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(Environment) (Earth) Climate and Weather: Global Warming
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:12 pm    Post subject: (Environment) (Earth) Climate and Weather: Global Warming Reply with quote






Global warming is such an important issue. Scientific reports describing evidences of warming of our planet are regularly showing up in press. To understand this phenomenon - it is important to explore earth's climate, greenhouse gases, the oceans, the rainforests, and, of course, manmade emissions of carbon dioxide.

Explore these topics throughout the links provided at the end of this news article. Then go further and read the additional news articles that follow. This lesson gets updated very frequently as new findings are made public.



Global warming will force Santa into waterwings: WWF
Thu Dec 15, 7:13 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Santa Claus may have to swap his sleigh for waterwings sooner than expected as global warming melts his Arctic home, environmental group WWF said on Friday.

A new study for the organization formerly known as the Worldwide Fund for Nature predicts that the earth could warm by two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels as early as 2026 -- and by triple that amount in the Arctic.

"This ... could result in Santa's home changing forever," said the report by Mark New of Oxford University.

And Rudolph and his fellow reindeer are not the only creatures under threat -- polar bears, ice-dwelling seals and several forms of Arctic vegetation are also at risk.

"We are already seeing signs of significant change in the Arctic with mountain glaciers retreating, snow cover disappearing, the Greenland ice sheet thinning and Arctic sea ice cover declining," said WWF climate campaigner Andrew Lee.

"All these changes tell us there is no time to lose -- we need to take drastic action now to combat climate change."

*************************************************************

Questions to explore further this topic:

What is the difference between climate and weather?

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarmi.....ather.html

What is the earth's climate system?

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarmi.....tesys.html

What are the various climate zones of the earth?

http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/climate.htm
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Laboratory/Biome/

What are biomes?

http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/world_biomes.htm
http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0769052.html
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/g.....index.html
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/biomes/

What is the history of earth's climate?

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/kids/history.html

What is the greenhouse effect?

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarmi.....house.html

Can we change earth's climate?

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/kids/change.html

What might happen with global warming?

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/kids/bigdeal.html

How can we help?

http://www.epa.gov/globalwarmi.....rence.html

What will be the impact of global warming to the Philippines?


http://www.greenpeace.org/seas.....te-impacts

How was the weather in the US in 2005?

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/s2548.htm

Where can I find temperature data for the earth since 1800?

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/gcag/gcag.html#BOT

GAMES

http://www.funbrain.com/where/index.html
http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/fungames
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/fungames
http://www.4million.org.nz/und...../index.php
http://www.ecokidsonline.com/p...../index.cfm
http://www.epa.gov/globalwarmi.....index.html
http://www.epa.gov/globalwarmi.....tions.html
http://www.ecokidsonline.com/p...../index.cfm
http://www.ecokidsonline.com/p...../index.cfm


Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:54 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:18 am    Post subject: Most of Arctic's Near-Surface Permafrost May Thaw by 2100 Reply with quote

Most of Arctic's Near-Surface Permafrost May Thaw by 2100
The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs
December 19, 2005

BOULDER—Global warming may decimate the top 10 feet (3 meters) or more of perennially frozen soil across the Northern Hemisphere, altering ecosystems as well as damaging buildings and roads across Canada, Alaska, and Russia. New simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) show that over half of the area covered by this topmost layer of permafrost could thaw by 2050 and as much as 90 percent by 2100. Scientists expect the thawing to increase runoff to the Arctic Ocean and release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

The study, using the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model (CCSM), is the first to examine the state of permafrost in a global model that includes interactions among the atmosphere, ocean, land, and sea ice as well as a soil model that depicts freezing and thawing. Results appear online in the December 17 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

"People have used models to study permafrost before, but not within a fully interactive climate system model," says NCAR's David Lawrence, the lead author. The coauthor is Andrew Slater of the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center.

About a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere's land contains permafrost, defined as soil that remains below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) for at least two years. Permafrost is typically characterized by an active surface layer, extending anywhere from a few centimeters to several meters deep, which thaws during the summer and refreezes during the winter. The deeper permafrost layer remains frozen. The active layer responds to changes in climate, expanding downward as surface air temperatures rise. Deeper permafrost has not thawed since the last ice age, over 10,000 years ago, and will be largely unaffected by global warming in the coming century, says Lawrence.

Recent warming has degraded large sections of permafrost across central Alaska, with pockets of soil collapsing as the ice within it melts. The results include buckled highways, destabilized houses, and "drunken forests"--trees that lean at wild angles. In Siberia, some industrial facilities have reported significant damage. Further loss of permafrost could threaten migration patterns of animals such as reindeer and caribou.

The CCSM simulations are based on high and low projections of greenhouse-gas emissions for the 21st century, as constructed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In both cases, the CCSM determined which land areas would retain permafrost at each of 10 soil depths extending down to 11.2 feet (3.43 meters).

For the high-emission scenario, the area with permafrost in any of these layers shrinks from 4 million to just over 1 million square miles by the year 2050 and decreases further to about 400,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) by 2100. In the low-emission scenario, which assumes major advances in conservation and alternative energy, the permafrost area shrinks to about 1.5 million square miles by 2100.

"Thawing permafrost could send considerable amounts of water to the oceans," says Slater, who notes that runoff to the Arctic has increased about 7 percent since the 1930s. In the high-emission simulation, runoff grows by another 28 percent by the year 2100. That increase includes contributions from enhanced rainfall and snowfall as well as the water from ice melting within soil.

The new study highlights concern about emissions of greenhouse gases from thawing soils. Permafrost may hold 30% or more of all the carbon stored in soils worldwide. As the permafrost thaws, it could lead to large-scale emissions of methane or carbon dioxide beyond those produced by fossil fuels.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:23 pm    Post subject: Deep freeze grips Europe ahead of New Year weekend Reply with quote

Deep freeze grips Europe ahead of New Year weekend
AFP
Fri Dec 30,10:27 AM ET

Europeans braced for a shivery New Year celebration as temperatures plunged to new lows, while a cold snap claimed the lives of new victims and snow, ice and floods snarled traffic.

Poland reported 22 deaths from hypothermia in recent days, bringing the total to 85 since the onset of winter in October.

"Nearly half the victims were homeless people, more and more of whom die of the cold every year in Poland," police spokeswoman Graznya Puchalska told AFP on Friday, adding that most were men between the ages of 35 and 50 and under the influence of alcohol.

Heavy snowfall disrupted traffic in the south of the country where even the main roads could not be plowed, as more snow was forecast through Saturday morning.

In Britain, which has reported the coldest December in a decade, a man in his 40s was found frozen to death on the steps of the town hall in West Bromwich, central England.

Freezing temperatures claimed their second victim in Italy when a 22-year-old homeless man froze to death on a platform of Rome's main train station, while the Tuscan city of Florence woke up for the first time in 21 years under a blanket of snow.

Authorities declared a state of emergency in Campania, the region surrounding Naples, due to heavy snow and rain fall, while rail travel to and from the capital and flights at Rome's Ciampino airport faced major delays and seven scheduled flights from Florence were cancelled.

In Croatia, a 91-year-old woman was found dead of hypothermia in front of her home, near the southern town of Sadar where temperatures dippped to minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit).

The capital Zagreb shoveled out from under 30 centimeters (12 inches) of snow while more than two meters (seven feet) fell in the mountains.

Switzerland logged its coldest winter temperature so far this season as the mercury dropped to minus 35 degrees Celsius, the national weather agency MeteoSuisse said.

The seasonal record temperature was recorded overnight in the western community of La Brevine, which is nicknamed "Switzerland's Siberia" for its icy winter climate.

Turkey saw temperature extremes, with minus 34 degrees Celsius reported overnight in the city of Agri and nearly 500 villages cut off by snow, while the western city of Manisa on the Aegean recorded a spring-like 18 degrees Celsius.

