Earth ChangesS

Life Preserver

Global Sea Level Updated at UC - still flattening

There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth when Dr. Roger Pielke mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a response to Real Climate that "Sea level has actually flattened since 2006โ€ณ.

Today the University of Colorado updated their sea level graph after months of no updates. Note it says 2009_rel3 in lower left.
sea level rise JASON TOPEX
© University of ColoradoSource: University of Colorado.

Here is the next oldest graph from UC that Pielke Sr. was looking at.

The newest one also looks "flat" to me since 2006, maybe even a slight downtrend since 2006. Let the wailing and gnashing begin anew.


Is the Sun Missing Its Spots?

© NASASUN GAZING These photos show sunspots near solar maximum on July 19, 2000, and near solar minimum on March 18, 2009. Some global warming skeptics speculate that the Sun may be on the verge of an extended slumber.

Ever since Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, a German astronomer, first noted in 1843 that sunspots burgeon and wane over a roughly 11-year cycle, scientists have carefully watched the Sun's activity. In the latest lull, the Sun should have reached its calmest, least pockmarked state last fall.

Indeed, last year marked the blankest year of the Sun in the last half-century - 266 days with not a single sunspot visible from Earth. Then, in the first four months of 2009, the Sun became even more blank, the pace of sunspots slowing more.

"It's been as dead as a doornail," David Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said a couple of months ago.

The Sun perked up in June and July, with a sizeable clump of 20 sunspots earlier this month.

Now it is blank again, consistent with expectations that this solar cycle will be smaller and calmer, and the maximum of activity, expected to arrive in May 2013 will not be all that maximum.

Bizarro Earth

I blame global warming! Michigan sweet corn, tomato crop delayed because of cold

© unknown

Unusually cold weather in Michigan these days. Smack dab in the middle of July, we are having to close the windows because it's too cold outside. I still haven't run the ac yet this year. These weather patterns have other consequences. Just a couple of weeks ago, I reported that the Northern Michigan Cherry Festival was without northern Michigan cherries! (I blame Global Warming! Northern Michigan Cherry festival to be without Northern Michigan cherries. Not ripe yet because of cold!) I kid you not! They had to import cherries from elsewhere! And before that, the strawberry crop had been delayed (I blame global warming! Cool weather delays Michigan strawberry season). Is no crop safe from global warming? Er, I mean - climate change? Not corn or tomatoes apparently! From The Detroit Free Press: Ahh, summer. And we're chillin'?

Alarm Clock

USA Temps: 868 Lowest Max temps and 651 Low temps recorded for week ending 19 July 2009

HAMweather, July 20, 2009
week of lowest max temps US
© HamweatherHAMweather, July 20, 2009


Amazing Piglet Squid

Grinning: The piglet squid, about the size of an orange, gets its name from its tuft of tentacles and rotund shape

He could almost be a new Mr Men character with his rotund shape, cute curls and shy smile. But this is really a piglet squid caught in a rare image on camera.


More record coolness in Michigan

I blame global warming! Here in the Detroit area, we just missed setting the all-time 123-year old record for coldest July 18 by 2 degrees F. Other areas set records. From the National Weather Service, here are some temperature records some of which were simply shattered, not just broken, for yesterday, July 18:

Flint, MI: by the thumb (by 1 degree F)
634 PM EDT SAT JUL 18 2009

...Record Low Maximum Temperature Set At Both Flint And Saginaw Today...
This afternoons high temperature at Flint was only 67 degrees. This is the lowest high temperature ever recorded in Flint for July 18th...with the previous record being 68 degrees set back in 2000.

In Saginaw...the afternoon high was also 67 degrees. This is the lowest high temperature ever recorded in Saginaw for july 18th...with the previous record being 68 degrees set all the way back in 1914.
Northern MI - Lower Penninsula: (by up to 7 degrees F)
840 PM EDT SAT JUL 18 2009

...Record Low Maximum Temperatures Set Across The Area...
The temperature at the Gaylord regional airport only reached 57 degrees on Saturday...July 18...establishing a new record low maximum temperature for the date. The previous record was 63 degrees set exactly 100 years ago in 1909. ... Records in Gaylord date back to 1893.

At the Cadillac airport...the high temperature on Saturday only reached 59 degrees. This reading establishes a new record low maximum temperature for the date...smashing the old record of 66 degrees set back in 1924. ... Records in Cadillac date back to 1909.

