Search Results for Tag: weather
Of Extreme Weather and a Time Machine
Thank you Dr. Koko Warner for a long and very informative comment on the Ice Blog.
(See comment to last entry. It’s hard to read a long entry like that in the blog comment small print, so I suggest copying and pasting into your usual text editing programme. It’s well worth an attentive read and has more references for further reading).
You certainly give us plenty of food for thought about the implications of climate change in terms of migration and the challenges of developing the mechanisms to cope with them. Let me just quote one section here:
“By 2050 when human population is projected to peak, some 9 billion people will live on Earth. The majority of them will live in urban areas with crushing environmental footprints. Many megacities are located in areas prone to sea level rise.Climate change will visit urban and rural areas alike with incrasingly frequent and violent hazard events. Flooding, intense storms, or droughts (…)Mitigation of greenhouse gases will likely be insufficient to avoid global temperature increases of 2°C or more, making adaptation a necessity at all scales.”
And that brings to me to the “Extreme Weather Congress”, taking place in Bremerhaven, Germany, at the moment. The organiser, Frank Böttcher, draws attention to the fact that climate change is happening far faster than most of the models have been predicting. He calls for a rapid shift to renewable energies.
More about the congress online
At the same time, a group of environment and development organisations have sent an open letter to the heads of the EU countries, warning them not to neglect the climate crisis because of the current financial crisis. They say financial support for the countries hardest hit by climate change is a moral obligation.
With the next round of UN negotiations taking place in Bonn at the end of March and an EU summit meeting earlier next month to agree on the EU’s position for the Copenhagen climate conference at the end of the year and the next UN climate agreement, it’s certainly a good time to launch this kind of initiative. Here’s hoping the open letter will get the attention it deserves.
I’m having a few days off during Germany’s Karneval holiday here. Let me leave you faithful Ice-Blog followers with a link to a marvellous “Climate Time Machine” I’ve found, created by NASA.
NASA climate change site
Click on the Climate Time Machine on the right-hand bar for brilliant visualisation of how key factors such as sea ice, sea level, Co2 emissions and, global temperature have changed in recent history.
DateFebruary 19, 2009 | 2:27 pm
Of Climate and Weather
I am currently speeding through the winter wonderland that the English midlands have become, enjoying the beauty of snow-covered fields, sharp reflections in brooks just tipped with ice,sheep trying to graze on regardless and birds of prey perching, watching out for some of nature’s “frozen food”.
My colleague Judith Hartl introduced me on her science programme as one of those strange people who like going to cold places. Iadmit I like ice and snow, although I’m amazed at how it has brought parts of Britain to a standstill.
My sister reckons I am somehow fighting a lost cause. “Everywhere you go, it’s snowing! How are you going to convince people about global warming?” Well, a lot of people make jokes or semi-serious comments about that in the coldish winter we’ve been having in a lot of places.The British media have been trying to explain to people that this is “just weather”. It’s only the long-term trend that makes climate.
I came across a good summary of the facts in an article by Richard Alleyne, science correspondent of the Daily Telegraph (hardly a paper known for “alternative” views).
He says this is the coldest winter in Britain for 30 years, but the extreme weather proves the effects of global warming. Temperatures for the last 2 months were 1C lower than average, and London had more snow than any time since 1960s. But the fact people are surprised by this shows how the climate has changed over the decades.
A Met Office study going back 350 years indicates UK now gets this extreme weather only every 20 years.
I’ve just come from Shrewsbury, where, as it happens, amongst other things I visited rooms where Charles Dickens stayed while working on the Pickwick Papers. In the neighbourhood is Ironbridge, one of the “cradles” of the industrial revolution.
Back in the pre-industrial Dickens days, cold winters like these would have occurred in Britain on average every 5 years, according to the Met Office scientists. If it wasn’t for global warming, this would be more “normal”, we’d be prepared, and able to cope.On various Arctic trips, the ice blogger has had fewer transport problems than on this one. Can anybody in the Midlands lend me a team of huskies?!
(Huskies raring to take off with their sled in Tromso in January)
DateFebruary 5, 2009 | 2:05 pm
Heading for 2009 – one of the warmest years ever?
