Recent climate change news

It’s been a pretty gloomy month for climate change news.

Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, said, “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen…[We’re] looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” And, he added, “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either.

Antarctica is warming. Not a surprise, it’s just warming more slowly than elsewhere.

Tree mortality in the western US has doubled in recent years, along with the increased temperature and decreased water. (Science, subscription needed)

Ocean dead zones, now less than 2% of the oceans, transient and reversible, could increase to 20% by 2100, and last for many thousands of years.

Oceans are not all the same height, with the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal 20 cm (8 in) lower than the Pacific, and more dramatic differences elsewhere. The differences are caused by a difference in density, and currents and winds. El Nino can change sea level by 0.6 m (2 ft). So we might expect uneven consequences from increase in sea level.

Sea level rise from the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is expected to average 5 meters, 16.5 feet. But there is so much ice in Antarctica, sea level nearby is higher because of gravitational attraction, so melting will produce a smaller increase locally. Additionally, shifting all that water from the poles will change the location of the south pole for rotation by 100 m (300 ft), which will shift how the oceans are distributed. The net result is that DC and much of the US will see an increase nearer 6.3 m (21 ft) (Science, subscription needed), and South America will see less.

The emperor penguin is likely to go extinct by 2100 or a bit later.
emperor penguin
Emperor penguins mate later, likely because of climate change.

Fire in Australia, drought in China.

It’s hard to keep an intellectual distance when so much bad information arrives at once.

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