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Climate - Jan 4

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Melting ice may not explain warming Arctic

Catherine Brahic, New Scientist
Energy flowing from the equator up towards the North Pole may partly explain the rapid warming of the Arctic, say researchers.

It is well documented that the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the globe, but the reason for this remains a mystery.

The leading hypothesis is that ice disappearing as a result of climate change is largely to blame. Warmer temperatures melt the Arctic ice and exposes water, which absorbs more sunlight than ice. This causes temperatures to rise further, melting more ice, and so on.

But a team led by Rune Graversen at the University of Stockholm in Sweden now challenges this theory.
(3 January 2008)

Nature and man jointly cook Arctic

Seth Borenstein, Asssociated Press
There's more to the recent dramatic and alarming thawing of the Arctic region than can be explained by man-made global warming alone, a new study found. Nature is pushing the Arctic to the edge, too.

There's a natural cause that may account for much of the Arctic warming, which has melted sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature. New research points a finger at a natural and cyclical increase in the amount of energy in the atmosphere that moves from south to north around the Arctic Circle.

But that energy transfer, which comes with storms that head north because of ocean currents, is not acting alone either, scientists say. Another upcoming study concludes that the combination of both that natural energy transfer increase and man-made global warming serve as a one-two punch that is pushing the Arctic over the edge.
(2 January 2008)
Borenstein is one of the top reporters on the climate story. -BA

This drought may never break

Richard Macey, Sydney Morning Herald
IT MAY be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent, one of the nation's most senior weather experts warned yesterday. "Perhaps we should call it our new climate," said the Bureau of Meteorology's head of climate analysis, David Jones. He was speaking after the release of statistics showing that last year was the hottest on record in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

NSW's mean temperature was 1.13 degrees above average. "That is a very substantial anomaly," Dr Jones said. "It's equivalent to moving NSW 150 kilometres closer to the equator."

It was the 11th year in a row NSW and the Murray-Darling Basin had experienced above normal temperatures. Sydney's nights were its warmest since records were first kept 149 years ago. "There is absolutely no debate that Australia is warming," said Dr Jones. "It is very easy to see … it is happening before our eyes."

The only uncertainty now was whether the changing pattern was "85 per cent, 95 per cent or 100 per cent the result of the enhanced greenhouse effect". "There is a debate in the climate community, after … close to 12 years of drought, whether this is something permanent. Certainly, in terms of temperature, that seems to be our reality, and that there is no turning back.
(4 January 2008)
Noted by Big Gav.

Stanford study: California feels health hazards of global warming

Chris Bowman, Sarcramento Bee
Global warming is making breathing more hazardous in California than in any other region of the country, says a pioneering Stanford University study scheduled for release today.

The research is the first to estimate the health effects from air pollution attributed solely to climate change, according to several experts.

Vehicle and power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the predominant climate-altering gas, are estimated to cause 1,000 additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory disease every year in the United States for each degree Celsius of temperature rise in the Earth's atmosphere, according to the Stanford study.

... Scientists know that warmer temperatures fuel production of smog, specifically ozone, a corrosive gas that inflames airways and triggers asthma attacks.
(2 January 2008)
Related from San Jose Mercury News: Study predicts harsh effects of climate change on California.

Climate change destroys a nomadic life

Bob Butler, MediaNews
Independent journalist Bob Butler traveled to Senegal, Africa, last month as part of a trip sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists, where he saw firsthand how global warming has affected the country. This is the third in a three-part series exploring the impacts of climate change on Senegal.

DAROU FAL, Senegal - As a boy, Pathe Kane's family farmed a large plot of land on which sat deep lakes filled with wildlife.

In his youth, Ousman Sow wandered the land raising cattle with his Fulani nomad tribe. Over time, sand from the Sahara Desert drove Kane's family from its farm, and drought forced Sow's tribe to forego its nomadic lifestyle.

The Senegalese government believes the advance of the desert and the drought are results of climate change that are having a dramatic impact on several countries in Africa - forcing whole communities to relocate, changing entire lifestyles and making it harder for people to make a living.

"There were very, very deep lakes where people were doing fishing. All these depressed areas (valleys) were lakes originally," said Kane, 56, fondly recalling what his home was like during better times. "This area was so beautiful that theShah of Iran visited here and wanted to build a tourist residence."

Farming was much easier, he added. They simply had to sink a well to water their crops of carrots, yams and potatoes. They established a cooperative in nearby Mboro to sell their produce.

There was so much water around that El Hadj Birameka, 85, said they had to be careful around the shoreline.
(3 January 2008)

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