Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Google+ Badge

Follow EStar by email

NOTE ON POPULAR POSTS

The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

Popular Posts

Monday, 29 December 2008

CLIMATE-CHANGE LINK TO SEVERE STORMS

A NASA-funded study of five years of data from its Aqua spacecraft shows that the frequency of extremely high clouds in the tropics--the type associated with severe storms, torrential rain and hail--has been increasing as a result of global overheating.

For every 1-degree Celsius rise in average sea-surface temperature the team saw a 45% increase in the frequency of such clouds. At the present rate of global overheating that would mean that the frequency of storms will increase 6% per decade.

The results are consistent with another NASA-funded study done in 2005, which found an increase of 1.5% in the global rain-rate per decade--five times higher than the value estimated by the models used in the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

See ScienceDaily.

Friday, 19 December 2008

GLOBAL OVERHEATING WILL AFFECT USA SOONER

A report to the American Geophysical Union predicts a significant risk of abrupt climate-change due to global overheating affecting the US, says

Sea-level rises are expected to 'substantially exceed' the 600mm now projected for 2100, but how much is not yet known. This blog has previously predicted 1.5 metres. We shall see.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

GREENLAND's 2008 ICE-LOSS TRIPLE 2007'S

The ice-loss from Greenland in the summer of 2008 is three times the record-breaking loss seen a year ago, reports
ScienceDaily.

Friday, 21 November 2008

WARMEST OCTOBER RECORDED SINCE 1880

The global average for land temperatures in October were the warmest since records began in 1880, reports the
NCDC/NOAA website. The average for land was up 1.12 degrees Celsius on the 1961-1990 base average.

The global average for land plus ocean was the second warmest on record. For land in the southern hemisphere it was the second warmest, for land in the northern hemisphere it was the third hemisphere.

The stratosphere, which trends downward as the surface trends upward, recorded the 3rd coolest temperature.

Monday, 17 November 2008

GAIA ON THE ROCKS

Minerals have evolved too, reports ScienceDaily.

Two-thirds of the over 4000 minerals on Earth owe their existence, directly or indirectly, to living organisms--which of course owe their existence to them, and so on.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

COATING A HUGE BOOST FOR SOLAR-CELLS

A new nano coating for silicon solar cells boosts their absorption of sunlight from a maximum of 67.4% to a massive 96.21%, thus giving near-perfect absorption, right across the entire spectrum of sunlight. Even better, they function at that high level no matter what angle the light is coming from. That means static panels will no longer be less efficient than the ones that track the sun. Details in ScienceDaily.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

MACHINE TO TAKE CO2 OUT OF AIR?

This article in ScienceDaily and this link describe 'a simple machine' being developed at university that could, if multiplied across the planet, remove billions of tonnes of carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere.

Richard Branson, head of the Virgin Group, has offered a $25 million prize to anyone who can devise a system to remove a billion tonnes of CO2 per year from the atmosphere for at least ten years.

The Calgary device consumes 100kWh for every tonne of carbon-dioxide it removes. The prototype removes 20 tonnes a year. So 50,000 devices of the same capacity would be needed to win the Virgin prize, and would consume 5GWh/year of electricity.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

2005 LEVELS MAKE WARMING UNSTOPPABLE

ScienceDaily reports a study by the authoritative Scripps Oceanographic Institute, showing that the planet will warm about 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) above pre-industrial levels, even under extremely conservative greenhouse-gas emission scenarios.

Even if we held to the 2005 levels, irreversible warming will lead to a significant loss of biodiversity and the substantial melting of glaciers.

Friday, 29 August 2008

GREENLAND HEADING BACK TO GREEN

Modelling of why Greenland stopped being green and became covered with ice indicates that it was the drop three million years ago in the global concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere from high to pre-industrial levels, reports ScienceDaily.

The present level is now approaching those ancient levels.

No wonder Arctic ice-coverage is on the verge of another all-time low.

This BBC News report says the Arctic is passing through a tipping-point.
OCEAN ACIDIFICATION HAMPERS REPRODUCTION

As this ScienceDaily article warns, the rising acidification of the ocean looks likely to have a major impact on the ability of marine animals to reproduce.

