Calcium, building block for the world

March 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Global Warming

It’s the fifth most abundant element on earth – and the world’s building block. Do we fully appreciate the value of calcium?

Most of us are familiar with the idea that our bodies need calcium. I remember being told to drink up my milk because the calcium in it would make my bones strong.

And calcium is indeed the key element in our bones. In fact, it is the most abundant metal in the human body – and in those of most other animals too.

Many organisms use calcium to build the structures that house and support them – skeletons, egg shells, mollusc shells, coral reefs and the exoskeletons of krill and other marine organisms.

And calcium is also the key ingredient in man’s most important structural material – cement.

These days virtually all our architecture, all our great building and engineering projects start with calcium, because cement is the basis of the most widely used man-made substance on earth – concrete.

Fortunately there’s a lot of calcium about – the soft grey metal is the fifth most abundant element in the earth’s crust.

There is plenty dissolved in the sea. For millennia, marine organisms have been combining it with carbon dioxide they fix from the atmosphere to make shells of calcium carbonate.

When they die, their shells and skeletons sink down to the bottom of the sea and collect in great drifts. Over millions of years they have been compacted to form limestone, chalk and marble.

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Calcium – key facts

  • Found in sedimentary rocks, including limestone, and minerals such as calcite, dolomite and gypsum
  • Comes from Latin word calx (lime)
  • Used in the making of cement and cheese
  • Pure calcium is a silvery metal, a little harder than lead

When you get the chance, take a close look at a piece of limestone. You’ll probably see the tiny fossils of the ancient marine creatures of which it is composed.

Some 10% of all sedimentary rock is limestone, which is pretty extraordinary when you consider that it represents the concentrated bodily remains of living creatures.

So how do we get from limestone to concrete?

The key is extracting the calcium from limestone. It’s a trick mankind learned very early on.

In principle the process is pretty simple – you just need to heat limestone up.

What you do is place your limestone – calcium carbonate – in a fire where the temperatures are high enough to drive out the carbon atoms as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That leaves you with calcium oxide – more commonly known as lime.

Lime is the basis of most cements – the glue that hold rocks and particles of sand together to make concrete.

Recent archaeological discoveries show some prehistoric people created concrete, even before they’d discovered the first metals.

Over the last two decades, a German archaeologist working in Turkey has uncovered what he believes is the world’s first temple. It is a complex of carved stones erected about 11,000 years ago – 6,000 years before Stonehenge.

An early “concrete” was used on the Pont du Gard, constructed out of soft yellow limestone blocks

The site is called Gobekli Tepe – Pot-bellied Hill in Turkish – and features floors made of very early cements.

The technology was refined over the millennia. Two magnificent Roman buildings, the Pantheon and the Pont du Gard at Nimes, showed the potential of concrete.

They used it to enclose space with an unsupported dome, and to bridge considerable spans without reinforcement.

Continue reading the main story

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Nevertheless, these early concretes remained brittle and weak, which is why most buildings continued to be made of stone and brick.

The breakthrough came in the 1840s.

On a rainy February afternoon I went to see the site of this momentous advance. It could hardly be less cherished.

I had an expert guide in Edwin Trout, the chief archivist of the Concrete Society. We met outside WE Roberts’ cardboard box factory on the banks of the Thames Estuary in Kent. Our destination lay deep within the factory complex.

We were led down an alleyway between two big buildings and in through a low door.

We had to duck under a cardboard corrugating machine – a surprisingly large contraption – and then through a door in the wall of the factory.

Portland cement was created inside a bottle kiln

It opened out on to a small courtyard almost entirely taken up by a looming brick structure. It was hard to get a good view, because it was surrounded on all sides by the walls of the factory. Nevertheless, it was clear that Edwin was excited by what he was seeing.

“Portland cement was first developed at this site by a chap called William Aspdin,” he told me.

The brick circular structure, he explained, is one of the earliest kilns used to produce this new cement.

It is known as a bottle kiln, because of its shape, and it was here that Aspdin experimented – burning the limestone by baking it with clay at the then unthinkable temperature of 1450C. The result was a solid amalgam of the two materials known as “clinker”.

Aspdin discovered that when this was ground to a fine powder, it produced an exceptionally powerful cement. And very soon, he got the perfect opportunity to test out his new product.

