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Coral Reefs: A potential climate change disaster?

Coral Reefs potential climate change problemA study by Langdon et al. (2000) predicts that due to global warming, the world’s coral reefs could be reduced by as much as 40% by the year 2065. The corals secrete calcium carbonate to build the skeletons that form reefs. The reefs themselves are home to an extremely diverse ecosystem, and serve as natural breakwaters, which help to prevent beaches from eroding.

Research shows that coral growth is proportionate to carbonate concentration. As CO2 levels increase in the atmosphere, the calcium carbonate saturation state of the ocean is reduced. This saturation state is the primary environmental factor that influences the calcification of corals, and the study indicates that the corals are unable to acclimatise to the changing saturation state of the ocean. Bridge linking Somerset Village to Watford Bermuda

Anthropogenic global warming has also caused an increase in tropical sea surface temperatures, and this is thought to stimulate coral bleaching. Which is where the coral loses its symbiotic algae, causing mortality. In 1998 coral reefs around the world suffered the most extensive and severe bleaching on record, creating a high level of coral mortality (Reaser, Pomerance and Thomas, 2000). This combined with more localised anthropogenic factors could devastate the world’s coral reefs. Even protected areas, and reefs run for sustainable use are affected by global climate change, and their existence threatened. These two factors, which adversely affect coral reefs, suggest that the effect of climate change on coral reefs may be much greater than at the levels previously predicted.

Footnote on sea level rises:

July 2005: NASA (USA) have announced recent more accurate estimates of sea level rise as follows:-

“Although sea levels have been monitored since the early 20th century, it wasn’t known how many changes were related to land movement. Now satellites can provide such information.

In the last 50 years, sea level has risen at an estimated rate of .07 inches (.18 centimeters) per year, but in the last 12 years that rate appears to be .12 inches (3 centimeters) per year, said Associate Professor Steve Nerem at the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research.

The most likely factor for sea level rise is changes in the Earth’s ice cover. NASA said three-fourths of the planet’s freshwater is stored in glaciers and ice sheets — or about 220 feet (67 meters) of sea level.”

Global Warming “The Awakening”

How many Natural Disasters will it take to wake the World up to the encroaching situation? Are people so wrapped up in their little worlds, as not to see the impending retribution of Nature itself? There are many new and innovative ideas that will help to bring the World back from the brink of its own “Purge” cycle, can these ideas be looked over or ignored? Can Mankind afford to be blind to the reality of the situation any longer? It is time for a true “Awakening!”

(PRWEB) January 18, 2006 — Mankind is pressing towards an “Awakening” that is not for the better. Allowing those who represent Mankind’s needs to ignore or suppress the Science and Technologies, available and affordable, that will allow for the cleaner and more efficient use of the remaining Fossil Fuels, while affordable alternatives are found and put into use, will lead the World further into the Brink. The efforts of all of Mankind should be on the Preservation of the Environment and Ecosystem that has supported Life for centuries. What was, is no more. Unless Mankind awakens to “Mother Nature’s” call to stop destroying the Planet, forces of Nature shall surely clean that which is offensive and damaging until the World is forced to go back to Primitive ways of sustaining life.

Mankind has become gluttonous, living in the “Fast Lane” and getting every convenience available. Not paying attention to the many signals that are the sign of Mother Natures call for attention. There can be no mistake, the Environment has been badly bruised and battered by the lack of attention to the poisons and pollutants that are being spewed into the water, soil, and air. If Mankind does not “Get a Grip” on the lavish and carefree lifestyle and start looking to Science to fix the damage, already done, the Natural course of Mother Nature will be to take matters into her own hand. This has been evidenced by the recent increase in Natural Disasters, Extreme Weather, and Climate shifts. These are the signs of an Evolutionary Natural Cleansing which will be less than favorable to man.

For centuries, Science and the innovative few, have brought developments and tools to light that will increase man’s ability to become less reliant on Natures deplete able resources, and use those resources in plentiful abundance; yet, the guile of Big Brother or Big Business smothers, buys, and hides these advances; those things that would help do less damage to the Environment and continue to move Mankind ahead is it’s development. It is time to stop the “Cover-up” of advancing technology and start paying attention to advances that would allow for cleaner burning fuels, less expensive and less polluting alternative fuels, better use of available resources, cleaner processes for manufacturing, better reclamation of the areas that have been mined, drilled, and drained of resources. As long as Government and Big Business is allowed to “Pick and Choose’ the advancements available for Mankind’s use, their will always be a lack of truly innovative and forward thinking products, for use, that will do good to and for the Environment. How much longer can this be allowed before the Planet really starts fighting back?

How many Natural Disasters will it take to wake the World up to the encroaching situation? Are people so wrapped up in their little worlds, as not to see the impending retribution of Nature itself? There are many new and innovative ideas that will help to bring the World back from the brink of its own “Purge” cycle, can these ideas be looked over or ignored? Can Mankind afford to be blind to the reality of the situation any longer? It is time for a true “Awakening!”

For more information on the Advancements in Science and Technology, check with local Libraries, Foundations, and centers for Higher Learning. To find some of the new advances available for use today, you can also visit: http://www.cheapgaspricesonline.com or http://www.fromweedeaterstotugboats.com.

Climate Change and Asian Monsoon in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya (HKH)

By Environmentalists: Dipesh Raj Pant and Arjun Kumar Limbu

E-mail: arjunlimbu@hotmail.com

“Once the climate changes,
it is not only very difficult;
but, almost impossible to retain it”.

