Air Pollution from Bangladesh’s brick fields in Dhaka. Photograph: Md Manik/Demotix/Corbis

(Online Research)


The Climate Emergency: Time to Switch to Panic Mode?

“The latest temperature data have broken all records (image from “think progress“). At best, this is an especially large oscillation and the climate system will be soon back on track; following the predictions of the models – maybe to be retouched to take into account faster climbing temperatures. A worst, it is an indication that the system is going out of control and moving to a new climate state faster than anyone could have imagined.

James Schlesinger once uttered one of those profound truths that explain a lot of what we see around us: it was: “people have only two modes of operation: complacency and panic.”

So far, we have been in the “complacency” mode of operation in regard to climate change: it doesn’t exist, if exist it is not a problem, if it is a problem, it is not our fault, and anyway doing something about it would be too expensive to be worth doing. But the latest temperature data are nothing but spine-chilling. What are we seeing? Is this just a sort of a rebound from the so-called “pause”? Or something much more worrisome? We may be seeing something that portends a major switch in the climate system; an unexpected acceleration of the rate of change. There are reasons to be worried, very worried: the CO2 emissions seem to have peaked, but that didn’t generate a slowdown of the rate of increase of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If nothing else, it is growing faster than ever. And then there is the ongoing methane spike and, as you know, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

What’s happening? Nobody can say for sure, but these are not good symptoms; not at all. And that may be a good reason to switch to panic mode.”

February’s global temperature spike is a wake-up call

“Does the “spike” change our understanding of global warming? In thinking about climate change, it is important to take the long view. A predominant La Niña-like situation over recent years did not mean global warming had “stopped” as a few public figures were (and probably still are) claiming.

Likewise, a hot spike due to a major El Niño event – even though it is surprisingly hot – doesn’t mean global warming was underestimated. In the longer run the global warming trend agrees very well with longstanding predictions. But these predictions nevertheless paint a picture of a very warm future if emissions are not brought down soon.

The situation is similar to that of a serious illness like cancer: the patient usually does not get slightly worse each day, but has weeks when the family thinks he may be recovering, followed by terrible days of relapse. The doctors do not change their diagnosis each time this happens, because they know this is all a part of the disease.

Although the current El-Niño-driven spike is temporary, it will last long enough to have some severe consequences. For example, a massive coral bleaching event now appears likely on the Great Barrier Reef.

[…]This is the true climate emergency: it is getting more difficult with each passing year for humanity to prevent temperatures from rising above 2℃. February should remind us how pressing the situation is.

Climate emergency warning follows ‘shock’ global temeperatures

“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University of New South Wales, told Fairfax Media.

“This is really quite stunning it’s completely unprecedented,” he said, noting that global carbon dioxide levels last year rose by a record rate of more than 3 parts per million.

“Governments have promised to act to curb greenhouse gas emissions and they need to do better than what they promised in Paris” at the global climate summit last December, he said.

Historic low levels of Arctic sea ice signal trouble for Arctic wildlife

“Following a record-breaking warm Arctic winter, Arctic Ocean sea ice looks set to hit a record low maximum level. The ice hit a maximum of 14,478 million km2 on the second day of March. If the ice does not grow any more this year, this will set a new record, beating the previous low maximum set last year.

Although a low maximum does not necessarily lead to a low minimum record in the late summer, it does have impacts on Arctic wildlife. New polar bear mothers emerging from a long fast in the dens where they gave birth over winter need quick access to to feed and regain their strength.”

Dangerous global warming will happen sooner than thought – study

“The world is on track to reach dangerous levels of global warming much sooner than expected, according to new Australian research that highlights the alarming implications of rising energy demand.

University of Queensland and Griffith University researchers have developed a “global energy tracker” which predicts average world temperatures could climb 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2020.

That forecast, based on new modelling using long-term average projections on economic growth, population growth and energy use per person, points to a 2C rise by 2030.

The UN conference on climate change in Paris last year agreed to a 1.5C rise as the preferred limit to protect vulnerable island states, and a 2C rise as the absolute limit.

The new modelling is the brainchild of Ben Hankamer from UQ’s institute for molecular bioscience and Liam Wagner from Griffith University’s department of accounting, finance and economics, whose work was published in the journal Plos One on Thursday.”

February smashes monthly world temperature records by ‘shocking’ amount as ‘climate emergency’ declared

“The global temperature in February smashed monthly records to become the warmest month in more than a century of recordkeeping.

According to Nasa data, global surface temperatures across land and ocean in February were 1.35°C warmer than the average temperature for that month, measured from the 1951-1980 baseline.

The previous record was set in January, which was 1.14°C warmer than the baseline average for that month.”

NASA Data Show that 2016 was the Hottest Winter on Record

“Global warming is real. Global warming is continuing. And the best fit line for the the global warming trend (Temperature Anomaly = -26.272 – (0.2681 * YEAR) + (0.0074 * YEAR SQUARED), R-squared: 0.782) indicates an accelerating warming trend.

Moritz Stefaner: The data visualisation artist playing with the future

‘“There’s no single truth about the future,” artist Moritz Stefaner explains. “We can’t just say that’s the way it’s going to be. All of these predictions, it’s a lot of data to digest. So, as a human, you need to have the opportunity to immerse yourself in that data material and draw your own conclusions.”

Moritz Stefaner is the data visualisation artist behind Project Ukko, which models seasonal wind prediction data into an immersive installation that allows viewers to gaze into the future of the planet’s weather. Bringing cutting edge research to life through a marriage with art and design, Project Ukko is an ambitious collaboration between Manchester’s FutureEverything festival and the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre project. Moritz believes that getting to grips with data is one way to overcome the greatest challenges that face us; through visualising future problems and imagining solutions.”