The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Near record expansion of ozone hole over Antarctica

Ozone hole over Antarctica expands to near-record levels, now four times size of Australia, ABC News  The World Today , 3 Nov 15 By Lucy Carter The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has expanded to near-record levels this year, covering an area almost four times the size of Australia.

Scientists from the UN said the increase was due to colder-than-usual temperatures, rather than any extra damage being done to the Earth’s protective layer.

Ozone depletion 15

But that could still mean extra UV radiation and the risk of more people getting sunburnt in Australia’s southern states this summer.

The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has been carefully monitored for over 30 years.

According to atmospheric scientist Professor David Karoly from the University of Melbourne, its size fluctuates greatly when it emerges each spring. “Each springtime over the last now nearly 35 years, there’s been a depletion of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica primarily due to two really important factors,” he said.

“It’s the increase in ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere and a very special cold conditions that occur in winter and spring over Antarctica which provide a special, if you like, catalytic ozone destruction vessel that allows the ozone to be rapidly deployed by the higher concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons — ozone-depleting chemicals that have occurred in the stratosphere due to human activity.”

The UN’s weather and climate agency said this year’s seasonal ozone hole peaked on October 2, covering an area over Antarctica of 28.2 million square kilometres — close to four times the size of Australia or the size of Russia and Canada combined…….

“We do know that the substances that cause the ozone hole, the chlorines and bromines up there are decreasing … have decreased by about 18 per cent since their peak in the late 1990s, early 2000s,” he said.

Since 1987, gases known to cause ozone depletion have been banned and last year the World Meteorological Organisation reported the first positive signs of “ozone recovery”.

Professor David Karoly from the University of Melbourne said this fluctuation in size was not a long-term concern.

“It makes it harder to then see the long-term improvement, the declining trend in the size of the ozone hole but that is still expected to continue,” he said.

“We expect in the southern hemisphere that the ozone hole will not completely recover for another 40 to 60 years, when it recovers back to pre-1980 levels when the ozone hole was first discovered.”

However, this year’s ozone hole size does have the potential to affect Australians.

“Once the ozone hole does start to break up, air that’s depleted in ozone may be transported over to the southern parts of Australia which can, of course, during those periods increase the amount of UV radiation which in the Earth’s surface,” Mr Krummel said.

“So there could be a tendency for a bit more sunburn. “I would say mostly the southern states is where it is likely to impact……..

November 4, 2015 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Is the world ignoring the climate catastrophe of Indonesia’s fires?

media-propagandaGovernments ignore issues when the media ignores them.

one reason is the complete failure of perspective in a de-skilled industry dominated by corporate press releases, photo ops and fashion shoots, where everyone seems to be waiting for everyone else to take a lead. The media makes a collective non-decision to treat this catastrophe as a non-issue, and we all carry on as if it’s not happening.

Indonesia is burning. So why is the world looking away?, Guardian  George Monbiot, 30 Oct 15  A great tract of Earth is on fire and threatened species are being driven out of their habitats. This is a crime against humanity and nature “……A great tract of Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century – so far.

Indonesia smoke 15

And the media? It’s talking about the dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the James Bond premiere, Donald Trump’s idiocy du jour and who got eliminated from the Halloween episode of Dancing with the Stars. The great debate of the week, dominating the news across much of the world? Sausages: are they really so bad for your health?

What I’m discussing is a barbecue on a different scale. Fire is raging across the 5,000km length of Indonesia. It is surely, on any objective assessment, more important than anything else taking place today. And it shouldn’t require a columnist, writing in the middle of a newspaper, to say so. It should be on everyone’s front page. It is hard to convey the scale of this inferno, but here’s a comparison that might help: it is currently producing more carbon dioxide than the US economy. And in three weeks the fires have released more CO2 than the annual emissions of Germany.

But that doesn’t really capture it. This catastrophe cannot be measured only in parts per million. The fires are destroying treasures as precious and irreplaceable as the archaeological remains being levelled by Isis. Orangutans, clouded leopards, sun bears, gibbons, the Sumatran rhinoceros and Sumatran tiger, these are among the threatened species being driven from much of their range by the flames. But there are thousands, perhaps millions, more.

One of the burning provinces is West Papua, a nation that has been illegally occupied by Indonesia since 1963. I spent six months there when I was 24,investigating some of the factors that have led to this disaster. At the time it was a wonderland, rich with endemic species in every swamp and valley. Who knows how many of those have vanished in the past few weeks? This week I have pored and wept over photos of places I loved that have now been reduced to ash.