Dutch authorities warned New Year's revelers of "extreme winter temperatures" forecast for Saturday night, while in Austria, temperatures were expected to fall to minus 15 degrees Celsius over the weekend.

In Spain, slick conditions forced the closure of four mountain passes in the northern areas of Cantabria and Navarra, while tire chains were recommended for other routes.

Belgian authorities issued a "code red" warning to drivers due to potentially hazardous road conditions from freezing rain. New snow was forecast Friday for the eastern city of Liege and the Ardennes region.

In the Czech Republic, several roads were closed due to snow and ice, including the route linking the country's third city of Ostrava, population 315,000, with Opava, a city of 60,000.

Air traffic at Prague's Ruzyne airport returned to normal, however, after being closed for a half-day Thursday.

Snow led to the derailment of a streetcar in Budapest, blocking several other rail lines in the capital while a number of city buses were waylaid.

In France, most of the country was battered by snow and freezing rain. Heavy trucks were banned from main routes in the west of the country while motorists in Paris were asked to avoid the roads. The cold has led to the deaths of two people in recent days.

Gale-force winds whipped Greece, forcing the closure of the main port of Piraeus and the Athens port of Rafina, which serves several Aegean islands.

The weather in Portugal was comparatively balmy, with temperatures up to 18 degrees Celsius expected along with bouts of rain in the north and center of the country.

Romania, which saw unexpectedly mild temperatures, issued a flood warning for the south of the country where heavy rains were forecast over the weekend.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:26 pm    Post subject: Warm, dry weather to persist in southern Plains Reply with quote

Warm, dry weather to persist in southern Plains
Reuters
Fri Dec 30, 1:31 PM ET

Unseasonably warn and dry weather is expected to persist in the southern Plains hard red winter wheat belt throughout next week, a private meteorologist said on Friday.

"In terms of the outlook, there is no significant precipitation in sight," Meteorlogix forecaster Mike Palmerino said.

"We're looking at what appears to be a pattern where you are likely suffering some real losses to this wheat crop due to severe drought in Texas and in Oklahoma," he said. Conditions were not as bad in Kansas, the top U.S. wheat state, he added.

There was a chance for light rain in the Plains on Sunday and again on Tuesday, but accumulations would likely be less than 0.1 inch, favoring Kansas and Nebraska.

There was little relief expected this weekend or next week for the driest wheat areas, in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma. Wildfires broke out in those states this week, underscoring the arid conditions.

"They are representative of the fact that it is extremely dry in these areas," Palmerino said of the fires.

Temperatures reached the 70s Fahrenheit in parts of the region on Thursday, and highs in the mid-50s and 60s were forecast through Tuesday. The mild weather could bring crops out of dormancy in some areas, reawakening their need for moisture.

"The fact that it has gotten warm again is really not a favorable situation because it puts further stress on the crop, which would be in better shape if it was just dormant at this point in the year," Palmerino said.

The Meteorlogix six- to 10-day outlook for January 4-8 called for above to much above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall.

"It's looking more and more like there is going to be some acreage down there that is not going to be harvested for grain in Texas and Oklahoma," Palmerino said.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 7:01 pm    Post subject: Global Warming Can Trigger Extreme Ocean, Climate Changes Reply with quote

Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Date: 2006-01-06
URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....002509.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Global Warming Can Trigger Extreme Ocean, Climate Changes, Scripps-led Study Reveals

New research produced by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, helps illustrate how global warming caused by greenhouse gases can quickly disrupt ocean processes and lead to drastic climatological, biological and other important changes around the world. Although the events described in the research unfolded millions of years ago and spanned thousands of years, the researchers say the findings provide clues to help better understand the long-term impacts of today's human-influenced climate warming.

Flávia Nunes and Richard Norris investigated the chemical makeup of tiny ancient sea creatures at various locations around the world. They probed a four- to seven-degree warming period that occurred some 55 million years ago during the closing stages of the Paleocene and the beginning of the Eocene eras.

The unique data set they constructed uncovered for the first time a monumental reversal in the circulation of deep-ocean patterns around the world and helped the researchers conclude that it was triggered by the global warming the world experienced at the time. The research, published in the January 5 edition of the journal Nature, is one of the few historical analogs for large-scale sea circulation changes tied to global warming.

"The earth is a system that can change very rapidly. Fifty-five million years ago, when the earth was in a period of global warmth, ocean currents rapidly changed direction and this change did not reverse to original conditions for about 20,000 years," said Nunes. "What this tells us is that the changes that we make to the earth today (such as anthropogenically induced global warming) could lead to dramatic changes to our planet."

The global warming of 55 million years ago, known as the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), emerged in less than 5,000 years, an instantaneous blip on geological time scales (the researchers indicate that 5,000 years can be considered an upper limit and they believe the warming could have unfolded much more quickly than geological records can show them). The PETM set in motion a host of important changes around the globe, including a mass extinction of deep-sea bottom-dwelling marine life. Fossil records indicate key migrations of terrestrial mammal species during this time—including evidence of the first horses and primates in North America and Europe—likely allowed by warm conditions that opened travel routes not possible under previously colder climates.

Nunes and Norris analyzed carbon isotopes, chemical signatures that reveal a host of information, from the shells of single-celled animals called foraminifera. Such organisms exist in a variety of marine environments and their vast numbers per research sample allow scientists to uncover a range of details about the state of the seas.

"It's really interesting how a tiny little shell from a sea creature living millions of years ago can tell us so much about past ocean conditions," said Nunes. "We can tell approximately what the temperature was at the bottom of the ocean. We also have an approximate measure of the nutrient content of the water the creature lived in. And, when we have information from several locations, we can tell the direction of ocean currents."

In the Nature study, the scientists analyzed foraminifera called Nuttalides truempyi from 14 sites around the world in deep-sea sediment cores maintained by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. The isotopes were used as nutrient "tracers" to reconstruct changes in deep-ocean circulation through the PETM period. Nutrient levels tell the researchers how long a sample has been near or isolated from the sea surface, thus giving them a way to track the age and flow path of deep sea water.

The results revealed that deep-ocean circulation abruptly switched from "overturning"—a conveyor belt-like process in which cold and salty water exchanges with warm surface water—in the Southern Hemisphere, where it virtually shut down, and became active in the Northern Hemisphere. The researchers believe this shift drove unusually warm water to the deep sea, likely releasing stores of methane gas that led to further global warming and a massive die off in deep sea marine life.

Overturning is a fundamental component of the global climate conditions that we know today. For example, overturning in the modern North Atlantic Ocean is a primary means of drawing heat into the far north Atlantic and keeping temperatures in Europe relatively warmer than conditions in Canada, for example. Today, "new" deep-water generation does not occur in the Pacific Ocean because of the large amount of freshwater input from the polar regions that prevents North Pacific waters from becoming dense enough to sink to more than intermediate depths. In the case of the Paleocene/Eocene period, however, deep-water formation was possible in the Pacific Ocean because of the global warming-induced changes. The Atlantic Ocean also could have been a significant generator of deep waters during this period.

In the paper, the authors note that modern carbon dioxide input from fossil fuel sources to the earth's surface is approaching the same levels estimated for the PETM period, which raises concerns about future climate and changes in ocean circulation. Thus they say the Paleocene/Eocene example suggests that human-produced changes may have lasting effects not only in global climate, but in deep ocean circulation as well.

