Monday, July 27, 2015

How 2015 is becoming the warmest year on record


Our climate is setting records this year and not the kind we want.

Oh quick note: I'm writing this post from a hotel in Cleveland (traveling for the college.) That means I'm using the Blogger app for iPhone. That means I can't insert hyperlinks the way I normally would. So I'll pop them into parentheticals for you. Sorry for the extra step.

Could be worse. I mean, this year could be the warmest on record so far.

Oh wait, it is. (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/imageo/2015/07/20/earth-gripped-by-record-warmth-during-first-half-of-2015/#.VbbO6Ym9LCR)

The first six months of 2015 have had much warmer temperatures than any other year on record. In fact, both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency that this past month as the warmest June on record. The world's oceans are also warmer than ever on the surface, particularly swaths across the equatorial Pacific, the North Atlantic, and the Barents Sea north of Norway. 

But wait! There's more!

There is another finding related to climate. The writer of this article ( http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/imageo/2015/07/18/new-esoteric-record-set-in-greenland-actually-is-important/#.VbbPEYm9LCR ) describes it as "esoteric but relevant"...which oddly enough is exactly how I would hope to describe this blog. Anyway, the warmer temperatures this past month caused a massive melt off of ice in Greenland. The amount of melted ice from the heat is not exactly record breaking, but it did reveal a finding that is.

Reflectivity. That's right. The amount of sunlight that bounces off of snow. It's actually an important climate variable. During the past month, Arctic snow reflected the lowest amount of sunlight in 16 years. This is partly due to climate change but there is another important factor: the composition of the surface snow. The ice and snow has soot in it from wildfires, blown to Greenland from hundreds of miles away. The fires are of course due to drier conditions brought on by...you guessed it...climate change, but it's more intricate than that. Warmer climate, melting ice, lower light reflectivity (albedo), and wildfires are all linked together in a "feedback loop."

As detailed in Discover:

"Warmer temperatures due to human activities have been contributing to increased wildfire activity. This has caused darkening of the snow in Greenland, which — as we’ve seen — has helped lead to increased melting at the ice sheet’s surface. More melting of the ice sheet’s surface decreases its albedo, which causes still more melting. Now, add in more global warming from human activities, and you’ve got more fires, lower albedo, more melting, lower albedo, etc., etc."

Yet there are still people, mostly nabobs and rural conservatives, who remain critical of climate change. Beyond critical, really. Downright disbelieving. They will claim many things, among them that climate change isn't happening or it is but it has slowed down or even "we had a miserable winter where I live, ergo it cannot be happening." That last argument is beneath comment, so I will address the one that came before it. 

Research shows that was never the case (please see the first link I provided for reference.) The very suggestion of it seems to have been due to human-emitted greenhouse gases sucked back down into the oceans (causing problems of its own with acidity), and warming trends began to stagnate. For a time. Any other slow down has been described as "spurious."

Oh but it's no problem, right? Climate change is "a hoax created by liberals to con us out of our 'hard earned money.'" Yeah. Get ready to hear disgustingly copious amounts of that this election year.

This is one time I actually wish they were right.

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