Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

El Nino conditions return to affect weather

El Nino is back.

Government scientists said Thursday that the periodic warming of water in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which can affect weather around the world, has returned.

The Pacific had been in what is called a neutral state, but forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the sea surface temperature climbed to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal along a narrow band in the eastern equatorial Pacific in June.

In addition, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said temperatures in other tropical regions are also above normal, with warmer than usual readings as much as 975 feet below the ocean surface.

In general, El Nino conditions are associated with increased rainfall across the east-central and eastern Pacific and with drier than normal conditions over northern Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

A summer El Nino can lead to wetter than normal conditions in the intermountain regions of the United States and over central Chile. In an El Nino year there tend to be more Eastern Pacific hurricanes and fewer Atlantic hurricanes.


California: Brush fire near Getty Center 90% contained; Sepulveda Boulevard closed

Firefighters continued efforts this morning to stamp out a slow-moving brush fire near the Sepulveda Pass that burned 80 acres and forced evacuations from the Getty Center and Mt. St. Mary's College. The fire was 90% contained this morning.

Sepulveda Boulevard remained closed between Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard, said Erik Scott, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. At least two freeway off-ramps -- Getty Center Drive and Skirball Center Drive --on the northbound 405 Freeway also remained closed.


Hysteria is the real threat, not global warming

G8 symbol
© ReutersOn the agenda: World leaders will be debating climate change at the G8 summit in Italy this week
With Tony Blair launching his own plan to save the world (groans), and the G8 leaders also unveiling their thoughts about global warming, this is a big week for environmental fanaticism.

Whatever he or they offer, it will not be enough to quell the warmists' semi-religious fervour.

They are like medieval preachers, proclaiming to baying crowds that the end of the word is nigh.

Well, is it? There are two separate climate issues - the extent of global warming and the role that humanity plays in it.

Some facts help. The famous 1996 report by the International Panel on Climate Change predicted serious global warming and blamed mankind.

But, since then, the world has disobligingly stopped warming. And two years of global cooling erased nearly 30 years of recorded temperature rises.

Comment: A bit of spin, not necessarily for global warming per se, but for diverting attention from the opposite of "regularity and occasional abruptness of global warming", that is a new Ice Age. Nicely done.

The fact is, Earth's climate is in a constant state of flux, of which we can observe only a small part:
"We have analysed the transition from the last glacial till our present warm interglacial period, and the climatic shifts are happening so suddenly as if somebody had pushed a button", says Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Professor at the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen. There are other scientific theories, which try to explain these cooling and warming occurrences on earth including the solar activity model. The simple fact is we do not know enough about what causes changes in our climate to create computer models that can model all of the climate data that is available.
What everyone avoids saying is that the climate can switch back equally fast. Just think about flash-frozen mammoths.


Arctic Ocean's Ice Layer Thins 'Dramatically,' Study Concludes

The layer of ice over the Arctic Ocean has thinned "dramatically" this decade, with its thin seasonal blanket for the first time making up a bigger portion of the total ice than the thicker, older coat, a study said.

Scientists from NASA and the University of Washington in Seattle surveyed the ocean's ice sheet from 2003 through 2008 using observations from the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, to make the first estimate of its thickness and volume. The study was published in the July 7 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude-5.4 earthquake shakes Pacific coast of Nicaragua

An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook on Monday morning the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, with no injuries or property damage reported, official sources said.

The Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER) said at its website that the earthquake occurred at 8:37 a.m. local times (1437 GMT). The INETER said that the earthquake was felt in the Nicaraguan Pacific Litoral, La Boquita and Casares in the department of Carazo, some 46 km south of Managua.

Bizarro Earth

5.2 magnitude earthquake jolts Aceh, Indonesia

An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale jolted Meulaboh in Aceh province Monday night, but no fatalities were reported.

State news agency Antara reported the quake, with an epicenter 327 kilometers southwest of Meulaboh and 10 kilometers deep, struck at 11 p.m. local time. The local office of the Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said that the quake did not trigger a tsunami alarm.

In December 2004, an 8.9-magnitude quake hit Aceh and Nias Island in North Sumatra, triggering a deadly tsunami that devastated the coastal areas and killed around 200,000 people.