The oceans are already 25% more acid than they were at the start of the industrial revolution and look to be heading towards 300% by 2100. Sperm do not function as well in a more acid environment.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

ARTIFICIAL PHOTOSYNTHESIS BREAKTHROUGH FOR HYDROGEN

A breakthrough in creating artificial photosynthesis by mimicking nature looks as if it has the potential to usher in a low-cost hydrogen age, reports ScienceDaily.
SLIME ARISING TO KILL THE OCEANS

ScienceDaily reports that human activities are cumulatively driving the health of the world's oceans down a death spiral that only prompt action can reverse.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

CHANGE IN SEA-CHEMISTRY A HUGE THREAT

ScienceDaily reports a dire warning about the changing chemistry of the oceans due to the amount of carbon-dioxide they have been forced to absorb through human activity.

They have absorbed about 40% of the CO2 that we have emitted over the past two centuries. That has slowed global warming but at a serious cost: the extra carbon dioxide has caused the ocean's average surface pH (a measure of water's acidity) to shift by about 0.1 unit from pre-industrial levels. Depending on the rate and magnitude of future emissions, their pH could drop as much as 0.35 units by the middle of this century.

That acidification can damage marine organisms. Experiments have shown that changes of as little as 0.2-0.3 units can hamper the ability of key marine organisms such as corals and some plankton to calcify their skeletons, which are built from pH-sensitive carbonate minerals. Large areas of the ocean are in danger of exceeding those changes in pH by the middle of the century, including reef habitats such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Most marine organisms live in the sunlit surface waters, which are also those most vulnerable to CO2-induced acidification. To stop their pH from declining more than 0.2 units, which is the current limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1976, CO2 emissions would have to be reduced immediately.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

PENGUINS ARE CANARIES SCREAMING ALARM

Like canaries dying in a coal-mine, the declining populations of the world's penguins are sounding the alarm at the deteriorating state of the oceans and Antarctica, reports ScienceDaily.

Friday, 20 June 2008

ARCTIC ICE MELTING FASTER THAN IN 2007

As this BBC report details, the Arctic ice is already melting faster than it did in 2007, the year in which it shrank to a record minimum, which is leading scientists to predict that Arctic summers will be ice-free within 5-10 years.

That prediction used to be for 2080, then it was moved forward to 2050, then to 2030 (now one leading scientist has been reported elsewhere as saying that it might even happen this year).

Monday, 16 June 2008

ANTARCTIC ICE BREAKING UP IN WINTER

Even winter is not protecting the inexorable breakup of Antarctic ice. The Wilkins iceshelf, off the southern tip of South America, has just lost another 160 square kilometres. Now a strip only 2.7 kilometres wide is left to protect thousands of square kilometres, reports
ScienceDaily.

Monday, 9 June 2008

DEADLY EFFECT OF RISE IN OCEAN ACIDITY

Scientists studying life round natural CO2 vents in the Mediterranean have found exactly the effect predicted--a significant drop in biodiversity--reports the BBC.

The oceans are thought to have absorbed about half the extra CO2 put into the atmosphere in the industrial age, which has lowered its pH by 0.1, from 8.2 to 8.1, i.e., made it more acidic (pH is the measure of acidity and alkalinity, with 0 being very acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 is very alkaline--seawater is mildly alkaline). Adding CO2 to water creates carbonic acid; the more added the more the acid is produced.

Round the vents studied, the pH went as low as 7.4. Even at 7.8 to 7.9 the number of species was down 30%.

The leader of the research said 'It's clear that marine food-webs as we know them are going to alter, and biodiversity will decrease. Those impacts are inevitable because acidification is inevitable--we've started it and we can't stop it.'
WHY DIESEL PARTICLES CAUSE DISEASE

How the particles emmitted by diesel engines increase the risk of cardiovasulcar disease and mortality has now been mapped, reports ScienceDaily.

The dissertation clarifies previously unknown mechanisms that can explain why air-pollution in particulate form causes heart-attacks, stroke, and increased mortality. It shows that diesel exhaust causes a rapid deterioration of the function of blood-vessels that persists for up to 24 hours after exposure.

The EKG findings in heart patients indicate acute heart effects that are consistent with increased risk of heart-attack in connection with exposure to traffic.

Friday, 30 May 2008

WILL AN ANCIENT CLIMATE-CHANGE REPEAT?

