Monday, December 31, 2012

Is Climate Change causing an exponential rate of Ice sheet Mass Loss, sea level rise?

Climate scientist James Hansen and his colleague Makiko Sato have released a new discussion paper with updated data on ice sheet mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica, with implications for possible multi-metre sea level rise this century. It makes for some interesting reading - there is a link to Hansen's website and the paper at the end.

The thesis that Hansen has put forward for several years is that Ice Sheet collapse is a non-linear process: that with the inclusion of amplifying climate feedbacks it is likely to follow an exponential rate of acceleration - a doubling rate. It might be a 10 year doubling time, or less. This will lead to extensive sea level rise, perhaps in the order of 5 metres this century.

But accurate data measurements of ice mass loss via laboriously estimating mass input and output has only been available since the early 1990s, and accurate satellite measurements (Gravimetry) via the GRACE satellites since 2000.

What these measurements show is that ice mass loss from both Greenland and Antarctica are accelerating, but the data for the time period is still too short to determine whether ice sheet mass loss will follow a somewhat linear path, or an exponential path doubling every 10 years or shorter time period.

Caption: Figure 2: Greenland (a) and Antarctic (b) mass change deduced from gravitational field measurements by Velicogna (2009) and best-fits with 5-year and 10-year mass loss doubling times. From NASA: Earth's Climate History: Implications for Tomorrow Hansen and Sato July 2011

Update 14 Jan 2013: Matt Owens from Fairfax Climate Watch had a similar idea in reviewing Hansen's discussion paper. Read his initial analysis: Sea level rise could crimp GDP; US direct losses could top 1/4 trillion per year during 2040-2050. On 11 January 2013 he updated his analysis with a new article: Surprising negative feedback could mean epic disaster. Both are worthwhile reading.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Elevated sea surface temps threatening marine biodiversity in Western Australia

High sea surface temperatures (SST) of up to five degrees above normal are currently being experienced off the north-western Australian coast in a marine heatwave event. Like the extreme marine heatwave event in 2011 this will change marine ecosystems causing coral bleaching and fish mortality and impact on fisheries management and biodiversity.

A similar event occurred over several weeks during the 2010/2011 summer which impacted seafood stocks and marine ecosystems and was associated with an extremely strong La Niña event and a record strength Leeuwin Current down the Western Australian coast.

Friday, December 28, 2012

China's coral reef ecosystems suffer devastating 80 per cent decline

In the last 30 years the coral reef ecosystems off the coast of mainland China and Hainan Island have suffered an 80 per cent decline largely due to unrestrained economic development driving coastal development, pollution and overfishing.

The study, published in the journal Conservation Biology - The Wicked Problem of China's Disappearing Coral Reefs - was conducted jointly by scientists from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University, and from the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"A wicked problem is one that is very hard to solve without having a whole lot of other foreseen and unforeseen consequences to people, industries and to the environment itself," said lead author Professor Terry Hughes.

Gas fired power stations for NSW and Victoria placed on hold

EnergyAustralia has announced shelving plans for construction of a 1000MW gas fired power station in the Latrobe Valley at it's Yallourn site saying that low wholesale energy prices and reduced electricity demand did not make the project viable. EnergyAustralia is a division of Hong Kong-based utility CLP Holdings Ltd.

EnergyAustralia's group executive manager, energy markets, Mark Collette, as reported in the Age, said that suppressed wholesale electricity prices and continued falling demand for energy had led to the decision. Proliferation of rooftop solar panels and energy-saving efforts by households and business were also contributing to reduced energy demand.

In Australia's east coast National Electricity Market demand for electricity has been falling since late 2010.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Increase in cyclone frequency in Indonesia blamed on climate change

Cyclone frequency in Indonesia in 2012 is 28 times that for the year 2002, according to the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency BNPB, with the increase attributed to the persistent impact of systemic climate change.

Indonesia straddles the equator on the edge of two important cyclone generating basins: the West Pacific basin, which can affect the eastern part of the country, and Indian Ocean basin, which affects the western and southern regions of Indonesia.

Sutopo Purwo Yuwono, spokesperson with the Indonesian disaster management agency (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana) BNPB told the Xinhua newsagency, "Global warming has resulted in the formation of more cumulonimbus clouds that could incite cyclones,"

Sutopo went on to predict that more cyclones would hit in Indonesia in March to April next year. Floods and landslides are expected to strike from January to March.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Global Warming on West Antarctic Ice Sheet three times the global average


The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is warming at three times the global average, according to temperature measurements at Byrd Polar Station. This has implications for the melting of the West Antarctic Ice sheet (WAIS) and sea level rise.


The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is inherently unstable due to it's grounding in a deep depression below sea level. Warm Southern ocean currents are already reducing ice shelves holding back ice discharge from glaciers. As these ice shelves are undermined and break up it will allow significant acceleration of glacier discharge increasing the rate of sea level rise.

Lead study author David H. Bromwich from Ohio State University said:

"Our record suggests that continued summer warming in West Antarctica could upset the surface mass balance of the ice sheet, so that the region could make an even bigger contribution to sea level rise than it already does," said Bromwich.

"Even without generating significant mass loss directly, surface melting on the WAIS could contribute to sea level indirectly, by weakening the West Antarctic ice shelves that restrain the region's natural ice flow into the ocean."