Can you imagine “HKH” without the “Monsoon Season?” “D-A”

The two simple words “Climate Change” is one of several biophysical factors encompassed by the term Global Environmental Change (GEC), and have always been intriguing herald scientists, due to its fragile nature. Human societies in both developed and developing countries can learn to adapt to some of these changes, although, clearly, poor societies cannot adapt so easily or quickly and hence are potentially more vulnerable. The southern Asian monsoon is one of the most important and influential phenomena of Earth’s climate system. Most of the population of Southeast Asia is completely dependent on variability in the onset and duration of the monsoon has profound impacts on water resources, human life, agriculture, economics and ecosystems. Ironically, Extreme events, like floods, droughts and cyclones, cause loss of livelihood and millions of dollars of damage every year. As a consequence of this dependence societies in Southeast Asia have evolved many strategies to cope with and take advantage of existing climate variability. Can you imagine impacts of monsoon failure in South Asia, especially for Nepal which is landlocked country? There’s an only disaster.

Nepal, along with over 150 other countries, signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Nepal ratified the convention on 2nd May in 1994, and came into force on 31st July in 1994. Ratifying in international conventions is not the answer to the climate change as it is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration is left to complete in the real world. Still, the “inspiration” doesn’t seem so promising in the real world.

A Regional Seminar on Drought Mitigation was organized in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 28-29 August 2001. The aim was that countries in the region could share experiences in preparing for drought, assessing drought damage and mitigating its consequences. Medium- and long-term strategies for drought preparedness and mitigation were discussed. The global mean temperature increased at a rate of 0.6oC per century since 1900; since 1976, temperatures have risen approximately three times faster.

“Melting Glaciers Said to Be Threatening Everest”, LONDON − Melting glaciers caused by climate change pose an urgent threat to Mount Everest’s unique environment, activists said Wednesday, launching a campaign to protect the Himalayan mountain range and the world’s highest peak. Lakes have swollen from runoff, and unless urgent action is taken, many lakes could burst, threatening the lives of thousands of people and destroying the environment, said the campaigners — a collection of mountaineers, Nepalese climbers and the Friends of the Earth, an environmental lobbying organization. November 17, 2004, Associated Press.

It is estimated that between 10 to 20 % of the total surface area of the Hindu-Kush Himalaya is covered by glaciers; a comparable to that of Swiss Alps. An additional, which is as high as 30 to 40 %, has a seasonal snowcover. The focal point in case of Nepal’s perspective towards climate change seems the Melting of the glaciers in the High Himalayan Mountains. The main argument is that as long as the monsoon season prevails in Hindu-Kush Himalaya (HKH), the glaciers’ melting doesn’t have a pressing one at least. For Hindu-Kush regional basis, Nepal, the focus or attention has to be the protection of “Monsoon Rainfall” which appears once a year and is the ultimate multifarious source of glaciers, water resources etc.

In 1998, drought dominated many parts of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) region like Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda. In some places, it was the worst for decades and in others was an extension of the persistent drought that began in 1998. Rainfall during March-May 2000 period (the long rains season in equatorial eastern Africa) was late and light; in some places, the rains failed completely. This failure was associated with La Nina conditions and cyclonic activity in the Indian Ocean. The same Indian Ocean which triggers the formation of the Asian Monsoon may one day change its influx pattern to Hindu-Kush Himalaya. Monsoon clouds from the Indian Ocean bring about 80 percent of the annual rainfall in four months in Nepal due to its mountainous topography and blessed with a high surface water potential. Therefore, the hydrologists, climatologists’ perspective towards climate change should taper towards the Asian monsoon so that Asian nations work more intimately together.

Currently, around the world, the herald scientists have been very much intrigued by the Indian Ocean’s anomalies. A NASA study suggests changing winds and currents in the Indian Ocean during the 1990s contributed to the observed warming of the ocean during that period. The findings, published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters, have potential implications for long-term regional climate variability. “Establishing this correlation provides an important missing piece to the global ocean-warming puzzle and provides vital information for regional governments and climate modelers,” said Dr. Tong Lee, study author and researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Multi-decadal warming of the Indian Ocean in the past has affected the North Atlantic climate and was blamed for a devastating drought along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in the 1970s and ’80s. Lee’s findings are based on sea level measurements from NASA’s Topex/Poseidon oceanographic satellite, sea-surface temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellite, and wind data from the European Space Agency’s European Remote Sensing satellites. Collected between 1992 and 2000, the combined data reveal weakening of southeasterly trade winds over the South Indian Ocean caused a major circulation of this ocean to wane by nearly 70 percent of its average strength. The atmosphere heats the upper Indian Ocean. The circulation of this ocean counteracts the atmospheric heating by exporting warm surface water and importing colder subsurface water. The slowdown of this circulation tends to prevent warm surface water from exiting and colder subsurface water from entering the upper Indian Ocean, raising its average temperature. During this period, the average sea-surface temperature of the Indian Ocean increased by approximately 0.25 Celsius (0.45 Fahrenheit). Scientists studying satellite data have discovered an immense wintertime pool of pollution over the northern Indian state of Bihar. Blanketing around 100 million people, primarily in the Ganges Valley, the pollution levels are about five times larger than those typically found over Los Angeles. Now, what are its effects and what can be done?