"Overturning is very sensitive to surface ocean temperatures and surface ocean salinity," said Norris, a professor in the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps. "The case described in this paper may be one of our best examples of global warming triggered by the massive release of greenhouse gases and therefore it gives us a perspective on what the long-term impact is likely to be of today's greenhouse warming that humans are causing."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Science Support Program. IODP is sponsored by NSF and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The JOI Alliance (JOI, Texas A & M University Research Foundation and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University) manages scientific drilling operations conducted aboard the U.S.-sponsored drilling vessel, on behalf of IODP.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 7:04 pm    Post subject: 2005 Ties for 2nd Warmest Year Ever Reply with quote

2005 Ties for 2nd Warmest Year Ever, But Cause Still Uncertain
By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 06 January 2006
08:58 am ET

Predictions early in 2005 that the year would be the warmest on record turned out to be off the mark. A new study finds last year tied for the second-warmest year since reliable records have been kept starting in the late 1800s.

The global average temperature in 2005 was 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit (0.3 Celsius) warmer than the long-term average, tying a mark set in 2002.

But a puzzling general pattern, seen the past three decades, persisted: The most significant warming occurred in the Arctic, where the ice cap is shrinking at an alarming pace.

Seven times faster

Since November 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed seven times faster than the average warming trend over the southern two-thirds of the globe, based on data from NOAA satellites.

"It just doesn't look like global warming is very global," said John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The warmest five years since the 1890s, when reliable record-keeping began:

1. 1998
2. 2005
2. 2002 (tie)
4. 2003
5. 2004

Scientists agree the planet is warming. Ground in the Northern Hemisphere that's been frozen since the last Ice Age is melting and collapsing.

But they are still debating exactly how much and to what extent humans are contributing by burning fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases.

Lack of understanding

In a report last May, researchers said they know very little about how Earth absorbs and reflects sunlight, crucial factors that control climate. Other studies have indicated that increased output from the Sun is responsible for more of global warming than was previously realized.

"Obviously some part of the warming we've observed in the atmosphere over the past 27 years is due to enhanced greenhouse gases. Simple physics tells you that," Christy said. "But even if you acknowledge the effects of greenhouse gases, when you look at this pattern of warming you have to say there must also be something else at work here."

Nobody's sure what that might be.

"The carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is distributed pretty evenly around the globe and not concentrated in the Arctic, so it doesn't look like we can blame greenhouse gases for the overwhelming bulk of the Northern Hemisphere warming over the past 27 years," Christy said. "The most likely suspect for that is a natural climate change or cycle that we didn't expect or just don't understand."

Opposite of expectations

Over the past 27 years, since the first temperature-sensing satellite was launched, the overall global temperature has risen 0.63 degrees Fahrenheit, while the hike in the Arctic has been 2.1 degrees.

"The computer models consistently predict that global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases should show up as strong warming in the tropics," Christy said.

Yet the tropical atmosphere has warmed by only about 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit in 27 years.

A study last year examined natural climate change going back more than 1,000 years. How do the recent changes stack up?

"It would be fairly rare to have this much warming all from natural causes, but it has happened [in the past]," Christy said. "What we've seen isn't outside the realm of natural climate change."
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:45 pm    Post subject: Scientist Urges Deep Cuts in Emissions Reply with quote

Scientist Urges Deep Cuts in Emissions
By MERAIAH FOLEY, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 6, 9:56 PM ET

A leading Australian scientist believes the world has just 20 years to turn the tide on global warming and that leaders at a summit in Sydney next week must take concrete steps to tackle the problem.

Tim Flannery, a respected Australian scientist and author, says the world's economic powerhouses must take drastic measures over the next two decades before Earth's climate is irreversibly altered.

"We have to make deep, deep reductions in emissions within the next 20 years," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We will have won or lost the battle for climate stability in that time."

Flannery's projection is based on the period he says it will take — at current emissions levels — to pump out enough carbon dioxide to warm the globe by around two degrees, producing "catastrophic" climate change.

Prof. Will Steffen, the director of environmental studies at Canberra's respected Australian National University, said Flannery's prediction is a "worst case" scenario, but is "not impossible."

"Certainly we're seeing evidence of global warming. The evidence is quite clear now that the planet is warming compared to the baseline temperature change over the last few thousand years," Steffen said. "It's been warming quite rapidly over the last century and particularly over the last couple of decades, those observations are quite clear."

Next week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to meet with top-level officials from Australia, China, India, South Korea and Japan to discuss ways of tackling the issue.

Along with the U.S. these countries account for nearly half the world's population, energy and economic output.

The White House says the talks will enhance rather than replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming that both the U.S. and Australia rejected because of its mandatory cuts in carbon dioxide, methane and other gases.

The Kyoto treaty calls for 35 industrialized countries to cut their 1990 emissions levels by at least 5 percent by 2012.

China and India signed the treaty as developing nations, exempting them from the first round of emissions cuts. Japan must cut emissions by 6 percent below 1990 levels, and South Korea by 5 percent.

So far, little is known about the goals of the "Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate."

In July, the group issued a vision statement that talks of developing, deploying and transferring technologies such as nuclear power and clean coal technology in which greenhouse gases are extracted and eliminated while burning coal.

Environmental group Greenpeace slammed next week's meeting as meaningless.

"As might be expected from a pact between six of the world's biggest coal exporters and users, this appears to be a deal to do nothing," the group said in a briefing statement. "At this stage, it contains no provisions to reduce greenhouse pollution. With no targets, timetables or even financial mechanisms, it can have no hope of meeting its stated objective — assisting the development and transfer of climate-friendly technology."

Earlier this week, James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the partnership would drum up more private investment for goals including U.S. and Chinese plans to improve energy efficiency in coal-burning power plants and cut acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide emissions.

"I'd say that's wonderful news — and how will it be done?" said Flannery, responding to Connaughton's remarks.

Flannery said there is "no evidence in the world today" that a voluntary program to reduce greenhouse emissions could work. Only government regulation or "market-based instruments" — such as carbon taxes, incentives and government subsidies on green energy — would have the necessary impact, he said.

Frank Muller, a former adviser to U.S. President Bill Clinton and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, agrees.

"We need a price on carbon if its really going to drive investment, whether that's a carbon tax or emissions trading," he said. "You (also) need to address specific barriers to the adoption of existing (energy efficient) technologies."
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:55 pm    Post subject: Ex-EPA Chiefs Blame Bush in Global Warming Reply with quote

Ex-EPA Chiefs Blame Bush in Global Warming
By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer
18 January 2006

Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency — five Republicans and one Democrat — accused the Bush administration Wednesday of neglecting global warming and other environmental problems.

"I don't think there's a commitment in this administration," said Bill Ruckelshaus, who was EPA's first administrator when the agency opened its doors in 1970 under President Nixon and headed it again under President Reagan in the 1980s.

Russell Train, who succeeded Ruckelshaus in the Nixon and Ford administrations, said slowing the growth of "greenhouse" gases isn't enough.

"We need leadership, and I don't think we're getting it," he said at an EPA-sponsored symposium centered around the agency's 35th anniversary. "To sit back and just push it away and say we'll deal with it sometime down the road is dishonest to the people and self-destructive."

All of the former administrators raised their hands when EPA's current chief, Stephen Johnson, asked whether they believe global warming is a real problem, and again when he asked if humans bear significant blame.

Agency heads during five Republican administrations, including the current one, criticized the Bush White House for what they described as a failure of leadership.

Defending his boss, Johnson said the current administration has spent $20 billion on research and technology to combat climate change after President Bush rejected mandatory controls on carbon dioxide, the chief gas blamed for trapping heat in the atmosphere like a greenhouse.

Bush also kept the United States out of the Kyoto international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases globally, saying it would harm the U.S. economy, after many of the accord's terms were negotiated by the Clinton administration.

"I know from the president on down, he is committed," Johnson said. "And certainly his charge to me was, and certainly our team has heard it: 'I want you to accelerate the pace of environmental protection. I want you to maintain our economic competitiveness.' And I think that's really what it's all about."