It came about because of what became known as “The Big Stink”.

At the time, the Thames was essentially an open sewer. The booming population of London, the spread of industry, and the development of the flush toilet, all meant the volume of waste flowing into the river had risen dramatically.

In the hot summer of 1858, the stench became unbearable and there was a public outcry. The London boroughs finally agreed to commission the great network of new sewers that had been proposed by the visionary engineer Joseph Bazalgette.

The builders performed rigorous tests of the various cements on the market in order to choose the very best one for their vast scheme – the greatest public works project ever undertaken.

Portland cement, Edwin Trout tells me proudly, won easily. It was, he says, “stronger, more durable and – by that stage – more widely available too”.

And it is a testament to the strength of the cement – and the power of calcium – that, 150 years later, Londoners are still using the sewers Bazalgette built to flush away their waste.

Indeed, the incredibly strong concrete Portland cement creates has transformed the building industry across the world – as the skyline of every major city shows.

The world produces about 3.5bn tonnes of cement a year. Given that cement is usually between 10% and 15% of the mix in concrete, that’s enough cement to produce about four tonnes of concrete for every person on earth each year.

The problem is that creating all the cement for all that concrete is doubly polluting.

You need vast amounts of energy to get your kiln hot enough to bake all that limestone, and that usually means burning fossil fuels. And the limestone itself produces vast amounts of greenhouse gases, as all the carbon dioxide fixed by those ancient sea creatures is driven into the atmosphere.

Every ton of cement produces almost a ton of CO2. That’s why the concrete industry is reckoned to be one of the most polluting on earth, responsible for up to 5% of total CO2 emissions.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26416749

Global warming hasn’t stopped, the heat’s just HIDING deep within the Pacific …

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Global Warming

  • IPCC report last year said temperatures have barely risen in past 15 years
  • This is despite more greenhouse gases being pumped into atmosphere
  • New study claims winds in Pacific have driven heat deep underwater
  • This has had a net effect of cooling surface temperatures by 0.1°C and 0.2°C

By
Ellie Zolfagharifard

12:48 EST, 10 February 2014
|

14:50 EST, 10 February 2014

Powerful winds in the Pacific Ocean, which have driven surface heat deep underwater, could be the reason behind the current ‘pause’ in global warming.

This is according to a joint Australian and U.S. study which has looked at why there has been a slowdown in the planet’s global average surface temperature over the past decade.

Their research shows that trade winds in central and eastern parts of the Pacific have caused warm surface water to sink to the ocean’s depths, reducing the amount of heat in the atmosphere.

Scroll down for video…

Shown here are the global monthly mean sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies from 1961-90. Sea surface temperature is the temperature of the top millimeter of the ocean's surface. An anomaly is a departure from average conditions. Scientists believe winds in central and eastern parts of the Pacific have caused warm surface water to sink to the ocean's depths

Shown here are the global monthly mean sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies from 1961-90. Sea surface temperature is the temperature of the top millimeter of the ocean’s surface. An anomaly is a departure from average conditions. Scientists believe winds in central and eastern parts of the Pacific have caused warm surface water to sink to the ocean’s depths

Last year, scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the pace of temperature rise at the Earth’s surface had slowed over the past 15 years.

This is despite the fact concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years

The latest study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, said stronger Pacific trade winds- had made ocean circulation at the Equator speed up.

This schematic shows the trends in temperature and ocean atmosphere circulation in the Pacific over the past two decades. Colour shading shows observed temperature trends (°C per decade) during 1992-2011 at the sea surface. The bold and thin arrows show an overall acceleration of the Pacific Ocean moving warm, surface waters (indicated by the blue arrow) to below 700 metres beneath the surface

This schematic shows the trends in temperature and ocean atmosphere circulation in the Pacific over the past two decades. Colour shading shows observed temperature trends (°C per decade) during 1992-2011 at the sea surface. The bold and thin arrows show an overall acceleration of the Pacific Ocean moving warm, surface waters (indicated by the blue arrow) to below 700 metres beneath the surface

Scientists claim one of the causes of the pause in sea-surface temperature is a change in the exchange of ocean water. They believe this exchange is occurring between warm, surface waters and cold, deep waters below 700 metres

Scientists claim one of the causes of the pause in sea-surface temperature is a change in the exchange of ocean water. They believe this exchange is occurring between warm, surface waters and cold, deep waters below 700 metres

 

HOW TRADE WINDS CAN BURY HEAT AND MASK GLOBAL WARMING

Scientists claim one of the causes of the‘plateau’ in sea-surface temperature is a change in the exchange of ocean water.