Better Earth

Was ancient Earth a green planet?

© mugley / flickrTiny mosses and liverworts were greening the earth much earlier than previously thought.
Earth's landmasses in the late Precambrian probably weren't pleasant, but at least they were green. A new analysis of limestone rocks laid down between 1 billion and 500 million years ago suggests that there was extensive plant life on land much earlier than previously thought.

The plants were only tiny mosses and liverworts, but they would have had a profound effect on the planet. They turned the hitherto barren Earth green, created the first soils and pumped oxygen into the atmosphere, laying the foundations for animals to evolve in the Cambrian explosion that started 542 million years ago.

It was already known from genetic evidence that mosses and liverworts probably evolved around 700 million years ago, but up till now there was little sign that they had colonised land to any great extent. The assumption was that terrestrial life consisted of patchy bacterial mats and "algal scum" until the mid-Ordovician, 475 million years ago, when land was first invaded by modern-looking vascular plants.

Paul Knauth of Arizona State University and Martin Kennedy of the University of California, Riverside, examined the chemical composition of all known limestones dating from the Neoproterozoic era, which stretched from 1 billion years ago up to the start of the Cambrian. Knauth says the balance of carbon-12 to oxygen-18 in the limestones is "screaming" that they were laid down in shallow seas that received extensive rainwater run-off from a land surface thick with vegetation.


Solar Physicist Predicts Ice Age. What happened to global warming?

Timo Niroma, a physicist from Finland, publishes a Solar Report each month. He has given his permission to use it and distribute it to all so here it is. It will be a regular feature here and I hope you look forward to it as much as I do. The report is not written in the usual user-friendly way, but is rather intended for scientists that are familiar with the information contained in it. I will attempt to simplify and explain the details of the report and how it could impact you and, of course, Al Gore and company. As the predictions come true, as I assume they will, the green lobby will go on unemployment compensation. Let's start at the beginning and take it piece by piece.

"June Breaking News: The Cycle Goes at the Moment Below Dalton Level" gives away the punch line but let's see how he gets there.


Clever dogs speak in tongues to find food

© homer4k / B. J. BumgarnerDogs sniff the breath of other dogs to work out where to find food
They may not be as discerning as a Michelin Guide, but dogs decide where to look for food by sniffing the breath of others.

When tasked with finding a hidden treat, pet dogs heed the advice of another pup that has faced the same challenge.

Such behaviour is common in the animal world. Rats, gerbils, chickens and monkeys are just a few of the creatures known to direct friends and family members to a nearby meal via scent or sound. Chimpanzees tap the shoulders or glare at other chimps while leading them to a treat; the cunning apes also sometimes employ misinformation to keep a food stash secret.

Perhaps most famously, honeybees tell their hive-mates where to find nectar via elaborately choreographed "waggle dances".

Such evidence suggests that domestic dogs should also learn where to find food by communicating with their fellows, yet evidence has been tough to come by.


Real Climate Permits The Continued Presentation Of Misinformation

Over at Real Climate, quite a few of the comments that they post continue to incorrectly interpret the observed behavior of the global average upper ocean heat content changes and sea level rise over the last 5 years (see the misinformation in the comments on the Real Climate weblog More bubkes).

The authors of Real Climate, unfortunately, are permitting this erroneous information (and personal insults) to be posted without their comments and correction. Apparently, the balance provided by Gavin Schmidt that I reported on in my weblog Gavin Schmidt's Interview On Media Hype On Climate Science Issues was just a fluke.

In this weblog, I will correct two of the major errors made in a number of the comments on the Real Climate website.

One of the commentators on Real Climate list three papers that purportedly refute the finding of no recent upper ocean warming and that the sea level rise has flattened since 2006 . These papers are

Levitus S. et al. (2009) Global ocean heat content 1955 - 2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L07608

Cazenave A. et al. (2009) Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A reevaluation from GRACE space gravimetry, satellite altimetry and Argo Glob. Planet. Change 65, 83-88

Leuliette E.W. and Miller L. (2009) Closing the sea level rise budget with altimetry, Argo, and GRACE Geophys Res. Lett. 36, art # L0406