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Offline sami  
#1 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:30:26 PM(UTC)
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Retreating glaciers, rising seas, and shrinking lakes are some of the global changes already under way.




Get a taste of what awaits you in print from this compelling excerpt.

"If we don't have it, we don't need it," pronounces Daniel Fagre as we throw on our backpacks. We're armed with crampons, ice axes, rope, GPS receivers, and bear spray to ward off grizzlies, and we're trudging toward Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park, Montana. I fall in step with Fagre and two other research scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey Global Change Research Program. They're doing what they've been doing for more than a decade: measuring how the park's storied glaciers are melting.
 
So far, the results have been positively chilling. When President Taft created Glacier National Park in 1910, it was home to an estimated 150 glaciers. Since then the number has decreased to fewer than 30, and most of those remaining have shrunk in area by two-thirds. Fagre predicts that within 30 years most if not all of the park's namesake glaciers will disappear.
 
"Things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime," says Fagre. "It's like watching the Statue of Liberty melt."
 
Scientists who assess the planet's health see indisputable evidence that Earth has been getting warmer, in some cases rapidly. Most believe that human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, have influenced this warming trend. In the past decade scientists have documented record-high average annual surface temperatures and have been observing other signs of change all over the planet: in the distribution of ice, and in the salinity, levels, and temperatures of the oceans.
 
"This glacier used to be closer," Fagre declares as we crest a steep section, his glasses fogged from exertion. He's only half joking. A trailside sign notes that since 1901, Sperry Glacier has shrunk from more than 800 acres to 300 acres (330 hectares to 120 hectares). "That's out of date," Fagre says, stopping to catch his breath. "It's now less than 250 acres (100 hectares)."
 
Everywhere on Earth ice is changing. The famed snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80 percent since 1912. Glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya in India are retreating so fast that researchers believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035. Arctic sea ice has thinned significantly over the past half century, and its extent has declined by about 10 percent in the past 30 years. NASA's repeated laser altimeter readings show the edges of Greenland's ice sheet shrinking. Spring freshwater ice breakup in the Northern Hemisphere now occurs nine days earlier than it did 150 years ago, and autumn freeze-up ten days later. Thawing permafrost has caused the ground to subside more than 15 feet (4.5 meters) in parts of Alaska. From the Arctic to Peru, from Switzerland to the equatorial glaciers of Irian Jaya in Indonesia, massive ice fields, monstrous glaciers, and sea ice are disappearing, fast.
http://ngm.nationalgeogr...0409/feature2/index.html
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Offline sami  
#2 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:41:37 PM(UTC)
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By Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.

As global average temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects on the planet, such as melting ice caps, extreme weather, drought and rising sea levels, will threaten populations and livelihoods, said the report conducted by humanitarian organisation DARA.

It calculated that five million deaths occur each year from air pollution, hunger and disease as a result of climate change and carbon-intensive economies, and that toll would likely rise to six million a year by 2030 if current patterns of fossil fuel use continue.

More than 90 percent of those deaths will occur in developing countries, said the report that calculated the human and economic impact of climate change on 184 countries in 2010 and 2030. It was commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a partnership of 20 developing countries threatened by climate change.

"A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade," the report said.

It said the effects of climate change had lowered global output by 1.6 percent of world GDP, or by about $1.2 trillion a year, and losses could double to 3.2 percent of global GDP by 2030 if global temperatures are allowed to rise, surpassing 10 percent before 2100.

It estimated the cost of moving the world to a low-carbon economy at about 0.5 percent of GDP this decade.

COUNTING THE COST

British economist Nicholas Stern told Reuters earlier this year investment equivalent to 2 percent of global GDP was needed to limit, prevent and adapt to climate change. His report on the economics of climate change in 2006 said an average global temperature rise of 2-3 degrees Celsius in the next 50 years could reduce global consumption per head by up to 20 percent.

Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Almost 200 nations agreed in 2010 to limit the global average temperature rise to below 2C (3.6 Fahrenheit) to avoid dangerous impacts from climate change.

But climate scientists have warned that the chance of limiting the rise to below 2C is getting smaller as global greenhouse gas emissions rise due to burning fossil fuels.

The world's poorest nations are the most vulnerable as they face increased risk of drought, water shortages, crop failure, poverty and disease. On average, they could see an 11 percent loss in GDP by 2030 due to climate change, DARA said.

"One degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10 percent productivity loss in farming. For us, it means losing about 4 million metric tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5 billion. That is about 2 percent of our GDP," Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in response to the report.

"Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about 3-4 percent of GDP."

