Climate - July 26
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97% of Greenland surface ice turns to slush
Jeff Hecht, New Scientist
The surface of Greenland has turned to slush. Satellite data shows that a warm spell earlier this month melted nearly the entire surface of the nation's ice cap. The melt is unusual: normally about half of the ice sheet melts at the surface during summer, mostly at low elevations.
This year the thaw was stunningly swift and widespread, and extended high up the nation's peaks.
On 8 July, 40 per cent of the ice surface was wet; by 12 July, the fraction of wet ice had soared to 97 per cent (see image). The snowpack turned to slush even at the 3.2-kilometre-high Summit Station, at the apex of Greenland's ice sheet. Kaitlin Keegan of Dartmouth College says she found a layer of melted ice at the surface when she arrived at the station on 13 July. The weather then grew colder, and the melt layer formed an icy crust.
(25 July 2012)
Loss of Arctic sea ice '70% man-made'
Alok Jha, The Guardian
The radical decline in sea ice around the Arctic is at least 70% due to human-induced climate change, according to a new study, and may even be up to 95% down to humans – rather higher than scientists had previously thought.
The loss of ice around the Arctic has adverse effects on wildlife and also opens up new northern sea routes and opportunities to drill for oil and gas under the newly accessible sea bed.
The reduction has been accelerating since the 1990s and many scientists believe the Arctic may become ice-free in the summers later this century, possibly as early as the late 2020s.
(26 July 2012)
Link to study
Antarctic: Grand Canyon-sized rift 'speeding ice melt'
Richard Black, BBC Online
A rift in the Antarctic rock as deep as the Grand Canyon is increasing ice melt from the continent, researchers say.
A UK team found the Ferrigno rift using ice-penetrating radar, and showed it to be about 1.5km (1 mile) deep.
Antarctica is home to a geological rift system where new crust is being formed, meaning the eastern and western halves of the continent are slowly separating.
The team writes in Nature journal that the canyon is bringing more warm sea water to the ice sheet, hastening melt...
(25 July 2012)
Investor report highlights gap between climate change and action
Alex Blackburne, blue & green
A report published by a trio of institutional investment groups has found that whilst a majority of investors were increasingly aware of climate change and its risks, there remains a lack of definite action being taken.
The study, by the North American Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Australia/New Zealand Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), shows that 83% of asset owners see climate change as a “material risk or opportunity in their investment portfolios”.
However after assessing the risks posed by it, just over a quarter of these individuals (26%) have effected strategic change in their investments.
The trio’s report, called Global Investor Survey on Climate Change, draws statistics from a 2011 survey of 42 asset owners and 51 asset managers whose total assets exceeded £12 trillion.
(26 July 2012)
Ideology clouds how we perceive the temperatures
John Timmer, ars techinica
Earlier this year, we covered some polling data in which people were asked what factor shaped their acceptance of climate change. Buried in the data were two apparently contradictory findings: there is a large partisan divide in acceptance of climate change, but most respondents said they base their acceptance on their personal experience of the weather. Assuming that hot weather shows no partisan bias, this doesn't make much sense—political beliefs shouldn't influence what we think about the weather.
And yet they do. That's the conclusion of a new paper that dives into extensive polling data to find out how people perceive different trends in the climate. The results show that not all weather events are created equal. When it comes to things like flood and droughts, most people seem to have accurately registered the recent trends in their area. But when the subject shifts to temperatures, the actual trends become irrelevant, and ideology and political beliefs shape how people perceive things. As the authors put it, "the contentious nature of the climate change debate has influenced the way in which Americans perceive their local weather."
(19 July 2012)
Link to study abstract
Midwest cities see increase in dangerously hot weather: report
Mary Wisniewski, Reuters
Dangerously hot summer days have become more common across the U.S. Midwest in the last 60 years, and the region will face more potentially deadly weather as the climate warms, according to a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists on Wednesday.
The report looked at weather trends in five major urban areas - Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Louis - along with weather in nearby smaller cities such as Peoria, Illinois, and Toledo, Ohio. The report focused on the Midwest because of its numerous major population centers, and because it is projected to face more heat waves with climate change.
The report found that the number of hot, humid days has increased, on average, across the Midwest since the 1940s and 1950s, while hot, dry days have become hotter.
(25 July 2012)
Link to report