Related: Global warming in Antarctica: Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers | Waking the giant: Global Warming in the Weddell Sea | Southern Ocean warming impact on Antarctic Ice Sheet and global sea level

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"We do have an emergency" - Arctic Methane Feedback amplifying warming


As James Hansen in this video says "We DO have an emergency". He talks about climate tipping points such as the loss of summer Arctic sea ice amplifying the release of methane in permafrost on tundra landscapes and methane hydrates in the shallow East Siberian and Alaskan continental shelves. These tipping points have catastrophic consequences for our climate.

Climate tipping points are processes we don't want to launch. They are climate feedback mechanisms which take any sort of control over global warming out of our hands and threaten widespread species extinction and threaten the viability of civilisation and perhaps even human survival.

They could act either as slowly accelerating feedback mechanisms which keep increasing global temperatures by several degrees or a relatively sudden 'methane bomb' in which a large abrupt release of methane occurs. In either case, it would be disastrous for human civilisation, although in the first instance we would be like the frog in a pot of water being brought slowly to the boil, not having the where-with-all to notice the incremental changes before it is way too late.

Related: The United Nations Environment Program released a scientific report - Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost - at the Doha climate talks highlighting the threat from methane from melting permafrost. See Methane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping point | Radio Ecoshock: Climate: Arctic Thermostat Blows Up , particularly the Interview with Paul Beckwith (MP3) from the Arctic Emergency Methane Group

2 Arctic seal species listed as Endangered due to Climate Change

The Centre for Biological Diversity reports that as a result of their 2008 petition, the US Federal Government has added Ringed seals and Bearded seals, found in the waters off Alaska, to the list of endangered species.

Both seal species are dependent on the existence of sea ice which is rapidly declining during summer, with some scientists saying the Arctic could be largely ice free as early as 2016. These are the first species since polar bears to be protected primarily because of climate change threats.

“Arctic animals face a clear danger of extinction from climate change,” said Shaye Wolf, the Center’s climate science director. “The Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for these seals, but we can’t save the Arctic ecosystem without confronting the broader climate crisis. The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears.”

Related: Centre for Biological Diversity: Saving the Bearded, Ringed and Spotted Seals

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Coal protest: activists scale Yallourn power station Cooling Tower


Four days ago two intrepid climate change activists scaled one of the cooling towers at Yallourn coal fired power station in Victoria's La Trobe Valley. In the end they spent 30 hours on the cooling tower, the longest power station occupation of it's kind in Australia, finally coming down voluntarily to be arrested and charged with various offences.

The protest highlighted the enormous multi-million compensation being given by the Australian Government to power operators for the imposition of the carbon tax. The brown coal fired power stations in Victoria's La Trobe valley are some of the dirtiest most carbon emissions polluting power stations in Australia and the world.

Related: Latrobe Valley Coal power and Climate change | Further subsidies for Victorian coal by Victorian and Federal Governments

Electricity Demand Falling in Eastern Australia according to CEDEX


New research on energy demand in the National Energy Market (NEM) by Pitt and Sherry's carbon emissions Index (CEDEX) shows demand for power for electricity has been falling since late 2010. Power generation from black coal (mainly in NSW) has been falling since the start of 2009, while there has been a fall in generation from (Victorian) brown coal since July 2012.

Almost certainly the Federal Governments Renewable Energy Target (RET) driving construction of wind farms, and now the Carbon Tax increasing the cost of coal fired power, as well as energy efficiency programs and drop in electricity demand from consumers, has been driving these trends.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Extreme Weather: Tropical Cyclone Evan pounds Samoa and Fiji

Updated 19 December, 2012: The tropical paradise of Samoa in the South Pacific has been lashed with gale force winds, flash flooding from torrential rain and a 3 metre storm surge from Category 2 tropical cyclone Evan on Thursday and Friday. After two days the tropical cyclone is now moving west and intensifying as it heads in the direction of Fiji. Wallis and Fortuna Islands also lie directly in the storm path and northern atolls of Tonga may also be affected to some degree.

The cyclone arrived with little warning at Samoa on Thursday morning, December 13, pounding the islands. Up to 4,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes and villages and took refuge in evacuation centres in schools and church halls.

On Thursday afternoon Samoan Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Chairman of the National Disaster Council, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, made a “declaration of disaster” on the national radio.The cyclone was still near Samoa's Upohu island on Friday causing waves of up to 6 metres.

While Fiji waits for Evan to hit on Sunday, a massive cleanup had started in Samoa to assess the extent of the damage to infrastructure, restore power and rebuild after the destruction wrought by the cyclone.

Doha talks fail to cut emissions, Kyoto Protocol extended to 2020

Climate Negotiations are over for another year with little progress in Doha by any one's measure as the scientific statements on climate change and the impacts we are already feeling as evidenced in record Arctic melting, and extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha, growing much stronger.

We are hurtling along, actually accelerating, heading for a climate cliff towards a chaotic and dangerous future and negotiators think we can put on the brakes at the last minute. Unfortunately what action the global community takes using an agreement negotiated by 2015 to come into effect by 2020 will be far too little too late. Climate physics will trump all the hot air in climate policy negotiations.

It is the failure of leadership and ambition of industrialised countries like the United States, Canada and Australia in making the deep cuts to emissions necessary which is hampering and sometimes actively obstructing progress. The Bali roadmap in 2007 adopted the scientific projections of 25 to 40 percent emission cuts by industrialised countries on 1990 levels by 2020 for a 50 percent chance of not exceeding 2 degrees of warming.