Even the biggest and most rapidly developing economies will not escape unscathed. The United States and China could see a 2.1 percent reduction in their respective GDPs by 2030, while India could experience a more than 5 percent loss.


http://mobile.reuters.co...E88O0HH20120925?irpc=932
Offline sami  
#3 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:46:05 PM(UTC)
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Heat waves. Drought. Flooding. Cold spells. Wildfires. The climate system is changing before our very eyes, and there is no more glaring proof than the record-shattering loss of Arctic sea ice this summer.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Wednesday that the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has smashed the previous record minimum extent set in 2007 by a staggering 18 percent. The impacts of rising temperatures and melting ice extend beyond the far north to us in the United States, as we are poised to feel the weather-related backlash.

The ice cover, only half of what it was only a few decades ago, is a stunning visual demonstration of the effects that increasing greenhouse gases, and resulting warming of the Earth, are having on the climate system.

Fossil fuels – such as oil, coal, and natural gas – are the main source of these added greenhouse gases, as they’re burned to provide the energy that heats our homes, lights our streets, and runs our vehicles. It now appears, however, that a gradual warming may not be the primary concern, as the gases may also fuel extreme weather around the world.

Since the fossil-fuel revolution after World War II, Arctic temperatures have increased at twice the global rate, illustrating a phenomenon called Arctic amplification. Thus, sea ice has melted at an unprecedented rate and is now caught in a vicious cycle known as the ice-albedo feedback: as sea ice retreats, sunshine that would have been reflected into space by the bright white ice is instead absorbed by the ocean, causing waters to warm and melt even more ice.

As temperatures over the Arctic Ocean fall with the approach of winter, the extra energy that was absorbed during summer must be released back into the atmosphere before the water can cool to freezing temperatures. Essentially, this loads the atmosphere with a new source of energy—one that affects weather patterns, both locally and on a larger scale. In spring, a similar phenomenon also occurs, but it involves snow cover on northern land areas. Snow has been melting progressively earlier each year; this past June and July it disappeared earlier than ever before. The underlying soil is then exposed to strong spring sun, which allows it to dry and warm earlier – contributing to Arctic amplification in summer months.

The difference in temperature between the Arctic and areas to the south is what drives the jet stream, a fast-moving river of air that encircles the northern hemisphere. As the Arctic warms faster, this temperature difference weakens, as does the west-to-east wind of the jet stream. Just as a river of water tends to meander when it reaches the gentle slopes of coastal plains, a weaker jet stream tends to have steeper north-south waves. Arctic amplification also stretches the northern tips of the waves farther northward, which favors further meandering. Meteorologists know that steeper waves are slower to shift westward.

The weather we experience at mid-latitudes is largely dictated by these waves in the jet stream. The slower the waves move, the longer the weather associated with them will persist. Essentially, “hot,” “dry,” “cold,” and “rainy” are all terms to describe very normal weather conditions. It’s only when those conditions persist in one area for too long that they are dubbed with the names of their extreme alter egos: heat waves, drought, cold spells, and floods. And these kinds of extreme events are precisely what we’ve seen more of in recent years.

Global warming now has a face and a fingerprint that directly touch each of our lives. Rather than just a gradual increase in temperature, we can recognize its influence in a shift toward more extreme weather events. A warmer atmosphere also means a moister atmosphere, so any given storm will have more moisture and energy to work with, increasing the chances of flooding or heavy snows. Arctic amplification adds another mechanism to the mix, making extreme weather more likely. The loss of ice and snow in the far north may load the dice for “stuck” weather patterns, compounding potential risks for our economy, our health, and our security.

Even though sea ice shattered its previous record minimum, we cannot yet predict what sort of weather this winter will bring to a particular region of the United States or northern hemisphere. We cannot pinpoint which part of the world will see frigid temperatures, heavy snowfall, or perhaps abnormally mild conditions next season.

It is clear, however, that more accurate advanced warning is needed to help vulnerable communities prepare for the extreme conditions in a warming world. We must continue to invest—both financially and intellectually—in research that expands observations, improves computer prediction, and delivers relevant information to decision-makers.

Because at this point, I can only say that I think it’s going to be a very interesting winter.

Jennifer Francis is a research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

http://m.washingtonpost....2-ebee9c66e190_blog.html
Offline joy  
#4 Posted : Thursday, October 4, 2012 5:59:11 AM(UTC)
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Thanks for the articles, Sami.

I sometimes listen to this programme on the radio:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006r4wn

If you click on ‘episodes’ on the above page you can listen to recent past broadcasts.

This link goes to the archives of the programme, which go back a few years:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/rad...ngtheearth_archive.shtml
Offline sami  
#5 Posted : Saturday, October 6, 2012 4:14:43 AM(UTC)
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Thank you for the links Joy. I will try to find it on ITunes podcast section to listen on the go. I'm worred about the Artic ice cup melting because politics don't seem interested in doing anything about it . Now they take advantage of the ice melt to find more oil in there. They have already started drilling. This and fracking are really bad. As always, unless people do something to stop it the high powers will keep pushing for their short term interests.
Offline sami  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, November 7, 2012 9:12:00 AM(UTC)
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