Nor do the greenhouse gas emissions capture the impact on the people of these lands. After the last great conflagration, in 1997, there was a missing cohort in Indonesia of 15,000 children under the age of three, attributed to air pollution. This, it seems, is worse. The surgical masks being distributed across the nation will do almost nothing to protect those living in a sunless smog. Members of parliament in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) have had to wear face masksduring debates. The chamber is so foggy that they must have difficulty recognising one another.

It’s not just the trees that are burning. It is the land itself. Much of the forest sits on great domes of peat. When the fires penetrate the earth, they smoulder for weeks, sometimes months, releasing clouds of methane, carbon monoxide, ozone and exotic gases such as ammonium cyanide. The plumes extend for hundreds of miles, causing diplomatic conflicts with neighbouring countries.

Why is this happening? Indonesia’s forests have been fragmented for decades by timber and farming companies. Canals have been cut through the peat to drain and dry it. Plantation companies move in to destroy what remains of the forest to plant monocultures of pulpwood, timber and palm oil. The easiest way to clear the land is to torch it. Every year, this causes disasters. But in an extreme El Niño year like this one, we have a perfect formula for environmental catastrophe……..

Governments ignore issues when the media ignores them. And the media ignores them because … well, there’s a question with a thousand answers, many of which involve power. But one reason is the complete failure of perspective in a de-skilled industry dominated by corporate press releases, photo ops and fashion shoots, where everyone seems to be waiting for everyone else to take a lead. The media makes a collective non-decision to treat this catastrophe as a non-issue, and we all carry on as if it’s not happening.

At the climate summit in Paris in December the media, trapped within the intergovernmental bubble of abstract diplomacy and manufactured drama, will cover the negotiations almost without reference to what is happening elsewhere. The talks will be removed to a realm with which we have no moral contact. And, when the circus moves on, the silence will resume. Is there any other industry that serves its customers so badly?

A fully linked version of this article can be found at

October 31, 2015 Posted by | climate change, Indonesia | Leave a comment

Bikini Islanders – first expelled by nuclear tests. now by climate change

Exiled by nuclear tests, now threatened by climate change, Bikini islanders seek refuge in U.S.  By Sarah Kaplan On the morning of July 1, 1946, a second sun rose over the remote Pacific island chain of Bikini Atoll.


The world’s fourth atomic bomb had just been detonated over the area with an “unearthly brilliance that petrified observers,” wrote the Washington Post reporter at the scene.A hundred miles away, from a ship just off the shore of tiny Rongerik Atoll, Bikini’s former residents watched a mushroom cloud form over the place that had been their home. Now it was a bomb site, shrouded in toxic nuclear fallout that would render it uninhabitable. The Bikini islanders didn’t know that yet; they had agreed to a series of nuclear tests on their islands believing they would be able to return as soon as the experiments ended.

Instead, they began a decades-long nomadic existence that would see Bikini islanders starve on atolls too small and sparse to sustain them and sicken from lingering radiation on others. The tiny community would be relocated five times in as many decades before settling elsewhere in the Marshall Islands. Some islanders watch warily as scientists re-evaluate their old home. Others have tried to move on, settle down.

But their bad luck just won’t let them. Now, they say, the rising seas and brutal storms brought on by climate change have rendered their new homes uninhabitable. On Wednesday, Marshallese Foreign Minister Tony de Brumwill meet with members of Congress and ask for a change in the terms of the fund that was set up to help Bikini islanders resettle. Currently, the fund can only be used to help them buy property in the Marshall Islands, but they’re giving up on the Pacific entirely. They want to come to the U.S. instead.

“Kili [is] uninhabitable because of climate change,” de Brum told the BBCTuesday, referring to the tiny island where about 700 people now live. Continue reading

October 29, 2015 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Exxon’s campaign to spread doubt on the science of climate change

Exxon Sowed Doubt About Climate Science for Decades by Stressing Uncertainty

climate-changeCollaborating with the Bush-Cheney White House, Exxon turned ordinary scientific uncertainties into weapons of mass confusion. Inside Climate News, David Hasemyer and John H. Cushman Jr. 23 Oct 15 As he wrapped up nine years as the federal government’s chief scientist for global warming research, Michael MacCracken lashed out at ExxonMobil for opposing the advance of climate science.