This atmospheric pollution in the North Indian subcontinent is the place where exactly the attention is needed rather than melting of glaciers etc… Before its remedy issues, the impact of such pollution for the south Asian is supremely have a direct relationship with monsoon system. Those pollutants emanated are called aerosols that have either cooling or warming impact in its surrounding, even a source of condensation nuclei to have precipitation. Blanketing around 100 million people, primarily in the Ganges Valley, definitely have changes in the temperature and precipitation. The recent flood in Nepal may be the impact of those aerosols with an effect to be coined as “Arrested Monsoon”. Arrested Monsoon is the ensuing effect of precipitation resulting extreme floods in the lowlands before moisture reaching high lands as the monsoon moisture is trapped heavily and swiftly by aerosols forming condensation nucleases. Such formation may precipitate consistently in wide geographical areas due to heavy formation of condensation nucleases. This must have happened in the Terai region of Nepal, inundating millions of households in a few days of rainfall. Similar experience, Nepal may face in upcoming years, if such environment persists. Even, the loss of forest is another factor that enhances swiftness in the flow of water; it ultimately it ensues the flooding condition than forested land. In long term basis, the monsoon system may be arrested in India before reaching Nepal; the effect will immediately instigates the droughts in Nepal. And, Nepal may become no difference than the some African countries facing the loss of African monsoon season. The major GHGs productions also affect environment, therefore, concerned authorities should see its impacts to the Asian Monsoon in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya.

Nepal is the landlocked country and more than 80 % of the population depend upon agriculture (as the major activity of the economy) and on the forest (for the daily fuel wood supply) and all in all complete dependent upon natural Asian monsoon precipitation. If the monsoon season fails completely, the nation will have to face similar experiences that some African nations are going through. We cannot imagine our life without monsoon season. Already nation is hit by various socio-political disharmonies; can you image what it would be without Monsoon Season? It will be debacle and consequences will be no difference than Africa due to complete drought and related effects. There’s no other resources for survival of social life as well than agricultural for which an Asian monsoon is crucial. Nepal’s major source of survival is in fact completely dependent upon Asian monsoon from drinking waters supply, electricity generation from hydropower, agriculture for food; the basic necessities of a simple life are endangered by the climate change where the attention is needed. Virtually, water is the most vital factor in all resource development undertakings in South Asia.

For the management of Climate change, a complete integrated management aspect is essential at global scale. I see there are two measures to counteract the climate change: 1. Application of Technological Advancement (ATA) 2. Afforestation Programme Globally (APG). It is the time to dispense in accord to the aptness of countries. The first counter measure ATA is to use technology in our daily use like electric vehicles rather than petrol, where the government must provide incentives towards environmentally friendly subjects. On the other hand, the APG concept is to undergo through massive afforestation programme globally because warmer oceans absorb less atmospheric carbon dioxide, so we depend increasingly on the world’s remaining vegetation to filter the air for us. It is vegetation, the only means by which carbon dioxide is converted into life-giving oxygen. Only the levitation of social economy is not going to be the complete answer because increasing population keeps on altering the local environment. Asian monsoon is a regional scale. Therefore, at the present context, the afforestation programme has to be put forwarded to check the climate change because the temperature change in local climate drives the local wind pattern, which ultimately divert the route of Asian monsoon one day. A real action has to undergo grass root development of socio-economic conditions that encourages society to because whatever the changes brought due to anthropogenic activities rather than natural. On the other aspect of climate change could lead to the increment in the precipitation amount which can be coped better than devoid of Asian monsoon.

Vulnerability due to climate change is immense in environment. Therefore, our focus has to be not only just the local/country basis when climate is affected by regional basis in the South-Asian Countries. Once, climate changes especially the monsoon rainfall, the catastrophe is near to South-Asian countries as it is plausible as already stated. Asian monsoon water is an integral aspect of all facets of the both High Landers and low Landers that enters into virtually every resource development or management project in some way. The scientific and political connections also need to work even more intimately. In any disaster cases, the “pre-management” is the most crucial place to save millions.

I see the disaster of HKH without “Asian Monsoon” with multitude of effect on human, environment and their interactions? Can you imagine HKH without “Monsoon Season”?

“Once the climate changes,
it is not only very difficult;
but, almost impossible to retain it”.

If you have any comments on this article please email arjunlimbu@hotmail.com and they will be very happy to receive your comments, and ideas as to how the monsoon can be preserved.

Is Your Global Warming? The Alarming Rate of CO2 Rise (as seen in 2006)

Author: J Schipper

Carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas linked to global warming, is accumulating in the Earth’s atmosphere at an increasing rate, according to a new study released by the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The research has renewed concern that the ability of the environment to absorb the gas may be waning.

The NOAA study said the average atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2005 reached 381 parts per million, up from 2.6 ppm since 2004. The annual rate of increase, which has been recorded since the 1950s, now exceeds 2 ppm for three of the past four years. This is an unprecedented increase; 50 years ago, the annual increase was less than 1 ppm.

The extra CO2 is produced by the burning of fossil fuels, currently emitting approximately 7 billion tons of carbon per year, and roughly half is absorbed by vegetation and the oceans. Researchers believe the yearly fluctuations in CO2 build-up are caused largely by nature’s variable ability to absorb the emissions. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now higher than experienced on Earth for at least
the last 400,000 years, and the rise is expected to continue. Over the past two decades, only half of the CO2 released by human activities such as fossil fuel burning, the so-called “anthropogenic CO2,” is still in the atmosphere; about 30% has been taken up by the ocean, and 20% by the terrestrial biosphere.