They believe this exchange is occurring between warm, surface waters and cold, deep waters below 700 metres – as if the warming is ‘hiding’ underwater.

Easterly trade winds of the Pacific Ocean have increased significantly over the past two decades and as a result are blowing higher volumes of warm surface sea water to deeper depths.

Stronger trade winds blowing from South America to Australia have had the net effect of cooling surface temperatures by a global average of between 0.1°C and 0.2°C,

This would be enough to account for the apparent hiatus in global average temperatures over the past 15 years.

The warm water won’t hide below the surface forever: scientists believe that it may re-emerge later or affect other climate indicators, such as sea level or ocean circulation.

This pattern of easterly winds, which spans the tropics, has moved heat deeper into the ocean and brought cooler water to the surface.

The winds have also helped drive cooling in other ocean regions.

‘We show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming,’ said the study, led by scientists from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

‘The net effect of these anomalous winds is a cooling in the 2012 global average surface air temperature of 0.1-0.2 °C, which can account for much of the hiatus in surface warming since 2001.’

The study’s authors, including scientists from other research centres and universities in the U.S., Hawaii and Australia, used weather forecasting and satellite data and climate models to make their conclusions.

‘This hiatus could persist for much of the present decade if the trade winds trends continue, however, rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate,’ the study said.

‘If the anomalously strong trade winds begin to abate in the next few years, the model suggests the present hiatus will be short-lived, with rapid warming set to resume soon after the wind trends reverse,’ it added.

 

Commenting on the study, Richard Allan, professor of climate science at Britain’s University of Reading, said: ‘These changes are temporarily masking the effects of man-made global warming.’

The fact that temperatures have risen more slowly in the past 15 years despite rising greenhouse gas emissions has emboldened sceptics who challenge the evidence for man-made climate change and question the need for urgent action.

The IPCC does not expect the hiatus to last and has said temperatures from 2016-35 were likely to be 0.3-0.7°C warmer than in 1986-2005.

‘More than 93 per cent of the warming of the planet since 1970 is found in the ocean,’ said Steve Rintoul at Australia’s CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and lead author of the chapter on oceans in the IPCC’s latest climate report.

‘If we want to understand and track the evolution of climate change we need to look in the oceans. The oceans have continued to warm unabated, even during the recent ‘hiatus’ in warming of surface temperature.’

Climate scientists say such pauses in warming occur regularly throughout history and can last for up to 20 years – but cannot be predicted.

They add that the warm water won’t hide below the surface forever. Scientists believe that it may re-emerge later or affect other climate indicators, such as sea level or ocean circulation.

 

Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2556008/Global-warming-hasn-t-stopped-heats-just-HIDING-deep-Pacific-Ocean-claim-scientists.html

World Bank releases new report on climate change, global warming

November 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Global Warming

LUCKNOW: World Bank has released a new report — On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution can Slow Warming and Save Lives. The report that talks about ways to mitigate the effects of climate change says fast action to cut common pollutants like soot (also known as black carbon) and methane will not only slow global warming, but save millions of lives.

Reductions of these so-called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) would slow rapid melting in mountain regions with glaciers, like the Himalayas and the Arctic. More than one million premature deaths could be avoided annually in the Himalayan region from reducing emissions of black carbon and methane. It would also bring multiple health, crop and ecosystem benefits, and decrease risks to development from flooding and water shortages says a new scientific study.

According to the study measures to reduce these emissions in the Himalayan region could increase crop yields for staples such as rice and wheat by over 15 million tons annually.

The health of people around the world will improve greatly if we reduce emissions of black carbon and methane. Limiting these emissions also will be an important contributor to the fight against climate change,”said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

‘On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution can Slow Warming and Save Lives’ is about how climate change is affecting the cryosphere those snow-capped mountain ranges, brilliant glaciers and vast permafrost regions on which all of us depend.

It warns that current warming in the cryosphere could have dire human consequences from resulting sea level rise, increased water stress and more extreme weather. For example, the release of large CO2 and methane stores as a result of melting permafrost could contribute up to 30% more carbon to the atmosphere by the end of the century.

