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Climate science - Jan 2

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'Shocking' Arctic ice melt year's top weather story: Environment Canada

CBC News
The top weather story of 2007 was about climate change, Environment Canada said Thursday in releasing its annual list of most important, widespread and newsworthy events.

"At the top of the world, the dramatic disappearance of Arctic sea ice … was so shocking that it quickly became our No. 1 weather story," the agency said in a news release.

Although the disappearance of the sea ice is not strictly a weather story, "it's one of the major climate controls" that has been linked to extreme weather, Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CBC News.
(27 December 2007)

Ancient Warming Caused Huge Spike in Temps, Study Says

John Roach, National Geographic News
What started out as a moderate global warm-up about 55 million years ago triggered a massive injection of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that sent temperatures skyrocketing, a new study says.

The finding suggests that today's temperature rise may just be priming the planet for a carbon belch of epic proportions.

You've got these feedbacks, these chain reactions of events in the atmosphere-ocean system," said Appy Sluijs, a paleoecologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Sluijs and his colleagues found evidence for the chain reaction in two sections of sediment that accumulated on an ocean floor in what is now New Jersey.

The abundance and distribution of marine algae indicate the environment started to change and the ocean surface began to warm several thousand years before the large temperature spike.

The finding implies that the earlier warming triggered the injection of greenhouse gases visible in the geological record around 55 million years ago.

"That's actually the first time we can see that in such a clear fashion," Sluijs said.
(19 December 2007)

As Earth Warms Up, Tropical Virus Moves to Italy

Elisabeth Rosenthal
CASTIGLIONE DI CERVIA, Italy - Panic was spreading this August through this tidy village of 2,000 as one person after another fell ill with weeks of high fever, exhaustion and excruciating bone pain, just as most of Italy was enjoying Ferragosto, its most important summer holiday.

“At one point, I simply couldn’t stand up to get out of the car,” said Antonio Ciano, 62, an elegant retiree in a pashmina scarf and trendy blue glasses. “I fell. I thought, O.K., my time is up. I’m going to die. It was really that dramatic.”

By midmonth, more than 100 people had come down with the same malady. Although the worst symptoms dissipated after a couple of weeks, no doctor could figure out what was wrong.

... After a month of investigation, Italian public health officials discovered that the people of Castiglione di Cervia were, in fact, suffering from a tropical disease, chikungunya, a relative of dengue fever normally found in the Indian Ocean region. But the immigrants spreading the disease were not humans but insects: tiger mosquitoes, who can thrive in a warming Europe.

Aided by global warming and globalization, Castiglione di Cervia has the dubious distinction of playing host to the first outbreak in modern Europe of a disease that had previously been seen only in the tropics.
(23 December 2007)

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