This new finding follows reports that 2005 was probably the warmest year on record, with temperatures slightly higher than the previous peak in 1998. Also, scientists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, in Boulder, Colorado, reported that Arctic sea ice did not reform fully in the winter of 2005 after
record rates of melting during the summer.

Until recently the largest increases in concentrations of CO2 always occurred during El Niño years, when tropical vegetation grows more slowly due to lack of rain and fires occur in dried-out rainforests. The greatest recorded increase of 2.7 ppm occurred in the El Niño year of 1998. However, scientists are alarmed by the fact that none of the past three years of near-record increases have coincided with an El Niño event.

According to Peter Cox, a scientist at the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in Dorset, UK, who studies the interaction between plants and the atmosphere, the recent surge in CO2 levels “may be the first evidence of a feedback from the carbon cycle, in which plants under heat stress from global warming
start to absorb less carbon dioxide”.

Not only are plants slowing their rate of CO2 absorption, but coastal carbon sinks are shrinking as well. Mangrove forests, which play a large role in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and dissolving it into the ocean, are disappearing rapidly. A research team led by Thorsten Dittmar of Florida State University in Tallahassee studied how much mangroves contribute to the organic carbon dissolved in ocean waters off the coast of Brazil. They came to the conclusion that even though intertidal mangrove forests cover only 0.1% of the earth’s surface, they contribute up to 10 per cent worldwide of the ocean’s dissolved organic carbon. This is approximately equal to the amount reaching the ocean from the Amazon river, the largest single source of dissolved organic carbon.

Intertidal forests of mangroves surround many tropical coastlines. Mangroves, like all plants, fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and return organic material to the soil when they decompose. Their tangled root systems also collect fallen leaf litter. However, mangrove roots and soil are washed over by tides, and much of this organic carbon leaches into the ocean. Unlike CO2 absorbed
directly from the atmosphere, much of the carbon produced by mangrove trees is bound up in large molecules which are highly resistant to decomposition, and is therefor likely to be held in the ocean for decades instead of being returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Mangrove forests have declined by nearly fifty percent during the past century due to increasing coastal development and habitat damage, such as the draining of swamps for agriculture. As the habitat has changed, fewer mangrove trees and their derived detritus are available to bind and export dissolved
organic matter into the ocean. The research team concluded that the rapid decline in mangrove forests threatens to shut off this important link in the carbon cycle, with potentially damaging consequences for atmospheric composition and climate.

Direct absorption of CO2 by the ocean surface also occurs, but it has unfortunate consequences not produced by complex carbon molecules fixed by plants. As dissolved CO2 rises, the pH of the ocean water decreases, becoming more acidic. This low pH causes the calcium carbonate shells of sea creatures to dissolve or form poorly, threatening coral reefs.

A pH reduction of approximately 0.1 unit in surface waters has occurred already due to oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2. Scientists estimate that the total drop in surface seawater acidity (pH) will be approximately 0.4 pH units by the end of this century, with an almost 50% increase in the concentration
of dissolved carbonate ion concentration. The surface ocean pH drop would be lower than it has been for more than twenty million years.

About The Author: J Schipper is interested in Global Warming: http://www.global-warming-now.info
http://www.stem-cells-now.info http://www.911-faq.info http://www.life-extension-now.com

Will Global Warming Cause the UK to Cool?

Anyuittug_National_ParkSubstantial uncertainties exist when trying to predict how large areas will react to the changing climate, and when it comes to global climate the UK is an anomaly. This is because it is warmer than other countries located at the same latitude e.g. Newfoundland.

The reason for this warmth is the Gulf Stream, which draws heat from the topics and releases the warmth in the north-east Atlantic. If global warming causes the acceleration of the hydrological cycle and melting of ice, surface water will be diluted and water currents will slow. Climate change models show a net effect of slowed down warming in the north Atlantic because of this effect (Grub, 2004).

However, work by Seager et al (2002) disputes that climate change will have a cooling effect on the UK climate. Using weather data from the past 50 years their research shows that as little as 10% of the UK’s warming comes from the Gulf Stream. Instead the paper claims the majority of the UK’s climate comes in the form of warm wind from North America, and that this combined with the ocean being capable of holding heat for longer than the land, is the key to the mild climate. Therefore, dilution of the Gulf Stream by ice melt water, could have a less disastrous effect on the UK’s climate than was first thought, and climate change may cause the UK to warm instead of cool.

While there is uncertainty regarding how climate change will effect areas locally, changes already experienced in the global climate outlined by UKCIP (2002) include; increased night-time temperatures, occurring at twice the rate of day time temperatures, and higher rainfall over many Northern Hemisphere mid-to-high latitude areas of land. Along with a practically global reduction in ice mass, accompanied by substantial Arctic sea ice thinning occurring in late summer. The Northern Hemisphere is also experiencing an extension in the length of the freeze-free season.

Global Warming is Now Affecting New York

by William Sutherland

The US is waking up fast to the reality of global warming or climate change, as this very readable article shows.

Global Warming – New YorkGlobal Warming’s Imprint on New York City: As global mean temperatures continue to rise moving the Earth into its warmest period in 10 million years, New York City has begun to feel an immediate impact. While rising ocean levels have not inundated and converted the metropolis into a new Atlantis, precipitation levels have increased and winter temperatures have risen, an early indicator of global warming.

While heat waves and periods of unusually warm weather, ocean warming, arctic warming, melting glaciers and shrinking ice caps, gradual rises in the sea-level, and even the historic hurricane season of 2005 have received significant publicity, “harbingers” such as spreading disease, earlier thaws, acceleration of evolution including adaptations seen in some insect and plant species, coral reef bleaching, along with an increase in extreme weather have only begun receiving press coverage. Yet two symptoms of global warming have quietly been present in New York City since 1971 and 1950.

