Climate science update: bad news gets worse

November 3, 2017

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Credit: public domain
Scientists monitoring Earth's climate and environment have delivered a cascade of grim news in 2017, adding to the urgency of UN talks in Bonn next week tasked with ramping up efforts to tame global warming.

Here's a summary of recent findings:

1.1 degrees

Earth's average surface temperature last year was a record 1.1 degree Celsius (1.98 Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial era.

Our planet's rising fever is caused by the accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide (CO2) cast off when fossil fuels are burned to produce energy.

Sixteen of the hottest years on record have occurred since the start of the 21st century.

The 196-nation Paris Agreement calls on humanity to block the rise in temperature at "well below" 2.0 C (3.6 F) compared to pre-industrial levels, and to consider setting the cap at 1.5 C.

403.3 ppm

The atmospheric concentration of (CO2) reached an average of 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, the highest level in at least 800,000 years.

Last month, CO2—three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions—hit nearly 407 ppm. Prior to industrialisation, the global average hovered at about 280 ppm.

Concentrations of the second-most important greenhouse gases—methane (CH4)—have also risen sharply over the last decade, driven by leakage from the gas industry's fracking boom, and growth in global livestock.

Many climate scientists argue that capping CO2 at 450 ppm gives us a fighting chance of staying under the 2 C threshold. Others say that the limit for a "climate-safe" world is much lower, around 350 ppm.

Melting ice

Arctic summer sea ice in 2017 shrank to 4.64 million square kilometres (1.79 million square miles). That's only the eighth-smallest ice cover since 2012, when it dropped to 3.39 million km2.

But long-term trends are unmistakable: Arctic sea ice cover is declining at a rate of 13.2 percent per decade, relative to the 1981-2010 average.

Climate models predict that the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer as early as 2030.

At the other end of the world, Antarctic sea ice hit the lowest extent ever recorded by satellites last year as well.

Earth's two massive ice sheets—atop Greenland and Antarctica—are currently shedding 286 and 127 billion tonnes of mass per year, respectively.

High-altitude glaciers, meanwhile, declined in surface area in 2016 for the 37th year in a row.

Extreme events

The WMO says there are demonstrable links between man-made climate change and some extreme events, especially heatwaves.

The number of climate-related extreme events—droughts, forest fires, floods, major storm surges—has doubled since 1990, research has shown.

2017 saw the first severe tropical storm known to sustain winds of 295 kilometres per hour (185 miles per hour) for more than 33 hours (Irma); and a hurricane that dropped a record 125 centimetres of water (nearly 50 inches) on land (Harvey).

The intensity of typhoons battering China, Taiwan, Japan and the Korean Peninsula since 1980, one study has shown, has increased by 12 to 15 percent.

Natural disasters drive about 26 million people into poverty every year, says the World Bank, and cause annual losses of about $520 million (463 million euros).

84.8 millimetres

Sea level—caused mainly by the expansion of water as it warms, and runoff from ice sheets and glaciers—is currently rising by 3.4 millimetres (0.13 inches) per year. Since 1993, the global ocean watermark has gone up by 84.8 mm (3.3 inches).

The pace is likely to pick up, threatening the homes and livelihoods of tens of millions of people in low-lying areas around the world.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in January the global average sea level could be between 0.3 and 2.5 metres (one foot to 8.2 feet) higher by 2100.

1,688 species

Of the 8,688 species of animals and plants listed as "threatened" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List, 19 percent—1,688 species—have been negatively affected by .

Scientists say that Earth has entered a "mass extinction event," only the 6th in the last half-billion years.

Sources: peer-reviewed studies, NASA, NSIDC, WMO

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julianpenrod
1 / 5 (11) Nov 03, 2017

It's not "fossil fuels" causing the atmosphere to deprave. The article says, among other things, "Sixteen of the hottest years on record have occurred since the start of the 21st century". But carbon dioxide in the air has been rising for more than a century before that. Why is this happening now? Because it's "chemtrails", the government project to dope the atmosphere with weather modification chemical from high flying jets, producing long, non dissipating vapor lanes that stretch from horizon to horizon and can last for an hour or more, that is causing the alteration of the atmosphere. They seem to have started in the Fifties, but were invisible then. In 1997, the atmosphere seems to have become saturated with the chemical and that's when they became visible.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 03, 2017
The sky is falling! The sky is falling....
thomasct
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 03, 2017
More fake news from the CO2 tax grabbers? Surely the more CO2 the better for our food crops. In any case, one volcanic eruption releases more CO2 into the air as did man since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And.. CO2 forms only 0.03% of the atmosphere while water vapor up to 10%, and.. the suns is the primary heater and cooler. Global warming?

With reference to the often used '97% of scientists concur', a major peer-reviewed paper by four senior researchers has exposed grave errors. They pointed out that the 97% number had appeared in a new and unknown journal. (Suspicious)? The researchers were led by top climatologist Dr David Legates. Their paper was published in the respected Science and Education journal and it clearly demonstrated that number was not 97.1%, as claimed, but only 0.3%!

Only 41 out of the 11,944 published climate papers examined by Dr Legates team explicitly stated that 'Man caused most of the warming since 1950
Caliban
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 03, 2017
Same tired debunked denier tropes --it's chemtrails, it's natural, ongoing climate change, it'll increase agricultural production, it's chicken little, there is no "consensus", et al-- from the same tired, strident denierside trolls.

Just more SSDS here at jolly old Porg.
RealityCheck
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 05, 2017
@cantdrive85.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling....
Yes, for many nations/regions around the globe, right now. How can you be so insensitive and selfish/biased on already self-evident AGW disaster evolving right now, mate? Don't you keep up with the relevant evolving news/reality re AGW consequences around the globe over the last few years and even as we 'speak'? Fiji is only one instance of many already around the globe where the sky has already started to fall, in more ways than one:

https://phys.org/...onn.html

Please don't insult your own character/intellect on this one, cd; else you will be sabotaging your efforts in the cosmology/astrophysics issues as well. If you can't be objective on ALL issues, then you're just as bad as all those whom you oppose/chastise elsewhere, hey? Try to be better than the 'gang', cd. Especially when peoples/nation's very existence is at stake. Thanks. :)

leetennant
5 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2017

It's not "fossil fuels" causing the atmosphere to deprave. The article says, among other things, "Sixteen of the hottest years on record have occurred since the start of the 21st century". But carbon dioxide in the air has been rising for more than a century before that. Why is this happening now? Because it's "chemtrails", the government project to dope the atmosphere with weather modification chemical from high flying jets, producing long, non dissipating vapor lanes that stretch from horizon to horizon and can last for an hour or more, that is causing the alteration of the atmosphere. They seem to have started in the Fifties, but were invisible then. In 1997, the atmosphere seems to have become saturated with the chemical and that's when they became visible.


How many times! It's the unicorns! The unicorns!
leetennant
5 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2017
Surely the more CO2 the better for our food crops.

Actually research on the impact of increased CO2 show that food crops have a significant nutritional reduction under rising CO2 levels. Just because the weeds are greener doesn't mean the world has more food.

In any case, one volcanic eruption releases more CO2 into the air as did man since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

As per the USGS, volcanos emit 1% of human emissions.

With reference to the often used '97% of scientists concur', a major peer-reviewed paper by four senior researchers has exposed grave errors.

This is simply not true. I think I've debunked it about 15 times now. The flawed paper is the one you keep referring to.

CO2 forms only 0.03% of the atmosphere while water vapor up to 10%

It's 1-4% for water vapour. But still, so what?

Global warming?

Yes, global warming. Or did the 1.1 degree rise pass you by?

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