Related: Photos by World Resources Institute | Photos by Oxfam | The Verb: Climate March in Doha | The Verb: COP18 Actions

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Global warming breaking records in Arctic says 2012 Report card

Records were broken in the Arctic during 2012 with rapid changes occurring in sea ice extent and surface melt of Greenland Ice sheet according to the latest Arctic Report Card. These changes happened despite air temperatures being fairly unremarkable. It was the warmest summer in the last 170 years on Greenland.

“The Arctic is changing in both predictable and unpredictable ways, so we must expect surprises,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, during a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. “The Arctic is an extremely sensitive part of the world and with the warming scientists have observed, we see the results with less snow and sea ice, greater ice sheet melt and changing vegetation.”

Death toll from Typhoon Bopha rises as Philippines climate negotiator appeals for action


A week ago Category 5 tropical cyclone Typhoon Bopha (Locally known as Pablo) slammed into the Philippines island of Mindinao bringing death and destruction. The Typhoon storm track was the most southerly tropical cyclone ever recorded in the western Pacific and the strongest to hit the Philippines this year. The Philippines is subjected to typhoons on a regular basis, but systematic climate change is making them more intense and changing their paths of destruction.

Naderev Saño, head of the Philippines climate delegation at the Doha UNFCC climate talks described to Democracy Now, "The path of Typhoon Bopha is slightly more to the south of what struck Mindanao last year, but it is affecting the same areas. And it is sobering for us to know that a typhoon like this, that normally doesn’t hit that part of the country, in fact, this is a — in half a century, this is the first time that a typhoon that has crossed as south as Bopha."

The storm's high winds and torrential rain caused flash flooding in several provinces in the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental in eastern Mindanao were particularly hard hit. The town of New Bataan in Compostela Valley has been obliterated by raging floodwaters. Communications to many areas were cut as roads and bridges were destroyed. The death toll approaches 500 with some 170,000 displaced people.

Update 8 December: Typhoon Bopha has turned back on the Philippines in the South China Sea and is expected to slam into the northern tip of the main island of Luzon on Sunday, threatening the Ilocos provinces and La Union area. The Typhoon has maintained it's intensity with maximum sustained winds of 130 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 160 kph with estimated rainfall amount from 15 to 25 mm per hour (heavy - intense) within the 400 km diameter of the Typhoon.

A state of national calamity has been declared by President Benigno Aquino to speed up the release of funds for rescue and retrieval operations.

Related: Landslide Blog - Evaluating the causes of the Typhoon Bopha / Pablo disaster | The Free - Climate Chaos caused Bopha/Pablo. Oil Companies to be Sued ??

Friday, December 7, 2012

Professor Kevin Anderson on Real clothes for the Emperor: Facing the challenges of climate change

Kevin Anderson
Professor Kevin Anderson explains in 58 minutes the challenges we face with combatting climate change. The future is looking pretty bleak, but unless we do a realistic assessment we are not going to be successful in resolving the challenge of climate change. The stakes are high with human civilisation and human survival in the balance.

It is looking decidedly unlikely we will limit global warming to 2 degrees of warming, while 4 degrees is still possible and quite achieveable, but due to climate feedback mechanisms and tipping points may prove to be just a pathway to 6 degrees, 8 degrees and beyond. And real questions need to be asked about whether our civilisation could survive a four degree warmer world, let alone temperatures much higher.

In this talk he delivers the Cabot Institute Annual Lecture 2012 at the University of Bristol in the UK on 6th November 2012. It was published on youtube on 22 Nov 2012. Quite an animated talk with lots of graphs well worthwhile watching.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Professor: prepare economy for war on climate change

_MG_2421s_DanielPauly_byGraceOngVisiting Professor Dr Daniel Pauly from the University of British Colombia in Canada has told ABC radio AM current affairs program that governments should be putting their economies on a 'war footing' to fight climate change.

Dr Pauly, a world renown marine biologist and fisheries scientist, has been researching the impact of climate change on fisheries. He is currently visiting Australia on a lecture tour.

Related: Great post by David Spratt at Climate Code Red - Scientists call for war on climate change, but who on earth is listening?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Methane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping point

A new report on permafrost slowly thawing in the Arctic creating methane and carbon dioxide emissions highlights an approaching dangerous climate tipping point. There is a huge amount of organic matter frozen in permafrost, estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon, twice the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere. And it is starting to melt. With no way to stop it except indirectly through us reducing the rate of global warming by reducing our own emissions.

"The release of carbon dioxide and methane from warming permafrost is irreversible: once the organic matter thaws and decays away, there is no way to put it back into the permafrost," said lead author Kevin Schaefer, from the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center.

"Anthropogenic emissions' targets in the climate change treaty need to account for these emissions or we risk overshooting the 2°C maximum warming target," he added.

Watch this youtube interview with Lead author Professor Kevin Schaefer, Research Scientist at the University of Colorado being interviewed at the climate talks in Doha:


The report - Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost (PDF) - was published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and launched at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Doha on November 27. (See media release)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sea Level rising 60% faster than IPCC projections

Sea Level is rising 60% faster than IPCC projections according to a new climate change related study comparing the actual rise in CO2 concentration, global temperature and sea level with past projections done by the IPCC.