Since 1971, fueled by a rising number of severe downpours and heavy snowfalls, New York City has undergone a shift in precipitation patterns. Since official record keeping began in 1869 through 1970, a 102-year period, New York City had 12 years in which 50 or more inches of precipitation had fallen.

From 1971 through 2006, even though the year is not finished yet, New York City has already experienced 15 years with 50 inches or more of precipitation. Accordingly if one extrapolated the 36-year period from 1971-2006 over 102 years, it would result in an astonishing 42.5 years of 50 inches or more of precipitation versus the 12 year figure for the period ending in 1970.

Not surprisingly, the period from 1971-2005 has a mean precipitation figure that is 7.22 inches or 16.8% higher than the mean precipitation figure from 1869-1970. It is likely to rise even higher when 2006, which has already seen more than 55 inches of precipitation through November 21st is factored in.

Likewise, considering the higher precipitation figures since 1971, it is also not surprising that nine out of the 12 monthly precipitation records have occurred subsequent to the transition to wetter weather as illustrated by the below table:

New York City Monthly Precipitation Records

January: 10.52 Inches 1979
February: 6.87 Inches 1869
March: 10.54 Inches 1983
April: 14.01 Inches 1983
May: 10.24 Inches 1989
June: 10.27 Inches 2003
July: 11.89 Inches 1889
August: 12.36 Inches 1990
September: 16.85 Inches 1882
October: 16.73 Inches 2005
November: 12.41 Inches 1972
December: 9.98 Inches 1973

With the elevated precipitation levels fuelled by an increase in severe downpours that often leave in excess of 2 inches of rain and heavy snowfalls, it is not surprising that the 59 year-old snowfall record fell earlier this year when New York City received a record 26.9 inches of snow from February 11-12 versus the old record of 26.4 inches that had fallen during the Blizzard of 1947 from December 26-27. In addition, New York City has seen two 20+ inch snowstorms in the last 11 years (20.2 inches in 1996 and 26.9 inches in 2006) versus the 59 years it took for the last two (21.1 inches in 1888 and 26.4 inches in 1947). Furthermore three out of New York City’s top five snowstorms since record keeping, have occurred since 1996: 26.9 inches (2006), 20.2 inches (1996, which also saw a record 75.6 inches of snow for 1995-96 winter since modern record keeping, eclipsing the 63.2 1947-48 mark) and 19.8 inches (2003) and five out of the City’s top ten have occurred since 1978.

New York City’s Top 10 Snowstorms [1]

26.9 Inches – February 11-12, 2006
26.4 Inches – December 26-27, 1947
21.0 Inches – March 12-14, 1888
20.2 Inches – January 7-8, 1996
19.8 Inches – February 16-17, 2003
18.1 Inches – March 7-8, 1941
18.0 Inches – December 26, 1872
17.7 Inches – February 5-7, 1978
17.6 Inches – February 11-12, 1983
17.5 Inches – February 4-7, 1920

Even more astonishing, since 2000 there have been five snowstorms that have dumped at least a foot of snow on New York City. Aside from the two listed in the above table, 14.0 inches fell from December 5-6, 2003, 13.8 inches from January 22-23, 2005, and 12.0 inches on December 30, 2000.

Consistent with New York City’s snowfall records, seven out of the top ten annual precipitation records have also occurred since 1971:

New York City’s Top 10 Yearly Precipitation Totals

80.56 Inches – 1983
67.03 Inches – 1972
65.11 Inches – 1989
61.21 Inches – 1975
60.92 Inches – 1990
58.56 Inches – 2003
58.32 Inches – 1903
58.00 Inches – 1913
57.23 Inches – 1973
57.16 Inches – 1889

Last, prior to 1971, the record of consecutive years for 50 or more inches of precipitation was two, which occurred twice (1888 and 1889 with 53.32 inches and 57.16 inches, respectively and 1902 and 1903 with 52.77 inches and 58.32 inches, respectively). Since 1971, the record is currently four consecutive years (2003-2006 with 58.56, 51.97, 55.90 and 55.83 inches through November 21, 2006) followed by three consecutive that had been set from 1971-1973 when 56.77, 67.03, and 57.23 inches, respectively had fallen. Not coincidentally, with the increased precipitation totals, New York City is currently experiencing a record four consecutive years with 40 or more inches of snowfall (Winter 2002-03 through Winter 2005-06).

Aside from increased precipitation, New York City has also experienced a dramatic decline in extreme cold sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures. Since 1950, New York City has seen the temperature drop below zero with a low of -2° Fahrenheit on only a handful of occasions, a far cry from the early years (1869-1949) when readings fell far deeper below zero including -15° Fahrenheit in 1934. Below is a comparative table of extreme sub-zero readings as measured in Central Park from 1869-1949 and 1950-2006:

New York City Below Zero Temperature Readings
1869-1949:

-15° Fahrenheit – February 9, 1934
-13° Fahrenheit – December 30, 1917

-8° Fahrenheit – February 15, 1943

-7° Fahrenheit – December 31, 1917 and February 8, 1934

-6° Fahrenheit – December 30, 1880, January 24, 1882, February 10, 1899, December 29, 1917, February 5, 1918, and December 30, 1933

-5° Fahrenheit – February 17, 1896 and January 14, 1914

1950-2006:

-2° Fahrenheit – February 2, 1961, February 8, 1963, January 17, 1977, January 21, 1985, and January 19, 1994

-1° Fahrenheit – January 9, 1968, January 23, 1976, and December 25, 1980

Since the start of the 21st century, the mercury has yet to fall below zero in New York City. With the “Big Apple’s” growth and expanding “heat-island” effect, it is possible that until global warming is effectively addressed, New York City may have seen its last sub-zero reading for decades and even centuries to come.

