The Climate Change Storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:14 PM GMT on April 06, 2007

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Significant climate change is already occurring, will grow dramatically, and will cause serious disruptions to natural ecosystems and the lives of billions of people world-wide over the coming century. We need to better prepare for the inevitable changes--and attempt to lessen the magnitude of the these changes by reducing greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. That's the take-home message from today's latest report from the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Every six years, the IPCC releases a huge, influential study detailing the state of Earth's climate. Part 1 of the 2007 report, summarizing the science of climate change, was released in February. Today's summary, titled "Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability" addressed the likely impacts of climate change on Earth's ecosystems and people. Not all of the expected changes will be harmful--the IPCC emphasizes that "impacts of future climate change will be mixed across regions" for temperature rises of 1 to 3 �C above 1990 levels, with the big losers being the poor developing countries. However, if global warming exceeds 2 to 3 �C, the IPCC states it is very likely that all regions of the globe will suffer increased costs or declining benefits. I believe it is the responsibility of every citizen of the planet to take the 30 minutes needed to read the IPCC summary and familiarize themselves with what the world's top scientists say about the likely impacts of climate change. The scope and severity of the Earth-shaking changes that lie ahead present a breathtakingly formidable challenge for humanity.


Figure 1. Locations of significant changes in physical systems (snow, ice and frozen ground, hydrology, coastal processes) and biological systems (land, ocean, and freshwater) from 1970 to 2004. Between 90% and 100% of these changes are consistent with warming global temperatures, due in large part to human-emitted greenhouse gases. White areas are where not enough data existed to determine a temperature change. Figure 1 is a simplified form of Figure SPM-1 of the 2007 IPCC document, "Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability--Summary for Policy Makers."

Observed impacts of climate change to date
The IPCC report begins by summarizing observed changes in physical systems (snow, ice and frozen ground, hydrology, coastal processes) and biological systems (land, ocean, and freshwater) reported in 577 papers in the scientific literature between 1990 and 2004 (Figure 1). They conclude, "Observational evidence from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases." Examples for which they are highly (80% chance) or very highly confident (>90% chance) of include:

Earlier bird migrations and leaf unfolding
Poleward shifts in the ranges of various plant and animal species
Shifts in the ranges and numbers of ocean species near the poles
Earlier migrations of fish in rivers
Earlier and increased peaks in spring run-off from glacier- and snow-fed rivers
Warming of lakes and rivers
More and bigger glacial lakes
Melting permafrost

Medium confidence effects (50% chance of being true) observed in the Northern Hemisphere include:

Earlier spring planting of crops
Increases in forest fires and pest damage to forests
Heat-related deaths in Europe, spread of disease in some areas, and changes in allergenic pollen
Hunting and travel by humans over Arctic snow and ice

Future impacts
This is where the IPCC report gets very sobering. Keep in mind that the predicted future impacts may be understated, given the cautious nature of scientists--and the fact that the final version was edited by government officials, who changed the original conclusions of the scientists. I'll present just of few of the more mind-boggling impacts (in blue, with my comments in black), and leave the rest for the interested reader to discover:

The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land use change, pollution, over-exploitation of resources) (high confidence).
In other words, some ecosystems will collapse, putting the people who depend on these ecosystems in grave peril.
Many millions more people are projected to be flooded every year due to sea-level rise by the 2080s. Those densely-populated and low-lying areas where adaptive capacity is relatively low, and which already face other challenges such as tropical storms or local coastal subsidence, are especially at risk. The numbers affected will be largest in the mega-deltas of Asia and Africa while small islands are especially vulnerable (very high confidence).
Expect damage and human suffering from hurricanes to greatly increase in coming decades, thanks to higher seas levels.
There is medium confidence that at least partial deglaciation of the Greenland ice sheet, and possibly the West Antarctic ice sheet, would occur over a period of time ranging from centuries to millennia for a global average temperature increase of 1-4 �C (relative to 1990-2000), causing a contribution to sea level rise of 4-6 m or more.
Along with drought and ecosystem collapse, sea level rise is my big concern. Sea level before the most recent ice age was about 4-6 meters (13-20 feet) higher than today, at global temperatures that we expect to match by 2100. The IPCC states that a sea level rise of 0.6-1.9 feet (0.18-0.58 meters) is expected by 2100, and a 4-6 meter rise is not likely for centuries. However, our understanding of the response of glaciers to climate warming is poor. An unexpected rapid partial disintegration of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets later this century raising sea levels by 2 meters (6 feet) has at least a 1% chance of occurring, in my opinion.

Conclusion
The language of the 2007 IPCC climate report is couched in uncertainly, but the broad picture is clear: future climate change may rival or exceed a World War in its effect on society. Steps to lessen its impact and adapt to it need to be made as soon as possible. The cost in lives, dollars, and human suffering will be far greater if we do not.