Rising Global temperatures are consistent with past projections made by the IPCC fourth assessment report. But Projections for sea level rise amounted to 2 mm a year, while sea-levels are actually rising at a rate of 3.2 mm a year.

Lead author of the study, Stefan Rahmstorf, said: "This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change. That applies not just for sea-level rise, but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss."

Figure 2: Sea level measured by satellite altimeter (red with linear trend line; AVISO data from (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) and reconstructed from tide gauges (orange, monthly data from Church and White (2011)). Tide gauge data were aligned to give the same mean during 1993–2010 as the altimeter data. The scenarios of the IPCC are again shown in blue (third assessment) and green (fourth assessment); the former have been published starting in the year 1990 and the latter from 2000. From Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011 Stefan Rahmstorf et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 044035 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044035

Chasing Ice: James Balog sounding the alarm on Glacier retreat and global warming



A new documentary film on extreme ice loss from glaciers - one of the impacts of global warming - is doing the rounds. Chasing Ice documents the work of National Geographic photographer James Balog in documenting the massive changes to glaciers in the Arctic region where global warming is having a much higher impact than in the mid latutudes or the tropics. Film maker Jeff Orlowski follows Balog on expeditions to the glaciers and tells Balog's story of the rapid and profound changes happening to glaciers.

The film Chasing Ice is the result. In september 2012 it won the Best Documentary at the 22nd Annual Awards of the Environmental Media Association, Excellence in Cinematography Award: US Documentary at the Sundance Film festival and some 21 other awards.

Australia's largest proposed wind farm on King Island to supply electricity to Victoria

Hydro Tasmania unveiled plans last night to a public meeting on King Island in Bass Strait for Australia's largest proposed wind farm - a 200 turbine wind farm project called TasWind. The wind farm will produce 600MW of power, enough to supply power for nearly half a million households. The project is estimated to be worth $2 billion.

The wind farm would be situated on the west of the island in the path of the roaring 40s, and most of the electricity generated exported by undersea cable to Victoria. Up to 20 percent of the island could become part of the wind farm and used concurrently with existing farming. Turbine towers would supply extra rental income for farmers plus a community dividend would be negotiated for the Island community.

A project of this size is estimated to provide perhaps 400-500 construction jobs, and 20 to 25 permanent ongoing maintenaince jobs. The seven year project would add direct economic benefits to the island and counteract the loss of the island's abattoir that ocurred in September. A feasability study would be undertaken from 2013 to 2015, followed by approvals and design process with Construction likely start in 2017 and expected completion in 2019.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Climate meltdown: Global Warming heading towards 6 degrees C warns World Bank

Last night I sat down and skimmed through the 106pp report prepared by the prestiguous Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for the World Bank. It is a shocking read, that we are presently on the business as usual emissions path of 4 degrees C of global warming by about the 2060s and 6 degrees C of warming by the turn of the century, just 88 years hence.

The United Nations Environment Program warns that Greenhouse Gas Emissions Gap Widening as Nations Head to Crucial Climate Talks in Doha. The International Energy Agency warned in their 2011 World Energy Outlook report that we are on a 4-6 degree Celsius trajectory and that 80 percent of carbon emissions infrastructure has already been built and is in operation. We cannot afford to add any new carbon intensive infrastructure that will continue to pollute for 30-50 years, yet the World Resources Institute reveals nearly 1,200 Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants, the majority in India and China.

But grassroots action is having an impact: thousands rallied against coal across India, and a very first Arab Day of Climate Action (Photos) organised by the Arab Youth Climate Movement occurred on November 10. In the US, the Sierra Club reports victories in stopping the coal rush.

A recent Price WaterhouseCoopers report warned that Business as usual Carbon emissions heading towards 6°C (10.8°F) of global warming this century. So there is widespread agreement from science and scientists, energy experts and experts in global economics and accounting that we are facing a climate meltdown.

Related: 4 Degrees or More? Climate Change: The Critical Decade - a speech by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of PIK. The article includes a CSIRO media release on +4ºC scenarios for Australia's future climate. | Another view from Systemic Disorder: World Bank’s call for slowing global warming ignores own role

Monday, November 19, 2012

Study: Winds driving Record Antarctic Sea ice growth, global sea ice extent still declining



While the Arctic sea-ice has experienced a dramatic reduction, Antarctic sea ice continues to increase in extent hitting a new record in October this year. So what's going on?

The trend for a gradual increase in Antarctic Sea ice has puzzled scientists. Firstly, the gradual increase in Antarctic sea ice is far less than the amount of sea ice vanishing in the Arctic Sea. Global sea ice trend still shows a marked retreat.

But in the Antarctic working out why the sea ice trend has seen a one percent increase per decade since the 1970s has bamboozled the scientists. A new study based upon 18 years of detailed satellite ice motion measurements has put forward that it is primarily local winds pushing ice mainly north creating polyanas in the ice flows where more ice can easily form.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Climate change connection between Global temperatures, ice volume and sea level


There is a rapid response connection between polar temperature changes, ice volume and sea leavel according to a new method of dating of sea level records and comparing them with temperature data and ice core records for the last 150,000 years.

Previously the dating of ice-volume changes relied on the ‘Red Sea relative sea-level (RSL) record’. However this dating method did not have independent age control which inhibited detailed comparison with other well-dated climate parameters, such as temperature or CO2 records from ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. The new method of dating the RSL record used Mediterranean data from radiometric (Uranium-series) dating of cave deposits which could be applied to the last glacial cycle reaching back 150,000 years, providing a continuous sea-level record with excellent independent age control.