His predecessors disagreed. Lee Thomas, Ruckelshaus's successor in the Reagan administration, said that "if the United States doesn't deal with those kinds of issues in a leadership role, they're not going to get dealt with. So I'm very concerned about this country and this agency."

Bill Reilly, the EPA administrator under the first President Bush, echoed that assessment.

"The time will come when we will address seriously the problem of climate change, and this is the agency that's best equipped to anticipate it," he said.

Christie Whitman, the first of three EPA administrators in the current Bush administration, said people obviously are having "an enormous impact" on the earth's warming.

"You'd need to be in a hole somewhere to think that the amount of change that we have imposed on land, and the way we've handled deforestation, farming practices, development, and what we're putting into the air, isn't exacerbating what is probably a natural trend," she said. "But this is worse, and it's getting worse."

Carol Browner, who was President Clinton's EPA administrator, said the White House and the Congress should push legislation to establish a carbon trading program based on a 1990 pollution trading program that helped reduce acid rain.

"If we wait for every single scientist who has a thought on the issue of climate change to agree, we will never do anything," she said. "If this agency had waited to completely understand the impacts of DDT, the impacts of lead in our gasoline, there would probably still be DDT sprayed and lead in our gasoline."

Three former administrators did not attend Wednesday's ceremony: Mike Leavitt, now secretary of health and human services; Doug Costle, who was in the Carter administration, and Anne Burford, a Reagan appointee who died last year.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:45 pm    Post subject: Global warming demands urgent solutions: scientists Reply with quote

Global warming demands urgent solutions: scientists
By Jeremy Lovell
Tue Jan 31, 1:02 AM ET

The world must halt greenhouse gas emissions and reverse them within two decades or watch the planet spiraling toward destruction, scientists said on Monday.

Saying that evidence of catastrophic global warming from burning fossil fuels was now incontrovertible, the experts from oceanographers to economists, climatologists and politicians stressed that inaction was unacceptable.

"Climate change is worse than was previously thought and we need to act now," Henry Derwent, special climate change adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said at the launch of a book of scientific papers on the global climate crisis.

Researcher Rachel Warren from the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, who contributed to the book "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change," said carbon dioxide emissions had to peak no later than 2025, and painted a picture of rapidly approaching catastrophe.

Global average temperatures were already 0.6 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and a rise of just 0.4C more would see coral reefs wiped out, flooding in the Himalayas and millions more people facing hunger, she said.

A rise of 3C -- just half of what scientists have warned is possible this century -- would see 400 million people going hungry, entire species being wiped out and killer diseases such as dengue fever reaching pandemic proportions.

"To prevent all of this needs global emissions to peak in 2025 and then come down by 2.6 percent a year," Warren said.

"But even then we would probably face a rise of 2 degrees because of the delay built into the climate system. So we have to start to plan to adapt," she added.

Already the effects of the change are becoming visible, with more extreme weather events and people in coastal areas put at risk from rising sea levels due to melting ice caps.

The first phase of the global Kyoto protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions runs until 2012, and negotiations have only just started on finding a way of taking it beyond that.

The United States, the world's biggest polluter, has rejected both the protocol in its current form and any suggestion of expanding or extending it.

Instead it has set up with Australia, India, China, Japan and South Korea the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:14 am    Post subject: Plant Enzyme Efficiency May Hold Key To Global Warming Reply with quote

Source: Emory University Health Sciences Center

Posted: January 31, 2006

Increasing Plant Enzyme Efficiency May Hold Key To Global Warming
Global warming just may have met its match. In research recently completed at Emory University School of Medicine, scientists have discovered a mutant enzyme that could enable plants to use and convert carbon dioxide more quickly, effectively removing more greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

The findings were published online on January 19 and will appear in the February issue of the journal "Protein Engineering Design and Selection." Ichiro Matsumura, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry at Emory University School of Medicine, is the senior author and principal investigator. The first author is research specialist Monal R. Parikh.

During photosynthesis, plants, and some bacteria, convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into usable chemical energy. Scientists have long known that this process relies on the enzyme rubulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase, also called RuBisCO. While RuBisCO is the most abundant enzyme in the world, it is also one of the least efficient. As Dr. Matsumura says, "All life pretty much depends on the function on this enzyme. It actually has had billions of years to improve, but remains about a thousand times slower than most other enzymes. Plants have to make tons of it just to stay alive."

RuBisCO's inefficiency limits plant growth and stops organisms from using and assimilating all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Since the spread of photosynthesis has not kept pace with the amount of gas in the atmosphere, the gas builds up. The resulting gas buildup is one cause of global warming. A 2004 report by the National Science Foundation estimates that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations remained steady at between 200 and 280 parts per million for thousands of years, but that carbon dioxide levels have risen dramatically since the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, leading to 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today.

For decades, scientists have struggled to engineer a variant of the enzyme that would more quickly convert carbon dioxide. Their attempts primarily focused on mutating specific amino acids within RuBisCO, and then seeing if the change affected carbon dioxide conversion. Because of RuBisCO's structural complexity, the mutations did not have the desired outcome.

For their own study, Dr. Matsumura and his colleagues decided to use a process called "directed evolution" which involved isolating and randomly mutating genes, and then inserting the mutated genes into bacteria (in this case Escherichia coli, or E. coli). They then screened the resulting mutant proteins for the fastest and most efficient enzymes. "We decided to do what nature does, but at a much faster pace." Dr. Matsumura says. "Essentially we're using evolution as a tool to engineer the protein."

Because E. coli does not normally participate in photosynthesis or carbon dioxide conversion, it does not usually carry the RuBisCO enzyme. In this study, Matsumura's team added the genes encoding RuBisCO and a helper enzyme to E. coli, enabling it to change carbon dioxide into consumable energy. The scientists withheld other nutrients from this genetically modified organism so that it would need RuBisCO and carbon dioxide to survive under these stringent conditions.

They then randomly mutated the RuBisCO gene, and added these mutant genes to the modified E. coli. The fastest growing strains carried mutated RuBisCO genes that produced a larger quantity of the enzyme, leading to faster assimilation of carbon dioxide gas. "These mutations caused a 500 percent increase in RuBisCO expression," Dr. Matsumura says. "We are excited because such large changes could potentially lead to faster plant growth. This results also suggests that the enzyme is evolving in our laboratory in the same way that it did in nature."
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 7:07 am    Post subject: Conflicting Claims on Global Warming and Why It's All Moot Reply with quote

Conflicting Claims on Global Warming and Why It's All Moot
By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 01 February 2006
08:43 am ET

"Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1995."
—Statement issued Monday by NOAA

A widely reported study last week said 2005 was the warmest on record. But headlines failed to note that the results were not concrete and a new study out this week challenges the findings.

Whatever the outcome, scientists say it is all moot: Last year was surprisingly warm and the record will fall soon enough.

The latest result came Monday from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These are the folks that run the National Weather Service. Their study concludes that the global temperature in 2005 can't be statistically distinguished from the record set in 1998.

Last year was a warm year at Earth's surface, especially considering the lack of a heat-producing El Nino, but for now experts do not agree whether it was a record.

Mixed results

Last week, The Associated Press and others reported that a NASA scientist said 2005 was the warmest year on record, nosing out 1998.

Lost in many of the headlines, however, was this quote from the report's lead researcher, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies: "We couldn't say with 100 percent certainty that it's the warmest year, but I'm reasonably confident that it was."

Hansen looked at different data in different ways compared to the NOAA team. The NASA study considered in particular data from the Arctic, which is warming faster than the rest of the planet. And for the latter part of 2005 both reports relied on preliminary data, so the analyses could change.

In an email interview yesterday, Hansen reiterated his caveat.

"I believe that 2005 is the warmest year, because the main source of difference is the Arctic, and I believe it is likely that our estimate there is in the right ballpark even though it is based on some extrapolations," Hansen said. "However, I admit that it could be wrong, in which case 2005 might be slightly cooler than 1998."