In his 2006 book, The Revenge of Gaia, philosopher-scientist James Lovelock writes, "I am old enough to notice a remarkable similarity between attitudes over sixty years ago towards the threat of war and those now towards the threat of global heating. Most of us think that something unpleasant may soon happen, but we are as confused as we were in 1938 over what form it will take and what to do about it. Our response so far is just like that before the Second World War, and attempt to appease. The Kyoto agreement was uncannily like that of Munich, with politicians out to show they do respond but in reality playing for time...Battle will soon be joined, and what we face now is far more deadly than any blitzkrieg."

The climate change storm is coming, and the wind is already starting to rise.

Next blog
My next blog will be Monday afternoon or Tuesday. I've got several topics in mind--tornadoes in Chicago, Greenland glaciers, or hurricane model improvements.

Jeff Masters

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191. Tazmanian
7:22 PM PDT on April 06, 2007
Posted By: hurricanetrak6671 at 7:21 PM PDT on April 06, 2007.

That SUCKS, did it look like that last year?


NO
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
190. Tazmanian
7:20 PM PDT on April 06, 2007
and i can get more of my hurricane video like i was doing in 2004 and 2005 i like to rec hurricane when they make land fall not wish a hurricane on NO ONE but that this what i like doing


i hop i get my ch this year

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
189. hurricanetrak6671
2:17 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
That SUCKS, did it look like that last year?
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188. hurricanic
2:18 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Hurricane23, if you're reading this, I want you to check out my blog. Thanx!
Member Since: August 9, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 130
187. StoryOfTheCane
2:09 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
if the high remains like this the islands, Florida and the East Coast are going to get pounded.

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186. Tazmanian
7:11 PM PDT on April 06, 2007
weatherboykris what is the Bermuda High up too?


tell me in my blog
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
185. Tazmanian
7:10 PM PDT on April 06, 2007
some will ride the ridge to sea, happens every year

not all ways
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
184. weatherboykris
2:10 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
It's timing,as Adrian says.Had Floyd moved a little faster,Miami-Fort Lauderdale would be a very different place.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
183. StoryOfTheCane
2:08 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
the High is going to fluctuate, some storms will ride the ridge to land, some will ride the ridge to sea, happens every year
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182. StoryOfTheCane
2:06 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
I completely agree that we'll see a similarity to the 2004 season, I was telling JP that a couple days ago.
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181. Tazmanian
7:06 PM PDT on April 06, 2007
weatherboykris what is the Bermuda High up too?
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180. weatherboykris
2:05 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Could be Taz.Or it could be weaker.I just think it will be as strong.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
179. StoryOfTheCane
2:00 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
wow that video really shows you how well those cold fronts wipe out the storms late in the season
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178. Tazmanian
7:02 PM PDT on April 06, 2007
Posted By: weatherboykris at 6:58 PM PDT on April 06, 2007.

Heck yeah,trak.The Bermuda High has been just as strong lately as it was this time of year in 2004.I think we'll see a repeat of that year with Florida getting alot of storms.


oh my but this time they may be stronger then the one in 2004
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
177. weatherboykris
2:03 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
LOL
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176. weatherboykris
2:03 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
How much is Gore paying you,man?
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175. weatherboykris
2:01 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
You're on STL.10 years.It is a cycle.Look at the early years on the graph(which I think is misleading,but that's what we're using).They kept getting colder until the peak of the cycle.This is the same,and we are nearing the peak.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
174. hurricanetrak6671
2:00 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Damn that sucks i live in lantana
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173. weatherboykris
2:00 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
true
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171. StoryOfTheCane
1:59 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
last year the break in the High was just filtering all of the storms out to sea like clockwork
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170. StoryOfTheCane
1:58 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
that High can break up at the flip of a coin though, its hard to say its going to remain strong throughout the year
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169. Patrap
8:59 PM CDT on April 06, 2007

Many records were broken during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season including the most hurricanes ever, the most category 5 hurricanes, and the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic as measured by atmospheric pressure. This visualization shows all 27 named storms that formed in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and examines some of the conditions that made hurricane formation so favorable.

The animation begins by showing the regions of warm water that are favorable for storm development advancing northward through the peak of hurricane season and then receding as the waters cool. The thermal energy in these warm waters powers the hurricanes. Strong shearing winds in the troposphere can disrupt developing young storms, but measurements indicate that there was very little shearing wind activity in 2005 to impede storm formation.

Sea surface temperatures, clouds, storm tracks, and hurricane category labels are shown as the hurricane season progresses.

