Vatican science panel calls attention to the threat of glacial melt

May 06, 2011
This is the main Rongbuk Glacier on Mount Everest in 1921 and 2007. It experienced average vertical glacier loss of 101 meters (331 feet) between 1921 and 2008. Credit: (1921) Courtesy of Royal Geographical Society, (2007) Courtesy of Glacier Works.

A panel of some of the world's leading climate and glacier scientists co-chaired by a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego researcher issued a report today commissioned by the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences citing the moral imperative before society to properly address climate change.

The co-authors of "Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene" list numerous examples of glacial decline around the world and the evidence linking that decline to human-caused changes in climate and air pollution. The threat to the ways of life of people dependent upon glaciers and snow packs for water supplies compels immediate action to mitigate the and to adapt to what changes are happening now and are projected to happen in the future.

"We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink as we are aware that, if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us," the authors write in a declaration prefacing the report. "The believers among us ask God to grant us this wish."

Scripps Climate and Veerabhadran Ramanathan co-chaired the working group with Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, formerly affiliated with Scripps and Lennart Bengtsson, former head of the European weather forecasting center. The group also included Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia, former director general of the CERN Laboratory. Among the rest of the 24 authors are Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University, Wilfried Haeberli from Switzerland, Georg Kaser from Austria and Anil Kulkarni from India, considered among the world's foremost experts on glacial change. Former Scripps Director Charles Kennel and Scripps Professor of Lynn Russell are also members of the working group.

This is Tibet's Kyetrak Glacier in 1921 and in 2009. Credit: (1921) Courtesy of Royal Geographical Society, (2009) Courtesy of Glacier Works

"The widespread loss of snow and ice in the mountain glaciers is one of the most visible changes attributable to global climate change. The disintegration of many small glaciers in the Himalayas is most disturbing to me since this region serves as the water tower of Asia and since both the greenhouse gases and air pollutants like soot and ozone contribute to the melting," said Ramanathan, who has been a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since 2004.

Report authors met at the Vatican from April 2 to April 4, 2011 under the invitation of Chancellor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo of the pontifical academy. The report was issued by the Vatican today and will be presented to Pope Benedict XVI.

Though scientists usually refrain from proposing action, Ramanathan said the circumstances warranted advancing suggestions from the working group. The authors recommend pursuit of three measures: immediate reduction of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, reduction of concentrations of warming air pollutants such as soot, ozone, methane and hydroflurocarbons by up to 50 percent, and preparation to adapt to climate changes that society will not be able to mitigate.

The report title refers to the term coined by Crutzen to describe what is considered a new geologic epoch that began when the impacts of mankind on the planet became a major factor in environmental and climate changes.

"The recent changes observed in glacial behavior are due to a complex mix of caus¬al factors that include greenhouse gas forcing together with large scale emissions of dark soot particles and dust in 'brown clouds', and the associated changes in regional atmospheric energy and moisture content, all of which result in significant warming at higher altitudes, not least in the Himalayas," the authors write.

"Changes of mountain glaciers all around the world are rapid and impacts are expected to be detrimental, particularly in the high mountains of South America and Asia," said Kaser, of the Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics at the University of Innsbruck. "Yet, our understanding about glacier changes in these regions is still limited and ambitious and joint efforts are required to respond to these problems. With its report, the pontifical academy contributes considerably to raising awareness."

"Glaciers are one of our most visible evidences of ," added Thompson. "They integrate many climate variables in the Earth system. Their loss is readily apparent and they have no political agenda. Glaciers remind us of the stunning beauty of nature and in turn the urgency of doing everything in our power to protect it."

The authors conclude: "We appeal to all nations to develop and implement, without delay, effective and fair policies to reduce the causes and impacts of on communi¬ties and ecosystems, including and their watersheds, aware that we all live in the same home. By acting now, in the spirit of common but differentiated responsibility, we accept our duty to one another and to the stewardship of a planet blessed with the gift of life."