His own great-grandfather, he told the Exxon board, had been John D. Rockefeller’s legal counsel a century earlier. “What I rather imagine he would say is that you are on the wrong side of history, and you need to find a way to change your position,” he wrote.

Addressed to chairman Lee Raymond on the letterhead of the United States Global Change Research Program, his September 2002 letter was not just forceful, but unusually personal.

No wonder: in the opening days of the oil-friendly Bush-Cheney administration, Exxon’s chief lobbyist had written the new head of the White House environmental council demanding that MacCracken be fired for “political and scientific bias.”

Exxon was also attacking other officials in the U.S. government and at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), MacCracken wrote, interfering with their work behind the scenes and distorting it in public.

Exxon wanted scientists who disputed the mainstream science on climate change to oversee Washington’s work with the IPCC, the authoritative body that defines the scientific consensus on global warming, documents written by an Exxon lobbyist and one of its scientists show. The company persuaded the White House to block the reappointment of the IPCC chairman, a World Bank scientist. Exxon’s top climate researcher, Brian Flannery, was pushing the White House for a wholesale revision of federal climate science. The company wanted a new strategy to focus on the uncertainties.

“To call ExxonMobil’s position out of the mainstream is thus a gross understatement,” MacCracken wrote. “To be in opposition to the key scientific findings is rather appalling for such an established and scientific organization.”

MacCracken had a long history of collaboration with Exxon researchers. He knew that during the 1970s and 1980s, well before the general public understood the risks of global warming, the company’s researchers had worked at the cutting edge of climate change science. He had edited and even co-authored some of their reports. So he found it galling that Exxon was now leading a concerted effort to sow confusion about fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect.

Exxon had turned a colleague into its enemy.

It was a vivid example of Exxon’s undermining of mainstream science and embrace of denial and misinformation, which became most pronounced after President George W. Bush took office. The campaign climaxed when Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. Taking the U.S. out of the international climate change treaty was Exxon’s key goal, and the reason for its persistent emphasis on the uncertainty of climate science.

This in-depth series by InsideClimate News has explored Exxon’s early engagement with climate research more than 35 years ago – and its subsequent use of scientific uncertainty as a shield against forceful action on global warming. The series is based on Exxon documents, interviews, and other evidence from an eight-month investigation……….

October 24, 2015 Posted by | climate change, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change is going to cost even more than was predicted

A cliché repeated in some scientific circles suggests that there are three possible responses to climate change: mitigation (the word wonks like to use instead of prevention), adaptation, and suffering. 


Climate change slams global economy, study from Stanford and Berkeley shows, SMH October 22, 2015 Eric Roston Climate change could cause 10 times as much damage to the global economy as previously estimated, slashing output by as much as 23 per cent by the end of the century, a new research paper from US universities Stanford and Berkeley finds.

Looking at 166 countries between 1960 and 2010, the researchers identified an optimal average annual temperature that coincides with peak productivity. It’s 13 degrees celsius, or approximately the climate of San Francisco’s bay area (Sydney’s mean temperature last year was 19.3 degrees).

Countries in the tropics, already hotter than this optimal temperature, are likely to face the most dramatic economic pain from warming, found the study, published in the latest issue of Nature. Countries at or just past the 13-degree annual average, like the US, China, and Japan, may be increasingly vulnerable to losses as the temperature warms. Northern countries well below the ideal average may see benefits as opportunities open up for agriculture and industry.

But this was the least robust finding. And even if the warming improves the lot of Scandinavia and Canada, such nations may not have many healthy trading partners left as others suffer. Also, higher temperatures in northern countries don’t take into account changes in precipitation, more extreme weather, and the many other risks in a warming world

The authors made a clever end run around the biggest problem at the core of climate science: There’s only one Earth. Scientists usually like to run “controls,” situations that have identical conditions to the experiment except for the one thing being studied. Unfortunately for climate scientists, there’s no second Earth, filled with identical people doing identical things, where greenhouse gas emissions aren’t a problem.

So the study looks at national temperature records through time. Instead of studying a warming Nigeria and a control Nigeria, the scientists compared Nigerian economic output in average years with that in warming years………..

A dramatically higher damage function changes the cost/benefit analysis and makes potential policies that looked expensive yesterday much cheaper by comparison.

