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2012 likely to end as one of the warmest year on record

World Meteorological Organization releases provisional annual climate statement to inform Doha talks

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A polar satellite view of Earth.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — 2012 will likely end up as one of the warmest years on record and will also go down in the history books as the year that Arctic sea ice extent dwindled to a new record low level, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which last week released its provisional annual statement on the state of the global climate within the framework of the COP 18 climate talks in Doha, Qatar.

The first nine months of 2012 were the ninth warmest January to October period since records began in 1850. The global land and ocean surface temperature for the period was 0.81 degrees above the 1961–1990 average, according to theWMO  statement.

Early in the year, a moderate to strong La Niña kept things from heating up too much, but when La Niña faded in the spring, parts of the globe heated up dramatically, including a large part of the U.S. which saw record heat waves from early spring through summer, including the warmest March on record in Colorado. The six-month average of May–October 2012 was among the four warmest such period on record. Continue reading

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Climate: Global CO2 emissions to hit record high in 2012

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U.S. still by far the largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — As delegates to the COP 18 climate talks in Doha, Qatar struggle to find agreement on basic issues — like how to account accurately for greenhouse gas emissions — the Global Carbon Project is reporting that carbon dioxide emissions will climb by 2.6 percent in 2012 to reach a record high of 35.6 billion tons in 2012.

The biggest contributors to global emissions in 2011 were China (28 per cent), the United States (16 per cent), the European Union (11 per cent), and India (7 per cent). Overall, 2012 emissions are now 58 percent higher than in 1990, the baseline year for targets set under the Kyoto Protocol. Continue reading

Global warming: Report says permafrost carbon emissions must be included in global climate models and planning

A new report urges more monitoring of the Earth’s permafrost zones. Image courtesy NSIDC.

More monitoring of permafrost changes needed

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With temperatures in polar regions rising twice as fast as the global average, there’s a good chance that between 30 to 85 percent of near-surface permafrost could melt, releasing billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere by the end of the century.

But most existing climate models don’t accurately account for the impact of permafrost carbon dioxide and methane emissions, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program. The report recommends that the IPCC compile a special assessment report on permafrost. It also recommends that nations with extensive permafrost create national monitoring networks and make plans to mitigate the risks of thawing permafrost. These nations include Russia, Canada, China, and the United States.

“The infrastructure we have now is not adequate to monitor future changes in permafrost,” said lead author Kevin Schaefer, a research scientist at the Boulder-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. “We need to greatly expand our current networks to monitor permafrost, which requires direct investment of money and resources by individual countries,” Schaefer said, urging the IPCC to assess the impact of permafrost carbon dioxide and methane emissions in the negotiation of emissions targets and global climate change policy discussions. Continue reading

Op-ed: U.S. must show leadership at climate talks

Will the world get it together on climate change?

Global warming crisis must be met with resolve and collaboration

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With Arctic ice on the brink of near-total meltdown, super storms brewing in the oceans and after a summer of heatwaves and drought, about 17,000 delegates start meeting this week in Doha, Qatar to try and make some progress on the UN’s annual climate talks.

The backdrop for this year’s talks are continued dire warnings from scientists, who are saying that, if we can’t cap emissions by 2020, the world could be headed for runaway warming, with temperatures not seen on Earth for millions of years and almost unimaginable consequences for all life on Earth.

This is not a joke or some sort of purely academic debate. It could literally be a matter of life and death, but even though there’s a lot at stake, expectations aren’t very high for COP 18. The talks have become a frustrating exercise in futility, as politics and economics continually push the existential question of global warming into the back seat. What’s lacking most of all is clear leadership from the world’s most influential countries, including the USA. Continue reading

Global warming: Inching ahead at Bonn climate talks

‘Science is telling us on a repeated basis … that current mitigation efforts are not sufficient’

NASA’s monthly mapping tool shows temperature anomalies in April 2012.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two weeks of climate talks in Bonn following up on the last year’s Durban summit didn’t yield much progress in some critical areas, although the delegates did take some steps toward finding a way to extend the Kyoto Protocol and on finding ways to help the most poor and vulnerable countries deal with global warming impacts.

The next round of climate talks is set for Doha, Qatar in November, when delegates are to decide on how long the extension of the Kyoto agreement should be, as an interim step before adopting a legally binding climate treaty in 2015.

The Doha meeting is also aimed at defining the precise emission reduction commitments of industrialized countries that have obligations under the Kyoto agreement.

United Nations climate officials tried to paint the Bonn talks in the best possible light, emphasizing the baby steps toward progress, while downplaying the fact that key players, particularly India and China, are balking. Continue reading

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