahrenheit in the region by 2100.

    The dwindling reserves are apparent at Elephant Butte Reservoir, just outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The reservoir there sits right on the Rio Grande and forms the largest recreational lake in the state. It holds water for farmers from north of El Paso up to Colorado. It has a capacity of about 2 million acre feet, King said. Currently, it’s hovering around 3% to 4% of its full capacity. Buildings that were built as offices during the dam’s construction in the early part of the 20th century were previously submerged in the 1980s. Now, they serve as lookout points to a nearly empty basin….

    Today, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Plant can produce up to 27 million gallons of water daily. The plant scales its production up and down based on how much water is available in the river and its aquifers. Next year, El Paso expects desalination to provide 7% to 9% of its water.

    “This plant was built for growth. It was built for drought protection. It basically gives El Paso an insurance policy against drought,” Archuleta said.

    He also preached a gospel of conservation. He established community outreach programs with a mascot called Willie the Water Drop and created a museum about water for area children to visit and learn where their water came from.

    The city paid residents to turn their grassy yards into rockscapes. The El Paso paper published the names of high water users.

    When Archuleta retired in 2013, water consumption had dropped by about 35% per person. El Paso uses less total water now than it did 24 years ago, despite having 170,000 more people to serve.

    Drinking treated sewage

    Today, El Paso is ready to take the next step in expanding its water portfolio. It is building a closed loop system that will treat sewage water and turn it directly into drinking water. Among water professionals, it’s called “direct potable reuse” or “advanced purification.”

    “It’s the logical next step for us to take,” said Gilbert Trejo, the chief technical officer of El Paso Water.

    El Paso; Orange County, California; Scottsdale, Arizona, and several other utilities across the country treat sewage water and then pump it back into the aquifer to ultimately drink. Trejo says it can take about five years for the water to filter through the ground before being pumped back out and treated to the standards of clean drinking water.

    This treated water is also frequently used for irrigation and industrial purposes.

    El Paso is building a completely closed loop facility; instead of being pumped back into the aquifer, the treated sewage water will undergo additional filtration and then be sent back into drinking water pipelines.

    “We see this water that’s clear and it’s of good quality,” Trejo explained to Gupta. “The next thing for us to do is to take a high-quality water we produce at a state-of-the-art facility and then treat it a little bit more with multiple treatment processes so we can drink it.”

    According to the EPA, the amount of wastewater produced in large cities can represent 50% to 60% of the total water supplied, providing a massive resource for cities like El Paso that are scouring for water.

    To make sure the water is clean of any pathogens or microbes, treated sewage water is sent through multiple steps of filtration, including UV and carbon filtration. Studies have found that treated water is, in fact, less likely to have contaminants than untreated river or lake water….”


  6. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    ”Oil’ and ‘Gas’ Are Out: How Energy Firms Are Rebranding for the Climate Change Era’
    May 12, 2019

    “When Denmark’s state energy company changed its name in 2017, almost everyone involved agreed it was high time: after all, it was called DONG Energy. (It originally stood for Danish Oil and Natural Gas.)

    The revamp was also part of a move to get out of the oil and gas business and focus on offshore wind, where the company has become a world leader. But changing its name to the hard-to-pronounce Ørsted, after one of the country’s best known scientists, turned out not to be the controversy-free choice management had envisioned.

    Other energy companies in Europe that have changed their names have faced charges of “greenwashing,” or scrubbing their branding of fossil fuels while failing to do the same to their portfolios. Ørsted (pronounced “Ehr-still”) side-stepped such allegations, but it still confronted opposition: from the Ørsted family itself.

    On Friday, the energy company won a court battle to keep the Ørsted name brought by seven descendants of Hans Christian Ørsted, the scientist who discovered electromagnetism.

    The family members filed the lawsuit in January 2018, objecting to their newfound association with the company. They argued the Ørsted name is rare and significant enough to be off-limits.