A
ScienceDaily report on an international study of the abrupt, runaway climate-change that took place 635 million years ago, due to a massive release of methane, raises the possibility that we may trigger a similar event, and cause a global temperature rise of tens of degrees.

Monday, 19 May 2008

REACTIVE NITROGEN AS SERIOUS AS CO2?

ScienceDaily reports the growing alarm among scientists at the increase in the environment of reactive nitrogen, which may be as serious a problem for the human race as the growing concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere.

In its inert form, nitrogen is harmless and abundant, making up 78 percent of the Earth's atmosphere. But in the past century, with the mass production of nitrogen-based fertilisers and the large-scale burning of fossil fuels, massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds, such as ammonia, have entered the environment.

A nitrogen atom that starts out as part of a smog-forming compound may be deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid, which can kill fish and insects. Carried out to the coast, the same nitrogen atom may contribute to red tides and dead zones. Finally, the nitrogen will be put back into the atmosphere as part of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, which destroys atmospheric ozone.
CARBON-DIOXIDE HIGHEST IN 800,000 YEARS

ScienceDaily reports that the study of Antarctic ice-cores has established that the present concentration of carbon-dioxide is higher than it has been at any time during the past 800,000 years. It is now a bit more than 380 parts per million, compared to a range of about 200-300 parts per million during that time. The current concentration of methane is 1,800 parts per billion, compared to a range of about 400-700 parts per billion during that time.

Friday, 16 May 2008

OVER A QUARTER OF WORLD'S WILDLIFE GONE

Between a quarter and a third of the world's wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London, reports the BBC.

The Society says populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine ones by 28% and freshwater ones by 29%, and that humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year--that one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

GLOBAL OVERHEATING IS CHANGING NATURE

Major changes in the Earth's natural systems are being driven by global warming, according to a vast analysis, says a BBC report, citing research published in the journal Nature.

Monday, 28 April 2008

WE ARE ADDING CO2 14000 TIMES FASTER

Research on bubbles of ancient atmospheres in Antarctic ice shows that we are adding carbon-dioxide to the atmosphere 14,000 times faster than natural processes, throwing the global system so far out of equilibrium that it will not recover for hundreds of thousands of years.

The full report is in ScienceDaily.

The BBC's report has a simpler presentation of the same information with a slightly different emphasis.

Friday, 25 April 2008

19 BILLION TONS MORE CO2 ADDED IN 2007

Last year saw the third biggest increase in global carbon-dioxide since record-keeping began. Annother 19 billion tons poured into the air. There was also a surge in the amount of methane. 27 million tons were added after nearly a decade with little or no increase.

The concentration of carbon-dioxide reached 385 parts per million at the end of the year.

The full, nasty story is in ScienceDaily

Monday, 21 April 2008

GREENLAND MELTWATER CAN CRACK ICECAP

Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the University of Washington have for the first time documented the sudden and complete drainage of meltwater from the surface of the Greenland icecap, and found that it can crack the cap all the way to the bottom. The consequent lubricating effect can increase the horizontal flow 50 to 100 percent.

The full report is in ScienceDaily.

Friday, 18 April 2008

JET-STREAM CHANGES MAY BOOST HURRICANES

The jet-streams are changing in ways that fit global-overheating models. They have risen, and shifted toward the poles. One consequence may be an increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, because jet-streams tend to inhibit their development, so the storms may become more powerful and more frequent as the jet-streams move away from the sub-tropical zones where they are born.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

ANOTHER STUDY PREDICTS BIG SEA RISE

A new study presented at a major scientific conference in Vienna predicts that sea-levels could be a metre and a half higher by 2100 says a BBC News report.

That is much more than what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast in its assessment of climate science last year.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

BLACK CARBON SECOND-WORST GLOBAL HEATER

As ScienceDaily reports, it has been found that black carbon--soot and other forms of particulate carbon--is the second worst source of global overheating after carbon-dioxide. An easy thing to get rid of, you would think.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

ALARMING GROWTH IN CHINA'S CO2 EMISSIONS

The growth by 2010 is expected to be 600 million tonnes, which would make the reduction of 116 million pledged under Kyoto look silly. The authors of the study cited at ScienceDaily point out that the global-overheating numbers will have to be rethought.