Another takeaway from the study is that over the last six decades, economies haven’t adapted well to hotter temperatures. “We’re optimistic on adaptation and its long-run potential,” Burke said. “Looking historically, we don’t see a lot of evidence that we’re good at that.”

A cliché repeated in some scientific circles suggests that there are three possible responses to climate change: mitigation (the word wonks like to use instead of prevention), adaptation, and suffering.

If the new study means our mitigation efforts are even weaker than previously thought, and we don’t have a proven track record of adaptation, are we setting ourselves up for suffering?

“That’s exactly right,” Burke said. “That’s exactly right.”


October 23, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Rich countries put planet on course for irreversible climate change

logo Paris climate1Unfair deal under discussion at last UN meeting before Paris negotiations

Rich countries put planet on course for irreversible climate change

19 October, 2015 Rich countries – those most responsible for climate change – are putting us on course for irreversible and more devastating climate change instead of taking the urgently needed radical action to reduce their carbon emissions, Friends of the Earth International has warned. 

The warning was issued as governments from around the world start a week-long gathering at the UN climate talks in Bonn to negotiate the text of a new global climate treaty to be agreed in Paris in December.

“Emission cut pledges made by rich countries so far are less than half of what we need to avoid runaway climate change. The draft Paris agreement being negotiated this week shows that many seem ready to accept irreversible and devastating consequences for people and the planet,” said Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.

“This draft would even dismantle several key principles of the UN climate convention, such as equity. This is simply unacceptable. Richer countries must do their fair share. The new treaty must protect poorer countries and people, not let richer countries off the hook,” she added.

“Politicians are on track to fail us at their summit in Paris. Many politicians, under pressure from transnational corporate polluters profiting from fossil fuels and dirty energy, are promoting coal, fracking and nuclear energy at the UN and at national level. Instead, they should commit to drastic emission cuts and a transformation of our energy system,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International’s climate justice coordinator.

Hundreds of thousands of people are paying with their lives for our governments’ continued inaction. But the real leaders, the people, are taking action, and showing the way with real solutions, such as community controlled renewable energy. Thousands of people from all over the world, including Friends of the Earth supporters, plan to go to Paris to make their voices heard during the United Nations climate summit and to mobilize further in 2016 and beyond.

“Our governments must stop dirty energy and urgently follow the real leaders – the people, not the polluters. More and more people are supporting the real solutions, resisting fossil fuel extraction and leading us towards climate-safe societies,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International’s climate justice coordinator.

Climate justice organisations, social movements, faith groups, trade unions, environmental and development organisations released a new report today: ‘Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)‘.

The report shows that many developing countries are pledging to do more than their ‘fair share’ to cut emissions while rich countries are dangerously failing to pull their weight.

Based on the information governments have submitted to the UN about their INDCs, the report outlines by how much they pledge to cut their emissions.

The report argues that while ‘equity’ is a core principle in the UN process to find a global deal, countries have so far been allowed to determine their own targets on a purely national basis without reference to the scale of the global effort needed.

In the report, the fair share that each country should have in tackling climate change is measured based on their level of responsibility in causing the crisis as well as their capacity to tackle climate change at this moment in time.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Canada’s new PM Trudeau pledges action on climate change

climate-changeflag-canadaIncoming Canadian PM Justin Trudeau pledges new action on climate change ahead of Paris meeting, ABC News 22 Oct 15  The newly-elected Canadian leader Justin Trudeau will arrive in office with a pledge to improve the country’s battered environmental image, promising a new strategy for global climate negotiations in Paris this December.

The 43-year-old son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau swept to victory with 39.5 percent of the popular vote, in an election that saw the highest voter turnout since 1993.

Although he has yet to say how he will achieve his goals, the Liberal Party leader faces a tough task meeting expectations.

He has less than 40 days before the Paris climate conference begins, hardly time for yet-unnamed energy and environment ministers to get up to speed, let alone to forge a common position with Canada’s 10 provinces on carbon emissions cuts.

Yet he has pledged a break from the policies of defeated prime minister Stephen Harper — a politician from Alberta’s oil patch who pulled Canada out of the Kyoto treaty and fought to shield the energy industry from global commitments to cut carbon emissions.

During the election campaign, Mr Trudeau criticised Mr Harper relentlessly for turning Canada into a “pariah” on climate change issues.

He pledged to attend the Paris conference, and then convene the country’s provincial premiers within 90 days to create national emissions targets under a framework that would allow provinces to set a price on carbon.