According to the study sea level rise reached speeds of "at least 1.2 metres per century during all major episodes of ice-volume reduction" in the last 150,000 years.

One of the study authors, Professor Elco Rohling from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton said: "This is the first time that these rates could be measured for any other period than the end-of-ice age 'terminations/deglaciations'. Although it is always hard to step from palaeo reconstructions to future projections, it suggests that when significant ice-volume adjustments happen, they are rarely slow."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Climate change implications of new study on methane emissions in coal seam gas field


Coal seam gas has been touted as a green transitional fuel, far less polluting than coal, but a new study implies it may not be as green or climate friendly as the industry makes out. It hinges on the level of fugitive emissions produced in development and production of a gas field. A study by two scientists from Southern Cross University based in Lismore, northern NSW, detected much higher levels of the strong greenhouse gas methane around the Tara gas field on the Darling Downs of Queensland west of Brisbane.

Related: The Conversation: Mike Sandiford on A Lot of Hot Air in the Coal to Gas Transition| Renee Santoro on Methane makes shale gas a current climate danger

Action: Getup! have started a Dirtier than Coal? campaign calling on Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to commission urgent research into the climate impacts of coal seam gas, and to make sure that CSG companies start accounting, and paying, for fugitive emissions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Origin Energy under scrutiny over anti-renewables stance


Origin Energy, Australia's largest energy retailer, came under intense scrutiny today from shareholders at the Annual General Meeting in Sydney over it's energy portfolio placing great emphasis on development of gas, poor investment in wind and solar power, and a campaign by Managing Director Grant King to destabilise the Renewable Energy Target.

At one stage a banner was quickly unfurled infront of the board on the stage which said "Origin: Build wind and solar, not coal and gas". It was just as quickly taken down.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Indian monsoon more likely to fail as global warming accelerates - Climate tipping point


A new predictive study for future monsoon failure in India says that full season failure will become much more likely in the next two hundred years. Failure of the Indian Seasonal Monsoon (ISM) has been identified as a climate change tipping point by climate scientists.

The study highlighted that monsoon rains could fail about one year in every five between 2150 and 2200 with continued global warming due to continued human burning of fossil fuels, and related shifts in tropical air flows.

More than a billion people are dependent on the reliability of the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) for agricultural productivity. A small variability in rainfall on the Indian sub-continent has large impacts on agriculture. Lower rainfall can reduce crop yield, while excessive rain causes flooding damaging to crops and disruption to peoples' lives. India's monsoon lasts from June to September each year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Australia commits to Kyoto 2 climate change treaty

Australia's Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, today announced that Australia is ready to join a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol first commitment period is due to expire at the end of 2012. The second commitment period will extend the binding international treaty to 2020 when it is envisaged a much broader treaty encompassing developed and developing countries will come into effect. Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 at the United Nations Bali meeting shortly after the election of the Labor Government.

"Australia joins as countries around the world are taking action to combat climate change." said Greg Combet. "Joining a second commitment period will ensure Australian businesses have access to international credits under the Clean Development Mechanism, helping Australia reduce emissions at the lowest cost to the economy. "

Martin Ferguson rebuffs Coal CEO Twiggy Palmcock in launching Energy paper


While Federal Resources and Energy minister Martin Ferguson was launching a white paper on energy, the press conference was interrupted by that scallywag Victorian Coal CEO Twiggy Palmcock who thanked the Minister for his support of the fossil fuel industry.

"I'd just like to say thank you Mr Ferguson, for being an excellent puppet for the fossil fuel industry. And I'd also like to say thank you on behalf of Twiggy Palmcock of Excretum Mining - my good self, and my friends Gina and other allies." announced Twiggy.

"We are very happy to have you representing our interests. Thank you Mr Ferguson for helping regional communities drink water and coal from the same tap. It's a marvellous outcome for all our regional communities in this situation. That they can now drink gas from the taps as well. Thank you very much Mr Ferguson" said Twiggy Palmcock, CEO of Excretum Mining.

Related: 2012 Energy white paper | RenewEconomy: Ferguson spies a green energy future … and steps on the gas | The Conversation: Energy White Paper plans to burn, burn, burn it all | A tale of two energy visions: China and Australia | Tony Abbott rebuffs Victorian coal mining magnate

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Business as usual Carbon emissions heading towards 6C of global warming this century


A new report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (UK) has warned that if we continue with business as usual with current global carbon emission reduction we are likely to hit 6 degrees Celsius or more of global warming towards the end of the century, overshooting the agreed upon global goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees to avoid dangerous and very extreme climate impacts.

The report is an annual analysis of the Low Carbon Economy Index devised by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), measuring developed and emerging economies progress towards reducing emissions linked to economic output.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tokelau ditches diesel for 100 percent solar PV power


The tiny self governing territory of Tokelau in the South Pacific has become entirely solar-powered, with the third and final photovoltaic solar farm being turned on at the end of October 2012.

