1. Totten Glacier melting from below
Scientists have found that waters around Totten Glacier are warmer than expected and that it is melting from below. Amazingly the glacier, in East Antarctica, has never been studied before.
A team of scientists on the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis has recently taken a look. They don’t have comparative historical data to go by, but the concern is large. Totten is the biggest of the big and holds enough water to raise the sea level 6 metres. That’s somewhere between West Antarctica and Greenland!
2. State of the Climate 2014
One thing that was new was a prediction of more extreme El Niño and La Niña events. They are talking here of extreme La Niña’s appearing once in 13 years rather than once in 23 years. So it’s not the garden variety events, rather the exceptional events.
For the rest of the report, it seems on a quick look to be much as expected – less rainfall in southern Australia, more extreme hot days, less snow, continued ocean acidification, more worries about sea level rise and so on. I’ll take a closer look if I get time.
Graham Readfearn points out that in 1995 at Amberley near Brisbane the mercury climbed above 35C on 12 days per year on average. That could become 55 days per year.
It has been a year since extreme heat wreaked havoc at the Australian Open, with players forced to endure temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius on the courts.
Some athletes said the conditions were akin to “tap-dancing on a fry pan”.
Unfortunately Tennis Australia are not on their lonesome in forcing athletes to perform in dangerous conditions. There are concerns also for spectators and venues, for example subject to flooding. The Climate Institute has produced a report analysing the vulnerability amongst sports like AFL, tennis, cricket and cycling as well as winter snow sports.
Part of The Climate Institute’s ongoing research into climate risk and resilience, this report will form the basis of ongoing discussions in the sporting world, including with the newly formed Sports Environment Alliance, chaired by former International Cricket Council CEO Malcolm Speed.
4. Keystone showdown and American climate opinion
The Senate has passed legislation approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline on a 62-36 vote.
asked Thursday about the vote, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated that Obama would veto.
The Senate requires 67 votes to overturn a presidential veto.
Meanwhile Carbon Brief takes a look at the gap in opinion between scientists, the public, and politicians on climate change from Pew Center research. This is how it pans out:
A case of the blind leading the partially sighted.
Across the ditch Hot Topic posts about a book that meticulously goes through the development of climate science from the time of Arrhenius. Seriously, there isn’t an argument any more about the basic science.
I find this surprising:
current economic models… generally conclude that the economically optimal pathway results in a global surface warming around 3–3.5°C.
Current economic models mainly treat economic growth as an external factor. In these models, global warming and its impacts via climate change don’t significantly affect the rate at which the economy grows.
A new study finds:
while the economies of rich countries continue to grow well in a warmer world, the economic growth of poor countries is significantly impaired.
That’s not so surprising.
The authors find that:
the best path for society would limit temperatures to between 1.6 and 2.8°C warming in 2100, with a best estimate of around 1.7°C warming.
Meanwhile the rulers of the world at the Davos World Economic Forum conference were given a straight message:
In particular, the nexus between climate protection and development is a striking conclusion of the World Bank analysis: without climate stabilization at still manageable levels, development advances, especially in the poorest countries, are set to be reversed. Indeed, development work of past decades (involving significant financial resources) is at risk and with it the well-being of the most vulnerable citizens on Earth.
The “World Bank analysis” is Turn down the heat : confronting the new climate normal, a report prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics.