About these ads

Climate studies probe growth of Antarctic sea ice

‘The planet as a whole is doing what was expected in terms of warming. Sea ice as a whole is decreasing as expected …’

hlj

Sea ice is expanding around Antarctica, and scientists say wind, snow and melting land ice are key factors in the growth bberwyn photo.

The map at right shows Antarctic ice concentration on September 22, 2014, the date of the record high. Areas where the surface was less than 15% ice covered are deep blue; areas that were up to 100% ice covered are shades of light blue to white. The orange line shows the 1981-2010 median extent for September 22. (Median means in the middle: half of the years in the record had smaller ice extents than this, and half had larger extents.) The graph below the map shows daily Antarctic sea ice extent over the course of the year. The black line traces the 1981-2010 average, and the gray shading shows the range of variability (2 standard deviations from the mean). The previous record high extent (2013) is a dashed green line; the 2014 year to date is a light green line. NSIDC reported that the 2014 extent rose nearly 4 standard deviations above the 1981-2010 mean.

The map above shows Antarctic ice concentration on September 22, 2014, the date of the record high. Areas where the surface was less than 15% ice covered are deep blue; areas that were up to 100% ice covered are shades of light blue to white. The orange line shows the 1981-2010 median extent for September 22. (Median means in the middle: half of the years in the record had smaller ice extents than this, and half had larger extents.)
The graph below the map shows daily Antarctic sea ice extent over the course of the year. The black line traces the 1981-2010 average, and the gray shading shows the range of variability (2 standard deviations from the mean). The previous record high extent (2013) is a dashed green line; the 2014 year to date is a light green line. NSIDC reported that the 2014 extent rose nearly 4 standard deviations above the 1981-2010 mean. Courtesy NOAA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with shifting wind patterns in the southern hemisphere, melting land ice may be contributing to recent record extents of floating sea ice around Antarctica. The melting ice and snow adds fresh water — which freezes morel easily — to the salty Southern Ocean, scientists said in a release this week, explaining the multi-year trend of expanding Antarctic sea ice.

But the increase doesn’t balance the loss of sea ice at the other end of the Earth. Arctic sea ice has declined by an average of 20,800 square miles per year; the Antarctic has gained ice at a rate of about a third of that, by an average of 7,300 square miles per year.

This week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported that Antarctic sea ice extent set a new record high for daily extent: 20.11 million square kilometers (7.76 million square miles), the highest since satellite observations started in the late 1970s.

In July, a European study called into question the recent measurements, citing inconsistencies in computer models.

Other studies suggest the growth is only temporary, and that Antarctic sea ice will ultimately decline dramatically in the decades ahead.

The ice trackers matched this year’s late season ice surge with strong southerly winds blew over the Weddell Sea. Without any nearby land masses to constrain growth, those winds tend to push the ice northward. Continue reading

About these ads

CU-led study urges grassroots approach to CO2 cuts

asdf

Study says state plans are key to cutting concentrations of atmospheric heat-trapping pollution.

State energy policies key to reaching EPA greenhouse gas targets

Staff Report

FRISCO — State energy policies could be crucial to achieving the deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions needed to prevent runaway global warming. Mandatory emissions caps and indirect steps like encouraging production of renewable energy can be equally effective, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado, Boulder.

State policies are important because the EPA’s Clean Power Plan gives states a key role in reaching overall national goals. The plan would require each state to cut CO2 pollution from power plants by 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030.

“In addition to suggesting that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan can work, our results have important implications for the U.N. Climate Summit,” said Professor Don Grant, chair of the CU-Boulder sociology department and lead author of the study. “They indicate that while the world’s nations have struggled to agree on how to reduce emissions, sub-national governments have been developing several effective mitigation measures. Leaders at the United Nations, therefore, would be wise to shift from a top-down strategy that focuses on forging international treaties to a more bottom-up approach that builds upon established policy successes.”

The study was published online this week in Nature Climate Change. The study was co-authored by Kelly Bergstrand of the University of Arizona and Katrina Running of Idaho State University, and was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Researchers had previously found it difficult to determine which state policies, if any, reduced power plants’ CO2 emissions because plant-specific data were largely unavailable, Grant said. That changed when the EPA began requiring plants to submit CO2 pollution information as part of its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

Some states have policies that directly limit power plants’ carbon emissions and others have addressed carbon emissions indirectly by encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The study used 2005 and 2010 data to examine the impacts of strategies that are explicitly climate-focused such as carbon emission caps, greenhouse gas reduction goals, climate action plans (comprehensive strategies for reducing a state’s carbon emissions) and greenhouse gas registry/reporting system that require plants to register and record their emissions and emissions reductions.