Monday, 25 February 2008

CLIMATE-CHANGE HAVING BIG EFFECT ON OCEANS

Climate-change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions is rapidly changing the world's oceans by increasing their temperature and acidity, altering atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and having profound effects on ocean life, say scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. ScienceDaily has a full report.

Friday, 22 February 2008

NASA GETS NUMBERS ON GREENLAND'S MELT

A new NASA study using precise measurements from multiple satellites, reported in ScienceDaily, confirms that the surface temperature of Greenland's massive ice-sheet is rising, stoked by rising air temperatures, and fuelling the loss of the island's ice at the surface and throughout the mass underneath.
SOLAR CELLS CUT POLLUTION 90 PERCENT

This article in Scientific American tells it straight. Even allowing for all the energy needed to make them, and even if that came from burning black stuff, they would still reduce pollution by 90% during their life-cycle if they replaced fossil fuels.

So why, why, why are we not putting production of them on a war-footing, globally, with massive injections of public money?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

ZERO CO2 OR TOO HOT FOR 500 YEARS

A peer-reviewed study reported in ScienceDaily
shows that we have to cut our carbon-dioxide emissions to zero to save the planet, and that things have gone so far that even if we did that now, global temperatures would remain high for at least 500 years.
CAN ZIFS CAPTURE ALL THAT CO2?

Does this
Science Daily article on a new family of compounds called ZIFs herald the beginning of a new future, with the threat of global-warming removed, or is it something that only works in the lab or on a small scale? Can we make enough tonnage of ZIFs to capture enough carbon-dioxide to make a difference to the planet?

Friday, 8 February 2008

SPEED OF TIPPING-POINTS ESTIMATED

It has long been known that various climate systems can be tipped suddenly by climate-change from their present state to a very different one. Now a British team has put numbers on some of them. Three hundred years sounds safe for those alive now, assuming that it doesn't come down to within a lifetime as models are refined and more data comes in. But one year, or ten, or fifty? Not fine.

Lowlights in the list that shows how long it would take for them to make a major transition, once tipped:

Dieback of the Amazon rainforest: about 50 years.
Dieback of the Boreal Forest: about 50 years.
Greening of the Sahara/Sahel and disruption of the West African monsoon: about 10 years.
Melting of Arctic sea-ice: about 10 years.
Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon: about 1 year.

The full report is on the BBC. An even fuller report is at Science Daily.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

MEASURING THE RISE AND RISE OF THE OCEANS

The BBC's website has a good overview of the effect of climate-change on the sea and the technology used to measure it.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

WEST ANTARCTICA MELT PROVES IPCC WRONG

The rate at which West Antartica is losing ice, up 75% in the last ten years, shows that the models used by the IPCC to predict sea-level rise are wrong.

Click here for ScienceDaily's report and here for the NZ Herald's.

Friday, 11 January 2008

AIR-POLLUTION SHRINKS UNBORN CHILDREN

A ten-year study by the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, which used ultrasound to measure 15,000 unborn children, found a negative correlation with air-pollution. Mothers with a higher exposure to pollution had foetuses that on average had heads and abdomens with smaller circumferences and had shorter femurs.

If pollution levels were high the size of the foetus decreased significantly.

Birthweight is a major predictor of future health, such as IQ in childhood IQ and cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

Click here for the report in ScienceDaily

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

ARE WE MAKING AN OXYGEN TIPPING-POINT?

The percentage of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere has fluctuated during its history, and it is obviously no coincidence that mass extinctions have followed drops. The question is: are we creating another one? We are pumping carbon-dioxide into the sky at a rate the planet cannot handle, we are removing vast areas of forest by felling it or killing it with the effects of global overheating, and we are thus removing vast amounts of photosynthesis, a double-whammy that must surely reduce the amount of oxygen significantly.

Computer models predict that the Amazon, which is a huge part of the planet's 'lungs', will become a desert.

In a previous era when the planet became hot and arid and experienced a marked drop in the amount of photosynthesis, the percentage of oxygen plummetted to about 15%. Human beings would scarcely be functioning at that level. Our performance begins to drop off at 20%, only 1% below the 21% now in the atmosphere.

See NewScientist for the article that aroused the question in this posting.