That party platform had almost no specifics but it raised expectations both domestically and abroad that Mr Trudeau would change Canada’s course on climate………….

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Global warming could cause disappearance of vast Alpine glacier

Vast Alpine glacier could almost vanish by 2100 due to warming, Reuters, Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Frances Kerry GREAT ALETSCH GLACIER, SWITZERLAND | BY DENIS BALIBOUSE One of Europe’s biggest glaciers, the Great Aletsch, coils 23 km (14 miles) through the Swiss Alps – and yet this mighty river of ice could almost vanish in the lifetimes of people born today because of climate change.

The glacier, 900 meters (2,950 feet) thick at one point, has retreated about 3 km (1.9 miles) since 1870 and that pace is quickening, as with many other glaciers around the globe.

That is feeding more water into the oceans and raising world sea levels…….

even the Great Aletsch glacier, the biggest in the Alps and visible from space, is under threat from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from factories, power plants and cars that are blamed for global warming.

Glacier great-aletsch-glacier-valais-switzerland

Andreas Vieli, a professor who heads the University of Zurich’s group of glaciology experts, said the Aletsch may lose 90 percent of its ice volume by 2100, with the lower reaches melting away.

“My kids are going to see a very different scenery in the Alps,” he said.

And on the ice, Aletsch guide Richard Bortis said, “if I stay on the glacier for several days … I can even see the changes myself.”

The glacier is a vast water reserve, important for irrigation and hydroelectric power……For glaciers around the globe, from the Andes to Alaska, rising temperatures mean that the volume lost from the summer melt exceeds snows that replenish the glaciers’ ice in winter. The Aletsch flows downhill at about 180 meters (590 feet) a year.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service says “the rates of early 21st-century mass loss are without precedent on a global scale” at least since measurements began around 1850.

Representatives from almost 200 governments will meet in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to try to agree ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The United Nations’ panel of climate scientists says sea levels are set to rise by between 26 and 82 cm (10 and 31 inches) by the late 21st century, after a gain of about 20 cm (8 inches) since 1900, partly fed by water from melting glaciers. Rising oceans are a threat to places from San Francisco to Shanghai, to low-lying Pacific atolls and large parts of Bangladesh……

October 16, 2015 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Climate change already impacting Bangladesh coastal communities

Rising salinity threatens Bangladesh’s coastal communities – experts Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Tue, 13 Oct 2015  Author: Pantho Rahaman Reporting by Pantho Rahaman; editing by Jumana Farouky and Laurie Goering -the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women’s rights, trafficking and corruption.

“……..Climate change-induced alterations to sea level, temperature and rainfall are affecting freshwater supplies in low-lying coastal areas around the world, scientists and environmentalists say.

With more than a quarter of its population living in 19 districts facing or near the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is especially vulnerable, they say.

If access to fresh water continues to decrease at current rates in Bangladesh, experts warn, the country faces worsening drinking and irrigation water scarcity in the next few decades.

“Left unattended, 2.9 million to 5.2 million poor (people) in southwest coastal Bangladesh will face serious river salinity problems by 2050,” said Susmita Dasgupta, the lead environmental economist of the World Bank’s research department, in an email interview.


A study by the World Bank and Bangladesh’s Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) published last year paints a dire picture of the future of freshwater supplies for the country’s coastal communities.

In a worst case scenario, the study predicts that the area served by freshwater rivers – those whose salt levels measure less than 1 part per thousand – in the country’s 19 coastal districts will drop from 41 percent to 17 percent by 2050.

Researchers believe sea-level rise, rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and a reduction of water flow in the country’s rivers could add to river salinity.

Losing freshwater could mean “significant shortages of drinking water” and a lack of irrigation water for dry-season agriculture, the study said.

“The impact of the increase in salinity is already being felt by the local communities, as they now have to purchase water from water treatment plants run by commercial operators,” said Ainun Nishat, a noted Bangladeshi environmentalist and one of the researchers on the World Bank study.

A dramatic decrease in the area served by freshwater rivers would also do damage to the region’s fishing industry, which supports approximately a half million families, researchers said…..

Of Bangladesh’s 19 southwestern coastal districts, the study pinpointed nine already in danger of being unable to protect their freshwater resources.

Even in the best case, by 2050 four districts – Barguna, Jhalokoti, Khulna, and Patuakhali – may no longer have regular access to fresh water from rivers. And in a worst-case scenario, Pirojpur district could lose 100 percent of its fresh river water, while Bagerhat and Barisal could lose over 90 percent, the study said.

