Who knows – few, if any, are bothering to ask – is anyone conducting research in this area? If so we’d like to hear about it. In the meantime this week’s climate news may give us an indication of what we’re in for ecologically (if not economically) and it looks pretty bad:
Temperatures Still Increasing More Than Expected
For more than 25 years Arctic sea ice has slowly diminished in winter by about 1.5 percent per decade. But in the past two years the melting has occurred at rates 10 to 15 times faster. From 2004 to 2005, the amount of ice dropped 2.3 percent; and over the past year, it’s declined by another 1.9 percent, according to Comiso. (Link)
Fluctuations in Sun’s Output Likely Not The Cause
Known variations in the sun’s total energy output cannot explain recent global warming, say researchers who have reviewed the existing evidence. The judgment, which appears in the September 14 Nature, casts doubt on the claims of some global warming skeptics who have argued that long-term changes in solar output, or luminosity, might be driving the current climate pattern. (Link)
Storms Will Be More Powerful
Human production of greenhouse gases is largely responsible for increasing storm severity, scientists say. (Link)
Higher Temperatures and More Droughts Expected
Continental Europe’s extreme summers of recent years, characterized by heavy floods or killer heat waves, could be commonplace by the turn of the century, a climate study says. Its authors believe that changes in the complex relationship between air temperature and land moisture, driven by global warming, will cause European summers to suffer from chronic variability by 2100. (Link)
Plants and Trees at Risk
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has issued a “position paper” saying that man-made global warming is changing the outlook for plants and trees worldwide. (Link)
Polar Bear Threatened
According to scientists from NASA and the Canadian Wildlife Service, increased Arctic polar bear sightings are related to retreating sea ice triggered by climate warming and not due to population increases as some may believe. (Link)
So what does all this mean for us? Warmer temperatures? Less snow and ice? Fewer wetlands? More Hurricanes reaching us? Bigger winter storms? Damage to plant and animal populations?
And what are the financial factors for the
And as important – why is our local media not bothering to ask these questions?
UPDATE 9/18/06: Almanack Reader and Lake Champlain Committee Staff Scientist Mike Winslow points us to his new article (response?) “The Heat is On” published today about the effects of global warming on the lake. Excerpt:
Physical changes mostly involve the temperature of the lake. Higher winter temperatures mean reductions in winter ice cover. Such reductions have already begun. Prior to the 1950’s it was very unusual for Lake Champlain not to freeze in a given year, but of late, an absence of ice cover has become a fairly regular event. Higher temperatures mean the lake will stratify earlier in the spring, setting up a warm layer of water over a colder deeper layer, and stay stratified longer. A 1979 study stated stratification in the Main Lake typically began in early June. Over the last four years however, stratification has begun in early to mid-May. Higher temperatures and a lake of ice cover means increased evaporation from the lake. As a result, there is a general agreement, at least in models of the Great Lakes, that average water levels will fall. However, changes in local precipitation patterns greatly influence any such predictions, and such changes may differ between the Great Lakes region and the Champlain Valley.
UPDATE 9/18/06: Almanack Reader and Interim Director of the Center for Environmental Programs at Bowling Green State University Philip G. Terrie suggests the following studies:
J. Curt Stager and Michael R. Martin, “Global Climate Change and the Adirondacks, AJES: Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies 9 (Spring/Summer 2002), 6-13.
The New England Regional Assessment (NERA) is one of 16 regional assessments, conducted for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), as part of the National Assessment of climate change impacts on the United States. The National Assessment is directed by response to the Congressional Act of 1990
Jerry Jenkins, Adirondack Atlas, p. 244. (At a new lower price!)