Random Updates on Climate Change – September 2009

Posted on September 17, 2009




A record warm Australian winter.  This past winter was the warmest Australian winter on record, which climatologists attribute to both climate change and natural variability.  Temperatures in August were 2.47C (4.45F) above average.  Temperature records were broken by 4 to 5 degrees (7 to 9 degrees F), an extremely rare occurrence.  Australia expects another especially severe fire season with the arrival of spring.

See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8235111.stm


Arctic the warmest in 2000 years. The years 1999-2008 have been the warmest of the last 2000 years in the Arctic, according to a recent study.  Although a wobble of the Earth’s orbit ought to be pulling the Arctic into a cooling period, the Arctic has in fact being warming over the last century.  It is now approximately 1.4C (2.5F) warmer than it would have been if the cooling had proceeded as expected, that is, without the counter-effect of anthropogenic climate change.

See http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/09/03/arctic-warming.html


Warming oceans bleach and damage coral reefs.

Warming oceans bleach and damage coral reefs.

Oceans in July were the warmest since temperatures have been kept. Because of El Nino, continuing climate change and other random variations in the weather, the world’s oceans were warmer this summer than they have been in the last 130 years.  It is five times more difficult to warm water than land, and water covers 2/3 of the Earth’s surface, so warming oceans are more significant evidence of continuing human-caused climate change than temperatures gathered over land.  The previous record warm year for the world’s oceans was 1998.

See http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/08/20/ocean-temperature.html


Wildfire season in western US has increased by 78 days. In a study published in 2006 scientists compared wildfires during the periods, 1970-1986 and 1987-2003.  They found that the length of the wildfire season increased by 78 days between the two periods, and that he incidence of fires larger than 400 hectares increased in number by four times, and the area burned by these large fires increased  by 6 ½ times.

See http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/313/5789/940


Changing desert to forest may fight climate change. An ambitious project which would desalinize seawater and use it to plant deserts with fast-growing trees has been proposed to fight climate change.  The plan involving the Sahara and the Australia deserts could neutralize the equivalent of the world’s present industrial carbon footprint every year.  But it would cost the equivalent of $2 trillion US a year to implement and keep in operation.  A future world (like the world twenty years from now) might consider this plan cheap at the price.

See http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/914/2

Posted in: climate change