This visualization shows some of the actual data that NASA and NOAA satellites measured in 2005 -- data used to predict the paths and intensities of hurricanes. Satellite data play a vital role in helping us understand the land, ocean, and atmosphere systems that have such dramatic effects on our lives.

NOTE: This animation shows the named storms from the 2005 hurricane season. During a re-analysis of 2005, NOAA's Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center determined that a short-lived subtropcial storm developed near the Azores Islands in late September, increasing the 2005 tropical storm count from 27 to 28. This storm was not named and is not shown in this animation.

Credit:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
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168. Tazmanian
6:53 PM PDT on April 06, 2007
Posted By: hurricanetrak6671 at 6:46 PM PDT on April 06, 2007.

wow shear is low in the gulf of mexico and carribean i hope it doen't stay like that by june


huh?

sorry no low wind shear i can find on this map

lol

what take a look at the next one

nop sorry no wind low wind shear on this map too

lol


wait i have one more to show you


sorry no low wind shear i can find its vary high right now

lol


i think i made my post funny
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
167. weatherboykris
1:58 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
I've got to go in a minute,but I'll be back at 11.EST
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
166. weatherboykris
1:57 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Heck yeah,trak.The Bermuda High has been just as strong lately as it was this time of year in 2004.I think we'll see a repeat of that year with Florida getting alot of storms.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
165. hurricanetrak6671
1:57 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
yeah i know its to early to say
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164. hurricanetrak6671
1:54 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
!5 storms at the min. wow with 15 stroms there some chance on will hit any land at all?
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163. weatherboykris
1:56 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Thanks Troy.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
162. StoryOfTheCane
1:55 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
im guessing in the 20s kris
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161. weatherboykris
1:55 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Fact is; there is an obvious cycle on that graph.You are just buying into all the hype.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
160. Rodek
1:53 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Folks,

I've been lurking on the blog for a little over a year and wanted to say that I really enjoy learning about the weather. Most of your talk is above my head but, still it's interesting to read. I read the blog every night and am now addicted to weather. Keep up the good work!!!

Troy in Ft. Walton Beach, FL.
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159. weatherboykris
1:55 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
You don't find it misleading STL?I quote:

Posted By: MichaelSTL at 1:17 AM GMT on April 07, 2007.

Also notice the graph again:



If those past fluctuations were caused by natural variations, they are much smaller than the recent rapid rise, which is likely also why the mid-20th century cooling wasn't like the cooling at the start of the 20th century - because a warming bias was added to it. Also, the "average" on that graph is the average for the entire period - so half of it will always be colder than normal and the other half warmer than normal, which I find misleading.



Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
158. weatherboykris
1:52 AM GMT on April 07, 2007







We have higher than nomral SSTS,lower than normal wind shear is forecast,along with more precipitation.We'll have at least 15 storms.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
157. StoryOfTheCane
1:52 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
this season Mother Nature is going to unleash Her fury
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156. StoryOfTheCane
1:45 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
why are you limiting the number? I can help if you need it
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154. weatherboykris
1:49 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Um,yeah.Give me a minute,and I'll post some maps.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
153. hurricanetrak6671
1:46 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
wow thats active, weatherboykris do u think it will acually be that many?
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152. weatherboykris
1:47 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Still ignoring,STL?LOL
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
151. weatherboykris
1:46 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
It won't trust me.I watched it last year.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
150. hurricanetrak6671
1:46 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
wow shear is low in the gulf of mexico and carribean i hope it doen't stay like that by june
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148. weatherboykris
1:44 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Trak,check my blog.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
147. StoryOfTheCane
1:43 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
thx for the answer Michael, that is very interesting. What I want to know is what would have happened had there not been a human race. How can they prove that its not just a natural heating of the planet? I mean Earth's core is filled with lava..
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146. weatherboykris
1:43 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
STL,since you conviently ignored them,I'm going to voice my critisicm of your critisicm of that graph again:

Posted By: weatherboykris at 1:24 AM GMT on April 07, 2007.

No,STL,the averaging period was from 1901 to 2000.This means the period prior was cool even by the standards of that time.Also,because the average doesn't account for the years after 2000,post 2000 years have a warm bias on the graph.


Posted By: weatherboykris at 1:25 AM GMT on April 07, 2007.

The graph is misleading both ways STL,not just the way that supports your opinion.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
145. hurricanetrak6671
1:43 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
This hurricane season sounds exciting, did the april forcast come out yet?
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144. StoryOfTheCane
1:42 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
yeah i dont filter mine because i kind of enjoy arguing with the crazy ones, it gets everybody mad at me sometimes though :(
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142. StoryOfTheCane
1:40 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
shear is remaining stagnant

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141. weatherboykris
1:41 AM GMT on April 07, 2007
Thanks alot trak,we do our best,LOL.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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