Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet


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.)

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Friday 29 July 2011


After a 10,000-year absence, wildfires have returned to the Arctic tundra, and a University of Florida study shows that their impact could extend far beyond the areas blackened by flames, reports ScienceDaily.

Thursday 21 July 2011


June 2011 was the 316th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985.

Full report at NOAA/NCDC.

That's 316 in the eye for the head-in-the-sand-junk-science-it-ain't-happening brigade. And still counting...

Wednesday 20 July 2011


An analysis of records left by the Last Interglacial led by the University of Arizona has found that most of the 8-metre rise in sea-levels was due to the melting of ice-sheets, not thermal expansion, and that average ocean temperatures then were only 0.7 degrees Celsius above what they are now.

'This means that even small amounts of warming may have committed us to more ice sheet melting than we previously thought. The temperature during that time of high sea levels wasn't that much warmer than it is today,' said Nicholas McKay, a doctoral student at the UA's department of geosciences and the paper's lead author.

McKay pointed out that even if ocean levels rose to similar heights as during the Last Interglacial, they would do so at a rate of up to a metre per century.

'Even though the oceans are absorbing a good deal of the total global warming, the atmosphere is warming faster than the oceans. Moreover, ocean warming is lagging behind the warming of the atmosphere. The melting of large polar ice sheets lags even farther behind. As a result, even if we stopped greenhouse gas emissions right now, the Earth would keep warming, the oceans would keep warming, the ice sheets would keep shrinking, and sea levels would keep rising for a long time.'

Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the UA's Institute of the Environment and a professor with joint appointments in the department of geosciences and atmospheric sciences, said: 'This study marks the strongest case yet made that humans--by warming the atmosphere and oceans--are pushing the Earth's climate toward the threshold where we will likely be committed to four to six or even more metres of sea level rise in coming centuries.'

Overpeck, who is McKay's doctoral advisor and a co-author of the study, said: 'Unless we dramatically curb global warming, we are in for centuries of sea level rise at a rate of up to three feet per century, with the bulk of the water coming from the melting of the great polar ice sheets--both the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets.'

Full story at ScienceDaily.

Saturday 16 July 2011


Using research into the ancients behaviour of El Niño, scientists at Oxford and Leeds Universities predict that the dramatic climate swings behind both last year's Pakistan flooding and this year's Queensland floods in Australia are likely to continue as the world gets warmer.

They have discovered that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the sloshing of the warmest waters on the planet from the West Pacific towards the East Pacific every 2-7 years, continued during Earth's last great warm period, the Pliocene

The Pliocene (which lasted from 5 to 3 million years ago) had carbon dioxide levels similar to the present day, with global mean temperatures about 2-3ºC higher, so it is a useful test-ground for climate research. Ancient temperatures are derived from analysis of the chemical composition of the shells of small organisms, known as foraminifera, in ocean-floor sediments.

Full story on ScienceDaily.

Monday 11 July 2011


World-wide spending in 2010 on renewable energy was up 32% on 2009, with wind-farms in China and small-scale solar panels on rooftops in Europe largely responsible for the increase, according to the latest annual report on renewable energy investment trends issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Last year, investors pumped a record $211 billion into renewables, 32% more than the $160 billion invested in 2009, and a 540% rise since 2004.

For the first time, developing economies overtook developed ones in 'financial new investment'--i.e., spending on utility-scale renewable energy projects and provision of equity capital for renewable energy companies. $72 billion was invested in developing countries versus $70 billion in developed economies. That is huge contrast with 2004, when financial new investments in developing countries were about one quarter of those in developed countries.

Full story on ScienceDaily.

Friday 1 July 2011


Globally, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record, according to the 2010 State of the Climate report, which NOAA has just released. The peer-reviewed report, issued in coordination with the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 368 scientists from 45 countries. It provides a detailed, yearly update on global climate indicators, notable climate events and other climate information from every continent.

'We're continuing to closely track these indicators because it is quite clear that the climate of the past cannot be assumed to represent the climate of the future. These indicators are vital for understanding and making reliable projections of future climate,' said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Full report on ScienceDaily.