Another sign of New York City’s warming is the absence of annual snowfall records since 1950 despite the rise in precipitation. While the 1971-2005 mean precipitation totals for November, December, January, and March run 30.3%, 16.7%, 24.6%, and 21.3% higher, respectively than the 1869-1970 figures (February is an exception in which the 1971-2005 mean actually runs 6.8% lower than the 1869-1970 figure), only three winters from that period rank in the top eleven as far as snowiest seasons go. Below is a table of the eleven snowiest seasons:

Top 11 Snowiest Seasons:

1. 75.6, 1995-96
2. 63.2, 1947-48
3. 60.4, 1922-23
4. 60.3, 1872-73
5. 55.9, 1898-99
6. 54.7, 1960-61
7. 53.4, 1993-94
8. 53.2, 1906-07
9. 52.0, 1933-34
10. 51.5, 1966-67
11. 50.7, 1915-16, 1916-17, 1977-78

However, despite the adversity of warmer weather and wetter winter precipitation, the 1971 transition has had an impact when it comes to consecutive winters with 40 or more inches of snow. The old record of two consecutive winters set on four different occasions has been broken as illustrated below:

Consecutive 40 or More Inch Snowfall Seasons:

1882-83: 44.0 Inches
1883-84: 43.1 Inches

1895-96: 46.3 Inches
1896-97: 43.6 Inches

1915-16: 50.7 Inches
1916-17: 50.7 Inches

1947-48: 63.2 Inches
1948-49: 46.6 Inches

2002-03: 49.3 Inches
2003-04: 42.6 Inches
2004-05: 41.0 Inches
2005-06: 40.0 Inches

Based on New York City’s transition to a wetter climate starting in 1971 and to a warmer winter commencing in 1950, the imprint of global warming is already present from a microcosmic meteorological standpoint. Thus global warming is not a theory. It is a scientifically proven fact that must be dealt with. Until carbon-based fuels are replaced with clean alternatives such as hydrogen or a catastrophic natural event such as a significant or even super volcanic eruption occurs, the latter which can be equally as devastating, the Earth’s warming will continue threatening not only the mild repercussions that New York City has seen to date, but significant climactic changes that will not only adversely affect the global economy through famine, disease and increased storm-related damage to such a level that it “could devastate [it] on a scale of the two world wars and the depression of the 1930s,”[2] but also to accelerating mutations and the extinction of rising numbers of species that cannot adapt to the changing conditions or fall prey to other migrating species originally alien to their habitats as competition for food and other scarce resources heightens.

[1] The National Weather Service.

[2] Warming ‘may cause economic chaos.’ CNN.com. 30 October 2006. 19 November 2006. Click here for the CNN item.

Additional Sources:

Blaine P. Friedlander, Jr. Winter season clobbered the region with 147 billion tons of the white stuff. Mother Nature’s pounding left 18 freshly fallen records.” Cornell University Science News. 18 June 1996. 19 November 2006. Click here for Cornell University

Don Sutherland. NYC Continues Push Toward 50″ Annual Precipitation: Some Thoughts.” 17 October 2006. 30 October 2006. http://www.easternuswx.com/

Global Warming: Early Warning Signs. 2001. 4 November 2006. http://www.climatehotmap.org/

William Sutherland is a published poet and writer. He is the author of three books, “Poetry, Prayers & Haiku” (1999), “Russian Spring” (2003) and “Aaliyah Remembered: Her Life & The Person behind the Mystique” (2005) and has been published in poetry anthologies around the world. He has been featured in “Who’s Who in New Poets” (1996), “The International Who’s Who in Poetry” (2004), and is a member of the “International Poetry Hall of Fame.” He is also a contributor to Wikipedia, the number one online encyclopedia.

Other Climate Change Impact Articles You Might Find Interesting:

Is there really No Global Warming?

The video below is part of a CNN documentary. It finishes in the middle of an interesting discussion of the UNFCC’s “hockey stick” graph, which has been so persuasive to many in convincing them that Climate Change is really caused by anthropological activity. However, their alternative conclusion is lost when the video ends abruptly. Nevertheless this video is still well worth viewing.

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March 2007 Update: This page below was written in 2004. This page provides a snapshot of the discussions and issues current at that time. Things have changed since this page was written. More than 90% of the world’s climate change scientists now believe that the scientific evidence shows that climate change is a proven fact and the current climate change report is the UNFCCC’s 3rd Report (published January 2007).

One of the arguments from scientists who do not accept global warming is happening, say that while surface records may show that temperatures on the earth’s surface are rising, satellite temperature records are unable to detect any warming occurring higher up in the troposphere. Climate change models have predicted that this level of the atmosphere should be experiencing warming, at a level similar to that occurring at the earth’s surface. Data from radiosonde balloons and using satellites to measure global temperature appeared to show cooling of the troposphere by approximately 0.05Oc per decade (Spencer, and Christy, 1990). This data became a crucial part of the argument against the occurrence of global warming.

