Global Warming Responsible for 70 Percent of Recent Glacier Loss, Study Finds

August 15, 2014 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

From Alaska to the Andes, glaciers all over the world have been retreating for decades, as average global surface temperatures have increased. This loss of these glaciers is one of the most iconic manifestations of manmade global warming, but until now, no one had studied the obvious question: Just how much global glacier melt (referred to technically as “glacier mass loss”) is global warming responsible for, and how much is from natural climate variability?

A new study, published Thursday in the journal Science Express, tackles that question, and comes to a profound — if not surprising— conclusion. The study found that manmade global warming, which is largely due to the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal for energy, is responsible for nearly 70% of global glacier mass loss between 1991 to 2010.

See also: Sea Level Rise Visualization Shows Your Home — Underwater

Glaciers are melting because of human actions, which implies that also related impacts, such as changed water availability and hazards from glacial lakes can be considered man-made,” lead author Ben Marzeion, with the University of Innsbruck, told Mashable.

The study, by researchers at the University of Innsbruck and Trent University, found that over a longer time period, from 1851-2010, the manmade signal is smaller, accounting for about 25% of glacier melt. Part of the reason for this is that during the early decades within that time, period glaciers were still responding to natural climate variability, including the end of the so-called “Little Ice Age” when temperatures were considerably cooler than they are now.

Greenland Glacier

Meltwater channels from the previous summer and terminus of the Violin Glacier in East Greenland, seen during an Operation IceBridge survey flight on April 5, 2014. Image: NASA IceBridge

The study showed that glaciers are still responding to climate change that occurred years ago because they have a delayed response to warming. This means that the accelerated warming seen since the 1970s is likely to cause even more melting in the coming years, even though temperatures rose much more slowly during the past decade.

Melting glaciers are a hazard because they contribute to rising sea levels, which are already causing coastal storms to be more destructive, and also altering water resources; this leads to flooding hazards in many areas, such as the Himalayas. Without manmade global warming, glaciers would have contributed about 3.9 inches to global sea level rise during the 1851 to 2010 period, the study found; but with it, they contributed 5.2 inches.

This may sound like a small number, but every fraction of an inch can make a huge difference when it comes to storm surge in highly populated coastal cities. For example, the foot of sea level rise during the past century in New York City was enough for Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge to flood thousands of additional homes and businesses than the storm would have without that extra water.

Anderson-Glacier-1936-2004-pair_1

The Anderson Glacier in Olympic National Park in 1936, and again in 2004. Credit: National Park Service. Image: National Park Service

The study said that in some areas, it is quite clear that manmade global warming is driving glaciers to shrink, including Alaska, western Canada, Arctic Canada, Greenland and north Asia, among others. But in some spots, such as the southern Andes and Caucasus region, the study’s methods did not detect a manmade warming signal with high confidence.

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers used a model of global glacier evolution based in part on the Randolph Glacier Inventory, which contains information for individual glaciers, as well as the latest global climate models to simulate the contribution of natural and manmade climate change. They found that the computer model simulations could not match the observed record without including manmade global warming. The study includes all of the world’s glaciers outside of Antarctica.

Richard B. Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in the new study, described glaciers as “slow thermometers.” In an email to Mashable, he said:

Stick a fever thermometer in your mouth, and it takes a little while to adjust to the new environment and give the accurate temperature. In the same way, if there were a temperature change in a single step, with the temperature then held constant at that new level, a glacier will take a while to come into balance with the new temperature…

High scientific confidence that the human-dominated part of the warming is primarily responsible for glacier retreat thus doesn’t emerge until late in the 20th century, even though the “most likely” answer is that humans have been contributing at least a little for over a century, with a growing influence more recently.

Alley added that the study’s results “make perfect sense.”

“Warming melts glaciers, whether the warming is caused by natural or human causes. And because glaciers are slow thermometers, even if humans were to quit warming the climate, the glaciers will lose more mass in the future as they “catch up” with the warming that has already occurred,” he said.

Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor who was not involved in the new study, said it is “convincing, but not at all surprising.” He added that the lagged response of glaciers doesn’t go back more than a few decades for most small glaciers, and about a century for larger ones.

Marzeion, the study’s lead author, cautioned that there are still uncertainties about how some glaciers are responding to climate change, and improvements also need to be made to computer models of the climate. Those caveats, however, do not detract much from the bottom-line message that manmade global warming is now the primary reason why glaciers are melting.

Article source: http://mashable.com/2014/08/15/global-warming-glacier-loss/

Ants May Boost CO2 Absorption Enough to Slow Global Warming

August 12, 2014 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

What if you could build a brick fence in your backyard that would offset a portion of your daily carbon dioxide emissions, such as those produced on your drive home from work? Would you do it?

Ronald Dorn, professor of geography at Arizona State University in Tempe, would. Except the fence he has in mind wouldn’t be just constructed from any old brick. It would be coated with calcium or magnesium and inhabited by a colony of ants.

If this idea sounds bizarre to you, that’s probably because—as Dorn himself would admit—it is. Yet, he says, it is conceivable that people all over the world could one day use their own version of this mineral/ant–based method of CO2 capture to limit the gas in the atmosphere and thereby help control its global heating effects.

CO2 is currently the primary greenhouse gas emitted via human activities, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Overview of Green House Gases. And the volume released has only increased since the industrial revolution, contributing to global warming.

Using ants to help capture CO2 and help fight global warming stems from a study Dorn published recently in Geology linking ants to the acceleration of natural carbon dioxide absorption in rock by up to 335 times, compared with absorption in ant-free areas.