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User comments : 18

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FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (4) May 06, 2011
Keep on Popin'
omatumr
1 / 5 (8) May 06, 2011
Would it be possible for the Vatican science panel to comment on charges that experimental data obtained with public research funds might have been manipulated to "hide the decline" in temperatures?

anhonestclimatedebate.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/hide-the-decline-explained/

Thanks for your help,
Oliver K. Manuel
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (5) May 06, 2011
High Temperatures: 137
Low Temperatures: 611
Lowest Max Temperatures: 600
Highest Min Temperatures: 133

It is interesting that for the past week, record lows and record low maxes in the U.S. have out numbered record highs and record high minimums by more than 4 to 1. Suggesting that, in spite of a few local highs, this may actually be one of the coldest first weeks of May on record.

How is it that in the presence of an alleged greenhouse effect, we continue to get so darn many record low minimums and record low maximums, when Global Warming should cause almost every day to have a record high minimum?

The alleged "Global Warming," due to greenhouse effect, plus a cold front should equal a mild temperature.

Instead, we got the alleged Global Warming plus a cold front equals 1211 record cold events, including many, many 2 degree breaks, and several breaks of 4 to 6 degrees or more vs the previous record low minimum or record low maximum.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.7 / 5 (6) May 06, 2011
Certainly, you'd never expect record over night lowest minimums to be broken at all, nevermind by 4 to 6 degrees, if the Earth were actually experiencing a greenhouse effect, and certainly not 600 times per week
djr
4.3 / 5 (6) May 06, 2011
So QC- once again you take one week of data - and try to make an argument about climate change. Could u first provide a link so we can see where u get ur one week of data? Second - have you looked at the long term data? I will give you one link - http://ncar.ucar..../climate Check out NOA, NASA etc. they seem to pretty much agree - "Houston we have a big problem" - what is your need to post on every single physorg article about climate change? An article documenting the receding glaciers around the world - which is in line with past predictions regarding climate change - and you present a weeks worth of temperature records from somewhere (no link)- and no comment regarding the subject of the article (glacier recession). I think you have an axe to grind
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) May 06, 2011
djr to QC- once again you take one week of data - and try to make an argument about climate change.


"According to NasaGiss 2011 is, so far, cooler than 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 1999, 1998, 1995, 1988 (aprox equal). That makes 2011 the 12th warmest start to the year on record."

http://thegwpf.or...far.html

Do these temperature data justify the Vatican's concern about the "threat of glacial melt?"

PinkElephant
4.2 / 5 (5) May 07, 2011
Do these temperature data justify the Vatican's concern about the "threat of glacial melt?"
Do the actually melting glaciers?
PinkElephant
4.3 / 5 (6) May 07, 2011
Certainly, you'd never expect record over night lowest minimums to be broken at all, nevermind by 4 to 6 degrees, if the Earth were actually experiencing a greenhouse effect, and certainly not 600 times per week
First of all, the Earth IS experiencing a greenhouse effect, without which its surface would be frozen like a giant snowball.

Secondly, global warming doesn't preclude turbulent weather events. Episodic southward intrusions of cold air masses from the Arctic don't negate the overall warming trend, any more so than episodic intrusions of warm air northward into the Arctic would confirm the trend.

To get at the trend, you have to subtract out the short-term variability. The easiest and most reliable way to do that, is to average a lot of data over large areas and time spans. That would be one of the differences between CLIMATE science vs. meteorology.
djr
4.2 / 5 (5) May 07, 2011
oamtumr - this article is about the melting of glaciers - you offer no information that would question the reality that the glaciers are melting. You mention GISS - would you take a look at the graphs on the GISS web site http://data.giss..../graphs/ and tell me how on earth you can question the reality that the globe is warming?
omatumr
1.6 / 5 (7) May 07, 2011
Long before Al Gore and the UN's IPCC convinced an army of climatologists that the pursuit of government funds and awards (Nobel Prize) was more profitable than the pursuit of climate knowledge, honest scientists had shown that the Sun controls Earth's climate.

Jose, P.D., Suns motion and sunspots, Astron. J., 1965, 70, 193-200

Fairbridge, R.W. and Shirley, J.H., Prolonged minima and the 179-yr cycle of the solar
inertial motion, Solar Physics, 1987, 110, 191-220

Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate, Journal of Fusion Energy, 2002, 21, 193-198.
http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

Professor William Alexander, et al. here:

http://www.solarc...2007.pdf

See also:

http://www.solarc...e/35162/
PinkElephant
4.4 / 5 (7) May 07, 2011
honest scientists had shown that the Sun controls Earth's climate.
Honest scientists had shown that the Sun controlled Earth's climate in the past, but cannot alone account for observed climate changes in the present. Whereas dishonest scientist wannabes continue to argue that atmospheric composition is of no relevance to Earth's climate, even though it very obviously is.