The Himalayan mountain ranges extending 2,400 km through six nations (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan, and Nepal) make up the largest cryosphere region. Rapid climate induced changes in the region will directly affect the water resources of more than 1.5 billion lives, as well as services such as electricity, a nd the food supplies of 3 billion people.

Decrease in glacial and snow cover has been recorded across the Himalayan region with an increase of 1.5 degree C in the annual mean surface temperature over pre-industrial average temperatures.

The report also lays out immediate measures we can take to slow the ice melt including reducing the black carbon emissions from diesel-fueled vehicles and solid fuel cooking fires that lowers the reflectivity of snow and ice, leading to greater melting.

Such actions would also provide important health, agriculture and other development benefits. According to the report, if more clean cook-stoves stoves that use less or cleaner fuel would be used it could save one million lives. While, a 50% drop in open field and forest burning could result in 190,000 fewer deaths every year, many of them in Europe and Central Asia.

Reductions in emissions from diesel transport and equipment, meanwhile, could result in more than 16 million tons of additional yield in crops such as rice, soy and wheat, especially in Southeast Asia; and also avert 340,000 premature deaths.

Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/global-warming/World-Bank-releases-new-report-on-climate-change-global-warming/articleshow/25488231.cms

American Teens’ Knowledge on Climate Change

April 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

Today the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released a new report entitled “American Teens’ Knowledge of Climate Change” based on a national study of what teens aged 13-17 understand about how the climate system works, and the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to global warming. This research provides an assessment of how much American teens have learned about climate change in and out of school. For comparison, they also report how teens’ knowledge compares with that of American adults. The report is available online here.

Overall, they found that 54 percent of American teens believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment, only 6 percent of teens have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 41 percent would receive a C or D, and 54 percent would get an F. Overall, teens know about the same or less about climate change than adults. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some teens to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many teens lack some of the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about climate change both now and in the future as students, workers, consumers, homeowners, and citizens. For example, only:

  • 54% of teens say that global warming is happening, compared to 63% of adults;
  • 35% of teens understand that most scientists think global warming is happening, compared to 39% of adults;
  • 46% of teens understand that emissions from cars and trucks substantially contribute to global warming, compared to 49% of adults;
  • 17-18% have heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification, compared to 25% of adults.

However, American teens have a better understanding than adults on a few important measures. For example:

  • 57% of teens understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, compared to 50% of adults;
  • 77% of teens understand that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere that trap heat, compared to 66% of adults;
  • 52% of teens understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface, compared to 45% of adults;
  • 71% of teens understand that carbon dioxide is produced by the burning of fossil fuels, compared to 67% of adults.

Meanwhile, like adults, large majorities of teens incorrectly think that the hole in the ozone layer and aerosol spray cans contribute to global warming, leading many to incorrectly conclude that banning aerosol spray cans or stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer are viable solutions. However, many teens, like adults, do understand that switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important way to reduce global warming.

Only 29 percent of teens say they have thought “a lot” or “some” about global warming, compared to 52 percent of adults. Likewise, only 19 percent of teens say that global warming is extremely or very important to them personally, compared to 27 percent of adults.

American teens also recognize their limited understanding of the issue. Fewer than 1 in 5 say they are “very well informed” about how the climate system works or the different causes, consequences, or potential solutions to global warming, and only 27 percent say they have learned “a lot” about the issue in school.

Importantly, 70 percent of teens say they would like to know more about global warming. Likewise, 75 percent say that schools should teach our children about climate change. Finally, teens are much more likely than adults to visit zoos, aquariums, natural history, science or technology museums than adults, suggesting that informal education venues are important places for teens (and adults) to learn about complex issues like climate change.

Article source: http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2011/04/18/american-teens-knowledge-on-climate-change/

Antarctic glacier mission seeks global climate clues

January 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

  • Iceberg collision could affect global ocean circulation
  • Scientists on mission to Antarctica to study aftermath
  • Team studies impact of rising acidity on animals with shells

By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE, Jan 31 (Reuters) – The breaking off of a Luxembourg-sized iceberg in Antarctica could affect ocean circulation patterns and be a harbinger of changes to come from global warming, scientists on a mission to the frozen continent say.

