Scientists in the U.S. and U.K. have concluded the lack of change in the world’s annual mean temperature, is only a short-term phenomenon. In an earlier posting, see the September 2013 article “Stable Temperature Stokes Climate Controversy”, we discussed the controversy this lack of further warming has caused.
Scientists have settled on the Pacific winds as the likely culprit for a slower warming trend. Their explanation is that their models show that stronger trade winds help to cool the Pacific Ocean driving warmer water into the deeper ocean in the west. This cools global temperatures enough to explain the plateau the world’s temperature has experienced since 1998.
In the meantime numerous changes support that climate change alterations are still occurring. Examples include an increase in the intensity of tornadoes in the United States leaving bigger paths of destruction in their wake, before and after photos in the Arctic showing scrubs have increased their sprouting due to warmer weather, and an “unprecedented rate” of increased acidity of ocean waters.
A report that was issued at the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World gave some statistics on the acidification of the ocean. It reported:
Ocean Acidification in Numbers
- 40% – The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels since the start of the industrial revolution.
- 26% – The increase in ocean acidity from preindustrial levels to today.
- About 170% – The projected increase in ocean acidity by 2100 compared with preindustrial levels if high CO2 emissions continue (RCP*8.5).
- 10 times – The current rate of acidification is over 10 times faster than any time in the last 55 million years.
- 24 million – The number of tonnes of CO2 the ocean absorbs every day.
One of the more disturbing findings, based on a study conducted by New Zealand and Australian scientists, is that Antarctic ice sheets of East Antarctica contributed more sea level rise during a period some 135,000 to 116,000 years ago, during the last interglacial, than previously thought. Today’s models have spent considerable effort to look at the West Antarctic ice sheet thinking it was more vulnerable. This study suggests the East sheets are more critical than previously thought.
This is significant because the Antarctic ice sheets represent enough water to raise sea level by approximately 60 meters (~196 feet) if all the ice melted. Quoting from the January 24, 2014 issue of Science magazine, “The implication is that the EAIS (Eastern Antarctic ice sheet) may have made a significantly greater contribution to sea-level rise over that period (the last interglacial) than currently believed, with the implication that projected changes in the climate of the southern hemisphere may constitute a more serious threat to the future stability of the EAIS than has generally been appreciated until now.”
These changes coupled with a disturbing shrinkage of the Himalayan glacial areas, a 26% change between 1977 and 2009, reinforce that the effects of climate change continue even without a rise in the world’s annual mean temperature. This should give us an increasing impetus to call our leaders out to do more about climate change. The actions to date from the largest contributor nations have been too little. Let’s just hope they are not too late.
Use the links below for more information or to access the source documents for this article.
http://www.igbp.net/publications/summariesforpolicymakers/summariesforpolicymakers/oceanacidificationssummaruyforpolicymakers2013.5.30566fc6142425d6c9111f4.html – Scroll down to “Download full pdf” and select.