Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Climate Change Newscast

Well, here you go ladies and gentlemen!  Our video on climate change is now available on youtube.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Steroids, baseball, and climate change?!

What do steroids in baseball have in common with climate change? Listen to Gerald "Jerry" Meehl from the National Center for Atmospheric Research explain the relationship.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Did You Know?

While some of us were watching Angry Beavers on Saturday mornings, Japan and the United Nations were composing an international Protocol (treaty) that aimed at fighting global warming. It was called the Kyoto Protocol and it was a product of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which had the goal of achieving the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (United Nations 1997- 2005).  The real reason I am bringing this up is because the United States was one of the 4 countries who did NOT sign this protocol.  The rest of the world is on board but us…Did you know that?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Whether weather or climate change?

A common misunderstanding is the distinction between weather and climate. Where weather is measured on day-to-day or yearly time scales, climate is measured in decades, centuries and millennia. Climate can be thought of as weather averaged over many, many years. Climate is critically important when determining trends and patterns, anomalies and outliers; whereas, weather is important for day-to-day living.

Therefore, a common mistake would be to make claims like, “Thank you global warming for this beautiful weather,” or “Snow in May? Global warming must not be happening.”

Global warming, commonly associated with terms such as “climate change,” “climate destabilization,” or “global climate change,” is the change of the natural variation in our weather systems over time, including the increase in average temperatures around the globe. Meaning, our climate will reflect the long-term trend of weather variation.

So, what has our recent weather look like over longer time scales? Here’s a start…

(Data source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

This clip visualizes temperature data from 1881 to 2007 where reds indicate temperatures higher than the average temperatures (baseline period of 1951-1980), and blues indicate lower than average temperatures. The year 1881 is typically used as the beginning of the modern era of weather data collection at weather stations around the world.

According to NASA:

  • 2011 was the 9th warmest year in instrumental record (since 1880).
  • 9 of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2000, the other being 1998.

According to National Climatic Data Center:

  • Compared to the previous La Nina years, 2011 was the warmest observed.
  • 2011 was the 35th consecutive year that the global temperature was above average (the last year was 1976).
  • 2011 was the 2nd wettest year on record (behind 2010) with globally-averaged precipitation over land.

James Hansen, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, further explains the relationship between climate change and increased weather variation in a short interview with the New York Times.

Monday, April 9, 2012

To Begin With:

What is weather?  Weather is a system of cycles and forces that are driven by the heat of the Sun, precipitation, and the lay of the land.  Weather is measured and observed on a local scale.
What is climate?  Climate is a system that takes into account wind regimes, sea-surface temperatures, rainfall patterns, and longitude and latitude zones.  Climate is measured and observed on a large regional level.
Has the climate always been changing?  Yes, just much more slowly than measured in recent decades.  A factor that has to be taken into account for these mild changes over thousands of years is the physics behind the Milankovitch Cycles.
What does anthropogenic mean?  ‘Anthro’, from the Greek anthropos, means human being while ‘gen’ means be produced; thus Anthropogenic means human produced.  This term is mentioned many times throughout climate science and has been the backbone of the climate change debate.