Tokelau consists of 3 small atolls with a population of about 1500 people 450km north from Samoa, and a dependent territory of New Zealand. The atolls are low lying with perhaps the highest points just 2 metres above sea level. Rising seas this century threaten the future of these islands with 1 metre rise in global sea level due to climate change conservatively predicted by the end of the century.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tony Abbott rebuffs Victorian coal mining magnate Twiggy Palmcock


Did you hear that Tony Abbott got heckled at Melbourne University the other day during his red tape speech? Actually it was just two young coal businessmen keen to meet their hero! Yes, Victorian mining magnate Twiggy Palmcock, CEO of Excretum Mining and sidekick Michael Higgins Beaumont, founder of Australia's Young Coal Champions, who were both keen to meet their hero and leader of the Liberal Party .

They attended the Secure the Future Conference to thank Tony Abbott personally for his "unwavering support of the fossil fuel industry".

They explain in this video how they just wanted to say "Thank you Tony" and urge him to encourage exploitation of Victoria's low grade brown coal and continue the massive tax subsidies for fossil fuel companies to keep them competitive with the upstart renewable technologies of solar and wind power.

"Because as we all know and as Tony has told us Climate change is a conspiracy theory invented by German zoo keepers to bring attention to their celebrity polar bears." said Twiggy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Post - Climate change, fire may wipe out Australia's giant gum trees

By Megan Clement, The Conversation

As Australia gears up for another risky bushfire season this summer, some of its most iconic and valuable forests are at risk.

Giant eucalpytus trees rely on fire to regenerate, but an increase in major bush fires due to climate change could stunt their growth, a Tasmanian ecologist has warned.

The Unviersity of Tasmania’s Professor David Bowman says giant gum trees – which can act as valuable carbon stores – may become a thing of the past.

Giant gum trees can grow up to 100 metres, and are hundreds of years old.

“They are a globally unique rainforest tree that recovers from bushfires with explosive growth to out-compete the other rainforest trees,” Bowman said.

Crops devastated, food crisis looms in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy



At least 54 people were killed by Hurricane Sandy in Haiti due to the torrential rains, flooding and destruction of essential bridges and roads. Many Concrete homes and tent camps in Port-au-Prince setup after the 2010 earthquake are largely destroyed leaving up to 18,000 families homeless according to Haitian authorities.

Substantial crop loss occurred due to the Hurricane winds and flooding, threatening hunger and famine in coming weeks and months. Staple crops such as bananas and breadfruit were severely damaged by hurricane Sandy. "We'll have famine in the coming days," Kechner Toussaint, the Abricots mayor, reportedly said. "It's an agricultural disaster."

Related: Superstorm Sandy a wakeup call on climate change for the USA? | UN Reliefweb: UN relief agency estimates 1.8 million Haitians have been affected by Hurricane Sandy

Superstorm Sandy a wakeup call on climate change for the USA?

Hurricane Sandy on October 29. Courtesy: NASA


In the three presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barak Obama climate change was never mentioned, despite it being raised in all previous campaigns going back to 1988. And then came Hurricane Sandy from the Caribbean. A late season category 1 tropical cyclone that combined with a north-easter from the Arctic to pummel the northern eastern coast of the United States, one of the most populous and industrialised areas on earth.

The Hurricane crossed the coast in New Jersey on Monday night, 29 October, at about 8pm not far from Atlantic City. The storm surge caused widespread areas flooded leaving coastal towns decimated. The winds of the hurricane caused trees to fall and whipped up a massive 3 to 4 metre storm surge. A full moon and a spring tide also exacerbated the storm surge. 10 metre waves were measured just outside New York Harbour entrance. (See Accuweather Superstorm Sandy Stats)

Related: Skeptical Science - Hurricane Sandy and the Climate Connection | Crops devastated, food crisis looms in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy | Inside Climate News: 3-D Maps Pictured Sandy's Devastation–Five Years Ago

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Plant Carbon sequestration capacity in a high CO2 world overestimated



With climate change stimulating plant growth due to elevated CO2 concentrations climate models calculated this would also stimulate uptake and sequestration of carbon. But a new long term (13 year) study looking at plant biomass growth in a high CO2 environment with Nitrogen nutrients indicates that plants also require enriched soil nitrogen to escalate uptake and sequestration of carbon from elevated CO2. Soil nitrogen just cannot be increased on a widespread basis.

Related: Rising atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels threaten crop yields and food security

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guest Post: Calls for climate action as Great Barrier Reef suffers major coral loss


By Charis Palmer, The Conversation

The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years, and it could halve again by 2022 say researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found storm damage drove 48% of the loss, the crown of thorns starfish 42%, and bleaching 10%.

Second chance for Rogue Weathergirl: Still Hot, Still Crazy



Those wonderful people at Deep Rogue Ram have given us more to laugh and think about with the current US Drought, climate change and the US Presidential election.

If you remember Pippa gave us the real weather report a few weeks ago at the start of September highlighting the record reduction in Arctic Sea Ice and unprecedented melting of Greenland ice sheet and thousands of record temperatures broken in North America.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Newcastle residents protest health effects of proposed 4th coal export terminal

Newcastle residents and activists protested the lack of consideration of health and climate change effects in the proposed building of a fourth coal terminal at the port of Newcastle, already the world's largest coal port. A peaceful protest and 'lockon' occurred outside The office of NSW Minister for Planning Brad Hazzard last Thursday who is due to consider the merits of the proposal.


Related: Newcastle’s T4 project puts short-term profit before health | Something in the air: time for independent testing in coal areas | Coal Terminal Action Group

Friday, September 28, 2012

Southern Ocean warming impact on Antarctic Ice Sheet and global sea level rise

Climate change is causing the southern ocean to warm and freshen which will melt ice shelves and glacier tongues affecting glacier discharge and producing Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss and global sea level rise. A new study shows that small temperature changes of the Southern Ocean can contribute to far-reaching changes on the Antarctic ice sheet that could lead to substantial future sea-level rise.

