Today's theme: More research supporting the notion that yes, the world is actually warming and humans are mostly to blame, tropical rainforests are vast stores of carbon (even more than we thought), the climate can change very very quickly (viz the Little Ice Age) and can have a serious impact on decreasing crop yields.
NASA Again Confirms Humans To Blame For Global Warming
In case you needed further convincing... Here's the USA Today summary of the latest research from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies:
NASA researchers updated calculations of the Earth's energy imbalance, which is the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by the Earth's surface and the amount returned to space as heat. They found that despite unusually low solar activity from 2005 to 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy (half a watt more per square meter) than it returned to space during that time period. "This provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming," said James Hansen.
European Weather Weirding Brings Snow to Nice, Frozen Death to Eastern Europe
One more example of extreme weather weirding this (Northern Hemisphere) winter, from BBC News. As more than 60 people have died in extreme cold (-37°C/-35°F) and heavy snow across Eastern Europe, a state of emergency has been declare in southern Serbia due to heavy snow, Istanbul has received remarkably heavy snow, and even Nice has been covered in snow. Video of all this at the link above.
Little Ice Age Research Shows How Quickly Climate Can Change
The latest research into what brought about the Little Ice Age (1550-1850, with particularly cold intervals in 1650, 1770, and 1850) is interesting unto itself. As is the amazing fact, to this New Yorker, that in 1780 because of the extreme cold you could walk on eight foot thick ice the five miles from Manhattan to Staten Island. But the New York Times highlights the lesson for current and future climate change:
“I think people might look at the Little Ice Age and think that all we need to save us from rising temperatures are some volcanic eruptions or the geo-engineering equivalent,” [report co-author Bette Otto-Bliesner] said. “But when you see what happened when global temperatures dropped by just one degree and you look at current predictions of six or seven degree increases for the future, you realize how precarious things are for life as we know it... I don’t see a lot of hope that we can somehow compensate for the climate trajectory we’re on."
Warming World To Slash Wheat Yields
Extreme heat can cause wheat crops to age faster and reduce yields, a U.S.-led study shows, underscoring the challenge of feeding a rapidly growing population as the world warms. [...] Depending on the sowing date, the grain losses from rapid senescence could reach up to 20 percent, the scientists found in the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. (Reuters
Rainforests Store Even More Carbon Than We Thought
In case you needed more convincing that stopping deforestation, particularly in the tropics, is a great idea: Mongabay reports that a new assessment on the amount of carbon stored in tropical rainforests is 20% higher than previous estimates. Based on satellite observation, scientists writing in Nature Climate Change, now say that tropical rainforests store 229 billion tons of carbon, just in their vegetation.