Last February, a 2,500 sq km (965 sq m) iceberg broke off from a giant floating tongue of ice from the Mertz Glacier after being rammed by an even larger iceberg.

The ice tongue, sticking out into the Southern Ocean, had acted like a dam, preventing sea ice from moving into a permanently open section of water to the west.

But now with the ice tongue gone due the collision, scientists fear it could trigger changes to the behaviour of a major part of global ocean circulation patterns that shift heat around the globe via myriad currents at the surface and along the bottom.

The area around the glacier tongue, since halved in length by the collision, and to the west are one of the few places around Antarctica where dense, salty water is formed and sinks to the depths of the ocean, said mission leader Steve Rintoul on Monday.

Article source: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL3E7CV0CN20110131

New findings could help scientists monitor how corals adapt to global warming

January 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

Young staghorn coral that fluoresce redder are less likely to settle and develop into coral polyps than their greener peers, University of Texas at Austin biologists have discovered.

The finding may help scientists monitor how corals adapt to global warming because the less likely coral larvae are to settle, the more likely they will disperse from their reef of origin.

“By simply looking at the color of a larval population, we may soon be able to say which larvae are going to be long-range dispersers and which will be short-range dispersers,” says Mikhail “Misha” Matz, assistant professor of biology. “Under global warming, we expect a lot of evolution of this particular life history trait.”

Matz says researchers expect to see long-range dispersers starting to win, because the corals need to shift to cooler latitudes.

The research was published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

For the study, Matz and his colleagues crossed different color morphs of the small staghorn coral, Acropora millepora, and exposed the offspring larvae to a settlement cue ground-up calcareous red algae. The scientists observed that larvae inheriting redder fluorescent color from their parents were less likely to settle and metamorphose into reef-building polyps than greener larvae.

Coral response to the settlement cue is under strong genetic control, but it’s not clear yet how that is linked with fluorescence.

Matz says the correlation between settlement and fluorescence could be completely random, that the genes that determine color and the genes that determine settlement are only next to each other in the chromosome and have no functional connection. In that case, they would simply be inherited together.

Alternatively, fluorescence could somehow be related genetically to the capacity of larvae to sense the proximity of a coral reef, and thus have a more direct correlation.

Matz and his colleagues will be investigating these two possibilities in further research. But in either case, Matz says the color of coral larvae fluorescence could serve as a viable marker as to whether they are settlers or swimmers.

The big question still remains as to why corals fluoresce in such spectacular colors.

“Bright, multicolored fluorescence of reef-building corals is one of the most spectacular and least understood visual phenomena in the ocean,” says Matz, “and we still have no idea what purpose it serves. But our discovery is a really good lead towards determining the function of fluorescence.”

Additional contact:
Lee Clippard, public affairs
512-232-0675
lclippard@mail.utexas.edu

Published on: 2011-01-30

Article source: http://7thspace.com/headlines/371300/new_findings_could_help_scientists_monitor_how_corals_adapt_to_global_warming.html

Greenland Ice Sheet Experiences Record Melt

January 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

New research shows the ice sheet is melting

The Greenland ice sheet, a vast body of ice covering 80% of the country, experienced a record melt in 2010.

The remote island of Greenland is at the coal face of global warming. The Greenland ice sheet makes up around one-twentieth of the worlds ice. In 2010 much of Greenland experienced unusually warm weather, extending the annual melting season by 50 days.

Research published by the City College of New York’s Cryospheric Processes Laboratory shows that since 1979 the area subject to melting in Greenland has been increasing at a rate of 17,000 kilometers square each year. This means that an area the size of France melted in 2010 which would not have melted three decades ago.

Greenland's icesheets experience record melt - M. Tedesco/WWFThe Greenland ice sheets annual melt started exceptionally early in 2010 and extended exceptionally late, lasting from the end of April to mid-September. The studys co-author Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory, explained that this was caused by above-normal near-surface air temperatures.

The teams research was based on satellite data and ground observations, as well as data collected by automated weather stations installed by the Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht in 2003.

If the entire 2,850,000 km3 of the Greenland ice sheet were to melt, global sea levels would rise by a catastrophic 7.2 meters. The 2010 melt beats the previous record set in 2007. Eight of the largest melts on record happened between 1998 and 2010.