Other caveats

In both studies, there are margins of error. Much of the analysis involves satellite data that covers just the past three decades or so. Complicating matters, ground-based temperature-monitoring stations are sparse or nonexistent in many parts of the world, particularly in the Arctic. And a key to the results are satellite data that note sea surface temperatures since 1982. Prior years are gauged by less-precise data from ship logs.

Finally, reliable records for most ground locations go back only about a century, so setting records may not be as surprising as if they broke marks that had been around longer.

So while all leading experts agree the planet has warmed about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century (and NOAA says the rate has tripled since 1976) ranking the warmest years is a huge statistical challenge.

In fact the NOAA analysis yielded two results: One data set, in use since the late 1990s, found that 2005 was slightly cooler than 1998, with 2005 being 1.04 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1880-2004 average, while 1998 was 1.12 degrees above that norm.

The other NOAA data set and analysis technique (which will become the primary method used henceforth) puts 2005 slightly warmer than 1998. It has 2005 at 1.12 degrees above the norm and 1998 at 1.06 degrees above the norm. But the report states that "uncertainties associated with the various factors and methodologies used in data set development make 2005 statistically indistinguishable from 1998."

A third study

Still another study, led by John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, paints a different picture.

Christy said in early January that 2005 tied with 2002 for second place.

But Christy looked at entirely different data, and the results are not conflicting, he said. Christy examined the entire "bulk" troposphere, from the surface up to about 35,000 feet. In that measurement of the atmosphere, 2005 "clearly was not the warmest," he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Christy said his approach, which relies on observations from satellites and balloons, is more systematic and global than the estimates provided in the surface-temperature studies. On the other hand, it does not incorporate data more than a few decades back in time.

Interestingly, the troposphere as a whole tends to lag behind rising surface temperatures, Christy said. So measurements over the next few months could show an increase in the troposphere.

The bottom line

Regardless where 2005 ends up, this statement from NOAA puts things in perspective: "Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1995."

And beyond the temperature data, there is plenty of stark evidence for significant warming at the surface. Ground in the Northern Hemisphere that's been frozen since the last Ice Age is melting and collapsing. Animals are changing migration and mating habits. And glaciers are melting and shrinking at alarming rates.

Meanwhile, climatologists are impressed with nature's showing in 2005, because by conventional thinking it should not have been first or second on the all-time list. That's because 1998, the previous hottest year, saw temperatures boosted by a strong El Nino, which was not in place during 2005.

"The bottom line: 2005 was very warm," said Richard Heim, who worked on the NOAA report.

"2005 was not an El Nino year, yet we were toying with tying the 1998 El Nino year," Heim said. "If we had had an El Nino, how warm would it have been?"

NASA's Hansen is already looking ahead to years that he and most other experts expect to be warmer.

"We may get a more definitive assessment from additional data, but it also may be that we will never know for sure," he said. "However, it doesn't matter much. I am confident that we will exceed both of these years within the next few years."
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 7:31 am    Post subject: Antarctic Krill Provide Carbon Sink In Southern Ocean Reply with quote

Source: British Antarctic Survey

Posted: February 6, 2006

Antarctic Krill Provide Carbon Sink In Southern Ocean

New research on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a shrimp-like animal at the heart of the Southern Ocean food chain, reveals behaviour that shows that they absorb and transfer more carbon from the Earth's surface than was previously understood. The results are published this week in the journal Current Biology.

Lead Author Dr Geraint Tarling from BAS says, "We've known for a long time that krill are the main food source for whales, penguins and seals, but we had no idea that their tactics to avoid being eaten could have such added benefits to the environment. By parachuting down they transport carbon which sinks ultimately to the ocean floor -- an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of 35 million cars -- and this makes these tiny animals much more important than we thought."

Krill feed on phytoplankton near the ocean surface at night but sink deeper in the water column during the day to hide from predators. By knowing how these animals behave, we can understand better the contribution they make to removing carbon from the Earth's atmosphere and upper ocean.


###


Background


Satiation gives krill that sinking feeling by Geraint A. Tarling and Magnus L. Johnson is published in Current Biology on 7 February 2006.

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), are shrimp-like crustaceans that are one of the most important animals in the Southern Ocean. They feed on phytoplankton and are in turn eaten by a wide range of animals including fish, penguins, seals and whales. Phytoplankon are the starting point for the marine food chain and use photosynthesis to extract carbon from carbon dioxide.

Krill live in the open ocean, mainly in large swarms and reach particularly high numbers in Antarctica. The migrations that they perform (called Diel Vertical Migrations, DVM) are a way of transporting carbon to the ocean's interior because they eat phytoplankton at the surface and excrete their waste at depth. Antarctic krill can grow up to a length of 6cm and can live for 5-6 years. They are one of the largest protein resources on Earth and can be fished easily with large nets for human consumption.

There is enough Antarctic krill to fill the total volume of the new Wembley stadium 1500 times. Spread out on the floor, they would cover the entire area of Scotland. The total weight of Antarctic krill is calculated between 50-150 million tonnes.

The krill migrate from the ocean surface by fanning out their swimming legs and enter a controlled descent, akin to parachuting. The behaviour is most apparent when their stomachs are full and may be an effective means of getting out of harms way when they can eat no more.

Numbers of Antarctic krill have dropped by about 80% since the 1970's. The most likely explanation is a dramatic decline in winter sea-ice. Krill feed on the algae found under the surface of the sea-ice, which acts as a kind of 'nursery'. The Antarctic Peninsula, a key breeding ground for the krill, has warmed by 2.5°C in the last 50 years, with a striking decrease in sea-ice. It is not fully understood how the loss of sea-ice there is connected to the warming, but could be behind the decline in krill.

The study was carried out aboard the British Antarctic Survey ship RRS James Clark Ross from December 2004 - January 2005 around the islands of South Georgia in the South Atlantic. The krill were caught with nets and transferred to tanks for observations. The tanks were continuously supplied with water (and therefore food) from the sea surface.

British Antarctic Survey is a world leader in research into global issues in an Antarctic context. It is the UK's national operator and is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council. It has an annual budget of around £40 million, runs nine research programmes and operates five research stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica. More information about the work of the Survey can be found at: www.antarctica.ac.uk

Centre for Coastal studies is based at the Scarborough campus, at the University of Hull. The Centre for Coastal Studies is a small but vibrant centre, specialising in teaching and research with a strong emphasis on fieldwork. The centre attracts around 50 students a year from a wide range of backgrounds who study degrees in Coastal Marine Biology, Environmental Science and Ecology. Students acquire strong theoretical knowledge of their subject combined with skill and expertise in the field. Academics and postgraduates in the centre are currently working on a diverse range of topics including intertidal ecology, krill morphometrics, fisheries management and tropical fish biology. For more information visit: www.ccs.hull.ac.uk
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:00 am    Post subject: Swiss glaciers retreat again in 2005, study shows Reply with quote

Swiss glaciers retreat again in 2005, study shows
Reuters
Wed Feb 8, 8:24 AM ET



Glaciers in Switzerland again retreated last year, a study showed on Wednesday, in a sign global warming is taking its toll on one of the country's scenic features.

The Trift glacier in the canton of Berne had receded 216 meters in one year alone, being hardest hit by rising temperatures. Out of 91 glaciers being observed, 84 had retreated. Only seven had remained unchanged.

Not only did glaciers lose length, their volume also diminished. The height of three glaciers closely studied in the survey had shrunk by between 70 centimeters and 1.7 meters, predominantly through a lack of snow last winter.

Melting glaciers pose a threat to Switzerland's thriving winter sports industry and one ski resort started wrapping part of its shrinking ice-cap in a giant blanket last year to try to reduce the summer melt.