Related: Waking the giant: Global Warming in the Weddell Sea, West Antarctic Ice Sheet and sea level rise | Attenborough warns of ice shelf destruction in Antarctica | Global Warming in Antarctica: Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers accelerating, West Antarctic Ice Sheet losing mass

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Climate change impact on groundwater and alpine landscape in Switzerland



Prof. Dr Daniel Hunkeler outlines how Groundwater plays a major role for water supply in Switzerland. How does climate change affect different groundwater resources? What are the consequences for water supply?

The glaciers of the European Alpine region are melting and retreating due to climate change posing issues in management of groundwater and the changing alpine landscape. Temperatures are rising more quickly in Switzerland than the global average: by up to 2 °C since 1900 particularly at high elevations, a rate that is roughly three times the global-average 20th century warming.

Related: The World Wildlife Fund summary from the IPCC 4th Assessment report on Climate change impacts in Switzerland

Climate change driving US Drought conditions towards a megadrought?


The widespread and persistent drought in the US during 2011-2012 has expanded according to the US Drought Monitor as reported on Climate Central. Are we starting to see the signs of a megadrought in the US southwest? Are human influences such as climate change contributing to or causing this widespread extreme weather event?

As of 18 September 2012, 64.82 percent of the contiguous U.S. has been declared as suffering from at least moderate drought - a new record. Extreme drought occurs across 20.74 percent, while the most severe category has ravaged 6.26 per cent of the land. And the seasonal outlook provided by NOAA provides little happy news predicting the drought will persist till the end of the year.

The drought is the worst to occurr since the dustbowl years of the 1930s and comes as North America experiences well above normal temperatures over spring and summer breaking many temperature records with the first half of 2012 being the hottest on record for the United States. July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the continental United States. But Australia and a few other places had abnormally cool month so putting the chill on a hot July for a global record.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Global Warming imperils coral reefs: 2 degrees warming is too hot say scientists

Increasing sea surface temperatures are imperilling coral reef ecosystems say scientists. A new scientific paper with extensive modelling reveals that atmospheric warming of 2 degrees celsius is too much for nearly all the world's coral reef ecosystems. They argue that to preserve greater than 10 per cent of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting global warming to below 1.5 °C. This equates to the goal of reducing carbon in the atmosphere to 350ppm, rather than a 2 degree rise or 450ppm that the UN Framwework Convention on Climate Change has adopted as the safe limit at several meetings. Atmospheric concentration of CO2 currently stands at 392.41ppm.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Arctic Summer Sea Ice Extent Minimum record smashed in 2012


Arctic summer sea ice is at a new record low level since satellite measurements began recording data in 1979. The summer minimum is down to about 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers), half the average summer ice between 1979 and 2000. The minimum record was last set in 2007 with this year's sea-ice extent being about 18% lower than 2007. Some scientists predict we may see summer sea ice vanish by 2015-16, well ahead of International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Report predictions.

"The polar meltdown shows we're teetering on the brink of climate-change catastrophe," said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "Arctic sea ice plays a critical role in regulating the planet's climate. As man-made global warming shrinks the ice, our risk of droughts and other extreme weather goes up. We can't wait any longer to cut carbon pollution."

See also: Arctic sea ice Extent drops to lowest on record and still shrinking | Arctic warming at more than double the global warming average | Sea ice volume: Multi-year arctic sea ice reducing dramatically | Radio Ecoshock: ARCTIC MELT DOWN Scientists Speak Out | Climate Code Red: How British government's climate forecasting MET Office gets the Arctic wrong

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More than enough wind energy to power our world, coal power is so last century



A new scientific study has found there is wind energy in abundance to power the needs of the world with near zero emission electric power several times over. The world currently utilizes about 18TW (TeraWatts) of power. The study identified that the lower geophysical limits for energy harvested from surface turbines (supported on towers on land and sea) was over 400TW. If turbines could be flown by kites to capture the more reliable high altitude winds, more than 1,800TW of power could potentially be extracted throughout the atmosphere.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Climate Change activists step up opposition to coal in Hunter Valley protests from mine to port


A banner drop at a construction site for a new coal loader terminal at the Port of Newcastle in the New South Wales Hunter Valley ended when police instructed the 60 metre crane be lowered to the ground. The Protestors say they were not given warning of this action and alledged it imperiled their lives.

“We are dismayed with the actions of police here today.” said spokesperson Steve Phillips. “We conducted a peaceful protest, with trained and experience climbers, and safety as our priority. NSW Police responded with gross negligence and dereliction of duty, and placed two lives at risk. Our climbers were not even warned before the crane was lowered.”

Climate change causing increase in extreme weather in South Pacific


An international study led by CSIRO oceanographer Dr Wenju Cai has identified that global warming is causing shifts in the rain band of the South Pacific Convergence Zone causing an increase in extreme weather across the island nation states of the South Pacific. The result of the movement causes drought and higher prevalence of forest fire in some areas while other islands experience extreme floods and increased frequency of tropical cyclones.