Likewise, the researchers examined indirect policies with climate implications such as efficiency targets, renewable portfolio standards that require utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources, public benefit funds that provide financial assistance for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and “electric decoupling” that eases the pressure on utilities to sell as much energy as possible by eliminating the relationship between revenues and sales volume.

The study found that emission caps, greenhouse gas targets, efficiency targets, public benefit funds and electric decoupling were the most effective policies for reducing power plants’ carbon emissions.

 

 

Environment: Invasive Asian tiger shrimp may pose threat to coastal ecosystems, shrimp fisheries

jk

Shrimp boats moored in Apalachicola, Florida. Will the industry take a hit from invasive Asian tiger shrimp?

Researchers say sightings of the non-native shrimp have jumped tenfold

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean scientists say they’ve recently documented a tenfold increase in the number of invasive Asian tiger shrimp in U.S. coastal waters, with as-yet unknown consequences for native ecosystems and the shrimping industry.

Female Asian tiger shrimp can grow to 12 inches in size and have voracious appetites, feeding on native shrimp, bivalves, crustaceans, and fish. It’s not clear exactly how they arrived in the area, but researchers suspect several pathways, including escape from aquaculture during tropical storms and hurricanes. They may also have been released from ballast water in ship, or simply migrated from wild populations in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Continue reading

Morning photo: Take 2!

Mountain view

h

Mount if the Holy Cross from near Shrine Pass.

FRISCO — This set is a grab-bag of images from the past week or so, including a very early morning trek up to the Vail Pass area. Right now, we’re definitely in high summer in terms of light. The rest of the year, details of the mountain faces are often hidden by long shadows, but the high summer sun angle reveals details that you can’t see the rest of the year.

Summit Voice readers, if you enjoy our daily photo posts, please have a look at the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger Project. We are trying to fund a two month reporting trek to do some some in-depth reporting on how global warming is changing the Rockies. Along with the stories, we’ll have live social media chats and we will be doing plenty of photography to be featured in our morning photo series.

It’s a crowdfunded project and we need your help to make it happen. Every little bit helps, and if you’re feeling generous, you can earn a free dinner at the Sunshine Cafe in Dillon, along with framed fine art prints from the Summit Voice gallery. Please visit the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project pledge page and share the link with your friends! Continue reading

Climate: Study links greenhouse gas emission levels with economic development

Rapid growth in sunbelt driving part of the increase of greenhoue gases

ijh

Much of the world was warm to record-warm in May.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A Georgia State University researcher taking a close look at the nexus of economics, housing development and climate change says that land use policies and preferential tax treatment for housing — in the form of federal income tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes — have increased carbon emissions in the United States by about 2.7 percent, almost 6 percent annually in new home construction, according to a new Georgia State University study. Continue reading

Plankton to take big global warming hit

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico are tracking BP's spilled oil as it works its way up the food web, from bacteria to plankton. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Global warming projected to cut plankton production. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Ripple effect expected all along the ocean food web

Staff Report

FRISCO — Given the complex dynamics of ocean circulation, it’s tough to predict how global warming will play out, but a European research project has been able estimate that phytoplankton biomass could be reduced by 6 percent, while zooplankton biomass may decline by as much as 11 percent.

Those changes could have big impacts on important fish species, researchers said after publishing their findings in Global Change Biology.

Warming ocean temperatures will alter circulation patterns and water column stratification, which affects the transport and availability of nutrients for marine plankton growth. This process will take place mainly in tropical oceans, which cover 47 percent of the global ocean surface. Globally, sea surface temperature is expected to increase 2 degrees Celsius by 2080-2100. Continue reading

Morning photo: Plus-X

Contrasts …

sdf

Blue River, February 1, 2014.

FRISCO — As I edited this batch of digital files, I couldn’t help but think about the old non-digital darkroom days, and Kodak Plus-X black and white film, which, of course, was the standard for getting the most of an exposure under good light conditions. Nowadays, there’s no need to carefully check the temperature of the developer, or to push the development process to get that extra iota of depth — it’s all done with a few sliders and buttons. But the end result — a fully saturated B&W image covering the entire gray scale — is still the same. An image that, even in the absence of color, tells the story of light. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,623 other followers