Scientists predict that global average temperatures will rise by between one and six degrees Celsius this century. Even a rise of three degrees could result in rising sea levels because of melting snow and other natural disasters, they say.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 2:19 pm    Post subject: Gore: Earth is now at risk, let's save it Reply with quote

This story was taken from www.inq7.net
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://news.inq7.net/nation/in.....y_id=65662


Gore: Earth is now at risk, let's save it
First posted 00:53am (Mla time) Feb 10, 2006
By Daxim L. Lucas
Inquirer


WARNING that the world will reach the "tipping point" toward an ecological catastrophe within the next 10 years, former US Vice President Al Gore urged international and local leaders to focus their efforts toward halting the phenomenon of global warming.
Gore flew to Manila yesterday to address a group of several hundred political and business leaders as well as members of the diplomatic corps at the RCBC Plaza on Ayala Avenue in Makati City on the dangers of neglecting the environment.

"We should be worried about threats like terrorism, but we should also be worried about other more important threats like the destruction of the environment," he told the group which included former President Fidel V. Ramos and several senators and congressmen.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived and exchanged pleasantries with Gore but left before his presentation.

Gore served as vice president under former US President Bill Clinton from 1992 to 2000, using his post to advocate major scientific initiatives and environmental issues.

The standing-room only audience at the Carlos P. Romulo auditorium listened in rapt attention as Gore gave a science lecture on global warming complete with graphs, slides, video clips and satellite photos obtained from the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) showing the extent of the environmental damage around the world.

In particular, Gore illustrated how the increase in carbon dioxide levels around the world was leading to higher temperatures worldwide, causing glaciers and the polar ice cap to melt.

He showed computer simulations of how major coastal cities around the world would be flooded by an average 5-meter rise in the sea level caused by melting polar ice.

"Two million people in Manila will have to be relocated," he said, as the simulation showed the northern and other low-lying areas of the metropolis being flooded as Manila Bay rushed inland.

Gore's insights on issues such as global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer and the destruction of rainforests is said to have played a major role in policy-making for the Clinton government. In recent years, he strongly pushed for the passage of the Kyoto Treaty, an agreement among the world's major superpowers to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

During Gore's tenure as vice president, he was already a strong proponent for environmental protection. While a senator, he traveled around the world on numerous fact-finding missions to work on his book, "Earth in Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit," which explains the necessity for environmentalism and calls for a global marshal plan to rescue the planet from environmental disasters.

Gore also pointed out the threat to the environment brought about by population explosion, especially in the developing world which includes countries like the Philippines.

"We have to accept the moral reality," he said. "I know population is an issue here and I don't want to meddle but the biggest increases are happening in poor countries."

The population explosion is also causing the exploitation of valuable rainforests which, in turn, aggravates environmental degradation.

"I said I wouldn't meddle, but you're losing 2 percent of your forests each year," he said. "They're more valuable to you for ecological purposes than for wood."

And mining, too

"But that's for you to decide," he said. Gore also noted that the mining of minerals could also destroy the environment.

"I hate to meddle, but the costs have to be calculated," he said, stressing that political will is the key toward implementing reforms on the environmental front.

"Fortunately, in democracies, political will is a renewable resource," he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Standing ovation

Gore's impassioned presentation was received with deafening applause and a standing ovation from the audience.

"I wish all our politicians were like him," former Education Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad said when interviewed after the presentation. "Then this would be a much, much better country."

Former Prime Minister Cesar E.A. Virata said the government and the country already recognized the problems highlighted in Gore's presentation, but pointed out that much remained to be done.

Slap in the face

"We have so many laws already in place like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act," he said. "It's always a question of implementation."

Senator Richard Gordon, for his part, called Gore's presentation a "good slap in the face."

"It's a very rude wake-up call for us," he said. "We have to move fast, especially on the population issue."

Gore and his party arrived shortly before 2 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard a Japan Airlines flight and were met by the Presidential Security Group, which had earlier requested airport authorities for special assistance for the visitor.

Gore will fly to India today to repeat his gospel on the environment.

"The earth is our only home," he said "It's now at risk. Let's save it."
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 2:30 pm    Post subject: UP scientists dispute Gore's doomsday scenario Reply with quote

http://news.inq7.net/nation/in.....y_id=65865

UP scientists dispute Gore's doomsday scenario
First posted 01:23am (Mla time) Feb 12, 2006
By Volt Contreras
Inquirer


NOT everyone was pleased with the way former US Vice President Al Gore was given "celebrity" treatment when he spoke as a crusader against global warming in Manila.

Two scientists from the University of the Philippines yesterday lamented how Gore's "doomsday" pronouncements apparently received more attention than the more detailed analyses and solutions offered by Filipino environmental experts.

They also challenged and branded as "exaggerated" what the former US leader said about Manila Bay "overflowing" because of the greenhouse effect.

Too much use of ground water by typical households and establishments-not global warming-was the bigger reason the metropolis is sinking, said Dr. Carlo Arcilla and Dr. Fernando Siringan of the UP College of Science in Diliman, Quezon City.

"There we go again. A foreign celebrity coming over for a quick visit, giving a talk, and we are all in adulation, taking everything said as gospel truth," Arcilla said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer.

Arcilla is an associate professor of geosciences and coordinator of the college's Science and Society Program. He has a Ph D in geosciences and geotechnical engineering earned at the University of Illinois.

Siringan, a professor on marine geology, holds a Ph D from Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Exaggerated

In his first visit to the country, Gore delivered a lecture on global warming at a forum hosted last Thursday by Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco.

The standing-room-only affair drew ranking politicians, business leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.

The former Vice President of the Clinton administration warned that up to two million Metro Manila residents may have to be evacuated from flooded communities as melting glaciers and the polar icecap raise sea levels worldwide.

Warning that the world will reach the "tipping point" toward an ecological catastrophe within the next 10 years, he urged international and local leaders to focus their efforts toward halting the phenomenon of global warming.

Doomsday scenarios

His computer-aided presentation earned a standing ovation.

"The problem with these exaggerated and very general pronouncements about environmental doomsday scenarios is that they distract us from the real local problems which we can really do something about," Arcilla said.

He conceded that global warming was "a serious threat to humanity, (but) it is certainly not in the terms that Gore presents."

As to Manila Bay overflowing, he noted that his peers at UP, like Siringan and Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, along with their students, had conducted their own studies of the water level's rise.

Real story

"While it is true that global warming could contribute to the rise, this is only in the millimeters, but the centimeters' rise could be attributed more to heavy groundwater extraction which results in subsidence, which makes it appear that the sea is invading land," he explained.

"I am not saying that we should stop helping control greenhouse gas emissions, but very, very few really know the real story about flooding in Metro Manila," he said.

"We could cry all day about greenhouse gases but if we don't regulate carefully our use of groundwater, we could be flooding faster than whatever could come from global warming."

Reached by phone, Siringan observed: "We're falling over each other when it comes to foreign scientists. We don't listen to our very own. They have done more work but they are ignored."

He said this bias was evident in the hiring of expensive "foreign consultants" for projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

For the Camanava Flood Control Project, for example, the DPWH has tapped Japanese consultants who "earn in a month what Filipino scientists cannot earn in a year," said Siringan, who gets around P30,000 a month as a UP professor.

He said he shared Arcilla's "sentiments" about the Gore visit.

Listening to your own

"I am glad that former Vice President Al Gore visited Manila, but I am disturbed that we believe everything he says without filtering it through some scientific analysis," Arcilla said in his statement.

It's about time that the public-and the government-pay heed to "our own scientists, many of whom have sacrificed having a lucrative career abroad to study our own problems and propose solutions," he said.

"We do not have many scientists, but we do have a few good ones," Arcilla said, noting that as far as "credentials" were concerned, Gore "really does not have an advanced science degree, even if he is a good student of the environment."