However, Wentz and Schabel (1998) carried out a study re-examining the data, and came to the opposite conclusion, finding that the troposphere was indeed warming as predicted by the climate change models. They found that the troposphere was experiencing a warming trend of approximately 0.2Oc per decade. The raw data contained no pronounced warming trend, as observed by Spencer and Christy (1990), but Wentz and Schabel (1998) found that the data was being confused by signals from the stratosphere, which is a higher level of the atmosphere 10-50km above the earth’s surface. The stratosphere is known to cool quickly due to ozone depletion and increased greenhouse gases, making this area of the atmosphere cool fives times faster than the troposphere below, is warming. Wentz and Schabel (1998) went on to eliminate the error caused by the stratosphere, and remaining data showed that the troposphere was warming as predicted. From this research the lower atmosphere temperature trend can be seen to match surface temperature trends.

So we have seen the problems associated with using satellites to measure temperature, but there is also the problem of inaccuracy when measuring surface temperatures. It has been suggested that the apparent change in regional surface temperatures is due to the urban heat island effect, where cities act to trap heat, and create obstacles to wind, thus raising the temperature locally (Soon at al 1999). The IPCC (2001) reviews the urban heat island (UHI) effect in detail. It can be seen that there has been an observed increase in land air temperature over the last two decades, caused by a decrease in the diurnal temperature range, which is thought to be due to the urban heat island effect. Urban heat islands raise nightime temperatures more than they raise daytime temperatures. On average mean minimum temperature is increasing twice as fast as mean maximum temperature, causing the daily temperature range to decrease by approx 0.4OC. However, the urban heat island effect may not be the only factor reducing the daily temperature range. As this trend has been observed there has also been a subsequent increase in precipitation and cloud cover, and it has been suggested that these physical changes may also be a contributor (Easterling et al 1997).

When using satellite and weather balloon data the effect of the urban heat island becomes apparent. Over land areas experiencing the urban heat island effect, lower troposphere temperatures and surface temperatures show no significant difference. In contrast, when data is examined over an area where no urban heat effect is being experienced, surface temperatures exhibit substantially more warming than temperatures taken from the troposphere. The IPCC (2001) go on to state that the urban heat effect is a localised effect, and is not representative of climate change in larger areas. A method of removing the urban heat island effect is to take averages from the northern and southern hemispheres respectively. The southern hemisphere has a lower urban heat island effect compared to the northern hemisphere, so has warmed at a considerably slower rate. When warming is calculated a system is used which gives much higher weight to the southern, compared to northern hemisphere. Therefore urban heat island is accounted for and removed from the calculations (Hansen et al 1999).

Urban effects on 20th century globally and hemispherically averaged temperature readings do not exceed over approximately 0.05oC (IPCC 2001). Furthermore changes in borehole temperatures, the recession of glaciers, and changes in ocean temperature, are not subject to urban heat effect, but agree with surface warming estimates. However, greater urbanisation influences cannot be discounted in future research (Folland et al, 2001). Uncertainties like the urban heat island certainly need to be taken into account, and has been done by the IPCC review, which concludes, “the warming substantially exceeds the calculated uncertainties”. The urban heat island effect is not conclusive in proving the argument against anthropogenic global warming. It is not the exclusive factor causing surface temperatures to warm. Additional factors must be involved, and greenhouse gases are still certainly one of the most likely possibilities.

If you think that issues such as Urban Heat Islands have been given undue emphasis, and that the scientists have actually been under politically motivated attack in the US, amounting to undue pressure against heir views, you may want to visit the Petition Site Com, and support the work of the vast majority consensus of climate change scientists.

Climate Change Impacts

Climate change glacier viewOur List of Articles About Climate Change Impacts:

Research Highlights Global Warming Trouble
New York
CO2 Level Rises
Effect on UK?
Climate Ch. Asia
Nepal Views
GW Awakening
Below is what the IPPC says about these impacts:

The IPCC (2001) states that, “…climate change represents opportunities and risks for human development”. The areas where climate change could produce opportunities include:-

expansion of agriculture into areas previously limited by temperature, but only if adequate soils are present.

As the arctic ice thins, areas will be accessible for surface navigation that were previously inaccessible.

Heating demand and mortality from the cold in winter could decrease due to milder weather.
The following areas are those where climate change will cause adverse effects, are of concern to mankind, and which can be predicted with more than 90% confidence (Grub, 2004):-

There will be an increase in precipitation events, leading to increased flooding and landslide occurrences.

Run-off will increase leading to a higher level of soil erosion, along with an increase in maximum temperatures producing heat waves, which could cause heat related stress in crops and livestock. Grub (2004), predicts the following changes as likely, with a confidence of over two thirds: Mid-latitudinal drought risk, through summer heat, higher intensity of tropical cyclones, and a more variable Asian summer monsoon. This last prediction is thought to have an especially high impact, as it will effect half of the worlds population that live in China, India and surrounding countries.

Global Warming and the Alternative Theories

Classic_cumulusMarch 2007 Update: The following text was written in 2004. The second hypothesis has since been eliminated, and both 1 and 3 appear to be taking place. This discussion makes it clear how fast both climate change is advancing and also how rapidly our acceptance of the fact is also developing. The question is how soon will society begin to react and take action?