See also:

http://www.skepti...nced.htm
Jimee
3 / 5 (2) May 07, 2011
And what about allowing condoms and saving millions of lives yearly? What about that science? Religion and honesty mostly part ways.
omatumr
1 / 5 (6) May 08, 2011
What a strange alliance:

Prince Charles, the Vatican, world leaders, the UNs IPCC, the US National Academy of Sciences, the UKs Royal Society, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, government funding agencies like NASA, DOE, NSF, NOAA, EPA, etc., once-respected research institutions and journals like Nature, Science, PNAS, Proceedings of the Royal Society, and BBC, PBS, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, etc.

Is this evidence of:

a.) Propaganda?

b.) Anthropologic Global Warming?

c.) The SCIENTIFIC-TECHNOLOGICAL ELITE that Eisenhower warned about?

Video: www.youtube.com/w...ld5PR4ts

Text: http://mcadams.po.../ike.htm

OLiver K. Manuel
Quantum_Conundrum
1.8 / 5 (5) May 08, 2011
First of all, the Earth IS experiencing a greenhouse effect, without which its surface would be frozen like a giant snowball.


Wrong.

The atmosphere DISTRIBUTES heat through convection and conduction from daylight side to night time side. The day time side of the Earth is much cooler than the day time side of the Moon.

While I don't deny that there is "some" greenhouse effect, the fairy tale nonsense you see the Weather Channel talking about is not happening, and is never going to happen.

If the Earth had a 100% Nitrogen atmosphere it's temperature would not be much different than it is right now.

The key is the atmosphere carries heat via convection and conduction from the day side, which is cooler than the moon's day side, to the night side, which is hotter than the moon's dark side.

The Earth has an active core which keeps it's mean temperature slightly elevated. Even if the sun didn't exist, the earth's minimum would be much warmer than the moon's minimum.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.8 / 5 (5) May 08, 2011
If you go down in the Earth for a while, it gets cooler, and then after just a few hundred feet, it gets above 140f. Hotter than it EVER gets on the surface, even in a desert. All of this heat is leaching through the ground to the surface through hydrothermal systems, conduction, and convection and this contributes a significant amount, probably several percentage points, of Earth's excess heat budget compared to the Moon.
barakn
4 / 5 (4) May 08, 2011
Per wikipedia, "Mean heat flow is 65 mW/m2 over continental crust and 101 mW/m2 over oceanic crust" whereas the solar constant is "roughly 1.366 kilowatts per square meter (kW/m²)." So instead of QC's made-up value of "several percentage points" it's 0.004% to 0.0074%. Heating from the interior is negligible compared to the sun. Therefore the moon and the Earth are directly comparable. The moon's average daytime temp is 107°C and the average nighttime temp is -153°C, so the average temp is -46°C. Compare this with the earth's average of 15°C. Obviously there is something more going on than heat redistribution via convection.
omatumr
1 / 5 (4) May 08, 2011
The great fact is just this:

Without evidence of rising global temperatures,

http://thegwpf.or...far.html

The Vatican, left-leaning and right-leaning political leaders, Al Gore, royalty (Prince Charles), world leaders, the UN's IPCC, the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK's Royal Society, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, government funding agencies like NASA, DOE, NSF, NOAA, EPA, etc., once-respected research institutions and research journals like Nature, Science, PNAS, Proceedings of the Royal Society, and members of the news like BBC, PBS, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, etc.

Promote the story of CO2-induced global warming.

WHY? That is the question.

Is this explained by former President Eisenhower's 1961 warning that a "scientific-technological elite" might one day seize control of public policy to the detriment of our free society?

Video: www.youtube.com/w...ld5PR4ts

Text: http://mcadams.po.../ike.htm
Doom1974
4 / 5 (4) May 08, 2011
barakn. You need a time average of a time dependent temperature variation across the entire moon's surface. Averaging like that will get you nothing.

Really guys there is no reason to entertain OM and QC's comments. Just ignore them, because short of been told by their god what the truth is, they are going to be singing the same old tunes.