"Let us listen to them (local scientists) also before we fall hook, line and sinker for foreigners," he said.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arctic warming signals from
satellite observations

by Josefino C. Comiso
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, Maryland
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:53 pm    Post subject: Greenland glaciers melting faster, study finds Reply with quote

Greenland glaciers melting faster, study finds
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
Reuters
16 February 2006

Greenland's glaciers are dumping twice as much ice into the Atlantic Ocean now as five years ago because glaciers are moving and melting more quickly, researchers said on Thursday.

This could mean oceans will rise even faster than forecast, and rising surface air temperatures appear to be to blame, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

"This change, combined with increased melting, suggests that existing estimates of future sea level rise are too low," Julian Dowdeswell of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Britain's Cambridge University wrote in a commentary.

"At 1.7 million square km (656,000 square miles), up to 3 km (nearly two miles) thick and a little smaller than Mexico, the Greenland Ice Sheet would raise global sea level by about 7 meters (22 feet) if it melted completely."

The study did not explore what is causing the rising air temperatures in Greenland, but most scientists agree that human activity, notably the burning of fossil fuels, is playing an important role in global warming.

Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and Pannir Kanagaratnam of the University of Kansas used satellite data to track the movement of Greenland's glaciers, which slide slowly down to the sea and deposit ice.

They calculated that Greenland contributes about 0.02 inch (half a millimeter) to the annual 0.1 inch (3 mm) rise in global sea levels.

Since 1996, southeast Greenland's outlet glaciers have been flowing more quickly and since 2000 glaciers farther north have also sped up.

Rignot and Kanagaratnam found that ice loss due to glacier flow has increased from 12 cubic miles of ice loss per year in 1996 to 36 cubic miles of ice loss per year in 2005.

"It takes a long time to build and melt an ice sheet, but glaciers can react quickly to temperature changes," Rignot said in a statement.

He said the models now used to predict how much ice Greenland will lose, and what effect that will have on sea levels, may underestimate the outcome.

Rising air temperatures are clearly a factor, the researchers told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science.

Over the last 20 years, the air temperature in southeast Greenland has risen by 5.4 degrees F (3 degrees C).

Warmer air lubricates the bottoms of glaciers, helping them slide faster.

"Climate warming can work in different ways, but generally speaking, if you warm up the ice sheet, the glacier will flow faster," said Rignot.

And it may melt even more quickly in years to come, he added.

"The southern half of Greenland is reacting to what we think is climate warming. The northern half is waiting, but I don't think it's going to take long," Rignot said.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:34 pm    Post subject: Impact of Climate Warming on Polar Ice Sheets Confirmed Reply with quote

Impact of Climate Warming on Polar Ice Sheets Confirmed
03.08.06
NASA
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/ear.....heets.html

In the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of the massive ice sheets covering both Greenland and Antarctica, NASA scientists confirm climate warming is changing how much water remains locked in Earth's largest storehouse of ice and snow.

Other recent studies have shown increasing losses of ice in parts of these ice sheets. This new survey is the first to inventory the losses of ice and the addition of new snow on both continents in a consistent way throughout an entire decade.

The survey shows that there was a net loss of ice from the combined polar ice sheets between 1992 and 2002 and a corresponding rise in sea level. The survey documents for the first time extensive thinning of the West Antarctic ice shelves and an increase in snowfall in the interior of Greenland, as well as thinning at the edges. All are signs of a warming climate predicted by computer models.

The survey, published in the Journal of Glaciology, combines new satellite mapping of the height of the ice sheets from two European Space Agency satellites. It also used previous NASA airborne mapping of the edges of the Greenland ice sheets to determine how fast the thickness is changing.

In Greenland, the survey saw large ice losses along the southeastern coast and a large increase in ice thickness at higher elevations in the interior due to relatively high rates of snowfall. This study suggests there was a slight gain in the total mass of frozen water in the ice sheet over the decade studied, contrary to previous assessments.

This situation may have changed in just the past few years, according to lead author Jay Zwally of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Last month NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., reported a speed up of ice flow into the sea from several Greenland glaciers. That study included observations through 2005; Zwally's survey concluded with 2002 data.

When the scientists added up the overall gains and loses of ice from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, there was a net loss of ice to the sea. The amount of water added to the oceans (20 billion tons) is equivalent to the total amount of freshwater used in homes, businesses and farming in New York, New Jersey and Virginia each year.

"The study indicates that the contribution of the ice sheets to recent sea-level rise during the decade studied was much smaller than expected, just two percent of the recent increase of nearly three millimeters a year," says Zwally. "Continuing research using NASA satellites and other data will narrow the uncertainties in this important issue."

NASA is continuing to monitor the polar ice sheets with the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), launched in January 2003. ICESat uses a laser beam to measure the elevation of ice sheets with unprecedented accuracy three times a year. The first comprehensive ice sheet survey conducted by ICESat is expected early next year, said Zwally, who is the mission's project scientist.
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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 5:49 pm    Post subject: UCSD Study Reveals How Plants Respond to Elevated CO2 Reply with quote

May 1, 2006
http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsr.....plants.asp

UCSD Study Reveals How Plants Respond to Elevated Carbon Dioxide

By Sherry Seethaler

An important source of uncertainty in predictions about global warming is how plants will respond to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Now biologists at the University of California, San Diego have made significant advances toward understanding the mechanism plants use to regulate their carbon dioxide intake.

The study, published in the May 1 early on-line edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere controls the opening and closing of leaf stomata—pores through which plants “breathe” in carbon dioxide. The researchers say that their findings provide important insights into the cellular and genetic mechanisms through which increasing carbon dioxide emissions will impact the world’s vegetation. The study will be published May 9 in the print edition of PNAS.

“As human activity continues to raise atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, a better understanding of how plants respond to carbon dioxide is becoming imperative,” said Julian Schroeder, a professor of biology at UCSD who directed the project. “Our results provide new insights into how an increased concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to changes within a plant cell that trigger the closing of the stomata—the breathing or gas exchange pores in the leaf surface.”

One of the standard arguments against taking action to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is that the elevated carbon dioxide will stimulate plants to grow faster. The assumption is that plants will take up excess carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates—their stored energy source.

However, studies have shown that, contrary to expectations, increased carbon dioxide does not accelerate plant growth. Previous research has also shown that the doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide expected to occur this century can cause leaf stomata to close by 20 to 40 percent in diverse plant species, thus reducing carbon dioxide intake. Little was known about the molecular and genetic mechanisms controlling this response.

Schroeder and colleagues discovered that in the cells surrounding the leaf stomata calcium ion “spikes”—or rapid increases and then decreases in calcium ion concentrations within cells—changed in frequency according to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. As the carbon dioxide concentration was increased, the rapid drum roll of calcium spikes within the cells changed to a slower beat. The cells responded by reducing the size of the pores in the leaf.

In the presence of low carbon dioxide, a quick drumbeat was induced, but the stomata opened, rather than closed. Therefore, high carbon dioxide seems to prime the calcium sensors in the leaf. Jared Young, an assistant professor of biology at Mills College, who completed the study while he was a graduate student working with Schroeder at UCSD, likened this priming to removing ear plugs from someone at a rock concert.

“With very good ear plugs, someone might be able to sleep through the concert, but without the earplugs one would respond to the changes in the rhythms of the music,” said Young. “Similarly, our findings suggest that carbon dioxide primes the calcium sensors to respond to the calcium spikes in the cell. Since changes in calcium concentration are used in other communication processes within cells, the need for sensor priming makes certain that the stomata don’t close for inappropriate reasons.”

The researchers speculate that narrowing the stomata in response to increased carbon dioxide may have an advantage for the plant.