At the Pellston airport...the high temperature of 59 degrees on Saturday established a new record low maximum for the date...breaking the old record of 61 degrees set in 2000. ... Records in Pellston date back to 1948.


This Quiet Sun

The Sun has gone back to blank after having had just one sunspot group that caused otherwise rational people to go off their heads...

Here's the magnetogram of the Sun showing precisely nothing that presages any sunspot formation:
Magnetogram of the Sun 16/07/2009
© SOHOMagnetogram of the Sun 16/07/2009

Cloud Lightning

UK deluged by rainstorms, with foul conditions set to continue until early August

Stormy UK summer 2009
© unknownLightning streaks through a bleak grey sky yesterday - as Britain is drenched in summer downpours.
Lightning streaks through a bleak grey sky yesterday - as Britain is drenched in summer downpours.

And the foul conditions are set to continue until early next month, the Met Office warns.

In Cornwall, homes and businesses were left flooded in Lostwithiel, Par and St Blazey. Yachts capsized in Newquay and there was a sevenvehicle smash on the A30 on Bodmin Moor.

Newcastle was braced for two-and-a-half inches of rain yesterday while firefighters across the North East were put on flood alert. North Yorks, Northants, Beds, Cambs, Wilts, Oxford and Essex were also hit by thunderstorms.

The Met Office's Barry Gromett warned it will be wet for another couple of weeks at least.


Are the deserts getting greener?

Egypt desert
© unknownEgypt is trying to persuade people to live in the desert.

It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world's deserts, but now some scientists are predicting a contrary scenario in which water and life slowly reclaim these arid places.

They think vast, dry regions like the Sahara might soon begin shrinking.

The evidence is limited and definitive conclusions are impossible to reach but recent satellite pictures of North Africa seem to show areas of the Sahara in retreat.

It could be that an increase in rainfall has caused this effect.

Farouk el-Baz, director of the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University, believes the Sahara is experiencing a shift from dryer to wetter conditions.

"It's not greening yet. But the desert expands and shrinks in relation to the amount of energy that is received by the Earth from the Sun, and this over many thousands of years," Mr el-Baz told the BBC World Service.

"The heating of the Earth would result in more evaporation of the oceans, in turn resulting in more rainfall."

But it might be hard to reconcile the view from satellites with the view from the ground.
sahara map
© unknown

While experts debate how global warming will affect the poorest continent, people are reacting in their own ways.

Droughts over the preceding decades have had the effect of driving nomadic people and rural farmers into the towns and cities. Such movement of people suggests weather patterns are becoming dryer and harsher.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned recently that rising global temperatures could cut West African agricultural production by up to 50% by the year 2020.

But satellite images from the last 15 years do seem to show a recovery of vegetation in the Southern Sahara, although the Sahel Belt, the semi-arid tropical savannah to the south of the desert, remains fragile.

The fragility of the Sahel may have been exacerbated by the cutting of trees, poor land management and subsequent erosion of soil.


Australia: The real reason I'll fight in the Senate on climate change

Steve Fielding
© Ray StrangeSteve Fielding wants answers on the causes of climate change.

Climate change is real. Yes that's right, contrary to the misreporting in the media, I do believe in climate change.

That might come as a shock to some of those on the left side of politics, but it's the truth.

The question that concerns me, however, is what is driving it? Is it increasing levels of human made carbon dioxide emissions, variations in solar radiation or something else?

Around three months ago one of my advisors pulled me aside and asked me what I thought was driving climate change. I smiled and said automatically that it was obviously a result of increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

I had never really looked at the science and just assumed what was reported in the media to be true. Well wasn't I in for an enormous shock.

My advisor presented me with data and some comments from a number of scientists which suddenly had me asking many questions. This led me to do some further reading and I ultimately decided to head over to Washington on a self funded trip so I could find out more about the science behind climate change.

In the US I met with numerous scientists on both sides of the debate. Some media outlets would have you believe that I met only with climate skeptics who they accuse of being paid off by the fossil fuel industry. These claims are wholly inaccurate.

Moreover, I strongly believe in giving everyone a fair hearing even if it isn't the most popular view. I believe it's my role as a a politician, to wade through all of the spin and come up with my own conclusions after hearing all of the facts.

Some of the data led me to question whether the Rudd government had got the science right. I then took some of the information and questions I had to the White House where I met with one of President Obama's senior climate change advisors. While these discussions were fruitful, I was left at the end with even more questions than when I had started.