Since the late 1990s, global warming has stabilized, even as greenhouse gases have risen. That defies simple models that say the temperature should keep going up. Many scientists think much of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases is being soaked up and stored by the oceans–at least for now. A team of oceanographers now says they know where it went.
A group of 17 renowned scientists from around the world are appealing for dramatic action to forestall the worst effects of climate change, issuing an “Earth Statement” that calls for a world powered with zero carbon emissions by mid-century.
A new report gives a worrisome picture of climate-related problems the New York region will likely face this century. Temperatures are projected to rise, extreme precipitation and heat waves will be more frequent, and sea level could rise as much as 6 feet.
Because of climate change, spring, summer, fall and winter in the temperate zones are all arriving on average 1.7 days earlier than they ever have before. The changing climate with its more extreme weather is affecting many plant and animal species, disturbing their habitat and disrupting ecosystem functioning. How will plants and animals deal with these challenges?
China became the world’s largest carbon polluter in 2006, surpassing the U.S. But it is also rapidly going green through cutting coal use, investing heavily in renewable energy and launching the world’s largest carbon trading system.
Atmospheric scientist Adam Sobel is author of the new book “Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future.” Sobel was one of the first researchers to explain to media and the public what might be brewing, before the storm hit. In the aftermath, he looked closely at the factors driving the storm’s unusual ferocity, and how these played against human weaknesses. The book offers a primer on what drives storm systems, and what we know (and don’t) about their relation to warming climate. Sobel also looks into future weather, urban infrastructure and the politics of global climate change. He recently discussed some of his insights.
“Climate change has been making the fire season in the United States longer and on average more intense,” said John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor. And, wildfires are not only intensified by climate change, they also exacerbate it.
In my early years I didn’t talk about the politics of global warming much. I didn’t bring it up with friends or family, let alone engage in any public way. It seemed to me unseemly for a scientist to be vocal on a political issue related, even indirectly, to his own research. Wouldn’t that be an indication of bias, of a lack of scientific impartiality? But I have changed my mind.
Climate scientist William D’Andrea of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory asked young scientists attending a symposium last October, “What do you wish everyone knew about climate change?” He turned the responses into this video, which covers the topic pretty well.
The most important lessons drawn from geology are that the earth’s climate can change radically, and rapidly. We can’t say precisely at what CO2 level we’re in danger of melting Antarctica, but that threshold could be reached in 150-300 years, if CO2 levels keep rising at the current rate.