“Even if a plant closes its pores a little in response to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, it would still have access to carbon dioxide,” said Schroeder. “On the other hand, less water would be escaping through the pores, so the response might help plants use water more efficiently. Each plant species shows a different carbon dioxide responsiveness, and understanding the underlying mechanisms may make it possible to engineer improved water use efficiency in some crop plants or trees that will be exposed to higher carbon dioxide levels in the future.”

In the paper, the researchers also report the discovery of the first known plant with a genetic mutation that makes it strongly insensitive to increased levels of carbon dioxide, which will provide additional information about the mechanism of plants’ response to carbon dioxide levels. However, the researchers caution that a number of factors in addition to future atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, such as temperature, precipitation and available nutrient levels, will need to be considered before it will be possible to thoughtfully predict plant behavior based on molecular mechanisms.

“These molecular mechanisms are like fundamental parts of machinery,” explained Young. “It's hard to predict what an instrument will do, if you don't even know anything about the parts that it is made from. Identify and characterize the parts, and you can figure out how they fit together to generate the structure of the machine, and from there you can figure out what it will do when you push button A or pull lever B.”

Other UCSD contributors to the study were Samar Mehta, a graduate student in the Department of Physics, Maria Israelsson, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Biological Sciences and Jan Godoski, a graduate student in the Division of Biological Sciences. Erwin Grill, a biology professor at the Technical University of Munich also contributed to the study.

The study was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:08 am    Post subject: Goldilocks and the Greenhouse Reply with quote

Goldilocks and the Greenhouse

What makes Earth habitable? This LiveScience original explores the science of global warming and explains how conditions here are just right.

The video:

http://www.livescience.com/php.....locksGreen
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:27 am    Post subject: Global Warming Could Sour Wine Industry Reply with quote

Global Warming Could Sour Wine Industry

By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 10 July 2006
05:15 pm ET



With the global climate heating up, wine drinkers may soon be saying "cheers" with a little less enthusiasm.

Extreme temperature swings predicted by climate change models could reduce growing areas in the United States for premium wine grapes and hurt an important source of commerce, reports a new study in this week's journal for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/env.....grape.html
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 2:31 pm    Post subject: No Dice for Greenland Ice Reply with quote

No Dice for Greenland Ice
By Phil Berardelli
ScienceNOW Daily News
10 August 2006

Something ominous may be happening beneath Greenland's vast ice sheet. For nearly 50 years, the world's second largest ice cap has inched inexorably downhill toward the ocean, but at a stable rate. Now, the sheet seems to be melting and sliding seaward much faster, and the rate seems to be accelerating--a condition that could eventually endanger coastal populations and affect Earth's climate.
When glaciers begin to melt, water works its way down to the bottom of the ice. There it lubricates the glacier, which will pick up its downhill pace. Why worry? Greenland holds about 10% of the world's ice, so if it melts completely--though an unlikely prospect--it would raise global sea level about 6.5 meters. That's enough to flood all of the planet's coastal cities and displace billions of people.

For the full article:

http://sciencenow.sciencemag.o.....2006/810/3
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:59 am    Post subject: Study: Summer is Getting Longer Reply with quote

Study: Summer is Getting Longer

By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 31 August 2006
12:07 am ET



The lines between seasons are blurring and summer is getting longer in North America, a new study indicates.

Tracing backwards every known rainfall event on the globe, for a 25-year period ending in 2003, scientists wanted to determine where the moisture that supplied each rainfall came from.

While doing that, they found remarkable trends in what they call recycling over that time period, said study co-author, Paul Dirmeyer from the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies in Calverton, MD.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/env.....cycle.html
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:58 am    Post subject: Dinosaurs' climate shifted too, reports show Reply with quote

Dinosaurs' climate shifted too, reports show
Indian University, Bloomington
23 September 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Ancient rocks from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean suggest dramatic climate changes during the dinosaur-dominated Mesozoic Era, a time once thought to have been monotonously hot and humid.

In this month's Geology, scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research present new evidence that ocean surface temperatures varied as much as 6 degrees Celsius (about 11 degrees Fahrenheit) during the Aptian Epoch of the Cretaceous Period 120 million years ago.

The finding is relevant to the ongoing climate change discussion, IUB geologist Simon Brassell says, because it portrays an ancient Earth whose temperatures shifted erratically due to changes in carbon cycling and did so without human input.


"Combined with data from the Atlantic, it appears clear that climate changes were taking place on a global scale during this time period," said Brassell, who led the study.

A previous study from an Atlantic Ocean site had suggested a changeable climate around the same time period. But it was not known whether the Atlantic data indicated regional climate change unique to the area or something grander.

"We had virtually no data from the middle of the largest ocean at that time period," Brassell said. "The data we collected suggest significant global fluctuations in temperature."

As part of the National Science Foundation's Ocean Drilling Project, the geoscientists voyaged in 2001 to Shatsky Rise, a study site 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Japan and 3,100 meters below the ocean surface. Shatsky Rise is known to have formed at the end of the Jurassic Period immediately prior to the beginning of the Cretaceous, the last period of the Mesozoic Era.

The scientists' vessel, the JOIDES Resolution, is specially outfitted with a drill that can be lowered to the sea floor for the collection of rock samples.

The drill bit was driven 566 meters into Shatsky Rise. Rocks freed by the drill were transported directly to the surface for analysis. The rocks corresponding to early Aptian time were extremely rich in organic material. By analyzing the carbon and nitrogen content of the samples, the geochemists found evidence for changes in carbon cycling and in nitrogen fixation by ocean biological communities associated with changing climate. A special analysis method targeting certain complex carbon-containing molecules provided values for a measurement called TEX86 that revealed mean temperature variations between 30 deg C (86 deg F) and 36 deg C (97 deg F) with two prominent cooling episodes of approximately 4 deg C (7 deg F) in tropical surface temperatures during the early Aptian. By comparison, today's tropical sea surface temperatures typically lie between 29 and 30 deg C.

Brassell says that findings of a changeable climate during the Cretaceous, a time period dominated by dinosaurs and noted for the spread of flowering plants, could influence the current climate change debate.

"One of the key challenges for us is trying to predict climate change," Brassell said. "If there are big, inherent fluctuations in the system, as paleoclimate studies are showing, it could make determining Earth's climatic future even harder than it is. We're learning our climate, throughout time, has been a wild beast."


###
IU Bloomington Geological Sciences graduate student Mirela Dumitrescu and Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research scientists Stefan Schouten, Ellen Hopmans and Jaap Sinninghe Damsté also contributed to the report. It was funded with grants from the Geological Society of America and the IU Bloomington Department of Geological Sciences, with ongoing research support from the National Science Foundation, the United States Science Advisory Committee, and the American Chemical Society. A related paper by Mirela Dumitrescu and Simon Brassell recently won the 2006 Best Paper Award from the Organic Geochemistry Division of the Geochemical Society.

More information about the Ocean Drilling Program can be found at http://www.oceandrilling.org/.

To speak with Brassell, please contact David Bricker, IU Media Relations, at 812-856-9035 or brickerd@indiana.edu.

"Instability in tropical sea surface temperatures during the Early Aptian," Geology vol. 34, no. 10
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:44 pm    Post subject: NASA Study Finds World Warmth Edging Ancient Levels Reply with quote

NASA Study Finds World Warmth Edging Ancient Levels

09.25.06
NASA


A new study by NASA climatologists finds that the world's temperature is reaching a level that has not been seen in thousands of years.

The study appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, authored by James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, N.Y. and colleagues from Columbia University, Sigma Space Partners, Inc., and the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). The study concludes that, because of a rapid warming trend over the past 30 years, the Earth is now reaching and passing through the warmest levels in the current interglacial period, which has lasted nearly 12,000 years. This warming is forcing a migration of plant and animal species toward the poles.


For the full article:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/go.....armth.html
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