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2012 in review from a climate change perspective
At the end of the year you get flooded with reviews of 2012. We won’t bore you with another one. Well, we can’t do without revisiting last year at all. So here are some interesting bits and pieces of info on what happened in 2012 from a climate change perspective.
Oil and coal are set to be phased out sooner or later, scientists are busy exploring alternatives. One of them comes straight from the gut. No kidding. In January they presented genetically engineered gut bacteria that could convert seaweed into ethanol. If the process is feasible on large scales, this may help solve the fuel-versus-food- dilemma.
Flood protection for coastal areas, habitat to thousands of species: coral reefs maintain several critical roles in the Earth’s ecosystems – some of which are under particular threat due to climate change. But at the same time corals themselves are threatened by global warming, as NASA scientists confirmed in February following one of the most comprehensive studies yet undertaken on the issue. Rising water temperatures and increasing acidification lead corals to dissolve and die – and the loss of their protective role.
But there is also good news: There is a shift in the climate change debate – from “does climate change exists?” we’ve moved on to “what impacts does climate change have?” and in the best case “how can we prevent it?”. March saw the public discuss a question – well in line with this new level of awareness: Has climate change been underestimated so far? Scientists warned, the global mean temperature could rise by 3 degrees Celsius by 2050.
Climate change is not an isolated problem, but associated with other issues – like food security for example. So, in April, experts and locals discussed at the Climate Smart Agriculture in Asia workshop how to secure rice production in a warming world with more intense droughts and rainfalls. Rice is the staple diet for more than half of the world’s population. At present some 870 million people are already suffering from hunger – not to imagine how this situation will worsen if rice production falls short.
In May world leaders met in Bonn for climate conference – but were not able to agree on any effective measures.
At least a little more optimism could be found at the Rio+20 conference in June: Our reporters Kerstin and Philipp were there for you, presenting innovative people, their ideas and opinions. Re-experience their trip here.
To mitigate global warming, researchers also come up with controversial ideas – most of them attempts to fix the climate by resorting to geoengineering. One idea was highly disputed in July: by dumping iron into the ocean, the ocean’s ability to act as a carbon sink should be increased.
Even some climate skeptics were finally convinced of the reality of climate change, when severe droughts and heat waves hit the United States in the summer months around August. Russia also suffered from extreme droughts, but for the US 2012 has been the hottest year ever recorded.
From dry and hot regions to cold ones: in the middle of September the Arctic ice cover reached an all-time low. Ice melting during the summer is not unusual, but the rate of melting and the large area affected astonished researchers.
Watching the densely populated US East coast brace for the impact of super hurricane Sandy in October, many people around the world paused – the effect of climate change appeared so undeniable as hardly ever before: More and more people in the United States – the developed country with the highest CO2 emissions per capita – start believing that climate change is real.
Following the strong winds, in November researchers declared that sealevels are rising quicker than expected: in fact, the oceans are rising 60 percent faster than previously thought.
In December super-thyphoon Bopha hit the Phillipines, being far stronger than the storm that killed more than 1,200 people in the same region a year earlier. Furthermore the next IPCC report – to be published in 2013 or 2014 – was leaked, revealing that CO2 emissions caused by humans are now “virtually certain” to be the reason for global warming. As this is not really new to a lot of people, country leaders discussed at the climate conference in Doha, Qatar how to deal with climate change. Our reporters Kerstin and Klaus went to Doha for you – revealing all the green ideas they encountered there.
What would you say – anything else we should include to complete our 2012’s climate-change-review?
DateDecember 31, 2012
Tags2012, Arctic, bopha, climate change, cop18, coral reefs, doha, droughts, global warming, hurricane sandy, IPCC, melting, sea ice, sealevel
Is the ice-free north-pole just a matter of short-time?
Within this year’s summer period the arctic sea ice shield at the north pole melted dramatically to a new all-time low. The ice mass has fallen short of the record of 2007. And the low could get even lower, because the 2007 record was measured at 18 September. This year we saw the same record already in August. The ice usually melts until the mid of September and then starts again to grow during the winter period. But due to the large melting the new ice will be much thinner than usual. Scientists of the National Snow and Data Center explain that where have been an ice shield of a 3-4 meters just a few years ago, it’s possible to reach only 1-2 meters today. An ice free noth-pole could be the result, they say, followed by the irreversibility of the melting process. According to the Arctic Sea Ice Blog it’s just a question of when until we will see an ice free north pole.If you want to stay updated on that issue, there are lot’s of impressive and in somehow frightening opportunities. The picture on top of this post is provided by the Instituts for Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois. It’s going to be updated every day. So it will be possible to see the day the ice will be growing again. The website also offers a 30-day summary of the ice developement. You will also find tons of data about the planet’s ice shield’s via the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
But whats so bad about melting ice? Well, as Global Ideas Climate Expert Anders Levermann explained in one of his videos the arctic sea ice belongs to the earth’s tipping points. If the ice melts the dark ocean underneath will heat up and slowly melts even more ice. Here’s the video for you to see:
DateSeptember 14, 2012
Tagsanimation, Arctic, ice, ice free, levermann, melting, nasa, north pole, record, rising, sea level, summer