Rapid changes in the winter climate

Aug 14, 2009 BY KRISTER SVAHN
Earth

The Baltic Sea winter climate has changed more in the last 500 years than previously thought. Research at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that our part of the world has experienced periods of both milder and colder winters, and the transitions between these climate types seem to have been abrupt.

Some of the world's longest climate data series with information on air temperatures and ice coverage in the area over the last 500 years can be found at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Earth Sciences. Using new statistical methods to study the data series, researcher Christin Eriksson at the Department of Earth Sciences investigated the climatic variations in northern Europe since the 1500s, focusing especially on the climate.

Her study shows that the winter climate in the Baltic Sea region is characterised by long periods of either mild or cold winters, and that the transitions between these different climate types have been rather rapid. The fact that several independent Baltic Sea data series point in the same direction reinforces the researchers' conclusion that the area's winter climate tends to change surprisingly fast.

The data series enabled Eriksson to identify 15 periods during the last 500 years that deviated from average. Eight of these were warmer than average and seven were colder. The study indicates that we are currently in a warm period that started in the late 1800s. It also shows that there has been more variation among the winters in the cold periods than in the warm.
'To be able to understand the effects of global , we must understand how the changes regionally', says Eriksson.

The study also looked at maximal ice coverage and river runoff, and found that the average maximum ice coverage has been lower in the last 100 years than earlier, while the river runoff has been stable. The results suggest that a future temperature increase may lead to a decreasing freshwater supply in the South but an increasing supply in the North, which may significantly affect the salt balance in the Baltic and therefore its sensitive ecosystem.

Source: University of Gothenburg (news : web)

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deatopmg
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2009
"The results suggest that a future temperature increase may lead to a decreasing freshwater supply in the South but an increasing supply in the North, which may significantly affect the salt balance in the Baltic Sea and therefore its sensitive ecosystem."

It is also obvious to the most casual observer that the so called "sensitive" ecosystem adapted innumerable times in the past to the changes and will do so in the future. The problem lies in OUR need to gnash our teeth, wring our hands, and find fault with ANY changes.
iledius
2 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2009
It is also obvious to the most casual observer that the so called "sensitive" ecosystem adapted innumerable times in the past to the changes and will do so in the future. The problem lies in OUR need to gnash our teeth, wring our hands, and find fault with ANY changes.


It's not so much about life's ability to adapt to new circumstances, but about ours: We are highly dependent on the environment as it is now and it would be just stupid to let our own actions alter the environment so fast and so drastically, that it would mean death and suffering for millions of humans and other animals IF the alternative is to reduce our impact on the environment and "buy more time" to adapt in a more controlled pace.
GrayMouser
not rated yet Aug 18, 2009
It is also obvious to the most casual observer that the so called "sensitive" ecosystem adapted innumerable times in the past to the changes and will do so in the future. The problem lies in OUR need to gnash our teeth, wring our hands, and find fault with ANY changes.




It's not so much about life's ability to adapt to new circumstances, but about ours: We are highly dependent on the environment as it is now and it would be just stupid to let our own actions alter the environment so fast and so drastically, that it would mean death and suffering for millions of humans and other animals IF the alternative is to reduce our impact on the environment and "buy more time" to adapt in a more controlled pace.

Humans have adapted to an ice age, warm periods, minimums and optimums. The only difference between then and now is that a small number of gloom-n-doom types can stampede an amazingly large number of people in an incredibly short period of time.
iledius
not rated yet Aug 19, 2009
Humans have adapted to an ice age, warm periods, minimums and optimums. The only difference between then and now is that a small number of gloom-n-doom types can stampede an amazingly large number of people in an incredibly short period of time.


I assume from your text that you agree that human actions have effect on the climate and the various ecosystems on Earth? So which one is more rational approach: minimize our impact on the ecosystems that we depend on and therefore maintain the environment that we, to some degree, understand OR let the said ecosystems develop in ways which we can't fully anticipate and therefore subject ourselves to the risk of drastic changes in agriculture, economy and social structures, not to mention millions of possible lives lost due to our inadequate risk-assesment? Better safe than sorry, right?
GrayMouser
not rated yet Aug 24, 2009
I assume from your text that you agree that human actions have effect on the climate and the various ecosystems on Earth?

Localized short term changes in the environment. There is no conclusive evidence supporting human influence of the climate.
So which one is more rational approach: minimize our impact on the ecosystems that we depend on and therefore maintain the environment that we, to some degree, understand OR let the said ecosystems develop in ways which we can't fully anticipate and therefore subject ourselves to the risk of drastic changes in agriculture, economy and social structures, not to mention millions of possible lives lost due to our inadequate risk-assesment? Better safe than sorry, right?

That is a misstatement of the choices. Your proposing that changes be made without connecting those changes to the issue at hand. If those changes have no connection to climate but will cost lives are you safe or sorry?