    The judge didn’t agree; it should be noted that about 1,200 people in Denmark now have Ørsted as a middle or last name—including the pop star MØ. (Interestingly enough, the company ran into a similar—albeit less litigious—problem when selecting its earlier name of DONG. In addition to snickers by English speakers, the Dong family of Valby, Denmark was not thrilled, though it never pursued legal action.)

    Ørsted stands out for its legal tiff, but in the world of energy, it’s just one more company changing its name to eliminate words like “oil” or “gas.” Norway’s state energy company, for instance, changed its name from Statoil to Equinor last year. The company says the change reflects the country’s shift away from petroleum extraction to renewable energy, but it’s been accused of using a rebranding effort to make itself appear more “green” than it really is….”


  7. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    ‘Greenland Is Falling Apart
    Since 1972, the giant island’s ice sheet has lost 11 quadrillion pounds of water.’
    Apr 23, 2019

    “The Greenland Ice Sheet, which contains enough water to refill the Great Lakes 115 times over, is very large. And it is also falling apart.

    A new study finds that the Greenland Ice Sheet added a quarter inch of water to global sea levels in just the past eight years. The research, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, covers nearly 20 years previously not included in our detailed understanding of the troubled Greenland Ice Sheet. It finds that climate change has already bled trillions of tons of ice from the island reservoir, with more loss than expected coming from its unstable northern half.
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    “The glaciers are still being pushed out of balance,” Eric Rignot, a senior scientist at NASA and an author of the paper, told me. “Even though the ice sheet has [sometimes] been extremely cold and had low surface melt in the last year, the glaciers are still speeding up, and the ice sheet is still losing mass.”

    The paper casts the transformation of the Greenland Ice Sheet as one of the profound geological shifts of our time. Scientists measure the mass of ice sheets in “gigatons”—each unit equal to 1 billion metric tons, or roughly the same amount of water that New York or Los Angeles uses in a year. Greenland, according to the study, has lost 4,976 gigatons of water since 1972. That’s enough water to fill 16 trillion bathtubs or 1.3 quadrillion gallon jugs. That much water weighs about 11 quadrillion pounds. (A quadrillion is 1 with 15 zeros after it.)

    More worryingly, the paper finds that Greenland lost about half of that ice—roughly 2,200 gigatons—in the years between 2010 and 2018. The ice sheet has also failed to gain mass in any year since 1998.

    This melting isn’t happening at a steady pace, in other words. Greenland’s demise seems to be accelerating….”


  8. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    ‘Bid For Anadarko Petroleum Is A Watershed Moment For Permian Exploration’

    “The ongoing tussle for Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) saw another twist on Tuesday (30 April) after billionaire investor Warren Buffett entered the fray on the side of Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY). Via his investing company Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A), Buffett said he’d invest $10 billion in Occidental contingent upon the success of its hostile bid for Anadarko, which had initially agreed to be bought out by oil major Chevron (NYSE:CVX).

    It all began on April 12, after Chevron’s $33 billion bid for Anadarko was accepted by the company. At the time, Anadarko was rumored to be in talks with Occidental, only for Wall Street to be greeted by the news of Chevron’s successful bid. What seemed like a done deal was rocked again on April 24 after Vicki Hollub, Occidental’s Chief Executive, unveiled her fourth attempt to acquire Anadarko for $38 billion….

    The fight for Anadarko, should Chevron choose to escalate it, is at least monetarily in its favor. It is the second-largest American oil company, second only to ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and 10th on the global roster of international oil and gas producers in volume terms. In terms of market capitalization, at Monday’s (April 29) close, Chevron remained five times bigger than Occidental, regardless of Buffett’s endorsement.

    At the heart of this somewhat unequal tussle is the dominance of the Permian Basin which is well and truly witnessing a watershed moment. The largest oilfield in the U.S. spans portions of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico; an area that is now being increasingly eyed by the oil majors.

