Climate Change Weekly Roundup: 07/30/12

Publication – Environmental News Network
Date: July 24, 2012

End of the last Ice Age – Close linkage between CO2 and temperature found

The shift from the ice age to the warm interglacial period was the most significant climate change the world has seen in the last 100,000 years, according to ENN. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that, contrary to previous opinion, the rise in temperature and the rise in the atmospheric CO2 follow each other closely in terms of time.

According to the article, “In the warmer climate, the atmospheric content of CO2 is naturally higher. The gas CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a green-house gas that absorbs heat radiation from the Earth and thus keeps the Earth warm. In the transition between ice ages and interglacial periods the atmospheric content of CO2 helps to intensify the natural climate variations. It had previously been thought that as the temperature began to rise at the end of the ice age approximately 19,000 years ago, an increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere followed with a delay of up to 1,000 years.”

“Our analyses of ice cores from the ice sheet in Antarctica shows that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere follows the rise in Antarctic temperatures very closely and is staggered by a few hundred years at most,” Sune Olander Rasmussen, Associate Professor and centre coordinator at the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, told ENN.

The research, which was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia, is based on measurements of ice cores from five boreholes through the ice sheet in Antarctica, according to ENN. The ice sheet is formed by snow that doesn’t melt, but remains year after year and is gradually compressed into kilometers thick ice. During the compression, air is trapped between the snowflakes and as a result the ice contains tiny samples of ancient atmospheres. The composition of the ice also shows what the temperature was when the snow fell, so the ice is an archive of past climate and atmospheric composition.

“The ice cores show a nearly synchronous relationship between the temperature in Antarctica and the atmospheric content of CO2, and this suggests that it is the processes in the deep-sea around Antarctica that play an important role in the CO2 increase,” Rasmussen said.

Publication – Science Daily
Date: July 25, 2012

Local Weather Patterns Affect Beliefs About Global Warming

Local weather patterns temporarily influence people’s beliefs about evidence for global warming, according to research by political scientists at New York University and Temple University.

Research found that those living in places experiencing warmer-than-normal temperatures at the time they were surveyed, according to the article, were significantly more likely than others to say there is evidence for global warming. The study examined five national surveys of American adults sponsored by the Pew Research Center: June, July, and August 2006, January 2007, and April 2008. In each survey, respondents were asked the following question: “From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?” On average over the five surveys, 73 percent of respondents agreed that Earth is getting warmer.

The study’s results showed that an abnormal shift in local temperature is associated with a significant shift in beliefs about evidence for global warming, according to Science Daily. Specifically, for every three degrees Fahrenheit that local temperatures in the past week have risen above normal, Americans become one percentage point more likely to agree that there is ”solid evidence” that Earth is getting warmer. The researchers found cooler-than-normal temperatures have similar effects on attitudes — but in the opposite direction.

“Global climate change is one of the most important public policy challenges of our time, but it is a complex issue with which Americans have little direct experience,” wrote the study’s co-authors, Patrick Egan of New York University and Megan Mullin of Temple University. “As they try to make sense of this difficult issue, many people use fluctuations in local temperature to reassess their beliefs about the existence of global warming.”

Publication – Science Daily
Date: July 26, 2012

Climate Change Linked to Ozone Loss: May Result in More Skin Cancer

A team of Harvard researchers led by James G. Anderson, the Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, are warning that a newly-discovered connection between climate change and depletion of the ozone layer over the U.S. could allow more damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, leading to increased incidence of skin cancer, according to a paper published in Science.

In the system described by Anderson and his team, water vapor injected into the stratosphere by powerful thunderstorms converts stable forms of chlorine and bromine into free radicals capable of transforming ozone molecules into oxygen. Recent studies have suggested that the number and intensity of such storms are linked to climate changes, Anderson said, which could in turn lead to increased ozone loss and greater levels of harmful UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, and potentially higher rates of skin cancer.

“If you were to ask me where this fits into the spectrum of things I worry about, right now it’s at the top of the list,” Anderson told Science Daily. “What this research does is connect, for the first time, climate change with ozone depletion, and ozone loss is directly tied to increases in skin cancer incidence, because more ultraviolet radiation is penetrating the atmosphere.”

Publication – Environmental News Network
Date: July 27, 2012

Can Extreme Weather CONTRIBUTE to Climate Change?

A team of researchers from the Department of Geography and Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester set up a new monitoring station in June to measure greenhouse gas emissions from drained and cultivated peatlands in the East Anglian Fens which will make measurements over an extended period in order to record carbon emissions over a wide spectrum of weather conditions.

The study will provide the first ever direct measurements of carbon dioxide emissions from degraded peat soils in the intensively farmed English Fens, which are widely recognized as the largest land use related source of this greenhouse gas in the UK, according to ENN.

Professor Heiko Balzter, Director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research and Professor of Physical Geography, told ENN: “Preserving greenhouse gases that are stored in peat soils is being recognised more and more as a way to fight climate change. Extreme weather can change the amount of greenhouse gases being released from peat soils. At the same time, these emissions influence future climate itself. We have a feedback loop here, where cause and effect influence each other. Land managers and politicians are looking for solutions to the climate problem. We hope to be able to contribute to finding them.”

lication – NewsWise
Date: July 27, 2012

Researchers Monitor “Red Tides” in Bay Waters

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science continue to monitor the algal blooms that have been discoloring Chesapeake Bay waters during the last few weeks.

These “red tides” occur in the lower Bay every summer, but have appeared earlier and across a wider area than in years past, likely due to last winter’s warmth and this summer’s heat, according to NewsWise.

According to the article, “Red tides are caused by dense blooms of tiny marine plants called algae that contain reddish pigment. Algae are normal components of all aquatic environments, but can produce what is known as a “harmful algal bloom” or “HAB” when they bloom in significant numbers and generate toxic byproducts. HABs can be harmful to both marine organisms and human health. There is currently no evidence of harm from the recent blooms, which were first observed in early to mid-July. Study of samples taken in the York River near VIMS’ Gloucester Point campus show that they comprise dense aggregations of Cochlodinium polykrikoides, a single-celled marine dinoflagellate.”

“Blooms of this and closely related species may harm oyster larvae and other marine life, and are associated with fish kills and economic loss in Japan and Korea, but we’ve had no reports of any of these effects in local waters this year,” Reese said.

Have you seen breaking climate change news or discussion that should be included in our next “Roundup?”  Let us know!