In addition, the study said, five districts will suffer a serious shortage of water for dry-season agriculture.

“This worrying change might lead to a migration of people from southwestern Bangladesh,” Nishat said……

October 16, 2015 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Narrow window of opportunity to prevent rapid drastic fall in Antarctic ice sheets

the results leave a narrow opening through which humanity can slip. If temperatures remain within 2C (3.6F), the collapse of the shelves will stabilise and the sheets will remain mostly intact. Sea-level rise from Antarctica would remain within 23cm (9 inches) by 2300.

To achieve this, the authors said the world will have to follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) lowest emissions scenario.This requires global emissions to peak around 2020 and decline to below zero by 2100.

The new study “ultimately confirm[s] the suspicions of earlier glaciologists that the fate of ice shelves largely determines whether Antarctica contributes less than 1 metre or up to 9 metres to long-term sea-level rise”

highly-recommendedAntarctic ice sheets face catastrophic collapse without deep emissionscuts,   Guardian, , 15 Oct 15 

Study finds that a global temperature increase of 3C would cause ice shelves to disappear, triggering sea-level rise that would continue for thousands of years. A team of researchers has found that steep cuts to emissions during the next decade are the only way to avoid a catastrophic collapse of Antarctic ice sheets and associated sea-level rise that will continue for thousands of years.

diagram ice shelf loss

The study, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, found that should the global temperature increase to around 3C (5.4F) above the pre-industrial era then the ice shelves that hold back the giant continental ice sheets would be lost over the next few centuries. Continue reading

October 16, 2015 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate action can slow down the disastrous melting of Antarctic ice shelves

New study projects that melting of Antarctic ice shelves will intensify HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION New research published today projects a doubling of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves by 2050 and that by 2100 melting may surpass intensities associated with ice shelf collapse, if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption continue at the present rate.

Ice shelves are the floating extensions of the continent’s massive land-based ice sheets. While the melting or breakup of floating ice shelves does not directly raise sea level, ice shelves do have a “door stop” effect: They slow the flow of ice from glaciers and ice sheets into the ocean, where it melts and raises sea levels.


“Our results illustrate just how rapidly melting in Antarctica can intensify in a warming climate,” said Luke Trusel, lead author and postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “This has already occurred in places like the Antarctic Peninsula where we’ve observed warming and abrupt ice shelf collapses in the last few decades. Our model projections show that similar levels of melt may occur across coastal Antarctica near the end of this century, raising concerns about future ice shelf stability.”

The study, published Oct. 12, 2015, in Nature Geoscience, was conducted by Trusel, Clark University Associate Professor of Geography Karen Frey, WHOI scientists Sarah Das and Kristopher Karnauskas, Peter Kuipers Munneke and Michiel R. van den Broeke of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht University, and Erik van Meijgaard of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

To study how melting evolves over time and to predict future ice sheet melting along the entire Antarctic coastline, the scientists combined satellite observations of ice surface melting with climate model simulations under scenarios of intermediate and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions until the year 2100.

The results indicate a strong potential for the doubling of Antarctica-wide ice sheet surface melting by 2050, under either emissions scenario. However, between 2050 and 2100, the models reveal a significant divergence between the two scenarios. Under the high-emissions climate scenario, by 2100 ice sheet surface melting approaches or exceeds intensities associated with ice shelf collapse in the past. Under the reduced-emissions scenario, there is relatively little increase in ice sheet melting after the doubling in 2050.

“The data presented in this study clearly show that climate policy, and therefore the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions over the coming century, have an enormous control over the future fate of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves, which we must consider when assessing their long-term stability and potential indirect contributions to sea level rise,” said Frey.

Funding for the research was provided by NASA, the Doherty Postdoctoral Scholarship Program at WHOI, the Netherlands Earth System Science Centre, the Polar Program of the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research, and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please

October 14, 2015 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

The significance of Antarctica’s melting ice shelves, in climate change

ice-sheets-meltingWhy scientists are so worried about the ice shelves of Antarctica, WP, By Chelsea Harvey October 12 When it comes to climate change, Antarctica is one of the world’s major places of concern, mostly because of the sheer amount of ice it contains — enough to theoretically cause about 200 feet of sea-level rise if it were all to melt — not that anyone thinks that will happen anytime soon. Still, smaller parts could be destabilized, and understanding how the Antarctic ice sheet will react to future climate change is a big priority for scientists.