British climate scientists are predicting 2009 will be one of the five warmest years on record. Exactly what that means is a complicated business and, of course, all part of some longer-term calculations. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a worrying forecast and the climate data available does not make me optimistic at the end of this 2008.
Reuters summary of the forecast
In the part of Germany where I live, it has actually turned very cold over the past few days, with temperatures down to minus 10C at night. Where does that leave us with global warming, asks Christopher B. in his comment. Indeed I have heard some sceptical neighbours say “so much for global warming”. The trouble is we would like to be able to understand everything instantly and draw immediate conclusions from what we experience. And with global climate patterns, that is just not possible and we need a really long-term view. Yes, it can be colder locally and still getting warmer overall. And as a planet, we are not doing anything like enough to avert potentially catastrophic warming.
Yesterday, I was talking to a friend on a winter hike in the “Eifel” region, about a prediction on the radio the other day that the Arctic was melting much faster than expected, and a reminder that if the Greenland ice sheet melts, sea levels will rise by up to 7 metres. (I’d like to give you a link to the report we heard, but am having trouble locating it on the websites where I’d expect to find it. Strange how some worrying reports just come on a couple of time then seem to disappear.)
Anyway, I was surprised when “Siggi”, who is normally quite critical of industry, said at least the German car-makers were putting an effort into developing smaller cars that use less fuel. Now this is not what German cars are generally known for, and it seems to me they have a long way to go. But compared to the US car market, we are exemplary, Siggi pointed out. Well, everything is relative. Normally, I am more inclined to the glass being “half-full” than “half-empty” approach.
But just because another country, continent, region, sector, is even worse than we are – that doesn’t make us good. Does it?
DateDecember 31, 2008 | 2:06 pm
A PS to that White Christmas bit…
I just came across a story by Reuters that quotes scientists who say the odds of a “white Christmas” in temperate parts of the northern hemisphere have diminished in the last century because of climate change and will likely decline further by 2100.
It seems the probability of snow on the ground for Christmas is already lower than it was just 50 years ago.
Even a northern city like Oslo in Norway will rarely have a Bing-Crosby-style “White Christmas” in the decades ahead.
But Reuters also quoes a climatologist from the German Weather Service,Gerhard Mueller-Westermeier,as pointing out that there are some areas in temperate zones that will have snow, for instance higher areas like the Alps. And it seems Munich is the city to go for a fair chance of a white Christmas – even in a warming world.
DateDecember 23, 2008 | 1:02 pm
White Christmas Musings
I took this photo in the Black Forest just under two weeks ago. There has been a fair bit of snow on higher ground in some areas of Germany.
But right now, Christmas is right around the corner and it’s grey and very mild here in Bonn on the banks of the Rhine. Yesterday, the days started to get longer again. But I can’t say it’s noticeable in this kind of weather. I have a Danish colleague, and her joke this morning was that climate change was making Germany feel like it was north of the polar circle – as far as the lack of light in winter is concerned! Temperature-wise, it seems to be doing the opposite. There’s far too much fresh green in the garden for December in this part of the world.
Meanwhile, my friend in Seattle enjoyed an unusual fall of snow.I wonder if all the people in those parts of the US struggling against extreme cold and heavy snowfall still play “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”? Somehow I doubt it. If any of you are reading this, drop me a mail or put in a comment with your views. Somehow people are reluctant to enter public comments on weblogs, but I’m glad you still send mails.
Helen in Perth, Australia, has asked when the Ice Blogger will be out on the trail again. Still working on the travel plans, Helen, but as our IPY project is still running, there will be more blog entries from icy areas in the course of 2009.
There will be an important Arctic conference in Tromsö, Norway in January: Arctic Frontiers. The organisation has an interesting website:
Website for the Arctic Frontiers network
All eyes will be turned to the USA in the New Year with Barack Obama taking office. It looks as if there’s reason to hope for a major turnaround in US climate policy.
IPS Earth Alert on Scientists in new US administration
If you have time to listen to a half-hour of radio feature over the festive period, you can hear the long version of this year’s original Ice Blog trip to Arctic Alaska with the Climate Change College.
Unbaking Alaska on Deutsche Welle’s Living Planet
Happy Christmas when it comes!
DateDecember 23, 2008 | 9:30 am