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Climate: Does the Southern Ocean hold the ice age key?

Abysmal waters play huge role in global carbon cycles

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass, and sometimes look thick and oily, probably because it's so cold. Click on the photo to learn about some of the environmental issues in Antarctica.

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The remote Southern Ocean, encircling Antarctica, may be a key driver of the carbon cycle, inhaling and exhaling enough carbon to help shift the global climate in and out of ice ages.

For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what exactly, along with the known wobbles in Earth’s journey around the sun, may cause the huge shifts that lead to vast ice sheets covering many of the planet’s land masses. Continue reading

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Global June temps the 5th-warmest on record

Many northern hemisphere land areas reported near-record warmth

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Most areas of the globe reported temperatures running well above the 20th century average during June 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Globally averaged land and sea surface temperature was 1.15 degrees above the 20th century average, tying with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center monthly summary report released this week.

The average land-surface temperature was even warmer. At 1.89 degrees above average, it was the third-warmest June on record over the world’s land areas. Record-setting warmth was reported from many locations in northern Canada, far northwestern Russia, southern Japan, the Philippines, part of southwestern China, and central southern Africa.

The year to-date is also running hot, tied with 2003 as the seventh-warmest January to June period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature that was 1.06 degrees above the 20th century average. Continue reading

January brings record warmth to southern hemisphere

Global land and sea surface temps tied with 1995 as ninth-warmest

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January 2013 marks the 335th month with global temps above average.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Southern hemisphere land areas reported their warmest January readings on record, including Australia, where January 2013 was the hottest month ever recorded, according to NOAA climate scientists, who released the global state of the climate report this week. A slide show from the presentation is online here.

The Southern Hemisphere was record warm over land for the second month in a row. Record high monthly temperatures were observed over northeastern Brazil, much of southern Africa, and northern and central Australia. No land areas in the Southern Hemisphere were cooler than average.

While some northern hemisphere land areas reported below-average temperatures for the month, global land and sea surface temperature averaged out to tie with 1995 as the ninth-warmest on record, at .97 degrees above the 20th century average of 53.6 degrees. Even with cooler than average readings in some parts of the northern hemisphere, the average temperature was still 1.48 degrees above average, the 21st-warmest January on record.

Continue reading

Climate: Study suggests recent West Antarctic glacier changes are nearly unprecedented

Data to help refine sea level rise forecasts

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West Antarctica‘s Pine Island Glacier. Photo courtesy European Space Agency.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After studying the paleoclimate record of West Antarctica, an international team of scientists say some of the recent observed changes in the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers may well be exceptional and are unlikely to have happened more than three or four times in the last 10,000 years.

Radiocarbon dates of tiny fossilized marine animals found in Antarctica’s seabed sediments offer new clues about the recent rapid ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and help scientists make better predictions about future sea-level rise.  This region of the icy continent is thought to be vulnerable to regional climate warming and changes in ocean circulation. Continue reading

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

British Isles hit by strong, wintry blast

Only a few coastal areas of the UK and parts of Ireland are snow-free in this late November satellite image, courtesy the European Space Agency.

SUMMIT COUNTY — For the second year in a row, the British Isles are experiencing a spate of wintry weather that’s been uncommon in recent decades. The snowfall in late November and early December caused airport delays and highway gridlock, as heavy snowfall blanketed much of the region. Earth observation scientists at the University of Leicester have recorded stunning images of the UK’s winter landscape by orbiting satellites.

Leicester scientists have used two instruments, MERIS and AATSR, which have returned stunning images of a snow-bound UK from observations on November 29th and December 1.

In the MERIS images, the colour scale runs from white snow and clouds to green vegetation. In the AATSR images, the non-snow areas are coloured red to highlight differences to the white snow. The change in snow cover within two days is clearly visible.

The satellite images area part of a new exhibit at the London Science Museum, entitled ‘Atmosphere … exploring climate science’. The exhibition was formally opened by Prince Charles Dec. 3. Continue reading

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