If we take the view that the increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations since the industrial revolution have created a warming effect on the climate, and disregard the question as to whether the warming is unprecedented or not. Three different possible hypotheses exist, which predict the response of the atmosphere in the near future to the increase in CO2 (Soon at al., 1999):-

  1. The first hypothesis adopted by the IPCC (2001) takes the view that the atmosphere will amplify the effect of CO2, the consequence being a large temperature increase.
  2. Hypothesis 2 predicts the opposite that the atmosphere will respond to counteract the increase in CO2, subsequently resulting in no significant increase in global temperatures (Lindzen, 1994; Spencer and Braswell, 1997).
  3. The third hypothesis that temperature increases will lead to an increase in natural disasters including flooding, storms and drought. (This hypothesis has been grouped together with hypothesis 1 to be what is known known as the “global warming phenomenon”.)

The predictions which have resulted from the logic of the likely combination of 1. and 3. comprise the consensus view, and have led to the belief that it is necessary to dramatically reduce world energy consumption and builds the basis of the Kyoto Protocol (Soon at al., 1999).

Follow the link here to read further discussion of the global warming hypothesis.

Was the 20th Century truly the warmest century?

The IPCC graph of global temperatures shows current temperatures to be the highest, but a number of scientists dispute this. Soon and Baliunas (1993) using studies of tree rings, and other indicators of past climate claimed, that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium”. This study was used by sceptics including the Bush administration in the argument against capping CO2 emissions in the US. The papers conclusion even made its way into an Environmental Protection Agency report made by the White House. The findings contradict widely cited and highly thought upon research by other scientists (Regalado 2003). Michael E. Mann of the university of Virginia was one of the many climate change experts who criticised the Soon and Baliunas (2003) paper. Dr Mann led a climate change study back in 1998, producing a reconstruction of global temperatures that showed a distinct pattern of temperature, which had stayed level for centuries, then upturned in the last few decades producing a “hockey stick” graph (see fig 2.1).

The study concluded that greenhouse gases were the main factor contributing to climate variability during the 20th century, and that mean annual temperatures were at their highest since at least AD 1400. Natural factors alone cannot explain the anomalous warmth and therefore, anthropogenic climate change must have a significant effect on climate (Mann, Bradley and Hughes 1998). Dr Mann and his colleagues produced a critique of the Soon and Baliunas (2003) paper saying that the claims made were not consistent with the scientific evidence, and that the paper was flawed. The response details a number of additional reconstructions (Mann et al., 1999; Jones et al., 1998; Crowley and Lowery, 2000), that also support the conclusion that late 20th Century temperatures are the highest experienced in the last 1000 years (Mann et al 2003).

Millennial Temperature record

fig21-millenial-temp-record
When examining climate change there is a very distinct difference between regional temperature anomalies and hemispheric mean temperature anomalies. Regional weather causes certain areas to cool while others warm, making hemispheric mean temperature a more valid and stable measurement than regional temperatures (Mann et al 2003). Consequently making the Soon and Baliunas (2003) paper inaccurate, which lead people to question whether the paper should have ever been published. It has been reported that after the publishing of the paper in Climate Research the journals editor-in-chief resigned because he was not allowed by the journals owners to publish an editorial in a following issue pointing out the articles flaws. A further revelation was that the American Petroleum Institute partly funded the study, which was then promoted by non-profit organisations that receive support from energy companies e.g. Exxon Mobil Corp. This suggests that there may have been an agenda behind the study, designed to benefit its supporters, possibly using the data to fit in with their existing opinions on anthropogenic climate change.

fig22-multi-stick-grasph-climate
The problem with the method used for Mann’s “hockey stick” graph (see fig 2.1) is that reliable temperature measurements made using thermometers only go back approximately 150 years. Without this data being available studies have to rely on a collection of structures that respond to temperature, and were around at the time in question. These are known as temperature proxies, and include tree rings (as used by Briffa (2000)), coral reefs and ice cores. The accuracy of this method is a source of much debate by scientists. Critics of the “hockey stick” claim that the method does not represent the full amount of temperature variation that has occurred in the past. The original graph by Mann et al. (1998) does not show the Medieval Warm Period or the subsequent Little Ice Age. Supporters of the hockey stick graph have argued that both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were not global phenomena, therefore do not show up in global temperature data. The debate has lead to a further temperature reconstruction of the northern hemisphere to be produced, which shows both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Ages clearly (see fig 2.2).

This reconstruction like Mann et al’s (1999) shows a steady increase in temperature during the 20th century but indicates that the warming started earlier in 1800. From this version of the temperature proxies it appears that temperatures were as warm 1000 years ago as they are today. Also that warming has occurred at a similar rate in the past, as it appears to be doing so in the present e.g. from 900 to 1000 (Esper et al., 2002). This study suggests that the temperature rise being experienced in the 20th century may not be that unusual, and may have natural causes rather than an anthropogenic forcing.

However, the Esper at al (2002) study itself was criticised by some scientists saying the area where tree ring data was collected only consisted of half the northern hemisphere, which would make the averages calculated inaccurate, and not a true representation of the northern hemisphere as a whole. The region covered by the study is known as the extratropical region, and has higher variation of temperature compared to the tropical region of the northern hemisphere. Data collected by Mann et al. (1999) covers the entire northern hemisphere so is likely to show less variation, but be more accurate. There is the additional problem of using tree rings as temperature proxies. Trees are more likely to reflect the summer temperatures than the winter temperatures experienced that year, possibly making them inaccurate when determining annual temperature ( http://www.co2andclimate.org ).

2002 2nd Warmest Year – More Hadley Centre, plus NZ & Australia Thermal Graphs here.

Facts:

During the last century, however, the climate has been changing more rapidly.

Sea level has risen about four to ten inches in the last century.

Increases in global temperatures over the last century correspond with increased industrialization.