Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Big climate change could happen fast - and soon - New research from NASA into the Earth's paleoclimate history indicates we could be facing rapid climate change this century, including sea level
rises of many meters. And while international leaders have suggested a goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times, even this would lead to drastic changes.
The Earth's average global surface temperature has already risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880, and is now increasing by more than 0.1 degree Celsius every decade. At the current rate of fossil fuel burning, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will have doubled from pre-industrial times by the middle of this century, causing an eventual warming of several degrees. By studying cores from both ice sheets and deep ocean sediments, they found that global mean temperatures during the Eemian period, which began about 130,000 years ago and lasted about 15,000 years, were less than one degree Celsius warmer than today. If temperatures were to rise two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, global mean temperature would far exceed that of the Eemian, when sea level was four to six meters higher than today. "The paleoclimate record reveals a more sensitive climate than thought, even as of a few years ago. Limiting human-caused warming to two degrees is not sufficient. It would be a prescription for disaster." Two degrees Celsius of warming would make Earth much warmer than during the Eemian - indeed, similar to Pliocene-like conditions, when sea level was about 25 meters higher than today.
However, sea level increase due to ice sheet loss would be expected to occur over centuries, and large uncertainties remain in predicting it accurately. "We don’t have a substantial cushion between today's climate and dangerous warming. Earth is poised to experience strong amplifying feedbacks in response to moderate additional global warming."

**Love many things, for therein lies the true strength,
and whosoever loves much performs much,
and can accomplish much,
and what is done in love is done well.**
Vincent Van Gogh

This morning -

Yesterday -

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical depression 26w was located approximately 325 nm east-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


UK put on severe weather alert with forecast of TWO huge storms. Two huge storms are forecast to batter many parts of the UK this week with London and the south of England set to bear the brunt of the severe conditions from today. And Scotland looks likely to receive a second storm battering on Thursday and Friday as yet another massive destructive weather system heads in from the North Atlantic.
The UK Met Office extended its severe weather warning for the capital and areas of the south of England for Monday and Tuesday as the first huge Atlantic storm looked set to crash in on Monday evening. Forecasters are warning of strong winds and torrential rain that have the potential to cause flooding and travel disruption.
A second, much larger storm, is now forecast to affect the entire country from Thursday, bringing with it severe gales and worsening conditions. Current weather models predict winds well in excess of 80mph will sweep across the entire UK on Friday afternoon - winds are classified as hurricane-force from 74mph.
A yellow severe warning alert issued warned the entire west coast of the UK would be affected as the monster storm sweeps in from the Atlantic. The advisory, which is valid from 6pm on December 15, currently warns: “Rapidly strengthening winds and heavy rain are likely to arrive across the west later on Thursday, heralding another potentially stormy period. The public is advised to monitor warnings for this period, noting that the alert is likely to be extended into Friday in due course.”
Meteorologists say the current spate of extreme wet and windy conditions are as a result of FREAK CONDITIONS IN THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE over the North Atlantic Ocean. While the UK was in the icy grip of the Big Freeze this time last year, this year a shift in atmospheric conditions meant the country would be prone to more extreme weather and Atlantic storms. “In 2011, there was what was known as the 'Greenland Block' that virtually created a traffic jam in the atmosphere – the Arctic air that normally progresses from West to East was forced to plunged Southward and created the Big Freeze across much of the northern hemisphere, including the East Coast of the US and much of Europe. However this year, there is no 'Greenland Block' so these weather systems can freely pass from West to East unobstructed and gather destructive power on their way across the ocean. These storms are all part of the seasonal change and look very likely to continue.”


THAILAND - Drought threat increasing as reserves fall. Some provinces could be hit with drought next year due to dwindling water reserves. As the floods are receding, drought could emerge as a new problem hitting some areas next year especially in provinces which do not benefit from the Royal Irrigation Department's irrigation system. "The severe cold this year points to a drought crisis next year." Massive drainage of water during the flood period could also lead to drought.
Dams and reservoirs normally store 6-7 billion cubic metres of water largely for agricultural purposes during the dry season. But the floods this year forced officials to drain up to 2 billion cu/m of water from flooded areas.
The water reserve could potentially drop to 5 billion cu/m by year's end and 4 billion cu/m by the time the new rice season arrives. The country still lacks an adequate management system to retain water supply for all areas. "If people are concerned only about protecting their own assets from the flood, they will care less about the impacts of flood prevention schemes on the environment and on the general public." The floods also exposed flaws in wastewater and rubbish management at times of disaster. The management system was designed to handle waste in normal situations. In the post-disaster period, the amount of water pollution and garbage has increased.
The floods gave political parties an opportunity to pay more attention to environmental issues because the effect of the floods is still evident. The government could use this opportunity to take action against people encroaching on floodways. State agencies have stressed the need to tackle encroachment on natural drainage systems. They say floods are "man-made" to some extent, as natural drainage passages and water retention areas are obstructed by the construction of housing estates, roads and hotels.

U.S. -
The WORST SINGLE-YEAR DROUGHT IN TEXAS HISTORY is affecting the roads. Last weekend's rain was just a drop in the bucket for the parched soil in Central Texas. The city of Houston is now on pace to have only the third driest year on record, behind 1917 and 1988.
The dry spell has sucked all the moisture out of Central Texas’s topsoil. And that’s caused cracks to form and bumps to pop up. As soil alongside the pavement heats up, moisture evaporates, and the soil then begins to compress. That can bend the edges of roads, and cause the asphalt to break. This type of road damage happens all the time, but this year it’s significantly worse. “Especially where there’s clay soil, the highways can contract and compact as it dries out. And that means cracks may appear in the pavement, or a section of the base under a road, may fall away, may slump a bit.” TxDOT generally waits to do repairs until the weather is cooler and the cracks have reached their maximum size. The recent rains could even help by allowing the soil underneath roads to re-expand. But some of the road damage is already affecting drivers and needs to be fixed more urgently. Timing for repairs is tricky, because water expands when it freezes, and that can cause the asphalt to break even further. “We realize that we are in the middle of what could be a long-term drought that doesn’t show any signs of abating. The recent rain that we’ve had has not relieved it. And our engineers are always looking for solutions to this.” Neither TxDOT nor the city has been able to estimate the costs of drought-related road damage so far.
ONE OF THE WORST PERIODS OF PROLONGED DROUGHT IN OKLAHOMA STATE HISTORY is easing after nearly a year. The state experienced its hottest summer yet, and 69 percent of the state still was in exceptional drought.
In October, the USDA designated 101 Missouri counties as natural disaster areas due to drought. This showed a recognition of crop losses caused by lack of rain and excessive heat during July and August. Dried-out subsoil at depths of 3 feet or more could trouble next year's crops in Missouri.