    Anadarko’s 250,000 net acres in the Permian would sit happily alongside the 2.2 million net acres Chevron holds across the basin, but Occidental wants them to expand its portfolio too and for a reason. Roughly a third of all total U.S. oil production, currently just short of 12 million barrels per day (bpd), comes from the Permian. Not just Chevron; ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP have all invested in it over the last five years.

    Potential for the export of oil produced in the Permian via ports in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to be upped at least three times over to 7-8 million bpd, once 10 pipeline construction and expansion projects are completed by the second quarter of 2020.

    Currently, 110 independents run over 400 rigs in the Permian, many with distressed balance sheets, leaving Big Oil with no shortage of potential targets. Obviously, bigger Permian pure-play independents such as Concho Resources (NYSE:CXO), Diamondback Energy (NASDAQ:FANG), Endeavor Energy Resources, (privately held), Parsley Energy (NYSE:PE) and Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD) could be potential bid targets.

    …One thing is clear – Big Oil’s race for acreage within the Permian and shale plays beyond is now glaringly visible and that quest is only just beginning….”


    • eleggua

       /  May 13, 2019

      ‘Warren Buffett Backs Occidental’s Bid for Anadarko With $10 Billion Investment’
      April 30, 2019

      “…Only a couple of weeks ago, Chevron’s proposed $33 billion acquisition of Anadarko looked like a done deal. But on Monday, Anadarko’s board said it was considering Occidental’s bid, which is roughly 20 percent higher than Chevron’s.

      Should Occidental acquire Anadarko, Berkshire would invest $10 billion in new preferred shares that have an 8 percent annual dividend….”


  9. wharf rat

     /  May 13, 2019


  10. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    We did it.

    ‘Carbon dioxide levels hit new landmark at 415 ppm, highest in human history’
    May 13, 2019

    “This is the first time in human history our planet’s atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2,” he tweeted. “Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.” – Eric Holthaus


  11. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019


    Scientists Discovered a 2,624-Year-Old Tree in a North Carolina Swamp. Climate Change Could Kill It.’
    May 9, 2019

    ” According to a new study published today (May 9) in the journal Environmental Research Communications, scientists studying tree rings in North Carolina’s Black River swampland have discovered a bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) that’s at least 2,624 years old, making it one of the oldest non-clonal, sexually reproducing trees in the world. (Clonal trees, which are vast colonies of genetically identical plants that grow from a single ancestor, can live for tens of thousands of years.)

    How old is 2,624 years, really? To borrow an analogy from the Charlotte Observer, that age makes this tree older than Christianity, the Roman Empire and the English language.

    Researchers discovered the ancient cypress while studying tree rings in an effort to piece together the climate history of the eastern United States….

    In addition to the 2,624-year-old individual reported above, the researchers found a 2,088-year-old cypress in the same swamp — and there are likely more where that came from.

    “Because we have cored and dated only 110 living bald cypress at this site, a small fraction of the tens of thousands of trees still present in these wetlands, there could be several additional individual bald cypress over 2,000-years old along the approximately 100 km (62 mile) reach of Black River,” the researchers wrote in the study….

    Although the ancient trees described in this study live on protected land that is privately owned by The Nature Conservancy’s North Carolina chapter, their existence remains threatened by ongoing logging and biomass farming operations (e.g., chopping down trees for mulch) elsewhere on the river, as well as by industrial pollution and climate change.According to the study authors, the swamp is located at 6.5 feet (2 meters) above mean sea level, and is at risk of being flooded by rising sea levels caused by anthropogenic global warming….”


  12. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019


    ‘Climate change is giving old trees a growth spurt’
    May 9, 2019

    “Larch trees in the permafrost forests of northeastern China—the northernmost tree species on Earth—are growing faster as a result of climate change, according to new research.

