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Mother Nature's face is not aging slowly or gracefully

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:49 PM GMT on April 22, 2013

"Mother Nature's face is not aging slowly or gracefully, the wrinkles and scars caused by accumulating greenhouse gases are already visible. The good news? Extreme weather is also chiseling fissures and gaping holes in the climate deniers' bunker, leaving a crumbling foundation for their arguments. Moving on, it's time to prepare for the unusual weather ahead that is likely to become usual." So writes Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers in her short essay for Earth Day 2013, "The Changing Face of Mother Nature." Dr. Francis' piece is part of a special Earth Day 2013 microsite wunderground has put together, featuring original short essays from seven of the planet's leading climate scientists and climate science communicators. Today is a day to appreciate our planet which sustains all life, a day to reflect on its beauty, and a day to draw attention to the challenges we face to maintain a livable environment for our steadily growing population. Below is a short synopsis of our seven contributors' work.

Figure 1. My favorite wunderphoto of 2012: high-level cirrus clouds containing ice crystals act as prisms, creating this beautiful "Sky Painting" captured by wunderphotographer Doesiedoats over Williams, Oregon on August 7, 2012. As is my tradition on Earth Day, I provide links at the bottom of my Earth Day post to my favorite wunderphotos taken by the wunderground community over the past year. Keep on looking up and sharing your view of the sky!

The Increased Risk of Drought under Global Warming
Drought is the greatest threat civilization faces from climate change, because drought affects the two things we need to live--food and water. Drought expert Dr. Aiguo Dai of SUNY Albany reviews the latest drought predictions from climate models and their "dire projection of increased risk of severe droughts," in his piece, "The Increased Risk of Drought under Global Warming".

The Changing Face of Mother Nature
It seem as though the weather gods have gone berserk in recent years, as nearly every day the headlines report unusual droughts, floods, prolonged cold and snow, heat waves, or unusual weather events happening somewhere around the globe. Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers explains how the unprecedented melting of sea ice and snow in the Arctic may be contributing to this onslaught in her contribution, "The Changing Face of Mother Nature."

My Climate Change
"I used to be very skeptical about global warming, unconvinced that humans had anything to do with it or that it was affecting the weather," writes Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist for The Weather Channel. "But then that changed." Find out why he changed his mind in his piece, "My Climate Change."

Closing the Consensus Gap on Climate Change
The general public think less than half of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. The reality is 97%. Dr. John Cook, Climate Change Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, explains the challenges of climate science communication in his contribution, "Closing the Consensus Gap on Climate Change."

The Arctic's Shrinking Sea Ice Cover
The emerging view is that the Arctic will lose essentially all of its summer sea ice cover by the end of this century, perhaps as early as 2030-2040. Dr. Mark Serreze, Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, discusses the implications in his post, "The Arctic's Shrinking Sea Ice Cover."

How Do We Know Humans are Responsible for Global Warming?
We know Earth is warming, but how do we know that human activities are primarily responsible? Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State explains the evidence in his contribution, "How Do We Know Humans are Responsible for Global Warming?"

Is This Global Warming?
Lately, whenever there is a severe weather or climate event that causes a lot of damage - like a severe heatwave, drought, hurricane or tornado - scientists are asked some version of the question, "Is this global warming?" Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University explains what climate science can and cannot say about the answer to this question in his piece, "Is This Global Warming?"

Other Earth Day contributions
Wunderground Community member Skyepony has contributed a piece called "Earth Day 2013: Waiting to Get Fracked."

A new documentary called Thin Ice follows scientists at work in the Arctic, Antarctic, Southern Ocean, New Zealand, Europe and the USA.  They talk about their work, and their hopes and fears, with a rare candor and directness. This creates an intimate portrait of the global community of researchers racing to understand our planet's changing climate. Over 100 college campuses and art theaters are hosting screenings this week.

Jeff Masters
Caroline Bruenn Photography
Caroline Bruenn Photography
dust storm over Alamogordo
Strange sky..
Strange sky..
in Mossy head Fl. I've never seen the clouds quite like this in N. Florida.
Odd Cloud
Odd Cloud
Odd cloud near Beaver Rim in Wyoming
A Little Light...
A Little Light...
Amazing what sunlight, river debris and a little skim of ice can produce!
Haboob #7
Haboob #7
Another dust storm rolling into town.

Climate Change

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.