2010 was the warmest year on record for Nuuk, Greenlands capital city. It is projected that local warming in Greenland will exceed 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) before the end of this century. Continued warming such as this would see the Greenland ice sheet cross a threshold where long-term melting is inevitable.

Canyon over the ice sheet formed by meltwater - M. Tedesco/WWFThese new findings come as the United States grapples with its funding of international climate change initiatives. A recently released budget plan prepared by the Republican Party includes a provision to eliminate all taxpayer subsidies to the United Nationals Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to New York Times environment reporter Andrew C. Revkin, dont look for the vital 21st-century energy quest, let alone a reality-based approach to global warming, to begin within the borders of the United States.

The ice in the Greenland ice sheet is up to 130,000 years old, making it an important record of past climatic conditions. Scientists have been able to drill 4 kilometers deep ice cores, providing an accurate snap shot of global climate changes, ocean volumes and volcanic eruptions.

By area Greenland is the worlds largest island. Its population totals less than 57,000, making it the least densely populated country or dependency in the world.

Article source: http://www.suite101.com/content/greenland-ice-sheet-experiences-record-melt-a336236

Coral spreading northward in Japan as ocean temperatures rise

January 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

Corals that inhabit warm ocean areas are spreading northward in Japan’s coastal waters, apparently due to global warming, researchers have announced.

According to a research team from the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Ibaraki Prefecture and the Kushimoto Marine Park Center in Wakayama Prefecture, the northern limits of the habitats of several species of coral lying mostly near the Nansei Islands south of Kyushu have been moving northward at a “unprecedented speed” of up to 14 kilometers per year.

The unusual phenomenon is thought to have been caused by rising sea temperatures associated with global warming. As corals serve as the home for various marine plants and animals, researchers fear a possible change in the regional ecosystem.

In the sea around Japan, average water temperatures in winter have risen by 1.1 to 1.6 degrees Celsius over the past century. Out of nine species of corals that the research team analyzed, four that live in tropical waters have so far spread northward. One of the four species was observed inhabiting the area near Kagoshima Prefecture’s Tanegashima island in 1988, but was found to have spread 280 kilometers northward to Nagasaki Prefecture’s Goto Islands 20 years later.

Article source: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110122p2a00m0na019000c.html

NASA Reports 2010 to be the Warmest Year on Record

January 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Global Warming

According to climatologists at theNational Aeronautics and Space Administration‘s (NASA) Goddard
Institute for Space Studies
(GISS) in New York, 2010 was a very hot year. While anyone who witnessed the Vikings Metrodome collapse [video] might not have seen this coming, NASA says that data from 1,000 climate stations shows 2010, as a whole, to be statistically tied for being the hottest year in recorded history [press release].

The man leading the report was infamous climatologist James Hansen, well-known as being Al Gore’s climate advisor; for his claims that oil companies were committing “crimes against humanity” by doing business; and for receiving a$250,000 grant from a nonprofit run by the wife of Democratic Senator John Kerry.

Hansen states in the report, “If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long.”

Much uncertainty remains, however. NASA’s data comes from 1000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research station measurements. But NASA must choose how to process that data when measurements conflict. In the past, ground based stations have reportedlyshown anomalous heating in select regions(such as Russia), but NASA chose to throw out or reduce the statistical significance of satellite measurements, which showed far cooler temperatures.

It is unknown if there are similar discrepancies in this year’s temperatures, but one would hope that the data is carefully scrutinized by independent interests given Dr. Hansen’s vested financial interest in showing the Earth is warming and mankind is causing it.

If the NASA data holds up, the average surface temperature in 2010 was 1.34 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average temperature from 1951 to 1980. Since the 1970s, NASA says statistics show the Earth to be warming 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit a year.

2010 was within 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit of 2005, the previous record holder, earning it a tie. In a tie for third place are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009. NASA says its analysis closely matches separate analysis from the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

Dr. Hansen reports that the record warmth was especially exceptional given that 2010 was the start of a strong La Nina pattern, which brings cool sea surface temperatures to the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and should have offered a cooler global temperature. He states, “Global temperature is rising as fast in the past decade as in the prior two decades, despite year-to-year fluctuations associated with the El Nino-La Nina cycle of tropical ocean temperature.”

