Archive for the ‘global warming’ Category

Expanding tropics ‘a threat to millions’

December 3, 2007

The tropical belt that girdles the Earth is expanding north and south, which could have dire consequences for large regions of the world where the climate is likely to become more arid or more stormy, scientists have warned in a seminal study published today.

Climate change is having a dramatic impact on the tropics by pushing their boundaries towards the poles at an unprecedented rate not foreseen by computer models, which had predicted this sort of poleward movement only by the end of the century.

The report comes as representatives from 191 countries around the world assemble on the island of Bali in Indonesia, to negotiate a new international treaty to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Source:  Independent

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An Alaskan island is losing ground

November 25, 2007

Kivalina aerial

Beneath a moonlit Arctic sky, Joe Swan Jr. and most of his 12-person crew were taking a cigarette break when a dump truck arrived and emptied another load of black sand at their feet.

The backhoe driver, who happened to be his wife, gunned the engine, spewing a diesel haze into the air as she dug into the pile and filled another 2,500-pound sandbag for the sea wall shielding the island from the Chukchi Sea.

The crew has been repairing the $3-million wall almost since the day it was completed in October 2006.

They bring more sand. The ocean takes it away.

Kivalina is disappearing, the victim of a warming world and a steady natural erosion that probably began long before the Eskimos settled here 100 years ago.

Source:  Los Angeles Times

U.N. says it’s time to adapt to warming

November 17, 2007

The United Nations’ Nobel Prize-winning panel on climate change approved the final installment of its landmark report on global warming on Friday, concluding that even the best efforts at reducing CO2 levels will not be enough and that the world must also focus on adapting to “abrupt and irreversible” climate changes.

New and stronger evidence developed in the last year also suggests that many of the risks cited in the panel’s first three reports earlier this year will actually be larger than projected and will occur at lower temperatures, according to a draft of the so-called synthesis report.

The report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summarizes thousands of pages of research produced over the last six years by delegates from 140 countries and is expected to serve as a “how-to” guide for governments meeting in Bali, Indonesia, beginning Dec. 3 to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in five years.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Warming Revives Flora and Fauna in Greenland

October 28, 2007

A strange thing is happening at the edge of Poul Bjerge’s forest, a place so minute and unexpected that it brings to mind the teeny plot of land Woody Allen’s father carries around in the film “Love and Death.”

Its four oldest trees — in fact, the four oldest pine trees in Greenland, named Rosenvinge’s trees after the Dutch botanist who planted them in a mad experiment in 1893 — are waking up. After lapsing into stately, sleepy old age, they are exhibiting new sprinklings of green at their tops, as if someone had glued on fresh needles.

And it is not just old trees that are growing. A Greenlandic supermarket is stocking locally grown cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage this year for the first time. Eight sheep farmers are growing potatoes commercially.

Five more are experimenting with vegetables. And Kenneth Hoeg, the region’s chief agriculture adviser, says he does not see why southern Greenland cannot eventually be full of vegetable farms and viable forests.

Source:  New York Times

Canada plans Arctic military base to control route

October 8, 2007

In another sign of potential friction in the warming Arctic, Canada has warned that it will step up patrols of the North West Passage.

Record summer melting of sea-ice has cleared the passage for the first time; and immediately escalated a dispute over who controls the route.

Canada maintains the waterway that connects the Atlantic with the Pacific lies within its territorial waters.

It has backed that up with plans for a new military base in the Arctic.

Source:  BBC News

Walruses Abandon Ice for Alaska Shore

October 5, 2007

Thousands of walruses since late summer have congregated in haulouts on Alaska’s northwest shore, a phenomenon likely connected to record low Arctic sea ice.

Joel Garlich-Miller, a walrus expert with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in Anchorage, said Wednesday animals began showing up on shore in late July, a month earlier than usual. By August, several thousand animals—far more than normal—were bunched up in haulouts in a stretch of coastline from Barrow, America’s northernmost community, to Cape Lisburne, about 300 miles to the southwest on the Chukchi Sea.

“It’s raising a bunch of conservation issues for us,” Garlich-Miller said.

The agency’s immediate concern is that groups of walruses congregated on land are susceptible to additional human contact, whether a low- flying airplane or a hunter’s boat, that could can panic the group, setting off a deadly stampede to the water.

Source:  Associated Press

Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts

October 2, 2007

The Arctic ice cap shrank so much this summer that waves briefly lapped along two long-imagined Arctic shipping routes, the Northwest Passage over Canada and the Northern Sea Route over Russia.

Over all, the floating ice dwindled to an extent unparalleled in a century or more, by several estimates.

Now the six-month dark season has returned to the North Pole. In the deepening chill, new ice is already spreading over vast stretches of the Arctic Ocean. Astonished by the summer’s changes, scientists are studying the forces that exposed one million square miles of open water — six Californias — beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979.

Source:  New York Times

Could iron dropped in the ocean combat climate change?

October 2, 2007

It reads more like science fiction than any real solution to global warming: Fertilizing the sea to create plankton blooms that suck heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the air.

Yet two U.S. companies are moving toward doing just that by sprinkling particles of iron over vast swaths of the ocean.

As few viable solutions emerge to slow global warming, some scientists say such measures may become increasingly necessary, although they warn that far more research needs to be done to understand the effectiveness and ecological impact of such plans.

Source:  Boston Globe

Scientists Report Severe Retreat of Arctic Ice

September 22, 2007

The cap of floating sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, which retreats under summer’s warmth, this year shrank more than one million square miles — or six Californias — below the average minimum area reached in recent decades, scientists reported Thursday.

The minimum ice area for this year, 1.59 million square miles, appeared to be reached Sunday. The ice is now spreading again under the influence of the deep Arctic chill that settles in as the sun drops below the horizon at the North Pole for six months, starting Friday.

The findings were reported by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., and posted online at www.nsidc.org.

Here’s another interesting bit of information that was buried at the end of the story:

Sea ice around Antarctica has seen unusual winter expansions recently, and this week is near a record high.

Source:  New York Times

Melting Arctic Opens Up Northwest Passage

September 15, 2007

 A fabled sea route above North America linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans has become a reality thanks to global warming.

Scientists have confirmed that in August, Arctic sea ice shrank to its lowest levels since satellite measurements began monitoring the region nearly 30 years ago.

One consequence of this is that the Northwest Passage has opened up much earlier than expected.

“We’re several decades ahead of schedule right now,” said Mark Serreze, a senior scientist at the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, which monitors the region.

Source:  Live Science