Responding to the study, David Schwartzman, emeritus professor of biogeochemistry at Howard University who reviewed but was not a part of the research, said that encouraging ant colonization “will be important in carbon sequestration” from the atmosphere.

Of course, both he and Dorn note, the ants themselves may not always be necessary once researchers learn more about how the insects promote carbon sequestration. “I don’t know if you can just have massive ant colonies hanging around a power plant. But if we know what particular secretion of an ant gland is doing this trick, or combinations of secretions,” Dorn says, then those substances could potentially be produced in quantity.

How rock captures carbon
Dorn himself is not sure how ants perform their “magic,” but he does have a good handle on how certain rocks absorb carbon on their own.

He says that rock containing calcium and magnesium naturally absorbs carbon dioxide, which in turn transforms it into carbon-rich limestone, or dolomite. This carbon capture by rock has been happening for a very long time. In fact, over geologic time it probably helped to keep the planet’s atmospheric CO2 levels and its temperature from rising too high for life to survive. Dorn’s new research suggests ants could have been responsible for helping accelerate this process.

Overall Dorn says this chemical activity really is essential to making Earth habitable. It is so important that he has his students do a rather unusual ceremony when working out in the field for research projects. “When I take students on field trips, I make them kiss the limestone, because that limestone is just CO2 that’s just locked up in rocks and how Earth has remained habitable.”

From annoyance to anomaly
Dorn discovered the contribution ants can make almost by accident. In the 1990s, as part of studying the weathering of minerals, he stuck minerals in all sorts of different areas—in soil, in bare ground, in crusts ripe with microorganisms, in ground next to roots and in a plastic tube used as a control. You name it, he did it—he wanted a baseline from which to track changes over time, he says.

At first, the ants were mainly an annoyance. “I’d drill holes and they’d bite you,” he says. It wasn’t until after putting up with them for 25 years while taking measurements of the minerals’ weathering over time that he got his first inkling of their carbon-sequestering prowess. “It was pretty clear when I started processing samples of the minerals from the different areas that the ants were incredibly anomalous,” he says, referring to just how much the ants sped up the carbon-capture process. Follow-up work then quantified the amount of carbon stored in rocks visited by ants.

And although he still isn’t sure whether it’s the ants licking the rock, their microbes, their gland secretions or something else that accounts for the carbon enhancement in rocks, he does understand further insight into the process could potentially help people do a better job of capturing carbon from the atmosphere. “I don’t understand how the ants are doing the processes,” he says. “I would love to get funding to figure this out…. Then we could move forward to work with the chemical engineers or somebody to figure out if this magic trick can be efficiently and economically used. That would be a dream.”

Schwartzman agrees and says that such carbon sequestration will be imperative in bringing down the atmospheric level of CO2 to below 350 parts per million (it is now 400 ppm) “to avoid the worst consequences of ongoing climate change induced by anthropogenic releases of CO2 to the atmosphere.” Although he added that this carbon release must also be radically and rapidly curbed as well.

Regardless, there are over 10 trillion ants on Earth, according to some estimates. So, “clearly, more studies on the role of ants and other animals populating soils are needed to broaden our understanding of their significance,” Schwartzman says.

Article source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ants-may-boost-co2-absorption-enough-to-slow-global-warming/

10883 out of 10885 scientific articles agree: Global warming is happening…

March 25, 2014 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Global Warming

As geochemist James Lawrence Powell continues to prove, the only people still debating whether or not climate change is “real,” and caused by human activity, are the ones who aren’t doing the actual research. In an update to his ongoing project of reviewing the literature on global warming, Powell went through every scientific study published in a peer-review journal during the calendar year 2013, finding 10,885 in total (more on his methodology here). Of those, a mere two rejected anthropogenic global warming. The consensus, as he defines it, looks like this:

Powell even had to expand that itty bitty slice of the consensus pie five times for us to make it out  – the actual doubt about climate change within the scientific community is even tinier.

Adding this new data to his previous findings, Powell estimates that the going rate for climate denial in scientific research is about 1 in 1,000. The outliers, he adds, “have had no discernible influence on science.” From this, he comes up with a theory of his own:

Very few of the most vocal global warming deniers, those who write op-eds and blogs and testify to congressional committees, have ever written a peer-reviewed article in which they say explicitly that anthropogenic global warming is false. Why? Because then they would have to provide the evidence and, evidently, they don’t have it.

What can we conclude?

1. There a mountain of scientific evidence in favor of anthropogenic global warming and no convincing evidence against it.

2. Those who deny anthropogenic global warming have no alternative theory to explain the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 and global temperature.

These two facts together mean that the so-called debate over global warming is an illusion, a hoax conjured up by a handful of apostate scientists and a misguided and sometimes colluding media, aided and abetted by funding from fossil fuel companies and right wing foundations.



UPDATE 3/26/2014 9:27 PM: The headline of this post has been corrected to reflect the correct number of articles referenced by Dr. Powell’s research. Powell also clarifies that many of those studies were authored by multiple scientists, so the complete number is actually higher. The headlines has been updated to reflect this as well.

On his methodology, Powell notes, he only verified that two out of the 10,885 articles he found concluded that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is wrong: “It is a safe assumption that virtually all the other 10883 do not reject–that is, they accept–AGW but I can’t say for sure that each one of them does.”


Article source: http://www.salon.com/2014/03/25/10853_out_of_10855_scientists_agree_man_made_global_warming_is_happening/