While this data might worry some, it could actually be happy news for mankind. The slow, gradual warming shown in the report would likely over time open new shipping routes and improve agricultural viability in many regions. While some areas might be gradually rendered uninhabitable (e.g. small low-lying islands), humans would naturally migrate to new homes, and the climate change would likely make some previously minimally habitable regions more hospitable.

Loss of species from climate change has certainly been suggested as a possible concern as well, but biodiversity in the Earth’s warming periods has increased, not decreased historically. Current temperatures are still far below these epochs of lush biodiversity that lie in the Earth’s distant past.
The destruction of the rainforest and pollution of the sea have been put on the back burner during the climate debate, but represent far more serious immediate threats to our planet’s biodiversity.

Other pressing questions include how fast warming will proceed and what other factors may be at play, besides greenhouse gases. A recent study suggests that atmospheric dust levels may have significantly different effects on global temperature than previously thought. Historical levels of atmospheric dust are poorly understood. Further, it is unknown how much the Earth will dampen
temperature increases. Past history suggests that the Earth’s biosphere resists the kind of run-away warming some experts’ models have predicted, at least to a point.

Despite these distinctions, the NASA report is certainly intriguing and will likely be keenly observed and analyzed by those in the fields of agriculture and urban planning.

Article source: http://www.dailytech.com/NASA+Reports+2010+to+be+the+Warmest+Year+on+Record/article20660.htm

Endangered species’ top 10 list: Save these ecosystems

January 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Protecting Habitats

Oceana, an international ocean conservation group, yesterday released a new report that identifies vital habitats in need of protection, if key endangered species are to have a chance to survive climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 20 to 30 percent of the world’s species will be at increased risk of extinction if global temperature increases exceed 1.5 to 2.5 C (3 to 5 F) above pre-industrial levels. The climate threats to species include increased disease, diminished reproduction, habitat loss, and declining food supply.

For species that are already struggling on the brink of extinction, global climate change threatens to push them over the edge, said Huta. We certainly need to reduce global warming pollution, but we also need to act now to prioritize and protect some of the most important ecosystems for imperiled wildlife. Endangered species don’t have the luxury of waiting for political leaders to act to slow the pace of climate change.

List of top 10 ecosystems to save for endangered species featured in the report:

1. Arctic sea ice, home to the polar bear, Pacific walrus and at least six species of seal

2. Shallow water coral reefs, home to the critically endangered elkhorn and staghorn corals

3. The Hawaiian Islands, home to more than a dozen imperiled birds, and 319 threatened and endangered plants

4. Southwest deserts, home to numerous imperiled plants, fish and mammals

5. The San Francisco Bay-Delta, home to the imperiled Pacific salmon, Swainsons hawk, tiger salamander and Delta smelt

6. California Sierra Mountains, home to 30 native amphibian species, including the Yellow-legged frog

7. The Snake River Basin, home to four imperiled runs of salmon and steelhead

8. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, home to the imperiled Whitebark pine, an important food source for the threatened Grizzly bear and other animals

9. The Gulf Coasts flatlands and wetlands, home to the Piping and Snowy plovers, Mississippi sandhill crane, and numerous species of sea turtles

10. The Greater Everglades, home to 67 threatened and endangered species, including the manatee and the red cockcaded woodpecker

Climate change is no longer a distant threat on the horizon, said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. It has arrived and is threatening ecosystems that we all depend upon, and our endangered species are particularly vulnerable.

Seven additional ecosystems were nominated but did not make the Top 10. They nonetheless contain important habitat for imperiled species. These ecosystems include Glacier National Park, the Jemez Mountains, Sagebrush Steppe, U.S. West Coast, the Maine Woods, the Grasslands of the Great Plains and the Southern Rocky Mountains.

The new report, which includes information about each ecosystem, as well as recommended conservation measures, is available online at www.StopExtinction.org.

Scientists ranked Arctic sea ice and shallow water corals as two of the highest priority ecosystems threatened by climate change in an Endangered Species Coalition report demonstrating the urgency of saving habitat for endangered species. The report, entitled Its Getting Hot Out There: Top 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World was released January 5th, and examines how the changing climate is increasing extinction risk for imperiled fish, plants and wildlife.

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Article source: http://www.examiner.com/green-living-in-national/endangered-species-top-10-list-save-these-ecosystems

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