"Due to its strong rainfall gradient, a small displacement in the [South Pacific Convergence Zone] SPCZ's position causes drastic changes to hydroclimatic conditions and the frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and tropical cyclones experienced by vulnerable island countries in the region." says the paper.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Humour: And now for the real weather report...


Sick and tired of:

  • ALL those weather records being broken?
  • Record Loss of sea ice in the Arctic?
  • Contemptuous news readers (@kainagata) just reading the smarmy corporate news script?

'Weather reader' Pippa (@pippa_mackie) goes sane and tells us the straight news on our warming climate caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

Well done Strut Studios in Vancouver, and Deep Rogue Ram, and @heatherlibby for writing the piece: Weathergirl Goes Rogue.

Not enough water: food production, carbon sequestration and climate change


A new study has found that there is not enough freshwater to meet the anticipated competing demands of water for food production for the global population of about 9 billion by 2050 and water for optimal growth of biomass for carbon sequestration for climate mitigation. As food production is essential, the authors of the study conclude that large scale carbon sequestration may not be realistic as a major method of climate mitigation, and we may need to rely more on direct reduction of emissions.

We rely on freshwater to drink daily, to bathe in and flush our toilets with; but also for growing our veggies and crops; to grow feed for our animals; for healthy riparian and aquatic habitats and ecosystems; for our forests and wild places to sequester carbon dioxide as biomass carbon sinks. But increasingly we are approaching boundaries and limits on the amount of freshwater available and the trade-offs involved in competing uses.

Climate Change Banner drop at London 2012 Games

In an open letter addressed to the international community attending the London 2012 Games, the group Climate Siren outlined why they did the action:

"The 2012 Olympics were a huge inspiration as to how we can come together to overcome challenges and achieve success – at many levels; as participants, as spectators, as competitors, even as a host nation. No doubt the Paralympics will equal or surpass this.

"But these Games can be an inspiration for us to confront the biggest challenge our species has ever faced – perhaps will ever face: The changing climate and the threat it poses to our civilisation’s very existence on this beautiful planet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

'Why is Baillieu funding coal?' demand climate activists


Activists from Quit Coal were able to get a message across this morning: with a banner drop over the main entrance of the Victorian State parliament house. The banner said "'Coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet' Prof. James Hansen, NASA. Why is Baillieu funding coal?"

Four activists eluded security and were able to climb the scaffolding at the back of parliament house to the roof to drop the banner just after 9am. Two chained themselves on the roof while two more dropped down with the banner on ropes. Nine other people chained themselves on the steps of parliament house.

Protestor Dominic O'Dwyer said from the roof: "We are planning on staying here until the government does something recognising the threat that climate change poses. We would like the government to take the threat of climate change seriously."

Related: Further subsidies for Victorian coal by Victorian and Federal Governments | Quit Coal photos: Parliament House Banner Drop & Lock On

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Arctic sea ice Extent drops to lowest on record and still shrinking


On August 26 it was announced that arctic sea ice extent this summer has dropped to it's lowest level ever recorded, surpassing the previous record in 2007. And summer sea ice melt still has further to go this season with ice extent usually reaching a minimum area in mid September.

"This is a profound — and profoundly depressing — moment in the history of our planet," said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. "The sea-ice death spiral, coming during one of the warmest summers in American history, is just one more clear sign of the deepening climate crisis that we ignore at our own peril."

Related: Sea ice volume: Multi-year arctic sea ice reducing dramatically | Climate Code Red Blog: Big call: Cambridge prof. predicts Arctic summer sea ice "all gone by 2015"

Friday, August 24, 2012

Australia puts the chill on hot July

Image: Global temperature anomalies for July 2012 - Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory

July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the continental United States. The heat was also felt up into the Canadian prairies, the Arctic and northern Greenland, Northern Africa, Middle East, Central Europe, Russia, Ukraine and the Antarctic Peninsula. But the temperature record fell short due to a few places like Australia which experienced cold temperature anomalies.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Changes in extent and intensity of wildfire linked to Climate change

A new international scientific study lead by a researcher from the University of Utah links extreme fire weather to increasing temperatures and drought driven by climate change.

The study, lead by geography professor Mitchell Power, found that the extent and intensity of wildfires on a continental and global basis is connected to changing temperatures and climate. The study dismissed the theory that population decline was the primary cause for reduced wildfire during the cooler periods in the last 2000 years arguing "climate change was likely more important than indigenous population collapse in driving this decline."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Further subsidies for Victorian coal by Victorian and Federal Governments



Last week Federal Funding for new Victorian coal fired power station was withdrawn. This week the Federal and Victorian Government announced $90 million in funding for 'clean coal' type demonstration programs to justify continued exploitation of Victoria's brown coal resource. Two steps forward, now two steps back.

On Friday Federal energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and his State Minister equivalent, Michael O'Brien, announced $90 million funding support for "advanced lignite technologies". These are supposed 'clean coal' technologies to convert the high carbon intensive content of lignite into a product somewhat less carbon intense, to justify continued reliance and addiction to coal technologies and to even justify development of a processed brown coal export industry.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Climate risks and opportunities for Victoria - the Climate Commission comes to Melbourne


I attended the Climate Commission public forum in Melbourne last Tuesday night with my daughter. I felt that it was important that she came along to see the charts on the screen, to hear from the Climate Commissioners and climate scientists directly, and perhaps question them about her future. Because global warming will have an increasing impact on the climate of the future, and the life of the kids of today, and eventually their children and future generations.