    A new study of growth rings from Dahurian larch in China’s northern forests finds the hardy trees grew more from 2005 to 2014 than in the preceding 40 years. The findings also show the oldest trees have had the biggest growth spurts: Trees older than 400 years grew more rapidly in those 10 years than in the past 300 years, according to the new study.

    The study’s authors suspect warmer soil temperatures are fueling the growth spurts by lowering the depth of the permafrost layer, allowing the trees’ roots to expand and suck up more nutrients.

    The increased growth is good for the trees in the short-term but may be disastrous for the forests in the long-term, according to the authors. As the climate continues to warm, the permafrost underneath the trees may eventually degrade and no longer be able to support the slow-growing trees.

    No other tree species can survive the permafrost plains this far north, so if the larch forests of northern Asia disappear, the entire ecosystem would change, according to the study’s authors.

    “The disappearance of larch would be a disaster to the forest ecosystem in this region,” said Xianliang Zhang, an ecologist at Shenyang Agricultural University in Shenhang, China, and lead author of the new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences…..

    Dahurian larch trees grew more from 2005 to 2014 than from 1964 to 2004. Interestingly, the effect was most pronounced in the oldest trees: Trees older than 300 years grew 80 percent more from 2005 to 2014 than in the preceding 40 years. Trees between 250 and 300 years old grew 35 percent more during that time period, while trees younger than 250 years grew between 11 and 13 percent more.

    The old trees’ growth is unusual—it’s akin to a 100-year-old person suddenly getting taller, according to Zhang. The authors suspect older trees are growing more than younger trees because they have more developed root systems that can harvest resources from the soil more efficiently….”


  13. eleggua

     /  May 13, 2019

    ‘Global Warming Was Already Fueling Droughts in Early 1900s, Study Shows’
    May 1, 2019

    “…researchers say the surprising early-century findings provide the clearest signal yet that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have been changing the hydroclimate in ways that can devastate agriculture, health and livelihoods.

    In a climate unaltered by greenhouse gases, droughts in different parts of the world would be caused by different influences at different times. In the Southwestern United States, for example, the El Niño-La Niña cycle is a big driver of drought, while the Mediterranean region is sensitive to cyclical changes in the Atlantic Ocean’s winds and currents.

    But in the first half of the 20th Century, something different was starting to happen. Soil moisture decreased across all those areas at the same time—a nearly unmistakable sign that it was driven by rising global temperatures, the study’s authors said.

    The global warming fingerprint on droughts is subtle but unmistakable, said Kate Marvel, the study’s lead author and a climate scientist with NASA and Columbia University.

    “What we’re seeing is very suggestive of a role for greenhouse gases, bigger than anything we’ve seen previously,” Marvel said. “We’re not arguing here that there is a really large effect. What we’re saying is, we’re picking out the underlying note against the background of a symphony. That note is faint but it’s definitely there. And to find it, you need to look at long-term trends and wide areas.”…

    That global warming signal has been getting stronger, especially since about 2000, with “severe consequences” for humans, the scientists wrote.

    The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, reinforce the importance of stopping greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades, Cook said.

    They also confirm other research showing that, in general with global warming, dry areas will get drier, while other regions get wetter, including western China, much of central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia and central Canada. “The patterns of drying and wetting we see match the patterns we would expect from a global warming signal. It’s very hard to come up with something that would cause it other than greenhouse gas forcing,” said Jason Smerdon, a co-author of the study and climate scientist at Columbia….

    Tree ring records dating back hundreds of years showed the drought patterns before humans started affecting the climate with greenhouse gas emissions, forest clearing and large-scale agriculture. The researchers then compared the pre-industrial drought patterns with data from the 20th Century. That enabled them to separate human-caused drought patterns from the natural variability of the pre-industrial era.

    Computer modeling showed that the simultaneous drying across disparate regions could only have been caused by global warming.

