Climate News: Solar Excuses, Stormy Reefs and Drying Ponds

The author of today’s post, Lisa Moore, is a scientist in the Climate and Air Program.

This week’s scientific journals brought three interesting stories about climate change. The first is a sneak peek at an upcoming paper about global warming and the Sun. The second talks about an unexpected environmental benefit of hurricanes, and the third reports that climate change is drying up important biodiversity hotspots in the Arctic.

Schiermeier. 2007. No solar hiding place for greenhouse sceptics. Nature 448: 8.

This news story describes a soon-to-be-published analysis that "is the final nail in the coffin for people who would like to make the Sun responsible for present global warming". [[Moderator’s Note: Study now published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A [PDF].]]

Manzello et al. 2007. Hurricanes benefit bleached corals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10.1073/pnas.0701194104.

Too-warm ocean water can kill coral reefs through a process known as bleaching. It also can cause hurricanes, which in this case have a happy side effect. Hurricanes leave a wake of cooler water, which alleviates heat stress on coral reefs. In 2005, Atlantic hurricanes may have helped some Caribbean coral reefs recover from a widespread bleaching event, "the only known scenario where the effects of a hurricane can benefit a stressed marine community."

Smol & Douglas. 2007. Crossing the final ecological threshold in high Arctic ponds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10.1073/pnas.0702777104.

Shallow ponds serve as hotspots for biodiversity in the Arctic. Unfortunately, many of these ponds are now drying up, probably because of global warming.

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  1. Posted July 8, 2007 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Check this US Carbon Footprint Map out, has United States Interactive Carbon Footprint Map, illustrating Greenest States. This site has all sorts of stats on individual State energy consumptions, demographics and State energy offices.

  2. Posted July 9, 2007 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Fred.

  3. Audrey Yzaguirre
    Posted July 10, 2007 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    What is happening with the plastic bag situation? Clerks continue to be annoyed, even if you bring your own bags. It’s as if they have so many plastic bags, they have to get rid of them. Will there soon be a charge for plastic bags? Why don’t more stores sell cloth bags? How can we spread the word that you can get 3 cents back for every bag you re-use?

  4. Bill Mc
    Posted December 25, 2007 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    No, solar folks have no place to hide on the subject of global warming. Ever notice the difference between summer and winter? Did you know that the earth’s present tilt on its rotational axis relative to our orbital plane is 23.5 degrees? Did you know that the earth is roughly 8,000 miles in diameter? So, if the difference between what some call summer and some call winter is 47 degrees and a few thousand miles of commensurate diameter shift, what do you think might happen if instead of a few thousand miles of diameter shift distance from the sun we make that a few million miles instead? Like when the eccentricity of our orbit (2% of 93 million miles, or 1.7M miles) shifts as it does very periodically. That would be an ice age. Like the past 16 such climate change events that happened in the closest thing geology has to a clock every 100,000 years for the Pleistocene Epoch (past 1.6 million years). If you are worried about the 40-60cm (~2-feet) the IPCC says sea level will rise in the not too distant future, or the order of magnitude more Al Gore interprets the data to say, then lets use Gores 20 feet. Each of those 16 most recent climate change events averaged 400 feet in sea level change, 300 feet below present to 100 feet above. So, which of the 5 20-feet increments we are currently shy of those 16 peaks will Al Gore’s be? How will you tell? As a geologist my research into this phenomena is extensive, and the most recent Arctic sedimentologist’s interpretation is that the trigger event for the long slow 100k year slide into an ice age appears to be the complete melting away of the Arctic ice sheet, which, BTW is progged to be done by 2070. Now, the Vostok data show an interesting signature, covering 4 of those 16 Pleistocene events in its 1/4 of that time period (420k years). Those long, bumpy 100k year long slides into a deep freeze followed by an abrupt termination. Each time. Now what form of life would suddenly appear in numbers large enough to precipitate a 400 foot rise in sea level due to GHGs at the deepest depths of a 100k year long ice age? it has to be some form of life because we have no volcanoes that are that regular. And we have no ash associated with these terminations which are the most punctual (by a huge margin) thing known in the geologic record.

    If you are worried about CO2 moving from 0.04 to 0.08% of the atmosphere, you are simply on the wrong side of the decimal point in terms of anthropogenic effects. Try 50% of the worlds forests, 50% of the world’s grasslands gone in the last century, how about 13 of the 16 largest cities perched on estuaries, earth’s incubators of life. Ever notice how the ground warms up with sunlight? Ya think if you knock off all that forest and grassland and whip up some of that surface as dust the same thing won’t happen in the atmosphere?

    What about the fact that if everyone on the planet got to live in American Plush the UN says we would need seven more planets? Its OK, if you want to focus on what is basically an innoccuous colorless odorless gas, I have no objection. The real problems are population, resources and energy. But the Nine Times Rule states with statistical certainty that the human being is nine times more susceptible to rumor than it is to fact. Simple proof? Which is the world’s correct religion.

    If you want to deal with this problem, start with some kind of population control. If the world were to take California’s approach (I am a Californian) and pass an AB32 equivalent, we would have NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER on the fact that the rest of the solar system pushes us around gravitationally closer and further to the sun. Regularly, like clockwork. That is what caused those 100k year long Pleistocene ice ages, and the 41k yr long ones in the preceding epoch, the Pliocene.

    The interglacials between ice ages tend to be about 10-15k years long. The Wisconsin Ice age terminated about 11,500 years ago. In that time, all of human civilization and recorded history has occurred. Due to the Nine Times Rule, either 88.9% of us will NEVER get it, or we get it 11.1% of the time.

    I am so disappointed in the FACT that we are off chasing something that might have some effect while completely ignoring the facts associated with the real problems, dramatically expanding population and resources consumption tied to elimination of ~40k species annually and forest the size of California every year.

    Jeez folks, get on the right side of the decimal point, at least.