Chad, located along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, is the dustiest place on Earth. Recognizing that aerosols plays a vital role in climate and biophysical feedback in Earth's environmental system, climate researchers are turning to dust as a major driver of climate change. A new article, to be published in PNAS, identifies the Bodélé Depression in Chad as the producer of about half the mineral aerosols emitted from the Sahara. According to Richard Washington et al. dust could be a “tipping element” where “small features of the atmospheric circulation, such as the Bodélé Low-Level Jet, could profoundly alter the behavior of this feature.” With the impact of CO2 diminished due to a cooling climate climate, researchers are searching for new hazards: Is African dust the new carbon dioxide?
Two articles in the July 17 edition of Science describe efforts to model Earth's rapidly changing climate at the end of the last glacial period, between 21 and 11 thousand years years ago (ka). After a year and a half of number crunching on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer, the first results indicate that climate experienced cooling 17 ka, during the Heinrich Event 1 (H1), followed by an abrupt warming at the onset of the Bølling-Allerød Warming 14.5 ka. These abrupt climate changes were accompanied by large changes in the “ocean conveyor belt”: the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The results suggest that this transition can be viewed simply as the North Atlantic climate response to rapidly changing glacial meltwater flow. The findings call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of abrupt climate change and weakens the threat of “irreversible tipping points” so popular with climate change extremists.
When it comes to climate, the early Paleogene period (~65-34 mya), at the start of the Cenozoic Era, had one of the most Eden like climates of the Phanerozoic Eon. As the Cenozoic progressed a cooling trend set in leading up to the formation of permanent ice caps and the Pleistocene Ice Age we are still experiencing. But before the world started to ice up our planet underwent one of the most dramatic bouts of global warming known to science—the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM. Recently, global warming activists have tried to liken human CO2 emissions to the cause of the PETM, 55 million years ago. Is it true, that our actions may trigger a sudden sharp rise in global temperature?
Many news outlets are reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was skeptical of claims about global warming. While this has conspiracy theorists all a twitter, the truly shocking thing is the content of that report. The executive summary contains a list of items contradicting claim after claim put forth by the IPCC and global warming alarmists. The contents are nothing short of incendiary.
The lingering cool temperatures being experience by much of North America has weather forecasters wondering if we are entering a new Little Ice Age—a reference to the prolonged period of cold weather that afflicted the world for centuries and didn't end until just prior to the American Civil War. From historical records, scientists have found a strong correlation between low sunspot activity and a cooling climate. At the end of May, an international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA released a new prediction for the next solar cycle: Solar Cycle 24 will be one of the weakest in recent memory. Are we about to start a new Little Ice Age?
Even though the new US President gives occasional lip service to nuclear energy, recent actions by his administration force us to ask, “is the Obama administration trying to kill nuclear energy?” The first indication that Obama's support for nuclear power was less than whole hearted came during the stimulus debate, when a push to include tens of billions of dollars in insurance for new nuclear reactors failed. Then, the Obama administration came out this month against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
A Russian project currently underway aims at ringing the Arctic Circle with 70 MW floating nuclear power plants. In a report by Interfax, a Russian state controlled news agency, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the far northern Siberian Republic of Yakutiya signed an agreement last week for the construction of four floating nuclear power plants for use along the Republic’s coastal areas on the Arctic Ocean. This moves forward existing plans to construct scores of new power plants in the Arctic region.
NASA researchers report that much of the atmospheric warming observed in the Arctic since 1976 may be due to changes in tiny airborne particles called aerosols. Though greenhouse gases are invariably blamed for global climate change, and the shrinking Arctic ice cover in particular, this new research indicates that as much as half the warming in the Arctic can be attributed to sort lived particulate pollution—basically soot. Unlike the dreaded gas, CO2, aerosols do not stay in the atmosphere very long, suggesting that the effects of any warming caused by aerosols would quickly be reversed if their emissions ceased.
The Earth Institute at Columbia University held a panel discussion recently on the subject of climate change. The main themes of the evening were the complexity and fluidity of climate science, interweaving policy, politics and science, and evolving public attitudes. Not surprisingly, being held in an academic environment, the audience at Columbia was firmly in the camp of climate change believers and was preoccupied mainly with deflecting attacks by deniers. Why do anthropogenic global warming proponents seem so paranoid about opposing views?
The current hot phrase bandied about by talking heads and parotted by news pundits is “tipping point.” We are told that the climate may be near a tipping point, if it has not crossed one already, and that can't be good. But what is a tipping point, where do they come from and how can we identify one when we see it?
In May, 2008, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) predicted that the North Pole could be ice free during last years melt season. The disappearing northern sea ice has been pointed to by global warming alarmists as visible proof that the Earth was doing a melt down. Today, however, the NSIDC announced that they have been the victims of “sensor drift” that caused them to underestimate the Arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square kilometers. It turns out that the demise of the arctic ice was greatly exaggerated.