    “We were kind of shocked that the strongest signal we saw was in the first part of the 20th Century,” Cook said. Based on the results of the study, he said the team was about 90 percent certain that the trend of drying soils detected in the early 20th Century was caused by global warming….”


  14. eleggua

     /  May 14, 2019

    “The end of everything may be the great unifier we’ve been looking for.”

    ‘Nothing in today’s headlines compares to the coming catastrophe’
    By Kathleen Parker Columnist May 7, 2019

    ” PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. — A new United Nations report projecting the extinction of one-eighth of all animal and plant species should rattle the cages of any remaining skeptics regarding climate change and the central role humans have played in Earth’s accelerating destruction.

    The report is by far the most depressing and frightening bit of news among an exhausting list of dire predictions and seemingly incessant fire alarms, including threatened increases to U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, market plunges, North Korea’s missile tests and President Trump’s affronts to the Constitution. Just when you thought you couldn’t take any more.

    Finding out that 1 million species face extinction without radical corrective changes in human behavior is akin to finding out you have a fatal disease. One day you have a thousand problems; the next, you have just one. Nothing in today’s headlines compares to the catastrophic potential posed by climate change and the decimating effects of careless consumerism around the globe.

    The four horsemen of the apocalypse — generally considered to be conquest, war, famine and death — weren’t far off the mark. Today, we might revise the New Testament version to include plastics, emissions, deforestation and Homo sapiens.

    Lest some folks become incensed by this apparent disparagement of man’s great works (see war and conquest), be assured that such evidence is everywhere abundant and noted. But men and women who can create plastic (my own great-uncle, a chemist, played a part) can surely find biodegradable — and profitable — alternatives. Dustin Hoffman may not don flippers and scuba gear to unwillingly celebrate the future of plastics, as famously portrayed in “The Graduate,” but perhaps a young congresswoman from the Bronx will lead a confetti parade driving a cardboard convertible.

    It’s time to change our habits and, pending a better cliche, save the planet. It’s dying, and we’ll die with it, eventually.

    The report, a summary of which was released Monday by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), was the result of a three-year study by 145 authors from 50 countries.

    Robert Watson, a British chemist who served as chair of the panel, wrote in a statement that “the health of ecosystems on which we and all species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

    But, Watson also said, it’s not too late to repair and sustain nature — if we act now in transformative ways. It won’t be enough for us to recycle our Dasani bottles or tote our own shopping bags, though these are helpful and keep us mindful. But big companies have to sign on, and governments have to create incentives and policies to advance sweeping change. Needless to say, this won’t be easy.

    In certain quarters, resistance to policy and procedures will be seized upon as a noble counter to regulatory zeal. Already, some so-called conservatives are gearing up to treat the report as a globalist attempt to hinder the United States’ return to greatness via more burning of fossil fuels, drilling for oil offshore and declassifying conservation areas. But conservatives by definition should lead the imperative. To conserve what is good — isn’t that the point?

    The report makes the essential connection to human wellness, as opposed to merely caring about the horrors endured by sea creatures dying with their stomachs packed with plastic or Arctic animals starving to death as the ground melts beneath their feet. If something hurts economies and schoolchildren, we eventually get around to paying attention. As Watson noted, “We need to link it to human well-being; that’s the crucial thing. Otherwise we’re going to look like a bunch of tree-huggers.”

    If only there were enough trees to go around.

    What’s clear is that there’s no time for delay or partisan bickering. What’s different now is the degree of acceleration. Everything is speeding up, including the temperature and acidification of oceans, which contribute to the loss of coral reefs, themselves underwater ecosystems essential to more than 25 percent of marine species.

    Meanwhile, the world’s population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by mid-century, according to the United Nations. Already, it has tripled since 1950. Collectively, we humans have altered 75 percent of Earth’s land and more than half of the marine environment. More people require more crops, more land and fewer trees, which ultimately results in warmer temperatures — and you know the rest.

    Who knows? The end of everything may be the great unifier we’ve been looking for.”



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