This Victorian Climate Action Calendar covers events from 15 February to 12 April 2015.
A number items of interest are featured below.
- “HOTTEST YEAR’ STORY OBSCURES BIGGER NEWS: OCEAN WARMING NOW OFF THE CHARTS
- WHY THE ARCTIC IS WARMING FASTER THAN THE REST OF THE PLANET
- ARCTIC’S ‘PENGUINS OF THE NORTH’ ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Joe Romm Jan 2015
The oceans — where over 90% of global warming heat ends up — have literally warmed up off the charts of NOAA. The big climate news in the past weeks was NOAA and NASA announcing that 2014 was the hottest year on record, breaking the highs of 2005 and 2010. But the bigger story got buried: Global warming has continued unabated in recent years. Indeed, it’s not just that there not been a hiatus or pause or even slowdown in surface temperature warming (see below).
Ocean heat content data to a depth of 2,000 meters, from NOAA.
The oceans, where the vast majority of human-caused global warming heat goes, have seen an acceleration in warming in recent years. As climate expert Prof. John Abraham writes in the UK the UK Guardian, “The oceans are warming so fast, they keep breaking scientists’ charts.”
WHY THE ARCTIC IS WARMING FASTER THAN THE REST OF THE PLANET
Mindy Townsend Dec 2014
Earth’s climate is continuing to warm, and the arctic regions are warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet. This is to do with light and how that light interacts with stuff. Different wavelengths of visible light correspond with different colors. For example, if you see a green plant that means that the plant is absorbing all wavelengths of light except green. Green is reflected back, and that is what we see. Black and white are a little different, but it’s the same concept. Black is really the absence of light. Things that appear black are absorbing most of the light that hits it. White is all colors; things that appear white are reflecting most of the light back. The amount of light reflected from a surface without being absorbed is called the albedo. The more light or energy is absorbed, the lower the albedo. This concept is important for determining the effects of climate change.
The Earth reflects about 30 percent of the sun’s radiation, but not every point on the planet reflects the same amount. For example, snow reflects about 95 percent of the sun’s radiation. Water, on the other hand, absorbs that radiation. It only reflects about 10 percent of the radiation. As the arctic ice melts, it starts to expose the darker regions beneath it. Those darker regions absorb more heat, and cause more melting. This is called arctic amplification, and it’s causing the arctic region to heat up at a much greater rate than the rest of the world.
Marine animals depend on the arctic sea ice for survival. Some such as Polar bears are doing okay in areas where sea ice is holding steady, but they are struggling in areas of sea ice decline. Some arctic vegetation can’t tolerate the new summer heat. Sea level rise will likely cause coastal erosion and flooding, and millions of people around the world are vulnerable to this. All of this is to say that the planet is still warming and the warming is accelerating in possibly the worst possible area of the planet.
Brian Clark Howard National Geographic Jan, 2015
The latest research on little auks, sometimes called “penguins of the north,” reveals a surprising response to a rapidly warming Arctic: The birds make up for food lost to the effects of climate change by catching prey that were stunned by the cold water running off melting glaciers—another effect of climate change.
Why It Matters: Little auks are considered especially vulnerable to climate change. The birds are often considered an indicator species of the Arctic, raising red flags for ecological changes.
“It’s good news that the little auks are adapting now, but because the system is changing continuously, we don’t know how long they will be able to keep up. …
… ultimately there is only one thing we can do for little auks, polar bears, and everything else that is affected, that’s to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”
» Read more about the study