One important key to building this understanding is studying Antarctic ice shelves, which are large, floating platforms of ice — sometimes spanning hundreds or thousands of square miles — that form where where an ice sheet meets the ocean.

“They play an incredibly important role in constraining the flow of this land ice into the ocean,” says Luke Trusel, a postdoctoral scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, comparing ice shelves to the “cork in a champagne bottle.” If an ice shelf breaks off, it can unleash a flow of ice into the ocean from the ice sheet behind it, which can contribute to sea-level rise in a major way. Indeed, without ice shelves to provide buttressing, glaciers behind the ice shelves flow faster, pouring more and more ice into the ocean.

[Scientists declare an ‘urgent’ mission – study West Antarctica, and fast]

In order to get a better grip on how climate change could affect Antarctic ice shelves, Trusel and a group of other researchers conducted a study to see how rising air temperatures might affect surface melting in Antarctica. This is a process that can directly influence the destabilizing of ice shelves.

Past observations have shown that as ice melts on a shelf’s surface, the melted water starts to pool, or “pond,” and trickle down into imperfections in the ice, causing the cracks to deepen and widen — which can eventually cause ice shelves to collapse, unleashing the flow of land ice behind them.

“Increases in air temperature, and surface melt and ponding, has led to the abrupt and catastrophic collapse of a number of ice shelves,” says Trusel, lead author of the study, which was published Monday in Nature Geoscience. These collapses have mostly been observed on the Antarctic Peninsula, where the thinning and retreat of ice shelves has been particularly pronounced, thanks to higher-than-average warming in the area. The concern, though, is that more ice shelves that ring around Antarctica, including its colder regions, will start to give way as temperatures continue to rise and that other more inland parts of Antarctica will then follow suit.

The researchers used models to investigate the potential future impacts of two different climate scenarios: a “business-as-usual” trajectory, in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise throughout the century, and a more middle-of-the-road trajectory, in which emissions start declining before mid-century and there’s less associated global warming.

They found that under both scenarios, Antarctic-wide surface melt doubles by the year 2050, with the amount of meltwater produced coming close to 200 gigatons per year (a gigaton is a billion metric tons). This is a troubling finding, said Nerilie Abram, a researcher from the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at Australian National University who was not involved with the study, in an e-mail to The Post. But, she said, “I think that the more interesting result is to look at the huge divergence in predicted Antarctic ice melt during the second half of the century.”

After 2050, the projections for the two climate scenarios differ drastically. In the middle-of-the-road scenario, melt doesn’t increase much after mid-century. But in the business-as-usual scenario, melt continues to speed up, eventually hitting a rate of more than 600 gigatons per year by the end of the century.

“The most important results are … that we can see how quickly melting can evolve,” Trusel said. The results suggest that ice shelf surface melting increases exponentially with air temperature……….

One of the most important takeaways from the paper is “how important human action is on the climate of Antarctica,” Trusel added in a follow-up e-mail to The Post. Past observations show that humans have already altered the face of the continent, and the projections suggest that we have the power to continue doing so, he said.

“This shows that we do have a choice in how the Earth changes over the coming century,” said Abram, the researcher from Australian National University. “[We have] the option of a future where many of Antarctica’s ice shelves are still viable if we can curb emissions, compared to a future where many of Antarctica’s remaining ice shelves will probably have been lost if we continue our current emissions trajectory.”

October 14, 2015 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Why all glass building facades will go out of fashion – the heat problem

All-Glass Facades Won’t Exist in Sustainable Cities, Davis Baggs, Sourceable, 13 Oct 15  “……..Glass alone cannot cover all contingencies, and the hotter the summer sun, the less successful it is. In winter in cold and even temperate climates high transmissivity (untinted) highly insulated glass units with Low-E coatings are typical and work very well. Problem is, in summer unshaded glass lets a lot of heat in, and the very factors that work for the building and occupants now works against them letting heat in and keeping it in, very efficiently overheating buildings and people all the better for the air conditioning engineers (whose fees are often based on the size of the air conditioning plants) and suppliers (who designed some of the major software tools engineers commonly use to design buildings).

So to overcome this, heat absorbing and reflective glasses were developed and to greater or lesser extent are used in all glass facades in climates where there is any bite at all in the summer sun.

Herein lies some of the problem; heat isn’t just ‘heat’. Solar energy does enter buildings by conduction (efficiently offset by insulated glass units or IGUs) from the atmosphere but the majority enters via direct and diffuse solar radiation.

If we make the glass reflective enough to stop enough solar radiation to avoid overheating of unshaded all-glass facades, we create strong rogue reflections that cause accidents and literally melt cars. So we wind the reflectiveness back and bump up the tinting levels to absorb the radiation in the façade and this is where the next problems begin…………..

The human body is up to four times more sensitive to radiant heat than any other form of heat. In fact, we are more than two times more sensitive to radiant heat than all of the other heat loss or gain pathways (convection, conduction, respiration, and evaporation) combined. The body is highly sensitive to even small changes in radiant temperatures; that’s why we love radiators, heated floors and mass surfaces in buildings to retain heat and keep us both warm and cool.

But as you tint glass, it progressively absorbs more and more heat itself and it becomes in effect a large plate radiator. The darker the tint, the more heat it both absorbs and then eventually re-radiates even when it’s double-glazed, such as in IGUs. Its important to note that this doesn’t cause the room air to heat up much, so its not picked up by the room temperature sensors of the HVAC, but it does heat people up easily and effectively, even through clothes.

Even a few degrees of radiant temperature can make a room very uncomfortable. A radiant temperature increase (or decrease) of  five degrees can make the room feel eight degrees hotter (or colder) without changing the temperature in the room…….

Let me share my experiences of a building I visited in mid-winter (January) in the desert, midway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It was comprised of two 12-storey office towers of azure blue (heat absorbing) reflective (silver blue mirror look to the outside) double glazed IGUs linked by a three-storey entry podium of clear IGUs……

At midday, things got even more interesting. The outside temperature had risen to 35 degrees, the inside air temperature was still 21 degrees, but the outside skin of the building in the sun measured 65 degrees and the inside skin temperatures of the blue IGU in the offices were 35.4 degrees. Interestingly, the clear insulated glass podium was an astounding 37.2 degrees – because it was not reflective like the blue IGUs, it absorbed more heat……the solar intensity in UAE at that time of year is similar to Australia in summer….

Unshaded all glass buildings as we know them now, have no place in sustainable cities of the future.

October 14, 2015 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment

New York Times Editorial: Teaching the truth about climate change.

climate-changeMisinformation about climate change is distressingly common in the United States – a 2014 Yale study found that 35 percent of Americans believe that global warming is caused mostly by natural phenomena rather than human activity, and 34 percent think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is even happening…

October 12, 2015 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Doctors plan global day of climate action

logo Paris climate1flag-AustraliaDoctors urge climate action  One of Australia’s peak medical bodies says political leaders must act on climate change to reduce serious health impacts. AAP
 Australia’s doctors will begin a campaign on Monday to warn world leaders that failure to make meaningful cuts to carbon dioxide emissions will cause a serious increase in heat-related illness and infectious diseases.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians will hold a Global Day of Climate Action to put pressure on leaders at the coming United Nations climate talks in Paris in December.

Infectious diseases physician and senior lecturer at the Australian National University medical school, Dr Ashwin Swaminathan, said doctors are trying to raise awareness of serious health impacts caused by climate change. “Doctors want the community and our government representatives to know that health is at stake with climate change,” Dr Swaminathan said.

“The college recognises that climate change poses a risk to the health of all Australians across all regions.”

Health professionals have seen a spike in ambulance call-outs, hospital admissions and deaths during heatwaves, which are projected to increase further without checks on global emissions.

Dr Swaminathan said there will also be increases in water-borne and mosquito-borne diseases, with Australian disease specialists worried in particular about diarrhoea-causing bacteria and disease-carrying mosquitoes. Higher temperatures expand the areas in which these disease carriers can thrive.

Dr Swaminathan said the species of mosquitoes that can carry dengue fever, Ross River fever and Barmah Forest virus will be able to move further south in Australia under changed climate conditions.

Disease and climate change is attracting more attention from doctors. “It’s something that is becoming more discussed at infectious diseases forums,” Dr Swaminathan said.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has begun a Doctors for Climate Action campaign which, with the support of 50 medical organisations, is calling on world leaders to commit to meaningful targets for emissions reduction at the United Nations COP 21 Climate Change Conference in Paris.

October 12, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment


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